Saturday, January 26, 2008

Apple Mac Ads on Websites

Apple's funny 'Buy a Mac' ads are popular nowadays, that those ads are now seen on several tech websites.

The Buy a Mac Ads

"Hi, I'm a Mac - And I'm a PC"
Those are almost always the first line in the popular Buy-a-Mac ads. Famous for pointing out the blunders of Windows and promoting the Mac, these ads are found on the Apple website. With people representing the machines (the pudgy guy as PC, and the younger guy a Mac), they talk about each other's differences and advantages, but usually ends up with the Mac guy the winner.
Now, these ads are seen on several tech websites, including The ad consists of two parts; the broad large part on the top, and the tall, narrow part on the right (or left) of the screen. PC and Mac are on the narrow part, and usually, the characters 'breaks the ceiling' and interacts with the banner on the top.

They are simply hilarious, and fun to watch. Ads on the websites, however, are not available on the Apple website. Still, there are a handful of Mac ads available at

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Sonicsoft Release: SSGINA

Sonicsoft releases another useful plugin that provides a secure way to identify and authenticate users.

Sonicsoft Releases Sonicsoft GINA

Sonicsoft has released another plugin, the Sonicsoft GINA, that provides developers a way to securely identify and authenticate users on a system. It provides a graphical interactive log-on so that users can enter their credentials. Once the credentials are validated, the control is passed to the host system, including all the user credentials. SSGINA also provides useful functions, such as changing user's password, or resetting a forgotten password.

Sonicsoft GINA handles password securely, including the ability to hash passwords so that they are never revealed in plaintext. It also exposes several methods, like computing the MD5 of a text (useful for passwords). Sonicsoft also has self-checking that warns the host system of any possible flaws.

Monday, January 14, 2008

iPhone's First Trojan

The Trojan specifically targets users that have modded their iPhone so they can install third-party applications.

First Trojan Reported for the iPhone

While not a huge risk, the first Trojan for the iPhone has been discovered. The first reports came from iPhone enthusiast site and were later confirmed by security research company F-Secure.

The Trojan specifically targets users that have modded their iPhone so they can install third-party applications. The application masks itself as an update to Erica's Utilities and is labeled as "113 prep."According to all the app does is say "shoes."

However, when uninstalled, the application removes files from the /bin directory on the iPhone, breaking valid apps like Sendfile and Erica's Utilities.The Web site hosting the application was taken offline soon after it was discovered, reports F-Secure.

"Hopefully this serves as a warning for those who have opened their iPhones using a security hole in the system and then installing unverified software without a second thought to what they are doing," said F-Secure on its Web site.F-Secure reported that it was an 11-year-old kid playing with XML files who created the Trojan. "Next time it might be someone else with more skills and with specific target," they said.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

QuickTime Flaw Found

Another flaw in Apple's QuickTime player found, putting users at risk

New QuickTime Flaw Found

The United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) has found a new buffer overflow vulnerability with Apple's QuickTime media software.

The flaw affects both Windows and Mac operating systems. And since QuickTime is a part of iTunes, Apple's popular jukebox software, iTunes is also affected, said the researchers.

The vulnerability is found in the way QuickTime handles RTSP response messages. When attempting to display a specially crafted Reason-Phrase, QuickTime Player crashes at a memory location that can be controlled by an attacker, according to US-CERT.
The organization also said that they are aware of publicly available proof-of-concept code for this vulnerability.

US-CERT offers several solutions to the problem including uninstalling QuickTime, Blocking the RTSP protocol and disabling the QuickTime plug-ins in your Web browser.

Attackers targeted QuickTime in December in a separate RTSP vulnerability that Apple later fixed with a software update.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

WiiWare Launching this March

Finally, Nintendo's answer to XboxLive Arcade and the PlayStation Store will be available within two or three months.

Developer Says WiiWare Launching this March

Nintendo's answer to Xbox Live Arcade and the PlayStation Store will launch within 2-3 months, says Netherlands-based Engine Software.

The tentative debut of Wii's original download service was named by Engine while announcing their first WiiWare game on Wednesday, reports Shack News.

Project Bang!, as it is currently called, is described as "a casual game type with very addictive gameplay" for one or two players using the Wii Remote.

