* Posts by kb9aln

10 publicly visible posts • joined 18 Jul 2007

Third party developers blamed for Windows security woes


Application auto-updaters...

Are a pain. I work supporting a smaller retail retailer and have disabled as many auto-updaters as I can. The people working on these machines don't need to be bothered by balloon messages appearing in the notification area. It breaks their train of thought and disrupts the flow of dealing with the customer when they stop to read that Adobe Updater will now check for updates.

So, I've made the machines as lean as possible when it comes to applications - only what's needed to get the job done, and the those applications are updated weekly. No Itunes (really! the bosses were using the POS computers to load their iPods!), Real Player or Acrobat (Foxit works fine for what we do).

It bothers me that when I put in an updated version of an application the auto-updater gets re-enabled. I specifically disabled it, why can't my configuration settings be saved? Can't they ask me before assuming that I want it turned on?

They don't let you choose the time to update, unlike Windows update and anti-virus products. Maybe if they did, I would be more inclined to use them.

And yes, it is handy that Secunia has a tool for this. Funny how they managed to bring this to our attention. Nice of them, I guess.

Windows 7 Phone glitch spews phantom data


I'm betting...

that it's something so non-nefarious as forgotten debugging code. Sloppy, yes. High-tech skullduggery? Probably not.

Somewhere in the MS borg machine there is an engineer getting all of this data, and likely doesn't know what to do with it all.

Which begs the questions: what is the nature of this data, who has it, have they done anything with it yet, and what plans do they have for it?

Just fixing it is one thing, The data sent and the collection and purpose of it as well as its ultimate disposal are big issues here. And of course, compensating the data owners for the bandwidth costs. Good thing MS has deep pockets.

But just to feed the conspiracy theorists among us, I'll add "Perhaps they'll just spin it as a leftover debugging code". :)

Top CEOs agree: US is down the crapper


Taxes and two classes

Amen. In the following, note that I am speaking of the U.S., although I am sure it applies internationally in some cases.

I find it funny that the CEO of GE, long known as a corporation that exploits loopholes in the tax code, is complaining that the educational system, which is paid for through taxes, is broken.

I don't know about the other two companies, so can't say anything about them specifically. In all cases, all of their actions (including their donations to educational causes) are done in the name of share value. Everything they do or attempt is done in the name of profitability.

That includes off-shoring, R&D and the big daddy - political influence, mostly right-wing in nature. On the one hand, they want people to acquiesce and believe the tripe that comes out of their PR office and the mouths of paid-for right-wing commentators. On the other hand, they want highly trained engineers and executives who can think for themselves and "innovate". It seems that in the best case, one hand of the company does not know what the other is doing. In the worst case, they'd like to see two classes of people - dumb and gullible consumers versus the well-educated people who work for their companies.

I think that this is unlikely to change until we stop hiring incompetent educators and change the way that students think. It all begins with the educational system and how it trains future political and commercial leaders. It is not doing too well these days, and hasn't for some time.

It's past time for us to start reassessing our ideas concerning profitability and what constitutes profit. Sometimes enacting corporate policies that rather than go for the absolute highest share price, go for a little less monetary profit and provide a benefit to society. Which in turn benefits the corporation.

That and start to do some meaningful and sensible regulation of these corporations. Not ill-conceived and stifling regulation. But something that holds the massive power of the multinationals in check.

But this is clearly a pipedream. Money holds more sway than morals, it seems. Sad.

Ubuntu Wayland: Shuttleworth's post-Mac makeover


UI differences.

I've used Linux for my home computer for quite some time. Have another at work and support Windows 2000, XP, Vista and 7 at work (a small but very busy retailer). I inevitably get a few questions from some of my non-computer-literate friends who own Macs (on my recommendation). I don't hear from them too often, though.

This means that I have experience using all major desktops. Overall, I find Windows of any kind to be the most irritating to use. Mac has me irritated far less. The concepts used in the Mac UI, although uniform and usually simple and usable, feel very limiting to me. Yeah, I hear ya on the window resizing thing.

Recently, I changed from Slackware/Fluxbox (after using others for quite a while) to Ubuntu 10.04 (LTS). Added the Mac theme for fun, and it does have an intermittently appearing global menu bar (not all applications support it) - that takes some getting used to. I like the Cairo dock, and have used some form of dock for quite a while now. Kinda like the theme, in spite of the Apple logo that appears in the top panel. After a mostly painless install, this is my preferred desktop. It combines some of the polish and usability that Apple is known for, while still retaining some of the Linux flexibility.

I do like the idea of Wayland, even if it doesn't pan out. A reworking of X sounds good, too. Not so sure about the one-size-fits-all nature of Unity. But not trying something new means never knowing what works - or doesn't. Or how to change that something to make it work. This is how progress is made.

I prefer the various options available to me when it comes to UI. The choice available is one of the best things about FOSS. I like the choice of trying something new, as well as the choice of reverting back to the old if the new is not my cup of tea.

Virgin Media switches to Gmail


What's In It For Google?

I just went through this with my ISP here in the states (TDS Metrocom). We had reliable E-Mail service with no problems and had web access as well. I seldom used the web access, only when I was not at home and wanted to check my mail. Pop3 is used at home to collect my mail and I work off-line.

My main objection has been that I never agreed to this and never wanted it. I have to ask why it was done? I can only speculate that there is some profit in it for someone, possibly everyone but me.

