MSDN has a new blog: Hackers @ Microsoft. The new blog is written by and about the white hat hackers employed by Microsoft, who work on improving security in Microsoft’s products (as well as research, development, testing and even management). The first post explains the kind of hackers who work at Microsoft:
We employ “white hat hackers” who spend their time pentesting and code reviewing applications and software looking for weaknesses and vulnerabilities so that others don’t once we’ve released that code into the wild. We employ many many smart testers who know more about some of our software then perhaps the architects who designed it. We also employ some of the top researchers in their industry, dedicated people working on the bleeding edge of whats going to be common place in the next 5 or 10 years of computing.
(via Amit Agarwal)
If Windows was this rude to me, I don’t think we could be friends anymore:
Check out Vision 20/20’s POM Offender Locator, a Windows Live mashup that shows you registered sex offenders in your area. Apparently there are 650,000 registered sex offenders in the U.S., an obscenely high number*, so keeping aware of who is on the list in your area is kind of a good idea.
POM’s also got an alert system that warns you if there’s danger, like your child entering a certain area, exceeding the speed limit, possible terrorist attacks or national disasters, FDA alerts, when a new sex offender moves into your neighborhood, or your child is approached online. The perfect system for the paranoid parent! They’re also selling (I swear to god, you can’t make this up) a “POM Pilot” GPS tracker that lets you know where your kids or valuables are.
(via Blorge > Bink)
* - At first, I though that number had to be a ridiculous and inaccurate stat, but then I remembered how many girls I knew back when I was dating that had stories of when a guy tried to rape them. Now that I think about it, the number would probably be twice as high if all those unreported sex crimes had actually been prosecuted.
Some new stuff just shipped for MSN Mobile, the phone/mobile device MSN portal. The first, courtesy of FOX Sports and Major League Baseball, gives you Gametrax on your phone, letting you track a baseball game that is currently being played. You can access MSN Mobile on your computer by clicking here, and go here (clicking FOX Sports, then MLB to get there on your phone) for a list of current games. If one is being played right now, click [details] to follow it live. Enormously cool.
The other new thing is a section called “Hot Gossip” under Entertainment, for following the latest dirt on the famous. You know, if you’re obsessed with that sort of thing. Also, you can search for celebrities by name to see photo galleries and movies they’ve been in, search for movies to read a synopsis and reviews, and see movies currently in theatres listed by release date, with newest releases listed first.
This is all available on any mobile device with a web browser, just head to m.msn.com (or mobile.msn.com, or msn.mobi, whatever you like) and cancel that baseball game tracking application your cell company charges you for.
* - A note: The Mets are in the middle of the first inning, four batters into a game, and MSN Mobile hasn’t started tracking it yet.
UPDATE: One minute later, they finally got in. They’re currently caught up with the game, but nothing’s happening. We’ll see how quick they are.
UPDATE 2: Wow, they’re about one pitch behind MLB.com’s Gameday tracker. That’s damn good.
Newegg has announced it will be selling Windows Home Server within mere weeks, and that depending on wholesale costs, it will probably retail for about $179-$189. That’s pretty much matching the low end of the pricing on international sites, though higher than I had hoped. I thought the U.S. usually got a lower price?
So, now that it’s almost here, are you buying Home Server and building a system (or turning an old system into something far more useful? If you plan on it, drop me a line and let me know of your plans. I’d love to feature the process here.
MSN’s Election 2008 website has launched a new section, called The Podium ‘08, which lets you compare the many different candidates running for President. The best part: The whole thing runs on Silverlight, and looks great.
Besides the great animated flag background (how can I make that into a DreamScene?), The Podium lets you choose a candidate at the top and get a list of Windows Live Search results showing the latest news on that candidate. There is a list of issues on the right (abortion, economy, environment, health care, immigration, Iraq and stem cell research), and selecting one of those will switch the results to those that will help you understand that candidate’s stand on that issue.
(via Sean Alexander)
I discovered a curious practice of Silverlight. Apparently, it automatically elevated the priority of Internet Explorer from Normal to Above Normal, and retakes the high priority almost immediately, even if you try to switch it. That is annoying and unnecessary, and if Silverlight can’t run properly without the high priority, then that is a flaw in the software that needs to be fixed, not hacked around.
It’s no secret that Windows Live Calendar is in development (and in all likelihood, close to release), but it’s nice to see some confirmation on Live.com. LiveSide spotted two icons added to home.live.com, one for Live Calendar, another for Live Events (presumably a subset of Live Calendar, especially now given the icon). For now, they link to nothing, but that’ll change.
Over the last weekend, something went wrong with Windows Genuine Advantage, with a major server error causing Windows systems to fail validation and be stuck in reduced functionality mode. When Windows tried to phone home and determine that the computer was running a genuine version of Windows XP or Windows Vista, the check failed because the server was messed up, not the computer, and the computer was switched to reduced functionality, which limits the system to the point where it can’t be used for any serious work.
So, what happened? Pre-production code was sent to the live WGA servers, causing it to be unable to encrypt/decrypt incoming product keys from machines in the activation and validation process. The problem only existed for half an hour, but 12,000 systems were affected. Those machines had to re-activate to get back to full functionality.
It’s a shame when something like this happens, especially since it only furthers the argument that DRM hurts legitimate customers more than fakes. In fact, pirated copies of Windows would have had no interruption of service, while 12,000 real customers lost access to most of their computer due to this error.