Saturday, April 08, 2006

XGL Preview

I've been talking about XGL for a couple weeks now. This short article is the best description of it I have seen, as well as the least technical. It is surely the most exciting graphic development in open source at this time.



Friday, April 07, 2006

Kaspersky warns of cross-platform virus proof of concept

This one is nothing to get overly worried about. However; it does portend the future, I'm afraid. It is written in assembler, meaning it is OS independant, to some degree. And it can infect both Windows and Linux machines, at least. It's possible some of the other *nix systems are vulnerable, as well.


AT&T forwards all Internet traffic into NSA

"More than just threatening individuals' privacy, AT&T's apparent choice to give the government secret, direct access to millions of ordinary Americans' Internet communications is a threat to the Constitution itself. We are asking the Court to put a stop to it now," said Bankston.

Now we know how they do it, eh?
Spam Daily News | EFF: AT&T forwards all Internet traffic into NSA

read more | digg story - Apple launches software to run Windows XP on Intel-based Macs

CUPERTINO, Calif. (AP) — Apple (AAPL) unveiled new software Wednesday that allows Intel-based Macs to run Microsoft's (MSFT) Windows XP. Apple shares rose nearly 7% in early trading.

The computer maker said its new "Boot Camp" software is available as a download beginning Wednesday. It allows users with an XP installation disc to install XP on an Intel-based Mac.

"Apple has no desire or plan to sell or support Windows, but many customers have expressed their interest to run Windows on Apple's superior hardware now that we use Intel processors," said Philip Schiller, Apple senior vice president of worldwide product marketing. (Comment: Does XP on Macs rock your world?)
Boot Camp's step-by-step guide makes it easier to install Windows software on an Intel-based Mac. It also lets users choose to use either Mac OS X software, or the Windows software when they restart their computer.

Users can download the new Boot Camp software from Apple's website. A final version of Boot Camp will be available as a feature in the upcoming Mac OS X version 10.5 "Leopard."

This surprises me on several levels:
1.) Microsoft would sell more windows if it ran on the Apple intel platform.
2.) Apple is so protective of their hardware. It could be said this is done for usability, but I think the majority of the reasons are market and control.
3.) The anticipated ease that it should work. As opposed to what I expected Microsoft to hash together through some bizarre driver configuration, cause of the Apple BIOS scheme (cause I can't remember the official name ;) ). - Apple launches software to run Windows XP on Intel-based Macs
update: Tech Republic has Images: Installing Windows on a Mac with Boot Camp It really does look easy. The pictures are not really geek enough for me, but I guess it really isn't geeky at all, to the user. As usual, when Apple does it, it works. I did hear an interesting quote about this:
"Will it make Windows run better, or the Mac run worse?" I guess its all a matter of perspective. ;)
further update: Courtesy of The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW) Vista on a MacBook Pro ZDnet tried to install Vista. How'd it go? You ask??? I guess you have to click over ;)

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

How capable is a 'Vista-capable' PC?

Here's an article from TG Daily that boils down some numbers into terms that most of us can understand.

Okay, maybe "understand" is a little too strong a term. More like imagine and guess.

Spitzer Goes After Spyware

From WCBS 880 NY:

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -- New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer today accused a major Internet pop-up advertising company of secretly installing spyware and sending ads through spyware already installed on personal computers.

Good luck you are going to need it. ;-)

Microsoft Says Recovery from Malware Becoming Impossible

No, we are not piling on MS this morning -- really. Actually, I think this article makes MS look kind of good. They are addressing the issue and not hiding from it.

If after reading the article, you are feeling a little uneasy, run this:

RootKit Revealer

or try this:

Windows Defender

IBM and Rapport unveil energy efficient processor

IBM and a small California startup named Rapport are producing a small, energy efficient derivative of the Power line of processors that gives enough throughput to handle dense video streams, among other things. Called the Kilocore 1025, it is intended for things like very smart phones, mobile devices in the class of Microsoft's "Origami" appliances and entertainment devices on the order of game consoles.

Each chip has over 1000 8 bit computing structures on the die, arrayed around a Power core. Rapport's "Kilocore" technology and sophisticated energy management may allow a breakthrough in mobile computing. However; every reference to this I have read cautions that without excellent execution in design and marketing, this could simply be another Transmeta. Transmeta's tech was and is very good, but it did not catch on. To date, the company and their breakthrough technology have lost well over half a billion dollars and profitability is still a ways over the horizon, if ever it comes into view.

Still, this is an interesting development and it will be fun to watch IBM fit it into the "real" world.


Unofficial zero-day patches gain corporate support

This one surprised me and probably will surprise you, as well.

As of this morning, there are at least two "third party" patches for the outstanding IE vulnerability, they are gaining acceptance among those who make the decisions about what to install and when in the data center.

With the availability of a perfectly effective workaround (disabling ActiveX controls) I can't see any sense in using that and waiting for Microsoft's precious patching schedule to deliver the official one. The only possibly mitigating factor in this decision is if my users depend on ActiveX for some important functionality. Absent that, I wait for MS.

