Saturday, April 29, 2006

Get Me the Soap


I think I like this one better.

And these two, that didn't seem to make the top five:

Wheee - Google Video

Winner of the contest. Well, it's cute.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Fanzines, fantasies, and facts | Paul Murphy |

"'Science', as Richard Feynman said, 'is what we have learned about how not to fool ourselves' -and that description puts big media firmly in the anti-science camp because they spend most of their time fooling themselves first and us afterward."

Permanent SOLUTION for the WHINE issue.

Oh the discussions on Apple's "support" forums are heating up, along with those CPUs I guess:

UserA: Hey!! Delete these files and edit this system file and change some numbers and the whining stops!

UserB: Should we wait for Apple to come out with a fix?

UserC: Apple says that it is SUPPOSED to whine and is "within specs", so why would they fix it?

UserD: Well, the noise my laptop is making isn't within MY specs, if I can't get it to stop I'm selling the darned thing.

UserE: I tried it and it reduced my battery life by a third! This is no good!

UserA: Go away!

UserE: Well, after all the advantage of this new chip is longer battery life isn't it?

UserF: I tried it and it doesn't work.

UserA: You must have done something wrong.

UserC, D, G, H, I.... Well we tried it and it doesn't work for us either!

UserA: Oh.

UserX: Well I hope they can make WiFi work again, this thing is useless without wireless.

and so on.

This reminds me of course of discussions surrounding the flakiness of the iBook I got a few years ago. I finally gave up on it, although I loved the look and feel of the thing, often preferring to use it over faster machines with larger screens. I gave up waiting for Apple to do anything about it, along with a lot of other people. But I guess a few people took it to court or something, becuase last year they replaced the innards of my machine, and it has been fine ever since.

So, take heart you MacBook Pro users, in four or five years that thing will be humming like new. Maybe I could have worded that better.

Hubble captures the shattering of a comet

Some media outlets are so obsessed with video that they will make a "video" out of three or four stills, and make you sit through a comercial to see them. PoS CNN, PoS. And I still don't think they got that lens cleaned on the Hubble, but its fate is a hidden agenda for the anti-Bush crowd at CNN who are more into politics than science.

Intel to offer new architecture every two years | Reg Hardware

"Each new microarchitecture, he said, would be developed by separate design teams working in parallel and with specific process technology in mind. The goal: to win back the design leadership many observers and, judging by Otellini's words, Intel itself feel it has lost to AMD. "

This must be the "roadmap" that Jobs has recently been going on and on about. Great news for hardware companies that want to "churn" their customer base. What's that you say? These new "architectures" are still all compatible with all the previous architectures? Yeah, funny that. I used to think architecture meant something different (really). I guess I was wrong, it really means a faster bus and 3 new instructions that won't get into the compilers for 5 years.

Divorce courts are busy, planets are realigning, whatever metaphor you care to use. Microsoft stopped being a useful vehicle for Intel to force upgrades on their users. So they are going it alone, with a little, truly little, help from Apple. Meanwhile, Microsoft interestingly positions itself to leave Intel altogether if they can make the Xbox take off. Expect to read that as a Cringley or Dvorak prediction in a year or so.

Meanwhile, guessing that Apple might buy Adobe is not a bad way out of the predicament these companies (all of them, I'm not just picking on one) find themselves in. Who IS your daddy Adobe? You haven't really been all that loyal to Apple, preferring instead to just chase the money in the Windows empire, but now that Windows will include its own PDF style functionality they sure haven't cut you and slack have they?

Then again, Apple may abandon software altogether, or just go with software and abandon hardware, or may just sell iPods, or may go all media and merge with Disney. Who knows, who cares?

Good news is for consumers, and the Chinese of course, because us Americans can't be bothered with how all this technology works beyond the high level design, as long as they put US keyboards on the middle 20 percent or so the the gadgets they turn out we'll be happy, even if some of the "inovative" companies (see post below) here in the US of A aren't quite so happy in the long run.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Dare Obasanjo aka Carnage4Life

"The culture of bragging about dubious innovations likely springs from the need to distinguish yourself from the pack in a reward culture that takes dog-eat-dog to another level. Either way, do me a favor. Stop calling your new features innovations. They aren't."

only this, and nothing more: More Developers != More Features

"It gets worse. At least at the time I left (6 months ago), I saw very little evidence that the management of these failed projects was getting any kind of a slap on the wrist. The problem is that in an org that large with that my dependencies, it was impossible to tell which team was actually mismanaged, and which team just was dragged down by the other mismanaged teams."

