This morning I reported on Vista activation and validation problems I’ve been hearing and reading about in the last few weeks. This afternoon I have a firsthand report.
When I installed a beta version of Acclaim’s 9Dragons role-playing game (protected, apparently, by nProtect’s GameGuard anti-cheating software), Vista dropped a bomb on me. A time bomb, that is. The software convinced the Windows Software Licensing service that the operating system was being tampered with, deactivating the system and starting a 72-hour countdown to “reduced functionality mode.” This image gallery documents the process:
I’m baffled that this Windows error message doesn’t actually mention Windows. It just says “your license” and “your software.” How am I supposed to know which license and which software. And in the left-hand-meet-right-hand department, where’s Windows Defender in all this? I’m installing a piece of software that is tampering with my operating system, according to the Windows Software Licensing module. So why is Windows Defender looking the other way while this dastardly deed is being done? Why doesn’t it detect and block this software?
In this case, closing the game and restarting the computer allowed me to reactivate over the Internet, but other people haven’t been so lucky, based on reports filed at Microsoft’s Vista Validation Issues forum.
One of the reasons people give me for not buying a Mac is ‘you can’t play games on it’. Well, I guess I can do without.
Note to self:
Do not enroll my kids in any daycare center that knows it needs to have bullet proof glass.
Copy: If you’ve always dreamed of flying, now you can. Gol Airlines. Low-fare flights throughout South America.
Some of you might remember my earlier post about photographer Jan Von Holleben and his Dreams of Flying series. Very imaginative stuff. Well, it seems his work has been picked up by agency AlmapBBDO, Brazil and used to sell Low-fare flights. Really makes advertising look easy, doesn’t it? Too easy. See the other two: here and here. Also, notice all the color correcting they did to the original photo.
A woman who lost her husband in the 2004 Madrid train bombings displayed an infamous cartoon mocking the Prophet Mohammad on her T-shirt in front of 29, mostly Muslim, suspects on trial for the attacks on Monday.
The woman’s white T-shirt showed Mohammad wearing a bomb as a turban — one of a series published by Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten which unleashed violent protests by some Muslims last year.
Ten bombs ripped through four commuter trains on March 11, 2004, killing 191 people — attacks which public prosecutors blame on a group of Islamist militants inspired by al-Qaeda.
The woman sat in the front row of the court wearing the T-shirt for around half-an-hour before getting up, walking up to the glass cage containing the defendants and finally walking out of the court, judicial sources said.
The lead judge in the case, Javier Gomez Bermudez, asked security staff to identify the woman as she left the court. She later received support from psychologists drafted to help victims’ families through the trial, Spanish media reported.
Checkpoint security screeners at Denver International Airport last month failed to find liquid explosives packed in carry-on luggage and also improvised explosive devices, or IED’s, worn by undercover agents sources told 9NEWS.
“It really is concerning considering that we’re paying millions of dollars out of our budget to be secure in the airline industry,” said passenger Mark Butler who has had two Army Swiss knives confiscated by screeners in the past. “Yet, we’re not any safer than we were before 9/11, in my opinion.”
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screeners failed most of the covert tests because of human error, sources told 9NEWS. Alarms went off on the machines, but sources said screeners violated TSA standard operating procedures and did not hand-search suspicious luggage, wand, or pat down the undercover agents.
In one test, sources told 9NEWS an agent taped an IED to her leg and told the screener it was a bandage from surgery. Even though alarms sounded on the walk-through metal detector, the agent was able to bluff her way past the screener.
Morris says other agents, not with the Red Team, test and train screeners every day at the nation’s 450 airports and says screeners pass most of those tests. In those kinds of tests, he said Denver has done well in the past.
However, tests done by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Inspector General and the U.S. Government Accountability Office in 2006 found widespread failures. According to the GAO, screeners at 15 airports missed 90 percent of the explosives and guns agents tried to sneak past checkpoints.
Also, a Denver woman who carries a Taser for personal protection, told 9NEWS she carried it on board airplanes last year six times. Her Taser shoots 500,000 volts of electricity. She says the TSA never caught it and stopped her.
