Spam is now 90 percent of all email

According to this article in c|net, Symantec’s MessageLab released a report last Monday that claims just over ninety percent of global email traffic is now spam, after a five percent increase from April to May 2009. The report also indicates that older, established sites are now being used to host various types of malware more often than newly-minted sites. Spammers are attacking these older and more trustworthy domains, compromising them so that they become hosts and distribution points for malware and spam content.

Contrary to some popular notions, this report claims that spam originates evenly from three geographic areas: the Americas are responsible for about 35% of spam, versus 32% from Europe and 28% from Asia. About 58% of all spam comes from known botnets evenly distributed around the globe, although the botnet known as Donbot is alone responsible for 18%. Continue reading Spam is now 90 percent of all email

Ten Myths About Pro Tools for Voiceover: Why They’re Myths.

ProTools8It’s my belief that a lot of voice actors actually fear Digidesign’s Pro Tools for recording and editing voiceovers. Often, VO artists have taken one look over some engineer’s shoulder and muttered “Nope, that’s not for me, it’s too (fill in the blank).”

No wonder — the engineer is probably focused on how many whizzy-cool features s/he can invoke per second, and this can be give the talent a false impression. So here are the top ten objections to Pro Tools and my response to each. Read the rest of this entry »

Microsoft trolls for patents on holographic meetings

Help me, Obi Wan!SW_hologram

Microsoft has applied for a broad patent covering, among other things, using holography in remote meetings. That’s right, in the future according the MS, we’ll all be talking to holograms of our co-workers. How we’ll do it, what the hardware and software will look like, is still vague. But they’ll figure it out, and it will be so much better than what we have.

Holographic_meetingVideoconferencing? That’s so twentieth century. WebEx? Nah, that’s Twitter with pictures. Telepresence? Another Web-two-point-oh gee-gaw. Nope, MS looks to commercialize George Lucas’ ideas from a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. And they’ve filed a patent to cover it.

Can’t you see it now? A hologram of Dom Portwood appears outside your cubicle: “Yeah. It’s just that we’re putting new coversheets on all the TPS reports before they go out now. So if you could go ahead and try to remember to do that from now on, that’d be great.”

Gives a whole new meaning to the term “blue screen of death,” doesn’t it? But wait, there’s more: Why, we could have voiceover sessions where we’d actually have to look at the client! You’ll be able to read their body language as you finish the 14th take and wait for yet another line read completely different from the last one!

You can read about the future today (!) in this piece from Network World.

Audio players for websites in June 2009 RAP

Flash Audio Player

This month we take a look at several embedded audio players for use in HTML websites, as well as for those based on blogging software like WordPress. Nearly all of these players require MP3-formatted audio players to work, although some will play other formats as well. The players themselves are based on Adobe’s Flash technology combined with some Java scripting.

The reason for this is simple; nearly 97% of all online users have Adobe’s Flash player already installed on their computers, and almost all modern browsers know how to handle javascript properly. Using Flash insures that your clients will be able to hear your demos without the annoyance of having to stop and install yet another plug-in in their web browser.

Free iServices Mac Trojan removal tool available

MacScan_logoA free tool that removes the iServices Trojan is now available, courtesy of anti-spyware developer MacScan. This tool removes both the OSX.Trojan.iServices.A and OSX.Trojan.iServices.B Trojan horse, and can be downloaded from this page.

As reported last week, the first remotely-controlled “botnet” created from Macintosh computers has been identified in the field. These Macs are infected with one of the above-named Trojan horse programs, which were identified back in January as being spread via illegal copies of Adobe CS-4 and iWork 2009 software.

No_trojanMacScan’s removal tool is a stand-alone program that searches for these trojans and removes them if they exist. If neither Trojan exists, the program displays the dialog box to the left and you’re free to quit the program.

Mac users have been particularly fortunate, in that little in the way of malware has yet been aimed their computers. Clearly that has now changed, and given the potential of this malware to at minimum slow your Mac’s performance, and at worst to turn it into a “zombie,” there’s simply no reason not to download and run the removal tool.

