* Posts by Joe Good

12 publicly visible posts • joined 29 Apr 2007

McAfee false-positive glitch fells PCs worldwide

Joe Good
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Why I left McAfee...

The primary issue I have with McAfee is that they're obviously yet another company that cut corners in critical areas (customer support, QA testing) to pad their bottom line.

Here's my experience with them, just to make a point:

- I disabled ActiveX on my machine for everything except trusted sites (Windows Update, the scum!)

- When I installed McAfee. It wouldn't run. I discovered it was because McAfee required ActiveX controls.

- I contacted McAfee multiple times through multiple channels (2 chats and more than a dozen e-mails, working with at least 6 different agents and a supervisor). Every time, the conversation went like this:

"Hello. I've disabled ActiveX for all but trusted sites. I've added mcafee.com and the McAfee executables to my Trusted Sites list, but McAfee still can't run. Can you tell me what else I need to do?"

"Please enable ActiveX on your system."

"No. That's not an acceptable answer. I'm willing to activate ActiveX for McAfee alone, but I'm not going to activate it system-wide."

"I understand. Here are the instructions for enabling ActiveX system-wide".

"No. I won't do that."

"I understand. Here are the instructions for enabling ActiveX system-wide".

"Wait a minute. I just want to know how to enable ActiveX for McAfee without enabling it for everything else!"

"I understand. Here are the instructions for enabling ActiveX system-wide".

*Sound of me switching to a new vendor*

In short, I found myself working with a "security" firm where no one in their support department could figure out why on Earth I'd disabled ActiveX. It made me less than confident in their abilities, to say the least.


Critical Windows vulnerability under attack, Microsoft warns

Joe Good
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Have you ever actually TRIED working on a Windows machine in non-admin mode? I have two dedicated Windows XP machines for my kids to:

(1) Play games I've installed

(2) Use Firefox to play games on the Web at sites I've OKed and bookmarked. (And yes, I have NoScript installed in case they wander or click on any links).

I originally set them up with user accounts. Over 2/3 of the games I'd installed couldn't run in user mode. Similarly, most of the nefarious Web sites such as PBSkids.org didn't work correctly. Drivers wouldn't work, simple applications wouldn't open, files wouldn't save, and I ended up having to troubleshoot every single time they tried to do something new.

Now take that to a work environment for a software company, where you're constantly installing your company's own software to test/use/take screen shots of it. Can't do any of that in user mode!

In short, user mode wasn't even good enough to surf the Web, play games, or edit files. If it can't do that, then what the h*** good is it?

(OK. I guess I could have spent a couple of hours sorting through Windows security permissions to figure out which ones to enable to make all those things work, but it was a heck of a lot easier to give the kids admin permissions and tell them not to install anything without my permission).


Chrysler intros electric trio

Joe Good

Price? Plugging in?

Two critical bits of information are missing from the article: (1) Can you plug the vehicles in instead of using the gasoline engine, and (2) What is the expected price of each vehicle?

If the answer to (1) is "no", then they're just hybrids, so Chrysler is misleading us. They're significant improvements on existing hybrids, but they're still hybrids. (My Prius handily beats 50 mpg on long trips, but drops to 36 in our day-to-day use because we make lots of short (<5 mile) trips. If these really do use up their electric charge FIRST, before charging, and give 50+ mpg for short trips, they'd be a big improvement over both existing hybrids and diesels).

If the answer to (2) is, "We don't know that yet", then they're just concept cars, and really not worth reporting on or getting excited about.

Apple grabs double-digit US laptop marketshare

Joe Good
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If they're actually durable, it's no surprise

In 2000, when I started traveling for a living as a technical trainer, my company gave me a Dell Latitude. It was so rock-solid I convinced my mother to buy one in 2003 (a D600 for the record). It's still working wonderfully, and the only thing we've replaced is the battery.

However, in 2004 my new company gave me a Compaq. Within 6 months the hard drive failed. So they gave me another one. Its keyboard fell apart. I was given a new Dell Latitude (D610). The latch, the touchpad, AND the keyboard broke within the year. One more new Dell (D630), and it's falling apart as well. My friend will never buy Sony again, as he went through three of them in two years for his company.

To summarize, every laptop my friends, co-workers, and I have worked with in the last 4 years has had major durability issues; ESPECIALLY the Dells. On the other hand, my brother has an Apple PowerBook. He's dropped it, kicked it, put it in his checked baggage, and never had a problem with it.

If Apple is still making a laptop that can survive the trials and travails of travel (say that three times fast), then I can't blame people for paying the extra price to own them. I don't plan on buying another Dell, HP, or Sony laptop until I hear they actually care about quality again. So if I need a new laptop, I'm probably going to bite the bullet and go Apple.


Yahoo! recounts! votes!

Joe Good


A "truncation error" is easy if you only allow 8 digits, so 100,000,000 becomes 10,000,000, or, even more likely, 00000000. I'm just aghast that someone would still own more than 8 digits' worth of shares of Yahoo!

As to how they could have missed it, I still vividly recall when I was teaching a calculus class and I asked a student what six times seven was. She dutifully plugged it into her calculator and gave me an answer of 279,936. I asked, "Are you sure that's right?"

