Friday, June 24, 2005


Dear all,
Before the explanation, here are some useful links.
Now, here are the opposing explanations to all the reasons that claimed that "Man didn't land on the moon".

What is the evidence?

1) Claim: Film clearly shows a flapping flag but there is no wind on the moon, how can this be?

Argument: It isn't flapping, things can move in a vacuum, it's just 'wobbling' until it finds its center of gravity which, in weightless space, is everywhere.

2) Claim: There are various lighting discrepancies on pictures which indicate more than one light source, when the only light source was the Sun, there was no artificial light source taken.

Argument: If there are two light sources on the pictures used for this evidence, then why aren't there two shadows? Check out the perspective which could compromise the pictures.

3) Claim: There are no stars in the sky

Argument: They are there, you just can't see them. In daytime on earth the stars are still there, you just can't see them.

4) Claim: There is no engine noise behind the voice of the astronaut as it comes down to land on the moon. The sound of the engines should have been deafening.

Argument: The microphone is at the mouth of the astronaut. In space there is no sound, thus you couldn't hear the engine noise.

5) Claim: There is no blast crater beneath the lunar lander

Argument: They decelerated down slowly, they didn't crash down, they were slow enough to cause dust clouds but not remove all dust.

6) Claim: There are pictures of the feet of the lunar lander which look completely dust free, why?

Argument: There is no moisture in space, nothing for dust to cling to and thus it just did not stick, hence it looks pristine.

7) Claim: The on-moon photographs were taken with cameras which had view finders on which the astronauts could not see, yet a number of the pictures are perfectly framed.

Argument: OK so they couldn't see the view finder, but they practiced endlessly on earth before they went. They took thousands of pictures and only showed the good ones.

8) Claim: The space suits and the space craft were just not strong enough to fight off the radiation either on the Moon itself or through the Van Allen radiation belt.

Argument: They went through the Van Allen belt in an hour, this was not enough time to be affected by the radiation. The astronauts were affected by radiation, they just were not made ill by it as the doses were small. As for 'how did they survive the sun's radiation on the moon if the suits weren't strong enough': Hmmm... well, the suits must have been strong enough if you think the conspiracy is wrong, or they didn't go...

9) Claim: The moon walking, if doubled in speed, looks like running on earth.

Argument: UHM, NOT REALLY. OK if they had a suspension cord on their backs maybe, but take a look at the moony buggy, that looks realistic driving in a weightless environment.

10) Claim: There were problems on earth with the LAM moon lander, which was very unstable on earth (if you moved your body weight slightly it would destabilize the craft, but on the moon pictures it was flawless.

Argument: You are in weightlessness up there, the problems were all because of gravity on the earth.

11) Claim: Photos: When an astronaut goes into the shadows you can still see him, why, there is no light? Also there is at least one picture with the sun behind the craft but everything in the foreground is clearly visible, with no secondary light source surely this is not possible, it should have been in a shadow.

Argument: Yes but light bounces off objects too so that doesn't prove anything - the sun's light could bounce off the surface of the moon (even on earth the sun lights things it doesn't have a direct line of sight of.)

12) Claim: On some of the film footage from the moon there seems to be identical scenery, one with the lander on, one without. Clearly the one without must be wrong as they had not been there before and after they left the lander base was still there.

Argument: But there are differences, the backgrounds are not identical if you look closely enough. The Moon is a pretty featureless place and certain mountains can look similar.

13) Claim: Identical backgrounds on different days with pictures of astronauts looking around but we are told this is a different day, how can this be?

Argument: It's a simple mistake.

14) Claim: People have been killed and threatened to keep this story quiet.

Argument: 750,000 people work either directly or indirectly for NASA - they couldn't keep this a secret.

15) Claim: Launch of Apollo 11 did happen, just the astronauts went round the earth for 8 days, in the interim NASA showed the pictures and then they touched down again.

Argument: There is testimony from very respected astronauts who say they went to the moon, are they liars?

16) Claim: Strange camera work on Apollo movies which suggest a person is working the camera when in fact nobody could possibly have been left on the moon to operate the camera.

This starting frame shows the camera looking straight at the Apollo craft as it blasts off from the moon's surface.
As it goes up, the camera pans upwards.
Even higher... the camera filming this (on the moon) continues to follow the ship upwards (see the scenery at the bottom of the screen disappear). But there was nobody left on the moon to film this, surely this is further evidence this is all a fraud?

(If you look at the video [see below] you can also see that the camera seems to pull backwards slightly when the explosion takes place, as if someone is pulling back... All very strange...)

Argument: No person was working the camera, the automatic camera could focus on an object and was programmed to follow it, (or maybe it could be controlled from ground control.)

Later on in this particular movie:

In this picture the space ship (which blasted off in the sequence above) is shown floating above the moon's surface. But there must be a camera above it to take this shot! Was there a second space ship filming this? Or is the whole thing a fake, or somehow computer generated?

Argument: There was a second ship from which this was filmed. This smaller ship on the picture couldn't have made it back to Earth on its own. It had to dock with a mother ship ie the ship with the camera on it filming this shot.


