IT pros battle clock and code in time change

•March 5, 2007 • Leave a Comment

Thanks, MicroSloth, for giving IT folks another reason to beat their heads on the pavement…

IT pros battle clock and code in time change

Setting the clocks ahead comes early this year, and that’s causing a critical time crunch for a lot of businesses.

By Erica Ogg
Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Published: March 5, 2007, 10:00 AM PST

As the new daylight saving time switch nears, businesses are finding the update process to be complicated and time-consuming, particularly for Microsoft Windows e-mail and server software.

New laws dictate that daylight saving time (DST) in the United States will begin three weeks earlier than usual on Sunday and end one week later than usual on November 4.

To deal with the switch, software makers have moved to provide patches meant to adjust the clocks of computers and mobile devices automatically. Those updates are critical for many business users who depend on their PC or mobile calendar to tell them where to be and at what time.

The trick, however, is actually getting the updates installed. Business and consumer electronics users across the United States say working through the sometimes unwieldy patch process is proving to be more than a little difficult.

The Microsoft update process is proving to be a headache for the people who look after corporate e-mail servers. Many say they have had difficulty with the software patches provided by Microsoft for its Outlook and Entourage e-mail client applications, and for the Exchange server software. For it to work properly, Microsoft says the update process has to be done in a very particular and rapid manner.

“The (question) is when to patch what–and in what order,” Larry Wahlers, senior systems analyst for Concordia Technologies, said in an e-mail.

Others are finding the directions too complex.

“Microsoft should have been better prepared with the Exchange (tool for recalculating and rescheduling appointment dates that are affected by DST). I think it’s very difficult to follow their 25-page outline,” said Pasquale Pescatore, senior technology analyst for Canadian retailer North West. “They don’t make it intuitive.”

Microsoft acknowledges that the instructions for updating aren’t exactly credit card-size.

“What’s not clear to some people is that we provide a lot of documentation of these tools. It’s not a single page,” said M3 Sweatt, chief of staff of Microsoft’s customer service team.

The process is complex because a number of applications in a corporate computer network have time stamps and are therefore affected by the DST change. The first challenge is identifying the various software packages that need to be updated, said Eric Vishria, vice president of marketing at Opsware, which makes a software-updating tool.

“The second challenge is identifying, on each one of those, all the different pieces that need to be patched or updated,” he said. “Not only your operating system, but also your applications, your custom applications…Time is such an important element in so many applications, (from) calendaring to bank transaction processing. IT people are the ones (who) are going to have a lot of the challenges.”

Pescatore said he had no problem updating his company’s Unix servers, just those running Windows.

One problem, Concordia’s Wahlers said, was that the instructions from Microsoft kept shifting. “Microsoft kept changing the Web sites, the information, the order in which to patch things, to the point where absolutely nobody, including Microsoft, had any idea as to what to do.”

But Microsoft’s Sweatt insisted that the updated instructions were for different network configurations and weren’t actually being changed.

There are four common types of users, Sweatt said: those of Outlook Web Access, third-party messaging, BlackBerry server and Good Mobile Messaging Server.

“The steps in which you deploy significant updates may change, depending on your scenario,” he said.

North West’s Pescatore said he and many of his colleagues got so frustrated with the error messages they were receiving on the update tool that they gave up and began patching each manually. But since the company has about 5,000 employees, he had to settle for getting updates done for just the company’s top brass before Sunday.

After testing the calendaring appointment function of Outlook, the results were inconsistent: some appointments were moved forward an hour to comply with the new DST, while others were not, corporate tech managers said.

“And it didn’t seem to matter who the user was,” Wahlers said. “There was no rhyme or reason for how it behaved. Even on the same user, the March appointments might not be fixed correctly, while the fall appointments were.”

Users of smart phones, including those not running on Windows Mobile, are similarly bewildered by the DST update process. BlackBerry Pearl user Jenny Fielding said in an e-mail interview that when she received the patch from her carrier, she initially thought it was junk mail. Nonetheless, she installed the software.

“To be perfectly honest, I am not sure what happened next (or) if it was fixed…It never said, ‘download successful’ or anything like that,” wrote Fielding, chief operating officer of mobile voice over Internet Protocol provider Switch-Mobile. “The fact that I still have no idea if the patch worked–and what will happen on March 11th–is curious to me. And I (imagine) that it may be a rude awakening to many others.”

Windows Mobile program manager Udiyan Padmanabhan said a successful installation of its DST patch will result in a system reboot, and a “successful installation” notice will be displayed.

