Friday, December 30, 2005 - Microsoft Places Big Bet On Multiplayer Gaming

"Added Michael Pachter, an analyst with Wedbush Morgan Securities: 'At the end of the day, we don't play games for social interaction … We play games to escape.' Microsoft's strategy is 'absolutely flawed,' he said."

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Microsoft Wins, Open Standards Lose

"Some people, bless their hearts, think that what determines which technology is bought and deployed in business and government depends on technical quality. You might call it the 'let the best program win' crew.

Some people know better."
"It may be a happy day in Redmond, Wash., but it's a sad day for Massachusetts and anywhere else where people think that IT dollars should be spent on the best technology for the job, no matter who makes or supports it."

This reminded me of my comments HERE regarding Microsoft's insane fear of potential competitors:

This is what I hate about Microsoft. They not only crush competition, they crush innovation even if it isn’t competition. They are a bull in the china shop of US technology, which is why I think they have set us back at least ten years in many areas. That’s why I think that the only hope for technology to break free is for the US to become a second class citizen, a fate well on its way to happening.

And the situation in Massachusetts confirms my belief that Open Source will ultimately ONLY succeed outside the US where many of these decisions are already going the other way. Like the Metric system, Open Source, or even Open Formats might be something that the US talks about for many years without actually adopting, even going so far as pretending that they support Open Formats when they actually don't. The government agency I worked with constantly talked about how flexible their situation was thanks to the fact that they had decided to go with a "Client/Server architecture" which was the buzzword of the day. But the reality is that at every decision point they opted for proprietary solutions (and not just Microsoft's) that violated generic Client/Server standards.

That is why when it came to contract negotiation time the vendor always knew that the customer was a captive audience and their prices reflected that. The agency would kick and scream, pout and threaten, but always caved in. To save face, they would get the vendor to throw in a dozen server licenses (for a 45000 seat organization) to demonstrate that they were spending the tax payers money wisely.

Yeah, right.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Scobleizer - Rafe has gone soft

"Why MSFT has kept IE frozen for half a decade or why there’s been no Access, Visio, WMP, DRM for Macintosh or why MSFT bends and breaks standards, etc has absolutely nothing to do with blogs.

Those are strategic decisions MSFT makes to maintain its monopoly and they are not about conduct their business out in the open.

Blogs? Tactical issues at the margins. It’s the circus. Sure diverts attention, though."


Monday, December 26, 2005

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Microsoft Is Losing Some Of Its Elbow Room

"Other analysts say that Microsoft's size has become a disadvantage and that its ongoing strategy of linking everything to Windows and its siblings adds complexity, delays new products and frustrates its engineers.

Vista, the next version of Windows, is scheduled for the second half of 2006, pushed back from a hoped-for release this year and without some originally planned features.

Peter S. Cohan, president of his own management consulting and venture capital firm, measures a company's ability to move quickly against competitors by examining its 'OODA loop,' or its ability to observe, orient, decide and act.

'Microsoft has a very, very ponderous OODA loop,' Cohan said. 'It's become a big, bureaucratic organization' that is constantly trying to balance the interests of various divisions."

Friday, December 23, 2005

Grinchy remark sends kids home in tears

All I want for Christmas is the elimination of teachers unions.

And while we are at it, various other government based unions that make the firing of such iconoclasts all but impossible.

Linux Dies Under Microsoft's Open Document standard

"In Section 10.3.1 of their proposal to ECMA entitled 'Alternative Format Import part' allows a WordML file to directly embed content from a legacy file format such as RTF, MHTML, or earlier WordML formats. A conforming application would be required to read and understand these
legacy formats.

If Microsoft's schemas are licensed royalty free only to conforming applications, and conformance require support for fragments in older abandoned formats like RTF, WorldML and VML, then that would make it impossible for anyone to use these formats other than Microsoft. That would allow Microsoft to recapture its sole possession of the productivity market and the standard for Internet content."

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Monday, December 19, 2005

Technology Sucks

"There's no other major item most of us own that is as confusing, unpredictable and unreliable as our personal computers. Everybody has questions about them, and we aim to help."

Add to that several entire industries milking the whole scheme of things and pretty soon you are talking real money eh?

Just like our bloated government, the tech industry has grown up slowly and inexorably, and around sub-standard software that only runs on second-best hardware. If you could just wipe the slate clean and start over almost anyone could do a better job of it, but now, it's only in users interests to get it right, and what do they count? A captive audience, the vendors rightly say: "don't worry about them, they aren't going anywhere." And they are right for about 90 percent of you.

Must suck to be a slave to Microsoft.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Portable stereo's creator got his due, eventually - International Herald Tribune

While software companies flood the patent office with crap, people who actually invent things get the shaft. At least there is a happy ending for an old man who spent much of his life in courts.

POWER to the people

Cost of Time Warner's new family tier raises eyebrows

"'It is perfectly obvious Time Warner is deliberately offering a product designed to fail,' Parents Television Council President L. Brent Bozell said in a statement. 'According to Time Warner, no family should want to watch sports. According to Time Warner, no family should want to receive any news channel other than Time Warner's CNN. According to Time Warner, classic movies are not appropriate for families. And neither is religious programming.'"


Friday, December 16, 2005

US Troops Terrorize Iraqi Family

John Kerry need to throw his medals away (again).

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Xbox 360 Has Nothing On Atari 2600 -

"On top of this enforced 'freedom' of choice, retailers took it another step and offered pre-orders on systems bundled with games, accessories and even pre-paid game rentals. Toys R Us (nyse: TOY - news - people ) offers, through (nasdaq: AMZN - news - people ), four variations: the Pro Players Bundle I and II, and the Core Players Bundle I and II. These bundles are priced at $999.95. Picking one of these bundles makes you a sucker, not a gamer. "

Or maybe a slave?

IBM gets national medal of technology for chips

"Although Big Blue has had trouble in recent years making money off of its chip division, IBM's research often receives high praise. Over the past few years, it has begun to line up partnerships with companies such as Advanced Micro Devices, Sony and Microsoft. In these deals, IBM provides R&D and chip design for a fee."

See, now this is true innovation, not just treating users like slaves.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Explosion shuts down Perdue plant

"'When these two combined, it lifted up the whole roof like a box off a pair of shoes -- boom!' said Assistant Chief Bryan Records, of the Salisbury Fire Department."

Fire officials are asking anyone with any idea what the Chief was talking about to please give them a call. - Holiday-Season Videogame Sales Sag

"Consumers often slow their spending on games for older hardware so they can buy titles for new systems. The rub for publishers is that shortages can limit the number of new consoles in homes during their first year or so on the market, which reduces the number of consumers who will buy the new games.

For example, U.S. retailers sold just over 325,000 Xbox 360s after it went on sale at the end of November, according to NPD. While analysts believe that represents nearly all of the inventory Microsoft made available to U.S. retailers, it is a miniscule number compared with the tens of millions of original Xboxes, PlayStation 2s and Nintendo GameCubes at which publishers can target products."

Slaves I tell you!

Microsoft patching software hit by glitch; Company treats users like slaves.

"'If you synchronize your server after December 12, 2005, all previously approved updates may be unapproved,' Microsoft said in an article on the issue published on its support Web site published Wednesday."

Meanwhile in THIS blog entry Scoble says that someone who doesn't use RSS feeds the way he thinks they should be used is treating their users like slaves.

How someone who studied as a journalist could come up with such a goofy metaphor is a mystery, but it still has me laughing. So, I'm going to devote my normal four-posts-a-day-on-Microsoft-screwups to that theme...

If you can't count on the Microsoft patch system working, and considering the thousands of network admins this is going to screw-over and ruin their holiday, then Microsoft is treating them all like slaves. SLAVES I tell you!

These people must be stopped!

"Kushner's new book 'Life Without Caffeine - How Eliminating Caffeine Can Save Your Life'"

Breach at Ameren plant unleashes flood in Missouri

"The failure led to overfilling of the 55-acre (22-hectare) reservoir feeding a 440-megawatt Ameren Corp. plant and creating a breach in a berm that sent roughly 1.5 billion gallons (6.8 billion liters) of water cascading down the mountainside, company chairman Gary Rainwater said."


Pull the other one.

one big glob

Better than full RSS feeds!

All the really important bloggers in one place at last!

Monday, December 12, 2005 - Microsoft May Give Consumers A Share in Advertising Revenue

"Microsoft Corp. may up the ante in its competition with Google Inc. by sharing some of its online-advertising revenue with consumers who use its Internet search engine.

The concept, described by Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates in a presentation last week in India, is being considered as a way to draw more users to Microsoft's search business. It would mark a significant change in how a major search engine operates."

After a while you have to wonder if they are capable of any originality at all. Well, you don't have to wonder for too long.

Paul Kedrosky's Infectious Greed: Backup This!

Seems like more and more people are using external USB drives. Every time I go to Sam's club or Costco these days they have some previously unheard-of amount of storage on sale for around $100. Noticing that I had accumulated two of these things, I decided to do something fancier than just hooking them up to the USB ports on my laptop...

For a long time my backup strategy has been to always be actively using at least two computers at any given period of time and then to just network-copy all my important things from one to the other. Generally this has taken the form of a desktop machine and a laptop with a hefty sized hard drive.

Since I travel less now, I've taken to using a new laptop (Powerbook) as a desktop replacement and my older laptops as more expendable devices that I can carry around an not worry about getting lost or broken. Between photo collections and music, no laptop has enough disk space to save it all anyway, so I too got an external USB drive, which I left disconnected most of the time, just in case.

I recently came to the conclusion that it makes more sense to just use the external drive for almost everything as well as for backup. I obtained yet another external drive (for $99 I find these things hard to resist). But on top of that, I also got (experimentally at first) a Linksys NLSU2 which supports two USB drives and makes them available on the network as SMB/CIFS file shares supported by Windows, OS X and Linux (I use all three at times). You can use both drives for different purposes if you wish, but as an alternative you can also set up the second drive strictly as a backup of the first. Not quite as good as RAID perhaps, but it's smart enough to do an incremental backup, and you can schedule the backups for every day if you wish and I noticed that while my first backup took a couple of hours (the device is not lightening fast by any means) the subsequent backups only run a few minutes and I schedule them for 5AM when I'm sure to be sleeping.

So far I'm pretty happy with this thing (I've only had it for a couple weeks), but be aware that there are firmware updates already out for it which should probably be applied before first use.

Now when I am on my various machines I generally am working directly from the networked drive and keeping my local hard drive relatively clean. When traveling I just allow and hour or so to copy down anything I want to take with me. When it comes right down to it, the notion of keeping important things one "the network" rather than on individuals machines makes as much sense for the home user as it does in business, and now that can be accomplished without spending big bucks.

