Everything, Everything - November 2006

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Month of Kernel Bugs
Thursday 30th November, 2006 16:46
So a month has gone by, and what conclusions can I make? It seems that Microsoft have done pretty well, OSX has a few issues, Linux has a few more, and wireless drivers aren't too hot either. Assuming I can count (a big assumption):

Kernel Fun

Linux: 11
Apple: 9
Third party wireless drivers: 5 (although there are meant to be many outstanding Netgear vulnerabilities too)
Microsoft: 1 (although it doesn't apply to 2003 or Vista)

Either all the researchers have switched to looking for OSX and Linux vulnerabilities, or Microsoft have done a pretty good job at protecting the kernel in recent years. Or both.

EDIT: It seems I posted too soon, I had missed that the last bug hadn't been revealed (the totals above have been updated accordingly).
Tuesday 28th November, 2006 17:04
At first I thought what a stupid person, when I read that a double amputee has been jailed for a year after leading police on a high-speed car pursuit, using modified broom handles to control the vehicle. It turns out he had traces of heroin and cocaine in his blood too. But then I got to the end of the BBC News article and discovered the real idiots: "Two passengers in the Astra at the time were unhurt"

Two passengers decided that it was a good idea to climb into the car driven by a double amputee with broom handles, and was presumably high. Are people really that stupid?!?
Pregnant Man Fined in South African Court
Tuesday 28th November, 2006 14:19
This made me smile :)

A South African man has been fined $140 for taking a week off work, telling his employers he was pregnant. Charles Sibindana, 27, stole a certificate from a clinic during his pregnant girlfriend's checkup, a court near Johannesburg heard. He then added his own details to the note and submitted it and took seven days off work, seemingly unaware that only women consult gynaecologists. His employers became suspicious and investigated the matter. On passing sentence Magistrate Bruno Van Eeden warned Mr Sibindana "not to walk around faking sick letters from gynaecologists" as if he was pregnant.
When Is Junk Not Junk?
Monday 27th November, 2006 12:21
The BBC has compared the nutritional content of dishes served in various high street restaurant chains and discovered that the label "junk food" is used selectively, with most "fast food" or "junk food" places being not much worse, and sometimes better, than places that are considered healthy or respectable.
Fewer Teens Having Babies
Monday 27th November, 2006 11:57
A Government strategy to cut soaring rates of teenage pregnancy in England appears to be working. Between 1998 and 2003, under-18 conception rates fell by an average of 2% per year. The net change between the periods 1994 to 1998 and 1999 to 2003 was a fall of 3.2%. Professor Kaye Wellings, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said: "The fall in conceptions runs counter to the recent trend of stable or increasing rates in some other European countries."

"However, sustained efforts will be needed to address the root causes of teenage pregnancy."

Surely the root cause is that teenagers enjoy having unprotected sex?

It's no surprise when 74% of parents did not know whether their child was sexually active. On top of that, 44% say they have never had an in-depth discussion about sex with their offspring. Also, nearly a quarter of parents are happy for their children to be taught about kinky sex in class: bondage and dogging are among the subjects they approved for discussion in secondary schools; however, 27% of parents do not want homosexuality to be mentioned.
Geeky, But Cool
Thursday 23rd November, 2006 12:10
Anonymizing RFI Attacks Through Google

By placing a URL on any web page, Google will find it, visit it and then index it. With this mechanism, it is possible to anonymize attacks on third party web sites through Google by the use of its crawler.

Very clever. And I can't think of a single decent way of stopping it from happening :(
Thom Yorke
Wednesday 22nd November, 2006 12:30
Or Thorn Yorke as stated on Sky News, when they reproduced:

The NME Cool List TopTen:

1. Beth Ditto, the Gossip
2. Faris Rotter, the Horrors
3. Lily Allen
4. Jarvis Cocker
5. Karen O, Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs
6. Kieren Webster, the View
7. Kate Jackson, the Long Blondes
8. Gerard Way, My Chemical Romance
9. Thom Yorke, Radiohead
10 Lovefoxxx, CSS

I'm not sure I'd agree with many of them. Beth Ditto (never heard of her, apparently she's a 15-stone lesbian activist from Arkansas), who fronts US band the Gossip (never heard of them), has topped NME's annual Cool List. The larger-than-life punk feminist was chosen by the music weekly ahead of Faris Rotter (never heard of him). I have, however, heard of Lily Allen and Jarvis Cocker.

