Feb 282012
 

I updated Skype recently to version 5.8.0.156 and I have had three straight calls that were dropped after 30 minutes, 24 seconds. This did not happen with previous Skype versions where I could maintain calls for hours.

Microsoft purchased Skype last year for $8.5-billion and the service has been balky on several occasions since then.

Jul 282011
 

A dear friend of mine, Richard Russell, has passed away. It is a sad day.

Richard is responsible for the most important benchmark on the planet, the Windows Experience Index, a project he managed for Microsoft. Prior to working at Microsoft, Richard worked for AMD.

I worked alongside Richard on the BAPCo consortium where he always fought the good fight.

Richard was a man of strong faith and he carried the awful burden of cancer for years. God, please bless Richard’s soul and give strength and protection to his family and those who will miss him.

Richard’s Facebook page is here:

http://www.facebook.com/foredecker

Richard’s blog is here:

http://foredecker.wordpress.com/

You are missed, Richard.

May 212011
 

Only a month or two after it was published, a detailed report that I wrote was wiped out during a BrightSideOfNews* hard drive crash. That exhaustive report, praised by many throughout the industry as the finest of its kind yet produced, examined the emerging and inevitable ARM versus x86 clash.

It took a little while and cost BSN* a lot of money to recover the data on the hard drive, but that report is now back up and can be read here.

I’m currently working on a followup to that bit of analysis that will include even more hardware than the initial report.  I’m still waiting on a vendor or two, so I can’t promise an ETA yet, but one thing I can state is that the new report will be very interesting.

The computing landscape is changing rapidly and the war between x86 and ARM microprocessors is now underway.  The competitors have dramatically different strengths and weakness, making for a particularly exciting confrontation.

Most importantly, the results of this war will have profound effects well beyond the CPU market, where several companies will possibly see their fortunes upended.  One thing is absolutely certain: computing will never be the same again.

Jun 272010
 

A sure sign that a company is on its way out is when it starts needlessly defeaturing its products to create artificial market segments rather than innovating new features to add value.  Windows 7 Starter is a good example of this sad phenomena.

Microsoft originally planned to impose a three application limit to Windows 7 Starter so that no more than three applications could be run at once.  Of course, this outrageous, artificial and completely unjustified limitation would have actually cost Microsoft time and money to implement.  With the exception of a handful of confused apologists, the three app limitation earned the Redmond software giant widespread derision.  Eventually, public scorn caused Microsoft to drop this bone-headed idea before releasing Windows 7 Starter edition last fall.

However, there are other stupid and disingenuous ways Microsoft castrated Windows 7 Starter.  Not only is there an artificially imposed 2GB memory limit and the fantabulous new snipping tool is gone, but Microsoft stripped Internet Connection Sharing (ICS) from Win7 Starter.  Of course, there are absolutely no technical reasons for killing ICS, a feature that for many years has enabled users to easily set up Windows systems to serve the Internet to home networks.

The Redmond software beast wants you to fork over your hard earned dough through “Windows 7 Anytime Upgrade” to buy back ICS, a particularly vital feature for netbooks that come with integrated broadband cellular modems.  Worse still, netbooks are particularly well-suited for home servers since they use very little power and have a built-in UPS.  So killing ICS from Win7 Starter was a particularly ungreen move for the spawn of Bill Gates.

Well, it’s very easy to overcome all of the limitations your Microsoft overlord imposes.  You’ll need to download Jolicould Linux here.  A good application to burn the Jolicloud installation image to disk is ISO Recorder which you can download here.   If you don’t have a USB CD-ROM or DVD-ROM drive, you can create a bootable USB key drive by following the instructions here.  You can even install Jolicloud from within Windows if you download Jolicloud Express from here.  Once you’ve created your boot disk/USB key, boot from it.  You can install Jolicloud so that you can chose between Win7 Starter and Jolicloud at boot time, or you can completely expunge Win7 and replace it with Jolicloud.

Boot into Jolicloud and connect your netbook to the Internet.  An added benefit Jolicould brings are preinstalled broadband cellular modem drivers along with proper settings for many carriers.  When Jolicloud detects a new broadband cellular modem, the Network Manager menu, activated by clicking on the appropriate Gnome Panel icon in the top of the screen, will list a new broadband device.  Clicking on that menu entry will bring up a simple wizard so that you can select your carrier and ensure that the correct number is dialed.  It literally takes about ten seconds to to set up a new cellular modem connection in Jolicloud Linux.

To share your Internet connection, whether cellular or otherwise, right-click on the same Network Manager icon and select “Edit Connections…”.  Click the “Add” button no either the Wired or Wireless tab, depending on which way you plan to share your Internet connection.  Give the new connection a descriptive name like “Shared Internet Connection”.  On the IPv4 tab, select “Shared to other computers” as the Method.  Click “Apply”.

Reboot your netbook.  After you sign in, activate the Internet connection in the Network Manager menu if it is not automatically activated.  It might also be necessary to manually activate your “Shared Internet Connection” by clicking on the corresponding Network Manager menu entry.

You should now be actively sharing your Internet connection with your home network.

