Circuit

Bush’s summer reading list
President Bush is in Crawford, Texas, for vacation, but he will take a shorter break than in years past. On his reading list this year are several history books, including two about Abraham Lincoln, according to the Associated Press.

Bush’s summer reading list includes:

  • “Lincoln: A Life of Purpose and Power,” by Richard Carwardine.

  • “Lincoln’s Greatest Speech: The Second Inaugural,” by Ronald White Jr.

  • “Polio: An American Story,” by University of Texas historian David Oshinsky, who won a Pulitzer Prize.

DHS: Patch it!
The Homeland Security Department doesn’t often send out messages urging Windows users to apply patches — until last week.

In a news release, “DHS recommends security patch to protect against a vulnerability found in Windows operating systems,” DHS encouraged Windows users to apply Microsoft security patch MS06-040 as quickly as possible.

“This security patch is designed to protect against a vulnerability that, if exploited, could enable an attacker to remotely take control of an affected system and install programs, view, change or delete data, and create new accounts with full user rights,” the release said.

Such announcements typically come from the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team, which DHS oversees. CERT issues warnings several times a month, but in this case, DHS apparently decided the problem was significant enough to warrant a broader announcement.

Telecommuters, secure your computers
On the heels of the data theft from the Department of Veterans Affairs, the National Institute of Standards and Technology drafted the first government guidance on securing Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition.

Nearly five years after the popular operating system hit the market, the government has finally released a publication about how federal employees who work from home can protect their computers. The publication, which NIST released Aug. 1, targets government workers, XP systems administrators and information security employees who are responsible for securing teleworkers’ computers that run XP Home Edition.

The guidance recommends that agencies install Windows XP Professional instead of Home Edition, if given the choice. XP Professional “provides additional security controls that can be enabled to enforce organizational policies, such as password, audit, patch management and encryption policies,” the document states.

“However, NIST recognizes that there are many personal home computers running operating systems such as Windows XP Home Edition that are used by telecommuters to interact with organizations’ information systems. This publication has been produced to help these telecommuters secure their personally owned Windows XP Home Edition computers.”

Emeril spices up NASA’s space food
On Aug. 10, the crew of the International Space Station sampled dishes created by Food Channel dignitary Emeril Lagasse. Following chow-down, the three astronauts onboard reviewed the edibles for the chef himself via a phone call.

The space shuttle Discovery delivered the grub in July. Selections included Emeril’s Mardi Gras jambalaya, mashed potatoes with bacon, green beans with garlic, rice pudding and mixed fruit.

“Our research has indicated that quality, appetizing food is important for the health and morale of astronauts during space missions, especially long ones,” said Vickie Kloeri, manager of the NASA Food Tasting lab.

Adobe unveils Da Vinci Codesque public artwork
Adobe Systems unveiled a digital puzzle as a challenge for passersby on local freeways and denizens of nearby buildings in the city of San Jose, Calif.

The work, San Jose Semaphore, was designed by multimedia artist Ben Rubin. Standing 10 feet tall and 70 feet long, the artwork is installed on the 18th and 19th floors of Adobe’s Almaden Boulevard office tower.

The structure consists of four 10-foot- wide disks, each composed of 24,000 LEDs. Those illuminated disks rotate to a new position every eight seconds while pulsing a coded message. An online audio broadcast of spoken and sung letters, numbers and musical tones will help the public solve the mystery.

“I wanted it to be something that you could see was trying to communicate a message,” Rubin said. “A semaphore functions as a kind of slow-motion magnifier for digital communications, and for me, it connects with early visible communications technologies like the optical telegraph and semaphore flags. Ultimately, this piece is about the impulse to communicate and the basic human need for call and response.”

Adobe commissioned the new addition to the San Jose skyline with the San Jose Office of Cultural Affairs.

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