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Fri, Jul 06 2001

Hmm ... I was kinda tempted to go on another ranting rampage today but then again since it's Friday and I'm feeling really mellow I think it is actually going to come out no-so-much-a-rant :p But you never know since most of these entries are never pre-planned ... so I go where the writing takes me ...

Saw Chris Pirillo of LockerGnome fame appear on Call For Help on TechTV yesterday. I've not communicated with Chris much but I've been reading his e-mail newsletter from the early days - if I recall correctly as far back as 1995 or 1996 though I'm not even sure whether LockerGnome was around then to be honest ... but it was a long time ago <vbg> I've seen his newsletter go from a weekly compilation of interesting software and sites to a daily newsletter and then multiply into several newslettters. And now he's on TV!! It's in a way sort of like watching reality-based TV in very slow motion :p

It's interesting how much has changed in such a short time span as 10 years. Some of the computer stuff that I worked on 10 years ago seems positively ancient! Who remembers Central Point Software's PC Tools? I used to love using PC Tools to edit so that I could have my own version of DOS with customized commands like DOG for CLS and silly stuff like that ... Speaking of DOS, who remembers working with DOS 3.0 (or was it 3.2? I forget now ... too many things rolling into one and I'm not sure whether there was a DOS 3.2 or whether I'm thinking of DOS 6.22 - the last "real" DOS <g>)? I remember how eagerly I awaited the release of DOS 5.0 with all the neat and nifty features it promised because I didn't want to use DOS 4.0 with its reputation for higher memory consumption and general bugginess. I remember the DOS wars when Microsoft had MS-DOS and IBM had PC-DOS and Digital Research had DR-DOS (which later became NDOS when Novell bought it and then in turn was bought over by Caldera). Of course, IBM and MS were developing DOS cooperatively if I recall but their cooperative agreement ended around the time of DOS 6.22 and then IBM did their own PC-DOS 6.23 ...

My parents back in Sri Lanka still use a notebook (my very first computer that I bought with my own money <g>) with Caldera's version of DOS - I don't even remember what it was called and Caldera's site doesn't seem to have any info on it now - which is one of the best implementations of DOS I've used. It's got true multi-tasking (in DOS!!!) as well as some other pretty nifty stuff ... but then again, the computer that my parents are using is a 386SX/25MHz with 5MB of RAM and an 80MB (that's MB not GB ...) of hard disk space and they run Eudora 2.0 (I think) on Windows for WorkGroups 3.11 to e-mail me ... Really ancient, huh? :-) Ah well ... those were good days when things were so much simpler ... but do I want to go back to those days? I don't think so! There's so many more exciting things and possibilities in the computing arena of today - of cousre, I do wish some things were different but hey, you can't have it all :-)
posted at 09:08:19 AM  link  comment

Thu, Jul 05 2001

Good news :-) KuhnDog was able to bring Razor Systems back online and so the Razor Systems mirror is back!!! A very big thank you should go out to KuhnDog for putting up with the traffic generated by my site and for providing me space on his server completely free of charge! Thanks a lot, KuhnDog :-) If any of you had the site bookmarked, be aware that the link has changed now but the sidebar link will work ... (Or at least, it should :p)
posted at 02:58:08 PM  link  comment

A while back I commented on Steve Gibson's posts at his site about the DDoS attacks on his site. Since then I have observed Steve's efforts to stop the inclusion of raw sockets in Windows XP and the reaction by various forms of the media (as well as Microsoft) to his efforts. Now I don't know Steve personally and as far as he's concerned I don't exist <g> so the following comments are not based on any personal knowledge of Steve or because I feel any partisanship towards him ...

With that disclaimer aside <vbg>, what I've noticed about most of the responses to Steve's pleas/campaign seems to be that it's turning into a "my penis is bigger than yours" (or in this context I guess it is "my brain is bigger than yours" or "my knowledge is wider than yours") sort of thing rather than an objective discussion of the issues. I have read two articles on the subject on The Register - here and here - and an couple of articles by Rob Rosenberger - the most interesting being here - and all they do is either call Steve Gibson loopy or say that he's actually some sort of an agent of the Devil and that he's saying that Linux is bad and MS is good because Steve happens to say that MS's implementation of sockets was just right for a consumer OS. While they spout facts and say how Windows XP is not going to increase the number of compromised machines on the Net (which is basically true as long as XP's security is abominably bad <vbg>), none of them really look at the core point that Gibson has tried to make.

Now I am no security expert and I wouldn't know RFC 822 from an RJ45 jack most of the time but I do believe I have a smidgen of common sense. What Gibson's basically said in his DoS articles is that while his site was indeed crippled by a DoS attack and the site was offline for quite a long time, he was able to bring the site backc up because his ISP was able to filter the traffic to his site because they knew the machines from which the ICMP packet flood was originating from. With raw sockets in Windows XP, it would be simple to spoof the packets sent from compromised machines so that filtering becomes impossible. The only article that I saw which even addressed this issue was on The Register and all they basically had to say was "but filtering isn't the answer to a severe packet attack, as anyone who's had to deal with one can attest. The real solutions to packeting are capital intensive, like load balancing and content distribution. Unfortunately, they're quite expensive solutions, and few besides well-heeled commercial entities can afford to put them to use"

So (while I may be wrong ...) what the The Register seems to be saying is that while filtering is mostly effective (as Gibson himself proved with his site ...) that's not the *real* (or should that be "accepted"?) solution - you should invest in expensive solutions that only big corporations can afford. That means that you or I who might want to run our own site from home using a broadband connection will be driven off the Net because Rob Rosenberg and The Register and Microsoft wanted to have raw sockets (without which Windows has functioned perfectly well for so long ...) in XP just to be completely standards compliant? Doesn't that seem the least bit umm ... uncaring, callous, commercial ... and whatever other epithet you can think of (and I can think of some choice one's but they are all four lettered <vbg>) to you?

