Microsoft Account Gets More Secure with Two Factor Authorization

ICYMI, your Microsoft Account will get more secure as the team rolls out a new upgrade which includes two-step verification, as noted on the Bing newswire. This will improve the security of the devices and services currently used by more than 700 million people worldwide, including Windows PCs, Phones, Xboxes, and services like, SkyDrive and Skype.

Microsoft has increasingly focused on delivering connected devices and services that are currently used by more than 700 million people around the world. A Microsoft account is the key that unlocks your experience across these products—from your Windows PC to your Windows Phone, from Xbox to, from SkyDrive and Skype to Office and much more.

Given this critical role for Microsoft account, we remain vigilant in working hard to protect your account, which is why we’re adding an option so you can enable two-step verification to further protect yourself. You should see this option show up in your account in the next few days. You can enable this capability at

Two-step verification is when we ask you for two pieces of information anytime you access your account — for example, your password plus a code sent to a phone or email on file as security info.

More than a year ago, we began bringing two-step verification for certain critical activities, like editing credit cards and subscriptions at and, or accessing files on another one of your computers through For these scenarios, two-step verification is required 100 percent of the time for everyone, given the sensitive nature of these tasks.

Read more from Eric at the link above.


Announcement: New Xbox 360 Elite $50 rebate for U.S. customers ’til October 5, 2009

Even with the recent price drops on the Xbox 360 Elite to $299, a new announcement today on an additional $50 rebate for customers in the U.S. from now (September 22) and October 5, 2009. More information on the rebate can be found here.

Fine print: Mail-in rebate offer valid in the 50 United States, D.C., and all U.S. military bases with valid APO/FPO addresses. Valid for new Xbox 360 Elite purchases made September 22, 2009 through October 5, 2009. This completed rebate form and qualifying proofs of purchase must be postmarked no later than November 20, 2009. Limit 1 rebate per household except where prohibited by law. Not combinable with other Microsoft rebates or offers for this product.

Tags: Microsoft, Xbox 360

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Also available via Did I mention that the Xbox 360 is a great Windows 7 Media Center Extender? 😉


My life as a customer, part 2: Three red lights flash on my Xbox 360 Ring of Light (again!) RROD much?

rrod013109Sitting down with a glass and a controller in my hands, I logged into Xbox Live for a post getting-the-kids-to-bed Xbox 360.

Ooh, that’s a new screen.

Turn off the non-responsive Xbox 360.


Another Groundhog Day: it’s Saturday night, after the phone agents are gone at 1-800-4MY-XBOX, but you can now you can initiate a repair ticket online at and even print a shipping label directly from the Xbox Support Web site. image

To start the repair process, first select the console that you want to have repaired.
If the console that you want to have repaired isn’t listed below, either the console is not registered or your console is not registered to the Windows Live ID you are signed in with.

Printing the label should reduce the time to have the console repaired. Luckily, I have an Xbox 360 shipping box from the last time I returned a unit for repairs.

I sympathize with any other customers running into this failure over the weekend.

I’ll update this post as I follow the repair process.

Update 22:35: Error message using the information that was pulled up from my Windows Live ID….

First correct the following errors and click submit

  • Invalid characters found in first name.

Uh, no, I don’t think so.  But we’ll try something creative to get around the problem.

Thank you, your repair request is complete!

Note to self: send message to the Live ID team about recognizing names with alphanumerics.  I know three or four people that this ‘bug’ impacts.

You selected to ship your Xbox console using an e-label from UPS. Please check your e-label to ensure that your shipping information is correct before printing. Once you print your e-label, affix it to the box you are using for shipment of your console.

Printed, packed and ready to go to the Xbox Repair Facility… on Monday.

Update 020209, 8:00h: The Xbox will soon be winging its merry way to a repair centre somewhere far south of here. I received an automated mail from “Xbox_ AOC Web EN” indicating that “it will take 2-3 Weeks to return” the unit to me. Clock’s ticking…

Update 020909. 08:30h: An automated message from the Xbox 360 Service Center…

Good news, we have received your Xbox console at our Service Center.  You can track the status of your order online by accessing You will also receive an e-mail notification when your repair has been completed. Thank you for your patience.

Update 020909. 08:30h: Exactly 24 hours after the last email, I received an automated message update An automated message from the Xbox 360 Service Center…

We are happy to share with you that your service request is completed and your Xbox console is now ready for return shipment.  We will e-mail you again with the shipment tracking information when your Xbox console has been shipped.

Update 020909. 08:30h:  Received an update by phone today from UPS alerting me that our package will be delivered tomorrow, along with the UPS tracking info.  We found that the unit left Texas on February 11…

REDMOND, WA,  US  02/16/2009  7:34 P.M.
HERMISTON, OR,  US  02/16/2009  3:08 P.M. 
SALT LAKE CITY, UT,  US  02/13/2009  5:17 P.M.
COMMERCE CITY, CO,  US  02/13/2009  4:07 A.M. 
SALINA, KS,  US  02/12/2009  10:08 A.M. 

Tags: Microsoft, Xbox 360, customer support

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EWeek’s incomplete list of Client OSes ‘that could replace Windows’ and more of what I’ve read

The past week has flown by as the mercury rises on the thermometer

Just as Jason Brooks of EWeek says in the article, Seven Client OSes That Could Replace Windows, that “Microsoft’s Windows is the undisputed king of the desktop, and, for a long time now, it’s seemed as though Windows would reign forever more. However, with customer uptake of Vista still limp—even with the magical Service Pack 1 milestone months behind us—it’s time to ask if any of Windows’ client OSes has what it takes to capture a bigger chunk of the mainstream desktop. Here are some of the contenders.”

