Saturday, October 14, 2006


I've gotten 3 of these in the past 3 days. They caught my attention because my spam filters did not identify them as spam. They also caught my attention because the first purportedly came from a company I had done business with. So I read a little more closely and realized that they wanted me to execute the "self-extracting archive..." That was my tip off. I hope it was your tip off, too and that you didn't open that attachment.

Just wanted to give everyone a heads up. Delete these -- they are totally phony and no one has ordered an expensive laptop in your name.

Update: Here's an article

Thursday, October 12, 2006

"Multiplied" Linux Desktop Migration Strategy for Novell SLED 10 and openSUSE 10.1

Not too long before I joined the cast of the show, I had been experimenting with 4 users sharing a single, rather low-powered Linux PC. Deepak and I debated almost endlessly whether or not this would be a good, more easily set up, terminal as opposed to a thin client. After deciding the idea has a lot of potential, I let it drop because I never could interest a client in adopting the system. Not even for a secretarial pool.

Many others have tried the idea starting about then and there was a fair base of free and open source software about for implementing such a solution. Now, I appears Novell/SuSE has licked all the rough edges off and is ready to go for gold with it.

This sort of deployment, with 10 users simultaneously sharing one PC, could save an awful lot of money. Not only is less hardware involved, but only one machine requires the attention of administrators or techs. The truth is that most desktop PCs stand idling much or even most of the time and almost without exception can accomplish any task asked of them without using very much of their capacity. So why not share one among many? Call centers, sales desks and even secretarial pools can do this sort of thing without sacrificing performance in the eyes of any one user.

One of my fellow members in our LUG has done this to allow his children to all work off one PC. His set-up has 6 users on one PC. The added benefit is that all the kids are in his office and their Internet use is thus easily monitored.

No one is saying this sort of arrangement is the wave of the future. But it is a solid performer in certain usage patterns and can fit into many operations just fine.


Boing Boing: Eudora going open source, to be based on Thunderbird

I use Eudora for email, and its excellent! Cory Doctorow posted a link to the Eudora press release, that announces "Future versions of Eudora will be free and open source, while retaining Eudora's uniquely rich feature set and productivity enhancements." It will be based on Thunderbird. Of course I just recently paid for Eudora, yes that's how good it is. :) But, at the same time there's a "Doh!" moment. Back when I used Netscape's email client (the last century, as a matter of fact ;) ), it only handled one account, and when I started accumulating so many email addresses, Eudora was my choice and I've been really happy with it. The latest announcement pleases me on a societal level, while still feeling a teeny pinch in the wallet, on my timing. Good on ya, Qualcomm!

Boing Boing: Eudora going open source, to be based on Thunderbird
P.S. Off topic, but from another post at boing boing, Pinball machine from the pinball's POV.

Last hurrah for PC-based software?

The link above is to a CNet roundup of so-called "Office 2.0" stories. I thought you might want to see what is supposedly going to happen in that area.

To me, "Office 2.0" is so much hot air. The hype machine has once again gone crazy. That is the only explanation I can see.

The truth is that online applications are insecure and should be used only in extremis. They are useful, no doubt, but their use should be limited, even if they do overcome the problems of speed, which are so far very evident.

Applications served in a local area network might well be the shape of things to come. I've done that here at our home and at one client and it has proven marvelous, cutting support issues by a huge amount. I can see that, even without the idea of thin clients tightly locked down, for that one reason alone. But the rest of this "Office 2.0" stuff is suitable for enriching the cabbage patch and little else. Who wants their company documents out on the Internet? Who wishes to have to depend upon an Internet connection that may or may not be secure or fast enough to prevent waiting endlessly for things to happen?

Office 2.0 is a flawed concept as it is presented today. Something huge might come from it, but it is going to take a lot of careful experiment and thought, something the quick buck hype machine rarely puts into an idea. I hold little hope for it actually becoming both usable and pervasive. That is really only being sensible. It's not that I have an attitude that prejudices me to the concept. It's just that the Emporer has very few clothes on.


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

ICANN says it can't shut off Spamhaus

I've been following this one for a while. The short story is spammer sues Spamhaus. Spammer wins by default because Spamhaus is in the UK and say US court rulings can't be enforced against them, and so was a no show in court. Spammer goes after Spamhaus domain.

My thoughts about all of this are first, or firstly as they would say in the UK, using Spamhaus blacklists is voluntary. Therefore, Spamhaus doesn't block anything. Individual admins do all the blocking. Second, Spamhaus has no choice except to take a stand. Otherwise there would be a torrent of nuisance suits by spammers. Third, thank goodness the domain is registered in Canada because the US courts don't own Canada either. Fourth, ICANN, even though it is a US entity,is rightly doing its best to stay out of this, as they understanding the broader ramifications.

