Quick check to see if you are infected by the Conficker Worm

A recent episode on NPR had us thinking – is this worm still around? Apparently so and it is still lurking in many computer systems around the world. This is one of the most damaging worms for computer systems and the internet in general. This program covered many aspects of the worm’s potential and real damage as well as answering the question – aren’t Mac’s immune from infection? as well as the answer – a resounding no – but more bugs are written for the Windows operating systems only because of the huge installed base of systems using Windows, especially in China. If MAC OSX continues to become more popular, it will eventually become a target. It would be a worthwhile program for anyone to read or listen to and I’m posting the link below. In the meantime, if you want to know if you are infected, follow this link for the quick test – if you can see all 6 images, you are clean. Please note the bit about proxy servers not allowing this test to work.


Here is the complete program  – The Worm that Could Bring Down the Internet






The iTwin solution for file shares

Two-Factor security, End-toEnd encryption and Remote-Disable. Those are the words we all need to hear these days.

Sharing large files can be a pain, especially if you have to carry sensitive data around on a USB drive or worry about the potential security loopholes of storing it on a cloud service. While gimmicky inventions like the vibrating USB drive get us excited for a minute, iTwin has an innovative solution for tackling the security concerns of toting important files on a portable device. The two-part USB drive, which hooks up two computers remotely by transferring files over the Internet. This technology is available for PC and Mac users.

Unlike a USB device that stores data on an actual gadget, iTwin’s device only requires the user to install software once. With the plug-in, the user can stick the iTwin into the USB port to share files. When the user wants to take those files to another computer, he has to unplug the “twin” piece of the device and bring it with him from a home computer to a work computer, for instance.

The only requirement is that both computers be connected to the Internet before the files can be sent through military-level encryption. Also, the second piece must physically plug in to the second computer, which adds an extra layer of security. The extra paranoid can set up a password for even more security. If the USB device gets lost, the owner will have the option to deactivate it.

The design eliminates the need to store files in the cloud, essentially creating a personal cloud. While there’s no limit to how much information the USB drive can store, its upper limit depends on the primary computer’s hard drive.

The iTwin is available for $99 at iTwin’s Web site and on Amazon. The iTwin will work with Windows XP, Vista, and 7 and now with Mac OS X 10.6 and above.

Using Skype on your iPhone? Watch out!

Are you using the Skype for iOS app on your iPhone or iPod Touch? Then you need to be aware of how easily your information — particularly your entire address book — could be stolen without your knowledge. All it takes is a single chat message.

According to TechCrunch, the issue was first discovered by AppSec Consulting security researcher Phil Purviance — who claims that he pointed out the vulnerability to Skype about a month ago. Here’s how it can be done:

  • An evildoer places malicious code into the “Full Name” field in his or her Skype profile
  • That individual sends a chat message to his or her victim — someone who is using Skype on his or her iPhone or iPod Touch
  • As soon as the victim views the message, the malicious code begins to run on his or her mobile device
  • Information — such as the victim’s address book — is uploaded to the evildoer’s computer
  • The evildoer is able to sift through the stolen information at his or her leisure

The reason this series of events can occur is because the “Full Name” field isn’t checked for malicious code.

Scary, right? But there are a few things you should know before you panic.

For starters, thanks to the way Apple has designed iOS — its mobile operating system — only certain files, including your address book, are vulnerable.

But most importantly, you should know that Skype is working on a fix for the security issue.

The Perfect Way To Save Web Pages For Reading Later

How often do you find yourself researching a particular topic on the internet, and having trouble keeping track of all the useful documents you encounter? Sure, you can add each interesting URL to your browser’s bookmarks or favourites section, but it then becomes difficult to manage. And your saved items are only accessible from one machine. Another option, which I have to admit to being guilty of on more than one occasion, is to just hit the “Print” button whenever you come across useful information, and then spend ages sifting through half a tree of stuff.

Is there a better way? I think so. It’s a free web site called InstaPaper, which I assume is some sort of shorthand for an instant, personalised newspaper. Because that’s basically what it allows you to create.

To start, head to www.instapaper.com and sign up for an account. It’s free, and you don’t need to verify it with an email address. You don’t need to download or install any software, but you will need to use a browser with a bookmarks toolbar. Most of them have such a thing, though you may need to enable it if it’s not turned on by default. Then drag the Read Later button from the instapaper web site onto your bookmarks toolbar. Now you’re ready to go.

When you come across an interesting web page, hit the Read Later button. That’s all you need to do. The page is saved in your InstaPaper account, ready for you to read, er, later.