As a bonus, I've noticed that the Western Digital drives spin down after a few minutes of not being used. The Maxtor drive I have doesn't share this desirable property. With the two WD drives and the Linksys I just leave everything running all the time and don't worry about heat, power or wear and tear. I keep the boxes out of sight on top of my computer hutch, but with a wireless G network (properly secured) I could put them just about anywhere. The Linksys also works as an FTP server and, while not quite a web server, you CAN get to your files (but not update them) via a web interface. I haven't used this capability yet, but in theory I could set it up as a file server to be accessed remotely without having to leave a computer running all the time as I have in the past.

I guess you have to be a bit of a geek to set something like this up, but it was pretty easy as such things go and I'm quite sure that there will be even more turnkey solutions in the near future. The home data-center has arrived. And it runs Linux by the way.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

China overtakes U.S. as supplier of IT goods | CNET

"Data in the report, to be published on Monday, show that China's exports of information and communication technology--including laptop computers, mobile phones and digital cameras--increased by more than 46 percent to $180 billion in 2004 from a year earlier, easily outstripping for the first time United States exports of $149 billion, which grew 12 percent from 2003."

Where's the 'Wow'?

"And even though the company had the support of the big-name video game publishers -- Electronic Arts, Activision, Ubisoft and Sega, among others -- the Xbox 360 experience just hasn't been what it should be, given the hype, anticipation and price tag for one of the units."

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Nancy Drew and the Case of the Missing Xbox 360 Hard Drive Space - Gizmodo

"This is because Microsoft used the Nvidia GPU for the original Xbox, and now that they have switched over to ATI for the 360, that Nvidia GPU has to be software simulated to properly play original Xbox games. Nice one Microsoft, real classy."

That would also be my guess as to why some of these things re crashing. Good news is that it can (probably) be fixed with software. Bad news is... well, bad news is they should have stuck with Nvidia. Not that I have any interest in owning one of these, but it's fun to watch the good ship Microsoft run into another iceburg.

NASA seeks private replacements for shuttle trips | CNET

"NASA hopes to supplement, and eventually replace, crew and cargo flights to the space station that had been planned for the shuttle fleet. The agency also may have to pare down the number of shuttle flights to the station even before they retire to pay for development of a new spacecraft."

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Yahoo makes its telecom play | CNET

"Yahoo said on Wednesday that will offer two new fee-based voice over IP services so customers can make voice calls from a PC to a telephone and receive phone calls on a PC."

I'll wait 'till it's been out a year or so as Yahoo has a tendency to change their minds about these deal after 6 months or so, leaving you with some equipment or set-up that no longer works as you had planned.

(Got burned on Yahoo ISP, webhosting, text messaging before I learned my lesson)

Is the PowerPC due for a second wind? | CNET

"Because people have that personal link to that PC, they tend to equate processing with PCs, and they don't realize that there are increasingly tens, if not hundreds, of processors that you use every day, and those things are quickly becoming much more powerful.

You're going to be shocked I'm sure, but the PowerPC drives the engine control, the power train application in some automobiles. And by next year, 50 percent of car (models) in the world will have PowerPCs."

Multiverse - cool new thing

"In July 2004, a team of Netscape veterans founded The Multiverse Network, Inc., a company aiming to become the world’s leading network of Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOGs) and 3D virtual worlds. Multiverse has pioneered a new technology platform designed to change the economics of virtual world development by providing independent game developers with the resources they need to enter and compete in the $2 billion online game market."

MacOS X on Linux? | Paul Murphy |

One can only hope.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

EFF volunteers to lose important suit over Sony 'rootkit' | The Register

Interesting tidbit:

"So why does Gilmore object to the quite reasonable security measure of searching an incognito traveler's bags and person? Because he doesn't like to be searched, and thinks only about himself. His selfish, unrealistic demands will go a long way toward ensuring that this case is decided in favor of the busybodies. It's a very winnable case, but it will be a miracle if Gilmore wins it. He's doing everything possible to kill any hope that you or I might fly the paranoid skies and keep our identities to ourselves."

Monday, December 05, 2005

Ten things we love about Microsoft - Download Squad

Well, I agree with about two of those ten things. The rest are either false or not that big a deal.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Retailers not pulling Sony BMG discs

"'It is unacceptable that more than three weeks after this serious vulnerability was revealed, these same CDs are still on shelves, during the busiest shopping days of the year,' said Attorney General Spitzer in a statement provided to SecurityFocus. 'I strongly urge all retailers to heed the warnings issued about these products, pull them from distribution immediately, and ship them back to Sony.'"

And consumers should blame SONY, not the retailers for this foot-dragging. The retailers, understandably, don't want to take a hit for something that was not at all their doing. Sony need to provide incentives for retailers to pull these discs, and if they don't they are just compounding their guilt, and ultimately compounding their monitary liability when these suits get settled.

Microsoft's switches shared source execs | | CNET

"Bill Hilf, who runs Microsoft's Linux lab, will take on the added responsibility for the shared source work."

Translation: We are no longer interested in this particular marketing initiative.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Former exec and start-ups criticize 'Byzantine' Microsoft | Channel Register

"Jadallah, who left Microsoft in 1999 after 12 years to become a VC, said: 'From the outside it's Byzantine to figure out 'how do I work with Microsoft?' It's much like Microsoft working with IBM. We'd show up with one employee... and meet 12 from IBM, and think 'what do they do all day?' Microsoft is now in that same position.'

Microsoft has been criticized for becoming increasingly bureaucratized during the five years since Steve Ballmer took over as chief executive, and moving away from the chaos of early years that produced Microsoft's first, landmark technologies."

LXer: Preventing DVD Playback on Linux Like Prohibition in the 1920's

"All those who have lined up on the side of Microsoft will soon discover that they are fighting battles they can never win. So they stoop to creating the BSA, influencing politicians and undermining whoever they perceive as their enemies.

Dell, HP, Gateway, Sony, IBM and the rest of Microsoft's partners will find themselves painted with the same brush. You cannot enforce the DMCA any more than you can force people to buy American cars. Take a hint from General Motors: The word eventually gets out that you have inferior products and the price isn't right. Microsoft's OEM partners will become the buggy whip manufacturers of the 21st Century."

N.C. judge refuses to shield voting machines - Tech News & Reviews -

"One of the nation's leading suppliers of electronic voting machines may decide against selling new equipment in North Carolina after a judge declined Monday to protect it from criminal prosecution should it fail to disclose software code as required by state law."

One down, 49 to go.

MSFT Bagholder: Blurring vision

"Bill Gates used to have 20/20 vision. He believed that in the future there would be a computer on every desktop. He foresaw a world where hardware costs would drop toward zero and the value added piece would be the software. Back in the day when a primitive desktop computer cost an arm and a leg, these seemed like wild statements. Of course, Bill was right and Microsoft grew into a great company because of the clarity of his vision."

I think it more accurate to say that he had 20/20 luck. He, and MS didn't think the Internet (or TCP/IP, or the web interface...) were important until those things overtook them (and that was quite a while ago even if it doesn't seem like it). Many of Microsoft's "best" early moves involved stabbing potential partners in the back. Technology didn't play a big part in Microsoft's early successes, just as it doesn't now.

In a way our industry has better long term memory than short term memory. They forgive a lot of the misdeeds of yesterday or last year (even Sony will be able to crawl out of the hole they are in if they make a sustained effort) but we still remember misdeeds of IBM in the 60s and 70s and those were minor compared to the record of Microsoft screwing everyone they could get their hands on.

Anyone who thinks that Microsoft can just kiss and make up with the rest of the world is dreaming. Exits by Gates and Balmer would be a good start though.

As far as vision, I don't know where they will go for that. Unfortunately for them, rules about what publicly held corporations can and can't do will probably nullify the type of vision that would actually have some positive impact. The closest analogy I can think of would be the tobacco companies. They just diversified into totally unrelated industries as a hedge against the eventuality of being sued out of existence.

Sony BMG's Costly Silence

"Sony BMG officials insist that they acted as quickly as they could, and that they expected to be able to go public and offer a software patch at the same time."


Microsoft Drops the Office Open Standard Ball

"According to a Microsoft representative, 'The covenant language is what was referred to as the updated 'license' for the Open XML formats that will be submitted to ECMA International for the standardization process.'"


Spitzer Gets on Sony BMG's Case

"A Homeland Security Dept. official has weighed in, accusing Sony BMG of undermining computer security. And Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott has alleged, in a suit filed Nov. 21, that Sony BMG violated his state's antispyware laws. Now, the Sony BMG debacle has drawn the scrutiny of New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer."

if (Windows Rules) then (Linux fails) | Paul Murphy |

"As I said above, FUD is at its most dangerous when it supports and reinforces delusion. In my opinion that's what happened here: with these people getting just about everything about running Linux wrong, finding what they hoped to find not as the result of any actual Linux/Windows differences but as a result of their own delusions about systems management, and then using Microsoft's money and press access as a means of spreading those delusions to others."

Sunday, November 27, 2005

MSFT Bagholder: How Bill and Steve screwed up the Xbox 360 launch (and everything else)

"Google, Yahoo, and Apple all launch new products that fall well short of perfection. This is acceptable when people like you. The 360 is supposed to induce grins, not outrage, and it probably would have from the get-go if Apple's logo rather than Microsoft's were emblazoned on it.

This is why Bill and Steve need to go. Microsoft cannot go forward if it is burdened by their legacy. MCI became a new company when Capellas replaced Ebbers. HP became a new company when Hurd replaced Fiorina. Tyco became a new company when Breen replaced Kozlowski. Microsoft, too, can start to fix itself only when Bill and Steve are replaced."

I never have to add comments to this guy's posts. He gets it just right.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Microsoft loses money on each Xbox | CNET

"But Crotty said the big winner in the video game wars is IBM, since its microprocessors power all three of the new consoles from the industry's heavy hitters."

A Tiny Windows Laptop With a Sense of Fashion - New York Times

"EVERYWHERE you look, the electronics industry seems to be playing its own mutant variations of limbo. But the question isn't 'How low can you go?' At Dell, it's 'How cheap can you go?' At Apple, it's 'How cool can you go?' And at Microsoft's Windows division, it's 'How slow can you go?'"

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire: Microsoft and Open Standards

"Heck, this isn't even the first time that Microsoft has claimed that its Office XML formats were open. Brian Jones, an Office program manager who works on XML, claimed that the existing licenses for Office Open XML formats are, broadly speaking, open-source compatible, but even he admitted that 'The patent language is difficult to read.'"

Microsoft Monitor: Assessing the Fallout

Hyping the hyperbole!!!!