What happens here will effect the fight against spam. Every time a spammer wins the rest of us lose. And to the folks who buy stuff from spam: You are the root problem. Be more discerning and stop buying from spammers. The world will be a better place. Of course if you are reading this, you are not in that last category. I just wish I could actually reach the idiots who buy from spam.

Hans Reiser Arrested On Suspicion of Murder

This has to be one of technology's stranger stories. If you have used Linux in the past 6 to 7 years or so you know about the ReiserFS. Now the developer of said filesystem has been arrested on suspicion of murder of his wife. Sad if he is innocent and sad if he is guilty. One question raised: if he is found guilty will the name of the filesystem be changed? It is too soon to answer that, but it is an interesting question to be sure.

Copper wire as fast as fiber?

Potentially. Someday. The concept is interesting. Then again, do I actually care how they deliver the 100 Mbps to my router. I much more care that they do than how they do.

MS revokes 'adware' distributor's community award

Here's follow-up to a story that emerged last week. MS has pulled that MVP for the Lop bundled software writer.

Hey, we all make mistakes. It is what we do when we find out about them that counts.

Microsoft struggles with patch

According to this article, automatic updates were down for a while. I don't know if they are back up. I got my patches without problems or delay from Microsoft Update.

Happy Patch Tuesday!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

OnComputers Radio show Podcast 10-08-06

This is the On Computers Radio show podcast for 10-08-06. You can listen live every Sunday from 10AM to 1PM Pacific thats 1PM to 4PM Eastern. If you prefer, you can download the same file here via ftp.


Monday, October 09, 2006

$100 Laptop May Be at Security Forefront

As I have told you all on the show (probably far too many times) I am very, very interested in the problems and efforts to bring computing to citizens of undeveloped or developing nations. The "One Laptop per Child" (OLpC) project is one such effort.

I thought this little article on how they intend securing the devices was interesting enough to pass along.


The Windows Vista Interface

If you want to know what it is like, but don't want to download and install one of the RC versions, here is an article that I think does a good job of presenting just what you will see when you fire up Vista.

I mentioned some of this on the show yesterday, but one thing I didn't get to mention is the animation. After reading this article I understand the rationale, but after a few hours of zipping, zooming, and flying animated windows I was getting seasick. Same thing goes for the "circle" hour glass. It leaves my head spinning. The good news is just like previous versions of Windows, these things can be customized or turned off. I'm much happier without Vista's animated windows. I guess I kind of know where they are going without a visual cue to aid me.

Did Microsoft guarantee BayStar's investment in SCO?

We suspected but we couldn't prove it. But it does look like it was a rogue individual officer rather than a corporate strategy.

In his declaration, Goldfarb testifies that former Microsoft senior VP for corporate development and strategy Richard Emerson discussed "a variety of investment structures wherein Microsoft would 'backstop,' or guarantee in some way, BayStar's investment." Goldfarb then said that after BayStar committed the $50 million to SCO's cause, Microsoft "stopped returning my phone calls and e-mails, and to the best of my knowledge, Mr. Emerson was fired from Microsoft."

You are about to become DRM roadkill

I think this opinion piece does a good job of stating the rather obvious reality of DRM encumbered music. It also links to Michael Robertson's ( blog so you can read his words uninterpreted.

Just to be clear, a few years ago I dipped my toe into the DRMed music pool, only to promptly burn my purchases to CD in CDA format which I found I could re-rip to whatever format or use I wanted. Luckily, my non-audiophile ears couldn't hear the difference between the re-rip and the original, but I can assure you that degradation does take place.

So I ask you, which would I rather buy? Would I buy a full or single non-DRMed CD that I can keep, play, or rip to the format of my choice. Or would I rather spend my money on a compressed DRMed, proprietary music file that is locked to one kind of player and that goes "poof" for any number of reasons, including upgrading hard drive. I did lose one music file that I got on a free coupon that way because I did not make the aforementioned back-up to CD. If I had paid for that track I'd have been ticked off.

Like the article says, when you buy DRMed music, you aren't buying it, you are renting it. Time that the music vendors start making it clear to folks.

For the record, I don't own any DRMed portable music players. All I have is my Palm PDA which holds about 5 to 10 hours of audio on its SD card. It does the job for me.

OnComputers Radio show Podcast 10-08-06

This is the On Computers Radio show podcast for 10-08-06. You can listen live every Sunday from 10AM to 1PM Pacific thats 1PM to 4PM Eastern. If you prefer, you can download the same file here via ftp.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

OnComputers Radio show Podcast 08-08-06

This is the On Computers Radio show podcast for 08-08-06. You can listen live every Sunday from 10AM to 1PM Pacific thats 1PM to 4PM Eastern. If you prefer, you can download the same file here via ftp.