Oct
01
2010
2

Microsoft competes against Android(the only way it can) – Patents

I was reading CNN.com today and came across a priceless article about Microsoft.  Ahead of their up coming Windows 7 mobile is a new slew of patent lawsuits against Googles Android platform.  Below is an excerpt, you can find the whole article here:

http://money.cnn.com/2010/10/01/technology/microsoft_motorola/index.htm

The nine patents that Motorola (MOTFortune 500) allegedly violated involve essential smartphone functions, including “synchronizing e-mail, calendars and contacts; scheduling meetings; and notifying applications of changes in signal strength and battery power,” Microsoft said.

This is all happening right before the Windows 7 mobile release.  Strange…  This to me is a move to spread FUD(Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt) about Android.  My guess is that Motorola will settle the claim through a cross licening deal and/or release of Windows 7 on their phones.

If you can’t compete, sue!  Good Job Steve Balmer!  Way to give up ground in almost every new arena Microsoft steps into!  Way to build investor confidence by patent trolling better products.  There are still many more customers and software developers Microsoft has yet to alienate…

Steve, if your reading my blog I just want to say… I’m being sarcastic.  Try making products that are good. Software that people want to use because it works well.  Do you realize how absurd it is to have a virtual Monopoly in the Windows desktop market and still be unable to release a decent mobile phone platform?  There are so many verticals from the desktop to the mobile…

The notion that you are going to sue a competitor for a patent on the “notifying applications of changes in signal strength and battery power” is ridiculous.  I mean common guys; seriously?  I think electronic devices have been alerting applications to battery strength for a very long time.  Like laptops for instance.  Like UPS power supplies.  Hell, didn’t Apollo 13 space vehicle(moon mission disaster) have some kind of battery alert system?

What your telling us is that your company can’t make money on it’s own merits.  Microsoft has so much money and talent…  I can understand the need to file baseless patents for the purpose of protecting themselves in the future, but to sue them now is sign of weakness.  Goldman Sachs just downgraded their stock for perceived failures in the mobile space.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but shouldn’t they wait to see what Windows Phone 7 looks like and how it sells before a downgrade?  Or is it that even Wall Street is tech savy enough to count on a mediocre product from Balmer and the gang.  If you’re an investor or customer of Microsoft consider this, can you trust a company whose business model amounts to protecting a monopoly and suing innovators?  Is that sustainable?

I have some idea’s for Microsoft Phone 8 that might turn all this around. Spend some R&D money!  First I’d like 3D screens like the new Nintendo handheld. Also I want to be able to tether freely.  Port Xbox games to Windows phone 7.  If developers don’t want to port a popular game, then pay them to do so.  Let me use my Window phone 7 as HUD for Xbox Live.  My phone should talk to me; read me websites while I travel, remind of stuff, and give me GPS directions free.  I should be able to record word documents with speech to text from my Windows Phone 8 device.  I should also be ale to send email in the same manner.  Battery life must be great!  Nice fantasy for Microsoft, huh?

Jan
28
2010
0

Windows 7 – no speakers or headphones are plugged in

I’ve been using Windows 7(Home Premium) for about a week now… and I gotta say I’m impressed.  It’s interface is almost as nice as Windows XP.  Running multiple programs doesn’t slow game frame rates nearly as bad and the desktop effects are pretty good.  Congratulations Microsoft!  You made a decent OS…  Only took 7 years, thus the name, ‘Windows 7’.  Although this is a huge leap forward there are still many, many problems.

For instance, my Soundblaster Live! Value sound card doesn’t have a driver from Microsoft or Creative Labs!  For God sake, it’s one of the most popular sound cards ever fabricated!  Are you *^&!@ing kidding me!?!?  So I ditched my card and re-enabled my Intel on-board audio.  Windows detected the driver just fine.

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Oct
06
2009
0

Richard Stallman on the Rampage Again – this time against Mono

I was reading Slashdot today and came across an interesting post about the Mono project.  Richard Stallman of GNU/FSF fame is blasting the Mono project.  His argument is that because Mono is developed in C# the project itself is compromised because the threat of future patent litigation.

