Monday, October 30, 2006

Commonsense Systems: Not!

But, hey, it's 2006. And surely I'm not the only person to have gotten married in, let us say, advanced middle age. I still use my maiden name for business and go by my husband's name for everything else. Especially when traveling with the kids--using different surnames on airplane tickets tends to make the Homeland Security guys very unhappy. And it's been a bit unhinging to have those little intimate talks in the side room with armed, unhappy people each time we travel together. (Happy vacation, kids! Pay no attention to that large man with the pistol!)

One day I notice that the last few places I worked for in my very long DP career had one thing in common even though they were totally different "industries". That thing was that as a central function of the system they had to keep very careful track of people as individuals. Now any business is likely to have lists of customers and potential customers and sending one person two copies of the same bill, or two ads is undesirable. No, I'm talking life or death here, medical records, tourist visas things like that. What surprised me was that there was no correlation between the importance of accurate identification and the care which went into solving the problem correctly.

People in some countries have very long names, and that has nothing to do with marriage, hyphenations, etc. Why is that last-name field 16 characters instead of 61 characters? I guarantee there is so much overhead in these databases these days that the extra space (especially if a variable length field) would make no difference from a storage point of view, and most databases actually perform BETTER with large numbers of distinct values than with many dupes. While the programmers and DBAs who don't have a clue are partly to blame, I think that MOST of the blame should go to the management of these organizations who don't even know how to ensure that fundamental business-rule objectives are being met.

Of course the fact that in some organization the concept of firing someone for incompetence is unknown doesn't help matters.

Yes it CAN be a problem when individuals are not consistent about how they identify themselves, but a lot of that problem goes back to restrictive rules about what a person's ID CAN actually be. We need to allow for long names, middle names (vs initials) and even multiple part names of more than 3. If you can design a system with check-boxes for "Mr", "Mrs", "Jr" and so on that's fine and dandy, but you have to allow for variations that you might not have thought of too and you have to have software that can cope with some of these inconsistencies, unless you want to hire rooms full of people to apply "artificial intelligence" to the problem. Based on the type of people they usually hire to do this, I suspect any computer solution will be better on average. That is *IF* they put enough space in the fields to capture all of the information.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Rutkowska: Anti-virus Software Is Ineffective

Of course, I'm still aware that it's not enough, as somebody can embed a very reliable and "silent" zero-day exploit for my .TXT editor in some README file. Or that they can find a bug in my Wi-Fi driver. Or an attacker can inject an exploit for my browser after setting up a man-in-the-middle attack in a hotspot at the airport.

So, from time to time, I might run some custom tools of mine to check the integrity of my system or start Wireshark to see what my traffic looks like. In other words, I'm not very satisfied with the existing commercial solutions, because I know how easy it is to create malware to bypass them all.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Apple puts Intel chips in MacBook Pro computer line

Apple announced that its line of MacBook Pro notebook computers had completed the switch to higher-speed Intel micro-processors.

Sloppy reporting.

Citrix shuns Linux due to 'lack of demand'

Jones also said Linux companies such as IBM, Red Hat and Novell “would be very interested” to see Citrix develop native Linux versions of its products to run on their server platforms, but he said there was no real demand for it in the marketplace.

Not to mention that X allows for much of this functionality without any assistance. Citrix is on life-support from Microsoft, until they decide to do with it what they are doing with the anti-virus folks.

Dream on bonehead.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Munich Linux scales desktop management

LiMux developers have automated installation via Debian's FAI (fully automatic installation) system, according to McIntyre, with configuration information stored in LDAP and the database administration program GOsa as a front-end. "They've integrated these to enable some very clever management features so that all aspects of the city-wide system can be maintained from one central point," McIntyre said.

As new machines are introduced to the system, administrators can choose to configure them as clients or "depot" servers, used as seeds for further clients, McIntyre said. Individual user profiles can be adjusted to, for instance, give access to new applications as needed.

Shared resources such as network storage and printers are set up automatically from the LDAP database, and the system can control access to USB storage devices on a per-device, per-user basis, for security purposes.

Businesses Embracing Firefox As The Other Browser

Fully, 44 percent of businesses with 250 employees or more allow workers to download Mozilla Corp.'s open-source browser at the office, according to a survey conducted this year by JupiterResearch. Last year, only 26 percent of such businesses were willing to do the same

IBM Sues Amazon Over Patents

The patents at the center of the dispute are broad, and IBM alleges they cover parts of Amazon's elaborate product-recommendation system. That system shows customers products related to the one they're looking at, and also shows them other products purchased by like-minded customers. The patents also cover the way Amazon displays advertising on its site to match customer preferences, and how the retailer stores shopping data to build customer profiles.

