PodcastStation Discontinued!

As you know, when I got my new laptop, I had to switch to PodcastStation from PodProducer because I needed a system that supported a USB microphone (PodProducer doesn’t unfortunately.) Now, the makers of PodcastStation are “throwing in the towel” due to development costs. That’s a shame! Here’s the e-mail owner’s of the software received:

“Dear Friends of PodcastStation:

Sales, development and support of PodcastStation has been discontinued and PodcastStation software is no longer available.

We appreciate the loyalty of our fans and hardcore users, but the simple fact is that the cost of maintaining the product far exceeded its ability to generate income.

For our registered users, we will be posting technical support FAQs on our PodcastStation site soon, including instructions for re-registration.

You’ll want to take down your links to PCS at the soonest opportunity.

We appreciate your support over the past two years with PodcastStation and helping us to get into the hands of those who really enjoy using it.

If you wish to contact us directly please send inquiries to info@audionlabs.com.

Best regards,

Kimberly Brown
Audion Laboratories, Inc.
206-842-5202 x 203”

It is awesome software, and they are an excellent company… it is a shame to see a product “die” like this. But, I understand that sometimes you have to make hard business decisions.

Netflix Experiencing Problems

DVD shipments were curtailed at it’s distribution plants due to a computer problem… but they are working on it! I heard on NPR this morning that Netflix will return some of the monthly fee for this month back to customers due to this problem as a credit.

Netflix admits it’s experiencing shipping delays

“Netflix is currently experiencing “significant shipping issues” that are preventing the popular movie rental service from delivering discs. Affected customers have been notified by e-mail. The initial shipping delay was reported on Tuesday and reported in the company’s blog to have been mostly resolved on Wednesday.”

This has apparently NOT effected their “on-demand” streaming service, however.

Geek Software of the Week: fwbuilder

fwbuilderConfiguring a firewall in Linux with iptables can be daunting for a new user… that’s where the graphical application “fwbuilder” comes in! This app will step you through defining your firewall, with helpful comments along the way!

Set up your firewall with Firewall Builder

“Firewall Builder (fwbuilder) is a graphical application that can help you to configure IP traffic filtering. It can compile the filtering policy you define into many specifications, including iptables and various languages used by Cisco and Linksys routers. Separating the actual policy you define and the implementation in this way should let you change what hardware is running your firewall without having to redefine your policy for that platform. Packages for fwbuilder are available in the Ubuntu Hardy and Fedora 9 repositories. fwbuilder is packaged as a 1-Click install for openSUSE 10.3, but not for version 11 as yet.”

“Patch Tuesday” Update – More Patches and Fixes

This last “Patch Tuesday” brought some important fixes for Microsoft users. Especially Word and Vista IPsec users, take note!

Eleven major soft spots addressed by latest Patch Tuesday

“The full effect of yesterday’s round of patches from Microsoft is just now being felt. This time, it’s not the worldwide DNS flaw that’s the big issue, but the typical stuff that afflicts Microsoft products, including and especially Office. One of the ‘critical’ vulnerabilities addressed yesterday affects older versions of Microsoft Word, and was acknowledged by the company last month. It involves intentionally malformed documents that, when parsed by Word, cause it to crash but also leave memory corrupted. Within that corrupt memory can lurk remnant code that could then be executed to give a remote, malicious user unauthorized privileges. You’d think that perhaps an Office 2003 Service Pack would be the answer to this problem, as systems with that service pack loaded were reportedly unaffected, as were systems with Office 2007 with or without SP1. But this week, Microsoft did elect to address the issue with a separate fix. Another of the 11 issues addressed with this round includes a bizarre problem, rated just ‘important’ rather than ‘critical,’ having to do with IPsec: In Windows Vista, IPsec is a component that enables a fully encrypted connection, but with other systems that can host it (for instance, Windows Server 2008). It enables businesses to avoid having to deploy sophisticated, and often entangled, VPNs to secure their connections and open up file system access to privileged users. In Vista, IPsec is closely tied with the group policy system, which is also part of its Advanced Firewall. These group policy objects determine how and whether certain security features are employed; and in the case of this particular security hole, the policy system can be fooled, and network traffic that’s supposed to be encrypted, won’t be. This fix affects both Vista and WS2K8, both 32- and 64-bit versions. In a clear indication that no Windows component is, by design, safe if it can communicate with other systems, it was discovered that an old-style heap-based buffer overflow could be triggered by, of all things, the Internal Color Management (ICM) system. This is the part of Windows that manages color profiles for displays and printers, translating hues from image files into true representations for the screen, and in turn into equally true representations in print.”

