* Posts by Wolf

52 publicly visible posts • joined 31 Oct 2007


EC asks: Been leant on by Microsoft?


Another Windows N anybody?

While this solution seems reasonable on the surface there are a number of legal liability issues to consider, some that leave the EC open to lawsuits itself.

1. Who decides *which* browsers get on the ballot?

2. If controlled by individual OEMs doesn't that mean IE will always be included, Opera maybe never? If so how is it any different than now?

3. If the EC controls the ballot (since it's obvious MS never should) then what happens when a new browser comes out? Is there a mechanism in place to petition a place on the ballot? If not can the new browser maker sue the EC for exclusionary collusion?

4. There are *lots* of browsers out there. If a user is given a list of 2 dozen browers, which one should they pick? Will they even know?

5. Will the ballot have a default setting? Can you change your mind after installation? If there is a default what should it be?

6. Mechanically, how will this work? Who creates the ballot screen software? If each OEM has to do it then that places additional load on third parties--making this solution illegal. Courts can't impose a solution on uninvolved third parties. If MS does it, then how can you secure the software against hackers?

7. If the the individual browser makers are responsible for their own browser download bandwidth (which seems reasonable) and the ballot is nothing more than a list of download URLs then it should be simple to hack. Remember you would have to secure *every* OEM...

8. What about the infrastructure that goes with IE? Not the trivial front end, the actual Trident rendering engine? Remember a large number of third party software requires Trident to be present. If MS is forced to pull Trident out then the EC is directly responsible for breaking existing software and third parties could rightly sue the EC for interfering in third party business affairs.

9. If you leave Trident in, how have you really done anything at all? Isn't that even *less* effective than Windows N? Are you telling me the (tiny) front end that is IExplorer.exe is worth the billions of dollars wasted on this farce? (Fines, the time governement employees spent on it, the reams of dead trees, the *printer ink* and *toner* costs? :))

10. Finally, remember we are talking about programs that are FREE to the user! What sane person invests billions to tell someone else which free program they get to use?

I think the EC is pointing a massive cannon at their own heads. Neelie-burgers, anyone?

EC pressure on Microsoft grows


Because Windows N was *SO* popular

I'm sure B5 (IE/Safari/Chrome/Opera/Firefox) will be just as big a hit!


Microsoft breaks Windows 7 three-apps netbook handicap


The restrictions in place actually make sense.

Everyone's been complaining for years that Windows was bloated. They've complained that Windows offers too much, that an OS should just be a basic program runner/resource manager. Well congratulations! MS has stripped out a lot of bloat in Starter Edition. You got what you wanted and you're STILL complaining? Jeez.

Let's look at these restrictions, shall we?

1. No Aero. Ok, this lets the mfg use a cheaper graphics chip. Cost of the netbook is reduced. No eye-candy to "waste" computing power either. Why are you complaining again?

2. No DVD playback. MS has to pay a per unit license fee to the monopoly that owns DVD format. No DVD playback means no DVD fee. This is a cost reduction. Lower cost = lower price. Why are you complaining again?

3. No multi-monitor support. Ok, multi-monitor takes more advanced (read more expensive) graphics chips (and more RAM), pulls more power (reducing battery life) and takes an external jack (which, of course, the belly achers want to be both VGA *and* digital). More expense, more real-estate, higher cost netbook. It's a *netbook*, intended for use while on the road or to throw in your briefcase. Why should you need an external monitor? So why are you complaining again?

4. No multimedia center. So? This is a woefully underpowered machine by today's standards, it doesn't really have the horsepower for such applications. Isn't MS removing bloat? :) Why are you complaining about not having to put MCE on a system that can't really use it properly?

5. No wallpaper change/color change/sound changes. Eh, it's a *netbook*. Meaning you're primarily going to use your browser. In full screen mode. (all cramped 1024x600 of it) Meaning you won't see the wall paper most of the time. Or the screen colors. As for changing OS sounds, meh. On a netbook just exactly how does that affect you? Isn't all that just bloat anyway? So why are you complaining again?

6. Yes, these changes are to make Starter Edition less appealing for full blown notebooks and desktops. So? It costs $15 (or whatever). If it had *no* restrictions everyone would use it.

Now that the 3 app limit has been removed (which was a STUPID limit, agreed) I don't see why you're complaining about a $100 discount for what amounts to Windows with a few trivial restrictions. Why isn't that a GOOD THING? Someone care to enlighten me? Or is this just good old British pub-dweller bellyaching?

Green-laser micro-projectors green-lighted

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Solves one half of the phone as PC problem. :)

Now that they have the display (100" screen? Drooolllll) all they have to worry about is a keyboard. (And no, voice command/Minority Report UI/projected keyboard need not apply).

Conservative US shock-jock to sue Wacky Jacqui


Michael Savage is...

...unfortunately part of the price we pay in the United States for the right of free speech.

Those who doubt the US takes the 1st Amendment seriously, well, all I can do is point at Michael Savage while gagging and averting my eyes.

