Archive for January 14th, 2006

SBS Alters Voiceovers

Robbie McGregor, the voice behind SBS since 1989 has been axed, and will no longer be reading the SBS promos. I guess it had to happen at some stage, but SBS won’t sound the same without him.

I often sit through the five minutes of ads after a show on SBS as I feel like I’m supporting the station by doing so, it also provides me with an opportunity to see what’s coming up on SBS in the near future, which is helpful as program names are often deceptive. SBS will be hard pressed to find another voice of Robbie’s calibre, and will struggle to retain me during ad breaks.

This would appear to be yet another step in the gradual degradation of SBS.

Samuel

10 comments January 14th, 2006 at 06:32pm

Mike Jeffreys Returns on Monday

Mike Jeffreys returns to the 2CC Breakfast show on Monday morning at 5:35am (assuming I’ve calculated the length of the news correctly).

Contrary to my dreams, there have been no reports of Mike’s regular guests hiding in cupboards in department stores, but I may ring him to tell him about this dream anyway.

Ever since Mike went on leave, 2CC has been mildly odd, with Mike Welsh, Leigh Zaghet and Mike Frame all spending time on Breakfast. Drive hasn’t been any better, with Mike Frame, Steve Liebmann (yep, a 2UE feed on public holidays), Leight Zaghet all taking turns at hosting it, thankfully Mike Frame has already returned to that show.

Mike Frame has been referring to himself, Welshy and Jeffreys as “The Three Omegos”, but I did hear him use my suggestion of “The Three O-Mike-Os” the other day, I do hope my occasional lunacy is helping 2CC in some way.

I did notice that they appear to be rebranding themselves as “your talk radio”, I wonder if Mike Jeffreys will start introducing traffic reports with “2CC traffic thanks to the Mitsubishi 380, here’s your Andrew Pye”, or perhaps Kevin Woole will become “Your wolfman with your sport”. I quite like that last one…

Samuel

6 comments January 14th, 2006 at 04:00pm

We’re keeping the webmaster busy…

2UE certainly are keeping the webmaster busy, once again the schedule has changed, this time breakfast is the victim of a 2UE movement.

Mike Carlton will be joined by his fill-in, Peter FitzSimons, for a two person breakfast show starting Monday. Talk duos seem to rate well, although I can’t stand them, and I can’t personally see this duo gaining much, if any, ground on 2GB’s Alan Jones.

Meanwhile 2UE’s website is reporting that Dugald Saunders is hosting the night show tonight, possibly filling in for Mike Williams, or maybe not…who knows? The schedule at that station is a solid as a water roof…it just keeps splashing all over the place.

Also on the 2UE website, John Mangos is listed as on air now despite the fact that the schedule below it shows Glenn Wheeler being on now, and my radio confirming Glenn’s on-airness.

Maybe Lawsie should get The Cuckoo’s Nest to write a song about 2UE schedules, and then hope he doesn’t get moved to 7:36am-2:49pm…

Samuel

January 14th, 2006 at 03:06pm

Blog Award Nominations

As you may be aware, back in the middle of December I brought you the news that this blog had been nominated for a blog award. It would appear that voting will start soon, and all the nominations have been sorted.

This blog has been nominated in the following categories:

  • Best Overall Australian Blog
  • Best Australian Capital Territory Blog
  • Best Humourous Australian Blog
  • Best Australian Personal Blog
  • Best New Australian Blog

Much like the last time I wrote about this, I don’t particularly care whether you vote for me or not, and I don’t particularly care if I win an award or not. I’m not here to win awards, I’m here to do something which I enjoy doing.

None the less, I’ll keep you updated.

Samuel

3 comments January 14th, 2006 at 12:00pm

New Episodes of As Time Goes By

I had the good fortune of finding that the ABC are running 4 new episodes of “As Time Goes By”, which is one of my favourite TV shows. It would appear that there was enough demand for more of As Time Goes By that the producers decided to write four encore episodes. Thankfully they live up to the standard of the show.

As Time Goes By can be viewed on ABC TV on Friday nights at 8PM.

