Wednesday, December 27, 2006

HD disk format wars are over

Subtitled "A clear victor emerges", this is another of Charlie Demerjian's rants. More than that, though, it really is a cogent analysis of the outcome of the format wars. I think the winner Charlie postulates will surprise you until you sit a moment and think about it, at which point you will realize he is exactly right.

Add Charlie's conclusions to what has been revealed about content protection in Vista in the previous post and it is easy to see that we, as consumers (whether of content or computing resources) have been so thoroughly shafted that we, along with our position as THE market force, may never recover.


A Damning Indictment of Vista's True Costs

Increased hardware costs, decreases of function (some under the direct control of Microsoft and/or hardware vendors) and some serious security issues are detailed here.

It's a long article. I'm sorry about that. I think this should be required reading for anyone considering buying or building a Vista machine. If even half of the "features" reported on here are true, there will be widespread discontent on a scale not yet seen. And it will all be directed, rightly, at Microsoft.

I suspect there is a possibility all this will work more or less transparently to the user. Then again, this is Microsoft; masters at imposing functional limits on us. I guess the possibility these features won't bother us is vanishingly small.


Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The Death of The Internet?

I received this from a friend:
Please watch this video (The Video is from YouTube)and respond in any way you can, below is a copy of my letter I will be sending to everyone I can think of.

The internet is the greatest force empowering minority, and marginal points of view to come along in centuries. In other words before the internet the great establishment ideas already had the machinery of media to communicate their positions. What has happened is the common man has gotten into the game with a technology that was never intended to fall into the hands of common people. Much like the advance of writing, for centuries it was only the elite that had access to the accumulated knowledge of mankind through the written word. Books were not intended for common people, by controlling them through the mechanism of affordability, and availability the elite consolidated their power over the common people. I think the internet is analogous to the invention of the printing press, in the dissemination of knowledge to the common man.

By increasing our learning abilities, and expressions of free speech, we are advancing our civilization much as we did during the age of enlightenment. To restrict the internet in any way is a step backwards much like the book burnings of the past, an attempt to control the progress of human thought in any direction that is not considered to be in line with the position preferred by the people with the ability to control it.

By limiting the internet we are inhibiting our ability to think freely, and stifling our creativity. To do this for the financial benefit of a few companies and their stock holders, and to the detriment of society, would be criminal. It would also create a mechanism for governmental entities to control opinions of the people by controlling the information available to them, offering methods to control elections, and governmental processes.

We cannot allow this intrusion into the evolution of the human mind and spirit. The dissemination of information through the internet should be protected by the Supreme Court, as a vehicle of free speech. The internet is in process of replacing newspapers, books, and several other media’s, to restrict it in any way would be to restrict free speech, to a degree that has not been possible since the dark ages. Please do anything, and everything in your power to resist this attempt to profit by selling out one of our most basic inalienable rights. Greg Pollak, Las Vegas, Nevada

Monday, December 25, 2006

OnComputers Radio show Podcast 12-24-06

This is the On Computers Radio show podcast for 12-24-06. 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, December 24, 2006

Gail's son's guest book

Gail's oldest son passed away last week, and the following url is for his guest book to remember all the contributions he has made.
Our sincerest prayers and condolences to Gail and her whole family.
Guest Book - Gregg T. Allinson

Langa Letter: Year-End PC Tasks

This may be early, but then again, after the holidays, maybe you'll have more time to do the following computer "clean up." As Frank Langa says:
Chances are, your PC is different from the way it was at the start of this year. In fact, because you're the kind of PC user who reads articles like this one, I'll bet your PC is different from the way it was even a few days or weeks ago: Perhaps you added or removed some software. Maybe you installed a patch or update, or allowed one to be installed automatically. Perhaps you adjusted a system setting to make Windows look or act more the way you wanted, instead of the way Microsoft or whoever set up your PC thought it should be. Perhaps you tried out a performance tweak or other system change that you read about here or elsewhere.

even though its an article from 2004, I believe the recommendations are timeless.
Langa Letter: Year-End PC Tasks - News by InformationWeek

Looking for administrator password guidelines for DrPuter in the newsgroup, I found this site, which I found extremely comprehensive and a good collection of tips about malware, spyware, etc. from an MVP.

May you have a safe holiday season and a wonderful 2007!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Learning Ubuntu made easy

Good documentation has helped keep the two-year-old Ubuntu project among the most popular Linux distributions. To complement the traditional venues for help, such as FAQs, HOWTOs, bulletin boards, and mailing lists, Ubuntu uses interactive forums such as Internet Relay Chat to conduct training classes for new users.
This is the site I should have posted yesterday from Gari.

Create a Windows installation CD in 30 min (for dummies)

Create your very own personalized and unattended Windows installation CD, integrate your favorite software and make it install automatically during Windows setup. The best 200 freeware programs are available so that you can enjoy Firefox, CCleaner, Skype, WMP11, Java 6, etc. since the first boot of your operation system. Video tutorials!
Its got it all! Check it out

read more | digg story

Thanks to Gari (KoffeeBeanz) for this link:
This site is for everyone who is new to Ubuntu. Here you will find short video clips that highlight Ubuntu's features and demonstrate how to complete common tasks using Ubuntu.
This is a very nice web site with lots of info if your thinking of trying a Linux distro. I think Ubuntu has it right, this is the first time I had everything working on a Linux distro and didn't have to call someone for help. (like Jack or Gari or Greg)

Remember Ubuntu has a live CD (The OS plays from a bootable CD) You can try it before you click on the icon to start the installation, that is on the desktop. I have noticed for the latest version you need at least 256MB of memory.
Enjoy a new experience try Ubuntu!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Sony settles rootkit suit: $1.5M to states, users file for refunds

I know a lot of listeners, hosts and bloggers live in California and Texas. So I thought this settlement info might interest those people.

Sony settles rootkit suit: $1.5M to states, users file for refunds
Sony BMG this week settled a lawsuit brought by California and Texas over the infamous XCP "anti-piracy" spyware trojan. The media giant got off with a slap on the wrist for the long-running rootkit debacle, which affected nearly 5 million CDs -- Sony will pay a total of $1.5 million to the states, and a smaller sum in customer refunds.
Link to AP story. Link to previous BoingBoing coverage.

Boing Boing: Sony settles rootkit suit: $1.5M to states, users file for refunds


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Skype worm spotted

I figured you ought to know about this. Not that I think you are so silly as to click on unsolicited files, but you have friends, family and associates who probably need to be reminded of this.

Details are still sparse, but the message with the executable attached is apparently disguised as a security upgrade and looks official enough to fool at least a few folks. I imagine it's enough to know that Skype can be an attack vector and that one needs to look out for it.


Peter Coffee's 25 Killer Apps of All Time

Whether or not you agree with him (and I don't) this is a very interesting list. It's also interesting to see how few of these applications are still in widespread usage. Things do change over time, evolving, at least.



Gifts for an Eight-Bit Holiday

Many of us remember those old machines. They were primitive and limited, but they opened our eyes to previously unthinkable horizons.

MIT's Technology Review has a partial list of reproductions and emulations of those old machines, along with some modern-day ones meant to teach younger people about computing. Some are kits, some are complete machines. At the very least, reading this 2 page article will whet your appetite for the reproduction machines. It did mine.