He's a lunatic with a radio show and he's not afraid to use it. Sigh. Still, he can say what he likes, and hold whatever opinions he pleases. So long as all he does is shoot his mouth off nobody's going to do anything--as pleasant a fantasy as throttling the idiot might be. :)

Personally, give me a hundred Michael Savages (turning green from the thought) instead of one censorship law or book burning mob any day.

Besides, why ban KKK and neo-nazis and all the rest? If they're given free speech too *at least we know who they are and what they are thinking*.

There is a method to the madness...

Hackers demand $10m ransom for Virginia medical data


This will be rated as "Depraved Indifference"

Which has severe sentencing implications. This hacker (if telling the truth) is looking at life in prision--at least. He could be charged with murder if someone dies because of a foul-up due to missing records.

Of course, he could be lying to pull a prank. But even if he is, the Feds will still hunt him down.

People like this are why the death penalty was invented...

Windows 7’s XP Mode — Virtually worth the effort


@Ian Fergusson

"Oh and I hate to be an Apple fanboi but... OSX's support for legacy applications is so much more elegant!"

Leopard supports OS9 applications? Cool!

No, wait...

In case you've been buried in Steve's RDF for the last decade, Win 7 runs 99.99% of XP applications. For those tiny majority that broke the rules you get a full blown XP to play with--for that application.

All of your other stuff runs *native*. No emulation, real live native execution. No WINE, no VM needed.

This is just for that tiny minority of garbage programs that non-the-less are critical to your continued existence.


You people seem to be clueless

Ok, several points.

1) XP mode is for those applications that for whatever reason just can't run under Win 7. That's less than 1% of all XP applications.

2) Most companies might have *1* such application, but unfortunately that 1 is critical to Life As They Know It. This gives them the ability to run Win 7 while they transition.

3) You don't run programs under XP mode if they run under Win 7. Duh.

4) XP Mode does NOT ship with Win 7 it's going to be a separate download.

5) Like OS X's classic mode, it's a cumbersome solution but better than no solution at all. After a couple of years everyone should be fully migrated that are going to.

6) We've heard "You can have XP when you pry it from my cold dead fingers" from the Mac crowd years ago, only they substituted "OS9" for "XP".

7) To the author, XP Mode defaults to 256MB of RAM, could *that* have been the performance bottleneck (ie disk swapping?)

Any more silly questions?

Microsoft v TomTom: a GPLv3 wake-up call


GPL and RAND are incompatible by design

GPL software can't coexist with RAND (Reasonable And Non-Discrimintory) patents because RAND makes you pay for the right to use the patent--and that's verboten in the GPL.

Now personally I think software patents are stupid and shouldn't exist (software is mathematics). But until the laws are changed software pateints exist and are enforcable--and never the twain shall meet.

That has been Stallman's plan all along you know. Kill software patents, along with software that's sold.

The irresistable force is about to meet the immovable object. I wouldn't want to be the one between them...

Old worm learns new Conficker tricks


And Why Aren't People Patching?

The flaw this worm uses is like what, 9 months old by now? Why haven't people patched? They can even do so overnight, automatically! Yet they don't...

What's that old saw about fool me once, shame on you? :)

Penguin because even a stupid bird should be able to figure out the need for patching...

Microsoft draws fire for taxpayer handout

Paris Hilton

Come *on* folks

Let's see. MS is suppling 17.5 million and the city (thru the stimulus package) is supplying 11 million? Yet MS employee traffic is less than half the total? Yet it will be a public road?

Um, sounds fair to me. Where's the problem?

Paris, because even she can tell when fair's fair...

Leaving PCs on costing UK business millions

Paris Hilton

There's a lot of bilge being spewed here

I work for a company with about 200 employees scattered over a dozen locations in 6 different states. I'm the IT manager (read sole IT person) for our company. There are probably 50 desktops and a dozen laptops for users, with a half-dozen servers. (email, phone system, data archiving, file server, terminal server, etc). We're running Active Directory and a mix of Windows 2000, 2003, and 2003 64-bit on our servers.

We run a mix of computers, about 40% Vista the rest XP, and one lone 98SE machine that runs a piece of hardware. We use a combination of home-brew software, third-party software, and MS Office. No, we don't use Exchange. :)

Our machines (both Vista *and* XP) take anywhere from 1-2 minutes to go from cold to logged in and ready to use--and we're using mostly $500 and under desktops!

We keep our systems running overnight during the week and shut down unused systems on the weekends (except dispatch which runs 18/7). Overnight all systems get updates downloaded and critical patches applied automatically (OS and AV). Servers download (but don't apply) patches, perform backup, and other housekeeping.

The Vista machines perform defragging and all the other housekeeping needed by the OS. Been slowly replacing XP Pro with Vista Business as machines need replacing. (Powerspec is your friend. Cheap, reliable, and good performance with about a 5-6 year lifespan).

My company's PCs are trouble-free, autopatching has never caused me any problems. Our users tend toward the computer-illiterate end of the scale, if there's a problem I'm the one they come to. That means I hear *every* problem. :) I'm also the person who goes and buys the computer when one is needed.

So all you whiners cry me a river. Your IT departments obviously don't know what they're doing if your systems take 15+ minutes to come up/shut down. There's *no* excuse for that.

