Cybernaut 

Tsunami relief

Whistler has come to the aid of tsunami victims in the South Pacific with several fundraising events, but in case you missed out you can still make a contribution online to the central charities involved in the effort.

The main one is the Red Cross of Canada, which is taking donations at www.redcross.ca. Other charitable organizations include Doctors Without Borders at www.msf.ca, Unicef Canada at www.unicef.ca, Oxfam Canada at www.oxfam.ca, CARE Canada at www.care.ca, War Child at www.warchild.ca and World Vision Canada at www.worldvision.ca.

I know that’s a lot of organizations, but then it’s an unprecedented humanitarian disaster that’s left 160,000 dead, thousands injured, and millions homeless and without any means of support, while creating conditions that could lead to an epidemic of disease and sickness. It’s going to take years and billions of dollars to make these areas self-sufficient again, and even then it will never be the same.

All of these charities provide different kinds of aid, so visit each one and decide where you want your donations going.

Microsoft tackles security and spyware

Last week, responding to the growing number of virus attacks against Windows, Internet Explorer, and other programs, Microsoft released two new services.

The first is a free security tool that’s available at the www.microsoft.com download site. It’s not a full anti-virus program, but Microsoft confirmed it’s a beta version of a full program that will be available for sale next year, competing with software from McAfee, Symantec, Network Associates, Intego and others.

There is some speculation that Microsoft is moving slowly after undergoing several anti-trust suits in the U.S. and Europe, and is concerned with further accusations that the company is attempting to build a software monopoly.

The second program is not available yet, but according to Microsoft it would remove spyware programs.

It will also be free, but Microsoft said it might charge for future versions of the software, which Microsoft acquired in purchasing a small New York company.

The year that wasn’t

High tech is an optimistic field, to say the least; an endearing quality, but it sometimes leads companies to make promises they can’t possibly keep. For every CEO making a promise, somewhere there’s a project manager slapping his or her forehead – products can be late or sometimes are vastly different by the time they become available as to what was originally promised. And sometimes they never become available at all.

Although companies are probably hoping nobody will notice, Wired magazine (www.wired.com) has tracked these things for the past eight years in year-end articles. They call it the Vaporware Awards, with readers voting on the top-10 disappearing products of the year.

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