Monday, December 15, 2008

Indoctrinating the Next Generation of Linux Geeks

This article hits it on the head. I know from personal experience at my house.

Last year, when my youngest son was 5 ½, he was keeping me company in my home office and found my Linux box (this was before The Big Switch, and my main laptop was still in Windows full-time). The boys each have a Windows machine in their room, and he can start a game or a browser on his own, though he still needs help on the urls (“Daddy, can you get me on power rangers dot com?”).

Full Article Here

Friday, December 12, 2008


Linux - Stop holding our kids back ---Update

It never was my intention to attack anyone personally....

My sights were set on correcting some obvious misconceptions. It was a focused attack on ignorance but with some unsolicited commentary on a particular group.

Whether by proxy or focused intent, it appears that is what has happened, however.

A particular teacher within the Austin Independent School District now sucks.

Full Update Here

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Linux - Stop holding our kids back

"...observed one of my students with a group of other children gathered around his laptop. Upon looking at his computer, I saw he was giving a demonstration of some sort. The student was showing the ability of the laptop and handing out Linux disks. After confiscating the disks I called a confrence with the student and that is how I came to discover you and your organization. Mr. Starks, I am sure you strongly believe in what you are doing but I cannot either support your efforts or allow them to happen in my classroom. At this point, I am not sure what you are doing is legal. No software is free and spreading that misconception is harmful. These children look up to adults for guidance and discipline. I will research this as time allows and I want to assure you, if you are doing anything illegal, I will pursue charges as the law allows. Mr. Starks, I along with many others tried Linux during college and I assure you, the claims you make are grossly over-stated and hinge on falsehoods. I admire your attempts in getting computers in the hands of disadvantaged people but putting linux on these machines is holding our kids back.

This is a world where Windows runs on virtually every computer and putting on a carnival show for an operating system is not helping these children at all. I am sure if you contacted Microsoft, they would be more than happy to supply you with copies of an older verison of Windows and that way, your computers would actually be of service to those receiving them..."

Karen xxxxxxxxx
xxxxxxxxx Middle School


I suppose I should, before anything else, thank you. You have given me the opportunity to show others just what a battle we face in what we do. "We" being those who advocate, support and use Free Open Source Software and Linux in particular.

Full Article

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Running DOS Programs on Linux: Duke Nukem Lives!

If I play video games they're usually pretty low tech ones. One of the few games I miss from the old days is Duke Nukem, and I'm talking about the Duke before he went 3D. If you have an old DOS game that you'd like to run, or for that matter any old DOS program, check out DOSBox. Even if you don't have any DOS programs that you'd like to run, you might want to try downloading some of the old DOS games that are now available free online.

DOSBox is a DOS emulator that runs under Linux as well as OS X and Windows. To quote from the website:

DOSBox is a DOS-emulator that uses the SDL-library which makes DOSBox very easy to port to different platforms. DOSBox has already been ported to many different platforms, such as Windows, BeOS, Linux, MacOS X...

DOSBox also emulates CPU:286/386 realmode/protected mode, Directory FileSystem/XMS/EMS, Tandy/Hercules/CGA/EGA/VGA/VESA graphics, a SoundBlaster/Gravis Ultra Sound card for excellent sound compatibility with older games...

Full Article

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Thursday, November 20, 2008

My anti-Mac bias rears its ugly head

Once, a long, long time ago, I had a Titanium Powerbook (well, actually about 5 years ago, but that’s an eternity in computer years). I bought it for its off-the-shelf multimedia capabilities to support a small consulting business I was running. While the business never really took off and I ended up heading in a different direction, the PowerBook hung in there remarkably well editing videos and photos and managing the family’s growing music collection. The built-in capabilities highlighted Apple’s traditional niche of multimedia and a very easy-to-use interface for it’s iLife suite. It wasn’t too long, though, before I began teaching and administering a Windows-only network and found myself needing a Windows computer more and more frequently, while the time I had to edit home movies became virtually nill.

