nullstream weblog - October 2005

Watching The Watchers


October 31, 2005 09:54 PM PST


Check out this article from the excellent SysInternals site on how legitimate companies like Sony install rootkits on your PCs.

When you look at all the effort Mark spent to diagnose and remove the problem, it's no wonder why so many PCs are infected and can't be fixed. There are rootkits that attach themselves to your MBR (master boot record), so even wiping the drive won't make them go away. Hopefully Vista will prevent this sort of abuse from going on, even from companies like Sony.

A book on Windows Rootkits.

Comments (18)

Hey, wanna try some iTunes?


October 26, 2005 09:12 PM PST

That crazy Apple is always trying to trick you into installing iTunes. It reminds me of those car salesmen who are always pushing the undercoating. Uhhh, I just dont want it, ok?

Last week I installed the new QuickTime because I wanted to view an H264 clip. I tip toed around all the sharp jagged rocks and found the link to install it without the bundled ITunes. I thought I was safe. Now when I start QuickTime I get this start page with ads, music links and trailers and stuff. It reminds me of that annoying MSN start page that messenger defaults to yuck. Anyway I digress. So today I bring it up and I click on a trailer for a movie Im interested in and instead of the movie a web page pops up that reads in large print:

You Need iTunes.
The link you just clicked requires the free iTues jukebox software.

And then it happily offers to install it for me.

I dont even want ITunes, and I certainly dont NEED it. Nothing against it, Im just happy with my current long distance carrier, err, music solution, thank you very much. I dont want yet another app competing for ownership of my media file associations gosh! Besides why would I need iTunes to play a QuickTime movie trailer? They even said requires not just we recommend. Even as aggravated as this makes me, I still want to see the trailer. So I head over to and click on the one I want and wouldnt you know it, it plays just fine in plain ole QuickTime. No iTunes required. Shame on you Apple for trying to trick us.

Comments (1)

Fool me twice...


October 26, 2005 12:52 AM PST

Well my second hitachi microdrive just died today. This one made it less than 6 months. As George pointed out after the death of my last microdrive (read comments), the actual usage specs on these things are pitiful.

Continue reading "Fool me twice..."...

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New Linksys NAS

Cool Tech

October 21, 2005 07:42 AM PST

I'm starting the research required to replace my ailing Microsoft MN700 router. Ive been looking at various Linksys routers, even thinking about getting a combo router cable modem. I cam across this preview of the WRTSL54GS, a new router / NAS that they are coming out with. I think I might be able to find some use for hanging a big drive right on the LAN. Of course Id also spring for an extended antenna to get a bit more range.

Comments (6)

VMware Player

Cool Tech

October 20, 2005 01:01 AM PST

VMware has a free new product called VMware Player. This allows you to 'play' precreated virtual machines on Windows or Linux. (You need VMware workstation to create virtual machines.) What's cool about this is that it should allow you to test drive Linux distro flavors in an easy and safe way. I think this method is preferable over a live CD since it loads faster and I don't have to reboot my machine. I can also see this as being useful for testing apps and OS's as you can just give someone the entire VM as a repro case. There are a few VMs up on their site already. I expect more to come.

For grins I tried out their 'browser applicance VM.' This is basically a stripped down version of Ubuntu Hoary. (Yes you just caught me running Linux again.) The performance was pretty snappy on my AMD64 box. I couldn't get the sound to work though. I installed real player to see how the video performance was - not great but better than I expected for running under VM. I don't have the root password though so I couldn't get it properly installed and working as a firefox plug in. - Anyhow, worth checking out. Both Novell and Redhat have VMs of their latest versions to try.

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Revenge of the clones

Cool Tech

October 18, 2005 11:50 PM PST

Voodoo's released a Mac Mini clone called the Idol. It is roughly the same size. It costs around $900.00 with a 1.73 Ghz Pentium M 740, 512M RAM, 40G 7200 RPM HD. Oh, and it comes in 11 colors. More here.

