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Software Improvers or Hackers?

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The “Kudos & Calamities” column was the brainchild of its original co-authors, AdamTheTech and Tyler Thompson. The idea behind the column was to be able to alternate authors every week who each tackle an interesting personal topic or news headline related to technology. The column was inherited by PCM members Kram and Ryan Passey, and was eventually retired as PCM evolved into more of a blogging format.

Security flaws in Firefox lead to the discussion of hackers and program development.

More and more users have been jumping on the FireFox bandwagon because they know that IE is full of security flaws, as well as features that can be taken advantage of by spyware and whatnot.  With FireFox’s popularity spiraling upward with many college campuses installing FireFox on lab and staff machines, many coders are now getter very familiar with it.

Yes, there are literally dozens of plug-ins and extensions that can perform a myriad of tasks geared toward whichever applicable line of work people tend to use the browser for, but FireFox is no longer the cure-all.  Yes, it helps with pop-ups and with blocking malware, but it doesn’t block everything.  Chances are, if you visit a site laced with malware, such as sites containing warez, cracks, or pornography, you will get something dumped on your hard drive that sneaks past your defenses.  Take a look at this security flaw comparison between IE and FireFox

Anyway, the trick is, be careful when you surf the Internet.  Don’t give malware-laden sites a chance to take advantage of browser flaws.  Tighten up your security!  Invasion by malicious software makes up about 90% of all the computer problems I get called about.

Keep your AV software up-to-date, make sure you have some sort of firewall, and surf safely.  For protection on other various issues that are not plugged up by default, there are a few pages dedicated to the subject here.

Most companies condemn users who intentionally try to exploit various security flaws and other various problems.  Even if by exposing them, opportunities to improve the program are revealed, most companies look down on that because the flaw finding wasn’t done in-house.

Surprisingly, LEGO has applauded the efforts of “hackers” who have taken it upon themselves to rework various pieces of their Lego building software.  These changes have gone to improve the software and purchasing service that saved money for customers and cut production costs and made the whole process of building your own Lego set virtually and having the pieces sent through the mail so much simpler.

This is a revolutionary step for companies to treat these “hackers” who only want to improve upon the programs they use.  The past Kudos & Calamities that took a look at the way Blizzard handled its “hackers” was completely different from the way Lego handled theirs.

Most of these kinds of people just get fed up with inferior products and try to do something about it.  Kudos for them.  Unfortunately, often times, it is explicitly stated in the EULA that users may not modify the software.  When it does, these people are in a heap of legal trouble if they are caught by the company that produced the software.

While Blizzard when ahead and took legal action against these “hackers” who wanted to improve on the software, Lego didn’t look the gift horse in the mouth.  Most often, when people are annoyed and frustrated by something enough, they will work to change it and make it better.  Those changes sometimes answer the frustrated pleas of everyone.

I leave you with a thought for this week: “Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising.” –Mark Twain

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