Democracy undermined by Microsoft

January 31, 2004 at 5:36 pm | Posted in Politics | 1 Comment

The technology think-tank RABA Technologies has released a report (PDF) that criticizes the software used in the Diebold electronic voting machines. Here are a few of the salient points:

  1. The operating system is supplied by Microsoft.
  2. CD-ROM autorun is enabled. The CD-ROM drive tray is accessible.
  3. USB and keyboard ports are exposed.
  4. Microsoft Access is the front-end to the database.
  5. All default services are turned on, even those not related to the (specialized) operation of the machine.

This means that it would take very little to invalidate votes; I will leave it to the reader to extrapolate what could and will happen in future elections.

Hubble Saved?

January 30, 2004 at 9:31 pm | Posted in Technology | Leave a comment

Maybe not saved, but it looks like the famous Space Telescope has been moved from the morgue to the intensive care unit.

Two weeks ago, NASA announced the end of Hubble maintenance missions. A large public outcry from science fans and scientific institutes has forced NASA to reconsider its decision. The reason NASA cited for abandong Hubble was that a shuttle Hubble mission would not be able to reach the International Space Station (ISS) due to different orbital inclinations. The counter-argument was that many non-ISS Shuttle missions will not have the necessary equipment to dock with the ISS, so the shuttle will still have to be able to fend for itself.

Please visit the Save The Hubble site to see how you can help. Thanks!

New Books from No Starch Press

January 28, 2004 at 10:07 pm | Posted in Books | Comments Off on New Books from No Starch Press

I’ve always liked No Starch Press; they’re a spunky small publisher known for catering to the geek crowd, with a special focus on BSD Unix. They have recently released two new titles for non-geeks – Apple Confidential 2.0 and a book for Linux newbies. I’ll let you click on the link for the cool sounding title. [Update – they changed the title of the book. It used to be “Linux for your Mom” which I thought was rather cute. Thanks Kevin!]

Windows is for Dummies, Linux is for the person that has loved you all your life.

myDoom = Doom for Windows

January 28, 2004 at 4:02 pm | Posted in Rants | Leave a comment

The latest versions of the myDoom worms continue to wreak havoc on the Internet; no doubt due to the lack of security of the dominant Windows platform. To those sites dedicated to Windows-related news but run their servers using Linux + Apache – please stop being hypocrites and eat your own dog food. You have little if any credibility unless you do so.

More Lies from Bill Gates

January 27, 2004 at 10:33 pm | Posted in Macintosh | Leave a comment

The Microsoft chairman and “chief software architect” made a couple of comments regarding the security of Windows vis-a-vis OSX and Linux. It really goes to show that all those years away from the coding trenches really distorts a man’s sense of reality. Well, that, a few billion dollars, and surrounding yourself with yes men.The bottom line is that Windows security lapses have cost our economy billions of dollars. The preponderance of evidence is that Windows is less secure by design than Linux and other Unix-like operating systems including MacOS X.Instead of trying to bullshit his way out of this, maybe he should tell Microsoft to find and report on the various security bugs in the competitor’s operating systems. Then again, considering the coding skills over at Redmond, it might take a while.

Dana Blakenhorn on Software Upgrades

January 26, 2004 at 9:15 pm | Posted in Technology | Leave a comment

Since coming back to work this year, I have been inundated with a bunch of software upgrades, and quite shocked at the large increases in both upgrade fees and annual license fees (or taxes as I like to call them).
Continue Reading Dana Blakenhorn on Software Upgrades…

Cash is King

January 21, 2004 at 8:20 pm | Posted in Politics | Leave a comment

Those who think it is right to support further government intrusion into our supposedly private financial lives should read this article. George Paine relates his experience with his banker as he tells George exactly what he did one day from his credit card transactions.

After having been inconvenienced in a similar manner earlier this year, I resolved to make this the Year of Cash (TM). In as much as practically possible, all face-to-face transactions will be in cash, unless absolutely unavoidable, such as buying big-ticket items or buying online. Even then, it may be advisable to get to the nearest ATM anyways; Homeland Security will know you may have withdrawn $500, but they’ll have to talk to you to find out how you spent it.

iPod ads

January 19, 2004 at 8:30 pm | Posted in Macintosh | Leave a comment

Generally, I’m not a big fan of the iPod TV ads, except for one of them. This specific ad features a guy in a yellow background that plays the the most vicious air guitar. What I like even more is the girl on the green background – the shilouette makes her look really, really hot.

Mars Rover video

January 18, 2004 at 8:55 pm | Posted in Technology | 2 Comments

Here’s an excellent movie showing the workings of the Mars Exploration Rover, complete with a soundtrack. An even better interactive experience is available through Maestro, a Java application that displays the same imaging data as those seen by NASA. One can use this program to navigate around the Red Planet and create his or her own adventures.

TV Themes

January 17, 2004 at 9:47 pm | Posted in Rants | Leave a comment

This is the first installment of what I call “My Brother Said…”. They are simply writings that flesh out certain thoughts from my opinionated brother, who often provides me with interesting takes on social issues. The first topic deals with television. He’s a serious student and critic of TV; I view TV as pure entertainment (I am a regular viewer of only two shows – CNN and one other show that I will mention later).

It seems that each decade of TV shows has an underlying theme. A hit formula for a given decade results in shows sharing similar themes.

Successful TV shows are always imitated.

However, one can see a certain theme for each ten-year period. Let’s have a look at these “arcs” linking similar

shows, and its relationship with American culture.
Continue Reading TV Themes…

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