That is a reasonable concern, but as he points out in his blog post there are other implementations ‘.NET’ framework being developed by GNU.  The point of the Mono project is to create a compatibility with Microsoft’s .NET framework.  If Richard Stallman can bring closer integration without the possibility of infringement then do it!  The Open Source community welcomes the competition. Here is a quote from a July 2009, Stallman post:

Debian’s decision to include Mono in its principal way of installing GNOME, for the sake of Tomboy which is an application written in C#, leads the community in a risky direction. It is dangerous to depend on C#, so we need to discourage its use.
The problem is not unique to Mono; any free implementation of C# would raise the same issue. The danger is that Microsoft is probably planning to force all free C# implementations underground some day using software patents. (See http://swpat.org and http://progfree.org.) This is a serious danger, and only fools would ignore it until the day it actually happens. We need to take precautions now to protect ourselves from this future danger.

Okay, so this is a reasonable opinion.  In a different post he starts making personal attacks against individual developers,
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Aug
24
2009
2

Get rid of that ‘default keyring’ password bullshit when you login to GNOME

I haven’t gone on a good ol’ fashioned rant in a long time.  And you know what?  This one has been in the making for a while.  I’m not holding back… here I go…

Policykit sucks!!!  What’s with this excessive password crap?  By default for GNOME in Fedora 10/11 you have to use a password for everything!  You need a password to login to GNOME, then once inside GNOME your password will be required to unlock network-manager.  That doesn’t seem so bad…  I’ve only entered the same password three times(including the Linux login).

So I have access to the web and I’m happy for the moment until I decide to attach my USB thumb drive to copy some files for my neighbor…  …and guess what?  I need a password to mount my USB thumb drive.  So I decide to watch a TV show I have on a DVD-R.   By default mounting a DVD requires my password.

Installing programs from the ‘Add/Remove Software’ requires your regular keyring password to launch the app and the root password to install the actual software.  Now am I wrong in concluding this is a totally retarded way to handle desktop security?  Typing in the same password eight times in thirty minutes?  This is why 7 year old Windows XP is still a contender.  Even though Open Source GNU Linux is technically superior and far more secure.

Seven times GNOME keyring asked for a password.  That’s as bad as Vista.  No, it’s even worse.  Nobody loves Vista.  In fairness however, Microsoft’s Vista doesn’t require a password to attach a common USB pen drive.  Even using an SSH connection from the console requires keyring to intervene with GNOME!

Luckily, you can install ‘pam_keyring’ with yum.  This will use your Linux login for the default keyring at login, but you have to access the keyring-manager to adjust the rest.  Huge hassle.  It’s annoying shit like this that keeps the average bear off Desktop Linux.  My Mom is a smart woman, but she would never figure this out, and so she will continue to run Windows XP indefintely.

Pick through the options and see if you can find where to grant access to mount a DVD. This is not security, it's insanity.

Jul
18
2009
1

How to use the ODBC driver to Connect to MySQL database in Fedora 10

A few weeks back I covered connecting ODBC to MS-SQL, but today we are going to do the same thing with MySQL.  The process is very similar.  One might ask, why use ODBC driver in the first place?  The reason is simple, there are many flavors of SQL and the ODBC driver allows one standard to connect them.  For that reason many software developers use ODBC for connecting their applications to SQL.

For my purposes, the Asterisk PBX platform can use ODBC to call ‘dial plan’ functions from the database, but that is another article!  This post assumes you have a working MySQL server and at least one table with data to pull from.

Goal of this Post:

– Install ODBC driver for MySQL
– configure odbc.ini
– configure odbcinst.ini
– verify connectivity with isql

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Jun
22
2009
17

Watch Netflix on Linux – with Windows XP Virtual Machine running Virtualbox

I signed up for a Netflix account yesterday, but when I tried to watch streaming video online I got an annoying message about hoe my Operating System is not supported.  When I found out that they didn’t support Linux I was so pissed.  Plenty of web content out there is Mac, Linux, and Windows friendly.  But they have this annoying DRM crap.  It’s not like you couldn’t just screen record it anyway, or just download a torrent… The messed up thing is I want to pay!  I’m more than willing to shell out $10-$15 a month to watch from a library of TV shows and movies.  Most people are!