Full Article

I really don’t want to use Windows anymore

Every week, more and more bits of malware seem to be making their way past commercial anti-virus, firewall anti-virus, and ISP anti-virus software. New patches and downloads abound, and I’ve still re-imaged 3 computers in the last 2 weeks due to massive infestations. This is to say nothing of the home computers about which my users are complaining (I feel like getting one of those ThinkGeek T-shirts that tells people, “No, I won’t fix your computer.”)

Full Article

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Microsoft breaks HotMail for Linux users?

A Linux-Watch reader today reported difficulties using Microsoft's Hotmail service with Firefox browsers running on Linux operating systems. We confirmed that creating a new Hotmail account was not possible, due to an error message suggesting a "browser


In testing with Firefox 3.03 on Mepis Linux, Linux-Watch was able to create a Microsoft Live ID and Hotmail account, and to successfully send and receive email from the account. This led us to experiment with modifying Iceweasel's "UserAgent" setting, so we could use our Debian system with Hotmail, too. We loaded "about:config" in the address bar, entered "iceweasel" in the search bar, and then changed the value of the the "general.useragent.extra.firefox" entry from "Iceweasel/3.03" to "Firefox/3.03". After that, Hotmail worked as expected. As an added bonus, we could also use the Rhapsody music streaming services, and other websites that use loose browser qualification by parsing the UserAgent string sent by the browser in the HTTP header.

Full Story

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Santa Fe Whiners: Wi-Fi Equals Discrimination

This has got to be the most recent uprise of stupidity, or a segway into a class suit to make this a reality for people wanting a disability.

I have an idea for you people out there wanting to claim this "disability", Google "Aluminum Hat" and leave it at that.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Microsoft apologizes to Open Source Initiative for policy violation

After outcry from various constituencies over the past couple of days, Microsoft has pulled from its CodePlex site its Sandcastle project for failure to comply with the terms and conditions required in order to be qualify as bona-fide open source.

Sandcastle is a documentation compiler for managed class libraries that was labeled as being available under the Microsoft Permissive License, one of two Open Source Initiative-approved licenses under which Microsoft provides access to its source code.

Full Article

Friday, May 02, 2008

How your computer keyboard is FIVE TIMES dirtier than your toilet seat - and could even give you 'qwerty tummy'

Computer keyboards can harbour more harmful bacteria than a lavatory seat, it has been claimed.

Many users are at risk of becoming ill with stomach bugs, according to the consumer group Which?

It warned that 'qwerty tummy', named after the first six letters on a keyboard, could sweep through workplaces after tests on equipment in its own London offices showed alarming results.

One keyboard was so dirty that a microbiologist ordered it to be removed, quarantined and cleaned.

It had 150 times the acceptable limit for bacteria and was five times as filthy as a typical lavatory seat.

Read full article here

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

XP SP3 not generally available yet, after all

Microsoft has decided not to release Windows XP Service Pack (SP) 3 to Windows Update and the Microsoft Download Center as planned on April 29. The reason? A last-minute compatibility issue with a Microsoft application — Microsoft Dynamics Retail Management System (RMS).

Full Article

The bastards release Vista upon us, but won't give us a service pack because of a glitch? Damn that is some funny shit.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

It’s official! Windows XP SP3 goes RTM today

The moment that Windows XP users have been waiting for. Today Windows XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) goes RTM.

Full Article

Monday, April 21, 2008

Holographic storage ships next month!

Even since astronaut Dave Bowman disconnected the HAL 9000’s holographic memory in 2001: A Space Odyssey techies have been wondering when we could buy real holographic storage. Now we know: May, 2008.

Full Article

Friday, April 11, 2008

Imagine a Place

Researchers uncover black holes across the Internet

Seattle (WA) - The reason why you cannot reach a specific web site at any given time can be very simple. Server and hosting issues, maintenance or the plain fact that a site has been discontinued are the most likely explanations why a site just won’t load. But there is another, more mysterious possibility: Black holes. A team at the University of Washington (UW) has begun mapping scenarios where information packets on the Internet simply disappear.

"There's an assumption that if you have a working Internet connection then you have access to all of the Internet," said Ethan Katz-Bassett, a UW doctoral student in computer science and engineering. "We found that's not the case."

