* Posts by Michael Nielsen

74 publicly visible posts • joined 5 Mar 2007


Microsoft warns customers against bogus 'Blue Edition' Office

Michael Nielsen

find it amusing

That a company complains about pirating of a "discontinued" product.

tbh, when a company stops support, and selling a product, it's rights should stop as well, so that customers that are/were using that product is not shafted.

UK's 'secure' child protection database will be open to one million

Michael Nielsen

What a joke

That some people really believe data can be secured.

lol, I guarantee you, you can look over my shoulders when I am working on a system, with the amount of scripts etc, that is fired, off, you blink, and I've created a copy of the data, or have started the process, you would not know, unless you are very sharp, and you are capable of monitoring everything that is happening on such a complex system. It is possible to code a command within other commands in such a way that it would take you a very long time to see what I actually did - eg have a look at the c-obfuscation competition, how many of those programs are obvious ?, and can you see what the program actually did ?

To obtain the data, it is easy, no need for advanced hacker, or the like, there is a small fact that most people in governments forget, every person alive has their price - NB with price I do not mean just money, but threats to kill kids, family, etc, and ofc for some money is enough.

There are ways to steal data from a database of this type, they are too many to list, but one is stealing a backup, another is replicating the data on a DVD.

I have worked on secured systems, and only my personal integrity prevented me from taking the data. IT people who work in the server complex, have total un-restricted access to the systems, when they work on them, otherwise they cannot handle all problems.

A system is only as secure as the locks and the key.

So please drop the BS about the data being safe, and protected and so forth, it is not, even the military who requires the best in security, experience leaks, and they generally restrict access to just a couple of highly trusted people (to their highly secret projects), so if the military with all their funds, and security means experience leaks, then imagine a private system, which has multiple administrators, and millions of users - security forget it, it is a pipe dream.

Though the idea of the database is noble enough, it is too big a risk for the general pouplation, as the information there can be used to ruin careers, lives, and break families, even if these people have done nothing wrong, but some over zealous social worker, or teacher noted something which probably was highly harmless, but read more into it than there, and the information was leaked.

You do not need such databases, what you need is sufficient police that with proper police work catch the criminals. You need teachers that notice child behavour, who cooperate with the police to investigate cases, if the investigation shows that there is nothing happening, the data should be destroyed.

Another ting I've not seen people mention, let's say I had a personal grudge towards my neighbour, and had access to that database, what is there to prevent me from registering information about that family, and then leaking it to the public ? It's easy to argue why the registration was made, and an accidental leak can be virtually impossible to trace - what happens to that family ????

Stop - because most nation are moving towards what is every dictator, police state, or other restrictive political systems, most intimate wet dreams, we (as in the free west) are now doing things that even the SS and KGB couldn't conceive doing (mainly because the lacked the technology).

Sun's solar wind hits 50-year low

Michael Nielsen


Proponents of the androgenic global warming, have denied suggestions by different researchers that indicate an increase in cosmic radiation might contribute to an heating effect (due to water vapour in the atmosphere), rather than the logical expected cooling, by lower solar output. As I remember it the claim was that there was no correlation in the solar data and current atmospheric observations.

Then this information appears that the sun is at it's lowest activity in nearly 50 years, and now has one of the least active cycles ever measured, meanwhile we are supposedly seeing a global heating trend on earth, which strangely enough co-insides with heating on the moons of Jupitor, Saturn and so forth.

Suddenly claims that global temperatures have decreased since 1998 appears, rather than the hype about temperatures have been increasing.. Though every graph I've seen published has shown an increase, odd.

Perhaps the censors on the spacecraft has degraded, perhaps not, but other sources apparently have noted the sun sport observations support the case.

Coincidence ?

MS beefs up WinXP Pro's anti-piracy nagware

Michael Nielsen

linux and hardware support

Bad hardware support has absolutely zero to do with linux, and 100% to do with the producer of the hardware not wanting to support any other OS than windows.

There are some producers out there who won't look at anything but windows, but then chose a laptop based entirely on intel components, or research the components before you buy, and you have a huge chance that it works out of the box, because Intel tends to support linux.

Wireless which is the most difficult to get to run properly on linux, can now be run via nidiswrappers, that allow you to load most windows drivers into an linux environment, however you do need to read a few HOWTOS to do so.

Granted a few things could be easier on linux, but put it this way I remove a lot of those helper applications, as the control you loose, is worse than the help you get, (same can be said on windows).

If you run an .exe program on most linux distributions, then wine will automatically start and emulate windows, linux is not far from being a full replacement for windows for all. My work machines have no direct windows installations, and hasn't for years, only my play machine has windows installed for games, however linux is not far from being able to run nearly all games, which is why DX10 is being rushed out..

