Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Lost in Space: Chaos in Nigeria's Telecoms and ICT Policies

The latest attempts by President Yar Adua’s
administration to right the many wrongs of his
predecessor’s chaotic Telecommunications (Telecoms)
and Information Technology (IT) policies failures and
blunders is a welcome development. However, some of
the present government’s supposedly corrective
measures still leave the Telecoms and IT policy arenas
murkier than clearing the fog beclouding them. For
example, the recent directive by the Presidency to all
ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) and
institutions to stop buying bandwidths individually
from the competitive markets and the permission given
to the Nigerian Communications Satellite Ltd
(NIGCOMSAT Ltd) to provide last mile Telecoms and
Broadband internet retail services are cases in point.

Without prejudice to any of the present government’s
new policy intentions etc, this analysis starts first,
with an examination of the implications of the new
federal government policy directive issued by the
Office of the Secretary to the Government of the
Federation (OSGF) which bans all the ministries,
departments, agencies and institutions of the Federal
Government from individually buying internet
bandwidths, the range of radio frequencies used in
telecommunications transmission and reception etc. The
import of this analysis is to avoid the policy debacle
witnessed recently regarding the unveiling of the
“Strategic Agenda for the Naira” by the Central Bank
of Nigeria (CBN).

According to the directive as contained in a federal
government Circular quoted by The Guardian Newspaper
(Online edition:
http://www.guardian newsngr.com/ news/article08),[1] one
of the newest federal government’s owned Information
and Communications Technology (ICT) company –the
controversial Galaxy Backbone Plc[2] has been
designated as the sole firm that will henceforth
provide such services like internet connectivity, Wide
Area Networking (WAN) and Database Storage and
Management and equipment, amongst others to the
federal government ministries, departments and
agencies (MDAs) and all other extra-governmental

Galaxy Backbone Plc is an ICT firm set up by the
previous federal government under former president
Obasanjo to provide a platform for internet
connectivity and other services for all ministries,
departments and agencies (MDAs) through bulk
bandwidth/space segment purchase agreements. The
company is also responsible for all Wide Area Networks
(WANs) and Metropolitan Area Networks (MANs)
connecting government entities amongst other federal
government’s ICT applications and operations. However,
there are still unanswered questions as to the motives
behind establishing this government-owned company at
the time when government’s own economic and political
policy thrusts were and are still anchored on
privatisation, deregulation and liberalisation of the
national space economy!

Nevertheless, as much as there are some advantages in
this new policy directive on the one hand, the policy
directive on the other hand, is replete with more
serious policy inconsistencies, contradictions
violations of existing statuses and thus creating
chaos to say the least. For example, this directive is
in conflict with a number of statutory Acts and
numerous government White Papers that have since been
gazetted under the existing economic policy and
management regime. Some of these statutory Acts
include such Acts that established the Bureau for
Public Enterprises (BPE), the Nigerian Communications
Commission (NCC), National Information Technology
Development Agency (NITDA), and National Policy for
Information Technology (IT), the National e-Government
Strategies Limited (NeGSt)[3] and the National Policy
on Telecommunications, amongst other extant
liberalisation and deregulation laws, institutions and
agencies that governs Nigeria’s Telecoms and IT
sectors respectively.

Without going into the specific of the relevant
Statutory provisions of these mentioned legislative
Acts and public policy documents, it can seen that
unless the present administration of President Umaru
Musa Yar Adua is considering reversing some of these
mentioned existing legislative Acts, Telecoms and IT
policies, the existence of the following public
entities: Galaxy Backbone Plc, Nigeria Communication
Satellite Limited (NIGCOMSAT Ltd and the National
e-Government Strategies Limited (NeGSt) as
government-owned enterprises is in direct conflict
with the existing deregulation and liberalisation
policy frameworks of the Nigerian economy in general,
the Telecoms and IT sectors respectively. Moreover,
before we forget, it was the government’s existing
economic policy framework, Telecoms and IT policy
frameworks, which were used to get the government out
of the business of providing direct bulk and retail
Telecommunications and IT services – hence the
government got rid of NITEL and M-Tel by privatising
them. So therefore, why is it that the government is
busy again recreating new government-owned Telecoms
and ICT services companies?

Furthermore, the new directive from the Office of the
Secretary to the Government of the Federation, which
also indicated that the Nigeria Communication
Satellite Limited (NIGCOMSAT Ltd) would be the
preferred provider of satellite bandwidths to all
government agencies, is similarly in direct conflict
with the existing deregulation and liberalisation
policies that place emphasis on opening these sectors
to competitive private sector investments and
ownerships. Therefore, the directive to transfer all
the existing connectivity assets including such
equipment as Very Small Aperture Terminals (VSATs),
radio equipment and fibre optic links, among others,
within government entities to Galaxy Backbone Plc
should be seen in this light.