Her answer, "Of course. This is a really expensive calculator."


T5 Transformers t-shirt bust: Shock snap

Joe Good
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OK, now you've done it!

I usually find the PlayMobil dioramas mildly amusing, but this one had me laughing out loud (and disturbing the sleeping family).

Well done, El Reg!

Transgender man prepares to give birth

Joe Good

Depends on where you live...

Whether or not the kid will have a tough childhood depends on the community. I'm in Albany (Berkeley's garbage dump -- literally! Look it up! Our women-folk got fed up in 1908, grabbed a bunch of guns, and chased off those rotten Berkelians who were dumping their trash on us). But back to the point, I live in a very liberal area. My son has one classmate with two moms, and two classmates with two dads. None of the kids think anything of it; it's perfectly normal to them. No teasing or bullying has occurred because no one around here treats it as abnormal.

But admittedly, being close to Berkeley is abnormal in and of itself...


(The alien, because anything from anywhere near Berkeley is decidedly alien).

Network down? Must be New Year's Eve gunfire

Joe Good


Unfortunately, you fail to take into account the sheer volume of ammunition that gets pumped into the night sky on New Year's Eve here in the good ol' U.S. of A. We happily tut-tut at the Iranis/Afghanis/<insert-your-Middle-Eastern-stereotype-here> for firing their weapons into the air at weddings and other celebrations, yet every city I've ever lived in in the U.S. has had at least a few dozen whackos firing rounds into the night on New Year's. Every New Year's Day we get to read about how many people were inadvertently hit. Low probability x large number of incidents = decent probability of this happening SOMEWHERE in the U.S.

Heck, when I lived in the hills in the San Francisco Bay Area (not exactly a hotbed of redneck rubism), there was a guy up the street from us who would fire off his revolver towards the bay at midnight every New Year's. Unfortunately, the water was roughly 2 miles away, with nothing but low-income housing below. I doubt any of his bullets ever reached the water. We'd call the cops on him every year, but he was quite sneaky; in and out of the house in under 60 seconds, with nothing but 6 evenly-spaced "bangs" to let us know he was at it again.


Deceased Malayan hit with $218 trillion mobile bill

Joe Good

$218 trillion = 135 million always-on phones

Rather than comparing the number to GDPs, it's more fun to point out just how stupid this number is.

There are 223 x 24 x 60 = 321,120 minutes in the year so far (January 1, 2007 through August 11, 2007 inclusive, so I'm being generous).

At $5 per minute for ALL minutes, 24 hours per day, 7 days a week that's a $1,605,600 per phone phone bill. Even on a sliding scale where early minutes are cheap and later ones are sky-high, I think $5/minute is still almost certainly greater than the maximum.

So let's see, $218 trillion/$1.6 million = 135,774,887 phones.

So the poor dead man must have had almost 136 million people using his phone!

Look alive, people! The dead are calling us! And they're racking up roaming charges!


Hacking for hijinks

Joe Good

Not illegal to tamper with emissions control software?

Tell that to one of my students, who is doing 5 years hard time for emissions control fraud here in California.

Terra Firma tightens grip on EMI

Joe Good

Guy Hands?!?!?!?!

Why wasn't Guy Hands on your "Vote for your favorite Porn Monicker" list?

Vista – End of the Dream?

Joe Good

Compatibility argument AGAIN?

"Apple have half a dozen systems to make their software compatible with. Microsoft have the other billion."

C'mon people, give me a break! Not this tired old argument again! "Apple only runs on Apple computers, so of course it's easier to develop." Let's actually look at what you need for a running system. You've got the motherboard and processor, which Apple does control at its end, but Microsoft ensures that all processors and motherboards are compatible, so they'll all run the same assembly code. Don't believe me? I used to install VxWorks on older PCs and the same compiled code would boot and run on every single one. Not exactly a compatibility nightmare. My Linux boot CD will boot on any of my PCs, independent of the motherboard or processor. I strongly question the notion that the processor or motherboard affect the development of the Windows operating system, because Microsoft has ensured that all the hardware vendors agree to a set of standards, meaning they can write to those standards instead of to the hardware.

Then you have peripherals. Well, I took my old Apple G4 PCI and replaced the processor and video card, put in two hard drives, and replaced the CD-ROM with a DVD-RW. And guess what? MacOS X installed on it just fine. So how is this incompatible? I have been astonished at OSX's ability to handle my internal changes to their computers. In addtion, most of the time when I install a shared peripheral (file server, print server, etc.), it's on my Windows machines where I have to install additional software; the Macs just recognize it as soon as it's out there.

I have yet to see a good argument as to why Windows operating system development is more complex than Mac OS X development simply because of the number of platforms Windows has to support. As mentioned above, Windows ensures the hardware vendors align to their standards, so they can write hardware-independent source code. The device drivers are provided by the device vendors or a separate development team, not the OS developers. Hence just saying, "Hello? Millions of devices!" is like arguing that a system is fantastically versatile because you can plug any IDE hard drive into it and have the hard drive work. Not exactly a great argument.