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Wednesday, 23 May 2007

Beborn Beton

One of those things that you discover with Pandora - Beborn Beton is a seriously underappreciated German electronic band, mostly active in the 90's but still nominally around today.

They're a sort of cross between Depeche Mode, the Pet Shop Boys and Kraftwerk.. in the UK their music is very hard to track down, but I ordered their Truth album from amazon.de along with Nightfall - Truth features the sort of peculiar but enigmatic lyrics that only non-English speakers can come up with:

Some are straight and settle in the daylight
Smear face when the rain pours down
I remember the words of a stranger
Live fast and you die with a sound


Are we coming to the point of no return
Are we still being fearless taking pride
In the moment the curtain is drawn
We're giving the stuff to the spawn
The show must go on

What the heck does that mean? It's still a fantastic, moody and somewhat paranoid album. All the tracks are in English apart from the quite mellow Eisplanet which is in German.

I can't tell you much about Nightfall.. because the case was empty. If you thought ordering stuff in a language you didn't speak was hard, you should try returning it!

Saturday, 19 May 2007

It's 30 for a reason..

I was just about to settle down to Dr Who, some beer and a pizza this evening when then was a horrible sound of a vehicle going out of control and then smacking into the side of my house.

This MG ZR was apparently doing 50-60 mph in the 30 mph zone on the road outside when it came around the corner in the middle of the road to see a bus heading towards it.. it over-corrected and clipped a kerb and then span out of control, smacking into the gate and the corner of the house at some speed. We didn't see it.. we just heard 5 seconds of tortured screeching followed by an impact.

The car actually ploughed into our gate and fence sideways, demolishing it and then hit the corner of the house. As you can see, the side of the ZR (being based on the old Rover 200) is not that strong in a side-impact collision.

There was a passenger in the back of the car who was taken to hospital with what appeared to be minor injuries. Fortunately the 100 year old gatepost gave way and absorbed some of the impact before it hit the wall.

I think the (very young) driver is in enough trouble without me having to name and shame him here. Fortunately, the car missed the bus, some pedestrians and anything really solid. Not quite everyone managed to walk away, but nobody was killed.

Perhaps the driver will pay more attention to 30mph signs when they are finally allowed behind the wheel of a car again.

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

Motorola RAZR2 V9 and V8

A couple of new handsets from Motorola which look nice on paper.. the Motorola RAZR2 V8 is a GSM device with the very similar RAZR2 V9 which is 3G with HSPDA. They have just about the largest external display that I've seen, a 2.0" 240x320 pixel panel with a 2.2" internal one. There are some cool looking external media controls too.

On the RAZR2 V8 there's plenty of internal memory, a whopping 420MB expandable with microSD cards, a so-so 2 megapixel camera and lots of multimedia goodies. Talktime is an impressive 8 hours. The 3G RAZR V9 has much less memory and of course a shorter talktime but is otherwise pretty similar.

What's the catch? Well, predictably from the name "RAZR2" these look pretty much like all the other RAZRs you've ever seen. And if (like me) you're fed up with the predictable styling and you hate that nasty RAZR keypad then you'll never buy one.. regardless of all the other features.

The RAZR2 is Motorola's idea of a brand new phone - and if you look under the hood it seems to be rather good. But most customers will just see it as the same old same old and will avoid it in droves.. after all, there are plenty of other 2G, 3G and 3.5G RAZRs on the market which just aren't shifting.

Moto pulled off another trick too and announced four other "new" handsets.. which appear to be four already announced devices with their names changed.

Fundamentally these all seem to be very capable devices but Motorola has made them fashion phones.. and the RAZR is definitely out of fashion. The fact the Motorola have repeated the same mistake with the RAZR2 that they have made several times before tells me that this company is not capable of learning. I certainly wouldn't like to be a shareholder!

Link - Why the RAZR is killing Motorola

Saturday, 12 May 2007

Elstow Village Fete

It rained. And then it stopped.. which was nice. This is a picture of the maypole dance on the village green, you can just see the Moot Hall to the right.

Trivial fact learned today: The Slough of Despond is pretty much just outside my front door. Hmmm.

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Patch Tuesday

A number of nasty looking vulnerabilities. These are my takes on the seriousness of these flaws, you should evaluate them against your own organisation.

MS07-026 Vulnerabilities in Microsoft Exchange Could Allow Remote Code Execution (931832)
A series of flaws in Microsoft Exchange 2003 and 2007, the most serious of which is a MIME decoding flaw which can allow a remote attacker to take complete control of the system through a specially crafted email message. This is an extremely serious problem because most corporate firewalls will not offer any protection against messages of this type. There are no known current exploits, but these usually come about very quickly after the vulnerability is announced.
Client impact: low
Server impact: high

MS07-029 Vulnerability in Windows DNS RPC Interface Could Allow Remote Code Execution (935966)
A critical flaw in the DNS server service can allow a remote attacker to take complete control of a system. This is clearly a significant threat to any servers running the DNS service role and will patching as soon as possible. This is being actively exploited at the moment. Corporate firewalls will mitigate against this somewhat, until an infected machine enters your network.
Client impact: low
Server impact: high

MS07-023 Vulnerabilities in Microsoft Excel Could Allow Remote Code Execution (934233)
A depressingly familiar flaw in MS Office impacting Excel 2000, 2002, 2003 and 2007 and even Excel 2004 for the Mac. WSUS or some other patching method should be used to roll these out to client workstations. Safe server practices should mean that this is not so important for corporate servers.
Client impact: high
Server impact: low

MS07-024 Vulnerabilities in Microsoft Word Could Allow Remote Code Execution (934232)
Another Office flaw, this time for Word 2000, 2002 and 2003 plus Microsoft Works 2004, 2005 and 2006 - but not Word 2007. This is being actively exploited and should be authorised for rollout as soon as possible.. Office 2000 installations will require manual remediation.
Client impact: high
Server impact: low

