I just got done reading a new Apress book named Black Hat: Misfits, Criminals, and Scammers in the Internet Age.
It's all about the dangers of life on the Internet. Not how it's done, but the artifacts of it. And it introduces us to the face of the bad guys who want to steal your identity, your money, your time (or use your computer to do it to other people).
A friend who hangs around the red-light-district on the Internet was IM'ing me tonight and said "check out this spammer." Sent me to http://www.ytcracker.com/. This is a 22-year-old who is proud of making money off of spam and other nefarious things (is a famous defacer of Web sites). Even sings rap songs about it. Contains potentially offensive language. Not to me, mind you, but some of my readers might not like hearing a profanity or two. But, I link to him to show the attitude and the kind of person we're up against.
Anyway, the book is a good primer for those who don't know about the dangers that lurk on the Internet. Be careful out there.
Rob Caron is at a Rush concert. And meets Don Box. And blogs. Do they have WiFi at concerts now? Wacky. I'm going to see Sting with Maryam later this year. I guess they aren't worried too much about piracy.
Today I took a vacation day. Now, while many people go to the park and drink beer on their vacation day, I headed over to see my former boss, Olivier Garbe, founder of Winnov.
He's the prototypical Silicon Valley entrepreneur. His step-dad is Sean Connery. Yes, that Connery. Sean provided a bit of angel funding in the early days, but Olivier is very proud that his 20-person company survived Silicon Valley's tough times without any additional funding (no new funding in seven years).
Winnov sure has been busy in the six years since I've worked there (back when I worked there they built video capture cards for doing videoconferencing -- those roots are still there). They built Alameda's traffic management system. Live streaming video from major intersections. Security systems. Conference room systems. Streaming media servers for major Internet sites. And more.
What Olivier showed me this afternoon is Winnov's new Cbox. I wish I could show you a demo.
Olivier is one of those guys who are talented demo'ers. He started out showing how easy it is to setup the system (the old version required running a wizard and setting things up). Just stick in a USB key with your PowerPoint deck on it and the system starts running.
Well, you also have to turn on the wireless microphone that comes with the system and attach it to your shirt. The system starts recording and broadcasting you. It comes with a video camera that'll follow you around the room. And a whiteboard.
But this isn't a normal whiteboard. You write on it and the system automatically switches to the whiteboard. Steve Cellini, the guy who plans our PDC's, needs to see this!
At the end of the presentation you can save to DVD, save to the Internet, save to FTP server, or just plain old save it to your local drive. It creates a full-featured presentation automatically. No ActiveX Controls needed.
The system was built with .NET and Windows Media. In every step you can see the bets that Olivier and his 20-person company made on Microsoft technologies.
Anyway, I only got half the demo. My wife and son needed to be picked up from Costco. So, I'm heading back to get the second half.
It's my vacation. Shoot me. I hope you have a great Fourth of July weekend. What's more fun than geeking out in a Silicon Valley research and development lab? For me, not much.
Microsoft Monitor: Looking deep into XPSP2.
"I'm learning the extent of changes go deep down into the operating system, for which Microsoft deserves praise. But, I have to fault Microsoft for failing to communicate the extent of rewiring and replumbing going on inside the Windows XP structure. Better evangelism might help deflect dings over increasing security problems and prepare the way for rapid SP2 adoption."
Yup, we shouldn't have called this one a mere "service pack." The changes to XP that are coming soon are deep. Plus there are new features too (the new wireless features are great, especially for someone who travels as much as I do).
John Dowdell: "I can certainly see how saying the wrong thing could make the situation worse, but an interim acknowledgment of "yes, I read that and can't say much useful now, but the group is working on it and will have something more useful soon" or whatever still seems like the stronger path."
John, I can't be a security spokesperson. I am not on the security response team. I am not involved in their discussions. Last Friday I +did+ acknowledge that we had released a security alert on this issue and sent you over to microsoft.com/security.
At this point that's all I really can do -- it's far better to have the world going to one place to get their security news. I do note, however, that Stephen Toulouse (who is one of the guys authorized to speak to the press on security issues) is watching the Channel 9 thread on the IE security fix released today and is answering questions there (his name there is "stepto" which is also his Microsoft email alias).
MozillaZine's Asa Dotzler: "Robert does his readers a disservice by hiding behind the (paraphrasing) "people don't like change and why change when the alternative isn't perfect" arguments. I hope when he's had a bit more time to digest the seriousness of all of this that he'll push through the obvious dissonance and consider the computing safety of his readers to be of more importance than whatever conflicting force has pushed him to these specious arguments."
Wired Magazine: Mozilla feeds on rival's woes.
An official Microsoft security fix for IE has been posted. Channel 9 has a link to it, details about it (and a place to have a conversation about it).
John Dowdell at Macromedia is wondering why I haven't said anything about our government's recommendation to use non-IE browsers.
One, I've been spending time with my son the past week and a half, so have been far behind in blogging. I just caught up tonight on my RSS feeds and posting to my link blog.
Second, I've been arguing internally with myself and have two points of view. One point of view is that the government is right. Go to Firefox or Opera.
But, the other is that most people don't want to switch so what then? Look at myself. I use Firefox about 40% of the time right now (that means I use IE 60% of the time). How do I protect myself? So, while I argue with myself, make sure you take the steps needed to protect yourself.
Visit microsoft.com/security and keep up to date and follow the guidance there.
What's sad is this is all due to criminal activity.
Protect yourself at www.microsoft.com/protect even if you have already switched to a non-IE browser. Why? There are bad people out there. They want to do you harm. Make sure you are following the best practices to best protect your system.
Now, I know that many people will use this as an opportunity to pitch their favorite products and try to get people to use them. But, ask yourself: "can you guarantee that the product you are recommending is 100% secure?" And, if not, why should I stick up for you when the criminals come after you?
Abiola Lapite: "Hmm, maybe Robert Scoble isn't all full of cowdung after all."
Shhhh, don't tell anyone. Might ruin my reputation. But, yes, MSDN's new Product Feedback Center is a great step. Hope to see it used on other products. Keep on keeping our feet to the fire.
When Kevin was giving me a tour yesterday of Microsoft Research I got a demo of the new photo capabilities in a research project called Triage. Here's a video of Triage over on News.com.
This is the coolest stuff I've seen in a while. I wonder if one of our competitors will claim they did it first. Hmmm.