US customs: Yes, we can seize your laptop, iPod

Michael Nielsen

The end of the free world is neigh

Defeating this kind of laws and rules is not hard, however, the West cannot claim to be the "Free World" anymore, as we have left the free bit behind, a very long time ago, Neither USA, England, or other European country can claim to be a truly free society, if the word free relates to freedom, privacy rights, and civil rights. Big brother is watching your every move, and they are slowly conning the population in to giving up more and more privacy rights, and freedoms, in the name of combating Terror.

Historically, this means that a significant war is neigh, because to obtain the freedoms, that have been given up, a bloody war is historically necessary.

If you want to hide something, hide it literally in plain sight, use a pseudoramdom sequence and XOR, with a layer of encryption, then encode the data into some pornographic images, and share via P2P, now no one knows who the recipient is, amongst the millions of downloaders, nor do they know that there is a message, and proving that the sharer knew what was in the image is also hard.

Swedish spy agency sics lawyers on wiretap critic

Michael Nielsen

What is the difference between the Mafia and Government

They both demand money, or else

one calls it a tax, the other protection money.

if you refuse one throws you in Jail or worse , the other might break your knees or worse.

Both create a type of peace, and stability

The main difference is that the state pretends to act in the interest of the people and define that what the Mafia does is Illegal.

Unpatched Windows PCs own3d in less than four minutes

Michael Nielsen

It is very cheap to protect your computer

Routers with NAT/Firewall functionality can be obtained from about 10pounds and up, I myself am using one that cost about 29 pounds, and is about 4 years old.

Default configuration of these is to deny all, unfortunately they also enable UPNP.

Make sure you disable UPNP, as (afaik) it allows software to create holes in your firewalls, and unfortunately this feature is enabled in almost all cheap firewalls. As I understand it, UPNP provides a way to go through a firewall (from the internet - the wrong way), and thus opens your system to attack, and requires no security to alter the firewall protections.

I recommend these cheap routers as a solution to all who own a computer, and doesn't know much about computers, as it goes a very long way to securing your system, and is a very cheap way to avoid problems. Ofc firewalls do not protect against malware downloads.

Michael Nielsen

I saw this happen already in 2002/3

A guy decided he would install windows on his machine, he had previously been running linux, and due to some tests he had been running his machine was on the outside of the firewall on one network interface, and in the DMZ on the other.

He forgot to unplug the machine from the net, before he installed XP (I believe service pack 2, but it might have been 1, I don't recall).

The machine was hacked and compromised, before he even managed to log in on the console, on the last reboot, after the installation has run.

So yes it does happen, and it is almost certain it will happen if you don't keep a NAT in front of your machine.

I would not install a windows machine with any kind of network connections active. If patches have to come from the net, then at the very least keep it behind a NAT router/firewall, if you do not want problems.

Even better, download all patches using a secured patched machine, or even better pull them down with a non windows system, and create a patch disk, before you even think of starting a network connection on the newly installed machine.

I prefer to use other operating systems to pull down windows patches, because their vunerablility is not the same as windows, and if the pull down carries a probe, they hit a wall, due to the heterogeneous systems. Then I scan the data for vira/trojans/known root kits, before I transfer it to a CD or the machine that is to use it.

Paranoid - You might say, though I prefer to call it experience with microsoft products :-).

Unix based systems I do slightly different, I remove all network services, before putting a network cable on, and thus make the machine non-responsive to incoming data and then pull down patches.

The Reg surfs for porn with a San Jose councilman

Michael Nielsen

Censorship does it really protect or does it harm?

Why is it considered appropriate in every country I've ever visited for people 16-18 to see movies where people get explicitly dismembered, by chainsaws, swords, blown to bits, raped, beaten, etc.

But the very same country censors a picture of a nude woman, bans breasts in public or even on late night tv - sometimes with those stupid graphics - forbids adults from viewing explicit sex - stuff that most adults have done in their own bedrooms?

Where is the sense, if pornography (the whole spectrum, from just topless onwards) is soo bad, then those that grow up as naturists, must be absolute bonkers - they see nude people all the time, right from a very young age.

Countries that have a relaxed relationship to nudity, must have highly corrupted youths, and lots of crime and sexual violence - right ? But the facts is violence, and crime in the permissive countries are not worse than those that are prohibitive, sexual crime isn't higher, etc..

So what is the point of censuring pornography, most children will say "yuck" (I remember from when I was very young) when they see it - they might be embarressed, or just dislike it - that is they're not interested, however if they are interested, should they not learn about it? - the facts, but since that is unavailable in prohibitive countries, their only option is to search out porn, because they have no resources to find out about the real thing, they can only learn about the fantasy porn world. Porn is mainly interesting because it is forbidden, and they are not allowed to see it, thus to find information, satisfy their curiosity, and do the "forbidden" thing, porn becomes extremely interesting.