Limp? I guess that he missed the company’s annual report announcement which noted that Windows Vista “has sold over 180 million licenses since launch” and the note from Bill Veghte with an update on the Windows Roadmap which noted the improvements in Vista SP1. [added link to annual report and noted on SP1]

And of the seven OS choices they made, assuming he’s referring to future releases, Brooks fails to include/ mention Windows 7, Windows Mobile (or embedded for that matter) or even the venerable $12 Apple II-based PC: as Engadget says “the $12 PC currently being developed at MIT will probably hit its price target. The project, being spearheaded by Derek Lomas and Jesse Austin-Breneman, is centered around cheap Apple II-based machines currently on sale in India and other developing nations that plug into televisions, and the goal is to update the systems with more memory, web access through cellphone tethering and actual storage.”

On to the latest reading list – stay cool this weekend.

U.S. loses out in Lenovo’s Linux netbook push | ITworld – August 6, 2008, 10:26 AM — IDG News Service — People in most markets Lenovo serves, including Singapore, China and the U.K., will be offered the company’s new IdeaPad netbooks with either Microsoft Windows XP or a Linux OS, but users in the U.S. won’t have that option. U.S. computer buyers will only be offered Windows XP on Lenovo’s IdeaPad S10, according to Lenovo. People in the U.S. will also miss out on the IdeaPad S9, which has a smaller, 8.9-inch screen, and will be offered in most other countries. Models slated for the U.S. will have 10.2-inch screens.

CrunchGear » Archive » Gary Krakow is off his f’ing rocker, tells Jobs what to do to make the iPhone better — Peter Ha (June 5th, 2008) says that “Krakow thinks Apple needs to “bite the bullet” and hook up with Windows Mobile or RIM for corporate e-mail support. This is a f*cking joke, right? Is he serious? Are his glasses upside down?”

Review: REDFLY Mobile Companion – WMExperts‘ review of the Redfly Mobile Companion. “First, a refresher: what is the Redfly? Like the maligned Foleo, the Redfy is called a “mobile companion,” which is shorthand for “intended to be used with a smartphone.” Unlike the Foleo, however, the Redfly is “dumber” yet therefore a smarter concept. What the Redfly does is connect to your Windows Mobile phone over USB or Bluetooth and “trick” it into believe it has a large, 800×480 screen and a near full-sized keyboard instead of a tiny 320×240 screen and a chicklet keyboard. So the Redfly itself stores no data and has no processing power, it all stays on the smartphone.”

And here is a link to the video demo of the Redfly with Windows Mobile Standard. “Since we told you that there was expanded compatibility, we figured we’d show you how it works with non-touchscreen devices. Short version: pretty darn well, but there are a few quibbles here and there.”

Engineering Windows 7“Welcome to our first post on a new blog from Microsoft—the Engineering Windows 7 blog, or E7 for short. E7 is hosted by the two senior engineering managers for the Windows 7 product, Jon DeVaan and Steven Sinofsky. Jon and Steven, along with members of the engineering team will post, comment, and participate in this blog. “Beginning with this post together we are going to start looking forward towards the “Windows 7” project. We know there are tons of questions about the specifics of the project and strong desire to know what’s in store for the next major release of Windows. Believe us, we are just as excited to start talking about the release. Over the past 18 months since Windows Vista’s broad availability, the team has been hard at work creating the next Windows product.”

Heroes: George Takei’s Heroes Power Tells Him to Buy Apple Stock — “Heroes Season 2 was mostly garbage. So I was kind of glad the writer’s strike gave them the chance to reboot and blow past the rest of the season, thereby preserving my final, dangly shreds of interest (though I worry about this season’s rumored multi-verse). Anyways! One deleted scene reveals Hiro’s dad’s (George Takei) power: “He’s a supercomputer, but even faster (how delightfully racially stereotyped), which makes him really good at predicting the future, and of course, stock trading. Guess whose stock his superpower picks for the win? (I won’t spoil how this revelation comes to him.)”

Olympic Fail: Blue Screen of Death Strikes Bird’s Nest During Opening Ceremonies Torch Lighting — “Well, this is just perfect. At the exact moment Li Ning was rounding the lip of the Bird’s Nest during the amazing torch-lighting climax, someone snapped this photo of our good friend the BSOD nestled among the Nest’s steel twigs. Perhaps an Opening Ceremonies IT dude spit out his coffee on the machines in the server room when Li took to the sky? Another question is what a projection screen is doing inside the Nest at that location, but I think the better question is what wasn’t going on inside the Nest’s roof—did you see that thing during the ceremonies?”

Steve Jobs: 60 million iPhone apps downloaded, confirms kill switch – Engadget’s Thomas Ricker posted Aug 11th 2008 that “Steve Jobs, presumably speaking from a hyperbaric chamber where he’s being nourished with an infusion of liquefied developers-souls before his next public appearance, had a few interesting tidbits about the AppStore for the Wall Street Journal this morning. Namely, users have downloaded some 60 million programs for the iPhone representing sales of about $30 million since the launch last month — a 30/70 revenue split between Apple and developers, respectively. “The thing’s going to crest a half billion soon,” Jobs added, “I’ve never seen anything like this in my career for software.”

