Top 12 Operating Systems Vulnerability Survey

Also posted yesterday on Slashdot:
Have you ever wondered how vulnerable your computer is from the first bit you write to the hard drive all the way until you have a fully patched system? If so, Matthew Vea has posted a concise summary of security strengths and shortcomings for twelve of the major operating systems of 2006/2007. In his summary, Matt tests each OS with widely available tools like nmap and Nessus, and notes responses at install, pre-patch, and post-patch times for each system. After the tedious job is done, he produces results that will make both the Apple and Windows communities cringe with regards to security. From the article: 'As far as straight-out-of-box conditions go, both Microsoft's Windows and Apple's OS X are ripe with remotely accessible vulnerabilities ... The UNIX and Linux variants present a much more robust exterior to the outside. Even when the pre-configured server binaries are enabled, each [Linux] system generally maintained its integrity against remote attacks.'
A lengthy but fascinating read. They did include Vista in the roundup as well as Mac OS Classic (as opposed to OSX which is FreeBSD-based). Also tested were Fedora Core 6 and the most recent Ubuntu 6.10 version. For those of you unwilling to read through all the technical info, here's the nutshell conclusion:
When it comes to business, most systems have the benefit of trained administrators and IT departments to properly patch and configure the operating systems and their corresponding services. Things are different with home computers. The esoteric nature of the UNIX and Linux systems tend to result in home users with an increased understanding of security concerns. An already "hardened" operating system therefore has the benefit of a knowledgeable user base. The more consumer oriented operating systems made by Microsoft and Apple are each hardened in their own right. As soon as users begin to arbitrarily enable remote services or fiddle with the default configurations, the systems quickly become open to intrusion. Without a diligence for applying the appropriate patches or enabling automatic updates, owners of Windows and OS X systems are the most susceptible to quick and thorough remote violations by hackers.

Linux Preinstalled Dell Available Soon

We've been hearing this coming down the pipe for awhile now, ever since Dell asked for feedback from the public and were subsequently deluged by demand for Linux on their offerings. As reported yesterday on Slashdot:
According to a BetaNews article, Dell confirmed on Wednesday plans to offer Linux pre-installed on select desktop and notebook systems, beyond its current Linux-based servers and Precision workstations. No specific time frame was given for the expanded Linux plans, although the company said in a blog posting that it will provide an update in the coming weeks regarding the effort. It will detail 'information on which systems we will offer, our testing and certification efforts, and the Linux distribution(s) that will be available,' Dell said, adding that, 'The countdown begins today.'


Who now?

You think GamerTechGeek works as a title? Dongyrn's Corner was just getting a bit stale. It's like, "hey lookit my personal homepage, yippee." Meh. So we'll try something new. Maybe change the layout, or maybe not. That may be pushing things. :-)

Water Bill

Jennifer and Jim kept getting huge water bills. They knew beyond a doubt that the bills weren't representative of their actual usage, and no matter how they tried to conserve, the high bills continued. Although they could see nothing wrong, they had everything checked for leaks or problems: first the water meter, then outdoor pipes, indoor pipes, underground pipes, faucets, toilets, washer, ice maker, etc. -- all to no avail.

One day Jim was sick and stayed home in bed, but kept hearing water running downstairs. He finally tore himself from his sick bed to investigate, and stumbled onto the cause of such high water bills. Apparently this had been happening all day long when they were not at home.

Sneezing Panda

Betcha can't watch it just once.

Swords Ban in Scotland

This is just wrong on so many cultural and historical levels...
A crackdown on the sale of swords has been launched as part of a campaign to tackle knife crime and violence...

"Knife-carrying is all too prevalent in some communities, particularly in the west of Scotland, and has cut short and scarred too many young lives... People must realise that swords cause horrific injuries when they get into the wrong hands. We routinely see incidents involving swords, which result in appalling injuries."
Something wrong with peoples heads if they start outlawing the swords again in the highlands... next they'll be outlawing the kilts again, and then they'll be having a revolution... again... OK so maybe it wouldn't go that far, but c'mon people, banning SWORDS?? I know they've gone a little nutty in the UK with all the draconian police state emulation, but does no-one over there recall the perils of repeating history?

As a sword collector proud of his Scottish heritage, I have but one thing to say...
And dying in your beds, many years from now, would you be willin' to trade ALL the days, from this day to that, for one chance, just one chance, to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they'll never take... OUR CLAAAYMOOORES!
Well at least I live in a nation that recognizes and protects my right to bear arms... oh wait...


