/introduction/newsletter_archive/goodiestogo/article.php/3492016/Goodies-To-Go-Newsletter-329.htm Goodies To Go! Newsletter #329

Goodies To Go! Newsletter #329

By Vince Barnes

Goodies to Go (tm)
March 21, 2005 -- Newsletter # 329

This newsletter is part of the internet.com network.


Featured this week:

* Goodies Thoughts - Hacker Attack!
* Q & A Goodies
* News Goodies
* Feedback Goodies
* Windows Tech Goodie of the Week
* And Remember This...


Hacker Attack!

When we think about hackers these days, we are usually thinking of the folk who try to break into a computer system. That's not what the word traditionally meant. I dug out my 1979 Webster's Dictionary to see what it had to say about hacking. The book predates the common use of the Internet and although it gives no less than thirty-six different meaning for "hack", organized into nine categories, not one of them mentions a computer or anything related to it. How quickly things change! One meaning struck me in particular: "to chop or cut in a clumsy or unskillful way."

In the world of computers, hacking used to refer to the manner in which programmers would sit for hours on end at a console on a big old mainframe computer and work and work, foregoing sleep and food (but never foregoing coffee!) until a problem that had reared its ugly head was solved and the machine was humming along nicely once again. I was once just such a programmer and I know from experience that if anybody asked me how it was going, or what I was doing to solve the problem, I would invariably answer with something like "I don't know. Now leave me alone!" It wasn't that I actually didn't know, or that I was being anti-social; it was simply that I couldn't afford to have my concentration broken. Nevertheless, it created the impression of "unskillful chopping" at the problem, groping for a solution. If they eventually came to the conclusion that I was a hero for averting the crisis, I wouldn't know -- I was home sleeping!

These days, the impressions are just the opposite. Hackers are seen as using skill, but to ruin systems, not to solve problems. To my way of thinking, skill is something used in a creative process. When the objective is destruction, not creation, there can be no "skill" involved. What knowledge there may be involved in the task, loses all value because of its objective, and consequently loses its right to be called skill. I don't consider a burglar to be a "skilled home protection engineer".

I apply the same thinking to the so-called skills of the programmer who writes viruses. We have used the medical or biological analogy because of the manner in which the code can replicate itself, but I take it further. A disease is a disease. The programmer who writes a virus has diseased "skills". The only thing to be done is to correct the situation -- remove or disable the disease.

Corporations around the world spend huge amounts of money to protect themselves from the plague of these two diseases. When you connect to the Internet, you also need protection. Do not fall into the trap of thinking that since you turn off the computer most of the time, never bring in diskettes or CDs that were recorded on someone else's computer and are careful not to open email attachments, that you are immune. It only takes a moment for something to find its way through an open hole. You have got to close them up. A hole, by the way, in this context is any mechanism by which a feature of the software (including the operating system) in a computer system can be exploited for other than its originally intended use.

Make no mistake -- there is no complete block; no sure fire protection. With the number of people having destructive intent working on finding holes and communicating with each other over the net, there will be new holes discovered every hour of every day. What you can do, is to harden your system as much as possible; make it as difficult as possible to exploit and provide the most up-to-date virus protection you reasonably can.

Windows XP offers a much higher degree of protection than earlier versions, incorporating file security options and a built-in firewall. If you have SP2 installed, go to the control panel, then to Security Center. If you don't have SP2 installed, use Windows Update to apply updates to your system (keep going back to it until there are no more available updates.) (See also this issue of Goodies To Go.) For other systems I suggest you get a commercial firewall program such as Symantec's Norton Internet Security/Norton Personal Firewall (Windows/Mac) or McAfee's Personal Firewall Plus (Windows). There are also some pretty good products from smaller vendors such as BlackIce Defender (Windows). Symantec and McAfee are also vendors of the most popular antivirus products. Another is Panda Software. For both firewall products and anti-virus products I think there is value in using products from large vendors. They have sophisticated, automated update mechanisms and a lot of people involved in keeping the updates up-to-date. Also, the larger the user base, the quicker any problem in the product itself will be discovered (and hopefully, fixed!) All of the above mentioned vendors fit this category. Pay the (relatively small and definitely worth it) license fee and use the automatic update features to keep your products in fighting fit form. I do not recommend using any shareware products for security. (!!)