MS07-025 Vulnerability in Microsoft Office Could Allow Remote Code Execution (934873)
A vulnerability in the way Office handles drawing objects can be exploited by a specially crafted Office document (e.g. attached to an email) or an object embedded in a web site. This affects Office 2000, 2002, 2003 and 2007 and also Office 2004 for the Mac - primarily the Excel, Publisher and FrontPage components. It also impacts Excel Viewer 2003. This should be authorised for rollout to clients as soon as possible. Office 2000 will require manual remediation.
Client impact: high
Server impact: low

MS07-027 Cumulative Security Update for Internet Explorer (931768)
Various flaws in IE6 and IE7 on Windows 2000, XP, 2003 and Vista. Safe practice on servers should mitigate against this (i.e. restrict use of IE to Windows Update only). Some of these flaws are being actively exploited, so patch as soon as possible.
Client impact: high
Server impact: low

MS07-028 Vulnerability in CAPICOM Could Allow Remote Code Execution (931906)
Well, obviously high if you use this product, else few people will be at risk.
Client impact: low
Server impact: low

Tuesday, 8 May 2007

Sony Ericsson P1i

A bit of a surprise this one - the Sony Ericsson P1i appears to be the replacement for the P990i but comes without a full QWERTY keyboard (or the somewhat annoying flip).

I've used the P990i a few times, mostly with BlackBerry software installed. The BlackBerry software is the most reliable part of the old phone.. the rest of it is a bit temperamental.

Hopefully the Sony Ericsson P1i will iron out the P990's bugs. But it's hard to say if P-series fans will warm to the non-QWERTY keyboard. I have to say that I'm not a fan of the keyboard on the P990.. but I don't like the "SureType" arrangement of two letters per key either. In my book, just about the best QWERTY keyboards come on BlackBerry handhelds, something other manufacturers can't quite get right.

It does look very much like the M600 smartphone rather than a P900-series device. It's hard to say if Sony Ericsson are going to make a bigger version (the P2i?) with a full QWERTY keypad. Perhaps it would be a good idea to give customers a choice?

More here: Sony Ericsson P1i

Monday, 7 May 2007

Electronic election counting in Bedford

I've just finished a longish article on the Bedford Elections 2007 and the electronic counting fiasco. Bedford took place in a trial of electronic counting systems (using paper-based ballots).. and in the end this took far longer than the old approach and was far less transparent.

In this case a computer system was supplied by Indra of Spain, and it took a staggering 16 hours to come up with the results when the manual process would probably have been six hours or so.

Note that this isn't electronic voting - it's electronic counting. The old paper-based ballot system is still there although now the vote is automatically logged against the ballot paper number.. and the ballot paper number is listed against your name when you sign for it. Secret ballot? Well, just about.

The awful suspicion that I have is that somebody somewhere will use the problems with electronic counting of paper ballots as an excuse to go for an all-electronic system which will be exceptionally difficult to scrutinise.

Saturday, 5 May 2007

"Theft Case" spam

Note: there are quite a few people called Eric Rapaport, who are perfectly normal people (such as this this one) Unless you are researching a weird spam email, then this is not the Eric you are looking for.

Some spammers are evil. Some spammers are stupid. In the case of Eric Rapaport of Las Vegas, it looks like this particular spammer needs psychiatric help. (Note, there may be other Eric Rapaports - this one lives in Las Vegas).

My first reaction to the following spam was that it looked like a Joe Job - that is a piece of "fake" spam that is constructed to make it look like it comes from an innocent party in order to get them into trouble. My first reaction when I saw this was that it wasn't sent by Eric Rapaport, but by someone out to cause trouble:

Subject: Theft Case - 50% reward on recovered assets.
From: info@Accounting1st.Com
Date: Fri, May 4, 2007 6:43 pm

Nature50 % reward on money recovered from microsoft Employment Fraud, stolen movies and stolen concert proceeds.

This case can also viewed by clicking on: www.AplusSoftware.NET/Theft.HTM or www.TheftCase.Com

Yes, I am formerly commander and director Rapaport of the CIA. The Central Intelligence Agency fired me so that they could get away with bank frauding me for money I made writing small parts of microsofts product line and for money I made writing various movies, with out being prosecuted.

PS. Maybe I should include this in my emails to lawyers.

I practiced law enforcement for free for the 5 years I was in it part time in order so that they would not accuse me of conflict of interest or accepting gratuities for the money I made in the film, computer and music industries. At this point I would rather sue the military for back pay and for denying that my career ever existed rather than be poor the rest of my life.

If we can get the military to admit this then we should be able to get 5 years part time pay at minimum of 70K per year which = $175,000.00

It's structured a little like a 419 "advanced fee fraud" with the promise of s lice of $175,000. Indeed, PCPlus blogged about it some months back with the same conclusion. However, the truth is somewhat stranger than that.

In fact, this spam does appear to come from Eric Rapaport.. and it isn't an advanced fee fraud scam. Attached to the spam is a long and rambling Word document which is where this really gets strange (feel free to scroll to the bottom when you get the picture!).