First Mac-powered botnet identified

The first botnet based on Macintosh computers is here, according to security researchers at Symantec and reported in Ars Technica. A botnet is a collection of software robots (so-called “bots”) which can act automatically and autonomously after being infected with (usually) malevolent software. Botnets consist of a number of such compromised computers known as “zombies,” and these can be directed by the originator of the bot software (the so-called “bot herder”) to perform various nefarious tasks, such as conducting organized DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks on servers, or sending spam emails. Botnets are commonly comprised of Windows computers, although this is the first known botnet comprised of Macs.Ars_technica_logo

Mac users who downloaded pirated copies of Adobe’s Creative Suite CS4 or iWork 2009 may have got more than they bargained for, as some of these copies contained trojan horse software OSX.Trojan.iServices.A and OSX.Trojan.iServices.B. When the user unpacks the pirated software, the trojan is installed and becomes active, turning the Mac into a “zombie.” Since the trojan software was first discovered in January 2009, most anti-virus software has by now been updated to remove the trojan and its remnants. Still, the botnet was recently implicated in DDoS attacks on several servers.

This incident provides yet another reason to avoid installing pirated software on your computer. The success of this Mac-based botnet almost guarantees that more pirated software will be released that is infected, so it’s best to stay away… stay far, far away.

SEO for VO in May 2009 issue of RAP

In the upcoming issue of Radio & Production magazine, I’ve explained the basics of SEO and how it can help clients find you. More importantly, I show you how joining and participating in social networks increases your visibility on the interwebz, which can be good for your business.

In short, you need good content and good participation from other sites (in other words, incoming links) to get good results from Google. Got that? Good.

AKG Perception mics in April 2009 issue of RAP

In the April 2009 issue of Radio & Production magazine I’m taking a look at the AKG Perception line of microphones.akg_perception_mics

AKG has a long and storied reputation for producing some of the best studio mics around — can you say 414? — but can their latest line of inexpensive Chinese-made microphones maintain that reputation? How well do they stack up against the competition?

The short answer is yes, mostly. Read RAP for the whole story.

c|net Explains WiMax

wimax

I mentioned the concept of WiMax as it pertained to megayachts awhile ago, and like many of us I’m still waiting for it (or something that looks just like it).

For those who haven’t kept up, c|net has posted a good explanation of the WiMax technology, how it compares to Wi-Fi and 3G, and why you should care. From the article:

“The WiMax Forum claims the technology can deliver 40 Mbps of capacity per channel, which can then be split ‘among hundreds of businesses, thousands of residences, and thousands of mobile Internet users.’ Specifically, the group believes the technology can offer 30 Mbps of capacity within a typical cell radius of up to 3 kilometers.”

Heady stuff, if it works and becomes widely adopted. That, of course, is the issue. Realtime speeds tend to be substantially less than the theoretical:

“By comparison, WiMax can deliver theoretical download speeds to individual users around 10 Mbps to 20 Mbps. But most people using a mobile WiMax service will get between 2 Mbps and 4 Mbps of bandwidth.”

Read the entire c|net article here.

YouTube squashes sound for free – FIXED

UPDATE: YouTube appears to have fixed the “problem” with their new compression scheme, according to Wired.com. What’s interesting is that they seem to have undone the previous damage to users’ files, which implies that they either kept uncompressed copies that they could re-encode, or that the new scheme worked in real time. Read the update here.

ClampsNo, it’s not a man-bites-dog story. It is a story about how YouTube’s new audio compression algorithm not only makes all the sound louder, including any noise, but also destroys any dynamic range in music. In some cases it actually generates distortion where their previously was none.

It’s particularly hard on classical or acoustic music as it also raises the level of quiet passages, increasing their noise significantly. We can only hope they get it right at some point. Soon, please.

New YouTube Audio Compression Stymies Uploaders | Listening Post from Wired.com

And yes, it has been reported as a bug:

Recent audio compression issue – Bug Reports & Issues | Google Groups

As they say on comedy-news on local TV: More later as the situation develops.