Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Fun With Windows 8 - Not

Windows 8 recently became available through our MSDN subscription at work. I'm not normally an early adopter when it comes to work-I've been burned too many times- but since I switched to virtual machines for my development it's easy to test a new operating system. With an automated install that usually takes around 10-15 minutes for most versions of Windows, it's fast too.

So, I decided to fire up a copy of Windows 8 Pro (x64) and throw Visual Studio 2012 Premium and SQL Server 2012 Development on there just for giggles. Under VMWare Workstation 9, the install went perfectly. It took me a few minutes to learn my way around the new "don't-call-it-Metro" user interface, and in no time I had my two development tools installed. Everything seemed to function properly but the system was periodically freezing.

The periodic freezing was barely noticeable when I first installed Windows. But after a couple big applications installed, the system isn't even really usable. It's something to do with the virtual disk because it shows the disk latency under task manager and >1 second.

The next 8 hours or so were spent trying everything under the sun, including a whole new install from scratch. I tried all the VMWare settings I could find, and tried literally everything under the sun (and google) including making sure the virtual machine directory was excluded from the virus scanner. Nothing. It hitches from the minute it's installed.

At this point I'm just going to let it sit for a month or so and then run it to see if it picks up an update that will fix the problem. I have at least one VM for just about every version of Windows and none of them hitch, so I do not believe the problem is on my end.

As a side note, Visual Studio 2012 looks really cool. And I even got the Ankh for Subversion plugin to mostly work with it.

Windows 8 isn't even out retail yet, so I hope they do some more bug fixes before prime time. I'll try back in a month or two. I can boot the VM, let it pick up the latest patches and then see if it's fixed. That's the beauty of a virtual machine - it's not tying up an actual machine while I wait for Microsoft to refine Windows 8. So far it's just (ironically) 8 gigabytes on my hard drive.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Flame virus re-ignites with new "Gauss" variant

Researchers at Kapersky Labs last week discovered another computer virus closely associated with Flame. They named it "Gauss" after the malware's apparent main module, with most of the modules named internally after famous mathematicians.

Kapersky found evidence linking this new variant to previous state sponsored cyber espionage exploits Stuxnet, Flame and DuQu. Gauss appears to be part of a wider espionage campaign, the scope of which is currently unknown.

This new Gauss variant appears to target banking accounts and transactions (even PayPal) in the Middle East, for purposes unknown. It could be gathering information about transactions, or it could be gathering actual money, as some have suggested.

From Kapersky:

Gauss is the most recent development from the pool of cyber-espionage projects that includes Stuxnet, Flame and Duqu. It was most likely created in mid-2011 and deployed for the first time in August-September 2011.

Kapersky noted a few similarities between Flame and Gauss:

What's interesting to note is that Kapersky is a Russian firm and the Russians probably gain politically from outing what is likely an American/Isreali campaign. As far as I know, nobody has outed any specific state sponsored malware from Russia or China. We can all guess at the players, their motives and most of the technology used, but the actual details of this "war" have been murky at best. It looks like we're finally seeing some of the skirmishes unfold.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

#NBCFAIL Gains Traction

Dating back to ancient Greece, the Olympic games are embedded into our global psyche. Foot and chariot races, mortal combat and various athletic events. The ancient Olympics had it all. Participants put aside grievances for the duration of the games. It was big deal then, and it's a big deal now.

The Olympics have also seen some proud moments in American history. The 1936 Olympics saw Jesse Owens stick it to Hitler's view of racial supremacy. The 1980 Olympics gave us America the underdog. Over the years, the Olympics have been a great platform for America to showcase its way of life in contrast to other nations. It's been a positive, changing force.

2012, not so much. At some point the powerful emperors overseeing the games became even more powerful mega-corporations. It's hard for me to identify the exact Olympics where athleticism gave way to product placement, and where national pride gave way to Nielsen Ratings. But certainly that's the world we live in now.

And so it's very gratifying for me to see a little bit of backlash against NBC. Who would've thought that a single person would call a mega-corporation to task for putting the almighty dollar ahead of the ideals the Olympics have always stood for. The equivalent act in ancient times would've seen people making those sorts of remarks become part of the Olympics, and not in a good way. 

So, it's great seeing #NBCFAIL gain momentum. Could it be that there's a way for a corporations to make money from national events and still be inclusive? Maybe the games should be run by non-profits from this point forward. Either way, the Olympics in its current incarnation is not something I have any interest in watching. Maybe some day it will return to its previous glory. In the mean time, please buy more _your_product_here.