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Thursday, June 23, 2005

List of country based domains

Different countries of the world and with their own coutry domains
(for ex, .in for India as in
Code    Country              [sorted alphabetically]
AC   Ascension Island            
AD   Andorra                                             
AE   United Arab Emirates       
AF   Afghanistan(Islamic St.)   
AG   Antigua and Barbuda         
AI   Anguilla                   
AL   Albania                    
AM   Armenia                        
AN   Netherland Antilles        
AO   Angola (Republic of)       
AQ   Antarctica                     
AR   Argentina                  
AS   American Samoa             
AT   Austria                    
AU   Australia                  
AW  Aruba                      
AZ   Azerbaidjan                    
BA   Bosnia-Herzegovina         
BB   Barbados                   
BD   Bangladesh                 
BE   Belgium                    
BF   Burkina Faso               
BG   Bulgaria                   
BH   Bahrain                    
BI    Burundi                    
BJ    Benin                      
BM   Bermuda                    
BN   Brunei Darussalam          
BO   Bolivia                    
BR   Brazil                     
BS   Bahamas                    
BT   Bhutan                      
BV   Bouvet Island
BW   Botswana                   
BY   Belarus                    
BZ   Belize                      
CA   Canada                  
CC   Cocos (Keeling) Isl.        
CD   Rep. Dem. Congo     
CF   Central African Rep.       
CG   Congo                       
CH   Switzerland                
CI    Ivory Coast                
CK   Cook Islands               
CL   Chile                    
CM   Cameroon                   
CN   China                      
CO   Colombia                     
CR   Costa Rica                  
CU   Cuba                       
CV   Cape Verde                 
CX   Christmas Island             
CY   Cyprus                     
CZ   Czech Republic             
DE   Germany                    
DJ    Djibouti                   
DK   Denmark                    
DM   Dominica                   
DO   Dominican Republic         
DZ   Algeria                    
EC   Ecuador                    
EE   Estonia                    
EG   Egypt                      
EH   Western Sahara
ER   Eritrea                    
ES   Spain                      
ET   Ethiopia                   
FI   Finland                  
FJ   Fiji                       
FK   Falkland Isl.(Malvinas)     
FM   Micronesia                 
FO   Faroe Islands              
FR   France                     
GA   Gabon                      
GB   Great Britain (UK)           
GD   Grenada                    
GE   Georgia                        
GF   Guiana (Fr.)               
GG   Guernsey  (Ch. Isl.)       
GH   Ghana                      
GI   Gibraltar                   
GL   Greenland                  
GM   Gambia                     
GN   Guinea                     
GP   Guadeloupe (Fr.)           
GQ   Equatorial Guinea          
GR   Greece                     
GS   South Georgia and South Sandwich Islands    
GT   Guatemala                  
GU   Guam (US)                  
GW   Guinea Bissau              
GY   Guyana                     
HK   Hong Kong                  
HM   Heard & McDonald Isl.      
HN   Honduras                    
HR   Croatia                    
HT   Haiti                      
HU   Hungary                    
ID   Indonesia                  
IE   Ireland                    
IL   Israel                     
IM   Isle of Man                
IN   India                      
IO   British Indian O. Ter.     
IQ   Iraq                       
IR   Iran                       
IS   Iceland                  
IT   Italy                    
JE   Jersey (Ch. Isl.)          
JM   Jamaica                    
JO   Jordan                     
JP   Japan                      
KE   Kenya                      
KG   Kyrgyz Republic                  
KH   Cambodia                   
KI   Kiribati                    
KM   Comoros                    
KN   St.Kitts Nevis Ang. 
KP   Korea (North)                                 
KR   Korea (South)              
KW   Kuwait                         
KY   Cayman Islands             
KZ   Kazakstan                      
LA   Laos                       
LB   Lebanon                    
LC   Saint Lucia                
LI   Liechtenstein              
LK   Sri Lanka                  
LR   Liberia                    
LS   Lesotho                    
LT   Lithuania                       
LU   Luxembourg                 
LV   Latvia                         
LY   Libya                
MA   Morocco                      
MC   Monaco                     
MD   Moldova                       
MG   Madagascar                 
MH   Marshall Islands             
MK   Macedonia (former Yug.)    
ML   Mali                       
MM   Myanmar                     
MN   Mongolia                   
MO   Macau                      
MP   Northern Mariana Isl.      
MQ   Martinique (Fr.)           
MR   Mauritania                 
MS   Montserrat                   
MT   Malta                      
MU   Mauritius                   
MV   Maldives                   
MW   Malawi                     
MX   Mexico                     
MY   Malaysia                   
MZ   Mozambique                 
NA   Namibia                    
NC   New Caledonia (Fr.)        
NE   Niger                       
NF   Norfolk Island             
NG   Nigeria                    
NI   Nicaragua                  
NL   Netherlands                
NO   Norway                  
NP   Nepal                      
NR   Nauru
NU   Niue                       
NZ   New Zealand                
OM   Oman                       
PA   Panama                      
PE   Peru                       
PF   Polynesia (Fr.)            
PG   Papua New Guinea           
PH   Philippines                
PK   Pakistan                   
PL   Poland                     
PM   St. Pierre & Miquelon        
PN   Pitcairn                     
PR   Puerto Rico (US)          
PS   Palestinian Terr, Occ.     
PT   Portugal                   
PW   Palau                      
PY   Paraguay                   
QA   Qatar                      
RE   Reunion (Fr.)                
RO   Romania                    
RU   Russian Federation             
RW   Rwanda                     
SA   Saudi Arabia               
SB   Solomon Islands            
SC   Seychelles                 
SD   Sudan                      
SE   Sweden
SG   Singapore                  
SH   St. Helena
SI   Slovenia                   
SJ   Svalbard & Jan Mayen Is         
SK   Slovakia (Slovak Rep)      
SL   Sierra Leone               
SM   San Marino                 
SN   Senegal                    
SO   Somalia                    
SR   Suriname                   
ST   St. Tome and Principe       
SU   Soviet Union                   
SV   El Salvador                
SY   Syria                      
SZ   Swaziland                  
TC   Turks & Caicos Islands     
TD   Chad                       
TF   French Southern Terr.        
TG   Togo                       
TH   Thailand                       
TJ   Tadjikistan                         
TK   Tokelau     
TM   Turkmenistan                   
TN   Tunisia                    
TO   Tonga                      
TP   East Timor                  
TR   Turkey                     
TT   Trinidad & Tobago          
TV   Tuvalu                      
TW   Taiwan                      
TZ   Tanzania                   
UA   Ukraine                    
UG   Uganda                     
UK   United Kingdom                  
UM   US Minor outlying Isl.
US   United States                  
UY   Uruguay                    
UZ   Uzbekistan                     
VA   Vatican City State         
VC   St.Vincent & Grenadines    
VE   Venezuela                  
VG   Virgin Islands (Brit)      
VI   Virgin Islands (US)        
VN   Vietnam                    
VU   Vanuatu                    
WF   Wallis & Futuna Islands
WS   Western Samoa               
YE   Yemen                      
YT   Mayotte
YU   Yugoslavia                        
ZA   South Africa               
ZM   Zambia                         
ZW   Zimbabwe                       


