News for Thursday

All the news that's fit to rant aboutGood morning. It's day two of California held hostage. OK Arnold, where's my Hummer? Yale University was chartered on this day in 1701. The first two-way telephone conversation occurred in 1878. The first consumer use of home banking by computer occurred in 1980 in Knoxville, Tennessee.

John Lennon was born on this day in 1940. Imagine.

  1. SANS and Homeland Security have released their annual Top 20 Security Vulnerabilities list, for the first time tagging Outlook and P2P software as threats. The SANS recommendations include instructions on how to uninstall Outlook saying its "embedded automation features are at odds with the built-in security controls" which are "often disregarded by end users" anyway.

  2. The US House of Representatives is taking the recommendations to heart. They voted yesterday to reduce security risks from P2P software on government computers. That should do the trick.
  3. Eolas isn't waiting for Microsoft to redesign Internet Explorer. The company asked a judge yesterday to block further shipments of IE until Microsoft pays up. Web designers had better hurry up and fix their pages if they want them to work with IE, and that doesn't just mean ActiveX controls as I mistakenly reported Tuesday - it means Flash, Quicktime, Java and other embedded content. Apple has a great support page for web developers with Javascript code that will work for most content.
  4. Intuit apologizes to customers in ads today, saying it won't use copy protection in future versions of TurboTax.
  5. has delisted Spam Remedy v2.3 Pro due to suspicions that the program is actually spam in disguise. The Register reports that not only do the publishers use spam to promote the product, but that it may even be designed to act as a spam proxy on systems where it is installed.
  6. The Napster 2.0 beta launches today as a paid service from Roxio using a model very similar to Apple's iTunes Music Store. Songs are 99¢ per track, $9.95 per album, with a whopping 500,000 songs available, all in WMA format. The service rolls out to the public October 29.
  7. Meanwhile there's bad news for fans of unencumbered legal MP3 downloads. eMusic has been acquired and is dropping its all you can eat service.
  8. On a brighter note, Berkeley based record label Magnatune uses file swapping as its business model. It's essentially shareware music and the artists get 50% of the gross. Their motto: "We are not evil."
  9. An anonymous paper [PDF] published on an Australian web site says the techniques the RIAA may be using to snag file sharers could easily trap the wrong people. The paper cited issues with Gnutella, but the principle extends to all P2P networks: you can't trust what P2P applications tell you about users.
  10. Federal law enforcement officers have arrested a disgruntled Phillies fan for hacking into computers to spam two Philadelphia sports reporters. He faces 471 years in prison and $117 million in fines for messages like "Corrupt Philly Media Keeps Phils in Cellar." Or it could have been their 37-44 road record.