Chinmoy Kanjilal is a FOSS enthusiast and evangelist. He is passionate about Android. Security exploits turn him on and he loves to tinker with computer networks. He rants occasionally at Techarraz.com. You can connect with him on Twitter @ckandroid.
NO matter how many feature rich or lightweight media players come into the market, there are people who still swear by Winamp. Winamp is extremely popular because of its low memory footprint and for being a reputed media player for the last 12 years.
Winamp has a strong user’s base and has evolved with time continuously. Keeping up with this, Winamp has introduced a VP8 decoder in its latest build of version 5.581. This will allow Winamp to playback WebM videos.
WebM was introduced in May by Google and has between popular for the web in theory. However, Winamp being desktop software poses as an early adopter in adding native support for this video format. WebM is already available in VLC media player and Miro video player.
More information can be found at the official Winamp blog, which explains WebM as,
WebM’s file structure is based on the Matroska container. WebM defines the file container structure, video and audio formats. The video streams are compressed with the VP8 video codec, while the audio streams are compressed with Vorbis audio codec.
This brings WebM as a strong contender for desktop videos unlike other formats like FLV, which have remained a web phenomenon right from their inception.
Dell is known to have offered both Windows and Ubuntu on its laptops for quite some time. This page at Dell tells you how you should choose between Windows and Ubuntu and the details on the page are quite shady.
To start with, the first few lines say,
WHICH OPERATING SYSTEM SHOULD I CHOOSE ?
UBUNTU is not a Microsoft Windows operating system – and is not compatible with Microsoft Office programs – so it is important you make the right choice:
How do you make the right choice? Does that mean you make the right choice by choosing Microsoft Windows, which is compatible with Microsoft Office programs?
Here are the top three reasons to go for Windows:
Choose WINDOWS if:
You are already using WINDOWS programs (e.g. Microsoft Office, ITunes etc.) and want to continue using them
You are familiar with WINDOWS and do not want to learn new programs for email, word-processing etc.
You are new to using computers
Seriously, should Windows users always go for Windows? How does that make sense? Ubuntu has OpenOffice.org and Songbird. I accept that they are not as feature rich as their paid counterparts, but they work just fine!
As far as new programs for mail and word processing are concerned, Thunderbird and OpenOffice are quite similar to Outlook and MS Word! Finally, let us do some math here. There are two kinds of people here, one who are new to computers and the second kind who are using them already. The first and the last points want a larger part of these two kinds to be stuck with Windows forever!
Having fun so far? You have not seen the better part. Here are the reasons to use Ubuntu:
Choose UBUNTU if:
You do not plan to use Microsoft WINDOWS
You are interested in open source programming
I do plan to use Windows and Ubuntu both and yes, half of the people I know who use Ubuntu have setup a dual boot. Usersmay or may not be interested in Open Source programming. Linux is not just for programmers! It is not a programing language. It is an Operating System.
Please do not confuse Dell, if you cannot convince. Have a look at the page here.
Amazon has recently reported that sales of its Kindle eBooks have topped that of hardcover books for the last three months. This ration stands at 143 eBooks for 100 hardcover books. Even more stunning is the fact that the average over the last four weeks stands at 180 eBooks for 100 hard cover books.
Though, there are a mere 630,000 eBooks on Amazon, which forms small fraction when compared to the millions of hardcover books. Amazon has been selling hard cover books for the last 15 years and came into the eBook business with its flagship eBook reader Kindle only three years ago. Now, Kindle has become an absolute hit with eBook buffs and even Apple iPad with its vast capabilities and the Apple mojo could not endanger the Kindle.
However, the record sale of Kindle eBooks does not reflect the sale and popularity of Kindle devices completely. Kindle books can be read on the iPad itself and numerous mobile devices as well. The advantage with Kindle eBook reader is that, every Kindle sale means Amazon gets a dedicated user who will buy books sooner or later.
Amazon Kindle initially competed against the Barnes and Noble reader Nook and the Apple iPad. The Kindle has won this race and is going to stay for long.
India is popular for its call centers and no matter how crappy the Indian-American accent is it gets the job done. However, now, Indian call centers are doing more than getting the job done. They are reverse engineering their jobs to their personal advantage and this forms an excellent ground to run call-centre scams.
Consider this scenario. A person from India calls you telling that he is from Microsoft and quotes your correct address, phone number and name. Next, he goes on to say that Microsoft has released a fix for some problem and you need to download certain “Windows Event Viewer” software. This software is either a backdoor or, after this sequence, you are asked to pay up £185. Has this ever happened to you?
The Guardian is investigating into this and has figured out that the call center in question is located in Kolkata and has connections with a person from Kota in Rajasthan.
Microsoft has obviously denied making any such calls and having any tie-ups with any such call centers. The age group, which falls victim to this generally, includes the elderly and those people who are not involved and updated about such scams. More information will be revealed as the investigation proceeds.
Julian Assange and his website, Wikileaks has become a phenomenon on the Internet. He has released numerous documents and videos over the last four years, the scale of which is unmatched with all other leaks combined.
He refuses to call himself a journalist though; his investigative journalism has made him a saga. All this heroism has however, got him in trouble with the US and he is on the top wanted list of CIA. They want to question him for posting a video of an American helicopter shooting and killing several Iraqi civilians and two Reuter’s journalists.
