Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Google at work on desktop Linux | The Register

"Google has confirmed it is working on a desktop linux project called Goobuntu, but declined to supply further details, including what the project is for.

It's possible that it's just one of the toys Googleplex engineers play with on Fridays, when they get time off from buffing the search engine code or filtering out entries about Tiananmen Square.

It could be for wider deployments on the company's own desktops, as an alternative to Microsoft, but still for internal use only.

But it's possible Google plans to distribute it to the general public, as a free alternative to Windows."

Monday, January 30, 2006

Congress caught making false entries in Wikipedia | News.blog | CNET News.com

"We already know, of course, that politicians live primarily for re-election and typically view the truth as an impediment to the higher purpose of unfettered self-aggrandizement."

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Mercury Computer Systems : PowerBlock 200 System

Just think. This could have been the next Apple computer. If they just had stuck with the PowerPC.

No, really it could. Just needs a bit o paint.

Friday, January 27, 2006

WSJ.com - AOL to Offer Broadband With Phone, Cable Firms


About bloody time!

A hands-on look at the new MacBook Pro - Computerworld

"First, I should say up front that I don’t know whether the model I had in my hands was a prototype or an example of the final product, which is due to ship officially next month.

Having said that, I can tell you this laptop is fast. Really fast. I am hesitant to say it’s exponentially faster than the G4 version, but subjectively, this baby cooks."

Oh why not go for the moon?!

SURE it's exponentially faster (in binary).

'scuse me while I cancel my Computerworld subscription.

Those who don't have to worry about how they spend their money have already ordered one. Those who like to wait and see should not be taking advice from columnists that do little other than quote Apple press releases. "Hands on evaluation" indeed.

I'll keep my eyes on the Apple forums


and HERE,

even though I've already got my sights set on an AMD dual-core machine sometime in the next year or so. Time is on the side of anyone who has a computer less than 3 years old.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

A Virtual Tour of Salem Radio Seattle

Using Linux. Cool.

Senators in Need of a Spine

NYT in need of a brain: "Judge Alito's refusal to even pretend to sound like a moderate was telling because it would have cost him so little. Chief Justice John Roberts Jr., who was far more skillful at appearing mainstream at the hearings, has already given indications that whatever he said about the limits of executive power when he was questioned by the Senate has little practical impact on how he will rule now that he has a lifetime appointment."

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Yahoo! gives up quest for search dominance

"We don't think it's reasonable to assume we're going to gain a lot of share from Google," Chief Financial Officer Susan Decker said in an interview. "It's not our goal to be No. 1 in Internet search. We would be very happy to maintain our market share."


Monday, January 23, 2006

Intel Macs only one fourth, not four times faster - report | Reg Hardware

"So where does this fit in to Apple's future plans? With iPod revenues now matching computer revenues, the computer business is now far less important to Apple than it was. And more importantly, consumer music devices is where all the growth is.

Putting Intel Inside was never the smartest technical decision. But it makes it easier for Apple to move to a software licensing business for Mac OS X, or sell the computer business completely."


It's nice to know I'm not the only person on the planet that can see this. This may be one of the most satisfying "I-told-you-so"s in history (my history anyway). I'm looking forward to it. Thanks again Steve.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

LXer: Linux not standing in wait as Microsoft sinks its own ship

"Microsoft made big promises to Independent Software Vendors back in the days when MS bundled the stripped down version of Windows and DOS with every PC. To get everyone writing applications for him, Mr. Gates promised to never cross the line between applications and operating systems. So, companies like Lotus, WordPerfect, Act, Intuit and others banked on Mr. Gates word. Microsoft then turned around and squashed their loyal ISVs. That won't happen again."