Monday, November 21, 2005

PBS | I, Cringely . November 17, 2005 - Google-Mart

Interesting prediction. - Texas Sues Sony BMG Over Anti-Piracy Discs

"Mr. Abbott, who said Texas is the first state to sue Sony BMG over the issue, estimated that 'tens of thousands' of Texas consumers may have been harmed by the XCP technology, although he didn't provide a precise figure. The state has a new antispyware law that calls for penalties of $100,000 per violation."

I had sent a friend information about this Sony thing last week and it got not a lot of attention. However same friend was trying to de-lous another persons PC yesterday and called me for support (Note: I'm not particularly qualified for Windows support at this point, but I can do Google searches and say things like "hang in there" from time to time). I think by that time I was called many of the virus and spyware elements had been cleaned by conventional means, but there seemed to be some persistent problems. Just in case, I asked whether they had played any of those Sony BMG music discs in the machine. Apparently I was on a speakerphone setup, and I heard several denials of the form "We never use our machine for such things" while my friend asked me what I was talking about.

After refreshing his memory, and in turn having the family involved talk among themselves for a while, it turned out that some Sony BMG discs HAD been played in that machine, and some of the remaining questionable files had Sony all over them even though the family didn't own a Sony camera, Sony music player or any other Sony device that they could think of. Finally someone remembered that the little girl in the family HAD played, or ripped, or SOMETHING some music CDs in the machine and off they rushed to find them. In the mean time I was looking for the list of Sony BMG discs affected, originally numbered 20 and widely circulated at that count, but subsequently updated to 50, and listed on a Sony website. I found the list of 50 at about the same time that they found their played/ripped/inserted/whatever CDs and sure enough, several of them had the Sony BMG label on them. Now the catch was that (a) none of the CDs they had found were on the list and (b) none of the CDs they had found had the warning that they contained copyright protection software, and my understanding was that the affected discs did contain such a warning.

Well, by getting rid of the Sony BMG stuff they seemed to be back to a clean machine, and they swore to never insert a music CD into their machine again or to buy a CD from Sony. So, congratulations should go out to Sony BMG and First4Internet for accomplishing their objectives. Now to round out the picture:

(1) I suspect that Sony BMG, Sony alone, and BMG alone have in the past used other protection schemes and while they haven't been vocal about it, other companies are doing the same experimentation. All of these programs have their own ways and means of hiding themselves and controlling what YOU do with YOUR PC. But NONE of them have exhaustively looked into the legal, much less technical ramifications of what they do. They think that by merely relying on third party companies like First4Internet they can claim ignorance of the consequences.

(2) Rumor has it that by the time you are asked for your permission to install software when you insert these disks SOME software has already been installed.

(3) Sony/BMG isn't the only company doing this, they are just the only company that has been caught.

(4) These discs have been out for a year, and some people say two years, or maybe more.

(5) There is no quick and easy way to uninstall these programs, either from Sony BMG or the so-called anti-virus/spyware/adware companies. Jury is out on whether collusion or incompetence is to blame.

So my recommendations would be:

(1) Don't buy any more music CDs if you can find an alternative such as iTunes which grants you reasonable reproduction rights (I buy my music from iTunes and then create unencumbered CDs as a backup).

(2) If you buy CDs, don't buy them from Sony BMG, since they are known to have absolutely no respect for the sanctity of your PC.

(3) While the artists involved may be as much a victim of this as you are, I'd consider giving them an incentive to be less so and boycott their music as well, in my case I'd never heard of most of them, and never listened to the others. How they select which artists music to surround with crap software I don't know. Here is the list.

(4) Spread the word. If you don't listen to music on your PC people you know probably do, and their machine may well be near to unusable at this point.

(5) Rethink whether using Windows at all is in your best interest. Depending on how you use your computer, Apple's OS X, or one of the many forms of Linux may not only protect you from these problems but speed up your use of the Internet. One interesting thing about these CDs is that they play just fine under Linux or OS X without installing malicious software. Maybe using Windows is like wearing a sign that says "Kick me".

GSA Modernizes With Open-Source Stack

"Overall, the OSERA stack is aimed at helping to save the government time and money in developing applications. MDA is used to create and maintain systems based on models."

Update 3: Nike Jet to Try Emergency Landing -

"Seven people were on board the jet, but their names have not been released, Steve Johnson, spokesman for the Port of Portland, told KGW-TV. Neither Nike founder Phil Knight nor any sports stars were on board, a Federal Aviation Administration spokesman said."

This was so important the article mentioned it twice. Thank goodness only ordinary folk are involved, right?

How Patent Suit Became Judge's Nightmare - Yahoo! News

"Even worse, there's a side show: the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which operates in its own world. It has preliminarily rejected the same patents at the core of the lawsuit. Despite RIM's optimism about the office's deliberations, the nearer-term prospect of the court injunction could force the company into a settlement as costly as $1 billion.

Robert Kerton, an economics professor at University of Waterloo in Canada, says the case demonstrates the need to reform the patent system, allowing real producers to get down to business.

'But don't hold your breath,' he said, 'because thousands of attorneys really love the tangled system.'"

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Start-up plans new energy-efficient processor | Tech News on ZDNet

"The power savings are even greater when compared with an Intel Xeon or Advanced Micro Devices' Opteron, said P.A. Semi CEO Dan Dobberpuhl. Over three years, a 4,000-node cluster of PWRficient-based servers might consume $360,000 in electricity--an equivalent bank of Xeons and Opterons would chew up $3 million and $3.5 million worth of electricity, respectively, P.A. Semi claims."

Wake up Steve!

The Seattle Times: Business & Technology: PC stolen from Boeing packed with employees' personal data

"A contract engineer in Everett, who asked not to be named, was stunned that Boeing would allow so much information to reside on a single personal computer."

Oh, but Bill is still a big beleiver in fat clients. He wants supercomputers on users desktop running superpriced versions of Windows no doubt. This concept is bankrupt, and we have all the evidence we need (and then some) to know it now.

LXer: Linux News says Mac OS X could destroy Microsoft

"Bill Gates could open source all his products, put Office into a public project and port it to Linux, adopt the GPL and people will continue to regard him with contempt. He may give all his money away before he dies and the world won't even mention him as a footnote in history. The Gates legacy lives in infamy. We know him for what he represents.

In contrast, people have not finished with Mr. Jobs. He still has time to reconcile himself. It won't take much. He just has to cross a narrow threshold."

More speculation that Apple will go head to head with Microsoft. I still have my doubts, and the absence of a feature-for-feature replacement for Office is at the core of those doubts. I have a feeling MS would pull the plug on Office for the Mac the instant they sensed any threat.

But then again, it is possible that no matter what Microsoft does at this point they will dig their hole deeper. They are not liked by many, and as Windows systems get harder, not easier to maintain they are even not liked by some former fans.

Copy Protection Still a Work in Progress - Yahoo! News

"Phil Leigh, analyst for Inside Digital Media, said the debacle shows just how reluctant the labels are to change their business model to reflect the distribution powers — good and bad — of the Internet. He believes that rather than adopting technological methods to try to stop unauthorized copying of music, record companies need to do more to remove the incentive for piracy.

'The biggest mistake the labels are making is, they're letting their lawyers make technical decisions. Lawyers don't have any better understanding of technology than a cow does algebra,' Leigh said. 'They insist on chasing this white whale.'"

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Wired News: Real Story of the Rogue Rootkit

"Perhaps the only security company that deserves praise is F-Secure, the first and the loudest critic of Sony's actions. And Sysinternals, of course, which hosts Russinovich's blog and brought this to light.

Bad security happens. It always has and it always will. And companies do stupid things; always have and always will. But the reason we buy security products from Symantec, McAfee and others is to protect us from bad security." Standards Blog

"Once upon a time, Peter Quinn, the CIO of Massachusetts, tried to do something brave, important, and perhaps a bit naive: to do the best thing for the future of the Commonwealth, even if it meant thinking outside the box and taking actions that were sure to draw an immune response from various powerful corners.

All went reasonably well for a while, but when it came time for his plans to actually begin to be implemented, the reflexive reaction did indeed kick in, and it kicked in hard. Not only did it come from the expected sources, but also from inside the government itself."

User Privileges, Malware and the Sony Rootkit Debacle

"How could software get away with this undetected? The answer is that Russinovich trusted the CD and, what is more important, he ran it while he was logged in as administrator.

Running the computer as administrator is, of course, something we all know we should avoid and be careful about when we need to do it. Because I'm such a loudmouth about this I have been trying to be careful myself."

Go! - Widow Speaks Out In BlackBerry Dispute

"In her letter, Joletta Campana said that RIM 'somehow convinced the Department of Justice to submit' its statement of interest 'basically repeating misinformation supplied by RIM and asking Judge Spencer to suspend the case indefinitely.'

Mrs. Campana went on to say that the Department of Justice 'took a position that, to my ears, sounds stupid. Basically, they said that because RIM has done such a great job of stealing Tom's invention, RIM should be immune from the patent laws.'

A Department of Justice spokesman declined to comment. Officials from RIM weren't immediately available for comment."

Sounds like rats scurrying back into the sewer doesn't it?

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Saint Bob Geldof blows gasket at email | The Register

"To be fair, Saint Bob is a successful suit in his own right, although he seems to have caught a touch of Bono Syndrome here - the absolute belief that celebrity achieved in one arena confers the right to give forth on any subject whatsoever.

Having said that, we look forward to Geldof and the U2 frontman berating Kofi Annan on the amount of time UN staff spend emailing business-critical PowerPoint presentations concerning Iraq oil for food programmes to each other when they could be unloading sacks of aid to wailing African orphans while their lonely inboxes fill with pointless e-communications. "

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Beyond office document formats | InfoWorld | Column | 2005-11-09 | By Jon Udell

"In theory, governments should mandate standards, not implementations. But in practice they mandate implementations all the time. Recently, for example, I renewed my passport. The procedure was less painful than a decade ago. While I grumbled at having to convert my digital data and images to paper and snail-mail them, at least I was able to use Acrobat to fill in and print the form.

Of course, if I wasn’t an Acrobat user, I would have to become one. Then there’s the sheer overkill of this solution. Gathering basic facts from citizens is a problem better solved by the simpler and more universal technology of Web forms."

Report: PC security weakened by Sony uninstaller

"Microsoft's Active X technology has caused a wide variety of security headaches for the software giant in the past. Now, Sony BMG seems to be the latest to fall prey to the hard-to-secure technology."

Well, if the executives running this show are not going to be fried (that's not a typo) then they should at least be banded (a new agricultural term I've just learned) which, I think, is only a moderately painful proceedure to keep them from reproducing.

