Saturday, May 13, 2006

Quocirca's Straight Talking: How Linux is hurting Microsoft

Devoid of almost all hype and speculation, here is a realistic assessment of how open source, and Linux in particular, is infiltrating corporate data centers.
I thought it interesting and hope you will, as well.


Thank You Qwest dot Org

Thank You Qwest! for not giving our phone records to the NSA for illegal spying on Americans. AT&T, Bellsouth and Verizon all caved, and gave the NSA the phone records of Americans and their calls withIN the United States.
The website quotes articles from USA Today, who broke the story, and Bruce Schneier, a noted security expert who I've quoted before, wrote in Wired, what some of the issues are.
Highlight of the USA Today article from the site:
…Trying to put pressure on Qwest, NSA representatives pointedly told Qwest that it was the lone holdout among the big telecommunications companies.

It also tried appealing to Qwest’s patriotic side: In one meeting, an NSA representative suggested that Qwest’s refusal to contribute to the database could compromise national security, one person recalled.

In addition, the agency suggested that Qwest’s foot-dragging might affect its ability to get future classified work with the government.

Like other big telecommunications companies, Qwest already had classified contracts and hoped to get more.
…”It’s the largest database ever assembled in the world,” said one person, who, like the others who agreed to talk about the NSA’s activities, declined to be identified by name or affiliation. The agency’s goal is “to create a database of every call ever made” within the nation’s borders, this person added.

…The usefulness of the NSA’s domestic phone-call database as a counterterrorism tool is unclear. Also unclear is whether the database has been used for other purposes.

Go to the site and post a comment to thank Qwest for protecting their customers against illegal search and seizure.
Thank You Qwest dot Org

Killer phrase will fill your PC with spam

Researchers Ben Edelman and Hannah Rosenbaum reckon that typing the phrase 'Free Screensavers' into any search engine is the equivalent of lighting a blue touch paper and standing well back.

For a list of other danger words, read the article. The article mentions SiteAdvisor, which comes in a free version. I recently started using it and so far I've seen no downside to it except like all tools it may give a somewhat false sense of security if you don't use your brain along with it.

Friday, May 12, 2006

MPAA training police dogs to sniff out DVDs

When I first saw this in the Inquirer, I thought it was a droll British joke left over from April 1. But a search on Google news turned up the stories.

I think that the pups, Lucky and Flo, are adorable even if they are being used for an odorous job (forgive the pun). Isn't it nice to know that your DVD of family vacation movies will be sniffed out and that you will have to prove it is legal?

Maybe they can be crossed trained to sniff out something important, like oh let's say, bombs!

Ballmer lashes Google over IE settings

I rarely find myself nodding in agreement with Ballmer, but in this case he is right. Alphabetical is fine. Those who want to default to Google will quickly make that setting change.

Blu-ray Is Doomed

Blu-ray is doomed. I came to this conclusion shortly after reading John Dvorak's thoughtful dissection of the HD DVD versus Blu-ray imbroglio. It was right on the money in all ways but one: Dvorak didn't annoint a winner; he thinks it'll take a couple of years to shake out. I think he's wrong.

I'm not so sure I agree. After all, Blue-ray is a catchier name -- sort of like Sting-ray, only Blue-ray. Oh yeah, Betamax is a catchier name than VHS. Okay, scratch that theory.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Rotten Effort

It's bad enough when Microsoft strong-arms other software vendors into submission as a means of thwarting competition. But when it engages in underhanded tactics to intimidate users in order to land a software deal, we have a very disturbing situation on our hands. And someone needs to have the guts to speak out about it.

And I wonder why MS and I have a love-hate relationship? Just when you think you love them you find out they do stuff like this. Sheesh!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

AT&T thinks wireless for broadband

I admit that sometimes I post articles mainly because they directly impact me. Of course, this impacts a lot of other people, too. The picture for AT&T broadband vs. other telco offerings doesn't look too bright further reinforcing my view that AT&T is solely about making money for stockholders and acquisitions -- forget the product and service to customers.

With all of the AT&T foot dragging, I'm happy to say that I'm getting WildBlue shortly and not through AT&T. According to the article, there is no monthly price break for customers who will be getting WildBlue via AT&T, so why bother with them? However, this is good news for WildBlue and current WildBlue customers since this will boost the start-up's long term chance for success.

I called this one correctly when I finlly convinced my SO a few days ago that there was no point in waiting for AT&T to bring DSL to our area. It is not going to happen in the foreseeable future. This news is an admission of that by AT&T. Since it is getting way beyond difficult to get anything meaningful done without broadband, my WildBlue satellite dish is on order.

As to AT&T WiMax, I don't see that rollout occuring quickly and unless they announce it, waiting for someday in any given location is futile with the behemoth telco.

The good news is that finally we all have some information on which to base our broadband Internet service decisions if we live in an AT&T area not currently served by DSL or by a cable company.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The OQO model 01+ ultra personal computer (uPC)

The company, OQO, calls it the smallest tablet. To me, while it does run XP Tablet Edition, and not one of the versions targeted for the "Origami" Ultra Mobile PCs, it's in between the two concepts.

Until I found myself unable to sleep last night and bored enough to start clicking on ads almost at random, this one had slipped completely under my radar.

It sports a 1 GHz Transmeta Crusoe processor, has 512 MB RAM and a bunch of nice features. With XP Tablet Edition, it goes for just under $2100, which is far too high for my budget. Substituting XP Home or Pro lowers the cost some and MS Office Small Business Edition is available installed. The hard drive is 30 GB in shock mountings. The entire spec list is pretty impressive and goes a fair distance in countering sticker shock.

This one is worth a look, if only to keep up with how the market for fuller featured small devices is shaping up. Personally; if I had the bucks, I'd spring for one. I wonder how they feel about freebies for amateur journalists?


Linus Torvalds comments on kernel "overhaul"

The man himself has put in his two cents worth about the state of current kernel development and he seems to agree with Andrew Morton that there are too many bugs in the current Linux kernel. Of course, one bug is too many, but by any realistic standard, the current kernel has some glaring defects in versions for several architectures. I'm having enough issues here on one x86 and two PPC machines that I have rolled back to an earlier version on the PPC boxes and instituted a couple workarounds and given up on hot-plugging for now on the x86 machine.

The whole thing seems rather laudable to me. Admit the defects and set aside time and effort to fix them. It's interesting that when Oracle, BEA or Microsoft (all of whom face similar issues with upcoming releases) do the same thing (with or without delays) they get hammered in the press.


Warner Bros set to distribute on BitTorrent

I refuse to comment on any possible ironic content in this scheme.

Warner Bros. choice of Bit Torrent is logical, really, as it limits the amount of bandwidth the distributor will have to provide for pushing all those huge files, thus lowering costs and increasing profits.

You are going to hear a LOT more about this on over the months until it's debut late in the summer. Unconfirmed reports place the online ad budget at $40 million (USD) through the end of the year and a larger but unspecified amount for broadcast ads (TV and such) over the same period of time!

I have to wonder if this is a signal Hollywood is finally getting "IT", but somehow that seems too much to hope.


Monday, May 08, 2006

The second coming of Intel's Core Duo

This is not much more than a puff piece. However; It does make clear enough the future naming scheme for Intel's consumer processor offerings and reading it is worthwhile for that reason alone.


Sunday, May 07, 2006

OnComputers Radio show Podcast 05-07-06

This is the On Computers Radio show podcast for 05-07-06. If you prefer, you can download the same file here via ftp.