I am born in a permissive country (Denmark), but grew up in a relatively restrictive country (Australia), where sex was not allowed to be discussed in schools, nor by doctors, the first time I got any information from society about sex, was when I was 17, and in my last 2 weeks before University. Mind you at that age I doubt the doctors could tell me anything I didn't know. Worst of all, the doctor who was to run the session was NOT allowed to give information, unless explictly asked for, so you have 200 year 12 students in a hall, and you expect someone to stand up and say, I don't know what oral sex is, or what are the health risks ? - you gotta be crazy if you think 17 year olds will feel comfortable to expose their lack of knowledge by asking such questions.

Working with the statistics that kids are becoming sexually active at 13-15 years of age (with each other, not talking pedofile here), it is absolutely insane that many societies are in absolute denial - censoring everything while claiming they want to "protect" children (and adults) from corruption, being shocked, etc resulting in kids experimenting, without knowledge about sexually transmitted diseases, without knowledge about birth prevention all in the name of protecting kids.

Society is causing more harm than good in their rush to protect children, ofc it should not be forced down young people's throats, but it is important that youthes receive information when they need it, and not reprimands, shock and/or prohibition, as it is extremely counter productive.

My point is forbid something, then it becomes more interesting, as you awaken human curiosity, and human nature to chase the forbidden fruit, the same goes for alcohol, drugs, kiddy porn, etc, the more talk about prohibition, the more illegal it is made, the more people will be drawn to it by human curiosity - it is human nature.

With respect to Porn, if society loosened up a bit, and provided information to curious youths, they might find it even more effective than any kind of censorship, as it just becomes boring, and kids would probably not even be interested, nor affected by seeing it.

This DVD will self-destruct in 48 hours

Michael Nielsen

Self destructing DVD.

Actually you don't even need to haze the polycarbonate, as the data carrying layer is the thin layer onto which you have the label printed, all that has to be done is add some thing that will destroy that layer, which is not polycaronate (afaik).

But the whole idea stinks, I get told to save power, don't drive so much, you have to watch your CO2 and meanwhile anyone in buisness who wants to protyect their copyrights are wasting energy in magnitudes I couldn't even dream to produce if I tried, in an effort to protect their precious copyrights.

DRM = more cpu cycles wated = more power (read CO2) used to use the data.

Selfdestructive DVD's = more energy wasted for items with limited usage, because you need to produce more.

Official: OOXML approved as international standard

Michael Nielsen

Apple Vs MS

Whether or not Apple does the same nasty things as Microsoft, is rather irrelevant, because Apple is a niche product which is not something that is necessary to use.

MS is an Ogliopol, or Monopol, depending on your point of view, which means they need to play by a different set of rules than Apple, Apple is absolutely allowed to bundle, tie, bind, and what not, their customers, because they do not control the market, and is only a minor player (relative), that means that what they do is legal, but when you control the markedet like Microsoft does, then you have to playe "Nice" because you are now able to levie force on the market, and force the market to move as they want.

So unfortunately for Microsoft, being the controlling player, with around 90% of the market, they are subject to the monopoly laws, which means they must play nice and not abuse their position (something they've been charged with in several cases, and lost quite a few court cases over), Apple is not in such a dominant position (though their I-Pod is heading that way), and therefore is not subject to the limitations nor restrictions imposed on monopolies.

If you want to compare buisness practises of Microsoft to other companies you need to find someone who is a monopoly and compare them, comparing actions of random companies to Microsoft is not relevant because very few companies have the total market domination that Microsoft has. Coca Cola does not own the soft drink market, and has real competitors, which is why they are not under monopoly restrictions,

About Microsoft complying with changes required by ISO, from the fragments I've read about, some of the compliance seems to be more like "yes we are aware of it, but we are not going to implement the change" (specifically relating to the CEILING function), which really doesn't indicate compliance, and yet Denmark who apparently received some replies like that, changed their vote to a yes, even though the standards forum indicated a no - something strange is happening in this case.

Michael Nielsen

What is this standard actually for?

Quite simple, (NB these views are entirely my own, based on Microsoft's history, and what I have read in the media).

A lot of governments (or parts there of) being tired of vendor lockin (and the accompanying bill), or feeling the push to standardise, have decreed that only open standards are to be used in the public sector.

Microsoft .doc and .docx were not at the time at open standards (though I really doubt they are now, even though docx are ISO approved), and therefore a huge push existed for ousting Microsoft from the public sectors - possibly one of their largest market segment. If they loose the public sector, the education sector would follow, removing the Indoctrination of the young into believe that Word is the Only office application, and windows the only operating system, that can do what they need - which could lead to the end of their reign as dominant office application platform, and perhaps threatening their desktop monopoly.

