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ZDNet Proclaims "Windows: It's Over"

astrashe They could turn things around (863 comments)

MS's main problem is that they still think like monopolists. That's the core of the Win 8 problem -- people at MS telling us what we'll take, and that we'll like it. That they know better.

I'm a Gnome 2 refugee typing this on a Macbook Air, not a MS apologist. But Windows 7 is a very fine desktop OS. All they have to do is to stop trying to kill it off. Put it back on the PCs in the stores. Admit that Ballmer screwed the pooch, and let him go. He's a leader from the monopoly era, and not well suited to this moment.

Active Directory is a huge asset for MS. There's a whole ecosystem of tools that people use to do work in companies that will be very hard for anyone else to displace. Excel is amazing, and it's central to the conduct of business all over the world. People in offices all over the world live in Outlook. These aren't small advantages.

in the old days, they had their boots on our necks, and we all hated them. I remember that very clearly. But now, as tech professionals, we need them to get it together, for the health of the tech industry as a whole. Too much is sitting on top of them for their implosion to be a good thing.

about 2 years ago

Ubuntu Community Manager: RMS's Post Seems a Bit Childish To Me

astrashe Does Amazon pay Canonical for this? (529 comments)

Doesn't Amazon pay Canonical if people make purchases? (I might be wrong about this -- if I am, please correct me.)

*If* Amazon does pay Canonical, and Bacon doesn't mention that in his post, I kind of feel like Bacon loses the argument. I mean, if they're getting paid, and he's making posts that say, "We're doing this only because we want you to have the best search experience," it seems a little disingenuous.

more than 2 years ago

Predator Drone 'Virus' Could Be Military's Own Monitoring

astrashe Spin? (99 comments)

A big story goes out about how the drone control system are really seriously compromised. Not only have they detected malware, but they're unable to get rid of it. A few days later, a new story comes out. "Yeah, we totally meant to do that." Only it doesn't even say that. Instead, it says, "Wouldn't it be interesting if they totally meant to do that?"

Even if the malware was installed by some shadowy arm of our government, it's a giant screw up if the guys who are in charge of running the systems didn't keep it out and can't remove it once it's detected. If the guys running the system were competent, the shadowy arm of our own government shouldn't be able to install this crap and more easily than anyone else.

more than 3 years ago

AT&T Cracking Down On Unofficial iPhone Tethering

astrashe They detect tethered traffic with the TTL field (513 comments)

I agree with you that we should be able to do what we want with our bandwidth. But they can detect traffic without looking for "Windows traffic".

Every time a packet goes from one hop to the next, the TTL field gets decremented. If traffic originates from the iPhone, it has a TTL of 64. If you tether some other device (even another iPhone, connected to the first via wi-fi), it will have a different TTL.

more than 3 years ago

How To Protect Against Firesheep Attacks

astrashe Re:slashdot's method (208 comments)

My precious, precious karma. :)

more than 4 years ago

How To Protect Against Firesheep Attacks

astrashe Re:slashdot's method (208 comments)

I was just about to make the same post.

more than 4 years ago

Google Warning Gmail Users On Spying From China

astrashe G should support FireGPG-like product (215 comments)

There's a really easy way google can mitigate a lot of these problems. They could cooperate a little bit with someone who wants to make a firefox plugin that would encrypt people's email.

I know that goes against their business model, which lets them use people's emails to tailor search results and target ads. And it would probably piss off a number of governments. But in reality, almost no one would actually take the trouble to encrypt their mail, and it would allow people who really needed the privacy to take care of themselves.

It's such an easy, simple solution. I wish they'd consider it.

more than 4 years ago

Microsoft Holds iPhone Funeral Event

astrashe MS used to scare people (311 comments)

These guys used to strike terror into people -- they'd kill startups by just hinting that they were working on something similar.

I never thought I'd feel sorry for them.

more than 4 years ago

Why Wave Failed

astrashe it's kinda like vim (350 comments)

Wave was confusing, and it demanded a big shift in thinking up front -- sort of like vim. You couldn't just add little changes into your workflow incrementally. On top of that, you had to have someone else to do it with. It was hard to be a geeky guy who was interested, and willing to climb the learning curve on your own.

So imagine you use a typical gui screen editor. And you want to learn vim. And the only way you can move forward is if you find someone else who's willing to use vim with you while you learn.

Most people just aren't going to do it.

