basically tech

53 MS patent application - assuring delivery of paid advertising to a user

Monday 12th February, 2007

Who even thinks of this stuff? I mean who would be so sad as to sit down and dream up of ways to force us to watch advertising, and then go so far as to patent it?

A method and apparatus for assuring delivery of paid advertising to a user may involve asking a question about an advertisement or requiring data about the advertisement to be entered.
When the allowable number of incorrect answers has been exceeded, several response are possible, from noting a user's record but taking no action, to a follow up communication with the user, to disabling or even repossessing the computer

(Emphasis added.)

This is something to be proud of?


52 Walmart in bed with Microsoft

Monday 12th February, 2007

Walmart's new video download service is deliberately blocking all browsers except Internet Explorer. You know, the insecure browser.

Earlier reports indicated it might be due to sloppy coding, but no, it's deliberate.


51 More on the Novell-Microsoft pact

Monday 12th February, 2007

Jeremy Allison, most famous for Samba, recently left Novell over the controversial Novell/Microsoft patent licensing deal. In this interview, he explains some of the reason for his leaving.

... I have had people come up to me and essentially off the record admit that they had been threatened by Microsoft and had got patent cross license and had essentially taken out a license for Microsoft patents on the free software that they were using, which they then cannot redistribute. I think that would be the restriction. I would have to look quite carefully. So, essentially that’s not allowed. But they’re not telling anyone about it. They’re completely doing it off the record.

Then, the really interesting bit:

The problem with the Novell deal is -- Novell gave Microsoft what Microsoft dearly wanted, which is a public admission that they think that Linux violates the Microsoft patent. So, that’s the difference between this and the sort of off-the-record quiet deals. This one is public. This one is Novell admitting, "yes, we think that Linux violates Microsoft patents." Now, of course, Novell has come out and said, "no, that’s not what we said at all. We don’t think that." To which, of course, Microsoft publicly humiliated them and said, "oh, yes, that’s really what you were saying." It’s kind of funny. They couldn’t even wait until the press conference was over to start threatening users with a Linux system.

I wonder how this is going to pan out ...


50 Word Processor Review

Friday 9th February, 2007

The review itself is quite interesting. We all use word processors at some time or another. But it was these two quotes which caught my eye: is the first office suite (and word processor) to use the new OASIS OpenDocument Format, the future-proof ISO certified international standard for office documents (ISO/IEC 26300:2006).
As of 2006, ODF is the ISO certified international standard for office documents, not OXML, nor .doc. For any other vendor, it's easier to write a conversion filter for ODF than will ever be for OXML, among other reasons for the sheer sake of supporting Microsoft's backward compatibility with its previous proprietary formats over the past 18 years. Corel has announced it will support both ODF and OXML in the next WordPerfect version.

(Emphasis added.)

OXML (Open XML) is Microsoft's answer to ODF (OpenDocument Format), although the name is somewhat misleading in that it's not really open. When concerns were raised about this, Microsoft provided a covenant not to sue, an offer which was generally rejected. Underhand stuff; try and sneak it in, then promise "not to sue", a promise which turns out to be worthless anyway.


49 The BBC plans to lock online TV viewers into Microsoft products

Wednesday 7th February, 2007

This is interesting. The BBC has announced that its new on-demand services will be limited to Microsoft Windows.

A report from the BBC Trust said that services will be unavailable to consumers who do not use Microsoft software or have an up-to-date version of Windows.

(Emphasis added.)

So, will BBC services eventually be limited to users of Microsoft Vista only?


48 Gates “dares anybody” to exploit Vista

Wednesday 7th February, 2007

No OS is perfect, but Vista seems to have had it's fair share of exploits for such an unpopular OS.
Rob. April 2015.

Poor Bill. Is he feeling a little stressed, to be making such outrageous statements?

Nowadays, security guys break the Mac every single day. Every single day, they come out with a total exploit, your machine can be taken over totally. I dare anybody to do that once a month on the Windows machine.

He's a clever guy. What is his game?


47 Apache on Linux vs IIS on Windows

Monday 5th February, 2007

A graphic illustration of why Windows is less secure than Linux. You know that old saying: "A picture is worth a thousand words"? Well here are two pictures! Both images are a complete map of the system calls that occur when a web server serves up a single page of html with a single picture.

This first image shows the system calls that occur on a Linux server running Apache.

The system calls that occur on a Linux server running Apache


And this second image shows the system calls that occur on a Windows server running IIS.

The system calls that occur on a Windows server running IIS


It's kind of self-explanatory, but there is a little more detail (including larger pictures) on the originating site.


46 I hate Macs

Monday 5th February, 2007

Charlie Brooker has written an amusing article for the Guardian Unlimited's "Comment is free" section, entitled I hate Macs. Judging by the number of comments beneath it, it seems to have attracted a lot of attention. Interestingly, the first comment was written by Brooker himself, an interesting revelation on how some of these articles get edited before being published.

The ads are adapted from a near-identical American campaign ... in which Mitchell plays a repressed, neurotic underdog, and Webb plays a selfish, self-regarding poseur. So when you see the ads, you think, "PCs are a bit rubbish yet ultimately lovable, whereas Macs are just smug, preening tossers." In other words, it is a devastatingly accurate campaign.
Myst, the most pompous and boring videogame of all time, a plodding, dismal "adventure" in which you wandered around solving tedious puzzles in a rubbish magic kingdom apparently modelled on pretentious album covers, originated on the Mac in 1993. That same year, the first shoot-'em-up game, Doom, was released on the PC. This tells you all you will ever need to know about the Mac's relationship with "fun".

This is classic stuff, but as usual there are those who love to take this sort of thing too seriously. :)


45 Vista "an unprecedented loss of consumer control over their own PCs"

Thursday 1st February, 2007

The BBC has finally published an article on some of the negative aspects of using Vista. I imagine their previously one-sided reporting annoyed so many people that they were forced to publish the other viewpoint.

The article's author, Michael Geist, who holds the Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law at the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law, identifies some worrying issues:

Vista's legal fine print includes extensive provisions granting Microsoft the right to regularly check the legitimacy of the software and holds the prospect of deleting certain programs without the user's knowledge.

Also, note that earlier I said "using Vista", not "owning Vista"; you don't own it, you're just paying for the right to use it, within certain constraints which Microsoft have decided to apply. When you download a free copy of Linux, it belongs to you.

For greater certainty, the terms and conditions remove any doubt about who is in control by providing that "this agreement only gives you some rights to use the software. Microsoft reserves all other rights".

For those users frustrated by the software's limitations, Microsoft cautions that "you may not work around any technical limitations in the software".

Some people actually pay money for this sort of abuse!


44 Vista isn't Green?

Wednesday 31st January, 2007

The Green Party (UK) asks: "Who has the key to your Vista PC?" I'll give you a clue: it isn't you.

Microsoft's latest operating system, due for release tomorrow, is defective by design, putting Microsoft and the corporate media in control of your computer.

It's a valiant effort by the Green Party, but some people don't seem to get it. No matter how many times you tell them, they just don't care. Apathy, eh?

"So-called 'digital rights management' technology in Vista gives Microsoft the ability to lock you out of your computer. Technology should increase our opportunities to consume media, create our own and share it with others.

"But Vista helps the corporate media take away our consumer rights. Silence in government betrays a shocking complacency in the face of this latest attack on our rights."

Vista will also be power hungry, as it requires more processing time to encrypt and decrypt 'premium' content, and looks around the computer every few milliseconds to check that nothing is trying to distribute de-coded 'premium' video or sound.

There was never a better time to switch to Linux.