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Coming soon: The Linux Macintel

"I'm sure we will see Windows running on a Mactel... someday. It may be when Vista finally shows up, since it should run with EFI, or perhaps when they get Virtual PC 8 out, but long, long before then, we'll be able to run Linux and Mac OS X on the same Mactel box. "

Thursday, January 19, 2006

WSJ.com - The iMac Gets a Brain Transplant

"The new model was actually a little faster at a few of the tasks we tried, but nothing like the two to three times as fast that Apple claims. A mainstream user who didn't know what was under the hood couldn't tell the difference between them, even after using them for hours. It appears that the faster chip roughly balances out the translation effect.

So, if the new model works only about as well as the old one, what's the advantage for consumers? Well, the slight, scattered, speed gains we saw should grow greater over time, as Apple and third-party software makers tweak their applications to take full advantage of the dual-core Intel chip. A year from now, an Intel iMac purchased today will likely be notably faster, if you update your software to newer versions."

BUT, as I have pointed out a billion times so far, if they had simply put the latest PowerPC processors in there, with double the speed memory and dual cores, these machines would be faster NOW.

Even Bill Gates, who has a good track record for being able to accurately predict things that have already happened has said that the "future" will see desktop machines with multiple processors. It wouldn't surprise me to find that someone within Microsoft is working on full Windows operability on the same Cell processors that power the Xbox and if this is so I'd be forced to applaud them (something I'm not used to doing) for at last giving users hardware choice again, not to mention the potential for much more bang for the buck than we have ever gotten from Intel.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Rocketboom - Excitement Gushes for MacWorld Keynote

Can Apple maintain all this enthusiasm as the Intel products continue to roll out?

(Watch this, and don't pay any attention to those silly stock prices!)

Ask Microsoft's Security VP

Microsoft HAS such a position? Thats the first thing that popped into my head as a saw this Slashdot article. next thing you know I was in fantasy-land, which is the only way to rationalize the continued existence of this company's products. Oh well, I don't get cable, never smoked cigarettes or played on a football team either. The world as it is was not meant for me to understand. Fiction is always a good substitute for reality, so I wrote...

Twilight Zone Script Idea:


Everyone at school wanted to intern at Microsoft, but with my grades, sending off the application was just to satisfy my parents that I wasn't goofing off all summer because I'm lazy. Just to be sure, I even bragged to them about how good I thought my chances were of landing that hight-tech starter job.

Nobody was more surprised than I was when I got an offer letter, not an interview appointment but an actual offer letter, complete with starting date. There must be some mistake, but I'd be foolish to not take advantage of it. For the next week my casual bragging about my prospects turned into an almost 24 hour a day orgy of self promotion. Everyone I knew and many I didn't know had to be told that I was now an elite employee of Microsoft, the company that INVENTED computing and was responsible for all modern technological advances, or at least so I thought at the time.

Which of course made it impossible for me to do anything but sign on the dotted line when I arrived at MS HQ to find that I was being employed for the summer as nothing more than a "mail-clerk" for two of the buildings containing the loftiest executives in the organization. Well, I rationalized I could always lie about the nature of the job to my friends and family, who would ever know.

Hard to believe in this day and age there would still be so much physical mail, especially directed at a high-tech company such as Microsoft. But there was. My first few days were just learning the process, and realizing that I'd be working some long hours as the company had no respect for "snail-mail" or those who had to deliver it, so one guy had to do the work of three or more, sorting the mail into bins and in the case of the higher-ups, actually carting it to their offices. At least I got to meet, on occasion, some famous people, maybe this would come in handy some day.

One odd thing was that there was a particular hallway that seemed to be largely deserted. At the head of the hallway was a locked door with no name on it, but the title "VP: Microsoft Security Technology Unit". Outside the door were stacks of mail, so high they were tumbling into the hallway pretty much blocking it to my cart, but as there were no occupied offices further along the hall it made no difference. Still, I tried to neaten it up a bit for the first few days.

Then it started to get to me. Why didn't this guy read his mail? Or if he was on a long vacation or something, why not have a secretary collect it for him?