Sunday, December 17, 2006

OnComputers Radio show Podcast 12-17-06

This is the On Computers Radio show podcast for 12-17-06. 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.

Kernel Developers: GPL-Only Modules in 2008

As you will read when you click on the link above, there are a lot of Linux kernel developers who want to do away with proprietary "binary only" modules being introduced into the kernel. This is in the interest of free software purity. To be free software, the source code must be available to the user and there are currently a LOT of drivers and other modules for which source code is not available.

Linus Torvalds opposes this, but will not stand in the way if that is what the developers want to do. Linus' position is that doing this is just another restriction on users, which has a lot to do with their reasons for developing Linux - to avoid restrictions on what they can use their computers for.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. I side with Linus on this, but could live with it either way.


Saturday, December 16, 2006

Alan F. Shugart, 76, a Developer of Disk Drive Industry, Dies

Thanks goes to patterson for this article. Since this is a NY Times article you either need a free registration or butmenot to read it. Sorry about that. It is worth the effort.

I've owned both Conners and Seagates, by the way :-).

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Skype's free call plan to charge annual fee | CNET

Well, I guess its official. Skypeout will no longer be free after 12/31.

Skype 3.0 for Windows

Official release. Version: Release date: December 13, 2006
File name: SkypeSetup.exe File size: 19 MB
Skype A full year of unlimited calls to any phone in the US and Canada for $14.95
Make phone calls right from your computer.
PC to PC will always be free, We don't know what will happen to the free PC to phone calls we get now after the first of the year.

Boing Boing: Milblog project gives hundreds of laptops to wounded US soldiers

I thought this was a geeky way to honor U.S. Soldiers, and that it would interest all (3 of us? ;)) who read the blog :)

Ad-hoc charity group Valour-IT ("Voice-Activated Laptops for OUR Injured Troops") has donated more than 700 laptops loaded with voice-recognition software to US soldiers who've lost the ability to type due to lost limbs or severe hand/arm injuries. They expect to have delivered 850 or more by Christmas. A number of blogs authored by active duty military and vets worked together to raise awareness on the project. Mark Glaser at PBS Mediashift blog says,

It started last year when Army Captain Chuck Ziegenfuss injured both his hands and wanted to get back to blogging. His blog readers pitched in for Dragon Naturally Speaking software, and he and another blogger, FbL, put together Valour-IT and have raised more than $330,000 with two online Veteran's Day fundraisers fueled by milbloggers.

Boing Boing: Milblog project gives hundreds of laptops to wounded US soldiers

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

IT Confidential: Microsoft Is Mired In Vista, Report Says

I really don't know if this story is based in fact or not. If it is, Microsoft itself considers Vista as a problem without equal and one requiring "outside the box" solutions. Some of those given in the article are said tongue in cheek, but others are apparently reasonable reactions to an extreme problem.

Veeeeery interesting.


Monday, December 11, 2006

Microsoft answers IP questions posed in LXer open letter

LXwe sent an open letter to Microsoft after Steve (quiet as a mouse) Ballmer said that Linux definitely infringed on MS' intellectual property. Microsoft spokespeople have provided answers to the questions and the link above will take you there.

Personally, I did not find much substance to the Microsoft answers and so conclude theie reply is merely a continuation of a FUD campaign.


France plans open source centre of excellence

Last week, I read an article saying that Europe loves open source, but no one is using it, meaning that very few organizations or even departments had made the jump away from proprietary software and operating systems. It rang true, too!

The exception to that is the French, who are moving to Linux and free software at a noticeable pace. The reason is that using proprietary software drains such a significant amount of money from French coffers and transfers it out of the country. The "freedom" of open source is a secondary, but still counted, aspect of the deal.

Whether or not this "center of excellence" for free and open source software will yield any solid results is beside the point. What really matters is that the French are taking things seriously enough that they wish a repository of knowledge regarding building, deploying and using free software to be close at hand. Obviously, they intend using it enough to justify it's existence.


Sunday, December 10, 2006

OnComputers Radio show Podcast 12-10-06

This is the On Computers Radio show podcast for 12-10-06. 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.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Zero-Day Tracker

eEye has started a page to track zero-day exploits. They have an RSS feed and I have subscribed. If you have trouble keeping track of these things and which ones affect you and those you support (which I definitely do) this is a good one. I also found it well enough done that I did not have to wade through all sorts of extraneous data to get the drift of the problem being discussed.


Windows Trojan masquerades as Vista hack

It's the first major attack against Vista and (fittingly, to my mind) it targets pirated copies of Vista. Legitimate users have nothing to fear from this one.

This short blurb at The Register has links to more detail, should you desire that.


Security bulletin; Update available for buffer overflow in Adobe Download Manager

The link is to an Adobe advisory about their Download Manager software. Originally thought only to crash the Adobe application and/or Internet Explorer, it has been found that the flaw does allow malicious code to be run. A simple upgrade in the software will fix it.

If you are using the Adobe Download Manager on either Windows or the Macintosh, this is one to take note of.


Bogus anti-spyware makers ahead of law in South Korea

This is not just a problem in South Korea. I've found several spyware infestations lately masquerading as anti-spyware applications.

I have also found some of these bogus apps using the names of respectable software companies, though there is absolutely no relation between the companies and the "applications" in question.

(I have checked as closely as I can and am not using the names of the two companies at their requests while they try to clean up their reputations. I found it most interesting that neither of the companies deals in computer security in their regular business. I guess the fakers thought picking on these companies would give them some time before discovery.)

More about this later, as things develop.


Andy UpdegroveThere are over 1,000,000 supported standards, with more being developed all the time. The Standards Blog examines how standards are d

Microsoft's "Office Open XML" file formats are up for certification as "real" standards. This short FAQ contains a lot of information on the standardization process, as well as the MS application. I thought it well worth posting for that.


How Google Finds Your Needle in the Web's Haystack

An explanation of Google's Page Rank system.

Caution; Contains enough mathematics that one really can't get the gist of it without actually messing with the math. Even so, interesting and informative.


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

James Kim found deceased | CNET

We had all hoped and prayed for a happy ending after the joyous news that Kati and the children were safe, but it was not to be. Our deepest sympathies to the Kim family.

'Bad guys are winning' despite fight against spam

Gloom and doom as delivered by The International Herald Tribune. However, with my spam to honest message ration now standing at 201 spams to one actual message, I thought to pass this along.

I was being serious about that ratio. I have 9 accounts and am recieving just over 10k messages per day, ON A DIAL-UP ACCOUNT! Out of those, I got 49 "good" messages today.

The bad guys really are winning, you know.


Tuesday, December 05, 2006

War for Linux Is Lost - Almost

This is a depressing essay. The problem is that it might be true.

I offer it to those of you who care about the future of Linux, which I do, and as the basis for thought.

There is another opinion along the same line, here.


Malware wars: Are hackers on top?

Recently, two different listeners have asked me who is winning; the malware writers or the security folks. Here's the opinion of Raimund Genes, CTO of anti-malware at Trend Micro. I find this somewhat scary but, try as I might, I cannot find material refuting his claims.


Wife, Children Safe, Search On For CNET's Kim

Please continue to keep James Kim and the family in your thoughts and prayers. I saw this news before I went to bed last night. I'm so grateful that three have been found and brought to safety. Hopefully James will be found safe and reunited with his wife and children soon.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Let's Say Thanks to a Soldier

This is a great site that Xerox is sponsoring that allows you to send a Thank you card to a soldier in Iraq.
You can't pick the soldier, but does that really matter???

