Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Sony is making my head hurt

Another one that I'm not going to bother linking at all. Earlier this morning I saw on several news sites statements to the effect that Sony says help is on the way for Playstation3 "Shortages." Sony intends to "fix" the shortages by May of this year.

Now, I wrote this post over on ( ) when this type of news popped up through New York times. I really am beginning to wonder if Sony is even on the same planet as us.
What shortages could Sony possibly be talking about? The Playstation3 isn't selling. It's too expensive, offers too little, and now the hardware based backwards compatibility with Playstation2 is being removed in favor of a software solution... that DOES NOT WORK.

I started writing a business plan to pull Sony out of the whole they dug themselves into, but I've stopped. I honestly do not want to help Sony at all anymore. As I said in the market research ( ), this is the real Sony Corporation. And I, for one, am not sure it is worth saving anymore.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

I've been a little heavy on the Microsoft train the past several posts, but, here we go again with yet another post about everybody's favorite federally convicted monopoly.

I do not believe it is considered a secret that new SCO was a sock puppet of Microsoft's bidding. I am fairly confident that the money trail of license purchases, Baystar executives, and memo's paints the picture that Microsoft saw to new SCO's funding earlier in the campaign which claimed that Linux was using Pure Unix code given by IBM, which belonged to Old SCO at one point in time.

Almost immediately after the lawsuits were filed the Linux developing communities rose up and challenged new SCO. Their challenge was to show the quoted millions of lines of code that had been copied in whole into the Linux/GNU operating system. new SCO was initially cagey on showing violations of code, which was of course understandable from an investors viewpoint. Had new SCO shown the code that it believed was copied from Pure Unix into Linux/GNU by IBM, then the Open Source development communities would remove the offending code and re-write it. By not showing the code until the trial, new SCO guaranteed that the offending code would still be in place, thus also guaranteeing that there would be a large settlement or punishment in new SCO's favor. From an outsiders viewpoint, this is along the lines of Blackmail. Open Source Developers were willing to talk about removing the offending code, while new SCO was holding the offending code hostage until new SCO got paid. From an investors viewpoint, it was simply business as usual.

However, as time went on, it became clear that new SCO did not have any lines of code. The smoking gun was never shown in the courtroom, and the few examples of code that new SCO demonstrated outside of the courtroom where quickly proven to be shams. One example is listed here : : new SCO tried to pass off code originally distributed in 1979 and explicitly released under a BSD license in 2002 as an example of copied code. Investors found themselves on the wrong side of a fraudulent case with a sock puppet. There was no smoking gun. There was no code. All new SCO had was a lot of talk.

It is now taken for granted that new SCO has failed in their mission, but the puppeteer still speaks loudly. It is no secret that along with, and behind, new SCO Microsoft was also banging the drum of stolen code, Intellectual Property Theft, and Intellectual Property Misuse. With the Advent of the Novell-Microsoft deal, the drum began to beat louder. Microsoft held the deal up as proof that Linux/GNU was infringing on Microsoft patents and technology.

I. Don't. Think. So. Microsoft.

Now the Open Source Community is leveling the same challenge against Microsoft that was leveled against new SCO back in 2003.

Show Us The Code!

The fact is, if a company does not aggressively protect it's property, be it Intellectual or physical, they stand to lose that property. It is possible for Copyrights and Trademarks to be lost, and for patents to be declared invalid. Microsoft has for years claimed that Linux/GNU infringes on Microsoft's technology. Yet, like new SCO, Microsoft has never shown the code examples where the infringing technology is used. Microsoft has filed no lawsuits, taken nobody to court, filed no warrants for search, no warrants for arrest, and no cases are filed with Law enforcing agencies such as the FBI, US Postal Service, or any state level Investigative units.

Now, how would the US Postal Service fit into the this? Two words:

Mail Fraud.

Let me put it this way. Mark Shuttleworths Canonical ships multiple Ubuntu CD's every week through the US Postal System. Warren Woodford's Mepis distribution is also shipped and sold through the US Postal Service. Let me ask this then: If Linux/GNU is/was using Microsoft property, then would not both Canonical and Mepis be guilty of Mail Fraud? I'm no lawyer, but a cursory glance of the Federal Trade Commissions page on Mail or Telephone Order Merchandise Rule seems to indicate so.

Let me draw the picture as I see it then. Microsoft's continuous assaults against Linux/GNU has had no legal enforcement for several years. By continuing to intimate ( indicate or make known indirectly; hint; imply; suggest. ) that Linux/GNU violates Microsoft owned technology without taking the steps to address those infringements directly, Microsoft has forfieted any legal right to those technologies.

Now, I'm not sure what the statuette of limitations is on Intellectual Property issues, so I'm not sure if a direct legal forfeiture would stand as Microsoft has as of yet taken no steps to rectify these issues in a legal manner.

However, it is my opinion that if Microsoft does NOT immediately state and make known the infringements, then Microsoft itself is guilty of Mail Fraud.

