BBC: Internet Explorer Security Alert


Users of the world’s most common web browser have been advised to switch to another browser until a serious security flaw has been fixed.

The flaw in Microsoft’s Internet Explorer could allow criminals to take control of people’s computers and steal their passwords, internet experts say.

So, apart from being a crap browser at actually rendering web pages according to the standards, it also opens up your computer to a “serious security flaw” (as if we didn’t know that already).

Here’s my recommendation for curing this ailment. Permanently:

  1. Get Firefox for your Windows computer right now!
  2. Get Thunderbird for your Windows computer today and get away from Outlook/Outlook Express.
  3. Get for your Windows computer and marvel at the free office application suite and ponder why you have been paying so much for M$’s bloatware in the past.
  4. Then, once happy with the above, Get Ubuntu (which has all of these wonderful applications and much more)and then get rid of that malware masquerading as an operating system called Windows.
  5. Enjoy trouble-free Free computing for evermore.


Thanks to oly on the #ubuntu-uk irc channel for pointing this story out.

Chandler Calendar Server (Cosmo) 1.0 Released

Now here’s a great OSS tool that seems to get less attention than it is due. Congratulations to the chaps at the OSAF on getting the 1.0 release out. It’s a great product.

We’ve been using this calendar server for quite a while now and without any incidents, failures or operational problems. I shall probably upgrade it to the 1.0 in a short while, but seeing how reliable our 0.13svn system has been I’m a bit reticent  – you know the old adage; “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”.

So, what’s a calendar server then?

Think of google calendar or something similar that allows you run multiple calendars and decide who gets to see what bits of your life story.

Cosmo is one of these. It supports various communications methods including the public IETF standard CalDAV protocol to talk to calendaring clients (iCal, Sunbird, Lightning…) and it also has a built-in web interface so you can access your calendar when away from your desk/laptop computers.

The neat thing about the way Cosmo works is the way you manage and publish your separate calendars (called collections). You issue tickets that can be everlasting or time-limited and can provide full read/write access, read-only access or just show free/busy status, and you can send these tickets to as many people as you like – no need for creating accounts and passwords for the recipients.

Here’s a screenshot of Mozilla Thunderbird using the Lightning (calendaring) plugin. All the data is resident on our Chandler calendar server and is accessed via the CalDAV protocol.

Thunderbird and Lightning Screenshot

The list down the left shows the various calendar collections to which I have access and the main screen shows all the events and tasks color coded for the month of June.

Here’s a similar shot but of the Cosmo UI in a web browser.

Cosmo Server Screenshot

Cosmo is a Java application that runs in a Tomcat server. We have ours running on my little low power VIA C7N server and it has been running happily for a year or so with no interruption to service.

Interestingly, Google has just made available a CalDAV interface to their calendar system too. It is a bit rough around the edges currently and is only supposed to support Apple’s iCal client but thanks to a comment from Roberto via the cosmo mailing list, I made a brief test with Lightning using CalDAV and it appears to work O.K. But don’t take my word for it: in Sunbird or Lightning, use the following URL to talk to your Google calendar:

It’s alright, although managing multiple collections, or calendars, with Google is no where near as easy as it is using Cosmo. But being able to now collate all your calendars into your desktop with Lightning and CalDAV is great!

Welcome to Mozilla’s new baby: Messaging

Announced yesterday, The Mozilla Foundation has launched a new subsidiary called Mozilla Messaging. It will focus on the Internet Massaging and Communications space.

Here’s a FAQ with some useful information. I was particularly interested to see who is on the board. Marten Mickos (of MySQL) is a pretty “big” name…

This is a very attractive little snippet:

# In some ways we’re re-launching Thunderbird — it’s a project that has huge latent potential, and we’re there to catalyze community driven progress in the Internet communications space. The world of electronic communications is buzzing, with older technologies like email still crucial to our online experience, but complemented by other technologies like instant messaging, social networking, voice over IP, and mobile devices.

I am a user of Thunderbird and the Lightning extension (which will be rolled into TB-3) and am very happy with it’s performance and feature set. Reading the quote above, adding IM and VOIP would really make it a killer desktop app.

Oh yes. I am not one of those who believe everything is going to be “web based” applications either. Call me old fashioned if you want but I still like proper “desktop” applications and local storage. I have a gmail account, but I access it using IMAP and Thunderbird. I rarely use web based email, it just doesn’t “feel right” somehow…

Good luck to Mozilla Messaging. I follow the mailing lists with interest and will help with any input that I can give.

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