Let's Say Thanks
[h/t to a fellow geocacher for this link]

Sunday, December 03, 2006

OnComputers Radio show Podcast 12-03-06

This is the On Computers Radio show podcast for 12-03-06. 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.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Aerial search under way for missing CNET editor

I know many of our friends, listeners, and readers are former TechTV viewers and current CNET readers, so I wanted to post this. The news broke, about James Kim and his family missing, yesterday and I'm still in shock. At times like this the technology family seems very small, even though I have never met the Kims.

I know that the weather was really bad last weekend in Oregon. I will hope for the best, but it will be a week tomorrow since the family went missing. Still people have been found alive after that amount of time and I hope that they are okay. Keep the Kim family in your thoughts and prayers. Keep the search and rescue people in your thoughts and prayers, too.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Decoding an ancient computer

Okay, I admit it! I am an insatiable Discovery Channel addict; as if you couldn't guess.

Over the years there have been several shows about the Antikythera Mechanism, an ancient mechanical computer of great sophistication found under the ocean in 1901. The device fascinates me.

The link above will take you to a series of photographs on CNET's which depict both the mechanism and a "completed" computer simulation of what scientists think the mechanism looked like. It is beyond merely cool, in my opinion.


Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Sony Unveils New Self-Destructive

"Sure there are safety issues, but most homes are equipped with smoke detectors these days, and are chock full of pirated material which would be destroyed in the blaze. OK, their house might burn down, but isn't that a small price to pay to combat piracy?"
Excuse me! Did Sony just step on it AGAIN?
Thanks Buzz from the chat.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

MPAA Lobbying for Home Theater Regulations

You have got to be kidding me... I swear all these ^*($@*^!) need to be shot. Although I must say that his is the first article I've read where they come right out and say that they are going to try and control your personal movements, "Just because you buy a DVD to watch at home doesn't give you the right to invite friends over to watch it too. That's a violation of copyright and denies us the revenue that would be generated from DVD sales to your friends".

Here we go again!
This came to us from Sparky in SLUG

Microsoft Comes Out Swinging for 2007, Thursday November 30th

Many thanks to OC chat regular and listener, Earl, for this submission:

To those of you who are nay saying Vista’s saleability, its value, its security or its general appeal to the marketplace I say you just aren’t looking in the right place. This is not about Vista. It’s about Microsoft’s moneymaking strategy for the future. Microsoft is not just coming out with seven versions of Vista for the year 2007. It’s also coming out with eight versions of Office 2007. But if you think that’s all then you haven’t seen half of it. The new version of Windows Server currently called Longhorn Server is coming out in 2007. And what else? What is the killer app of the Internet? Email. Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 is to be released on Thursday too. This is a four punch combination that will impact the business community for years to come. And - as Microsoft well knows – the business world’s model of computing is followed by people taking it home. In other words, as the impact of Exchange 2007/Outlook/Office 2007/Office Live/Vista and the new Sharepoint /WebServer/Server2007 combo hits the biz community in the next few months it will either make it or break it for Microsoft. And what do you think Microsoft is planning on? Certainly they are not planning on the success of Vista alone to save their tush. Since 1997 Microsoft has depended on Exchange/Windows Server/Windows (95, 98, 2000, XP) and MS Office to be the winner in the corporate marketplace.

“This is no small matter. Together, Sharepoint, the Exchange e-mail offering and Office software rang up $14.5 billion of Redmond's $44.3 billion in revenue in the last fiscal year, which ended June 30. That exceeded Windows sales of $13.2 billion.

These segments are so profitable — that combined $27.7 billion from business software and Windows sales produced $19.9 billion in operating income — that they all but float the company, letting Microsoft's entertainment and online divisions lose money.”

November 30th is Microsoft’s first release date to the business world of Vista – Office 2007 – Exchange 2007. It’s not going to impact the world immediately. But MS software rarely does. The entire strategy for the future (Office, Vista, Server, Exchange 2007 and Sharepoint/Webserver) will make it or break it for the 800 pound gorilla. The rest of us just follow.


Monday, November 27, 2006

'9 out of 10 e-mails now spam' -

No shock here......

Apple Mac Tablet PC With Docking Station In 07

This is really last year's news. Apple has been floating these devices internally for a while now.

The difference is that this unit has a docking station and is aimed at home users, rather than business/enterprise niche uses. Apple has taken a bunch of patents applicable to this sort of device over the last few years, and probably had enough technology left over from the Newton to do this fairly well. (Yes, the Newton really was that far ahead of it's time, and hardware!)

Nothing is sure, yet. But if Apple really does bring out one of these, I'll be standing in line for one of the first, even if I have to hock my Mac running Linux to do it.


Sunday, November 26, 2006

OnComputers Radio show Podcast 11-26-06

This is the On Computers Radio show podcast for 11-26-06. 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.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Choosing The Right Vista

VIA Arena has a very good guide to choosing the right Vista for your needs. There is a handy chart that shows you which features are in the different versions of Vista and what they mean to you. This is good reading for those of you planning to upgrade to Vista

For my needs it looks like I will need "Windows Vista Business" edition. That is the middle edition of seven (7) editions.
YES! 7 different editions of "Windows Vista".



Friday, November 24, 2006

Adware Trojan aims for Macs

More proof that the Mac OS X is not quite as secure as it's boosters thought. Apparently, this code can be installed without any user input, much less permission. This should not be able to happen and I imagine it won't take long for Apple to issue a fix. Still, it is proof Mac users should now keep up on security matters related to their chosen platform. They can no longer blithely assume security sufficient to the job is built in.


Thursday, November 23, 2006

MAKE: Blog: Liquid Nitrogen ice cream? Fractal pecan pie? A recirculating gravy fountain?

In honor of Thanksgiving in the U.S. I offer this geeky look at turkey day. Enjoy and have a stuffed day. ;)
Arwen has a fantastic interview (make sure to see the photos) she writes - "Liquid Nitrogen ice cream? Fractal pecan pie?? A recirculating gravy fountain??? I couldn't believe my eyes when I first saw Turkey Tek's Thanksgiving Instructables way back in April, and I've been not-so-patiently waiting to see what they put up this year. To keep myself occupied while I wait for Thanksgiving to come and go and for TT to disclose this year's escapade, I thought I'd ask a few questions about what makes Turkey Tek tick."

MAKE: Blog: Liquid Nitrogen ice cream? Fractal pecan pie? A recirculating gravy fountain? - An interview with Turkey Tek


Monday, November 20, 2006

Yes, there is an Office 2007 'kill switch'

This is hardly news by now. I post it only because it is definite confirmation and a few more details than we had before.

I hope MS can pull this off. I am not hopeful. I can imagine hundreds, thousands, even millions of false positive reports by the WGA software, leading to no end of problems and huge customer resentment. It is even possible that MS could even end up killing their customer good will, which is already stretched thin. I know this can be done well, but somehow don't trust Microsoft to manage it.

We shall see.


Sunday, November 19, 2006

OnComputers Radio show Podcast 11-19-06

This is the On Computers Radio show podcast for 11-19-06. 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.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

MySpace password exploit: Crunching the numbers (and letters)

The link is to an article at InfoWorld's web site. Roger Grimes got ahold of the purloined password/username lists obtained in the phishing attack when they were posted on the web. He analyses 34k entries for various things like frequency of letter and number use. It is a short and very interesting look into both how passwords fail and how easily they can be made a lot stronger.