Another area of confusing arising from the new federal
government directive is that of designating the
controversial NIGCOMSAT Ltd as the government’s
preferred provider of satellite bandwidths to all MDAs
and institutions. This directive is also in direct
contradiction, and at the same time, in direct
conflict with another present administration’ s
directive which directed the National Space Research
and Development Agency (NASRDA: www.nasrda.org ),[4]
to sit with the management of the BPE with a view to
privatising NIGCOMSAT Ltd. This came about recently as
a dispute settlement policy action against the feuding
between NASRDA/NIGCOMSAT Ltd and the Nigerian
Communications Commission (NCC). Therefore, if and
when NIGCOMSAT Ltd is privatised by the BPE, this
directive will confer to it an unfair advantage
against all other private players operating in the
same market.

The new directive also specified that “Galaxy Backbone
would provide live nodes to each public building with
necessary security and firewall infrastructure as a
pre-requisite to the inclusion of such structures in
the National Information and Communication
Infrastructure Backbone (NICTIB) network.” Here again,
the government has not informed the public what this
NICTIB is about; where is it located and what are its
functions etc. However, if the NICTIB is also part of
the mandate of Galaxy Backbone Plc, then, it is again,
in contradiction and conflict with the respective
mandates of the following agencies: NIGCOMSAT Ltd,
(NeGSt) and NITDA.[5]

In addition, the new policy directive states that
Galaxy Backbone would also maintain all national
database management systems and transversal
applications. Here again, the Presidency did not
elaborate on what this means. However, if this stated
policy directive means that the federal government is
going to use the Galaxy Backbone Plc to maintain all
national database management systems – whatever this
means, I hasten to warn for caution. There is clear
and present danger with this directive. The
international best practice is to build decentralised
and distributed, but very well, seamlessly
interconnected and well secured system of national
databases and management information systems. This is
to guide against many risks associated with
centralised model of database systems, amongst other

Furthermore, assigning this onerous function and
responsibility to Galaxy Backbone Plc, apart from the
logistical, human resources and institutional
capacities nightmares which this will create, it is
also in conflict with the mandates of the following
selected national agencies: National Planning
Commission (NPC) and all sub-agencies under its
jurisdiction, National Population Commission (NPC),
the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Abuja
Geographical Information System (AGIS), and many
government MDAs and institutions that are statutory
required to collect, store, process and retrieve data
and information.

In addition to the conflicts of mandates existing
among the various agencies of government identified
above, the government is yet to resolve the existing
conflicts in the mandates of the ministry of science
and technology and the ministry of information and
communications and the respective parastatals
operating under them regarding telecoms and IT
policies. For example, the recent conflict between
NASRDA/NIGCOMSAT Ltd and the NCC would have been
unnecessary assuming there was a clear-cut government
policy on whether the two respective ministries and
the agencies under them can each provide Telecoms and
IT services at various layers/levels of the Telecoms
and IT markets.

There is also another unresolved conflict between the
Act setting up the National Information Technology
Development Agency (NITDA) as a regulatory and
clearing house for ICT-related applications and
mandating it to implement related national IT policy
as well as making it the custodian of the nation's
internet Top Level Domain (.ng) and the Act setting up
the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) - the
nation’s Telecoms and as well as ICT regulator. The
existing Acts setting up these two vital ICT and
Telecoms development and regulatory agencies allow
each body to regulate Telecoms and ICT-related
activities in the country. For example, in addition to
the development of ICT products and services, the
NITDA Act also mandates it to be active in the
promotion of cyber specific laws to ensure security in
the use of email and other operations originating from
electronic or Internet-related facilities, Cyber
cafes, ISPs or personal mobile or fixed telephones,
etc. Similarly, the NCC also license and regulates
internet services; including internet Cyber cafes and
related businesses.

The wider implication of the new federal government
directive in addition to the resolution of the
NIGCOMSAT Ltd’ licensing debacle with the NCC is that
the government is reverting back to the pre-1999
national policies on Telecoms and reversing some the
policies put in place to nurture the development of
Global System of Mobile (GSM) Telecoms and ICT in the
last past eighty years or so. This may not auger well
for these sectors and the national economy.

To summarise the above analysis therefore, the
following government agencies located in two strategic
ministries are found clashing and or duplicating
efforts either in jurisdictional implementation of
Telecoms and IT policies on the one hand or working at
cross-purposes with one another on other hand. The
agencies are summarised as follows: 1. The
National Space Research and Development Agency
(NASRDA: www.nasrda.org/ ) - Owners of the Nigeria
Communication Satellite Limited (NIGCOMSAT Ltd), under
the federal ministry of Science and Technology;2.
The Nigeria Communication Satellite Limited
(NIGCOMSAT Ltd);3. The National Information
Technology Development Agency (NITDA:
www.nitda.gov. ng/) - Under the federal ministry of
Science and Technology;4. Galaxy Backbone Plc
(I don’t know its parent ministry);5. The
National e-Government Strategies Limited (NeGSt) – I
don’t know its parent ministry;6. The Nigerian
Communications Commission (NCC: www.ncc.gov. ng/)-
Under the federal ministry of Information and
Communications and7. The National Information
and Communication Infrastructure Backbone (NICTIB) – I
don’t know its parent ministry.