An update to the patch will be released Monday in response to customer feedback, Padmanabhan said. The update removes the manual steps in the initial DST patch and no longer requires Windows Mobile 5.0 users to specify between the Pocket PC or Smartphone versions.

Installing the Windows Mobile 5 update for employees’ mobile devices hasn’t proved nearly as challenging as with Outlook and Exchange, Pescatore said, though he still plans to update each device manually. “We don’t have a lot, thank God.”

MPAA caught removing copyright notices

•March 1, 2007 • 7 Comments

From the ‘Hand In The Cookie Jar’ files…

People are smart. Groups are stupid. I believe that is as true as the day is long. Here, the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America), a group that very strongly persecutes people for copyright infringement, is caught doing exactly that. This is the first of two articles dealing with MPAA infringing on the rights of individuals…
By Steve Ragan
Feb 23, 2007
Monsters & Critics

Irony is the best word to describe it; if you used three words they would be “just plain wrong.” Several blogs and some news sites are reporting a story about the MPAA and the new blog they were testing. The blog used in the test has been taken down; only screen captures of it remain as evidence that it once existed on the web. The hype over the blog (and where the irony comes from) is the fact the blog was not coded by the MPAA. The blog and its code come from Patrick Robin. Patrick is a twenty-nine year old programmer and web developer from South England. Patrick is the main person behind Forest Blog, an ASP driven blogging application that is freely downloaded on the internet.

“Forest Blog is something that came about, when I was in between jobs, having left my own company. Off the top of my head, I think the first iteration was released sometime in October 2005 to rapturous silence! Anyway, it’s built up quite a following and has been in constant development ever since with all of the work undertaken by myself hence the release schedule has always been rather sporadic as real life keeps throwing in a curve ball!” Patrick told Monsters and Critics.

While the code is free, it is licensed under linkware. Linkware is where you can use a product, often a site script, or in this case, the blog itself, in return for links back to the creator’s website. Linkware products are usually free, as long as you keep the links back to the content owner’s site intact; if you want to remove them, you pay a fee. Forest Blog allows removal if a fee of ten to twenty-five British pounds is paid. Ten Pounds of you are a personal blogger and Twenty-five Pounds of you are a commercial blogger.

Removal of the links without payment violates the terms of use, and the licensing agreement. The MPAA either did not know this, or did not think they would be caught. One of the first things noticed when Patrick was checking links back in October 2006, and came across the MPAA site were the obvious lack of links back to his site.

During his interview with Monsters and Critics, Patrick was asked about his mindset when he discovered the MPAA had ‘tested’ his work his work.

“Well, I don’t particularly care much for the MPAA. I’m not particularly affected by them being based in the UK but anyone who’s plugged in to the Internet can’t fail to have heard of them and the tactics that they have employed in supposedly enforcing artists copyright. Regardless, they are still a large, well-known organization and I was pretty stoked to see that they had chosen my software. However, when I discovered that they had actually removed all of the back links to my site I was annoyed to say the least. Anyone who’s been following this will know that people removing the back links without permission isn’t anything new, despite giving this away for free some people still don’t think that my work deserves any recognition. That a company whose sole reason for being is to enforce copyright protection would then show such blatant disregard for my copyright was understandably galling!”

Patrick addressed this as well on his blog. “Now I know I’m not exactly renowned for my legalese but I did think that the terms and conditions that I had released Forest Blog under were pretty solid, specifically the section relating to removing the back links: You may not remove, alter, or otherwise disable all or any of the hyperlinks to the Host Forest website (http://www.hostforest.co.uk). All images, links, or text must remain unchanged, intact, and visible when the pages are viewed unless you first obtain explicit written permission from the copyright holders.”

 

were ever provided to the public. There was never a domain assigned for the blog. The blog was a proof-of-concept awaiting approval before full production was to begin. The last point in their email, “Should we have decided to make the move to production, then we would have paid the twenty-five pounds that would have authorized us to run a version of the blog without the logos and links.”
Patrick was not too upset and agreed that the email from the MPAA with the reasons stated were fair.

Several of the comments on his blog post about the theft call for a quick and decisive lawsuit. One comment makes a good point. “From their response they probably went to the lawyers. IANAL, but if it was ‘for testing purposes,’ why did they have it on their public web server, instead of an internal development environment, or accessible through a VPN? I suppose that means that if you download a movie and it’s ‘for testing purposes only’ that they won’t go after you?” [IANAL is slang for I am not a lawyer]

Another comment plays on Patrick’s forgiveness, and understanding. “Please consider one more public service and seek EFF’s assistance to highlight their hypocrisy. While it’s certainly not your civil duty, you’d be doing a greater good for the public at large. You have been gifted a rare opportunity. Do you think they would grant to you the same forgiveness you’ve shown them if they discovered you were in possession of some unauthorized copyrighted work of theirs?”

