(MBA,PHB) Great! Amazing! Innovate! Huge!

For those who know me, this post is NOT about Microsoft. It is about the terrible communication skills of most managers today, although Ballmer did happen to provide the best example :-) God knows what they learn in management school and all those sessions they have with high-priced gurus like [deleted] and [deleted] :-)

Mini-Microsoft: Great! Amazing! Innovate! Huge!


Bush should get a job of some kind :-)

A suggestion [rec.humor.funny]

Very funny. But very true. And therefore very tragic.

Oh well...


(criminal) Sony malware summary

As usual, my favourite site, LWN has an excellent summary of the Sony fiasco so far.

LWN: Sony's rootkit: an update


(wow) High-end synth runs Linux!

oreilly.com: Inside a Luxury Synth: Creating the Linux-Powered Korg OASYS

In fact, Linux's greatest success on the OASYS project may be that it's almost entirely invisible, letting Korg's designers focus on their proprietary sound engine. That was a big part of the appeal to Korg. "You can change things easily in Linux," says Phillips. "There's more granularity when you compile the kernel."/

Check out the picture of the machine toward the beginning of the article -- "sexy" is the only word that comes to mind, if you like such things at all.

And if you really like such things, check out the larger picture at http://digitalmedia.oreilly.com/images/oreilly/digitalmedia/2005/11/oasys-on-white-pop.jpg


(malware) Does Visual Studio Rot the Mind?

Let's face it. GUI tools rot the mind, and that it's worse if the mind they're rotting is of a programmer as opposed to a mere user. Us macho programmers who've been coding for more than 20 years (wow, I'm that old?) or younger kids who have somehow resisted being lured into the dark side and are working in sane environments (which means anything Unix-like) will also agree. There's nothing new there.

What's new is to hear stuff like this from Charles Petzold, who's written more books on Windows programming and for a longer time than you'd imagine if you hadn't heard of him!

Does Visual Studio Rot the Mind?

Visual Studio can be one of the programmer's best friends, but over the years it has become increasingly pushy, domineering, and suffering from unsettling control issues. Should we just surrender to Visual Studio's insistence on writing our code for us? Or is Visual Studio sapping our programming intelligence rather than augmenting it?

More choice comments from the article:


(criminal) EULA gives Sony right to install backdoors on your PC!

People have often heard me say Sony is the "Microsoft of consumer electronics", which is a very serious insult, if you know anything about me! But this was always in the context of being "pretty but no use for experts", and having too little "bang for the buck".

But it seems the similarities between Microsoft and Sony go much further than that!


(criminal) another anti-DRM article

Seems like DRM screws everyone, including the artists whose income it is supposed to be protecting. But then we knew that already, so what's new... :-)

The Big Picture: DRM Crippled CD: A bizarre tale in 4 parts

DRM is now being used as a competitive economic weapon -- not as an anti-piracy tool.

As a music consumer, I find this ridiculous. Why I cannot use a legally purchased CD -- because Sony is miffed at Apple for creating the 2000's version of their Walkman -- is beyond absurd. I am very, very annoyed at this.

In fact, I am so perturbed at this act of wanton stupidity, that two imminent purchases -- a Sony Bravia LCD big screen TV and the Sony Vaio notebook -- are now put on hold.


(criminal) Sony, Rootkits and Digital Restrictions Management Gone Too Far

For anyone who still thinks DRM is a good idea, here's what a security researcher found: his system had been infected by a "rootkit" simply because he happened to purchase a copy-protected CD from Sony!

Sony, Rootkits and Digital Rights Management Gone Too Far

Last week when I was testing the latest version of RootkitRevealer (RKR) I ran a scan on one of my systems and was shocked to see evidence of a rootkit. Rootkits are cloaking technologies that hide files, Registry keys, and other system objects from diagnostic and security software, and they are usually employed by malware attempting to keep their implementation hidden. The RKR results window reported a hidden directory, several hidden device drivers, and a hidden application.

Another excerpt, from the end of the article:

The entire experience was frustrating and irritating. Not only had Sony put software on my system that uses techniques commonly used by malware to mask its presence, the software is poorly written and provides no means for uninstall. Worse, most users that stumble across the cloaked files with a RKR scan will cripple their computer if they attempt the obvious step of deleting the cloaked files.


Of geeks, girls, and geek girls :-)

Out in the west, it is traditional to joke that a "geek" (a very technical person, especially in computers) does not have much of a social life, and indeed can't even get a girlfriend. This is only a joke, mind you, since most geeks actually have better communication skills than the average non-geek!