Licensing Bug Hits VMware Users Hard!

Ouch! It seems that a licensing bug that causes a cluster to lose its VMware ESX license after August 12th hit VMware customers… VMware has released a patch.

Licensing bug brings down VMware ESX data clusters

“Could everyone’s VMware licenses really have expired on August 12? That’s the question hundreds of major data centers found themselves asking, right after midnight when they realized they weren’t rebooting or resuming. In what appears to be a fault with its license validation, virtualized data clusters worldwide running on VMware’s ESX hypervisor found themselves unable to boot yesterday. Admins received messages saying their licenses had expired, whether or not they actually had. ‘http://msg.License.product.expired This product has expired,’ reads a cut-and-paste from a message posted to VMware’s support forum. ‘Be sure that your host machine’s date and time are set correctly.’ The problem appears limited to the VMware ESX 3.5 and ESXi 3.5 Update 2 hypervisors, and that includes clusters where VMotion is installed. VMotion is a dynamic tool that performs automatic maintenance on virtual servers — which should presumably include license updates — and which moves the physical location of virtual servers to better performing systems when necessary. Not only could virtual machines not be restarted after midnight on August 12, but once suspended, they couldn’t be resumed. And though VMotion was relied upon to provide the solution in some cases, it didn’t. Late yesterday, the company released express patches for both hypervisors. And no less than VMware’s President, Paul Maritz, publicly acknowledged the bug in a blog post last night.”

“The Kick-a-Nerd Edition” of Dr. Bill Podcast #148

Dr. Bill Podcast – 148 – (08/09/08)
Click on the “Streaming MP3” badge below to play Streaming Audio of this Podcast.
Streaming MP3 Audio
 Download MP3
(Right-Click on the Link Above and Choose “Save” to Save the MP3 file locally on your PC.)

Click on the “Streaming Ogg” badge below to play Streaming Ogg Vorbis Format Audio of the Podcast.
Streaming Ogg Audio
 Download Ogg Vorbis Format
(Right-Click on the Link Above and Choose “Save” to Save the Ogg Vorbis file locally on your PC.)

This year’s ConvergeSouth Bloggers and New Media Conference, USB 3.0 and the new FireWire standard from the IEEE, Firefox 3.1 may directly support OGG, Geek Software of the Week: On-Line MD5 Hash Calculator, and my 20th Wedding Anniversary!

Geek Software of the Week: On-Line MD5 Hash Calculator

This week’s GSoTW is a bit esoteric! If you NEED an MD5 Hash calculator, you will say, “Whoa! Cool!” If not, you will say, “Huh?” So it goes!