Gates promises a supercomputer under every desk | The Register

"Not satisfied with owning your PC, Microsoft would like to own your personal cluster too. So said Chairman Bill Gates today at the Supercomputing 2005 conference here in Seattle, where he laid out a vision that includes inexpensive super-powered machines available to average users - not just government labs and universities.

'What we see as a key trend here is that we will have supercomputers of all sizes, including ones that will cost less than $10,000 and be able to sit at your desk or in a department,' Gates said."

OK, I take back what I said about them not being able to make Windows slower any more.

Clock speeds will only double, triple in next 15 years

Actual quotes from the article now that I'm made my little joke:

"All these factors mean a change in the way systems on a chip should be designed, said Rowen. In moving from 180, to 130 to 90 nanometre technology the hardware has only grown by a factor of five, while the software overhead has grown by a factor of 20, Rowen said.

He said that SOCs will be made up of a more diverse design using several cores and chip parts devoted to dedicated tasks. There’s an opportunity to overlap software, hardware and use relatively small development teams to bring chips to market in 18 months or less.

Designing systems using Linux software allows for far less overhead allowing for faster and more optimised systems, he said. New levels of automation allow for processor generations to optimise instructions sets. The ability to auto tune the processor makes the barrier to such approaches go down much further."

Monday, November 14, 2005

Clock speeds will only double, triple in next 15 years

Which means that the geniuses at Microsoft will only be able to make Windows half-fast if they want to succeed. I'd say they got off to a good start when they dumped OS/2.

Thank you. Thank you very much.

DOJ asks court to keep BlackBerry service on for federal workers - Computerworld

"NOVEMBER 14, 2005 (IDG NEWS SERVICE) - The U.S. Department of Justice has asked a judge to ensure that government users can continue to send each other e-mail on their “essential” BlackBerry devices, even though the court has ruled against the maker of BlackBerry devices in a patent infringement case."


There be nitwits here.

Scobleizer - Microsoft Geek Blogger: AOL unveils free Web TV

Oh the inanities! From what Scoble aptly calls his mudpit, I found this:

Sorry, I’m counting AOL out. In the words of Steve Jobs (paraphrased): "television is where you turn your brain off, a computer is where you turn your brain off."... "Um, that is to say that a computer is where you turn your brain “on”. Sorry for that bit of confusion"

And had to blurt out:

But you stumbled on the truth.

You CAN turn your brain on by watching TV. C-Span, some PBS, History Channel and things like that contain far more information than the average web page.

You CAN turn your brain off by using a computer. In fact I think you can turn it off a lot more effectively using a computer. Try and have an intelligent conversation with someone who plays first person shooters for 8 hours a day. Or auto race games, or roll playing games, or... blogs!

TV is a one way medium and computers are two way. That puts TV at a disadvantage, but not much of one. If you want to learn you only need TV and for the right material to be presented, and at a pace you are comfortable with.

The Internet however is like, as the expression goes, drinking from a fire hydrant. Only in addition to water, the Internet fire hydrant has sewage, and poisons and addictive drugs and a few other things you would rather not be consuming.

I'm not convinced that "feeds", "metadata", "XML" and the other dozen buzzwords that fly around today (particularly here) are the answer. I don't think I am getting a lot more out of the Internet today than I was 5 years ago, but I'm sure spending a lot more time getting it. My aggregators do everything but aggregate. Finding the actual SOURCE of a story rather than the thousands (or millions) of bloggers that have added their 2 cents (if they've added anything at all) is still largely a manual process. I don't see any of these new mechanisms solving this any better than just using a search engine that has recently crawled the web and has a modicum of AI built into it (EG: WSJ or Reuters is more likely to have the original story than Joe Blogger).

Have we forgotten that the World Wide Web and HTML were invented specifically allow ordinary people to EASILY share data? You can teach someone all they need to know about HTML in about and hour. But add ASP controls, Javascript, CSS, XML, RSS and EIEIO and suddenly we are back to having to have expert help setting up a web site and are totally dependent on expensive high level tools to do even the simplest thing.

Now think about who is most responsible for this race to complexity.

I think the situation will only get worse until individual users take back the Internet and just say no to the big software vendors, telephone and cable companies, Hollywood and all the other powerful interests that want to keep their positions as gatekeepers of what we see and hear.

If it's not something that you can work with on your own, without $700 worth of software or a $100/month internet bill then you should be asking yourself: "What is wrong with this picture?"

Kill Bill's Browser - Switch to Firefox

"13. Because the Department of Justice Lacks Balls.

They spent years and years on the Microsoft anti-trust suit and it did absolutely nothing to reduce Microsoft's monopoly. Great work guys. It's time to take the law (erm, the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890?) into our own hands."

Saturday, November 12, 2005

PBS | I, Cringely . November 10, 2005 - Paper War

"Microsoft historically has never cared about the public perception of their company. Their huge legal bills show the company's willingness to push the boundaries of ethical behavior, and maybe legal behavior too. Microsoft's corporate culture is different than most companies. They are not practiced at making the 'right and fair' decision, then making it happen. Most companies find a way to balance profit and be a good citizen. Not Microsoft. This just wasn't important to them. To me, the Microsoft memos looked like an amateurish attempt to improve their image and give the perception they care."

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Hotrod Your Linksys WAP with Linux


First Trojan using Sony DRM spotted | The Register

"Sony-BMG's rootkit DRM technology masks files whose filenames start with '$sys$'. A newly-discovered variant of of the Breplibot Trojan takes advantage of this to drop the file '$sys$drv.exe' in the Windows system directory."

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

EFF: DeepLinks - Stuff not to buy

"As we've mentioned before, Sony-BMG has been using copy-protection technology called XCP in its recent CDs. You insert your CD into your Windows PC, click 'agree' in the pop up window, and the CD automatically installs software that uses rootkit techniques to cloak itself from you. Sony-BMG has released a 'patch' that supposedly 'uncloaks' the XCP software, but it creates new problems."

Why would anyone want to steal this junk?

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

NewsForge | Interview: Bob Young after Red Hat

"Operating systems typically don't displace existing technology if they become popular, it's because they become the popular solution on the new technology model. So, you know, Digital Equipment Companies, VMS operating system did not become popular on IBM mainframe computers. It became popular because Digital convinced the world to move towards minicomputers, and it became the most popular operating system on the minicomputers that Digital was responsible for. And in the same way, Windows, you know -- Microsoft did not convince the world to unplug VMS and put, you know, sort of a Mac OS -- not Mac OS. MS-DOS, MS-DOS on Digital minicomputers."

Oh, too bad Steve Jobs didn't read this.

Meanwhile the rumors abound about Apple's future plans...

The rumor I like best (though I don't believe it) is that hackers are making the X86 version of OS X run on ordinary PCs. This, supposedly, is Apple's secret plan to take over the world. They really WANT there to be millions of bootleg copies of their OS in circulation replacing Windows and Linux systems everywhere. How Apple will ever actually make money on this plan is the REAL secret. I have a feeling they are trying to figure that out themselves.

The other rumor, not very popular with the fan-base is that Apple wants to exit the computer business entirely. I tend to accept this more readily, although I don't think the company will so easily make the iPods into a full-time job. The way they climbed back from the abyss was to do two risky things: Standardize on the PowerPC and switch to a Unix based operating system. Now they are undoing the first move and one has to wonder how much commitment they actually have to OS X. All this time and they still depend on Microsoft for too many things. Although I doubt too many people use it, the system still comes bundled with Internet Explorer, Windows Media Player, and advertising urging you to try out Office for the Mac. Ugh, I'm a refugee from that stuff, its the last thing I want to see logos for.

Well, we'll see. maybe in a year or two we will see Jobs interviewed as he steps down from what is left of Apple. I predict bad things, and I'm keeping a current version of Linux on my Apple laptop just in case. I would have switched earlier, but sound support is still a bit flakey for the Apple hardware. Of course companies that still DO want to be in the computer business are busy building generic PowerPC systems, and that might ultimately be my system of choice. Next time.

Blogger Help : Why are all my posts being set to drafts?

So THATS what was happening to me!

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Microsoft rejects Visual Studio delay request | CNET

"In the original suggestion, a customer said that Visual Studio 2005, which had a second beta program in April, has too many bugs and performance problems. 'I'd rather have a good product six months from now than a mediocre one in three months,' wrote Clint Stotesbery on Thursday."

Clap with me now: Developers, devepolers, develpoers, develpers, developrs, devopelers...

LXer: Intel Linux versus Microsoft Windows

"Some countries will not allow Microsoft to try to run their governments unlike the US or the European Union. In the long-term, many analysts, including me, believe Microsoft will become irrelevant. But today, Intel depends on Microsoft. Even a hint of Microsoft changing horses could hurt Intel significantly. For example, Microsoft could give Dell the OK to use AMD processors."

Friday, November 04, 2005

News Release System

"IDC analyst Roger Kay said: 'I don't think the two - Mac mini and whatever Intel puts out - are really in the same market; that is, of course, unless Apple starts running OS X on x86 hardware.'"



Nokia 770 Out Now - Gizmodo

"The Nokia 770 is the Internet Tablet that Nokia has been ranting on about forever. It’s now available in Europe in the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, and the UK. Don’t expect one in the USA, though, because we’re not cool enough to have internet tablets."

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Gmail - Circuits: One Teen's Contribution to the Internet

From an interview with the lead developer of Firefox...

BR: First of all, they dropped the ball. Internet Explorer hasn't been updated since 2001. And so when Microsoft basically disbanded the Internet Explorer team, the Web started to outpace the Web browser.

We guide our development by what our users want, not by the dollar. You know, no other factors come into play except these features that people are asking for. So basically I go home and I say, "Hey, Mom, you know, what's still wrong with the internet? What's bothering you?" And she tells me.

DP: You ask your mom?

BR: Well, she'll yell at me. And I'll say, "Mom, calm down. What's wrong?" And then I'll fix that.

DP: I wonder why Bill Gates's mom couldn't do the same thing?

BR: Yeah (laughs).

F-Secure: XCP DRM Software - Sony BMG CDs Install Buggy Rootkit on Windows Machines

"The DRM software requires administrative privileges to be installed successfully. When a user inserts an XCP protected CD into a computer that has the Windows Autoplay feature enabled, an EULA is automatically presented and if the user accepts it, the DRM software is installed."

I didn't pay much attention to this at first, since I don't use Windows. But the more I hear about it the worse it sounds. I'd still rather not hear stories about peopl's machines mysteriously crashing. Here is one of the more recent reasons for Windows crashes.

A good lesson: Don't run your system as Administrator!

