Spyware and Virus’s

A friend asked me to have a look at her mom’s PC due to several problems that where driving her up the wall. The following is the list I was given.
1. McAfee had run out and was asking for reregistration and fees etc.
Cure: Uninstall and replace with AVG — free edition
Why: AVG is free and as good as McAfee.
2. Windows Messenger pop ups from the internet.
Cure: Disable the service in Services
Why: Windows messenger service should be disabled. For some reason microsoft leave it enabled for normal users which is a bit silly in my book.
See Below for the cure.
3. Firewall.
Cure: Install the free edition of Zone Alarm
Why: Its free and a great product.
Some other things that I had a look for when I was fixing the PC.
Spyware:
To check for spyware download SpyBot and it should find the most common ones. I found the following.
IE DSO Exploit
Wild Tangent
Alexa Toolbar
Media Plex
and a whole lot of tracking cookies. I know a lot of this stuff can be harmless but I consider anything that sends information over the internet without the users express permission as spyware. Why AOL decided to use Wild Tangent I have no idea. Its spyware in my book.
The IE DSO Exploit may not actually be a problem due to a bug in SpyBot. I updated the windows installation that fixes the problem but SpyBot was still throwing a wobbly. A quick Google showed that this is a problem with SpyBot if windows is properly up to date.
Service Pack 2
I downloaded this and installed it which should take care of some problems and no doubt introduce a few others.
HOW TO DISABLE WINDOWS MESSENGER
Windows XP Home
Click Start->Settings ->Control Panel
Click Performance and Maintenance
Click Administrative Tools
Double click Services Scroll
down and highlight “Messenger”
Right-click the highlighted line and choose Properties.
Click the STOP button.
Select Disable or Manual in the Startup Type scroll bar
Click OK
Windows 2000
Click Start-> Settings-> Control Panel-> Administrative Tools->Services
Scroll down and highlight “Messenger”
Right-click the highlighted line and choose Properties.
Click the STOP button.
Select Disable or Manual in the Startup Type scroll bar
Click OK
Windows XP Professional
Click Start->Settings ->Control Panel
Click Administrative Tools
Click Services
Double click Services Scroll
down and highlight “Messenger”
Right-click the highlighted line and choose Properties.
Click the STOP button.
Select Disable or Manual in the Startup Type scroll bar
Click OK
Windows NT
Click Start ->Control Panel
Double Click Administrative Tools
Select Services-> Double-click on Messenger
In the Messenger Properties window, select Stop,
Then choose Disable as the Startup Type
Click OK
Windows 98 & ME
Windows Messenger Service cannot be disabled

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Multiple users and X-Windows

I wanted to open an application today as the Postgres user while logged in as my normal user account. I know that dropping access control to the xserver can be a bit of a security risk but I also don’t like flicking between users to achieve a task. I don’t mind opening an xterm but logging in and out of xwindows is not much fun.
Anyway to get an application working using the insecure method we can do the following. User A is the main user and you want user B to be able to open an app in users A’s session.
A@machine:~$ xhost +
A@machine:~$ su – B
password *********
B@machine:~$ export DISPLAY=:0.0
B@machine:~$ /path/to/application/
This was easy but I don’t like using
A@machine:~$ xhost +
and allowing everyone access. This is not smart so I decided to see if there is a more secure method that avoids this. Having a read of the xhost manual I found out that I could limit access on a per host or per user basis as follows
A@machine:~$ xhost +B@
which gives me a lovely error message as seen below. I have tried various different methods but I get the same error message.
B@ being added to access control list
X Error of failed request: BadValue (integer parameter out of range for operation)
Major opcode of failed request: 109 (X_ChangeHosts)
Value in failed request: 0xfe
Serial number of failed request: 7
Current serial number in output stream: 9
so it would appear to me that there is something amiss somewhere. I googled for quite a while to see if I could find a definitive answer. No joy, they all recommended using xhost + which is not what I want to do.
Simple things like this can be such a bloody chore under Linux. I know, I know stop bitching and start patching.
Anyway. I can remember doing something similar to what I want with ssh so I had a look at the man page and found the following snippet
-X Enables X11 forwarding. This can also be specified on a per-host
basis in a configuration file.
X11 forwarding should be enabled with caution. Users with the
ability to bypass file permissions on the remote host (for the
user’s X authorization database) can access the local X11 display
through the forwarded connection. An attacker may then be able
to perform activities such as keystroke monitoring.
This meant that I could do the following.
A@machine
A@machine:~$ ssh -X B@machine
password ********
B@machine:~$ /path/to/application
and I get the window displayed. Remember that you need to edit the
/etc/ssh/sshd_config
files and set X11forwarding to yes. This is more secure than using xhost + but still not ideal but good enough for what I want it for.

