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Adware and spyware and how to remove them

An epidemic of uninvited guests

One of the recurring problems I encounter is spyware and adware. When helping home or other casual Windows users with performance problems on their Windows XP systems, I frequently encounter programs that have installed themselves without the users' knowledge - invariably, I hear "I have no idea how that got there."

Upon inspection, I often find a variety of 'hidden' program set to run when the computer is started. These unwelcome and uninvited guests pests bring a variety of problems with them, so it's always best to eliminate them from the computer whenever possible.

lsass.exe - what is it?

LSASS.exe (the 'LSA Shell') is part of the Windows security services, dealing mainly with local security policies. I've seen two major variants: the export version (weak crypto) and the domestic version, which is supposed to offer 128-bit encryption.

Know thy enemy

This paper on is an excellent discussion of web application security issues. Read it and weep.

Trust Never Sleeps

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It's becoming apparent to me (slow thinker that I am) that 2007 is shaping up to be a year in which 'trust' becomes the central theme in many ways:

Why do I think trust is becoming a watchword?

How to evaluate a web site

I found this page over on the UC Berkeley Library site describing a set of steps to use in evaulating web pages - how to determine whether the information on the page should be trusted. The guide offers a list of suggested questions to ask, and the implications associated with the answer to those questions.

This can help you develop a critical eye when visiting a web page.

Used Kleenex

Apparently, you can find darn near anything on eBay.

When I enter certain search keywords in a Google search box, it seems like I see an endless stream of eBay ads - promising that I can find what I'm looking for, no problem! Unfortunately, sometimes the results are comical if not downright disgusting - and they show the weakness of the ad selection techniques.

Apparently, searching Google for 'used anything' has a pretty good chance of turning up these gems.

Here are a few "interesting" search phrases, and a snapshot of the accompanying Google ads that appear on the search results pages:

Silver Plastic Is Ugly

Not long ago, every notebook computer, every bit of stereo or A/V equipment I owned was painted black or charcoal (or was made of a black or charcoal plastic).

Now, everything is silver. Matte or satin silver. Spray-painted silver.

For some reason, silver has become the most popular car color. (Click here if the preceding link is broken.)

Silver seems like a nice color for some cars... and I even have one car that color (but that car is a 1970 Pontiac, so it was not so trendy when the color was put on the car). But there is a vast difference between a quality, glossy automotive paint finish and the chintzy look of a dull, matte silver finish painted on my notebook computer, my camcorder, my DirecTV receiver, my television cabinet (I could go on...)

I can just imagine the product design meetings held in consumer product companies everywhere: "Silver is most popular! Silver is the way to go! Let's make it SILVER!"

Quality Without a Name

I like to cook. Especially using quality utensils.

I was making mashed potatoes and gravy to go with one of our favorite dishes: 40 cloves and a chicken.

I was peeling a pile of potatoes, ripping through the pile with my trusty peeler. I started thinking about just how nice it is to use a really good peeler.


Overheard somewhere, sometime

Architect: "I view static helper methods as a sign of failed object-oriented design."

Nearby grunt: "I view this product as a sign of failed object-oriented design."

Disclaimer: I may have imagined some or all of this.


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I have been thinking about building timeline-based modules for Drupal, in order to present alternative views of time-based data present in every Drupal system.

Well, Arto Bendiken beat me to it. First, the timeline module and now, a timeline-based RSS aggregator that displays any RSS feed in a timeline.

It's based on an existing tool, SIMILE Timeline.

Great stuff!

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