Mike Swanson

January, 2005

  • Mike Swanson's Blog

    Cool IPTV Demo During Bill Gates' 2005 CES Keynote

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    Earlier tonight, I watched Conan O'Brien and Bill Gates deliver the keynote for the 2005 International Consumer Electronics Show that's going on in Las Vegas. Although there are a lot of cool device announcements and digital convergence themes that are worth watching, I was most impressed by the demo of IPTV (overview here). Lea Ann Champion, Senior Executive Vice President of IP Services for SBC Communications, gives a 10-minute demo of some exciting interactive TV features.

    The IPTV technology allows up to four simultaneous video streams to every home (including HDTV), instant channel changing (unlike the 2-second delay of most digital video services), and DVR for every television in the house. There's also a picture-in-picture feature that allows you to browse live video of other channels while still watching your main program in the background—very cool. Le Ann demos the ability to watch multiple sporting events simultaneously and to choose your own camera angle. This last feature drew a lot of applause. Last, she shows how easy it is to program your DVR from a Cingular Wireless phone. All-in-all, it's a great indicator of things to come, and I can't wait to have these features on my TV.

    Recorded versions of the keynote are available at both 100K and 300K. If you want to jump to the section on IPTV, skip to 45:30 (the meat of the demo starts around 49:20).

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    SQL Injection Attacks and Data Thief

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    Although I wouldn't consider myself a SQL Server expert, like any good developer, I know my way around stored procedures, database normalization, and proper indexing techniques. Occasionally, I get questions from customers about SQL injection attacks. The questions are usually along the lines of: "What is SQL injection?" or "Is it really a big concern?" I can tell you that it is a very big concern, and if you're writing web applications (on any platform), it would be irresponsible not to familiarize yourself with the exploit.

    Mike Gunderloy's The Daily Grind 533 references a good introductory articled titled SQL Injection Attacks by Example by Stephen J. Friedl. Although the article is posted on a Unix tech tips site, its content is nonetheless germane to almost any web application on any platform. His example illustrates a SQL injection exploit on IIS 6, ASP.NET, and SQL Server.

    Here are some other resources that I typically forward to curious developers:

    But, if you really want to freak out (or if you want to demonstrate to management how critical it is to worry about such issues), download the free proof-of-concept tool called Data Thief from Application Security, Inc. and a related whitepaper titled Manipulating Microsoft SQL Server Using SQL Injection. I saw this tool demonstrated at an internal security event, and the first thing that popped into my mind was: "This is Enterprise Manager for hackers." Scary stuff.

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    Macro Wallpaper 5

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    Although it was never my intention, I seem to have started a wallpaper trend. As each season draws near, I receive e-mails asking when I'll have the next seasonally appropriate images to share. Well, here are five new ones for winter. The originals are cropped at a 16:10 aspect ratio (1920 x 1200) to match my monitor, and as always, I've also supplied them at 1280 x 1024.

    It's tough to find color in the winter; all that snow and ice tends to wash everything out. The first four photos were taken at a park in Holland, Michigan on November 24, 2002, right after a beautiful snowfall. If you look carefully, you can see an individual snowflake in the fourth picture. The last shot was taken as my wife and I left for a Caribbean cruise on the morning of April 6, 2003. It had rained, and everything was coated with an icy shell. This image is from a tree in our front yard. Needless to say, none of the palm trees in Florida later that day showed any signs of ice. :)


    (1280 x 1024 version)

    (1280 x 1024 version)

    (1280 x 1024 version)

    (1280 x 1024 version)

    (1280 x 1024 version)


    If you missed the first four sets, check out Macro Wallpaper, Macro Wallpaper 2, Macro Wallpaper 3: Fallpaper, and Macro Wallpaper 4.

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    USB 2.0 Problems

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    You may recall the problems I had with my Microsoft Fingerprint Reader when it was plugged into my Belkin F5U237 Hi-Speed USB 2.0 7-Port Hub; after a few successful reads, the device would simply stop working. However, if I plugged it directly into the USB 2.0 port on my motherboard, everything worked just fine. Although I didn't mention it, I later found that anything plugged into the hub would eventually fail. In my post, I said that I would try another hub, so I purchased a second Belkin F5U237, and the devices exhibited the same problems. Frustrating, but enlightening.

    After doing a little internet research, it appears that the VIA USB 2.0 products (VT6202, VT6212) have some known issues. I tried many of the suggestions (including VIA's own Filter Driver) to no avail, so I purchased an Adaptec USB2connect 5100 6-port USB 2.0 card and installed it in my new computer. I'm happy to say that everything now works perfectly through the Belkin hub, and I have a lot of available USB 2.0 ports. :)

    I hope this post can save someone else a few hours if they run into the same problem.

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