27 April, 2006

ActiveX Control Change in IE: Release Date and More

Microsoft has made this rather confusing. If you support Windows with Internet Explorer or are a web application developer, read on; if not, skip to the last line.

The way I read security Bulletin MS06-013, the change has already been released, but a patch in IE is keeping it from being active. As quoted in the bulletin, "This Compatibility Patch will function until an Internet Explorer update is released as part of the June update cycle, at which time the changes to the way Internet Explorer handles ActiveX controls will be permanent."

This is also taken from the bulletin:
Some of the important modifications include the following:
  • Security level for the Internet zone is set to High. This setting disables scripts, ActiveX controls, Microsoft Java Virtual Machine (MSJVM), and file downloads.
  • Automatic detection of intranet sites is disabled. This setting assigns all intranet Web sites and all Universal Naming Convention (UNC) paths that are not explicitly listed in the Local intranet zone to the Internet zone.
  • Install On Demand and non-Microsoft browser extensions are disabled. This setting prevents Web pages from automatically installing components and prevents non-Microsoft extensions from running.
  • Multimedia content is disabled. This setting prevents music, animations, and video clips from running.
In addition to the security bulletin, Microsoft also has a TechNote: MS06-013: Cumulative security update for Internet Explorer. The TechNote talks about some potential issues with:
  • Siebel 7
  • Java Platform, Standard Edition 1.3, or 1.4
  • WMV HD DVD
  • Unexpected page load
There are two references to page load issues, 909889 and 909738, with solutions that include registry changes.

If you're still with me, and you have not tried Firefox yet, this would be a good time.

24 April, 2006

Net Neutrality: Part 2

I did some more research on Net Neutrality, and learned more about how big of an issue this is. The issue is that cable companies and telcos are pushing to charge more for premium services, such as video content. Further, they want to throttle back the bandwidth allocated to content not purchased or provided by them -- unless the content providers pay them for the bandwidth -- bandwidth they are already paying for.

Consider this, content providers already pay for bandwidth every time someone downloads content off their servers -- this is how their network service provider collects revenue for services rendered. The cable and telephone companies want the content providers to pay them again for their content to travel over their network to your home or business, which you have already paid for too. Many folks also believe that without net neutrality, network discrimination would slow economic growth and innovation. Net Neutrality advocates include Yahoo, eBay, Microsoft, Google, Amazon, and IAC/InterActiveCorp.

The telcos, cable companies, and other advocates against Net Neutrality present three arguments:
  1. Through increased revenue that the carrier would gain, the funds would be put towards growing their network infrastructure.
  2. It provides a way to counter bandwidth congestion.
  3. For Net Neutrality to work, it would require government intervention, which is not good for anyone.
Personally, I think the first two items are the same, and though I do not generally welcome government intervention, but if that is what is required to keep the telcos and cable companies from increasing the cost due to monopolistic control, I would welcome it. Finally, the United Kingdom, South Korea, and Japan already have Net Neutrality laws on the books. If you want to get more involved in this topic, check out the Free Press website.

Some of my resources included Wikipedia and Free Press.

21 April, 2006

Microsoft is changing how it handles ActiveX controls in IE

Are you aware of the changes to how the ActiveX Control works within IE? Most (possibly all --– I am not sure) IE plug-ins use ActiveX to load within the IE browser; and therefore if your site's user base is predominately IE user, which is true for most of us, this presents a potential big problem. If you are lucky, users will only have to double-click on controls instead of single click. (The first click is to activate the control, while the second is to use the control.)

This is an exert from Microsoft's site, http://support.microsoft.com/kb/912945/en-us:
This update changes the way in which Internet Explorer handles some Web pages that use ActiveX controls. Examples of programs that use ActiveX controls include the following:
Adobe Reader
Apple QuickTime Player
Macromedia Flash
Microsoft Windows Media Player
Real Networks RealPlayer
Sun Java Virtual Machine
You can download the update today from the same page to test for yourself -- I understand this will be pushed down through the automatic update in about a month.

For Flash Developers, Adobe/Macromedia has posted a work-around on their site.

In briefly viewing the work-around, it made me wonder about what Microsoft is gaining through making this change... I mean, if there is a work-around, then other than making everyone re-write their pages, what real benefit is there to changing the behavior? Perhaps I have missed something. Either way, look out as we are all going to feel the pain once again as Microsoft tries to recover from the mistake of adding ActiveX to IE 10 years ago.

19 April, 2006

Net Neutrality

I found this article by David Passmore, Net Neutrality Technical Challenges, very interesting. David does a great job in presenting the issue, some based on his own experience as a customer of Cox Cable. For those of us who use the Internet for business and pleasure, you should really care about this subject, as we could get stuck with prohibitive pricing schemes -- in particular I fear this sort of thing for people trying to start their own business, where every penny is important. David came to this conclusion for solving the problem, "A solution that strikes the right balance between these conflicting interests will likely require a mix of business, technical and legislative/ regulatory developments." Though I think he is probably right, I sure worry about any solution that requires government intervention, as they too often follow the money.

Welcome

This is my second run at having my own blog, but this time I am at a different place. This morning I got tired of just posting new found sites and knowledge to Deli.cio.us and possibly sharing some comments with co-worker -- It's time to find others that share my passion.

I am in the process of going through all the podcasts from SXSW, and today listened to a panel on "Bootstrapping Your Digital Convergence Business." There were several good points made, such as there are typically two (or more) people behind every bootstapped business. Examples included Apple and Oracle. And perhaps a more valuable point was that of innovation seems to occur more often when you are spend ing your own money instead of a VCs money. Taking this idea a step further, when you have VC money, you need to answer to the VC, while when it's your own money, you (should) be answer to those customers who will pay you for a product.

Prior to going through the SXSW podcasts, I had listened to Web 2.0, which is released through IT Conversations. I had taken a few notes, and was working my way through them when I found the Web 2.0 wiki. There is a wealth of information contained here -- just click on the people link (on the right nav), and then start clicking through each of the names.