Friday’s Fish Wrap

Friday, 31 December 2004, 3:31 pm

Last news for 2004.

Edison demonstrated the incandescent light bulb on this day in 1879. Edwin Hubble first announced the existence of distant galactic systems in 1924. President Truman officially declared the end of WWII in 1946. The Beach Boys made their debut in 1961. Microsoft bought Hotmail in 1997.

Matisse was born in 1869. John Denver in 1943. Donna Summer in 1948. You call this progress?

Oh yeah, and it’s New Year’s Eve!

  1. US online holiday shopping sales were up 24% from last year to $8.8 billion. Purchases of clothing (up 45%) and entertainment (up 54%) lead the pack. Photo printing and sharing revenues were up 120%.
  2. It’s the hot rumor for MacWorld, Steve Jobs is expected to announce a sub-$500 Macintosh in his keynote on January 11, in an attempt to woo disenchanted Windows users. ThinkSecret says it will sport a G4 at 1.25GHz and will be enclosed in a slim-line case. The price won’t include a monitor. I’m waiting for the G5 notebooks myself.
  3. The Motion Picture Association of America has filed suit against another BitTorrent tracker, but the site, LokiTorrent, says it will fight. It’s asking users to donate to support its $30K/month legal fees – and they’re getting close, but they say a full-on fight may cost three times that.
  4. eBay is abandoning Microsoft’s Passport. Microsoft has been slowly cutting back on its single sign-on service, focusing more and more on in-house uses, and less on third-parties. dropped support for Passport in October.
  5. A new trojan horse, Phel, is attacking XP computers, even if SP-2 is installed. The trojan is distributed in HTML files and exploits a known hole (one of many) in Microsoft’s help system. It gives a hacker control over the infected system. Microsoft says a patch is in the works.
  6. The Commodore Computer brand has been sold. Again. The Dutch firm that owned it has passed the name along to an LA based digital music company for $32.6 million. The new owners, Yeahronimo Media Ventures, isn’t ruling out a return to selling computers under the brand name. Yeah, that’s what I want, a new Commodore 64.
  7. Windows NT Server 4 users, your support from Microsoft ends today. No more patches. No more updates. You’re on your own from here on out.
  8. Chinese police have arrested the chairman of Apex Digital on charges of financial fraud. David Ji, who founded Apex in 1999 in Ontario, California, is accused of owing a Chinese TV manufacturer nearly half a billion dollars. Apex sold the first sub-$200 DVD player – I still have mine.

Listen in Friday morning at 8:35 Pacific for my weekly news commentary on KFI 640 AM in Los Angeles.


Happy Yo Year

Friday, 31 December 2004, 3:43 am

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iPodder iSsues

Thursday, 30 December 2004, 5:25 pm

If you use iPodder to subscribe to my podcast audio, there is a bug in the program which will cause it to fail to download anything new (with an error 301). iPodder users should use the following URLs until the program is fixed:

TLR ->

In the long run it’s better to point to the shortcut URLs, and since these are always guaranteed to point to the right place (in case I stop using Feedburner, for instance), but for now this workaround will do the trick.

As far as I know none of the other podcast programs have this problem. I currently recommend iPodderX for the Macintosh, and Doppler for Windows.

UPDATE: Thanks to Eric from Feedburner (read the comments) I’ve been able to fix the issue, so you shouldn’t have to change your URLs. Apparently I should have made the redirects TEMP instead of PERMANENT. Who knew? This computer stuff is so complicated!


Wednesday, 29 December 2004, 2:26 am

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Pass on CES

Monday, 27 December 2004, 5:30 pm

Radio Programming Note: A scheduling issue has come up and I’m going to have to pass on CES this year. I’ll be doing the show from the Leoville Labs as usual Jan 8 and 9 – not Las Vegas – but I’ll make sure we still get reports from CES that weekend from a number of people who will be there.

Monday’s Misgivings

Monday, 27 December 2004, 4:40 pm

Enough wassail already, it’s news time…

Charles Darwin left on his famous trip to the Galapagos on this day in 1831.

Johannes Kepler was born in 1571. Louis Pasteur was born in 1822.

  1. Chinese security firm XFocus Team identified three “highly critical” Windows flaws over the weekend, warning users to stay away from untrusted web sites and emails from unfamiliar sources. (Yeah like that’s possible.) Two of the vulnerabilities could be used to execute malicious code on your PC. The vulnerabilities are in the Loadimage API used by many browsers and email programs, the Windows Help system (again), and the Windows kernel itself. The kernel flaw would allow a malicious web site to reboot your system with a malformed .ANI file. Microsoft has no comment. No patch either.
  2. Sophos says that 42% of all spam worldwide comes from the US, much of it from hacked computers that are being used by spammers without their owners’ knowledge. The company cites this as proof that the Federal CAN-SPAM act is a failure.
  3. The LAPD is experimenting with portable face recognition units which they say will make it easier to apprehend suspects. LA police have used the software to arrest two men who were riding double on a bike. The computer identified them as gang members which was enough to trigger a probable cause search which turned up amphetamines.
  4. Sony may not be giving up on plasma display televisions, but Toshiba definitely is. The company has announced it will focus future big screen production on SED, surface-conductor electron-emitting displays, in conjunction with Canon. SEDs are low power, faster and brighter than LCD and plasma displays, but are still just inches thick. Samsung and LG have indicated that they’re sticking with plasma.
  5. Yahoo is planning on adding real time traffic reports to its Yahoo Maps.
  6. Your car may be watching you. According to an article in USA Today, 30 million cars on the road today record their drivers’ behavior with black box like mechanisms. The information has been used in court to convict reckless drivers. Most cars from General Motors and Ford, as well as some Toyotas and Hondas, track vehicle and engine speed, acceleration and braking.
  7. Another score for the Golden Palace. The online casino that paid $26,000 for a grilled cheese sandwich bearing an image of the Virgin Mary, has paid $5,300 to a Pasadena man who auctioned his three sons’ Nintendo DSs on EBay because he said they were being bratty. His dad said his son “double-dared” him to do it, so he did.