Anyway, it got me thinking, it seems that lesbians often call themselves feminists, and there's nothing particularly wrong with that, except that women pretty much have equality nowadays and I often wish they'd shut the hell up (no offence to my female friends, but the few differences - and not disadvantages - that exist are often down to valid differences in gender and nothing to do with equality - e.g. if you want more pay and promotion you should demand more pay and apply for promotions; you still get better maternity leave than men get for paternity). I've also come across the term lesbian feminism (Google for lesbian feminist and click the top link for Wikipedia), but it seems to me that everything that it talks about is either covered by feminism or falls under gay rights. I think the term "lesbian feminism" should be banned.
My Mouth Hurts
Wednesday 22nd November, 2006 11:21
I think I've got a bruise near the corner of my mouth. It's almost as if someone's punched me in the face. It might have something to do with the fact I punched myself in the face last night. I slipped my bag off my shoulder and let it gently fall into the car, as I usually do, but for whatever reason I wasn't thinking about what I was doing and the bag slipped off too quickly at an odd angle. This meant my right arm was taking more weight than it expected, pulling me down, and my left arm (that was expecting to catch the heavy bag containing my work laptop) swung up, missed the strap, and I promptly punched myself in the face. I could taste a little bit of blood and it hurt like hell. I can't see a bruise yet.
How Long Should I Wait?
Wednesday 22nd November, 2006 10:21
No, not before asking out that girl in the blue uniform, but until I buy a house.

The housing market is likely to bust within the next few years, says a prominent economist. David Miles - a former adviser to Gordon Brown - believes that house price growth has been grounded in unrealistic expectations of double digit annual rises.

Once house price rises come down below expectations, Professor Miles believes "significant" falls are likely. "A sharp fall in real house prices is likely at some point in the relatively near future, though it could yet be one to two years away," the report concludes. Mr Miles, a visiting professor at London's Imperial College is regarded as one of Europe's leading financial experts. Mr Miles' comments were echoed in May by Mervyn King, governor of the Bank of England.
Tuesday 21st November, 2006 23:13
Not including any of my comments, but including bits I've copied and pasted, it seems I've written roughly 45,000 words in the last 200 blog entries, since September 12th. That's about 10 weeks, assuming my numbers add up. That's also about 640 words a day. Impressive. You know, I could make a book out of this... ;)
Tuesday 21st November, 2006 20:41
A guy on Dave's forum is making me feel even more broody by announcing that he's going to be a father! For those that don't know, Geno (better known as Andy) will typically make some sort of obnoxious comment wherever possible.

Yup, I'm once more upping the bar for old grey haired-ness in DWW. Baby is due in Feb 2007.

Q&A time:

- You can't be 100% sure from a scan but they think it's a boy
- Yes Geno, it was planned
- Yes Geno, it's with my wife

The lucky bastard.
IE Security
Monday 20th November, 2006 14:44
Occasionally I browse secure websites where the certificate is invalid, usually it's been signed with the machine's name, but I'm accessing it from another web address. IE7 always brings up a big warning page that forces me to ignore their advice and go view the site anyway (I can turn the option off, but I'd rather click it the few times it's necessary rather than allow all dodgy sites to get through). This has worked fine until very recently. I noticed the problem at Tom's place over the weekend, he was using IE6, but it had the same problem where it shows the ieframe.dll page instead of the website (I ended up using Firefox, which was less fussy). I did a quick search earlier today on Google and found nothing was jumping out at me. I worked out that I could view secure websites with valid certificates without any trouble, but I also noticed that some scripting didn't appear to be working properly. So I went to the Security tab in IE and hit the "Reset all zones to deault level" button to see if that made a difference, and everything seems to be fine again. Now I just need to work out why my settings weren't on the defaults!
Monday 13th November, 2006 09:16
I don't normally slag people off, but after catching up with all the stuff that happened over the weekend, I came to the conclusion that there are a lot of idiots in the UK.

