Friday, July 22, 2005

An Identity Theft Service: For Those Who Have Everything

Perhaps the most important time in the awful life cycle of an identity theft is the first few days, as the thief is trying out his new identity, making small purchases, signing up for odd and unsavory services. It's a time when, in theory, quick action can help stem the damage and speed the recovery. Sadly, most people are unaware that their identity's been stolen until very late in the game, when a lot of damage has been done and the timeline for regaining control of your name, address, social security number, and such can stretch into years.

Intelius, a Seattle-based background-check company, believes it has come up with a solution, called IDWatch, to help ID theft victims learn they're in trouble much, much sooner. The new service launches today and can be found at

Tips: 80 Security Tips You Can Use

Whether your PC is 3 years or 3 days old, it faces the same, sometimes scary security issues. Viruses want to attack your system the moment it goes online, spyware is piggybacking with your mail and trying to slide in along with online ads, Trojans lay in wait at every turn and Phish—perhaps the sneakiest attack of all—smile at you while trying to steal your identity.
There are ways out of this mess.

These tips can show you what to do, help you better understand the threats and be ready with a plan of counter attack.

Gamers Will Lag Then Lead Multi-Core Switchover

On Thursday, Microsoft confirmed more than 25 titles to launch with its next-generation console, with a further 160 in development. Games planned for the Xbox 360 include flagship title Perfect Dark Zero, a prequel to the Rare game Perfect Dark; Kameo, a family-orientated game; Project Gotham Racing 3; Dead or Alive 4; Quake 4; FIFA 2006; and Ghost Recon 3. Microsoft was more than happy to discuss the power of the machine. Graphics are controlled by a 500MHz ATI graphics chip, and the console is powered by three 2GHz cores.

Most PC games today are not well suited for the dual-core processors that are now on the market -- and will next year become mainstream. There's a lot of history behind this fact. For the rest of this year, both Intel (Extreme Edition) and AMD (FX 57) are saying that best gaming performance will come from the company's fastest uniprocessors. Both companies plan follow-on uniprocessors into 2006, as well.

This uniprocessor-for-gaming argument suggests that a processor split is occuring, since the mainstream is going dual core by next year. I think the future will be the opposite.

By the end of next year's holiday season, game developers will have dozens of game titles out for the next-generation, multi-core consoles from Microsoft and Sony -- or they will be left behind in a dying legacy console market. These developers are now rewriting their game engines to support multiple processors. The smart ones are already planning for more than two processors (e.g., dual core PCs) since the xBox 360 and PSP 3 will have three processors. Moreover, the 2007-2008 products from AMD and Intel are likely to have four cores.

The multi-core games will first intro on the consoles because that is where the marketing dollars will be. But the standalone and online PC gaming markets are attractive enough that I expect many titles will be ported to dual-core PCs by the second half of 2006. This new content, in turn, will fuel dual-core purchases by PC gamers. Looking forward, more processors will allow more game threads to be running at the same time, allowing for real-time physics, motion, and rendering. All we need are the games to be multi-threaded to take advantage of multiple processors cores. And when the games are multi-threaded, even a much faster uniprocessor won't be able to keep up to a multi-processor.

That's the way I see the game ending.

Apple making big inroads in business with OS X

Jupiter Research reports "Apple Computer’s UNIX-based Mac OS X operating system is making inroads in the business community, according to a report by market research firm Jupiter Research. The report tracks desktop and server operating systems in medium to large sized business.

The report found that in businesses with 250 employees or more, 17 percent of the employees were running Mac OS X on their desktop computer at work. In Businesses that had 10,000 or more employees, 21 percent of employees used Mac OS X on their desktop work computer.

Mac OS X Server is also doing well with businesses. Nine percent of companies with 250 employees or more used Mac OS X Server, while 14 percent of companies with 10,000 employees or more used Apple’s Server software."

Please be advised that this is the dumbest, least believable piece of market research that I have seen in years, and I know market research. It should not have been published, and leads me to seriously question the lack of quality control at Jupiter Research.

My logic in debunking this garbage research is simple:
1. There are more business machines sold than consumer machines.
2. The industry counters say about 49 million machines shipped last quarter worldwide.
3. Apple shipped north of 1 million Macs last quarter, and OS X only runs on Macs (and a few Intel machines in the Apple R&D labs).
4. Apple's PC market share over the past year has grown from roughly 2.5% to 3.5%. Dell's market share is estimated at under 19%.
5. So how is it that 17-21% of medium and large business users are using Macs as Jupiter reports? There is not a single CIO in an F1000 company that will verify these munbers.

Now that my rant is over, I can agree that Apple is indeed modestly picking up market share in businesses, and the company's strong performance of late is likely to drive more demand over time. OS X is a viable competitor to Microsoft's Windows and Linux desktops. However, the Mac installed base is more like an order of magnitude smaller than Jupiter reports.

An audio file of the earthquake that caused the tsunami

You can download or listen to an mp3 file of the earthquake that preceeded the horrible tsunami in December.
"The T waves for the Sumatra earthquake were captured by underwater microphones located at Diego Garcia, more than 1,700 miles from the epicenter. These microphones are part of arrays known as hydroacoustic stations that are scattered throughout the world's oceans to listen for the telltale sound of an atomic blast."

I heard a brief clip and it really made my subwoofer work.
Amazing power!


Medicare to "give" Doctors software

From NY Times.
This could be great. This could be a nightmare. Medicare plans to give doctors free software for record keeping.
I do feel it's a step in the right direction. Long article. Check it out.

Longhorn to Be Christened 'Windows Vista'

Longhorn to Be Christened 'Windows Vista'
This thanks to JonathanM

Microsoft secures FrontBridge acquisition

MS is obviously plunging ahead in an effort to offer Windows and products that are secured. One has to wonder if they're going to be able to overcome the gaffe of designating Claria's as harmless.


IBM Joins Project Harmony

This article tells about IBM throwing their support behind the Apache Foundation's "Project Harmony", an attempt to implement Sun's J2SE standard in an open source form.

IBM is almost certainly has as much Java knowledge and expertise as anyone, including Sun Microsystems, themselves. IBM has their own Java Virtual Machine, the development of which should convince any skeptics of IBM's prowess. It's possible IBM could donate their JVM to the Harmony Project, though there has been absolutely no word on this from IBM.

Surrounding all this is a tense atmosphere which has IBM and many others calling upon Sun Microsystems to fully open the Java source code. Sun resists, tenaciously. They maintain Java needs a corporate steward (themselves) to keep it pure and prevent unauthorized branching. I, personally, appreciate their point. Look at what happened with Microsoft, who developed an unauthorized and partially incompatible JVM, yet called it "Java". It took Sun years and millions of dollars in legal expenses to shut that down with legal actions.

I think Sun's action proves they are a willing and worthy steward for Java. I cannot embrace the notion that everything MUST be open-source. That level of philosophic extremity is beyond me. The defining factor in this case is how open Java actually is. Sun has responded to criticisms of the "Java Community Development Process" by making it easier to contribute code to and the decision making process about which code to include more open to outside input. The Java community is not closed, by any means. It is also not a common open development project and all I can say about this is "so what"?

It is not as if an open source community cannot protect their product. That is not my point nor Sun's. My point is that Sun has already proven themselves as a worthy steward and has all the necessary resources to continue as such. They are obviously willing to change to accomodate the needs of the Java user's community. It is possible branding pressures could keep Java pure, as the advocates of opening up the source code assert. But Sun already has the mechanisms in place to do this (along with enforcing developed and developing standards) and I see no compelling reason to change this. To me it is a case of leaving well enough alone and allowing Sun to modify the development process as they see fit in response to the developers who actually do the work.

Java has some problems. That is not surprising considering the size of the systems that comprise it. Succeeding versions do not have adequate compatibility with previous implementations. Efficiency of code execution needs improvement. Sun is attacking all the problems aggressively, in concert with the development community, though progress has not been as rapid as some would hope. I trust Sun in this, as do many of the Java developers I know.

The kids are all right. Leave them alone.


Thursday, July 21, 2005

Microsoft Revenue Up 9%, Operating Income Hurt by Legal Costs

Microsoft Corp. today announced revenue of $10.16 billion for the quarter ended June 30, 2005, a 9% increase over the results in the same period of the prior year. Operating income for the fourth quarter was $2.99 billion, compared to $3.13 billion in the prior year. Operating income for the fourth quarter includes $756 million related to legal charges for antitrust-related claims.

Net income and diluted earnings per share for the fourth quarter were $3.70 billion and $0.34 per share, which included $0.05 of legal charges and $0.09 of tax benefits. For the previous year, net income and diluted earnings per share for the fourth quarter were $2.69 billion and $0.25 per share, which included a $0.02 tax benefit.

The company also announced record revenue of $39.79 billion for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2005, an 8% increase over the $36.84 billion reported last year. Net income for fiscal year 2005 was $12.25 billion and diluted earnings per share were $1.12, which included legal charges of $0.13 and tax benefits of $0.09. For the previous fiscal year, net income and diluted earnings per share were $8.17 billion and $0.75, which included legal charges of $0.17 and a tax benefit of $0.02.

The earnings call slide show is here.

While client revenues were up 10%, OEM revenues were up 14% and units were up 18%. This suggests the PC industry grew at the high end of Gartner and IDC estimates. Like Intel, Microsoft did not anticipate the robust growth in PC units.

Tools and Servers were up 16%, helped by 20% growth in SQL Server -- an industry standard RDBMS at this point by anyone's view.

Apps were up 11% and information worker (Office) up 3%. MSN was up 1% but home & entertainment was up 22% to $610 million based on robust xBox ecosystem (up 46%). Mobile revenues were up 39% to $97M as smart phones (finally) begin to kick in nicely.

For fiscal 2006 ending June 30, Microsoft projects the following revenue growth by segment:

  • Client up 5-6% in a 7-9% global PC growth environment. No Longhorn revenues anticipated until FY 07 -- the 1st beta this summer and GA in second half calendar 2006. The declining revenue per PC reflects, I think, the growth of low-cost versions in developing countries. I believe the decline will be multi-year into the Longhorn product cycle.
  • Server & Tools up 11-13% with new Visual Studio, SQL Server, and Exchange versions
  • Information Worker up 5-6% but no new Office until FY07
  • Applications up 10-11% in a 6-7% overall market growth in apps
  • MSN up 2-4% with ads up 20% offset by declining access revenues
  • Mobile (garbled and I missed it)
  • Home & Entertainment up >50% with the holiday launch of xBox 360 console, games and services -- first in US, Japan and Europe. Note the original xBox will still be sold once xBox 360 is released.

Tips: Hacking Windows XP

ExtremeTech is publishing chapters from a book on hacking Windows XP. Published online free chapters include Windows Explorer, speeding disk access, speeding up your network and internet access, and speeding up your system boot.

Good tips are in these articles.

EMC Continues High Growth

Total consolidated revenue for EMC's second quarter was $2.34 billion, 19% higher than the $1.97 billion reported for the second quarter of 2004. Net income for the quarter was $293 million, 52% higher than the $193 million reported for the second quarter of 2004. Earnings per diluted share was $0.12, an increase from the $0.08 per diluted share reported for the year-ago quarter.

Systems revenue grew 15% in the second quarter, compared with the year-ago quarter, to $1.1 billion. EMC's software businesses grew software license and maintenance revenues 23% year on year to $878 million in the second quarter, representing 37% of total EMC revenues. Professional services, systems maintenance, and other services revenue grew 26% year on year to $389 million during the quarter.

High-end Symmetrix revenue only grew 4%. However, a much-anticipated new line of Symmetrix products is expected next Monday, which should spike demand in the second half. Mid-range Clariion storage grew and impressive 32%. EMC and partner Dell are clearly picking up market share. Note that software and services are growing much faster than hardware.

Amex and Visa Punt Online Processor Responsible for Data Leak

Good news! The penalty phase for poor data security by online processors has arrived after literally tens of millions of of customer data records had been lost or stolen this year. The rules of the game are finally changing.

The penalty is death -- of the company responsible. Details of up to 40 million payments cards, including names, account numbers and expiration dates, are believed to have been taken out of a database system run by CardSystems—the biggest such privacy violation ever reported. In June, CardSystems Solutions, which processes credit cards for 115,000 U.S. merchants, revealed it had mishandled customer data by storing data on customers—in violation of Visa and MasterCard's security standards.

Both American Express and Visa are ceasing doing business with CardSystems by October. I suspect MasterCard will follow suit based on what their competitors are doing -- and MasterCard's suddenly increased liability. With nothing to interchange, I cannot see a way for CardSystems to stay in business.

Let that be an object lesson to the CEO's of companies with less than effective internal and external controls. These data privacy violations have got to be taken seriously.

Update: During congressional testimony Thursday, executives from bank and credit card companies involved in the largest credit card data loss ever pointed fingers at a new culprit for gaps in security: the auditors who had certified the credit card processing systems as being up to snuff. Now I've heard everything. Let's blame the auditors for our security problems...and the dog ate my homework.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Firefox - Rediscover the web

Version 1.06 out now....
Jiminy, I just installed 1.05...

There are more browser updates, than antivirus ones anymore

"And my source for this up to date info?" you ask
Courtesy of Bill42 in the chat, filehippo,which has updates for more programs than I use, and just about all the other ones, too. Since I'm an RSS addict (loud and proud about it too lol) filehippo has an rss feed too

Google Blog: Moon Children

Google has now expanded beyond the earth!!

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

HP takes hard line with partners

Beyond the pink slips that will soon be landing in employees hands, there is another part of the HP strategy for maximum profitability afoot.

Consider this quote from HP Chief Executive Mark Hurd:

" 'We really like partners that are very focused on HP,' Hurd said during a conference call Tuesday. 'It doesn't mean that they are exclusively focused on HP, but when we go to market together, they are focused on what we call the attach rate and that we enlarge our content of product.' "

So if you go to buy HP products in the future expect to have other, perhaps unwanted, items pushed at you. I don't hear "great package deals" as part of this focus, but maybe they will be. I don't know at this point.

What I do know is that I'm personally turned off by such tactics. However, unless the implementation is so agressive as to be egregious, it can work. For various reasons, mostly having to do with software support for HP hardware, I'm not a big HP fan. So as I gently poo-poo Hurd's strategy, consider the source.

Microsoft to expand anti-spyware offering

This article says that the MS anti-spyware app is to be expanded to include the ability to search out and destroy "rootkits"; the software than enables crackers to run your machine. The application already has some very limited capabilities in this area.

Now that Microsoft's reliability and trustworthiness is in question because of their preferential treatment of Claria/Gator, it is ironic that they may soon be putting out the most capable application in the field, but hindering it's function to suit Microsoft's commercail interests.


PC Industry Up 15%, Intel Up 15%

Coincidence? I think not. Intel had a great quarter because the industry had a great quarter.
  • Intel had to cannibalize its motherboard sales to have chipsets to ship to OEM manufacturers. A chipset shortage may continue. Overall, inventories are lower than desirable. It looks like even Intel underestimated the strength of the global computer market.
  • Microprocessor units were at a record, but xBox sales pulled average unit price down somewhat.
  • Chipset units were higher.
  • Motherboard units were lower.
  • Flash memory units were higher and at record levels, with lower average selling prices.
  • Wireless connectivity units set a record.
  • Wired connectivity units were lower.
  • The 65 nm process is proceeding better than expected. Samples of microprocessors code-named Yonah, Presler and Dempsey, the company's first 65nm dual-core microprocessors for notebook, desktop and server platforms, respectively, have shipped to OEMs.
  • With five new Celeron D processors with 64-bit computing capability for the value PC segment, Intel now has 64-bit capability available throughout its desktop and server microprocessor product lines.

