Archive | August, 2006

Terminal Email

Slashdot post: Radio Shack E-Fires 400 workers. KingSkippus writes “You've got mail! …and no job! The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is reporting that RadioShack has notified 400 workers by e-mail that they are being laid off. The e-mails state, “The work force reduction notification is currently in progress. Unfortunately your position is one that has been eliminated.” Nothing says thank you for your years of service to our company quite like an e-boot out the door.”

Ow. I got laid off from US DataCenters via cellphone, as I was working from home the day they let everyone go, and I thought that was bad. (One of the best things that ever happened to me, though.) But email! That's incredibly insensitive.

Internet Explorer a Monster No More? I don't think so.

Thom Holward posts this article on OSNews, linking to the this ZDNet blog post where Richard MacManus interviews Microsoft's Chris Wilson. I've read the article and I can't see where Thom's conclusion comes from. Chris says…

“…IE7 is going to be an important update in the automatic updates feature. This means it'll actually show up for everyone's [Windows] computer. It won't automatically install behind the scenes or anything, because it is going to change your user experience of the Internet quite a bit.”

I really can't see that anything has changed.

Microsoft won't play High-Definition content on 32-bit CPUs – or will it?

Slashdot post: No Full HD Playback for 32-bit Vista. snafu109 writes “Pity the Vista user with a 32-bit CPU. Senior Program Manager Steve Riley announced today at Tech.Ed Australia that full HD content shall only be played at the full resolution where only signed drivers are used — only in the 64-bit version of Vista.” And you thought that there were no features left to remove!

UPDATE: Today, OSNews reports Microsoft: 32Bit Vista Will Play Protected HD Video. The web exploded yesterday with the news that Microsoft would cripple 32bit versions of Vista so they would not play protected high-definition content. However, Microsoft was quick to respond, stating: “The community is buzzing with reactions to APC Magazine's article regarding playback of protected High Definition content in 32-bit versions of Windows Vista. However, the information shared was incorrect and the reactions pervading the community are thus (understandably) ill-informed. The real deal is that no version of Windows Vista will make a determination as to whether any given piece of content should play back or not.” Well, that certainly clears things up!

There is no one best way

Declarations of a One True Way to Python Web Frameworks has lead to lots of kickback. A few samples from Daily Python-URL! (from the Secret Labs):

  • [Floris Bruynooghe] Python web frameworks
  • [ Fredrik Lundh] he has given us… his shoe!
  • [Groovie] Notes on the Python Web Framework Pronouncement

The consensus seems to be that not much has really changed following the “pronouncement.” No one is in charge, and choice is a good thing. The TurboGears folks will keep trying a little harder, now that they're officially #2, everyone else will try a little harder to unseat them.

What will be good to see implemented would be a comparison chart of the many products. The FoxPro Wiki does a great job of this for VFP Frameworks, and CMS Matrix does a good job on content management systems. This would be a great service to the community.

Novell working to implement VBA in

OSNews reports “Novell is still working on improving the VBA support of its OpenOffice submission, and is therefore open to all sumbmissions of VBA macros which are not working on the OOo version of SLED 10. In the meantime the question is when – or even if – Sun will accept the patches for OpenOffice to get VBA support.”

Hmm. I'm surprised. VBA is one of Microsoft's Achille's Heels, the weak spot where lots of security flaws can be exploited, via Automation, AutoOpen macros and so forth. I'll be interested in learning how OOo can implement these.

Django the #1 choice for Python's Benevolent Dictator For Life

Over at Blue Sky On Mars: Kevin Dangoor, one of the lead developers for the TurboGears Python web framework posts, “There can't be only one.”

“I guess I'd better give up now. Guido announced at SciPy that Django is the standard web framework for Python. How's that for a first two sentences of a blog post? ”

“Always there are two, a master and an apprentice.” Master Yoda says.

Neo claims, “It's about choice. Free will is the one thing that can't be factored out of the system.” Free will mustn't be factored out of the system. The Joy of Branching is that someone else will go off and try something else, take a different direction, chose the Road Less Taken. And that will make all the difference.

No one size fits all. Sometimes you just need a little snippet, a tweak, of inline python code like you can do with Myghty. Other times, you need a big, honking uber-reliable message-passing system with scalability, redundancy, failover, point-in-time recovery and full BuzzTerm 2.0 compliance. Sometimes you just want to toss together a quick-and-dirty web site for a friend and the first app you come across with a README small enough to take in in one glance is the choice.

There's always room for more than one. Fight for choice.

link via Daily Python-URL! (from the Secret Labs)

Why are computers so hard to use?

David Berlind's recent blog post pointing to Tim Bray's trials and tribulations on switching from a Powerbook to a Sun Ultra 20 running Ubuntu (!) has some interesting reflections on how hard all desktop switching is. David says,

[Tim] “used two words — “wrangling” and “gyrations” — in his last post that leap off the page as having long been (in my mind) desktop Linux's key stumbling blocks.”

I've got a half-dozen machines in the office I work at regularly: Dells, HPs, ThinkPads, Macs, running Win98 through XP, OS X, CentOS, Ubuntu, Fedora, Xubuntu and probably a couple of others. I am constantly wrestling with getting a PDF file just right on this one, or wrangling an icon to do what I want on the desktop of that one. They are all hard!

I got tired of using the supplied Apple keyboard with my iMac and thought I'd try a Microsoft Natural Keyboard I had spare around the office. It worked well, just plug it in and It Worked ™. However, the key labels and assignments had me stumped. On Windows and Linux, the control key is the lower, outer left key and I spend all day issuing ^X, ^V, ^F, ^T to cut, paste, fine and create a new FireFox tab. On the Mac, it's not the outer key, it's the option key, the middle of the three keys outboard the spacebar. Except when it's not. Subconsciously, I had gotten myself into the groove of using the different keyboard layout on the (different) Apple keyboard. When I swapped out the keyboard for the one I use on another machine, I lost the ability to touch type those characters on both keyboards.

In the above-cited blog post, Tim was annoyed when Ubuntu didn't follow the hand-patterns he had memorized on the PowerBook; I feel the same way when I use the Mac.

Windows su or sudo?

Garrett followed up on my recent post about creating a root shell by point to Aaron Margosis' post with a “MakeMeAdmin.cmd” batch file. My one-liner solution created a shell as an admin user. Aaron's is more extensive and adds the current user temporarily to the administrators group (requiring the admin password), then requires the current logged-in user to log in again for the shell session.

I'm not sure of the security implications of each, or whether one is better than the other. In a sense, my script is similar to “su” where the shell is in the context of another administrator, where Aaron's is closer to “sudo” in the sense that the current user can temporarily execute super user commands. It sure would be nice if the script could go one step further and persist a list of users with sudo capabilities, so you only had to do one login. In either case, it seems that the security context doesn't “leak” outside of the shell in which it is executed.

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