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Linux Developer Gets Laid

I know this has probably done the rounds but this did make me giggle

Some developers are also excited that this may increase their chances of getting lucky, but most are being realistic. Walker Crandall said, “We thought we’d all be doing the hokey-pokey after Bill Fitzsimmons got some during the LinuxWorld Conference in 1999. We were fooling ourselves. Nobody got nothing.”
This is the third such occurrence for Linux developers since 1991.

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Against Fox Hunting

The first thing I would like to make quite clear is that we cannot proceed on banning fox hunting because its unnecessary. A lot of friends who want the ban argue that it is unnecessary so it should be banned. This argument is rubbish because we all do quite unnecessary things every day just because we want to. There are thousands of sports fisherman and recreational hunters in the UK and it’s quite unnecessary that they do it yet we are not about to ban them.
I intend to proceed on the basis of fox hunting being unnecessarily cruel. This is very apparent to me and anyone with a pair of working eyes.
Fox’s have been portrayed by the hunters as a farmers worst nightmare and that this little demon kills everything on site and thus the less of them the better in their book. There is some truth in this (see “surplus killing” on Google), fox’s are not angels but then neither are domestic cats. Having been raised in a village that loved pigeon racing it was very apparent to us that the cute little kitty cat next door wanted to kill every single bird in the shed and would do so without remorse. What did we do? We made sure that they could not get into the shed. We didn’t chase them around the neighborhood with 50 dogs.
Anywhere someone makes a living from the land we will always have a conflict between the farmer and the predator. A farmer has every right to protect his animals from these marauders. However, this does not give anyone the right to be cruel to an animal and most farmers respect this.
Fox hunting is unnecessary because it is actually easier to shoot a fox than it is to gather together a team of hunters with their dogs and chase it across the country. This is the point that I stated earlier that was an insufficient argument to ban fox hunting. What is sufficient is the fact that it’s cruel.
The fox is chased down by a team of dogs and then killed. The actual death of the fox may not actually be that pleasant either. Unfortunately a lot of hunters would like you to believe that the fox is killed quickly. This is the biggest lie they seem to push because they know beyond all shadow of a doubt that the fox does not die quickly. It is quite easy to get your hands on a video where you will see a fox being disemboweled and it will still continue to fight until the end. These are the lucky ones……
They unlucky ones are the ones that are smart and go to ground. The fox knows it’s being hunted so it determines that if it goes deep enough no natural predator would be getting to it. What the fox doesn’t factor in is the human with the shovel (the spade brigade) who is prepared to dig the fox out and let the dogs rip it to shreds.
What we don’t hear about are the terrier men who send terriers down after the fox either of which may die from their injuries. There are recorded videos of terrier men digging down to a fox and then setting teams of terriers on the animal until it is killed. The so called men claim that this is not cruel yet it can go on for up to half an hour. It is illegal to dig a badger from its hole. Why then should we not extend the same courtesy to the fox who might happen to have went down a badger sett.
Sending terriers down after a fox is the closest thing these terrier men can get to a dog fight with little or no fear of a prosecution if caught in the act, or even with a video of the act which has happened in the past.
My argument above is weak at best so I will leave you with a much better argument against fox hunting… the facts… Pack of lies

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TrackBacks and blog things

What the hell is a trackback?
Sorry, maybe I should rephrase that question a little. How do I use a trackback, I know what it is in theory, so how do I get a digest of someones writing on my site
which I can comment on. I have seen it on other blogs and was just wondering how it is done.
I don’t read that many blogs and for the most part the ones I have read are almost as bad as mine. This means that I rarely feel strongly enough to comment on what I find and when I do it is normally about a topic I refuse to discuss due to the amount of freaks out there who like to talk shit and give it a fancy label.

