Apple’s Hidden Message to Hackers: „Dont Steal Mac OS X“

Apple_glassWe’ve received some information regarding Apple’s newest portable, the MacBook Pro, and with it a hidden message for would-be hackers.  We were made privy to a text dump from the System Profiler of one of the new MacBooks and, naturally, couldn’t wait to sort through its contents. What we didn’t expect to see was a warning from Apple to those that would hack OS X, presumably to those wanting it to run on beige-box PCs:


<string>Dont Steal Mac OS X</string>
<string>Copyright (c) 2006 Apple Computer, Inc.  All rights reserved.

<string>The purpose of this Apple software is to protect Apple copyrighted
materials from unauthorized copying and use. You may not copy, modify,
reverse engineer, publicly display, publicly perform, sublicense,
transfer or redistribute this file, in whole or in part.  If you have
obtained a copy of this Apple software and do not have a valid license
from Apple Computer to use it, please immediately destroy or delete it
from your computer.</string>


The most interesting part of this message?  It’s placement, found in /System/Library/Extensions/Dont Steal Mac OS X.kext Despite being a lighthearted jab at hackers, it seems that Apple is taking the pirating of the new OSx86 seriously, since the same kext is not found in the PPC version of 10.4.4.  Is this simply a hidden message for the interested parties, or is it a new tounge-in-cheek implementation of OS X’s TPM security?  Details are sketchy at this point… watch this space for more news as we get it.


Less than 20 days since the Core Duo was officially released, and T-minus ?? days until Core Solo is officially released. Yet, if we turn to Intel’s Errata documentation for the Core Duo and Core Solo lines, we already find 34 known problems. That averages out to an error-and-a-half found every day since the chips were released.

The errata are shown below, with some of the more obnoxious ones highlighed (click the image for a readable version, though you may want to save it instead of allowing your browser to resize it automatically, thus making it hard to read again):

As you can see, only one errata item is even planned to be fixed. It’s worth noting that leaving known errors in processors is nothing new, as many of Pentium 4’s 65 known errata (download the PDF) have no plans for correction either.

Still, the Core Duo and Core Solo processors are just out of the gates, and this high number of immediate errata should leave one a little chilled, I’d say. Releasing a brand new processor with 34 known errors seems almost criminal to me, especially with some of the more obnoxious ones highlighted above.

If you’re thinking about buying a Core Duo-based machine, you might want to stop by Intel’s documentation department and pick up the latest errata updates, which are promised to be released on the following dates: February 15, March 15, April 19, May 17, June 14, July 19, August 16, September 13, October 18, November 15, December 13.

Visit Intel’s Core Duo homepage, check out the Core Duo 65 nm specification page, and don’t forget to checkout the updated errata page.

Microsoft Creating Mac-Specific Keyboard

MicrosoftmackeyboardMicrosoft is doing something that it hasn’t done before; it’s in the process of creating a keyboard and mouse designed exclusively for Apple’s Macintosh computers. Dubbed the Wireless Laser Desktop for Mac, the keyboard will sport Microsoft’s favored „comfort curve“ design, as well as extra keys for email, chat, music, photos and browser. The mouse is uses high-definition laser technology, as well as Microsoft’s tilt-wheel design.

The one thing missing from this keyboard for your Apple computer is, well, the Apple key. To be more specific, the key is present with the generic clover icon, but the actual Apple icon is not present as Apple controls the copyright and would not permit Microsoft to put it on the key.
This is a good move for Microsoft. Although not well known for their computer peripherals, they have consistently produced higher-quality mice and keyboards as compared to those that ship with desktop Apple computers. Kudos.

Cheating Microsoft Pinball

Ever wanted to be the pinball wizard? Now you can! It’s possible to cheat at the Pinball game that is included in Windows XP. It’s simple, just perform the following:

To launch the ball before the start of the game:

Start Pinball.

Press the F2 button repeatedly 3 times.

After doing so, the ball should fall onto the table before the music ends.

To receive the beginner bonus:

To get the “skill shot” bonus points, launch the ball with barely any force, so that it falls back towards the launcher. It should then go into the play area, and award you 15,000 points.

To drag the ball around with your mouse, wracking up points like no tomorrow:

Open Pinball from Start > All Programs > Games > Pinball.

Type “hidden test” (without the quotes)

Click and drag your mouse around on the pinball table, the ball follows your mouse.

To get one extra ball:

Type “1max” (without the quotes)

To get unlimited balls:

Type “bmax” (without the quotes)

To activate the gravity well:

Type “gmax” (without the quotes)

To promote your rank:

Type “rmax” (without the quotes)

To instantly score 1,000,000 points:

Press Shift + H.