Think about it. What would be the legal implications if Microsoft has sent the intimations about Linux/GNU using Microsoft technology through the US Postal System. As these claims have not been legally substantiated, but Microsoft is using them to control OEM's and ISV's, then are not the intimations fraudulent? Again, I'm not a lawyer, not by any stretch of anybodies imagination. Maybe I'm looking at this too simply.

Somebody posted in MepisLovers that they didn't understand how exactly Microsoft could be committing mail fraud. While I think it is quite clear what the implications are and how they are arrived at, it looks like I'll have to spell it out.

If you use the US Mail system to transmit any mails that contain fraudulent information that is designed to scam or defraud business's or people, then you are guilty of Mail Fraud.

If Microsoft has used the US Mail System at any time to send letters, copies of letters, memos, or copies of memos to Independent Hardware Developers (ATi, Nvidia, AMD, Intel, Via, SiS, Sun Microsystems), Original Equipment Manufactures (Sun Microsystems, IBM, Dell, Hp, Gateway), Original Design Manufacturers (Foxconn, Clevo), and or Independent Software Vendors (Blizzard, NCSoft, Corel, IBM, Sun Microsystems) where they use the claims that Linux/GNU infringes on Microsoft developed and held technology in order to halt development, suspend development, or interfere with development projects and or products...

then Microsoft is guilty of Mail Fraud. Microsoft would be using the Mail System to defraud the IDH's, OEM's, ODM's, and ISV's.

To parallel this, imagine Toyota sending letters to Ford, Chevy, and BMW because Toyota owns the technology behind a 4 door car. Because of these letters, Ford, Chevy, and BMW can not make 4 door cars. However, it is found that Toyota did not hold the technology behind the 4 door car. If Toyota has sent any of the letters through the US Postal Service, Toyota would be guilty of defrauding Ford, Chevy, and BMW.

Yes, the example is extreme, and I'll add this into the blog post, but it should paint a clearer picture of what Microsoft may have done.

Now, I need to stress this : I don't have any proof that Microsoft has done this, or is guilty of Mail Fraud. I do know, however, that Microsoft's legal team would use any method possible to attack Linux/GNU vendors. Since many vendors sell and/or ship their CD's through the US Postal Service, they could be opened up to Mail Fraud as they would have been misleading their clients/customers about what they were shipping through the service.

A more specific example of what Microsoft could have done is this: Lets say that somebody is making a cross platform mail server and they publish the code to SourceForge. Microsoft sends the developer a letter stating that their mail server uses technology from Microsoft Exchange that Microsoft owns. The developer is given the proposed choices of pulling his software, buying a license from Microsoft to use the technology, or being taken to court and sued for using the technology. However, if it is found that Microsoft was not the holder of the technologies, and that say, Qualcomm was the holder of technologies, then Microsoft will have committed fraud in their letter. If the letter was sent through the US Postal Service, then Microsoft would have been guilty of Mail Fraud. Again, this is just an EXAMPLE.

As such, I stand behind the challenge made by at : Microsoft needs to stand up and either legally defend their property, or we need to start declaring any further intimations to be libelous.

From there, we should take the appropriate actions against any news source (be it Associated Press or Reuters) that runs Microsoft's threats without noting that there has been no legal action to protect the technology. It would also be my opinion that at such a point the Open Source Communities should start taking their own appropriate actions and notifying various regulatory authorities and demanding investigations.

That is what I would like to see happen, but I will be the first to admit, I doubt it would.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Vista: A Behavioral Overview.

A Conservative and a Liberal go out to play a game of golf, and they grab one of the course pro's to go with them. The conservative goes first, picks a club out of the bag, puts the ball on the tee, and then takes a swing. The bawl careens off to the left and smacks a tree, dropping dead. The conservative stands there for a second, then says I screwed that up. The conservative then turns to the Course Pro and asks What did I do wrong?

While the conservative and course pro talk about the stance, angle of the club, and how the hands are held, the liberal takes the same club, grabs another ball, steps up the tee, and takes his shot. The liberal's shot hooks far right and lands in a lake. The liberal stands there for a second, then says Oh well, the wind got in the way. The course pro, now paying attention, states that there is no wind, and points to the wind sock atop the club house which lies limp. The liberal hmms, then says I guess this club is bad then. The course pro blinks, then tells the liberal he is using the same club that the conservative used. The liberal pauses again, then says, Well this is a bad brand of balls, I need to go get a different brand.

Most of us probably know somebody like the liberal pictured here. It never occurs to them that when something goes wrong, it is because of something that they directly did. Our conservative golfer blamed himself for a bad shot, while the liberal golfer blamed everything but himself. Oh no, there couldn't be anything wrong with the way he made the shot, it has to be something else.

Microsoft, or more specifically, Steve Ballmer, seems to have the same kind of problem as our liberal golfer. Vista is not selling at all in retail. Consumers are buying Vista at only a fraction of the sales Xp enjoyed in it's retail launch. Steve Ballmer comes out and states that the slow sales of Vista are due to Pirates, and that to counter this, Vista will be locked down even further and there are more draconian methods of control on the way. Source :;7680622;fp;16;fpid;1

What Ballmer, and Microsoft by extension, seem to be incapable of considering is that Vista's slow sales might be a fault of something they (Microsoft) have done. Consumers just may not be interested in Vista at all for a variety of reasons. Many are probably turned off by the Digital Rights Management inherent in the system. Many are turned off by the high system requirements, and more are turned off by non-functional drivers and the lack of backwards compatibility.

