Friday, November 09, 2007

Things to do...

Apologies for the lack of posting (although, no doubt my detractors will be pleased!); first, I haven't really felt the urge to blog.

Second, I have been having severe trouble with my sleep pattern which has left me feeling pretty exhausted all week.

Third, I spent much of yesterday upgrading my Macs to Apple's new Leopard system. Leopard has made a number of changes to the way in which the core system works, which has meant installing numerous upgrades and patches to my applications. This always has to be done to an extent, but Leopard has seemed to require rather more than the last. However, first impressions are that the functionality will be worth the slight hassle: the Time Machine automatic backup alone—for which I am using a spare internal 500GB hard drive—justifies the effort.

Fourth, I am involved in a number of professional projects which are taking up large amounts of my time. A couple of them are shaping up to be really exciting and, more importantly, they will pay the rent which, alas, blogging does not do.Anyway, enough about me...

For the reasons outlined above, this post is going to be a mish-mash roundup of stories that have been sitting in my Dock.

First up is the Climate Change Bill which was, if I recall correctly, being talked about as being a binding piece of legislation on successive governments.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown has committed the UK to reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 60% before 2050 to help tackle global warming.

The Climate Change Bill will make the UK the first country to put carbon emissions reduction targets into law.

An independent committee on climate change will be set up to advise on "five-year carbon budgets" - part of a new commitment to carbon reduction.

Environmentalists welcomed the move, but said higher targets were needed.

While the bill will also enforce reductions of greenhouse gas emissions of between 26% and 32% by 2020, Mr Brown previously said he would consult the new committee to see if bigger reductions were required.

Green campaigners have urged the government to go further.

What the fuck? I mean, seriously. Leaving aside whether or not anthropogenic climate change is occurring—and, as readers will know, I don't think it is—the government has already been told that 20% within the next couple of decades isn't possible: this is just yet more stupid law-making for the sake of it.

Talking of which, people have been choosing their most ludicrous law.
Legislation said to prohibit people dying while in the Houses of Parliament has been voted one of the most ludicrous laws in the UK.

A total of 27% of those questioned by UKTV Gold thought the law against dying in the Houses of Parliament was the most absurd.

So, it looks like I'll have to get the fuckers as they come out the door then, eh? On a more serious note, there are an enormous number of very silly pettifogging laws—such as the one prohibiting the eating of mince-pies on Christmas Day—and somebody had to make those laws. It seems that Parliament making bad and stupid laws is hardly a new phenomenon.

That has not deterred the EU, however, as it seeks to harmonise anti-terror laws. [Emphasis mine.]
The European Commission is proposing anti-terrorism measures that include the collection of extensive flight data and tighter internet laws.

Setting up web sites that encourage violence or explain how to make bombs would become a criminal offence.

Well, that's The Kitchen fucked then, eh? I would say that calling for every MP to be hanged from lamp posts probably counts as encouraging violence.
Critics of the European plan fear it would impinge on personal liberties, introducing unnecessary levels of surveillance.

"I find it unacceptable that in a democracy in the 21st century, that executive governments get unlimited and uncontrolled powers," Dutch Liberal MEP Sophie in't Veld said.

Well, you know, I hate to say "we told you so...", but...

Talking of the EU, it seems that they might be looking for one man to be supreme leader and who better than our old Dear Leader?
Your correspondent was at a gathering in Brussels when the subject came up (as it does around here) of the scramble about to begin for the next round of big EU jobs. A complicated question was asked, about whether the pro-integration camp would need to be rewarded with a job like European Commission president, if the more sceptical Tony Blair were chosen as the first president of the European Council (a new post, which will see current heads of government elect an ex-prime minister or some such big cheese to chair EU leaders' summits for a two and a half year term, renewable once).

An old Brussels hand raised an eyebrow. And what, he asked, makes you think that the next president of the European Commission, and the first president of the European Council cannot be one and the same person?

Um, because nobody has suggested merging the two jobs, someone suggested.

Well, there's nothing in the new treaty that stops the same person holding both jobs, came the old hand's retort.

Is that what some people are dreaming of, he was asked.

Absolutely, replied the old hand, a man of very good contacts.

The writer does not consider this a possibility but I think that, with the EU, anything could happen, frankly.

And finally, the WinTards are having a field day with the news that a new Trojan has been discovered for Macs.
New Apple Trojan Means Mac Hunting Season Is Open

The Mac has officially gone mainstream.

The proof? On Halloween, professional online criminals were found using Trojan-horse software to target, for the first time, computers running Apple's OS X operating system -- just as they have been doing for years on the more ubiquitous flavors of Windows.

The article predicts dire consequences for all Apple users, and a massive proliferation of viruses and malware. However, Daring Fireball points out that you have to be a fucking numpty of the very first water to get caught by this.
It’s unfortunate, because this Trojan is an actual attempt by Ukrainian criminals to hijack Macs, but it’s not exploiting any sort of security hole in any version of Mac OS X. To get hit by it, you must (a) be the sort of moron who downloads “video codecs” from porno sites; (b) mount the disk image and launch the installer; and (c) grant the installer administrator privileges to install whatever it wants, wherever it wants on your system. No system can prevent that.