It’s humorous to note that Microsoft did a predictably sloppy job disabling ICS in Windows 7 Starter.  In fact, it is still available, but only if you want to share your active Internet connection over an ad-hoc wireless network.  In other words, other computers will have to connect to your netbook wirelessly to see the Internet.  To set up this type of Internet connection sharing configuration, simply type “adhoc” in the Windows 7 Start menu search box.  This will filter down to wizard that enables you to set up an ad hoc ICS network.

Apr 192010
 

Software behemoth Microsoft recently published a paper proposing the tattooing of certain medical patients.  ”We propose that access keys be written into patients’ skin using ultraviolet-ink micropigmentation (invisible tattoos),” the abstract reads.

The piece, authored by Microsoft’s Stuart Schechter, maintains that passwords providing wireless access to implanted medical devices like heart pacemakers shouldn’t be entrusted to patents who are unreliable and might be unconscious when device access is needed.

Schechter also shuns medical bracelets claiming they pose privacy risks.  Worse, Schecter believes demented “hackers” exist who might read bracelets’ passwords to hack into implanted devices for nefarious and perhaps even homicidal purposes.  However, easily constructed electromagnetic pulse devices could obtain the same deadly results without requiring security code knowledge.

We propose that a user-selected human-readable key be encoded directly onto patients using ultraviolet-ink micropigmentation, adjacent to the point of implantation. To increase reliability the encoding could be augmented
to include an error correcting code and/or be replicated in full on the base of the patient’s leftmost foot—at the
arch. All devices used to communicate with the IMD would be equipped with a small, reliable, and inexpensive
ultraviolet light emitting diode (UV LED) and an input mechanism for key entry (a keypad or touch-screen).
A single key would be sufficient for multiple devices and could be re-used when devices are replaced.

The key encodings could take the form of user chosen character strings (optimizing for user choice), random
character strings (optimizing for minimal size), or strings of hieroglyphic-like images chosen from a subset
deemed acceptable to the user. The first option gives the greatest control to reluctant patients, whereas latter
two options guarantee a minimum level of key entropy and can easily be augmented with error correcting codes.
Each patient would be allowed to request new random encodings until finding one he or she deemed acceptable.

Schechter recognizes the obvious parallels with Nazi Germany prison camps.

In the holocaust, identification tattoos reminded prisoners [they] no longer controlled their own bodies. Giving the patient a choice of whether or not to use micropigmentation, the type of encoding to use, and some control over the process that generates the encoding should help to address these concerns.

Jan 082009
 
  1. The economy will continue to worsen throughout 2009. The U.S. will officially be in a depression by years end.
  2. After a few more months of deflation, the value of the dollar will become unstable and retract.
  3. Talk of dumping the dollar as the global reserve currency will accelerate while a North American currency dubbed the “Amero” will be proposed.
  4. A “major event” will occur soon after Obama is inaugurated.
  5. The Dow Jones Industrial Average will slide below 7,000.
  6. Housing prices will continue their decline.
  7. An event will occur in America that will be used to place a great deal of pressure on the Second Amendment.
  8. A false flag event officially and falsely attributed to foreign terrorists will be carried out inside the United States.
  9. A false flag event will be exposed, but mainstream media will try to ignore it.
  10. There will be major riots in the United States.
  11. Iran will be attacked.
  12. India and Pakistan will be provoked to the brink of war by various intelligence operations.
  13. A major war will begin that may eventually lead to a much broader conflict.
  14. The price of gasoline will remain low until the value of the U.S. dollar begins to slide.
  15. Federal troops will be deployed within the U.S. for the purpose of law enforcement, violating the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878.
  16. Talk of censoring the Internet inside the United States against broadly defined hate speech will erupt and build throughout the remainder of 2009.
  17. A major political activist will be jailed inside the United States.
  18. A major political activist will be slain inside the United States.
  19. A major U.S. politician will be assassinated.
  20. A well known entertainer will be jailed for political reasons provoking outrage.
  21. A major disease outbreak will occur.
  22. Globalist bankers and industrialists will be attacked in the U.S. as their role in the collapse of the the economy will become more widely recognized.
  23. The National ID Card will move to the forefront of discussion within the United States.
  24. As earth’s climate continues to cool as predictied by heliocentric climate models and with more and more experts publicly expressing skepticism over manmade, CO2 driven Global Warming, popular support for carbon reduction initiatives wanes dramatically, particularly in the U.S.. Despite flagging support, the Obama Administration, with the support of a friendly Congress, successfully rushes through legislation to heavily tax the carbon emissions of coal fired power plants, resulting in higher electricity costs for most Americans.
  25. The college football BCS system will be abandoned in favor of a playoff system due to antitrust court case developments.
  26. All major CPU and/or GPU vendors will survive 2009, but layoffs will continue. At least one vendor will be in imminent danger of failure by the start of 2010.
  27. Linux will gain market share away from Microsoft despite the critical success of Windows 7.
  28. So-called “touch” interfaces will become popular in desktop and mobile applications.
  29. The line between “Netbooks” and lowcost thin-and-light notebooks will be blurred. This combined segment will experience explosive growth.
  30. ARM vendors’ attempts to capture a slice of the netbook market will fail due to performance shortcomings and the depressed economy.
  31. Digg and reddit, two sites that once held great promise for furthering the cause of freedom and serving as springboards for revolution, decline into banal outposts of kitten photos, porn, pop culture and lunatic rants on wedge issues.