Four Patches Proffered

As expected, Microsoft sent out four patches yesterday, all to fix eight holes that could allow for remote execution attacks. While there are only four patches, all are deemed critical.

A hole in Windows Media Player that could let someone use a media file to take over your machine got plugged. The Windows graphics engine, GDI+, also got a hole filled that affects everything from SQL Server to Office. This hole is one analysts expect to be heavily attacked, so patching is of the essence.

The last two remedies are aimed at Windows Media Encoder 9 and a remote execution flaw in Office.

Greene's Beau Leaves VMware
There must have been some interesting dinner conversation after Diane Greene was fired as CEO of VMware while her husband and co-founder, Mendel Rosenblum, stayed on as chief scientist. Now, on the eve of VMworld, Rosenblum has left the company, as well.

My guess is that Rosenblum's departure was only a matter of time. I think he was mentally ready to leave after his wife was ousted, but out of loyalty to his troops he stayed on to ease the transition.

The couple made many millions, but neither seems like the type to drift off into the sunset on a 250-foot yacht. What would you like to see from this dynamic duo? Suggestions welcome at [email protected].

What's the Deal with the Seinfeld Ad?
The almost-long-awaited Jerry Seinfeld ads for Microsoft finally debuted. And like so many Super Bowls (especially when the Patriots lose), the "Sopranos" final episode and the new Guns N' Roses, the Seinfeld ad (at least the first one) was a colossal disappointment.

Jerry showed flashes of his former brilliance, and Gates was pleasantly goofy (as the script called for). But man, oh man, were the jokes flat. Jerry had a groaner about taking a shower in your clothes (you're dressed, and you're clean; open the door and go about your business), and the piece ended with Jerry's dream of a moist and chewy PC you could eat like cake. That line was as big a bomb as Windows ME, Bob and the Yahoo deal put together. Interestingly, Gates was funnier that Jerry!

Did you love or hate the new commercial? High praise and catcalls both welcome at [email protected].

Mailbag: Who Could've Imagined the End of the World Was So Interesting?
Earlier this week, I talked about the new atom collider in Switzerland that some scientists think will create microscopic black holes that will swallow our world. The topic was clearly controversial, as I got nearly as many letters as when I talk about Vista or the Mac. Have a look:

I am a science buff, not a scientist, so I can't "do the math" on the risk of black holes going postal. I doubt that anyone can. Arguments against permanent black holes are persuasive but they are anecdotal, not objective. Picture the Manhattan Project with massively (no pun intended) greater energies involved. I did not sleep very well last night.

The same henny-penny scenario was discussed when the first fission experiments happened under the University of Chicago in the '40s. Look how well that turned out!

Wouldn't it be the ultimate irony if the scientists, the same ones that have been telling us that we are destroying the planet through global warming, beat us to the punch?

But it won't happen. Technically (if I understand it correctly), all black holes are much smaller than microscopic. They are infinitesimally small points of mass. It is the size of their gravitational influence that grades their size. If their gravitational influence is microscopic, then the likelihood of them swallowing anything is as unlikely as the black hole at the center of our own galaxy reaching out and swallowing us. These things will most likely disappear as quickly as they are created. The scientists' biggest problem will be to pull useful data from them before they do disappear. I'd be real interested in hearing from someone with the proper credentials on this topic.

Want to see what the experts think? Go here. Anyway, if one of the scenarios listed there or some unknown scenario occurs, we probably won't be here immediately afterward.

I'd be more worried that after all that money has been spent, humanity is no closer to understanding how the universe is put together at the subatomic level. We should all hope that new understanding is gained from the CERN experiments. Nine thousand physicists could be wrong, but what are the odds of that?


The collider has the potential to create microscopic black holes. It's not worth the risk of destroying a billion-plus people on the Earth because a very small minority wants to be God. It's totally ridiculous.

It's just a bunch of people practicing their religion, nothing more.

I think there's an opportunity to see the bright side on this one. If we're ever going to get the chance to see the inside of a black hole first hand, it'll be tomorrow. Certainly no one wants the Earth to be swallowed up, but at least it would be a more interesting demise than many alternatives -- like being hit by a bus. Eat, drink and be merry (and you know the rest).

And Dave also chimes in on the slightly more sobering topic of backward compatibility:

For John, the Mailbag writer who rightly worries about access to electronic documents in the future, here's an article I found interesting. It's about the PDF/A format for archiving PDFs. One of the more interesting points is that converting a PDF to PDF/A can result in loss of fidelity to the original.

And John, try to dream of more pleasant things, remembering that it might be all over after tomorrow, anyway.

Got something to add? Let me know! Leave a comment below or drop me a line at [email protected].

About the Author

Doug Barney is editor in chief of Redmond magazine and the VP, editorial director of Redmond Media Group.


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