Thus to twart the effort to move public sectors from paying billions to Microsoft in license fees, to using the free Open Office application (or open source in general), Microsoft needed to get a file format approved as an open standard, or they would need to directly support a competitor format - ODF..

(Incidentally I have yet to find a single task that Microsoft word can do, which open office cannot, I have however found few that open office can, which MS word could not).

However, supporting the competitor format would directly ease the change over from Microsoft office to Open Office, thus removing a lot of lockin barriers which currently are in place to prevent such a change over, it would therefore be unwise for Microsoft to directly support this format.

Introducing their whale of a standard, which is so complex, and huge that it is unlikely that it will ever be fully implemented in competing products (last revision is reported to be more than 9000 pages). This means it is not likely anyone will be 100% compliant to the standard, where after Microsoft would not need to comply fully to the standard either, and therefore they can warp the standard sufficiently, preventing competitors from being 100% compatible with Microsoft Word, where Microsoft then can claim that the competitors are not standards compliant, because they have not understood the standard correctly - then arguing for open standards, or open source suddenly becomes more difficult because MS owns the standard, which is defined to be open due to the ISO stamp.

So the whole process makes perfect sense from the point of view of maintaining their market dominance and their monopoly with in word processing (though, the correct term is ogliopol, which I don't know how to spell).

Similar things have been done with kerberos which is used in some microsoft applications, they claimed that they're using a standard, however it became a standard + some proprietory additions, which made it incompatible with all other implementations, likewise with the web standards and so forth, so why should I believe that they would follow their own official standard, without certain modifications to maintain a lock in (or rather lock out of competitors) - their history is against them.

Soot almost as bad as CO2 for global warming

Michael Nielsen


I really laugh, when I hear that people spit out SUV as the main problem vehicle.

lol, I used to drive an SUV (Diesel - I did my research, relating to fuel efficiency), the car was specified to run at up to 17 km/litre (my own measurments showed 16.5km/liter in summer time, and 12 km/liter in winter time). Considering that I need to carry cargo, and people, then those small so-called environmentally friendly cars are near useless to me, and a true VAN, actually a fuel efficiency vastly worse than the SUV.

Take a large sized family car (similar dimensions SUV - and rather common), which is large enough to carry some cargo, and 4 people, in relative comfort, and then you notice that they run at only 9-11km/liter, unless they're diesel which then means they can manage simliar results to my old SUV..

People have picked a pet car type to complain about, but it is far from all SUV's that are terrible, a lot of normal familly cars are actually significantly worse, than SUV's when it comes to CO2 emissions.

Now of course there are examples such as the HUM V, etc, who barely make a couple of km per liter, but compare that to other luxury cars, and you will find that they are no better, a lot of ministerial cars (luxury cars) in Denmark barely manage 5km/liter.

Sporting Utility Vehicles are not all evil, and at least not worse than other so called normal cars, though they are overkill and not needed for driving around town - I live in the country.

Funny thing in Denmark they introduced duties on cars, and since I need the traction power of a 4x4 I had to downgrade my car, so that I could afford to use it, unfortunately the laws means that I've had to downgrade from my old SUV which did 12-16km/litre, to one that only manages 11km/liter, because the government bought the idea that SUV's are bad.

But back on the climate debate, in the 1970's sciencetists were predicting the start of the new ICE age, (which we are racing towards,) the interglacial periods (which we are in now), normally lasts for 12 - 20 000 years, and we are roughly 15-18 000 years into our interglacial period.

Looking at the graphs of temperature from the ice core samples. It appears that usually a temperature spike appears at the end of such an interglacial period, just before the rapid decline in temperature. Strangely enough the peak appears to be just around our current global temperature average. (Unfortunately 4-6 data points are statisically insignificant - which is similar to using 200 years of data to predict cycles that have a period much greater than 100 000 years - extrapolation generates huge errors, when you really don't have all the factors).

Mozilla CEO blasts Apple for putting security of the internet at risk

Michael Nielsen


Yeah, itunes was the reason quicktime vanished permanently from my windows machine, therefore it is the reason I'm using alternative movie players to play quicktime (I don't even own a stupid IPOD, and have no need for itunes).

Actually I did that with windows media player too, as when I upgradede it to the lastest media player, with all that wonderful DRM junk in it, half the movies I had downloaded (free clips, and trailers from the net), stopped working, so I downloaded alternative players and now they all play properly again.

Half the upgrades you receive atm, are infact downgrades, breaking compatibility and so forth, and installs lots of unecessary update programs, and other junk.

