F-Secure notes that it’s discovered the second piece of Mac OS X malware in as many days.
OSX/Inqtana.A is a Java-based worm that takes advantage of a hole in Bluetooth – one that’s already been patched in the latest round of updates. This is a common pattern in the Windows malware world, where a round of patches is often followed by the release of malware that attempts to exploit unpatched systems.
As F-Secure notes, this is unlikely to be a serious threat to Mac users. Not only does it use a hole that’s already patched, it has been written to time out after 24 February. There’s no indication that the author has made any serious attempt to seed it into the wild. However, the fact that it’s emerged so soon after OSX/Leap.A gives a worrying indication that there is more than one person out there writing malware that targets Mac OS X, using “proof of concepts” like Inqtana and Leap to learn how to write for OS X.
I expect more malware to emerge over the next few months, as authors take existing code and improve upon it – probably with malicious payloads, too. However, I also expect this to be far less serious on the Mac than Windows, because of “security through obscurity” factors making it harder to spread.
Take, for example, the most common method of malware transmission – sending copies to email addresses harvested from an infected address book. There’s nothing in OS X to prevent this (in fact, Apple makes harvesting addresses easier than is the case on Windows). The average Mac user’s address book probably contains no more than 10% Mac users, which means that there’s instantly only a 10% chance of hitting the right sort of target. That, alone, makes it much harder to spread effectively.
Writely gets better and better
A while ago, I wrote about Writely, the web-based word processor that includes some neat collaborative features, along with the ability to post to blogs and do about a dozen other things. The good news is that Writely just keeps getting better and better, adding features like word counting and comments. The bad news? There really isn’t any.
All of which raises the question of whether anyone actually needs a word processor on their hard drive anymore. I’m wedded to Word for my day-to-day work, and I like having control over my documents. Although I like having them available anywhere through a web interface, being able to edit them and post them to blogs as and when I want is also a great bonus.
Testing posting to Typepad from Writely.
Given that Microsoft has formerly announced Office 2007 I guess I can start talking about it. I’ve been on the beta programme for a while, and have been using Word 2007 as my main word processor on a day-to-day basis since then. Virtually everything that I’ve written has been in Word – so I guess I’ve given it a fair go. Other than Outlook (which I didn’t really get into until recently as it didn’t initially support Outlook Connector) and OneNote (which rocks) it’s only one of the Office suite that I’ve really used.
Overall, I think it’s great. The new interface takes a little getting used to, but it makes finding features in Word that you don’t use regularly much easier. It’s also much easier to explore the application if you’re so inclined and find out more about it. It’s gone from being an application that frustrated to one that’s much more playful – which is great.
It’ll be interesting to see if the MacBU follows the same “ribbon” interface model as the Windows Office team. While it’s great, it would break Apple User Interface guidelines in, oh, about a hundred different ways. Office for Mac also has traditionally had a few interface tricks of its own – the formatting palette, for example – that have made it easier to use than the Windows version anyway. While I think this release leap-frogs over the Mac version in terms of ease of use, it will be a hard decision to take to change over to this interface.
Nicholas Carr: The new narcissism
As I myself have thought about the watery philosophy and the powerful technology that dovetail so neatly in Web 2.0, I’ve become convinced that we’re building a machine that will, to great and general applause, destroy culture. Keen gets close to the heart of the matter: “If you democratise media, then you end up democratising talent. The unintended consequence of all this democratisation, to misquote Web 2.0 apologist Thomas Friedman, is cultural ‘flattening.’” In the end we’re left with nothing more than “the flat noise of opinion – Socrates’s nightmare.”
Yes, I fear it’s so. Beware of those who come with money and influence and pretty-sounding abstractions and who are utterly unaware that what they so joyfully seek to impose on the world is their own reckless banality.
I think there’s something to what Nicholas is saying, but the problem isn’t the “democratisation” of media. The trend at the moment is for the blogging world to be a kind of feed-pool for professional media – look at how people like Marc Orchant have crossed over into the mainstream. At the end of the day, talent will out. Opinions that don’t stand up to the rigour of reason will wither, those that work won’t.
In fact, I’d argue that it’s often been the case that mainstream media has represented “the flat noise of opinion”, because they haven’t been involved in conversation or debate. Newspapers have been one-way streets, whose opinions haven’t been subject to any debate outside the confines of the walls of the newsroom. They have been impervious to challenge, except for the challenge of the market.
Where there is a problem with the neo-hippies is in their insistence that opinion itself – the voice of the people – is intrinsically of value. Opinion without argument is valueless: the tyranny of relativism.