Saturday, February 19, 2005

The Return of the Shuttle

Can you see my big smile :-D?

Security Pipeline | Microsoft All-In-One Update Testing To Start In Mid-March


Americans Gear Up for 8th Annual Great Backyard Bird Count

I should have posted this a little sooner because the Great Backyard Bird Count started today. I'm going to talk about it on Sunday. This is a "Citizen Science" project. I counted birds, following the rules for the study, for an hour today (you can do it for as little as 15 minutes) and then submitted my count online. That's the technology aspect of this. While you can submit paper reports via snail mail, this project truly has a large Web component.

What I didn't know ahead of time was that today as the counts were submitted online you you could see on the Web site, in near real time, what birds were being spotted around the country. It was really neat.

I had wanted to do this for several months but had no idea it would be this much fun. You don't need to be an expert. Beginners are welcome but it does help if you can tell one species from another. There are lots of online resources and if you have trouble with an ID, you can even send in drawings or photos for help. I reported 11 different species all in my backyard today.

So if you like this type of thing, read the rules and get counting. It's not too late since as little as 15 minutes for one of the 4 days is a reportable count. The count started today and lasts through Monday.

Federal Aviation Administration, Alaskan Region Weather Cams - (Friday, 02/18/05)

This is a cool web site, If your thinking of coming up here for Geek Meet 2006. Our house is between the camera and the mountains. I'm in the north camera. Federal Aviation Administration, Alaskan Region Weather Cams - (Friday, 02/18/05)


Friday, February 18, 2005

RSA: Microsoft on 'rootkits': Be afraid, be very afraid

I am, I am, already!

From the "Just When We Thought We Could Secure Our Computers, Dept." If you like scary stories read this.

Gmail Continues to Broaden Beta

I got an e-mail late last evening. It was from Gmail. It has been so long that I had forgotten, but I had signed up when to be notified when I could sign up for an account. Having had the account through my Blogger activity for so long it is a non-event for me. In fact, I venture to guess that everyone who really, really wanted a Gmail account by now has found someone to send them an invitation. However, I see this as another step closer to final release.

Emeril jumps on the IPod bandwagon

Courtesy of Geek News Central [Yes, I consider the source justification for posting here ;)]

In other IPod news, Emeril (if you don't know who Emeril is... well, check out his website [this is totally non geeky!]) has 3 different programs for the IPod. Info about his restaurants, weekly menus and recipes.


P.S. OK, only one of the three actually exists, but the other 2 are coming soon.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

HP shows Q1 improvement

HP had a decent first quarter with a record $21.5 billion in revenue, up 10% Y-Y. The PC division revenues were up 11%, with profits improving a margin point to 2.1%. Imaging division wa sup a modest 3%, and servers & storage was up 9%. The services division was up an impressive 20%.

Revenues were up 6% in Americas, 12% in EMEA (helped by a weak dollar), and up 15% in Asia. Personal systems had its best quarter since before the merger, helped by strong corporate demand. HP has stiffened its pricing backbone and is seeing improved margins as a result. Imaging is seeing strong demand for color laser printers and multi-function printer/fax/copier/scanner products such as the 7140xi. The server & storage division saw the strongest x86 business in three years, with revenues up 19% on a 23% increase in units. This was offset by modest 3% growth in HP 9000 revenues and declining revenues for Tandem Nonstop servers. Itanium-based Integrity server revenues doubled in the year. A $33M workforce reduction charge will hit the server & storage division. The Services division is also reducing headcount, even though consulting revenues were up 20% and managed services were up 44% in the year.

Q2 is forecast between a decline to $21.2 billion and a slight uptick to $21.6 billion on a sequantial basis.

Peter S. Kastner

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

An Embarassment of Riches

Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) is rapidly becoming aware of a problem with conflicts between the various licenses used. Some conflict in their terms and make development on existing programs problematic. CNet's has a fairly succinct depiction of the problems and possible actions which might be taken to resolve things at the link above.