Hmmm, something which might apply to many companies, projects, and especially to governments eh BP?

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Microsoft faces its Scopes moment | The Register

"But a decision by the judges to throw out the EC decision will affect regulatory interventions for years to come. Microsoft will have proved, by reductio ad absurdum, that it is impossible to effectively police a software monopoly. Microsoft will have won a permanent, government-blessed shield from the rigors of the market. Legislation designed to check an unfair monopoly will have been successfully used to protect the monopolist's business.

This is even better for Microsoft, and you can see why it's fighting so hard to achieve this outcome. It prefers to pay lawyers, and public relations bloggers, rather than give engineers the scope to innovate, because the outcome is so potentially lucrative."

My Virtual Life

Nice article about SecondLife, who must have some of the best PR people in the business considering how often they show up in mainstream publications

The Great Microsoft Blunder

"But Microsoft buys the fear. It must have some of the lowest corporate self-esteem for any dominant company in the history of modern business. The company is like the panicky old woman wondering how she lost a penny in her purse while giving exact change in the express line at the grocery store. Hey lady, you are holding things up!"

The PC, more than ever a step in the wrong direction.

More and more lately when I go to the grocery store people are checking themselves out without the help of a cashier. RFID devices could get us to the point where we just roll our cart up to the checkout place and are immediately presented with the bill.

Here is wisdom.

When I got out of computer science school many years ago I saw my job as (among other things) putting rooms full of people with adding machines out of work. I didn't lose any sleep over this, because I knew that this wouldn't happen over night. Most of those adding machine people would find other work, some of them would retire, some of them would die. It's very hard to make a case for doing things less efficiently when the option to do them more efficiently is before us.

This progress continued, and has continued over the years so that many other things (like running cash registers) can now be done by computers and their programs.

But a lot of regression has also taken place. Computers are used for so many things now, and some of those things are of questionable value (to me). It seems more and more that we have circled the barn and now we simply have rooms full of people with PCs on their desks instead of calculators. Furthermore, those PCs are a lot more difficult to maintain than the calculators were. The calculators were "plug and play" devices, while the computers only claim to be so.

I've worked in organizations where there were rooms full of people "repairing" PCs that no longer worked and that often meant re-installing software or vacuuming dust-bunnies out of the interior, and I think to myself "have we really made things better in the long run?"

I think of the last place I worked where there are dozens of programmers, and when you add in the QA people, documentations specialists and people that coordinate their activities, we are into the hundreds. That doesn't include those "repair" people, or the network administrators, or the guys that run cables from cubicle to cubicle, or wheel replacement PCs around on carts, nor does it include the people who go into the field to install the application (which is the farthest thing in the world from "plug and play"). And what does this incredibly complex system do? It keeps track of lists of people names and addresses and various other and sundry bits of information about them. That's it. There is no accounting aspect, or banking component, no artificial intelligence, no medical diagnosis, no space shuttle launch subsystem. Thousands of people to do dead simple stuff, that if it had to be done on bits of paper using pencils and typewriters could probably be done with fewer total resources.

While "we" in the computer industry have done a great number of things to save people time and energy we have more than made up for it in the time and energy wasting infrastructure that "we" claim is needed to accomplish it all.

The computer industry is way overdue for a re-think, or maybe it's a think that should have happened in the first place but didn't in our enthusiasm to have a computer on every flat surface on the planet. Steve Ballmer says we need a $100 PC. Bill Gates says that the computer is the network. Larry Ellison said that the PCs days are numbered, and hundreds of wealthy Open Source advocates running their own businesses agree that software should be free. So where is the disconnect between what these people say and how they make their living? Is there some mysterious "invisible hand" of technology that defeats the average user's desire for simplicity as well as the best efforts of these captains of industry? Or are they just lying to us?