50 % reward on money recovered from stolen movies / Microsoft Employment Fraud / stolen concert proceeds.
Most of the lawyers I have contacted on the web do not believe the below enclosed mass theft case. Yes it is unbelievable.
In response to this I thought I would describe verifiable things that made me successful in the entertainment and computer industries.
At 12 years old I was accepted to the Aspen Music Festival and School (at this time the Aspen Music Festival and School was about 50 % Juilliard students - the best classical music school in the world). I attended Aspen for 7 summers.
At 14 years old I started sitting in with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, members of the John Denver Band and Al Cooper ( founder of Blood Sweat and Tears) in night clubs in Aspen. I continued sometimes sitting in with bands of this type for the next 15 years.
At 18 years old I went to the Berklee College of music for one semester (perhaps the best rock and jazz music department in the world).
At 19 years old I realized that I might not ever make a good living in the music business and I started Colorado State University as a Computer Science Major (and took computers extremely seriously).
At the same time I was a computer science major I spent a lot of time playing in night clubs and playing small concerts in Colorado and sometimes around the country.
At 25 and 26 years old I sat in occasionally with the band Kingfish (there were some Grateful Dead members in this band).
Every thing above this line should be verifiable. All in all a good start towards possibly making it big in either the computer or music industries.
In 1994 due to my karate ability I started being a body guard for some celebrities in Beverly Hills.
With 15 – 20 million per leading role you can bet that there are Amnesia causing drugs around to keep people from remembering their business meetings or to even keep people from remembering their own names.
The true mass theft case below is extremely unbelievable. As to why no one is responding to me regarding debts or copies of return checks that I need to prosecute thieves, I can only speculate.
From 1994 through 1997 I made a lot of money writing parts of national software packages, scripts for movies, advisor positions, having roles in monster suites and playing concerts. People even willed me money I don’t remember getting paid for.
In response to this someone slipped me some extremely powerful drugs that caused selective Amnesia and stole a lot of money out of my bank accounts. I even spotted some houses recently that I think I owned.
If I split this money with who ever helps me collect, there could be more than 5 million in it for each of us.
If you do not wish to respond but wish to help, you could have a lawyer who specializes in this kind of thing respond.
I have corrupt co-workers and criminals writing letters in my name and even sometimes steeling mail out of my mailbox therefore, I am finger printing all of my letters.
I would like to remind anyone thinking of intercepting this letter that interfering with the federal mail is a federal offence.
Thank you
Eric Rapaport – 626-590-1817
WWW.AplusSoftware.NET/Theft.HTM or WWW.TheftCase.Com
Houses I believe I am supposed to own include :
- 146 N. Eagle Dr. Big Bear Lake City CA
( I ran Lone Eagle Computer Company out of this house )
- 45760 Baldwin Lake Rd. Big Bear Lake City CA
- 6847 1 st Ave. Phoenix AZ
- 1907 Overland LA CA – apartment complex
- 4647 E. Fransico # 103 Tempe AZ
- 4310 S. Fair Ln Tempe AZ
- 1437 Honysuckle Dr. Albuquerque NM
- 7100 Rio Grande N.W. Ave. Albuquerque NM
- 414 E AABC Aspen CO
- 907 waters Aspen CO ( I received this house for writing
part of the movie mouse hunt and as with the other
properties someone is claiming they own it ). – Universal
pictures is not coming forward.
- 308 Pfister Aspen CO
- Beverly Hills ? Bel Aire ? Scottsdale ? Salt Lake?
Cars I believe I am supposed to own include :

1 1992 Firebird (California plates)
2 Trans Ams
1 1995 Camero, 3 Lexus’s
2 Cadillac Escalades
1 Lincoln mark IV Arizona AHN-491
95 Monty Carlo 2g1ww12mo59232911
97 Monty Carlo 2g1ww12m4v9115480
1 Bonneville
91 – Camero – 1g1fp23exml135038
Nissan Maxima gwz-828 hawaii JNICA21D3WT603610
STS 32V northstar Cadillac g6ky5298ru833791

Software I Helped Write
Windows 98
Visual Foxpro 3.0 - microsoft
Excel 7.0a – microsoft
microsoft Money - microsoft
Advised microsoft with Janna Contact Manager, microsoft Word, Windows 98, Visual Basic, microsoft Cad
and various accounting stuff. For this I received 1.29 million dollars, which was afterwards stolen. Janna Gates and Theifsoft are unavailable for comment.

Main Plots I wrote
The Net, Speed II – Written by Sandra Bullock and I. I need copies of any check that might have been written before I can prosecute thieves.
Practical Magic – never paid
Hope Floats – never paid
Wild Wild West (the movie) – I wrote about 1/3 of this on location and will probably not be paid.
U.S. Marshals – never paid
The Patriot – 1996 – Steven seagull – paid?
The Arrival – 30 K - never paid
Con Air – Main plot written by (Mary Reagan - Ronald Reagan’s Grand Daughter)?? , Jackson Brown and I. - never paid?
Mercury Rising - never paid?
Soldier – This is a take off on the movie IA that I produced and star in and I was told IA was going to go out. Why was this plot stolen ?? The Airforce was supposed to get some of the proceeds from the movie IA.
Ronnin – Main plot written by Robert Deniro and I – 400 K stolen – Speak up Mr. Deniro.
Stargate – It took me an amazingly long time to remember I wrote about 50 % of this main plot and was one of the extras.
The Volunteers - I wrote about 1/3 of this main plot on location in China. Tom Hanks Paid 100k? - afterwards stolen.
The Body Guard – Paid 100K? – afterwards stolen.
The Replacement Killers – I wrote this entire main plot as Mira Sorvino and Chow-Yun Fat knows.
Conspiracy theory – Never paid
Tequila Sunrise – Never Paid
Honeymoon in Vegas – In addition to writing the main plot I was one of the flying Elvis’s and can be seen at time indexes 13:03, 1:26:25 and 1:31:24. MGM Pictures never paid? Speak up Mr. Cage and
Ms. Parker.
Critters – Never paid
Galaxy Quest - Never paid.
Jumangi - I wrote most of this movie in Beverly Hills and on location. never paid?
Starship Troopers Paid 15 K? which was afterwards stolen. Come forward with a return check touchstone pictures.
The movie Twilight Zone – Never paid
Deal of the Century – Never paid
The 3 amigos – Never paid
Star Trek – The Voyager movie and the movie with the Whales – I wrote most of these 2 movies – Never paid?

