September 29, 2005

iTunes 5 Install Fix for XP SP2

Greetings. I'll cut to the chase and won't explain here in detail what's really going on with this fix or the path that led me to this procedure, but it has now successfully cleared a range of installation problems for iTunes 5.0, 5.01, and QuickTime 7, on two unrelated XP SP2 systems. Feel free to contact me if you want more info, but you may definitely want to give this a try if you're running XP SP2 and have been having iTunes and/or Quicktime 7 install failures (be sure that you are logged in with Administrator privileges).

Important: This procedure should only be attempted if you are running XP with SP2 installed. Also, as is the case whenever making system-related changes, it is always an excellent idea to create a restore point before proceeding:

(Start - Programs - Accessories - System Tools - System Restore)

Given all of the configuration-related variables, this provides a simple mechanism to return to your previous state if you run into problems.

After you've created your restore point:

Click Start

Click Run

Enter in the "Open:" field: "services.msc" [without the quotes ]

Click OK

Scroll down to "Remote Procedure Call (RPC)" [ NOT "Remote Procedure Call (RPC) Locator" ]

Double click on this item

Click the "Log On" tab

If the "Local System Account" selection is already selected, this fix won't help you. If the "Local System Account" selection is NOT selected, SELECT it now. [ make sure that "Allow service to interact with desktop" is not checked ]

Click OK

Close the Services window


Try reinstall the 5.0 or 5.01 iTunes + QuickTime package

This may also fix a number of other odd XP SP2 behaviors. Good luck!


Posted by Lauren at 10:02 PM | Permalink
Twitter: @laurenweinstein
Google+: Lauren Weinstein

September 18, 2005

Open Letter: Why "Dot-Ex-Ex-Ex" is for Chumps

Greetings. Consider this to be an open letter addressed to that segment of the Internet community where the real money is made -- the "adult entertainment" industry. For that matter, the operators of the ubiquitous non-commercial sexually-oriented Web sites can join in as well.

I have some free advice that may save you a great deal of grief.

Now, in all honesty, I don't have any particular love for your operations or your products. I'm not a prude (well, not much of one, anyway), but by continuing to push the envelope you folks have engendered a great deal of negative reaction that's approaching a fever pitch.

That reaction is what I'm really concerned about, since it's likely to splatter collateral damage broadly across a wide range of free speech and civil liberties arenas.

So, in my desire to protect them, I'll try to protect you as well.

My advice? Don't fall into the "dot-ex-ex-ex" trap that's being set for you by ICANN.

As you no doubt are aware, ICANN appears to be preparing for the deployment -- despite broad protests across the political spectrum and a couple of delays -- of a "dot-ex-ex-ex" top-level domain (TLD). (I use the phonetic representation of the domain to avoid targeting by overzealous obscenity filters.)

I've explained elsewhere [1], [2], why dot-ex-ex-ex is an absolutely atrocious idea.

ICANN claims that participation in the domain will be voluntary, and that will indeed be the case -- at first.

But as I discussed back in a 2001 PFIR position paper on "domain ghettoization", such efforts are a slippery slope likely leading to widespread filtering and censoring by ISPs, governments, plus a broad range of other entities, affecting a lot more than merely pornographic materials. A glance at the current Supreme Court situation is not particularly encouraging in this regard.

ICANN apparently doesn't view their dot-ex-ex-ex plan as a trap. They seem to consider themselves courageous by pushing on with that TLD despite the broad public and private consensus that it's a terrible concept. Unfortunately, this is the sort of "forge ahead over the cliff" behavior that we've come to expect from ICANN as an organization.

So if dot-ex-ex-ex arrives, my strong recommendation is that you ignore it. Pretend that it doesn't exist. Allow it to be an empty database. Joining that domain won't provide you with any cover -- what you'll actually be doing is painting a giant bulls-eye on yourselves -- and on a vast array of worthy and important groups and materials that have nothing whatever to do with adult entertainment.

Dot-ex-ex-ex is for chumps.

By the way, I originally considered titling this entry with a domain-related variation on the old "Suppose They Gave a War and Nobody Came" line, but while the situation with dot-ex-ex-ex is indeed dangerous -- and an example of so much that's wrong with Internet Governance in general and ICANN in particular -- this matter is anything but a dirty joke.


Posted by Lauren at 09:16 AM | Permalink
Twitter: @laurenweinstein
Google+: Lauren Weinstein

September 12, 2005

Public Call for Skype to Release Specifications

Greetings. As I noted in a recent IP posting, eBay's purchase of the popular Skype VoIP service (now official) leads to new concerns over the proprietary nature of Skype's security and encryption systems, which will now be under the control of an extremely large and powerful corporate entity.

For eBay and Skype to have a chance of maintaining the goodwill and trust of Skype users, I call on Skype to forthwith release the specifications and implementation details of Skype's encryption and related technologies.

This disclosure should ideally be made to the public, but at a minimum to an independent panel of respected security, privacy, and encryption experts, who can rigorously vet the Skype technology and make a public report regarding its security, reliability, and associated issues.


Posted by Lauren at 10:40 AM | Permalink
Twitter: @laurenweinstein
Google+: Lauren Weinstein

September 11, 2005

More on new iTunes/QuickTime Problems

Greetings. Here are a few additional important notes regarding the brouhaha over problems in the Windows version of Apple's new iTunes/QuickTime release.

The problems are quite pervasive in particular configurations. Google is now showing significant numbers of sites discussing these. Since the release is only a couple of days old, these discussions are only now starting to appear in Google's index.