A "Priceless" Server Room - The Daily WTF

How many of us have seen this???

OffTopic: I had to load this in IE to see the text correctly, there seems to be some issue with firefox and text wrapping.


Thousands back petition to open source OS/2

According to this ZDNet UK article, over 10,000 have asked IBM to open the OS/2 source code, seeing as they're discontinuing things having to do with that OS.

IBM, for their part, would rather you migrate to Linux, and with good reason. As a matter of fact, it's the same reason they won't open the code. Linux is complete. OS/2 open-sourced would not be. Why? Remember who IBM partnered with to produce OS/2? Microsoft, that's who. And somehow I can't see MS going along with this one because some fundamental Windows stuff would be let into the wild.

I guess we'll have to go back to our Angelina Jolie daydreams. This one is full of holes.


Mozilla: IE 7 to boost Firefox growth

If that headline sounds like a contridiction in terms, think again. IE7 will not work on Windows 2000.

We alluded to this on last Sunday's show. Is Microsoft moving individuals and corporations towards upgrading to Windows XP, or will individuals and corporations move to Firefox and stick with Windows 2000?

I have no crystal ball, but considering that the conventional wisdom is that some who are sticking with Win2k already have licenses for WinXP, it could mean that short of equipment upgrades, Microsoft's decision not to support IE7 on Win2k will boost Firefox useage. If that becomes a reality, look for a version of IE7 that runs on Win2k to magically appear.

IBM Q2 Bounces Back

Here are excerpts from the prepared remarks from IBM's conference call with financial analysts yesterday:

Total Revenue in the second quarter was down 4 percent year-to-year as reported, but up 6 percent without PC’s. Without PC’s, revenue was up 4 percent at constant currency.

Global Services, which this quarter represented over 50 percent of IBM’s revenue, was up 6 percent year-to-year as reported, and up 4 percent at constant currency. An improvement in short term signings accelerated the growth rate of BCS. Our strategic outsourcing signings were up significantly year-to-year, which will provide a benefit over the longer term.

Hardware revenue was down 25 percent as reported. But, as we just discussed, this included one month of PC’s as compared to three months in second quarter of 2004. Without the PC business, hardware was up 5 percent, and up 4 percent at constant currency.
We had double-digit growth in pSeries, iSeries, xSeries, and storage.
This strong performance was offset by an expected decline in zSeries, as customers anticipated a new product announcement.

Software revenue grew 10 percent as reported, and 7 percent at constant currency.
You’ll recall that the second quarter of 2004 was a challenging environment for the software industry.

This year, we had especially strong performance in the Americas.
Global Financing revenue was down 4 percent as reported, or 7 percent at constant currency, driven by a continued decline in the asset base and yields.

From the press release
Hardware revenues decreased 25 percent (27 percent, adjusting for currency) to $5.6 billion in the second-quarter 2005 versus the year-ago period. Hardware revenues excluding the divested PC business were $5.0 billion, an increase of 5 percent (4 percent, adjusting for currency).

Hardware revenues for the Systems and Technology Group, which was newly realigned to include Retail Stores Solutions and Printing Systems, totaled $4.9 billion for the quarter, up 5 percent. Revenue growth from S&TG eServer products was driven by pSeries UNIX servers, which increased 36 percent, and xSeries servers and iSeries midrange servers, which increased 11 percent and 10 percent, respectively. Revenues from the zSeries mainframe product decreased 24 percent compared with the year-ago period. Total delivery of zSeries computing power, which is measured in MIPS (millions of instructions per second), decreased 19 percent. In addition to eServers, revenues from Storage Systems increased 19 percent and Microelectronics decreased 5 percent.