For the posters commenting that rolling out patches overnight is lazy--no, it isn't. It's an efficient use of a computer's off-peak time--and my time. It's what Windows (especially Vista) is designed to do.

Couple that with solid hardware, the bare minimum of user education (hey, log off before you go home, 'kay?) a sane group policy (like run as standard user, don't let users install software without approval, clear IE's cache on exit, etc, etc) and a weather eye from yours truly and you get trouble-free computing.

I'm not saying I'm in some Fortune 500, our company is fairly small as corporations go. But since I'm the only IT person needed to keep us functional I'd say my methods work, and work well.

Constant crashes? 15+ minutes from cold start to working? Egads.

Paris, because it's obvious she must be running 99% of Reg readers IT departments...

Police union leader calls for 'killer games' sales ban


There goes chess then

Everyone knows that chess is simply stylized warfare and teaches basic principles of mass murder. (rolling eyes)

"Probable cause"? "no proof of connection"? Mistaking the order of cart and horse are we?

Today video games. Tomorrow role playing games. The day after that board games like chess.

A slippery slope indeed when greased by idiocy.

Police ad urges: 'Trust no one'


Hello, police?

I'd like to report a strange man dressed in blue with a tall funny hat. He's staring at passers-by in a suspicious manner and he gives me a bad feeling. He's even *armed* with a nasty looking billy-club and he could be one of those SM types cause I noticed he's carrying what look suspiciously like restraints.

I'll bet he's just looking for some young girl that catches his fancy...better send somebody round pretty quick before something really bad goes down.

See? :) What's more suspicious than that?

MS coughs to hokey-cokey IE8 option in Windows 7


This is the whole problem

"Some observers have derided Microsoft's suggested method for "removing" the browser from Windows 7, because the feature doesn't uninstall the browser in the latest build. Instead it simply deletes the "iexplore.exe" file, all other components of IE8 remain intact on the operating system."

Ok, stop. Just stop.

IExplore.exe *IS INTERNET EXPLORER*. Period. Full stop.

The other "components" of "IE8" are not part of Internet Explorer--they're part of Windows.

For example Trident (the HTML rendering engine) is used by all kinds of third party software to (wait for it!) display HTML files--whether those files are web pages or help files or a simple way to do rich text in an application.

The Java VM is used to (wait for it) run Java and Javascript.

The URL system is used by all kinds of software, including FTP. Duh.

ActiveX is used by lots of things besides IE.

Therefore, how can any of these "IE8 components" actually be called part of IE8?

Anyone who argues these are part of IE does not understand the concept of "component". :)

Microsoft trades goodwill for TomTom Linux satisfaction

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"You can't monopolize ideas, at least in any ethical regulatory environment."

Um, yes you can. It's called a "patent". And while I don't believe in method/software patents (while being a staunch defender of copyright) it *is* the law in the US--and Tom Tom sells in the US.

Sort of the mirror of the EU antitrust thing. MS sells in Europe, so has to dance to the EU bureaucrats.


@David Hicks

"(v)FAT is now a standard filesystem allowing devices like digital cameras, consoles, computers, mobile phones... basically anything to use the same media, usually flash media."

True. However the ECMA/ISO/IEC standard does NOT include long file names, it uses 8.3 name format only.

The patent concerns the long filename extension. Which TomTom uses, right?

A nit, perhaps, but then lawsuits are all about nits.

Microsoft aims 'non-security' update at gaping security hole


Given the Vista hate expressed by Reg posters...

...it doesn't suprize me that no one has mentioned Vista doesn't do autorun the same way XP does.

Put a CD/DVD/USB Stick in a Vista machine and it does NOT automatically run programs.

Instead it prompts you to choose what you want to do. Of course there is a checkbox for "always do my choice" but that's one of those compromises MS has to make to placate the security-stupid.

But everyone here uses XP forever, right? (snicker)

Crypto hash boffins trip on buffer overflow


C Does Suck

The problem is C generally requires you to reinvent the wheel for all sorts of basic plumbing. Memory management, for one. It's like "to create a shower, first dig up some copper ore..."

I programmed in C for years, and I tolerated it for what it is, a high level assembler.

C gives you a lot of power, yes. It's compact, yes. But it has virtually no checking, no basic services, and most programmers disable the few things like boundry-checks C compilers do have in the name of the gods Speed and Compactness.

When nearly every variable assignment you do has the potential to overflow a buffer, when every memory allocation has the potential to create a memory leak, when every pointer has the ability to point *anywhere*, then you have a mess.

C requires a great deal of care to get the mind-numbingly simple things right. Over and over and over. It isn't that C itself is bad, it's that C does nothing for the programmer, the programmer has to do *everything*. The slightest flaw and you have a compromised system. This is a good thing?

C is still necessary in limited areas where the power truly is needed. Low level OS functions, for example. Stuff that A) isn't very large, B) needs to be absolutely as fast as possible.

C is not suited for large complex projects precisely because of the exponential chance of making a basic mistake. (And I know lots of large programs are in C--which is why buffer overflows are so damned common).