These government agencies, Telecoms and IT
infrastructural set up are the key players in the
public domain of Nigeria’s Telecoms and IT sectors. As
a result of the seeming almost seamless convergence of
the digital Telecoms, ICT, Television Transmission and
Radio Broadcasting, aided by advances in Science and
Digital Engineering Technologies, the prevailing
government policies and regulatory agencies tend to
clash, get duplicated and or work at cross purposes
terms of services provided, market structure etc.
Therefore, the statutory functions of existing
Ministries and structures set up by government that
are involved with policy making, regulation and
implementation of government policies in these vital
sectors need to be re-examined with a view to
streamline them for effective governance of the

Given the recent happenings in these sectors, the most
important thing for the government is to find out what
to do in order to address these policy inconsistencies
and contradiction emanating from the recent attempt by
the government to right the wrongs/policy failures in
the Telecoms and IT policy arenas. There is therefore
the need for the government and the stakeholders to
come up with the necessary policy, institutional and
structural frameworks and arrangements, that will
result in a more streamlined, efficient and harmonised
performance of the ministries and organisations that
are involved in policy-making, regulation and
implementation of government policies in the
Telecommunications and ICT sectors of the Nigerian

Manage your time well and get rich

I would have done better if I had enough time” is a
common refrain. Many people offer time as an excuse
for failure.

But experts are of the view that nobody can have all
the time in the world to accomplish any task. Success,
they stress, lies in effective management of available

The Lagos State Chairman, Nigerian Institute of
Architects, Mr. Enyi Ben-Eboh, says time is essential
to everybody.

Some people describe time as money. To others, it is
like sword, which may harm the holder if not properly

A management expert, Karen M. Williams, writes in the
Ohio State University Fact Sheet that poor management
of time will prevent a business from reaching its full
potential. According to her, “All of us have the same
amount of time; the challenge is using this resource

The view is amplified by Ben-Eboh, who says, “People
who manage their time better tend to get more reward.
All of us have 24 hours in a day. But some people
accomplish more than some others in 24 hours. They are
people who do the right thing at the right time.

For instance, he notes that professionals are involved
in service delivery. They, therefore, must be time
conscious to achieve success.

According to him, “Once somebody commits his fund to
you for something, he expects quality service delivery
at the appointed time.

“But if you fail to deliver the job at the agreed
time, no matter how good you are, nobody comes your
way again.”

He also says, “Time is one of the critical points in
project management. Time management is important to
the project because it determines its delivery and it
will be the basis for measuring its success.

“It is dangerous to take more than you have the
resources, including human, material and time, to
attend to. It is better to tell the person politely
that you cannot do it than end up disappointing.”

Karen offers some suggestions on how to use you time
effectively so that your business will achieve optimum

Noting that time management problems often stem from
poor work habits; she urges, people to resolve to
manage their time and not let time manage them.”

In practical terms, the expert advises that you can
analyse how you spend your time.

She said, “It is a good idea to keep a log for several
days, listing your activities and how much time you
spend on them. After three or four days, look at these
activities and ask yourself: What major activities or
events cause me to use my time ineffectively? After
this exercise, you may be able to pinpoint your own
time wasters.”

Some of the major time wasters that have been
identified include telephone interruptions, meetings,
visitors, excessive paperwork, bureaucracy, and
communication breakdown.

Success, they stress, lies in effective management of
available time.

An Italian economist, Vilfredo Pareto, who did a study
on the unequal distribution of wealth in his country
in 1906, observed that 20 per cent of the people owned
80 per cent of the wealth.

Analysing the outcome of the study, the supporters of
the theory claim that since 20 per cent of your people
produce 80 per cent of your results, you should focus
your limited time on managing only that 20 per cent.

They conclude that of all the things people do; only
20 per cent really matters. It also follows that the
20 per cent produces 80 per cent of your results.

They, therefore, maintain that the principle can be a
veritable tool for time management by individuals.
Thus, it will be a reminder to focus on the 20 per
cent that matters.

They assert that you can be 80 per cent effective by
achieving 20 per cent of your goals. If you have a
daily to-do list of 10 items, you generally can expect
to be 80 per cent effective by successfully completing
only the two most important items on your list.

Karen supports the view, “If you specify your
destination before you begin, you will make the best
use of your time. Being specific is no more than
setting goals. Without goals you become sidetracked
easily and waste time.”

Horrible, terrible meeting mistakes

meetings are not an expendable part of corporate
America. They are, however -- or at least they can
seem like -- a colossal waste of time. (Unless, of
course, food is served.)

Mind-numbing as they may be, meetings are necessary.
If conducted efficiently, they're useful and can help
you stand out in the workplace.

Though you might be making all the right meeting
moves, there are always folks who struggle with the
concept of "good meeting behavior." There are always
those who talk out of turn, snap their gum loudly or
spin in their chairs while others are speaking.

Whether you're the meeting leader or just a
participant, prevent yourself from being "that guy"
and never make these meeting mistakes:

Being Unprepared.

Participant: If you receive an agenda or support
material beforehand, read it. Or, contact the leader
of the meeting and ask for some background info.
Figure out what you'll be able to bring to the table
in a discussion.

Leader: Make sure any technical aides are working --
have a back-up plan if they aren't. Confirm your
meeting room; make sure it's big enough for all
attendees to fit comfortably and prepare the room
beforehand so you aren't wasting people's time. Always
provide an agenda or support material in advance.

