Archive for March 10th, 2010

10
Mar
10

Windows security update causes ‘blue screen of death’ for some

NEWS
Windows security update causes ‘blue screen of death’ for some

February 11, 2010
Last modification: March 10, 2010

••• Some Windows users reported on Thursday that they were getting the “blue screen of death” on their computers when they installed Microsoft’s latest security updates released two days earlier.

Most of the people complaining on a Windows forum said they had the problem on Windows XP, but one person also reported problems on Windows 7.

Users posted a fix on the site that they said seemed to work, but that didn’t necessarily quell the anger.

“Where at Microsoft do I send my invoice for hours spent fixing this BS?” one person wrote on Thursday.

The problem appears to be with one specific update, which addresses a vulnerability in the 32-bit Windows kernel that could allow elevation of privilege that was disclosed last month.

The fix requires users to have an install CD, but not all computer manufacturers ship systems with a disc for re-installing the operating system, according to the Krebs on Security blog, which first reported the problems on Wednesday.

In addition, Netbooks do not have CD-ROM drives, making the problem even more difficult for them to fix, security blogger Brian Krebs wrote.

Several people reported on the Windows forum site that Microsoft told them the company would not be providing a fix for Netbooks and that Netbook users would have to get support from the equipment manufacturer.

Microsoft is investigating the reports to determine the cause of the problems, according to a statement from Jerry Bryant, senior security communications manager lead at Microsoft.

“Anyone believed to have been affected can visit: https://consumersecuritysupport.microsoft.com,” the statement said. “Those in the United States can contact Customer Service and Support at no charge using the PC Safety hotline at 1-866-727-2338 (PCSAFETY). Those outside the United States can find local contact numbers at http://support.microsoft.com/international.”

Microsoft published a blog post later on Thursday with this additional information:

“Our initial analysis suggests that the issue occurs after installing MS10-015 (KB977165). However, we have not confirmed that the issue is specific to MS10-015 or if it is an interoperability problem with another component or third-party software. Our teams are working to resolve this as quickly as possible. We also stopped offering this update through Windows Update as soon as we discovered the restart issues. However, those using enterprise deployment systems such as SMS or WSUS will still see and be able to deploy these packages.

“While we work to address this issue, customers who choose not to install the update can implement the workaround outlined in the bulletin. CVE-2010-0232 was publicly disclosed and we previously issued Security Advisory 979682 in response. Customers can disable the NTVDM subsystem as a workaround and we have provided an automated method of doing that with a Microsoft Fix It that you can find here: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/979682.”
• Microsoft Support: How to fix BlueScreen (STOP) errors that cause Windows Vista to shut down or restart unexpectedly.
• Source(s): © 2010 Microsoft
• More info: Demystifying the ‘Blue Screen of Death’ GO
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10
Mar
10

Ten years on, French court asks who’s to blame for Concorde crash

NEWS
Ten years on, French court asks who’s to blame for Concorde crash

February 03, 2010

••• U.S. airline Continental and three French aviation officials went on trial outside Paris on Tuesday in connection with the July 2000 crash of an Air France Concorde leaving Charles de Gaulle airport in which 113 people died.

Nearly a decade after Air France Concorde Flight 4590 crashed shortly after take-off, effectively grounding the legendary supersonic aircraft, the trial of five people in connection with the crash got underway at a specially enlarged courtroom in a Parisian suburb on Tuesday to re-examine the causes of one of aviation’s most high-profile disasters.

U.S. airline Continental, along with two of its employees and three French aviation officials, face charges of manslaughter for the deaths of 113 people in the accident. The victims included 100 passengers, most of them German holidaymakers, as well as nine crew members and four hotel staffers, who were killed when the aircraft rammed into a hotel 1.25 miles from Paris Charles de Gaulle airport after catching fire as it left the ground.

The July 25, 2000, Concorde crash marked a bitter milestone in the history of commercial supersonic flight. After briefly resuming service after the crash, Air France and British Airways suspended their transatlantic supersonic service in April 2003.

Conflicting explanations

Tuesday’s trial is set to examine conflicting accounts of the causes of the crash. The official explanation for the tragic accident is that the aircraft’s undercarriage tyre exploded after rolling over an 18-inch strip of titanium that dropped onto the runway from a Continental Airways plane that took off just before the Concorde. The burst tyre penetrated a fuel tank in the left wing, causing a fire, a loss of power and ultimately the crash.

Continental Airlines is under fire for using titanium, a metal much harder than aluminium or stainless steel, for a temporary repair on one if its aircraft, which is a breach of security rules. Two of its ground staff in Paris, John Taylor and Stanley Fort, are accused of ignoring the titanium ban to complete the repair job.

Continental, however, rejects these accusations, claiming that several witnesses saw the Concorde catch fire 2,600 feet (800 metres) before it reached the part of the runway where the titanium strip fell.

“There is no dispute over the immediate causes of the accident. What muddies the waters in this case are the alleged safety problems of Concorde’s actual design. There were 65 instances of burst tyres on Concorde planes before the fatal crash,” says Christopher Moore, speaking from outside the courtroom.

In press interviews prior to the trial, Continental’s main defence lawyer, Olivier Metzner, said investigators had ignored evidence to “obscure the truth”. Metzner instead claimed that a mistake in the repairing of the Concorde’s undercarriage caused the burst tyre and the subsequent crash.