Microsoft, with Vista, faces the same problem Sony faces with the Playstation3. There has to be a discernible need or desire in order for the product to sell. Sony was never able to convince customers that Blu-Ray was worth $600, and on an extremely lackluster game library, the Playstation3 has collectively flopped in retail sales. The same applies to Vista. Most consumers don't know what Vista does for them, and aside from the 3D desktop, would be hard pressed to name one major feature in Vista. I'm supposed to be a tech writer, and that's all I can come up with off the top of my head that is a major departure from Windows Xp.

On the other hand, many Linux's have over the past years have created their own markets by fulfilling the wants and desires of computer users. Linux users have had two real 3D desktops in the java based XGL accelerated Looking Glass, and the AIGLX accelerated Compiz, now forked into Beryl. Between KDE, FluxBox, XFCE, IceWM, and Gnome Linux users have a variety of different desktops that they customize to what they want or need. In addition, even a modern Linux with 7.1 will run fine on a Pentium III @ 500mhz :

It never seems to occur to Microsoft that they can't sell products because people just don't want those products.

Really, take a look at every section but the Office and Xp units within Microsoft. The Home Entertainment Division, responsible for the Xbox, Xbox 360, and Zune have recorded loss after loss after loss. The Xbox 360 may make a profit in 2008, ignoring the several million dollar writer-offs which started at $26 million in 2003. I repeat, started at.

The Mobile Unit division, which is responsible for PocketPC, only has 4%-5% of the smart phone market, Linux having a double digit (15% +) and Symbian having over 75% of the market.

The fact is, everything Microsoft does but Office and Windows fails. Consumers don't want Microsoft in those other markets, and now many of those consumers are catching onto the fact that they do have a choice in what they run on their home Computer. They are not just stuck with Windows or a Mac. There are legitimate User-Friendly choices in Mepis, Ubuntu, and PCLinuxOS.

Microsoft, through Ballmer, seem incapable of considering these factors. There must be another reason besides something that they (Microsoft) have done to explain people not buying Vista. It couldn't possibly be that consumers do not want Vista. Microsoft, through Ballmer, seems to be of the opinion that just because they release a product, people will buy it.

Now, aside from Apple, most of the industry isn't that arrogant. Sony had the guts to come out and declare that 5 million people would buy the Playstation3 with no games. That did not happen. Playstation3 units are in stock at most major US retailers, and at most major retailers where the Playstation3 has launched.

My advice to Microsoft is get over the liberalism. Start asking What did we do Wrong, and then go from there. If Microsoft can admit that the problem is internal, then maybe we'll get a Windows in the future that people want to buy again.

For now, I'm happy with Linux, and that is where I think I am going to stay.

I hate Hurricanes: repost

With March fast approaching, Hurricane Season will be here soon. I figured I'd repost one of my more popular LJ entries:

... read this and understand why I hate hurricanes.

For those who ever have visited, you might realize that Cox Communications is the primary cable service provider across Baton Rouge, New Orleans, and Lafeytte Lousinana. In other words, the primary supplier for ALL of Lousiana. Cox Communications is also the primary cable provider for Tyler, Conroe, Luffick, and other parts of eastern Texas. As already posted before, Katrina took out most of our Lousiana network...

Rita finished the job. Right now we are estimating that about over 30 miles of fiber lines are gone, shredded. Other digitial feed lines that link the smaller towns and cities throughout Lousiana and Eastern Texas are like-wise removed from existance.

As such, I figure that I should pass on, to you, things to not do when you have a hurricane move within close proximity to your home, house, city, or other location.

1st : Do not call in when the hurricane is in your town. Especially if the eye of the hurricane has centered on Bossier Lousinana. There is not need to call in to inform us that you are missing services. You are in a hurricane. Trust us, we know that.

2nd : Do not call in stating that you need your cable tv so that you can check the weather.

2nd-A : If you are in a Hurricane prone area when asked if the radio stations are no longer broadcasting wether data, do not claim that you are too poor to afford a portable radio. Especially if you pay $90 a month for cable access.

2nd-B : And no, your cable provider is not going to provide a portable radio for you. You live in a hurricane prone area, you get your own radio.

3rd : If for some reason you retain service when the fringes of the hurricane pass over you, and then some time later you lose service, do keep in mind that it is a hurricane. A hurricane is normally several hundred miles wide, and just because it passed over your town without issue does not mean that it is going to pass over other towns without issue.

3rd-b : if you have to have a Cable Tech representative explain to you that a hurricane is big, then you do not need to be calling, much less breathing.

4th : Hurricane Clean-up is messy. Period. Your cable provider, if missing significant parts of their network, will have to rebuild that network. Because of this, do be aware that we are not going to garrentee full service for the duration of the cleanup. We will do our best to establish basic cable services. High Speed Internet, HBO, and other premium channels are luxery services. They are not a priority. We don't care if you make your living selling stuff on ebay. We will not deviate from getting the backbone of our network fixed to get you back online.