Why the heck can't people use their heads a little bit more (as I keep on asking here ... pointlessly I guess :p) instead of just thinking along one track or sticking slavishly to standards? Why can't they think of the common person like you or me instead of just about big corporations? It's the common guy or gal on the streets who makes a difference in the world - not the big corporations who (mostly) just care about the bottom line! Ah heck ... why do I even bother asking these questions? :p
posted at 08:19:08 AM  link  comment

Wed, Jul 04 2001

I've released Scope 2.0 Beta 2 - yes you read that right ... Beta 2 :p No, there was no bug in the "Set Scope as default browser?" dialog - if you said No, Scope wouldn't do any registry changes ... That was a false alram. But what prompted me to do this release was (besides the fact that I've done about five or six bug fixes and feature additions since Beta 1 <g>) another NetCaptor review for Scope at BetaNews :p The only problem that this particular reviewer described for Scope was the fact that he or she couldn't get Scope to work with Mozilla and that reminded me of something that I should have done a long time ago - add some documentation about how to get Mozilla working with Scope <vbg> So I updated the Scope page with a FAQ and also added some documentation to the distro itself. Coupled with the code changes I'd done, it seemed enough to do another beta release and so here it is! The download link's in the sidebar and you can also download it from the downloads page. Enjoy!
posted at 01:19:16 PM  link  comment

A couple of things have changed in Scope already since yesterday's Beta release :-) For one, I discovered when a web page is closed by JavaScript, the browser session closes but the Scope tab for that session is not removed <g> I fixed that and added an option that people have been asking for a while - to give focus to the address bar on F6.

I was debating with myself as to whether I should re-release Beta 1 with the new enhancements and perhaps some documentation (I had thought up until recently that I had some documentation with Scope but I was wrong :p I guess I thought Scope was simple enough to understand without any docs <vbg>) Then today I received a bug report which definitely will result in a new build if it is indeed happening - a user told me that he said No to the standard "Make Scope the default browser?" question and that Scope still made some registry changes. That is not something I want and I hadn't noticed it since I always have Scope set as my default browser. I am going to do some checking today and if it is indeed messing with your registry when you tell it not to, I apologize in advance and there should be a new build out by evening ... I probably won't call it Beta 2 though ... or maybe I should to just stop confusing everybody ... :-)
posted at 09:30:25 AM  link  comment

Tue, Jul 03 2001

OK, here's the long awaited Beta 1 ... actually it's not long awaited but I felt I had to say something to qualify it :p There are quite a few fixes and all of you have to thank jugg again for going through the build I had in the morning and finding a few more bugs! There are still some annoyances - like the auto-complete feature on the address bar and not being able to use CTRL+C and CTRL+V on the address bar (you have to use the right-click menu instead) but most of the other stuff is (hopefully ...) working! Enjoy!
posted at 04:21:02 PM  link  comment

Did quite a bit of coding and re-coding of Scope yesterday :-) I went back and changed a few things back and forth to see what worked best and I might even have the security options working though I'm not sure yet since I couldn't test the changes properly yesterday. If they do work, expect a beta to be released soemtime in the evening today when I do get home ... Well, actually I'll be releasing the beta even if the security stuff doesn't work since either way, Scope is done for this particular release once I verify whether the security stuff works or not ...

On another front, KuhnDog has finally convinced me to try and get a domain of my own instead of staying at Tripod and subjecting everybody to the problems of Tripod :p I'm currently considering GoDaddy since their rates seem to be very cheap - $6.95 per year if I register for 10 years - for registering the domain itself (KuhnDog has kindly volunteered to host the domain when he gets set at his new ISP - thanks KuhnDog!!). Anybody have any prior experience with GoDaddy or know of somewhere cheaper? Always appreciate any input I can get from any of you :-)
posted at 10:06:30 AM  link  comment

Mon, Jul 02 2001

BetaNews somehow discovered the release of the Scope 2.0 Alpha and posted that on their main page and suddenly I got a lot more visitors over the weekend to my page than I normally do and quite a few bug reports and feature requests :-) Sometimes I have to e-mail people to no avail to publicize the release of an app and at other times like this, I get publicity that I didn't really want <vbg> I didn't want the release of the Alpha to be generally known since it lacks a lot of features - it was simply put there for regular readers to see how far I'd gotten along on the coding of Scope ... Oh well ...

What irritated me more was a review of Scope 2.0 Alpha that some guy did at BetaNews :p Instead of doing a fair review, he decided to take the space to advertise NetCaptor. Now as some of you know, I've used NetCaptor myself and started on Scope because I didn't want to have to pay for an app that I could code myself plus I didn't want to put up with the adds (and other minor irritations) in the free version. I don't think NetCaptor is a bad program - it's just not for me. And I have no problems with somebody doing a review of Scope and saying it's bad ... provided they gave the reasons. But when somebody says "OK Scope's fine but I use NetCaptor so go get it!", as a review for Scope, that makes me mad ... Ok, Ok enough ranting early on a Monday morning :p

Didn't do as much coding over the weekend as I'd hoped but I did manage to complete the functionality for all the menu options in Scope 2.0 except for the security and download stuff which allows you to select what you want to download (images, sound etc.) and run (JavaScript, ActiveX etc.) on a per session basis. This is something that I really liked in Scope 1.0 and I know some other people did too. I don't know whether I will be able to implement this particular feature in Delphi though ... I am going to look into it sometime today after I fix a couple of things that I seem to have broken in streamlining the code :p
posted at 08:34:31 AM  link  comment

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