Incremental gradual change is easier for people.

more than 4 years ago

Passwords That Are Simple — and Safe(?)

astrashe I see two problems (563 comments)

I see two problems -- I don't know that either is a deal breaker, but I figure I'll put them out there.

First, users might not enjoy certain aspects of the experience.

Usually, there are rules, they tell you the rules, and if you follow them, your password is accepted. The system seems fair -- there are rules, you can follow them, if you follow them, it works. The proposed system will feel arbitrary -- you try a password, maybe it will work, maybe not. If it doesn't, you have to try again. Maybe it won't work again.

A certain kind of user is going to get rejected over and over again, because they're going to consistently pick common passwords. And they'll really,really hate this system.

Second, I'm not sure that dictionary attacks will be impossible. Attackers are smart, and they're good at adapting. Just because current dictionary attacks would fail doesn't mean that future dictionary attacks would fail.

People like to use words and swap characters around. So someone might start out with "football". That's not good enough, so they try "footb@ll". Or "footba1l". Whatever. I believe it might be possible to model the processes that people use to generate passwords in their heads, and to create a dictionary of words using the model.

Maybe that would be a lot harder than it seems -- but as well all know, some attackers are really smart and really competent. So that would worry me.

more than 4 years ago

My Location the Next Google Privacy Controversy?

astrashe I don't understand either side of this (167 comments)

I don't understand how Google tracking wifi networks is bad for me.

And I don't understand why Google wants that information in the first place. How does knowing my SSID help them?

more than 4 years ago

Google WebM Calls "Open Source" Into Question

astrashe This strikes me as misleading (185 comments)

It seems very clear that Google is trying to support open standards and technologies. Different people are going back and forth over licenses and procedures. Everyone seems to be acting in good faith. And there's no reason to believe that it won't all get worked out.

The language in the /. article almost makes it sound like Google is trying to do something like "Embrace and Extend". I just don't think that's what's going on.

If we can move to a place where most video is managed with open technologies, it will be very good for everyone. I'm grateful to the companies who get it, and to people who are trying to figure out the best way to do it. And I don't think the fact that there are small differences of opinion among those folks is a good reason to get upset.

more than 3 years ago

What Microsoft Must Do To Save Its Mobile Business

astrashe They should embrace Android (250 comments)

It seems to me that Microsoft ought to try to follow IBM's path. They should accept the world that they live in -- a world with multiple vendors, and open standards -- and be the guys who own lots of really key assets, and who are really good at making things work well together.

First, they should accept Android and build a stack on top of that OS, rather than trying to push their own system. They have to be hard nosed enough to accept reality, and the reality is that a second rate locked down proprietary phone OS ain't going to win.

They should produce a value added stack that sits on top of android and that's targeted really squarely at corporate customers -- it should include sync and access to office docs, active directory integration, an incredible exchange client, etc. Pretty much everyone with a good job would buy that, because almost everyone lives in a microsoft universe at work. There should be apps that let you control your SQL server from your phone, that let you monitor servers, etc.

All of this stuff should be extensible and scriptable by anyone who wants to write code. They should be all about open scripting and glue between components.

On the consumer side it will be harder and more competitive, but they should probably be pushing a tight desktop integration stack there as well. They need to tie the desktop and the phone together using the cloud as glue. You should get your songs, your photos, your docs, your apps. You should be able to pull up your desktop via RDP and do anything you want, and there should be separate phone friendly GUIs to do the most useful things.

Almost none of the really awesome stuff we'll be able to do with these phones has been built yet. Microsoft is in an incredibly good position to build out huge chunks of it, because they're the guys who know the most about so much of what we want to reach back and talk to. They still own the legacy world, and that's a huge, huge advantage.

But it's like they're thining in 1993 terms, and they need to control the OS, and they're going to fight that pointless battle that they can't win anyway. They have to accept the new world -- an open platform that everyone shares -- and they have to leverage all of their assets to thrive in it.

I never would have thought I'd be in this place. I love linux. I want computers to be open. And now I really want Microsoft to stand up and push back against the closed Apple iPad model. I want them to come out really hard, and push something more open, and I want them to run ads explaining why Apple's way is a bad idea. And instead they just seem to be floundering.

more than 4 years ago

Fedora 13 Is Out

astrashe Re:Sweet (268 comments)

That's really interesting. I didn't know that. I ran Debian for a long time -- what you've said really sounds like Debian. :)

Yum and ruby's gems system are integrated. I tended to credit the yum people for that, but from your comment maybe it has more to do with the gems people.

