“The Star Trekkin’ Episode” of Dr. Bill Podcast #151

Dr. Bill Podcast – 151 – (08/30/08)
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ASCII art for spammers, Microsoft “in your face” warning, virii in space, Geek Software of the Week: RegToy, handy tip on using Gmail for an SMTP Gateway, Geek Culture: Star Trekkin’!

Handy Tip: Use Gmail as Your Out-going SMTP Gateway

Gmail TipSo, why would you want to use Gmail as your SMTP Gateway? Well, let’s say that you have a laptop that you travel with. And you have Mozilla Thunderbird set up as your e-mail client. On your local, home network, you use your ISP’s SMTP gateway, and all is well. But when you take your laptop and go to Starbuck’s using their WiFi connection… you can’t send e-mail. Drat!

What do you do? Well, if you have a Gmail account (they are free, after all) then you can do this… set up Gmail as your out-going SMTP Gateway. Simply fill in the fields in Thunderbird as shown in the screenshot, and you are good to go! Handy, huh?

(Don’t forget the SSL radio button, and the port definition!)

Geek Software of the Week: RegToy!

RegToyWhile not necessarily for the “faint of heart” when it comes to computer tweaking, RegToy, is a cool, and useful utility! Check it out! It is free, and it does much to make your Windows tweaking easier!

RegToy Web Site

“RegToy is a collection of useful utilities : tweaking, window manager, shell context menu, registry cleaner, file renamer, screen capture, memory cleaner, disk cleaner, services manager, shutdown scheduler, wallpaper changer, and more. It is also available in many different languages.”

Shades of “The Muppet Show!” Virii in Space!

Remember the Muppet show’s “Pigs in Space?” Well, now it is “Virii in Space!” If even the International Space Station can get a computer virus… well, is nowhere safe from these evil minions of the “pigs” that design viruses? Sigh.

Computer Virus Hits ISS, Should NASA Worry?

“It was confirmed yesterday by NASA that they have discovered a computer virus on a laptop that is aboard the International Space Station (ISS). The big question that has come out of this though, is should NASA worry? The virus was first discovered by Symantec back on August 27, 2008, with the virus being called W32.Gammima.AG. It impacts systems running Windows 2000, 95, 98, Me, NT, XP, and Windows Server 2003. At this point though, it does not seem that there is much of a threat to NASA directly from the virus. The report states that the virus is very easy to contain and remove, and can cause minimal damage. The best thing the virus can do is steal passwords, but it is not believed that the worm virus could do any damage to NASA at this. NASA is seeing it as more of a pain than a major threat, and for good reason. Many continue to question though how a virus managed to get on the International Space Station in the first place. Don’t they have virus scanning software?”

Illegal Copy of Windows? M$ Knows, and Wants YOU to Know, It Knows!

Notice a black screen with a notice that “You may be a victim of software counterfeiting” on your PC? It may be the result of Microsoft’s latest Genuine Windows Program!

New Windows Genuine authenticator can blank desktop backgrounds

If in the last week or so you’ve noticed that your desktop background in Windows XP Professional goes completely black exactly every 60 minutes, don’t worry, it’s not a virus. A blackened desktop is the latest indication that the Microsoft Genuine Advantage program has determined your copy of the operating system to be non-authentic, as a service of its latest version rolled out to XP Professional users this week. ‘The desktop background can be reset to anything else in the usual ways,’ wrote WGA senior product manager Alex Kochis yesterday, ‘but every 60 minutes it will change back to the plain black background. This will continue to happen until that copy of Windows is genuine.’ Kochis’ team has been tinkering with multiple ways to provide some kind of ‘in-your-face’ notice to the user that Microsoft doesn’t believe his copy of Windows to be a valid one, without making any kind of implied accusation that somehow the user is at fault. For Windows Vista, WGA disables the Aero translucent front-end, substituting the more conventional ‘Vista Basic’ theme instead. In addition to the blackened desktop, the new WGA will show a transparent, immobile notice in the lower right corner of the screen: ‘You may be a victim of software counterfeiting.’ The notice will remain in place whatever software the user may try to run, though it’s probably not intense enough to cause screen burn-in.”

ASCII Art – A New Spam Threat?

Sigh… spammers just keep trying to get their junk in front of our eyes… and try to find ways to defeat the spam filters… no, it is ASCII art! Back “in the day” ASCII art was cool on old “green screen” terminals… now it is a spam threat!?!?

ASCII: An artful way around spam filters

“An old computer art form is making a comeback as a newer way to evade spam filters. For decades, computing fans have enjoyed a form of expression called ASCII art that shows pictures or messages as a low-resolution graphic, a grid made of numerous computer characters encoded with the venerable ASCII standard. With a photo digitized with ASCII art, for example, the ‘#’ character can represent a dark pixel and ‘.’ a light pixel. And there are large fonts constructed from an assemblage of individual characters. Now the technique has surfaced as a way to transmit information that’s hard for spam filters to detect–but that so far, at least, has proved relatively harmless beyond that stage. ‘There’s been an upsurge in ASCII spam in the last week…It’s quite effective in getting through filters,’ said Chris Boyd, director of malware research at messaging management firm FaceTime Communications. But earlier efforts to use ASCII art for spam have proven to be duds, he added. ‘The downside is that 9 times out of 10, it’s completely useless because it’s almost impossible to read, or it’s a really bizarre picture of a naked lady that’s not clickable,’ Boyd said.”

“The No, Really, I Got Nuttin’ Edition” of Dr. Bill Podcast #150

Dr. Bill Podcast – 150 – (08/23/08)
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Dr. Bill has a busy week at work, and therefore, a slow blogging week! Few items, but… Mac vs. PC Geek Culture!

More Evidence of “Trek Tech!”

Remember “Star Trek: The Voyage Home?” (The one us Trekkers playfully call the “Save the Whales” movie!) One of the things that they mentioned about in that movie was “transparent aluminium.” Scotty was willing to give away the formula if the guy that owned the company would make some for him. Well, this is an old article, but my brother-in-law, Jon, sent it to me and pointed out that they ARE working on just that… transparent aluminium! Wow!

Military: New Aluminum Windows Stop .50-Caliber Bullet

“A new type of transparent armor made of aluminum could one day replace glass in military vehicles. The product is called aluminum oxynitride. It is being tested by the Army and the University of Dayton Research Institute in Ohio. The material is a ceramic compound with a high compressive strength and durability, according to an Army statement issued this week. It performs better than the multilayered glass products currently in use, and its about half the weight. It is virtually scratch-resistant. ‘The substance itself is light-years ahead of glass,’ said 1st Lt. Joseph La Monica, who heads the research. Glass is still used in the new process, being sandwiched between an outer layer of the polished aluminum oxynitride and a polymer backing.”

How cool is that?

“The Disco Star Wars Edition” of Dr. Bill Podcast #149

Dr. Bill Podcast – 149 – (08/16/08)
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A licensing bug that causes an ESX cluster to lose its VMware license, Patch Tuesday brought some important fixes, Geek Software of the Week: fwbuilder, Netflix has had problems this week, PodcastStation has been discontinued, Star Trek warp drive is a possibility, say scientists! Star Wars Geek Culture!

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