Cornficker

I was just reading about the Cornficker worm on how it’s going to infect hundreds or perhaps millions of personal computers on April 1, 2009. Here are some facts about the Cornficker worm from ZDNet’s website.

What is Conficker and how does it work?
Conficker is a worm, also known as Kido or Downadup, that cropped up in November. It exploits a vulnerability in Windows that Microsoft patched in October.

Conficker.B, detected in February, added the ability to spread through network shares and via removable storage devices, like USB drives, through the AutoRun function in Windows.

Conficker.C, which surfaced earlier this month, shuts down security services, blocks computers from connecting to security Web sites, and downloads a Trojan. It also reaches out to other infected computers via peer-to-peer networking and includes a list of 50,000 different domains, of which 500 will be contacted by the infected computer on April 1 to receive updated copies or other malware or instructions. Previous Conficker variants were written to connect to 250 domains a day.

After reading more of it, I just realized, I have nothing to worry about. My desktop is running Ubuntu Linux.

Stuck on Ubuntu 8.04

I have to admit, I am stuck on Ubuntu 8.04. I have been an Ubuntu user since version 5.04 Hoary Hedgehog. Every six months, I have religiously upgraded to every version of Ubuntu that came along from version 5.04 Hoary Hedgehog, Breezy Badger, Edgy Eft, Feisty Fawn to version 8.04 Hardy Heron. And that is where it stops. I tried Ubuntu version 8.10 Intrepid Ibex, but there were a couple things that broke. I ended up putting back 8.04 Hardy Heron because everything seems to work fine with Hardy Heron. They don’t call it Hardy for no reason.

The biggest killer for me was screen rotation support. I have this HP w2207h widescreen monitor with swivel functionality and I need to have an Ubuntu version capable of rotating my screen by 90 degrees to support portrait viewing. Oh yes, Intrepid supports it, but not quite the way I wanted it. I need to be able to rotate it from the menu screen and not from the command-line or some third-party software.

So fast forward to today, I just heard that Jaunty Jackalope Beta was just released. Some of the new features being touted are: ext4 support, new login screen, some new wallpapers, faster boot-time and updated versions of software. Hmmm. For some reason, I am not so impressed. But still, I should upgrade. Well, not quite so fast. Why fix something that’s not broken. So, I’m stuck on Ubuntu 8.04 for the time being.

It’s a good thing Ubuntu Hardy Heron is under LTS support or Long Term Support. I don’t have to worry until April 2011 for support to end. Wow, that’s two more years from today. I will milk it for all its worth. You can almost guess what my next article will be, “I’m stuck on Windows XP.” I love Windows XP compared to Vista, but I digress. Well, that’s another story. In the meantime, the Ubuntu Update Manager is calling me to update my system. Well, you have to excuse me while my system is updating. And yes, there are no reboots required.

8TB Seagate BlackArmor NAS 440

Two years ago, I purchased a Vantec Nexstar LX Network Attached Storage or NAS for several of my systems at home. I added a 160gb drive to the NAS device to store, share and backup documents. The advantage of having a NAS drive over a regular USB-attached drive is that it’s easily available to any computer on the network via several networking protocols mainly HTTP, FTP, Windows Share and Samba for Linux users.

nas440

Seagate is now releasing a Linux-based NAS device called the Black Armor NAS 440. It comes with an iTunes server and is also a DLNA-compliant media server. It can be configured to run several RAID formats using RAID 0/1/5/10. It comes with a dual ethernet ports and 4 USB ports. It supports several networking protocols mainly NFS, HTTP, HTTPS,  FTP, CIFS, Microsoft’s Rally and Active Directory. With 4 drive bays at 2TB capacity each, the device can be configured up to 8TB of storage.

Seagate’s new BlackArmor NAS devices cost $800 (NAS 420 with 2TB), $1,200 (NAS 440 with 4TB), $1,700 (NAS 440 with 6TB), and $2,000 (NAS 440 with 8TB).

Unix at 40

Unix is 40 years old today. It didn’t seem that long ago, but then again it seems like Unix has been around for a very long time. Now, take a look at this OS timeline here and you will see missed opportunities for Unix to get a foothold on the desktop computing in the early 1980’s. It’s too bad Unix could not take advantage of its opportunities before IBM and eventually Microsoft came along with their PC-DOS and Windows operating systems. Linux was born in 1991 when Finnish Linus Torvalds released an Unix-like kernel which subsequently turned into dozens of Linux distributions that we see today. Fast forward to now and the future, you see a world deeply entreched on the Windows. It’s still an uphill battle to get people to recognize that there is a third option to Windows and Apple operating systems. Unix and Linux in general have come a long way from its humble command-line beginnings to the current Gnome based GUIs.

Amazon Kindle vs Sony Reader

Everyone has heard of Amazon’s Kindle 2. It’s a slim and lightweight electronic book reader that boasts an improved display, longer battery life and more storage. It uses 3G wireless to download books anywhere and anytime. There are over 245,000 book titles from Amazon that are available for easy download.

Sony announced today the Sony Reader collaborating with Google to make 600,000 book titles available online. The Sony Reader is small and lightweight just like the Kindle 2. The biggest difference is storage. Sony’s Reader has 20MB compared to the Kindle’s 2GB.

Sony’s Reader requires a computer to download books which can later be synched to the Reader. Amazon’s Kindle 2 uses 3G technology to download books anywhere and anytime. Based on the obvious, Amazon’s Kindle 2 is the superior gadget.