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May
19
2009
5

Microsoft and Novell bring Silverlight to Linux

I recently visited a local radio station kirotv.com(to hear the Mariners game) and the web site required Microsoft Silverlight to be installed for streaming audio.  It also noted that Silverlight was available for Apple OS X, Windows, and Linux.  Say that again?  Microsoft making multi-platform software?  Giving customers choice?  It sounds crazy, but it’s absolutely true.  Sorta, they are releasing the Linux version via an ‘Agreement not sue’ for downstream Novell customers.

The project is called, ‘Moonlight’.  When I went to download Silverlight from Microsofts website I was redirected to the Moonlight front page.  Moonlight is a part of the mono project.  The mono project is the Open Source version of ‘Active X’ sponored by Novell.  Microsoft has a sizable investment and co-marketing agreement with Novell, of whom is the distributor of SUSE Linux.

What is stange is that Microsoft doesn’t give an explicit agreement or license to use it’s ‘silverlight’ technology, instead it posted a covenant not to sue customers of Novell.  I’m not a lawyer but this seems odd to me.  Not to mention, that nobody really uses SUSE or Novell Linux; at least in terms of users and worker bee’s.

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May
07
2009
0

How to make USB and DVD ROM drives work on Fedora 10

Lately, I’ve been working on Asterisk PBX related articles, but today we’re going to tackle a common problem with Fedora 10: getting drives to mount to the Desktop.  If you are experiencing trouble, the likely cause is that your current user, does not have permissions to access that hardware.  The reason for this has a lot to do with the security model of Linux.

In the old days computers came on large mainframes.  It was not practical for engineers and scientist to have their very own main frame, so Unix was designed to be a multi-user operating system.  Everyone connected their own keyboard & monitor.  The permission structure was set so only certain individual accounts could do certain things.  Like say, reboot a system or delete a database.

By contrast Microsoft Windows(thru XP) is a single user operating system.  In Windows you can create extra accounts, but any of those accounts can execute arbitrary code from anywhere in the file system (c:\\ drive).  Which is a big reason for the many attacks on Windows systems.

Recently my friend got a virus that made XP unbootable and stole his World of Warcraft account login and password.  The hacker then used that information to login to his account, change his password, and his accounts valid email address.  The hacker then sold all his gear and used his character to scam other people in bad trades.  The account became banned for “economic extortion” before my friend could get his Windows XP machine back up and running.  Now he runs WoW on WINE/Fedora 10.

An appeal to Blizzard got his account back after several days and many emails. My friend requested that they check the IP address of the hacker and compare that to his previous logins.  What if the virus had collected his bank account credentials instead?  In a way he got lucky.

Goals of this Post:

– correct authorizations in Fedora 10 and allow access to USB and DVD – ROM devices

It seems odd that someone would be unable to access a USB thumb drive on any modern desktop computer, but Red Hat the maker of Fedora Linux is far more interested in their commercial offering, Red Hat Enterprise Linux(RHEL).  They model RHEL development on previous versions of Fedora.  So desktop integration is obviously not their top priority; stability and security is.  This neglect has allowed rival Unbuntu Linux to come in and snatch up the Linux desktop market.  Big mistake Red Hat…  however with a little work we can make Fedora 10 desktop work well without them.

So to correct the permissions issue(from Gnome) start by clicking, System –> Preferences –> System –> Authorizations.  Fedora may ask you for your ‘root’ password.

fedora10-authorizations-usb

fedora10-authorizations-usb

Set access to allow anyone to mount and unmount USB and other devices!  I hope this helps.  It’s frustrating dealing with these little things, but hey, “it’s free”!  If it doesn’t take, leave a comment below and I’ll try to help.

