A site devoted to discussing techniques that promote quality and ethical practices in software development.

Monday, September 24, 2007

IE7 Vs Firefox European survey

Two recent reports released by Web Browser survey company report some very encouraging signs that Firefox has actually pulled ahead of IE7 in Europe.

In this report, they have identified the adoption of IE7 amongst the IE users is only 33.9% versus 83.2% of FF2 in the group of Firefox users. This is interesting showing a lack of endorsement of IE7, which was touted as more secure relative to the vulnerable IE6, in IE users group .

Furthermore, it is interesting to find in significant number of European countries, more people are actually using FF2 than IE7.

The other report shows a relentless increase of FF2 market share touching a shade below 28% across Europe. It also reported that Slovenia and Finland has passed 45% mark.

Good show. Slowly chipping away the dominance of IE.

DRM - never works and a DRM-Free world is being herald in.

DRM is one of those misguided attempts to prevent piracy, developed based on mythical and unsound assumptions, and ending up hurting the consumers. This article refuted many myths propagated by these Music Industries and DRM vendors.

In the article, according to EFF's
In fact, argues Schultz, DRM drives some would-be paying customers to the music black market, because, to date, it's the only place where you can obtain music downloads that you can use without constraints.
A myth that is often used to justify the use of DRM is that the artists being ripped off by these file-sharers. According to this article:
Recording artists won't necessarily suffer in a no-DRM world. These are the struggling musicians who supposedly would be playing their guitars for tips in the subway, in the doomsday scenario, if music were distributed DRM-free. For them, however, the move to a DRM-free world is either good news or irrelevant. It may mean fewer sales for the top moneymakers, but the majority of recordings—85 percent according to the RIAA—don't generate enough revenue to cover their costs.
According to Todd Rundgren, a recording artist
is that artists don't see money from their recordings; we capitalize on music we have recorded by going out and performing live. It is actually more worthwhile to give your music away—and make it up in terms of ticket sales.


If it takes me a year to sell a million records and I made $1 million in royalties from that, I'd make that much in a week or so if I toured
The recent appearance of sites like http://www.gbox.com selling DRM-free music is a welcoming sign.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Evidence piracy helps record companies

The release of the e-mail from MediaDefenders to the Internet - it must be the sweetest revenge for file sharers - reveals evidence that piracy is actually helping record company.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Piracy is not all one way - it also benefits consumers

I have been tracking this argument that piracy is bad and hurting companies for quite some time. Evidence is now available showing that some form of piracy, others calling this in a less offensive term, Fair Use, is actually good for the companies. This is not surprising at all.

I do not have solid evidence but from experience, the loss of revenue attributed to piracy is probably money well spent than big budget advertising campaigns and trade shows. What benefit could one derive from a week's trade show? Giving someone a few copies of software is probably money well spent in spreading the words of it.

Piracy also has demonstrable benefit to consumers. The latest one is forcing Microsoft to cut the price of their Office suite for students and according to Microsoft
"It is also part of our drive to address piracy issues," Microsoft Australia education marketing manager Donna Magauran said.
Piracy acts like a ceiling setting a upper limit which a company can charge and that it could be tolerated by the community. Without the hackers, will Microsoft cut the price of Vista to 1/3 of the original price in China?

Lately, DRM is on the way out because it is offensive to customers and giving them a bad taste.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Portable devices preinstalled with Malware from manufacturers

Today, I was shown two portable devices - one was a Toshiba 4G memory drive and the other one was a portable ruggerdized hard drive made by I-O Data. On the surface, none of them is found offensive until you insert them into your machine. I was asked to get rid of the programs spawned by these device upon insertion.

This request was a warning to me of potential attack using autorun and so I examined it using my machine that has autorun permanently disabled for security reason, particular since Sony used this technique to infect user's machine before the user had any chance to decline installation of any software.

After inserting the Toshiba into my machine, it took up 2 drives letters. I was asked to eliminate the annoying programs that started automatically when they are inserted.

This is a good reason why you should disabled autorun permanently on all drives because none of these annoying malware runs up on my machine.

The Disk Manager gave this away. One drive letter was consumed by CDFS and the materials on this drive gave this away as being from U3.

The second partition was just an ordinary FAT partition. It is not U3 that I have found offensive.

The second device was a Japanese made 12G rugged portable hard drive. Once again it behaved like that of the Toshiba, except that it did not have English instructions with this devices. They are all in Japanese. Once again one partition containing their software was packaged in a CDFS.

What I have found offensive with this kind of device is their manufacturers' arrogance and dictatorial attitude in not asking their user if they want to configure the devices in that manner.

Their behavior is identical to that used by Sony Rootkit attack in not seeking user' consent in loading up all these software, no matter how useful the manufacturers believe in. Thankfully the U3 had provided a program to eliminate the u3 partition on the device and I quickly used it to get rid of that rubbish. But it did not come with that CDFS partition. I had to download from their site. The I-O Data was less friendly.

The only way to treat that kind of device is to send it back to the manufacturer for a refund. Don't touch it and consider them as being malware infected.

Anyone considering buying any portable device should examine the product description to determine if they are infected with this kind of anti-customer malware. If I buy a drive, a hard drive or memory drive, I want to format and partition it in any manner I want. Not forced upon by the manufacturer.

Sony is another company caught recently with this kind of stupid acts with their Microvault.

Because I turned off the Autorun, I minimized the attack to only losing a drive letter to that partition that was loaded as a CDFS. None of the Malware was started.

For those that has the default settings on allowing Autorun, the U3 will be automatically loaded on the Toshiba device because the CDFS has the autrun.inf.

On the I-O Data Portable device, it can be more damaging had I allowed it run the Autorun.inf. It would have loaded 3 programs: AutoCRD.exe, and two others as well as some DLL. All without seeking users consent.

Since these companies are so rude to their customers, people should avoid buying this kind of rubbish until they treat their users with respect. In the mean time turn off Autorun permanently.

If anyone knows of any general software to delete CDFS on portable devices, please let me know.

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