Showing Up Late.

Participant: Whether you're in a meeting with two
people or 200, get there on time. Being late will
damage your image and show your disrespect for others'
time. Don't expect others to review what you missed if
you are late.

Leader: Don't call an "important" meeting and then
make everyone wait for you to stroll in at your own
convenience. Worse, don't forget about the meeting
altogether and leave your co-workers waiting for you.

Being a Meeting Hog.

Participant: Don't talk just to talk -- plan to speak
when you have something useful to say. If you're asked
to say something, be conscious of how much floor time
you're taking to make a point. Be blunt, be brief and
be done.

Leader: It's your job to facilitate proper flow of
conversation. If there's someone hogging the floor,
it's up to you to keep track of the time and let
others have a turn.

Sitting Silently.

Participant: Refusing to participate will earn you a
label you don't want: Either as someone who lacks
creativity or who can't get things done; or your
colleagues might get the vibe that you think you're
too good to offer your input. Engage in conversations,
even if it's only to share one suggestion. Otherwise,
don't bother showing up.

Leader: Encourage participation. Don't hand attendees
a topic and let them run with it -- lead the
conversation and motivate others to get involved. If
no one volunteers, take it upon yourself to ask people
for their questions, comments and opinions.

Expressing Rude Body Language.

Participant: Sleeping, sighing, slouching in your
chair, hair tossing/touching/ smoothing, spinning in
your chair, leaving the room, eating loudly and making
rude gestures or facial expressions are all
distracting, rude and disrespectful.

Leader: Manage those who are being rude. Don't put
anyone down, but don't tolerate disrespectful

Conducting Sidebar Conversations.

Participant: Having a side conversation is possibly
the rudest thing you can do in a meeting. Even if
you're discussing the topic at hand, save sidebar
conversations for after the meeting.

Leader: If you notice attendees chitchatting, ask if
there's a question or concern -- this turns the
attention back to the meeting's issues, and lets
everyone know sidebar conversations aren't tolerated.

Arguing or Putting Others Down.

Participant: Disagreements are fine -- as long as
they're appropriate. Don't make others (i.e., the boss
or your co-worker) look bad. Don't contradict them,
expose their mistakes in a condescending way or ignore
their points altogether. If you have something to
debate, do it in private and don't waste everyone's

Leader: There's no need to discredit others' ideas or
comments just because you are leading the meeting. Be
professional when you disagree.

Leaving Your Cell Phone On.

Participant: Cell phones shouldn't even enter the
boardroom, but if they do, turn them to vibrate mode.
Interrupting meeting progress with your calls is
distasteful and disrespectful. If you're expecting an
obligatory phone call, either skip the meeting or let
everyone in the room know in advance the call might
happen and excuse yourself quietly when (and if) it

Leader: Same advice - leave cell phones out or turn
them off.

Chewing Gum.

Participant: The smack, crackle and pop of your gum
are annoying, not to mention rude and unprofessional.
Get rid of it.

Leader: You want attendees to pay attention to you,
not your gum-smacking.

Shutting Down After the Meeting.

Participant: Forgetting what you heard in the meeting
is counter-productive. Hold onto support materials,
and if you still have questions or concerns, contact
the leader.

Leader: Tie up all loose ends in the meeting. Reach a
consensus if necessary; otherwise, summarize
effectively to answer any and all questions.

Nyako and his four wives

IN the hurly-burly of Nigerian politics with its
unending drama, another scandal has erupted in the
form of four querulous wives determined to participate
fully in the high stake game of governance. It all
happened in Adamawa State where the Governor, Murtala
Nyako (a retired Navy Vice-Admiral) , whose electoral
victory is still being challenged at the tribunal, is
facing yet another battle in what can literally be
described as his kitchen cabinet of four ambitious
wives. Governor Nyako, a fine officer from his days in
the Navy, is married to four women - Hajia Zainab
Nyako, Dr. Halima Nyako, Justice Binta Nyako and Hajia
Asmau Nana Nyako. Each of his four wives wants to be
the first lady of Adamawa State.

According to reports, Governor Nyako initially decided
that the First Lady should be Hajia Zainab who is said
to have accompanied him during his political campaigns
and who is noted for her grassroots closeness to the
ordinary women of Adamawa State. He instructed that a
special First Lady letter headed paper should be
printed for Zainab's office. But during the
celebrations marking the governor's first 100 days in
office, Zainab was said to have unilaterally invited
about 20 media managers to the event. This brazen
display of one-upmanship was said to have annoyed
Governor Nyako.

But the governor should have seen his conjugal
problems coming. When Hajia Turai Yar'Adua, Nigeria's
First Lady, invited other governors' wives to a
meeting in Aso Villa, Justice Binta, another Nyako
wife, showed up at the door beating Hajia Zainab to
it. A furious Zainab was politely but firmly sent away
on the ground that there was no room for two Nyako
wives at the Villa.

