Virus Riding on FTC E-Mail

Talk about a Halloween costume. There've been reports of a new virus that arrives masquerading as an e-mail from the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC has been warning consumers this week to not open any e-mails that appear to come from its fraud department. The costumed virus appears to be from "frauddep@ftc.gov." It even has the FTC seal, so it looks official. Now, that's a good costume.

All kidding aside, advise your users to immediately delete such e-mails, which can often strike fear into the hearts of users with that ".gov" suffix. This latest trick comes with attachments and links that will download the virus, which then steals personal information from the victim like passwords and account numbers.

If you or any of your users see this e-mail knocking on your door this Halloween, forward it to spam@uce.gov. Then the real FTC can investigate the tricksters.

What are some of the craziest malware e-mails you've received? What's your process for protecting your users and screening e-mails? Do you rely more on technology or on educating users? Send me a virus-free e-mail at llow@redmondmag.com and let me know.

Price Check on Register 3
How much should a $100 laptop cost? This isn't a trick question. The much-ballyhooed "$100 Laptop" destined for underprivileged kids in developing nations -- a laudable goal, if ever there was one -- has already outlived its name.

The One Laptop Per Child Foundation, which was founded by MIT Professor Nicholas Negroponte, is now selling the inexpensive laptops for $200 each in lots of 10,000 or more. The intent is to have potential donor organizations buy the laptops through the foundation's Web site here.

Production costs were cited as the reason for the price jump from the originally stated $100 up to $150, then $188 and now $200. The laptops are scheduled to go into production next month at a factory located in China. So far, the One Laptop Per Child Foundation has orders from Uruguay, Peru and Mongolia.

The laptops are equipped with a video camera and a keyboard that can switch languages. They can also connect to a wireless Internet signal and run Linux software. The laptops only need 2 watts of power, as opposed to the 30 to 40 watts that a typical laptop requires.

In other news about low-cost laptops destined for developing nations, Microsoft and Intel have signed a deal to sell 150,000 laptops to the Libyan Education Ministry. This is Intel's second-largest sale of Classmate PCs since they were launched last year. These laptops also reportedly cost $200 to build.

What do you think of Big Silicon's efforts to laptop the world? Are these wise priorities or should the focus be more on the basics, like food and shelter? Do you think this will accelerate economic and humanitarian globalization? Where would you send 10,000 laptops? Let me know at llow@redmondmag.com.

IBM Improves Recycling
It's not the easiest recycling task on the planet, but IBM has developed a better method for recycling excess silicon generated during its manufacturing processes.

Before reselling or reusing bits and pieces of silicon, as is the common practice, they often required cleansing with toxic chemicals. Instead of an acid bath, IBM engineers have developed a way to remove the imprinted circuitry with water and abrasive pads -- like those green pads you use to wash the dishes. This saves money, doesn't damage the silicon chip as much and doesn't generate any toxic waste. Besides reducing the environmental impact, IBM expects to save as much as $1.5 million a year.

Saving the environment and saving a pile of money -- sounds good to me. What are some of the energy-saving measure you've put into place in your organization? How do you recycle and reuse? Let me know at llow@redmondmag.com, and we may be able to include your stories in an upcoming feature in Redmond magazine.

Mailbag: Taxing the Internet, Web TV
Peter reported yesterday on the proposed extension to the Internet tax moratorium, which is set to expire tomorrow. How do you feel about taxing the Internet? Here are some thoughts from readers:

This is b---s---t! This should come under the Freedom of Information Act and never be taxed.
-Anonymous

Unlike you, I believe that I pay no telephone taxes as I have disconnected from AT&T and use VoIP from my cable provider. I am sure that there are many others who are in the same position as me. Although I do not want to pay more tax, to be fair, maybe only the VoIP portion should be taxable.
-Vin

I know -- let's put a "temporary" tax on the service in order to pay for the Spanish-American War! That temporary tax only lasted for 100 years. -George

Hulu.com, the product of a collaboration between Fox and NBC, has now joined the online video race. Do we need another video site? Here's what some of you had to say:

I can't say for sure if we need another video site as I have only recently started checking out YouTube. There are some old TV shows and movies that I would like to see and they may or may not be shown on YouTube. There is a reason that there are so many cable channels now compared to 20 years ago. Those networks broadcasting then either would not or could not show what we wanted to see. I myself do not watch any one channel to exclude all others. Variety is one of the spices of life and entertainment and education channels prove that. This is one case where I have to say the more, the merrier.

Hulu.com may not allow viewers to post home-grown videos, but someday there probably will be a Web site to allow just that. "America's Funniest Home Videos" shows some pretty good videos submitted by viewers, but their choice of the Top 3 leave something to be desired in many cases. Maybe a new Web site would allow viewers to choose a favorite video from a much larger selection those three. It'll be interesting to see how this plays out in the future.
-Les

For this, NBC pulled out of iTunes. What is the point of being able to watch shows on a computer, anyway? I like being able to watch stuff on the bus to work when I don't want to read. (Not that it matters since I live in Canada and thus have to roll my own content!) I suspect that they will find that this approach does not work well for long!
-Angus

It seems to me that for watching previous episodes of current TV shows online, CBS has it right. When I've watched "Survivor" online, they show a commercial before the show starts; then you get to watch the show in its entirety commercial-free. NBC, on the other hand, shows commercials every five minutes or so, and it's the same commercials each time. Very annoying. I would like to watch old shows and movies online, if the commercials/ads weren't too intrusive. It's fine with me to show commercials at the beginning or end of a show, but then let me watch the show commercial-free.
-Matt

Tell us what you think! Send an e-mail to llow@redmondmag.com or leave a comment below.

About the Author

Lafe Low is the editorial liaison for ECG Events.

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