Advisor positions
Excess Baggage ( I was the advisor for the fighting footage) - paid 50 K? – afterwards stolen
Jaws The Revenge (I wrote most of the sub plots) – never paid
Tuskegge Airmen - paid 40 K – afterwards stolen
Contact – 50 K - paid? – afterwards stolen
La Femme Nikita - This advisor position that I did almost nothing on was supposed to pay well.
- paid? – afterwards stolen
Tomorrow Never Dies – Never Paid? - I was the advisor for the final fighting footage and I did the Halo jump.
The Man Who Knew Too Little – 100k? – afterwards stolen – Speak up Mr. Murray
Men In Black (in addition to writing the sub plots to this movie I also was 2 of the aliens and I wrote a little of the computer graphics at the very end), paid 160 k? which was afterwards stolen. Will Smith did not write this in spite of what the credits say.
What Dreams May Come – Robbin William tripped over my head in this movie - never paid
Patch Adams – never paid
The Water Boy – never paid
Armageddon – never paid?
Boogie Nights - never paid?
Above the Law – 1988 – warner brothers – 100 k paid? – afterwards stolen
The Making of Bobby Fisher
GI Jane – I contribute almost nothing to this movie, but did request 15 K for 2 days of my time. – never paid
Adams Family Maters – I produced the School Play fencing match.
Vegas Vacation – paid – afterwards stolen.
Mouse Hunt – I created Catzilla (w/help) and wrote the plot to the very end of Mouse Hunt when the mouse went in to the gourmet cheese business with the house owners.
Indecent proposals – I suggested that “Mr. Redford take Ms. Moore by helicopter to a party on a luxury yacht for their date and he should be a perfect gentleman in order to make this a clean movie”. – never paid.
Deep Rising – Paid 10 K? – Afterwards Stolen.
The Edge – paid? – afterwards stolen.
Starwars 4 – I wrote the small part of the plot with the floppy eared thing accidentally opening up the container of explosive balls and then I did a double back summer salt and then the explosive balls blew up the enemy tanks.
Alien and Monster Roles
I was 2 of the aliens in Men in Black. – never paid?
I was the alien that got decked by Will Smith in Independence Day, in addition to being the alien in the control booth in the mother ship. – never paid
I was the monster in the movie The Relic. – never paid
I was the alien at the end of Alien Resurrection. Paid?
Billy Joel (a full concert tour for $110,000.00 is what I remember. All money was paid to me and was afterwards stolen).
Fleetwood Mac – a small amount of concerts that should have paid well. – never paid
Grateful Dead – At least 8 Concerts. In Addition to this I gave Bob Wier a 30 K check to reform the band with me in it. If the band was not reformed with me in it the 30k was to be given back to me.
Shawn Colvin – a small amount of concerts. – never paid
Mickel Jackson – 2 concerts – 100 K was paid and was afterwards stolen.
Pat Methany
Austin City Limits – never paid
Meet Loaf - 5 concerts - Paid afterwards stolen.
Olivia Newton John – Paid?
I wrote most of the music to the 1997 movie the Titanic that John Horner got all credit for.
In addition, I can clearly be seen on the rail to Mr. DiCaprio’s left hand side at time index 2:43:15
Never paid ? Ms. Dion and Mr. DiCaprio – speak up.
Virtual Insanity – piano parts – never paid?
Produced a Whitney Houston Record with several other producers. Paid 10 K which was afterwards stolen. – I probably played most of the Keyboard parts on this record.
Co-writer for the theme song to Adams Family Matters. – never paid
Kenny Loggins – Christmas record – piano parts.
I get knocked out – I wrote the Flugel Horn parts – never paid?
Sheril Crow – Global Sensation – some of the Tenor Sax parts – never paid
I wrote “Don’t go chasing waterfalls” – never paid?
I wrote “Brand New Day” – supposedly by Sting – never paid
Keyboard parts on Phil Collins version of True Colors?
CIA Agent – Linda Beadling who was murdered willed me 5K, which was afterwards stolen.
The man who was Barney Dinosaur most of the time willed me 400 K, which was later stolen.
I was an alien for about 20 seconds in one Star Trek the Next Generation Episode. The 5k was stolen.
I co-produced one Mellisa know all episode and co-produced one Mellisa the teenage witch episode. Mellisa Hart is denying that she knows me.
I made one brief appearance on Mr. Belvedier. Paid – afterward stolen.
I seem to remember a one episode show called Sandavol. If this aired I was Sandavol. – never paid?
I seem to remember an appearance on the David Letterman Show with Bob Weir and Annitta Baker.
If this aired : Mr. Letterman owes me 20k - 15k.
Stargate – Besides writing about 50 % of the movie Stargate, I wrote the main plot to the episodes with the Pyramid space ship invading earth’s solar system and getting blown up. Co-writer for the virus episode and the cave in glacier episode. Never Paid - Richard Dean Anderson – Speak up.
Advisor to the Bay Watch episode with the gun fight on the glacier, Dolphin episode in Hawaii and Construction workers starting a natural gas leek and accidentally exploding it with a cigarette. Was there an episode with a brown bear? David Hasselhouf feel free to respond. – never paid
Friends – I co-wrote the episode with car trouble in bad weather. Paid 10 K? – afterwards stolen.
I was Barney Dinosaur in 1 or 2 Barney Dinosaur episodes.
Mad TV’s – I wrote Patch Kavorkian. – never paid?
Married with Children – I wrote the Foodies and cruise ship episodes – Never paid.

I all most never write dialog. The little bit of dialog I remember writing is.
Patch Adams – I wrote the dialog when Robin Williams was telling the patents that they do not have to worry about paying their bills while wearing a large nose. – never paid
U.S. Marshals – I wrote the dialog when the U.S. Marshals are speaking with the swamp guides. – never paid
90210 – “Shannon La Pu”
Forest Gump’s comment on integrated busing – “We have coon problems at my house. They get in the trash and then ma shoes them off and then they leave us alone for a while”.
I also wrote the shrimp dialog in this movie. – Never paid?