BTW use rythmbox on Linux, it will install your MP3's happily onto your IPOD, without filling your machine with spyware, DRM managers etc, and it has a nice simple interface :-). I found this out because I had a visitor who had bought a CD from a shop, and wanted it onto her IPOD (quite legal here), but didn't have her computer with her, quick and easy to do on Linux, (I wasn't going to let itunes come within a mile of my system)

Personally I hate the way most problems sneak some kind of stay resident junk onto your machine when you install it, I keep using msconfig to disable all those autostart, autoupdate junk programs, so far I think I have 30 odd barred from starting - makes your machine a real lot faster, when you disable all that junk.

Microsoft dropped Vista hardware spec to raise Intel profits

Michael Nielsen
IT Angle

OO and operating systems.

In my world the operating system is just a slim system, that facilitates the running of he programs I choose to use, the Operating system it self should have near zero resource usage (relative), which means all the resources are directed to running my applications. However as when NT arrived a decade or so ago, people noted that just moving their mouse would result in the operating system swapping to disk, to now where by 1990 standards we are using supercomputers, and still we are throwing a lot of resources away the operating systems are using 2GB, and still swapping to disk, and systems run slow (exaggeration). Of course we can argue that we have forgotten how slow computers were then, well I do have a computer from around that time, and no it's not that much slower to use, though you can't have all that eye-candy which is chewing the majority of the systems power for the majority of people.

Even Linux is moving towards running lots of programs in background - something I'm very opposed to. Fortunately you can choose to strip that system down, and remove those parts.

However why would someone launch an operating system which in it self has crazy hardware requirements, the operating system should not have a significant impact on system performance.

Of course I understand that API's developed for the operating system, requires certain libraries to be loaded, when they are needed, and therefore the memory usage would increase dramatically. However bundling lots of functions down deep in the system, makes it easy for the programmer, but also blows a lot of resources.

I am afraid that this is the culmination of the Object Orientation movement that started around 1990's, where reusable code is more important than the effectiveness and efficiency of the code, thus code bloat is designed into the systems, and lead to what we are seeing today - Operating systems that consume insane amounts of hardware resources, that really should available to programs, and not the operating system..

I myself am a software developer, and I know most hardcore OO developers will claim that I'm on a wrong track, however look at the size of a small text editor, and compare it to what was available back in the late 80's, it doesn't have significantly more feature (if any), however a standalone text editor in the lat 80's was about 26kB in size, now-a-days they consume megabytes, and rely heavily on system libraries, which them selves consume lots of memory.

Perhaps it's time we focused more on code efficiency, than just re-usuability, and reconsider the OO design philosophy.

I know that OO, and high level programming languages have reduced the time-to-markedet, and has reduced the development time - I work with it myself all the time, however at the cost of much higher resource use, so we use more memory and more CPU which converts almost directly to more electrical power, and in a time where the majority of people are claiming that Androgentic climate change is such a huge problem.

Perhaps a back to the drawing board is in order for the industry as a whole.


Michael Nielsen.

IFPI wins Danish block on Pirate Bay

Michael Nielsen

Precedent - that is why it is a victory

It is a victory for them, which opens a floodgate into EU, unfortunately the ISP's are not fighting back, and just complying, the injunction is only intended as a temporary means until the case is tried in the 'real' court system, however the precedent is there, AllOfMp3 was blocked in Denmark in the same manner, but because the ISP's never did take the case to court, then the temporary injunction has become permanent. The rest of the ISP's in Denmark are now waiting for IFPI to contact them and ask them to block the pirate bay.

It all started with the introduction of a child pornography filter in Denmark, the idea of which is morally sound, unfortunately it violates the constitution of Denmark, which forbids any censorship of any kind. However since it was possible to take the high moral ground with that particular bit of censorship, Censorship has now been introduced into Denmark. Sites are censored, without being tried by the justice system - on the word of a private organisations, because legally the government cannot condone censorship. The filter was introduced voluentarily by the ISP's and therefore the censorship was enforced by private parties, and therefore not subject to the anticensorship laws, the police is involved in listing the sites that are to be blocked, which is supposed to give some kind of security against blatant abuse, however already several innocent sites have been blocked by that filter, though they do not link to or contain any illegal content, some of them have been removed from the filter again.

Originally when that particular bit of censorship was introduced it was said the filter would never be expanded, however it is slowly expanding to include sites which some people don't like, others deem to be illegal, but all without the sites being able to defend them selves in the justice system, or indeed even informed that they are censored.

However the introduction of the first bit of censorship, which is easy to argue for, and impossible to argue against, because the warnings of the possible erosion of civil liberties, that this could cause, seemed very weak compared to the protect children against abuse argument.