How about using a language that does memory management, with an interpreter or compiler that knows how to optimize to the bare metal? It's a lot easier for a specialist to create a solution everyone can use, right? That's the whole *point* of code reuse...

Mozilla calls for 'open web' in EU Microsoft row


Hey, I know, let's define the market's size!

Let's use Total Market Value to measure the size of the browser market!

Size of market: $0.00

% of IE share: 0% or 100%, take your pick

% of FF share: 0% or 100%, take your pick

% of Opera share: 0% or 100%, take your pick

% of Safari share: 0% or 100%, take your pick

% of Chrome share: 0% or 100%, take your pick

Why is everyone fighting over such a lucrative market again? :) Seems like everybody has equal share of the profits!

I mean who wouldn't want a $0.00 market all to themselves? (laughing hysterically)

Penguin, because even an (actual) bird can see the profit to be had...

Brits and Yanks struck with embarasment embarrassment


I'd be happy...

...if they simply did away with silent "ough". I mean, for example:





It's a small change, but one that's long over due. Of course if we were *logical* (which, for better or worse we aren't) we'd all start speaking a language like Spanish. A very well behaved language indeed.

My real sympathy is for a non-English speaker who has to learn the *written* language. Spoken English isn't too bad, but my God! The horrors of our spelling should not be inflicted on damned souls, much less people just trying to communicate!

Man robs convenience store with Klingon sword


A bat'leth is still long, heavy, and sharp

Anyone hit with one would be just as unhappy (or dead) as if hit with a saber or katana. Of course a bat'leth should be *easy* to trace... :)


On further reflection...

I don't know which is sadder. The fact somebody actually used a bat'leth to commit a robbery, the fact that *two* different victims knew what it was, or the fact that *I* know what it is! (laughing)

Memo to Microsoft: Enough with the SKUed Windows



"However, all these SKU's STILL make Vista need 2GB of memory and 8-10GB of disk.


First, I've got a dozen Vista Business machines at work right now, 10 of them are 1GB machines, 2 with 2GB and all of them running Pentium dual core and Intel onboard graphics. All are speedy, it's just the 2GB machines stay speedy with a *lot* more open.

So no, Vista doesn't require 2GB. As for 8-10GB of disk space, each of these sub $500 machines has a 160GB hard drive. Why am I caring about 10GB for the OS again?

The loss of weight is in complexity, not code. Every Vista user, from Basic to Ultimate has *exactly* the same code! All you have to do to upgrade is pay MS the difference, and type in the code they give you. Instant upgrade.

Why do you care if the OS is taking up maybe 6-7% of the hard drive? You don't want to use the business features, you don't have to. You don't want to use the home theatre features, you don't have to.

In fact you can make sure nobody else can either...

Of course if your system is so old all you have is a 20GB hard drive, well, you better address your Penguin as "good puppy", hadn't you? :)


Ignorance, pure and simple

The posters who are bitching about too many SKUs are the EXACT SAME POSTERS who also complain about "bloat".

Let's look at the Vista SKU situation.

Vista Home Basic. If you have a 286 with 1KB of video memory, this is for you, oh cheapest of the cheap. No sound card, no DVD burner, no memory, no problem! The only reason this exists was to let the OEMs sell older hardware and still get most of the benefits of Vista (ie security). No Aero glass tho. Can't get blood from a stone, right? But you get all the other Home Premium features.

Ok, ok, you need a Pentium with 512MB of memory. So I exaggerated a little. :)

Home Premium (in other words, just plain Home). For anybody not running a business--or ancient hardware--ie your typical user at home. Thus the name. Duh. How hard is this again?

Business. Again, duh. Lets you be a client on Active directory, lets you lock down with Group Policies. Not stuff a home user typically cares about, yes? So why should a home user put up with the "bloat" of stuff they'll never use? Oh, it's not bloat? My bad...

Ultimate = Home Premium+Business+a few toys like video wallpaper. Sooooo difficult! Of course this is also the version that everyone could say is "bloated" since it has all the goodies.

Oh, and finally, 32 bit vs 64 bit. So double the above SKUs. But really, how hard is it to say "if you have 4+ GB of RAM, buy 64-bit"? It's the *exact same price* after all!


'Miracle' plane crash was no miracle

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Miracle, smiracle...

The truth is, this was a perfect storm on the side of the angels--so to speak.

Had the plane hit the bridge the carnage would have been horrific. Had the plane been out of position with regards to the river, had the pilot not been so well trained, or not had a VERY good day or had the river been rough, or had any of a hundred tiny little details not gone exactly right, we'd be mourning at least 155 dead, probably a lot more considering the dense urban area this happened in.

Was this a miracle? Hell yes! Did God do it? Dunno, probably not, but then again does a miracle really need to be by God's own hand (so to speak)?

Several years ago I personally was in a head on collision when an oncoming car crossed the center line on a curve (driver was either drunk or high). The impact happened under a railroad bridge with concrete pillars and had everything not gone perfectly right someone would have died--probably everyone. The other driver was doing a good 50+ MPH on a curve rated for 25.