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Friday, June 17, 2005

So what is 64-bit?

It's the 64-bit question ...

Chris Green explains what the technology has to offer PC users - today and in the future.

Chris Green, Computing 15 Mar 2004

64-bit is the next generation of PC processor technology. Unless the PC on your desk is pre-Windows 95 (unlikely), it has a 32-bit processor. If it's very new, that chip will be a Pentium 4 or an Athlon XP.

64-bit chips are the next stage, delivering even more processing power and new technologies to improve graphics performance and web surfing.

How did we get to 64-bit?
The original x86 processor had eight-bit internal data pathways, so it could process eight bits (or instructions) at a time. The next development, the 386, was called a 16-bit processor because its internal data pathways were 16-bit, and so on.

The past 26 years have seen us move gradually through various developments in PC technology. The PC as we know it was born in 1978 when Intel released the 8086, an eight-bit processor that was used in the original IBM PC.

Intel went 16-bit in 1985 with the 386 and 32-bit in 1989 with the 486-DX. The original Pentium was also 32-bit.

The next evolution is 64-bit, which is capable of handling twice as many instructions again at a time, and capable of transporting those instructions through the pathways at a phenomenal rate.

OK. But processor technology gets faster all the time. So what?
This is a bit more significant than the usual round of slightly faster chips. 64-bit represents a move to a completely new hardware technology, one that eliminates many of the performance bottlenecks of current 32-bit technology.

The evolution from eight-bit to 16-bit, and particularly from 16-bit to 32-bit, saw the newer incarnations of the chips being saddled with a lot of legacy baggage to ensure compatibility with legacy software.

The move from the current 32-bit chips to 64-bit will deliver a major leap in performance, because legacy support is either being dropped completely or is ring-fenced within the processor.

This means that the 64-bit capability is not hampered by slower, more inefficient 32-bit instruction sets and data handling. Instead, 64-bit chips are free to use new hardware technology that can be exploited by future software and operating systems.

You said future?
As is always the case with these things, the hardware is out before the software that will take advantage of it. But software is playing catch-up. Microsoft is planning to release a 64-bit version of Windows XP this summer.

There are also several builds of 64-bit Linux in the offing, including a version from Mandrake that is optimised for AMD's 64-bit platforms.

And I suppose I'll need to replace most of the guts of a machine if I upgrade it?
The 64-bit chips have different pin arrangements and power requirements than even the latest Athlon XP and Pentium 4 processors, and they rely on completely new motherboard chipsets.

So in short, if you are looking to upgrade a machine in situ, you'll need a new processor and a new motherboard at the very minimum. You'll almost certainly need some new memory as well.

Who's making these chips?
The usual suspects: AMD and Intel. Interestingly, AMD is very much running the show this time round. It has beaten Intel to market with a 64-bit desktop processor by six months. Intel didn't even announce plans to add 64-bit extensions to existing 32-bit chips until February this year.

