THE VIEW FROM CHAOS MANOR
View 308 May 3 - 9, 2004
Highlights this week:
This is a day book. It's not all that well edited. I try to keep this up daily, but sometimes I can't. I'll keep trying. See also the monthly COMPUTING AT CHAOS MANOR column, 4,000 - 7,000 words, depending. (Older columns here.) For more on what this page is about, please go to the VIEW PAGE. If you have never read the explanatory material on that page, please do so. If you got here through a link that didn't take you to the front page of this site, click here for a better explanation of what we're trying to do here.
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May 3, 2004
I am doing this in Burbank Airport. It has been renamed Bob Hope Airport, and that's wrong. Mr. Hope lived nearer to Studio City than to Burbank, and if they needed to name the airport for someone, Amelia Aerheart would be a lot more appropriate.
I was hoping for a hot spot here and I found one, but I haven't signed up for it yet. It's $29.95 a month for tmobile, which I suppose is reasonable if you do a lot of travel and it's available in many places. I'll look again later, but for now I have the wireless turned off to save power. However, I see a power outlet at a table by the wall, so I'll move there. I am waiting for Alex, and experimenting.
I am still using the TabletPC although I have the Mac 15" PowerBook with me in my carryon bag. I'm mostly using the Tablet because I still have not found anything for the Mac that will work with FrontPage files, and I use FrontPage to do this web page.
In Seattle, using high speed connection. Because of the SASSER virus, which may or may not be able to leak into my system from an airport wireless. Probably not. This machine is running SP-2 RC-2 for XP, and looks solid. Even so I am hiding behind a Dlink router in the hotel. I doubt anything can get at me here.
The worm is serious and real, and Alex's fiance's machine was infected through a dialup connection. She did not open a mail attachment. If you have not secured against this worm, do so. Now.
----------------------------------------------------------------------- Roland Dobbins
More exploits related to the vulnerability in Windows (MS04-011). They are starting to become widespread, with two variants of the "Sasser" worm among the culprits.
Although these exploits are not approaching the level of "Blaster" (yet...), the "Internet Storm Center" raised their alert level to Yellow (2nd highest alert). Microsoft has posted information on the case, with step-by-step mitigation instructions: http://www.microsoft.com/security/incident/sasser.asp .
The Anti-Virus vendors have posted updated detections for this one.
Rick Hellewell Information Security, firstname.lastname@example.org
WinHEC begins tomorrow and will take up much of the column. Microsoft also announced new Digital Rights Management software this week. It should all be interesting...
Bill Gates in the morning. I'll try to get up some pictures and a report.
May 4, 2004
Up to go hear Mr. Gates. Roland has this:
Subject: Sasser analysis.Roland Dobbins
Gates just walked on stage. There were a couple of unobtrusive security people in the wings, but here was a man more important than Gore, who just walked onto the stage, and let people snap pictures with cameras that had not been inspected. Courage or foolhardy? Or just realistic?
I am now in a session on building a Media Center PC. It's for manufacturers; the short answer is if you want a media PC, go buy one, and probably not one that is available yet. Microsoft has done a lot of work to help you design new ones, and has a lot of usability data; if you want to build and design Media Center PC's, there's a lot here; but the fact is that users can't go build one at the moment.
Talked to AMD and I will shortly have a 64-bit system. Microsoft is very excited about 64-bit and finds that 32-bit apps run faster on a 64 bit system with 64 bit OS. Or so they say.
Note on the building a Media Center PC conference (not really intended for posting but may as well)
Noise levels. Fans. Don't have the fan jump to full speed at power on. Don't jar anyone. Instant on, and when off, fans off. If possible...
Assume the user isn't smart and isn't paying a lot of attention. Not lots of choices, like two video outputs, one at low res that will never be used...
Labelling conventions: use the Consumer Electronics conventions, not PC. On back of the box...