Shortcuts alleged in building levees - Yahoo! News

"The complaints focus on two canals where levees topped with flood walls were built in stages over the past 15 years. One of the claims is that contractors used steel sheets - which were driven into the levees to prevent water seepage - that were shorter than what was called for in designs. If true, that could have made the levees weak and prone to failure."

Move over, Mac Mini -- MiniPC runs Linux

This looks cool.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Should you protect your OS X Mac against viruses?

"But in every other way OS X Macintoshes are much safer than Windows computers. Maybe it's time Symantec recognized that. My guess is that Symantec's virus-catching software for Macs actually blocks Windows viruses instead, so that Macs don't pass them on in forwarded e-mail.
What kind of penalty is that? You go out of your way to choose a safe computer and end up paying to keep your neighbor's Dell out of trouble? I don't like that at all.
How do you feel about it? Let me know. Should you and your Mac be penalized because Microsoft can't make Windows safe? Drop me a note at "

I tried the free anti-virus program that comes with .Mac membership for about two days. It was too bloated and cumberson for me to tolerate for longer than that, particularly after I found out that there are no viruses for the Apple/OS X combo. I AM behind a firewall, and I don't click on things without having a pretty good idea what they are going to do. If somehow my machine is involved in some Windows machine somewhere becoming infected I'll feel bad, but not bad enough to run a bloated Windows-like virus scanner taking half my memory and almost as much CPU time. I do my duty to warn Windows using people that they are at risk and will always be so. That they do nothing about it should give THEM trouble sleeping, not me.

Inside The dotNET: Avalon Interface Constructor: Powered by Gorm 1.0!

"Our lawyers have pretty much assured us that the GNU Public License (and other related viral licenses) are invalid due to them giving too many rights to the users; and by giving the code away, they are making the code public domain and giving up their copyright... or something like that. INAL, but thats pretty much the gist of it."

Sometimes humor falls not far from the facts.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

12 reasons MS doesn't cut it for web development (Loud Thinking)

"To be frank, I don't ever see the good times coming back for them. Microsoft will have to move to higher grounds. Get out of the infrastructure race. Like Apple did. There is no dominant future for the Microsoft tool chain for web development in sight. But I doubt the company will acknowledge that before it's game over."

Monday, October 31, 2005

Lies, Liars, and CBS -

"Yeah, it may be a tragedy that Robert Novak's reporting will get Valerie Plame a great book deal and an appointment in Hillary Clinton's administration while undermining NOC's who help appoint their husband to go on visits to Niger and come back to beat up the administration by distorting the President's 17 words, but it would also be a tragedy if we did not deal honestly with this issue in the media."

Business Opportunities Weblog | How Much Is My Blog Worth

My blog is worth $1,129.08.
How much is your blog worth?

Docs sew skull fragment in patient's belly | The Register

"We can still store the pieces in the old way if people prefer, as some patients don't like the idea of having a bit of their own skull inside them. But this technique is perfectly safe and an easy way to make sure it is protected and it takes just a few minutes."

Attack of the Blogs -

"But it turns out that scribe Nick Tracy of London was, in fact, a former stockbroker in Oregon named Timothy Miles--and Miles himself faces SEC charges that he took part in a pump-and-dumpstock scheme in 2000. He was tried in June and awaits a verdict. No matter:Circle Group stock fell below a dollar in a year of combat with Miles and the anonymous bashers on Yahoo (and after Nestle dropped Z-Trim). Halpern's stake is down $75 million, and he blames Miles and his acolytes; he has sued for defamation. 'Some of these bloggers have just one goal, and that is to do damage. It's evil,' he says. "

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Saturday, October 29, 2005

IBM researchers take Axe to computer security - Computerworld

"Thanks to a patented IBM technique, Axe loads special 'Axe runtime,' software into the central part of the operating system, called the kernel, every time the PC is booted up. It then polices every piece of software that's run on the machine, making sure that only authorized code gets used."

Intel delays and slows dual-core Itanium | Channel Register

"These delays serve as huge blows to Itanium's two main customers - HP and SGI. Both companies had been depending on Intel to catch up finally with rivals IBM and Sun Microsystems. Customers will be most displeased to see Itanium fall close to five years behind IBM with dual-core technology."

Friday, October 28, 2005

Memorable Quotes from Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)

Oh this is handy!

(I make all my important decisions based on Monty Python sketches.)

P.A. Semi's major PowerPC announcement, and looking back at The Switch

"So the search commences afresh for Jobs's super-secret, evil genius motives for hitching the entire Mac wagon to the unreleased and unproven Conroe/Merom architecture. Candidates for 'super-secret motives' must of course support the thesis that Apple really does intend to ride the Macintosh all the way back into media workstation leadership, or education market dominance, or double-digit market share, or whatever other Golden Age of Mac fantasy suits one's fancy."

Should we kiss our OS X machines goodbye?

I'll of course just switch mine to Linux while I wait for some other company to come along who cares about good processors.

Hasta la Vista Apple... a phrase which may take on new meanings.

The Seattle Times: Business & Technology: Microsoft told it's too slow in carrying out antitrust pact

The Seattle Times: Business & Technology: Microsoft told it's too slow in carrying out antitrust pact

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Does Visual Studio Rot the Mind?

"Twenty years ago, in November 1985, Windows 1.0 debuted with approximately 400 documented function calls.5 Ten years later, Windows 95 had well over a thousand.6

Today we are ready for the official release of the .NET Framework 2.0. Tabulating only MSCORLIB.DLL and those assemblies that begin with word System, we have over 5,000 public classes that include over 45,000 public methods and 15,000 public properties, not counting those methods and properties that are inherited and not overridden. A book that simply listed the names, return values, and arguments of these methods and properties, one per line, would be about a thousand pages long."

AMD’s new fab, new focus | InfoWorld | Column | 2005-10-26 | By Tom Yager

"But the idea of seeing “optimized for AMD64” stamped on software boxes delights me. Another journalist at the same event posited that AMD’s technological lead over Intel will be short-lived and is calling “game over” once Intel’s new Pentium M-derived cores debut across the product line. With due respect to my colleague, AMD will extend its lead, showing Intel’s reactive strategy for what it is."

Survey Says... - Judge Chides Microsoft Over Exclusive Music Proposal

"In a rare display of indignation, U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly demanded an explanation from Microsoft's lawyers and told them, 'This should not be happening.'

Legal and industry experts said Microsoft's demands probably would have violated a landmark antitrust settlement the same judge approved in 2002 between the company and President George W. Bush's administration. The government and Microsoft disclosed details of the dispute in a court document last week.

The judge said Microsoft's music-player proposal -- even though it was abandoned 10 days later -- 'maybe indicates a chink in the compliance process.' She made her remarks during a previously scheduled court hearing to review the adequacy of the settlement."

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Computerworld | 'Nightmare' drove desperate user to open source

From the article:
In Japan large organizations like Morgan Stanley and the Bank of America have moved all their backend systems to open source, Uemura said, because with open source you can reduce IT operating costs without any commercial lock-in.


"Microsoft just happens to be one of our clients and Checkpoint is our standard firewall," Uemura said. "Checkpoint on Windows was unmanageable but after a few months of using OpenBSD we were told to put Checkpoint back."

Then PWC was hit with a virus affecting network traffic and the Checkpoint firewall was running at 100 percent CPU capacity which was effectively a denial of service.

"So we had to put an OpenBSD firewall in front of Checkpoint," he said. "We saved seven salaries worth over one year. It was so dramatic they gave me a big raise and I was promoted from system administrator to IT manager. And because of the savings we get more productivity out of old hardware."

Monday, October 24, 2005

Intel confirms Itanium schedule screwed up

"Ms Fields told the Journal Intel had run into manufacturing problems - which she called 'issues' - and said its Tukwila chip wasn't likely to arrive until 2008.

Montvale is delayed too. But then you read all of this on the INQ months and even years ago, didn't you? "

Microsoft to Enter Market for Business Intelligence - New York Times

With what?

LXer: Did Bill Gates Invent Linux and Has He Erased the Evidence?

"I believe that the US has slipped technologically in the last five years as investment in start-ups has slowed and our technologist have migrated to other professions. I lay the blame on our government's inability to show the fortitude to stop monopolies from thwarting innovation. Hopefully this article will provide some incentive for someone to take a look at how one company could change the internal landscape of the Internet and distort history."

What's So Bad About Microsoft? - SillyDog701

Microsoft Media Center going awry, say critics Microsoft Weblog

"The idea that the Media Center PC is off track is gaining ground among some industry observers. Why link everything to a computer, they say, when it’s clearly not the best way of operating many devices? Could it be that Microsoft is seeking world domination by making almost everything dependent on a Media Center PC"

More like they are trying to hold their ground by throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks. Apple can't afford to do this, almost no company can afford to do this. In another year or two Microsoft may find that it can no longer afford to do this either.

Maybe it's time they "re-innovate" themselves.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Electronic News - IBM, Mercury Move Cell Into Products - 10/6/2005

"The Dual Cell-Based Blade is Mercury’s first product based on the IBM Cell Broadband Engine processor, tipped in July. Mercury is partnering with IBM Engineering & Technology Services to integrate Cell technology into a range of products designed for applications in aerospace and defense, seismic, semiconductor test and medical imaging, as well as other markets."

Just in time for Christmas!

Nature Ignores Science on Greenland Ice Shelf; NASA Finds Global Climate Models Overestimate Warming

"The authors found the most pronounced warming “…in the 1920s when the average annual surface air temperature rose between 2C and 4C in less than 10 years…at a time when the change in anthropogenic production of greenhouse gases was well below the current level.”"

Oldy but goodie. I think there is an update on this out there somewhere.

Microsoft Connecting with Consumers

If only it were true!

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Rough Type: Nicholas Carr's Blog: The amorality of Web 2.0

"And so all the things that Web 2.0 represents - participation, collectivism, virtual communities, amateurism - become unarguably good things, things to be nurtured and applauded, emblems of progress toward a more enlightened state. But is it really so? Is there a counterargument to be made? Might, on balance, the practical effect of Web 2.0 on society and culture be bad, not good? To see Web 2.0 as a moral force is to turn a deaf ear to such questions."

Web 2.0 Conference: Open source everywhere

"Indeed, the open source aura was so strong here on the first day of Web 2.0 that I felt a little sorry for the MSN people, whose workshop was titled Building a Developer EcoSystem. Their session, at 8:30 a.m., had only attracted about 20 people when it started, while a discussion of AJAX from a business perspective in the 100-seat room next door had an audience so large that it spilled out into the hall. Two other sessions going on at the same time were also full to bursting."