But wasn't there already a 64-bit Alpha processor?
Yes, the Alpha server and workstation processor developed by DEC was indeed 64-bit. Sadly, when DEC was acquired by Compaq, development of the Alpha was quietly dropped, and the technology has begun to fade from active use and support. For example, Microsoft dropped OS support for it after NT4.

However, the Alpha continues to have a role to play in 64-bit computing. AMD licensed part of the Alpha bus technology for use in the Athlon XP, and hired many members of the Alpha development team.

This knowledge has carried forward into AMD's Athlon64 and Opteron, while Intel eventually acquired the technology from Compaq in late 2001.

So which 64-bit chips are available now?
AMD has two 64-bit processors: Athlon64 for desktop PCs and laptops, and Opteron for servers.

Both of these are fully backwards-compatible with existing 32-bit software and peripherals. Intel's 64-bit server platform Itanium, however, is not backwards-compatible, although its 64-bit extended chips will be.

So even though there is no 64-bit software out there, can I still use a 64-bit PC?
Yes. You can buy 64-bit hardware now, and use your existing software on it. 64-bit PCs will even run 32-bit software with a decent performance gain.

As and when 64-bit operating systems and applications come on the market, you will already have the infrastructure in place to run them.

OK, so how much is a 64-bit PC going to cost me?
Not as much as you might think. Retailers such as PC World are selling high-spec AMD-based 64-bit PCs in the £1,000-1,500 price range, and IBM is shipping Opteron-based servers starting at £2,000 for a single-processor machine. HP and Sun are also due to launch Opteron products this year.

In the light of recent comments by Michael Dell, there is even a possibility that Dell might break with its traditional Intel-only stance and release a range of AMD 64-bit based servers.

As for Intel, Itanium 2 processors are almost exclusively used in supercomputer applications at the moment, making it difficult to put an everyday price on them. However, 64-bit extended desktop processors should start appearing in the second half of this year.


Missing from this picture is Cyrix, a little-known brand that was once independent, has since been owned by National Semiconductor, and now belongs to chipset maker VIA.

Like AMD, Cyrix produced x86-compatible processors under licence from Intel during the years of the 80286 and 80386. Cyrix then decided to make its own processors and created the Cyrix 486.

Again like AMD, it continued to produce its self-engineered x86 compatible processors, but ran behind Intel in terms of getting comparable products to market at the same time.

In 1997, Cyrix released its most successful x86 clone, the 6x86MX - a rival to Intel's Pentium MMX. Cyrix licensed the MMX extensions from Intel for use in the chip. This, along with AMD's K6 and later the K6-2 processors, competed with Intel at the lower end of the market.

In 1999, Cyrix was sold to VIA and has since conceded the mainstream market to AMD and Intel. Instead, Cyrix is focusing on so-called 'computer on a chip' 32-bit products.

The Cyrix MediaGX processor, for example, is used extensively in set-top boxes and embedded devices. VIA also uses Cyrix processor technology in complete chipsets for ultra-small ITX PC motherboards, which are popular with computer gamers, Linux users and individuals looking for very small, low-noise and low-power x86-compatible PCs.



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New system integrates landlines and cellphones

New system integrates landlines and cellphones

The world’s first combined phone service, which allows a single handset to switch between cellphone networks and domestic fixed-lines, was launched by BT in the UK on Wednesday.

Called BT Fusion, the service means a handset works like a typical cellphone when outdoors, but automatically and seamlessly switches onto a user’s domestic account when they are home - even in mid-call.

To achieve this, the phone uses a Bluetooth wireless connection to relay the call to a broadband hub in the home. This hub can also be used as a wireless router for home computer Wi-Fi networks.

According to BT, the benefits to customers - besides having a combined landline and cellphone bill - is that calls made at home will be priced at domestic rates and with the same quality of a fixed line.

Making house calls

Another feature of the new service is that it will allow customers to switch to their domestic account when at someone else’s house, a BT spokesman told New Scientist. The cost of the call will be charged back to their own account but they will benefit from domestic rates even though they are away from home, he says.

But this will only be possible if the house they are in subscribes to the same service and has given permission for the hub to be used, by way of an access code.

Some homeowners could face problems, however, because Bluetooth signals are relatively weak, the spokesman concedes. If a user’s home is particularly large, or spread over several floors, then they may end up using the cellphone network more often than desirable because the hub’s signal is too weak. But he adds: “In a fairly typical home there should be no problem.”

Risk of confusion

“I think having a single handset is the way forward, or at least being reachable at one contact point,” says Nico MacDonald, a design and technology strategist with the London-based consultancy Spy. But it has to be clear to the customer which network they are using, he says, and there is a danger that billing could become even less intelligible than current phone bills.

Initially the service will only be available to 400 households which will test it before its national launch in the UK in September 2005.

But by this time BT may have some competition. According to cell network provider Orange, it has been working with France Telecom to develop a similar service which will also be launched towards the end of 2005, but will include added features such as video calling between landlines and cellphones.