As Grimes points out, it is not often a White Hat type gets to analyse such large lists and his doing so makes this article unique. It also points out just how easy it is to have passwords that do fall into "the norm", meaning it is almost trivial for you to tighten up your act as far as passwords go. For me to do it, as well. I was a bit surprised to find that several of my passwords fall directly into line with the poor ones. I spent a fun-filled hour fixing that.


Update: There are links in the article cited above to a 3 part article on Microsoft's TechNet site. Here are all 3, just in case.
Part 1.
Part 2.
Part 3.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Linux infringes Microsoft patents, says Ballmer

I'm sure it is possible, but if it is true, why hasn't Microsoft sued anyone or revealed which parts of Linux or the software that runs on it infringe their IP rights?

The response to Ballmer's statement from the open source/free software communities has been overwhelmingly defiant. I think they want Ballmer to back up his words and are not at all afraid of a lawsuit. I cannot make up my mind whether this is just bravado or based on facts. I sense the former but am assured by my FOSS developer friends that if in fact the threats are based in reality, the various developer communities will strip out the infringing code and re-write it in very short order.

One way or another, this is going to get interesting. Remember; Red Hat is suing SCO simply because SCO impugned Linux. RH is seeking a declaration in court that Linux does not infringe any of SCO's intellectual property. It would not surprise me if either they or another Linux company (Canonical comes to mind, here) sues MS seeking the same outcome. There are many Linux companies with deep enough pockets to sue Microsoft and one or more of them just might.

And more than one pundit has wondered aloud how suing over Linux would affect Microsoft's bottom line. Alienating a significant portion of your customer base is never wise and it is a certainty that a very significant portion of Microsoft's enterprise and government customers are running Linux in one form or another.


Google improves its AJAX toolkit

Google has some nice web and web application toolkits available. Their AJAX kit, which previously catered mainly to Windows and Linux, has now been expanded to include Macintoshs running OS X.

If you are doing any type of web development at all, I urge you to check out Google's free tools and code offerings. They might save you a lot of work or expand your capabilities.


Tuesday, November 14, 2006

World Useablility Day and N@N

I thought this might interest some, I wish I'd heard about it before the actual day... They do have webcasts available, so perhaps there will also be some after the fact audio or video. Check it out. Usability is an issue for everybody.

World Usability Day 2006

I'm listening to Net@Nite and Amber mentioned a search engine that has "Guides" who will do the searching for you. Amber used an example of looking for the price of a Wii, the expert pasted the link for wikipedia and told her to scroll half way down the page for the price, but they were about $259. So for those of us who might just be overwhelmed by the thousands of links, and just want some help finding results this might be the place to go. And its free! As I was checking it out, I found a way to imbed a search link here, so there it is....

ChaCha Search Search

FlashEarth is another cool page that I heard about while listening to Net@Nite, it offers a choice of mapping sources, zoomable, rotateable. Not to mention it'll give you your latitude and longitude, if anybody has a GPS, say.... Liveblogging Net@Nite for you :)


Get Microsoft Firefox Professional

It's a prank. At least I hope it's a prank.



Broadcom flaw could allow Wi-Fi hijacks

Computer users can check if they have the vulnerable driver by searching for it on their system. The driver filename is: BCMWL5.SYS. As a workaround, some people suggest installing the fixed Linksys drivers for protection.

There are times when security through obscurity is a good thing, because I find I have this driver on my laptop. I'd hate to be in a public place with it right now and would probably revert to using my USB wireless, but what a pain that is. I know I'm not the only one with this problem. Since Broadcom has released an update, we need to make sure our manufacturers pass this update on to us.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Sun releases Java under GPL licence

Since Jack isn't/wasn't feeling well (feel better soon!), I'm posting this as an inadequate substitute. (And, its a link from!)

SUN MICROSYSTEMS will announce today that its Java language, contrary to the prediction of many pundits, will be offered as pure "Free Software" -as Richard Stallman would say "free as in freedom"- under a GPL version two licence.

Ponytailed CEO Jonathan Schwartz will announce the ground-breaking move in a webcast to be held later at 9:30am Pacific Time. Both Java SE -used on desktops - and Java ME - used on mobile phones and PDAs- will be included. The server-side Java, or Java EE will be available both under the GPL version two licence and the same Common Development and Distribution Licence (CDDL) that Sun has used until now.

Full article


Widescreen LCD Links

I had to gloss over a lot today, especially the part about viewing DVDs on a widescreen monitor. Here is a small selection of links to compliment our discussion on today's On Computers Show and podcast:

Computer Display Standards

How LCD Monitors Work

Widescreen Gaming Forum

Monitor Calibration

Anamorphic DVDs

Sunday, November 12, 2006

OnComputers Radio show Podcast 11-12-06

This is the On Computers Radio show podcast for 11-12-06. 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.

Show Links

Joe's GPS Nice!!

Black Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year, is almost here!

Black Friday is just around the corner! If you're not entirely familiar with the yearly tradition, Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving that draws mobs of people to wait in long lines to get good deals on just about everything -- it is also the busiest shopping day of the year. Many credit Black Friday as being the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season.

DailyTech - Get Ready for Black Friday

Satellite Tracking System: Orbitron

Mercury transiting the Sun: Bad Astronomer Blog

Thats roughly the first hours urls. I don't want to lose this, so I'm gonna hit publish.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Microsoft to patch zero-day XML flaw | Tech News on ZDNet

"Microsoft on Tuesday plans to issue six security bulletins, including at least one with a fix for a security vulnerability that is actively being used in cyberattacks."
Thanks Earl for the update

nVidia Announces Early Christmas for Gamers, Power Users

Go ahead, click on the link to nVidia's home page. You'll see the most stunning graphics ever seen from a consumer PC.

The new 8800 GTX GPU is a whopping 400+ mm, giving gamers 631 million transistors worth of DirectX 10 gaming power. The reviews are all gaga, and well they should. Now, you can play with full AA and still have frame rates to spare.

Also announced are the nForce 680i, as in 'i" for Intel, motherboards. Like the previous generation 590 mobos, nVidia has full support for SLI, elaborate as well as push-button overclocking, and a no-cost turbocharge of 20% when an nVidia graphics card (7900 and up) is married to the nForce mobo.

All of this can be yours at about $2,000 and up (way up).

I expect a (long) line for the 8800. Maybe not as long as the PlayStation 3, but long. Why? Because the 8800 has 128 stream processors that can handle vertices or pixel shading. That's how DirectX 10, out soon with Windows Vista, simplifies GPUs and ensures that massive parallelism will be the norm from here on out. One big reason to queue up for an 8800 is the fact that it's very backwards compatible with DirectX 9 games -- at higher performanc levels.

In short, a tour de (n)Force by nVidia. Buy here.


Thursday, November 09, 2006

Particletree | A Guide to Email Roundup

I thought that this had a tip or two for everybody, for dealing with email. How to make it more effective on many levels.

Particletree | A Guide to Email Roundup
[h/t Merlin Mann]


Anti-spyware anesthetises your OS before going to work

This is not the first time this idea has come up. Loads of live CDs, such as the Ultimate Boot CD do their work from an alternate operating system. In the case of the UBCD it is FreeDOS, if that makes any difference.