What's more fun to note, though, is that I found a girl geek can sometimes get a whole lot of attention from non-geek guys! In this case, this young friend of mine was part of a dance group, and she just happened to use a FOSS program called audacity on Linux to slice-and-dice some song clips for a mixed dance number they were doing!

As a bonus, some of those guys are now interested, if not in Linux itself, at least in audacity!

Hey, we'll do anything to spread the religion -- even dance ;-)


Java being challenged

Technologies to Watch: A Look at Four That May Challenge Java's Development Dominance

As I did my research for Beyond Java, one recurring theme was that a growing number of people just don't believe Java is productive enough anymore.

Since I never managed to learn Java (I call it the "COBOL of the internet", and one COBOL is enough for one lifetime, thanks you!), I'm quite happy to hear something even remotely suggesting this.

(criminal) Secret Code in Color Printers Lets Government Track You

LWN: EFF: Secret Code in Color Printers Lets Government Track You

Even worse, it shows how the government and private industry make backroom deals to weaken our privacy by compromising everyday equipment like printers. The logical next question is: what other deals have been or are being made to ensure that our technology rats on us?

The spooks apparently said that they did this to combat "counterfeiting". I presume they don't mean currency (since with currency the paper itself is a major part of the security), so they probably mean bonds and stocks, etc. Even then, the real problem is elsewhere. Telgi did not need these kinds of printers to run his stamp paper scam.

The real damage is to people like political dissidents. Hopefully they'll start using black and white printers! Or at least yellow paper ;-)

[Actually, by keeping the whole scheme secret, they tacitly admit that this scheme will not actually achieve much. Security that depends on secrecy of the design is, in the end, useless security.]


(DRM) Declaration of InDRMpendence

Declaration of InDRMpendence | Between the Lines | ZDNet.com

Go ahead. Ask your favorite iPod owner if he or she knows that by buying songs from the iTunes store, they're actually assuring Apple's legacy.

DRM stands for Digital Rights Management. Or, as some people have started calling it, Digital Restrictions Management.

I don't even have a TV right now, and my interest in music is rather limited, so I am very far from being personally affected by this. But it does p*ss me off quite a bit. And the possibility of seeing monitors and PC speakers be DRM-disabled in the next few years is quite frightening.


(FOSS,wow) Cool stuff -- radio running Linux!

Especially check out the picture at the start of the article!

Radio's Next Generation: Radii | Linux Journal

Radii is a radio: a box with buttons and dials used to select bands and tune stations in a familiar way. Because this radio receives Internet radio, it provides hundreds of noise-free stations with a wide variety of listening options. The band selection dial, instead of AM and FM, is used to select genres such as News, Sports and Rock. The station selection dial scrolls through station names that can be tuned by clicking the select button.


This is your theater. Please keep it clean.

"Idi maa theater. Ikkada meeru maa mata vinali, memu mee mata vine pani ledu" ["This is our theater. Here, you listen to us; we have no need to listen to you"] -- Mr Venkat Reddy, manager, Ramakrishna 70mm, Abids.


(malware,WTF) How to fit three bugs in 512 bytes of security code

The Hidden Boot Code of the Xbox - Xbox-Linux

Naturally, only Microsoft can do something like this -- no one else can quite match the monumental scale of these guys. Here're samples from the article if you dont have time to read the original.

This is how thorough these guys are:

The roll over of the instruction pointer from FFFF_FFFF to 0000_0000 is supposed to generate an exception. [...] But in reality, no exception is generated. [...] Apparently the i386 CPU family throws no exception in this case, Microsoft's engineers only assumed it or misread the documentation and never tested it.


512 bytes is a very small amount of code (it fits on a single sheet of paper!), compared to the megabytes of code contained in software like Windows, Internet Explorer or Internet Information Server. Three bugs within these 512 bytes compromised the security completely - a bunch of hackers found them within days after first looking at the code. Why hasn't Microsoft Corp. been able to do the same? Why?

And finally, to add insult to injury...

There are two more approaches for attacks that we do not want to disclose yet, as Microsoft may still offer updated Xboxes in the future.



(PHB) Attack of the corporate weasel words

Attack of the Corporate Weasel Words

"Does it bother you that churches have a Mission Statement touting their Core Values? That even the CIA has a Vision? In his book Death Sentences: How Clichés, Weasel Words and Management-Speak are Strangling Public Language and in this Newsweek interview, Australian author Don Watson argues it's time to protest the mind-numbing business jargon that infests our schools, churches and political speech. Examples that people have sent to him can be found on Watson's website."