Pic of the Week 20070321

Yes it's early, but I have the time now and the rest of the week looks crazy...

While my initial thought was, "The sandworms are here!" in actuality this sinkhole killed an unknown number of people. It's 300 feet deep. Here's some more pictures from the site in Guatemala City, Guatemala.

That's just freakishly crazy.


Venturing into Blackfathom Deeps

If you know nothing about WoW, or could really care less, then read no further. You'll be bored silly. Otherwise, let me regale you with my weekend exploit with my new Guild, The Lothlorien Knights on my server Ravencrest.

So my new alt, Nirvaena, is a Blood Elf Paladin. I've really been enjoying playing the Pally, and had gotten her up to 28 before the weekend. The big Paladin quest that we get at level 20 (The Path of the Adept) involves gathering materials for a kick-butt main weapon. I'd been putting it off, mainly because I've already got a very nice one, but also because three of the items require runs into instances, which are hard to solo.

Now I got the first item easily enough just while running another quest, and did a quick pick-up group for the first low-level instance (which I had tried to solo, an expensive mistake as I died several times) to get the second. The third item required an instance I'd never done before, Blackfathom Deeps, which takes a group of up to 5 people and levels 20-30.

The guild I had recently joined seems like a really good set of people, and it's pretty big too (little over 120 members, mostly mains with a few alts). So I got onto Guild chat and asked if anyone was bored and wanted to do a run through BFD. To my surprise I got two other Pallys (34, 21) and a Hunter (33) who immediately joined up and made their way to me.

Long story short, we had a blast. Beat up all the monsters, some of us died but having other Pallys around was nice for instant resurrection, and we didn't wipe once. Even after fighting Twilight Lord Kelris, and we figured out by accident that when you light the fires there the side doors open up a whole load of whoop-ass full creatures on your head. And when we fought the bloody Murlocs and accidentally pulled the entire room on us. Ouch. Still we managed to survive, and helped each other out. It was simply the best time I've ever had playing the game. And I dinged another level.

I can't wait till the next time I have several hours to sit down again and type into Guild chat: "So, who's up for Shadowfang Keep this time around?"


Pic of the Week 20070316

Haha, actually got it in on time for once, before I start in on the work I have to get done today... So here you go, a pic of the week and a bonus (just because I'm feeling generous). Click on the pic for a larger image, especially with the second one.

Commutes Redux

See, I shouldn't have opened my metaphorical mouth. Just yesterday I talked about Wednesday's commuting mess caused by the Amtrak holdup. Then I hear this morning there was yet ANOTHER Amtrak holdup, for the same reason, yesterday morning (though I don't seem to recall being late, so I might have missed that as well). Yesterday afternoon we were a half hour late stuck behind freight trains that have been running behind due to all this mess... And now this morning as we're standing out in the freezing rain, reports of delays start to roll in and some people start to take the 991 commuter bus to Shady Grove (but that's a long haul on the Metro all the way downtown and back up again to Silver Spring); however, we hear the train whistle and many of us wait for the train. Only 15 minutes behind, no big deal. Here's the email alert:
Maryland E-mail is back on the net after an extended absence due to computer problems. Our first message however is not good. CSX has both tracks east of Point of Rocks blocked with three freight trains due to earlier problems. One freight train is waiting a relief engine and the other two are moving. We anticipate that trains 870 and 890, the first trains from Brunswick and Frereick [sic] will be between 75 and 90 minutes late. Delays should be less significant as the morning passes but we cannot predict delays to individual trains. The status of trains can be followed at www.marctracker.com.

WMATA will be honoring MARC tickets on the Red Line.

Yeah. And we don't get the word about that until we're already on the train. Every single train on the Brunswick line was stopped. So I ended up 45 mins late, not as bad as the early ones (man, I'd be pissed to all get-out if I got up early enough to catch that first train, and then ended up getting in the same time as if I'd taken a later train).

I still cannot regret taking public transportation. Most days there are no worries and I have a smooth ride to catch up on my sleep. But just lately, seems to be more problems than usual... Maybe we'll catch a break before the summer starts, and the heat causes more delays (trains can only go 30mph on the tracks when the heat gets high enough to cause problems with the metal, and sometimes there has to be inspectors going along the line as well).

Be Careful When You Send An Email

(I don't know where my Mom finds these things...)

