All that matters is where you are going."
— Brian Tracy
BY GEORGEA KOVANIS •
Eatonia Williams was working for the Detroit Public Schools, doing lessons on conflict resolution and peer mediation, when she realized one of the junior high kids sitting at the front of the class had a problem.
"She did a lot of squinting," said Williams, 37, of West Bloomfield.
"Her work was just, really, she was failing. One day I asked her, 'Do you wear glasses?' She said, 'I don't have them, I lost them, my mom can't really buy them for me right now.' "
Williams also was working part-time at an optical shop. She and some of her coworkers there pitched in and bought the girl a pair of glasses.
The girl's work in class improved.
Excited about how big a difference a pair of glasses can make, Williams decided to create a charity that would give glasses to kids in need, because "you can't be successful in school if you can't see."
But one thing led to another and life went on.
Ten years passed -- Williams changed jobs and eventually took a computer job at EDS.
She didn't do much with her project until last fall when she got a call from an old friend.
Kirsten Bedard of Lake Orion told Williams the optometrist she works for had more than 300 pairs of never-worn kids' and adult frames to donate to a worthy cause.
"Why not do something like that with them rather than just pitch them?" said Joe Ales, optometrist and owner of Optik Birmingham, who donated the frames.
"This is one of the more needy communities in the country, this area, Pontiac, Detroit in particular."
Williams got her pastor, the Rev. Douglas Jones of Welcome Missionary Baptist Church in Pontiac, involved in the glasses giveaway.
She put notices in the church bulletin and spread word around town: free frames for anyone who couldn't afford to buy them.
She got a lab and another optometrist to do exams at reduced rates. "Everybody pulled together and did their piece," she said.
As for the recipients: "They were just ecstatic. They were very excited."
Stacy Gay of Pontiac was one of the people who received new glasses at the giveaway in late November. Her old glasses were accidentally broken and then thrown away in October by her 5-year-old son, Rishard. "My insurance would not cover lost glasses and I did really need them," she said.
"When the announcement was made at church I knew this was a blessing. This way I did not have to wait until July to get a new pair of glasses. This saved me months of not being able to see," Gay said. "It was a super-duper great idea. It would be great if the program was ongoing."
Williams -- who was laid off from her job at EDS on Dec. 1 -- has recommitted to her project. She has time now and is thrilled so many people are happy with their new glasses.
She's been talking with her pastor about opening a discount eyeglass store in a church-owned building. She's working on a business plan.To donate or receive eyeglasses, contact Eatonia Williams at 313-622-0282.
A new IE7 exploit is now making the rounds. It has already been incorporated in toolkits that install information-stealing trojans. Read on to learn more.
A new zero-day Internet Explorer 7 exploit is now out in the wild. It’s a drive-by dropper that resides on malicious Web sites. Brian Krebs, the tireless security watchdog for the Washington Post, points out all the details in his blog “Microsoft Investigating Reports of New IE7 Exploit.”
iDefense, a Virginia-based security firm, made mention that the exploit may have been accidentally released by a Chinese IT security group that mistakenly thought Microsoft already patched the vulnerability. The following quote is from their Dec. 10, 2008, blog “Exploitation for Unpatched Internet Explorer 7 Vulnerability in the Wild” (pdf):
“On Dec. 9, 2008, security researchers found a previously unknown vulnerability in Microsoft Corp.’s Internet Explorer 7.0 being exploited in the wild. This exploit has already been incorporated into Chinese exploit toolkits and is actively being used to install information stealing Trojans that target online games.”
Acknowledged by MS
Microsoft has finally acknowledged the problem in Security Advisory (961051):
“Microsoft is investigating new public reports of attacks against a new vulnerability in Internet Explorer. Our investigation so far has shown that these attacks are against Windows Internet Explorer 7 on supported editions of Windows XP Service Pack 2, Windows XP Service Pack 3, Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1, Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 2, Windows Vista, Windows Vista Service Pack 1, and Windows Server 2008.”
It’s important to know that the massive Windows update just released on Dec. 9, 2008, doesn’t have a patch for this vulnerability.
Domains hosting malicious Web sites
Shadowserver.org, a volunteer security group, has listed many of the domains that are hosting the exploit-carrying Web sites. The list is published on their blog “IE7 0-Day Exploit Sites.” They also mention some detection and prevention information as well places to get Snort rules for the current unmodified variants.
This exploit is important, and sadly there’s no Microsoft solution at this time. Once again the simplest solution is to use an alternative browser such as FireFox, Chrome, or Opera. I doubt Microsoft would make that suggestion though.
President-elect Barack Obama vows to "renew our information superhighway" as part of a massive plan to invest in public infrastructure and stimulate America's flagging economy. Obama's immediate plans include large federal investments to bring computers and Internet connections to school districts and the health care industry.
Again pledging his commitment to technology, President-elect Barack Obama said Dec. 6 that investing heavily in computers and broadband connections for schools and hospitals will be part of his immediate economic recovery plans after he takes office Jan. 20.
Obama pledged during his weekly address over the radio and the Internet to make the single largest new investment in national infrastructure since the creation of the federal highway system in the 1950s. In addition to infusing school districts and the health care industry with federal IT dollars, the plan also includes a massive effort to make public buildings and schools more energy-efficient.