Revenues from Software were $3.8 billion, an increase of 10 percent (7 percent, adjusting for currency) compared with the second quarter of 2004. Revenues from IBM's middleware brands, which include WebSphere, DB2, Tivoli, Lotus and Rational products, were $3.0 billion, up 11 percent versus the second quarter of 2004. Operating systems revenues increased 3 percent to $592 million compared with the prior-year quarter.

Microsoft Begins Quantifying Longhorn Value

We've all had several years of leaks about the technology of Microsoft's next Windows OS, code-name Longhorn. This week at a partner's conference, Microsoft let the first cat out of the bag regarding why consumers and businesses should rapidly deploy Longhorn -- when it gets here, of course.
Longhorn will:

  • launch applications 15 percent faster than Windows does
  • boot PCs 50 percent faster than they boot currently and will allow PCs to resume from standby in two seconds
  • allow users to patch systems with 50 percent fewer reboots required
    reduce the number of system images required by 50 percent
  • enable companies to migrate users 75 percent faster than they can with existing versions of Windows.

Beta 1 is expected in three weeks. Beta 2 will stretch until mid-year 2006. We should have a lottery as to when the actual ship date will occur.

No One Expected PC Sales Up 15%

IDC and Gartner have red faces from yesterday's announcement that PC sales are up 15%-17% last quarter -- depending on how you count white boxes. Neither of these well-compensated firms came even close with their forecasts earlier this year. However, leaving the missed forecast aside, this is good news for the industry. With almost 49 million PCs shipped last quarter -- seasonally a weak one -- the industry is on a path to about 200 million PCs this year.

It was only three years ago that the industry hit 100 million units. It is the stealth, double-digit growth rate that should attract the reader's attention. The whole story is complex, but it is hard to see what going on from a U.S. vantage point. Much of the global growth is coming in developing countries. In mature markets, laptops have overtaken desktops for both consumer and business computing.

Again, I am flabbergasted at the size of the market growth. A 200 million PC market is a big, silent elephant in the corner of the global tech economy. That elephant carries bilions in software, peripheral, semiconductor, transportation and service revenues.

In the U.S., the top five manufacturers in order by market share are Dell, HP, Gateway, Apple (yes, Apple), and IBM/Lenovo.

HP Cuts Headcount 10%

In a much anticipated move, HP announced today it would over the next eighteen months cut headcount by 10%, or roughly 15,000 employees. Hardest hit will be "overhead" support jobs, namely in support functions, such as information technology, human resources and finance -- but the business units will not be spared. The implication is a streamlining is in order at the computer systems division, which "lags the benchmarks" in HP's terminology.

The $1.9 billion in compensation and benefits savings will be plowed back into the business. My assumption is that future cuts and reorganizations will whack at least another $1.1 billion out of the cost structure.

Microsoft: DoS Bug Not Limited To Windows XP

A bug in Windows that went public last week may be worse than originally thought, Microsoft confirmed Saturday in a weekend advisory. One security analyst fears that the vulnerability -- which for now looks limited to a denial-of-service attack -- may soon be found to cause more severe problems for Windows users.

Intel's Latest and Last Itanium Uniprocessor

Intel announced two model of Itanium 64-bit high-end microprocessors. The front-side bus in the two new Itanium 2 processors will run at 667 MHz, enabling 10.6 gigabits of data per second to be transferred between the CPU and its memory and core-logic chipset. The 400 MHz bus on the current Itanium 2 processors supports a maximum rate of 6.4 Gbits of data per second. On-chip Level 3 cache of 24 MB makes this generation of Inanium's better suited to memory-intensive database and computational chores.

Both of new Itanium 2 devices run at clock speeds of 1.66 GHz; one model comes with 6 MB of cache, the other with 9 MB. The former will sell for $2,194 in quantities of 1,000 or more, the latter for $4,655.

The next generation of Itaniums will feature dual processors early next year. HP is the largest OEM customer for Itaniums, basing its Integrity line on the chips. Hitachi plans to use the processors in its upcoming BladeSymphony servers, according to an Intel statement.