Some of the patents were first filed in the 1980s, including one titled "Ordering Items Using an Electronic Catalog."


Sunday, October 22, 2006

LightScribe Labeler For Linux Allows Users To Burn Customized Images On To LightScribe Discs

LaCie LightScribe Labeler for Linux is simple and intuitive, allowing users to burn customized images on to LightScribe discs in three easy steps: import, resize, print. K3b Founder Sebastian Trueg said, "We're happy to see that LaCie is developing tools for Linux users, and are pleased to work with them to make it happen. With the LaCie LightScribe Labeler for Linux, K3b users now have access to the latest disc-labeling technology from LightScribe, and a complete burning solution thanks to LaCie."

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Sun announces the Google shipping container data center, but will it fly?

*spoiler alert*

Not surprisingly, Page and Brin's Boeing 767-200 GoogleJet can carry seven LD8s, making it the fastest networking device ever built.

Speedreaders: sorry about that.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Linux desktop driver woes: Laying blame, lobbying, coping

Generally, the bestselling, mainstream PC peripherals now support Linux. "I don't expect Linux to support the odder peripherals I use such as slide scanners, VoIP phones," said Seager. "I install Linux on machines with relatively standard components."

Finally, good IT practices will take away most driver hassles and open the door to Linux desktop adoption, our sources say. Test and retest before making changes, stick to your specs when buying hardware and make sure your vendors respect and support your decision to use Linux desktops.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Nvidia rooted by Linux graphics bug

Nvidia supplied two graphic drivers for Linux - a closed source "binary blob" driver, which is subject to the vulnerability, and an open source driver, which is not subject to the bug. However, the open source driver lacks the acceleration features found in the closed source driver.

HEY! I gotta idea. Lets take out all those wasteful range and error checks and make this baby fly!

Ups and Downs and Who Will Buy...

What's my bid for this once innovative (yes, innovative) Internet company...

Shares of Yahoo fell 17 cents to $24.01 on Nasdaq after the Internet giant was downgraded to "neutral" from "outperform" by Cowen. In a research note, analyst Jim Friedland said Yahoo is losing market-share in display advertising, a problem "unique to the company" and not indicative of the online advertising market's strength.

Now that they are all bloat, I think they'd look good next to Microsoft, who seems to be heading north in anticipation of all the enterprise upgrades that will be forced on its customers.

EXCLUSIVE: PlayStation 3 to run Yellow Dog Linux

Exclusive? Well, it's not really news either. Here is the blurb:

Sony's PlayStation 3 set to move in on personal computers with the release of the Linux operating system for the device.

Linux developer Terra Soft Solutions will today announce the launch of its Yellow Dog Linux operating system for the PlayStation 3 games console.

But it (or at least a placeholder for it) has been on the TSS website for a while I think:

YDL for PS3

Note that what's there now is a cut and paste from the Apple information, or at least it sure looks that way to me.

Clearly this is going to be an interesting Linux box though. That is, unless Sony does something stupid. Now that couldn't happen could it?

Monday, October 16, 2006

Idiots or Pathological Liars?

We report, you decide:
(if short on time read the last one first)

October 11

October 13

October 16

Get this information to every Windows user you know who might have occasion to reinstall the OS.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Real World Government Open Source

Welty said that California CIO Clark Kelso invited managers to investigate open source and said that if their bosses have a problem with that, to have them call him [Kelso].

Welty said his department's budget for software is so low, it runs on "budget dust." When the state went through a recession, he said, "Some departments cut people to pay software licenses. We didn't have those licenses and didn't have to cut people."

And finally, said Welty, open source is great for disaster recovery. If there is another disaster like Katrina, "disaster recovery just screams for open source." While proprietary stuff might have a long procurement cycle, with open source the department can jump in and begin working immediately. "The key is: 'It's OK to use open source," concluded Welty.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Yahoo laser time capsule to surf the universe

In one of the biggest publicity stunts of recent times, internet leader Yahoo plans to beam a digitized time capsule into space using a laser beam. Yahoo will mark the October 25 event by projecting selected content of the capsule onto the side of Mexico's most famous pyramid in a global webcast.


I think Yahoo needs to get acquired.

MS? Sun? anyone?

Gartner predicts biggest change in PCs for a generation

Gartner research vice president Stephen Kleynhans said: "Vista is the largest and, potentially, the most disruptive change in operating system space since Windows 2000. Organisations will discover that Vista cannot be adopted without a careful examination of its impact..."

Dem guys smokin' some kinda pow'ful weed fer sure.

Um... so, sheep who have been on the Microsoft treadmill for all of their careers are going to suddenly hop off and buy Apple computers now? Wake me up early the day that starts OK?