Governor Nyako, disturbed by these developments,
decided on what he thought was an ingenuous solution
to the problem of the four wives. He was going to
share out responsibilities on the basis of four zones.
He determined as follows: Justice Binta Nyako would be
first lady in charge of Abuja Affairs, Dr. Halima
Nyako would be first lady in charge of Health, and
Hajia Zainab Nyako would be in charge of Political
Affairs and Mobilisation, whilst Hajia Asmau Nana
Nyako would be first lady in charge of the Home Front.

He then ordered that first lady letter headed papers
should be printed for all four and, leaving nothing to
disturb his delicately balanced solution, he directed
that each wife's official car is to have a common
number plate, ADGMH 1.

The political repercussions of Governor Nyako's novel
solution have pitched him against warring women groups
supporting this or that wife in their fight for
supremacy. It is unlikely that the governor will know
any peace whilst matters stand like this. But it is
the people of Adamawa who suffer from these
unfortunate distractions. Adamawa State, already a
hotbed of partisan politics during the Obasanjo/Atiku
regime can ill-afford another bout of rascality.
Governor Nyako's primitive solution has quadrupled the
illegal expenditure on the office of First Lady.

For instance, Adamawa State indigenes now need four
cars, four offices with their retinue of staff, four
new foundations, four of everything to maintain
Nyako's four wives. For a group unknown to the
constitution, this proliferation of invented duties
merely adds salt to the wound. We warned in an earlier
editorial that the bastardisation of the office of the
First Lady is immoral and indefensible. We must call
on Governor Nyako to put his house in order and save
the people of Adamawa and Nigeria from ridicule. If he
cannot manage four women, how then does he intend to
manage an entire state?

We also call on Nyako's wives to be reasonable knowing
that an escalation of their rivalry could only be
detrimental to their husband's performance. They
could, by their behaviour, sabotage the governance
process in Adamawa State. They must know that
Nigerians consider the office they so desperately
covet as superfluous and an unnecessary waste of
resources by persons who spend public money without
accounting to the public.

Come to think of it, of Nyako's women, one is a
doctor, the other a Justice, the other two are also
said to be educated. Are these achievements not
honourable enough or do they not have enough on their
plate to fill their day? There are also security
implications when four power-hungry women are
clustered at the seat of power, plotting and planning.
In an attempt to undo each other, they might in fact
undo their husband. Nyako should call his wives to

Whilst not attempting to impose a solution on Governor
Nyako, may we remind him that he is not the only
polygamist among serving governors. May we also remind
him that General Murtala Muhammed, Alhaji Shehu
Shagari and General Muhammadu Buhari, to name a few,
ruled this country without bothering us with their
wives. Murtala Nyako's four wives should find
something else to engage their attention and stop
disturbing the Nigerian public with their indecorous

Fiddling With Your Window

Files changed with no notice to users

In recent days, Windows Update (WU) started altering files on users' systems without displaying any dialog box to request permission. The only files that have been reportedly altered to date are nine small executables on XP and nine on Vista that are used by WU itself. Microsoft is patching these files silently, even if auto-updates have been disabled on a particular PC.

It's surprising that these files can be changed without the user's knowledge. The Automatic Updates dialog box in the Control Panel can be set to prevent updates from being installed automatically. However, with Microsoft's latest stealth move, updates to the WU executables seem to be installed regardless of the settings — without notifying users.

When users launch Windows Update, Microsoft's online service can check the version of its executables on the PC and update them if necessary. What's unusual is that people are reporting changes in these files although WU wasn't authorized to install anything.

This isn't the first time Microsoft has pushed updates out to users who prefer to test and install their updates manually. Not long ago, another Windows component, svchost.exe, was causing problems with Windows Update, as last reported on June 21 in the Windows Secrets Newsletter. In that case, however, the Windows Update site notified users that updated software had to be installed before the patching process could proceed. This time, such a notice never appears.

For users who elect not to have updates installed automatically, the issue of consent is crucial. Microsoft has apparently decided, however, that it doesn't need permission to patch Windows Updates files, even if you've set your preferences to require it.

Microsoft provides no tech information — yet

To make matters even stranger, a search on Microsoft's Web site reveals no information at all on the stealth updates. Let's say you wished to voluntarily download and install the new WU executable files when you were, for example, reinstalling a system. You'd be hard-pressed to find the updated files in order to download them. At this writing, you either get a stealth install or nothing.

A few Web forums have already started to discuss the updated files, which bear the version number 7.0.6000.381. The only explanation found at Microsoft's site comes from a user identified as Dean-Dean on a Microsoft Communities forum. In reply to a question, he states:

"Windows Update Software 7.0.6000.381 is an update to Windows Update itself. It is an update for both Windows XP and Windows Vista. Unless the update is installed, Windows Update won't work, at least in terms of searching for further updates. Normal use of Windows Update, in other words, is blocked until this update is installed."

Windows Secrets contributing editor Susan Bradley contacted Microsoft Partner Support about the update and received this short reply:

"7.0.6000.381 is a consumer only release that addresses some specific issues found after .374 was released. It will not be available via WSUS [Windows Server Update Services]. A standalone installer and the redist will be available soon, I will keep an eye on it and notify you when it is available."

Unfortunately, this reply does not explain why the stealth patching began with so little information provided to customers. Nor does it provide any details on the "specific issues" that the update supposedly addresses.