Also see “Apple Can Remotely Disable Apps Installed on Your iPhone” — “By now, we’re well aware that Apple can make apps vanish without a trace (or explanation) from the App Store. But Jonathan Zdziarsi, the author of iPhone Forensics, says that Apple can actually remotely disable apps installed on your iPhone. Apparently, there’s a blacklist URL in the iPhone’s OS that he says “suggests that the iPhone calls home once in a while to find out what applications it should turn off.”

Microsoft (finally) speaks out on ‘Fiji’ | All about Microsoft | – “It only took two-plus years, but Microsoft finally issued on August 8 its official comment about Fiji, aka “Windows Media Center TV Pack.”

Alarmed about Vista security? Black Hat researcher Alexander Sotirov speaks out (Ed Bott’s Microsoft Report)Alarmed about Vista security? Black Hat researcher Alexander Sotirov speaks out.

The Naked CIO: Why boards get IT spend so wrong – Management – Published: 11 August 2008 16:52 BST “Sound infrastructure projects often fail to win board backing because of flaky ROI demands. But come up with a hare-brained scheme and boards fall over themselves, says the Naked CIO.”

Vista PCs: These Prices Are Insane! (Microsoft Watch) — “Nearly half of retail Windows PCs now pack 3GB of RAM. Manufacturers are bulking up features as average selling prices stabilize. Next trend: 64-bit Vista and 4GB RAM. Editor’s Note: This is a companion to another post at Apple Watch telling a different story from the same NPD data. Please read that piece, too, and read how Mac average selling prices are at least twice those of Windows computers.]

Xbox 360’s new Dashboard game install demoed on video – Engadget has “the first look we’ve had at a feature we’re sort of stoked on: the ability to install games to the internal hard drive from DVD. From the looks of things, it’s an extremely simple process to get the data moved over (despite the long waits for multiple GB files being copied), though it looks like you’ll still need the DVD on hand to actually play the game. Don’t believe a word we’re saying? Take a look at the video after the break and see for yourself!” [Via Xbox-Scene News]

Pew Internet: Search Engine Use — “The percentage of internet users who use search engines on a typical day has been steadily rising from about one-third of all users in 2002, to a new high of just under one-half (49%). With this increase, the number of those using a search engine on a typical day is pulling ever closer to the 60% of internet users who use email, arguably the Internet’s all-time killer app, on a typical day.” (thanks, via ValleyWag)

Apple’s secret to selling iPhones: Windows Mobile – After a rocky iPhone 3G launch, Apple’s store operations have returned to a model of efficiency. One of Steve Jobs’s secrets: roving sales clerks who use mobile devices to ring up orders anywhere in the store, not just at the cash register. Ah, but which devices? Motorola MC75 handhelds running Microsoft’s Windows Mobile operating system.

Google: The Downside of Relying on Google for Everything – Gizmodo says “Oh, Google is just so great! They have the best free email, calendar, chat, photo and document sharing services, so why not use them all? Well, here’s why: they can lock you out of your entire account without any explanation or any way to get it back, pretty much erasing your online existence. It happened to Nick Saber.” Ouch.

Inside a 60 gig Xbox 360: The Official Site of Benjamin J HeckendornBen Heck provides his internal analysis of the new 60GB version of the Xbox 360.

Your Essential Emergency Kit – – These nine steps will protect your family and finances against disaster, whether natural or personal. By Erin Burt, July 31, 2008 “Stuff happens. And it often happens when you least expect it. With storm season in full swing and the economy looking iffy, now is a good time to ask yourself how prepared you are against disasters, both personal and communal. Here are nine essential things to do to safeguard yourself against life’s unpleasant surprises.”

Buying a Refurbished Computer (Dell, Apple, eBay, General Motors, Ford) at, By Erin Geismar, July 30, 2008 – “OVER THE YEARS, computers have evolved from a luxury to a necessity. So while the thought of spending your hard-earned money on a new computer might be painful, it’s not as painful as the thought of going without. “Of course, buying anything refurbished — especially a computer containing so many fragile moving parts — should be reason for concern. After all, you can’t kick the tires like you would a used car. There are ways to protect yourself, however. Here’s how to make sure the refurbished computer you buy doesn’t turn out to be a lemon…”

Apple dominates the retail music market in 2008 1H (John Paczkowski, AllThingsD) – According to a survey by market research company NPD, Apple dominated the retail music market in the first half of 2008, selling more music from January to June of this year than any of its rivals–including those selling both CDs and a-la-carte digital music downloads. NPD’s top five U.S. music retailers: iTunes Wal-Mart (Wal-Mart,, Walmart Music Downloads) Best Buy (Best Buy,, Best Buy Digital Music Store) Amazon

Microsoft To Counter Open Source With ‘Basic’ Software Line (Informationweek) – The software vendor plans to develop versions of its products with “basic functionality” to be sold at lower prices than its standard offerings. By Paul McDougall InformationWeek August 5, 2008 04:36 PM

Microsoft’s Blind Taste Test for Vista Leaves Some Bitter – – By DAN MITCHELL, August 4, 2008 SAN FRANCISCO — Deserved or not, the Windows Vista operating system from Microsoft gets a bad rap. But the company’s recent effort to repair Vista’s reputation did not win any rave reviews either.