First we have two researchers at Glamorgan. Given my previous experience with two members of staff there (over two separate things), I came to the conclusion they're idiots. Well I can now state that their researchers are idiots too. On The Register is an article about IE7.

Recently, Microsoft released Internet Explorer 7, the latest version of its web browser. Even more recently, it added it to the "critical updates" section of Windows Update. Many organisations, to keep their computers up-to-date and bug-free, allow these critical updates to be installed automatically overnight, with no user intervention.

Internet Explorer 7 is a nice update to IE6, enabling tabbed browsing, and introduces other features seen in other web browsers like Firefox and Opera. Typically, IE7 will overwrite IE6 as the default Microsoft browser.

Okay, how many times do I have to say it? IE7 will not automatically install itself without user intervention.

IE7 will only be offered to users who are running with local administrator rights.

Also, IE7 will not download and install silently, even if the user has local admin rights and Automatic Updates is set to download and install updates automatically. Instead, the user will see a large window advising that IE7 has been downloaded and is available to install. At this stage the user will be given three choices; install, don't install, or install later.

Internet Explorer 7 will be offered as a high-priority update if a local admin user has Automatic Updates enabled or if they perform a manual scan for updates using the "Express" install option on the Windows Update or Microsoft Update sites. It will also be offered as a recommended update to a local admin user who performs a manual update scan on the Windows Update and Microsoft Update sites using the "Custom" install option.

For businesses etc. using WSUS/SUS/SMS IE7 is being released as an "update rollup" therefore it is not auto-approved under default WSUS settings. The only way that IE7 will automatically be approved is if the WSUS admin has chosen to adjust WSUS's settings to automatically approve update rollups.

Also, their wording on how IE7 "typically" replaces IE6 as the default browser is very poor. Does that mean that installing IE7 will sometimes leave IE6 as the default browser? I think not. It is an upgrade. If your default browser was IE6 it will become IE7 and remain the default browser. If your default browser was something else then IE6 will become IE7 and your default browser (e.g. Firefox) remains your default browser.

However, it appears that IE7 has forgotten its "managed" roots and allows users, by means of a few simple clicks, to permanently choose a home page of their choosing!

Now, this isn't a security threat of any sort, but for an organisation trying to keep the same branding company-wide, it can get difficult.

Actually, it appears that the old group policy setting (that I think has existed since IE5 appeared) still works:

Run gpedit.msc,

Go to Local Computer Policy -> User Configuration -> Administrative Templates -> Windows Components -> Internet Explorer -> Disable changing home page settings

Enable it and put your corporate web site's URL. Then open IE7, see the new homepage, notice how you can't change the homepage to anything else.

Close IE7, go back and select "Not configured", open IE7 and notice your old home page now shows, and that you can change it.

Okay, moving on to idiots number two and three: a father and son were escorted off a flight from Exeter Airport after threatening cabin crew who asked them to turn off their mobile phones. The plane was forced to return to the gate after the pair refused to turn their phones off and threatened staff. A 38-year-old man and a 16-year-old boy were arrested for recklessly endangering an aircraft and passengers and released on bail until 18 January. I'm not sure I have to add anything, except to simply declare them idiots.

Okay, so this next person probably isn't an idiot, but they could have worded it better. Singer Ms Dynamite spent the night in hospital after having a high-speed car crash while filming for Sky reality television show The Race.

The Sky spokesman said: "We take health and safety very seriously and cover it from every angle.

Yes, I'm sure they cover it from every angle with all their cameras, it makes really good TV to watch people crash. I know (okay, I hope) they meant they cover health and safety from every angle, but they probably could have worded it slightly better.

On to global warming, and a big collective group of idiots. More than 180 countries have gathered in Kenya to discuss ways of extending the Kyoto agreement on climate change which is due to expire in 2012. Scientists say much tougher caps are needed to avert catastrophic weather changes. Several thousand environmentalists in Nairobi were protesting that industrialised nations are doing too little to curb global-warming gases. I have a great suggestion for them, get America to join the Kyoto agreement. Without them, it doesn't really matter what the rest of the world does. Sure, I can switch to energy saving lightbulbs (actually, I already have them in the flat), and I could wear more jumpers intead of having the heater on in winter, and I could take the train to work instead of my car. But I wouldn't be surprised if all my hard work is ruined by one American that drives across several states in his gas guzzling Jeep.

