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Broadly defined "technology" e.g. software, water pumps

crazy browser stuff

EDIT: like this? Digg it.

I get asked questions - and now I'm answering them here to share the knowledge beyond the emails.

Today one of my coffee group reported the following:

1. He was trying to sign up for {online service} and was asked the usual

information and also he birth date and sex (not gender, as that only

applies to language usage).

2. He questioned the need for this and tried to submit the request

without it. He was rejected and told to fill out those boxes.

3. He called the {online service} and was told that they do not request that

info, that his browser had added it to their website. He was told that

if he did not believe them, he could try logging on to their website

through another browser and see.

4. He tried using MSN and IE and, lo and behold, the questions were

not there. They had been there when he used AOL.

Our question to you: Is this possible? How can this be?

This is interesting, and very possible.


There was clearly something malicious going on that didn't involve the {online service} system. It could have been an extra entry in his hosts file or it could have been some software that watches your browser and whenever you type in {online service} it adds in some extra fields and redirects the form to somewhere else. The malicious software could have gotten there from hundreds of different ways including security flaws in IE and/or Windows. It could have gotten there because this person downloaded some "fun" software for their machine and installed that (and the fun software had malicious software inside it).

Peeps Involved: 

Critique of Google Calendar

I've been using Google Calendar for a while now and there are a couple of problems that I have noticed and a couple that friends have pointed out.

Event Parser

Generally, Google has yet again made a great product. The new event parser works really well. If you don't know, it basically allows you to type in events the way that you think about them (e.g. "

adding event to calendar

Public Calendars

Another thing that they got right is public calendars. There are currently thousands of public calendars that you can add into your Google calendar like a calendar of holidays. But you can also subscribe to iCalendar feeds (as I have demonstrated icalendar importing of Drupal events in the past). This is the kind of thing that will take a geeky technology (iCalendar) and hopefully make it easy enough for "my mom" to use. She can just use the "search" box for the term in an iCalendar feed and there she has it without knowing about iCalendar protocol at all.

Shared Calendars

In that same vein, you can have multiple calendars in your google calendar - e.g. work and personal - and share your calendar with different permission levels. So, the wife can see and edit my personal calendar but not my work calendar. You could allow coworkers to view (bot not edit) your work calendar and only let your coworker friend see your personal calendar as well. Pretty cool.

Peeps Involved: 

an open letter to sun microsystems

In his weekly article Robert Cringely decided to skewer Sun Microsostems:

[...]Sun is simply doomed. Their software isn't better, their hardware isn't better, and they can't see themselves as anything but a maker of hardware or software, so my simple recommendation is that they take the rest of their cash and try entering a hot new field like -- say -- space flight. Or making really fine cakes. The world will always need fine baked goods. Or just give it back to the shareholders. Really.

Peeps Involved: 


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