My observation over the years is that hardware keeps getting better and better, by leaps and bounds, but software continues to get worse. Software has gotten bigger, slower, and harder to use in many respects. We have traded simplicity and efficiency for more color schemes and options we never use or use rarely. We accept without questioning that machines take minutes, or at best many seconds just to "start", more time still to "shut down" and much more time in-between to be updated, scanned, cleaned, defragged and ultimately re-installed. While an off the shelf department store home stereo component today boasts better specs than a similar device costing thousands of dollars in the 60s, we haven't quite seen the same evolution in computing. Yes, the hardware has gotten cheaper and better by whatever detailed measurement you care to apply to it, but those improvements have been more than gobbled up by the complexity and fragility of the software running on it. For too many people, using computers has gotten harder, less rewarding and more expensive.

Which of us are part of the solution, and which are part of the problem either by participation in an industry with no clear direction or by a careless disregard for how we spend our time and money? When I see those totally automated check-out machines I get a good feeling about what technology can do. But more and more as I watch and hear about people struggling with their computers I am reluctant to admit that I ever had anything to do with their proliferation.

The solutions seem so obvious to me, but more and more I don't think people I used to work with even see a problem and people just growing up with what we have don't even have a clue what progress was being made before the "PC revolution.",39025945,60047613p-39000428q,00.htm,289142,sid19_gci959362,00.html

Monday, April 24, 2006

How Microsoft can shut down Mini-Microsoft

"Buying Microsoft products sucks. Sucks ass. Sucks like a sucky thing that fell out of a sucky tree, hit every sucky branch on the way down, and landed on a black hole, and was sucked in."

The comments can still be funny even if heavily censored. Has anyone on the Internet invented a Microsoft angstometer yet? It must be peging the needle these days.

Microsoft Word's Hidden Tags Reveal Once-Anonymous Peer Reviewers

"The American Chemical Society uses a software package from ScholarOne called Manuscript Central. 'It's our understanding that they've totally solved this problem,' said Cheryl Shanks, vice president and director of editorial office operations at ACS Publications. 'We've been aware of this since we first implemented online submission.'"

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Some Mac Resellers Preinstalling Windows XP

"ExperCom is touting a $2,029 MacBook Pro with Windows XP Home pre-loaded; the price is just $35 above the Apple price for the portable. Meanwhile,,, and -- all three part of Torrance, Calif.-based PC Mall -- list MacBook Pro, iMac, and Mac mini machines with XP Home or XP Professional installed. Windows XP Home bumps up the usual price of the computer by $100, while XP Professional costs an additional $150."

All part of Apples "plan". Uh-huh uh-huh.

Some Mac Resellers Preinstalling Windows XP

"ExperCom is touting a $2,029 MacBook Pro with Windows XP Home pre-loaded; the price is just $35 above the Apple price for the portable. Meanwhile,,, and -- all three part of Torrance, Calif.-based PC Mall -- list MacBook Pro, iMac, and Mac mini machines with XP Home or XP Professional installed. Windows XP Home bumps up the usual price of the computer by $100, while XP Professional costs an additional $150."

Oh yeah, Apple be in control of this, uh-huh uh-huh.

Some Mac Resellers Preinstalling Windows XP

"ExperCom is touting a $2,029 MacBook Pro with Windows XP Home pre-loaded; the price is just $35 above the Apple price for the portable. Meanwhile,,, and -- all three part of Torrance, Calif.-based PC Mall -- list MacBook Pro, iMac, and Mac mini machines with XP Home or XP Professional installed. Windows XP Home bumps up the usual price of the computer by $100, while XP Professional costs an additional $150."

Oh yes, Apple is in control of this, sure they are. Cluck cluck.

Web 2.1 server-side blink tag demonstration

"The server-side blink tag works by using a timed AJAX request, to let a Web 2.1 compatible server update the client document so that the blinking text is turned invisible. This request also triggers another timed AJAX request, which allows the server to restore the blinking text after the requested delay."