The president-elect said he hopes a flood of federal cash to states for the projects will ultimately create 2.5 million jobs.
"We will repair broken schools, make them energy-efficient and put new computers in our classrooms," Obama said, "because to help our children compete in a 21st century economy, we need to send them to 21st century schools."
Obama added that part of the plan is to "renew our information superhighway. It is unacceptable that the United States ranks 15th in the world in broadband adoption. Here, in the country that invented the Internet, every child should have the chance to get online, and they'll get that chance when I'm president—because that's how we'll strengthen America's competitiveness in the world."
In addition to connecting schools and libraries to broadband connections, Obama promised a renewed push for health care IT, which President Bush has also touted as a key to saving millions in health care costs. Bush's health care IT initiatives, though, have failed to gain traction over costs, security and privacy concerns.
"We will make sure that every doctor’s office and hospital in this country is using cutting-edge technology and electronic medical records so that we can cut red tape, prevent medical mistakes and help save billions of dollars each year," Obama said.
Obama didn't put a dollar figure on his initiatives, but he told Tom Brokaw on "Meet the Press" Dec. 6 that a federal deficit that could be as much as $1 trillion is not the immediate concern of his administration.
"We understand that we've got to provide a blood infusion into the patient right now to make sure that the patient is stabilized, and that means that we can't worry short term about the deficit," Obama said. "The key for us is making sure that we jump-start that economy in a way that doesn't just deal with the short term, doesn't just create jobs immediately, but also puts us on a glide path for long-term, sustainable economic growth."
Josh Silver, executive director of public advocacy group Free Press, praised Obama's decision to include technology as part of any economic plan.
"In our 21st century society, having a connection to a fast and affordable Internet is no longer a luxury—it's a public necessity," Silver said in a statement. "But right now, more than 40 percent of American homes are not connected to broadband. This digital divide isn't just costing us our ranking as global Internet leader—it's costing us jobs and money at a time when both are urgently needed."
Pownce, a microblogging service started by Leah Culver and others back in May 2007, has been acquired by blogging software giant, SixApart and will be shutdown. Culver and other members of the Pownce team are going to work for San Francisco-based Six Apart, well known for products such as MoveableType and TypePad. What it means — negligible or no money changed hands.
Pownce seemed like a pretty cool idea, but it never got any major traction, losing out to the simpler and more popular Twitter. I used the service for a few months but then lost interest, and so did many of my friends. From Culver’s post, it seems that SixApart is going to incorporate Pownce’s microblogging technology into its blogging platforms. It makes a lot of sense for SixApart to buy a microblogging platform, since microblogging is one of the faster growing parts of the “social media ecosystem.”
Google may be preparing to lay off thousands of workers, if a Silicon Valley information service is to be believed. WebGuild cites anonymous inside sources as saying up to 10,000 Google jobs could be on the way out, with smaller scale layoffs already underway.
"Hundreds" of employees have been let go in the past few months, the company's sources claim -- and, they say, a loophole has allowed Google to keep quiet about the cutbacks. The trick, WebGuild reports, all comes down to categories: Google classifies about 10,000 of its workers as "temporary operational expenses," which means their positions are not official and could be eliminated without public notification. (Google officially reports having just over 20,000 full-fledged employees on staff. The additional 10,000 "temporary" positions speculated would bring the actual total to 30,000.)
"Google has hundreds of lawyers figuring out how not to get caught," WebGuild President Daya Baran suggests. "One of them is by moving workers from job to job every few months so that their status remains temporary. That is why you probably have never spoken to the same person twice at Google and that is also why there is somebody new on the job and most times you know more about their job than they do," he says.
Google has yet to publicly comment on any of the speculation.
Searching for Signs
Google's revenue and profit were up in the third quarter -- a rarity in Silicon Valley this season that could be seen as an indication the rumors may not hold much merit. Still, if one is searching for signs of possible scaling back, such indications can be found.
The search company is trading its traditionally lavish holiday bashes for more subdued and small-scale celebrations this year, reports released just before the weekend suggest. Known for its jam-packed parties complete with giant ice sculptures and virtual reality entertainment, Google this year has opted to go for "more economical" activities, such as group volunteering outings followed by casual dinner parties, sources have indicated.
It's worth noting that cutback rumors have surfaced at Google before, only to end up holding little to no actual truth. Just a few months ago, reports filled the blogosphere that Google was ending its famous free dinner program for employees -- a perk said to cost the company $72 million a year. It didn't take long for Google to knock the rumor down, however, insisting nothing had changed and it didn't know where the falsehood originated.
If a Google scaleback were in the works, what would it mean? Hypothetically speaking, one might suspect some of Google's less profitable projects could get less focus. The company has previously maintained a "20 percent time" policy for engineers, requiring them to spend one day each week on projects of their own choosing. Google is also frequently trying out random Labs projects -- everything from the new Gmail themes to the joke-inspiring Google Goggles program debuted in October -- not to mention its various gags and jokes pulled off throughout the year. The loss of 1,000 workers could theoretically affect these sorts of non-crucial endeavors.
At this point, though, it's all speculation, and all from limited and unidentifiable sources. Only time will tell whether or not the rumors prove to be true -- and, until Google decides to address the buzz, all the searching in the world will bring no definite answers.