Another doozy from the Newsweek article (page 2):

"Just as the skill and processes are not compartmentalized in the creation process, the evaluation of outcomes will occur against a background of understanding that separation of outcomes into discrete components is subordinate to the evaluation of the total process as a comprehensive outcome."

And finally, if you can't beat them, join them!


(USA) travelling in the "land of the free"

57-yr old grandmother and principal of a middle school is put on a ter orist watchlist for carrying a sandwich knife

komo news | 'This Is Not Right'

"This is not the way my country should be treating me," she said. My concern is that if that's the way they're treating American citizens I would hate to think how they're treating other people. It's crazy."

As someone who has a few friends and relatives still stuck in the time warp of thinking the US is "the place to be", I do get a little worried. Not always -- only when I think about it :-(


(FOSS) Nokia announces open source based browser


Nokia develops a new browser for Series 60 by using open source software

If you consider that more mobile devices are being shipped than PCs, and mobile devices are quickly taking over many PC roles, and Nokia is (at least one of) the biggest brands in this space, this is awesome news...

Many sites which do not currently work without the accursed IE may be forced by market pressure to be more standards-compliant, because high-end customers with high-end Nokia devices using a standards-compliant browser will be unable to access them, and will complain! (Well the clueless ones will complain to Nokia first, but hopefully there will be enough clueful ones to set the balance right :-)


(FOSS) Cool -- IBM backs Firefox!!!

This should get a few more people to switch, once I email this to a few critical people :-)

IBM backs Firefox in-house | CNET News.com


(malware,WTF,security) Insecure? Cripple it!!

Background: nmap is an open source tool for port scanning -- detecting open ports, determine which services are running, etc. nmap needs an O/S feature called "raw sockets" to work, and MS has disabled raw sockets on XP recently, claiming it is needed for security.

Nmap Hackers: Microsoft Tightens the Noose on Raw Sockets

Of course Microsoft claims this change is necessary for security. That is funny, since all of the other major platforms Nmap supports (e.g. Mac OS X, Linux, *BSD) offer raw sockets and yet they haven't become the wasp nest of spambots, worms, and spyware that infest so many Windows boxes.

Read the whole article for more fun stuff from the fertile minds at MS.

"Fertile" in the sense of "filled with fertiliser" ;-)


(funny) Naked Street!


"Recently I came across the phrase 'Naked Street' and followed the link purely out of scientific curiosity"

Yeah, right!


(criminal) No ethics? No surprise...!

Good business plan: get on an international committee (in this case the IPv6 committee), steal ideas, patent them, then -- when the technology starts to become a standard -- tell large users you have a patent on it.

Microsoft criticised for IP address configuration patent - ZDNet UK News

These include documents from the IPv6 committee of the IETF, known as RFCs. The Microsoft employees named as the inventors of the patent were on the IPv6 committee, according to Ravicher.


(MBA) Brain Drain -- version 2.0

A long time ago, people used to go to the US for a few simple reasons: better lifestyle, more prestige, and more money to be made. This used to be called "brain drain".


(WTF,funny) at the end of the day...

The Most Annoying Workplace Clichés - LANGUAGE - CIO Magazine Feb 15,2005

Of course, at the end of the day, no one who uses these phrases visits my blog anyway, so this is just an inside joke :-)


(standards,criminal) Opera to MS: Get real about interoperability, Mr Gates

Opera to MS: Get real about interoperability, Mr Gates | The Register

So, Mr. Gates, writes Hakon Lie [CTO of Opera], you say you believe in interoperability. Then why, pray tell, doesn't the web page of your interoperability communiqué conform to the HTML4 standard as it claims to? Why does the W3C validator diagnose 126 errors on your page ?

You say you believe in interoperability. Then why is your document served in different versions to different browsers? Why does your server sniff out the Opera browser and send it different style sheets from the ones you send to Microsoft's own Internet Explorer (WinIE)? As a result, Opera renders the page differently.

You say you believe in interoperability. Why does the Hotmail service deny Opera access to the same scripts as Microsoft's own browser? As a result, Opera users can't delete junk mail .

I guess he only meant interoperating with Microsoft software :-)


(malware) Contempt!

Microsoft's contempt will be returned - ZDNet UK Comment

Distrust and distaste are powerful forces that persuade many people to move to open source, and by its reaction to the EU ruling Microsoft is doing superbly well at fuelling both.



(FOSS,criminal) open source biology!

Cool! Looks like the open source model isn't hurting just Microsoft, but soon another giant with an M name (Monsanto) will start getting worried.