I'm sure I can add more idiots to this list, but it's only 10AM.
Ricky Gervais
Friday 10th November, 2006 11:57
Scientists have used computer software to come up with what they say is the perfect comedy face. The University of Stirling team blended together 179 different facial aspects of 20 top comedians. They said soft and feminine features, typified by Ricky Gervais, were more likely to make people laugh. After hearing this news, Ricky Gervais said:

"All these years I assumed my global success as a comedian was down to my acute observations, expert directorial rendering and consummate skills as a performer. Turns out it's because I've got a fat girly face."
Zero 7 - Crosses
Friday 10th November, 2006 11:17
I still love this track, and can't stop playing it. For ages I've thought that the ending feels very much like a Fleetwood Mac track, and after some searching with Google it seems I'm not the only person to think that.

I found a show review of Zero 7 with Jose Gonzalez and Sia (Webster Hall, New York City) (I've now decided I want to watch them sometime, along with several other people I will get around to watching someday, like Beth Orton):

I was surprised to hear the first tenderizing notes of "Crosses" emerge without the support of the headliners, who reworked the song on The Garden, but the tune reappeared in Zero 7's set, where it truly belonged (with a regretfully shortened version of the band's Fleetwood Mac-ian ending. Think "The Chain").

And I found another reference on another site:

Similarly, new recruit, Swedish singer-songwriter Jose Gonzalez, mixes the retro influences, his folky-musing adding a hippy spirituality to "Futures" and "Today", yet defiant strength to the soft, Fleetwood Mac rock of his own "Crosses".

I also now know what they look like. I don't know why, but I always though Sia would be a brunette (and clearly I'm wrong).

I still blame(/thank) Chloe for getting me into them. I'll have to meet up with her again sometime, I haven't seen her since around April.
Friday 10th November, 2006 10:52
Financial services provider Liverpool Victoria found that in the last 12 months, the cost of raising offspring from birth to the age of 21 rose by 9%. It estimated the total cost at £180,137, equivalent to £23.50 per day. So I guess that means if you don't have kids, you can afford a naked prostitute cleaner (£164,124) instead! It said that childcare and education are the biggest expenditures, costing £49,092 and £46,778 respectively. It added that the cost of education, through to university, has increased by 26% since last year.

The high price of starting a family has led to a cultural shift away from households having one working parent, with a survey for the company finding that both parents are working in almost two-third of families. Almost half of all parents admitted to being concerned about the amount of time they spend away from their children. In addition, 12% of working parents have to rely on grandparents or other family members for regular financial support to meet the costs of bringing up a child.
Office 2007 Save As PDF
Friday 10th November, 2006 09:25
Now that Office 2007 has gone RTM, and Microsoft have backed down from Adobe (boo, hiss), here's the download you'll need in order to produce PDF files natively from Office 2007:

2007 Microsoft Office Add-in: Microsoft Save as PDF or XPS

Then you can save as a PDF or XPS natively in Office 2007. Validation is required, although that shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone nowadays.
Interest Rates
Thursday 9th November, 2006 09:38
The Bank of England is almost certain to raise interest rates from 4.75% to 5% today. The move will mean higher payments for millions of homeowners. Industry leaders have called for rates to be kept on hold, arguing higher inflation has not led to better wages. But it is thought the Bank's Monetary Policy Committee is jittery about inflation as it has lingered above its 2% target for five months. This is despite September's rate dropping from 2.5% to 2.4% on the back of cheaper petrol prices.

The rise is likely to cost homeowners with an average £80,000 mortgage just under £13 more a month. Of course, the "average mortgage" doesn't really reflect the huge mortgages that most people have taken out in the last 5 or so years. Not only that, but Philip Shaw, of Investec Securities, said there are concerns over whether the widely predicted rate rise will be the last.

"The real debate is where rates head beyond November. The MPC will need a dose of soothing inflation news to calm its nerves if rates are going to climb no further. We believe this will probably happen. But we cannot deny that there is a risk rates will rise to 5.25% and possibly beyond if the MPC does not like what it sees on the inflation front."
Windows Vista RTM
Wednesday 8th November, 2006 23:54
The anticipation has been enormous, and now it's finally upon us. For those of you who don't know, RTM means Release To Manufacturing - basically when a product is ready to be shipped to industry partners for integration with their own line of products. Office 2007 RTM arrived the other day, so I knew it wouldn't be long until Vista was out.

