Herald Journal Columns
July 17, 2006, Herald Journal

Critical fixes for Windows released

By MARK OLLIG

Microsoft Corp. released four security fixes Tuesday to patch flaws in its Windows operating system. Two of the vulnerabilities carried the highest danger rating.

All of the patches are to fix weaknesses in Windows that could allow an attacker to take control of a person’s computer.

Some of the patches were for Microsoft Office programs, too.

In its monthly security bulletin, Microsoft also said that three patches for its Office business software suite are to fix vulnerabilities that carry the highest “critical” rating for people running products associated with the Office 2000 release.

The company said the vulnerabilities are less serious for those running newer versions of Office.

I run the Windows XP on my home computer, so I did download the new patches and updates. Your computer can also be set to automatically check the Microsoft updates and have them downloaded.

To see if your Windows PC is updated with all the current Microsoft fixes, you should visit: http://update.microsoft.com/microsoftupdate.

This is only a test

The US government will soon be sending warnings of national emergencies on wireless phones, Web sites and hand-held computers.

Remember hearing that “This is only a test” message on your TV or radio, followed by the loud tone?

Well, get ready to receive it on your other communication devices, too!

There is a new digital system that will update the emergency alerts planned — but never used — during the Cold War in the event of a nuclear strike. More likely, these 21st century technologies will carry warnings of natural disasters and terrorist attacks.

The Homeland Security Department, through the Federal Emergency Management Agency(FEMA), expects to have the system working by the end of next year. The Association of Public Television Stations is partnering with FEMA to transmit the alerts to receiving networks ranging from wireless devices, cable TV channels and satellite radio, to traditional broadcast outlets. “Anything that can receive a text message will receive the alert,” Homeland Security Department spokesman Aaron Walker said.

I also found that these alerts can be sent to a cellphone, and someday, to your iPod.

In case you were wondering when the first government alert system started, it was in 1951, when President Harry Truman signed legislation requiring radio stations to broadcast only on certain frequencies during emergencies. The law says that only the president can order a national emergency alert.

A Paralyzed man move computer cursor

The 25-year-old man, who suffered paralysis of all four limbs was able to open e-mail and control a robotic device simply by thinking about doing it, a group of scientists reported.

The scientists implanted a tiny silicon chip with 100 electrodes into an area of the brain responsible for movement. The activity of the cells was recorded and sent to a computer which translated the commands and enabled the patient to move and control the external device. They believe a new brain sensor, called BrainGate, could offer new hope to people paralyzed by injuries or illnesses. “This is the first step in an ongoing clinical trial of a device that is encouraging for its potential to help people with paralysis,” said Dr Leigh Hochberg, of Massachusetts General Hospital.

Amazing times we live in today.