Turing Test Finally Finds A Real World Use

AT&T have been pestering people for months to pay up after they fell victim to the ‘Yes Yes’ Scam on poorly configured voicemail systems. Bills for £6,000 were not unusual.


In the scam, the hacker first war dials looking for voicemail boxes with weak PINs. Then the greeting is reconfigued to say ‘Yes Yes Yes’ repititively.

The cunning perp next uses the number of the voicemail as the chargepoint for calls. when the automated AT&T system dials the number and asks for permission to place the charge and authorise the call, the Yes Yes Yes is enough to fool the system (And the majority of real operators).

AT & T claimed that this problem was wholely down to poor security on the voicemail services rather than their own procedures for checking cross charging. Now that some people have sucessfully sued AT&T, they’ve dropped all payment demands and improved the secuirity on the checking procedure.

To fix the problem AT&T have developed a Turing style test to ensure that the YES is actually coming from a Human being rather than a machine. The operator now asks the person to read back a number rather than just say “yes”.

Todays New Virus Warnings

A tranche of new viruses reported late yesterday and already today.


Worm masquerading as ICQ software. Writes itself as svch0st.exe, mods reg to run on startup and makes many outbound connections. Possible remote control client. O. Few reports of this in the wild.

Writes itself as WINTSK32.EXE, mods reg to run at startup. Possible Keystroke recorder, possible DOS attacks against pakistan based machines. Propogates by SMTP, and Network Shares. Few reports of this in the wild.

Worm Virus propogating as email attachment with various subject lines looking like replies to previous messages. Will not spread after July 14th. File attachment is called ‘your_details.zip’.Many reports of this worm in the wild.

Word Macro worm which creates a VBScript file called WordSeek.vbs. Adds a line to wini.ini to infect Word files with another Virus, VBS/Simuleek-B. Few reports of this in the wild.

JavaScript/Java applet combination that forces HTML aware email clients to open a website. The website runs Troj/ByteVeri-A to install itself locally. Attempts to subvert some websites by putting entries into the local hosts file. Exploits a vulnerability in Microsoft VM ActiveX component. Adds some Porn related Favorites. Few reports of this virus in the wild.

SCO Business

Time For a Catchup of the latest SCO events. All together now: ‘There’s no business like SCO business, there’s SCO business I know‘ (Or should that be SCO?)

Mirth and merryment prevail. Much has been happening with the Linux/Unix/SCO fiasco.

1) SCO Share price his risen pretty well. TurboTas reckons it’s in for a crash soon, but that’s just opinion.


2) In a strange counter move, there are now mumblings from a presently unknown but supposedly reliable source which state that SCO may have violated the GPL by using parts of Linux in the UnixWare product without displaying or accrediting it. This may be a cheap trick, but certainly it’s pretty funny! I only hope it’s true.

3) A court in Germany has granted a preliminary injunction against SCO. This injuction, sponsored by SuSE AG (amongst others), prohibits SCO from making further claims in Germany that ‘Linux is an illegal derivative of Unix’. The injunction carries a stiff 250,000 Euro penalty if SCO fail to heed it.

That’s it for now: more to follow as it happens! Hey, if you see something, you Tell Me: Better still, use that ‘Submit News’ button for flip’s sake! I write like a man possessed and someone’s reading it: help by contributing!

Opinion: Don’t forget that those litiginous twerps at SCO only have Unix by aquisition: they have no more idea how it works than you have an idea how to fix your shiny new Ford: Suing people is the only way they can think of to make money out of it!


Ah, Those litiginous Yanks, don’t they just make you crease up. On June 16th, SCO group delivered on it’s March 2003 threat to revoke the license for IBM to sell Unix (AIX). In theory (says SCO), Every AIX customer is now breaking the law.

Where does this problem come from? After going back over the companies records, there is a very confusing set of share trades, mergers, acquisitions and some very strange business practices that leave the SCO group holding the rights to Unix. Given that all in all it wasn’t worth a lot (Unix System 5 use is plummetting), SCO looked for a cleverer way to make some cash from it.

The way that SCO have gone about the IBM action will either boost them to the top of the OS vendors or kill them for good.

Every time that SCO CEO Darl MacBride Opens his mouth, either a corporation gets sued or a bundle of law abiding computer users get upset. What remains to be seen though is whether the bully boy tactics will pay off amongst the 1500 Linux using CEO’s that MacBride has targetted as lawbreakers.

MacBride is no stanger to the courts, he’s sued just about every one he’s ever had dealings with including previous employers: SCO better watch out in case MacBride leaves 😉

The basis premise of the SCO position is this: Linux is great. It was not too hot at Kernel 2.2, but then major Unix vendors got involved with it (IBM), and the 2.4 tree is really great: Enterprise computing, Multi way Symmetry, 64 bit on the way: the works. All, presumably they think, due to those Unix System V vendors.