Apr
17
2009
0

Microsoft Works Hard to Protect Monoply – at Googles expense


I was reading Slashdot today and came across this post about Microsoft Family Safety Filter.  I wasn’t to surprised to read by this article:

“I saw that part of the brand new Windows Live package is the Family Safety Filter, so I decided to give it a spin. Turned it on, set it to ‘basic filtering’ (their lowest level), and went to Google … oops, it blocks Google! So I logged into the settings and added Google as an exception. Google still wouldn’t come up. Just in case, I turned off the family filter: voila, Google. As we all know, ‘Don’t be evil’ is not part of Microsoft’s motto! Oh yeah — and with the filter on, Microsoft’s own search engine, live.com comes up.”

To read the entire article click here.

I’m not one to buy in to conspiracy theories, but then again when 89% of all desktop computers are running the same Operating System it takes many less people to make a mistake, or even conjure up a devious plot. Don’t get me wrong, Microsoft make some good products, like Viseo for instance. I also like share point a lot.

Still that doesn’t make up for the rampant security holes(most recently conficker.c), back channel patent trolling, product delays or the price of a copy of Vista. All of these reasons are caused(or at least impacted) by protecting the Windows Monopoly. Most monopolies wreck havoc on a free market place. Microsoft has been sued repeatedly since the mid 90’s by the U.S. Attorney General, state and foreign governments. The complaints are that Microsoft are usually the same. Price fixing(via market share), effort to push proprietary software and communication standards, and bundling additional software with Windows to kill off the third party ISV competition.

The truth is though, that Windows OS is not the ‘bread and butter’ of profits.  Office is.  Someday, long after Balmer is gone, some brave executive in Redmond will come to the conclusion that ‘open standards and customer choice’, is the best long term business model.  Someday Microsoft will give up it’s Windows monopoly because they realize that competition will drive them to innovate over litigate.  The hundreds of billions in anti-trust settlements could go back to share holders and consumers.  Since Microsoft makes the most money on it’s office suite anyway, they could still potentially grow there revenues while loosing Operating System market share.  Some day.

Mar
22
2009
2

Fedora 11 will likely not include Xen Dom0 (virtualization) support

xen logo

I (like many of you) have been patiently waiting since Fedora 8 for Dom0(Domain 0) Xen support in Fedora.  Why hasn’t Red Hat or the Fedora Project made an announcement? Haven’t we been good? I mean libvirtd is great and all, but Xen PV(paravirtualized) VM’s destroy. I did some googling to get to the bottom of this. I found a fedora project page with a January 2009 status update.

Here is a snipit:

“Currently, the Fedora kernel-xen package is based on forward-porting of the XenSource patches from 2.6.18 to more recent kernel versions. This has many problems, including:

  • XenSource code has no chance of being merged upstream, in the near future, making the forward-porting work needed for all new kernel versions.
  • Lots of porting work for each new kernel version
  • Because of the above, kernel-xen has been some releases behind the non-xen kernel package, and the lag between kernel and kernel-xen has been increasing constantly”

And also:

“As of November 2007, the kernel-xen forward-porting was being finished for 2.6.22, and Linux 2.6.24 was about to be released. The effort needed for 2.6.23, 2.6.24 and later would have been even bigger with the introduction of paravirt_ops and the i386-x86_64 merge upstream. Thus, the decision was made to abandon the forward-porting effort and focus on upstream paravirt_ops.”

So where does this leave us?  Unmodified guest are old news.  Even Microsoft can do that.  Well not really, as I understand it, Microsoft’s HyperV platform contains Xensource licensed code.  But a customer of the company I work for likes HyperV a lot(incidently).  On the Xen Wiki it says that Paravirt_ops will be ported to the 2.6.30 kernel.  My prediction, Xen Dom0 support will be available toward the end of Fedora 11’s cycle or Fedora 12.

Why does Dom0 matter?  Dom0 is the specially modifed Xen-linux kernel that sits on top of the hypervisor. From Dom0 you can run fully virtualized guest and partially virtualized guest (paravirtualization).  Paravirtualized guest enjoy a method for allowing the use of a set of generic virtual device drivers provided by Dom0.  PV guest are known to have outstanding perfomance compared to their fully virtualized counterpart.  Paravirt_ops refers to Dom0 integration with the Linux kernel.