Listen in tomorrow at 6:45a Pacific for my weekly news commentary on KGO 810 AM in San Francisco.


2005 Calendar

Monday, 27 December 2004, 3:40 pm

Leo's 2005 Calendar Que’s not printing a Leoville calendar this year as they did for 2003, but they have put together a calendar poster which I gave out at my signing in Toronto.

If the thumbnail intrigues you, you can download the PDF version, scalable to any size. It’s very handy for scaring small children, and may also be useful in keeping crows out of your cornfield.

Happy new year, and thanks to all of you who have made this site an incredible success this year. I truly appreciate your support through a very tough time.

Thursday’s Kris Kringle

Thursday, 23 December 2004, 9:44 pm

Enough time off. Back to news…

News imageAre you scared of Santa? Me, too.

Forget Amahl and the Night Visitors. You want some really moving Christmas reading, try the amazing story of the Graphing Calculator.

Calling mod-master Yoshi. There’s nothing more festive for the holidays than a gingerbread PC. I don’t think it actually runs, though.

The Night Before Christmas was first published on this day in 1823. The BBC began daily broadcasts in 1922. The NBC radio network was created in 1928. The first nationally televised football game was aired in 1951. The LA Rams beat Cleveland Browns 24-17. The first documented case of space motion sickness occurred in 1968.

Happy birthday Harry Shearer. He’s 61. (Check out the audio of Bill Gates swearing on his site.)

  1. Microsoft says it will comply immediately with the European Commission’s decision forcing the company to unbundle Windows Media Player from Windows and publish its hitherto secret communications protocols. An EU judge ruled against Microsoft’s appeal yesterday.
  2. Google to the rescue. The Internet search site was being used by the new Santy.A worm to look up phpBB-based bulletin boards to attack. Google engineers have blocked the requests, halting the worm in its tracks. Santy may have infected as many as 30,000 BBSs before it was stopped.
  3. Here’s some consolation if you couldn’t find a Nintendo DS to put under the tree. USA Today is saying that the new Sony PSP is a category killer that has the potential to be a worldwide hit. With a 4.3 inch LCD, 32MB or RAM, Wi-Fi, USB 2.0, and awesome graphics for around $190 the PSP should outgun the DS. USA Today’s reviewer didn’t like the proprietary UMD disc format, though. The PSP is available in Japan now, North America this spring.
  4. Will they or won’t they. Wednesday the Yomimuri Shimbun published a story that said that Sony would be abandoning the plasma TV market in the spring to focus on LCD and projection sets. Now Sony denies the story entirely. Hmmm.
  5. What a year for viruses. Infections hit a record of 37,102,323 this year according to Trend Micro. August was the worst month with 3,809 new viruses discovered. Netsky.P was the most distributed virus, and six of the year’s ten worst were spread via email.
  6. Security experts are saying that the Skulls (aka MetalGear.A) trojan that infected Symbian cell phones is just the beginning. Smart phones are more vulnerable to worms that PCs since they’re always online and have generally weak security features.
  7. A Federal judge has rejected the guilty plea of a former AOL employee who sold addresses to a spammer. U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein says he is unsure a crime was committed. He says that what the defendant did wasn’t “deceptive or misleading to the recipient,” a standard set by the Federal CAN-SPAM act. He is challenging prosecutors to prove that a crime was committed.
  8. Yahoo is preventing the family of a soldier killed in Iraq from accessing his email account. This is a tough one. The family wants to make a scrapbook of his final messages. Yahoo says it has to protect the privacy of all its users. What would you do?
  9. AOL wants to get into the free web mail business. It will unveil AOL Mail on the Web for paid customers early next year and offer a free version some months later.
  10. Last week’s two-page ad for Firefox in the New York Times seems to have worked with 200,000 downloads last weekend, half a million on Monday and Tuesday. So far, according to Mozilla, 12 million copies of Firefox have been downloaded.
  11. Now Mozilla wants to zap Outlook. Project Lightning aims to integrate Mozilla’s Sunbird calender with its Thunderbird emailer. Lotus 1-2-3 founder Mitch Kapor has been working on an Outlook killer named Chandler. Microsoft says that without an Exchange-style server component, any open source attack on Outlook is doomed.
  12. Apple has begun blocking Realnetworks Harmony. The software is supposed to let iPod owners play music from Real’s music store. What’s weird is that there hasn’t been a hue and cry. Could it be that no one is using Harmony?
  13. Meanwhile, Napster is taking on the iTunes Music Store with a technology that allows users unlimited access to any song, any time on their portable MP3 players, as long as they keep paying the monthly subscription fee. Currently only players work with the new PlayForSure technology. Microsoft enhanced its copy protection technology to make this possible earlier this year. Napster is the first store to support it but others are sure to follow.
  14. Wanna buy a cat? Got 50 large? A company named the Genetic Savings & Clone (cuuute) has announced the first sale of a cloned kitty. Little Nicky was cloned for a Texas woman who paid $50,000 for the clone of her late Maine Coon cat Nicky. GS&C has six more kitties in the cloner.

Listen in tomorrow at 8:35a Pacific for my weekly news commentary on KFI 640 AM in Los Angeles.


Yo Yo Yo

Tuesday, 21 December 2004, 11:40 pm

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Santa’s in the hood

Abby and Annabella

Tuesday, 21 December 2004, 2:37 am

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