Thursday, January 27, 2005

MySQL virus reported

For you folks with WordPress and all the other blogs based on PHP and MySQL, here's something new to worry about. A virus called MySQL bot or SpoolCLL (the name of it's executable file) is reported to have infected around 8,000 computers so far.

The worm takes advantage of the administrator's use of weak passwords by making a brute force attack with a list of common passwords. If a password matches, it takes over the database.

The worm gets initial access to a database machine by guessing the password of the system administrator, using common passwords. It then uses a flaw in MySQL to run another type of program, known as bot software, which then takes full control of the system. "A long list of passwords is included with the bot, and the bot will brute-force the password," the Internet Storm Center said in its advisory. --ZDNet

This would be a very good time to go into your system and beef-up your database access password.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Getting traffic for your blog

WebProNews has an interesting article on driving traffic to your blog. The title is Three Overlooked Ways to Get Hundreds of Links and Prospects to Your Blog. OK, I admit the title is a bit over-blown. I suspect the title is geared more towards the search engines than the readers. That is probably a lesson in itself.

The first overlooked way is commenting. I don't think this area is really that overlooked, but the author's take on commenting together with some new ways to combat comment spamming are worth a look.

The interesting overlooked way is trackbacks. Most people don't understand this in the first place, which is why a detailed explanation is worth the price of admission. Moreover, the author points out that Blogger does not support trackbacks. Not to fear, there are third party suppliers who can fix this problem for you --as the article points out.

"It's harder to estimate an exact number of visitors that come as a result of trackback links. But if you posted five days out of seven, and was able to get a trackback link to your site three times a week, by the end of the year you'd have almost 150 topical links back to your site, which are more valued by search engines than a typical link trade with an unrelated site. "

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Picasa 2 released

If you aren't familiar with Picasa, it is one of those programs you have to see and use to be able to appreciate.

Google, the owner of Picasa, has released version 2 of the program. As before, Picasa is totally free and can revolutionize the way you organize and manipulate photos on your computer.

Picasa is software that helps you instantly find, edit and share all the pictures on your PC. Every time you open Picasa, it automatically locates all your pictures (even ones you forgot you had) and sorts them into visual albums organized by date with folder names you know. You can drag and drop to arrange your albums and make labels to create new groups. Picasa makes sure your pictures are always organized.

Quite a few improvements have been made in the new release:

The new version of Picasa released by Google includes advanced editing tools like 12 photographic filter effects, color and lighting adjustments, red-eye removal, photo cropping and straightening; backup capabilities like archiving photos from a computer to a CD or DVD, saving photos on an external drive, and creating gift CDs with personalized slideshows. The latest version also has improved organization and sorting of images. Users can add captions, search across all photos on a computer and attach labels and stars for better photo organization, reorder pictures and clean up cluttered folders. --Techtree

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Blogger canned for criticizing employer

Well, it finally has happened in Britain: a disgruntled employee with a blog is fired for speaking his mind.

Funny thing is, his job was selling other people's opinions in funny little things called "books".

Another funny thing, probably nobody knew about the blog until he was fired. Now Joe Gordon and his employer, Waterstone's, both have an international degree of fame they did not have before.

Even though Joe offered to withdraw the comments and quit blogging, he was fired regardless.

Gordon's criticisms in his blog, or online diary, were read by a small community of fellow bloggers until he was fired and were re-printed in national newspapers and read aloud on national radio. Indeed, the last time he appeared on BBC Radio Scotland, before the recent publicity, it was in his capacity as "expert bookseller from Waterstone's" and now he's "sacked bookseller from Waterstone's". Waterstone's have declined to comment until after the appeal process is complete. --The Herald

I wonder if Waterstone's is perhaps a bit dismayed over all the negative publicity they have created for themselves. This brings up yet again a very good question: what right does an employer have to control what you say or do away from the job? Assuming what was said was true (mostly comments about not getting time off after Christmas), can an employer summarily fire you for stating an opinion? What if he made the same comments to a group of friends and was overheard?

My blog was something I ran for fun, for therapeutic value and because I enjoyed the fact I entertained some friends with it and made new friends via it. Small-scale and mostly read by friends and friends of friends and the occasional person who would come across it somehow - just another (darkly humorous) blog among many tens of thousands around the globe. Now it is being discussed for good or ill by a large number of people around the world - other bloggers, fellow booksellers (in and out of my former company), publishers, fellow reviewers and writers and even journalists. --Joe Gordon in his blog, the Woolamaloo Gazette

Monday, January 10, 2005

Can you trust blogs?

Here's an interesting question: now that blogs have gained some degree of influence, will we now start to see "black-blog ops" in the blogosphere? That is, deliberate disinformation from influential blogs.

It could be just a matter of time before some of the old-time bloggers start getting offered big bucks to take a particular side or slant a particular story. Or newer "mole" blogs that report fairly, get a following and reputation for fairness, and are then turned to some particular agenda.

Here is good comment on the possibility:

The personal voice in which even most anonymous blogs are written tends to inspire trust. But is that trust deserved? Sometimes, but not always. When Iraqi blogger Zeyad reported crimes by American troops I trusted him because he'd been reliable in the past, and now there's been a conviction in the case. His report could have been bogus, of course, with his earlier truthful posts merely a ruse to gain credibility, but I didn't think so, and apparently I was right. Track records matter. (Mitch Berg thinks you should look at bloggers' day jobs in assessing their credibility, though I'm not sure how much I agree with that.) Still, as Hugh Hewitt warns, "black blog ops," aimed at disinformation, are an inevitability and there are probably some going on right now. A while back, in the context of a much less significant effort to manipulate the blogosphere, I quoted scientist Thomas Ray, who once observed that "every successful system accumulates parasites." The blogosphere is successful enough now, and enough people have noticed that success, that it can expect to attract parasitism. --TCS

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Six Apart to buy LiveJournal

I don't know why blogging should be any different than other businesses, but you just don't expect the kind of consolidation in the blog world that we have seen in the last year. It wasn't that long ago that Google bought Blogger from Pyra Labs. The latest move by a big player is the coming purchase of LiveJournal by Six Apart.

LiveJournal is one of the original big blogging platforms and has a reported base of 5.6 million blogs. TypePad, owned by Six Apart, has closer to 1 million.

With Microsoft trying to be a big player in the blogosphere and with Blogger holding most of the cards, it is not suprising that the other players are looking for ways to hang on to bigger shares of blogging customers.

The acquisition gives the San Mateo, Calif.-based Six Apart a major boost in the blog publishing business and a legitimate shot at staying relevant in the face of stiff competition from Google Inc. and Microsoft Corp.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Motley Fool's blog discussion board

The Motley Fool added a blog discussion board to its site.

There is also an interesting article on Motley Fool about whether blogs are blooming or not. According to the article, 62% of the population has never even heard of blogs or blogging.