Thursday, March 26, 2009

Beware Conficker worm come April 1

In an event that hits the computer world only once every few years, security experts are racing against time to mitigate the impact of a bit of malware which is set to wreak havoc on a hard-coded date. As is often the case, that date is April 1.

Malware creators love to target April Fool's Day with their wares, and the latest worm, called Conficker C, could be one of the most damaging attacks we've seen in years.

Conficker first bubbled up in late 2008 and began making headlines in January as known infections topped 9 million computers. Now in its third variant, Conficker C, the worm has grown incredibly complicated, powerful, and virulent... though no one is quite sure exactly what it will do when D-Day arrives.

Thanks in part to a quarter-million-dollar bounty on the head of the writer of the worm, offered by Microsoft, security researchers are aggressively digging into the worm's code as they attempt to engineer a cure or find the writer before the deadline. What's known so far is that on April 1, all infected computers will come under the control of a master machine located somewhere across the web, at which point anything's possible. Will the zombie machines become denial of service attack pawns, steal personal information, wipe hard drives, or simply manifest more traditional malware pop-ups and extortion-like come-ons designed to sell you phony security software? No one knows.

Conficker is clever in the way it hides its tracks because it uses an enormous number of URLs to communicate with HQ. The first version of Conficker used just 250 addresses each day -- which security researchers and ICANN simply bought and/or disabled -- but Conficker C will up the ante to 50,000 addresses a day when it goes active, a number which simply can't be tracked and disabled by hand.

At this point, you should be extra vigilant about protecting your PC: Patch Windows completely through Windows Update and update your anti-malware software as well. Make sure your antivirus software is actually running too, as Conficker may have disabled it.

Microsoft also offers a free online safety scan here, which should be able to detect all Conficker versions.

Link :

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Reality TV star Jade Goody dies after cancer fight

LONDON – Jade Goody, a dental assistant turned reality-TV star whose whirlwind journey from poverty to celebrity to tragedy became a national soap opera and morality tale in Britain, has died. The 27-year-old had cancer and died in her sleep early Sunday at her home in Essex, southeast England, her publicist Max Clifford said.

Goody gained fame at 21 in 2002, when she joined the reality television show "Big Brother," in which contestants live together for weeks and are constantly filmed. Loud and brash, she became a highly divisive star — initially mocked as an ignorant slob, then celebrated as a forthright everywoman by a hungry tabloid press.

It was a pattern of praise and condemnation that followed her for the rest of her life. Goody became a national touchstone who sparked debate about race, class and celebrity in Britain.

For some, Goody was a survivor who had overcome a tough childhood on a London housing estate. Her father was absent and often in jail, and her mother struggled with drug addiction.

But she also was reviled in the press during her stint on "Big Brother" for her weight, her big mouth and her apparent lack of general knowledge — she branded the English region of East Anglia "East Angular," and asked whether it was abroad.

She didn't win the show, but she did become a celebrity, earning millions through television and magazine appearances, an autobiography, a perfume and a series of exercise videos.

It was during a follow-up stint on a celebrity version of "Big Brother" in 2007 that Goody was labeled a racist bully for her treatment of another contestant, Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty. Goody bad-mouthed Shetty's cooking of Indian food, mocked her accent and referred to her as "Shilpa Poppadom." While complaints against the show skyrocketed, so did ratings.

Goody's treatment of Shetty sparked anger in India and Britain — even becoming the topic of debate during a House of Commons question-and-answer session with then Prime Minister Tony Blair. A major sponsor suspended its advertising deal with "Celebrity Big Brother," and a chain of perfume shops pulled a Goody-endorsed fragrance, ironically named "Shh..."

After television viewers voted to evict Goody from the show, Goody — herself of mixed race — insisted she wasn't a racist. "I argue like that with everybody. It wasn't just because of the color of her skin that I was that aggressive," she said during an interview on Britain's GMTV.

After the eviction, the Indian Tourism Office invited Goody to travel to the country. She did, visiting charity projects and later agreeing to appear on an Indian version of the show.

"The people of India have only seen a small part of me and I'd like to show them that there is more to me," Goody said. "I'm a mother of two, a businesswoman. I can't be all that bad."

It was during filming of the show in the summer of 2008 that Goody received a diagnosis of cervical cancer by telephone from a doctor in Britain. The camera captured the deeply personal moment, which was shown repeatedly on TV in Britain, though not in India.