I really dig yum -- I love the plugin that just grabs the diffs. I love that they have plugins at all.

Fedora isn't as polished as Ubuntu, but it really feels like engineers are front and center, and that they're working on the infrastructure.

And it feels like geeks are the target audience, rather than the proverbial grandmother who can't do anything on a computer. I'm glad the grandma has a good distro, but I'm also glad that I have Fedora.

more than 4 years ago

Fedora 13 Is Out

astrashe Re:Sweet (268 comments)

I really like the ruby packages -- it's easier for me to make ruby and rails work easily.

I'm sure lots of people get by just fine with Ubuntu, and I haven't tried it for awhile, but it seemed to me that the package manager and the gems system were always tripping over each other.

It's great that we have options, though. I've been running Linux for awhile, and in my experience, distros eventually melt down. They make bad decisions, try crazy schemes to monetize things, get too bogged down in ideology, chase off developers with fights, or whatever. Nothing lasts forever.

So I'm glad that Ubuntu is out there if Fedora caves in, and Ubuntu people should be glad that Fedora exists in case Ubuntu goes way off track. That's why Linux is cool -- it's distributed enough that no single pinhead can break it.

more than 4 years ago

No Verizon Partnership For Google's Nexus One

astrashe Re:A big flop (206 comments)

The problem is that you don't get the advantage of having an unlocked phone, which ought to be portability.

The ideal situation for me would be a world in which I buy my phone, and sign up for monthly service with my carrier. If the carrier sucks, I can cancel my service and go to another one without paying any penalties.

That doesn't work for lots of reasons. Some of those reasons seem to be policies that deliberately create lock-in (termination fees, even if you buy a phone for $579!), and other reasons seem to be reasonable technical realities (T-Mobile and Sprint use different kinds of networks).

The government has imposed number portability on the carriers, and that works well when your contract is up. But we still live in this 2 year contract/carrier subsidized phones/early termination fees universe.

I get dropped calls on my iPhone every day, too. And it would cost me a fortune to leave.

more than 4 years ago

In EU, Google Accused of YouTube "Free Ride"

astrashe Why don't telecoms pay google? (449 comments)

If we're not going to buy into net neutrality, why does it follow that google should pay the telecoms? Why shouldn't they pay google for enhancing their service?

If google stopped serving pages to people connecting through specific ISPs, those ISPs would go under. Who here wouldn't change their provider if they couldn't get google? You wouldn't really be on the net without google.

more than 4 years ago

Yale Delays Move To Gmail

astrashe Re:Know what... (176 comments)

Google owns a company called Postini that you can use to archive your email -- they can keep you in compliance with email retention rules.

Privacy is a big concern. I sort of feel like it's over anyway -- google already knows everything about everyone.

I found the admin tools to be a little lacking. If A is out of town, and B needs to get into their email, that sort of thing. It's harder to go in and tweak a user's settings for them than it is with our current system (notes).

more than 4 years ago


astrashe hasn't submitted any stories.



Sun's Java Desktop

astrashe astrashe writes  |  more than 10 years ago

I have a livecd that fires up Sun's Java Desktop. I got it with a copy of Linux user and Developer, a magazine from the UK.

I'm surprised by how nice it is. I'm using it now. The browser is Mozilla, and it has flash and java working out of the box. I have a nice copy of evolution, and star office, all on the cd.

The whole thing is attractive -- it's slick, and looks like it was "designed". It's a morphix cd, and I like it a little better than the normal gnome morphix livecd that I use.

The only problem is that it doesn't have the best hardware support. For some reason it couldn't find the netcard on the mobo of a dell dimension that my mom owns.

In my previous entry, I talked about how my sister was able to sit down at the morphix gnome livecd and use the email program, despite having never seen linux before. This java desktop livecd is slicker and nicer -- I think it would be easier for someone who didn't know what they were doing.

It's just occured to me that for the first time in my life, linux is starting to make sense for ordinary people. I want to try to explain why in this entry.

Like most slashdot readers, I get called to help people I know with their computers. Almost every machine I see now is riddled with malware of some sort -- viruses, spyware, or whatever. My sample is skewed because people with machines that work well don't call and ask for help, typically. But malware is a real problem for windows users.

The average person doesn't do very many odd things with their machine now. They hit the web, they send email. They do their banking through the bank's web site. They use IM software to talk to their friends. They don't want to fight with the machines, or to learn how to do cool new things, for the most part. Most people I know aren't chomping at the bit to learn video editing, or how to use sound samples with a midi sequencer.

