Mac Backdoor Trojan embedded in Word Documents

For those users who use Microsoft products on their Macs, you need to be aware that there is a new version of the Backdoor Trojan embedded in a word document related to the Tibetan situation.  According to this article, it is possibly related to the Chinese effort to keep an eye on Tibetan sympathizers and any group banned by the Chinese goverment:

Make sure that you update all of your Microsoft products to the latest version set by the Microsoft Updater and do not open any Word documents from unknown sources.

Is Microsoft Office Suite for the iPad Really Here?

A photo on the Daily, a news site covering a variety of topics, claims to be the next generation Microsoft Office Suite for the iPad.  While not all that far fetched since One Note was released for the iPad, the fact that Microsoft would want to go beyond the On Live concept with their iPad based application seems a bit preposterous.   With On Live, the control is all in the network, however, with an actual App, Microsoft loses all control except over the distribution of the App to the  iTunes Store.

The photo shows some familiar Microsoft logos as well as the standard settings and collaboration buttons on the screen but seems a bit unlike the normal Microsoft product.  Only time will tell if the photo is real, however, the user claims that the look and feel is much like that of One Note.

Source: The Daily

Linux Mint 12

This article is presented for those with Intel Macs (and PCs) who choose to have an alternative operating system available. It is possible to install it as a Dual-Boot system, Virtual Machine, or just run it from the live DVD.

Late last month (November) Mint 12 was released to the public (free). Mint is a full multi-media distribution of Linux. There has been a lot of extremely positive press about this version. It’s almost as if someone hired the PR departments from both M$ and Apple. ;-) With all due respect, I disagree with their evaluation. I work with older computers and find it is barely usable. Here is why:

  • On a 32bit IBM Netvista running at 2.5GHz with 1GB of RAM it takes multiple attempts to install from the CD.
  • Once installed the default setting is to run Gnome 3.
  • The Gnome 3 desktop is very bare. There is no menu only the icons to access programs directly.
  • In order to access any sort of menu from Gnome 3 the user has to right click on the desktop and open a shell. From there they have to type “gnome-panel” every time they login.
  • The different system settings are spread across three different menu items.
  • In Gnome 3 I have yet to find a way to add items to the panels.
  • Most users have apparently stayed with Gnome 2 because most of the features they want are still there.
  • To change the panels in Gnome 2 the process has been changed from a right click to holding the <Alt> key while right clicking.
  • The whole system is slower than previous releases.
  • This release looks like it is becoming more bloated (still not as bad as as Windows or OS X).
  • The operating system is convinced my desktops are laptops. This means a whole lot of useless software gets installed.

There are a number of good reasons to consider this version:

  • IF it installs correctly, it is stable.
  • The eye-candy is appealing.
  • Under Gnome 2 all the previous software remains available.
  • Although I haven’t tried it, I have been told KDE works really well.
  • It includes newer programs than previous releases.
  • It installs very well in a Virtual Machine.
  • It is still faster than Windows and OS X.
  • The authors have bent over backwards to support laptops and netbooks. This is somewhat useless if it is installed on a desktop though.

My final impressions are the authors are telling the users what they want as opposed to listening to what the users want. Also that the new desktops resemble pre-OS X Macs or Windows 3.1 without the speed.

Handbrake: A review

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving everybody.

This review will be just a quick one. I’m not an expert with this sort of thing and have only dabbled with it from time to time…

What is it?

Handbrake is simply a transcoder. It converts DVD’s to video files and video files from one format to another.

Does it work?

Yes. It does what it was designed to do quite well and actually is fairly stable in spite of having not been updated in a while.

What platforms does it run on?

It is cross-platform. It will run on Mac (Intel), Linux, and Windows. I reviewed the 32 bit Mac version.

Where can it be found?

How much does it cost?

Like almost everything I review, it is free to use.

Any thoughts?

Yes. Plenty.

I rather like the interface. All the information is on the screen where I need it. It is quite intuitive. It even includes tool tips if anyone wants to know what the various settings do.

As I said, it converts DVD’s to video files as well as  video files from one format to another. I’m not sure how many formats are accepted for the source file. The output file will be one of two formats. It will be either an MP4 or MKV. There are lots of options for both.

It is possible to include subtitles with the final file. The program will look for internal or external text streams and add them to the resulting file. Through experimentation I found it is possible to add them as hard subs (as part of the video) or soft subs (the player displays them as a separate stream on the screen).

More features include optimisations for Macs and iPods.

Of all the similar tools I’ve used, it is on the slower side of things. For a 25 minute file it can take over an hour to convert.

In many countries (including Canada in a few weeks) this program is considered illegal since it bypasses the encryption of the original file in order to produce the new file.

Microsoft Office for Mac 2011 SP1 to be Released next Week

According to the OfficeforMac blog (, SP1 for Office 2011 is to be released within the next week.   According to the blog, the biggest change in SP1 will be the ability for Outlook to sync between Outlook 2011 and Apple Sync Services.

For more about the update, check out the Microsoft Office for Mac Blog at: