Monthly Archives: December 2009

Hey, Look, It’s A Hint!

Before Christmas, I received an early present in the form of the comment  left by an  Avid Consumerist.

A couple of months back, I wrote a post about Tom’s Hardware and their situation with MacPadd (QMS, Inc.). Tom’s Tuan Nguyen ordered a MacPadd from MacPadd.com for review but never received the order. The situation exploded as Nguyen provided tons of evidence supporting his claims that MacPadd and it’s owner, David Free were engaging in fraud.

The comment left by Avid Consumerist only has a link to a post on MacPadd @ WordPress. The post praises The Consumerist (I can only assume they are referring to this The Consumerist) for removing an article about the fight between Tom’s and MacPadd. I never saw this article myself as I don’t read The Consumerist so, I cannot comment about what was contained within it. But hey, I got the hint there guy err girl err… whatever! *wink*

My response to this comment is simple: I will not remove my article about Tom’s and MacPadd.

What makes this comment even more fun is that there is a link in the Avid Consumerist username linking to an article about how the Tom’s article was false and fraudulent. Let’s go through that article!

The Tuan Nguyen incident has been nothing more than internet fraud and deception notwithstanding the continuing attacks by Tom’s Hardware and Nguyen on the Mac Community.

I love this “Call To Arms, my brothers!” Rewriting history in one sentence to make it seem as though the Tom’s article was slandering the entire “Mac Community” is hilarious. There was no mention of the Mac Community in any of the three Tom’s articles written about this subject.

MacPadd has never been contact by Police or FBI for possible fraud activities as Nguyen would have you believe

There was no mention of the FBI in any of the Tom’s articles. Nguyen said he had contacted the RCMP Fraud Prevention Department but the only thing that was said was that they were “aware” of reports and asked for details concerning the Tom’s case. No where in the articles does it say that MacPadd had been contacted already by any law enforcement agency. Lousy spin.

MacPadd does not make false claims (Lysol ™ wipes disinfect our anodized aluminium MacPadd surface)

Unfortunately, this is not the false claim to which the Tom’s articles were referring. MacPadd.com claimed that the mousepad was resistant to the H1N1 virus (the virus that gives you Swine and Bird Flu). This scientifically untrue claim has been since removed. (Read the American CDC’s facts on H1N1 transmission here) But I saw the claim with my own eyes as did many commenters of the Tom’s articles. MacPadd also stated that the surface of the MacPadd is antibacterial. This claim was also removed. However MacPadd.com currently states that:

MacPadd can be instantly disinfected with a sanitary/alcohol wipe.
Clean your work station and MacPadd daily.
MacPadd does not contribute to the spread of dirt or bacteria.
MacPadd will help you keep your hands cleaner longer
MacPadd is ideal for work stations in hospitals or clinics that has multiple users.
MacPadd can be put into an autoclave and then ready for use after its cleaning (special non stick surface available)
Neoprene mouse pads collect materials that contribute to an unsanitary office environment

I would like to see the research done on the MacPadd which proves that the MacPadd does not contribute to the spread of bacteria and dirt. Preferably research that is not credited to a “… Spaceman, Ph.D.” Or maybe it’s referring to after it and the work station is cleaned, disinfected and Lysol is sprayed everywhere?

The blog posting also makes claims but does not provide any proof. Just because you say something is so, doesn’t mean that it is.
  • Apple is aware of MacPadd and have considered selling the product on their website
  • MacPadd met with and talked with several Apple representatives regarding the sale of our product. No concerns were expressed at the time of discussion.
  • MacPadd has sold over 8,000 customers
  • We have 8,000 customers that have not been deceived.
  • … I responded with my professional and academic background (MBA, Engineer, Certified Management Account, I sit on the Board of Governors for our profession)
  • Unfortunately that did not stop him or his and his friends or co-workers phone calls and harassing and abusive messages (We had the police trace all phone calls and emails).
  • I can assure you that because of this incident, the FBI, and Canadian Police Authorities (OPP) have been involved with respect to criminal harassment to Nguyen and his followers.
  • CANADA POST DOES NOT PROVIDE TRACKING NUMBERS TO THE USA.

Two things in regards to the last item on the above list. Canada Post does provide tracking numbers to packages delivered to the USA. I guess the MacPadd blog posting was hoping that the people reading the posting were idiots who did not know how to search for Canada Post’s website. The second is about this:

THEREFORE THERE IS NO TRACKING NUMBER. Despite identifying that several times to Nguyen it seems he just couldn’t understand.

The problem with this statement is that it contradicts the evidence presented. The screenshot of this email exchange shows that MacPadd sent Nguyen a Canada Post tracking number which, was for a package that had been delivered weeks before Tom’s ordered the MacPadd.