What they claim has happened is that IBM and some other vendors have illegally used source code that was provided to them under an NDA and basically stuck it word for into the Linux code base. SCO are a bit cross about this.

SCO are in a difficult position here. It’s quite funny watching them squirm about considering things: They can’t actually show anyone the problems, because if they do that, the OpenSource community will just fix it by rewriting the code from scratch and move on: No more problem for Linux, only for IBM.

What this leaves them doing is trying to sue IBM without telling anyone what for, which is really rather funny.

Their whole $1Bn (Yes, One Billion Dollar) lawsuit hinges on not telling anyone what the problem is with Linux. Publicly, they claim that it’s ‘hundreds of thousands of lines of code’. Privately, they have persuaded a few experts to look at specific bits under NDA, but no-one has actually admitted to looking at a chunk of code bigger than 80 lines. Wow, that will take some rewriting, perhaps two blind monkeys will need a day for that section, grin.

Further confounding everyone, SCO claim that versions of Unix that they do not even own they have derivative rights over and thus this code may not be used in Linux.

What makes this even more interseting is that (conveiniently), SCO are selling a version of Linux! Yep, tis True. Open Linux is basically owned by SCO and contains extra compatibility libraries to help Unix V5 code run on the Linux platform. Talk about covering your bases!

Here we are then about 100 days after SCO formally wrote to IBM asking them to clarify there actions (without actually asking them to do anything), and SCO have supposedly revoked the license for IBM to use Unix and thus sell AIX (on which many IBM machines depend).

The only way forward that TurboTas can see is to scan the codebase CVS for code contributed by IBM and start rewriting it.

Those of you who prefer a more direct action approach could perhaps talk to those customers of SCO that don’t mind advertising the fact. Effectivly they are condoning the SCO bullying. Start off with MacDonalds and BMW!

Should TurboTas start to draw up a list of SCO customers somewhere on the Website? Use the voting form for this article to tell us what you think!

JK has the Last Laugh?

Today I used my favorite file sharing network to try find the new HP book. It was the News hype that forced me into it. All this talk of security for the Lauch of book 5 got me interested in seeing if the ‘net had copies floating about.

Purely in the interests of science I therefore dutifully logged on and started looking for files with the ‘Order of the Phoenix’ Title. About 20 different versions turned up. What the Hell, I tagged them all and went off for din dins.

A few minutes later (I’m a fast eater and rather an animal at the table), I’m back at the keyboard and most of the files have finished. Dump the Sharing tool, Raise the Firewall and relax to start reading.

An initial skim through the files got rid of about half of them: Ripped versions of JK’s earlier books with the title changed (Doh). Interesting that they were so easy to grab though.

Two more dumped as obvious rubbish: far too short and riddled with inconsistencies in grammar (and I’m no expert!)

This leaves 3 texts which in preview all look identical. Cool, all power to the information ages thinks I. As the three versions were all different formats (One Text, One PDF, One Word), I elect to start on the real mens version and make a start with vi.

I got sucked in, as you do, and after about 10 minutes, there are some odd things happening. I can’t really define odd in any detail, something just didn’t feel right. I start skimming rather than reading now and am looking at the story texture rather than the words themselves. Eventually it grabbed me: it’s a bit flat.

Somehow the narration and the dialog seem a tiny bit two dimensional, sort of like reading a translation. Surprised, I begin to skim through the book. The story is excellent: the dramatic twists are smart, the plot plausible and the characters seem to behave in familiar fashions. There are even tiny undertones of adult subjects, just like in the other HP books.

My initial guess was that this was an early draft or OCR’d rip and that the editor had done so much correction that much of the tapestry was lost, so I went over to the .doc version. No fruit here, obviously from an identical source as everything was word perfect (Except the file format, smirk), even the double spaces etc.

Over to the final undiscarded version and in this one, being PDF, there was more MetaData. Mainly I mean that there was a website listed at the top, http://hpfanfiction.net/books/book5/. ‘bit blatant’ thinks I: ‘Don’t advertise your rip site, you’ll get in trouble!’ CLICK goes I and all is clear: I’ve been had!

I know you’re probably not surprised, probably been shouting this at me while reading this article, but I was flumoxed. It transpires than an enterprising HP Fan site has got so bored waiting for JK to write these books that they’ve taken matters into their own hands and darn well written their own!

All in all these are really clever works: I’m pretty sure that if you gave one to little johnny, he’d be hard pushed to tell it apart and would keenly devour it.

The website makes all clear: the guy has a forum where poeple can discuss suggested storylines and the final product is the sensible median ground of these musings. Output rate is better than the real authoress though as book 6 is complete too! [ed: actually, JK has already finished the final book: it’s all about market control though!]