While there has been speculation that these problems were caused by interaction between "Bonjour" LAN software and particular antivirus packages, in fact the failures are also occurring on systems that are not routinely running antivirus/antispyware software (including the two systems I noted where I've personally seen this behavior).

In any case, it's worth noting that Bonjour is now included and installed (without warning, I might add) as part of the new Windows iTunes/QuickTime release package! This means that everyone trying to do the install is now also dealing with Bonjour (LAN) issues, one way or another.

A key factor may be whether or not people are running XP SP2. Some persons are reporting that backing out of SP2 allows the installations to proceed, but this is not a practical alternative for most users, since side-effects can be drastic, and SP2 has been the "standard" XP release level for quite some time.

Another factor may be the differences between XP Home and XP Pro -- the former does not include all of the latter's application services, and this may relate to the installer hang-ups and associated issues in some cases. There may be firewall-related issues as well.

A complex set of interrelated elements appears to be involved, causing a range of different negative effects.


Posted by Lauren at 02:18 PM | Permalink
Twitter: @laurenweinstein
Google+: Lauren Weinstein

September 10, 2005

Apple's "iTunes" and "QuickTime" Mess


Users of Apple's iTunes and/or QuickTime on Windows might wish to take note:

Maybe it's a plot to get Windows users to buy Macs (OK, just kidding), or maybe it's a Mac-centric QC department, but Apple is really taking it on the chin regarding their newly-released Windows version 5 iTunes. This is bundled with their new version 7 QuickTime -- in fact, this bundle has become the standard QuickTime download as well. Even more problems appear to have possibly resulted from the complicated DRM environment and the inclusion of a complex LAN-related utility in the release.

A brief look at the discussions over at the Apple Forums gives a taste of the frustration, not only by users who don't have working iTunes anymore, but also by many who now have broken QuickTime installations, and in some cases major OS problems as well. What's worse, rolling back can be difficult or impossible, and Apple's lack of official recognition or public response regarding these problems is driving many users up the wall.

I've personally now seen two systems that have fallen into this black hole -- no working iTunes, no working QuickTime, and attempts to install older versions (even just of QuickTime) fail miserably, even after complex (and in some cases dangerous) attempts at cleaning out the leftover muck. It's really a mess -- reminds me of early DOS days.

It's apparently a somewhat bizarre measure of Apple's success that people are so fired up over this situation, and of course over the related impacts on their ability to feed materials into their expensive iPods and other devices.

This obviously isn't a life or death matter. But for a company with such a finely tuned PR machine as Apple, it should be a reminder that basic issues are important -- like making sure that major software releases are properly tested, and at the very least can be easily and completely deinstalled if there's trouble. To fail these fundamental tests threatens the rapid loss of consumer good will that may have taken many years to establish.


Posted by Lauren at 02:04 PM | Permalink
Twitter: @laurenweinstein
Google+: Lauren Weinstein

September 04, 2005

Louisiana Official Breaks Down on "Meet the Press" (Video)

Greetings. It's rare -- exceedingly rare -- for a public official to lose composure emotionally during a live, national, satellite interview.

It happened this morning on Meet the Press. The first segment of the program was another horribly embarrassing interview with Homeland Security Secretary Chertoff. You can imagine what it was like.

The next segment was with Aaron Broussard, president of Jefferson County, Louisiana Parish. The interview ended when he completely broke down while relating the story of the drowning of an emergency management official's mother in the Katrina flood. It's very difficult to watch, but you can see that portion of the interview in the video here (Windows Media). I urge you to do so.

As an American, I find the way in which our government has handled this entire disaster to be nothing short of humiliating to us all.


Posted by Lauren at 01:02 PM | Permalink
Twitter: @laurenweinstein
Google+: Lauren Weinstein

September 03, 2005

Homeland Security's Chertoff: "We didn't plan for an A-bomb, either!" (Audio)

Greetings. The title above paraphrases a bit, but in case you missed it, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff made a remarkable statement at a press conference today. He was asked why there had not been sufficient planning for a strong hurricane that could cause failure of the New Orleans levee system.

After first characterizing the question as argumentative, he appeared to plead that these two events were not reasonable to associate for planning purposes -- a ludicrous assumption to most observers. And he noted that they hadn't planned for an atomic bomb being added to the mix either.

Say what? I was so startled by the bizarre A-bomb reference that I had to replay it -- but there it was, and here it is -- play the audio for yourself.

If Chertoff really believes that this is a valid comparison, then at least some of the Katrina response failure is explained, and we should all be even more concerned.


Posted by Lauren at 05:05 PM | Permalink
Twitter: @laurenweinstein
Google+: Lauren Weinstein

NBC Censors Anti-Bush Comments From Relief Concert Feed

Greetings. Last night, NBC and some affiliated cable networks simulcast a hurricane relief concert, live to the East Coast. When rapper Kanye West made some unscripted, arguably true anti-Bush remarks related to the hurricane disaster response, his words were heard live by the audience.

While a several-seconds delay was in place, the operator didn't delete those comments at that time since they were not obscenities.

However, for the broadcast of the recorded version of the show for the West Coast feed, Kanye's remarks were deleted.

It appears that NBC isn't only afraid of upsetting the religious right's obscenity patrol, but now feels it necessary to delete all "uncomfortable" comments from live events whenever possible.

NBC claims that the deletion was made since the remarks were a departure from the script. But I wonder -- if there had been similar emotional ad libs that were supportive of Bush, would they have received a similar axe?


Posted by Lauren at 10:49 AM | Permalink
Twitter: @laurenweinstein
Google+: Lauren Weinstein