A lesson to be learned from typing the wrong email address! A Minneapolis couple decided to go to Florida to thaw out during a particularly icy winter. They planned to stay at the same hotel where they spent their honeymoon 20 years earlier. Because of hectic schedules, it was difficult to coordinate their travel schedules. So, the husband left Minnesota and flew to Florida on Thursday, with his wife flying down the following day. The husband checked into the hotel. There was a computer in his room, so he decided to send an email to his wife. However, he accidentally left out one letter in her email address, and without realizing his error, sent the email.

Meanwhile, somewhere in Houston , a widow had just returned home from her husbands funeral.
He was a minister who was called home to glory following a heart attack. The widow decided to check her email expecting messages from relatives and friends. After reading the first message, she screamed and fainted. The widows son rushed into the room, found his mother on the floor, and saw the computer screen which read:
To: My Loving Wife

I know you're surprised to hear from me. They have computers here now and you are allowed to send emails to your loved ones. I've just arrived and have been checked in. I see that everything has been prepared for your arrival tomorrow. Looking forward to seeing you then! Hope your journey is as uneventful as mine was.

P.S. Sure is freaking hot down here.


Snacky's Journal - Episode 1

Saw this posted to WoW Insider, an awesome blog for those who play the game. If you don't play, then this won't make sense to you really. But if you do, or ever have, then this will make you rotflmao.

WoW Moviewatch: Snacky's Journal

I can't wait for more episodes... Oh, and as WoW Insider mentions, this was actually brought to you by Stone Falcon Productions, the same people who did Ballad of the Newb (hysterically funny), which took home first prize for music videos in this summer's Xfire Summer Movie Contest.

Web Albums & Commutes

Read an interesting piece off of the Blogger Buzz, which shows up on my login page when I pop into Blogger.

Blogger and Picasa Web Albums

Ever wanted to see all the photos you've uploaded to your blog in one place? Head over to Picasa Web Albums and now you can! We've been working closely with the Picasa team on this project - all the photos you've uploaded since December will appear in an album there, and we're working on migrating your older photos as well.

That's pretty cool, already my Pics of the Week show up in there. Eventually the rest may too, who knows what other images I've uploaded into Blogger over the years...


Yesterday I apparently dodged the metaphorical bullet when I made my usual 4:03 train home, as it was the last one out for quite some time. Here are my automated email updates that I received:

Brunswick Line Delays
03/14/2007 07:46 PM

Brunswick Lines trains are being delayed outside of Rockville Station
due Amtrak train P029 is holding in the station account of a suspicious
package with Police authorities on the scene.

Marc trains 893 and 879 are holding east of Rockville.

Marc 881 is holding in Washington.

Washington Metro is honoring MARC tickets.

03/14/2007 08:28 PM

Brunswick Line train situation has not changed with Amtrak train P029
still in Rockville being examined.

No buses are available for MARC commuters as the Washington Metro is
using all availible buses to operate to and from Shady Grove.

What a nightmare. From what they were saying at the train stop this morning, people were on the train for hours and hours. Many took cabs to Shady Grove or rented cars to get home. All the trains into Frederick got there somewhere around 10pm finally.

The root cause seemed to be a gent who boarded the Amtrack at Union Station, then left the train with his knapsacks still on board (for whatever reason) and failed to get back on when it departed. Conductors were alerted to the abandoned bags, and chaos ensued. Since this was at Rockville station, both the MARC trains and Metro were stopped as the tracks are adjacent. Many of my coworkers were very late getting home... I'll have to update later if I see any actual news articles about this whole ordeal.


Katie's winning cake

At the cake show this weekend, Katie's cake took first place for the kids 9-12 yrs old. While we were there, Duff from Ace of Cakes on food network showed up and he took a picture with her and her cake, which was the highlight of her weekend (along with winning). Here are the pictures!


20 must-have Firefox extensions

Computerworld is running a story on the 20 must have Firefox extensions. I do use many of these, some I have no need for but others, especially the web developer ones, I've been meaning to try out.

Lessons In Success

From a post by Elysium on one of my favorite boards, Gamers with Jobs:
If you want a sense of how big World of Warcraft is consider that The Burning Crusade expansion sold nearly 2.4 million copies within the first 24 hours at retail. A big number to be sure, but not only did that 2.4 million break the single day PC gaming record for sales, it broke the PC record for sales for an entire month. Let me say that again, The Burning Crusade sold more copies in 24 hours than any PC game had ever sold in entire month. That's how big a deal this game is.