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Ballmer: Microsoft to go after Linux strongholds

"Saying 'That means we still have work to do,' Ballmer knows he's got a long roe to hoe. 'The day I come in front of the Gartner audience and say we have a better Unix than Linux, that'll be a good day.'

For Microsoft employees, that sounds like marching orders to me."

Sounds like a Freudian slip to me. I'd consider running a Unix based Microsoft product. I wonder what they are going to base it on... BSD?

Of course if he was just referring to Posix support, then he is a bigger ignoramus than I thought.

Oh wait...

gridgame.swf - Fun cellular autonima game

Apple and Disney's two-inch disappointment | The Register

"No, the cynicism stems from how hard the industry as a whole - IT, content owners and media included here - tries to hype what consumers don't care about or want. Paying $1.99 to watch 40 minutes of TV on a 2.5 inch screen? Why not offer us an Orange Julius fetched from the toilet or an asbestos jockstrap?"

Monday, October 17, 2005

HD-DVD will be last physical media format, says Gates

"Speaking to a student audience at Waterloo University in Canada, Bill Gates served a death warrant on CDs and DVDs. “(High definition DVD) is the last physical media format there will ever be,” said Gates. “There won’t be one after this one.”"

OK, that settles it. We now know there will be AT LEAST one more type of physical media after the HD-DVD. Gates track record for technology forecasting is abysmal.

Of course his prediction SHOULD be correct. Just as voice over IP should have replaced most people's telephones years ago, the internet, in spite of the hinderances of Microsoft, should have replaced most of what we do with programs like Microsoft Office years ago too. Many organizations are coming to the slow realization that they are spending large amounts of time formatting documents for print, and then not printing them. Look dummies: Its a MEMO. Fill in the memo fields and save the text. Let it get formatted when it needs to be formatted. We learned this in... uh... the 70s! Eventually we will "figure it out" again.

Oh, I should have pointed to the original article dug from under a pile of blogs just like mine.

Virtual Unity - Computerworld

"Three years ago, Hunterdon Medical Center in Flemington, N.J., could claim one server for every two beds in its 176-bed facility. But for Alberto Cruz Natal, technical manager at the community hospital, that was nothing to be proud of."

Sunday, October 16, 2005

NewsForge | Horton AV announces avian flu vaccine for Linux

"We know that Linux is vulnerable to viruses," claimed Horton AV spokesman Bob Sinister, "but up until now we have been unable to identify any legitimate threats, in spite of our industry's frequent announcements. Avian flu, however, is a serious threat to Linux, due to Linux's close association with penguins."

We can now all breath a sigh of relief.

Saturday, October 15, 2005 News - Brave new world

"For I've found a virtual world which seems exciting, enthralling - even thought-provoking. It's more than a computer game or a chat room; it's beyond all previously defined parameters of online entertainment. It's the new society."

Friday, October 14, 2005

'Today' Reporter Paddles in Shallow Water

"In one of television's inadvertently funny moments, the NBC News correspondent was paddling in a canoe during a live report about flooding in Wayne, N.J. While she talked, two men walked between her and the camera - making it apparent that the water where she was floating was barely ankle-deep."...

"It's not like we were trying to pass it off as something it wasn't," spokeswoman Lauren Kapp said.

Um, yeah, sure.

The GNU/Linux User Show #19 - Problems with Ubuntu

"I think/hope that once people make the leap and start using GNU/Linux that over time they will want to expand their choices and freedoms and will move away from the more closed distros into the more mainstream and powerful ones. But the first step is getting them into any distro of GNU/Linux.

If it takes Kubuntu - then that’s OK. My requirements are just a little higher than Kubuntu can deliver.

Oh, and I was pissed off when I recorded that bit as well. A little righteous indignation goes a long way :)"

More and more I have learned to distrust anyone who makes a formal living at "journalism", including the "tech journalists" just as much as those who are "into" politics. Maybe the constant pressure to get SOMETHING out by press time forces them to lose touch with reality, not to mention the fact that many people who choose journalism as a profession aren't that tech savvy to begin with.

I haven't yet tried Ubuntu, and was glad to hear of your troubles (poor wording there): glad that hearing of your troubles saved me my own bad experience (that's better). Having been through Suse, Red Hat, Knoppix, Lindows and even Slacklware at one time or another, I finally settled on Debian about two years ago and haven't tried anything else since. I have been tempted by all the recent Ubuntu talk though. Most tempting of all were the assurances I've heard that it is Debian based and that you could mix and match it's repositories with the regular Debian ones. (You know, if this were really true, then you should be able to take a straight Debian system and by ADDING the Ubuntu repositories and doing any upgrade, make it into an Ubuntu release without doing a fresh install. I haven't heard anyone say that this actually works though... backing up your experience).

Mark Shuttleworth (who spoke on 2005-7-14) at the most recent Debian conference (I think you can view the mpegs from seems like a nice guy and it can't hurt to have someone who is filthy rich willing to dedicate so much of his personal resources to the promotion of Open Source. On the other hand I can't help but sense that the existence of full-time salaried positions to work on something that looks a lot like Debian may be hurting the cause in the short term.

Thinking back now I remember all the "noise" for lack of a better term that was being made over getting the next official release of Debian (Sarge) out the door. I had already been using Woody on a couple of systems flawlessly, and was running Sarge, still beta (the installer) and as the "testing" release on my laptop, mostly without problems. The last thing in the world I wanted to do with these working systems was do a fresh install. One thing Linux systems lack in a big way is a method to install a totally new operating system (or even a new version) without wiping out the /home directories. I learned that the hard way a while back. So I'm always careful these days to copy /home, /etc, and a few other things off to a safe external drive whenever I do a new version of the OS. What a pain in the ass though. At what point is it safe to wipe out those "special" backups? With each new install I usually think of new ways to arrange the old files. Am I sure I have everything from the old archive? Hmmm. It's not just a Linux issue, my old Windows buddies go through the same thing. In fact they have it worse, since Windows often claims to do thing automatically for them, they are even more likely to find themselves screwed than us relatively knowledgeable Linux users are.

Which brings us to the point of some of these new distributions, Ubuntu, Linspire, Suse, that attempt to mimic the ease of use that Windows PRETENDS to have. Linux is ALREADY better than Windows in so many ways, and yet we all have friends that refuse to venture into an experimental install. Do they still call you for Windows advice like they do me? I've stopped badgering them to try Linux, I've stopped making fun of their girly-man operating system. I just tell them these days: "sorry, can't help you, I've forgotten everything I knew about Windows. Haven't booted it in months." While the truth is I haven't forgotten it all, the actual time span is now years, two to be safe, since I've booted a Windows machine. I think it's still installed on an old dust collector around here somewhere, waiting to be reformatted or consigned to the dumpster.

I give Linspire and Suse credit though, they are both great places to start for the "dumb user" who wants to use Linux and have someone to contact when things go wrong. Is support for these systems great? No, probably not, but then again when is the last time a Windows user you know actually got helped by Microsoft? If that were the case they wouldn't be calling you now would they?

My experience with Linspire (then Lindows) was exactly the same as yours with Ubuntu. I BAUGHT a copy, thinking it would be the perfect thing to give or sell to my poor Windows using friends. I just needed to use it a while first so that I could help them if they got stuck. Only *I* got stuck, and spent a lot of time trying to get unstuck, mostly without success. Things may have changed, but at the time Lindows told you that you could use their package management system or Apt-get (that I was used to) interchangeably. I did that for a while, but more and more it seemed that only Apt-get worked, and if I requested some new package from their list (which didn't seem to be available from apt-get for some reason) I would have problems. Then apt-get stopped working too. Like you, I spent a week, or more, trying to get my system working again without a re-install. By the time I gave up on it I was so frustrated that I went straight back to Debian and haven't used anything else since.

Basically, these so called end-user friendly systems (including Windows) have to limit how flexible they can be in order to remain supportable by some average-joe who answers the phone at their support center. Can you imagine being that support center person and being told that the user you are trying to help has renamed half his directories, moved things around and installed half a dozen things you've never heard of? You'd probably tell them "Have you tried re-installing Windows?" which is about all that Microsoft support is good for.

The problem that Debian will have over the years is "too many chiefs and not enough indians". Shuttleworth says they want to be big supporters of Debian by contributing back into the base, and I'm sure that is his intent, but IBM, Suse, and a lot of other folks will be contributing to that base too, and SOMEBODY is going to have to spend a lot of time merging it all together and somehow making a living at the same time. In the end, I think that Shuttleworth, and a few others with money to spend would do better to simply PAY people to do Debian work so that they could leave their day-jobs behind or not have to somehow mesh their day-job with whatever their Debian contribution was. Like the Apple OS (which I'm using at the moment) great things can be done when a money-making company takes the Open Source work built up over years and runs with it, but in the long run, if those improvements don't find their way back into a consistent, and Open product, the cycle ends there and it becomes a pretty much walled garden that only those who can, or are willing to pay can participate in, and only then, with continuing permission from the license holders.

Hopefully in the long run, companies like Apple, and even the brain-dead Microsoft will learn that owning the franchise need not require owning the building in which the product is sold. Apple SEEMS to be getting it in that their profit these days is based on the Itunes name and on downloadable content, and not the fact that their OS is based on Unix. The shift in emphasis over the next few years to how we are connected, and what we are connected to and away from our OS or what kind of PC we are running will (I hope) make the OS wars a thing of the past.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Google and Comcast: Got mail? (CNN story)

Regarding possible bidding war between Google, Comcast, Microsoft and maybe others for parts of AOL...

I was never a particularly big fan of AOL, and have never been a paying customer, on the other hand, in terms of "evilness" (or lack thereof) I think AOL has a lot more in common with Google than Microsoft.

AOL has pumped a lot of money into various "open" software efforts over the years, keeping Netscape, Winamp, Shoutcast among others, funded as a customer, or by acquiring the remains of these efforts when nobody else was interested. I stopped using ICQ when they acquired that, thinking they would ruin it. They didn't, however after jumping from one IM to another over the years I find that AIM suits me just fine and apparently I'm not alone in this. I use the built-in iChat client on my Apple machine, and I use Gaim under Linux, so essentially AOL has been providing me with a free service for a couple of years now and I've never paid them a dime or even viewed an ad to pay for the service indirectly.

Beyond that, it seems to be an industry secret (I haven't seen it reported ANYWHERE!) that AOL is quietly re-inventing itself mostly through the AIM namespace. Since I've never been an AOL customer, I am only known to them via the free AIM ID I signed up for several years ago. At the time it was linked with what was left of the Netscape organization with a fairly useless free e-mail id. These days, you can get a free AIM branded e-mail address that comes with (hold on to your seats):

2Gig of storage, and IMAP client interface, and AJAX interface with the look of Outlook, complete with drag and drop folder actions. NOBODY else has this, and nobody seems to be talking about it, which shows how dependent our tech press is on formal press releases to actually know what is going on (they don't actually experiment with the tech on their own).

