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Random Stuff, 5/22/06

May 22nd, 2006

GreenadsDon’t you hate those new “ad links” in web pages? They appear mostly in news or magazine sites, as green, double-underlined words; if your cursor moves over them, little javascript windows appear displaying ads even remotely related to the word in question. They block the text and take a small amount of time to generate and disappear. Now I have to be careful to keep my cursor away from the dang things or be annoyed. As if the ring of dancing, flashing advertisements all around the periphery–and sometimes in the middle–of the page are somehow not enough. Even pop-up blocking browsers like Safari and Firefox are not 100%–on both browsers, I have visited sites that somehow got around the blockers and opened pop-ups anyway.

Safari also has a bug I don’t like much. On some sites, like MSNBC, any attempt to select text results in a 5- to 10-second pause while the browser goes into spinning-beachball mode.

I went birdwatching recently… inside Costco. The last few times I’ve visited, I’ve noticed Tree Sparrows flying up in the rafters. They congregate near the back of the store, where the open-topped bakery is–which makes me wonder, as I bite into those tasty Costco bagels, exactly how they keep the sparrow droppings from getting into the baked goods…

Microsoft seems to be on a new-software kick; after releasing the MSIE 7 beta, they’re now releasing Windows Media Player (WMP) version 11, also in beta. The Washington Post has a piece on it, calling it an improvement, but still not a match for iTunes. It is also reported (that’s a link to one of those pages with the annoying green underline ads) that WMP, like MSIE, goes through the OS “validation” process to see if you have a non-pirated version of Windows.

David Blaine, after living in a giant fish bowl for a week then failing to hold his breath long enough, has announced that next, he will “live harmoniously among wild beasts” in an as-yet undisclosed jungle. Observers have noted that if Blaine were places in true wilderness amongst feral creatures, he wouldn’t last long. Aren’t there laws to protect the mentally ill from themselves? Or to protect us from desperately pathetic attention seekers? Fortunately, I only hear about these things peripherally at best; I make a point of not paying attention to stories like Michael Jackson’s court proceedings, Britney Spear’s adventures in babysitting, or similar stupid stuff. I looked at the recent Blaine story solely to make fun of it here.

Well, finally. Yet another Windows piece of malware came along the pike, this one big enough to momentarily distract the media from its weeks-long Macs-are-dangerous kick. This one is a trojan, called “Trojan.Mdropper.H,” and spreads through email, pretending to be a valid corporate MS Word attachment. When you open the attachment, you see Excel charts and Powerpoint presentations–and a piece of malicious code named “Backdoor.Ginwui” opens a back door in your system to allow hackers to gain control. It’s called a “zero-day exploit,” which means that it is not known to the general public, or does not affect it, meaning that system administrators get little or no advance warning of the malware before it hits.

Ironically, McAfee is calling this one a “trojan,” despite their recent scaremongering report, in which they said that a trojan was really a virus, justifying their ability to say “viruses infect the Mac!” Apparently, trojans are now trojans again, at least on Windows.

Oh, boy. A Democratic congressman got caught taking payola. And it got filmed. The guy’s corrupt, should be jailed. But I’ll bet you dollars to donuts this is gonna be used big-time by the right wing to claim that Democrats are just as, if not more corrupt than Republicans, on the heels of successful yet wildly inaccurate rumor-mongering that the Abramoff scandal was equally spread among the two parties. I wouldn’t even be too surprised if the FBI was directed to try to get something on a Democrat to take the pressure off the Republicans, and it looks like the details of the case may have been leaked precisely for that purpose.

The fact remains that Republican scandals of the past years make things like this look like chickenfeed–and it’s a lot scarier on the Republican side, because they’re so much better at hiding it and getting away with it. Look what Tom DeLay and other Republicans had to do to get caught, and even still he might lawyer his way out of it. This Jefferson guy got videotaped taking the bribe and stashed the money in his freezer. Amateur.

Hell, this guy almost had to be corrupt anyway–he’s a Louisiana Democrat.

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  1. May 23rd, 2006 at 14:21 | #1

    Those ads are enough to drive you INSANE! So glad it’s not just me:)

  2. Luis
    May 23rd, 2006 at 16:09 | #2

    Yep. Pretty much everyone hates ’em, I bet. But we’re now so inured to spam stuff like this, we might feel foolish complaining about it. Not me!

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