I got one of the largest mail sacks we had and collected most of the pile into it, but there was more than it would hold. This stuff must have been collecting for months, years maybe. Finally I tracked down the admin person who might have a key to that office. At least we could pile the sack and remaining mail inside rather than have it clutter up the hall.

I really had surprised myself in that I had started to take some pride in my lowly job. The admin, who was rather cute, and not much older than I was I'd guess wasn't nearly so enthused. Fortunately though her master key was close at hand and she didn't seem to have anything better to do the second time I asked her about cleaning up the mess. After all I was willing to do all the work, I just needed her to open the door. On the way up the elevator she mentioned that she had never heard of the fellow who's name appeared on most of these envelopes and magazines. She had also never heard of the "Security Technology Unit", much less knew that they had a Vice President that went with them. "They must all travel a lot" I quipped, knowing that this was the only empty hall in the building. As we rounded the corner to the hallway she added "For sure", with a look on her face that told me she had never been up here before either to see this locked office or the two dozen empty ones beyond it.

"Well it would be nice to have this resolved" I was thinking as she opened the door and we both gagged at the odor that wafted out, but no sooner had I thought this than she knocked me over as she ran past me screaming. I held my breath and stood up to take a look, but was soon heading for the buildings exit myself. I would never return to that job. Status or not, I couldn't get the thought of that decaying pile of bones out of my mind, nor would I ever find out how a company could get so large as to not notice a deceased member in its own ranks. Maybe this guy had has a heart attack on his first day and never gotten around to filling that long hall with staff. I wondered what the "Security Technology Unit" was supposed to be doing, and how anyone could fail to notice that whatever it was supposed to be doing probably wasn't getting done.

I blocked all this out of my mind though, and changed my major to History, before dropping out of school completely. I'd never have that high-tech job I used to long for, because I never could bring myself to use a personal computer on a regular basis, particularly one running products from Microsoft.


Come to think of it, maybe it would be more suitable for "Thriller". They always had those ghastly surprise endings. Is Boris Karlof still around? Maybe he is doing security work at MS. That would be funny.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Yahoo falls 12% after missing forecasts

"Shares of Yahoo dropped heavily in after-market trading yesterday after the internet portal company announced adjusted earnings per share for the final quarter of last year that were 1 cent below stock market expectations."

The Mother of All CPU Charts 2005/2006 | Tom's Hardware

Mark's Sysinternals Blog: Rootkits in Commercial Software

"By now many of you have heard that Symantec released a security advisory last Tuesday that reported its use of rootkit-like cloaking technology in its SystemWorks product. The Symantec use of rootkit-like cloaking raises the question of what exactly defines a “rootkit” and whether or not there is ever a justifiable reason to use cloaking. I’ll first describe Symantec’s cloaking and then I’ll move on to trying to answer these two questions."

CSPI Calls on Journals to Strengthen Disclosure of Conflicts

"The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is calling on the editors of Science and Nature, the world�s two most prestigious science publications, to strengthen their conflict-of-interest disclosure policies. "

Monday, January 16, 2006

ARTICLE: Moon rocks stolen from vehicle in Virginia Beach (The Virginian-Pilot - HamptonRoads.com/PilotOnline.com)

"The rocks – grayish lumps – are not dangerous, but they are expensive. Lunar rocks are worth 10 times their weight in the highest-quality diamonds"

Let me get this straight...

We have these rocks, worth millions of dollars (assuming there were even a few ounces of them) that are given out to a group of people, who leave them in clearly marked containers ("VALUABLE DIAMONDS!") in the back seat of their car. OK, just wanted to make sure on that. I'm flummoxed.

Friday, January 13, 2006

IBM’s renewed Cell collaboration with Sony pressures Intel

"So do you imagine that Intel and Apple and IBM and even Billy G haven’t sat round the table and tried to figure out a strategy to foil the Japanese? The Xbox won’t stop the PS3, no matter how much Microsoft subsidises the wee beastie. There will be no Intel chip nestling in a future Playstation. The only hope it seems was for Big Blue to step into the breach and deal with the Japanese threat.