The progress of her illness was chronicled in detail in the tabloid press and weekly magazines, to the unease of many.

"Goody isn't rich or famous because she won the lottery: she's rich and famous because we bought all those papers and magazines and ghosted books with her on the cover, because we watched her television series, because we cheered when she was good and booed when she was bad, because we sat around discussing her over lunch," wrote columnist India Knight in The Sunday Times. "Now she's dying, she's making us all feel bad so we want her to go away, like a broken toy that's stopped being fun."

In February, a bald and frail Goody, married fiancee Jack Tweed in an elaborate event staged at an elegant countryside hotel outside London. She reportedly sold the photos for more than $1 million.

Goody defended being paid for interviews and photo shoots.

"People will say I'm doing this for money," she said. "And they're right, I am. But not to buy flash cars or big houses — it's for my sons' future if I'm not here. I don't want my kids to have the same miserable, drug-blighted, poverty-stricken childhood I did."

Before her rise to fame, Goody worked for a period as a dental nurse. She had an unhappy childhood in a poor south London neighborhood. Her father was a heroin addict who served jail time for robbery and died in 2005, her mother a former crack addict who lost the use of an arm in a motorcycle accident.

While many empathized with Goody as she underwent surgery and chemotherapy in the public eye — filming part of the experience for another television series — she still inspired vitriol in others. A Web site was even set up, devoted to predicting when she would die.

In February 2009 Goody's publicist said the cancer had spread to her liver, bowel and groin.

Goody is survived by Tweed and her two sons Bobby and Freddie, with an ex-boyfriend, television presenter Jeff Brazier. She also is survived by her mother, Jackiey Budden.

Budden told reporters Sunday: "Family and friends would like privacy at last.

Link :

Saturday, March 21, 2009

My Review in Young World, DAWN

My Review got published in DAWN's Young World

[Click the Image to Read The Review]

Link :

(You can now Follow Me On Twitter @ )

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Is It The Matter of Uttering Thoughts?

Ever wondered?
When you see pain in front of your eyes, when you look at people dying, when you see children crying, when you look into the mirror and ask, "Who Am I to think about that?"
The world is nothing but a web of webs of thoughts. We all are linked together, all of us.
Is that weeping child your relative? Then why are you feeling his sorrow deep inside yourself? Is that old lady, who just tipped over, urged you to help her, make her stand again, ask if she's alright.
My dear friends, that's nothing but your connection to these souls.
Without even knowing the person, why are you urged to help them, this explains the most amazing phenomenon, a beautiful phenomenon that is overlooked by us.
This connection breaks when we overlook those souls, when we just ignore a dying person by saying "Who is that? I don't know him…"
You can always break a physical connection, but can you break a connection that is spiritual, the existence of which is not in a form that we can touch, but only feel...?
It does not matter if you recognize and feel the link, but it does matter when you ignore it...
Think about it...!

Syed Zeeshan Ahmed
[ Now find me on Twitter! ]

My Recent Comments

One of my Latest comments got published in DAWN's Young World...(On March 14, 2009)

(Click the above Image to Read The Article)

And previous comments were also published in the same Magazine, few weeks back

(Click the above Image to Read The Article)

Regards, Syed Zeeshan Ahmed

France's rendezvous with history

Earlier this week, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said his country would end four decades of self-imposed isolation and return to Nato's military command.

Here, the BBC's Allan Little reflects on France's long journey to reconcile itself with one of the darkest chapters in its history and its difficult relationship with the US and the UK.

There is a story about a conversation between General de Gaulle, who, as president of the French Republic, telephoned his American counterpart Lyndon B Johnson, to inform him that France had decided to withdraw from the North Atlantic Treaty alliance.

Since its foundation nearly two decades earlier, Nato had had its headquarters in France. Now Nato would have to move.

Furthermore, de Gaulle added, it was his intention that all American service personnel should be removed from French soil.

"Does that include," Johnson is said to have replied, "those buried in it?"



But go to the cemeteries of Normandy and you see what an Anglo-Saxon business the D-Day landings - and the liberation of France - really were.

The historian Andrew Roberts has calculated that of the 4,572 allied servicemen who died on that day on which, in retrospect, so much of human history seems now to have pivoted - only 19 were French. That is 0.4%.