Lightning Review: D-Link DSM-210 Wireless Internet Photo Frame – Gizmodo says of the new D-Link 10-inch photo frame, “which contains Wi-Fi to download and display pics from your Flickr, MobileMe, MSN, Picasa, webshots, Facebook, and various other photo sharing accounts. There’s also RSS news display, 1GB on-board memory and a USB port for external photos. The Price: $240 The Verdict: Works mostly as advertised, but at a price of $240, we expect a bit more polish to the unit. You can also stream photos from various online photo sharing networks, which works pretty well over its 802.11g connection or its 10/100 Ethernet port (you really want to use the Wi-Fi to make this truly wireless, but seeing as there’s a mandatory AC adapter, that’s pretty much an impossibility anyway).

Lego Robot Sends Pictures From Space: Lego Robot Sends Pictures from Space, Wishes It Had Lasers to Annihilate Us All – “Last Tuesday, a group of professors, students and robotics hobbyists launched the H.A.L.E. (High Altitude Lego Extravaganza): seven Lego Mindstorms robots attached to a weather balloon, which exploded at 30km over the Earth’s surface. Each of the robots parachuted back successfully, but not without taking the obligatory photographs of the ascent and descent.” By Jesus Diaz, Aug 1, 2008

Ars Technica Guide to Virtualization: Part I (arstechnica) – (A free PDF of this guide is available to non-subscribers via the Enterprise IT Guide, presented by Ars Technica and Intel. Check it out for this and other free whitepapers.) Jon Stokes on Ars Technica says (August 03, 2008) “Virtualization implementations are so widespread that some are even popular in the consumer market, and some (the really popular ones) even involve gaming. Anyone who uses an emulator like MAME uses virtualization, as does anyone who uses either the Xbox 360 or the Playstation 3. From the server closet to the living room, virtualization is subtly, but radically, changing the relationship between software applications and hardware. “In the present article I’ll take a close look at virtualization—what it is, what it does, and how it does what it does.”

Steve Jobs on MobileMe: the full e-mail – By Jacqui Cheng | Published: August 05, 2008 – 01:52PM CT Painting by Nitrozac at Joy of Tech Ever since our report last night on an internal e-mail sent by Steve Jobs about the botched launch of MobileMe, we have received an outpouring of requests for the full text of the e-mail. Although we originally weren’t comfortable publishing the entire thing, it is now slowly becoming available in its full form across the Internet. Because of this, we made an editorial decision to give into your requests and publish the text for your reading pleasure. Here it is.

Calif. Teen Is Olympic Medal Hopeful : NPR – What are you afraid of? As Rob Schmitz reports for KQED on NPR in his article on All Things Considered, “Calif. Teen Is Olympic Medal Hopeful, it turns out that “one of the the best U.S. prospects for a gold medal in diving is 15-year-old Haley Ishimatsu.” Ishimatsu has mastered some of the most difficult dives off of the 10 metre high board. And she’s afraid of heights.”

Japan to start carbon trading in October (Carbon News and Info) — 30 July 2008) “The Japanese government will start a trial emissions trading scheme in October as part of a multi-faceted climate change action plan approved by Cabinet. No details of the scheme will be released until September, one the eve of its introduction, suggesting the trial will be a modest one to start with and may not be far reaching across the economy. Voluntary and efficiency measures have been in favour up until now and the action plan outlines a wide range of such initiatives, including improving home water heating and air conditioner efficiency by 50 per cent by 2030, halving the cost of solar power within five years and looking at a shift to daylight saving time in summer.”

Polls: Are You Fighting The War On High-Fructose Corn Syrup? – consumerist says that “Label-conscious consumers are skipping over high-fructose corn syrup in favor of products sweetened with natural alternatives like cane sugar, honey, and fruit juice. Finding HFCS-free items takes work, but the Corn Refiners Association worries that consumers are increasingly up to the challenge. They recently launched a “major marketing campaign” to defend their chemical concoction. Are you paying any attention to the sweet brouhaha?”

Related is the story on the Grocery Shrink Ray: 15 Victims Of The Grocery Shrink Ray – consumerist says that “The Grocery Shrink Ray continues its miniature spree across the supermarket aisles of America. Here’s 14 more victims that have surfaced in the past week, as spotted by our watchful bands of deputized Consumerist reader-investigators…”

The call of the time (l’express, Mauritius) – In Mauritius, the “Government will introduce summer time on 26th October after the Time Bill was voted in Parliament last Tuesday. A decision that irked a few MPs – all for the wrong reasons; let’s have a look at the real issues.”

Number Stations – Spy Communications – Shortwave Radio Messages – Secrets in the Static – Esquire reports that “Around the world, a group of people are broadcasting encoded numbers to persons unknown. The question is why? How a small group of shortwave enthusiasts is trying to unravel the secrets of global espionage.” By Julianne Pepitone, July 31, 2008

Digital Cameras: JD Power Announces the Best Cameras of 2008 – “JD Power and Associates just released the results of its latest camera survey, culling the responses of over 8,000 digital camera buyers between April of 2007 and March of 2008. They split the categories into DSLRs, Point and Shoots, Premium Point and Shoots, and Ultra Slims. Hit the jump to see the list of winners. DSLR: (two-way tie) -Canon EOS Digital SLR -Nikon D Series Point and shoot: -Fujifilm Finepix S Series Premium Point and Shoot: (two-way tie) -Canon PowerShot G Series -Lumix (Panasonic) DMC-TZ Series Ultra Slim: -Sony Cyber-Shot T Series”

Steampunk: Klaatu Varata Studios Produces Steampunk Creations With Back Stories — “For those of you who enjoy steampunk, story telling and handmade creations, I present to you Klaatu Varata Studios, the workshop of Arkansas artist Dillon Chandler. Check out his Solarian Ray Gun or the Geldar Light Infantry Robot, both of which come with the back story of the Kelevion Universe and the civil war which has torn it apart. If sci-fi musings aren’t your style, take a look at his Steampunk Scorpion, made from motorcycle engine parts. Several of Chandler’s works are available for sale on his Etsy page, and range from $10 for two toy-sized bombs to $2,200 for a nine-foot-tall metal bear.”