With rootkits becoming ever more prevalent, this is obviously the way to build a malware scanner. As the article says; booting to the other OS gives the scanner access to some parts of Windows that previously have been held out of scans. I expect this also gets one around the PatchGuard kernel protection in 64 bit Vista. In fact, this may be the only way third party scanners can assure you of the kernel's health in the presence of PatchGuard. I can imagine a halt in the Vista boot cycle for the alternate OS to boot and scan critical portions of Vista, then hand the reins back to Vista to finish booting normally.

At any rate; this is one to watch and I'm quite sure there will be other such implementations of the idea from other vendors.


Download your Blue Screen of Death - from Microsoft

This one was just a bit too cute to ignore.


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Sun Set To Move On GPL License For Open-Source Java

Sun kept saying "we can't do this very fast", once they accepted the notion of opening the source code for the Java language. Obviously they were bargaining for enough time that when they finally started to take irrevocable actions, they would be perceived as moving very rapidly in relation to their own forecasts.

At any rate; Java as a FOSS product is nearly a done deal and will be official soon. Look for this to re-establish Java as a competitor to Python, .NET and the newcomer, Ruby, in the hearts and minds of developers, or at least their bosses.

In case you are wondering what is accomplished by open-sourcing Java; the move puts the languaage in a place where Sun cannot discontinue or otherwise cripple it in favor of a newer product. That is what happened with Microsoft's Visual Basic. When the .NET version came out, it was incompatible with earlier versions, as were the runtimes, forcing either re-writing code to comply with the new runtimes or sticking with the old and hoping to go on for some time without patches or hotfixes for any issues that might arise. The resentment was palpable at the time and the fact that it happened once has steered several companies I know of away from .NET completely and into the arms of open source platforms.

There are still some licensing issues to be decided, but I think they will all be worked out within a month. Perhaps even less.


Increased spam levels connected with aggressive botnet activities

I had subjectively and objectively, using my spam statistics, noticed an increase in spam here at home. I had mentioned it to other members of the OC crew. Now I think I know what has been happening. At least this explains what it could be.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Every Vista PC to get a domain name

This is kinda neat. It is an access solution for those who are away from their home machines for long periods as well as an expansion of networking capabilities on the local network. MS calls it "Peer to Peer" networking and I was almost refreshed to see them name something descriptively, instead of trying to invent some cool catchword for it.

You won't be seeing this very soon, but you will be seeing it. It is simply too clever to ignore. Existing home and enterprise equipment has only spotty support for IPv6, the next generation Internet Protocol. That will change with time and once the necessary hardware is in place.

Microsoft's detailed outlay of how it works is here.


Microsoft Local Live goes 3D

The link above is to an early (and partial) review at The Inquirer. The real deal is here.

I have downloaded it and the insall went flawlessly. As I write this I have been fooling with it for about an hour and I am impressed with what I see and how it works. There are a few shortcomings, but all in all, this one is worthy of your attention.


Monday, November 06, 2006

New Theme for Windows XP Download

After all these years, MS has given us a new, free theme for Windows XP. It is the Zune theme. It sports a black taskbar and an orange start button. As an unintended consequence of the orange in the color scheme, it looks great on Firefox. It is also pretty cool looking in general. Your less savvy friends may even think you are running Vista if you neglect to tell them. The Zune theme comes with a Zune themed desktop wallpaper; but if you are not a Zunester, you can easily replace it with your own pic. Download and enjoy. Thanks Microsoft.

OnComputers Radio show Podcast 11-05-06

This is the On Computers Radio show podcast for 11-05-06. 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.

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.


Saturday, October 28, 2006

How to Fix being dropped by your wireless connection.

This was an FAQ I ran across this week while working.
What causes my wireless connection to be dropped every few minutes when using Windows XP?

Note: This issue was fixed with Service Pack 2. (It's doesn't always work!)

This behavior usually happens when your connection is configured to use 802.1x Authentication, but your current hardware does not support the feature. To disable the option, follow these steps: "

Friday, October 27, 2006


I'm sorry about the title, but that's what it is and I could not think of a decent way to change it.

Oracle has announced they will distribute Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) and sell support for it at bargain basement prices. Red Hat's stock went in the tank after the announcement. (As the article linked to above points out, that may well have been Oracle's intent; lowering Red Hat's market cap enough to make them an affordable takeover target.)

Anyway, this article is short and completely tears apart Oracle's announcement. They can't support their own product, so how can they support someone else's? It is a good read, short and devastating.


XP Service Pack 3 delayed

From ZD net UK:

This week, Microsoft updated its lifecycle Web site to note that the introduction of Service Pack 3 — the next XP update — has been pushed back until the first half of 2008.

How To Speed Up Your Snail-Slow Notebook Computer

Tom's Hardware UK has a really nice article about how to tune up your notebook. It is written really simply and everything is explained well. I recommend this to anyone, but especially those who usually do not trust themselves to delve into the inner workings of a PC.

Outilined here are the things I routinely do to any machine to improve it's performance. They are all proven methods to extract the best from a machine.


Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Microsoft Delays Windows Vista to PC Makers - Yahoo! News

The Internet is abuzz with reports that Microsoft Vista will miss an important deadline, possibly making the operating system slip its launch schedule.

Taiwan PC makers, and Microsoft watcher and journalist Paul Thurrott, have noted that the October 25 date for Vista's release to manufacturing -- or RTM -- has been reset by Microsoft to November 8.

Thurrott, who has written more than a dozen books on Windows and related topics, pointed out that in a recent interview, Jim Allchin, copresident of Microsoft's Platforms and Services Division, admitted that the company wouldn't make its planned RTM date, but did not say whether the final release date would be affected.

Allchin has noted in the past that Microsoft could afford to postpone the RTM date to the second week of November and still meet its January launch schedule for consumer editions of Windows Vista.

Microsoft Delays Windows Vista to PC Makers - Yahoo! News

A Call to Distros: Give Users What They Want

With the coming of Vista widely seen as an opportunity for both Mac and Linux to pick up market share among desktop users, there has been a lot of discussion about how to make Linux more attractive to potential adopters. These new users are assumed to be less than hard-core geeks and, in fact, there is much talk about targeting very average users and what can be done to make their lives easier in regard to installing and configuring Linux.

(Obviously this is not the Slackware crowd talking. :) )

This short article on OS News illustrates the character of these discussions, though there is a significant percentage of folks who are against this sort of thing. They would rather Linux stay the purview of geeks alone. Common themes are that Linux does not need unskilled desktop users or that installing non-free software (that not licensed under the GPL) is contrary to the principles of Linux developers.

I thought you might like to see this, in case you are thinking about desktop Linux.


The world's most sophisticated Trojan uncovered

While I have serious doubts this is the most sophisticated trojan/back door/spam bot program extant, there is no doubt of it's advanced features and capabilities. I just think the most sophisticated program of this sort is yet to be discovered, simply because it is so advanced. It's running quietly on some thousands of machines, doing it's worst, without being detected.

Despite that qualification, this Tech World article outlines a truly advanced piece of malware. It attempts to eliminate competitor's malware on the machine as some earlier malware has, but does it in a significantly more capable and reliable way; by using a corrupted copy of Kaspersky Anti-Virus. It also uses encrypted instruction sets so competitors cannot co-opt the program for themselves and can be updated to take instructions from another server,should the author's server be down or taken away. All told, it is pretty stout stuff. Check out the article, which is easy to read and understand, plus having the desired attribute of being brief.