The codebase has been extremely stable for a while now and we've been happy to make minor tweaks where appropriate - until now! The final code was signed off in the last hour. - (8th November 2006 19:00 GMT)

Manufacturing will be receiving it very soon
Volume Licensing Customers will be receiving it before the end of November
Vista is available on the January 30th for public customers

So normal folk have to wait a while. I think I'm going to live Vista, even if it does take me a while to get used to it. It's started to grow on me when testing in VMWare, I'm sure I'll be swayed once I see more of Aero (the shiny new interface) in action.

I had hoped to use a really nice looking image that I saw on Sandi's website but a) she doesn't like inline linking (quite understandable when large sites do it) and b) she's put bloody big red text all over it. I couldn't find the original images, only the last one of the Vista Ultimate box when it's open, so I very quickly created one based on the presspack images instead. It still looks quite nice though.

Vista Packaging
I Want
Wednesday 8th November, 2006 15:30
50MB mmmmm..... (but what's the upload rate like?)
Third Time Lucky?
Wednesday 8th November, 2006 11:05
I see that Britney's getting divorced, so after two marriage ceremonies maybe she'll have better luck next time.
Office 2007
Tuesday 7th November, 2006 10:28
It just went Gold/RTM/Final (or whatever you want to call it). I'm still not sure I'll like the ribbons, as Ian's been fighting them on his copy of Office 2007 (Beta 2?). Maybe I'll get used to them. Eventually.

It seems I'm not the only person to think so: Susanne Dansey's left a pretty critical blog entry about Office 2007, but she does hope to follow it up soon with a more positive post.
Under Torch Wood
Monday 6th November, 2006 11:56
I've just started reading this, and it looks interesting, but the bit that caught my eye is the intro, which is clearly meant to be a parody of Dylan Thomas' Under Milk Wood (which I covered in year 9?). I love when I understand references like that (and Captain Jack/Captain Cat).

To begin at the beginning. It is a wet, windy, winsome winter evening over the Cardiff bay development; the headachy halogen and sour sodium lights tickling the glinty, greasy, newly-repointed-and-polished-up-nicely cobblestones and reflected and redoubled in shimmershivering puddles.

And they really take the piss out of Torchwood too.

F*ck me, I'm wet through to the b*ll*cks! What was that?

The watershed, you b*tch.

Aah, geeks with a sense of humour and an appreciation of literature.
Monday 6th November, 2006 10:19
On freezing cold mornings like today (and after a weekend that went by far too quickly), I'm tempted to go on holiday somewhere warm and sunny (where they speak English, of course). But it's not easy to go on holiday by yourself, and I finally have proof! Many singles are put off travelling because of the financial penalties, such as surcharges on accommodation, they face from tour operators, according to a report for Britain's annual World Travel Market.

Single-person households are a growing sector. They now account for 30% of all UK households while the average age of first marriage for women has risen to 22 from 28 in the 1980s and up from 24 to 30 for men (so I probably shouldn't worry too much for the next 5 years).

Caroline Bremner, from Euromonitor International, said: "They also have concerns over safety and security abroad, and some feel uncomfortable with the social stigma of dining alone on holiday".
Gears Of War
Monday 6th November, 2006 09:10
I haven't had a chance to look at this properly, but I read this on the blog of a MS security guy and he says the whole advert was done in the game's engine, so WYSIWYG. Here's the lower quality YouTube version. There's meant to be a hi-def version too. It looks very nice.
Funny Comment
Saturday 4th November, 2006 15:18
I read this on a random website and it made me laugh:

"hes not a dirty perv, i've never seen him at the meetings"
Vista (Finally)
Friday 3rd November, 2006 10:58
Microsoft has announced the date on which Windows Vista will be made available to businesses. From 30 November corporate customers of the software giant will be able to get their hands on the next version of the operating system. Also on that date Microsoft will make available Office 2007. Home users will have to wait until January 2007 to get hold of a copy of the Vista software.
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