Engine Software's previous works include High Scool Musical: Livin' The Dream for GBA, The Suite Life of Zack & Cody: Circle of Spies on DS, and contributing work on the DS version of Puzzle Quest: Challenge of the Warlords.

Nintendo previously said WiiWare would launch in "early 2008." The company denied comment when pressed by Shack News for further confirmation.

Friday, January 11, 2008

PS3 40GB Model Pushed by Sony

Sony will discontinue selling the 20GB and 60GB models of PS3 for a 40GB one.

Sony Favors 40GB Model of PS3

Sony said that it will discontinue selling 20GB and 60GB models of PS3s in Japan this month to emphasize a single, more cost-efficient 40GB model.

The 40GB model, which excludes backward compatibility, sells for less in the country than the already discounted and outgoing models; US$362 for the 40GB compared to $410 for the 20GB and $501 for the 60GB.

In the U.K., similar plans are under way where Sony has began selling 60GB inventory at a discounted price in favor of the single 40GB model.

Of the three major game territories, North America is the only location supporting a multiple SKU lineup. Sony of America abandoned the 20GB and 60GB PS3 models last year, leaving two available models: 40GB ($399) and 80GB ($499) versions.

So is a single, worldwide PS3 model in the future cards? Sony says it's open to change.

"We will continue to read and evaluate market trends and communicate with consumers to determine appropriate configurations for each territory," a company official said on Thursday.

As it appears, maybe gamers only want one model.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Queen and Wii

Queen Elizabeth is reportedly playing with Nintendo's Wii

She's Now Playing the Wii

Queen Elizabeth II is reportedly enamored with Nintendo's Wii.

According to a tabloid source close to UK's The People, The Queen is showing signs of becoming a "Nintendo addict" after getting her aging hands on her grandson's newly gifted Wii.

"When she saw [Prince] William playing a game after lunch at Sandringham... she begged to join in," the unnamed contact alleges. "She played a simple ten-pin bowling game and by all accounts was a natural... William was in fits of laughter. He was enormously impressed at having such a cool gran."

Since 2001, Her Majesty has regularly upgraded her cell phone before deciding on a Blackberry which she uses today. She sends e-mail ( maybe?), and listens to an iPod.

Story copyright © 2007 IDG Entertainment. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Microsoft's First Roundup of Patches

The first set of patches for 2008 was released by Microsoft this Tuesday, fixing a pair of networking flaws in the Windows kernel.

Microsoft Releases a New Set of Patches

Microsoft has released a patch to fix a security flaw in Windows that could be used by criminals to create as self-copying computer worm attack. The patch fixed a pair of networking flaws in the Windows Kernel. Another patch was also released for a less-serious Windows flaw that would allow attackers to steal passwords or run Windows software with elevated privileges.

The critical bug lies in the way Windows processes networking traffic that uses IGMP (Internet Group Management Protocol) and MLD (Multicast Listener Discovery) protocols, which are used to send data to many systems at the same time. Microsoft says that an attacker could send specially crafted packets to a victim's machine, which could then allow the attacker to run unauthorized code on a system.

No known code exploits this flaw, security experts say, but now that the patch has been posted, hackers can reverse-engineer the fix and create their own attack code. Since IGMP is enabled both in Windows XP and Vista by default, the bug could be used to create a self-copying worm attack, Microsoft has disclosed.

"Theoretically this is wormable and that's why this is rated critical," said Tim Rains, security response communications lead with Microsoft. However, Microsoft does not believe that hackers will have an easy time developing attack code that will work reliably. "We've done a thorough analysis of the vulnerability and we've come to the conclusion that there are several technical mitigating factors that make it unlikely to get reliable remote code execution," Rains said.

Windows uses the IGMP protocol for many popular consumer applications such as streaming video, multiplayer games and universal plug-and-play, but the protocol is usually blocked at the router. A derivative of IGMP, MLD is the multicast protocol used by IPv6 systems and is enabled on Vista by default

"If it became a worm it could take over an internal network pretty quickly, or at least all the machines where multicast is enabled," said Eric Schultze, chief technology officer with Shavlik Technologies. "But this one is going to be mitigated because a lot of people have blocked multicast."