In the Press Room
Worm attacks frequent. This machine has XP SP2 RC1 and should be secure. On the press room line which is being attacked at frequent intervals. Last night I hid behind a D Link router in the Sheraton because there were so many attacks. No router in the press room of course. Ari said he could see the attacks ever few seconds. It's BAD out there...
May 5, 2004
Dawn. Headed for more WinHEC
The party tonight was a Paul Allen's music museum. I now know more about the history of the guitar, 1830 to 1985, than I ever needed to know, and I have seen more guitars -- well, guitar-shaped planks of wood with electronics attached -- that were smashed on stage than I care about. I fear I am of a different era, and the history of rock doesn't intrigue me. The Johnny Cash display -- a single panel on one wall -- was interesting. And I guess I had not known that Bob Dylan's birth name was Robert Allan Zimmerman. I suppose he took the name from Dylan Thomas?
I also recalled hearing on radio years ago about someone playing "the five neck steel guitar" but there was no sign of it in the museum. I gather from Google only one was made for one artist; so a life-long illusion of a whole band of people playing five-neck steel guitars is shattered. Which is just as well.
The Iraqi prison mess continues. There is much about it in mail. It is important to remember there were few instances of actual torture and rape; those deserve severe punishment. The other incidents are humiliations, and we don't know what those prisoners did to be singled out although, given who they were and the fact that we were politically correct and had female jailers mixed in with young men probably has much to do with it. Were I an Iraqi I would not taunt an American female soldier...
I have mail regarding the new Microsoft SPAM policy. One reader thinks this is a new low for Microsoft. Another cheers.
I have asked Microsoft for a statement on just what this is all about. More when I know more.
(See next week. It's a Good Thing.)
Tablet users may want to look at http://www.microsoft.com/sp2preview where there is a neat new handwriting input system. It's a release candidate so be warned...
Lots on new Digital Rights Management stuff, mostly for the column though.
May 6, 2004
For the effect of cultural weapons of mass destruction:
May 7, 2004
The news here is that Microsoft has pulled the plug on NGSCB (Next Generation Secure Computing Base) formerly known as Palladium, due to lack of support from developers. This seems to be a surprise to most of the industry, and certainly we heard no hint of it during the sessions at WinHEC, where you would expect it to be announced and discussed.
It wasn't a surprise to me in the sense that when they first announced Palladium and when it transmogrified into Next Generation etc., I said they were going to encounter a lot of resistance: it required rewriting most apps, and the advantage to developers for doing all that much work isn't entirely obvious. Still, this complete a cut and run at this time seems odd.
BUT: the story we are getting now is that CRN got large parts of this wrong, and misconstrued the Microsoft announcement. NGSCB is not dead, but parts of it are. That makes more sense, given the amount of investment by Microsoft and Intel in the project. We're still looking into this one. If I get more before I have to go to the airport it will get here.
CRN definitely got it wrong. We'll get you the real story shortly. Microsoft executives are addressing the subject in the future of servers conference even now.
From one of our associates:
"The CRN article was grossly irresponsible,
using four or five synonyms for "kill" even though the Microsoft statements
quoted in the article specifically say NGSCB was NOT killed. For example, La
Grande hardware features will still be used-- which makes it obvious enough
that the fundamentals of NGSCB will still be present, else there'd be no use
for La Grande. Some key elements of the plan are up in the air, though.
Peter N. Glaskowsky
Another note, this is also what Auri of
Envisioneering heard from Jim Livingston from MS, program manager for server
More when I learn more.
Intel Abandons Tejas. Pentium 4 architecture future murky. AMD star rising. Prescott probably NOT the way to go for new systems. More when I know more, but "the world turned upside down" this morning.
This is an experiment. I am using the new pen system to Write this. The system works but it is slow. I do not think I would care to write a long essay this way. It does work for short notes.
We are about to board the airplane. But we were born free.
