In The News Internet

Yahoo gives way to identity fraud

Think about it:

  • Marine was over 18 (legal independent adult in the US).
  • Marine didn’t put in writing that he wanted his parents to have access.

Considering this. Why can’t I have access? There is no report of the parents having a DNA test compared to the remains of the soldier to prove a blood relation. For all that’s known, they are just random people. A persons birth certificate in the US doesn’t contain fingerprinting of parent/child (as it should, and has been argued for about 50 years). Only a legal name of the child, and the parent, plus mothers age. Which often isn’t unique (how many John Smith’s are there). This isn’t to say they are cons. But that there’s no true proof unless there’s a DNA test. It’s rather easy in the US to live under an identity that’s not your own. People do it all the time. Most just to escape creditors, or family. Nothing to evil. But of course some ex-cons do as well just to escape the stigma. Stories of people living under fake identities for decades are not at all uncommon. They get drivers licenses, and all benefits under such identities.

Nor is there legal president that just because your a parent you can get such access. Normally that would go to whom ever the deceased designates. Not just “anyone who asks for it” Typically a spouse.

If that soldier’s bank account didn’t have his parent as a cosign on the account. Guess what. That account’s not going to the parents with just a simple legal proceeding.

This is a big win for any identity scammers. Look through death certificates filed at your local municipality, and go after ISP’s to get email accounts. Then use the email account (and it’s data). Can do all sorts of fun things:

  • pretend to be that person and con people
  • extract passwords, data from stored email
  • submit it to websites to get passwords reset on various accounts

It would be rather easy for someone to show a death certificate and say they are the next of kin and deserve the ability to take the persons identity (which is essentially what getting email is).

This is phishing to a whole new level.

This is of course beside the fact that anyone who emailed the person intended for the email to be received by the individual, not whomever files papers with the court for access. At a minimum Yahoo should have contacted all people who corresponded with the individual and asked if they are ok with being included with this. If I were one of them, I would be rather upset. An email sent is intended for the recipient, unless otherwise stated.

Get ready for some serious abuse of this new power. I’m positive were going to see some new phishing attempts designed to exploit this.

I’m curious why it isn’t this easy to get access to someone’s bank account without being a cosign on the account? What’s the difference? There’s a lot less harm in getting access to assume the persons cash then the persons identity.

Credit to yahoo for giving a CD, not the account itself. But it’s still wrong. This makes fraud all to easy. Now you don’t even need to be smart. You just need to have the balls to file some papers with a court who is way to busy to even read them.

In The News Rants

Rob Rants: Cell Phones

I’ve discussed this before, but with a recent new study it’s appropriate to rant. So I bring you another installation of “Rob Rants”.

First of all, of course many conversations are faked. We all knew that for a long time. How did we know that? Because only a handful of people are actually important. The rest are as unimportant as you or I. Did anyone really expect me to believe I’m the only one not making multi-billion dollar deals on the street? Some people act like they have more important business than the president. Yea, you didn’t fool me for a minute.

Second of all, we really need a law against using cell phones in some places. It seems way to many people want others to hear their conversations. Lets get this strait: I don’t care what you did at work, how good/bad your kids are, what you plan to do this weekend or tonight, why your upset/happy, or what your doing for dinner. Got it? I don’t care. Nor does anyone else around you.

And that goes for those who leave their annoying phones on their annoying ring tones in places where they shouldn’t be. Early in the morning on the train nobody wants to hear your phone’s stupid ring tone. It’s not cute, it’s not cool. It’s annoying. Same goes with in the middle of class, at church, at the theater, etc. Put it on vibrate and put your phone in your pocket. People who violate this social rule the most are into self gratification without regard for others anyway, so perhaps they will enjoy that.

Oh yea. Just because you put your hand to your face doesn’t make it less annoying. Your hand doesn’t insulate against sound. It just blocks your moronic face. If there’s anything more annoying than an idiot in a mindless conversation on the phone, it’s an idiot talking on the phone with their hand in front of their face thinking their hand makes a phone booth. Well guess what, it doesn’t. You just look stupid. It’s even more stupid when your hand gets tired and you switch hands.

