Posted tagged ‘computer’

“Flash cookies” are the new privacy offenders

September 8, 2009

Ever heard of an LSO?  A Local Shared Object is similar in many ways to a typical HTTP cookie, but it’s used with Flash instead of HTTP.

In case you’re not up on the subject, a cookie is a 4KB text file that is stored on your computer.  When used by ethical developers, it’s a fairly innocuous way to make your browsing experience more convenient.  They’re responsible for remembering your Gmail password, your address that auto-fills on the electric company’s website, etc.  They’re a useful way to keep information around in a relatively secure manner.

There are some significant privacy concerns with cookies, though, as marketers quickly found a way to abuse them.  Enter third-party cookies.  But even with those concerns, you can set your browser to reject third-party cookies.  Or all cookies, for that matter.

However, with LSOs, many users don’t even know they exist.  And unlike your vanilla 4KB cookie, LSO’s can store 100K of information.  Doesn’t sound much, but in plain text, that’s a whole lot of information about your browsing habits.  Like HTTP cookies, LSOs are domain-specific (that is, an LSO can only be read by machines on the domain that created the LSO).

So the big concern with LSOs is this: many users think their privacy is secure when they turn off cookies.  It’s not, because LSOs are cookies but are not controlled by your browser – they’re controlled by Adobe software.

LSOs are turned on by default.  You can find information on managing (read: turning off) LSOs on Adobe’s website here.

Are LSOs a concern to you?  Why or why not?

Adobe, I was wondering the same thing…

July 28, 2009

Why wait seven months to release a fix for a vulnerability that (for all intents and purposes) can’t be worked around?  Michael Kassner calls Adobe and MS out:

http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/security/?p=1992&tag=nl.e036

CS intro w/ Java and a bit of book review

July 1, 2009

I’m currently taking a basic Java course that’s supposed to go to the proper level to take the SCJA (Sun Certified Java Associate) certification, the first step in the Sun Java cert track.  Instead of using the standard book that my university recommends, I’m using Big Java by Cay S. Horstmann (ISBN 978-0-470-10554-2).  I’ll post a few thoughts here on this book.

So far so good.  I’m about four or five chapters in, and I think I have a good feel for the flow of the book.  I’ve done several other starter programming books (Zelle’s Python Programming: An Introduction to Computer Science, and an intro JavaScript course as well), but Big Java surprised me starting out.  Unlike some other courses that mainly start out with syntax and primitive data types, this one started out with class design and OO concepts.  It even teaches the student to use a few Swing components (JFrame and JOptionPane) early on in order to make the usual “monkey trick” exercises a bit more interesting.  I like this approach, as it makes the introductory chapters easier.

I like Horstmann’s writing style.  It’s concise and clear, and the code examples are good.  I have yet to find an error in any of the examples.  I’m reading it on Skillsoft Books 24×7, an online book service and it’s been good so far.  I do kind of wish I had the paper copy, but that’s just how I am.  Anyhow…

A big help to me was that I started with JavaScript and Python.  Java’s syntax is very similar to JavaScript’s, so it gave me a head start to coding in Java.  The combination of JavaScript’s syntax with Python’s OO perspective gave me a good foundation from which to move through Big Java.

One more thought – I’ve worked through some programming books that have virtually no exercises.  This, IMO, is a terrible way to help people learn.  If you’re writing a beginner book, you MUST provide practice opportunities for those who can’t come up with their own.  Big Java does a great job of providing practice opportunities at multiple complexity levels.  The exercises build on each other (to some degree), and I feel they are quite effective.

So I do recommend the book for a self-taught Java beginner.  I’ll post more about it as I go along.

Vista SP2 is available

May 26, 2009

Vista Service Pack 2 is now available for download for those who want it.  It will later be pushed through Automatic Updates.

There is a Service Pack blocker tool in case you want to have greater control over which updates you receive.

F6 hack on XP installation

May 13, 2009

Those of you who have installed XP onto a hardware RAID drive know it’s a pain.  You have to make the floppy and use it to install a third-party RAID driver.  This also means you need an internal (not USB) floppy drive.  As these drives go more and more out of the mainstream, it becomes more and more of a pain to install XP on a RAID drive.  

I am having a particularly difficult time with this – not because of lacking a floppy drive.  I have a floppy/card reader combo.  The problem is, I don’t have POWER for a floppy.  I think I have a cable for it somewhere in the studio, but that’s the beauty of a modular supply – I don’t have it when I need it.  But I need XP, because 1) I don’t really want to use Vista anymore, and 2) Vista has issues and won’t even install  Gigastudio LE, and 3) Vista isn’t really compatible with my recording equipment for the home studio (do you see a trend developing?).  Virtually all the cool features (like motorized faders, jog wheel, recording buttons, EQ) don’t work.  So today I’m taking the plunge and going back to XP.

Back to the problem at hand.  I don’t have power for the floppy drive in Computer 1 (though I’m sure there’s an adapter out there somewhere).  But I do have Computer 2 (which does have the correct power).  And this brings me to the hack.  I powered up the Computer 2, and ran its floppy power cable into the floppy drive in Computer 1.  Bingo!  It works.  It probably shouldn’t, but it does work and my RAID drivers are installed.  Don’t have a camera handy, or I’d post some pictures of how crazy this looks.

Oracle buys Sun Microsystems…

April 21, 2009

… and I like it.  I was going to try to post a link to both a positive and a negative opinion, but I am having trouble finding a negative one.  I’m sure there’s one out there, so if you know of one, post it in the comments so we can get some good perspective.

Here’s a positive opinion: 

http://blogs.zdnet.com/Gardner/?p=2903

 

I see some real good here.  Oracle is great at marketing, and Sun could use a marketing makeover at present.  Oracle presents themselves as a straightforward, professional kind of company.  I think that this combined with Sun’s passion for strong enterprise products will be a good addition to Oracle’s large enterprise product portfolio.

Please, let us know your thoughts.  Agree?  Disagree?

Gmail becoming a monopoly?

April 13, 2009

I read a rather sensational post this morning.  Not sensational in the good way, either.  Let me explain – sensational can mean “arousing or intended to arouse strong curiosity, interest, or reaction, especially by exaggerated or lurid details” (answers.com).  The author essentially proposed that Gmail could become the de facto standard for business email.  He cites several examples of organizations (incidentally, both colleges, not businesses) that are intending to use Gmail’s business email program for their student email.

This is a great example of how cloud computing can be useful.  I’ve been a Gmail user for about four years, and I like it.  That said, I don’t use their Web client except on rare occasions.  I dislike web clients.  But with the business class service, as well as with the personal email, users can access Gmail via either POP3 or IMAP.  No Web client required.  

I can see this as a viable solution for colleges and small businesses, but frankly, I don’t see this as an enterprise solution unless Gmail 1) guarantees uptime and 2) provides personalized, 24-7 enterprise support solutions.  Their support, from what I understand, is pathetic at present.  However, I think it could work for small businesses.  Google does have a good reputation as a progressive and professional company (unlike another prominent hosting company, whose salacious Super Bowl advertising became an instant bar from use in my business).

So back to the point.  Great idea? Yep.  But did this author stretch the truth?  Yes.  However, there’s still an important point in there – if you’re running a small business and need business email services (your own domain name and hosted email services with high uptime) it’s definitely worth considering.  Honestly, I’d consider going that route for a small business, even though I’m capable of hosting my own email server.  The price point is great too ($50 per user per year).

Bottom line: it’s not going to take over the world, but it’s a great idea for a smaller business who needs professional email services from a reputable company.