One of the first problems I experienced was that Google mail requires secure POP3. My old E-Mail client did not do this (or so I thought, turns out it does when you know the secret incantation). And then there was reconfiguring the firewall on my DSL gateway to allow secure POP3.

I would also say that Virgin Media customers should look over their Google mail settings carefully. By default, Google mail does not listen when a pop3 client tells it to delete copies of your mail when that pop3 client collects it. You need to access your account and set this up under POP3/IMAP settings. Otherwise, they appear to stay there forever.

And another problem is that when you do this, the "deleted" mail gets moved to the "Trash" folder instead of being fully deleted. I have not had the time or inclination to investigate if this done for you on a timed basis, or if you have to do it manually. I just log in via the web interface and do it myself.

In the end, this is a series of hassles which I did not need. I never asked for it, and wonder why Google is so anxious to provide E-Mail service. Apparently there is something in it for them, otherwise they would not go through the trouble of providing the service.

I wonder how reliable Google Mail will become when they have all of the world's E-Mail to deal with?

Most 'malfunctioning' gadgets work just fine, report claims


Intermittent Problems, too.

I have worked as a repair tech for many years and have seen a lot of things other commenters have mentioned. Yes, there are poorly designed products, oversold products and just plain stupid people trying to use them.

But the last 20 years' worth of electronics products seem to suffer from a surprisingly large number of intermittent problems. Some caused by heat, others by physical poor connections within components and a great number of simple poor solder connections.

Yes, I have fixed a lot of stuff simply by resoldering a lot of connections. Very often, a 5-minute test will not show a faulty product. Is that what Accenture are doing, performing a simple 5-minute test?

Very often, a returned product will be tested briefly, labled "remanufactured" (I didn't know that was possible) and sent out to be resold at a discount. The product is bought by another unsuspecting person and then the whole process may start over again.

I find the way that we are measuring "quality" to be lacking. If it works at the end of the assembly line, it is considered "good quality". Never mind that it will fail after an hour of operating time.

In other words, what to you expect for the cheap price? The people that make and sell this stuff know this, and "have our number".

There's no way Ballmer survives Yahoo! disaster scenario


Production values..

I like your podcasts, find 'em interesting and all that.

However, you can scrap the headset boom mike. I really don't want to listen to mouth noises. Makes the option of downloading the high-quality version moot - listening to mouth noises at a higher sample rate and higher quality is not what most people want.

Plese use real microphones with pop screens. Keep your nose away from the mike. Let me concentrate on the ideas rather than the spurious oral emanations.

'Kay? Thanks.

Microsoft admits big delay on Home Server bug fix


A product looking for a niche...

This particular server product is clearly something meant for an enthusiast. One who likens his toys to the length of his....You know. "Oh yeah, well I have a SERVER at home!"

I agree with Stuza. If the average person wants big storage accessable through a network, that storage should be a box that they plug in and _don't_ have to maintain.

As usual, Redmond's marketing and product planning are off the mark.

Ubuntu chief ushers in the age of Intrepid Ibex


New naming convention and Breezy Badger

I think it might be a good idea to keep using animal names, but put a culinary twist on them. In the southern U.S., "Succulent Squirrel" would be a sure winner.

I also have sympathy for those who complain about the 6-month release cycle. Recently, I tried to update a Breezy Badger Box (BBB?) for a friend. It had been working well and the main objective was to upgrade Firefox from 1.5.x to 2.0.11?

Turns out that Breezy was no longer supported, so I could not upgrade Firefox in the normally painless manner. Looking at the package/update manager, there was an upgrade to the LTS release, but that would not go. It needed to update Breezy first with "security updates". Unfortunately, the required Breezy updates were not available - they had been removed from the repositories. I looked around the web for alternate repositories, but found nothing.

I then upgraded Firefox manually, which was somewhat of a pain. The locations of the binary and the plugins were different, and had to go through the mess of troubleshooting it and setting up symbolic links for the plugins. The next day I read that there was a major security flaw in Firefox 2.0.11. I still have dents in my skull.

Now it looks like I will have to download an ISO, burn it and then upgrade it (Breezy) that way. While this is time-consuming, it sure beats constant updates to "accessory software" required for Windows, and updating Windows itself.

Next time, I'll be more alert to the life cycle. But it still is frustrating. Perhaps a yearly update would be better? I put Ubuntu on my friend's machine so that I could just let it play without frequent intervention. Now I know better.

Burned by a MacBook


Poor Engineering

Sorry to hear of the big problems (and they are big problems) with the Apple.

A few of my friends have bought similar machines and have not seem the level of problems that the writer relates here. So far, so good.

But as a guy who has spent a long time in the electronics industry, I am struck by the absolute stupidity of the design of the power adaptor. Yes, the "mag safe" feature is cool, but there is one big issue that none of the other commenters have noted.

There is no fusing or even active current limiting in the supply should a short or overload be presented to the power supply. That is just plain stupid and is just asking for a fire. I am no Apple-Basher (the aforementioned friends bought these machines on my recommendation), but this seems to be absolutely stupid for a company that prides itself on being so smart.

Whomever made that poor design choice needs a good whippin'. Every power supply has the potential to become a firebox. Every one. And good design calls for the eventual realization that the product may be abused, or some circumstance may cause undesired operation. That is why fuses exist.

This is just a large-scale recall waiting to happen. I'll repeat what other commenters have said: do not charge the thing while you are sleeping and for God's sakes, don't set the thing under the couch. Even when it is not charging. It is asking for trouble.

And so is working without a contingency plan. Especially when your work involves a computer.