IBM's Power and Intel's Itanium are getting most of the R&D dollars for high-end microprocessors these days.


I find this amusing, it bogs down email "spiders" if you will, with fake addresses, randomly generated. I don't see any problem with the concept, rather clever, if you ask me. :)

I guess there are issues, to consider, because there is server bandwidth, so feel free to delete this.

Workarounds Released for XP SP2 Flaw

The company's advisory follows the public disclosure of the vulnerability in Remote Desktop Services, a feature that allows XP users to remotely control computers from another office, from home or while traveling.

Just in case this isn't in today's updates, or is that in August.. ?

Monday, July 18, 2005

Anti-Spyware Coalition

You may want to check out the new Anti-Spyware Coalition (Microsoft is a founding member). Check out the draft "Anti-Spyware Coalition Definitions and Supporting Documents".

Public comments on the draft definitions document are welcome here:

Anti-Spyware Coalition - Comments

The deadline for submitting comments is August 12, 2005.

Why Microsoft AntiSpyware Is Untrustworthy

Read it and weep.

The good news is that Microsoft AntiSpyware is in beta. By that very designation, that means that no one should be relying on it. It is also free. Since that is the case, I can still say, no foul on Microsoft's part. If anyone is relying on this beta to keep their computer clean, it's their bad, not Microsoft's. Yet.

The bigger question will come when people actually start paying for it. Will Microsoft still give a "pass" to Claria and others?

Until these problems are cleared up, Microsoft AntiSpyware is on my not-recommended list.

Coding misstep forces new Firefox release

In a nutshell, the problem is that the updated versions are not being released in all the supported languages at the same time. Here in the US, in English, we just updated to version 1.0.5 last week because of security concerns. And now it looks like 1.0.6 will be released shortly to address some issues with some Firefox exensions. But what version are they still using in places like Poland? Oh, maybe 1.0.4.

The Mozilla Foundation is taking a lot of heat over this from non-English speaking Firefox users.

Corrupted PCs find new home in the Dumpster

"In the face of a constant stream of pop-up ads, malfunctioning programs and performance slowed to a crawl or a crash--the hallmarks of spyware and adware--throwing out a computer 'is a rational response,' said Lee Rainie, director of the Pew Internet and American Life Project, a Washington-based research group that studies the Internet's social impact."

Well, ahem, not really that rational. It is however an understandable response.

A rational response is wiping the hard drive and starting over. I contend that it will take longer to purchase a new machine than the 40 or so minutes it takes to do a clean install of Windows XP. That doesn't even account for the wasted resources.

If it must be disposed of, take that infested machine to someone who restores them and donates them to those in need. Now that's a rational response.

Dell Laser Jet Limbos Too

Besides insanely low desktop prices (see blog immediately below), Dell came out with a $99 monochrome laser rpinter last week. The starter toner cartridge will only get you 1,000 pages. Still, the PC Magazine review is positive. Looks to me like a great small office - home office price-performer for those who either have another color printer or don't need color.

HP and Dell Do the Desktop Limbo

How low can they go? HP has models at $249 and $299 after rebates (in the U.S.) Dell has a $299 offer. Believe it or not, all are usable machines! For the first time since I have been tracking PC prices, I am seeing Walmart prices on name brand computers.

Holes in Kerberos Authentication Threaten Mission-Critical Unix Enterprise Systems

Kerberos, the popular authentication protocol developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is vulnerable to three serious flaws that could allow an attacker to gain access to protected corporate networks, MIT researchers disclosed late on Tuesday. Unix variants such as Solaris and Apple Computer Inc.'s Mac OS X, and Linux distributions such as Red Hat and Gentoo all contain the affected code. Windows also uses a version of Kerberos, but it doesn't contain the flaw.