My survival was a miracle and I for one thanked God for the lucky break I got that day. Might have been God, probably was luck, but when you win the Cosmic Lottery why be stingy with your thanks, hmm? That's just being ungracious. On top of which, this wreck occurred on my birthday! Best present you can EVER get...surviving a disaster unscathed.

It was the pilot who saved that plane. It was the plane's engineering that saved the passengers. It was the stringent safety regs that prompted the engineering. There's plenty of praise to go round, yes.

But it was the pilot's hands on the controls, *he* was riding the razor's edge. So give him his props. He earned them.

Turn it around. What if the plane had plowed into the bridge, or a skyscraper, or a school? Who'd get the blame?

Something to think about.

Take a hammer to your hard drive, shrieks Which?


Screwdriver and pliers works too

I've used a 5 lb sledge hammer to flatten the drive (still in its case, mind. No shrapnel risk that way--but most drives do not use glass platters these days).

A better way is to disassemble the drive. Lacking the tiny torx driver needed to remove the platters completely, I simply took a pair of pliers and bent each (aluminum) platter until the platter assembly wouldn't turn anymore.

For good measure I removed the circut board and ripped the heads/arms out with the pliers and removed the drive magnets too.

I'm sure the CIA/NSA/KGB/spook agency of choice could still have recovered some data from the 8 year old drives--but happily this is not a major security threat in my industry. :)

Glastonbury new-agers protest WiFi


Well... :)

Assuming ley lines are electromagnetic (which seems to be the basis of the claim--which is *REALLY* an odd basis) then the New Agers have a point. (Let's ignore the question of how a ley line could conduct current of any kind for the moment).

Whatever natural field strength the ley line (presumably) possesses is likely to be in the sub-milliwatt range. A wide-area Wifi network would simply swamp the ley-line.

Which, of course, brings up a couple of awkward questions. First, how can a human detect the ley line in the first place? Second, why would the ley line's microscopic field stregth have any positive health effects at all, as opposed to a 0 strength field? And lastly, given the whole double the distance/quarter the strength aspect of electromagnetic radation if you moved 10 feet from the ley line the the already miniscule field would become ultra-miniscule, yes?

On the other hand, if ley line energies are not electromagnetic you face an even more awkward question. How can electromagnetism affect ley line energies not based on it?

Having said all that it *is* possible for humans to detect sufficiently powerful magnetic fields from induced electrical currents, even in natural setting.

I've climbed Bell Rock near Sedona and felt the hairs on my arms raised, and felt the induced currents running through metal wires in the cages used to keep tourists from taking souvenirs from the rock piles. Never felt the "vortex" though. Guess I'm not as susceptible to EM effects as some.

But the important part was it was *repeatable*. It happened a set distance from the rock and not further away. I tried it several times, and could always feel the border when I crossed it.

I can see why Bell Rock was considered a sacred place by the Amerind peoples. Beautiful setting, really odd sensations, isolated area. And desert quiet.

But a ley line it isn't.

While I don't object to the existence of magic qua magic, I'm a firm believer in falsifiability and repeatibility as proof. Something new age followers are short of. Of course the same can be said of other religions as well... (chuckle)

RISC daddy conjures Moore's Lawless parallel universe



Ok, first of all there are some serious misconceptions about programming from A) those who never have or B) those who didn't live through the various eras.

I've been programming for 32 years now. My first program was written on a 1962 IBM 1130 that was 15 years old when I made my first feeble attempts to teach a machine.

When you have 8k of core memory, a card reader and a damn typewriter-style user input/output device, you learn efficiency. So I know how to write efficient code. Efficient for the *machine*, that is.

Not so efficient for the *user*, of course. Or the programmers who have to follow you later on and make changes to your oh-so-efficient program.

And I stayed in the game through the structured programming wars. And the object-oriented wars. And watched each and every fad that's come and gone since then.

Not one of the people complaining about bloat knows what that means. They *think* it means the program takes up too much room, runs too slowly, or has "useless" features.

Not true.

I will admit there are some programs that truly are bloated. But not the ones most people consider. In fact bloated code tends to die quickly.

There are always tradeoffs in programming. What is simple efficient code for the machine is complex and hard to use for the user. The user demands a GUI? Fine. The GUI code is 10 times the size of the program underneath--and that's not bloat.

The GUI is too slow? It takes up 60% of the available resources? (Disk, RAM, CPU?) Tough. Could it be made more efficient? Perhaps, but at what cost?

1) Money. Got gobs, next?

2) A huge problem domain--GUIs are big because they *have* to be big. OK, got gobs of programmers because of gobs of money. Next?

3) Maintainability. Not only is the problem domain huge, it's *complicated*. It takes real expertise to write simple, elegant code that avoids obfuscation. Ok, hire *GREAT* programmers with said gobs of money. Next?

4) Maintainability and code efficiency more often than not are mutually exclusive. Increasing one *decreases* the other. Ok, got gobs of--wait, what?

Like any engineering problem software engineering is a study in trade offs. The old saw about "Good, fast, cheap, pick any two." is dead right.