Don't forget to protect yourself from Spyware also. My favorite spyware protection program is Spy Sweeper from Webroot (http://www.webroot.com) or for a free alternative, use Kolla's Spybot (http://security.kolla.de) While there is also spyware protection in the latest versions of the commercial internet security programs, experience shows me that you get stronger protection from programs like Spy Sweeper.

Once you rid yourself of disease, all that is left is ease!

Thanks for Reading!

- Vince Barnes


Q & A Goodies
Questions are taken from submissions to our Community
Mentors. You can ask a Mentor a question by going to

Q. How do I link parts of the same image to different urls?

A. You should use an image map to create links on one image to different URLs. HTMLGoodies.com has a couple of tutorials on image mapping. One is called a Client-Side Image Map and the other is called a Server-side Image Map. The server side uses CGI scripts to make the map work. The client side does not. I suggest using the client side image map as it will probably be easier to do. Here is the link to the entire tutorial.

Q. Is there a way to "hide" email addresses on a website or create an "alias" email that will automatically forward to the real email address. The person can then view the subject line and delete any unwanted emails, only responding to valid emails. Currently, our emails use the mailto: link and can be viewed by anybody.

A. An "alias" email address is exactly what you want. The person that creates the email addresses for your domain should be able to set it up. That address then points to an actual email address. If the "alias" starts to get spammed a lot then you can change the name of it. The best way to avoid the alias and the spam is to use contact forms instead of the "mailto:" link. Another way to trick the spam bots is to use JavaScript to hide the email address.
[see the following HTML Goodies articles for more information:
-- Ed.]

Q. Is there was a way to position a background image in the center of a page regardless of screen resolution?

A. This code will position the image in the center:
body {
background-image : url(image.jpg);
background-position : center center;
background-repeat : no-repeat;

To position in the center of a table, try using this (be sure to replace __ with the height and width of the image):
<table height="100%" width="100%">
<tr><td valign="center" align="center">
<table height="__" width="__" background="image.jpg">
Any text on the background

Q. Is it possible to have a date field automatically filled with today's date?

A. This tutorial explains how to write the date with JavaScript, http://www.htmlgoodies.com/primers/jsp/hgjsp_3.html

Q. I've put some background music on some of my webpages using this code:
<BGSOUND SRC="filename.mid" LOOP="1">
As I'm aware that not everyone likes music while they're browsing, I want to offer the option to turn the music off. I've searched the web and found various codes that are supposed to open a small on/off bar which people can use to turn the music off but none of them actually show the on/off control, they just show a bar but with no on/off. I'm using basic HTML on the site so don't know if that's got anything to do with it. Is there a HTML code that will let me offer this on/off option?

A. This tutorial should explain exactly what you want:

Q. What function returns the square root of a number?

A. That would be Math.sqrt(arg) where arg is your numeric variable. There is a whole list of Math Object methods in Joe's book starting at the bottom of P159.

News Goodies

Big Blue Embraces Online Backup

[March 21, 2005] IBM will launch new services next month to help businesses backup and retrieve critical data for faster recovery from a disaster or outage.
Read the article:

IAC to Buy Ask Jeeves for $1.85B
[March 21, 2005] UPDATED: IAC agrees to acquire Ask Jeeves in a deal that puts it squarely into competition with Google, Yahoo and Microsoft.
Read the article:

Tightening Honchos' White Collars
[March 21, 2005] Corporate heads have a lot to consider in the midst of Enron and WorldCom fallout.
Read the article:

The Shape (and Cost) of Visual Studio to Come
[March 21, 2005] Microsoft prices out next generation of visual development tools.
Read the article:

Yahoo Smiles Big For Flickr
[March 21, 2005] The search giant reported to have purchased the Flickr online photo management company.
Read the article:

Motorola to Serve Saudi Network
[March 21, 2005] The company will build a nationwide wireless system enabling push-to-talk services for businesses and government users.
Read the article:

HP to go NonStop For NASDAQ
[March 21, 2005] HP provides more processors and software to the exchange; the systems vendor also creates a blade program for SMBs.
Read the article:

BVRP Expands In Asia
[March 21, 2005] Communication software vendor opens new business units in China and Korea.
Read the article:

Microsoft's Rudder: VB6 Support Not Done Yet
[March 18, 2005] The Whidbey team opens up and leaves door open for VB support.
Read the article:

No Security in SSNs?
[March 18, 2005] FEATURE: Have you bought a house? Paid a traffic ticket? Been married or divorced in the last 10 years? Those documents may have been posted online as a matter of public course.
Read the article:

Feedback Goodies

Did you ever wish your newsletter was an easy two way communications medium? Ploof! It now is!
If you would like to comment on the newsletter or expand/improve on something you have seen in here, you can now send your input to:


We already receive a lot of email every day. This address helps us sort out those relating specifically to this newsletter from all the rest. When you send email to this address it may wind up being included in this section of the newsletter, to be shared with your fellow readers. Please don't send your questions to this address. They should be sent to our mentors: see http://www.htmlgoodies.com/mentors 

Thanks for all your feedback!

Windows Tech Goodie of the Week

An Introduction to Microsoft SQL Server 2000 Reporting Services


Microsoft recently released their own reporting solution software,
Reporting Services for SQL Server 2000. This article provides a simple
walk-through on creating and displaying a report in an ASP.NET Web page
using Reporting Services.

*** AND ***

Colors ASP.NET Sample Code


Basically this script just plays around with some colors. That said, it's a
great example of a couple different things. Not only do I use ASP.NET's
HTML controls instead of the Web controls that I normally use, but I also
show you how to apply a style to an HTML control.

*** AND ***

Real-World Value of XML and CMS - New Opportunities for Capco.com


In this case study, Dr. John Tunnicliffe relates the process Capco went
through when overhauling their corporate web-site. They wanted a flexible
content management system (CMS) which fully utilizes XML as well as the
very latest in ASP.NET-based development tools.

And Remember This ...

On this day in...

1788 A fire in New Orleans, Louisiana destroyed 856 buildings; 1868 The first professional women's club in the US, Sorosis, was formed in New York; 1871 Journalist Henry M. Stanley began his expedition to Africa ("Dr. Livingston, I presume."); 1891 A twenty year old family feud started by an accusation of pig stealing ended as a Hatfield married a McCoy; 1934 A fire destroyed Hakodate, Japan, killing about 1,500 people; 1935 Persia was officially renamed as Iran; 1961 The Beatles made their first appearance at the Cavern Club in Liverpool, England; 1963 The Federal Penitentiary on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay closed; 1964 The Beatles' "She Loves You" hit #1 (stayed there for two weeks); 1975 Ethiopia ended it's 3,000 year old monarchy; 1980 JR Ewing was shot on the TV soap opera "Dallas";

Born today were: in 1685 German composer Johann Sebastian Bach; 1816 English novelist Charlotte Bronte; 1902 musician Eddie James "Son" House; 1906 Oil magnate / philanthropist John D. Rockfeller III; 1916 novelist Harold Robbins; 1918 sportscaster Howard Cosell; 1929 actor James Coco; 1943 English musician Vivian Stanshall (Bonzo Dog Do-Da Band); 1946 Welsh actor Timothy Dalton; 1950 English musician Roger Hodgson (Supertramp); 1962 actor Matthew Broderick; 1962 comedienne Rosie O'Donnell;

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