"Note: if you did not see the blinking text above, it means that your browser is not compliant with the Web 2.1 standards. An easy way of checking whether your browser is standards compliant is to check whether the installation files for your browser were smaller than 50MB, or the run-time memory usage is less than 300MB. If this is the case, you should download a more recent browser to get the full Web 2.1 experience."

So why did they take away the blink tag anyway? And don't say that it was because it was annoying. If that were the case I can think of many more things that should be "deprecated" first.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Scobleizer - Microsoft Geek Blogger � Wow is it friday already?

"I have had to use another machine and access my email account via the internet in order to send this message I would therefore be very grateful if you could do something to help. Sending me off to a third party is not what I require right now."

Oh my.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Cringely - Native Speaker

"I'm told Apple has long had this running in the Cupertino lab -- Intel Macs running OS X while mixing Apple and XP applications. This is not a guess or a rumor, this something that has been demonstrated and observed by people who have since reported to me."


Paul Thurrott: Windows Vista Review, Part 5: Where Vista Fails

"So what went wrong? What didn't go wrong? When Bill Gates revealed in mid-2003 that he was returning to his roots, so to speak, and spending half of his time on what was then still called Longhorn, we should have seen the warning signs. Sadly, Gates, too, is part of the Bad Microsoft, a vestige of the past who should have had the class to either formally step down from the company or at least play just an honorary role, not step up his involvement and get his hands dirty with the next Windows version. If blame is to be assessed, we must start with Gates. He has guided--or, through lack of leadership--failed to guide the development of Microsoft's most prized asset. He has driven it into the ground."

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Hyped Web Stories Are Irrelevant (Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox)

"The most important story of them all gets almost no hype: we're seeing more and more simple websites that meet customers' needs and thus generate substantial business value. Often the sites that do nothing special are the best: it's more important to focus on doing basic things right than to chase the latest fad."

Microsoft extends Visual Studio handout program | The Register

"Microsoft is embracing the free tools concept as a way to drive uptake of its software, announcing an entry-level edition of Visual Studio that will be available permanently at no cost."

But will it run on Linux? - Intel Net Sinks, Weak Outlook Reflects Challenges

"Intel Corp. reported a 38% drop in first-quarter profit and predicted continued weak demand for its computer chips in the current period.

The semiconductor giant's gloomy outlook wasn't much of a surprise, and Intel's stock rose slightly in after-hours trading. But analysts remain divided on whether the company will mount a meaningful comeback in the second half."

Well, thank goodness for those new Apple computer then huh?

Monday, April 17, 2006 - Microsoft Security Update Introduces Glitch

"Microsoft Corp. declined to say how many people were affected by the problem, but said its scope appeared limited, and it didn't appear to affect corporate networks. The security bulletin was designed to fix several Internet Explorer security vulnerabilities."

Yes, I've heard that IE is a lot more secure when it can't be launched. Keep up the good work MS.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Scobleizer - Halfway through my blog vacation (change in comment policy)

It looks like the "Naked Conversation" has been told to put on a suit and tie...

"It was that moment that I decided to moderate my comments here. Yes, I am now approving every comment here. And I will delete any that don't add value to either my life or the lives of my readers."

Well, this may be the best thing for you personally, health-wise, and all that, but I think it will make your blog much less compelling. Although I often disagreed with what you said, I checked here often, both for the rousing debates, and the occasional interesting link. Many people, such as myself are not interested in a monologue, particularly from on-high at Microsoft, and there are lots of forums for us to express our point of view.

PS: I have a feeling they are making an exception in your case, but normally Second Life has a very strict policy about allowing children on the adult grid, or adults on the kids grid. There are some very good reasons for this, and I hope you will apply some common sense about it, even if the rules aren't being enforced in your case (and in my opinion there should be NO exceptions).

Cringely - Easy DOS It

"Where Dvorak is wrong is he believes Microsoft's version of the story -- that Apple will abandon OS X, at least for business, replacing it with Windows Vista. After all, isn't that what this Boot Camp stuff is all about, enabling the choice of OSX or Windows?

Not really.