Building the global metaverse

Virtual worlds are a huge part of other nation's Internet usage. Not so here in the US.

This blog entry illustrates that and discusses the phenomenon. I don't know how many of you have interest in virtual worlds. I personally find them of interest, but do not partake, mostly because of the time it takes to do it well. I simply don't have it. Anyway; this is an interesting set of observations and comments and worth the short time it will take to read it.


Monday, October 23, 2006

When Standards Are Political -- ODF (the Open Document Format)

Remember the flap when the State of Massachusetts decided that all State documents had to be in Open Document Format or PDF so that anyone could read them without obtaining any special software? Well, it is not over at all. France, Denmark, Belgium and some US States have gone that way. The EU looks set to dictate that, as well, though it might take a while.

James Love's blog entry on the subject is the single shortest and most lucid on the subject I have seen and I thought you might wish to read it.


Sunday, October 22, 2006

OnComputers Radio show Podcast 10-22-06

This is the On Computers Radio show podcast for 10-22-06. 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.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Trinity Team Develops International Open Source Disaster Relief Software

This is the best idea for a university class software project that I have seen in a while. Perhaps ever. It's software to manage disaster relief. The article on the Trinity College web site can be accessed by the link above. The project home page is here.

This project is like a poster child for open source. No company could afford to develop a package like this because they would not have enough buyers to pay for the R&D at any reasonable price. i found it very interesting and have turned our local government onto it.


Thursday, October 19, 2006

Microsoft Plans Vista Upgrade Coupon For Holiday PC Buying Season - Windows Vista, Express Upgrade - CRN

"Not all of the coupons will be for free upgrades. Customers who buy systems running Windows XP Home Edition can upgrade to Vista Home Basic Edition for a flat $49 fee and to the higher-end Windows Vista Home Premium Edition for a cost of $79."
The Windows Vista Technology Upgrade Program runs from Oct. 26, 2006, through March 15, 2007. Distributors are expected to have the new SKUs in house for system builders by Oct. 15. News of the planned coupon and promotion emerged in June.

Thanks SchmooBro from our chat for this info. If you see something you think is news and would like to share it with the listeners please send us an email. Our first name @


IE 7 MS download URL

Ok Jack here's the MS link for IE7
Tried commenting but, URL is too long.

IE 7 Final is OUT!!!

Internet Explorer is out in final form. The link above will take you to a download page at FlexBeta.

Oddly, the first available copies were from Yahoo and bundled with their mail app and some other things. FlexBeta's download page came up sometime after Yahoo's. There does not yet seem to be an official page at, but I will bet they fix that in a hurry.

For those of you who wait and have automatic updates enabled in XP, you will have the new browser version pushed to you, unless you don't want it and sign off on it. Frankly, I can't see any reason not to get it. IE 7 is safer in many ways and by all accounts performs better than it's predecessors in nearly every way. Plus, it adheres to standards such as those for Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) much more closely.



Wednesday, October 18, 2006

» Surge of killer device drivers leave no OS safe | George Ou |

"News came yesterday that Linux users who used NVIDIA's drivers were in danger of being remotely exploited because a zero-day exploit code was released last week. "
Not even Linux is safe these days! :(

Fall Processor Forum 2006: IBM's POWER6

IBM's Power PC 6 processor is apparently really something. Performance is such that I (for one) regret that it will not make it into desktop or workstation machines. I still think that RISC has a place in serious machines for desktop usage, but no manufacturer seems to think that way. Should one wish such a machine, she/he is stuck either co-opting a machine meant for server usage or attempting to build a special machine for themselves.

My dreams have been crushed!


Battlefield 2142 comes with spyware

Electronic Arts must really not get it. They have included spyware in a new game that will deliver contextual advertising during game play. "Spyware" is the right term, too, as the software phones home to report what the user does online in order to deliver ads more accurately.

This is going to develop into a huge flap. Users who shell out serious money for a game are actually setting the publishing company up for more income and even at this early stage, the resentment is palpable. Check out game player's forums and see for yourself. The cries of "foul" are loud and growing in numbers.

To my way of thinking, this is simply another case of greed gone mad. Sadly, we will see more and more of this.


Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Windows virus worms onto some Apple iPods | Tech News on ZDNet

Apple Computer warned on Tuesday that some of its latest iPods have shipped with a Windows virus.
Is nothing safe?
I hope you have a good Anti-Virus on your Windows Computer.

Remember We sell NOD32 the Anti-Virus that WORKS! you can try a free trial for 30 days.

Microsoft to give Vista kernel access to security firms

This story is everywhere today, but it is important enough that it needs to be here. I think this is good news for all of us who don't want MS to be both our OS vendor and sole security vendor. From the article:

Today, Microsoft decided on a compromise: the company will develop new Windows Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) that will give security companies access to the kernel.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Cisco gains patent on 'triple play'

This is proof positive, as if any were needed, that our patent system is horribly broken. Cisco has gained a patent on something people from literally hundreds of companies have been implementing for years.

The link will take you to a very short article at The Register, where they have posted the first paragraph of the patent claims, which seem to cover everything but childbirth videos.

Read it and weep.


OnComputers Radio show Podcast 10-15-06

This is the On Computers Radio show podcast for 10-15-06. 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.

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.

Saturday, October 07, 2006


GeekBrief.TV is a cool videoblog that is short, and has a perky geek hostess, Cali Lewis. I became aware of the podcast through one of Leo's " network podcasts." They were part of a mashup ( nice job PodcastSalad!! )of save the internet videos which is the YouTube link posted below (Oh look that's Cali, right there (OT: how is the frame picked by Youtube? I've always wondered)): Ep. 75

This concludes your SavetheInternet update. Enjoy! :)

Microsoft gives adware pusher an MVP award

Yep, once again Microsoft has put its foot in its mouth. This time it was by naming an adware purveyor as an MVP. This takes nothing away from all the honest and hardworking MVPs who have been such a help to us end users over the years, but whoever in Redmond pulled this blunder needs his hard drive examined. And what was the evilware bundled with this new MVPs software you ask? No, it was not something borderline or merely annoying. It was LOP, which is only a small step down from CWS.

I'm with Ed Bott who has called for MS to click the Undo button. Yes, please, and quickly.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Open DNS

Been meaning to post this for quite some time. ISP DNS stinks? Check this out. It's DNS servers open to all. I've been using them and they work fine.

Hardware in Review: Lenovo ThinkPad T60p review

Linux compatible ThinkPads explained, along with a very good review of the T60 series ThinkPads. This is definitely worth your time.


Sticking with Windows XP: The Case Against Windows Vista

I got my Windows Vista RC1 DVDs the other day and promptly installed the 64 bit version. I only live once right? Even though I knew I would encounter more driver problems with the 64 bit edition, it went pretty well and I have a dual boot between Vista and XP Pro. I've played with Vista for about 6 hours. It is different in a number of minor ways, but enough like XP that I've adapted to the changes more easily than I had expected.

Aeroglass is okay, but not a deal-maker for me. I probably most like the taskbar button thumbnails -- those are neat, but again, not nearly $300 worth of neat. I add that to the driver incompatibility issues and the shakedown period that any new OS needs and I'll be sticking with XP for a while. At least until Vista SP1 and until I replace enough hardware because some of my older hardware will never support Vista 64 drivers (if I can't move to 64 bit what is the point, really?)