I could probably go on longer but I think that I have dedicated enough of my time to this subject. I will however, point out this one last thing that was mentioned in the MacPadd blog posting:

The only fraud that has occurred in this instance is the multitude of falsehoods by Nguyen on his website and the breaches of Tom’s Hardware Code of Conduct, and Terms of Service. We delivered despite the abusive and harassing character of someone who is even legally eligible to work in the USA (no Green Card).

So, what is being said here  is that Tuan Nguyen, staff member for Tom’s Hardware, is an illegal alien in the United States. Is there proof for this libelous statement?

The whole issue here is that Tom’s Hardware was well within it’s rights to publish the details of the situation. I and anyone else are also well within their rights to do so. David Free/MacPadd/QMS Inc. apparently also believe they are well within their rights to say something. However, you cannot have your cake and eat it too. You can’t deny someone the right to criticize your business methods, products, services while praising others who do so to other companies.

You are selling a product and public is trusting you to deliver. You allegedly did not deliver and Tom’s reported and provided evidence for the public. This was good journalism.


Missing/Invisible Windows VISTA Update Items Update

(Updated Feb. 21st, 2010)

After the list disappeared around the 15th, it reappeared – by itself – in the last day or two. Really wierd…

In this posting, I talked about how the updates list had disappeared from Windows Update (Windows Vista). I found a solution on the MS Support forums and I will share with you the steps you need to take to [hopefully] resolve this. Remember that I am not responsible for any damages that may occur because you did not do something correctly.

This solution was actually the answer to another problem. People could see their updates in Windows Updates. The problem was the updates they installed were still on the list after they had updated.

  1. Download the Windows Installer Cleanup Utility and install this program.
  2. Download MSXML 4.0 Service Pack 3. DO NOT INSTALL THIS YET!
  3. Run the Windows Installer Cleanup Utility program. Open the Start menu and click on All Programs it will be in that list. Search the list for any program listed as “MSXML”. There was 3 MSXML 4.0 Service Pack 2 entries in the list for me.
  4. Remove all instances of this and reboot your computer.
  5. Once you are back into Windows, install MSXML 4.0 Service Pack 3. No need to reboot after this has been installed.
  6. Open Windows Update 🙂

Twitter and Mowjcamp.org Hacked

ICA Mowjcamp Hack Defacement PageAs reported by TechCruch, Twitter was hacked this morning (EEST) by a group of tools calling themselves the Iranian Cyber Army. According to Twitter, DNS records for Twitter.com were altered to redirect users to a “defacement page”. Also, a second site, Mowjcamp.org/.com has also been hacked. To the right you can see the current (11:47 EEST) defacement page for mowjcamp.org. The page shows some text in red and a picture of the green flag with text in Farsi.

ICA Mowjcamp.org Hack, Google SERP

Along with the hacks, Google SERPs showed the hack in the results descriptions. While the Twitter SERPs have been restored, Mowjcamp’s have not. The Twitter Google SERP Farsi text description made reference to the U.S. government’s involvement in Twitter’s decision to delay an update during the mass demonstrations that happened in Iran after the recent presidential elections. The update would have disrupted services for Twitter users and apparently, Iranians were using Twitter to help organize and report on protests.


The EU/Microsoft Browser Ballot Saga: The Final Chapter

Yesterday marks the day that the EU/Microsoft Antitrust probe came to end as the European Commission approved Microsoft’s Browser Ballot plan. In this plan, users of Windows XP, Vista and 7 in the European Economic Area will receive a choice through Windows Update as to which browser they would like to install. According to Tom’s, the browsers are: Opera, Chrome, Safari, Firefox, AOL, Maxthon, K-Meleon, Flock, Avant Browser, Sleipnir, Slim Browser and Internet Explorer.

The agreement will remain in place for at least five years and the EC will make a review after two years. If Microsoft violates the agreement, they will be fine up to 10% of it’s annual income. However, the EC does not have to prove that Microsoft has violated antitrust rules in order to fine Microsoft.

Say what??? It’s bad enough that the EC has wasted EU taxpayer money and time with this witch hunt but now the EC can gank money from Microsoft by simply saying, “Hey, you are not doing what you agreed on. We got this email from the people at Opera saying so!” What a load. To be frank, Microsoft should have packed up business, flipped the EU the bird and said, “Good luck with Ubuntu, assholes!”

Ugh! I will end this post by linking you to my previous post on this subject. My opinion on this subject is documented there.


No Anti-Virus Warning Message + No In-Your-Face UAC = Less Secure Windows 7

Get this formula? Well this is the basic formula thrown out by Trend Micro CTO, Raimund Genes, in an interview with The Register. Genes also said that out of the box, Windows Vista is better than Windows 7. Let’s go over his reasoning.

After install, Windows 7 does not warn users to install an Anti-Virus program.