- Fluffy Gellars booking agent for Maybaline – paid?
I did buy several Trans Am’s, 2 Cameros, 1 Lincoln Continental, 1 Firebird that were later stolen.
Speak up Pontiac, Crysler, Chevorlet, Lexus, Lincoln Continental and Cadillac.
- I did spend 2 million with Universal on a movie staring myself called IA?
Karate Tournaments
Chuck Norbis vs. Me – 1988 CBS – 1996 un-televised. Where is my money Norbis ?????
Is Norbis thinking ?? – If I don’t pay anyone for participating in tournaments maybe that means that the tournaments?? did not happen?? 6 tournaments X 100 k = 600k – Never paid?
Why are there so many thieves?
If you are listed above and have not paid, please pay.
If you are listed above and have paid, please provide me with copies of return checks so that the thieves may be brought to justice. / ( 50% reward on recovered money).

Final notes: I was planning to spend most of my money on clean fuels research and development. Therefore, this case is also a environmental terrorism case.
I practiced law enforcement for free for the 5 years I was in it part time in order so that they would not accuse me of conflict of interest or accepting gratuities for the money I made in the film, computer and music industries. At this point I would rather sue the military for back pay and for denying that my career ever existed rather than be poor the rest of my life.
If we can get the military to admit this then we should be able to get 5 years part time pay at minimum of 70K which = $175,000.00

As the spam itself say.. yes, it is "unbelievable".

In fact, absolutely everything matches up and points towards Eric Rapaport. The quoted URL of www.AplusSoftware.NET/Theft.HTM also contains a copy of these allegations. That URL is registered to

9109 W. Sahora #105-G12
Las Vegas, NV 89117-5772

And it was registered way back in 2002 to a Louise Rapaport. The homepage of aplussoftware.net indicates an unremarkable small computer business operates from that site (although with a California address). The accounting1st.com domain this email has been sent from is also registered to Eric Rapaport, and has been since 2005. The domain theftcase.com is also in Rapaport's name and was registered in April 2006.

The websites for accounting1st.com and theftcase.com are hosted on along with the domains ericrapaport.com, rapaport1.com, medicalsoftware.ws, 1sthighspeed.com, workorderssoftware.com, computerresumes.net, purchaseorderssoftware.com, and gold1st.com (which are also all registered to Eric Rapaport). There are thousands of other sites on which are probably completely unrelated.

www.rapaport1.net is on a nearby server at 1stdiamonds.com is another Rapaport site.

The spam itself originates from which resolves to a Cox Communications subscriber address in Las Vegas.. where Eric Rapaport lives. Everything seems to point to Eric Rapaport being the person behind this bizarre spam.

The spam itself is unusual in that it has been doing the rounds for some time. This sighting is from November 2005, this one from September 2004, this one from September 2006. Vernsblog [nsfw] has even more information running back to April 2005 (use the search function for more).

Eric - if you're reading this.. I think you need some help.

Wednesday, 2 May 2007

What's the missing number?

What's the missing number?

09 F9 11 02 9D 74 E3 ?? D8 41 56 C5 63 56 88 C0

a) 145,600?
b) 5B?
c) Thursday?

Calls are charged at £2 per minute.

Here's a clue

Read more

Friday, 27 April 2007

"Emirates Industrial Filters LLC" spam

Another baffling spam from the UAE, this time advertising industrial filters. Attached to this spam is a whooping 970KB of attachments covering pictures of.. well, industrial filters. Or perhaps femidoms. It's hard to say.

Dear Sirs,

Below are the details of our product range.

We are an ISO 9001:2000 certified manufacturer of Industrial Filter bags for solid and liquid filtration & separation for either process or environmental industrial applications.

Please look us up if you have any filtration requirements.

Please scroll down for more information and images.


Emad El-Sakka
Emirates Industrial Filters LLC
Tel: +971 6 743 7093
Fax: +971 6 743 7094
P.O. Box: 2365
Unites Arab Emirates

And they didn't just send this spam once, but dozens of times. Looking at the spam, it seems to be part of a directory harversting attack (DHAs) which was blocked automatically. In my book,
DHAs are an attempt to disrupt computer systems and would be illegal in many countries. Connect IP was which is a fairly active one according to NANAS.

So, Emirates Industrial Filters LLC - you're a bunch of evil spammers and I can't see why anyone would want to do business with you.

Wednesday, 25 April 2007

BAT/IRCFlood false positive in change.log.2

I've been seeing a few false positives caused by the CA-VET virus scanner used in ZoneAlarm, CA eTrust and the CA ITM products (probably some others too) as follows:

[time 25/04/2007 15:08:22: ID 14: machine xxxxx.xxxxx: response 25/04/2007 15:09:13] The BAT/IRCFlood was detected in C:\SYSTEM VOLUME INF...\CHANGE.LOG.2. Machine: XXXXX, User: NT AUTHORITY\SYSTEM. File Status: Cure failed, file renamed.

This is just a log file that's part of the Windows XP system restore feature - the files are held in C:\System Volume Information in a folder to which users don't usually have access.

I'm pretty convinced this isn't a virus - it's just a log file - and I even ran it through VirusTotal which found nothing at all. I've contacted CA about it to see what they think.. we'll see.

In the meantime, if the antivirus alert is bugging you, you can delete the log file from your System Volume Information folder at your own risk. You will need to change permissions on the folder to do this (see this MS Technet article) and then drill down and delete the individual file in question. Like I said.. do this at your own risk!

Tuesday, 24 April 2007

Malware via AdWords

A typical approach to spreading malware is to hack a site and then inject an IFRAME pointing towards some obfuscated Javascript that then eventually connects to a site with an exploit.

From the point of view of an attacker, this is fine. But what if the natural traffic for the site isn't enough?

Here's one I came across today with a completely new twist.

In this particular case, our antivirus software came up with an alert for what appeared to be some variant of the JS/Petch trojan. The machine didn't appear to be infected, but I investigated further. (Just to be clear, it wasn't my machine!)

