LAB NOTES

The winner is … The GCN Lab
staff was impressed by the right-brain skills of entrants in our summer haiku contest.


The challenge: Sum up the frustrations of working with computers in a haiku.


The lab’s virtual blue ribbon goes to June Huber, a senior executive at the
General Services Administration’s Federal Technology Service.


Her poignant winning entry: “The report is gone. How could I forget to save? Such
a simple thing.”


There were so many fine entries that the lab decided to give runner-up awards to two
more poets. Both conveyed the essence of PC frustration. The first is Robert P. Kappler,
chief of staff at the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center in Charleston, S.C. His
entry: “E-mail is a curse; a never-ending torrent. Will it ever stop?”


The second runner-up, John Beaumont, a management analyst with the Administrative
Office of the U.S. Courts, tickled our funnybone with: “Strange system failures; what
gremlins live for such fun? Gates is the Devil.”


Thanks to all who entered; those who didn’t win will get another opportunity.


Next Spielberg hit? How about Microsoft
Corp. vs. the Cult of the Dead Cow? That’s the drama developing between the software
giant and a hacker group that claims to have software to exploit a security weakness in
Windows platforms.


The group named after the moribund moo-moo has asserted that its software gives
complete control over a remote desktop PC running Windows.


Although the lab has never been impressed by Microsoft’s security, this time the
hackers are wrong. After downloading the software and trying it, the lab found itself
agreeing with Microsoft’s assessment that this is simply a piece of remote-control
software, such as LapLink from Traveling Software Inc. of Bothell, Wash., and other
packages. The only difference lies in the programmers’ intent.


The hackerware, called Back Orifice, does not exploit any Windows security hole but
rather relies on server-client remote control. Microsoft has said the program poses very
little risk, but the company has released an advisory saying users might be tricked into
installing the software.


Users of Windows 98 and Windows 95 are the only ones open to attack. For more
information, visit http://www.microsoft.com/security.


Unanimous decision. Although at least one
agency is adopting Win98, lab readers were unanimous in their responses to a recent
platform poll. No one who wrote in or sent e-mail was planning a Win98 upgrade.


Some readers said they plan to wipe the operating system off new machines and install
Win95 OSR2 so they will have only one platform to support.


—Jason Byrne
jbyrne@gcn.com

inside gcn

  • artificial intelligence (ktsdesign/Shutterstock.com)

    Machine learning with limited data

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