Air France lawyers maintain that Continental is solely to blame for the crash.

The design of the aircraft itself is also in question, with two Concorde engineers (Henri Perrier, 80, and Jacques Herubel, 74) accused of deliberately playing down or ignoring evidence of weaknesses in the aircraft’s tyres and wing fuel tanks to keep the pride of French and British aviation in the air.

Claude Frantzen, director of technical services at the French Civil Aviation Authority, or DGAC, from 1970 to 1994, faces similar charges.

“You could say that the entire Concorde project itself, once the pride of the British andFrench aviation industries, is in the dock,” Moore says.

A successful prosecution would result in a maximum fine of 375,000 euros for the airline and up to five years in jail and a fine of up to 75,000 euros for the individuals involved.

Hefty compensation

The trial has also put a focus on the compensation and criminal charges resulting from air disasters.

According to news reports, Air France, Concorde manufacturer EADS, Continental Airlines and tyre-manufacturing company Goodyear jointly paid the families of the victims 100 million dollars in compensation.

The families of the four hotel staff, which the airline’s insurance refused to cover, received no compensation. They have pressed charges, as has the family of Concorde pilot Christian Marty.


» Related: Families mark 10 years since Concorde crash
• Latest News & Headlines » Home «
• Source(s): France 24, INA, AFP and APTN
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10
Mar
10

Harry Reid Promises Filibuster Reform

NEWS
Harry Reid Promises Filibuster Reform

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Senate Democrats on Wednesday sought to inject fresh momentum into efforts to overhaul the filibuster, with top Democrats laying the groundwork to reform the procedural weapon next year.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who has long been opposed to changing the filibuster, said Wednesday that the Senate was “likely” going to have to make changes to the tool next year — complaining that it has been abused by Republicans.

“The filibuster has been abused. I believe that the Senate should be different than the House and will continue to be different than the House,” Reid told liberal bloggers, according to The Huffington Post.

“But we’re going to take a look at the filibuster. Next Congress, we’re going to take a look at it. We are likely to have to make some changes in it, because the Republicans have abused that just like the spitball was abused in baseball and the four-corner offense was abused in basketball.”

Reid comments came as he was preparing to meet Wednesday afternoon with junior Democrats who are clamoring for a more confrontational approach to the GOP minority — including a more sustained effort to overhaul the filibuster. And they came after Sen. Chuck Schumer, No. 3 in Senate leadership, announced that his Rules and Administration Committee would hold a series of hearings looking at overhauling the practice.

“I think there’s some real momentum,” said New Mexico Sen. Tom Udall (D), who plans to offer a resolution at the beginning of the new Congress to allow Senate rules to change with a simple majority – rather than the 67 senators required to change the rules under the current system.

Udall said that Democrats elected in 2006 and 2008 have discussed in private meetings a “broad way” to reform the Senate, and some of those newer Democrats have met with Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) to talk about short-term tactics for the rest of the year and a long-term overhaul of filibuster rules.

“The Senate as an institution can’t continue breaking down into these long stretches of inactivity,” said Durbin, who has signed onto a filibuster reform proposal offered by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) but has yet to endorse Udall’s. “We are unresponsive to the needs of this country if the filibuster is abused.”

Still, many Democrats acknowledge they lack the votes to change filibuster rules this year – and even with the new rhetoric from top Democrats, several senior aides and senators said any changes would be incremental at best. Some Democrats fear that Udall’s plan would create a dangerous precedent in the future – and proponents are unlikely to get support from moderate Democrats who could see their influence vanish if filibusters were curtailed.

“When you’re in the majority, filibuster reform looks pretty good – when you’re in the minority, filibuster reform looks pretty bad,” said conservative Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.). He added: “I can’t see that I would” support reform of the filibuster.

But focusing on the issue gives Democrats a political argument that could make to voters angry that bills have stalled on Capitol Hill. Democrats are increasingly arguing that the GOP’s use of the filibuster — which requires several days and 60 votes to break — is the reason for their problems in governing.

Republicans point out that Democrats had 60 seats for much of the Congress, until Republican Sen. Scott Brown won the late Ted Kennedy’s seat in January. And they say Democrats almost certainly would boycott the idea if they find themselves in the minority next year or the verge of losing their majority in 2012.

Still, Schumer warned skeptics that the filibuster could very well be changed in some form.

“I don’t think it’s a foregone conclusion one way or another,” Schumer said.

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10
Mar
10

Google Maps Adds Bike Directions

NEWS
Google Maps Adds Bike Directions

March 10, 2010

••• Google Inc. is adding a bike lane with its latest online mapping option.

The new bicycling directions available on Google Maps starting Wednesday supplement the guidance already provided to motorists and pedestrians. The biking directions initially will be available only for the United States.

Google spent the past six months tweaking its mapping service so it could recommend routes that would steer bicyclists away from big hills and heavily congested streets. The feature can be used to pinpoint bicycling trails in more than 150 cities.

Bike directions already have been available on some smaller Web sites, but Google is the first major Internet mapping service provider to add the option.

Google’s mapping service already is the most popular in the U.S., with more than 55 million visitors in February, according to comScore. MapQuest, owned by AOL Inc., ranked second with more than 36 million visitors.

• Source(s): Google Maps
• Google Inc. – Mountain View, Calif.
+ Official Google Blog

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