System logs confirm stealth installs

In his forum post, Dean-Dean names several files that are changed on XP and Vista. The patching process updates several Windows\System32 executables (with the extensions .exe, .dll, and .cpl) to version 7.0.6000.381, according to the post.

In Vista, the following files are updated:

1. wuapi.dll
2. wuapp.exe
3. wuauclt.exe
4. wuaueng.dll
5. wucltux.dll
6. wudriver.dll
7. wups.dll
8. wups2.dll
9. wuwebv.dll

In XP, the following files are updated:

1. cdm.dll
2. wuapi.dll
3. wuauclt.exe
4. wuaucpl.cpl
5. wuaueng.dll
6. wucltui.dll
7. wups.dll
8. wups2.dll
9. wuweb.dll

These files are by no means viruses, and Microsoft appears to have no malicious intent in patching them. However, writing files to a user's PC without notice (when auto-updating has been turned off) is behavior that's usually associated with hacker Web sites. The question being raised in discussion forums is, "Why is Microsoft operating in this way?"

How to check which version your PC has

If a system has been patched in the past few months, the nine executables in Windows\System32 will either show an earlier version number, 7.0.6000.374, or the stealth patch: 7.0.6000.381. (The version numbers can be seen by right-clicking a file and choosing Properties. In XP, click the Version tab and then select File Version. In Vista, click the Details tab.)

In addition, PCs that received the update will have new executables in subfolders named 7.0.6000.381 under the following folders:

c:\Windows\System32 \SoftwareDistrib ution\Setup\ ServiceStartup\ wups.dll
c:\Windows\System32 \SoftwareDistrib ution\Setup\ ServiceStartup\ wups2.dll

Users can also verify whether patching occurred by checking Windows' Event Log:

Step 1. In XP, click Start, Run.

Step 2. Type eventvwr.msc and press Enter.

Step 3. In the tree pane on the left, select System.

Step 4. The right pane displays events and several details about them. Event types such as "Installation" are labeled in the Category column. "Windows Update Agent" is the event typically listed in the Source column for system patches.

On systems that were checked recently by Windows Secrets readers, the Event Log shows two installation events on Aug. 24. The files were stealth-updated in the early morning hours. (The time stamp will vary, of course, on machines that received the patch on other dates.)

To investigate further, you can open the Event Log's properties for each event. Normally, when a Windows update event occurs, the properties dialog box shows an associated KB number, enabling you to find more information at Microsoft's Web site. Mysteriously, no KB number is given for the WU updates that began in August. The description merely reads, "Installation Successful: Windows successfully installed the following update: Automatic Updates."

No need to roll back the updated files

Again, it's important to note that there's nothing harmful about the updated files themselves. There are no reports of software conflicts and no reason to remove the files (which WU apparently needs in order to access the latest patches). The only concern is the mechanism Microsoft is using to perform its patching, and how this mechanism might be used by the software giant in the future.

I'd like to thank reader Angus Scott-Fleming for his help in researching this topic. He recommends that advanced Windows users monitor changes to their systems' Registry settings via a free program by Olivier Lombart called Tiny Watcher. Scott-Fleming will receive a gift certificate for a book, CD, or DVD of his choice for sending in a comment we printed.

Cyber Charting

Cybersquatters are individuals or companies that
create Web addresses that are remarkably similar --
perhaps only one or two letters off -- from addresses
for well-known companies or products. For example,
known cybersquatting Web sites include
dellcomputersystem. com instead of dell.com and
samslcub.com instead of the correctly spelled

Cybersquatters' goal is to hijack Web traffic from
legitimate Web sites to their counterfeit sites and
turn a profit.

While some cybersquatters make money by filling their
sites with typical pay-per-click (PPC) ads, others
take a more devious approach.

"Cybersquatters are getting more sophisticated as they
are trying to take advantage of consumers," Alan
Drewsen, executive director of the International
Trademark Association (INTA), told ABCNews.com. "As
the number of domains increase, it just increases the
possibility of this fraudulent behavior."

Click Here for Full Blotter Coverage.

Some "sophisticated" tactics include
cybersquatter- controlled sites designed to look like
bank Web sites that trick consumers into revealing
sensitive personal information and phishing, the use
of fraudulent e-mails to bring traffic to those fake

These methods have serious ramifications for
consumers. In 2006, 3.5 million adults admitted to
revealing sensitive personal or financial information
to a phisher, according to market analyst Gartner Inc.
Of those, 2.3 million lost money, with each victim
losing an average of $1,244.

"Cybersquatters are targeting well-known brand owners
and consumers more and more," Drewsen said. "Consumers
rely on genuine Web sites for a safe online
experience, and we are working to protect that

To bring the problem of cybersquatting to light, five
Fortune 500 companies and INTA members, including
Microsoft Corp., Dell Inc., Time Warner Inc., Wal-Mart
Stores Inc. and Yahoo! Inc., filed legal actions in
the last week against a total of 22 cybersquatting

"The problem [of cybersquatting] is becoming so
prevalent," Drewsen said of the group effort.

That's a fact not lost on Microsoft, Aaron Kornblum, a
senior attorney on Microsoft's Internet safety
enforcement team, said.