Now that Censorship is in place, and tolerated by nearly all, and supported by the vast majority, It is now easy to expand the censorship, by claiming sites to be illegal, which is what IFPI is doing now.

So Denmark has no official Censorship, and the Censorship is considered voluntary, controlled by private interest groups, and the government can wash their hands, saying they're not doing it, and they can ignore the anti-censorship laws.

If a country with explicit anti-censorship laws can introduce censorship, it creates a precedent for introducing censorship in other countries, for instance countries like the UK where there are already content censorship, it will be easier, now that they have underminded the constitution in one country.

However civil liberties groups in Denmark are mainly like toothless dogs which you rarely hear from, which IMO the reason why Denmark has been picked out for this action, I hope civil liberties groups in other countries are more effective in fighting this creeping erosion of freedom.

Microsoft prints get-out-of-jail card for Vista Home

Michael Nielsen
Thumb Down

EULAs and the Great Unwashed

I've tried a similar discussion in Denmark, (relating to an airline ticket, but the base problem is the same), I bought a ticket via telephone, I was not informed that changing the ticket would cost the same as the original ticket, however the consumer protection agency of Denmark, cited that I should have gone to their web site and checked the conditions for use (much like the EULA) even though the telephone operator did not indicate that there were special conditions in effect, so the fact that you know there ought to be an EULA, then it is your responsibility to find it and read it - it still applies to you whether you have read it or even are aware of it.

Don't know about the rest of the world, but personally I think it stinks.

Michael Nielsen

Virtualisation, ???

Lol, I run Linux on my PC's as my main operating system (only ever booting to play one of the online games that aren't yet supported by cedega), however as I work with server systems, with web interfaces, I also do some web development, so I'm forced to test on windows, for compatiblity with IE, since there really isn't any useful debugging tools for IE, which doesn't cost an arm and a leg, I find it painful to develop for microsoft programs. Which is why I do 99.9% of the webwork on firefox on linux.

However I test with IE, but I hate rebooting, so I installed VirtualBox, and voila, XP in an virtual environment, can run mulitple instances, and have different patch levels, such as with IE7, with IE6, patched, not patched etc. And reinstalling - lol restore a backup file, and 10 seonds later back to base package :-).. Lovely, and the real funny bit, XP seesm to be significantly faster and more responsive, when running virutally in a linux host enviornment, than runnning natively :->..

So why on earth would I even get vista even if they allow the cheap editions to be virtualised ?. Well at least not until they come with a new browser which won't run on XP.

Becta excludes Vista, Office - again

Michael Nielsen

Just a quick comment about Employers

I had a really funny situation, I was hired to a job, where I was to port an application from windows to linux (server application), the employer knew nothing but windows, and figured that I need that, a full windows system set up with top of the line software development tools from Microsoft, approximately 5000 pounds worth of software.

My first day on the job, the employer asked me what did I need, MSDN? Visual C++? Microsoft Office ?, etc etc.. I laughed, and pulled a couple of CD's from my Brief case and said, all I need is a Computer, and a place to sit, software, that's all on these disks - all legal, and free. The guy nearly fainted, he had just installed 4 other people straight out of university, who could use nothing but windows, cost him about 5000 pounds of software licenses per seat.

The problem isn't that employers don't want alternatives, it's mainly they don't know that the office secretary can get along just as easily with Linux as with Windows. The other main problem is that most people out of university and school are litterally brainwashed into thinking that only MS products will do, and can do what they need, even if it's writing a letter (I'm not kidding, but that is the purpose with educational discounts - Just see MS's reaction when Russia threatened with shifting their schools to Linux). Most people who aren't IT wizzes don't realize, that what they need, they can in fact obtain free and legally. They are scared of anything that doesn't look the same as what they're used to. Most people who cannot afford the licenses would rather try to pirate an illegal copy than to try something new, mainly because they fear change, and they have been indoctrinated with everything is MS, as well as pressure from educational institutions and places of employment.

Unless you have a specific requirement for something really specifically made only for windows, then there is no need to choose a specific platform, Linux, FreeBSD, Mac OS, Solaris, Windows, etc can all do the same, they have similar tools, and can replace one another. I use VirtualBox for the function, which has the additional benefit, that the hardware profile is virtual and really messes up XP's hardware detection - allows me to upgrade my machines freely, and not run into activation crap.

Personally I only use windows when I play computer games, because that is the ONLY application that I use, which is specifically windows, though linux's cedega project is comming along nicely. I am an IT professional, so my job is computer support, programming, development, and system administration, so far I have managed to convince all my employers to give linux a go (at least for their servers), and most have been pleasantly surprised.

About Education, it is important to learn fundamental principals, such as desktop publishing, word processing, databases, etc, however it is important NOT to learn a specific product, because that leads to vendor lock-in and creates an inflexible workforce in the future.