An analysis of the machine indicated that this particular user had been doing some fairly innocent lunchtime surfing looking for a particular product.. let's say widgets.

In this case, the user went to Google and search for "widgets" and got the usual load of search results complete with a set of ads along the top and down the side - normal Google AdWords ads. This user then clicked on the top ad apparently promiting a company that we will call widgetsgb.com.. which is where is gets interesting.

Instead of being taken to widgetsgb.com, Google directed the visitor to another site. This in itself is not unusual, sometimes different domains are used for tracking or whatever. However, in this case the site was completely unrelated.. say notwidgetsatall.co.uk in which was buried an exact copy of the front page of widgetsgb.com. So the front page of notwidgetsatall.co.uk looked completely normal, but in a subdirectory notwidgetsatall.co.uk/widgets was an exact copy of the other site.

Well, not an exact copy precisely. This version had some IFRAME goodness pointing to an IP in Germany which had the obfuscated javascript pointing elsewhere. It doesn't really matter where.

What was interesting about this whole thing was that the user had clicked on a paid ad rather then a natural search result. Which means that somebody had to pay for the click... and by the looks of things that somebody had to pay a respectable amount to get the number one position. Of course, the bad guys never pay for anything as it would be uneconomic for them, so the indications are that they were using a hacked AdWords account.

What is strange about this whole thing is the amount of effort that the bad guys put into this.. they targetted a niche site without an awful lot of traffic, made a duplicate and then set up an advertising campaign to drive what was presumably not an awful lot of clicks to their IFRAME.

I guess the AdWords account was picked up with a keylogger installed on another hacked machine. It's the first time I've seen AdWords used in this way, but it shows that the bad guys can squeeze the value out of just about anything.

Monday, 23 April 2007

Al Mustajer Real Estate - Stupid, stupid criminal spammers

It's been a little while since I've seen a spammer as stupid as Al Mustajer Real Estate who decided to hit me with 500 750kb word documents before my host blocked them.. a stonking 375mb or so of spam. But then their company logo does seem to
feature a penis shaped building, which perhaps says a lot.

Criminal spam? Well, yes, this comes from (resolving to srv2.egraphics.ae) in the US (ThePlanet.com) so this spam is non CAN-SPAM compliant. Also that much
mail effectively constitutes a mail bomb which is also an illegal denial of service attack.

Actually there are two spam messages in this run, the largest of which is an introduction to this dubious firm.

Company Profile

Al Mustajer Real Estate established with a view to display an
enduring property in Dubai and within Emirates. The Company has a
dedicated team of Professionals with immense international
experience in real estate business. Our Company is part of the
growing Al Mahdy Group of Companies such as:
• Said Al Mahdy General Trading
• FILCO General Trading
• Tartoub International Massage Centre

As part of this prestigious Company, our main objective is to conduct at
all times business with utmost good faith, integrity and to maintain the
highest standards of expertise, ethics and financial security. Our sales
executives offer dedicated and incessant attention to every client during
their consultation visits. We maintain international professional standard
and provide consistency in service.
Our sales focus is long ranging- we are interested in establishing
enduring relationships of growth and development with our clients. We are
offering the following products:
• Buying Properties
• Selling Properties
• Leasing & Managing Properties
We have already built and become a bench-mark in managing properties
within Emirates:

Abdul Hakeem
Office Manager

The foooter information reads:

PO Box 39121 Dubai, UAE
+971 50 3787819
+971 4 3937709
+971 4 3937798

Al MUSTAJER Real Estate.
Visit us www.almustajer.com / www.supermobawab.com


Both almustajer.com and supermobawab.com appear to be parked.

The second spam is a Word Document promoting "labour camps". I don't know if they say "Arbeit Macht Frei" on them or not. Quite why this spammer thinks that I'm interested, I don't know. The document itself looks like it has been created by a five year old.








CALL: 050-3787664

The spam appears to come from JUDE@SMN-ONE.NET which tallies with the sending IP address. The same email appears in the properties of the Word documents, although
in a typical spammer fashion (i.e. "stupid") he also gets confused and
mis-types it as jude@msn-one.net.

Possibly the most stupid spammer I've seen this year.

Tuesday, 3 April 2007

ASUS.com web site, infected with .ANI exploit?

I'm investigating a suspect file called BMW3.PIG which appears to have originated from the asus.com website, it's some sort of .ANI exploit. Can't quite see where it is on the site though.

[time 03/04/2007 10:08:22: ID 14: machine [munged]: response 03/04/2007 10:09:06] The Win32/MSA-935423!exploit was detected in C:\DOCUMENTS AND SE...\BMW3[1].PIG. Machine: [munged], User: System. File Status: Cure failed, file renamed.

It appears that the culprit is an IFRAME hidden on asus.com.tw pointing to http://www[dot]ipqwe[dot]com/app/helptop.do?id=ad003 which is hosted on in China, along with the following websites (which are probably all malware related)

  • Ipqwe.com
  • Mumy8.com
  • Ok8vs.com
  • Okvs8.com
  • P5ip.com
  • Plmq.com
  • Y8ne.com
  • Yyc8.com

I wouldn't advise visiting any of those on a Windows-based PC by the way. I can't manage to deobfuscate the javascript on the other end, but blocking the above sites would be a good way of stopping this particular attack vector.

Monday, 2 April 2007

easyhost.be spam

I really hate web hosts that spam, and easyhost.be is yet another one sending to scraped addresses, with the usual lie "You have received this email because you are subscribed with.." blah blah blah.

Using SpamCop to LART easyhost.be on just sends the abuse report to the spammer, info@easyhost.be. Upstream provider is a firm called scarlet.be who are located in a nearby building, so if you get spam from easyhost.be, try reporting to ronny.schouteden -at- Scarlet.biz

Another telltale sign of spamming is the line that says "Dear,".. dear who? If I'd have subscribed to the spam list I feel certain that I would have remembered to fill in my name.