So your program has to be:

1) Machine efficient

2) Easily maintained

3) Affordable

4) Fit to purpose--for a widely diverse audience that can't agree on which features are useful and which are not.

5) Easy to use--ideally with NO training of the user.

6) Income generating so you'll be around in 3 years to keep doing what you're doing.

Name *ONE* program in the history of the world that meets all 6 of those criteria. Just one. Oh, and a choice everybody agrees with...

Microsoft gives users six months longer to flee from Vista


What a bunch of whiners

Point 1. Try Vista (not Home Basic) on a computer it comes with. SP1 by preference, but then everybody's shipping SP1 these days.

Point 2. Try Vista on something other than a Pentium 1 with 64MB of RAM. Jeez.

Point 3. Right this very minute my company's running about 50% Vista in the main office, 50% XP. I have less trouble out of the Vista machines, and they run faster. (Mainly because they're newer, duh!)

Point 4. I'm paying $399 for Vista machines with dual-core processors and 1GB of RAM. The users can't tell the difference between XP and Vista for the most part, but as an admin I *can*, and let me tell you the Vista Business machines are far easier to deal with.

Point 5. XP was good in the day, it makes me laugh every time I hear "You'll pry XP from my cold dead fingers". This from the same set of crybabies that were wailing about how insecure XP was!

Stealthy malware expands rootkit repertoire

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So this is stale beer?

If the vulnerability has been patched for over a year, where's the beef?

Oh, and nice job not telling us which versions of Windows were vulnerable. Top notch reporting, that.

Ubuntu zoo preps for new arrival


A serious guess, for a change... :)

Kindly Kinkajou

Though I do like Kickass Kestrel. :) Maybe Kingly Kestrel? Is the Kestrel found in Africa at all? Jackolopes certainly aren't!

Mystery Fedora disruption prompts security fears


I guess...

Fedora's keeping the details under their hat?

Mine's the one with the optical cloak and the asbestos lining...

Unpatched Windows PCs own3d in less than four minutes


Guess it's where you're from...

In my city (Cincinnati, in USA) my ISP gave me a NAT router as a matter of course, a little Cisco box the size of a paper back book. That little router has NAT built in, I didn't have to do *anything*. Naturally I have a dynamic IP, but that's never been an issue.

I'll admit the phrase "on the internet without a router" leaves me puzzled. How, exactly, does one get to the internet without either A) an ISP to handle all the messy details (home users) or B) a considerable effort on the part of the IT department (corporate users).

Either way, NAT is the cheapest and easiest protection there is, most routers have it built in as a matter of course. Assuming your ISP/IT department is so criminally negligent as to give you an unfirewalled/non-NAT connection to the net the fault lies with them!

This BS about management not giving IT time to properly connect a system to the net is drivel. In a corporate environment you *can't* hook directly to the net! You have to go through the local LAN--which will have a router between you and the net.

Unless, of course, you hire idiots to run your networking center...

Microsoft says ‘hasta la vista XP’ - well, kinda


Cut the crap

Ok, time for all the "Vista sucks" brigade to sit down and shut up.

I can buy a Vista Business machine that runs Aero (and runs it *well*) for $399. In fact I've already bought 2 of them to supplement the fleet of 9 others that cost $499.

I can buy nicely spec'ed Vista business machine for $499 (2GB, dual layer DVD, 250GB HD, dual P4's).

If you want a new computer, it's Vista. If you have XP, then keep XP. Where's the pain? Unless the EU's VAT tax drives the price of a new computer into the stratosphere there's simply no excuse.

For the (very few) programs that won't run Vista keep them on XP for now and hammer the vendor to get their act together. All our other software simply runs. No muss, no fuss.

Been using Vista for over a year now, it works, it's stable, it runs fast on new hardware (that's super cheap). We have one archaic app that needs a vendor-specific hardware card that doesn't have a Vista driver. Other than that, no issues.

Even my SP35 badge printer now has a Vista driver!

What I learned from a dumb terminal

Paris Hilton

Back in the day...

Back when the IBM PC AT was new and shiny I was the programmer and chief support tech (small company :) ) for a dental office management program. Backups were done on 5.25" floppies (the kind that really were "floppy").

We had a whole chapter on the importance of backing up your data, but let the customer supply the backup program. Most chose a nice reliable program, so it worked well.

Backups done on floppies inevitably required about 20 of them for any reasonable amount of data, and the instruction was usually "please change floppy" or "insert next floppy".

One day I got a call from an office manager that her software had crashed, taking the data with it. She assured me she had a backup so I was relieved. The conversation went like this:

Me: "About how many patients do you have?"

Her: "About 5,000".

Me: "Ok, you'll have to restore your data from backup. You have one, right?"

Her: "Oh yes, no problem."

Me: (thinking to reassure her) "How many floppies is the backup on?"

Her: "One"

(dead silence for 10 seconds as cold dread washes thru me)

Me: "One?"

Her: "Yes, one"

Me: "um, didn't the backup program prompt you to change floppies?"

Her: "Of course."

Me: "Then why do you only have one floppy?"

Her: "I put the same floppy back in each time."