I'm not arguing that Microsoft should not be present in schools, however it should only be present in the degree that is necessary, such as for specific tasks, which one department may have - special windows only applications. All other departments should use alternatives. You see this has the additional benefit of exposing the students to a variety of systems, allowing them to learn principles, and to learn how to adapt to new systems, which may exist when they finally graduate and enter the 'real life' (tm).

Educational discounts schemes for students should be banned, because it only benefits the companies, in that they create a new generation of indoctrinated people, it's not because the companies care about the student's economic situation.

The real problem in society is that some groups are being left behind, because they cannot afford the crazy software license fees, such as having to buy vista, (it is at least 80 pounds of the computers price), then add in Microsoft office (another 100-250 pounds), and so forth. If schools concentrated on FOSS, then a student and their parents would only have to finance the hardware, which is significant savings for the individual. An additional benefit is that FOSS like Linux, FreeBSD, etc, can run effective on lower hardware specs, so instead of the 300 pound computer, an older second hand 80 dollar computer is sufficient for most tasks.

To argue that retraining is a problem in the schools, higher educational institutions and other government agencies, is bogus, this is a one-off cost, and the benefits far outweigh the costs, because the poorer families will be better able to afford the tools that they need.


Michael Nielsen.

Bacteria to blame for global warming?

Michael Nielsen
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Climate chang

The problem is that those who favour anthroprogenic global warming, insists on only looking at changes over a millenia, which does provide some compelling indications that humans might infact be a cause, however looking at the long term data, from the ice cores, etc, the reverse relationship between CO2 and heating seems to be indicated. It is fine an well saying that was then, and this is now, unfortunately that does not hold, any climate model must hold for both situations.

All the results I have seen so far, supporting either side, have been heavily modified, and manipulated to support what ever argument they try to present, but none of the conclusions seems to correlate well will with the long term and short term data.

Remember that a using a millenia of information in the earth's climate, to predict long term trends, is like examining the position, and speed of a car in a microsecond, and try to predict where it would be in about 1 hour time. The further you extrapolate, the more factors are important, and the more inaccurate your extrapolations become.

To my mind, looking at the climate debate, the pro anthroprogentic mob, use personal attacks against the anti anthroprogenic mob, rather than sciencetific fact, this then means the science is gone, and it is all down to religion.

My personal conclusion about the whole debate is, that both sides might be right, but more likely the truth is somewhere between the extremes (anti vs pro), it is likely that we have an effect, but what that effect is, is unfortunately far from proven. Citing that the majority of sciencetists have reached concensus, is highly bogus, as science is not concensus, but fact based, and going back through history once the overwhelming concensus said the earth was stationary, and everything moved around the earth, did the concensus make it more right? It was the few who challenged established theory, who were infact right, though they suffered the same personal attacks as the current opponents to the consensus climate people.

More to the point, and what is scientifically proven is, that we are using non-renewable resources, and consuming them at an ever increasing rate, sooner or later we will run out, and that will cause a catastrophy - economic, as well as socially, therefore we need to go the 'green' route to make sure that our society can survive. So no matter which side is right in the climate debate, we do need to change.

However the main barriers for going green is not the individual humans, the drivers and owners of SUV's or what not, but rather the governments, who at the moment all are singing 'green is good', but doing 'down with green'.. You can see that some countries have huge blanket energy duties (in the name of green politic), which unfortunately means that green energy actually becomes signficantly more expensive than non-green, thus pushing the poore consumers away from the 'green' energy.

I saw an example of this, when a danish farmer showed he could produce green bio fuel for diesel cars, at about 30 pence a liter, however the government demanded that he pay duties, which caused the price for the bio fuel to become 1 pound a liter, at a time, when the non-renewable mineral fuels cost only 0.9 pounds a liter.

The politics needs to be changed, but the change needs to be based on provable, incontravertable facts, such as the necessity for renewable energy, to overcome the time when our oil reserves are depleted, these facts are easy to understand, and will sway more, than the highly contraversial climate debate, which 99.9% of the population doesn't understand. Other arguments such as the political, which is dependence on the middle east for energy price stability, is also an angle.

All of these will achieve the same.

Aussie gov anti-porn filter 'useless', says teen

Michael Nielsen


Lets say for argument sake that 50% of kids are targets for these filters, because they surf porn, now you add a compulsorary filters, suddenly now the other 50% will be interested in surfing porn because it is now become something you are not allowed to do. So you will increase the usage of porn by kids.

Another thing is, these filters are useless, because unless you use whitelist filters, you won't have an effective filter at all, all Blacklist filters can be circumvented in about 10 seconds, by anyone even moderately skilled with computers.