And so the staid old giant became the console king. Its dominance in that area will have led it to toss Apple’s fairly measly business in Intel's direction. But it will have chipmaker and its allies hounding after it now, as the battlelines are drawn up for the scrap to decide whose name sits on the convergence box par excellence."

NewsForge | NASA's Mars rovers blaze path for open source in space

"The Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity, controlled by ground systems that were among NASA's heaviest use of open source to date when launched in 2003, are still working on the Red Planet, long after their mission was slated to end.

After working nearly two years and traveling more than four kilometers -- compared to a scheduled mission of only three months and 600 meters -- the rovers have continued to extend beyond the space agency's original aspirations for them. The rovers' tracks are also a testament to open source, laying the groundwork for even more open source use in the US space agency's next generation of Martian movers, Jet Propulsion Laboratory senior computer scientist Jeff Norris told NewsForge."

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The Apple Store (U.S.) - MacBook Pro

"Mobile users will love the new power adapter featuring the MagSafe Connector — a magnetic DC plug that both ensures a tight connection and enables a clean break from the power port when there is undue tension. It prevents the MacBook Pro from being pulled off of a desk when the cord is accidentally tripped over, and it protects the power cord from wear and tear."

Nobody but a careless klutz would ever trip on their power cord and pull the laptop off a desk. Would they?

*whistles as I rock on my heels*

Well, this got my attention. Four times faster?! How can that be? Oh a dual processor and double the clock speed. Well there goes the Apple arguments that clock speed doesn't matter.

But I have to admit they got the price right (i.e. no increase over existing models). Or is it? I seem to remember my Powerbook (which works GREAT!) only started at $1500. Oh, but I got the 12 incher, which is no longer available. Nice trick Apple. Almost fooled me there for a bit. Even the press is saying the prices are the same, except of course, for those of us who would really rather have a smaller box.

My plan to get more or less the same capability is to get a dual core AMD chip in a laptop (these are already available by the way). That way I can be sure it will run Linux on day one. And, of course, the AMD machines start around a grand.

SEE!? Now the price comparisons are much easier. Why buy and Apple when I can get the same or better for less. I'm no longer confused by that old PowerPC mumbo-jumbo. Thanks Stevie!

Sunday, January 08, 2006

LXer: Microsoft and Abramoff: Influence in an Anti-Trust Outcome?

"As a news organization, we first reported back in June that we had suspicions that ties existed between Jack Abramoff and Microsoft. In today's report, we offer new information to show that over the course of two years, from 1998-99, Jack Abramoff received $560,000 to lobby on behalf of Microsoft and additional money for his efforts on behalf of the BSA.

Abramoff's guilty plea of last week helps us make our case and allows us to demonstrate our suspicions regarding Microsoft's ties to the Bush administration. The guilty plea also allows us to question whether Microsoft received favorable treatment by the Bush Justice department by paying Abramoff and his aides and partners, starting with Ralph Reed."


Maybe my memory is fuzzy but... Didn't the original judge in this case (Jackson wasn't it?) spout off to the press regarding his feelings about Microsoft while the facts in the case were supposedly still under consideration? My memory is that if he hadn't stepped down there was a good chance for a mistrial and Microsoft would have loved that. It is also my recollection that this all started to unravel before Bush took office. That is not to say that the Bush administration has been a friend of Open Source, they certainly haven't. But the problems that the Federal government has in this area are far more insidious than who is in the oval office.

I worked in government all during the Clinton administration and it was during that time that the Feds stopped allowing proposal documents to be submitted in WordPerfect format, or in fact any format other than Word. This was a huge boon for Microsoft as many companies (mine included) dumped every bit of non-Microsoft infrastructure in favor of the Microsoft equivalents. Sub-departments at Energy were told they could not continue running OS/2 even though they were delighted with it. I didn't stick around to see if they dumped Novel, but I'm sure they did. Was this all a conspiracy formed in the Clinton administration?