In the last year, Microsoft has launched 15 legal
actions and recovered more than 2,000 domain names and
more than $1.17 million in illegal profits.

"Billions of dollars are being made in this consumer
diversion," Kornblum said, explaining that Microsoft
is only one of many companies targeted by

In their three lawsuits filed in the last week, aimed
at operations in Bronx, N.Y., Indiana and Canada,
Microsoft is working to win the rights to domain
names, such as microsoftword2007. com and
wwwxbox360.com. Microsoft accuses the owners of these
domain names and others of being cybersquatters who
allegedly filled their pages with pay-per-click ads to
turn a profit.

"Consumers rely on trademarks and brands to know that
they are dealing with a trusted entity [and getting] a
good or service of the high quality that they demand
and expect to receive from that brand, and
[cybersquatters] are preying on that good will and
preying on that promise," Kornblum said.

So how should consumers protect themselves from
"preying" cybersquatters?

INTA says consumers should:

- Type the names of desired Web sites into a search
engine, such as Google or Yahoo!, rather than directly
into the browser.

- Bookmark frequently visited pages.

- Be aware of e-mails with generic greetings or that
ask the recipient to update his account's username and

Winners or lossers

The Winner is always part of the answer ;

The Loser is always part of the problem.


The Winner always has a program;

The Loser always has an excuse.


The Winner says, "Let me do it for you";

The Loser says, "That is not my job."


The Winner sees an answer for every problem;

The Loser sees a problem for every answer.


The Winner says, " It may be difficult but it is possible ";

The Loser says, "It may be possible but it is too difficult."


When a Winner makes a mistake, he says, "I was wrong";

When a Loser makes a mistake, he says, "It wasn't my fault ."


A Winner makes commitments;

A Loser makes promises.


Winners have dreams;

Losers have schemes.


Winners say, "I must do something ";

Losers say, "Something must be done."


Winners are a part of the team;

Losers are apart from the team.


Winners see the gain;

Losers see the pain.


Winners see possibilities;

Losers see problems.


Winners believe in win-win ;

Losers believe for them to win someone has to lose.


Winners see the potential;

Losers see the past.


Winners are like a thermostat;

Losers are like thermometers.


Winners choose what they say;

Losers say what they choose.


Winners use hard arguments but soft words ;

Losers use soft arguments but hard words.


Winners stand firm on values but compromise on petty things;

Losers stand firm on petty things but compromise on values.


Winners follow the philosophy of empathy: "Don't do to others what you would not want them to do to you";

Losers follow the philosophy, "Do it to others before they do it to you ."


Winners make it happen;

Losers let it happen.


Winners plan and prepare to win.

The key word is preparation.

New web Site

A new Web site is seeking to tug more forcefully on
the heart strings of people who might adopt abandoned
dogs by publicizing how much time is left before an
animal is killed if a home has not been found.

The activists behind dogsindanger. com believe they are
the first Web site to take the approach. They hope
that highlighting the fact many unadopted dogs are
euthanized by shelters with scarce space will spur
people to take them in.

"This is happening ... in our country, in our
backyard," said Alex Aliksanyan of The Buddy Fund, the
group behind the site. "It's been kept underneath a
blanket of niceness and sweetness. So we said, 'Lets
put the truth in front of the consumer -- either do
something about it, or at least realize you're a

The site will also feature a memorial with names,
photos and dates that euthanized dogs died.

The American Humane Association estimates that up to 3
million dogs are euthanized in U.S. shelters annually.

Aliksanyan stressed that the site is not a place for
parents to look for dogs with their children.

"It's not a happy site with puppies running around.
It's not meant to be that," he said. "We're taking it
the other way around. We're saying these pets are
going to die. Look at their faces."

Emerging Trend

If there’s one thing you can count on from the annual
Intel Developer Forum, it’s that you won’t be
bombarded with the kind of pipe dreams and vaporware
you get at most of the events that cover “emerging
technologies.” In the 10 years since IDF began in
1997, the conference has been a regular harbinger of
what’s to come in computing, from the emergence of
Wi-Fi to hyper-threading and dual-core processors.

The leading trends at the Intel Developer Forum
regularly become mainstream within two years because
Intel has usually been very good at picking winners
and putting its resources behind the right

At IDF 2007 on September 18-20 in San Francisco, I
spotted four important trends that IT professionals
should keep an eye on over the next two years.
4. Cleaner and greener technology

A ton of momentum and collective will is building
around environmentally conscious “green” technologies,
from energy-sipping CPU chips to cleaner power to
technology recycling programs. Large companies like
Hewlett-Packard are trying to educate users and make
it easier to recycle equipment. Startups like fuel
cell maker Medis are producing low-cost power packs to
give extra hours of battery life to portable devices,
and doing it in a way that does not damage the
environment even if the fuel cells — which are
recyclable — are thrown in landfills.