Bluetooth Two-Way Earpiece Communicators Reviewed (Verdict: Spy Movie Fun at 250 Feet Or Less) – Like many geeks, the New York Times’ David Pogue watches movies, “like the Bourne Supremacy or Mission: Impossible, and yearns for the wireless earpiece tech they use to communicate with their buddies without microphones, headsets or cellphones. He’s right, they’re cool, and recently he had the chance to review two consumer versions, the SM100 (, $86), and the Dragon V2 (, $100). The final verdict? Both are *really* just average yuppie Bluetooth earpieces like the ones you see stuck in people’s ears on the subway. The catch, however, is that with the press of a button, they become “secret”…

Switzerland: Open Source Switzerland Network Testing Tool Catches ISP Throttlers In the Act – As part of an effort to thwart future ISP infractions, á la Comcast, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has released Switzerland, an open source software tool for “testing the integrity of data communications over networks, ISPs and firewalls.” If you’ve been following Comcast for any amount of time over the past year or so, you know exactly what that means.

VIA Nano at 1.3Ghz playing 1080p. Demo video from VIA. | UMPCPortal – The Ultra Mobile Computing reference site – Chipp says that “It takes some courage for a small company like VIA to go head to head with Intel so you have to hand it to VIA for putting this video out. Apart from the fighting-talk in the first 30 seconds, it shows the 1.3Ghz Nano (I have this confirmed) against the 1.6Ghz Intel Atom (Diamondville.) in a 1080p HD video test. I recognized the video being used (Try it – Robotica) and checked it out on my Akoya/Wind. Sure enough, it doesn’t play perfectly. Not surprising as it’s about 9Mbps of 1440×1080 video. “If the Nano is doing this in CPU-alone then I’m really impressed because the 1.3Ghz Nano is perfect for 7″ UMPCs.”

Lenovo Enters the Mini-Notebook Market with the IdeaPad S10 – August 4th, 2008 by Joanna Stern Rumors of Lenovo entering the mini-notebook space end here and now. Lenovo officially announced this morning its IdeaPad S10 – a 10-inch mini-notebook running the 1.6GHz Intel Atom chipset. Do we have a MSI Wind or Eee PC 1000H killer on our hands? Quite possibly. Two configurations of the 9.8 x 7.2 x .8-1.08-inch and 2.4 pound S10 will be available in the U.S. Priced at $399, one will have 512 MB of RAM and an 80 GB hard drive. The other marked at $449.99 will have 1GB of RAM and a 160 GB hard drive. The specs seem to indicate that the system will support 2GB of RAM so we assume swapping out RAM will be easy. Initially the netbook will come preloaded with Microsoft Windows XP…”

How Cloud Computing Is Changing the World (businessweek) – A major shift in the way companies obtain software and computing capacity is under way as more companies tap into Web-based applications. Aug 4, 2008, by Rachael King.

Not many speak their mind to Gates Foundation (Seattle Times Newspaper) – The Gates Foundation says it wants to hear from its critics. But with so many in the global health world dependent on the foundation’s cash, honest feedback is hard to come by. By Sandi Doughton, Seattle Times science reporter, August 3, 2008

User Access Control in a nutshell (Security Adviser, InfoWorld) – Security Adviser – Roger A. Grimes, August 1, 2008 “User Account Control (UAC) is one of Microsoft’s new methods for attempting to protect users who are always logged on as an administrator. I’ve seen it talked about so wrongly so often, I’ve decided to write here about what it is and isn’t. This is my attempt to describe UAC as concisely and accurately as I know how, without falling into the flame trap of comparing it to Su (Substitute User) and other techniques. I’ll leave that to others.”

FCC Votes 3-2 Against Comcast – By FAWN JOHNSON, August 1, 2008 12:14 p.m. — The Federal Communications Commission on Friday voted 3-2 to cite Comcast Corp. for throttling Internet traffic to customers who use high-bandwidth file-sharing services. Mr. Martin had harsh words for Comcast. “Comcast was delaying subscribers’ downloads and blocking their uploads. It was doing so 24/7, regardless of the amount of congestion on the network or how small the file might be,” Mr. Martin said. “Even worse, Comcast was hiding that fact by making affected users think there was a problem with their Internet connection or the application. Today, the commission tells Comcast to stop.”

Tags: iphone, misc, articles, what I read, Microsoft, Windows Vista, Xbox 360.

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Apple, Microsoft, Imagine Cup winners and lots of other news in the reading pile last week

A quick reading list as I post before leaving the office (yes, early today… we have a busy weekend and I was up until too late last night working on, well, work ;).  On top of that, I’m a week behind in posting the reading list.  I have to go home and set up a Dance Dance Revolution on Xbox360 for a throng of kids on our block… priorities.  I’ll add another update this weekend as time allows.

But first… a belated shout out to Long and the team that Won the Imagine Cup world finals (istartedsomething) — “Who would have guessed, a rookie team from Australia whose representatives in the past has never gone as far as the world semi-finals with a blow-up Kangaroo as a mentor would actually come out first-place champions in the Imagine Cup world finals.” 

