Saturday, October 29, 2005

"It's Not Excel, It's Magic!!" Contest Winners

Please join us in congratulating Barry Bouchard and Mike Iversen for winning a copy of Mike Umlas' book, "It's not Excel, It's Magic!"

Senators question file-storage shift - The Boston Globe

Interesting article here. Apparently, users with visual disabilities are complaining because the office applications that support the OpenDocument format don't really work well with devices made to make lives of these users easier.

Maybe Riley can comment on this.


Friday, October 28, 2005

IBM is working to eliminate the need for Anti-Virus apps

This article is about AXE (Assured eXecution Environment) which is kernel level execution control. With it in place, unauthorized code simply cannot run.

While not here yet, neither is this the sort of press conference "pie in the sky" we hear so often. Instead, it is a real and progressive effort to provide us, the users, with protection. More power to them.


Sun lets JDS on Linux roam free

Trust me on this when I say this is a HUGE development!

For those of you who aren't familiar with Sun's "Java Desktop System" (JDS) it is a desktop layer which, until now, ran on Sun's version of SuSE Linux, Sun's Solaris operating system or their SunRay thin client OS. The JDS is based on the Gnome Linux desktop with heavy dependence on Sun's Java programming language.

Unlike a Linux distribution, the JDS contains only one application for any given purpose. It thus presents a rather less confusing set of choices to the user, in much the same manner as Windows or the Mac OS X do. To a corporate IT department, this is very attractive because they do not have to support a lot of duplicate application nor strip them out of a distro before turning the machine over to the user. And now Sun has freed it to be shipped with any Linux distribution.

I am not really a fan of Gnome, though the most damning criticism I can level at it is that it doesn't really suit me as a user. And I have to say it does suit a lot of users. It's a personal preference thing and no more than that. In my opinion, the JDS version of Gnome is the best, most usable desktop around, period! I ran it here for a while and would have kept it had it supported the hardware I needed it to. I also have several friends and one business with which I am assocaited using it They won't use anything else, so this development is good for them. In fact; I think it's good for all of us.

The article above has screenshots and if you get really curious, you can find information on the JDS at Sun's web site and several Linux sites, including


Open Sources 2.0, The Continuing Evolution

The link is to an O'Reilly web site page. The book is a collection of essays by verious open source luminaries about the evolution of what can now safely be called a movement and their views of the future. I've read a couple samples and found it thought provoking and well enough written to be thoroughly enjoyable.


Thursday, October 27, 2005

Congress to Face Crackberry Cold-Turkey Withdrawal

Supreme Court Rejects RIM's Stay Request By MARK H. ANDERSON, DOW JONES
U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts denied Research In Motion Inc.'s request to freeze lower court proceedings in a patent dispute between the BlackBerry maker and NTP Inc. Shares of Research In Motion fell 4%, or $2.36, to $55.04 on the Nasdaq Stock Market after the decision was announced.

The emergency request was denied without comment. RIM could refile the request with another justice, but such a move isn't likely to result in a different outcome. Chief Justice Roberts handles emergency requests for cases out of the Washington-based Federal U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which reviewed the case on appeal because it dealt with patent law.
Research In Motion, a Waterloo, Ontario, maker of Blackberry wireless email devices, has been trying to ensure a U.S. District Court doesn't enact an injunction restricting its ability to sell and support Blackberry operations in the U.S. because of a patent infringement case the company lost against NTP, a Virginia patent holding company. It filed an emergency appeal with the Supreme Court on Monday.

In a statement after Wednesday's decision, RIM confirmed the high court had denied its emergency request, but added the court "was not asked to, and did not decide, whether it ultimately will accept an appeal of the decision in the case."

Congress discovered Blackberries a couple of years ago, after Wall Street, tech execs, and lobbyists. My take on the legal battle that RIM is waging is that an injunction will be granted, forcing RIM to shut off the Blackberry e-mail service. So if you see an IM junky walking the corridors of power with a nervous tic, be kind to these withdrawing addicts.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Back Up for Dummies from Dell

For all of $99, Dell will now provide you with a second 80 GB hard drive on some Dimension models. All your files are backed up continuously and, when the dreaded hard drive crash comes (as it eventually will) you're protected.

What's not to like? It's cheap enough, capacious enough for all but the most rabid file traders and probably as reliable as any electro-mechanical system can be. And it happens automatically, so Joe or Jane Consumer isn't troubled by administrative details they don't understand.

It's about time.

Itanium Delay Puts HP in a Bind

[Google Blogspot ate my 10 paragraph blog. Honest. Below is a thumbnail of what never got posted.]