Katz-Bassett has been working on a project called Hubble, a system that apparently is able to track what he refers to as information black holes. These are situations where a path between two computers does exist, but messages - a request to visit a Web site or an outgoing e-mail - get lost along the way. Katz-Bassett has published a Hubble map that enables users to monitor such black holes worldwide or simply type in a network address to check its status.

To determine a network status, Hubble sends test messages “around the world” to look for computers that can be reached from some but not the entire Internet, a situation that is described as “partial reachability”. Katz-Bassett said that short communication blips are ignored. However, if a problem surfaces in two consecutive 15-minute trials, it is listed as a “problem”. The research team found that more than 7% of computers worldwide experienced this type of error at least once during a three-week period in fall of 2007.

"When we started this project, we really didn't expect to find so many problems," said Arvind Krishnamurthy, a UW research assistant professor of computer science and engineering and Katz-Bassett's doctoral adviser. "We were very surprised by the results we got."

The name of the project, by the way, is no accident, as the researcher says it performs a service in an area that often is described as Internet astronomy. Just like the Hubble telescope can observe black holes in space, this software does similar work on the Internet by monitoring infrastructure and network performance.

Hubble is scheduled to being presented next week in San Francisco at the Usenix Symposium on Networked Systems Design and Implementation.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Message to Daniel_K From Creative


We are aware that you have been assisting owners of our Creative sound cards for some time now, by providing unofficial driver packages for Vista that deliver more of the original functionality that was found in the equivalent XP packages for those sound cards. In principle we don't have a problem with you helping users in this way, so long as they understand that any driver packages you supply are not supported by Creative. Where we do have a problem is when technology and IP owned by Creative or other companies that Creative has licensed from, are made to run on other products for which they are not intended. We took action to remove your thread because, like you, Creative and its technology partners think it is only fair to be compensated for goods and services. The difference in this case is that we own the rights to the materials that you are distributing. By enabling our technology and IP to run on sound cards for which it was not originally offered or intended, you are in effect, stealing our goods. When you solicit donations for providing packages like this, you are profiting from something that you do not own. If we choose to develop and provide host-based processing features with certain sound cards and not others, that is a business decision that only we have the right to make.

Although you say you have discontinued your practice of distributing unauthorized software packages for Creative sound cards we have seen evidence of them elsewhere along with donation requests from you. We also note in a recent post of yours on these forums, that you appear to be contemplating the release of further packages. To be clear, we are asking you to respect our legal rights in this matter and cease all further unauthorized distribution of our technology and IP. In addition we request that you observe our forum rules and respect our right to enforce those rules. If you are in any doubt as to what we would consider unacceptable then please request clarification through one of our forum moderators before posting.

Phil O'Shaughnessy
VP Corporate Communications
Creative Labs Inc.

Read how everyone responded in the full thread here.

I haven't owned a Creative Sound card in a very very long time. I am so glad after reading this that I don't own one now. I say we need to spread the word about how Creative took a stand against their customers by not letting Daniel distribute a working driver for one of their products. Hell, they should have just did the American thing and bought the rights to it and distributed it themselves. I guess I'll never even look at a Creative product again. You now the ones I mean. Sitting on the reduced price table and collecting dust.

Bye-bye Creative. I think you have just gone way of the Do Do Bird.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Ubuntu 8.04 “Hardy Heron” beta - making life easier for Windows users

Let’s face it, deciding to nuke your existing operating system installation and replace it with a completely different OS isn’t the sort of task that you should approach lightly. One of the barriers to Linux adoption is the fact that many people find the idea of wiping their Windows installation a daunting thing. Sure, the widespread adoption of the Live CD with allows users to boot into a working Linux environment has made taking a Linux distro for a test drive easier, but a Live CD experience falls far short of what you can expect from an installed Linux experience.