Most test results, including results from the Red Team, are secret, classified as SSI or sensitive security information. Morris says they do not make them public because they could point out holes in the system.
Feel safer yet?
Fired U.S. Attorney Bud Cummins writes at Salon:
In recent weeks, I have been asked continually whether I think any number of specific prosecutions and other activities by the Department of Justice around the country reveal “politicization” of the department by the Bush administration. The answer is: I have no specific information about that. But the question goes to the most important issue highlighted by the controversy over the dismissal of myself and seven other United States attorneys: the credibility of the Department of Justice.
The president had an absolute right to fire us. We served at his pleasure, and that meant we could be dismissed for any reason or for no reason. And we all accepted that fact without complaint. When challenged by Congress, the leaders of the Department of Justice could have refused to explain. Or, they could have explained the truth. But apparently the truth behind some or all of the firings was embarrassing. So, instead, they said it was because of “performance.” We didn’t accept that, because it wasn’t the truth.
In spite of statements and representations to the contrary, there was no credible performance review process prior to the firings — at least, not using the definition of “performance” known to most people. There is not one document to evidence such a review. The department’s leaders did not consult any of the reports or the people that could have provided information relevant to the performance of the U.S. attorneys they fired. In fact, in the case of my seven colleagues, they actually fired some pretty damn good U.S. attorneys — and knowledgeable people in those attorneys’ communities back home know that to be the truth. Nobody seems to believe the department’s explanations.
Put simply, the Department of Justice lives on credibility. When a federal prosecutor sends FBI agents to your brother’s house with an arrest warrant, demonstrating an intention to take away years of his liberty, separate him from his family, and take away his property, you and the public at large must have absolute confidence that the sole reason for those actions is that there was substantial evidence to suggest that your brother intentionally committed a federal crime. Everyone must have confidence that the prosecutor exercised his or her vast discretion in a neutral and nonpartisan pursuit of the facts and the law.
Being credible is like being pregnant — you either are, or you aren’t. If someone says they “kind of” believe what you say, they are really calling you a liar. Once you have given the public a reason to believe some of your decisions are improperly motivated, then they are going to question every decision you have made, or will make in the future. That is a natural and predictable phenomenon.
You only get one chance to hold on to your credibility. My team, which holds temporary custody of the Department of Justice, has blown it in this case. The Department of Justice will be paying for it for some time to come. Lots of sound investigations and convictions are now going to be questioned. That is a crying shame, because most of the 110,000 employees to whom the attorney general referred in a recent news conference, are neutral, nonpartisan public servants and do incredible work. A lot of President Bush’s political appointees have done a lot of great work, too. Sadly, because of the damage done by this protracted scandal, which the administration has handled poorly at every turn, none of that good work is currently being recognized. And more ominously, the credibility of the Department of Justice may no longer be, either.
Iraqi children look at the hole made by a mortar round on a school roof in Baghdad, Iraq, on Thursday, March 29.
The first EU directive aiming at harmonising national criminal law was backed by the Legal Affairs’ committee, when it adopted on Tuesday a first-reading report on a legislation imposing criminal sanctions for the infringement of intellectual property rights. The issue now goes before the April plenary session.
Nicola Zingaretti (PES, IT), Parliament’s rapporteur, said: “We are turning a new page: this is the first directive where criminal law is included. […] To harmonise criminal codes will be a radical new thing”. If approved by Parliament and the Council, the proposed directive would oblige all Member States to consider as a criminal offence all intentional infringements of an intellectual property right carried out on a commercial scale. The text proposes, as a deterrent, measures ranging from fines to imprisonment, according to the gravity of the crime.
Members of the Legal Affairs’ committee backed the overall aim of the Commission proposal, while amending some of its provisions. They excluded patent rights from the scope of the Directive, and decided that criminal sanctions should only apply to those infringements deliberately carried out to obtain a commercial advantage. Piracy committed by private users for personal, non-profit purposes are therefore also excluded.