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Archive for June, 2008

Free photo-sharing sites offer flashy features

Sunday, June 29th, 2008

Q: I recently got a new digital camera and want to share photos with friends and family. I’ve asked around and received recommendations for a number of photo-sharing Web sites. Which of the free sites do you think is best?

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Are online ID cards the answer to forgotten passwords?

Sunday, June 29th, 2008

A consortium of tech heavyweights led by Google, Microsoft and eBay’s PayPal think so. They have formed the ominous sounding Information Card Foundation to push for the introduction of an online ID card that will act as a substitute for the jumble of passwords we try to keep in our head. One industry-accepted card would also be all that was required at online shopping sites, the thinking goes, removing the hassle of filling in the same details every time you visit a new online merchant. Supporters even say it will crack down on identify theft and online fraud.

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Taming Internet Explorer Browser Plug-Ins

Saturday, June 28th, 2008

Security Fix has often lamented the lack of decent point-and-click software tools to help Microsoft Internet Explorer Web browser users kill insecure “ActiveX controls,” plug-ins for IE that have traditionally been among the biggest avenues of attack from spyware and adware. That’s why I’m pleased to call attention to a free new tool called “AxBan,” which helps neuter insecure ActiveX plug-ins installed by some of the most widely used third-party software applications.

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Fear and Loathing

Saturday, June 28th, 2008

Was Charlie Black right?

Did he simply commit the political sin of saying something that is unspeakably true?

And how could such an old pro, whose campaign experience dates back to the Reagan era, make such a blunder? Or was it not such a blunder after all?

As I noted yesterday, Black, who is John McCain’s top political gunslinger, told Fortune that the Benazir Bhutto assassination helped his man by focusing the debate on foreign policy, and if America should be hit by another terrorist attack, “certainly it would be a big advantage to him.”

Let’s just say that conjuring up the specter of mass murder as being helpful to a presidential candidate doesn’t strike the most uplifting tone. It sounds uncomfortably close to wishing that one would come along and knock some sense into the voters. That’s why Black apologized and McCain did the disavowal thing.

But if there was such an attack, might it not remind people that McCain’s pal George W. Bush had spent five years fighting in Iraq rather than capturing Osama bin Laden? Might it not suggest that the Republicans hadn’t kept the country safe after 9/11?

Or would it arouse a desire for a commander-in-chief with military experience, rather than one four years removed from the Illinois legislature? There’s obviously something to that.

The most Machiavellian interpretation would be that Black put this out there, knowing there would be some blowback, as a way of stirring up the debate, knowing full well he’d have to fall on his sword. I doubt that’s what happened, but stranger things have happened in politics.

The blogosphere is pretty hepped up about this. Time’s Michael Scherer wonders whether this was truly a mistake:

“McCain likes to say he would rather lose an election than lose a war. To this, I guess his campaign is now awkwardly adding that he would rather lose an election than have terrorists succeed in another attack. The sad part is that now we are having this conversation. We can look forward to days of cable news chatter over the issue, and meta-chatter about who benefits from the chatter. Is it a dark Atwaterian/Rovian ploy or another embarrassing McCain campaign stumble?”

At the New Republic, Michael Crowley questions whether GOPers still have a terror card to play:

“It wasn’t so long ago that Democrats hesitated even to accuse Republicans of using security-related scare tactics, lest they seem whiny and weak. Now John McCain feels the need to distance himself from one of his own aides, who was only responding to a press question. Not that that’s an excuse. (Actually, McCain’s statement is doubly odd–he answered as though Black had implied McCain was somehow encouraging an attack, which was not at all his point . . . )

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