Verisign Certificate Expiration Causes Multiple Problems (Jan 8)
We had to do a little sleuthing today. Many readers wrote in with problems that turned out to be related. A certificate which Verisign used for signing SSL certificates has expired. When applications which depend on that certificate try to make an SSL connection, they fail and try to access crl.verisign.com, the certificate revocation list server. This has effectively DOS’ed that site, and Verisign has now updated the DNS record for that address to include several non-routable addresses, reducing the load on their servers. Some applications affected include older Internet Explorer browsers, Java, and Norton Antivirus (which may manifest itself as Microsoft Word being very slow to start). Hope this helps a few people.
Project Server 2003 Web Parts and URL Options (Jan 8)
Microsoft Office Project Server 2003 provides six Web Parts that allow users to access Project Server data from Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services and Microsoft Office SharePoint Portal Server 2003.
This download includes the HTML Help file pj11WebParts.chm that explains how to use the Project Server Web Parts, and how you can easily change the views of standard pages in Project Web Access with URL options, and then quickly create customized Web Parts from the modified views. You can assemble the Web Parts into your own custom pages as shared documents, and add other components from your organization’s Web Part galleries.
The download also includes a Web Part .NET assembly that you can use on any server with Windows SharePoint Services or SharePoint Portal Server, even if Windows SharePoint Services is not provisioned by Project Server. You can use the .NET assembly that is provided in the download to create highly customizable Web Part Pages that allow you and your team to use Project Server data. The instructions also explain how to modify the C# code, create a strongly named key, and install your own custom assembly.
Microsoft Word Forms Passwords Hacked (Jan 8)
An anonymous reader notes: “SecurityFocus has published a hack that can be used to unlock Microsoft Word documents that have been password protected. The ‘secure’ file can easily be edited and the original password re-inserted, removing any trace of the modification. A ZDNet UK article says Dell uses password protected Word files to send quotes, which could make for a messy legal battle.” This feature, known as ‘Password to Modify’, is not the password protection on the document itself, just the protection that restricts unauthorized editing of the file. This hack allows someone to download such a file, edit it, and restore the password…effectively allowing changes to the file to go potentially unnoticed.
Note from Microsoft,
Form protection “is not intended as a full-proof protection for tampering or spoofing, this is merely a functionality to prevent accidental changes of a document”, request additional time to update Microsoft Knowledge Base article. Targeting beginning of January 2004 for release of this advisory.
MicroWorld Technologies to Continue Security Updates For Outlook 2000 (Jan 8)
MicroWorld Technologies, Inc., makers of eScan and MailScan, the world’s premier “gateway” style computer virus protection software, has announced the company’s intention to continue providing security updates and anti-virus functionality for Microsoft Windows 95, 98 and Outlook 2000. Microsoft announced it is abandoning support, development and continued sales of the lines, deemed obsolete by the software giant, as of January 2004.
A Happy 20th Birthday to Microsoft Word and Excel for Mac (Jan 7)
In 1984, Microsoft’s then-CEO Bill Gates was quoted as saying, “the Mac is the only microcomputer beside the IBM PC worth writing software for.”
At the time, Macs were still shiny and new like, well, a freshly picked apple. Holding true to his word, Gates oversaw the development of two little applications called Microsoft Word and Excel, which would eventually become household names.
Twenty years later, Microsoft continues to deliver on Gates’ promise. At Macworld Conference and Expo 2004 in San Francisco this week, Microsoft announced plans to release Office 2004 for Mac and Virtual PC for Mac Version 7 in the first half of 2004. These new releases, and other products Microsoft makes for the Mac, are developed by an oasis of Mac-only developers in an otherwise Windows world at Microsoft: the Macintosh Business Unit (Mac BU). The Mac BU has made its mark in the industry, and at Microsoft, in large part by transforming four applications — Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft PowerPoint and Microsoft Entourage — into the most popular productivity suite for the Mac platform.
View: A Happy 20th Birthday to Microsoft Word and Excel for Mac
View: Work Just Got Better: Introducing Microsoft Office 2004 for Mac
View: Microsoft Timeline: 20 Years of Software Innovation on the Mac
First Newsletter Sent Out (Jan 6)
Today I sent out the first newsletter. Since I announced it on my webpage a little over a month ago quite a few of you have already subscribed; Thanks for that!
Subscribers will have a week exclusive access to the “Tips For Cleaning Up Your Mailbox” guide before it shows up in the How To section.