If anything, the fact that you have to manually install the software and supply your administrator password is a sign that Mac OS X security works.

Quite so. What is also telling is that the fact that someone has actually written a Trojan for OS X is something worth writing about.

There is another point: the received wisdom is that Apple's marketshare is too small for anyone to bother writing malicious code for Macs. However, in order to reach this conclusion, you have to believe that there were never any viruses written for Macs pre-OS X, which is quite simply wrong.

There were plenty of malicious viruses, worms and Trojans for pre-OS X systems, mostly exploiting security holes in Microsoft products (the only time I ever got infected was through a MS Word document) and Apple Hyperstack application (there were other ways too, but those were the main ones). There were, I believe, somewhere in the region of 9,000 documented malware objects floating around for those earlier systems.

Now, one Trojan is news.

P.S. I was on 18DS's Vox Politix last night with, amongst others, Dave Osler. The discussions became really rather heated, as you might imagine. What I do like about this community, though, is that—although we got all got pretty vociferous in the heat of the moment—we actually got on fine, with Dave and myself discussing things more rationally over a cigarette afterwards.

Perhaps we're all doing this simply because we enjoy a good argument...?


Mark Wadsworth said...

Legally binding targets? On whom, FFS? A Parliament cannot, in principle, bind its successors.

I've just noticed, that Wrinkled Weasel accolade has a word missing, it should say "I don't see how they can NOT figure in a Top Ten".

Travis Bickle said...

"An independent committee on climate change will be set up to advise on "five-year carbon budgets" - part of a new commitment to carbon reduction."

More jobs for the boys then, step forward Sir Nicholas?

Anonymous said...

Is there really a WinTard vrs MacTard thing?

I can't help but feel it's a descendant of the playground C64 vrs Spectrum nonsense of the early 80s

Choose a computer and OS based on your individual requirements, there is no right or wrong choice just your own preference.

John Trenchard said...

"Choose a computer and OS based on your individual requirements, there is no right or wrong choice just your own preference."

i think you'll change your attitude on that when you find out that your Windows machine has been hijacked by a bunch of Romanians to send out spam. Along with the Russians who have installed a keystroke logger on your machine so that they can empty your bank account.

Spectrums and C64s weren't networked , were they? The stakes are somewhat higher nowadays.

regarding being too busy to blog DK, i would suggest that you get a few more guest bloggers on board. I've got two signed up on my blogs , and they've been life savers for those days when i haven't bothered blogging.

Wrinkled Weasel said...


Steady on.

Anonymous said...

'i think you'll change your attitude on that when you find out that your Windows machine has been hijacked by a bunch of Romanians to send out spam. Along with the Russians who have installed a keystroke logger on your machine so that they can empty your bank account.'

Funny, that's on par with climate change for hysterical scaremongering partisan nonsense!

Is a mac more inherently secure = yes, undeniably.
Is a windows computer automatically a hackers playground = no, though it is less secure in the hands of inexperienced and naive users (unfortunately admittedly a large portion of WinTards users).

The C64 vrs Spectrum point was not one of networking but that it's a wall pissing contest akin to 'my computer is better than yours'.

Of course you have answered my question as to whether there really was a WinTards vrs MacTards thing still going.

Henry North London said...

No nicotine after 8pm ( yes I know) and a good prescription of hypnotics and you'll feel like a new man.

I know that I have needed my sleeping pills or I wouldnt have posted the last few days... In fact I even posted to say I wasnt blogging until after today and then I went and posted anyway...

Amazing what a good nights sleep does to your writing abilities.

And I have even dreamt up how to use the Ministry's Bat argument in a post I shall be doing tomorrow on Musings of the Medic...

I'm going to have fun tomorrow..

Roger Thornhill said...

Thankfully I have never had a problem with OSX Upgrades since the first Public Beta. I guess this is because I tend not to add in app launchers, haxies and other tinker tool type stuff...well, not very often.

I am looking forward to Time Machine and to Spaces, as this is very useful on my laptop and reminds me of my days using CDE a decade ago.

Deadbeat Dad said...

"Apple Hyperstack application"

Do you mean HyperCard, by any chance?

Anonymous said...

The other anonymous makes a good point. I too am a Windows user and I care very little for security. Apart from the occasional easily-fixed browser hijack, I'm not troubled. My bank account is as full as it ever was.

One has to wonder what people are doing in order to get seriously compromised.

Henry North London said...

Oh By the way the post that inspired the 17th devil award.... I have used the permitted segment( courtesy of M of T on my Musings blog and I covered Ludicrous laws on Tuesday... Please do go and see...

draxar said...

I need to get Leopard at some point, as 10.4.10 made my computer refuse to start up, so I'm currently back down to 10.4.2

But I also need to get a new PC, and that comes first.

BTW, the following may be useful to you when you get Leopard