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Microsoft Will Not Release iPhone Killer

Microsoft won't be releasing a phone that will rival with Apple's big hit iPhone

No iPhone Killer from Microsoft

Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates said that Microsoft will not be releasing a phone that will rival Apple's already famous iPhone.

"No, we won't do that. In the so-called smart phone business we will concentrate solely on software with our Windows Mobile program," Gates was quoted as saying in the interview published on Wednesday.

"We have partnerships with a lot of device manufacturers from Samsung to Motorola and this variety brings us significantly more than if we would make our own mobile phone," he added.

Microsoft may be learning from it's Zune digital music player, who said it was going to be the iPod killer.

Monday, January 7, 2008

The Search Wikia

The widely-awaited open-source search engine, from Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, makes it debut today.

Wikia Search Engine Goes Live Today

Search Wikia, the widely-awaited search engine from Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, is slated to make its official debut today, Monday. It's been said that this open-source, community-driven search engine will eventually place it in competition with Google.

The search engine is still in very early alpha stage, and users who want to test-drive the engine shouldn't expect a Google-killer. It still needs time, and will need participation from volunteers to grow and be refined, Wales said.

With that in mind, Search Wikia is expected to be developed and refined, similarly to Wikipedia, an online encyclopedia written and edited by a community of volunteer collaborators, who have expanded it and improved it over the years.

"Search Wikia is an extremely alpha project. It's a project to build a search engine and not a full-fledged competitor to Google yet. We want to make sure people understand that it's in its very early days," Wales said.

Wales expects the project to provide an alternative to commercial search engines like Google, Yahoo, or Microsoft.

"I don't know how long it will take to reach industry-standard quality search results, but I'd say at least two years," he said.

People interested in volunteering will find a variety of options at Search Wikia, including working with the software to improve and extend it, as well as suggesting pages for the index and evaluating and rating search results.

Those who register to participate in the project will join a social networking environment where they can have a list of friends, upload photos, build profiles and be notified of friends' actions.

Users of the search engine will be presented with what Wales calls a "mini article" at the top of the results list. This can be a photo, a text definition, an external link or whatever else has been determined is the best answer to that particular query.

Below the "mini article" will be the list of results, picked from the Search Wikia index, which on Monday will have anywhere between 50 million and 100 million Web pages. Wales concedes that number is small, but said it will continue to grow over time.

Users will be able to rank the quality of individual search results, and Search Wikia will factor in that feedback when solving future queries. "That way, people will be able to influence the algorithmic search results," he said.

Those who try to abuse the system for, say, search engine spamming purposes, are bound to be quickly noticed by administrators and other community members, and they will swiftly be blocked and banned, Wales said.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Ransomware Extorts Payment with Phone Call

New "ransomware" that locks up your PC and demands $35 to return control to you is on the prowl, a security researcher said this week.

'Ransomware' Extorts Payment With Phone Call

New "ransomware" that locks up a person's PC and demands US$35 to return control to its user is on the prowl, a security researcher said this week.

The extortionists tell victims of the Delf.ctk Trojan horse to dial a 900 number, said Alex Eckelberry, CEO of Sunbelt Software Distribution Inc., a Clearwater, Fla.-based security developer. That number can be traced to "," a payment processor also used by hardcore pornography Web sites to charge for access to their content, added Eckelberry.

Users infected with the Trojan horse see a full-screen message posing as an error generated by Windows, according to screenshots posted by Eckelberry on the Sunbelt company blog on Monday. "ERROR: Browser Security and Antiadware [sic] Software component license exprited [sic]," the message reads. "Surfing PORN, ADULT and some other kind of sites you like without this software is dangerous and threatens with infection of your computer by harmful viruses, adware, spyware, etc."

The bogus update window includes a "Click to activate new license" button that in turn brings up another screen, this one telling U.S. users to dial a 900 telephone number and enter a personal identification number (PIN). If the 900 number doesn't work, the page instructs users to dial alternate numbers -- one in the West African nation of Cameroon, the other a satellite telephone number.