If you've ever spent time (as I have) trying to explain to corporate types and their attorneys the benefits and obligations inherent in these licenses, you know of the problem. (It's odd for a bloke like me to be lecturing lawyers on what is essentially their trade, too.) A wise company, especially one which will have to do development for themselves on the open source products they use, will pay close attention to these things and they do.

The proliferation of licenses can be controlled and conflicts removed. It's going to be a long term struggle, though. The importance of this can't be overstated.


Laptop Without a Hard Drive

Because I used to walk everywhere, I always wanted a tough laptop. I figured the toughest one would have no hard drive; instead relying on a few gigabytes of flash memory to hold the OS and data. I've wanted one like that for years now and in flusher times even investigated having one run up for myself.

Now, Hitachi is doing just that. They claim it's quite the robust package. See the link above for details.


Microsoft Consumer Anti-spyware Tool Will Be Free

This is one of those stories that is all over the place, but that I would be remiss not to post here. Just in case you haven't already heard, Microsoft's consumer level anti-spyware will be free. Where did this announcement come from? This announcment came from Bill Gates himself. So count this as a sure thing.

Exploding cell phone shocks 911 dispatcher | CNET

Exploding cell phone shocks 911 dispatcher | CNET

Y'all be careful!

Testing this blogger button on my google toolbar, so if it messes up, apologies in advance. :)

Updates for Today

Fyi Guys and Gals,
There are updates for Adaware and Spybot today, be sure and grab them.

Sea Launch Current Launch page

Update: If you went to the Sea Lauch site at on February 16, you probably found what I did -- the dates have been changed. It is now February 17, 7:53 pm PST.

Not many of you probably follow this, but I've been watching this for several months now. Later today, if all goes well, XM Satellite Radio will launch its third satellite XM-3. Why should you care? Unless you are a satellite radio fan you probably don't. However, the launch will be Webcast. Besides there are all kinds of other nifty info and pictures at the Sea Launch site. So if you are interested in satellite technology this just may be a fun site to visit and a fun thing to watch later today.

Macrovision Targets DVD Piracy With RipGuard

And from the "how long do you think it will be before it's cracked?" department, here's this tidbit. What upsets me is that the honest people who just want to back-up their DVD's are denied the right to do so. It is as if they are turned into criminals along with the folks who are making copies to sell or to mass share.

No copy protection scheme that I know of has ever fully or permanently protected the content. I doubt that this one will either. All it will do is frustrate legitimate, traditional fair use acitivites and make a lot of consumers angry in the process. Of course content owners have a right to protect their content any way they want, too; but at best this be an inconvenience to their honest customers, and will do nothing to stop their dishonest customers.

Microsoft to Release New Internet Browser

And today's top story is that, according to Bill Gates, a new version of Internet Explorer, v. 7.0 for Windows XP will be released for testing this summer. This update has been needed for a long, long time. Of course there are a lot more questions than answers at this time.

My personal wonderings about this are along the lines of would this have been a natural spin off of Longhorn development, or is this being fueled by the success of Firefox.

Monday, February 14, 2005

How VeriSign Could Stop Drive-By Downloads

I found this story by way of Slashdot this morning. I try not to post just every old thing on Slashdot, but this one is too interesting not to highlight on our blog.

Evidently there are several parts of VeriSign's own contracts that Verisign is ignoring in issuing or not revoking certificates that allow drive-by downloads. If you or anyone you know has been a victim of a drive-by download (and isn't that just about everyone?), this should be of interest to you.

Read the article and see what you think. "After reading it, I think VeriSign could help with this problem by enforcing it's existing contracts if it had the will. I would really enjoy reading Versign's response, if any to this article.

I like to be fair and their are two sides to every story. Does Verisign have a credible reason for not doing something about this? Or have they tried and failed? If so why? So many questions...

A Good Overview of Quantum Cryptography has a nice, lightweight, overview of the burgeoning field of quantum cryptography. It's a good read, easily grasped by the less technically oriented among us.


Sunday, February 13, 2005

Dual core Intel desktops this spring!