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Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Shutting Down the Highway to Internet Hell

Larry Seltzer  
Shutting Down the Highway to Internet Hell
By Larry Seltzer

Opinion: The time has not only come for ISPs to block port 25 for consumer accounts, it has long since passed. The rewards for this and other ISP management techniques could be large, but ISPs need to be careful about how they do it and tell users why.

Do you run a mail server on your home Internet account? If you do, it's probably without your knowledge, such as in a mail worm or a zombie spambot. Few if any people running these programs intend to do so, and it's time for ISPs to close the door through which they operate.

I think there's a consensus developing among anti-spam researchers, many of them responsible for fighting spam on ISP networks, that unrestricted use of TCP port 25 must be shut down to the average Internet consumer. There are those who disagree, but their arguments sound obtuse and defeatist rather than actual justifications to not block port 25.

TCP Port 25 is one of the core interfaces of the Internet, through which Internet mail servers typically send mail to each other. It's normal for users to send data out port 25, but they do so to their own ISP's mail server, from which it is forwarded on to the appropriate location. This is the server identified as the outgoing mail server in the mail client configuration.

But if you are infected with a spam zombie—typically, a mail worm with a backdoor used by a spammer to cause your computer to send out massive amounts of spam—the mail does not go through your mail server. It probably goes directly to the server of the target domain for the spam message. The overwhelming majority of users have no need to do this and are perfectly well-served by sending all their mail through the ISP mail servers. It's also worth reiterating that the block need only be put on consumer client systems, not on higher-end services.

Of course there are users who do need access to the port, or who at least want to run their own mail server and don't intend to abuse the privilege. Or they have a need to use a different mail server than the ISPs, perhaps for reasons involving confidentiality. There are ways for ISPs to accommodate these users.

In fact, there's no reason an ISP can't make exceptions for users who want to use port 25 more openly, especially if they agree to rate limits and to configure it securely. The real problem that needs to be solved is the users who don't know they are running a mail server. Such users won't miss not being able to run one.

Alas, this level of customer service may be too much to expect from some ISPs. Hosting servers are also often far too lax in the management of mail on their networks.

ISPs Fighting Back

But some ISPs are putting their feet down, attempting to stop the abuse. At the forefront of this effort, defying all conventional wisdom, is AOL. In the 90s, an era of very different circumstances, AOL was the single largest source of spam on the Internet, and the ISP's reputation suffered terribly from it. Now not only AOL users have high-quality spam control, but AOL is perhaps the most active ISP in terms of policing the use and abuse of mail.

Consider the rules at AOL's "Technical Standards for E-mail Delivery." AOL makes extensive use of RBL services like MAPS so that they know to block spam from open relays, spambots, systems with unsecured form-mail scripts and other spam sources. They actually use the same services to block spam that comes directly from residential ISP clients that should not be sending mail directly; in other words, if you don't block port 25 yourself, they will do it for you.

The ISP goes further—much further. If the sending system does not have a PTR record (a reverse DNS), it is rejected. If a message contains a hex-encoded URL (like http://%73%70%61%6d/), it is rejected. If more than 10 percent of the sending system's messages to AOL bounce, AOL may reject mail from it in general. If a server rejects 10 percent or more of the bounce messages sent to it, AOL may reject further connections from the server. There are other, similar rules.

All of this is intended to use AOL's size and clout to make other e-mail administrators set up and administer their systems properly. In many cases, the reverse DNS requirement, for example, the administrator finds out that he or she doesn't have a reverse DNS because AOL blocks the mail, and the end result is an improvement for everyone. Mail servers should have a reverse DNS if they have nothing to hide.

Perhaps not everyone can do everything AOL does. It does, after all, have a proprietary internal mail system. But there's a lot we can learn from its example. Carl Hutzler, until recently in charge of AOL's anti-spam efforts (he has now moved on to a position in engineering and development of AOL's e-mail), has been evangelizing this ethic of responsibility by mail admins, especially at ISPs.

Hutzler warns of the lazy approach of relying on filters, as so many ISPs do. It's the easy way out. But anyone with a little experience knows that filters don't even come close to solving the problem, although they can be a useful part of the solution. I've seen messages with overtly pornographic subject lines and bodies make it through three different Bayesian filters. Spammers know how to play with the content of the message to trick filters.

Port 25, The Nuclear Option

But the technique that generates the most controversy is when an ISP blocks port 25, as SBC recently began to do.

As one prominent researcher put it, blocking port 25 begins the process of shifting the cost burden for spam from the end user to the ISP and others whose sloppiness in administration is responsible for the unchecked proliferation of spam, and these same people are in a position, through responsible system administration, to choke off most of the abuse. He also argued that the cost benefits of fixing their systems are enough incentive to do it.

The depressing counterargument is that many of these systems have excess capacity enough to handle the abuse and that laziness is its own reward. When this is the case, there's no choice but for other ISPs to start blocking the offending ISP, as AOL has done many a time.

This is another point on which a consensus is emerging: that ISPs don't take action to stop spammers on their networks until there is a gun to their heads, generally in the sense that their customers are prevented from sending mail. This is where the major RBLs like Spamhaus and MAPS can play a big role. They have a bad reputation among some, and I've personally been among the collateral damage from an RBL block. But it was my hosting service's fault that my server got on the block because they didn't do anything about the spammer on the same address that I had. Enough of us called and screamed, and something was done about it.