For those of you who missed episode one of this series, I have mirrored the episode description from the ABC website below.

The As Time Goes By – Reunion Specials pick up after the original series left off and reveal Jean Hardcastle’s (Dame Judi Dench) great anticipation for grandchildren, much to the dismay of her husband Lionel (Geoffrey Palmer).

In episode one Jean has cots delivered to the house in the hope that Judith (Moira Brooker) and Sandy (Jenny Funnell) will soon be having babies. Lionel explains they may not want children. Lionel dreams of looking after babies that multiply at an alarming rate.

Alistair (Philip Bretherton) and Judith collect Sandy and Harry (David Michaels) from the airport. Back at Jean’s house an emotional Sandy tells Jean that Harry wants to kill himself. Meanwhile Harry explains to the others how he plans to join the armed response unit to gain a promotion. Jean wants to talk him out of it, but Sandy insists it must be his decision.

Alistair begins to behave peculiarly and Judith fears it is because she has been unable to get pregnant. She knows she is healthy and is concerned the problem lies with Alistair. Jean offers Lionel’s services to talk to Alistair, but Lionel refuses to be drawn into discussing such personal matters. However, when Jean plots to get him alone with Alistair, Lionel finds himself suggesting he seek medical help.

Samuel

January 14th, 2006 at 09:00am

Steve Gibson declares WMF Exploit a deliberate backdoor

The WMF Exploit has been discussed on this site before, both here and here, but the information which has come to light since then is astounding.

As you may know, security expert Steve Gibson said if Microsoft didn’t release a patch for Windows 9x, he would, so he set about doing that. Steve spent plenty of time researching exactly how the WMF exploit works, and found something very scary indeed. According to Steve, the WMF exploit was not and error, it was a deliberate backdoor from Microsoft, enabling those in the know to execute code.

A WMF file is really a graphic script which tells Windows to draw a line here which is this long, and a rectangle over here which is “x” high and “y” wide with a purple fill colour, and so on. To aid this, the file contains headers, including one for length of record (each line, rectangle or otherwise is a record”). Setting this value to 1, which is a perfectly invalid number in this context, makes Windows behave in an odd manner…it treats everything after that in the file as executable code and runs it.

Steve has announced this in the Security Now! podcast episode 22 (which can be heard here). To quote some of the discussion between Steve Gibson and Leo Laporte:

Steve:But the only conclusion I can draw is that there has been code from at least Windows 2000 on, and in all current versions, and even, you know, future versions, until it was discovered, which was deliberately put in there by some group, we don’t know at what level or how large in Microsoft, that gave them the ability that they who knew how to get their Windows systems to silently and secretly run code contained in an image, those people would be able to do that on remotely located Windows machines…

Leo: So you’re saying intentionally or – Microsoft intentionally put a backdoor in Windows? Is that what you’re saying?

Steve: Yes.

Leo: Well, that’s a pretty strong accusation. Could this not have been a…

Steve: Well, it’s the only conclusion…

Leo: It couldn’t have been a mistake?

Steve: I don’t see how it could have been a mistake. Again, I’m going to continue to look at it. But from what I’ve seen now, this had to be deliberate.

Leo: But let me ask you one more – you’re convinced there’s no way this could have happened by accident. It can’t be a programming error or bad design.

Steve: No. No. I mean, you know, again, this is as much a surprise to me, Leo, as it is to, you know, anyone who hears this. I did not expect to see this. I expected to find, for example, that the way this exploit worked was that the SETABORTPROC was working correctly, and that I would give it a pointer to my own code a few bytes lower, then I would do something to force the metafile to abort, and then the metafile processing would use the pointer, the legitimate SETABORTPROC pointer, and then basically run the code that was located right there in the metafile. That’s what I thought I was going to encounter, something that sort of made sense, like we were originally led to believe. Or actually I think, you know, Microsoft didn’t say anything at all. So we just all kind of presumed this was another one of those coding errors that Microsoft now famously makes and corrects on the second Tuesday of every month. This wasn’t a programming error. And, you know, so it’s like, whoa. When I give it the magic key on the size of the metafile record, then it jumps directly into my code.