Very cool. 😉

Have a good weekend.

Q&A: Iron Mountain Digital president talks off-site storage (Network World) — By Jon Brodkin, 072508 — “Once you go 10 or 15 feet below the surface of the Earth, you’re at 58 degrees.” Here’s an interview with John Clancy, president of Iron Mountain Digital. The co. provides storage services, including remote archiving…”

Microsoft Security Advisory (956187): Increased Threat for DNS Spoofing Vulnerability and A guide to the attack plugged by MS08-037 By the way, this explanation by Kaminsky is among the few around we think is understandable to the DNS layman. Recommended reading.”

Microsoft vs. VMware: What’s the next move? ( — By Christina Torode, 25 Jul 2008 — “Between Microsoft’s minimal pricing strategy with its Hyper-V hypervisor and VMware’s recent decision to make its own ESX hypervisor free, such technology is now affordable to IT shops of all sizes.”

Survey: Vista Adoption Weakens, as IT Pros Eye Apple (Redmond Developer News) — by Kurt Mackie, 23 July 2008 — “A KACE-sponsored survey on Windows Vista adoption represents more bad news for Microsoft’s flagship operating system, even as Microsoft prepares to pour an estimated $300 million into a new Vista marketing campaign…”

Data Dilemma (Redmond Developer News) — Mapping a strategy for Microsoft’s new data-programming models. by Roger Jennings, July 2008

The Personal MBA: DIY Business Education – Mastering Business Without B-School – More than 1416 people can’t be wrong.

Media Converter – the fastest free online audio and video converter – saved by 2,091 others, and to “Download any file from any site”

Compostable flatware okay in Santa Monica green bins (Los Angeles Times) – “So-called biodegradable or compostable flatware come with their own problems, an L.A. Times article pointed out yesterday. Since most of these only biodegrade in industrial composting facilities that get things really hot — and since few cities have such facilities, let alone city-wide collection programs for these newfangled disposables, most of the allegedly greener food containers and utensils go to landfills, just like non-recyclable goods.” By Siel, Jun 20, 2008 – see also  

Oh gawd, Dell releasing Zing-based DJ Ditty in September? – Engadget — The “Wall Street Journal says that “several Dell officials” have confirmed in-house testing of a new sub-$100 digital music player that could go on sale as early as September. So… if you’re wondering how Dell’s acquisition of Zing might play into this…”

Hitachi Starboard FX 77 Duo white board gets demoed on video – Engadget“Hitachi’s StarBoard FX 77 Duo multi-touch white board seemed impressive enough when the company announced it late last year, but if you’ve been waiting to see one in action before you transported your classroom into the future, Hitachi has now got you covered.”

LG’s BD300 Network Blu-ray player to stream Netflix in September – Engadget — This new “Blu-ray Disc Player will begin streaming Netflix movies in the US this September. The player will cost “well under $500″ and allow Netflix members to stream more than 12,000 standard definition TV and films…”

ASUS prepping “high-end” Eee PC S-series for September – Engadget — engadget offers the “ASUS Eee PC roadmap… that lists the new Ultimate S-series and Pro Fashion Eee PCs amongst the 23 models. Turns out both categories are planned for a 2008 launch with specs like dual-core Atom processors, 120GBs of hard disk…

VIA Nano and Intel’s Atom benchmarked head-to-head – Engadget — PC Perspective, Eee PC News, and Hot Hardware all ran some tests recently, and a 1.8GHz Nano L2100 with Chrome9 graphics was usually able to outperform a 1.6GHz Atom 230 with GMA950 graphics at everything from MP3 ripping to 3D benchmarking.

HP responds to MediaSmart Server issues, offers no real solution at all – Engadget reports that “HP MediaSmart Server owners have been having an awful time getting their device to operate correctly… since [a] recent software update…”

Fabled Opus motherboard appears in Xbox 360 – Engadget — “According to an image put forth by one Electric Tuner” engadget claims to have info on the new Opus motherboard. “We heard back in February that Microsoft may be utilizing the Opus mobos in order to fit the newer 65 / 90-nanometer CPU / GPU combo…”

Intel, HP, and Yahoo to build joint cloud-computing research labs – Engadget — HP, Intel, and Yahoo are teaming up… to build six cloud-computer research data centers around the world, stocked with anywhere from 1,000 to 4,000 nodes each, with the goal of bringing them online later this year for pre-selected researchers to work on…”

Dell’s new Latitude E series for suits detailed by elaborate PowerPoint presentation – Engadget has a “few leaked Dell PowerPoint presentations” on the new Latitude E series presentation, compete with “Roadmaps? Charts? Bullet points? They’ve got it all…”

How to Get Your Passport in a Hurry – For US citizens who need to know. 😉

Qr Codes: QR Code Jacket Patches Take Strangers On the Street to Your Blog, Stat! — “QR codes are actually useful is still good ol’ Japan (where they’re everywhere)… and there are readers available for just about every mobile platform (including iPhone). The $20 patch points to a proxy server which redirects phone browsers to the URL o

Privacy: Face-Swapping Tech Keeps Your Privacy Online By Making You Look Horrifying — “Well, this new “Face Swapper” software found on Boing Boing automatically switches out features on peoples faces with features from photos in its database, creating horrifying cross-gender hybrids.”

Gaming: Nintendo Sues Piracy-Enabling R4 Cart, R4 Sales Predictably Skyrocket — “Yesterday, Kotaku reported on Nintendo and 54 software makers filing an injunction to stop the sales of the R4 and similar devices in Japan. For the uninitiated, the R4 allows you to download DS games online and play them on your DS.”