Click here to subscribe to the newsletter so you’ll be the first to get access to the new How To articles as well.
Thanks again to all subscribers!
Robert Sparnaaij AKA Roady
Spammers Top Microsoft Hit List (Jan 6)
Spammers beware — Microsoft intends to make you very unhappy in 2004.
Not content with merely adding new spam-filtering capabilities to its e-mail software, in the coming year Microsoft also intends to track down and take legal action against spammers, no matter where in the world the junk mailers are located.
Several of the viruses that targeted Microsoft products in 2003 are specifically tied to spammer activities. But Microsoft spokeswoman Erin McGee said that spam-spewing computer viruses are not the primary reason behind the company’s antispam campaign.
“Just the sheer volume of spam — regardless of how it was generated — was the impetus,” said McGee. “That and the rise in general consumer unhappiness, inconvenience and dissatisfaction with spam and the effect it’s having on their inboxes.”
Seventy percent of e-mail users who responded to a recent survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, a nonprofit research association, said that spam made their online experience unpleasant or annoying, and 25 percent said that spam has caused them to reduce their use of e-mail.
But spam is “much more than an annoyance,” according to Microsoft chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates.
In a statement, Gates said that spam also “costs businesses millions of dollars a year, and can encroach on families and children, exposing them to pornographic or fraudulent content.
“Microsoft is committed to eliminating the torrent of spam through sophisticated filtering technologies, and by working in partnership with law enforcement, our industry peers and government leaders at the state and federal levels,” Gates added.
View entire article: Spammers Top Microsoft Hit List
Office 2003/XP Add-in: Remove Hidden Data (Jan 6)
With this add-in you can permanently remove hidden and collaboration data, such as change tracking and comments, from Word 2003/XP, Excel 2003/XP, and PowerPoint 2003/XP files.
Microsoft Publisher 2003 Review (Jan 6)
1991 brought us Microsoft’s first incarnation of Publisher, 1.0. While considered to be a very basic DTP application, it introduced thousands of people to the world of greeting cards, newsletters, WordArt and text boxes. 12 years later, Publisher has changed, matured, improved and grown. Not only has it grown in use, but in size. Originally Publisher 1.0 fit on 3 floppy disks (2 if you didn’t add the clipart). Microsoft Publisher 2002 weighed in at 1.2 GB. Now, Microsoft Office Publisher 2003 now only measures at under 450 MB. But that comes with a price. No longer is Microsoft including the clipart CD, and requires web access to the Office 2003 only clipart. The Commercial Printing environment of Publisher was introduced in Publisher 2000 and has found yet another version that has opened up more possibilities for commercial printers with improved CMYK support as well as improved spot colors.
View entire article: Microsoft Publisher 2003 Review
Microsoft Plans Office 2003 Service Pack For May (Jan 5)
There’s no rest for the weary. Microsoft is putting pedal to the metal to get Service Pack 1 for Office 2003 out by May, sources said. The current schedule is to prep a release candidate by April and final, or “Release To Web,” code by late May. This release is critical because many corporate accounts hold off on upgrading to new software versions until the first service pack is available.
The plan now is for SP 1 to include not only the hot fixes and patches that typically flow after the retail release of a product, but also fairly major new features for both InfoPath and OneNote, the sources said. InfoPath is the application that enables a user’s desktop applications — Word, Excel, etc. — to tap into back-end data via XML links. OneNote is a note-taking application that eliminates the need for keyboard entry. Office 2003 hit the retail shelves in late October, although volume buyers could get it a month earlier.
The release also will include fixes and security bolstering as part of the company’s continued security push, code-named Springboard, the sources said. “This is a date-driven release,” an insider confirmed. Some pointed out that the rush to finalize code appears to run counter to the company’s push to build in quality and security up front and not ship products until they are solid.
Officially, Microsoft is circumspect on the subject. The service pack “is still in the early development stages, so anything we say about it would only be speculation right now, as a lot can change during the development process,” said Dan Leach, lead product manager of the Information Worker Product Management Group, through a spokeswoman. “One thing we can say is that, thanks to new technologies like Watson, and feedback from over 600,000 beta testers, the newly launched Office System represents the most stable, reliable and secure version of Office Microsoft has ever produced.”
Microsoft has acknowledged that Watson and new tools including Service Quality Monitor (SQM) are key in the development of the Longhorn Office release, also known as Office 12.