Yesterday Blizzard piled on a few more largely deserved heapings of self-praise, pointing out that the expansion has gone on to sell roughly 3.5 million copies in its first month, expanding the total player base for the game to a staggering 8.5 million worldwide, it is worth thinking a bit about what makes the game arguably the most successful title in PC gaming history. It's the question every developer in the business is asking themselves: what makes World of Warcraft so great?
Read on for the rest of the article, Lessons In Success.

The Guys' Rules

Sent to me today by my loving wife. I'm not sure why she finds this so humorous, as it's merely the truth. Although, one should substitute "gaming" for sports references. Because it is a sport, after all.

Now here are the rules from the male side. These are our rules! Please note... These are all numbered "1" ON PURPOSE!

1. Men are NOT mind readers.

1. Learn to work the toilet seat. You're a big girl. If it's up, put it down. We need it up, you need it down. You don't hear us complaining about you leaving it down.

1. Sunday sports. It's like the full moon Or the changing of the tides. Let it be.

1. Shopping is NOT a sport. And no, we are never going to think of it that way.

1. Crying is blackmail.

1. Ask for what you want. Let us be clear on this one: Subtle hints do not work! Strong hints do not work! Obvious hints do not work! Just say it!

1. Yes and No are perfectly acceptable answers to almost every question.

1. Come to us with a problem only if you want help solving it. That's what we do. Sympathy is what your girlfriends are for.

1. A headache that lasts for 17 months is a Problem. See a doctor.

1. Anything we said SIX months ago is inadmissible in an argument. In fact, all comments become null and void after SEVEN Days.

1. I f you won't dress like the Victoria 's Secret girls, don't expect us to act like soap opera guys.

1. If you think you're fat, you probably are. Don't ask us.

1. If something we said can be interpreted two ways , and one of the ways makes you sad or angry, we meant the other one.

1. You can either ask us to do something Or tell us how you want it done. Not both. If you already know best how to do it, just do it yourself.

1. Whenever possible, Please say whatever you have to say during commercials.

1. Christopher Columbus did NOT need directions and neither do we.

1. ALL men see in only 16 colors, like Windows default settings. Peach, for example, is a fruit, not A color. Pumpkin is also a fruit. We have no idea what mauve is.

1. If it itches, it will be scratched. We do that.

1. If we ask what is wrong, and you say, "nothing," We will act like nothing's wrong. We know you are lying, but it is just not worth the hassle.

1. If you ask a question you don't want an answer to, Expect an answer you don't want to hear.

1. When we have to go somewhere, absolutely anything you wear is fine... Really.

1. Don't ask us what we're thinking about unless you are prepared to discuss such topics as baseball, the shotgun formation, Or golf.

1. You have enough clothes.

1. You have too many shoes.

1. I am in shape. Round IS a shape!

Thank you for reading this.

Yes, I know, I have to sleep on the couch tonight; But did you know men really don't mind that? It's like camping.


Pic of the Week 20070309

Just a quickie before I run out. I missed the first train as it is... Anyways, here's my next Car Mod. Enjoy, and click on the pic for the full size.


Google Transit

Posted on the CommuterPageBlog last Friday.
I recently attended a conference held by the American Public Transportation Association. The conference featured a speaker from Google, Thomas Sly, who spoke about Google's plans for Google Transit (www.google.com/transit). It's part of Google maps and is in their "labs" testing phase now. Google Transit allows the user to plan a trip using public transportation as easily as they would get Google driving directions. Google started with Portland, OR and now has transit routes from ten US cities available.

Mr. Sly encouraged those at the conference to give Google their agency's transit route information to allow Google to map it. The cost? Free. So what's the catch? Apparently nothing. Mr. Sly said Google is a green company and they want to practice what they preach by offering public transit information to make it easier for people to get where they are going. All a transit agency has to do is contact Google and they will provide the procedures necessary to get the route information in the format they need. The process can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months depending on how the transit agency currently has their data. Google also has a link available on each page to the specific transit agency for more information.

Conference participants seemed very excited by this project and I expect many of them, if not all, will get Google their route information. Google is helping to bring public transit information to their millions of users and make it an option. I applaud Google's efforts to make transit easy.

Pic of the Week 20070305

Ahhh I missed it dangitall! 'Twas a very busy Friday, then I was going to post over the weekend and never got a chance... Ah well, here ya go. As always, click on the pic for the full-rez. Cheers.