FryUp: Chinese schlock

The latest red scare may be one big nothing and we throw a little scepticism at DSL ratings

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Chinese Schlock

Did anyone notice that Cyber War broke out between New Zealand and China? No, really; according to the NZ Security Intelligence Service, the Chinese have not only stolen information from Kiwi Komputers but also installed remote control software on government computers.

Except... there's precious little evidence that anything apart from the usual Trojan-infested computer traffic happening, or some unknowns from goodness knows where using compromised systems to bounce their attacks from.

We don't know if New Zealand retaliated or not, or what the actual damage was. Still, it made for a good copy, you know, the usual Teh Intarwebs is Evil AHAHAHHAA, that's standard fare nowadays.

Until anyone shows me otherwise, I'm inclined to believe the Chinese. As Geoff Long of Commsday says, we should be more worried about commercial interests spying on us — and attacking us, because I'm reasonably certain that the hack attempts on government computers were by spammers — than foreign governments having a go at each other.

Thing is, they have slightly more interesting weapons to play with than computers and the Internet, our respective governments.

Cyber Warfare or the usual bot chatter?

NZ organisations report attacks by foreign governments

China denies role in NZ cyber attack

All hair-oil and no garters?

Our friends at Epitiro have done the hard yakka and tested retail DSL rather a lot to find out who's the best provider in New Zealand.

I think Epitiro deserves plaudits for this work (errm, of course, there's some money involved in it for them but let's not talk about that now); however, some scepticism is as always warranted.

The report itself says only twenty-five test computers with DSL connections were used, so it's a bit of a stretch to name and shame based on just that. A large pinch of salt is required for Epitiro's press releases, methinks.

That said, it'd be interesting to run large-scale tests across the New Zealand DSL network, to get some real data points from which to extrapolate some provider-independent statistics. An independent agency without commercial interest as such in broadband would need to do the testing however.

As for TCL's DSL service, I've tried it. Yes, it was very good indeed, despite the handicaps placed on it by Telecom Wholesale. I wasn't so keen on the enforced bundling of toll calls, phone line and DSL however, but that's the only way providers can make DSL a viable proposition in New Zealand.

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Robert X Cringely Vista Mysteries Last week, Cringester J. J. decided to upgrade his Vista notebook from Home Premium (original recipe) to Ultimate (extra crispy). Being a savvy digital citizen, he decided to use Vista's Disk Cleanup tool to clean up any messy files before he did the deed. I'll let him take it from there: "I spotted two error reporting entries ["Per User Archived Error Reporting" and "Per User Queued Error Reporting"] and based on the description when selected decided it was safe to add them to the default cleanup list. "I was browsing while eating my sandwich and noticed all but the default system icons disappear from my desktop, when I went to the Start menu (classic) I noticed several icons here were also missing as well as icons from the QuickLaunch toolbar. ... "I decided better safe than sorry, so I cancelled the Disk Cleanup. I right-clicked the desktop and asked for a 'Refresh', which did nothing. So I tried a Restart from the Start menu. Vista displayed an error that system files were missing. None of the Safe Modes helped, including Last Known Good Configuration. Vista suggested I needed to boot from its DVD and run repair. "I am happy to report that repair, followed by System Restore, did in fact make Windows bootable to my account, only my icons were still missing. Then I tried to launch Outlook 2007 and it acted as though it had just been installed, not yet activated with no account setup. I canceled and then found nearly all my user settings were gone and well as ALL my data files (documents, pictures, you name it)." J. J. was able restore most of his data using a recent backup. (I said he was a savvy digital citizen.) The real mystery comes from the fact that The Great God Google can only find two people complaining of this malady, which means it's either very rare or very new. (Or I'm making the wrong sacrificial offerings to the G-God.) Mystery #2: Netflickers seeking instant gratification via Netflix' Watch Now movie downloads have been thwarted by Vista's DRM scheme, which pulls the velvet rope taut across Windows Media Player 11 and says “I'm sorry, but you're not on the guest list.” WMP's bouncer demands you download a security upgrade, then flashes an error message – WMPError(C00D11D0) -- so obscure it can't be found in Microsoft's Knowledge Base. (That one's particularly weird, since Windows has been reporting that error code since at least 2004.) A host of Microsoft MVPs (including some unbelievably snotty ones) have been wrestling with this error code, but nobody's pinned it to the ground yet.

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