When you’ve finished your researching exercise, and you think you’ve collected everything that looks potentially useful about the subject, log back into your InstaPaper account, and there are all the links you saved. You can click on them one-by-one and look at the original web pages. Or you can organise them into folders. You can also view them in text-only format, and even download all of the text in ePub or Kindle format. Perfect for reading offline.

And because your links are saved within the InstaPaper system, rather than on your own computer, you can log into the site from any other machine and still access your saved links.

Plus, there are some companies that let you sign up for newsletters and other free documents that can be delivered straight into your InstaPaper account. So it really does become a personalised newspaper, and not just a collection of web links. A very useful service, and completely free of charge.

Verizon starts throttling iPhone users

Verizon posted a “Data Disclosure” page today revealing the company’s “throttling” plans for high bandwidth customers which is currently defined as:

As of August 2011, the top 5% of data users were using 2 GB or more of data each month.

We found it particularly interesting because it is likely to affect Verizon iPhone customers who purchased their 3G iPhone 4 unlimited plan at launch.  The policy went into place on September 15th.

Will I be affected by Network Optimization?
Only a small percent of customers will be affected.  To be affected, you must be:

  • A data customer on an unlimited data plan;
  • Have a 3G Verizon Wireless device (if you have a 4G LTE device you will not be impacted); and
  • Among the top 5% of data users in a given month.

Then, you will only be affected:

  • When you are on the 3G network; and
  • When you are connected to a congested cell site.

If Verizon has 50 million data subscribers (guess:>50% of 95 million subs), that is 2.5 million subscribers.

Interestingly, Verizon is telling customers who are affected to upgrade to a 4G phone.  Apple obviously doesn’t (yet?) offer a 4G iPhone so they will be steering iPhone users to other devices.

Reps are being told to offer these as solutions to customers who want to avoid throttling:

  • Upgrade to a 4G LTE smartphone
  • Migrate to a usage-based (tiered) data plan
  • Use WiFi more often

Verizon says this isn’t officially throttling because it is only put in place on congested cell sites.  However, those who want truly unlimited plans in the US might want to consider a Sprint iPhone which is highly likely to come in a month or so.

Preview – Windows Server 8

With the next release of Windows Server operating system, Microsoft has conquered one of the thorniest problems in virtualization: moving an operational virtual machine (VM) across a wide area network (WAN).

Microsoft unveiled this new feature at the Microsoft BUILD conference, being held this week in Anaheim, California. It will be available in Microsoft’s Hyper-V version 3 hypervisor, included in Microsoft’s next server operating system, Windows Server 8.

With live migration, a working VM is moved from one computer to another without any disruption of the services offered by applications within the VM. Most server virtualization software providers, including Microsoft, have long offered live migration within a local network. A far harder problem has been to offer the ability to move a live VM across different subnets, or separate WAN sub-networks. Network latencies and network addressing complexities have made this task a challenging one.

Essentially, each virtual machine gets two IP (Internet Protocol) addresses. One address is the home address for the VM itself, which it uses to communicate with the rest of the network or, if accessed publicly, the Internet. The second IP address will be available for the local data center. The trick is to keep these mappings between the two address spaces.

Microsoft is not alone in offering this capability. VMware, in its VXLAN offering, also offers the ability. This solution, however, requires Cisco networking gear using the Overlay Transport Virtualization (OTV) technology.

Microsoft also released a number of other new features to make Hyper-V and Windows Server more competitive with VMware as well. The company debuted the ability to do live migration of the VM’s virtual hard disk. Scalability was also an important new feature – the new software will able to support up to 32 virtual processors for each VM, and each VM can now appropriate 512 GB of memory. A new virtual file system, VHDX, can be used to create virtual storage disks up to 16 TB in size.


Free Computer Tutorials

In Pictures has created several FREE computer tutorials as part of a research study conducted for the U.S Department of Education. The purpose of the tutorials is to learn with pictures, not words. Access them here at http://inpics.net/

The tutorials use simple black and white screen shots, which is part of their appeal; anyone who has vision issues and/or disabilities knows that colors and movements can make things difficult to read.

The tutorials cover Microsoft Office 2003 and 2007, Open Office, Web Layout and Web Programming.

Here’s a list of the tutorials:

Microsoft Office

  • Access 2003
  • Access 2007
  • Excel 2003
  • Excel 2007
  • PowerPoint 2003
  • PowerPoint 2007
  • Publisher 2003
  • Publisher 2007
  • Word 2003
  • Word 2007

Open Office

  • Base
  • Calc
  • Impress
  • Writer

 Web Layout

  • HTML & CSS

Web Programming

  • MySQL Basics
  • PHP Basics
  • Perl Basics