Sadly, our Federal bureaucracy is composed largely of non-technical managers who are way over their heads when it comes to these types of decisions. Offer the right person in a department a glass paperweight to use your stuff and likely all of his peers will follow, like lemmings, afraid to make an independent decision on anything.

What is needed here is legislation (and I agree that neither party seems to see this need as a priority). On top of the legislation, which would mandate a more competitive process for software engineering we need new blood in these entrench bureaucracies. I don't know how this will come about without firing some of the more clueless department heads, and I don't see any such thing coming down the pike. Our only hope is that some other countries will adopt Open Source and embarrass the hell out of us when it comes to productivity, security and (not often spoken of) the ability to control your own life-cycle methodologies independent of vendor planned obsolescence.

Anyway, I'm glad to see you reporting on this and it would be a great outcome if this scandal helped shed the light of day on bad software practices at the Fed.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Bonneville - Washington Post Deal Announced

"Did anyone at Bonneville actually consider what newspaper reporters, columnists and editors sound like on the radio? Most are awful, only a few may be airworthy.

And why should it be any other way? They spend their time writing, not speaking into a microphone.

In addition, because they'll still have deadlines to make, columns to write and sources to contact, one would imagine radio would be a distant second in terms of newsroom priorities. That leads to unfocused, rushed interviews."

That's alright. They don't spend THAT much time on writing those newpaper articles any more, now do they?

Fear, Complexity, Environmental Management in the 21st Century

Very good stuff by Michael Crichton.

Documentary On Japanese Sushi - Google Video


Friday, January 06, 2006

Poop Today? - Google Video

For some reason I find this extremely funny.

Shining Edit - Google Video

Sort of like the resemblance between what happens in the world and how the media reports it.


"Under California law, an exact copy of the source code for all ballot tally software must be placed in an escrow facility designated by the Secretary of State before a voting system can be certified for use in California. However, that source code is never revealed to the public. Using open source software will make the process more transparent because open source software, by definition, is open to public examination."

Thursday, January 05, 2006

NewsForge | My desktop OS: Xandros

"I've been using Xandros for over a year now and no longer consider it a grand experiment; it's just my desktop. Some say that Linux is not ready for the desktop and, for them, it may not be. However, for me, it's not only ready but it's the perfect OS for my job."

Ditto x 3 years (Debian). I think it has been more than a year since I have even booted Windows on any PC. I used to have two machines that had that option, but now only one. I intend to keep that running Windows only as a "guest" PC, although, for safety sake, I may do that in some form of virtual machine that can be instantly re-initialized. Congratulations go to Man of the Year for after 15 years of work, still having produced nothing more than a toy-OS that remains the butt of so much humor.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Microsoft inadverdently leaks WMF patch | CNET News.com

"The fix was briefly posted on a security community Web site, Debby Fry Wilson, a director in Microsoft's Security Response Center, said on Wednesday. Copies of the file have since been posted online elsewhere, but Microsoft recommends that customers wait for the final version in its monthly security release on Jan. 10, she said.

'It really was an inadvertent thing that happened,' Fry Wilson said. 'We have the security update on a fast track...(and) somebody accidentally posted a prerelease version on a community site. It has been taken down, and we don't recommend customers use it--it is not the version that we will be releasing on Tuesday.'"


Electronic voting machines must be open-sourced | WTN


Mark's Sysinternals Blog: The Antispyware Conspiracy

"Unfortunately, sleazy antispyware vendors aren’t just stopping with misleading banners and false infection reports. Either they, or partners that have a vested interest in sales of their products, are actually infecting machines so that users are essentially blackmailed into purchasing."

The Computer Appliance Myth

The only thing worse than one bad analogy is a dozen of them.

Computers can and have been made to look and act like appliances, and the only people who wouldn't desire such an eventuality are magazine editors and vendors of overpriced software (and hardware).