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Best Regards,

EasyHost Sales
http://www.easyhost.be - is the range to block. I can't imagine that you'd want to get mail from some Belgian spam outfit.

Thursday, 29 March 2007

"Internet Explorer 7 Downloads" - IE7.0.exe

Another bit of malware this time masquerading as a terse email message to encourage the downloading of a fake version of IE7. It's a simple graphic pointing to an executable called IE7.0.exe - it looks like the graphic and executable are hosted on compromised Apache servers.

VirusTotal indicates that detection is a bit thin at the moment.

AhnLab-V32007. virus found
Authentium4.93.803.29.2007no virus found
Avast4.7.936.003.29.2007no virus found
AVG7.5.0.44703.29.2007no virus found
BitDefender7.203.29.2007no virus found
CAT-QuickHeal9.0003.29.2007(Suspicious) - DNAScan
ClamAVdevel-2007031203.29.2007no virus found
DrWeb4.3303.29.2007no virus found
eSafe7. virus found
eTrust-Vet30.6.352203.29.2007no virus found
Ewido4.003.29.2007no virus found
FileAdvisor103.29.2007no virus found
F-Prot4.3.1.4503.28.2007no virus found
IkarusT3.1.1.303.29.2007no virus found
McAfee499503.29.2007no virus found
Microsoft1.230603.29.2007no virus found
NOD32v2215403.29.2007no virus found
Norman5.80.0203.29.2007no virus found
Panda9.0.0.403.29.2007Suspicious file
Sophos4. virus found
Symantec1003.29.2007Trojan Horse
TheHacker6.1.6.08003.23.2007no virus found
UNA1.8303.16.2007no virus found
VBA323.11.303.29.2007suspected of Trojan-PSW.Pinch.1 (paranoid heuristics)
VirusBuster4.3.7:903.29.2007no virus found

Wednesday, 28 March 2007

"The system is not fully installed": Windows XP, WMP 11 and Sysprep

Kudos to lizardking009 for this post at the 2cpu.com forums.

After using Sysprep to prepare a new Windows XP build for distribution to some Dell laptops, I got the a message saying The system is not fully installed when trying to restart the machine.

It turns out that this is due to the presence of Windows Media Player 11 which screws up the Sysprep process somehow. I can't say that I'm a big fan of this DRM-laded stuff, but generally speaking you always load the latest version of everything before resealing the machine to take an image from it.

Microsoft have this knowledgebase article showing how to recover from the problem, although I discovered that this does not work very well on machines that have already been built from a Sysprep (such as Dells). If you're working in a reasonably well equipped environment with another XP machine and a suitable external USB drive enclosure then it's probably easier to edit the registry on the affected PC's hard disk by plugging it into the USB port of another machine, i.e.:

  • Load REGEDIT
  • Select HKEY_USERS
  • Go into File.. Load Hive..
  • Browse to the \WINDOWS\System32\Config\System file on the USB connected drive
  • Name the hive "system" or whatever you like
  • Find the Setup key on the newly loaded hive and locate SystemSetupInProgress.
  • Change the data from 1 to 0.
  • Unload the Hive
Then, once the hard disk is reinserted into the original machine, bring it up in Safe Mode, deinstall Windows Media Player 11 and reboot. This should start the setup process (you can choose to take an image at this point, if you wish).

Monday, 26 March 2007

Fake "BlueMountains Greetings" message with a trojan

Fake greetings cards are a common way of spreading trojans, and this latest Fake Bluemountain.com Email is a case in point.

The message looks similar to the following one:

BlueMountains Greetings <greetings@BlueMountain.com>
You just received an Electronic Greeting.

you just received an electronic greeting from a
friend !

To view your eCard, please click
on the following link :


(Your postcard will be available for 60 days.)

If you
have any comments or questions, please visit http://www.bluemountain.com/customer/emailus.pd?source=bma999

for using BlueMountain.com.

In fact, the links actually lead to bluemountains.kokocards.com (do not visit this site). A more detailed writeup can be found here.

There's very little need to accept this type of "greetings card" into corporate environments, and this seems to be a common vector for malware attacks.

If you use Postini, you can create a custom content filter:
  • Select Match Any
  • Sender | contains | bluemountain.com
  • Body | contains | kokocards.com
  • Body | contains | bluemountain.com
  • Set message disposition to Quarantine Redirect
  • Don't forget to copy it to sub-orgs if you need to!

Saturday, 3 March 2007

Lunar Eclipse

Clear skies and not too chilly, and the best lunar eclipse in years. This one taken at about about 2230 GMT (click the image to enlarge).

Thursday, 8 February 2007

Frozen Roadster II

Big fat tyres + only 800kg in weight = no traction.

Couldn't even get the Roadie out of the drive this morning on the snow! Fortunately, Mrs Dynamoo's rather heavier Rover 25 did.

Still, it's funny seeing all those people who've spend a fortune on BMW X5s and X3s to discover that they've got all the offroad capabilities of a milk float in this weather. :)

Snow... brrrr...

As the country grinds to a halt under a few inches of snow (that have been predicted for a couple of days), here are some pictures of Elstow Village in Bedfordshire. Snow.. in winter.. who would have guessed it?

Wednesday, 7 February 2007

Frozen Roadster

A chilly minus eight degrees overnight.. and a tricky problem for my Smart Roadster. After opening the passenger door, the darned thing just wouldn't shut properly.

Now, the Roadster has a design fault in the door where (I understand) there is a pin holding in part of the mechanism which is basically mounted upside down, and this drops out which means that the door cannot be opened from the inside. Smart's first fix for this was to glue to pin in.. but of course, the pin will still work loose eventually and has a tendency to drop out again. I mention this because Smart's measly 2 year warranty would mean that this might end up as an expensive repair.