So the PCs and devices are consuming less power,
battery power is getting longer and more versatile,
and a lot of tech manufacturers are working toward
building equipment with less-toxic, more recyclable
3. The wire-free desk (and living room)

Just as we’ve heard about the “paperless office” for
years but have only slowly made progress toward it,
the idea of a wire-free desk enabled by near field
communications (NFC) and personal area network (PAN)
technologies has been swirling around for years but
with only a few devices, such as wireless
keyboard/mouse and Bluetooth headsets, going
mainstream. With the advent of Certified Wireless USB
and Bluetooth 2.1, over the next 12-24 months a lot
more devices are going to cut the cords, including LCD
displays, laptop docking stations, printers, digital
cameras, and much more.

These short-range wireless technologies will be
assisted by Universal Plug ‘n Play (UPnP) to make the
devices much easier to recognize and configure than
the current Bluetooth devices, which can be a major
headache for the average user.
2. The incredible shrinking PC

David Perlmutter, senior vice president and general
manager of Intel’s Mobility Group, predicted that by
2009, laptops will pass desktops in revenue. Not
surprisingly, some of the hottest devices at IDF were
small form factor desktops, ultra-mobile notebooks,
and phones and pocket devices that are as powerful as
the PCs that people were buying five years ago. It’s
ironic that PCs and notebooks are shrinking as desktop
displays get larger, but that’s another story.

There’s a new generation of powerful small form factor
devices aimed at business professionals on the run.
Nearly all of the big PC makers have ultra-portable
laptops powered by Intel’s dual core Centrino chips,
which are as fast or faster than the pre-dual core
CPUs that ran the previous generation of desktops.

However, there’s also a new variety of small, low-cost
laptop PCs aimed at emerging markets. The One Laptop
per Child machine is the most well-known, but there’s
also the ASUS Eee PC and Intel’s Classmate PC. I tried
out the Eee PC and Classmate PC at IDF and they are
both quite useful, even if they are underpowered
compared to today’s business laptops.
All three of these will cost around $200 or less. The
Eee PC, which runs Linux, could even be appealing to
some business users and IT professionals as a
functional machine for doing a few simple tasks in a
remote or highly mobile environment. The arrival of
these machines could help drive down the cost of
low-end laptops in general. Plus, there could
conceivably be high-end smartphones that are more
powerful and versatile than some of these low-end
laptops. One thing is clear: The days of the big,
ultra-powerful tower are definitely over, unless you
are a gamer or a graphics professional.
1. Broadband everywhere

WiMAX is another technology that has been promised for
years, but with little visible progress and very few
real world examples to show for all of the hype.
However, as developments over the next 12 months will
show, there has been a lot going on behind the scenes
to make WiMAX the next great broadband technology, at
the very least — and potentially the next great leap
in computing, if it can truly spread broadband
everywhere and connect new types of devices and
technologies that haven’t even been conceived of yet.

In talking about WiMAX at IDF, Intel’s Otellini said,
“We are on the cusp of a new global network.”

Sprint’s Xohm WiMAX service will officially launch in
Chicago, Baltimore, and Washington D.C. before the end
of 2007, and will then spread to a variety of other
U.S. metropolitan areas in 2008. Clearwire, which has
partnered with Sprint for WiMAX roaming, will launch
its WiMAX service in the U.S. in 2008, most likely in
many of the smaller metro markets. There’s also a
entire ecosystem of vendors that are planning WiMAX
launches in Asia, Europe, and South America over the
next 12-24 months. Plus, Intel is going to start
embedding dual-mode WiMAX/Wi-Fi cards in Centrino
laptops in 2008.

However, while WiMAX starts spreading over the next
few months, 3G HSPA technology — which already has a
strong foundation in place in the cellular networks
across the globe — is attempting to beat WiMAX to the
punch with roaming wireless cards and fixed wireless
modems that can bring broadband to rural areas and
other places with little or no broadband options.

Whether WiMAX or 3G cellular ultimately wins, or they
simply coexist, the future of broadband covering the
far-flung corners of the earth and connecting devices
of all sizes looks like a possibility that is finally
coming to life.


I was in Savannah yesterday to give the keynote
presentation at the annual National Resume Writers'
Association Conference. Some of you know me as the
Anti-Resume Man because I chide people for using a
resume as a crutch. So, why am I talking to 150
professional resume writers?

Because this is a smart group, and many of them
recognize that their product is becoming a commodity.
I was heartened by the interest many have in helping
people communicate their value; not just their
credentials. I also realize that these folks stand at
the perfect position to help job hunters get beyond
the conventional resume by using a blasphemous resume.
I wanted to influence them, and I think I did.

One of the key things we talked about at this meeting
is what a resume is really for. Is it your marketing
piece? Is its purpose "not to get you a job but to get
you an interview?" I suggested that both those views
of resumes are cop-outs.

I suggested that my resume should not be about me. It
should be about the company I want to work for -- and
it should specifically show how I'm going to help it
become more successful and profitable. Some resume
writers "get it."

Not everyone feels comfortable writing their own
resume (though you should try -- the pain and agony of
understanding your own value will pay off). If you're
going to hire a resume writer, make sure they're
qualified. (The NRWA certifies its members, and you
ought to review its Code of Ethics before you pay
anyone, anywhere to write a resume for you.) And make
sure they get it.

What does your resume do for you? Or, should I ask,
what does it do for the manager you want to work for?

Friday, October 05, 2007