This is one of the most shocking pieces of news I’ve heard in the recent past.

An employee of a Swiss insurance agency called in sick, and was later fired since she logged in to Facebook on her iPhone while at home. Something smells fishy here. Maybe the company was looking for an excuse to fire the employee. It’s also interesting that a co-worker alerted the company of the Facebook activity. So, it appears that it is perfectly acceptable for an employee to log on to Facebook from work, but not from home when sick? Ludicrous.

I wonder what the company’s stance is on watching TV? Do they expect the employee to just lay in bed doing nothing? More often than not, a person feels more sick when doing nothing. When you’re sick, you need people around and since it was during business hours, you would want to connect to them online.

Overall, this is a HR disaster for the company and there is so much more than meets the eye. The excuse given for firing the employee and the fact that the employee is not suing the company means something isn’t right. Maybe she threatened to blow the whistle on potential corrupt practices. After all, insurance companies are under stricter regulations here in the United States, and I assume that is the case in Switzerland too.

Facebooking while out sick gets employee fired | Digital Media – CNET News.

ashton kutcher (aplusk) on Twitter.

Obviously this looks like a bug or someone just ran a megascript, but check this screenshot out (not doctored). Taken at 10:41 p.m. PDT

Almost 2 million followers …

Ashton Kutcher - Twitter almost 2 million followers

Google recently announced a new look for the GMail client on the iPhone (and Android).

The new interface is pretty intuitive, and pleasing to the eye. However, since GMail supports free IMAP, I use the built-in email client to check my email.

The new architecture involves more usage of the internal database on the iPhone to cache data. This reduces the number of calls to the server, which is more than handy when on EDGE or 3G. According to their blog, they’ve even implemented some HTML5 features.

Related Link:

Official Gmail Blog: A new mobile Gmail experience for iPhone and Android.

The April Fools’ Worm, or Conficker has been in the news for a few weeks now. This is one of the few times since Y2K that a date was important. People around the world braced for April 1, 2009 – the worm was supposed to wake up and cause havoc of epic proportions. That never happened. Maybe the author(s) were waiting till people’s defenses were lowered. Maybe it woke up early and no one knows what it’s doing (the sheer possibilities send a shiver down my spine).

It’s not like this came out of the blue. The author(s) took advantage of a vulnerability in Windows, specifically crafting a RPC call sent to the Server service. This practically has a potential to affect all Windows machines. Microsoft issued a patch way back in October 2008 (6 months ago!) with the recommendation that customers apply the update Immediately.

It is understandable that there are a number of individual users who are not computer-savvy and don’t have automatic updates turned on. I think Microsoft should build in intelligence within their operating systems to determine what kind of users the OS is dealing with. If a user appears to be ignorant of computer security and safety, then the level of nagging should increase – maybe disable certain OS features until they install updates.

The area where I am really surprised is with corporations and institutions. The fact that there are a number of infected computers, professionally managed by IT staff, is appalling. It was reported that 800 computers were affected at the University of Utah (link below). Why weren’t these computers patched with MS08-067 back in October? This is the same question I ask of companies who have affected machines (or will be affected in future). I understand that these patches have to be tested and verified before deploying to all servers and other computers. But, if it takes over 6 months to deploy a “immediate” patch, it is ridiculous.

Cyberthreats are to be taken very seriously. A new form of terrorism, cyber-terrorism is brewing. By not closing security holes immediately, you’re only increasing opportunity and aiding terrorists/virus-writers/spammers/cybercriminals. ALL companies must review their IT policies with respect to safety & security – and patch deployment and maintenance.

Individuals can do their part by ensuring the following:

  • Update your computer regularly. Turn on automatic updates if you think you can’t deal with manual updates.
  • Have anti-virus software installed and updated regularly. If you don’t want to spend money, there are some good free anti-virus software like AVG and avast!
  • Do not open files received by someone you don’t know.
  • Do not open files that are reported as viruses/worms, even if you receive it from someone you know. Spammers are known to spoof their aliases.
  • Don’t install software if prompted by a web site (unless you’re specifically trying to download and install a particular software)

Microsoft Virus Alert about Win32/Conficker.B worm :: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/962007

Microsoft Security Bulletin MS08-067 (published October 23, 2008) :: http://www.microsoft.com/technet/security/Bulletin/MS08-067.mspx

Conficker Worm Hits University Of Utah :: http://www.informationweek.com/news/security/attacks/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=216500433&subSection=News

Best Free Antivirus Software :: http://www.techsupportalert.com/best-free-anti-virus-software.htm

Last weekend, I was watching an online video, when my custom-built desktop machine suddenly shut down. I attempted to boot it up, and it shut down within 5 seconds. It was apparent that it was a hardware problem. The lack of POST beep pretty much confirmed this.

A lot of forum-surfing led me to believe that one or both of my RAM sticks were fried. I unseated both RAM sticks and booted the machine. There was a lot of beeping (expected due to missing RAM), but it shut down within a few seconds. RAM wasn’t the issue.

Other suggestions on the forum were related to the power supply (PSU), graphics card and CPU. The fact that I had a display meant that the nVidia 8800 GTS graphics card was just fine. I also have a 520W PSU which is more than enough. Moreover, this machine ran fine for over a year and a half.

The next time I booted the machine, I had just enough time to get into the BIOS Health Status page – CPU was at 50C and rising … and then the machine shut down. Further inspection revealed that the CPU fan had become a little loose from the motherboard. I reseated the CPU fan (after ensuring that the silica gel silicon paste (thermal paste) [thanks Amit for pointing out the error] layer was fine), and rebooted the machine. CPU temperature was under control and there are no more issues!

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