Latops with Intel Core…

SZ_ResearchWith updated benchmarks and a more level playing field comparison to the Pentium M and Athlon 64 X2, we’re truly able to see the potential of Intel’s Core Duo processor.  Our initial analysis still holds true, that for a notebook processor, the Core Duo will be nothing short of amazing for professionals.  Looking at the performance improvements offered everywhere from media encoding to 3D rendering, you’re going to be able to do a lot more on your notebook than you originally thought possible (without resorting to a 12-pound desktop replacement).  In the past, power users on the go had to sacrifice mobility for CPU power, but with the Core Duo, that is no longer the case.  You will still most likely have to resort to something larger if you need better GPU performance, but at least your CPU needs will be covered.  The one thing that Intel’s Core Duo seems to be able to do very well is to truly bridge the gap between mobile and desktop performance, at least in thin and light packages. 

But what about the bigger picture?  What does our most recent look at the performance of Intel’s Core Duo tell us about future Intel desktop performance?  We continue to see that the Core Duo can offer, clock for clock, overall performance identical to that of AMD’s Athlon 64 X2 – without the use of an on-die memory controller.  The only remaining exception at this point appears to be 3D games, where the Athlon 64 X2 continues to do quite well, most likely due to its on-die memory controller. 

The problem with the Core Duo is that its clock speeds aren’t going to be quite high enough to be competitive, on the very high end, with AMD.  Luckily for Intel, Conroe should be able to offer higher clock speeds without much of a performance penalty, thanks to its 4-issue core.  It is always interesting to note that Intel’s marketing focus is moving away from focusing on ILP (Instruction Level Parallelism), yet one of its biggest features of their next-generation microarchitecture is a significant increase in ILP. 

Honestly, as it stands today, if Intel can get clock speeds up, the only area that they will need to improve on is gaming performance to be competitive with AMD.  We wouldn’t be too surprised if the comparisons that we have shown today end up being very similar to what we encounter at Conroe’s launch: with AMD and Intel performing very similarly at the same clock speeds, but with AMD’s on-die memory controller giving it the advantage in gaming. 

Intel’s Core Duo launches in January at CES, so if you’ve been thinking about buying a new laptop, we’d suggest waiting at least another month or so.  You won’t be disappointed. 

Computer Virus Timeline


Theories for self-replicating programs are first developed.

Apple Viruses 1, 2, and 3 are some of the first viruses “in the wild,” or in the public domain. Found on the Apple II operating system, the viruses spread through Texas A&M via pirated computer games.

Fred Cohen, while working on his dissertation, formally defines a computer virus as “a computer program that can affect other computer programs by modifying them in such a way as to include a (possibly evolved) copy of itself.”

Two programmers named Basit and Amjad replace the executable code in the boot sector of a floppy disk with their own code designed to infect each 360kb floppy accessed on any drive. Infected floppies had “© Brain” for a volume label.

The Lehigh virus, one of the first file viruses, infects files.

One of the most common viruses, Jerusalem, is unleashed. Activated every Friday the 13th, the virus affects both .exe and .com files and deletes any programs run on that day.
MacMag and the Scores virus cause the first major Macintosh outbreaks.

Symantec launches Norton AntiVirus, one of the first antivirus programs developed by a large company.

Tequila is the first widespread polymorphic virus found in the wild. Polymorphic viruses make detection difficult for virus scanners by changing their appearance with each new infection.

1300 viruses are in existence, an increase of 420% from December of 1990.
The Dark Avenger Mutation Engine (DAME) is created. It is a toolkit that turns ordinary viruses into polymorphic viruses. The Virus Creation Laboratory (VCL) is also made available. It is the first actual virus creation kit.

Good Times email hoax tears through the computer community. The hoax warns of a malicious virus that will erase an entire hard drive just by opening an email with the subject line “Good Times.” Though disproved, the hoax resurfaces every six to twelve months.

Word Concept becomes one of the most prevalent viruses in the mid-1990s. It is spread through Microsoft Word documents.

Baza, Laroux (a macro virus), and Staog viruses are the first to infect Windows95 files, Excel, and Linux respectively.

Currently harmless and yet to be found in the wild, StrangeBrew is the first virus to infect Java files. The virus modifies CLASS files to contain a copy of itself within the middle of the file’s code and to begin execution from the virus section.
The Chernobyl virus spreads quickly via .exe files. As the notoriety attached to its name would suggest, the virus is quite destructive, attacking not only files but also a certain chip within infected computers.
Two California teenagers infiltrate and take control of more than 500 military, government, and private sector computer systems.

