5 posts

Microsoft Nails It With a Nostalgic Trip Down Memory Lane

Microsoft posted a new advertisement promoting Internet Explorer, and for any twenty-something growing up in the nineties, it’s an almost-sniffle-inducing trip down memory lane. Slap bracelets, ying yangs, pogs (what WERE those?), Hungry Hungry Hippos, Air Jordans, light up sneakers, Tamogotchis (why did you run away, little friend, every time?) and my personal favorite – the bowl hair cut. My brother rocked a bowl hair cut from about 5th to 10th grade. I’ll never forget the day when he changed to the “new” stylish haircut of the boy band inspired spikey gel look of the 2000’s. Continue reading

Microsoft Gives Audience the Bird, Unveils “Tweet Choir” in Last Ever CES keynote

CES, the Consumer Electronics Show held each January in Las Vegas, is known for two things:

1. Being the first look at the new gadget technology we can expect to see in the year ahead.

2. It’s invariably across the road from the annual porn industry convention held in Las Vegas at the same time. Continue reading

Microsoftening the Blue Screen of Death

Hidey ho there, computer adventurers! If you’ve been using personal computers for a while, you have probably laid eyes on a Macintosh or two. You may even own one. If you were an early adopter of the Mac, or have used pushed a Mac just a little too far past its breaking point, you have probably seen the “Sad Mac” icon pictured above right. Continue reading

Organized Hacking Contest: Pwn2Own

Hacking is usually an ‘underground’ sport, something nerdy Eastern Europeans do in their mother’s basements. The only time a hacker would come together to meet another hacker would be on an IRC channel. Not so anymore, with conventions like Defcon, Blackhat, and CanSecWest.

CanSecWest has an interesting contest. A hacking contest. The targets are the most common browsers: IE, Firefox, Chrome, and Safari. A new feature this year is the addition of smartphone hacking: Apple iOS, Windows Phone 7, Google Android, and BlackBerry OS. In total there is $125,000 in cash prizes. Another cool aspect of the competition: if you hack the computer running the target browser, you get to keep the laptop.

Like any good contest, there are the favorites. Charlie Miller, a software analyst from Baltimore has won the contest 3 times before. In 2009 Miller took down Safari running on an Apple in 10 seconds! He scored $10,000 and a laptop for his troubles. “Nils” (The contest allows anonymous entries) – a German computer science student, won last year, cracking Firefox, Safari, and Chrome in less than 10 minutes. In 2009, Nils broke the encryption for IE 8 the day before it was released, netting a new Sony laptop and $5k. George Hotz, the 21 year old who broke the Playstation 3’s copy protection (not to mention being the first person to ever jailbreak the iPhone) will be competing this year.

The biggest challenge this year is Google’s Chrome browser. Chrome runs in a ‘sandbox’ mode in Windows (basically insulating bugs in Chrome from affecting the underlying Windows system.) Google has put up $20,000 if someone can break Chrome’s sandbox mode in the first day.

Contests like this just aren’t cool in the computer security world. They provide vendors with information on how to improve the security of their products. When someone hacks a browser/device they also share technical information on how they did it with the contest organizers, TippingPoint. Details on the hacks aren’t released to the public until the vendor has time to fix the bug.

Pwn2Own runs during the CanSecWest conference, being held in Vancouver CA between March 9-11 2011.