Archive | August, 2004

Drinking the Kool Aid

Have some nice refreshing Kool Aid?Dave Winer blogs his reaction to the Allchin memo:

BTW, “Hard core” means “death march.” It’s the same trap that Apple fell into with Copland.
The devteam was always in death march mode, when one impossible ship
date was missed, they scheduled it for another impossible date. When
you ask a Microsoft person to say what Longhorn is supposed to do, you
get rambly hand-wavy words that mean nothing. A product with a purpose
has a two-sentence description that gets everyone so excited they can’t
wait. Longhorn isn’t designed to solve anyone’s problems. I think they
all know it, but they can’t say it out loud because they’ve all drunk
the Kool Aid on this.

Link via Scripting News

Longhorn to ship without features?

Microsoft announced Friday afternoon that “Longhorn,” the
next-generation Windows, was losing the feature code-named “WinFS” that
was to provide speedy searching and intelligent cross-linking of all
documents the machine had seen. In addition, Microsoft announced that
two of the other touted features, “Avalon,” a new graphical sub-system,
and “Indigo,” a communications sub-system, would be available for
Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 machines in the same timeframe as
the estimated release of “Longhorn,” currently 2006 for the client and
2007 for the server. Sounds like “slipping is a feature.”

The media has gone wild with speculation, of course. Mary Jo Foley must have put in overtime to post all these articles. A supposed memo from Jim Allchin is chilling in its NewSpeak terminology.

What does that mean for us? For most Windows developers, it should mean
two years of peaceful stabilization of the platform before the next
round of chaos, and a good long time to consider alternatives. If
Avalon changes everything on the graphical layer, is DotNet WinForms
dead? WinFS, which Microsoft insists never stood for “File System”
could be replaced by a half-dozen good third-party tools.

Microsoft needs to take a long, hard look at this, and realize that
“Operating System” no longer means “a way to tie people into all of our
software.” They need to stop adding things to their operating system,
and start removing things until nothing is left but the core, and sell
add-on features like searchable databases and graphical UIs  to
the people who need them as *products* and not as features. Sure, it’s
easier to sell one SKU than many. The Operating System should provide
the facilities for the computer to operate, read, write and
communicate, and offer open and documented APIs through which the
appropriate tools can be added to provide features above the OS level.

Andrew MacNeill sees this as a good thing, “gutting” Longhorn, and Robert Scoble says
“Longhorn wasn’t aimed at the sweet spot of the market anymore and our
customers were telling us to go in a different direction.” It will be
interesting to hear what direction that is.

Department of Homeland Security: Policing or Politics?

Bruce Schneier, in a recent essay in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:

The DHS’s incessant warnings against any and every possible method of terrorist attack has nothing to do with security, and everything to do with politics.

Link via Dan Gillmor’s eJournal

User Guide to Using the Linux Desktop

A free user’s manual, the “User Guide to Using the Linux Desktop,” published by the International Open Source Network
(IOSN), a subsidiary of United Nations Asia-Pacific Development
Information Programme (UN APDIP), includes training materials and
presentation slides in format, intended for spreading
the word that Linux is suitable as a no-cost desktop operating system.
Looks like their site has been totally overwhelmed by being featured on Slashdot and ZDNetUK, but check the site out in a day or two, when it has recovered.

It’s good to inform, but don’t forget to ask for the order

Useit.Com: Informational Articles Must Ask For the Order.
“Numerous companies are now producing informative websites that are
rich in content and thin in commercial messages. This is good, because
users are more interested in facts than hype. Unfortunately, many of
these sites are so focused on providing information that they lose the
sale.” Link via Tomalak’s Realm

Windows XP SP2 rollout continues, resistance is futile

Despite some glitches and Microsoft delaying the rollout for a week, Service Pack 2 is on its way to all Windows XP users via Windows Update. Many large installations have turned off or disabled the update out of concern for the many programs Microsoft has documented as not working or needing updates in order to work with SP2. Firewalls, VPNs and SQL Server based applications seem to be the primary casualties. FoxPro applications using DBF-based data appear to be unaffected.

Microsoft is enabling the firewall by default, a reversal of their earlier configuration. While it is a step in the right direction, the firewall is still far too weak to be the sole line of defense for a machine attaching directly to the internet. The firewall included with Microsoft XP doesn’t deserve the name. A firewall is an internal structure in a building that is designed to stop fires from spreading by imposing a solid barrier. In the Windows XP case, this firewall is one-sided, blocking some traffic from ourside, but letting anything exit from inside. So, if your machine develops a problem and starts broadcasting SMTP spam, or calls the mothership and transmits your last tax return, there’s nothing in the XP firewall to prevent it. That’s dumb. Look for better solutions elsewhere.

If you are connecting directly to the internet, or take your machine on the road and connect to foreign networks, look at a software firewall like Kerio or ZoneAlarmPro. I notice that is promoting a nice package of their excellent AVG anti-virus software with Kerio for USD $55. Worth looking into.

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This work by Ted Roche is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States.