Software Spam

Do spammer tools leave hidden signatures?

Interestingly I got some spam today that had some interesting code. Both AppleWorks and MS Word seem to be used by the author. Included in this post are some excerpts from this email that I found interesting:

Mozilla Software

Thinkpad Access Connectons 4.1

Downloading Thinkpad Access Connections 4.1 right now, looking at the changelog, I see one thing in particular I really like:

– (New) Support Firefox internet browser setting in location profile

Yea! Now Firefox can be configured using Access Connections too. This is great because Access Connections is used by many business people on their Thinkpads to manage multiple connection profiles. The ability to adjust Firefox settings quickly like that, brings it that much closer to matching IE for business needs.

On a sidenote, 4.01 causes my CPU to spike every several seconds (not much, but enough to be wasteful). Hopefully 4.1 contains a fix for that issue (no mention of it in the changelog though. I was looking around for a way to report this bug, but haven’t found any place on the IBM/Lenovo website.

Mozilla Software

AOL Toolbar for Firefox

I had this in mind for a few days, but haven’t gotten to it AOL has a beta of their new AOL Toolbar for Firefox (1.0.6 Beta II). I decided to give it a quick go (it’s available to non-AOL members). While I’ve never seen the use of these toolbars (AOL, Google, Yahoo), for a purpose than blocking popups in older versions of IE, I won’t get into that discussion any further, instead looking at it from a more technical point of view.

It’s actually rather well done, it has a settings window that lets you add/remove (and reorder) items from the toolbar, which appear as soon as you close the window (very cool to see that smoothly happen). Overall it looks like a very complete offering with AOL artwork, and everything. That’s what impressed me the most. I don’t see mail notification, though I don’t know if their IE toolbar offers that either (it does offer the ability to go to mail, and compose message. Also interesting is when you select text, it automatically populates the search bar’s query box, literally as you highlight (it grows as your selection covers more characters).

Very cool to see AOL supporting Firefox users with an AOL toolbar.

We now have a Google Toolbar, Yahoo Toolbar and now AOL Toolbar!

Super job AOL employees! Great to see your ensuring your users have access to your services from the browser of their choice. For those wondering (and I’m sure would comment), I’m still not fond of their new email policy, but I do feel it’s important to give them criticism and praise where they deserve it. Remember it’s feedback that lets companies gauge how their policies/products/services are perceived by the public.

If anyone from AOL wants to let me know if there are plans to integrate login based services at all (for example mail so users can tell if they get new messages), feel free to leave a comment or contact.


Opera 9.0 Tech Preview 2

For those interested (if you’re into browsers, you should be): Opera 9.0 Tech Preview 2 is out. The widgets look rather good. Very Apple like in quality, I’ve only looked a the ones by Opera. I assume we’ll see more soon. I really hope XULRunner will be used for such a purpose soon. With the new Cairo backend, <canvas/> and SVG it would be very cool to see what people could come up with.

There’s lots of interesting fixes/features to obsess over, not sure what my favorite would be. (though CSS 3 opacity is eye catching).

Curious how hard it would be to port Apple Widgets, or Yahoo Widgets. Hopefully that will all be somewhat standard one day, and you can use a widget with any platform you want (I hope Apple, Yahoo, and Opera all realize that would be to their advantage as well, granted rendering engines would cause some platform specific things).

Could it be a better time for the web? So many choices, great products all around.

In The News Mozilla

Using Firefox to protect privacy?

Seeing this article about teens revealing too much online got me thinking about a potential Firefox extension.

Part one would need to be installed in the system level extensions folder (Firefox/Extensions), and would examine all text input via textboxes. By matching against a list of information it wouldn’t let the user post any information deemed sensitive (could be name, location, school, etc.). It could get a little smarter by even allowing rules per domain.

Another extension to complement it would be installed in the user’s extensions folder (like normal) and allow configuration (password protected of course).

A few years ago now, I started the Securita project to bring content filtering to Mozilla, but never really got past a proof of concept (it essentially has a blacklist of about a dozen words).

Both are rather tough to implement as it’s rather hard to truly block something (a porn site could use no images, instead resorting to pure text, or could be written in german when the filter only understands english). There’s also workarounds that would need to be defeated, so that “S@lly” == “Sally”, “Bob” == “Robert” and so on.

It’s a pretty tough job to really make something like this effective, though it would be beneficial for schools, and parents looking for a good free aid. I say “aid” because there’s no true substitute for supervision despite what many want to believe, filters and software don’t have enough AI to have the logic of an infant, forget about a quick thinking teenager. Don’t forget for less than $100, you can output a mirror video cards with TV out.