The version of Boot Camp that will ship with OS X 10.5 will likely be very different from the version people are playing with today. The actual shipping version, I predict, will have full OS virtualization so that both operating systems can run side-by-side and a user can cut and paste data from one to the other. "

My money is on Dvorak. Everyone keeps insisting that Apple had a PLAN when they switched to Intel, I maintain that there was no plan. They (Apple) don't make PCs any more (they pay other companies to make them), and by having an oddball processor and an oddball motherboard to run it on they felt they were at a price disadvantage (and this is certainly true, even thought the PowerPC chips may have been less expensive all by themselves).

SO: they decided to be just another generic PC clone, except with a fancy designer exterior (after all, thats all most Apple fans pay any attention to anyway).

Now the analysts can argue for the next six months about whether Apple KNEW that people would be able to run Windows on the thing or not. They can also argue about whether they plan to allow running Windows programs in some virtual mode.

BUT: in any of the cases that fall out of the above arguments, the fact remains that long-time Apple supporters like Adobe (to name the most important one) are very likely to get lazy about continued support of OS X. Adobe is already being very vague about how late they are going to be with Intel/OS X binaries, and in the past, when Adobe is vague about something, or only half heartedly promising it (Adobe Atmosphere for one example, promise to release all future software for Windows and OS X simultaneously for another) the project/concept ultimately gets canned. I think once there is even a single major defection such as this the rest will follow in a stampede. We are not on new ground here, this is exactly what happened with OS/2 and OS/2 had a lot more in common with Windows than OS X does. OS/2 ran Windows programs from day one, and ran them (as their slogan went) "better than Windows." All the more reason not to write programs for OS/2, or so the thinking apparently went among ISVs, driver makers, etc.

This is what is going to happen. If this is also what Apple has planned, then I wonder what they are smoking. The switch to Intel was either a stupid plan, or the plan was simply incorrect about what the outcomes would be (which I guess is the same as saying that it is a stupid plan).

Now, unless someone wants to put another PowerPC into a laptop the hardware wars (in consumer space anyway) is between Intel, and Intel2 (AMD) and innovation stands a good chance of grinding to a halt again, which is where big established companies like it to be.

Hopefully innovation will continue in software, with Linux running a tortoise style race against Microsoft's three ton lead weight. OS X which was beginning to share too many closed source properties with Windows may be an ultimate casualty, but at this point, who cares?

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Virtualization for security

"Underneath, however, your virtualization software, coupled with the powerful networking ability of Linux, will make your life infinitely easier. If a you receive a phone call that a problem has developed on Bob's 'Windows computer' in legal, just use SSH to run a script that closes the virtualization software, blows away or backs up the damaged Windows image so that you can review it, and then copies a master copy of the Windows VM from your server. In just a few minutes Bob will be back up and running, and he'll never know how easy you have it."

AMD's Pacifica revealed in full

"Pacifica has an advantage in that the AMD64 architecture, as implemented on the K8 family of chips, all have a memory controller on the CPU. This allows Pacifica to pull some tricks, and those tricks are found in two new memory modes called Shadow Page Tables and Nested Page Tables. Both allow Pacifica to do in hardware much of what VT needs to do in software."

NewsForge | Why technical writers aren't using FOSS

"Most important of all, many tech writers are more tolerant of the shortcomings of proprietary software than of FOSS. Kim-Eng sees a similar trend in both FOSS and proprietary software, yet while it keeps him from using FOSS, it does not discourage him from using proprietary software. In the same way, few experienced technical writers would expect to learn FrameMaker overnight, but, when they have trouble finding a feature in Writer, they jump to the conclusion that it isn't there -- although it almost always is, unless it's online collaboration tools. Moreover, a few perceived flaws in Writer or perhaps a beta release can cause them to reject it, although they will go to great lengths to find workarounds for problems in Word. For many tech writers, the unspoken assumption is still that FOSS is inferior to proprietary software. As a result, they do not approach it with anything like the same willingness to learn."

I find this true in general. Regardless of whether "tech", "programmer" or "analyst" is in the job title, more and more people these days have no actual interest in technology. If adding columns of numbers by hand paid more, they would be just as happy (maybe happier) doing that.

I think this is often confusing for those of us who are interested in technology and what the possibilities are. We are a smaller minority than we know.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Apple - Support - Discussions - boot camp hosed my os x partition ...