Full Article

Monday, February 25, 2008

MetaRAM quadruples DDR2 DIMM capacities, launches 8GB DIMMs

By Jon Stokes

Since its launch in January 2006, the only thing that has been publicly known about former AMD CTO Fred Weber's new venture is its name: MetaRAM. Clearly, the stealth-mode company was working on something to do with RAM, but what? As of today, MetaRAM is finally ready to talk about its technology, and it appears to be a pretty solid evolutionary step for the tried-and-true SDRAM DIMM module. In short, MetaRAM's technology enables DIMM capacity increases of two or four times, so that a single DDR2 MetaSDRAM DIMM can hold 4GB or 8GB of memory while still being a drop-in replacement for a normal DIMM.

Because MetaRAM's high-capacity DIMMs look to an Intel or AMD system like normal DDR2 DIMMs, the company expects to see servers with memory configurations that would normally require expensive custom hardware to become significantly cheaper. One of MetaRAM's channel partners will soon announce a server with 256GB of main memory for under $50,000, with 500GB boxes on tap for a higher price points

I'm tempted to suggest that "500GB of memory oughta be enough for anybody," but MetaRAM is looking to virtualization and enterprise databases as application domains that provide a rationale for putting that much memory in a single server. MetaRAM claims that its own research indicates that 80 percent of enterprise server databases are under 500GB in size, and if this is true, then hosting those databases entirely in main memory could get a lot cheaper after today.

MetaRAM is a fabless semiconductor company, and its manufacturing partners are Hynix and SMART Modular. Both chipmakers are currently sampling 8GB DDR2 DIMMs, and MetaRAM expects to see servers and workstations that include the technology available from Rackable and launch partners later this quarter.

Full Article

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Monday, February 18, 2008

The $330 IPCop/Copfilter firewall 25 watt appliance

The $330 IPCop/Copfilter firewall 25 watt appliance by ZDNet's George Ou -- A lot of you probably already know my disdain for desktop anti-virus because of how sluggish it makes your computer and how it actually becomes more of a liability in terms of security. I’ve talked about how wonderful it would be if you could run your anti-virus at the gateway to protect all of your [...]

Friday, February 08, 2008

Mozilla delivers patches for Firefox; Plugs flat file vulnerability

Mozilla delivers patches for Firefox; Plugs flat file vulnerability by ZDNet's Larry Dignan -- Mozilla on Friday delivered its Firefox update including patches that fix a Web forgery flaw, browsing history and forward navigation stealing and the directory traversal via chrome, which has been the most visible vulnerability of late. According to the Firefox security advisory, Mozilla filed the following fixes in its flagship browser: MFSA 2008-11 [...]

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Google launches free Team Edition of Apps

Google launches free Team Edition of Apps by ZDNet's Dan Farber -- Google continues its quest to expand the Google Apps universe with a new Team Edition that makes it easy for workgroups to sign up for Google Apps without burdening IT departments or the lone IT support person. “In previous versions of Google Apps, Standard and Premier, the IT department had to get involved in verifying domains [...]

Cosmos: An open-source .Net-based microkernel OS is born

Cosmos: An open-source .Net-based microkernel OS is born by ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley -- Move over, Microsoft Singularity. There's another microkernel, C#-based operating system in town. And this one's available under an open-source license.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

A dozen free & essential apps for Windows

A dozen free & essential apps for Windows by ZDNet's George Ou -- Every time I build a new Windows computer, there are a dozen free and essential applications that I always install for other people. These applications all seem to fill essential functions and they all seem to be well-behaved installers and uninstallers, in other words it won’t crash your computer or drag it down with [...]

Friday, January 25, 2008

Best Buy gets framed

Best Buy gets framed by ZDNet's Josh Taylor -- If you were the recipient of a new Insignia digital picture frame for the holidays, you may have gotten an extra bonus with your gift. Turns out the 10.4-inch Insignia model (NS-DPF10A), which was available at Best Buy, included a virus that could allow the frame to infect Windows-based PCs via its USB connection. Insignia says [...]

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The polycarbonate all-in-one 22″ LCD PC

The polycarbonate all-in-one 22″ LCD PC by ZDNet's George Ou -- The last time I built a wooden all-in-one 19″ LCD PC, my family wanted it in the kitchen and my mother wanted it in hers. To keep everyone happy, I built my mother another one (pictured above and below) out of 3/16th inch jet-black polycarbonate which makes the chassis look like the material from [...]