Oh, did I mention they have a blogging service that already rivals MSN's (OK that's not saying much). You can load up to 98 meg of stuff onto a personal web page (I don't know how they arrived at that particular limit), do photo albums, schedule recurring tasks, generate automated e-mails, although there seems to be no formal calendar yet, and probably a few other things that I haven't discovered. If you have the right cell phone, which I don't, you can apparently use AIM from that too. All of this is free (although I can't test the cell phone bit) and can be used on Linux, OS X, and of course Windows.

AOL has long been platform agnostic, although they get dragged kicking and screaming into helping Microsoft lock users in to Windows on a regular basis. The recent kiss-and-make-up between Microsoft and Real I think underscores how desperate Microsoft is getting for friends. The existence of Google coupled with Microsoft's long reputation of screwing over anything that moves into its field of vision, I think has finally started working seriously against the big company and in favor of all the screwees. Google may have squashed the online Office-killer rumors for now, but gradually more and more of what we do with computers is online and offers no particular advantage, and in some cases a major disadvantage, to the Windows user. The technology set-back that clueless user's infatuation with Windows has caused for the past 10 years is finally coming to an end and we may see that some old dinosaurs like AOL and IBM (just to name two) have a lot more upside potential than anyone ever thought (particularly the "tech analysts").

What PC to Buy If You Are Planning On a Vista Upgrade

"There's a catch, however. Vista is Microsoft's biggest upgrade to Windows in a decade, and it will require much beefier and costlier hardware than Windows XP. So you will have to rethink your PC buying assumptions, starting now."

Oh My God! They've never done anything like this before!

Well, there go my Vista upgrade plans, unless they come out with a PowerPC version (and pay me to run it).

IBM Research turns 60... And I spontaneously combust

"IBM inventions and discoveries include the programming language Fortran (1957), magnetic storage (1955), the relational database (1970), DRAM (dynamic random access memory) cells (1962), the RISC (reduced instruction set computer) chip architecture (1980), fractals (1967), superconductivity (1987) and the Data Encryption Standard (1974). In the last 12 years, IBM has received 29,021 patents--more than any other company or individual in the world."

In the mean time, we continue to search for evidence that Microsoft has any research objectives beyond wearing out the Patent office with protective software patents (which Microsoft also claims to oppose). For instance there is the Microsoft Hall of Innovation which so far seems to only be giving MS credit for Microsoft BOB and the talking paper clip.

Other publications also continue the search for research in Redmond. Not only mainstream publications such as Fast Company, Wall Street Journal, and Forbes but many blogs... and bloglike things, and so on, and so forth.

If you look hard enough (excluding Microsofts own pages of course), you can find that from time to time a
minor local tech pub pays obeisance. As you raise your prices, crack down on pirates, lock down everyones PC 'till they can be safely stamped "Microsoft Inside", do take pains not to destroy the economy of the Northwest as you enter your decline. I'd recommend perhaps a gradual migration to some Mid-eastern emirate, where forming cartels and doing things to thwart the United States are looked favorably upon. Maybe parts of Hollywood can join you there.

It feels so good to be back from a bad cold.

IBM, SuSE Challenge Blade Economics

"'What we are offering is a single SLES 9 license for an IBM BladeCenter chassis, which is the first of a kind-pricing deal as, until now, operating systems and applications have been priced per user or per server or via an enterprise license,' Juhi Jotwani, the director of IBM's BladeCenter and xSeries solutions in Raleigh, N.C., told eWEEK.

IBM's BladeCenter chassis supports up to 14 blades that can be Intel Corp., Advanced Micro Devices Inc. or Power-based, and the license can be used with any of these blade servers as long as they are associated with the chassis."

Which is the oposite of what Microsoft is doing as it penalizes running multiple instances of Windows on a single machine. Maybe MS should double the price of its baby too, and further crack down on those nasty pirates stealing copies of Windows from work!

I'm all in favor of making it less convenient to use Windows. Saves wear and tear on my firewall.

IBM donates Rational IP to Open Source | The Register

"According to IBM, a lack of standards in core development activities has increased time and overhead as organisations 'continually reproduce the myriad processes, plans and compliance documents that are fundamental to software development'. Best practices often remain retained within an individual team or company, it adds."

The trick, of course, is getting organizations to use it. I can just hear a couple of my old managers now: "We don't have time for this sh*t. We need to get product out the door yesterday, and if it's cr*p, we'll fix it later!"

Only later never comes, or it comes in the form of the company shutting down, while those in the know, with solid resumes have moved on.

Msft & Yhoo get cozy

Goog continues to kick ass.

Twx looks on, confused.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Dilbert Does Microsoft

Scoble seems to think certain Dilbert strips are directed at him, then this one must be about Microsoft.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Searching for Answers: A challenge for Mini-Microsoft

"I offer a personal guarantee that I will keep Mini’s identity secret unless he releases me from that promise. We hire many people into our team each month – so nobody would have to know about this except for Mini and me – even if he gets hired here."

Let's get this straight. A blogger at Microsoft has some negative opinions. A manager at Microsoft wants said blogger to come and "anonymously" interview for and be potentially hired for a new job.

I'd like to know what this guy is smoking. Whatever they pass around at the design meetings I guess.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

NewsForge | Citizens Against Government Waste vs. Massachusetts OpenDocument decision

"In its latest press release on the matter, the group seemed to confuse document formats with IT architecture and applications, blasting 'a plan in Massachusetts to force all state computer networks to move to an open source format' and the state's supposed 'mandate that state agencies use only open source and open standard software by January 1, 2007.'

When contacted by NewsForge, CAGW president Tom Schatz said the statements, reprinted by several Linux and open source publications in the original form, were 'wrong,' and the organization's press release was subsequently changed to read: 'CAGW today criticized a plan in Massachusetts to force all state agencies to shift all their documents to an 'open' format.' Another correction to the release said the Massachusetts policy 'would mandate that state agencies use only open formats for the storage of documents by January 1, 2007.'"

From: MS Shill Organizations
To: Rest of World
Subject: Don't Confuse Us With Facts

Six Things you need to know about Bubble 2.0 | The Register

"Let's acknowledge what the Web has been successful at: as a presentation layer. But the Web 2.0 kids desperately want to write system apps on their 'global operating system' - only they don't have the cojones to do system level thinking. Real engineers look at where systems (and humans) fail - their priority isn't a cool demo. They're pessimistic. And there's no place for pessimism at a Web 2.0 conference.

For example, look at how many of these new services will depend on Flickr. Flickr is a joy indeed, but it spends more time in a paralytic state than a Tenderloin wino. If as much effort went into keeping the Flickr system running as goes into writing cute messages explaining why it's not working , we'd feel a lot more confident in trusting it."

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Gizmodo Announces Support for Some Form of Higher Definition DVD - Gizmodo

"Gizmodo joins the likes of Microsoft, Paramount, Intel, Toshiba, Matsushita and Sony in supporting some form of next generation DVD. The weblog is a participating member in the debate over which standard to choose, and anticipates continuing anguish over having to write several dozen more entries about the issue.

“As a big fan of the color blu, I was an early supporter of Blu-Ray technology,” said Gizmodo’s senior vice president of logistics Vince Veneziani."

Well, the question is now settled as far as I'm concerned.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

MSFT Bagholder: Just a f***ing rumor

I think he is abso-f***ing-lutely right.

SpinMass: Grid Renders and the SLCC Sims

I've found the Faux Terrain map style I described below to work pretty well. In fact, it's become my default view as I use Grid Chart. I decided to apply this style as textures to a 3DSMax model of the Second Life grid and see how it came out. Below are a few rendered results.

Cool stuff.

Media, media everywhere, and no time left to think? - Yahoo! News

"WASHINGTON (AFP) - The average American is a ravenous media junkie, consuming up to nine hours a day of television, web time or cellphone minutes, according to new research which raises fresh questions about how technology is revolutionising society."


Structuring Projects

Here is some good advice from a fellow I used to work with... err or go to school with, or something. I've seen his name pop up several times over the years. I particularly like this one:

Forget MS Project

Beginning project managers often use the features of MS Project as a sort of template to guide them, but although task dependencies, critical paths, Pert and Gantt charts and the other schedule-oriented tools found in MS Project can come into play, managing projects, at its core, isn't about schedules. The key is to make sure that the right things get done.

To meet a schedule you need to thoughtfully and strategically structure your project. Don't let timelines, WBS, and all the other fancy stuff in MS Project distract you.

Unfortunately in government contracting (as well as private in some cases) they fixate on things like MS Project. I've dealt with government types who would probably forgive you not finishing the project at all as long as your MS Project graphics looked pretty. Yet another reason why I oppose almost all government spending (as well as MS Project).

Google, Sun to bring StarOffice to Web - Computerworld

"Google Inc. and Sun Microsystems Inc. are expected to unveil a collaborative effort later today that will bring StarOffice productivity applications to Google users, according to sources familiar with the companies' plans.

The move is expected to be part of a larger technology initiative in which Sun will help Google build a network to provide Web-based applications that will enable the companies to compete with their common rival, Microsoft Corp."

Great move, and not unexpected. I'm surprised Google would need or want Star Office however. I look forward to the day when I can do formatted documents and spreadsheets on the Internet the same way I now do mail. 98 percent of what people use Windows for just became obsolete. Note that the technology to do this has been around a while. Even Microsoft could implement something like this if they thought it was in their best interest, which it isn't as long as "suckers" will pony up Kilobucks for client software.

Update: One example of existing solutions: from a comment to this entry. They even seem to have a free version (linux compatible!) for individual use.

Monday, October 03, 2005

HP to buy blade management expert RLX - Computerworld

"HP's blade servers already have tools for managing Linux on blades, but those tools have been built from HP's Windows and Unix-based tools, said Becker. The RLX tool now gives HP a blade server management tool built from the ground up by Linux engineers."

Great move. I've seen these RLX systems in action and wondered why more people aren't using them. HP might be able to bring their technology to more people's attention (sorry if you missed out before, the price will no doubt go up now). - Views - Massachusetts Should Close Down OpenDocument

Fox gets hoodwinked. Hard to overestimate the pervasiveness of Microsoft advertising dollars.

Firefox Still Tops IE for Browser Security

"'Mozilla is forthcoming about vulnerabilities,' Levy said, whereas 'it takes Microsoft far longer to acknowledge vulnerability.'