The computer is almost like their car. They need it to do specific things that are absolutely necessary, and they need it to work. They don't want to put time and money into it. They want it to be there, and to work.

This is the amazing thing: this livecd, the one that I'm running now, would do all of that for most people. It's very close, in any event (putting aside the obvious problem that it doesn't have any persistent storage).

This web browser is fine -- it works on most pages, you get the flash (evil though it may be) and you get java. It just works. The email program is great -- I love evolution.

I'm not a groupware person, so I don't use a lot of outlook's features, but as a mail client, I like evolution much better than outlook.

Star Office isn't as good as MS office in my opinion, but it's good enough. I think I could do a big writing project with it just as easily as I could with word. It's a little slow, a little bloated, but it works.

And this is the other amazing thing: Microsoft is dropping the ball. Everyone says that linux is "too hard". But it's becoming harder and harder to keep a windows system healthy in the real world. Time and time again, I see people who have perfectly good computers (hardware wise), who can't do anything because the malware is killing the performance.

Now if you ask yourself: What would those people prefer? A linux system, with the good old gnome desktop, open office, and evolution, which they can use more or less intuitively, or the old familiar windows system, with all of the malware problems? The windows system that *doesn't work* for them in the real world?

For the first time in my 12 years of running linux, I really think that a lot of ordinary users that I know would be better off with linux. I'm not saying that as an ideologue. My main desktop computer is a windows machine, and I love it. I was never sympathetic to the people who used to try to push their friends to run linux -- I've never done that in my life, except with a couple of geeks who really needed to see it.

But I think that you can make a real case for linux in some people's homes now. For the first time. It's a new situation that's derived from two new circumstances.

The first is the quality of modern linux desktops. They're good, and they're intuitive. The gui apps that are available (like evolution) are pretty solid.

The second is the massive security meltdown that we're seeing with windows and malware. It's causing a great deal of pain and suffering out in the real world.

*I* don't have a problem with it. I apply patches, don't run suspicious binaries, have anti-virus software, a firewall, and scan regularly with ad-aware and spybot. I suspect that most geeks don't have a problem with it. The guys writing articles in magazines don't have a problem with it, and the people who buy magazines probably don't have many problems with it.

But low end users are getting creamed by this stuff. It's hard to keep your machine clean. It's hard to keep a windows machine healthy in the real world now.

What I think has happened -- although no one has said it -- is that the difficulty of keeping a windows machine clean has started to exceed the diffculty a windows user has coming to terms with the gnome desktop. I think it exceeds it by a wide margin.

That's a pretty big thing.


Small triumph for linux desktop

astrashe astrashe writes  |  more than 10 years ago

My mom has a small travel agency business that she runs out of their house.

When my parents go out of town, I go up and check on the mail, make sure the fax machine has paper, and all of that.

This time, they're gone for ten days, so I booted her machine from a morphix gnome livecd. That way I could set up my own bookmarks and cookes, configure the mail program so I could check my mail, etc., without mucking up my mom's stuff. My mom runs windows 2000.

I have the evolution mailer configured to leave mail on the server, and to BCC me anything I send. This way I'll have copies of whatever emails I've sent to friends from my parents' house.

Last night, I got an email from my sister. It was a BCC to a message she sent to my mom. "Wow, your computer sure looks different, but it's been awhile since I've used it." Then she went into a few practical details about travel bookings.

The point is that my sister, who has never seen a linux desktop, and who was expecting to find a windows desktop, sat down at the machine and figured it out. She didn't even know it wasn't windows -- I think she thought it was some sort of funky windows configuration. She sent email, and she probably used the web, too. (I haven't spoken with her yet.

She did this with no help, and no warning.

I think it's a good sign for the future of the linux desktop. It's a little thing, but it shows that things are becoming a lot more intuitive.


First entry -- stories from the future

astrashe astrashe writes  |  more than 11 years ago

I don't know if anyone will read this. I've enabled comments, so I'll probably get taunted a lot.

Anyway, I think I might be the person who thought up what is probably the best slashdot subscriber plum, early access to stories.

This is where I suggested it.

If anyone knows the history of the plum, I'd be curious to know if they took the idea from my post, or if they thought of it on their own.

I finally broke down and subscribed, and I have to say that I like the plum a lot, it's just as helpful as I thought it would be.

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