4th-b : If you live in a hurricane prone area, keep in mind that redunancies and backups are your life-blood. If you depend on the internet to make a living, have more than one service provider.

5th : wrestling is fake. Get over it. And no, we can't somehow magically make a Pay Per View System that is completely offline get back online just so you can watch sweaty men in tights grab each others butt.

5th-b : if while talking you reveal that you don't have a roof over your head, you have bigger problems than not being able to watch sweaty men in tights grab each others butt.

6th : Keep in mind that the word network means that things are connected together. A network can consist of many different items. A cable network generally consists of many different points where cable connections are made. If you live in a small town, do consider that your cable probably comes in from a larger city. As such, even if you are not directly affected by a natural disaster, such as a hurricane, and the larger city is, your cable connection will suffer the same problems as the larger city.

6th-b : Also, keep in mind that while we will try to restore basic service as soon as possible, if we need to repair lines in the larger city, you will probably be affected again with loss of service. This is to be expected.

7th : There is no need to call and ask if your account is going to be credited. A hurricane hit. We know that. Quit asking. We don't even know if you are there using the cable.

8th : If you have an existing cable problem such as fuzzy pictures, no pictures, or no internet access, please call and deal with the problem when it occurs. Do not wait until after a natural disaster has occured before calling in for the problem as there are probably going to be no technicians available to deal with your problem. Given that a natural disaster has occured, most qualified technicians will be on duty trying to patch the downed lines and other damaged parts of the network. Please expect a time period of weeks before someone is able to personally drop by with your problem.

8th-b : when informed that the only information that your cable company is seeking is wether or not there is a downed line in your area, do not get in a huff and demand a supervisor because we will not schedule an unavailable technician to get to your problem in a couple of weeks.

9th : when informed that no supervisor is avaible, it means no supervisors are available. Keep in mind that if you waited on hold for 2+ hours to speak with a representative, it probably means that the peoeple you are calling are swamped. In such a case any supervisors are probably also taking front-line calls.

9th-b : for the slow. that means the supervisors aren't there.

10th : If you live in a hurricane prone area, and there is a hurricane headed your way, do take time to prepare:

10-A : Get a portable radio
10-B : Evacuate, get out of town
10-C : Contact your utlitie providers and ask if they intend to stay in office. If they are closing up shop, you should too.
10-D : ... do not call your cable company until a week after the hurricane has passed and only if you have a downed line.

If you are a person who finds this list offensive, or simply do not understand the list, I have these instructions for you.

1: If you have cable tv, please return your tv box to the cable company at your earliest convience.

2: Please take any TV's you have in the house and please donate them to goodwill.

3: If you have high speed internet with a cable company, please return your modem to the appropiate vendor.

4: Also, pack the computer up and return it to whomever you got it from.

5: Honestly, you just don't need a computer.

Memory Bandwith Analogy

One of my clients recently cross graded from a 9600 Pro to what he believed was a 9800 Pro. The card in question turned out to be the 9800 SE, 128 bit edition, basically a down grade in the long run. So, I attempted to explain the differences between the cards, and one of the subjects was the number of bits listed for Memory Bus Width.

A normal Radeon 9800 Pro has a 256bit memory bus, while the 9800 SE normally has a 128-bit bus. So this is the analogy I gave the client.

Imagine you have a 20x20 room. You have 8 big strong guys in the room who build vehicles. They can build a truck, a sports car, or a compact car. The Room is the graphics card, and the number of guys inside are the number of shaders available in the card. In the case of the 9600 and 9800, they only have 4 guys inside this room, instead of 8, so they only have half the power available.

Our Memory Bus Width though, is the door in the room. The size of our door impacts how many parts can be taken in and out. A 128bit bus width would be a typical 4 foot wide door. A 256bit Bus would be two double doors, and a 64bit bus would be half a door.

Now, if you want a compact car, it's going to be very easy to move the small parts in and out regardless of the size of the door. Even with only half a door, our guys could probably build a Geo Metro.

In computer terms, this would be running in Low Resolution with Low Detail in a game. There is not much going on, so the card is able to keep up easily. However, if you increase the size of the door, you don't see any benifit.

Now, if you want a sports car, say like a Mustang, you'll need to move larger parts in and out of the door. With only half a door, it'll be hard to fit the engine block in, and the frame would probably have to be assembled inside the room, so our big strong guys will be working harder. Our guys would also have to wait longer for parts to be shuttled in and out with a limited amount of space.

In computer terms, this would be turning up the resolution and detail level. The card is going to have to work harder to display the image, but if it has a low memory bandwith, or a small door, then the Graphics card will be spending a lot of time just waiting for more information. The higher the Bus Width, the more information that can be transferred.

If you want a Big Ole Truck, something with a v12 Hemi inside, you'll need a massive door to get the engine block inside. That big door will also come in handy moving the frame inside. Go with a smaller door though, and you'll have to break everything down on one side of the door, pass it through, and then re-assemble it in the room.