On-Line MD5 Hash Calculator

“In Cryptography, MD5 (Message-Digest algorithm 5) is a widely-used cryptographic hash function with a 128-bit hash value. As an Internet standard (RFC 1321), MD5 has been employed in a wide variety of security applications, and is also commonly used to check the integrity of files. MD5 was designed by Ronald Rivest in 1991 to replace an earlier hash function, MD4. In 1996, a flaw was found with the design; while it was not a clearly fatal weakness, cryptographers began to recommend using other algorithms, such as SHA-1 (recent claims suggest that SHA-1 was broken, however). In 2004, more serious flaws were discovered making further use of the algorithm for security purposes questionable. It is now known how to, with a few hours’ work, generate an MD5 collision. That is, to generate two byte strings with the same hash. Since there are a finite number of MD5 outputs (2128), but an infinite number of possible inputs, it has long been known that such collisions must exist, but it had been previously believed to be impractically difficult to find one. The result is that the MD5 hash of some information no longer uniquely identifies it. If I present you with information such as a public key, its MD5 hash might not uniquely identify it; I may have a second public key with the same MD5 hash. However, the present attacks require the ability to choose both messages of the collision. They do not make it easy to perform a pre-image attack, finding a message with a specified MD5 hash, or a second pre-image attack, finding a message with the same MD5 hash as a given message. Thus, old MD5 hashes, made before these attacks were known, are safe for now. In particular, old digital signatures can still be considered reliable. A user might not wish to generate or trust any new signatures using MD5 if there is any possibility that a small change to the text (the collisions being constructed involve flipping a few bits in a 128-byte section of hash input) would constitute a meaningful change. This assurance is based on the current state of cryptanalysis. The situation may change suddenly, but finding a collision with some pre-existing data is a much more difficult problem, and there should be time for an orderly transition.”

Firefox 3.1 May Have Built-In Support for Ogg

Even though it may tick off the W3C, Mozilla is experimenting with direct Ogg audio and video support as the default for the new HTML 5.0 Audio and Video tags.

Firefox 3.1 will try native Ogg video and audio, despite W3C

“Should a Web browser be capable of decoding audio and video for itself? Mozilla is seriously experimenting with the notion, despite a turn of events in the open source community that may mean its experiment won’t be a standard. For years, one of the most significant debates in the field of Web browser development concerns the issue of openness versus choice. Specifically, should a Web browser support an open standard for embedding audio and video elements by default, or should it continue to enable Web site developers to include the formats of their choice, thus compelling users to download the appropriate, corresponding plug-ins? The debate turned a corner last December, when the World-Wide Web Consortium apparently backed down from its plan to enable default codecs for its planned

Just When You Thought Your Hardware Was Up-To-Date… Sigh!

They have approved new USB and Fireware specs! Ack! I finally got all my home hardware “up-to-date” with USB 2.0, and now they are prepping USB 3.0! Sigh. But they will be fast! The new Firewaire will be 3.2 Gbits per second, while USB 3.0 will be 4.8 Gbits per second!

Next-generation FireWire finalized, but USB 3.0 will be faster

“The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) recently approved IEEE 1394-2008, a faster version of the standard known to most simply as FireWire and used for connecting PCs with digital video devices or external hard drives. ‘The new standard includes all of the amendments, enhancements and more than 100 errata which have been added to the base standard over the last 12 years,’ IEEE chair of the working group Les Baxter said in a statement. ‘This update provides developers with a single document they can rely upon for all of their application needs.’ Specifically, the new classification will help increase the speed of FireWire from its current maximum of 800Mbit per second (with FireWire 800) to up to 3.2Gbit per second. Along with the S3200 that offers 3.2 Gbps transfer rates, the IEEE also approved S1600, which will offer 1.6 Gbit/sec. IEEE 1394 will eventually be scaled up to 6.4Gbit/sec, the organization indicated. Both interfaces can be used with existing FireWire 800 cables, easing the migration for users of the current standard. FireWire has been popular among Sony and Apple products, but most of the PC industry still relies on USB to help power devices and transfer data. Even with the anticipated speed increase, it’s still highly unlikely that FireWire will be widely adopted. The IEEE expects FireWire 3200 to roll out in October. Products with the new standard will not go on sale immediately, manufacturers will need to implement the technology into future products. Apple is largely expected to be the first company using FireWire 3200. The October launch is absolutely crucial because the Intel-backed USB 3.0 is expected to arrive by the end of 2008, bringing with it a maximum speed of 4.8Gbps. USB 2.0 offers speeds of 480Mbit per second, which still gave manufacturers a use for FireWire 800.”

1 2 3