I swear to God this is a true story!

Paris, because she might make a similar call today...

OpenSUSE 11 a redemptive OS with a Mactastic shine


Does OpenSuse support Wubi installs?

I only use Linux to test PAWS cross-platform ability. Hardy Heron's wubi install lets me do that without the hassles of partitioning, it's a lot like the last version of BeOS that way.

Do any of the other major distros have that, or just HH?

AVG scanner blasts internet with fake traffic


I can't find it in my heart...

...to really care.

Let it destroy web analytics. They're pretty much fairy dust anyway. The whole pay per click issue is what made spammers target the web in the first place. I'm still on AVG 7.5 so I'm not contributing to the problem, but there's a part of me that views web marketeers with the same warm fuzziness I extend to RIAA and other wastes of skin.

Then maybe advertisers will begin to wake up from their daydreams about sticky eyballs and sneaky pop unders and all the rest of the pain they've inflicted on us.

The biter got bit. Boo hoo.

New York talks net giants into child pornography crackdown


USENET has its place

I use the net for rec.arts.int-fiction, which is a group that still makes (and discusses) text adventure games. They don't have a website, they have little money, and if USENET were destroyed in its entirity then a quaint computer hobby would be gone forever.

On topic, however, the last time I looked child porn fell under the law called, let me see, oh yes, *rape*. Duh.

Find the rapists and let the authorities murder them. Oh, I'm sorry, *execute* them. Isn't much difference really, the rapist ends up underground and isn't capable of inflicting the abomination of rape on another innocent.

No extra laws needed. Find them. Try them and (if guilty) kill them.

Finding them, of course, is the hard part. That's why we have all the insane laws like "attempt to view"=sex offender. The politicians are incapable of anything actually useful, you know.


Multi-threaded development joins Gates as yesterday's man


Serial problems can't be parralleled

It's all very well to talk about GPUs and problems that by their nature can be easily divided (such as video processing). But many common problems are by their nature serial--the next step requires the previous step to have been *completed* and can't be done until it is.

Those kind of problems will never benefit from multithreading--except in the sense you can make the application run on one processor while the OS runs on another. Thread, core, CPU, call it what you want. You're talking about independent processes when you talk about multithreading.

Of course a certain amount of multithreading makes sense. No point in waiting for the entire dataset to load if your serial processing will never catch up to the loading process. But if the loading process is *slower* than the serial process, well, you're done.

Consider video streaming, for example. It makes perfect sense to have a pair of independent processes, one for playback and another for loading the cache. But when the bandwidth is such that the cache is emptied faster than it's filled...you might as well have a single thread, yes?

Multithreading is not the performance panecea that its proponents claim, and never will be. *Some* tasks lend themselves to parallelization, others most emphatically do not.

After Debian's epic SSL blunder, a world of hurt for security pros


Methinks Chris Thomas protesteth too much

First of all, don't be an ass.

Second of all, if you're so outraged by this why didn't you fix it the second it happened? Oh, what's that? You didn't know? Seems to me this bit of code that everyone is screaming "noob mistake" about is seriously weird, probably not a good idea in the first place, and wasn't commented properly as to what it did.

Yes, this was a serious problem. Yes it's caused open source a black eye. Yes, something like this was bound to happen sometime--and probably will again.

Sounds to me like there's plenty of blame to go round. Fix the problem, fix the process, and move on. And don't spout when you're completely clueless.

Is Vista ready for Business?


I have 10 Vista Business machines...

...that coexist quite happily in an Active Directory network using a mix of Windows 2000, 2003, and 2003-64 bit servers, with XP workstations and one (cough) "evaluation computer" (read play-toy :)) running Hardy Heron. Everything sees everything else, there are no problems, and the Vista machines log in snappily and run quickly and smoothly.

Just so you know, the Vista machines all cost $500 or *less*, so these are low-end business hardware: P4 3Ghz with 1GB RAM a 250GB hard drive, and a Intel 950 chipset for video. Oh, and it has a 3.0 Windows Experience Index.

So much for the "needs high-end hardware". :) You people belly-aching about Vista should check out Powerspec B series machines, they're cheap, robust, and work. Looks like the B613 is the current $500 machine. :)

Having said that, the most sensible way to bring in Vista machines is by replacing older XP machines. As long as you don't have any incompatible vertical market software (which is the biggest offender) everything will work just fine.

Natasha Henstridge braces for Impact


Dwarf star is *NOT* the right word :)

The *SUN*, our very own beloved day-star, is classed as a "dwarf star".

Perhaps they meant "white dwarf" or even "black hole"? :)

If something like our sun hit the moon a little super-tsunami would be the *least* of our problems. Charcoal Earth anyone?

Mine's the mini-spaceship with the cryogenic heat shields...

Vista SP1 downloaders bite back



I don't understand what El Reg had Vista do to them. Shoot their dog? Make off with their wife *and* lottery winnings? What?

