Tagging in Radio Userland

This is my first post using my new tagging tool within the Radio Userland

blogging application, using Mozilla. It really has been quite an
adventure in learning Javascript at a much deeper level … for
me. Radio has a WYSIWYG editor within it’s web interface that can
be used for writing posts, and there are two flavors (of course):
one for IE and one for Mozilla.

What I wanted to do is add a new toolbar button in the WYSIWYG editor
to allow me to enter a list of comma-delimited words, and have those
words converted to the proper HTML for tags … like the tags at the
bottom of this post. What an adventure!

I was actually able to get the code written and working for IE first
… but not exactly what I wanted. I wanted to have the tags
‘inserted’ at the cursor position, but could only get ‘append’
working. So the tags would always end up at the end of the
post. I then worked on the Mozilla version of this, and got
everything working perfectly! There was already some sample code
on how to do an ‘insert’ in Mozilla. Well … if I could do it in
Mozilla, then I had to find how to get the same functionality in
IE. The problem is that the Mozilla code (of course) would not work
with IE. In the end, it was three simple lines of Javascript!

win = document.getElementById(“idEdit”);
var sel = win.document.selection.createRange();

First, get the iFrame object that the user is typing in, then get the
selection range, then simply paste the HTML/text into that
selection. Simple! In fact much easier than the Mozilla
code that I was looking at. Of course, finding those three lines
was a real pain … until I found this great article at WebReference.
WebReference has always been an incredible site for reading and
learning about HTML, CSS, and Javascript. They came though again
with this article which finally gave me the details to resolve this
issue. Now I’m on to adding toolbar buttons to ease the way that
I insert images into a post. We’ll see how quick that goes …

What hacks and trojans are really about

Few people seem to understand what all of these viruses and malware are really about.  Yes, there is a certain amount of spam that you get that is designed to then barrage you with pop-up ads … as though you would say “Wow, what a great ad!  I’m glad I get these pop-ups … I’ll have to go and spend money with these folks!

One of the real business models behind all of this – the real people doing business in this space – are the ones that use large numbers of compromised computers at business and homes to launch DDOS (Distributed Denial Of Service) Attacks.  These attacks are used for good ol’ conventional extortion.  It becomes a very simple case of “Pay me, or your Internet presence will be shut down!”  The person who controls the compromised machines can easily “task” them to attack various web sites, at various times, and for various amounts of time.  Reading this article, you can begin to get the idea that large scale “Internet vandelism” can quickly grow into a profitable – yet illegal – business.  I recently read another article where a California 20-year-old had over 400,000 machines under his control as a massively distributed “botnet” that he could divide up and control as a virtual military force.  Yes … 400,000 machines!

A while back I had one of my Linux boxes compromised through a hole in a Open Source PHP application.  The attackers were able to install and execute a small script that pulled down and ran a larger script.  That one actually attached to an IRC server and waited for additional commands.  I found that they then sent a command to download a DDOS script, and would then begin to run it from time to time attacking various sites.  I discovered this whole scenario when I noticed that my DSL line would get swamped from time to time and isolated the traffic to that Linux box.  I actually had some fun before cleaning everything up.  I did patch the hole, but I modified the DDOS script to simply log information about the command and the target, but not actually generate the traffic.  It was fun to review the log and see that my box was being controlled by a compromised machine in South America, and that I was being to used – at one point – to attack an on-line gambling site.

This got me thinking a lot about what we don’t know that we don’t know about the whole world of the Internet, spam, viruses, and malware.  In addition, it reinforces the levels of indirection that can easily be created to hide the identity of the controller.  But not forever!

Hackers Admit to Wave of Attacks. With their ringleader on the run, two cybervandals own up to using an army of compromised PCs to take down sites for commercial gain. By Kevin Poulsen. [Wired News]

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Outsourced Identity Theft

I know that this type of identity theft is why so many people are working on identity solutions.  I believe that these types of incidents are going to be on the raise for a while.  What is interesting to me is that I am not sure that this can prevented except through the use of harsh penalties.

What we have is a company who specializes in outsourcing various work, and number of companies who have entrusted their customers – and their identity data – to this outsourcing entity.  Within the outsourcing entity, there are employees – or this one employee – who saw the opportunity to compromise the system from the inside!

While I was working at Novell, we often saw the hacker/security breach reports that floated around, and in almost all of the cases that I could remember the biggest breaches were from the inside!  We can do everything that we want to protect the identities of others, however when we have someone within our company – within our community or context – that is committed to exploiting our identity for their own purposes, there is little we can do.  This becomes a fundamental breakdown within that community … and for significant violations in the past there were severe punishments.  This truly gets at the roots of the meaning of being fired!