Airplanes: How the Cormorant Submarine-to-Air Plane Works — “The US Navy had to reconvert many of their Ohio-class nuclear submarines, giving new uses to their missile bays. They talked with Lockheed Martin about it, who came up with the idea of the Cormorant: a Halo-looking plane that launches from a submerged submarine.”

Up: New Pixar Movie Has Us Completely Puzzled — Wall-e still hot in our minds, Pixar has shown their new movie teaser at Comic-Con 08. It’s called Up and the movie plot has us completely puzzled.

John Mayer Giving Tech Support: John Mayer Does Apple Tech Support for His Dad, Fails Miserably “John Mayer… had to turn into tech support guy after his dad called saying “Hey, John Mayer’s dad here.” The musician tried to guide his father through Mac OS X in order to find his Entourage icon with no success, getting more and more frustrated with e

Netflix strategy focuses on subscriptions — “Netflix’s strategy will remain focused on subscriptions even in the digital space, CEO Reed Hastings emphasized Friday. “We don’t plan to enter the pay-per-view segment, where Apple, Amazon, Sony and others focus, or the ad-supported segment…”

Rickenplayer Games custom arcade joysticks and more — “This is not an empty do-it yourself cabinet. It’s a complete pre-built kit! The kit includes a 19 inch arcade monitor, pre-wired controls even built-in speakers. All you need is to add your own PC.”  Also see Dream Arcades.

Toshiba Launches Small, Cheap HD Palmcorder: Camileo H10 — Gizmodo on the $350 Toshiba Camileo H10, the new SD-based 720p camcorder that sports 64MB of internal memory, supports up to 8GB SDHC cards with “5x optical zoom, video stabilization, motion-detection shooting, night mode, HDMI output and a 2.7-inch display…”

The Personal MBA: DIY Business Education – Mastering Business Without B-School – More than 1416 people can’t be wrong.

Media Converter – the fastest free online audio and video converter – saved by 2,091 others, and to “Download any file from any site.”  Mp3: VidtoMP3 Converts Online Video Clips to MP3 – Enter a video URL and it spits back the MP3 file available for download.

Windows Explorer: Power Up Windows Explorer with Free Add-ons — lifehacker looks at “some free power add-ons for Windows Explorer that make dealing with your growing file collection faster and easier.”

Ozzie puts his own spin on ‘ThinkWeek’ | Latest Microsoft News – CNET News – CNET“Once or twice a year, Ozzie tries to find time for what he calls “white space.” Rather than be surrounded by the ideas of others, Ozzie prefers to lock himself away with the proverbial blank sheet of paper. His most recent such exercise was during a brie

Home inventory software ( — Nearly a 1,000 people have tagged this, and I’ve found it to be a very good program. “At, you can download the new home inventory software for free. This software makes creating a home inventory fun and easy. Once you have completed your inventory, it is easy to keep your information up to date.”

6 brand new, but unmissable tips, for any Windows Vista user (Windows Vista Magazine) — Your experience will be more rewarding and safer as a result. By Nick Peers, Published on 12 June 2007.  Also see Windows Vista Magazine’s “PC Heaven” where the magazine covers “heavenly habits to ensure a smooth and sin-free life for your PC.” By Mike Williams Published on 30 June 2008.

Desktop Media: adds drive icons to your desktop — Desktop Media is small application for Windows (any flavor) that automatically adds drive icons to your desktop. It will detect USB drives, fixed drives (ie. your hard drives), CD/DVD drives, network drives, and even RAM disk drives.

Dell Studio Hybrid – At A Glance – Reviews by PC Magazine — “The Dell Studio Hybrid, one of the most design-forward PCs out there, is a competitor to the Mac mini and the HP Slimline PCs. It’s stylish, compact, and unburdened by crapware.” Their words, not mine. 😉 072908

Mancrush: Downright adorable Flickr founder wishes Microsoft had bought Yahoo — not my Mancrush… ValleyWag’s: “Flickr cofounder Stewart Butterfield says that he wished Microsoft’s bid for Yahoo had gone through — and that the now-scuppered deal wasn’t the reason he resigned from Yahoo earlier this month.”

The Microsoft Index: ‘Blah, Blah … Google’ — “Steve Ballmer said “blah” 23 times during his Thursday morning presentation to analysts in Redmond…” Windows was mentioned 30 times, and Google: 35. July 25, 2008

Software Notebook: Microsoft ramps up efforts to counter Apple — By TODD BISHOP, July 28, 2008 — “With Windows Vista’s reputation suffering and Macs continuing to gain ground, Microsoft made it clear last week that Apple is on its competitive radar as much as ever.”

Apple Extends iPhone Lines Additional 2 Hours | John Paczkowski | Digital Daily | AllThingsD — John Paczkowski reports that “Responding to unprecedented demand for the new device, Apple (AAPL) is opening its retail stores two hours early. And it’s pre-qualifying customers as well.”

Mini-Microsoft: Exit One Kevin Johnson– Mini comments on Kevin Johnson’s departure from the company.  Also see (old news) Kevin Johnson’s reorg rundown — A blast from the past: KJ’s PSD reorg mail from 2006… “In the second part of Kevin Johnson’s leaked internal memo, the MS co-president outlines who’s coming and who’s staying in Windows Live, the Core Operating System Division, the Online Business Group

Poll: Whom should Microsoft pursue next? — “After the withdrawal of its Yahoo bid, what should Microsoft pursue next? Options… AOL; Digg; Facebook; LinkedIn; MySpace; Twitter; Yahoo (again); other; or none of the above, focus solely on internal development.”