"You're completely locked out of the system" after the Delf.ctk Trojan horse installs and runs, said Eckelberry. The only way to regain control is to pay up by dialing.

A search on Google for the 900 number returns results pointing to, a Web site registered to Global Voice SA, a company based in the Republic of Seychelles, an island nation in the Indian Ocean. The IP address used by is shared with similar domains, including "" and "," which are also registered to Global Voice.

Global Voice did not respond to e-mail sent to the address listed in the domain registration information for

Ransomware, a term used to describe malware that tries to extort money from users after an infection -- usually to return access to suddenly-encrypted files -- is rare, but not unknown. The last outbreak of any note was in July 2007, when another Trojan horse, dubbed "GpCode," demanded $300 to unlocked frozen files.


Thursday, January 3, 2008

Microsoft's Answer to Adobe Flash

Microsoft has developed its own Flash a few months ago. Silverlight was Microsoft's answer to the ever popular Adobe Flash, providing a new foundation for web content.

Silverlight versus Flash

Adobe's Flash has been around for years, and many of the popular websites enrich their content and experience by adding Flash. Not only does it provide a way to create animation, it also provides interactivity and unique interface. But it looks like Microsoft's entry into the industry will shake things up. Adobe's Flash may have a serious rival on the business.

Microsoft's Silverlight is, according to Wikipedia,
"a runtime for browser-based Rich Internet Applications, providing a subset of the animation, vector graphics, and video playback capabilities of Windows Presentation Foundation". The fact that it can be written in any language using the .NET framework means it inherits the robustness and flexibility of the framework.

To be fair, Adobe's Flash is currently used by the majority of web developers. For one thing, all modern operating systems support it, and has been the de facto for web interactive controls. Developers know how to create interactive content using Flash's own scripting language, and are confident to know they only have to write the code once for different platforms.

Silverlight's entry should shake things up, with its promising feature - the ability to program it using the .NET language. Developers who are skilled in .NET programming language could easily code interactive content for Silverlight. In effect, they can create localized version and a web version of their application using the same code. The flexibility and power of the .NET framework should draw more developers into writing Silverlight applications.

Microsoft's entry into the business is late, and will take a lot of effort to race ahead of Adobe's Flash. However, Adobe has to do its own part as well.

"The biggest thing Adobe needs to bring FlexBuilder up to date with modern developer tools," said Greg DeMichillie, an analyst with Directions on Microsoft. "I would say they are two years behind Visual Studio."

"The other thing not to underestimate is the value of Microsoft's programming languages," he added. "C# and VB -- they are real programming languages," he said. "[Adobe's] ActionScript has certainly grown up in the last year or two, but you won't find people building industrial-strength applications with it."

While a wealth of smaller companies and startups have crowded the RIA platform space, DeMichillie said he expects only Adobe and Microsoft will emerge as true players.

"When you build a platform you need so many pieces," he said. "The other player trying to do this is Sun [with its JavaFX platform], but I don't think they have all the pieces."

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year!

Google celebrates the New Year and the birth of TCP/IP 25 years ago, milestone invention leading to the modern Internet.

The New Year Article

Google's Search page's logo changes from time to time, usually to reflect current events or special days. Today, January 1, 2008, Google's logo celebrates the new year and the 25 years of TCP/IP. Clicking the logo leads you to a search results page with articles about TCP/IP.

Google logo for the celebration of New Year and 25 Years of TCP/IP
courtesy by

Today's IP networking represents a synthesis of two developments that began in the 1960s and 1970s, namely LANs (Local Area Networks) and the Internet, both of which have revolutionized computing.

The Internet protocol suite came from work done by Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in the early 1970s. After building the pioneering ARPANET in the late 1960s, DARPA started work on a number of other data transmission technologies.

In 1975, a two-network TCP/IP communications test was performed between Stanford and University College London (UCL). In November, 1977, a three-network TCP/IP test was conducted between the U.S., UK, and Norway. Between 1978 and 1983, several other TCP/IP prototypes were developed at multiple research centres. A full switchover to TCP/IP on the ARPANET took place January 1, 1983.

Of course, today is also the start of a new year.

Here we are in 2008, and I thank you people for visiting Sonicsoft Wired's blog. Happy New Year everyone!