Indian call center worker arrested. In a new case of alleged data theft, Indian police have arrested a call center employee in the outsourcing hub of Gurgaon. [CNET News.com]

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Next GoBinder Beta Build?

Today we are working hard to complete the next beta build of GoBinder 2006.  It’s taken a number of weeks to get it completed, however I think that it is well worth the wait.  The engineers have been doing a lot of work on performance, bug fixes, and a lot of enhancements.  Things are really getting a lot more solid.  If we get a good build today, then we go into code lock-down for a week or so to clean-up and fix any last major bugs before doing a public release.

We’ll also be releasing a new version of the GoBinder SDK which allows you to easily create new plug-ins for GoBinder, Backpack, or the new version of Plan Plus.  I’m working on several new sample plug-ins for doing peer-to-peer sharing, chat, and some RSS/Blogging tools.  I’ve got numerous other ideas … but can only do so much right now.

I’ll post later today, or Monday, when we will release the next beta on the Agilix Forums … it ought to be within the next week.

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How many dimensions?

I really like reading an article like this.  These researchers are pushing the limits of our thoughts, and introduce new ideas that cause our brains to go ‘huh’?  In looking to create new theories that would explain our observations of the universe, these researchers are positing that there could be numerous more dimensions that exist in the universe … and that they are too “small” for our senses to detect them!

I really like this type of thought because it challenges the traditional thinking that we have been trained to think.  It forces to re-evaluate the facts that we are very primitive biological sensory machines, and that in reality it takes very little to fool us.  Additionally, we fall into the traps of “conventional wisdom” which only limits what we believe is possible!  Why only three dimensions?  Why only six?

I believe that over the next decade we are going to begin to “see” that there is much more to the universe that we thought!

Dark matter highlights extra dimensions. University of Oxford scientists say extra spatial dimensions can be inferred from the perplexing behavior of dark matter, which behaves differently in small galaxies and large clusters of galaxies.

Three extra dimensions are altering the effects … [KurzweilAI.net Accelerating Intelligence News]

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Playing with Virtual Earth

I have to admit that I really like Google Maps.  It’s an impressive web application, and has completely altered how I use maps – and send map information – to friends, family, and coworkers.  It’s now so easy to quickly locate something on Google maps, get the link, and send it.

As of yesterday I started to experiment more with Microsoft’s Virtual Earth, and I now think that I found something I like even better than Google Maps!  I was listening to the Virtual Earth podcast from Where 2.0 and Stephen talked about the features that are there … many of which I hadn’t realized.

First, if you put in a query, it will display the results contained in the map you are viewing.  As you pan the map, the query results update.  You can use the compass for “game-panning” by clicking your mouse on the compass and holding the mouse button down.  You can also use the Tools->Scratchpad to drag and drop locations that you want to keep.  It’s then easy to e-mail these to a friend.

I’m going to continue to use both, and comment on which I like better.  I also am going to start to experiment with the developer APIs.  I have some ideas of some data that I want to place on a map.

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Your Identity on Pluto!

It’s actually too late to sign up … but you could have had your name
included on a disc being sent via a spacecraft to Pluto! Be the first
one on your block to have your identity known to Plutonians? Click here to read more.

Send your name to Pluto. Want your name to be included on a list in a spacecraft headed to Pluto, and be returned to earth in 50,000 years? Click Here [The Hawker Squawker]

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Apple and User Interface

Anyone who has followed the entire life of Apple Computers knows that they have been involved in several User Interface disputes and lawsuits.  The whole desktop idea was born from a visit to Xerox PARC.  Now it looks like Creative Labs has quietly patented the way that music can be navigated using the ID3 tag information.

The interesting part is that the Apple iPod might be in violation of this patent!  It will be interesting to see what comes of this … I have to admit that I like my iPod!

After patent, Creative examines all options. Creative Technology is “evaluating all alternatives” now that it has received a patent for music player interfaces such as those found on rival Apple iPods. [Computerworld News]

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Experimenting with tags in Radio

I sat here tonight and did some hacking on Radio again.  I’m working on my RadioAtomBridge tool, but I also wanted to add some new functionality to the WYSIWYG editor … making it easier to add tags to  posts.

I added a new toolbar button, and wrote some code that allows me to enter a series of space-delimited words.  Now I can simply click the button, and enter words and hit enter … and I get the tag that you see below!

I’m not quite done with it … but it’s working.  I want to change the icon of the button, and I was hoping to figure out how to insert at the caret position … something that I just could not get working within an iFrame.  Oh well … I got closer!

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