The big-iron Unix boxes from HP, IBM, and Sun -- plus everybody's X86 servers running Red Hat Linux AS -- are particularly vulnerable to the Kerberos security flaws because Kerberos is often at the heart of authenticating user log-ins. Thus, enterprise IT professionals would be well advised to install the Kerberos patches to Unix when they become available. The reason for alacrity is that the bad-guy hackers, now alerted to the vulnerabilities, will concentrate on this new avenue into the computer systems of global enterprises, governments, and educational institutions.

The workload for the fixes includes patching hundreds of thousands of Unix servers, which will undoubtedly have to be taken out of 24 x 7 service to reboot the changes.

Tip: Keeping Your Computer Cool

This article is geared to computer users who want to know how to measure and remediate hot and noisy computers. No prior training necessary. A good primer article.

Patch Tuesday Goes Industry-Wide

All eyes have been on Microsoft, which has standardized on issuing security and bug fixes on the second Tuesday of every month. It appears that a lot of other software industry companies are also flying in Microsoft's slipstream.

This is good news for the industry because it creates a cadence for the compauter industry, including; it is bad news because IT professionals can plan on being inundated every patch Tuesday with the patches, which they then have to test and integrate with other (patched) software and the enterprise's applications.

Oracle Compromises on Multi-Core Processor License Fees

Oracle has finally caved—a little—to industry outrage over its refusal to get in line with competitors IBM and Microsoft and update its licensing policy to accommodate multicore chips.

Licensing terms for the Oracle Store Web site now state that, for the purposes of counting how many processors need to be licensed, a multicore chip with "n" cores will be multiplied by 0.75. Oracle will then round up fractions to the next whole number.

For example, if you have a multicore chip with 11 cores, multiply 11 by 0.75, which equals 8.25. Round that up to nine processors, and that's what you'll be paying for.

Notwithstanding the three-quarters rule, Oracle will count only one processor when licensing Oracle Standard Edition One or Standard Edition programs on servers with a maximum of one processor with one or two cores.

For more background and a chart of Oracle's pricing moves, see this IT Jungle article.

Domain Hijacking Hits Big Companies

Web sites both big and small face the risk of having their Web addresses stolen because of flaws in the way domain names are registered, transferred and tracked, a report released this week found.

The report, announced Wednesday during an international meeting of the ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) in Luxembourg, followed at least two high-profile incidents this year of what is known as domain-name hijacking—one hitting New York-based ISP Panix and another affecting e-mail provider Hushmail Communications Corp.

Light up your boring life with LED screws

Okay, God. I've seen it all. I'm ready to go.


Google Maps Transparencies

There's a slider under the display to toggle the degree of transparency between google maps and satellite. I am always switching back and forth between map and satellite at >

Sunday, July 17, 2005

OnComputers Podcast 07-17-05

This is the On Computers podcast for 07-17-2005. If you prefer, you can download the same file here via ftp.

IBM's OS/2 Sees End of Life

IBM's 18-year old x86 operating system, OS/2, will cease active sales in December. OS/2 Warp, a server version, will get limited support next year and beyond.

OS/2 was a very strong 16-bit graphical operating system back when Microsoft was clueless. But the vaunted Redmond marketing engine pushed Windows past IBM and Apple in short order. The rest is history -- except for the OS/2 installed base.

OS/2 was a good product which I will remember fondly.

AMD Cracks Corporate Laptop Market

The win by AMD for a piece of HP's business is a big step for AMD. Two years ago, AMD had about zero market share in enterprise servers. Now, it's approaching 10%. The same could easily happen with laptops.

Note the increasing revenue per processor that AMD reported in the latest quarter. Laptop Turion chips will help keep the gross margins up.

E-Mail Crime Pays

Don't you just hate it when the bad guys (or girls) win? Doesn't seem fair.

In this case, a Nigerian woman was sentenced to 2-1/2 years in prison for e-mail fraud. You probably got the letter, and I certainly hope you did not respond. She has to return $85 million, but the take from the scam was -- please sit down now -- $242,000,000.

Makes you stop and consider going over to the dark side...