The President's Message

September 2010

Rick Curry

Thanks to Michael Shalkey for his presentation on getting our videos into our computers and onto YouTube.

How much do you trust your computer?
     Probably a lot more than we realize. A recent study by Volkswagen was performed to see if people would actually trust a car that drove for them.
     From "VW to eliminate worst road hazard: drivers" (The Register 8/27/2010):
     "We created a car with a second steering wheel in the rear where the driver couldn't see it," he told his audience. "He or she pressed the autopilot button and thought the machine would really drive without human help. Someone drove in the rear seat without being recognized by her or him. Well, you couldn't imagine: after a few seconds, they already took the newspaper and read the news articles. So they trusted already the machine, which was great."
     Is it any wonder that we find a virus in the driver's seat from time to time? For as inquisitive and clever as we are, we also appear to be a very trusting lot.

Other tidbits I was having a lot of trouble coming up with a topic this month, but I do have some minor things to mention:
     EMET tool for older Windows: For those who are continuing to use old versions of Microsoft operating systems (like Windows 2000 and even Windows 98), Microsoft has re-released its tool for "hardening" its applications. EMET version 2.0 removes or limits the ability to access "features" in Windows operating systems and applications that have become backdoors allowing hackers to take control of our machines. I did not look into what exactly is being removed; perhaps they took the pinball game out of Microsoft Excel! Surprisingly, there really was a magic set of keys you could strike in Excel (I recall it was in Office 98) and a pinball game would come up.

The new and improved EMET also causes programs to randomly move around in memory (using a mechanism called ASLR) to make it more challenging for hackers to locate the vulnerable parts of Windows. Search google for EMET 2.0 and look for the Microsoft download link.

     Patch your Linux kernels: Although there is no known virus that takes advantage of it, there is a recent vulnerability that has been fixed in the Linux kernel. All Linux users should accept the recent (guard page) update/patch to the Linux kernel.

     Light bulbs – no CFL night lights: Use night lights for night lights, not the compact fluorescent bulbs. We recently had an "incident" at our house where a compact fluorescent (CFL) lamp burned out right above our bunny house-pet. We were awake and removed the small animal immediately, but realized the story could have a sad ending if we were all asleep when the CFL suffered its melt-down.

I strongly recommend people not use CFLs as night-lights, especially located near sleeping people or pets that cannot escape the area.

      A recent study indicates that when CEOs are cursing or if they are not freely talking about themselves, they are more likely to be lying.

Happy computing!