PCs to change radically in 2004 (Jan 5)
It’s all change on the PC front during 2004, and practically everything that defines a “new” computer is set to change over 12 months, with many happening during the next six months.
A few things will stay the same, but mostly on the peripheral front. Let’s go through the list.
The two CPU manufacturers have some big changes afoot. Intel is about to replace the current socket 478 with socket 775 – and that change should happen in Q2. First we’ll see the Prescott 478, then the Prescott 775. AMD will also do the dance of the socket shift, moving from 754 and 940 pin sockets to mostly 939 pin designs. Both companies will change processes from 130nm (nanometres) to 90nm.
In the middle of the year, the memory that current PCs use will also change. The now venerable DDR will begin to fade away, with DDR-II replacing it. With that change comes a new DIMM format, and new motherboards to plug them into.
Motherboards will also have a total makeover. Intel is driving this move, and the BTX form factor will come to dominate in no time. That will have better cooling, better power distribution, better mounting, and probably a bunch of things Intel hasn’t told us about yet.
With the rise of new mobos will come new power supplies. Current [geddit?!?] power supplies are called ATX, after the ATX mobos they plug into. With the rise of 100+ watt CPUs, higher draw GPUs, lower voltage CPUs, and more sensitive electronics, you need more carefully controlled power, delivered in different ways. That means new power supplies.
With a new power supply and motherboard, you will also need a new case. The BTX spec redefines airflow, and how things are placed around the computer, and doing that is hard to accomplish without a new case design. So, shiny new cases for shiny new parts, probably with new kinds of windows, new LED placements, and new cold cathode colors. Be still, my beating heart.
View entire article: PCs to change radically in 2004
New Office Templates for 2004 (Jan 5)
Make your own 2004 calendar
Download a template and customize it with clip art and your own engagements.
Get in shape for the new year
Use templates to help track your fitness goals, count calories, and more.
Plan ahead for taxes
Get your finances in order for the new year with this year-end tax plan template.
Updated FAQ: Getting the News button in Outlook 2003 (Jan 4)
Another method of getting the News button back in Outlook 2003 is to add a registry key that machines running a previous version of Outlook also have. This will allow you to choose Microsoft Office Outlook as the default newsreader in Internet Options.
Microsoft Office 2003: It Matters (Jan 4)
There was, for once, some substance in the hype surrounding the launch of Microsoft Office 2003, although the marketers could not resist going over the top with a breathy video proclaiming that it will turn us all into Shakespeare.
The new version is a step change almost as big as the one that brought the world to your desktop with links to the web, because the extensive support for XML turns Office into a potential front end for any database, online service or trading system.
That might not mean much to the average end user, but it is a major shift for developers of next-generation systems. There was, nevertheless, a feeling at the launch that Microsoft may at last be reaching the limits of its dominance.
Some of the new features for collaborative working are similar to what Lotus has been doing for years, and even XML is a weapon that can backfire. It is an open standard, and the more Microsoft promotes its use, the more opportunity there will be for rivals.
View entire article: Microsoft Office 2003: It Matters
New E-Mail Security Threat: Cyber Blackmail (Jan 4)
Corporate and home PC users are receiving blackmail threats from Internet con artists who claim to have access to their PCs, security experts say. The blackmailers threaten to delete information or plant pornographic files on their hard drives if not paid. “It used to be that a hacker would hack into a company, steal data and ask for money — or otherwise they would sell the customer database to someone else. That’s the old style,” F-Secure research manager Mikko Hypponen told NewsFactor. “The new style is, you don’t do any hacking at all. You simply claim that you can hack people’s systems, and if they don’t pay, they get hacked.” This type of extortion demand is an example of hackers shifting their target from big companies to individual users — in many cases, office workers. “It’s much easier to con a home user or an office worker than an I.T. security admin or the top management of a company,” Hypponen said.
A blackmail threat could target any user connected to the Internet. The cyber blackmailer sends an initial e-mail claiming to have hacked a corporate network or to have broken into a home user’s system. The amount of money the hacker demands usually is modest in comparison to previous computer blackmail schemes. “We used to see ransoms like (US)$30,000 to $50,000 for customer database thefts,” Hypponen said. In contrast, “the ransom [demands] that we’ve seen in these new cases are around $25 dollars — something that anyone could easily pay.”
View entire article: New E-Mail Security Threat: Cyber Blackmail