It would be an interesting project, though I do believe there would be somewhat of a difficult extension to make truly effective.
Just food for thought.


GeoLocateFox 0.1.1

GeoLocateFox 0.1.1 has been released. Changes are:

  • Firefox 1.5.0.* Support
  • Flock Support
  • SeaMonkey Support
  • Small fix to detection code
  • Small ui fix

Get GeoLocateFox

Apple Hardware

Virtual Click Wheel for iPod? Widescreen?!?!

The biggest complaint about the video iPod is the small screen size. If Apple made the iPod screen bigger, the iPod would be bigger, and use more battery life, two bad things.

This touchpad patent looks like the cure to one of these problems. It would let apple make the entire front of the iPod a display. Similar to what Palm did by getting rid of the graffiti area and making it virtual. Their’s the “ooh” factor that’s sure to sell, and the larger screen. Apple could even take a hint from Palm and design it so that the press of a “button” (likely something on that screen rather than a physical button) would make it show video in landscape mode (read: wide screen).

This article seems to hint it’s targeted more at tablet PC’s (which have been rumored for a few years now). Personally, I’m thinking a widescreen iPod is more likely.

iPod Wide Screen
iPod photo copyright Apple Computer Inc. Modified (poorly) by Robert Accettura.

Anyone else think this is a distinct possibility?

Google Internet Politics Spam

Postage for Email? My Internet != Your Internet?

There’s been a lot of buzz lately over AOL and Yahoo charging to email their customers. I think this quote most likely will end up being the future:

“AOL users will become dissatisfied when they don’t receive the e-mail that they want, and when they complain to the senders, they’ll be told, ‘it’s AOL’s fault,’ ” said Richi Jennings, an analyst at Ferris Research, which specializes in e-mail.

Well said. Just wait until AOL customers realize they aren’t getting order confirmations, notifications, and other email’s because the sender won’t pay.

Another concern not really discussed is the possibility of having a Level 3/Cogent style battle where one ISP refuses to let another email their customers, because they aren’t getting paid what they feel they should.

Right now, email is essentially 100% peered. Everyone emails everyone, nobody charges. You pay your ISP to run the mail server, and that’s it. If commercial entities need to pay to email you, your going to get separate charges. Want an email when your order ships? Pay extra. Want an email when this item is back in stock? Pay extra.

This is a very slippery slope. Just one or two greedy ISP’s is all you need to ruin email. Once you can’t reliably email, the system is dead. Spam can reduce efficiency, but can’t kill email. Remember Email is by far the most used protocol in business.

I doubt this system will do anything to reduce spam for AOL customers. It will however help AOL’s revenue, which I’m assuming is the real goal. A slightly bold move as AOL is assuming their customers won’t mind not getting all the legitimate email they would if they used a free Gmail or even Hotmail account.

There’s also a decent possibility AOL customers might have to pay merchants an email fee when they buy products, to help cover that cost. Of course merchants eventually will sneak in their percentage there, further hiking prices.

Personally, I think this biggest threat is a Level 3/Cogent style dispute.

Should also note there’s currently a lot going on over Net Neutrality. Google’s been thrown into the middle of that, merely because of how ubiquitous the company is. Vint Cerf’s letter on the topic is really a must read. Paying for email right is really just an inverted case of network neutrality. Instead of the middle man dictating who you can/can’t communicate with, the next ISP down the line decides. That’s no better.

The Internet as an open medium could drastically change in the next few months if some of this stuff becomes reality. There are quite a few companies out there who believe the internet is enough of a threat to their business, that they want to go as far as crippling it.


Firefox for only $37.95?

SiteAdvisor has an interesting article up on a scam where a site makes people pay to download Firefox. As much as $37.95!

I’ll let you all in on a little secret. For the next 30 x 6.022 x 1023 days, you can get Firefox completely FREE! No ads, no spyware, and no spam! Just download here.

What’s the catch? Enjoy the internet, and perhaps tell a friend ;-).

Ok, but seriously it’s pretty sad to see people scamming innocent internet users. Just remember when you tell people about Firefox, to give them an official url (,,, and tell them it’s 100% free.

Funny In The News Software

Bill Gates too rich for Normal Computers

“Microsoft founder too rich for tax computer to handle” according to this article. Gates allegedly said:

My tax return in the United States has to be kept on a special computer because their normal computers can’t deal with the numbers…

How much you want to bet the “special computer” is Linux, and the “normal computers” run Windows?