If Sony can match the Kindle’s storage and 3G capability on their Reader, they can crush the Kindle 2. But at the moment, if I had to get an electronic reading device, I would lean towards buying the Amazon Kindle 2, albeit I only have access to half of the available books online.

If Amazon can match what Sony is offering or if Sony can match the Kindle 2 specifications, it would make buying an even tougher decision. Competition is good because it enables innovation as well as keep prices at a reasonable level.

The only question is, which electronic reader will you cuddle up to.

WebcamMax

Have you ever wondered how others have added special effects to their webcams? Special effects like distorted faces, fire, mosaic and colors. Other effects include wearing hats, costumes and glasses. Changing hairstyles or add facial hair is also possible. If you are looking for a software program that adds a variety of these effects I’ve mentioned above, then take a look at WebcamMax.

What is WebcamMax? WebcamMax is a software program that runs on Windows 2000, XP or Windows Vista. The program allows you to use thousands of special effects on your existing webcam. WebcamMax works with many popular chat programs such as MSN, Yahoo Messenger, CamFrog, ICQ, Aim, Skype, Paltalk, ANYwebcam, Stickam and many others. The software also acts as a recorder for capturing videos that you can later share with friends in YouTube or on your blog.

In addition, WebcamMax allows you to share your computer screen with family or friends. You can also share any photo or a movie clip. Another excellent feature of WebcamMax is the ability to broadcast or display two sources at the same time. This feature is called Picture in Picture or PinP. Select any two sources whether a picture, a movie clip, screen, a webcam, and even a camcorder with a DV output attached to your computer.

List of Effects

  • Transform – distorting mirror, fire, mosaic, line, color, snow, water.
  • Mask – glasses, hats, hair, famous people.
  • Background – change your background to any place you like.
  • Frame – add a frame to your screen to make it cooler.
  • Emotion – use smileys you like to express your feeling better.
  • Text – type what you want to say on the video box directly.
  • Customize existing effects – tweak color, position, size and speed.
  • Create your own effects – just follow the guide. it’s easy and fun.
  • Online effects – download other effects via online.

Record Videos

  • Save recorded videos in AVI or ASF formats.
  • Take snapshots of your webcam, your screen or movie playing.
  • Save pictures in JPG, BMP, GIF or PNG format.

Use the Virtual Webcam

  • Play a movie for your friends.
  • Trick your friends with a fake video.
  • Play photo slides.
  • Fast switch between virtual webcam and your actual webcam.

Activate Picture in Picture – PinP

  • Broadcast different sources at the same time
  • Select from many sources – webcam, picture, screen or other sources
  • Customize your PinP sources – change position and size

Enable Doodling

  • Create drawings or edit existing ones
  • Use a pencil, eraser or a color bucket
  • Save your work for later use

Download

You can download the program from WebcamMax’s website. The software is free to use for trial period of 30 days. Buying a license will remove the watermark and the 30 day time limitation. It also offers free future updates. License cost vary. You can select 6 months for $19.95, 1 year for $29.95, 2 years at $39.95 or a lifetime (enjoy forever) license for $49.95.

Live Streaming

In addition, WebcamMax also works with live streaming. I’ve tested it at ustream.tv. My setup uses a Canon ZR-950 camcorder connected via Firewire to my Lenovo S10 laptop. With the WebcamMax software, I can switch sources selecting either my Canon camcorder, the laptop’s built-in webcam, a video or a movie clip, a photo and even my laptop’s screen. Sharing any of two sources I’ve mentioned is possible using the Picture in Picture (PinP) feature.

So, give WebcamMax a try. Download the trial version or visit their website at http://webcammax.com.

Lenovo S10

I recently bought a mini laptop, a Lenovo S10. I love it. I’ve been searching for an affordable mini for several months now. I’ve looked at Asus, Dell and HP the past few months. Last week, I just happened to be at Frys Electronics down at Anaheim looking for audio cables and I came across the Lenovo S10. I fell in love with it from the start. It took me a better of 10 minutes to decide I needed to buy it.

That’s how much faith I had in the product because I haven’t seen any reviews when I bought it. I am glad to know that the Lenovo S10 had nothing but rave reviews from several sources. Here is a list of reviews from Lenovo’s website. There are plenty more reviews from third party vendors and technology blogs and websites. The Lenovo S10 have faired very well.

What’s in the Lenovo S10? Well, the Lenovo S10 is based on a 1.6Mhz Intel Atom Processor with 1GB of RAM and 160GB hard drive. It runs on Windows XP with a 10.2 inch LCD screen with a resolution of 1024×600. It weighs only a measly 2.4 lbs. The S10 has the following ports: VGA, Ethernet, mic, and headphone and a 4-in-1 card reader. It comes with 2 USB ports and ExpressCard slot. It also comes with 1.3mp built-in webcam. The laptop comes with a 3 cell battery good enough for 2.5 – 3 hours of uptime.

Performance has been great. I love the fact that it runs on Windows XP and not Vista. The S10 is fast enough for web browsing, chat and for editing documents. I even use it for live streaming. It works great. The other reason I didn’t have any hesitation to buying the S10 was it was a Lenovo. It’s built well which is typical of Lenovo’s line of products. Not bad for a mini that only costs $349. I absolutely love it.

In addition, one of two USB ports that is available is bootable. Maybe one day, I can install Ubuntu Linux on it. The ExpressCard is also a great option for adding Firewire, a SATA drive or a Wireless 3G device. Ah, the fun. If you are looking for a mini, be sure to check on the Lenovo S10. It might be the one you want.