Was there ever a thought about legal action against the MPAA?

“I had never really thought about taking any legal action over the issue until the story started getting coverage on the web and I started getting comments of support on my site and a few emails from various lawyers offering me representation. With all of the attention coming in I must say that legal action crossed my mind but after talking to my friends and family, I decided against it, much to the dismay of many people. Personally, I’m not a fan of litigation and the culture of suing, though I do support it in deserving cases. Whilst what’s happened to me could be considered as a deserving case I think that highlighting their hypocrisy within the MPAA and their actions is more meaningful,” he told M&C.

The email from the MPAA was the first and only comment on their theft. Requests for comment have gone ignored, maybe they will send a response in a few months.

_______________________________

Next, read how the MPAA violates rules a little closer to home… By getting caught illegally copying movies…

 

Internet addiction is ‘a grave social problem’ in China

•February 28, 2007 • Leave a Comment

Just when you thought that it was safe to go back into the Gulag… The United States catches a lot of criticism of it’s human rights policies. Some of it may be justified, but much of it isn’t, especially when compared to how the rest of the world treats its citizens on a daily basis…

This article by Washington Post reporter Ariana Eunjung Cha shows how China deals with some of the most horrible scofflaws known to man: The “Internet Addict”.

February 22, 2007

DAXING, CHINA – Sun Jiting spends his days locked behind metal bars in this military-run installation, put there by his parents. The 17-year-old high school student is not allowed to communicate with friends back home, and his only companions are psychologists, nurses and other patients. Each morning at 6:30, he is jolted awake by a soldier in fatigues shouting, “This is for your own good!”

Sun’s offense: Internet addiction.

Alarmed by a survey that found that nearly 14 percent of teens in China are vulnerable to becoming addicted to the Internet, the Chinese government has launched a nationwide campaign to stamp out what the Communist Youth League calls “a grave social problem” that threatens the nation.

The Chinese government in recent months has joined South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam in taking measures to try to limit the time teens spend online. It has passed regulations banning youths from Internet cafes and has implemented control programs that kick teens off networked games after five hours.

But no country has gone quite as far as China in embracing the theory that heavy Internet use should be defined as a mental disorder and mounting a public crusade against Internet addiction.

To skeptics, the campaign dovetails a bit too nicely with China’s broader effort to control what its citizens can see on the Internet. The Communist government runs an extensive program that limits Web access, censors sites and seeks to control online political dissent.

In the Internet-addiction campaign, the government is helping to fund eight inpatient rehabilitation clinics across the country.

The clinic in Daxing, a suburb of Beijing, is the oldest and largest, with 60 patients on a normal day and as many as 280 during peak periods. Few of the patients, who range in age from 12 to 24, are there willingly. Most have been forced to come by their parents, who are paying upward of $1,300 a month — about 10 times the average salary in China — for the treatment.

Led by Tao Ran, a military researcher who built his career by treating heroin addicts, the clinic uses a tough-love approach that includes counseling, military discipline, drugs, hypnosis and mild electric shocks.

Located on an army training base, the Internet-addiction clinic is distinct from the other buildings because of the metal grates and padlocks on every door and the bars on every window.

On the first level are 10 locked treatment rooms geared toward treating teen patients suffering from disturbed sleep, lack of motivation, aggression, depression and other problems. Unlike the rest of the building, which is painted in blues and grays and kept cold to keep the teens alert, these rooms are sunny and warm.

Sun, the 17-year-old, who is from the city of Cangzhou, checked into the clinic about a month ago. He said he was sometimes online playing games for 15 hours nonstop. “My life was not routine — day and night, I was messed up,” he said. Since he’s been there, Sun said, he’s decided to finish high school, attend college and then work at a private company. With the help of a counselor, he’s mapped out a life plan from now until he’s 84.

No one is comfortable talking about the third floor of the clinic, where serious cases — usually two or three at a time — are housed. Most have been addicted to the Internet for five or more years, Tao said, are severely depressed and refuse counseling. These teens are under 24-hour supervision.

Guo Tiejun, a school headmaster turned psychologist who runs an Internet-addiction research center in Shanghai, said the military-run clinic goes too far in treating Internet addicts like alcohol and drug addicts.