Apple switch to Intel causing users to dump OS X for Windows!

SCTV Guide - News and information for all things SCTV

Love this stuff!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Firefox Flicks: Drama Queen

Boot Camp users reporting serious crashes | | CNET

"To be precise, the common crisis is that after partitioning their hard drives and installing Windows XP--which seems to work fine--these people find they can no longer boot back into OS X."

That sneaky Microsoft has outsmarted poor Apple AGAIN!

� APL, COBOL, & Dijkstra | Paul Murphy |

He said APL!

Monday, April 10, 2006

Games Toaster: Xbox 360: Streaming music over Live may breach laws

Live could possibly be seen as the music-streaming-equivalent of web torrents, not providing the content, but a means of distribution. Even if royalties organisation, such as the IMRO, ignored Live at first, if Microsoft was to grow the format to their ambitious targets could the music industry afford to ignore the issue?

Is our DRM ridden Internet economy come down with a case of what old-time doctors used to call "consumption"?

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Cringely - A Whole New Ball Game

"The crying shame of this whole story is that Microsoft has given up on Windows security. They have no internal expertise to solve this problem among their 60,000-plus employees, and they apparently have no interest in looking outside for help. I know any number of experts who could give Microsoft some very good guidance on what is needed to fix and secure Windows. There are very good developers Microsoft could call upon to help them. But no, their answer is to rebuild your system every few days and start over. Will Vista be any better?"

You read it here first. Hehe.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Kaspersky warns of cross-platform virus proof of concept - Computerworld

"Though rare, this is not the first instance of such a virus appearing in the wild. In 2001, the sadmind/ISS worm exploited a hole in Sun Microsystems Inc.’s Solaris to infect systems running vulnerable versions of the operating system. Infected systems then scanned for and attacked servers running Microsoft Corp.’s IIS Web server software. That same year, another proof-of-concept virus named Winux infected both Windows and Linux systems."

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Mac Users Awaken from Stupor

"This added capability, however, may cause most uncertainty to current Mac game developers who have always had an uphill battle in providing timely ports to the Mac platform. Some fear that bringing Windows XP booting ability to the Intel Macs may reduce incentive to produce for the Mac-specific market."

Well DUH!

Ya think?

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

From Boot Camp to Legacy API? An Apple timeline | The Register

December 2008:Microsoft announces a $200m investment in the Legacy Products Division of Apple Entertainment Products Inc, formerly Apple Computer Inc, and now a $20 billion a year company. "We have supported Apple for 25 years and are happy to do so again," says Microsoft chairman Bill Gates. "This reaffirms Microsoft's commitment to healthy competition in the PC marketplace".

I'm not sure if this was meant to be funny, but it seems perfectly likely to me.

And then there is this:
Solaris x86 experience predicts security disaster for Mactel

Wired News: Laptop Detractors Shrugged Off

"Negroponte expressed frustration with Gates in particular, saying that the $100 laptop designers are still working with Microsoft to develop a version of the Windows CE operating system that could run the machines.

'Geez, so why criticize me in public?' Negroponte said.

Microsoft did not immediately return calls for comment."

And when they do it will probably go something like this: "But, uh, umm, how much of the $100 do WE get? Oh, and can we put our logo all over it?"

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Microsoft Says Recovery from Malware Becoming Impossible

"Danseglio said malicious hackers are conducting targeted attacks that are 'stealthy and effective' and warned that the for-profit motive is much more serious than even the destructive network worms of the past. 'In 2006, the attackers want to pay the rent. They don't want to write a worm that destroys your hardware. They want to assimilate your computers and use them to make money.

'At Microsoft, we are fielding 2,000 attacks per hour. We are a constant target, and you have to assume your Internet-facing service is also a big target,' Danseglio said."

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Prisoner of Redmond

"Four years later, when Microsoft had left New Mexico for offices in a bank building in Bellevue, Washington, and Jack Sams came from IBM looking for an operating system for the secret Project Acorn -- the IBM PC -- Allen was still the guy in charge. Sams mistook Gates for the office assistant. Though both Gates and Ballmer took part in those first talks with IBM, Sams recalled that the authority figure was definitely Paul Allen."