Thursday, January 24, 2008

internet cafes and viruses

I went to the corner internet cafe to have a map printed. The map was a .ppt and when I saved it to the USB disk the .ppt became a .swf. I didn't know this, and at the cafe they couldn't open it, so I went back home to save it as a graphic. I was in a rush, so I just took a screen shot of gmail, saved it as a .png and brought it back to the cafe.

When I saved the .png back to the USB flash drive I saw that there was an autorun.inf file in there. Clearly I'd been infected by a virus. I went ahead and worked with the USB drive though since I don't care about windows viruses. I *could* get infected through wine, I guess, but I don't have that configured to autorun anything from devices. I don't even know if it *can* be configured to autorun programs and installers from removable devices.

The map got printed and the party was great fun.

I don't care too much about viruses since I don't use windows and am probably fairly immune. The thing to take away from this though is that windows viruses are everywhere. even if the windows user is 100% up-to-date with his/her antivirus definitions and runs two or three anti-virus programs (thus slowing down the computer by a LOT, buy twice or thrice the computer you'll really need if you want to run windows and antivirus) and practices safe computing practices, virus infection is probably inevitable (if only because, at some point, you're going to receive a real work related document from someone who isn't as virus safe as you, and they got hit by a zero-day virus and passed it on to you on the same day).

It's probably possible to go a year or two without virus infection by practicing ultra-safe windows computing. But everyone will get infected at some point. Ultra-safe windows computing is a pain too (never open attachments from anyone, never use removable media, never run as root, never go online to the internet, or if you do, never run flash, activex, java, javascript, don't run IE) and regular users just won't do it. Only geeks can be really safe from viruses, and even they are likely to weaken windows security because it's just too inconvenient. Oh yeah, don't visit pr0n sites, don't download and install free programs, etc.

Windows. What. A. Pain.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Rude Poisoned Well

My wife, son and I are going to New Zealand in a few weeks. We applied for Work-to-Residence as Skilled migrants, were accepted and are on our way.

My wife, as principal applicant will work, while I, as burned out office worker, will take care of house and home. I am very liberated, but also trepidated :-).

We've got a program of sending out one work application per day while we wait for departure day (or, as ian sison would say, deportation day :-). Today sol sent out an application with a painstakingly crafted cover letter which got a rude reply to read the job specification, NZ residents only.

Either the employer didn't read to the end of the cover letter where it says that we're allowed to work in NZ (and just sent out a one sentence, accurate but rude reply), doesn't think that WTR matters because he means *currently*in*new*zealand*right*now*, or possibly is reacting rudely because the well has been poisoned by too many non-NZ applications who want the employer to work out their work visas.

It could be any of those, or any combination of those factors. In any case I'm glad that this was one of the jobs that I'm not enthusiastic about. We won't mind if the employer sticks by his guns and won't talk to us anymore since I doubt that my wife would actually want to work with anyone so rude. His loss too, my wife is an excellent developer with 15 years of software development experience in 4 languages.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

exploding gifs

I saw If WWII had been played in Age of Empires... on Reddit. That gif needs to be exploded into its individual frames. It slows down my computer something awful, and some parts of it run fast enough that I can't quite keep up (much like Age Of Empires, actually :-).

Some googling pointed me at GifSplitter (I've lost the link, and I don't care to link to it anyway). It's windows software, so I tried to get it to work with wine. It needs the vb6 runtime. I downloaded that, and it failed on some unimplemented OLE API function.

fixme:ole:OLEPictureImpl_SaveAsFile (0x144da8)->(0xa60be4, 1, (nil)), hacked stub.

A bit more googling pointed me at gifsicle. A quick sudo apt-get install gifsicle later and I was able to do:

gifsicle -e ghg.gif

which gave me the individual frames as ghg.gif_###, and another quick bash for loop later and I have the individual frames now. Next I need to actually do something with them, like put them into a powerpoint file or similar :-). Yeah, OpenOffice Impress is the RIGHT file format for this, but I bow to reality here. Maybe 1/3 of the people I email the file to will be able to read Impress, the others need an MS-Office compatible file. Reality sucks.

Monday, January 14, 2008

VB.Net uninstall

Despite using Linux for almost everything I do, I don't hold to any particular tech religion. I'm tech agnostic. So I don't see anything particularly wrogn with using FREE closed-source software.

I installed VB.Net Express Edition on a (legal) windows installation a few weeks ago. I've been trying to uninstall it today. Twice now. Both times I've given up because the uninstall starts but blocks at a certain point. I'm running it for the third time now and it's blocked again. I'm probably going to have to blow that Windows installation away and reinstall.

This reminds me of why I use Linux almost all the time.

I just wanted to learn C# and test it in Mono and and in Windows. But of course, the windows side is crepe. I haven't stressed the linux side enough yet to see what the quality is like there.

Follow-up. OK, the VB.Net uninstall never finished. I think I'll first try to repair the installation and then uninstall it. If that doesn't work, then I'll reinstall VB.Net Express and try to uninstall *THAT*. If that still doesn't work, then it's time to euthanize windows and reinstall everything from scratch.

Thursday, January 10, 2008


I'm with Orly on Bandwidth. He's on Globe, but I get similar quality with my entry-level PLDT-DSL account. Last night I downloaded the CentOS 5 DVD. That finished overnight. Today I'm downloading opensolaris, one the developer edition installer itself, and one the pre-built vmware image. Those will finish by tomorrow (unless Sun's bandwidth gets flaky, as it did when I downloaded a previous opensolaris DVD installer). Or maybe that was PLDT, I don't think it was though, I was downloading from other sources at the time and they were'nt slow.

But, yeah, it's great that for a relatively low price (much less than unlimited dialup cost just 3 years or so ago, in Cagayan de Oro, anyway) I can download DVD ISOs overnight. I remember downloading linux CD ISOs over a week and a half (on dialup though).

My family and I are going to New Zealand. Apparently, the low end residential broadband offerings there have monthly bandwidth caps (which are less than a single DVD ISO) and once the cap is hit, either the subscriber pays per extra GB or bandwidth drops to 64kbps (or so). That's fine most of the time, but when I need to download legitimate software it's going to be a problem. I'll download everything I'll need between now and when I leave so that I can minimize the number of times I'll hit my bandwidth cap :-).