Not every little domain has the clout to block a major ISP. The little guy ends up hurting and angering his customers, but the big ISP won't even notice. But when one major ISP, or a service like MAPS, blocks a major ISP, it gets their attention. The corollary to this is that when you block someone, you need to be responsive when they fix the problem.

The fact that ISPs have no reason to not let users opt out of the system is what cinches it for me. One researcher suggested to me that it was much easier for ISPs just to block a whole range of addresses than to have to put up a system for tracking who was to be blocked and who shouldn't, but this is basically just arguing laziness as an excuse. Besides, the SBC system supports letting users request an opt-out. Why can SBC do it and others can't?

The same researcher was concerned that the opt-out system would be taken over by spammers who would opt-out their zombie systems. But it's not hard to imagine well-designed authentication systems that mail back a message to the customer and require them to connect back.

And as for the added cost to the ISP for this, I'd suggest that they might just save a lot of money by eliminating spammers and mail worms from their networks, but even if you think this is a costly solution, let them charge for the opt-out. Doesn't bother me.

Port 25, The Counterarguments

Those who argue against ISPs blocking port 25 generally claim that the downsides are high and that spammers will a) evade the blocks and b) easily move to other techniques for sending spam. Joe St. Sauver has made a well-written case for this position. I admire some of his points, but I still disagree with him, and I think half his problem is that he can't see the point through all his defeatism. Namely, even if spammers were to move to other avenues, it's still worth closing port 25 to stop them from using it.

Getting right to what I feel is the main point, that port 25 blocks will be ineffective because spammers will move to other methods to spread spam, St Sauver brushes aside or ignores counterarguments. He cites recent stories that spammers are beginning to use the ISP mail server instead of sending out spam directly from the client system. There are two counterarguments.

If the ISP requires SMTP AUTH (where you must provide a username and password for the outgoing SMTP mail server as well as the incoming POP3 server), then it will not be a simple matter for the worm to send mail. However, since there are programs available that can read the cached SMTP AUTH credentials from popular mail client programs (click here for one that's sold commercially), it's not hard to see spam zombies doing the same in the future. They might also do it by monitoring port 25 usage to look for the authentication sequence.

In fact, my own ISP,, is very lenient about these things. Speakeasy does not require SMTP AUTH for connections made on their internal network (it does for roaming users), but it says that it monitors mail servers carefully and maintains a number of honeypots on active lookout for malware on its networks.

I spoke to Speakeasy founder and Chairman Michael Apgar, and he insists that a system exhibiting wormlike behavior will not live for long on Speakeasy's network. Within hours the user will be contacted, and if he or she doesn't fix the problem quickly, the plug will be pulled. But Speakeasy is not a conventional ISP; while it's happy to sell to anyone, it has a technically more capable audience who pay more for more open services.

Apgar is quick to agree that mainstream consumer ISPs should be locking down abusable services, and that port 25 is the biggest problem.

Force the Spammers Onto Official Servers

Even if the zombie successfully is able to send spam through the ISP mail server, we're still better off than before. The ISP can tell, just by looking at mail server logs, who is spamming from its network. ISPs have a cost interest in fixing the situation and arguably are more responsible for doing so since their own servers were involved. Put simply, forcing the spammer onto the ISP mail server facilitates the elimination of zombies. It also gives the ISP the opportunity to rate-limit mail in general, which will not likely affect regular users, but will seriously cut into spammers' ability to spread the message.

I have a similar reaction to St. Sauver's speculation that zombies, blocked in their ability to send spam, will instead be used for even worse things like denial-of-service attacks. This is not hard to imagine, but while much of the world puts up with systems sending spam, they would feel different about a DOS army. And I can't see that the market for DOS armies scales in the same way that the spam market does. It's just not as big a threat.

He also points out that spammers could still evade blocks on port 25 at the network periphery by spamming inside the network—e.g., to other customers of the same ISP on their subnet. Of course, they will only be able to do so if the recipient mail server is on the same subnet, and this is highly unlikely on a large consumer ISP network.

While most of his writing is laboriously pessimistic, St. Sauver does have interesting constructive criticism. He urges those who would fight spam to focus not on the spam leaving the network but on the traffic coming in to the spambot. He asserts (this is counter to my understanding) that spambots don't typically construct the e-mails they send out programmatically but pass on what they receive from the outside. Whether this is true or not is beside the valid point he makes that it should be possible to look for the command/control coming into the network from spammers. While these commands come in on nonstandard ports, they are known (they have to be, or spammers couldn't find them either).

Finally, for all their claims that easy alternatives exist to port 25, they haven't come up with any. The first port usually listed is TCP 587, but like many of the potential alternatives, it's an authenticated port, so it's not blindly open for spamming use.

In the end, the biggest factor in whether ISPs will play hardball with spammers is whether they want to have to go to the problem of taking out the garbage and keeping their place clean. Some ISPs have complained to me about others who don't seem to care if their networks are used to send out billions of spam messages and mail worms. They don't even look at their own log files!