And I’d like to address one more thing. People who like to talk dirty or semi-dirty on the phone. You perverts who think it will impress the people around you to talk dirty. Well get a life, it doesn’t work. It’s doing the complete opposite. We don’t care what you plan to do after your date, and we don’t care about what you did with your significant other last night. It’s gross, repulsive and just obnoxious. And of course we all know there’s a 95% chance that there’s nobody on the other end. So your literally talking to your hand. Which is rather appropriate as your hand is likely the partner your talking about. Got that Casanova?

So put your cell phone away and shut up. We don’t care. Your not important, your not special, your not interesting. Unless your in the tabloids every week, odds are absolutely nobody cares about your personal life or sex life. So don’t bother sharing it. We don’t care. So shut up, and get a life.


Firefox annoyances?

Here’s an interesting article about Firefox annoyances. Some valid points that I agree with, but some that show a lack of research or understanding of the product.

The concept of “language packs” that was so prevalent on the Mozilla 1.x and Netscape 6.x / 7.x days seems to have been dropped in favor of “one Firefox installer for every language”….it should be possible to make the installer a SINGLE EXE for all languages.

This one I agree with. A single download would be a better alternative. While the file size would be larger, it would avoid some confusion. I can’t think of many downloads these days where I pick my language on download. I download then pick my language. It’s easier. The downside here is waiting to release until all locale’s are updated. This requires faster localization efforts.

Why deliver security fixes as “new versions”, instead of patches?. Mozzarella Foundation currently forces one to download an ENTIRE 4MB+ FULL INSTALLER to get a “.01+” bug fix.

I’ve made this argument more than once. A popular argument against it is that the bulk of Firefox is 1 file, and a small change means updating that file. While this is a valid point, it can be read as “50% of download time can be saved by using patches”. We need to start using xpi’s to patch rather than new releases. I agree.

Mozilla Foundation should offer users the option of an applications bundle, packing together the thunderbird e-mail client and the Firefox web browser.

We do, it’s called Mozilla Suite (SeaMonkey). It’s name will change as it’s not an official product any more. It will still be developed. Since most people these days use webmail, bundling an email client that most won’t need is pointless. Look how many Hotmail and Yahoo users there are and you can see. Why would we penalize people with extra download size? People who need a good email client can easily download it.

Firefox currently is currently riding the “mindshare wave” and making headlines. So can anyone at the Foundation give me a good excuse NOT TO rename the email client I refer to as Thunderchicken to “Firefox Mailer” or such a similar name?

Er No. Renaming products is a terrible thing to do. It’s very bad for branding in general because it’s confusing. There are still thousands of references to Firebird out there. Changing names is terrible for brand recognition. There’s no good reason to shoot outselves in the foot. Apple’s iPod, iTunes, iMac have been very popular, but they didn’t rename old products to fit the new naming scheme (iPower Mac, iFinal Cut Pro, iMac OS X, iQuickTime). Why? Because it’s bad for brand recognition. Companies spend billions to improve brand recognition. Why would the Mozilla Foundation try to destroy brand recognition and start over? Is the name itself a bug? Offensive? Trademark Infringement? Nope. Unless there’s a problem that can only be fixed by changing the name, it should stay.

The Gecko Runtime Engine (GRE) was created so, in theory, all applications could share a single “runtime engine”, and avoid the duplication of files. This is often not the case.

There’s a bug on that, and it’s said it will be fixed when it’s ready. That time is not now.

No splash screen. Actually this is a minor annoyance. But since I’m riding the annoyances protest wave, I decided to include it.

This is really somewhat mindless. A spash screen is purely for the reason of brand recognition. It’s not a feature, and doesn’t provide a benefit. If anything it can slightly diminish load performance on a slow system. The only reason any splash screens exist are for brand recognition. It’s free ad space.