How much longer? 'In the last reporting period, the second half of last year, Microsoft had acknowledged 13 vulnerabilities. We've now revised it to 31. The difference is that now Microsoft has acknowledged these vulnerabilities.'"

David Frum's Diary on National Review Online

"The Miers nomination, though, is an unforced error. Unlike the Roberts's nomination, which confirmed the previous balance on the Court, the O'Connor resignation offered an opportunity to change the balance. This is the moment for which the conservative legal movement has been waiting for two decades--two decades in which a generation of conservative legal intellects of the highest ability have moved to the most distinguished heights in the legal profession. On the nation's appellate courts, in legal academia, in private practice, there are dozens and dozens of principled conservative jurists in their 40s and 50s unassailably qualified for the nation's highest court."

Strange days.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Statements by Sulzberger, Keller, and Miller on Her Release

These may be useful in looking at upcoming events.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Torvalds' Baby Comes of Age

"Hardware companies are selling more than $1 billion in servers to run Linux every quarter, while sales of servers running proprietary software continue to fall. And now, slowly but surely, Linux is making inroads on the desktop as well. According to IBM, 10 million desktops ran Linux in 2004 -- a 40% jump from a year ago."

Above provided for anyone becoming discouraged about that little "2004,56 being the year of the Linux desktop thing". I never believed it, but a lot of others did, and now they have to endure insult from mind-numed Windows users on Slashdot and other places. It will take time my son, use the force, and all that.

Wall Street to Newspapers: Screw the Journalism | Bayosphere

Daniel Schorr was asked on this mornings NPR wake-up program (I don't know the actual name of the show since I only hear a dozen or so minutes of it while I get dressed) what impact the Judy Miller release/testimony would have on on news reporting (if any).

I expected some long whiney speech about how democracy was doomed etc. But instead, Schorr surprised me by being succinct (paraphrasing): No doubt people will be more reluctant to talk to reporters "off the record" since now we know those comments can end up in court. This is partially a side effect of the fact that the American people just don't like us journalists very much at the moment.

That was all he had to say on the subject, and as is rarely the case, I agree with him. Furthermore I think the wound is for the most part self inflicted. It's true that the Internet has and is causing a sea change in the way the news is reported and analyzed. Some of this change is for the better, and some not.

It seems that two or three times a day in my Internet reading I find a mainstream journalist pointing out that blogger and other "Internet journalists" are sloppy in their reporting and are often doing little more than passing on rumors. More often than not, the very next article by said mainstream journalist contains those very same sloppy attributes.

The New York Times "journalist" who was caught in wholesale fictionalization of the news was not the first, but certainly an epoch-making case, and we have since had several more sensational cases, mostly concerning presidential politics, and now, bad reporting on a massive scale during the Katrina storm, and its aftermath. One of the "hi-lights" of the coverage in terms of hard facts was, I think, a lone network administrator, tending to a computer on a diesel generator, taking photos out the window of an office building in New orleans, mostly without comment.

So, as I see it, the ubiquity of the Internet and mainstream journalism's attempts at adapting to it have conspired to open the doors of a long-kept-secret sausage factory that is the news business. Of the masses of "ordinary people" doing their own Internet news shows of one form or another (blogging, pod-casting, vlogging), we see a lot of sloppy reporting, bad grammar, and outright misrepresentation of the news. As a percentage, there is more bad than good among the amateur efforts than among the professionals. This is to be expected.

Not so expected however is the poor showing among the so called professionals. Also not expected, is the fact that in some cases the top amateurs are as good as, if not better than the top professionals. I don't START my news reading with the New York Times or Washington Post, although I don't have those addresses blocked by my browser either. I'm more inclined to start with Slashdot, Drudge Report, Bloglines, Google news, in other words, aggregators of news (some automated some manually produced) and follow the links to (sometimes) original content in the MSM. More and more the MSM is pointing back out at the Internet, since, to a large extent, the MSM has been doing aggregation itself all along, we just didn't think of it that way.

Now the question that remains to be answered (although I think I've made up my mind) is: If I have to do my own quality analysis on a journalist by journalist basis to determine which ones are just REPORTING the news and which are cooking the books so to speak, is there any advantage for me to limit myself to the MSM sources? How much work do I actually save myself (given all the automation that comes into play) by using the MSM as a first filter on the news?

There is very little doubt in my mind that the business of news would be much better off today had it been run more like a business sooner. That implies more quality control, attention to customer feedback, and earlier adoption of new technologies. There are too many paid journalists out there who think themselves unique because they want to "change the world". I think they set their standards too high (or at least in the wrong place) in this. With that goal, one might better seek to be a researcher in medicine or physics, a politician, or even a computer hacker from Finland. I'd rather see an emphasis in journalism to "seek the truth and report it as found." If the news business had placed a greater emphasis on that for the past 20 or so years I think they would be faring better now.

RED HERRING | Yahoo Adds Business Columnists

"The Internet portal company tapped Ben Stein, David Bach, Robert Kiyosaki, Suze Orman, and Jeremy Siegel, among others, to continue its foray into the world of original online journalism. The company expects to add 21 more writers to its stable of columnists for its Yahoo Finance site."

Friday, September 30, 2005

Palm's embrace of Windows for Treo clouds future of Palm OS - Computerworld

"Following the announcement, Gartner Inc. issued a report recommending that corporate users 'make no further investments in Palm OS Treos for enterprise applications.' The new device will enable Palm to compete more effectively against Research In Motion Ltd.'s BlackBerry and the growing number of handhelds based on Windows Mobile 5.0, Gartner said in the report."

Nail, meet coffin.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Rocketboom Covers SecondLife

Microsoft and Veritas start 'continuous' backup battle | The Register

"Veritas, however, would really seem to own at least the marketing lead here. It's the Windows backup king and focuses solely on making tape and disk backups better for its customers."

Well, not for long I'm sure. Microsoft likes to dine on its partners. Bye bye Veritas, I never liked you very much anyway!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Microsoft Monitor: Look Out, Outlook

"Microsoft would be oh-so happy, if developers added everything but the kitchen sink (that, too, if it would fit in your computer) to Outlook. The e-mail/calendaring/contact management/forms application is on Microsoft's turn-it-into-a-development-platform hit list and has been for a long time. And there is plenty of software that plugs into Outlook. I've got nothing against the platform approach, as long as the basics work right. Considering e-mail is one of Outlook's core functions, there's not much leeway for problems with its basic functions, like sending or receiving e-mail. If Microsoft really wants to make Outlook into a development platform, the core features need to work right."

Hmmm maybe not a shill after all.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Is Microsoft becoming “statesman-like”?, asks Winer - Microsoft Weblog

Winer's original posting.

My thoughts:

I think Winer's point may be valid even if he picked bad examples. For one thing, Ford is a privately held company, and Carter was not a particularly successful President, even though he seems to have been trying to re-invent himself ever since. GE was probably a good example though, they are extremely diversified, and influential.

Microsoft, on the other hand, considering its success, is one of the least diversified companies on earth. I'll give you half credit for the Xbox (hey it's really just a PC) and the MS mouse?, really now, who are you kidding?

I don't think Microsoft will ever be able to expunge the fact that it was IBM that "standardized" the PC, which is why there is no longer a Radio Shack/Tandy PC, or a Texas Instruments PC, or an Altair or Imsai PC, and so on. IBM made a PC that COULD be cloned, and did not much about people who cloned it. They did nothing to stop people from running other operating systems on it or using it for purposes they had not envisioned. As an IBM stockholder you could criticize them for not exerting enough control over the architecture, but if you think it through you have to conclude that any more control on their part would have just caused some other architecture to be more successful in the long run. And with MS stock flat-lining as far back as most people (these days) can remember, it's that long run that MS (and ITS stockholders) should be thinking about.

Ford, come to think of it DID invent the mass produced car. But I bet its financial troubles have more to do with its relationship with autoworkers unions and their pension plans than it has to do with the fact that Ford doesn't get 20% of every car manufactured in the world. That gets right to the heart of Microsoft's situation, because Microsoft has no moral right to a percentage of the sale price of every PC sold in the world either. There is no right and certainly no rationality in Microsoft expecting that obeisance be paid to them every time someone flips on their PC or TV set or game console for that matter. If that were the case then Boeing would be making all the world's airplanes and Ford would be making all the world's cars and Jimmy Carter, no, make that Gerald Ford, would still be President of the US. Like any individual, reputation gets you in the door, but what you say afterward can wind your applause or respectfully mumbled mockery.

As someone who spent thousands of dollars of my own money on Microsoft products when others were "borrowing" copies from the office I've gone from someone who was completely sold on Microsoft products as indispensable to computer usage to someone who doesn't use a single Microsoft product at all. I remember reading in Bill Gates own words how the Windows API (the first time I had ever seen the term used) would standardize peripheral use and make it easier for more programs to work seamlessly together. That all came true, although, conceptually the API was nothing new, mainframe OSs had been masking the differences between multiple peripherals for a long time.

What also came true was that the Windows API, and other Microsoft APIs that followed became weapons of control which allowed other software companies to grow in the shadow of Microsoft, but only to grow so big, and only in certain directions without being enveloped or extinguished.

I think those days are, for the most part, over. We all know what a TV set looks like, and what it does. The same goes for airplanes, cars, refrigerators and toasters. But what kind of world would it be if Boeing made all airplanes, Ford made all cars or if GE made all TVs, refrigerators, and toasters? Well, it would be a pretty good world for Boeing, Ford and GE wouldn't it? But that's not the world we live in. Other companies make those things, and other countries feel it is in their best interest if those things are made by their own companies too. That diversification of products is, and WILL continue to be the way of the world. It isn't even conceivable that an exception will be made for the PC or the operating system that runs it. There is no product whether simple like the paper clip, or complex like the Space Shuttle that has reached such a stage of perfection that everyone worldwide uses the same thing. The Space Shuttle, in particular, serves as a perfect example of what Windows, coupled with the Intel architecture has become: Entrenched, bureaucratic, expensive, overly complex and failure prone.

The party's over. All is not lost for Microsoft by any means, but the falling-off-a-log-easy road to success is behind them and what is ahead looks like hard work. Frankly, I don't think it is something that Microsoft or its founders have much of an appetite for. I've always said that Ford would be better off it it were more widely held. All or most decisions would not be left up to the Ford family. The same is true of Microsoft, while it is publicly traded, it is long overdue for the founders to magnanimously move on to bigger and better things. Look at what Paul Allen has done with his winnings. True genius is being able to succeed over and over rather than just being able to defend a once won position. For the leaders of Microsoft, they need to learn the difference between going on offense and being offensive. Better yet, they need to move on and let others work, and it will be work, to keep the parts of the old Microsoft viable.