Of course this only serves to hype the real book for me even more now: I want the chance to compare story lines and see if hive mind or richest woman write the best story.

Check it out for yourself, I think you’ll understand how I got suckerd!

As a footnote, I really could not find a _real_ version of JKR’s new work. Frankly I’m really surprised. I’m tempted to queue in Crawley just so I can get something from a shop that can be bought BEFORE it hits’ the Net!

Hopefully Lightning Never Strikes Twice

The TurboTas site was affected by lightning today and not a nice experience was it!

Some weeks ago the the UPS failed its battery test. I had removed it from service pending an engineer test soon.

At about 15:00 I’m told a huge lightning flash was heard and felt. I’ve not yet worked out how close it landed but I’m told flash and sound were indistinguishable in timing (not particularly scientific, I know!)

Of 10 hosts we have this condition: The primary server stayed up. One 10 Meg Hub port fired. One DSL Hub Port fried. Main Firewall Lost 3 (Yes 3!) Nics including it’s internal one. Two servers locked up solid but power cycling fixed.

Luckily, all was repaired reasonably fast: the firewall is a diskless jobbie running on an old PC and I just happened to have a spare box and a heap of those ubiquitous NICs whose name I don’t need to mention!

The Hub will be skipped, it was only a cruddy 10 meg jobbie, plenty more around. The remaining problem, The DSL based hub is harder to overcome: the unit still seems to work minus the one port. Although it’s less than 6 months old, I think I’ll stick with it: Luckily the built in hub is not critical and I don’t want to be connectionless!

Needless to say, I’ll look to get either the UPS or a proper filter installed soon as, just in case lightning does strike twice!

The Ultimate in Environmentally Friendly Computing?

Possibly the most odd case design you will ever see. This beast is actually made out of cardboard!

Unsurprisingly, it arrives as a flatpack and the assembly looks like it may take a few frustrating hours! From the pictures it looks like this is a glue free process though so all you have to watch out for is stray coffee cups and Paper cuts!

Hardware is attached to the case by way of small clips. Presumably the finished case can be completed to your own specifications using paint, markers, papier mache etc 😉

It’s not clear from the accompanying text if this is a big april fools joke, but the attention to detail does indicate that this case does really exist and you can buy it.

On the plus side it would certainly make things a lot lighter so it would be far more feasible to attend those lan parties.

Sending the thing would also be a doddle: Brown tape over the orifices and write an address on the top 😉

Alas, there are some downsides: Think of the risk of paper cuts whilst upgrading.

Also it would no longer be too smart to stick coffee cups on the top of the PC!

For those amongst you hell-bent on running flogging 466 Celerons at 1.2 Gigs, there may be a very real fire risk 😉

If you now have your heart set on one of these, check out the source below. Beware, it’s not English!

Whatever next? TurboTas can think of some distinct advanges to Cardborad motherboards, Hard Discs and Ram. It would be nice to try a cardboard keyboard: At least it will do less damage when slung out of the window in frustration 😉

Source: lupo.co.jp

New Themes Available

Wow, Some super new themes are now available. As of yet they are not all edited for optimum English, but shout if your favorite one is not right.

Dezina is so good, I’ve made it the new site default. Let me know what you think. The new ones are Dezina, norwich, seriartnukeblue, EYellow and Chama.

Don’t forget to vote if you think they stink!

Rubiks Cube on Speed?

If, like me, you found the best way to solve the Rubiks cube was by prising off a corner, best read no further.

The latest craze (?) is to attempt to solve a 4D version of the famous puzzle.

Basically a bunch of mathematicians and programmers have got together (always a bad sign) and come up with a computer sim (Windows and Linux) which lets you try to solve the 4D version.

Apparently there are more permutations than there are atoms in the universe. Despite these extra possibilities, the 4D cube is said to be not much more complex then the 3D version for those that mastered it.

I don’t know about that: assuming I could prise a corner off a 4D cube, I reckon there would definitely be bits left over afterwards!

source: www.superliminal.com

More Delays For Mars Rover

As the ESA ‘Mars Express’ passed 1,000,000km from the Earth, the first of the NASA backed Mars Rovers is still Earthbound after thunderstorms surround the launch site.

‘Spirit’ and ‘Opportunity’ are scheduled to arrive in January 2004. Each is a golf cart sized explorer specifically designed to examine the geology for past evidence of water.

The end of this year is set to be busy for Mars: Beagle II should arrive at Christmas aboard the Mars Express.

Mars Express and the NASA MER mission have not coincided by chance: A rare proximity between Mars and Earth means more payload and faster transit: the typical journey is down from 9 months to 7.

Both missions also share the same planetfall approach: Airbags. Although it sounds risky its a proven technique and significantly reduces the mass of the landing system.

Sources: ESA Mars Express, Nasa MER