He has treated several former patients of the Daxing clinic and advocates a softer approach. Guo said he believes that the root of the problem is loneliness and that the most effective treatment is to treat the teens “like friends.”Our conclusion is that kids who get addicted in society have some kind of disability or weakness. They can’t make friends, can’t fulfill their desire of social communication, so they go online,” he said.

Guo is especially critical of the use of medications — which include antidepressants and a variety of other pills and intravenous drips — for Internet addiction because, he said, that approach treats symptoms, not causes.

Tao and his team of 15 doctors and nurses defended their treatment methods. He said that while some clinics depend wholly on medications, only one out of five patients at the Daxing clinic receive prescription drugs. Tao did agree with Guo that Internet addiction is usually an expression of deeper psychological problems.

Sun looks forward to returning to school and getting on with his life. The first task on his agenda when he gets home: Get online. He needs to tell his worried Internet friends where he was these past few weeks.

Copyright 2007 Star Tribune. All rights reserved.

____________________________

Electric Shocks? WTF?

But on the bright side, maybe they’ve finally figured out how to deal with all of that ‘MySpace’ crap. I mean really, does ‘HotStephanie6969’ really want to be my friend?

I doubt it…

Browser buddies: No-cost apps for better surfing

•February 26, 2007 • Leave a Comment

Those who know me also know that I’m a HUGE Mozilla fan. In this article from Monsters & Critics, Jay Dougherty looks at some of the things that set browsers like Firefox and Opera apart from I.E….
By Jay Dougherty Feb 24, 2007
Monsters & Critics / Tech

Washington – Remove the annoyances of Web surfing while enhancing the enjoyment – that’s the goal of many Internet users. Today, you can do both – thanks to free applications and utilities that work alongside or in place of your current Web browser.

— Browser choices

Even if you’re a devoted Internet Explorer (IE) user, you probably ought to install the Mozilla Firefox (http://www.mozilla.com) or Opera (http://www.opera.com) browser on your machine as well.

Here’s why. First, these browsers are free and high-quality. Second, installing each is painless, as they will import your IE bookmarks and largely work the same way that IE does, albeit while adding interesting features. But third and most importantly, they provide a way for you to determine whether any difficulty you may have in viewing a Web site is due to the site itself or your browser.

Continue reading ‘Browser buddies: No-cost apps for better surfing’

RIAA accused of extortion and violation of antitrust laws

•February 4, 2007 • Leave a Comment

From http://www.monstersandcritics.com/
Monsters And Critics

RIAA accused of extortion and violation of antitrust laws

By Steve Ragan Feb 2, 2007, 18:09 GMT
According to an Associated Press (AP) wire report, Robert Santangelo, a sixteen-year-old boy who is currently being sued by five record companies for piracy, turned the tables on the recording industry when he filed suit and accused them of extortion, violation of antitrust laws, and conspiring to defraud the courts. Robert, in papers filed in court denies ever serving pirated music online, and notes it is impossible to prove it.

Continue reading ‘RIAA accused of extortion and violation of antitrust laws’

Welcome to The HOT Blog!!

•November 22, 2006 • 1 Comment

Just a few notes about what you’ll find here…

I do testing of just about everything from web sites, products, items of interest to folks like you and me. A bit about myself: I’m not a 17-year old just starting out; I’m in my early 40’s and an IT Professional for over ten years. Testing, reviewing, and documentation are a part of my life, and this is one of the places that I keep my skills sharp, sort of a ‘use-it-or-lose-it’ philosophy.

I take my work, whether installing a new network, designing a new website or set of graphics, or reviewing your website or product very seriously. The good news is that I don’t take myself that seriously, so we’ll also have a little fun while we’re here together.

So, if you’d like to have your website, product, or service reviewed here at The Hot Blog, just drop me a line at The HOT Blog@gmail.com. I’ll take a look and if I blog it, I’ll send you the link to the blog plus a custom graphic to put on your site, the rating I gave your item or service, and set links to both your site and my review in as many places as I can PLUS write-up in my monthly newsletter “The HOT Blog Log”, which goes out to every HOT Blog reader who signs up.

So, it’s a deal, it’s a steal, it the sale of the freakin’ century. All for the price (while it lasts) of an email to me. If you’d like even MORE coverage and services, drop on over to ReviewMe.com, where you can sign up for even MORE coverage, pick different bloggers, and get the virtual Buzz out on whatever it is that you want people to be buzzing about.

Review ME.com