Friday, November 03, 2006

Microsoft changes Vista license terms

Bill42 pointed this out to me, excellent news:
There's good news out of Redmond today for anyone planning a Windows Vista upgrade in 2007. Bowing to intense feedback from the enthusiast community, Microsoft has modified the license terms for retail versions of Windows Vista to allow end users to transfer a retail license from one computer to another, or to upgrade an existing computer without fear that they'll be locked out until they purchase a new license.

The rest of the article:
Microsoft changes Vista license terms | Ed Bott’s Microsoft Report |

Update: Cory Doctorow points to an article that points out the things that are still broken about the new Vista license, all good points. The following is the part that concerned me:
SecurityFocus's Scott Granneman details more damning restrictions in the Vista license. When you unwrap your copy of Vista, you "agree" not to publish damning information about the OS -- benchmarks, security vulnerabilities -- except under terms dictated by Microsoft (and those terms can change at any time).

This is a piece of software that comes with a gag order.

Granneman covers other ways in which the Vista "agreement" takes away the freedom you'd assume you'd get when you shell out your hard-earned dough for a product. The key here is that Microsoft, and innumerable others, have elevated the user license to a high art. Practically every vendor now believes that it can turn a sale into a "license" just by putting a sticker on the package that says, "by opening this box, you agree."
Boing Boing: Vista license improves, but still broken


CentOS: Oracle Linux Doesn't Measure Up

Linux Planet has an article on the apparent origins of Oracle's new Linux offering. They are not kind, but neither should they be taken as a final report, as Oracle has not yet finished polishing their product.

Actually, it looks as if they have not polished it at all.

Their offering is apparently based on CentOS, which in turn is based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux. The CentOS folks go to fairly great lengths to ensure the integrity and performance of their product (so does Red Hat, but I'm sticking fairly close to the user and not thinking too far up stream). At this early stage such care is evidently absent from the Oracle product. It might be a case of simply being too far from the "source" or parent distribution, which has caused some problems for other distributions in the past. Trial users have described the Oracle distro as "buggy", "inconsistent" and "insecure".

We shall have to see how this one comes out. But so far, it looks as if Oracle's Linux is mostly Ellison's hot air.


Thursday, November 02, 2006

Business Ticker - The Boston Globe

This is great news.
For those unfamiliar with the story, when MassPort installed their own WiFi at Logan airport, they told all of the airlines that they had to pull their own internet access from their lounges as a violation of their lease and because it would disrupt the airport's service. Continental objected and took it to the FCC for clarification. This ruling says that airlines can offer their own connections. I don't know if any other airport has tried this, but its a win for the little person.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

New Windows Media Player Shines

I downloaded WMP 11 yesterday. As far as I can tell, none of our discussed fears that WMP would impose DRM on content you have downloaded or ripped yourself, like free podcasts, have come to fruition. There is no option to impose DRM on MP3s you rip, nor is the check box permanently checked for WMA file you rip. I had a little problem installing WMP 11 on my laptop because I had made my Shared Documents folder read only. I had to temporarily change that back to read-write and all was well. However the help page that MS sent me to did not have the proper solution to my problem so it took me about 5 tries with the clues I had to figure it out. I'm not too fond of the black color scheme either -- wish I could make it gray or blue or olive to match the Windows XP themes, but oh well. I would recommend giving it a try. As to URGE, like the article says, ignore it. Happily WMP gave me the option on install to keep XM Online which is what I use.

Microsoft to open up Windows CE kernel source?

Windows for has an interesting rumor. According to the reporter's tip, Microsoft is to open the source code for the CE operating systems. The license, as such, is supposed to be Microsoft's own "Shared Source". That's not really open source or free software, at all. Even so; it would be a significant move.

I'm not sure of their motive in doing this, though it should be noted that embedded operating systems of any sort often require substantial customization to work the way the developers need it to. That could be the long and the short of MS' motivation because it means a developer can pick and choose the features on the device OS in the interest of functionality, efficiency or speed or any of a number of other reasons.


Tuesday, October 31, 2006

U.S. Justice Dept. Probing Sony Unit

It is amazing how far one company can fall. I remember, not so long ago, that the name "Walkman" had nearly the same cachet that "iPod" has today. No more. I've bought many Sony products over the years, feeling that the time there was an assurance of quality in doing so. No more. The company has lost its way. Maybe someday they will find their way back. Until then count me out on knowingly purchasing anything Sony.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Microsoft tries to lure 'mom and pop' companies

This one caught my eye this morning. If you need any kind of bookkeeping software, you might like to take a look at this free offering from Microsoft. I'm downloading it now.

Hard disks now encrypt themselves

Now THIS is the way to have a hard drive behave.

Say you are in a business with critical or confidential information on your corporate desktops. A drive fails and you replace it. In the past, physical destruction of the bad drive was the only way you had to guarantee that the information on the platter(s) was unable to be recovered by a suitably determined person. But, should you have installed one of these drives, all you have to do is toss it. Anyone who wants the data on the drive has to have the encryption keys or they're stuck trying to break AES encryption which, as the article points out, is a whole 'nother kettle of fish.

Moving disk encryption to the hard drive using a small, inexpensive specialty microprocessor to handle the task probably makes it transparent to the user, or nearly so.

This is not the be-all and end-all of disk encryption, but it really is a good idea. I can't wait to read the technical specifics. I'll post them for you when they are released, later this week.


How to make your MacBook Pro run cooler

I mentioned on the show that there was a firmware update for MacBooks and MacBook Pro notebooks that will aid the overheating/spontaneous shutdown problems some users of those models are experiencing. You can get that one from Apple by following one link in the article linked to above.

Tony Smith has posted a short piece on The Register's site detailing how to further adjust the thermal output of your MacBook or MacBook Pro using third party software (and freeware at that!) to control the speed settings of both cooling fans. (Especially the minimum speeds of said fans.) It is an easy read and will tell you absolutely all you need to know, except for mentioning that there are several more pieces of software to do the job besides the one he mentions.



OnComputers Radio show Podcast 10-29-06

This is the On Computers Radio show podcast for 10-29-06. 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 29, 2006

MySpace Accounts Compromised by Phishers

My Space has been notified of the problem, but as yet it is not fixed. If you are a My Space user, beware and follow this problem until it is fixed. Until then, I would not even log on.

And of course this brings up the question of how much of your data you wish to reveal at a site like this, even at the best of times.


9 Reasons Not to Upgrade to Firefox 2.0

I think it is possible to conclude the FF 2.0 was rushed out. All the complaints listed here are commonly heard on the various forums and newsgroups I frequent. While many, probably a great majority, of folks are having a fine experience with FF 2.0, more than I consider tolerable are not.