The problem was simpler than that - it looks like the very cold weather had frozen the mechanism in place after it opened. About three buckets of warm water over the door unfroze the mechanism and it started working properly. This led to another problem.. a clean bit of the car. So, the Roadster ended up with an early morning bath (as pictured).

The next problem is how to deal with the threatened six inches of snow in a car with only about four inches of ground clearance..

Friday, 26 January 2007

One Invalid Recipient..

In my opinion, one of the great underappreciated Microsoft Knowledgebase articles is KB147093 which explains one of those mysteries you see with Exchange servers from time-to-time.

The symptom is this - a remote sender transmits a message to multiple recipients on your Exchange server, but one or more of the recipients is incorrect. This causes the mail transaction to fail and NO recipients get the message.

Although KB147093 refers to X400, in fact this is the behaviour that you'll see on an Exchange 5.5 Internet Mail Connector, and it works with other SMTP-based mail servers too.

The problem is this - when sending to multiple recipients at one remote domain, the software at the sender's end will make a single connection to the remote mail servers.. and it's an all-or-nothing proposition.

The problem is compounded if you suppress NDRs (nondelivery reports) to the internet, because a remote sender will never receive a bounce message to say that the mail transaction failed. In these circumstances, it can take some time to work out that there's a problem at all.. but in this case you need to carefully check the recipient list for invalid users and remove them.

Now, if you have NDRs enabled, the problem will probably be spotted much sooner. But these days a lot of organisations turn them off, especially if they are the targets of mass spamming or directory harvesting attacks. It's one of those cases where the current levels of spam have unexpected adverse impacts on infrastructure.

Wednesday, 17 January 2007

Travelocity Template Spam

A couple of days ago, we saw a pump and dump spam using an Incredimail template to bypass spam filters. We pointed out that Incredimail messages could be scored as being somewhat spammy.

With a new twist, spammers are now using a Travelocity template [click image on right to enlarge] with an embedded image in the middle. Businesses are more likely to allow Travelocity mail than ones with Incredimail templates.

Clever.. but these messages don't come from a Travelocity email address, nor a Travelocity IP (whatever that might be). So, if you roll your own filters you can look for elements of the Travelocity template in messages that don't originate from Travelocity.

If you use Postini, add an inbound filter something like:
  • Select "Match All"
  • Body | contains | 1-888-709-5983
  • Sender | does not contain | travelocity
  • Set Message Disposition to "User Quarantine"

What's clear is that the spammers have found a new technique here and there's probably (sadly) quite a bit of mileage in it. Expect to see more variants of this soon.

Monday, 15 January 2007

"Incredimail" spam

A novel twist to the CBFE pump and dump spam that's been doing the rounds is a large scale run of spam messages using an Incredimail template to fool spam filters. [Click the image to enlarge]

The trick here is that Incredimail uses a lot of embedded images, as does the recent batch of P&D messages.. so if a filter has been "detuned" to let these templates through, then the spam can slip through on the back of it.

In this particular case, the CBFE spam is encoded with the Windows-1251 Cyrillic character set which makes it distinctive, although that will probably change.

If you roll your own filters, look for X-Mailer: IncrediMail in the headers, and charset="windows-1251" on each MIME boundary.

If you use Postini, you could create an inbound filter of Header | contains | X-Mailer: IncrediMail and set Message Disposition to "User Quarantine".

There's probably no harm for most people in scoring messages with Incredimail templates higher for spam as very little of it will be business related.

Wednesday, 10 January 2007

Patch Tuesday - January

A very small number of patches this month, none of which are critical for servers (assuming you don't read email, process office documents or surf the web on a server) and which may not even require a reboot on most client PCs. I've ordered these roughly in order of importance.

MS07-004 Vulnerability in Vector Markup Language Could Allow Remote Code Execution (929969)
This addresses an active exploit in IE and should be applied as soon as possible.
Client impact: high
Server impact: low

MS07-003 Vulnerabilities in Microsoft Outlook Could Allow Remote Code Execution (925938)
A series of potentially serious flaws that could lead to an exploit if the user opens a specially crafted email message. Outlook 2000 is vulnerable to this, but cannot be patched via WSUS so this would need to be applied manually where possible. Replaces MS06-055.
Client impact: high
Server impact: low

MS07-002 Vulnerabilities in Microsoft Excel Could Allow Remote Code Execution (927198)
Similar to MS07-003, and Excel 2000 is similarly impacted with no WSUS remediation.
Client impact: high
Server impact: low

MS07-001 Vulnerability in Microsoft Office 2003 Brazilian Portuguese Grammar Checker Could Allow Remote Code Execution (921585)
This only impacts Office 2003 with the Brazilian Portuguese language pack. It should be a big problem for most users.
Client impact: low
Server impact: low

Monday, 8 January 2007

Braindead spam from eReplicaShop.com

eReplicaShop.comeReplicaShop.com is a particularly persistent spammer, using image spam from zombie PCs and a large variety of domains. Most of these domains are registered to "Paul Gregoire" or a number of other aliases.. the smart money is that this is actually Alex Polyakov.

Unusually, the eReplicaShop servers are rented from fairly legitimate web hosts.. but bearing in mind that Polyakov is linked with phishing and money laundering scams it's quite likely that at least some of these services are being paid for by stolen credit cards.

Rule 3 of the Rules of Spam states that "Spammers are stupid". In this case, the eReplicaShop.com spam is particularly stupid as it often gets sent to abuse@ addresses. Most mail admins get really pissed off about abuse@ spam.. and this often leads to a satisfyingly short lifespan for the eReplicaShop mirrors.

If you do end up reporting one of these, it's always worthwhile to point out to the host that they might not be getting paid for the services they're providing. That normally gets a very quick response.


Well.. alright, I've come to the blogging thing pretty late on, I know. But sometimes it's just too much work to break out the web editor and fiddle around, and at least this way I can get things to press more quickly.

Anyway, here's a completely gratuitous shot of a Compaq Portable II for you..