After having a good look at Vista RC1 on my own hardware, I decided to see what Paul Thurrott was saying these days. I spotted this article. It is timely and so agrees with what I've experienced so far. Based on my personal experience with Vista, I think he has a good point.

Microsoft keelhauls customers in WGA snafu

They call it "Windows Genuine Advantage". The advantage is all Microsoft's, no matter how often and how much they try to tell us they are doing it for our benefit. The system is fatally flawed and Microsoft is in a state of denial over that.

In the last few months, I have seen a 2 year old OEM installation of XP Home (a Compaq laptop) repeatedly be declared invalid. Thank Goodness HPQ is sympathetic and willing to help. Other OEMs have been less receptive and Microsoft's only interest is in getting you to pay for another license, no matter that you already have. They want full retail, too. One has to wonder how many clueless users have paid up in order to not have to deal with the hassles. I'm betting the number is fairly high.

The situation is going to get a whole lot worse when Vista and Longhorn Server get here. Vista will almost completely shut you down if WGA thinks you have a pirated copy or you haven't activated your copy in time. You will be able to use the browser to navigate the Internet, but nothing else. And you get logged off after an hour. False positives here will cause users to shed a LOT of tears, whether of pain or frustration.

Ed Bott's blog on ZDNet has his take on it.
And an older post on WGA.

This is David Berlind's announcement of the kill switch in a
ZDNet blog post.

And in the interest of fairness, Microsoft's justification.

Read it and weep.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Firefox JavaScript security "a complete mess"? More like a hoax (updated)

So much for my getting all alarmed.

Apparently the presentation I reported on is less than the presenters said it was. However, some of us have done some testing and can indeed compromise our subject machines in ways related to this. So, there is some vulnerability, even though it is not quite as it was depicted to be.

The Mozilla folks are still at it, evaluating everything and I expect to see an update coming out of this within the next few days.


Boing Boing: Day against DRM

Cory Doctorow writes:
Today is October 3, the International Day Against DRM -- the first global day where people rise up and say no to anti-copying technology that treats you like a crook. Remember, DRM doesn't stop "piracy" -- the only people who get DRM infections are people who don't pirate their media. You get DRM by buying your movies, music, games and books through authorized channels -- the stuff you download from P2P or buy off of a blanket at a flea-market has already had the DRM cracked off of it. They say that DRM "keeps honest people honest" -- but all it does is keep honest people in chains.

The article includes some tips to help celebrate today.
Boing Boing: Day Against DRM
[h/t to Militant Geek for the graphic]


Taking passwords to the grave | CNET

What are your plans about this? Let us know your solutions in the comments, please. I'd seen this last week, and mentioned it in the chat on Sunday, but Bruce Schneier's posting it reminded me to post it on our blog. There are some options in the comments of that post, too.

William Talcott, a prominent San Francisco poet with dual Irish citizenship, had fans all over the world. But when he died in June of bone marrow cancer, his daughter couldn't notify most of his contacts because his e-mail account--and the online address book he used--was locked up.

Complete article


Monday, October 02, 2006

Hackers claim zero-day flaw in Firefox

Apparently the javascript engine in all implementations of the popular FireFox browser are broken badly enough to need a complete re-write. Whatever it is, I am sure they will do it fast. The Mozilla folks are good about that.

This just reinforces my opinion that the browser (any browser) is the most threatening application on the computer. I still use eLinks, links and occasionally lynx, which are text-only browsers and much less vulnerable, simply because they are not designed to do nearly as much as a "regular" graphic browser is.

The NoScript extension to FireFox is a good way to get around this. I simply turned of javascript in the FireFox preferences and will live with broken web sites until a real fix for the browser is available.


Sunday, October 01, 2006

OnComputers Radio show Podcast 10-01-06

This is the On Computers Radio show podcast for 10-01-06. 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.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Core 2 Extreme Quad Performance

ExtremeTech has gotten hold of one of the very first Intel quad core processors. The specs of the E670 are impressive, as are the results ET got out of it.

The article is filled with good information. Quad cores are almost here. Enjoy.


Friday, September 29, 2006

ATI's Linux drivers do not totally suck, shock

It's a tale about installing drivers for video under Linux. A cautionary tale, at that, and a series of reasons why average users probably won't cleave to Linux at home for a while, yet.


Project Vampire is about to Fly..

This is Rahul Sood's blog entry in which (toward the end) he announces the purchase of VooDoo PC by HP. He definitely likes to tell a story and I thought you would find it interesting. I did.


Friday fun! Check out the HD images of a sunken airship

This is cool, and just for fun, to try to start the weekend off right. | 09/27/2006 | Scientists unveil high-definition images of huge airship sunk in 1935

Symantec Lashes Out at Microsoft for Barring Vista Code Access

After a stretch of acting like a good corporate citizen by doing such things as promising not to sue over implementation of some web standards on which they hold patents, Microsoft is acting like, well, Microsoft. If Symantec's allegations are true, and even MS acknowleges they are, their behavior is back in anti-trust territory.

Dominance of a market should carry responsibility and not allow shennanigans like this.


Thursday, September 28, 2006

Epos intros cheap handwriting recognition

Handwriting recognition is essential to some people's vision of future computing. It sure is to mine. This short article at The Inquirer will tell you about one such technology. The company, Epos, does not build anything, instead seeking to license the technology to others. I think they have a winner, here, and would love to have a sample.

There are others. I have a friend who programs for Electronic Arts, the game maker, here in the Dallas/Fort Worth, TX area. He tells me that within EA exists a very good pen recognition program that could be developed into a winning product, though he says the company probably won't do that. This is simply an offshoot of what they do for a living and is not seen as a product.

Further; rumor has it that Wacom, the tablet input people, will soon have a new tablet that has enough memory to be used without a PC for dozens of pages of dense text, then uploaded to the computer via encrypted BlueTooth or unencrypted USB/Firewire, depending on your preference. Combined with good handwriting recognition, this could be a killer app for a lot of people, myself included.

Interesting times, eh?


LivePC Engine and BetaGarage

Everyone knows about LiveCDs by now. At least I think they do. Well, here is a system based on VMWare's excellent technology that allows one to run different virtual machines for any purpose. They have Haiku, Linux and other virtual installations for download now and it seems as if developers are working hard to make more. There is even a "Christian" edition of Ubuntu GNU/Linux and a child safe desktop.

It is worth checking out. This is one possible shape of the personal computing future.


Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Microsoft fixes urgent VML problem

Go get it now boys and girls.

Langa Blog: Microsoft Releases IE Security Patch Early

Courtesy of Fred Langa's Blog, MS released a patch for the VML exploit documented by all of us (that post anyway :P ). This is the first I've seen of it, and wanted to post the update, ASAP. Go get it! Now!

Langa Blog: Microsoft Releases IE Security Patch Early
The Internet Explorer patch to fix a Vector Markup Language (VML) security hole (which we blogged this morning, saying that Microsoft may release it early) has now been released. Get the update here. Learn more about it here.


"IE for Linux" hack offers one more reason not to boot Windows

My neighbor, who is a fervent Windows and IE user quipped that this is what happens when sick minds are not occupied properly.