But the day is coming when these ISPs won't be able to coast through their own laziness and sloppiness. The use of RBLs like MAPS and other blocks of known spammer systems is an increasingly important technique, and if worms really do move to using the ISP mail server, then ISPs who don't do anything about it will find themselves blocked completely by the clean ISPs that are sick and tired of taking abuse.

I don't expect everyone to clean up their act, but think we're moving to an era of unofficial quality standards, of black and white lists, where ISPs will "protect" their customers from the red-light districts of the Internet. It's not perfect, but it's better than what we've got now.

Security Center Editor Larry Seltzer has worked in and written about the computer industry since 1983.


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Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Mastering the Windows Task Manager

 Mastering the Windows Task Manager 
Date: March 3, 2004
By: Paul Corchado

I think that everyone who has used Windows XP would say it’s the most robust and most stable of all the Windows operating systems before it. However, there are times where an application or even a game doesn’t respond well or locks up the system. A lot of people would assume solutions from past operating system experience and just turn off the power and restart the computer. This technique is a little extreme and sometimes a little dangerous as well. Windows since version 98 has had a function called Task Manager, and with every version of Windows it’s gotten more powerful and better at bringing back locked up or misbehaving applications.

In the Task Managers before Windows 2000, holding the Ctrl-Alt-Del combination does either a complete reset of the system or brings up the task manager and hopefully allows you to shut down the program that is not responding; sometimes holding the keys doesn’t result in anything at all. Windows 9x or ME sometimes also evoked a blue screen of death if the Ctrl-Alt-Del was used. In Windows 9x, when you did get the task manager open and try to close a program that is not responding, sometimes it wouldn’t shut the application down, and you would still have to do a hard reset. I think Microsoft learned from Windows NT—which by far, up to this point, was better at handling locked up systems—and decided that the home PC user would appreciate the added stability especially when it came to installing beta software, hardware drivers, or even just tweaking one’s system and the software provided some unexpected results. Its important to have control when it is needed most, and that’s exactly what Windows NT-, 2000-, and XP-based operating systems gave the user.

XP’s Task Manager is the most useful of all managers before it. Just right-clicking on the task bar brings up a small menu, and through that menu one can select the Task Manager. The manager has several tabs running across the top, but the most important ones are the Applications, Processes, and Performance. Each one of these tabs will give users critical information regarding the status and health of their machines.

The Applications Tab

The Applications tab shows all the currently running applications. If you have an application that locked up, this is the first tab I would recommend going to. The software being used is listed in the window under the task column, and the status column will show either “Running” or “Not Responding.” Here you can highlight the unresponsive software and click on the End Task button, and after a few seconds the application will close; and depending on your settings, a dialogue box will appear and ask if you want to send a report to Microsoft. This procedure should take care of most lockups on the system, and it will bring Windows back to its normal functionality without having to shutdown and restart.

Also in this section you can run a new task or switch to another task to bring it to the front if you have multiple windows open.

The Processes Tab

The Processes tab is a little more powerful and more information-ridden. All applications and tasks running in the background are listed here, as well how much memory each task is using including how many CPU cycles it uses. If you are running low on system resources here you can find which tasks are causing the problem. The best way of determining if processes are being a system hog is to look at the amount of memory being used and look at the process and determine if it’s necessary. For example, processes virus scans that are running in the background while you are writing an article or doing some video editing obviously are not needed and you can shut them down temporarily and gain back some memory as well as some CPU power. You can shut down the non-critical tasks to give you back some memory or CPU power if need be. Windows starts a lot of tasks, and some of them are not necessary; shutting these extra tasks gives you back some memory and CPU cycles, thus more overall system performance. Don’t, however, try to end tasks that are SYSTEM tasks; sometimes they have random results and ending them could make more problems than it could solve. For example, shutting down the EXPLORER tasks will produce a non-working system because the taskbar and windows and icons will disappear. User tasks are okay to shut down, and if you do want to close a system task, make sure you understand what it does before you decide to close it. If you are not sure about a task and if it’s safe to close, do a Google search for the process and the detailed information will make it clear if you want or can shut it down.

The Performance Tab

Finally there is the Performance tab. This tab does just want it says—it monitors, in real time, the performance of the system. Specifically, the memory usage is monitored here. You will find information about total system memory and how much of it is in use and how much is left. CPU usage also is shown here, and if you keep this window open and use the PC, you will see the graph move in real time in relation to work being done on the computer. This window allows you to see in real time how a change that you make has an effect on your system. You can see immediately in the processes tab how closing non-critical tasks restores some CPU power as well as see how much system memory is left for other applications If you tweaked your system and you see that you are running low on memory, you can pinpoint it to the last application you opened and see if it’s a poorly written application or you have a memory leak somewhere. By going back to the processes tab and closing tasks one by one you can check the performance tab to see if makes a difference on the system.

The task manager can be a powerful tool to manage your overall system health or can be used to monitor you system for problems, even though there are more freeware/shareware programs out there that may do it better, but the task manager is free and it’s easy-to-use once you understand what you are looking at.