The Extreme Edition chip will support dual cores, each with Hyperthreading -- it will look like a 4-way to the operating system. Will come with the 955 Genwood chipset.

The "regular" P4 variation on Prescott will not be HT. Comes with the 945 Smithfield.

My guess is throughput on the EE chip at 3.8 GHz will be ~40-50% better than today's uniprocessor EE @ 3.8 GHz on some multiprocessing applications...but your milage will vary.

Expect mass-market consumer machines based on this new technology on a limited basis in June, and in volume for the back-to-school season starting in July.

Peter S. Kastner


This is the On Computers podcast for 02-13-2005. If you prefer, you can download the same file here via ftp.

Dell Reports (Ho Hum) Another Stellar Quarter

-Revenue of $49.2 billion, up 19%
-Operating income of $4.3 billion, up 20%
-Pro forma EPS of $1.291, up 28%; Reported EPS of $1.18
-Cash Flow from Operations of $5.3 billion, up 45%
-Repurchased nearly 120 million shares for $4.2 billion
-Sold 5.2 million printers; $1.3 billion in printing and imaging

Dell is Not Just a PC Company

+Enterprise revenue run-rate of $8.5 billion
– Grew servers 40% faster than the market FY05
– Total storage revenues up 180% since FY02
+Enhanced services revenue run-rate of $4 billion
– Enhanced services growth of roughly 40% for past three years
+S&P revenue run-rate of nearly $8 billion
– In FY05, sold over 5.2 million printers; $1.3 billion in imaging revenue
+Mobility revenue run-rate of nearly $12 billion
+Non-US revenues have increased almost 60% over the past two years
+Non-PC businesses are over 60% of revenues

These guys just run like the Energizer Bunny. No end in sight. Turmoil at HP and inability of IBM to close the Lenovo PC deal work to Dell's advantage.

Peter. S. Kastner

I Missed the Show Because of Telephone Problems

Everybody loves to complain about the phone company except us. Well, until recently, that is. SBC has been a wonderful provider for us for years. Lately, though, they've made us frustrated and mad at times, with unexplained charges and (if not outright deceptive) less than forthright sales pitches.

And today my phone died in the hour preceeding the show. What a drag! We'll get it fixed and I'll be back next week.


Microsoft Posts Major Security Fixes

It's that time of the month again. Windows users should definitely go to the web for the latest security patches -- including 7 critical-level patches.

Peter S. Kastner

Dell's new desktops sport BTX chassis

Very quietly and with amazingly little notice, a new motherboard design/case form factor architecture is ramping up. Today's desktops are all of the ATX generation -- CPU is right-of-center on the motherboard. But today's hot-as-the-sun processors, graphics cards, and all the other stuff we cram into a case have overshot the ability of component engineers to deal with case thermal and noise issues. BTX is an industry standard which will, over the next several years, replace the old ATX kit. Not surprisingly, this will not happen over night for the obvious reason that literally entire factories will have to be re-tooled, as in, for example, cases.

Big changes:
  • CPU goes to the front of the chassis, closest to the fresh, cool intake air. A dedicated plastic shroud will be commonplace for the CPU air.
  • Better front-to-back air flow paths will minimize areas with poor air flow
  • Larger but slower fan(s) with demand-driven variable fan speeds
  • Potential for smaller cases, even with top-of-the-line (e.g., hottest) processors

Dell joins Gateway in delivering BTX. Dell's huge volume for corporate desktops will accelerate the shift to more, and cheaper, BTX parts. However, it will be next year before build-your-own hobbyists see BTX case and motherboard choices and prices which surpass the mature -- OK, commodity -- ATX parts market.

Peter S. Kastner

Oops, my bad.

I just plain old didn't realize it until Joanne pointed it out last evening. (thanks Joanne!) . I have posted stories here that were published on subscription only sites. I know that many of you are put off by subscription sites and you will not read an article rather than give them your personal info.