Linux security guru joins Microsoft

Linux security guru joins Microsoft by ZDNet's Larry Dignan -- Crispin Cowan, the Linux security expert behind StackGard, the Immunix Linux distro and AppArmor, has joined the Windows security team. In a blog post last week, Microsoft’s Michael Howard, author of Writing Secure Code, wrote: For those of you who don’t know Crispin, Crispin is responsible for a number of very well respected Linux-based security technologies such [...]

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Is there a rootkit stashed in your boot record?

Is there a rootkit stashed in your boot record? by ZDNet's Larry Dignan -- The latest rootkit in the wild hides on your hard drive’s boot sector and is starting to infect Windows PCs, according to security researchers. And the real kicker: The rootkit can’t be detected by most antivirus applications. Symantec has been tracking the latest rootkit–Trojan.Mebroot–and provides a good overview of master boot record (MBR) rootkits. In general, an [...]

2008: Linux’s year on the desktop

2008: Linux’s year on the desktop by ZDNet's Robin Harris -- Desktop Linux hurts Microsoft Linux has kept a big chunk of the server business out of Microsoft’s hands. But in 2008, Linux will hurt Microsoft on the desktop. Here’s how. A new computing platform Thanks to Moore’s Law and evolving application needs, a new computing platform arrives every 10 years. Mainframes in the ’50s, minicomputers in the ’60s, [...]

Will touch drive Microsoft Surface sales or will Surface drive touch?

Will touch drive Microsoft Surface sales or will Surface drive touch? by ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley -- But at the Consumer Electronics Show this week, Microsoft is discussing and demonstrating some different Surface application prototypes that seem somewhat more compelling -- customizable retail, education -- and dropped hints about gaming and office-productivity Surface apps that might be in the pipeline.

Intuit bug resurfaces at public Wi-Fi hot spots

Users of a popular accounting package have been warned not to use the software at public Wi-Fi hot spots, such as those found in coffee shops, airports and hotels.

Users of the 2006 Mac version of Intuit's QuickBooks software could find that a serious bug manifests itself again under certain conditions in Wi-Fi hot spots.

QuickBooks is one of three key product lines for Intuit, whose software has been sold to thousands of small businesses across the world.

The bug, which was contained in a flawed product update released in December, has already been responsible for deleting documents, including financial files, from users' PCs.

QuickBooks released a patch for the bug on Saturday, but warned users two days later of the dangers of using the QuickBooks software when connected to Wi-Fi hot spots.

"We have determined that the prior bug remanifests itself when QuickBooks Pro 2006 for Mac is initiated at public Internet hotspots and a redirection error occurs (for instance, when you are at a cafe that requires you to pay to use its services)," wrote Ian Vacin, leader for Mac financial software at Intuit, on the company's Web site.

"If you must use QuickBooks Pro 2006 for Mac at Internet hot spots over the next few days, please contact us directly... so that we can provide you a temporary work-around."

Vacin said that Intuit would release a patch in the "next few days" that will disable the software's upgrade mechanism and so cure the issue.

Intuit also urged users to download Saturday's patch because if they don't a refresh of the users' preferences could result in the original bug occurring again.

Although the company is releasing patches to address the problem, it has so far been unable to recover lost data from users' machines.

Data-recovery companies can often recover deleted Mac data, as long as the files have not yet been overwritten.

Microsoft restores Office 2003 users’ access to old file types

Microsoft restores Office 2003 users’ access to old file types by ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley -- Microsoft, justifiably, has come under a lot of criticism for blocking Office 2003 users' access to older file formats -- even if it was in the name of security. But it looks like the public outcry did some good, as Microsoft has detailed options to allow users continue to access the old formats.

Microsoft hoses user data - again!

Microsoft hoses user data - again! by ZDNet's Robin Harris -- Update final (I hope) I mistakenly overstated the breadth of Microsoft’s changes with SP3. I’ve struck out the incorrect data below. See also my mea culpa here. Update title to: Microsoft hoses user data - again! For most users the Office SP3 means that they won’t be able to recover their old documents. They won’t know to [...]