The first is just utterly off the wall weird. The Secret Origins of Clippy tells us how MS patented all those bloody talking paperclips. Most scary:
Read the whole patent, and you’ll see that Microsoft put immense effort into the technical logistics of implementing Clippy. He wasn’t the spawn of a moment of temporary insanity; he was the result of a vast amount of cold, calculating effort.
I know that there were some that really liked the damn thing (when I was in the office for my first post-graduation job, one of the senior accountants proudly showed me how to change the appearance from the paperclip to a different cartoon), but for the most part? No, just no.

Second story is a lot more scary. What happens when your webhost pulls the plug? I'm fortunate that LiveJournal has an easy backup/archiving system that is interoperable, I know that I can transfer all my contents for the last 41/2 years to a Wordpress or similar install, as long as I have a recent backup. What happens if LJ goes down, permanently, when my most recent is old? Got a Wordpress install? How often do you backup? Using the .com? Got a backup?

If you're using something like Blogger, you're probably fairly secure, Google is, after all, massive. But it's reliant on advertising revenues. Such revenues go down during economic difficulties. What happens if they can't afford to keep their free service going? Do you have a backup?

AOL remain one of the biggest online brands. They just shut down Hometown and did very little to let existing users know, and from what I've seen there was no easy export tool.

How secure is your website? How much of the effort you've put into it do you want to keep? Back up people.
Seriously, there's a major security hole in Internet Explorer that also opens up vulnerabilities in other browsers. Even if you rarely if ever use IE, you need to secure your system if you're running Windows. If you don't know how to, Yahoo! Tech has a handy guide. It's fairly major, several popular websites have been hijacked, one well known webcomic artist got infected while looking at his own comic. MS normally only patch at scheduled times, for them to rush something out this quickly is almost unheard of:
Acting with record speed, Microsoft has issued a patch for the just-announced security flaw that impacts all recent versions of Internet Explorer, from version 5 to the latest betas of IE 8. The next security update had not been due from the company until January 13, making this a very rare occurrence.
Most scary? Up until now, I had thought Opera was a pretty good browser, it's certainly nice to use. It appears though that Opera was subject to the same vulnerabilities as it uses the same XML renderer memory buffer as IE. No, I don't really understand that bit either. So Opera gets downgraded.

If you're still using Internet Explorer for your browsing, really, it's NOT SAFE. No browser is completely secure, but IE is part of the core operating system of Windows, and when there are unpatched exploits, the attack can get directly into Windows itself. By far the safest way to browse[1] is with Firefox, and it's probably tied after that between Apple's Safari and Google's Chrome. Opera remains a groundbreaking bit of software, but if the default behaviour is still to pretend to be IE and also open up vulnerabilities regardless, it isn't as good as it should be.

For the full security shield, Firefox has plugins such as Flashblock, Adblock and NoScript that really do push it to the top. At the very least, Flashblock stops system hogging flash from hijacking your browsing unless you want it to, it's the first thing I install after Fx on a new machine. Always.

Another part of this vulnerability involved Adobe's Acrobat Reader. PDFs are, unfortunately, now a part of life, and there are still many many idiots that put their PDFs online and think they've got a decent web presence. Given this, the PDF download plugin for Firefox is essential, and switching to a much faster and less system intensive reader (I use Foxit) for your default PDF setup is probably a good plan as well.
[1] I'm ignoring text only and other lite browsers such as Lynx here, just talking about normal, standard plays YouTube vids and looks normal browsers.
Official Google Blog: Yahoo! and the future of the Internet:
Could Microsoft now attempt to exert the same sort of inappropriate and illegal influence over the Internet that it did with the PC?
Interesting times it seems. Can that be read as anything other than "gloves off, come on then"?
OK then; I've got so behind posting stuff that hald the links I stored are done already. Meh, have some of the best/more recent while I keep sorting things out.

Softpedia reports that Windows Vista is essentially spyware and Microsoft will be able to track a big chunk of what you do; yes, they're unlikely to pick on individuals, but the EULA gives them carte blanche to give everything away.

Cthuugle--the H. P. Lovecraft search engine. Do Werewolves Roam The Woods Of England? Probably not, but some interesting stuff, even if the guy writing it is a bit, shall we say, touched? How about instead a bunch of 3-D Starmaps? So very very cool.

Reading this Register article on Conservapedia I discover the wonder that is RationalWiki, a slightly satirical riposte to the loons and their delusions. Conservapedia has managed to clean up all the blatant vandalism that it got hit with soon after it launched. Now the edits are much more subtle.

On the subject of wikis, anyone fancy a game of Wikington Crescent? Very very silly way to kill time, but you never know. [livejournal.com profile] sunflowerkits recently attended a Gothic Bellydance workshop and has videos of some of the teachers dancing; it is actually very impressive, and I'm not just saying that because they're also quite hot.

On to a bit of politics. My old friend [livejournal.com profile] paulatpingu compares Gordon Brown's position to that of Londo Mollari. Yes, that Londo Mollari, the one with the silly hair and the tentacle penis. Scarily, he's actually got a point, although as I commented there it's not going to happen any time soon.

Silliness. Turn the subjects from any feed (including your public LJ posts) and burn them into Lol!cats. Results can vary between the impressive, the funny and the downright stupid. And of course there's an online macro generator, which even works from LJ userpics. Yes, I've ued it, and it's actually not a bad overall tool for quick-and-dirty actual design work.

Lastly? How about a survivors guide to Doctor Who fandom? So very true, especially the Rose-fen; I only really started follwing the online fans since Torchwood started, and seriously, they scare me. Especially the Jack/anto shippers. SRSLY, they're warped. Not interested? Ok, how about an economic argument against the smoking ban combined with an assertion that passive smoking isn't actually dangerous. Ok, that last comes from the Torygraph, and is thus a little sus, but not hugely, the science he researches is real, and I remain of the opinion that car exhaust fumes do more damage than someone else's smoke ever will.

Not bad that, cleaned 16 links out of the folder. You really don't want to know how many there are in total. Trust me on this. Oh, look at that, I've managed to do that silly Doctor Who quote meme without even trying. Bargain.
matgb: Artwork of 19th century upper class anarchist, text: MatGB (Default)

British Liberal, house husband, school play leader and stepdad. Campaigner, atheistic feminist, amateur baker. Male.

Known to post items of interest on occasions. More likely to link to interesting stuff. Sometimes talks about stuff he's done. Occasionally posts recipes for good food. Planning to get married, at some point. Enjoying life in Yorkshire.

Likes comments. Especially likes links. Loves to know where people came from and what they were looking for. Mostly posts everything publicly. Sometimes doesn't. Hi.

Mat Bowles

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I'm the Chair of the Brighouse branch of the Liberal Democrats & the membership secretary for Calderdale Lib Dems and run the web campaign for the local candidates. I have a job, a stepdaughter and a life.

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