In computer terms, this is turning the resolution and detail levels all the way up. The card is going to be put to work to put everything together. But, if it can't transfer the information in and out, it's going to wind up waiting on the information to transfer. So, a big door, or high memory bus width will help.

Now, this analogy can be built on by talking about Memory Speeds, or how quick parts can be sent through the door, or by talking about Shader Efficiency, how much work the guys inside can actually do in a given time.

But, I hope it gives a rough idea on why Memory Bus Width Matters. This may also help explain upgrades that were not really upgrades. For example, if you had a 9800 Pro and you upgrade to an x1600 Pro, you would have more of a cross-grade.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Communistic Microsoft : Repost

One of the more popular stories going around right now is the decision of Cuba to drop Microsoft and embrace open Source. Several news sources made lines like "Socialistic country throws off chains of Capitalistic Empire." The problem is that Microsoft is far from Capitalistic, and this isn't exactly a new argument.

Several years ago Microsoft laid the claim that Linux was Communistic. I issued a rebuttal to the very idea, pointing out the obvious. Linux, and Open Source, by it's very nature, is Capitalistic. I also drew direct parallels from Microsoft's behavior to the behavior of Communistic and Socialistic countries. The end result is obvious : anyone who has ever bothered to actually sit through Economics 101 would be laughing their rear ends off at the idea of Microsoft being a Capitalistic Empire. Whether or not Cuba likes it, by Embracing Open-Source, they are embracing the Capitalism Business Model, and throwing off the chains of the Communistic or Socialistic Microsoft.

I also want to bring this up now because Microsoft's corporate behavior may give some insight onto how Microsoft is responding to the lack of Vista sales. But, before I can go into what Microsoft is doing now, I need to correct the likes of CNN and NBC about economic viewpoints.

Now, the original rebuttal was modified with an ending to reflect on a recent Presidential Election. With several candidates throwing their hats into the ring, perhaps it is time to consider the economic impact of Elections again, something the AP, CNN, NBC, and Reuters avoided talking about during the 2006 USA elections.

Why Microsoft Windows is more communistic than Linux.

Microsoft Corporation has been well known for launching many attacks against competitors. Most of the times, the attacks are baseless, and borderline ludicrous. Yet, for some reason, Microsoft continues to get away with doing so. In the attacks against the Linux Kernel and GNU operating system Microsoft has laid the charge the the Linux/GNU system is a viral and communistic. This is quite an interesting charge to anybody who stayed awake during government in middle school and economics in high school. Anybody familiar with the basic tenants of capitalism and communism will instantly realize that the charge is much more accurate if aimed in the other direction.

For the benefit of those who slept during either of those classics, the concepts are somewhat abbreviated in the following.

Capitalism is often referred to as the “free market” economy, while communism is typically a “closed market” economy.

In a capitalistic society the economy is decided by those actually selling and buying inside the market. In a communism based society the economy is dictated from above by a ruling class that gets a percentage of every sale and purchase.

When you deal with Microsoft, Microsoft has this view that it alone is the only vendor worth dealing with. Microsoft has the view that it should not have to deal with external vendors to itself and that it should be wholly reliant upon it's own existence as a perpetuated entity. When it does have to deal with external vendors Microsoft has a nasty habit of backstabbing and complaining about it. Smaller external vendors run the risk of being swallowed up by Microsoft.

This behavior and attitude has a scary resemblance to the Soviet Union and to Red China. Both the Soviet Union and China feel they should be reliant upon themselves alone for all supplies. Neither of the communistic countries like having to deal with competitors outside of their own borders. And, in the case of the Soviet Union, smaller competitors found themselves at risk to either be invaded, or sign the Warsaw pact. China's government also has a history of expansion, and continues to have ideas that Taiwan never was separated from mainland China. Or the whole mess with the Koreans. The similarities of Microsoft to these two nations of history cannot be ignored.

People who deal with Microsoft also have other Microsoft only issues to deal with. Microsoft will provide everything, from office suite, to database, to groupware, to anti-virus and security tools. However, the user has no say in any of these products. Suggestions for improvements or customization does not happen with Microsoft. In many cases business buy one product to find they also have to buy another they don't need. Any changes to the products come from Microsoft itself without any 3rd party input. Users of the products do not have any direct say about the products or how those products are produced. And, like it or not, Microsoft isn't able to deliver on any of its promises. The security is the industry's standard for bad. Documents saved in office suites are not compatible with older suites and may not be compatible with future suites. The Microsoft groupware tools are the most viral prone and buggy programs ever created, and as far as anti-virus tools go? Microsoft's job as the OS builder is to fix the problems that allow virus's. Not to build an program to catch malicious code that makes use of problems that should have been fixed. The database tools also have up-times measured in weeks, not months or years.