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Book

Due to a severe case of blog block as mentioned earlier I cannot remember if I have mentioned this before somewhere but I thought to myself what the hell, no one reads this crap anyway so I can practice my touch typing if nothing else.
I started reading when I was 14. I can hear people gasp in horror at this thinking that I learned to read when I was 14. Read it again.
My cousin was a very keen reader and it was him that introduced me to the novel. This sounds odd but up until then I had never really thought about sitting down and actually reading a book, thats what nerds did where I came from or at least this was my perception.
The first Novel I was introduced to was probably not particularly healthy reading for a boy of 14 Gor (John Norman). Even to this day I am not sure if it was the thought of all these naked slave woman that kept me interested or if I just liked reading. One things for sure I was soon hooked on reading.
I was staying at my cousins for a couple of weeks and managed to read 4 books and I came home with a whole pile of them. I think they didn’t like the Gor books but for me it was great. I was able to escape into this fantasy world where everything always worked out. I made short work of the Gor books and began visiting a local second hand bookshop and buying pretty much anything remotely fantasy related. It was also around this time that I encountered Tolkein and munched my way throught the Hobbit then the trilogy.
I also digressed into Horror for a short period but this was short lived. I read some King, Koontz, Masterton, Herbert etc etc. Most of the populars that hit the second hand book shelf got some attention.
It was around this time 16 that I stared writing a book at home. I got as far as 20000 words before I lost interest. This was due to me knowing I was a crap writer with little skills in english let alone how to write a book. We moved house around then and I still think that the pages I wrote are in the house we left because I had hidden them in the attic.
Since then I have been writing the book in my head or at least that is what I think I have been doing. Having never written anything longer than a few thousand words I have no idea how you go about such a task.
I have built up about 20 characters with lots of short stories that focus on each character. These stories are not necessarily part of the book they are just things I know about the characters and their history etc. Some of the stories feature in the book in various formats ie character B recounting a story about character C to character A etc or the character reminicing about something etc.
I have also the general idea for a plot which so far has been the hardest thing for me to think about. For some reason the characters come easily to me but the plots a lot harder.
I have enough managed to get enough of a book formulated that it took me 3 hours to recount the main part of it to Jenny on a long trip in the car (not sure if she was asleep or not 😉
This is just another of those things that I have got to do.

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Blog Block

I was wondering if anyone else suffers from blog block (BB). What is BB?
BB, for me at least is all of the following.
1. Not remembering what you have written previously.
2. Knowing you have something you wanted to write but cannot remember what the hell it was on the Tube/Queue that irked/tickled you enough to write about it.
3. Having stuff to say that fringes on a subject you cannot discuss.
4. Writing some meaningless crap about writing meaningless crap.
There are more but I can’t be bothered listing them due to a severe case of Blog Block. Having had a look around it would appear that this is a common occourance.

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Torrington House

After the gliding the plan was to go and stay at a B&B close to were Jennys Grandmother lives. After Eastacott Barton house I was not expecting anything even close to what we had just experienced and for the second time that weekend I was humbled. Torrington House and Eastacott Barton are quite different ie Eastacott is in the country Torrington is in the town but the standards they both set would be hard very to beat.
On walking through the door of Torrington the smell was lovely (good sign). Pete (the man of the house) was full of beans and talking away which was good. I have been to plenty of places where the host dosn’t speak a word, bloody boring. The room was also huge and absolutely spotless and if you like the old iron roll top baths then this is the place for you. I am 6’5″ and I was able to lay down in the bath comfortably.
For me the best thing was the breakfast. Pete must have thought I needed feeding because I was unable to decide what I wanted at breakfast so he brought me damned near everything on the menu for me this was like heaven and the food was fantastic. Both Pam and Pete are vegeterians and there is no meat on the menu but I have to say I didn’t miss it one jot. The Eggs Torrington are the bees knees and I had these both mornings. I also liked the pancakes which I had with maple syrup, brilliant. We were also treated to chocolate croissants which is another thing I have a soft spot for.
I was very impressed with everything about Torrington house and I would give it 5 stars.

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Eastacott Barton House

http://www.eastacott.com/devon-bed-and-breakfast.htm>is simply magnificent
We went gliding at the weekend and we wanted to stay somewhere close to the airfield and Jenny found Eastacott house. I had my reservations about it but thats because I have stayed in more bad b&b’s than good ones.
My mind was soon put to rest on arrival at the house. To start, the grounds are absolutely stunning. The man of the house is a keen gardner and he has done a fine job on the grounds. I don’t know how he managed it but it looked as if the garden had just been done for our arrival.
The room we stayed in was called Honeysuckle and was huge. It was quite funny when we walked in and couldn’t see the bathroom. We quickly realised that the door to what we thought was a wardrobe led to a bathroom which is as big as a double room complete with Jacuzzi.
What I really liked was the little touches.
1. On arrival at the house they both come out to meet us which I thought was just lovely, its such a rare courtesy nowdays that it suprised me.
2. The room had a stereo and classical music was playing
3. There were a few little biscuits in a tin beside the bed (I love shortbread).
If you are after a place to stay then look no further. It is not the cheapest but it’s certainly one of the best B&B’s I have stayed in.

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Update on Plico

From humble beginnings we have now got 28 processors working away and we have now broke the 3000th place barrier. We have gained several new members in the last week.
Join team plico

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