HP has by far the greatest risk to Itanium disappointments due to the company's heavy commitment to the processor family. HP 9000, VAX, and Tandem NonStop customers who bought into the Itanium migration are now facing some difficult choices. The delayed Montecito will have reduced features and a lower clock than planned when it arrives mid-2006. Future Itaniums are pushed out nine months or so. Thus, the future for tier-1 backend database machines based on Itanium is cloudy and deteriorating.

HP's Itanium engineers were sucked into Intel last year, meaning HP is stuck with what Intel can deliver on the Itanium platter. There's lots of speculation that Intel, absent its contractual commitments to HP, would sunset Itanium as a distraction. If nothing else, Intel needs the Itanium engineers as troops in its big battle pitting Xeon -- and its architectural descendants -- against AMD's Opteron.

The question I hear HP's Itanium customers asking today is basically this: "When can we jump from an Itanium multi-processor in a scale-up architecture to a scale-out architecture with 4-way Xeon (or Opteron) processors?" The answer is that many can. Today.

SANS - Internet Storm Center

Skype has a couple security issues that are fixed by downloading the latest here.
"Our avid reader and contributor Juha-Matti let us know that there are two new vulnerabilities in the free IP telephone software Skype.


CVE entries: CVE-2005-3265

Secunia advisory:

Please upgrade to the new version ASAP, they have been rated highly critical by Secunia, and high by Skype."


Tuesday, October 25, 2005

IBM's xBox 360 Details

From IBM's press release:
The chip features a customized version of IBM's industry leading 64-bit PowerPC core. The chip includes three of these cores, each with two simultaneous threads and clock speeds greater than 3 GHz. It features 165 million transistors and is fabricated using IBM's 90 nanometer Silicon on Insulator (SOI) technology to reduce heat and improve performance. The chip's innovative 21.6 GB/s Front Side Bus (FSB) Architecture was customized to meet the demanding throughput and latency requirements of the Xbox 360 gaming platform software.
Other Xbox 360 chip features include:
-- 3 identical multi-threaded PowerPC-based CPU cores operating at 3.2 GHz enhanced with specialized function VMX acceleration for gaming applications and a high speed 128-bit vector unit
-- 1 MByte Shared L2 Cache with custom logic for high-speed data streaming for graphics and system applications
-- 5.4 Gb/s per-pin Front Side Bus (with an aggregated bandwidth of 21.6 GBs)
-- Highly configurable and programmable utilizing eFUSE technology

The aggregate FSB bandwidth at 21.6 GB/second is an eye-opener. That ought to allow for near-photo realism in games and 2x HD video (2160i).

CNET news story on the chip here.

Meanwhile, Microsoft's plans for a simultaneous global launch guarantee shortages. Want the hot, unobtainable Christmas product you can sell on eBay? Better order in advance of the November 22nd launch. Then again, the shortage story may be part of a brilliant PR campaign to focus media attention on the xBox 360. You decide...

The Rinky-Dink Software Rant

Dvorak is at it again. I read this column with my head nodding. Even my favorite Paint Shop Pro is overly complicated, yet a lot easier to use than a full-blown copy of Photoshop. Its easier on the pocketbook, too.

So far my favorite all easy "get the job done" solution is Photoshop Elements.

As to the Kindegarten interface programs. The bundled software litters my hard drive and is rarely if ever used. Often uninstalling these pieces of candy corn (pretty, sweet, and otherwise useless) break another part of the bundle so they sit there idly, taking up bits. Then again, that's what 160 GB hard drives are for!

Monday, October 24, 2005

Why 2.0 Is Your Best Choice

From the article:

"Let me get down to the nitty-gritty: It's free (as in free beer) and it works. What's not to like?"

Can I say more. I'm going to start my download today :-)

Rat outsmarts scientists

If nothing else, it is a great headline.

Note that the one thing they don't mention having in the anti-rat arsenal was a cat. By the way, I have no doubt that cats can outsmart scientists, too.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

OnComputers Radio show Podcast 10-23-05

This is the On Computers Radio show podcast for 10-23-2005. If you prefer, you can download the same file here via ftp.

Today's URLs

This isn't Excel, its Magic! By Bob Umlas

Sysinternals Freeware - RootkitRevealer

Security Now podcast, transcript.
Mike Tech Show
Flock browser
Open Office 2.0
Strider Ghostbuster from Microsoft Research

a url I didn't get to mention on the show. Gizmondo stolen from a store, so they text message the guy, and use social engineering against him. Picture and story here. What do you think? Is it really tracking him? Place your bets in the comments ;)