People who lived in the Soviet Union were promised everything by the government. They were promised food and shelter, as well as an equal lifestyle. Eveybody was equal. However, as is now well known, the Soviet Union was incapable of meeting these promises. But the people living in the soviet Union were never told about the problems, simply because somebody in the Kremlin decided they did not need to know. The Soviet Union had one of the worlds worst standards of living for years, along with many quote “human rights violations.” Yet the people living within the Soviet Union found themselves helpless for years because they had no say in the government. Which eventually brought about yet another revolution. In China it was taught that those who intended to revolt ran the risk of getting run over by tanks. And many of the problems are mirrored in China that the Soviet Union suffered. The all-inclusive nature of the Soviet Union led to a revolt and the topple of the communistic government. Should we, as people today, be scared of the mirror of this all-inclusive nature as invisioned by Microsoft? YES! In several cases, to name Mike-Rowe-soft as one, opponents to Microsoft have learned that to attempt any actions against Microsoft also results in getting run over by a tank.

Microsoft itself is run by the well known Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates duo. There is no say from the purchasers of the companies stock and product in how these two run the Microsoft business. Not even the Federal government of the US succeeded when it came down to telling Microsoft what actions it could take and not take. Ventures that lose several million dollars, such as the Xbox, remain in production whereas in any other corporate culture heads would be rolling at the behest of the owners and stockholders. While Microsoft does take some steps to “prove” that it is in touch with the average Microsoft buyer, the fact is the average purchaser of products has nothing to say about the product.

The similarities to the Soviet Union and China again are almost mirror quality. Average citizens simply had no say on what the overseeing body did, and had no direct control over the overseeing body. Badly thought of ventures were common among the Soviet Union and common among China today. And yet, no protests are heard. What do the citizens of China feel about Taiwan? What do they feel about Korea?

Now, to step back and compare just these 3 examples given to the Linux/GNU system.

When you deal with Linux many vendors are quite well aware of other vendors. Kmail, thunderbird, and Evolution play nicely together. OpenOffice and Koffice will share a common document format. IBM is just as aware of Novell as both are aware of RedHat. And each gets treated more or less as an equal. The sale is often made on what the product can offer you, not what you mean as a statistic on a sales chart to the overall bottom line. When dealing with external vendors the Linux/GNU system builders have a bad habit of turning the other cheek. But, take care not to press too hard, because once the community is mobilized to a goal, little will stand in the way. Linux/GNU system builders also do not rely upon themselves alone to accomplish work. Many actively support other projects such Java, Harmony, or the aforementioned OpenOffice projects, as well as desktop projects like KDE or Gnome. While backstabbing does happen, the communities and business's build on Linux/GNU don't look kindly upon the events. While take-overs still happen, hostile takeovers are generally frowned upon, but a business will offer the best incentives it can to entice a worker to change employers.

These are markedly similar to the US. The US is well aware of other countries and works with them on many levels. Sometimes willingly, sometimes not so willingly. Like Linux/GNU system builders, the US has a bad habit of turning the cheek. Think of all the terrorist attacks prior to Sept 11th. The battleship Cole. The Embassy bombs. The domestic terror such as the World Trade Center bombings. But when the country got pressed, the US pressed back. Hard.

The US also doesn't rely on itself to provide everything. Business's are free to outsource to other countries for labor or manufacturing space. The US is willing to trade the products it has in bulk, such as food, with other countries at the drop of a hat. The US also sponsors medical health programs in Africa as well as dozens of other beneficial programs around the world. And the US doesn't take to kindly to backstabbing or expansionism. There is a long and rich history to both types of events. And during the Cold War, the US enticed many a Russian to defect to a better place. Because the US offered the best incentive it could. Freedom. Freedom with Responsibility upon the citizen, but real Freedom.

In the Linux/GNU communities, every product will be offered that can be offered. Sometimes though, these offers come from competing vendors. In the Linux/GNU community, security is among the industry's best. The groupware tools also operate on several different levels, ranging from common file formats to common database access formats. Documents saved in existing formats can be read anywhere, and generally on older machines that support that format. For example, documents saved in the .swx format, for Star Office, can be read on any program that supports the .swx format. Now, while advanced formatting features created in OpenOffice 1.4, may not be readable to Star Office 4, the text itself is still available to be accessed. And documents created in Star Office 4 are supported under OpenOffice. Database times for Linux/GNU systems have uptimes measured in months or years, and the need for an anti-virus program itself is questionable. Developers of Linux/GNU systems focus on fixing the bugs and problems that allow the creation of virus's, rather than spending time creating programs to find programs that execute malicious code.

Another major difference is that the end user does have a say in how the programs are developed on several different levels. In many Linux/GNU organizations there is a voting method in place, such as Debian. Members involved with the development can vote for who they want running the program, rather than accepting a draconian system that puts only one person in charge.

Beyond voting, the basis of Linux/GNU itself also serves as a control method. One of the tenants of Linux/GNU is that the source code is open for all to see. While some organizations do put some restrictions on what can be done with that code, it is available. This brings about one of the most deadly controls available to Linux/GNU. The Fork. When a project is forked, a group of developers takes the existing open source code, and then goes and does their own thing with it. For example, versus Xfree86. Developers unhappy with the new license terms of Xfree86 took the old code and broke away to form, which already has surpassed Xfree86 in terms of support and features in it's beta state.

The beauty of the Linux/GNU community is that those who want to take charge, can. If a user doesn't like the problem they are free to fix it an offer their own solution. If it's a better solution then the process has succeeded. If it's an average solution, there is now more choice. If it's a bad solution, well.