Of the rest, 37 were Norwegians, and one was Belgian. The rest were from the English speaking world - two New Zealanders, 13 Australians, 359 Canadians, 1,641 Britons and, most decisively of all, 2,500 Americans.

After the disastrous Suez crisis in 1956, it fell to Harold MacMillan as UK prime minister to move Britain from the Age of Empire to the Age of Europe.

But his attempts to take the United Kingdom into what was then called the Common Market fell foul of General de Gaulle's famous vetoes.

Harold Macmillan, 1958
Harold MacMillan spoke of the strained relationship with France

Twice Monsieur Non listened politely to Britain's plea, and twice he slammed the door.

De Gaulle saw in British membership the Trojan Horse of American imperialism in Europe.

After Algeria won its independence from France in the early 1960s, de Gaulle was fond of saying that he had not granted freedom to one country only to sit by and watch France lose its independence to the Americans.

MacMillan, in old age, spoke ruefully of France's almost psychotic relationship with its Anglo-Saxon allies.

France, he said, had made peace with Germany, had forgiven Germany for the brutality of invasion and the humiliation of four years of occupation, but it could never - never - forgive the British and Americans for the liberation.

French anti-Americanism has a long pedigree. The 18th Century philosophers of the European Enlightenment believed the New World to be self evidently inferior.

They spoke - and wrote, prolifically - of the degeneration of plant and animal life in America.

They believed America had emerged from the ocean millennia after the old continents; and that accounted for the cultural inferiority of civilisations that tried to plant themselves there.


I was living in Paris when France celebrated the 60th anniversary of its liberation.

US soldiers march along the Champs Elysees, on 29 August, 1944
In Paris the French Resistance received back-up from US soldiers

I went to the beaches of Normandy on the 60th anniversary of D-Day and watched veterans assembling one last time, old men, heads held high, marching past blown up photographs of themselves as young liberators.

France's ambivalence - the same neurosis that Harold MacMillan spoke of - was evident.

Paris launched a series of events to mark the 60th anniversary of its own liberation in August 2004.

The city's mayor had given the celebrations the title Paris Se Libere! - Paris Liberates Herself!

One of the newspapers published a 48-page commemorative issue. There was no mention of the allies until page 18.

Building a myth

An English friend of mine, in town that weekend, had remarked how empty Paris felt in August, the month the city empties out as its residents head for their annual sojourn in the countryside.

"I see," he said "that Paris was liberated in August. I guess the Parisians didn't find out about it till September, when they came back."

Again - ouch. The caustic Anglo-Saxon wit stings.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy
President Sarkozy has taken his country back into the Atlantic fold

It stings because the tale that France told itself after the war was built around a lie. Paris se libere.

The words were first spoken by de Gaulle himself at the Hotel de Ville on the evening of 25 August 1944.

Paris had been liberated by her own people, he declared, "with the help of the armies of France, with the help and support of the whole of France, that is to say of fighting France, the true France, the eternal France."

France knew, in its heart, even in 1944, that that was not true. It took until the 1980s for a generation of historians properly to re-examine the darkest chapter of France's 20th Century history.

When I was living in Paris, it struck me that Sarkozy - not yet president - had the potential to be France's first post-Gaullist leader.

His enemies called him "Sarkozy the American" in the hope that this would make him unelectable. It did not work.

And now he has taken his country back into the Atlanticist fold.

It seems to me another step in a long journey, in which France - in its mature, disputatious, entrenched democracy - is growing reconciled to the history that is now challenging the myths.

Source :

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Sri Lankan cricketers injured in terror attack

Cricinfo staff

 Terror struck at the heart of cricket when masked gunmen attacked the bus carrying the Sri Lankan cricket team to the Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore. Five cricketers, including Mahela Jayawardene, the Sri Lankan captain, and his deputy Kumar Sangakkara, received minor injuries. The attack also left six security men and two civilians dead.

Ijaz Butt, the PCB chief, said the Test has been called off. Salman Tasheer, the Punjab governor, said a helicopter will soon evacuate the Sri Lankan players from Gaddafi Stadium and take them to a nearby airbase from where the team will fly back to Sri Lanka. Duleep Mendis, the Sri Lanka Cricket chief, said that they were "getting the team back [to Sri Lanka] today".