Steve: Now, you know, if Microsoft had said last week, whoops, this was an undocumented backdoor or means for us to run code in a metafile, we never documented it, our security sweeps didn’t find it, blah blah blah – but nothing was said. They allowed the industry to believe that this was just like all their other code mistakes, but this wasn’t like all their other code mistakes.

Leo: Well, it’s a very serious indictment, if not of Microsoft, maybe of a renegade programmer inside Microsoft. If you were doing a code review, would this kind of thing stand out? Would it be fairly obvious that something was going on?

Steve: Yeah. I mean, I’ve seen Microsoft source code. In the old days they used to publish the source for what’s called the DDK, the Device Driver Kit. And, you know, they’re very cautious about, you know, on a module-by-module basis, there’s the person’s name or initials and when they made changes and what they made to the code that follows. So, I mean, again, Leo, we’re never going to know for sure. I mean, I’ve been in this position with Microsoft in the past, or similar positions. And, you know, it’s very difficult to get a straight answer from them. So I don’t know what their source says. But it seems to me that somebody had to have seen relatively recently, certainly since Windows 2000, had to have looked at the code, seen that this was something that was there, and just kind of nodded to himself and said, yup, that’s what we want to have in our metafile processing code.

Leo: Wow. Well, I’m sure we’ll hear more about this. I think you probably are going to stir up a hornet’s nest here. And if Microsoft would like to come on the show and respond, you absolutely are welcome to do so. I’d like to hear an explanation.

In the interests of space, I have not copied every detail, and there is a lot discussed. You can rea the full transcript at http://www.grc.com/sn/SN-022.htm or listen to Security Now! Episode 21 at http://media.grc.com/sn/SN-022.mp3.

Steve is rarely wrong about these things, so this is a major concern. There is some use for this “feature” in that Microsoft could have embedded a super important patch on all of their websites and had it patch an awful lot of computers, but it was also an accident waiting to happen, which did happen a few weeks ago.

As Steve said, this is something which would stand out in a code security audit, and Microsoft have done a few audits on their code, so this almost has to have been something Microsoft purposefully placed there.

More details as they come to hand.

Samuel

9 comments January 14th, 2006 at 02:50am

Bold Predictions For IT In 2006

I’ve been doing a bit of thinking about recent developments in IT lately, and with a few excess dot joinings, I’ve come to some conclusions about what may happen in IT this year, or at least some big stories.

With the recent raft of underwhelming presentations on Windows Vista and the gradual loss of originally planned features in it, and Apple Macintosh moving to Intel processors, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to see Macintosh gain ground this year, here’s how I think it will happen.

Microsoft will release Vista with their usual marketing hype, claiming that it is fantastic and probably bring back the “10 reasons to upgrade”. Apple will release their next version of Macintosh with a lot of marketing along the lines of “most of the stuff in Vista we had five years ago, and look what we’ve got now…even better, it runs on YOUR PC“, effectively canning their “Mac Box Only” pseudo-restrictions. Apple, with their increased presence, thanks to the iPod, will gain customers with the more secure, and more impressive OS.

I am really gaining the impression that Apple have lost their “also-ran” status from public perception with the iPod and iTunes and their general “nice guy” appearance, this will help them win customers from Microsoft. Also I think the general public are starting to wake up to the fact that, despite Microsoft claims, new versions of Windows are rarely more stable than the last, and the “new features” aren’t all that exciting after all. Whilst the general public will see this as a way to escape the MS security problems, IT people will see it as a way to make vulnerabilities less attractive to “malicious users” as they won’t have the same large scale effect.

I forsee Open Office using this to their advantage, perhaps making a deal with Apple to include Open Office in Mac OS.

As much as I love Linux, I don’t think 2006 will be the year of the penguin, although Linux will undoubtedly gain ground with the mass exodus of Windows users finding new operating systems. I guess many Linux distros will semi-emulate the look and feel of Mac instead of Windows, or (more likely) offer a choice between the two.

Later this year, if I remember, I might see if this has come true or not.

Samuel

January 14th, 2006 at 01:32am


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