Click here to discuss this article in SysOpt's community forum.

If there is an optimization topic that you'd like to see addressed on SysOpt, let us know.



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Friday, June 10, 2005

Glossary of Digital media

A glossary of terms related to the Digital media industry.

Click on a term to read its desription.





Select a term to see the explanation

  • 1080i
  • 16:9
  • 2-pass
  • 3GP
  • 3ivX
  • 4:3
  • 720i
  • 720p
  • AAC
  • ABR
  • AC3
  • Advanced Simple Profile
  • AIFF
  • Anamorphic
  • Angles
  • ASF
  • Asian Silvers
  • Aspect ratio
  • ASPI
  • ASX
  • Authoring
  • AVC
  • AVI
  • B Frames
  • BetaMax
  • BIN/CUE Images
  • Bitrate
  • BitTorrent
  • Blu-Ray
  • Bootlegs
  • Cam
  • Capture
  • CBR
  • CCE
  • CD+G
  • CD-DA
  • CD-Plus
  • CDA
  • CDV
  • cDVD
  • CGA
  • Chanserv
  • Chaoji VCD
  • Chapters
  • China Video Disc
  • CIF
  • Coaster
  • Codec
  • Combo Drive
  • Compression
  • Container
  • Cropping
  • CSS
  • CVD
  • D1
  • DAT
  • DCC Get
  • DCC Send
  • Decode
  • Deinterlace
  • Demultiplexing
  • Demux
  • Digital Rights Management
  • Digital8
  • DivX
  • DIVX (original)
  • DivX ;-)
  • DMCA
  • Dolby
  • Dolby Digital
  • DRM
  • DSDL
  • DSML
  • DSSL
  • DTS
  • DTV
  • DVB
  • DVB-C
  • DVB-H
  • DVB-S
  • DVB-T
  • DVCD
  • DVD
  • DVD+R
  • DVD+R DL
  • DVD+RW
  • DVD-10
  • DVD-14
  • DVD-18
  • DVD-5
  • DVD-9
  • DVD-Audio
  • DVD-MP3
  • DVD-R
  • DVD-R DL
  • DVD-R9
  • DVD-Rip
  • DVD-RW
  • DVD-Video
  • DVD/TV Combo
  • DVI
  • DVI-A
  • DVI-D
  • DVI-I
  • EAC
  • ed2k
  • EDGE
  • Elementary Streams
  • Encode
  • EZ-D
  • FastTrack
  • FireWire
  • Firmware
  • FLAC
  • FourCC
  • fps
  • Frame
  • Framerate
  • Frameserve
  • Fserves
  • GPRS
  • H.264
  • Half D1
  • HD-DVD
  • HDTV
  • HE-AAC
  • Hi8
  • HQ-VCD
  • I Frame
  • ID3
  • IEEE.1394
  • IFO
  • IFPI
  • Interlace
  • Interleaving
  • Inverse Telecine
  • IRC
  • ISO
  • ISO 9660
  • IVTC
  • KVCD
  • LAME
  • LaserDisc
  • Letterbox
  • Limited
  • Linear PCM
  • Lossless Compression
  • Lossy Compression
  • LPCM
  • M-JPEG
  • M1V
  • M2V
  • M3U
  • M4IF
  • Macrovision
  • MD5
  • MIDI
  • miniDV
  • miniDVD
  • Motion Estimation
  • Mount Rainier
  • MOV
  • MP2
  • MP3
  • MP3+G
  • MPA
  • MPAA
  • MPEG
  • MPEG-1
  • MPEG-2
  • MPEG-21
  • MPEG-4
  • MPEG-7
  • MPV
  • Multi-pass encoding
  • Multiplexing
  • Musepack (MP+)
  • Muxing
  • NFO
  • Nickserv
  • Noise
  • NTSC
  • Ogg
  • Ogg Tarkin
  • Ogg Theora
  • Ogg Vorbis
  • OGM
  • Overburn
  • Overlay
  • P2P
  • PAL
  • Pan & Scan
  • PDVD
  • Pixels
  • Progressive
  • QCIF
  • QuickTime
  • RAR
  • RAW
  • RealVideo
  • Region code
  • Resolution
  • RIAA
  • RPC-1
  • RPC-2
  • SACD
  • SBR
  • Screener
  • SFV
  • Simple Profile
  • SNR
  • SSDL
  • SSSL
  • Streaming
  • STV
  • SuperAudioCD
  • SuperVCD
  • SuperVHS
  • SuperVideoCD
  • SVCD
  • SVHS
  • Telecide
  • Telecine
  • Telesync
  • THX
  • torrent
  • Transcoding
  • TV-RIP
  • UDF
  • UMD
  • V2000
  • VBR
  • VCD
  • VHS
  • VHSRip
  • VideoCD
  • VOB
  • Vorbis
  • VP3
  • VQF
  • WAV
  • Widescreen
  • Windows Media
  • WMA
  • WMV
  • Workprint
  • Wrapper
  • XCD
  • XDCC Bots
  • XVCD
  • XviD
  • ZIP


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