He has limited his movements out of Sweden and remains secretive about it. He has however, developed a likeness for Iceland where journalism is libel-free.
What if publishing a document would threaten national security? “This phrase is so abused. Dick Cheney justified torture with it. Give me an example.” What about the movement of US troops? Would he publish a document that jeopardised their safety? “We’d have to think about it.” So that’s a yes? “It’s not a yes. If that fit into our editorial criteria which it might, if it was an extremely good movement then we’d have to look at whether that needed a harm minimisation procedure. We’d be totally happy to consider jeopardising the initiation of a war, or the action of war. Absolutely.”
Currently, Assange stays at a safe house. When being asked about his safety, he said,
Is it in the CIA’s interest to assassinate me? Maybe. But who would do it? Isn’t he brave to appear in public? Courage is an intellectual mastery of fear. It’s not that you don’t have fear, you just manage your risks intelligently.
Never heared of Wikileaks earlier? Have the taste of a Wikileaks controversy here.
Update: Here is a surprise interview of Assange by Chris Anderson:
Remember the sit back and watch feature YouTube introduced a few days ago? Now, is the best time to have a taste of it! The occasion?
Well, apparently, the Taiwanese media has an excellent sense of humor. They have released an animated video featuring the iPhone 4 and it should be a must-watch on everyone’s list. It really does not matter if you understand the language but you will feel it all translated in the back of your head.
It has covered almost everything that has gone wrong at Apple and you can see the video below.
If you are unable to see an embedded video, go to YouTube and watch it here.
I recommend you check out the comments on the video too.
Jolicloud is a popular Ubuntu Netbook Remix fork and takes things a step further up by creating an awesome UI based on HTML5. HTML5 has extensive support for creating awesome apps and the new launcher in Jolicloud, version 1.0 has been created completely in HTML5.
Jolicloud has come a long way and has released remarkable distros with the release of each of Ubuntu Netbook Remix. This time though, they are going for cloud storage and synchronization across all machines on which Jolicloud is installed. This makes installing apps, an install once and use anywhere phenomenon. Equally, files can be shared using Dropbox and other file sharing services.
The app center has over 700 apps for you to check out. Moreover, it comes pre-installed with apps for Gmail, Skype, Twitter and Firefox. This makes Jolicloud a better Netbook OS. The updates should start rolling out next week.
See this video to have a better view of the new look and features.
Cant see the video? Watch it at YouTube here.
A simple Google search for ‘Vatican’ displayed a pedophile website as a search result for quite some time on Saturday morning. The website in question turned up as the first result on Google Search. Google is still assessing the cause of this mishap, which happened early Saturday.
The website named pedifilo’ is an Italian website and hence the name. However, with the Vatican having its official website of the same name, it is surprising as to how the first result can be different from that. This is clearly a hack carried out by some group.
What is funny is that Google Italy is not even sure if this is an attack or not and goes on to confess this! However, in my opinion, this looks like one of the things 4chan can do. We have seen similar stunts coming from 4chan earlier. With their take on religion, hackers all over the Internet are quite enjoying this momentary show.
The Vatican remains under constant controversy of such matters and this is a serious blow to its reputation.
Damn Vulnerable Linux is a security distro, which can be an excellent learning tool. The distro includes older version of popular software like Apache web server, MySQL, PHP and others. The objective to create such a distro is to let users try out known hacks and vulnerabilities on these technologies and hone their skills.
The distro is explained as,
DVL is a live CD available as a 1,8 GB ISO. It contains older, easily breakable versions of Apache, MySQL, PHP, and FTP and SSH daemons, as well as several tools available to help you compile, debug, and break applications running on these services, including GCC, GDB, NASM, strace, ELF Shell, DDD, LDasm, LIDa, and more.
DVL is made by people with significant black hat backgrounds, incorporating the community of ReverseEngineering.net and Crackmes.de. It contains a huge amount of lessons, including lesson descriptions and solutions if the level has been solved by a community member at Crackmes.de.
Apparently the distro has been made vulnerable to attacks and can be used to teach thread hijacking, buffer overflow, SQL injection and other forms of exploits.
According to Nate Lawson and Taylor Nelson from Root Labs, OpenID and OAuth, used to authenticate third party web applications and desktop applications to use web services like Twitter and Digg are under a risk of a severe security threat. In fact, the security flaw affects a host of other open source authentication services. The matter will be brought up at an upcoming security conference.
The flaw is based on the very controversial timing attack according to which, the attacker checks for the time required to analyze signatures and estimates if the first few characters of his attempted signature is correct or not. This process, if repeated can lead to a successful hack in theory. However, in practice, it is very hard to carry out or, that was the common belief until three years ago.
Three years ago, a timing attack was used to hack into Xbox and the people who did this became geek gods. However, that was a direct interaction with the host. In case of a network, we need to consider many factors like network load, jitter and a varying latency.
What is remarkable is that Lawson and Nelson have claimed that they have executed this on a network as well as on a cloud and have gained sensitive information successfully. Any further details on this will be revealed at the upcoming BlackHat conference at Las Vegas.