Actually, I have to say the TSA people were polite and efficient, and went about their task with a minimum of irritation. The delays and lines were not pleasant, but they weren't beyond endurance. Of course this is far more than is needed for security (or far less; the point is that the cost is high for the added security). One of Pournelle's Laws (derived from Corlin COB Beum) is "A job not worth doing is not worth doing well." Perhaps that's wrong in this case.
As if we didn't have enough big news to discuss today, Intel has killed off the next Pentium processor, code-named Tejas, and the Jayhawk server version of the same chip.
This announcement is almost unbelievable. Over a billion dollars in engineering and marketing effort is being thrown away.
In the space of just a few months, Intel has cancelled its most important microprocessor architecture (the Pentium 4 series) and removed life support from its second most important architecture (Itanium).
No processor vendor has ever given itself two black eyes like this.
Peter N. Glaskowsky Industry Analyst
Which is news indeed.
May 8, 2004
There is only one reason to use that place: to show how different we are from Saddam. There is no other possible reason to use it: it is as if the US had taken over Dachau and turned it into a camp to hold captured members of the Wehrmacht. One might to that to make a point, but if so, one ought to be conscious of it.
And if we're using it to show we're a different breed of cat from Saddam, then we had better understand that it will take adult supervision to ensure that. Putting the place in the charge of amateurs and reservist without strict supervision from their superiors; from the Inspector General; and from the International Red Cross; is to invite trouble with gilt-edged engraved invitations, and no sane person after a moment's thought would deny that.
So what were they thinking? And to this moment I can't imagine it.
Again, think: if the US had employed Dachau, or Bergen-Belsen, at end of World War II would there have been anyone not aware of the various implications of doing that?
We ought to have torn the damned place down. Maybe now we will.
And now this:
It doesn't end.
Rumsfeld says we will see worse.
So far what I have seen is humiliation, not actual torture. The famous electric man picture is, as I have read it, wired up, but the wires are not attached to anything. He is humiliated and frightened, but not in mortal danger. He isn't going to be fed feet first into a wood chipper.
Nor do we know what led up to that man being selected for that treatment.
Which isn't to excuse the actions or the lack of adult supervision.
And again I keep wondering: is there anyone at all who doesn't understand the implications of putting young men and women together in situations like this without supervision? Hasn't anyone ever read an elementary psychology book? Or have any experience with units of mixed sexes? Or know much about what young men will do to impress young women? Ye flipping gods.
There is something weird about all this. Why were the photographs taken and distributed? Have we ceased giving instructions about what to do when given an order that outrages human decency?
But it was all so foreseeable. Why wasn't it foreseen?
"Rumsfeld did not describe the photos, but U.S. military officials told NBC News that the unreleased images showed U.S. soldiers severely beating an Iraqi prisoner nearly to death, having sex with a female Iraqi female prisoner and “acting inappropriately with a dead body.” The officials said there was also a videotape, apparently shot by U.S. personnel, showing Iraqi guards raping young boys. "
So we wait to see those; although the last sentence may have some explanatory value. Whose Iraqi guards, and when did that happen? We wait to see.
Thanks to Sue for this one:
JAIL COMMANDER WROTE OF HER DISTRESS Friday, May 07, 2004 BY JOHN HASSELL Star-Ledger Staff
As her command of American prisons in Iraq was shaken by reports of U.S. soldiers abusing Iraqi detainees, Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski wrote to a Presbyterian minister in Rahway: "Several of my soldiers are clearly guilty and will be punished. Their acts were deplorable." But, she said, "some things are simply out of my control."
Karpinski, a Rahway native whose management and oversight of the infamous Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad have been criticized by Army investigators, kept up a regular e-mail exchange with the Rev. Howard Bryant throughout her deployment in Iraq, describing the problems and frustrations she faced.
May 9, 2004
These pictures were taken a couple of weeks ago at Ray Bradbury's birthday party. The lovely girl in the pictures is my niece (yes, really) who was my date for the evening since Roberta wasn't feeling up to going. That's her on the left with Forry Ackerman, who seems pleased...
I got the column in on time. Now to clean this mess up....
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