I really really wish these ban-or-block-it-and-it-dissappears-types would grow half a brain, forbid something, and suddenly it become irresistable to those who weren't bothered with it before.

The best option is.

1 Do not forbid it.

2. Do not block it.

3. Talk to your kids about it.

Use information, and discussion, and you might actually find the result vastly better.

Bans, blocking, filtering, censorship has never achieved anything good - ever.

Possession of extreme porn to become criminal offence

Michael Nielsen

And there goes a little bit more freedom

lol The western worlds are supposed to be free, but every day, people's freedoms are being stolen away, for the "Greater good", treating fully adults like children saying you are not allowed to do this.

Introducing vague laws like this makes it easier to continually erode personal freedom.

Slowly taking away freedom and rights was how many dictators and other extreme governments gained power and control over the people.

Though I find the concept of many of the things the law wishes to forbid appaling, I still think it a problem to make viewing them an offense, as this can be done accidentally. If they want to do something, get going with harmonizing international law, and forbid the production. Of course this requires work and is difficult, it's easier for the cronies just to make it illegal, and then they can throw anyone who object into jail.


Michael Nielsen.

A german poem about nazism comes to mind.

First they came for the Jews

and I did not speak out

because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for the Communists

and I did not speak out

because I was not a Communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists

and I did not speak out

because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for me

and there was no one left

to speak out for me.

Pastor Martin Niemöller

Net censorship growing worldwide

Michael Nielsen


A lot of people have been arguing for censorship, for instance in the case of child pornography - mind you, I sincerely wish that child pornography did not exist - however blocking it by censorship is a double edged sword, censorship hides the existence of materials, but does not remove them, nor solve the real problem. Eventhough the ideals of those arguing for the censorship is commendable, they tend to forget that censorship has an adverse effect of also hiding the extent of the problem - out of sight out of mind.

Censorship has never solved any problems, and the only effect of censorship is keeping people ignorant of what is really going on. Hiding things like hate-speech, neo-nazi propeganda has a large negative effect, most people seem to forget that forbidding something, often makes it far more attractive, so if it is forbidden to access something, it suddenly becomes interesting, as well as driving these things underground, removes them from public debate, and places them in the dark, where they can grow, and followers reinforce each other's beliefs, until carrying it out seems natural to them - This is really dangerous.

Not censoring things like hate speec, etc has the tendency to weaken it, because it faces scrutiny, and because it is not illegal, it isn't nearly as interesting.

Making something illegal is a sure way of making it more facinating, and when it is driven underground, below the radar, evil concepts are able to thrive and grow, gaining strength, here the very same concepts would fade before the light of day.

Therefore I believe that censuring access to information, or expression is never a good thing, it only has negative consequences, and punishing people for 'thought' crimes such as racist propeganda does not make the problem go away, but just hides it. Letting people have a place to vent their rage, might prevent it being vented physically.

Mind you I firmly believe that the police should hunt down people producing things such as child porn, or actually carrying out acts of violence based on hate-speech and so forth, and I am an advocate of creating a global policeforce, specialized in hunting down these people. What I mean I seriously support actually solving the problems, and I do not believe in hiding them.

Supreme Court refuses to review 200-year sentence for child porn

Michael Nielsen

Check out the Danish Laws.

First there was a huge debacle over child porn on the net, so someone got the idea of censuring the net, and most thought it was a good idea (even though it is against the country's constitution to introduce censorship - but it is called a voluntary ting, so the constitution doesn't matter),

Those who spoke out against censorship, always ended up facing the inevitable position of being accused of defending pedophilia, though this was not what they were saying..

The debate was about the floodgates that always open once you introduce censorship. It was politically popular to introduce the child porn filter, so the warnings went unheard.

A short while later, www.AllOfMp3.com was deemed to be illegal by IFPI (a private company representing the Music Industry), though the site was considered legal by russian laws, where the site operates, and it too was censored.

It is interesting to see what is next on the list of items to be censored?

It is sad to see how things are introduced, even against the constitution of a country, in the holy name of fighting terror, child porn and pedophilia, how easily civil rights are undermined with unknown consequences.

NB: I'm all for fighting terror, child porn, and pedophilia, but I believe it should be done by finding and punishing the creators, perpetrators, and the distributors.

Not by removing the civil rights - which previous generations died to secure us, and not by crucifying the people who have seen such pictures.

Not by Jailing some poor teacher in the USA for seeing child porn, or what not - now if the teacher had abused a child it would be a totally different matter.

The Law enforcers need to concentrate their resources on catching the source, not wasting time and resources punishing some poor individual who has not harmed anyone, but themselves.

However, I suspect that the law makers have hidden motives, and are less interested in stopping terror and pedophilia, than they are interested in removing the civil rights of the population.