Saturday, June 17, 2006


How far will the RIAA go? Now you can't let people see you dancing to music on the Internet.
Next we won't be able to listen to our music and talk to someone at the same time.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Model jet plane tech will help cool HP servers - Engadget

Since heat seems to be the current challenge in computer engineering. The lower wattage CPUs are addressing part of it. We've discussed liquid cooling, and now an HP VP, who is a model jet plane enthusiast has used his hobby to optimize fans. This allows them to maximize MIPS/cubic inch? (I just made that up.)
Engadget's article has more info:
Not content with just making its servers bulletproof, HP also wanted to pack more of them into a given space than anyone else on the market, but to do that, the company had to find a way to dissipate the massive amounts of heat generated by super-dense server clusters.
HP found a rather unusual solution to the problem courtesy of one of its executive's pursuits outside of work: VP Rob Noblett's model jet airplane hobby. With the help of engineer Wade Vinson, Noblett realized that the electric-ducted fans he and fellow hobbyists had been using to achieve high speeds more safely could probably be modified to provide the air movement HP was seeking to cool the high-powered servers on its drawing board. After re-engineering the fans to optimize them for cooling instead of thrust, engineers were able build a model called the Active Cool Fan that is both smaller and more energy efficient than traditional fans, even though it's said to force out air as fast as a leaf blower.

I'm not sure how this would be applicable to the home market, blade servers are inherently more secured in place than a laptop, say, or a desktop in the mini form factor. ;)

Model jet plane tech will help cool HP servers - Engadget
update: Some details about the cooling fan from | HP's super cool computer fans, for instance:
1. At the highest speed, the fan reaches 166 miles per hour (Is this to scale, or real life, I wonder ;) ).
2. The Active Cool Fan design consumes one-third less power and is about half as quiet as traditional server fans. Very neat stuff.

Vista Security Features

Here's a one page summary of Vista's security features that I'm sure you'll find both informative and painless to grasp. It gives me hope that Vista really will be a major security upgrade for Windows users.

I was just a bit dismayed that at the end of the article the writer discusses the fact that there are already more security enhancements and compatibility features planned for Vista Service Pack 1. I don't know whether to be grateful for Microsoft's forward thinking or dismayed that they've already realized they will have to modify or enhance it after release.


Partition Logic

This looks pretty good. I've just gotten done trying it and my first impression is that it's grand.

It's a bootable CD that gives all the functions of Partition Magic and Norton Ghost. It's free software and the download is quick. Give it a whirl. I'm still testing, but I think it's just fine.


Thursday, June 15, 2006

Official Google Blog: Finding government info

Hmmmm, its been a while since I blogged about Google. lol
I found this interesting, cause I can never remember the county website address, or the online traffic info available in North Carolina. I anticipate using this service a lot.
Want to find those IRS forms to get in your taxes on time? Need to figure out where to send your DMV fees, or find the phone number for your local parks and rec department? Google U.S. Government Search launches today -- it's a site on which you can 1) search across a huge index of U.S. Federal, state and local government websites via a single search box, and 2) stay up to date through personalized content feeds from government agencies and press outlets. Off you go.

For easy bookmarking, go to

Official Google Blog: Finding government info

Potential Patch Problem with MS06-025

I wanted to give everybody a warning about this, just in case you have issues, of course, if dialup is affected, I'm not sure how you'll see this. ;)
To quote SANS Internet Storm Center:
Published: 2006-06-15,
Last Updated: 2006-06-15 18:59:11 UTC by Lorna Hutcheson (Version: 1)

We have received some reports of a potential issue with MS06-025. Here is a snippet of what appears to be the problem as it was report to us:

"We received couple of calls that users are
not able to dial up after applying MS06-025 (KB911280).

I verified this on a test machine and it looks like it breaks dial up.

We have some scripts that need to be run in order to authenticate the user
properly after the dial up connection is established.

It looks like the patch prevents scripts from running at all. Even when I
turned on the terminal window (in interactive logon and scripting) I can't
log in manually at all. After the connection is established I can see the
Username prompt in the terminal window but I can't enter any data.

Uninstalling the patch fixes this."

Microsoft has confirmed they are getting some reports of this and have established a case number. If you are having similar problems, call Microsoft for free support, 1-(866) PC-SAFETY, and reference case number SOX060615700008.

Potential Patch Problem with MS06-025 (NEW)

Intel "Santa Rosa" Desktop Platform Detailed

The next generation of Intel PC chips (as opposed to server parts) is code named "Merom". Daily Tech has a good, short review of what we can expect from them, both in desktop, small form factor PCs and notebooks/tablets.

This one is easy to understand and an almost mandatory read if you want to know what Intel thinks we will be using in 6 months.


Direct X 10 will be Vista only

We have suspected this all along. Vista's display system is different enough that it cannot be back-ported to XP without inordinate effort (something on the order of a service pack). Microsoft probably is not intending on supporting XP long enough to make this worth the effort and the new display foundation is just one more reason for folks to upgrade.


What users hate most about Web sites

Okay. We've been saying this over and over. Fixing just these five things will make your site much more usable.

This is a quick and concise read and if you ever thought of coding up a site on your own, you need to print this out and put it where you can see it as you work.


Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Microsoft presses the Stupid button

The link is to Ed Bott's blog on ZDNet. I think it boils down the Windows Genuine Advantage problem nicely. There are two links to David Berlind's blog posts as well, and these need to be written to get the full impact of Bott's arguments.


Why people hate Sony

Over the years I have had a lot of Sony products, ranging from various iterations of the Walkman to the satellite box that controls our TV viewing. I will not have another, period.

My anger is over the rootkit/DRM Sony foisted upon us a short while ago. The arrogance and complete disregard for the well-being of the consumer shown by the company's actions and statements surrounding that fiasco convinced me Sony was not my friend.

The link above will take you to a commentary at The Inquirer, illustrating even more reasons not to care for Sony. Aside from PlayStations, they don't sell anything I can't get somewhere else and I can frankly do without a gaming console from someone who considers my safety and well-being such a low priority.


Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Is DC the power to solve heat problems?

Tech Republic has an article about using DC power throughout the data center. It's a new idea that has polarized argument across the server industry. Some companies are actually putting money into the idea and others dismiss it out of hand.


Monday, June 12, 2006

Google Browser Sync

Since more have become familiar with the benefits of firefox ;)
I thought that everybody would find this useful. From what I heard on ChuckChat, you encrypt it locally (reading the FAQ, its a PIN and it doesn't say how many characters there are). I haven't installed it myself, I use a third party google toolbar, something about the UI as I recall (it maybe the blogger button, now that I think about it)....
Google Browser Sync for Firefox is an extension that continuously synchronizes your browser settings – including bookmarks, history, persistent cookies, and saved passwords – across your computers. It also allows you to restore open tabs and windows across different machines and browser sessions. For more info, please visit our FAQ.

Google Browser Sync

How to install ANYTHING in Ubuntu!

A handy reference for newbie Ubuntu users, or maybe an "Hey, this looks easy, I think I'll try it" moment. This seemed like a good starting point and asked some questions that puzzled me. There are also screenshots too which I found informative.
Having problems installing something on your new Ubuntu operating system? "Where's the EXE?", "Where do I need to extract this to?", "How do I run it?", "Where did it go?" - have you been thinking questions like these? Don't worry, installing software, themes and other things on Ubuntu is actually very easy! This guide will help you understand with screenshots, instructional videos and to-the-point language.

How to install ANYTHING in Ubuntu!

Microsoft's Calling Home Problem: It's a Matter of Informed Consent

This is the most detailed article on this subject that I've read to date. This situation is more and more alarming. We find that beyond the calling home every day, this software is beta. It is beta software that can't be uninstalled.

IMHO this is spyware. What it does goes beyond what most people believe that Microsoft needs to do in order to check that it is a genuine copy. The fact that the information sent and the scope of the phone home behavior was not fully and cleary disclosed to the end user makes Microsoft untrustworthy.

Personally, I don't think both shoes have dropped yet. I may be wrong, but I'm guessing that there is more to come.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

OnComputers Radio show Podcast 06-11-06

This is the On Computers Radio show podcast for 06-11-06. If you prefer, you can download the same file here via ftp.

Schneier on Security: Hacking Computers Over USB

Security guru (at least that's what I'd call him) Bruce Schneier posts an article about the attack potential from stray usb devices, the part that I found of most concern was an except of this article:
We figured we would try something different by baiting the same employees that were on high alert. We gathered all the worthless vendor giveaway thumb drives collected over the years and imprinted them with our own special piece of software. I had one of my guys write a Trojan that, when run, would collect passwords, logins and machine-specific information from the user's computer, and then email the findings back to us.

The next hurdle we had was getting the USB drives in the hands of the credit union's internal users. I made my way to the credit union at about 6 a.m. to make sure no employees saw us. I then proceeded to scatter the drives in the parking lot, smoking areas, and other areas employees frequented.

Once I seeded the USB drives, I decided to grab some coffee and watch the employees show up for work. Surveillance of the facility was worth the time involved. It was really amusing to watch the reaction of the employees who found a USB drive. You know they plugged them into their computers the minute they got to their desks.

I immediately called my guy that wrote the Trojan and asked if anything was received at his end. Slowly but surely info was being mailed back to him. I would have loved to be on the inside of the building watching as people started plugging the USB drives in, scouring through the planted image files, then unknowingly running our piece of software.

Go read the whole thing, some excellent advice in the article by Schneier.

Schneier on Security: Hacking Computers Over USB

Hands on: Google Spreadsheets is more powerful than you think

The small print under the headline reads; It's no Excel killer, but Google's online spreadsheet will surprise you with what it can do.

This is a 4 page report in some detail about using Google's online spreadsheet and it's worth it. If ever you thought Google was just playing at delivering some office application functionality online in order to deliver ads, this will change your mind. Yes, it is not capable of everything Excel can do. So what? It is a serious application. You may need more power than it provides at times, but for most of what we use spreadsheets for, this is good enough.

More and more we hear that the rivalry between Google and Microsoft will hinge on file formats and other esoteric criteria. Now, here is a fully-fledged application injected into the mix. Things are definitely going to get interesting.