The controls of the Linux/GNU system are also present in the controls of the US. While the government does offer several programs to benefit the citizens, better solutions are available to the quote “private sector.” People willing to work for a living don't have to put up with the “baseline” standards. There is choice available and citizens are free to pick the choice that suits them.

The process of votes and the control of Forks are also established within the US political system. If an elected representative is not doing his job, eventually his job will come up for re-election and the voters can put someone in place who will do the job. If a citizen feels that he or she has the solution to the problem they are also free to run for office. The average citizen has a right to stand up for his beliefs and a right to expect his elected representative to make those beliefs known. And the citizen has a right to stand up and put him or herself up for election.

Many of the arguments for the second example given also apply to the third argument and there really is no need to get repetitive. The system of controls in place in the Linux/GNU communities allows the average user to get involved, just as the voting and election process of the US allows an average citizen to get involved. The examples given here as just some of the stark differences when comparing Linux/GNU to Microsoft and comparing the US to the Soviet Union or China. It is very clear that Microsoft, of all, is extremely communistic in behavior, and that Linux/GNU is a far more capitalistic approach to the computer generations. It is clear that Linux/GNU promotes Freedom, real and tangible Freedom, much like the US promoted Freedom during the Cold War. Yes, it is a Freedom with responsibility left up to the citizen, but it is real. Microsoft offers no Freedoms. Yes, the cage is pretty and has nice curves. But a cage covered with gold is still a cage.

Now, at this point I would encourage the US readers of this to sit back and think in their heads which political parties support which ideals. Which political parties hold the ideals of the Soviet Union and China and therefor the ideals of Microsoft. And which political parties uphold the practices of the United States. And to think about who was voted for in the last election. Did you vote for the Communistic con artist? Or did you vote for the supporter of capitalism and Freedom? And would you really want to put a party in place that does not have the best economic interests of the country in mind? Or would you rather have a party that has the economic interests in mind, as well as the real Freedom of it's citizens.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Would Microsoft or Sony copy the Wii?

This week I managed to pull off the impossible. I got a Nintendo Wii system. The next day I went out and got Excite Truck, and I've been playing it since then.

Yesterday a friend came over and I got him to play. Now, my friend has an Xbox 360, and is a strong supporter of the Xbox system. He loves it and is constantly harassing me to get one, which probably isn't going to happen unless somebody donates one for the purpose of getting a PPC Linux Distro to work. So Rob comes in, seeing me playing, and try's to figure out what I'm playing with, followed by a condescending "Oh you got a Wii?" So, I set him down, handed him the remote, and his next words where "Oh this can't be any good, there isn't even an analog stick, how am I supposed to control the game?"

Rob was appearently somebody who missed the big deal about the Wii remote control, that its movement is tracked in a full 360 sphere of motion. After a few minutes in the tutorial, he seemed to have a decent idea on how to use the remote to drive, so into race mode he went.

After about 45 minutes of watching Rob go at Excite Truck, giggling like a schoolboy after school has let out, I went to take the controller back... Didn't happen, he was that far into the game. After having crashed multiple times though, and having gotten several D ratings in a row, my friend finally tired of the game, and from there we started to talk about the merits of the system. My friend was puzzled as to why I didn't get a 360 if I had the money. (for those who donate, no, your donations were not spent on this) .

First of all, the 360 with the Hard-drive is well over $150 more expensive than the Wii, and since I'm on what one would call an extremely limited budget, it really wasn't an option.

Second, the 360, and the Playstation3 for that matter, offer the exact same gameplay of their predecessors. Lets be honest, most developers are not going to use SIXAXIS since they can't port SIXAXIS games to the Xbox 360 or to the Wii. Anyways, the Xbox 360 just offers more of the same as before. I already have a Playstation 2, a Gamecube, and an Xbox, not to mention several PC's. I don't need another device that does the same thing.

The Wii, however, offers a completely different gameplay experience. Games made with the WiiMote in mind are fundamentally different in how they operate. Sure, you don't actually have to swing the remote like a baseball bat in Wii Sports, but being able to do so adds a visceral element to the game that no other console can match.

As I was droning on about what set the Wii apart, Rob stopped me and stated that if it was so great, Microsoft would be offering this type of control on the Xbox 360 next year.

And now we get to the point of what I want to talk about. A lot of of people analyzing the video game industry have stated that the DS is a gimmick, and that the Wii is a gimic. Whether or not the console sells, or trashes it's competition, it is just a gimmick to some people. Rob is not the first person I've heard to express the opinion that if the Wii is very successful that Microsoft will add the remote functionality to the Xbox 360, and that Sony will upgrade SIXAXIS to WiiMote functionality.

There are several reasons why this would not happen.

The first reason is of course patents and licensing. If Nintendo has patented the implementation of Motion Sensing technology as it is used in the Wii, then Sony and Microsoft would need to license the technology from Nintendo. If Nintendo has not patented the implementation, but merely licensed it, then Sony and Microsoft would need to license it from who-ever Nintendo licensed the technology from. Money costs aside, whoever holds the patent or is licensing the technology could make usage difficult for Microsoft and Sony.

