Saturday, June 03, 2006

Visual Tour: 20 Things You Won't Like About Windows Vista

I hesitated posting this for a couple days, for fear it would be seen as bashing. I finally decided it had to be brought to your attention as a legitimate opinion piece.

It's worth reading so we'll know more of what to expect from Vista. Of course, that's assuming Microsoft doesn't just junk the whole thing and re-write it around Free Cell Solitaire.


AMD Introduces Ultimate Enthusiast Platform - 4x4

As an addition to Jack's post about the new AMD processor. The link has pictures! And a few more details for you detail hungry readers!
Join us tomorrow for the live show.

PC Perspective - Comments

Why First Generation Apple Products Suck

I'm not sure I agree with everything the author of this piece, Gundeep Hora, has to say. He has a point, though, to one degree or another. It is worth a read, though, if only to argue about just how close he is to the mark.

Personally, I love the two Apple computers we have, though I should note I'm running Linux on them both. The hardware is simply superb! And it's not Apple's fault I was unwilling to learn to work in yet another operating system.


AMD 4X4 to arrive sooner rather than later

Trust me on this; THE fastest route to insanity is to attempt to understand, then keep up with either Intel or AMD roadmaps. It will indeed make you crazy and old before your time. The ATI and NVidia roadmaps are even worse, but we won't get into that where the children might see it.

AMD is popping for two sockets with a dual core part in each one as an ultimate gamer's machine, though I could see it put profitably to a lot of other uses, like my Seti@home totals.

I have to wonder if I'm missing something here, though. XP Pro can only see two processors, right? Does AMD have some way of foxing this OS to use 4 while it thinks it is using 2? Or is this Linux only until Vista comes out? I don't recall seeing anything about a Vista desktop version able to use more than two cores, either. I could have missed it, and God knows the Vista roadmap has had it's own twists and turns.

So far; I have not been able to clear this up. Hopefully, all will become clear soon.


Bowing To Adobe, Microsoft Strips PDF Support From 2007 Office

Adobe publishes the PDF standard in its entirety and makes it available for free, without restrictions, to anyone who cares to use it," Adobe Senior Director of Public Policy Michael Engelhardt wrote last year in a letter to a Massachusetts state senator. "No one needs permission from Adobe to build their own product with the PDF standard.

Unless of course you are Microsoft and want to put it in Office 2007. Then Adobe strongarms you to take it out of Office. So you offer it as a downloadable patch. Except that upsets Adobe's apple cart and they want you to charge for it. After all, if end users can save to PDF out of Word, who will buy Adobe's overpriced and bloated Acrobat?




Thursday, June 01, 2006

OpenOffice catches macro-virus

It apparently is not out in the wild but is, instead, proof of concept code.

Because of the shared code base, it also affects Star Office.

We've been saying it for a long time now; when an application or operating system reaches a market share of any significance, the bad guys will start paying heed to attack vectors for it. It has recently happened to Apple, both their Safari browser and the Mac OS X itself.

Move along now. Not much to see here.


My Linux update - Apologies to Arklinux

My original post here

Ok, I think I may have figured out what went wrong with Arklinux. It was my fault. I installed it at the end of a drive. I think that's what hosed the whole file system, on this computer. This time it's at the beginning of the drive, and I formatted the Linux partitions in Win XP with Partition Magic before I installed.
So, sorry Arklinux folks. It was my Boo-Boo not yours. Comments?

The time has come to ditch email

This is an opinion piece in The Register and though I don't totally agree, the writer may be correct in the assumption that we have to scrap email and start over with a more secure and efficient system.

There is a bit more on email and spam here.


Codes on Sites 'Captcha' Anger of Web Users

The codes, called captchas, are also showing up more often amid a boom in new Web services, ranging from blogging tools to social-networking sites. The trickiest ones 'make you not want to go to those sites anymore,' says Scott Reynolds, a 29-year-old software architect in Ocala, Fla., who lambasted the devices on his blog last year.

We use these captchas on this blog and I hate them, but the alternative is unreleting blog spam. It is another case in which by controlling the bad guys they win anyway because doing this inconveniences anyone else. We also use comment moderation in order to try to keep the comment spam down to a dull roar. If we didn't used captchas, along with moderation, there would be so much comment spam that the moderators couldn't keep up.

Bottom line is that if you hate these captchas, you are not alone. The other bottom line is that Google and others are realizing that there is a need for an alternative for visually impaired people. I think more companies will adopt audio captchas in the future as an alternative and thereby make their sites more accessible.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Windows XP Command Line

Would you like to dabble in the Windows command line? Here is a nice Web site I found to get you started. If you heard last Sunday's show, you know that we discussed using the command line. To quickly get the CLI (command line interface) just type "cmd" into the run box on the Windows start menu.

Ubuntu to Support Sun 'Niagara' Platform

Up until yesterday, there had for all intents and purposes only been two Linux distributions with real traction in the enterprise space; Red Hat and SuSE. Some of that is sales hype and public perception of it, but a good part of it was real. RH and SuSE were the only distros with real, professional support capabilities. Organizations running other distros (and there are many) either bought support from third parties or did it all themselves.

Yesterday, Sun announced they would partner with Canonical, the parent company of Ubuntu, in porting their Linux to UltraSparc T1 "Niagra" multi-core cpu. This is a HUGE win for Canonical and probably adds Ubuntu to the short list of "top tier" distributions with RH and SuSE.