Mahinda Rajapakse, Sri Lanka's president, condemned the attack and asked foreign minister Rohitha Bogollagama to fly to Pakistan to oversee the evacuation of the Sri Lankan players.

There have been terror strikes on the peripheries of cricket, but this is the first time players have been directly targeted. The Sri Lankans were on their way to the Gaddafi Stadium when their bus was attacked by five armed terrorists near Liberty market. Habibur Rehman, chief commissioner of police, said 12 masked terrorists fired at the Sri Lankan team bus. The gunmen shot at the wheels of the bus and also injured the driver. A grenade was also thrown at the bus but it missed.

Jayawardene received a cut to the ankle while Sangakkara was injured in the shoulder. Thilan Samaraweera and Tharanga Paravitarana were the ones most seriously injured; Samaraweera received shrapnel in the leg and Paravitarana in the chest. Ajantha Mendis received shrapnel in the neck and scalp.

"The bus came under attack as we were driving to the stadium, the gunmen targeted the wheels of the bus first and then the bus," Mahela Jayawardene told Cricinfo. "We all dived to the floor to take cover. About five players have been injured and also Paul Farbrace [a member of the support staff], but most of the injuries appear to be minor at this stage and caused by debris."

 Sangakkara told CNN-IBN that "all the players are out of danger". "We are shocked, but apart from that everyone is okay. Thilan [Samaraweera] has a shrapnel wound in his leg, but he is fine. [Tharanga] Paranavitana had shrapnel in his chest, but thank God it wasn't very deep and just on the surface.

"I had shrapnel injuries in my shoulder, but they have all been removed and I'm okay now. Ajantha [Mendis] had shrapnel in his neck and scalp, but he too has had medical attention and is fine. Everyone else is perfectly all right.

"It's very unfortunate that this has happened... I don't regret coming here to play cricket because that's what we have been doing all our lives. That is our profession. But... all we want to do now is to go back home to our families, get back home and be safe," he said.

Haroon Lorgat, the ICC chief executive, confirmed that the remainder of the tour had been cancelled. "We note with dismay and regret the events of this morning in Lahore and we condemn this attack without reservation.

"It is a source of great sadness that there have been a number of fatalities in this attack and it is also very upsetting for the wider cricket family that some of the Sri Lanka players and one match official have been injured in this attack. At this time our thoughts and prayers are with the injured people and also the families of those who have died."

Television footage of several gunmen creeping through the trees, crouching to aim their kalashnikovs then running onto the next target were aired by Pakistan's private channel Geo.

Chamra Ranavira, third secretary and press secretary at the Sri Lankan High Commission in Islamabad, said Samaraweera and Paranavitana had been admitted to hospital, but were out of danger now. "We are communicating with the Pakistan Cricket Board and the high commission has taken action to send the cricket team back home as soon as possible," he said.

The reserve umpire Ahsan Raza was also injured in the attack. Nadeem Ghauri, the TV umpire, who was traveling in a bus behind the Sri Lanka team bus said the firing continued for some time. Umpire Steve Davis, who was on the team bus, called the terrorist attack "terrible". "I'm lost for words," he said.

Speaking from Sri Lanka, Sanath Jayasuriya said that it was an "extremely unfortunate incident. "We've never had this kind of problem," Jayasuriya told CNN-IBN. "They are all safe, that's the good news I got when I spoke to Kumar. I don't think they'll stay back and play. I think they will come back as soon as possible. Depends on the injuries."

Speaking on Geo TV, Inzamam-ul-Haq, the former Pakistan captain, said: "This is the first time that a cricket team has been seriously targeted... Pakistan's image will be hit and only time will tell how much damage has been done to Pakistan cricket. The World Cup too might be affected... no country would want to come now to Pakistan... I am worried where Pakistan will get a chance to play, not only in Pakistan but outside as well. This is all so sad."

The Indian cricket board, which called off a scheduled tour of Pakistan last December, expressed its sorrow over the attack. "We pray for the speedy recovery of the injured cricketers, and sympathise with their families and compatriots," BCCI Secretary N Srinivasan said in New Delhi. "The BCCI stands alongside Sri Lanka Cricket in this hour of crisis."

The Sri Lankan team had stepped in after the Indian government had barred the Indian team from touring Pakistan after the terror attack in Mumbai.

Link :