Wired News: Genetically Modified IP Launched

Researchers who want to develop technologies based on this kernel can use it as they wish if they agree to a flexible license issued by Biological Innovation for Open Society, or BIOS.


(WTF,malware) XP must be rebooted daily, says MS blogger

Reboot daily, Tablet users advised | The Register

"There are also other reasons for rebooting XP daily, as Microsoft blogger Robert Scoble explains:

"I shut down my Tablet PC most evenings and start it up from a fresh boot. Why do I do that? Because I've been using computers for 20 years and have learned that's the best way to work."

Correction. He's been using Microsoft operating systems for 20 years. None of the others need to be rebooted daily!

Hide Your IPod, Here Comes Bill

Wired News: Hide Your IPod, Here Comes Bill

"The Microsoft manager said he's heard from several executives who dutifully bought Microsoft-powered players, tried them, failed to get them working, and returned them in favor of an iPod."

More choice quotes from the article:

a very unusual sharktank item

For those of you who don't know, the sharktank (no stable link, but the current episode is linked from computerworld's opinions page) is a place to hear funny, true, stories of stupidity in IT. When you feel cynical about wherever you work and how things happen, get a load of the shark, and you'll realise you're actually in good shape :-)

I'm blogging this one because it's most unusual in that it's more heartwarming than funny.

Shark Tank: Sometimes it's not just PCs that get upgraded


(funny,malware,FOSS) feeling left out, fellow linuxers?

You'll always be :-)

NewsForge | Running Windows viruses with Wine

"Linux just isn't user-friendly when it comes to viruses. You have to work to find and run them. It doesn't happen automatically as it does with Windows. The GNU/Linux folks really should improve this glaring discrepancy."


(criminal) ultimate irony -- spyware infections through DRM tech

DRM is digital rights management -- technology that is supposed to prevent piracy of (usually) media files like music and video.

Too bad MS' implementation of it is now just another route for spyware infections :-)

Media Files that Spread Spyware

"All told, the infection added 58 folders, 786 files, and an incredible 11,915 registry entries to my test computer."


(criminal) truly sickening

I've heard lots of people rave about Bill Gates' charity. I never actually believed that the person himself is evil, only that he is sort of ultra-Ayn-Rand-ist.

But if you really think about it, ultra-Ayn-Rand-ism doesn't really mesh with charity, which meant there was a niggling inconsistency to the whole picture.

Here's what could well be the truth.


"Gates says his plan is to reach one million people with medicine by the end of the decade. Another way to read it: he's locking in a trade system that will effectively block the delivery of medicine to over 20 million."


taking a funny stab at creationists

Ovulation versus cretinism

Equal time [rec.humor.funny]

If you know the background you can get the pun in the title, as well as enjoy the actual joke much better.



(criminal) Don't feed their cash cow!

Technetra : Don't Feed Their Cash Cow!

"Price-slashing" by monopolistic proprietary software companies masks the high costs customers still unwittingly pay. And when this false economy is endorsed by governments and industry leaders, the digital divide can only widen.

Nice rebuttal of the "we'll give you a cut-price Windows with reduced features if cost is a concern" tactics of Microsoft. I wish our policitians would read stuff like this...


(FOSS) Putting their money where their mouth is...

IBM Pledges 500 U.S. Patents To Open Source In Support Of Innovation And Open Standards

They're basically saying "if you sue any open source project, you better be sure you're not violating any of our patents". And for those of you who think this is a shot across SCO's bows, Open Source's favourite paralegal, Paula Jones, says in a well-researched article that analyses comments from the BBC, the Washington Post, Reuters, etc:

"The Windows patent strategy is so over. And the next time Bill Gates tries to call this new kind of software development a kind of modern-day communism, as he did so offensively the other day, people will simply laugh in his face. Thank you, IBM. Thank you."

Excerpt from the PDF linked in the Press Release:

"In order to foster innovation and avoid the possibility that a party will take advantage of this pledge and then assert patents or other intellectual property rights of its own against Open Source Software, thereby limiting the freedom of IBM or any other Open Source Software developer to create innovative software programs, the commitment not to assert any of these 500 U.S. patents and all counterparts of these patents issued in other countries is irrevocable except that IBM reserves the right to terminate this patent pledge and commitment only with regard to any party who files a lawsuit asserting patents or other intellectual property rights against Open Source Software."


make versus Ant

Biased (but frank about it) evaluation of make versus Ant. Music to someone who never managed to like Java, in spite of several attempts :-)

ONLamp.com: make: The Evolution and Alternatives

"In truth, those that have spent more time with Windows and IDEs than Unix and bash prefer Ant. I'll stick with make, but you knew that."