While this seems a bit expensive apparently AOpen is working on a similar clone that will be much cheaper.

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Nullstream Site

October 16, 2005 03:42 AM PST

I'll be posting to my site over the next few weeks while I'm in Europe. I'll likely do some updates here as well in the photoblog section (Hi George!), but will keep most of the stuff over there for now. I may move the posts back here for archival purposes later on.

So far, the site seems pretty cool. It's free to post to, and lets you host any number of smaller pictures (600px wide) and 50 large format pics. Apparently there's an RSS feed for just my entries, but it's currently blank. As a reader, you can register for email notifications however, and also disable them at any time. What I liked most about this site is that you can drill down to any location in the world and see the most recent entries from people at that location. I'm sure it's a cool way to meet up with people who are in the same place at the same time. Also, it's a great research tool to find out what it's like in a place at a certain time of year.

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More Gmail tricks

Cool Tech

October 14, 2005 05:36 PM PST


Here are a couple of Extreme Tech articles on hacking gmail. The first contains excerpts from the new book "Hacking Gmail". Some nice stuff!
Using Gmail to...
Google Gmail Power Tips

Comments (2)

Escape Velocity


October 13, 2005 10:21 PM PST

The Escapist Magazine is a really interesting online gaming focused weekly. It has very high production values, no ads, and you can download the PDF versions for offline reading. Oh, and great articles as well.

Comments (0)

Video iPod

Cool Tech

October 12, 2005 11:02 AM PST

Looks like the new iPod plays videos. Not many details yet. I would hope it has a bigger screen than standard iPod, but maybe it's designed just to output to a TV.

Remember: when Jobs says Apple isn't interested in going in some direction, it means that their R&D team has already begun working on it.

Update: Looks like they've brought back the 30GB - yaay! This was the ideal size for me. Except of course now that it stores video, I'd need the full 60GB :-). The device is a little smaller than before, screen is bigger, longer battery life, comes in "super-scratch" black. And basically it lets you play video on the screen or connected to a TV. You can also download select TV shows with no commercials for $2 - so it looks like video on demand might actually happen in our lifetime (finally). Two bucks seems really high to me (couldn't you, like finance the show for that?) but we'll leave that for the comments below...

Comments (13)

Dvorak on advertising


October 4, 2005 11:35 PM PST

Dvorak rants on the future of Advertisting.

It seems the only model he likes is Google's. I have to agree, targeted text based ads seem much less offensive and annoying to me than all the crazy eye spam that you get on most web sites. In fact it is these ads that finally drove me away from hotmail as my main mail account (after nearly 9 years of loyal use). It appears to me that Hotmail is 80% financed by dating services. That is totally annoying to me.

So Google is building a empire of free stuff, powered (at least at the moment) solely by advertisement revenue. This is like the TV and Radio of yesteryear except that the ads are relevant and so far un-obtrusive. I wonder if this model can sustain it though. Im not sure that everything lends itself to targeted ads, but I could be wrong.

Comments (10)

Black & White 2


October 4, 2005 10:20 PM PST

It is out now. You know what to do.


Comments (2)

Google Office?


October 3, 2005 11:01 PM PST

Google to work with Sun to deliver Google Office??
This kind of thing has been on my mind for a long time now. Currently this is speculation, but I guess we'll have more info tomorrow.

In the mean time, with all the current hype around Ajax and web based apps it is a good thought exercise to list the kinds of applications you use every day that could be done via the web. Occasional word processing is probably going to be on the list for most people. Of course there are some down sides, but for occasional doc editing this might be the way to go - especially with secure web based storage. For me the main driver wouldn't be cost or avoiding the app install headaches - its about synchronization. I just use to many computers to try and keep them all in sync.

Comments (5)



October 3, 2005 01:11 AM PST

I ran across a new photo of Saturn's Moon Hyperion on the Nasa Planetary Photojournal. This is featured on the Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD) page today.

The APOD doesn't have an RSS feed yet, but has scraped one together:

Continue reading "Hyperion"...

Comments (1)