No “CCK”. Netscape once offered their “Client Customization Kit” for their Mozilla Suite based 7.x browser.

There have been a few people playing with this as a 3rd party project. Not sure on the status on that. In theory it’s not something with a large market. Anyone who really needs to do this has someone with enough experience to quickly make an extension like SpeakEasy does for their customers. This would be the preferred method as you can use the extension on multiple versions with likely no changes. Creating a framework for doing this could be a mozdev project (any takers?). Perhaps just a webtool to create it (upload images, create bookmarks, and download an xpi). A CCK is bad. An extension to customize is good. I’ve discussed this before.

NO FTP UPLOADS. I type a ftp:// url including username and password (in the form ftp://user:pass@hostname), and then go to File->… to find there’s no “File Upload” option!

Sigh 18977 24867

BRING BACK THE TABBED SIDEBAR, at least as an option not enabled by default if you don’t want to annoy current firefox advocates.

This one I could agree with. Tabs are obviously popular with users. And they are beneficial.

Outside voices have little saying in the future direction of Firefox, or Thunderbird. Why not implement a process or programme like the Java Community Process to give the industry and user groups a voice in the future of the technology?

Where the heck did this come from? It’s obvious from the above the author did little/no research before writing this article but this one is pretty off base. Between the Wiki, Bugzilla, Forums, IRC, etc. etc. This is really flame bait more than article. Firefox contributors and Mozilla Foundation Employees lurck all of these constantly. Not to mention they read virtually any blog/news article with “firefox” in the post.

Okay, I said ten… here’s one more: An INSTANT MESSENGER (coded in xul) should be integrated. The lightweight AIM and ICQ clients on the browser’s sidebar tab is one of the reasons that keep me using Netscape 7.2.

And we’ve come full circle. The author has described clearly that they want Netscape 7.2 branded as “Firefox”. With all the authors suggestions, there would be no difference between Netscape 7.2 and Firefox other than the download site. If the author did any research they would know AIM is rather closed off to any third party development. Now considering the author likely knows AOL made a signifigant contribution to the Mozilla Foundation, would it be wise to reverse engineer their product? I’d think not. As far as AOL doing it themselves, they have. As part of their Netscape product line.

Overall I do think there are a few suggestions worth listening, but a few that aren’t even worth the keystrokes typed. To summarize, the main complaint is that Firefox is not Netscape. Well that’s obvious. I think the product (and organization) the author really should be talking about is Netscape. A review of this browser (Netscape 8, based on Firefox) would be much more relevant.

Perhaps the next article should be on picking the product to meet your needs, rather than talk about the one that’s in the news the most? Just because Firefox is popular doesn’t mean it’s perfect for you. That’s what choice is about. Firefox introduces choice. The ability to choose the best browser for you.


Oh yea, were 2 already

It’s somewhat hard to believe, but this blog is already 2 years old. I started at the end of March in 2003. Before that this was a static (rarely updated) website.

It honestly feels like it’s just been a matter of weeks ago that I uploaded the blog for the first time. And now 671 posts and 1,305 comments later… here I am. Where is this all going? Who knows.

So here’s to many more years. 😀

In The News Internet Mozilla Software Web Development

Adobe Buys Macromedia

I didn’t expect to see that in the news this morning (hat tip glazou), but I did expect it to happen years ago. The two companies just seem complementary. As proof of that I’ve often heard people confuse the companies and their products. This is big news for the industry as a whole. I can see many things changing:

  • Daniel Glazman mentions that there’s likely only room for 1 html editor. Go Live or DreamWeaver. I’m personally going to suggests DreamWeaver survives. Simply because it’s more robust. It’s advanced features such as editing code, php, etc. are much better than Go Live. It reaches a larger market. As for the impact on NVU? Well I guess that remains to be seen. I guess people will now be looking to see if DreamWeaver will be the only real commercial game in town.
  • SVG. This I think is the largest impact this deal is going to have. The fate of SVG. Adobe has been pushing SVG since very early on. But now with Flash in their hands. How do they feel about an open standard? Will they perhaps decide to open Flash to relax critics and just push their software as the ‘ultimate Flash IDE’? Will they stifle the growth of SVG? Or will they perhaps make the Flash plugin render SVG just like QuickTime or other media plugins support multiple formats?
  • Adobe has made a business of being cross platform (similar to Netscape). Their Acrobat Reader is available for virtually anything (even the Palm OS). Does this mean better Flash support for non-windows computers (which has historically sucked)?
  • PDF + Flash + Shockwave = ?
  • New products? Will Illustrator and Flash converge?
  • How does Photoshop fit in? Will it integrate with Macromedia Products?

Overall this is a groundbreaking event. It’s not unexpected as their products were complementary for ages and it was inevitable for them to come together. It’s finally happened.

Blog Mozilla Open Source

Firefox Counter Plugin for Word Press

Matt Mullenweg just emailed me that he incorporated my changes for the firefox counter plugin. You can now get Thunderbird stats with the following code:

< ?php firefox_count(‘thunderbird’);  ?>

Another toy is still in the works (waiting on something still). Hopefully you’ll see something soon.

Apple Mozilla

Safari 1.3

As usual David Hyatt has the roundup on the changes for Safari 1.3. A must read blog post for all web developers.

My big question is how long will Mac OS X 10.3 be supported and receive Safari Upgrades? IMHO that’s the big problem. Microsoft at least makes most of it’s upgrades for all OS’s, so the majority of IE Users are 5.5 or 6.0 at this point. Firefox and Opera don’t really care you can update at any point. It’s hard for web developers to take advantage of these fixes if Mac OS 10.2 users still don’t have them. Not everyone upgraded (especially businesses) to 10.3. I know 2 of my systems aren’t upgraded because Panther feels slower on them. I doubt everyone is upgrading to Tiger. While nice, I don’t think average joe will see it worth the effort/price.

I ask Apple to help us out here. Make Safari so that it’s available for 10.2+ and supports 10.2+. All updates go to all Mac OS X versions. That way people upgrade and Safari becomes easier to support. I don’t want to support several versions of Safari. This makes Mac’s easier to support, and that’s good for everyone. Come on Apple.


We’re officially popular

You know your popular when…
Spammers decide to use your name/reputation to spread a virus.

No word on how will compensate. Hopefully we’ll see a “you will never receive an email with an attachment from us, only download from official mirrors” message.

I guess this is the ultimate form of flattery… as annoying and stupid as it is.


Mike Connor Contracted

mconnor has a reason to r=+ now. He promises bugspam. I say “bring it on”. Hopefully this will really get things moving and get some code landing.


XUL Runner First Impressions

Downloaded XUL Runner (mentioned a while back) today to just check it out, and have a few notes. I’m not bashing anyone or the project. They are just things that I feel are incorrect, could be better, places for improvement. It’s not even at it’s first production release. Takes most products several releases to get really good. So it’s already ahead.

  • If I launch xulrunner.exe (or os equivalent) I should be prompted to open something, be brought to a shell prompt, told to open a file directly, or something. Nothing is incorrect.
  • 5.8MB download isn’t bad. But if I’m making a “Hello World” program, that’s a big download. I think the documentation needs to say the bare minimum needed for a distribution and which files needed for feature X, and feature Y. So that download size can be kept down. I may not need SSL for my app. I don’t want to bundle it.
  • Performance is pretty decent. Can’t complain.
  • Should recommend developers create a batch file on windows rather than open command prompt and enter commands. It’s just friendlier and shows how it can be used to create an application.
  • App #1 should be a Xcode for XUL like App. Think about it. A simple way to manage files, a decent editor, and a simple “build” which bundles things appropriately… it will be a pretty solid platform. Perhaps a good mozdev project.
  • Overall totally cool and I’m looking forward to some time to play with it and have some fun.