Perhaps MS should break their schedule and release early. As I don't know the ins and outs of what is happening in Redmond, I can't say for sure whether or not they could successfully do that.

Of course; I can just use Firefox.


People Don't Trust Microsoft

The link will take you to a page in The Inquirer. (I sure link to them a lot, lately, don't I?)

Microsoft came in with the automatic transmission repair guys and roofers in a recent Forrester Research survey for it's "2005 Technology Brand Scorecard". Dell, Apple Computer and Bose came in around the top of the list.

Forrester seems to think this means big trouble for MS down the road, including mass customer defections (assuming something comes along for them to defect to besides Macs, I guess). This agrees with the general conclusion that Linux distros geared toward the desktop, especially Novell/SuSE Linux Enterprise Desktop. (SLED? Wasn't that an insult to a slow car when we were growing up?)

There are other candidates. Ubuntu/Kubuntu GNU/Linux, Sun's Java Desktop System and who knows how many other flavors of *nix wait in the wings. Should Apple drop prices some and become a bit more forthcoming about matters of security, Macs could see a huge jump in share over this, as well.

It's all conjecture, admittedly. Well, that and the IT equivalent of reading tea leaves (counting the flecks of Cheetos adrift in a can of Jolt. No cheating now. Only the ones on the surface count.). Even so, they may be on to something here. Friends, clients and other people with my phone number are expressing exasperation with MS over a variety of matters where those people would have simply written their concerns off as a cost of doing business juat a few months ago.


Hitachi releases 500GB hard drives

It is just a blurb at The Inquirer. No pricing info is given. The basic specs for the drives are there, though, and they're impressive enough without the potential of sticker shock.

3 Gb/sec. SATA drives with 160 GB per platter is cool enough. Hitachi now has an entire line of these things, with the 500 GB units being the largest.

I'm going to have to quit buying the coffee for my friends who work at Hitachi until they start coughing up these things before I read them online. [grin]


A Closer Look at Microsoft's Vista Delay

In some ways, the linked to above is a rehash of the reasons for Vista's delay that we've all seen over and over. However, this story also blames the delay on a big part of Microsoft's corporate philosophy and methodology; the insistance on backward compatibility.

Noting the size of the Windows/Vista code base, the bundling of applications that increases that and the perceived need for backward compatibility, the authors theorize that turning such a huge ship (and the gigantic ecology of Windows computing) simply requires too much for the company to deliver on any realistic schedule - period! The authors note that since the debut of Windows XP, Apple has managed to pump out 4 major revisions of their operating system and with compelling innovative features every time. They argue Apple's smaller size, and the smaller size of their code base, not to mention that at every release they have abandoned some backward compatible functions, shows that Microsoft, simply by being so big, cannot effectively innovate any more.

It's worth a read, so you can judge for yourself.


Monday, April 03, 2006

Why Phishing Works

This article at, by Will Sturgeon is a brief synopsis on research done by academics into thee subject. I found it very informative and hope you will, as well. It won't take you long to digest the information.

I've pretty much quit making judgements about the security of a site. I just make sure I've typed in the url myself, or taken it from a list I've built and maintain control of, then cross my fingers and pray a lot. That I do so little business online is a reflection in part of my distrust, though I also try to buy locally as much as possible, to preserve resources (shops) near enough to me that I can access them quickly if needed.


Tuning Fork - Gizmodo

or why MS chose HD-DVD over Blu-Ray...
I'm curious about how this format wars pans out, and how it compares to the old VHS-BETA war that Sony lost.
...I learned the real reason for Microsoft’s sudden change of heart regarding Blu-Ray and HD DVD.

It wasn’t that HD DVD has Mandatory Managed Copy, which is supposed to as about forcing Sony to delay the release of PlayStation 3, the game machine/home entertainment hub with built-in Blu-Ray playback capabilities.

“If it’s true, it’s very clever and shows Microsoft can still be aggressive on a number of different levels,” says Roger Kay, analyst and founder of Endpoint Technologies. “And it is in the mold of Microsoft’s style.”
Then there’s the threat the PS3 could become a home’s entertainment hub. With all the money Microsoft’s sunk into Media Center, do you really think they’d stand for losing that position to Sony? Unlikely.

At the outset of the Blu-Ray/HD DVD snit, Wedbush Morgan Securities analyst Michael Pachter told the Los Angeles Times, “If you hear Blu-ray wins, it’s over for Xbox. It’s not that [Microsoft] did anything wrong on the gaming side,” he said. “Sony is exploiting its position as one of the dominant consumer electronics manufacturers.”

There's more info at the link, check it out if you're interested in following the battle. I may hold a grudge longer than most, but I'm still furious at Sony's attempt to take over your computer without user input. Past posts from us here, here, here, and the rest are here.
Tuning Fork - Gizmodo

Sunday, April 02, 2006

OnComputers Radio show Podcast 04-02-06

This is the On Computers Radio show podcast for 04-02-06. If you prefer, you can download the same file here via ftp.

Guest for this week's show

This week, we will be joined by Joseph Marino, CEO of Spam Cube to discuss their new Spam filter device designed specifically for home users.