Or maybe they think THIS is the year of Linux on the desktop. (Wasn't that 2003?)

Well, I'll settle for at least a few more people experimenting with alternatives. Further gains by Firefox would be a good start. This is my first posting using the pre-release Firefox 2.0 and my many spelling errors and typos are being underlined on the fly, with a right click to correct them right in the browser. No need to us the Blogger spell check (which I don't care for) or cut and paste from the KDE version of Notepad (Kedit) as I usually do.

A few organization may be tempted to try Open Office once they see the new "ribbon" interface that MS is forcing on them. I've tried OO 2.0 a bit and the built-in database capability is nice and unlike Access creates an actual relational database that can be offloaded to a server once it gets past the prototype stage. The real rebellion will be in other countries first, and as I've predicted for several years now, IT managers here will suffer embarrassment over their cluelessness of anything outside the MS coral. It couldn't happen to more deserving people.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Terra Soft moves past Apple with first Cell-based supercomputing cluster

Staats also says that there's still a future for PowerPC-based workstations, even with Apple out of the market. "IBM offers the p5 185. While showcased as a server, it works well as a workstation. Genesi has announced a dual 970 workstation. With the lower wattage 970s from IBM and incredible, new CPUs coming from PA Semi in 2007, the potential for Power to play in multiple arenas is only growing."

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Peter Coffee's Dirty Dozen IT Embarrassments

Go and sin no more my son.

Microsoft to Cripple Computers Running Pirated Copies of Vista

"Microsoft Corp.'s forthcoming Windows Vista will take much harsher steps to curtail piracy than previous versions of its operating system, including crippling the usefulness of computers found to be running unlicensed copies of the new software."

I think they meant to say more crippled.

Firefox Flaw Demo Is Itself Flawed

"I do not have 30 undisclosed Firefox vulnerabilities, nor did I ever make this claim. I have no undisclosed Firefox vulnerabilities," he added.

"The main purpose of our talk was to be humorous. I apologize to everyone involved," Spiegelmock said.

Earlier Monday, Window Snyder, the new security chief of Mozilla, said her team had been unable to produce more than a browser crash with the exploit code. "Even though Mischa hasn't been able to achieve code execution, we still take this issue seriously," Snyder said in an accompanying message on the developer center site. "We will continue to investigate."

There are some things that aught not be joked about.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Novell goes for SCO's throat

"In short, Novell is arguing that even if the court doesn't immediately agree with Novell about the Microsoft and Sun payments, SCO is going broke and Novell's share of the money should be put into a trust so SCO can't spend any more of it.

By not focusing on the arguments over who owns what in Unix but instead hammering on the far more simple matter of SCO not living up to its business contract, Novell hopes to put a quick end to SCO and its seemingly endless Linux litigation."

Monday, October 02, 2006

Amazon Finds That Driving Around The World Taking Pictures Every Few Feet Isn't Worth it

"Amazon hasn't gotten very far in its stab at the search industry. Just about the only thing that A9 is known for is its attempt to combine local search and on-the-ground pictures. But driving around to collect pictures is an expensive process, and so far, it's Google's simple maps that have become the standard for visually representing local search."

Duh. No kidding?? I wonder how long DeepPockets MS will continue to take aerial photos. I keep noticing helecopter hovering closer to the house... but maybe that's something else.

Getting out my tinfoil hat.

ICD-5000 Cellphone Projector/Image Recorder

"Designed to project your cellphone's screen onto a larger screen for demonstrations, the ICD-5000 is a boon for developers, marketeers, sales monkeys, and people who want to show their buddies the time they met Erik Estrada at the Chevron station."

I always knew that desparate "inovators" would eventually start stealing ideas from the movie "Brazil".

Chess Mess

"After five months of grueling play, my first world championship contest with Anatoly Karpov was abruptly cancelled by the FIDE president. Instead of having a set number of games, our match was to go to the first player to reach six victories, a goal that had proved unreachable despite Mr. Karpov's jumping out to a 5-0 lead. After I won games 47 and 48 to move to the score to 3-5, the match was abruptly cancelled. The Soviet sports authorities who had such influence in FIDE didn't want to take the chance I would win another game. Their loyal favorite, Mr. Karpov, hadn't won a game in months, and I -- the outspoken youngster from Baku -- was getting too close for comfort."

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Apple Inc sayz : All youR PODs aRe beLong to Us

Apple Inc sayz : All youR PODs aRe beLong to Us

I won't Comicstrip blogger, I most certainly won't. I've even stopped using my old CrApple stuff in protest.

A PODX on Apple.

Is Dead 2.0 Dead?

Well, at least "temporarily".

I can't remember ever getting a sign-in prompt quite like this though.

Must be some sort of fancy new Web thing.