The Melissa virus, W97M/Melissa, executes a macro in a document attached to an email, which forwards the document to 50 people in the user’s Outlook address book. The virus also infects other Word documents and subsequently mails them out as attachments. Melissa spread faster than any previous virus, infecting an estimated 1 million PCs.
Bubble Boy is the first worm that does not depend on the recipient opening an attachment in order for infection to occur. As soon as the user opens the email, Bubble Boy sets to work.
Tristate is the first multi-program macro virus; it infects Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files.

The Love Bug, also known as the ILOVEYOU virus, sends itself out via Outlook, much like Melissa. The virus comes as a VBS attachment and deletes files, including MP3, MP2, and .JPG. It also sends usernames and passwords to the virus’s author.
W97M.Resume.A, a new variation of the Melissa virus, is determined to be in the wild. The “resume” virus acts much like Melissa, using a Word macro to infect Outlook and spread itself.
The “Stages” virus, disguised as a joke email about the stages of life, spreads across the Internet. Unlike most previous viruses, Stages is hidden in an attachment with a false “.txt” extension, making it easier to lure recipients into opening it. Until now, it has generally been safe to assume that text files are safe.
“Distributed denial-of-service” attacks by hackers knock Yahoo, eBay, Amazon, and other high profile web sites offline for several hours.

Shortly after the September 11th attacks, the Nimda virus infects hundreds of thousands of computers in the world. The virus is one of the most sophisticated to date with as many as five different methods of replicating and infecting systems. The “Anna Kournikova” virus, which mails itself to persons listed in the victim’s Microsoft Outlook address book, worries analysts who believe the relatively harmless virus was written with a “tool kit” that would allow even the most inexperienced programmers to create viruses. Worms increase in prevalence with Sircam, CodeRed, and BadTrans creating the most problems. Sircam spreads personal documents over the Internet through email. CodeRed attacks vulnerable webpages, and was expected to eventually reroute its attack to the White House homepage. It infected approximately 359,000 hosts in the first twelve hours. BadTrans is designed to capture passwords and credit card information.

Author of the Melissa virus, David L. Smith, is sentenced to 20 months in federal prison. The LFM-926 virus appears in early January, displaying the message “Loading.Flash.Movie” as it infects Shockwave Flash (.swf) files. Celebrity named viruses continue with the “Shakira,” “Britney Spears,” and “Jennifer Lopez” viruses emerging. The Klez worm, an example of the increasing trend of worms that spread through email, overwrites files (its payload fills files with zeroes), creates hidden copies of the originals, and attempts to disable common anti-virus products. The Bugbear worm also makes it first appearance in September. It is a complex worm with many methods of infecting systems.

In January the relatively benign “Slammer” (Sapphire) worm becomes the fastest spreading worm to date, infecting 75,000 computers in approximately ten minutes, doubling its numbers every 8.5 seconds in its first minute of infection. The Sobig worm becomes the one of the first to join the spam community. Infected computer systems have the potential to become spam relay points and spamming techniques are used to mass-mail copies of the worm to potential victims.

In January a computer worm, called MyDoom or Novarg, spreads through emails and file-sharing software faster than any previous virus or worm. MyDoom entices email recipients to open an attachment that allows hackers to access the hard drive of the infected computer. The intended goal is a “denial of service attack” on the SCO Group, a company that is suing various groups for using an open-source version of its Unix programming language. SCO offers a $250,000 reward to anyone giving information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the people who wrote the worm.
An estimated one million computers running Windows are affected by the fast-spreading Sasser computer worm in May. Victims include businesses, such as British Airways, banks, and government offices, including Britain’s Coast Guard. The worm does not cause irreparable harm to computers or data, but it does slow computers and cause some to quit or reboot without explanation. The Sasser worm is different than other viruses in that users do not have to open a file attachment to be affected by it. Instead, the worm seeks out computers with a security flaw and then sabotages them. An 18-year-old German high school student confessed to creating the worm. He’s suspected of releasing another version of the virus.

FreeBSD 6.1 will provide full support for Xen 3.0

Kip Macy just sent an important email on the Xen Mailing List, annoncing nearly complete support for Xen 3.0 in FreeBSD CURRENT branch.

He’s also confident the complete Xen 3.0 x86 support will be ready for the FreeBSD 6.1 launch (expected after 20th March 2006) while the Xen 3.0 x64 support will be there with FreeBSD 6.2 (to be released after 31th July 2006).