According to all reports, it works. You can run IE in many versions on your Linux machine, provided only that you have the wine libraries and common runtimes installed. So, you would not have to boot to Windows to see how your web site looks in IE or to access web apps that rely on ActiveX.

I will try it soon and report.


Monday, September 25, 2006

Spyware, Bots, Rootkits Flooding Through Unpatched IE Hole

Yet another IE hole. This one is gaping and the workarounds I have seen are not particularly impressive. MS will have to patch quickly, and it will not be in time, as so many machines are already infected.

Also, there is now an exploit that takes advantage of legitimate features in Adobe's Acrobat Reader which requires no user interaction, other than opening what appears to be a legitimate PDF file.

It's not safe out there and it is getting worse. I'll bet the Mac users are in such a smug state right now that they can hardly stand it.


Sunday, September 24, 2006

On Computers Radio Show Podcast 09-24-06

This is the On Computers Radio show podcast for 09-24-06. 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.

NTI Offers One Day Free Download of New USB Storage Partitioning, Encryption Software

Thought we'd get you this over the weekend so you could (hopefully) post it on Monday to alert everyone NTI is launching the new NTI Ninja USB device protection software with a free 1-day download...yes FREE!!!

You want a review copy? Hey we can get you the software early (ok one lousy
day but hey???) Let us know if you need anything else -- A

Free Tuesday

NTI Offers One Day Free Download of New USB Storage Partitioning, Encryption Software

Starting at midnight tonight, NewTech Infosystems (NTI) will be making their new Ninja software - a USB data storage and protection software solution - available
free on their web site, . Unlike most fixed
partition USB software, NTI Ninja allows users to adjust the size of their public and private partitions on their portable storage device. In addition, the software provides users with complete storage area anti-tamper encryption and password protection.

The new software was developed to meet the dramatic increase in today's mobile workforce, the increased use of USB storage devices and the need to protect content and data from being stolen or compromised on the small, portable devices.

To kickoff Ninja protection, the company will make the software available free at the firm's website tomorrow (September 26). After that -- the software that works with Windows 98SE, ME, 2000, XP operating systems - will have a suggested retail price of $24.95.

NTI Ninja allows users to adjust the size of their private and public workspaces on virtually any USB flash or hard drive device to meet their specific storage requirements.

To ensure private and sensitive information is not compromised even if the device is lost or stolen, NTI Ninja includes core encryption and password protection.

The password protection and encryption application complies with the Advanced
Encryption Standard (AES), the government- and corporate-grade encryption standard.
The 128-bit AES encryption prevents brute force password protection of the user's
private storage areas while providing free, easy access to the public storage
space on the USB device. Individuals can use the software on USB flash and hard
drives as well as SD cards, cell and smartphones, iPods and MP3 Players.

Users can reformat the storage device at any time to meet changing requirements.

For your free copy of NTI Ninja download it tomorrow (September 26) at
. After that…$24.95!

Friday, September 22, 2006

Workaround needed for IE hole

Been here, done this. Or something similar. This is just more info on the same that Jack and MissM have been posting, but it gives a specific workaround. I did it. It is a quick, easy, cut-n-paste. To reverse it is just as easy when the patch comes out. Since IE is so intertwined with Windows, I will remind you that this is needed even if your default browser is Firefox or Opera, etc.

On a personal note I've been completely down with something very nasty this week. If I had eaten spinach I'd know what it was, but I didn't so I'm thinking it was something Norwalk'ish. If you want the details you can look that up. I'm making a slow but steady recovery at this point.

SunbeltBLOG: Seen in the wild: Zero Day exploit being used to infect PCs

This is a different exploit than the one Jack posted below, and its been out a few days, but I've accumulated some links about it, here.

Day Zero
Still Day One: Sunbelt
Microsoft's response (Still Day One)
Minor fix to exploit mitigation
Secunia: Day One

The President of Sunbelt Software publicized this first, on his blog. As I recall one company discovered it, and notified Microsoft, but hadn't announced it yet. Why two days before it was posted here, you ask? Well, my reluctance was because it was an IE exploit, I thought, and I didn't want to repeat what an excellent browser Firefox is. But, I hope that this adds to your knowledge of the current exploit being used by the scum of the internet.


Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Microsoft's Zune doesn't seem to give much to it's owner

The link is to a comment piece on ZDNet UK. It details what you can do with a Zune, and more importantly what you cannot do, which seems to be nearly everything. Read it and save your dough.


Monday, September 18, 2006

Internet Explorer daxctle.ocx "KeyFrame()" Method Vulnerability

The link will take you to a Secunia warning about yet another ActiveX flaw that allows attackers to construct a malicious web page that can crash the browser or, much more seriously and the point of this advisory, run malicious code on the user's machine.

Not for the first time; I have to wonder when MS will give up on ActiveX, which offers no unique benefits and a seemingly endless series of vulnerabilities.


Sunday, September 17, 2006

On Computers Radio Show Podcast 09-17-06

This is the On Computers Radio show podcast for 09-17-06. 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.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Dell Customers Ask for More

Dell is in trouble, as this eWeek article illustrates. They can recover. There is not any doubt about that. It is simply that selling cheap PCs is not enough to wow the masses, any more, whether they are corporate types or home users.

In the past, Dell's service was really something to crow about and they are still bragging on it, though it has gone downhill enough to elicit more complaints than praise. Dell definitely needs to fix this, pronto. Their use of remote administration is surely one step in the right direction, but is not nearly enough to reverse the trend of ill will they have generated in the last couple years. I think they know it and will take their best shot at doing better. They have to hurry, though.

And while Dell has been proud in the past that they do almost no R&D (thus saving a lot of money) they are going to have to start. Customers are demanding innovation in all but the cheapest machines. In order to meet that expectation, Dell is going to have to innovate on their own, rather than just aping features that have proven popular in other maker's lines.

The laptop battery recall isn't really their fault, but how they handle it will influence a LOT of possible customer's opinions. Dell is off to what looks like a good start, but they have to execute all the way through. They are dependent on Sony to come up with the replacement batteries in a reasonable amount of time and if there are problems Dell will have to find a second supplier....pronto. They may already have. I don't know.

Their future is in their own hands.


Dell Customers Ask for More

Dell is in trouble, as this eWeek article illustrates. They can recover. There is not any doubt about that. It is simply that selling cheap PCs is not enough to wow the masses, any more, whether they are corporate types or home users.

In the past, Dell's service was really something to crow about and they are still bragging on it, though it has gone downhill enough to elicit more complaints than praise. Dell definitely needs to fix this, pronto. Their use of remote administration is surely one step in the right direction, but is not nearly enough to reverse the trend of ill will they have generated in the last couple years. I think they know it and will take their best shot at doing better. They have to hurry, though.

And while Dell has been proud in the past that they do almost no R&D (thus saving a lot of money) they are going to have to start. Customers are demanding innovation in all but the cheapest machines. In order to meet that expectation, Dell is going to have to innovate on their own, rather than just aping features that have proven popular in other maker's lines.

The laptop battery recall isn't really their fault, but how they handle it will influence a LOT of possible customer's opinions. Dell is off to what looks like a good start, but they have to execute all the way through. They are dependent on Sony to come up with the replacement batteries in a reasonable amount of time and if there are problems Dell will have to find a second supplier....pronto. They may already have. I don't know.

Their future is in their own hands.