There is a solution to the problem. Of course you could always subscribe. Before I knew there was a another way I did subscribe with almost real information though I always enjoy posing as a 90 year old man (figuring that 90 year olds are not an attractive demographic group to advertisers) just to throw the whole subscription thing off a bit. I have free, online subscriptions to the NY Times, Washington Post, LA Times, and Chicago Tribune. However I don't even bother with them if I don't have to. Instead I use a handy little tool called Bugmenot.

So go the Bugmenot web site, and read all about it. Decide whether you'd rather give a newspaper your personal information so that they can target ads or whatever else they want, or if you would rather use Bugmenot. Some people have a moral problem with evading subscription. I don't have a problem with it for the reasons outlined here.

BTW, I have no problem with what sites like Salon do -- ask you to watch an "ultramercial" (several screens of info with a multi-part ad for a sponsor) and get a day pass to their premium content. That is a fair trade to me, and extremely above board. In fact I actually make an effort to read the ad because I believe it is fair to both publisher and reader. There is no user identifiable registration or subscription involved, and no usernames or passwords to remember.

In the meantime, I'll try not to link to subscription sites, if I can find a non-subscription alternative for the same article. Or if it is truly subscription only, I'll try to post a warning on my article.

What a week I have had! :(

Boy did I have a week! I told you about last week (or was that the week before?) I borrowed some parts out of the computer I used for my encoder (Broadcast computer). I borrowed the RAM and CPU for a customer's computer. He was a programmer and needed his computer. When the new parts came in I went out to his house and swapped the new parts for my parts.

When I installed them back into the computer they came out of, it wouldn't POST! I was Tweaked! I remember when this computer was new last it did the same thing and I had Fry's test the RAM, the MoBo and the CPU, all were OK. All of a sudden the computer started to boot. And ran fine with reboot after reboot.

I was tired of messing with this Cheap ECS Mobo, so I ordered a new Mobo from NewEgg. I ordered an AlbaTron KX600S. It's a very nice Mobo, I have the last version in this computer.

My Problem was it comes with Sata and onboard RAID, and I was not planning on using them now, I'm being cheap and using the two 80GB ATA100 harddrives in the box already.

First I tried to do a repair installation of WindowsXP Pro and it didn't work. OK, This was the encoder computer it didn't have a lot I couldn't live without. So I did a full format and reinstall! Or so I though, Because of the onboard Sata/RAID you have to press F6 to install the drivers before you can install WindowsXP. The problem was it only wanted a floppy. I moved the file I though it wanted to a floppy, but it was an .exe and it couldn't work with that, I guess it need another file format.

I stopped at this point and went to add another GB of RAM to the computer that started all of this.

Problem number 2! :(

I inserted the RAM and when I turned the computer on I got a long beep Yahoo! Then another long Beep, and then a few seconds later another. :(

Monday I am calling NewEgg and will talk to their tech support and see if I can RMA the Mobo and get a new one. (I sure hope I don't have to buy this guy a new Mobo. That would sux since I didn't charge him any labor for this RUSH upgrade. He is a friend and when he placed an ad in the yellow pages last year the Telco screwed up and put him under computer repair, so any calls he received he turned over to me.

The GOOD NEWS is: I got the laptop Encoder back from Best Buy, they only had it for 5 days less than a month this time. (Last time they missed having it for a full month by 1 day.) They replaced the Mobo, I bet the Harddrive they replaced in November was good.

This sure turned out to be a mouth full. Talk to ya live on Sunday.

While writing this BLOG I have been on hold with my wireless ISP, (my download speed is max 133KB/ps tonight) So far I have been on hold listening to the same song on hold for 1 hour and 50 minutes. How long should I stay on hold?

Tune in to find out.

Joe Polinsky AKA AlaskaJoe

Security | | CNET

This is a potpourri of security related information from Cnet. Some of it you may have heard before, some not. But if hearing any of it saves anyone some grief down the line, it is worth reading.

SCO's Hometown of Lindon, Utah, Declares Emergency

Okay; This is humor, folks, so don't email me about the facts. I just saw this and thought everyone else deserves a look at it, too. As with all decent satire, there is more than a grain of truth in it. Enjoy