I run 10 Vista Business machines at work, all of them costing $500 *or less*. The current iteration of my preferred system comes with 2GB of RAM, Core Duo processor, and a 250GB HD. And it costs--$499. It runs Aero just fine, thank you very much. *And* they peacefully co-exist alongside XP, a mix of 2k, NT, and 2003 64-bit servers, and never complain. Never had a bit of trouble from any of them.

Such pissing and moaning over a damn good OS I never have seen! Jeez.

It's too expensive! It's too bloated! It won't run on my 386! It's using all my memory!!! Wah!

And these posters need to get a life--or better yet, a *clue*. If you can't make Vista run you sure as hell won't be running Linux.

I feel better now. :)

Yes, mine's the one with the asbestos and armor plates...

So what's the easiest box to hack - Vista, Ubuntu or OS X?


CP/M for the win! :)

Commenting on the poster who said a secure OS was the only way to go. Sure, use CP/M! No networking=no networking attack vector! Absolutely uncrackable remotely.

I win... (laughing)

Paris Hilton

Stupid Contest because...

...it only takes ONE (count 'em ONE) exploit to compromise any OS. Just ONE. Forget the 50,000+ vulnerabilities you've patched in whichever OS you develop, it only takes a single unpatched critical hole and your previous efforts are for naught.

Does nobody remember this? Reminds me of the Terry Pratchett book with the fight between the little dragon and the massive monster that was King of Ankh-Morpork for a whlie.

The little dragon had to be lucky every single time the big dragon attacked. The big dragon only had to be lucky *once*...

We're asking for humans to create perfection. Isn't going to happen.

Paris, because she's a pretty girl.

EC jacks up Microsoft fine by €899m


@Niall Campbell

"I think a better solution from the EU would to have been outlawing all Microsft products within their boundaries."

This just in. In apparent retalliation of the EC's outright theft of over 2 billion dollars, MS has announced that as of today it has withdrawn all operations from the European Union, terminated the employment of all MS personnel in the EU, cancelled licenses on all Microsoft software and detonated built-in "logic bombs" which permanently disable MS software on whatever EU computer it may be used in, now and in the future. All MS proprety has been put up for sale by an third party to be named later. According to Microsoft any non-European computers that try to operate within the EU borders will also be permanently "nuked". According to MS this is in compliance with the EC ban on MS software within EU boundries.

"We regret the hardship this places on Europe and her allies, however we have determined the criminal actions of the EC anti-trust commissioner will not permit us to operate within the political entity that is the EU. Further, we have initiated proceedings in the World Court to recover all fines placed in escrow to the EC. These funds will be used to compensate former EU Microsoft employees for the loss of their livelyhoods.

In an effort to aid Europe during the transition we have shipped a single Ubuntu Linux CD to the EC, with a one page set of instructions on its distribution. We have full confidence that Steelie Neelie will be able to single handedly transition Europe and her allies into the freeware world of Linux and LAMP.

Good luck, and may God have mercy on your souls." -- Steve Balmer

This unprecedented action by Microsoft has stunned the continent as fully 95% of all personal computers simply stopped working. The internet has also taken a massive hit, with approximately 35% of all websites vanishing from the net. If you are one of the few people able to read this, please turn to your television for further news."

Be careful what you wish for... :)

Opera CTO: How to fix Microsoft's browser issues

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@Adam Tustian

Hear, hear!

Hackers go after Excel


I've discovered a WORSE SECRET!

The government has placed invisible nano-tech circuitry in every box of tin-foil manufactured in the world. So all those tin-foil hats people have been wearing? Yup, you guessed it. The nano-probes migrated from the hat into their brains, turning them into raving psychotics that no one would ever believe.

After their usefulness comes to an end a switch is thrown at a sooper-seeecret bunker (located in Ohmygosh, Wisconsin!) and the hapless victim is then converted by the nano-probe infection into a black helicopter...

How's that? :)

Bloody code!

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KISS forever and always...

Keep It Simple Stupid.

Words to live by... :)

I'm with the article's author on this one. My functions tend to have 2 (or possibly 3) major divisions:

1) Check parameters and exit immediately if any parameter is out of bounds.

2) Acquire resources and if not available release resources already acquired and exit immediately

3) Do the function, clean up and exit (single exit point).

So I fall in the multiple exit point camp. I also firmly believe in coding like I have an appointment with a Mack truck tomorrow--ie making sure somebody else (of minimal skill level) has at least a chance of following my code should I meet said truck in a dark alley.

Other guidelines:

1) A good comment/code ratio is 75% comment /25% code, heavy on the "why".

2) Loops are evil. Long loops are evil on steroids. So make the code in the loop a sub/function, keep the loop to 5 lines or less if you can.

3) Clever code is (usually) stupid. Better a small loss of efficiency for a big gain in clarity than a small gain in efficiency for a large loss of clarity.

4) "Elegant" does not mean "convoluted". A straight line is the easiest to follow.

5) Take advantage of color-coding and code-folding IDEs. They're God's gift to wonderful.

Oh, and yes I'm a apps programmer not an embedded OS one. I have the good fortune of large amounts of RAM, high-level languages that handle memory for me, and a lack of gratuitous syntax. I'd be an idiot not to use those resources to make my apps maintainable.

YMMV, of course.