This depends on what you consider a “warning” to be. For instance, a pop up balloon appeared above the system tray when I first booted into Windows 7 telling me that I had a potential security problem. When I clicked on the balloon, the Windows Security window appeared showing me my problems which was the lack of an Anti-Virus program. It wasn’t a flashing red screen with words like, “OMGZ! DANGER ANTI-VIRUS NEEDED! GET NOW WTF!” but, it was something.

My problem with this is that the average user has been aware of viruses, malware and other coded shenanigans for about a decade. It has become standard for a Windows user to install Anti-Virus software onto a computer after installation of Windows. Any user that still does not know to do this will eventually have someone tell them to do it or they will find out the hard way. The latter is unavoidable and something, I think, the IT community has gotten used to.

Where’s the UAC?

Windows 7 UAC File Extension ChangeMr. Genes says that Microsoft sacrificed security for usability. In Windows 7, the User Account Control has been dumbed down a bit where there are far less popups, annoying users with warnings that they were about to do something to changing something – from running an installation program to changing a file extension. As you can see to the right, the UAC works just fine when you attempt to change a file extension, such as .exe, in the Program Files folder. The UAC did not warn me when I changed an .exe file extension on my D drive (my hard drive is partitioned into C (Windows and programs) and D drives).

One of the biggest complaints I personally heard from people was the UAC. Apparently, Microsoft got the same as well. The UAC is a good idea but in Windows Vista, it was a little poorly implemented. Annoying people won’t get them to make better choices when it comes to security – it will make them look somewhere else for an operating system. Usability and profit were obviously involved in Microsoft’s decision but I do not believe they sacrificed security for those things.

Mr. Genes also thinks that a virtual Windows XP should be added with versions of Windows 7 Home Premium for security reasons. Windows XP was a good OS but it has served it’s purpose. I fail to see how this would improve security any and I think that this would only serve to confuse the average user and retard their adoption of Windows 7. Windows 7 is about moving forwards, not backwards.

Mr. Genes, to his credit, did not say Windows 7 is not secure at all. He merely thinks that Windows Vista is more secure out of the box than Windows 7. I disagree, because a few [hundred] extra pop ups does not make an operating system more secure. But what do I know? I’m just some random idiot with a blog, not a CTO from a security firm. 😀


Missing/Invisible Windows VISTA Update Items

As the title states, I am missing a list of items that I can download via Windows Update on Windows Vista. I can see the lists on my wife’s computer (also Vista) and on my Windows 7  computer. I cannot see either the “important” updates or the “optional” updates. I think that if I clicked the “Install Now” button, the updates will download and install but I like to know what I am downloading first. The screenshots are below.

Windows Vista Windows UpdateWindows Vista Windows Update Item List

I don’t have a solution to this problem yet. As soon as I have a solution, I will update this post. If anyone, who runs into this posting, has a solution. Please leave a comment and point me in the right direction. Thanks!


The EU/Microsoft Browser Ballot Saga Continues

File under: “I cannot believe this crap is still going on.”

In another chapter in the ongoing antitrust-settlement saga between MS and the EU, MS has decided to revise it’s browser ballot system after complaints from Opera, Mozilla and Google. Apparently the browser ballot list (which for some reason was not in the version of Windows 7 that I bought) was in alphabetical order which put Apple’s Safari first on the list. Microsoft has changed the list so that the browsers are randomly placed.

Some thoughts

Am I the only one who is tired of this bs? Is there really nothing more important for the EU to concentrate on so that they can worry about what Microsoft puts in its operating systems? The last I heard, the EU has problems with how to deal with Muslims within the EU, Russia and energy issues.  What about the Lisbon Treaty and the EU Constitution? Or is this to distract us from the fact that there are far too many EU MPs and out of those MPs, there are those who have taken far too many liberties with their pay and allowance paid to them by taxpayers in the EU?

There are several points here:

  • Microsoft Windows is made and owned by Microsoft. I fail to understand why anyone has the right to tell MS what they should or should not put into their operating systems. How come no one has gone after Apple yet over the inclusion of Safari? Anyone notice how quiet Apple is in this latest chapter?
  • Thanks to Internet Explorer being included in Windows we have a CHOICE to download any other browser we wish to use. Does Internet Explorer automatically blacklist websites of the major browser competitors? No. Once again we are free TO CHOOSE and download whatever browser we like thanks to the inclusion of Internet Explorer.

I think the second point is the most important. Internet Explorer did a lot of good for the competing browsers. It did more than competitors care to admit and the numbers speak for themselves. The use of alternatives to Internet Explorer has been on the rise for years now. As I pointed out here, Internet Explorer has been losing its share of users and it is going to continue to lose users. Internet Explorer is a sub-par product compared to the other browsers. A poster child for what not to do with a web browser. Firefox blazed the popularity trail with tabbed browsing, add-ons, themes, standards compliance and security. It was because of these features, ordinary users began realizing that they had a choice. People in Europe made their choice well before EU bureaucrats thought they should get involved.