The second, and actually primary reason, is that Console Add On's generally do not sell as well as the console. Adding WiiMote functionality to the 360 or PS3 would alter the fundamental way their games work, thus altering the console. There only have been two vendors before that have changed the fundamental way their console has worked by adding components.

Sega: with the SegaCD, then Sega32x. NEC with the TurboGraphix 16 CD.

As we well know, Sega is no longer in the hardware business with a game console, and NEC has not touched the console market in over a decade.

On top of that, the general rule of thumb is that control peripherals that change the way a game is played, while being profitable, are not widespread.

Consider the number of dance pads available for DDR. Consider the Donkey Konga Bongo's, only used in 3 games. Consider the official Guitar Hero Guitar and The-Ant-Commando's guitars. Think about REZ and the um... "vibrator." Think about the Sony EyeToy.

Yes, there have been peripherals to consoles before that have changed the way the player interacts with the game itself. But, from a top down perspective, the most successful of these add on's averages less than 10% of the Install Base of the console.

The only exceptions to this are the Primary Controllers, and 3rd party Primary Style Controllers. You'll see MadCatz, Nyko, and Pelicon controllers selling just as well as "official" controllers.

The implementation problem for Microsoft and Sony is that if they added WiiMote style gameplay to their games, users would have to buy completely new peripherals in order to play the games. The hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of users who have picked up extra Xbox 360 controllers would be in the position where they would have to buy completely new controllers in order to play the game.

Because Microsoft probably won't go out of their way to completely alienate everybody who has already bought an Xbox 360, it wouldn't make sense to mandate WiiMote style gameplay.

Not enough people would bother buying new controllers, and many gamers may be in the position where they cannot afford new controllers.

Sony, with the current low sales of the Playstation3 may be in a better position to pull off a switch to WiiStyle remote. I just can't see Sony swallowing it's pride long enough to change anything about the Playstation3 to make it a success.

So, in the end, I think it's doubtful that Microsoft or Sony would add WiiMote style gameplay as an official supported gameplay type to their consoles.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

So what does the security industry use anyways?

It isn't a secret that Symantec and other security companies are not very fond of Microsoft Windows or Microsoft Vista. It probably says something when the CEO of one of the most known software security companies won't move to a new OS that presents itself as being more secure.

John Thompson's comments about him and his company not moving to Vista does raise a question that appearently CNET forget to ask. Such as, what Operating System DO the Security Professionals use themselves? What is on their own home computers?

When I worked for Sitel doing phone support for HSI customers, I didn't make it a secret to customers that I was the worst person within Cox Communications to talk to about Computer Security. I told them up front that I simply knew too much. As a Technical Support Representative it was my job to stay on top of all the potential problems that customers could possibly call in for, be it 169 software errors, malfunctioning modems, or viral infestations. I informed them that I had to keep track of all of the reported virus's that could be in effect on the system, or affecting the system, in order to properly diagnose whatever Connection Issue they were having. This placed me in the position where I could readily link to, and read off, several dozen virus reports in mere seconds. The inevitable question then was : What do you use?

Before I continue, I am also going to note that Sitel's definition of Technical Support did not actually include Technical Support. Solving or identifying the problem was not encouraged by either Cox Communications management, or Sitel Management.

Anyways, the fact was, many of us Technicians, who approached our jobs as Technicians, don't run Windows. It's not that we can't do it, or we aren't capable of doing it. It is that we know too much about what goes on in the background. It doesn't matter how many hardware firewalls I'm behind, or how good my anti-virus protection is, that isn't going to help me against an Operating System whose very design Elements are based on Removing the Administrator from the User.

So, on behalf of CNET which failed to do it's job, what Operating System does John Thompson run on his home computer? Out of all of his employees, how many of them actually use Windows on a daily basis? How many of them bought into Vista?

If you want my guess over what the response would be, I'm willing to bet that John Thompson himself probably is using Red Hat or Ubuntu on his home computer, and I'm going to lay odds that most of the Software Technicians are probably running Pure Debian or Ubuntu. About the only people I could see in Symantec that would still be running Microsoft for an OS would be Sales Reps, but since their jobs involve selling people on the horror stories of what can happen to Windows and why they Need Norton, it is probably a fair gamble that their Home Systems are probably running Mepis, Ubuntu, or PCLinuxOS.

I would be very surprised to find very many Symantec Employees running any Microsoft Product on a regular basis outside of their labs.

*note* There is a clear difference between separating Administrator and User access, and removing the ability to use Administrator Controls from the person physically at the computer. Microsoft's vision of security involves removing the Administrator Account from the Operating System presented to the Client, leaving only User Controls. The typical *nix approach is to Separate the Root and User controls, but not actually remove them from the system.

Monday, February 05, 2007

So, what hardware do you actually need?

I completed work on one of my "pet" projects over the weekend. Real Time video capture of the most recent Mepis Linux Beta running on a K6-2 Chomper Extended, and a Pentium III Katmai. The version of Mepis Linux in use is the 32bit 6.04 beta release #4.

The page on is located here :