Jim Allchin’s Mac message: The full text —  Posted by Todd Bishop at January 10, 2007 – “Jim Allchin’s “I’d buy a Mac” e-mail… was previously excerpted but not available in complete form. However, the full message has now been posted among the plaintiff’s exhibits online.”

Mini-Microsoft: The Tumbling Tumbleweeds of Summer — Mini says that “we continue to balloon and expand with no rhyme and reason, and cutting back in employee size is the tune I came here to sing. So, enjoying a breeze off of Puget Sound is a lot more pleasurable than thinking about our constricting bloat.”

Believe it: “The X-Files” are at the Smithsonian (Around The Mall – Sightings at the Smithsonian Museum) — Jesse “was able to attend the ceremony commemorating the donation of X-Files memorabilia to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. I was able to take an up-close gawk at Mulder and Scully’s FBI ID badges…” 

Also see ‘X Files’ icons go to Smithsonian American history museum – Who’s News Blog – from — By Lorrie Lynch with Kathy Rowings, July 16, 2008 – “Intern Lisa Gartner just got back from the National Museum of American History, where she saw Chris Carter, creator/director/producer/writer of The X-Files, donate a bunch of sci-fi goodies…”

HP TouchSmart IQ506 Desktop reviews – CNET Reviews — 7.2/10: “HP’s new-and-improved TouchSmart all-in-one PC refines the touch-based concept it introduced last year. Faster all-in-ones, and Apple’s iPhone, make the TouchSmart seem a bit behind the times, but the convenient software and its kitchen-friendly…”

Also see HP TouchSmart IQ506 Desktop PC review ( as they describethe new PC as “Sleek, classy all-in-one PC gets points for design, but it lacks the same wow in its performance.” By Darren Gladstone, July 17, 2008

HTPC Case : — The Moneual 300, 800 and 900 series cases for your custom HTPC.

Dave Froslie – Microsoft Development on the Prairie : Have you made a Developer better today? — James Whittaker now blogs, and Dave noticed. “[He] is one of the most distinguished testers at Microsoft. He’s written a couple of books and is a well known in the industry for his work in testing – particularly in the Security field (see this interview)…”

TechLeaders : A New Perspective — “In response to your feedback, we’re switching gears and taking a break from video content. This past week, we posed the following question on LinkedIn: If you could give ONE piece of advice to a new or aspiring manager, what would it be, and why?”

Architecture + Strategy : Cloud Computing and Software Clients — David discusses “innovation in Web application platforms and Web-oriented architectures, and associated mindshare shift towards Web development models, do show that client-side software is becoming less relevant than the heydays of client-server computing…”

E-Commerce News: Tech Buzz: The Fall of Google, the Rebirth of Microsoft and the Changing Face of Apple and Linux — By Rob Enderle, 07/14/08 — “Microsoft is evil and Google isn’t, right? Maybe not, after recent events, writes columnist Rob Enderle. He also is revising his impression of Richard Stallman as an advocate of freedom…”

10 Reasons Enterprises Aren’t Ready to Trust the Cloud – GigaOM —  “Because as important as cloud computing is for startups and random one-off projects at big companies, it still has a long way to go before it can prove its chops. So let’s turn down the noise level and add a dose of reality.”

Success Stories: Please, I Beg You, Do Not Send Another Useless Comcast Truck To My House — “Chris L. writes in to let us know that the EECB (Executive Email Carpet Bomb) is probably the only way you’re going to get Comcast to fix a network problem that affects your entire neighborhood.”

The smartest advice I ever got – From Bill Miller to Derek Jeter: 40 great minds share the best money lessons they ever learned. July 2008

Apple: Apple Doesn’t Know How To Handle The MobileMe Crisis — Consumerist reports that Apple’s “new MobileMe service has had problems since it launched two weeks ago, and even now there are thousands of users who can’t sync, or whose email has been deleted (oops, should’ve set up Time Machine).

Why is it So Hard to Wake Up in the Morning? | Popular Science Jessica Cheng notes on PopSci that “sleeping in on the weekend makes it harder to get up on time during the week. The concept may be common knowledge for most, but the article backs it up with science for those who still aren’t convinced.” Thanks, Lifehacker.

Jobs: 7 Steps To Developing A Strong Network In Case You Get Fired – I was talking about the importance of building strong personal networks. Lifehacker asks “What’s the first thing you would do if you were fired? Punch your boss? Cry like a baby? Throw a party? Financial blogger JD Roth at Get Rich Slowly” has suggestions.

Ebook: What Do You Want to Do With Your Life? Ebook Helps You Answer That Question — saved by lots of people on Delicious,  Lifehacker asks “What the heck am I doing with my life, anyway? It’s a big scary question… But if you’ve decided to tackle the beast, reader William Mize recommends a free ebook entitled What Do You Want to Do With Your Life?.”

Set Up Port Forwarding on Your Xbox 360 – Wired How-To Wiki — gaming on the Xbox360 through a router? as noted on Wired, you may run into “lengthy wait times between games and [other] problems. Chances are you need to tweak the port forwarding settings… Here’s a quick rundown of this fairly straight-forward process.

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    Tags: iphone, misc, articles, what I read, Microsoft, Windows Vista, Xbox 360.