Competition and innovation were not stifled, they were enhanced greatly thanks to the inclusion of Internet Explorer. Still need examples? Gecko and Apple’s Webkit are only a couple.

Enough is enough. There is far more important shit to worry about.


Need A Reason To Move From IE6 to IE8? Ask The Kids.

Last week, on their YouTube IE8 channel, Microsoft released a video in an attempt to push the poor souls who are still using IE6 to move to IE8. If this campaign looks familiar, it should. Well, at least in the States it should look familiar. Microsoft used kids in it’s campaign to inform the masses that Windows 7 was coming.

A brief history from my POV…

Internet Explorer has been a pain for web developers everywhere for years now. Back in the days, Microsoft had the intention to remake the web the way they wanted. Microsoft had an advantage with the fact that Internet Explorer was bundled with Windows. While regular users were unaware, those who cared knew the effects of Internet Explorer on the internet. These effects can be listed as effects on security and effects on standardizing the development of web pages and the programs that are written for these web sites.

A group called the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) drafts “standards” which define how web pages can be developed. They also define programming methods for web programming languages. While Internet Explorer has adhered to a good deal of these standards, Microsoft has developed Internet Explorer in a way that goes against these standards by making it’s own rules for web sites.

In the early days of commercial web development, most developers would either make web sites that would either work correctly in Internet Explorer or Netscape – the major competitor to IE, or both. This was a challenge for two reasons: 1. Back then there just was not enough information widely available where developers could easily find the information needed to make web sites correctly. 2. As stated above, Internet Explorer came bundled with Windows making it more appealing to developers to just make web sites that worked in Internet Explorer without checking if the site worked in another browser. After all, everyone has Windows!

Along comes a Firefox…

Some years later, Firefox came along. Netscape was dying a quick death. It had been beaten hands down by Internet Explorer which was enjoying well over 90% of the browser market and was eventually sold off to AOL. Firefox appealed to people because it was more secure than Internet Explorer, which was integrated into Windows. It was faster than Internet Explorer. And for web developers, it was nearly standards compliant.

Firefox was a godsend for web developers who now had a poster child to point to “Internet Explorer Only” web developers and say, “See, this is how the web is supposed to look like!”. Since Firefox’s release, other worthy competitors have come out with their own standards compliant web browsers such as: Apple Safari, Google Chrome and Opera. These web browsers not only have excellent support for Cascading Style Sheets, but they also have excellent support for JavaScript.

Meanwhile, Internet Explorer continued to lag far behind. Internet Explorer 6, which is most at issue here, was released with better security (Ironic, considering IE6 and it’s integration into Windows was one of the big security problems pre Windows XP SP1) but little change in it’s support of web standards. IE6 still enjoyed widespread use and Microsoft saw no reason to change the way it approached the internet. However, because of the massive security problems that plagued Windows and IE, IE began to lose it’s lead in the browser market to the alternative browsers. IE7 was released with better (read: it’s ok but nothing big) CSS support and tabbed browsing – just like the alternative browsers. IE7 marked the time when an Internet Explorer browser was not part of the Windows shell – meaning it became a standalone program.

When IE8 was released IE’s dominance in the browser market had been seriously degraded as Firefox ate away at IE’s share with other alternative browsers far behind but slowly gaining. Internet Explorer finally had excellent CSS support but continued to have lousy JavaScript support. I maintain several web site and in the past year I have seen the number of visitors using IE drop sharply. The users still using IE6 have dropped even further.

Final thoughts and the video

It might be hard for someone who does not do commercial web development to understand the problems that I have run into over the years with web developer and Internet Explorer. Multi-browser testing is now a required part of web development. Web sites must be tested in all “major” browsers such as: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari, Google Chrome and Opera. Throughout the time of commercial internet use, smart people have developed “hacks” in order to ensure that what a web site is supposed to look like, looks exactly the same way in Internet Explorer. This is not how it should be. All competing web browsers should display web pages the same way while developing ways for the browsers to render these pages faster and add additional features which will enhance your web surfing experience.

Getting all browser makers on board the standards train is imperative now. Microsoft, having been nearly defeated in the browser wars, is finally starting to realize that it needs to stand in line with everyone else. This is why it’s beginning this campaign. While this is a good thing, I don’t understand how this campaign will convince corporations and smaller businesses to move to IE8. I say this because there are, unfortunately, companies who use software that is specifically made for IE6 and lower. Upgrading this software for these companies will be expensive. The second reason is because IE6 will continue to enjoy some support from Microsoft for some years to come because Windows XP will have extended support until at least 2014. This is unfortunate and regardless what Ars has to say about it in that article, Microsoft does have some responsibility in killing support for IE6. After all, it was Microsoft’s fault in the first place.