AM2: AMD Reinvents Itself

This is from the last page of a comprehensive review over at Tom's Hardware:

With Socket AM2 the (OEM) customer now has the option of DDR2 memory from AMD too. In theory, that should produce a higher memory bandwidth, which in practice is only achieved by the expensive top processors. Compared to 'old' DDR memory-based platforms, the bulk of AMD's CPUs cannot benefit from the higher bandwidth of the DDR2 memory. A closer analysis of the benchmarks even reveals a marginal performance deficit when pitting the 'new' against the 'old'. It's clear that DDR2 memory only begins to pay off at higher clock speeds of 2.4 GHz and above. And that in turn affects only the CPUs from the Athlon 64 X2 4800+ that have a price of at least $600.

My advice on the AM2 platform, is that if you can afford to wait for the next gen and/or for the prices to drop, you will be much happier.

Symantec repairs flaw in anti-virus software

Symantec said its engineers have worked 24 hours a day on the problem since its discovery last week by eEye Digital Security of Aliso Viejo, Calif. 'Symantec is a company used to responding rapidly,' said Vince Weafer, senior director for Symantec's security response unit.

Weafer said consumer versions of Symantec's popular Norton Anti-virus software — sold at retail outlets around the country — were not vulnerable to the flaw. Symantec's anti-virus products are installed on more than 200 million computers

Here is a quick update to a story we have been covering. Kudos to Symantec for fixing it quickly.

News from PC Magazine: Microsoft Releases OneCare

I'm not sure I'd be tempted to switch from another solution that was working for me. From the article it seems like the anti-spyware is not well integrated into the package. So maybe a better name would be two-care. Until more information is available I would proceed with caution, though with a 3 computer license and anti-virus, anti-spyware, a firewall, back-up and maintenance, no one can say you are not getting a lot for the money if it does the job as intended.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

China battles rejection of Wi-Fi encryption algorithm

The Chinese Government is upset that the ISO rejected their wireless encryption technology known as WAPI back in March. What was the ISO's concern? The Chinese had refused to disclose some details of their technology so ISO members were not sure that there wasn't a backdoor to WAPI encrypted material. Because of this only 32% of ISO members supported it. The Chinese are crying foul and accusing the US IEEE of conspiracy and unethical behavior since the ISO favored IEEE's 802.11i encryption standard.

Gee. ya think maybe the fact the Chinese government was unwilling to give all the info to the ISO had something to do with it being rejected? I guess if you are totalitarian state it is easier to posture and complain, than to give the details of your standard to the standards folks. Personally, I'm glad the ISO rejected it on that basis, as they should reject any technology which they are not allowed to evalutate to their satisfaction. Anyone want to take bets as to there being a little hidden something in WAPI?

Monday, May 29, 2006

MPAA is charged with hiring a Hacker!

"Rothken said. 'We think it's ironic for the MPAA to claim that they are protecting the rights of the movie studios and then go out and pirate other people's property.'"
I'm posting this for Riley, he wanted to talk about it on the show but we didn't get to it.

ASUS to Enter Tablet PC Market

Asus will be putting forth a premium price convertible tablet. Convertible meaning it has a keyboard or can be swung around to be used as a "pure" tablet with pen input. The feature list is pretty rich, as one would expect.

Though they remain very much a niche product, tablets are slowly gaining traction in their market. One equipped with XP Tablet Edition and fairly well equipped is something I think would fit right in to my life and it would see a LOT of use.

With flash memory prices falling again and this year's production forecast to be 196% of last year's, it is also quite possible we will soon begin to see tablets equipped with solid state storage. At that point, where the delicate and power-hungry hard drive is no longer part of the package, I think tablets will truly come into their own.


Early Testers Hit Vista Beta 2 Snags

This is hardly unexpected in a beta testing cycle.

What surprised me is how Vista is so hard on notebook battery life and how notebooks seem to run very hot because so much of the graphics are off-loaded to the GPU, which is usually not very well cooled in a notebook form factor. It is fair to ask if this should limit notebook owners upgrading to Vista and instead holding off until they buy new kit, which will presumably be better suited to the task.


SIS backs AMD AM2 socket

While I doubt the powers that be at AMD were losing sleep waiting for SiS to support the AM2 socket, this is important. SiS provides a LOT of chipsets for low and middle bracket computers. A few more wins like this and AMD can rest assured the socket won't debut into a vacuum.

I mentioned this to a local white box maker and he thought it exciting.
Evidently there was some worry about chipset availability for the new parts. That's all over now.


PS3's STI Cell processor gets boffins excited

The upshot of the article is that the Cell processor has grand potential for scientific computing, though it favors 32 bit work over the 64 bit work most scientific computing needs. They're obviously sure that can be overcome, though. You can get a PDF about the findings, if you care to, from a link on the page cited above.


Mystery Solved

I requested a free USB stick from Microsoft, many weeks ago. I believe it was a couple months, at least. Today I checked my hotmail account, and received an email dated 5/26/06 with this url. They ran out. Dagnabit. :)
Although I was gonna give it away, because I have a few already. Just in case you haven't heard about your USB stick, I thought I'd post this.

Mystery Solved

Microsoft bug-checking tools promise fewer crashes | CNET

"Microsoft is readying two tools to help hardware makers create more stable and secure Windows drivers, which should help reduce the number of crashes."

Sunday, May 28, 2006

OnComputers Radio show Podcast 05-28-06

This is the On Computers Radio show podcast for 05-28-06. If you prefer, you can download the same file here via ftp.
The Winner for last weeks PodCast give-a-way of Diskeeper 10.0 Pro was:
J.D. Klein
Cave Junction, OR
Congratulation Jonny

HD DVD to carry unwelcome DVD baggage

HD-DVD and Blu-ray is barely here and already, region coding is arriving. It seems like an ill conceived joke since region coding has never stopped a pirate and it has certainly never stopped a determined end user from viewing the DVD's of their choice.