Archive for August, 2005

Microsoft Reissuing Win 2K SP4 Rollup to Fix Problems

Friday, August 5th, 2005

For those of you still using Win 2K (and there are a lot of you) you have probably installed or at least been alerted to Microsoft’s release in late June of SP4. Despite Microsoft’s officially ending non-paid support at the end of June numerous complaints about SP4 have apparently encouraged them to release a new version of it, which will hopefully resolve problems “ranging from incompatibility with third-party security applications to network-printing issues.”

So, if you’ve got Win 2K and haven’t installed SP4, you’re advised to wait until it’s rereleased. And if you have, you probably will want to reinstall with the new one. For more check out eWeek’s coverage of the issue and watch WindowsUpdate.com.

Mozilla/Firefox Seeking to Profit

Thursday, August 4th, 2005

The Mozilla Foundation, begun in 2003 with money from Netscape (owned by AOL), has now launched a commercial subsidiary aimed at doing things a non-profit just can’t (or shouldn’t) do. It is hoped the move will help the project and its browser reach more users. Their Firefox browser has won many converts over the last year, and now has almost 10% of the market (80 million users) (no small feat, when compared to the availability of pre-installed IE). Read more in Mozilla Goes For More Green.

Intel Shifting Production Towards Centrino, Away from Desktop and Low-End

Thursday, August 4th, 2005

Later this year you might find it harder to come by lower priced Intel-based PCs. Intel is phasing out production of three of their low-end desktop chipsets in favor of producing more higher-end Centrino chipsets. The change will occur late August, and the shortages could be felt soon after in the form of delays and lack of availability of chipsets for the PCs currently in production. The chipsets being phased out are the 910GL, 915GL, and 915PL. These chipsets are used by the Pentium 4 and Celeron D CPUs. Competing chipset makes SiS and Via are expected to pick up some of the slack, and some market share on the low-end is expected to shift to AMD.

For more, read Intel Shuns Three Low-End Chipsets.

Windows Genuine Advantage (anti-piracy check) Hacked

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2005

The media sure seems to get all excited about some stories which will ultimately will mean absolutely nothing. It didn’t seem particularly newsworthy to me that the day after WGA went live (see our other blog entry) people figured out how to bypass it by pasting a line of JavaScript in their browser’s address bar. Slightly interesting, sure, but only slightly. It is a bug/weakness which Microsoft will address no doubt within days, and which is only allowing people to access content (upgrades and free downloads) which Microsoft was until they launched WGA giving away to anyone regardless of their pirated copy of Windows. So, those using pirated copies will now have had an extra week or so of access to previously free content. And those who don’t like having their computer scanned and have legit copies of Windows will have an extra week or two where they can avoid the privacy issues that the WGA program means to them. I just don’t see what the fuss is all about. Software will have bugs/weaknesses, and this one doesn’t put anyone’s data at risk, doesn’t damage anyone’s computer, and it’s not going to remain in place for long. If the hack reported was something truly significant, some proof of the theoretical impossibility of ever truly securing the WGA program. If it was some proof that Microsoft had been shipping duplicate Windows license keys to save on printing costs in the expectation that not everyone would activate, and thus would mean genuine copies wouldn’t activate in future, those would be stories. But, this story will be utterly unimportant in a few weeks when they’ve addressed this weakness. Others may be found, and there should be news articles about them, but I’m tired of seeing this non-event on the front page of tech news sites for days now. But, perhaps I’ve got it wrong, and others are extremely interested in the story, so, here it is:Windows Genuine Advantage Already Hacked … Twice

Centrino Certified Nonsense

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2005

There’s an interesting article about the dubious marketing related to Intel’s Centrino technology. Centrino is a label Intel assigns to certain notebooks (from various manufacturers) which have an Intel made wifi radio and meet certain requirements (thin, light, and long-lasting battery life). Intel has been offering a service to certify wifi locations as Centrino, which in the minds of the article’s author (and I’d agree) will create the misperception in the minds of the masses that Centrino is somehow different and apart from the 802.11a/b/g standards by which wifi hotspots operate. A Centrino sticker in the Window of your local coffee shop will likely not statistically improve your chances of getting on their WiFi network, whether or not you’ve got a Centrino laptop. And that’s the concern, that they are muddying people’s perceptions of wifi so they can build a brand around some very ordinary technology.

Intel wags mangy Centrino dog by Boeing’s tail

Boycott IE 7 (says Windows guru)

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2005

If you’ve ever developed web sites or web applications you’re painfully aware of the degree to which IE does not conform to many web standards, either intentionally or because of bugs they’ve neglected to fix. It appears as though IE 7 will continue this rich tradition, based on reviews of the IE 7 beta (which has yet to address some well-known bugs) and based upon statements coming out of Microsoft about the value/role of compliance to some web standards. So, at least one well known Windows advocate is suggesting a boycott in his article:IE 7.0 Technical Changes Leave Web Developers, Users in the Lurch. This also made Slashdot’s front page: Windows Guru Calls For IE7 Boycott.

Unofficial Windows 98 SE Service Pack (2.0.2) Released

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2005

As many of you die hard Windows 98 SE users probably know, Alper Coskun (of Exuberant Software) is known for creating un-official service packs for Win 98 SE. He’s been at it again and has now released his SP 2.0.2. Since Microsoft never released a Service Pack for 98, and has discontinued all but critical updates for it, Alper Coskun’s SPs are the best way to keep your 98 SE running smoothly. He’s combined all the various Windows Update patches, Knowledge Base patches, and more in one easy to install bundle. His diligent efforts are not sanctioned by Microsoft, as he’s quick to point out. You should read about the details on the fixes/improvements in this SP. And you can also read about/download the SP from his site.

A Linux for Windows Users

Monday, August 1st, 2005

There’s a nice review of Xandros Desktop OS Version 3 Business Edition at XYZ Computing. For about $130 you get a version of Linux particularly suited to office environments where key Windows applications must be supported. This distro is different from most in that it combines many of the separate Windows compatibility efforts (namely CodeWeavers CrossOver Office and drivers for FAT/FAT32/NTFS support); there are others it does not, like TransGaming’s Cedega (which is primarily oriented towards running Windows games within Linux). Besides the Business Edition you can also choose from their Standard, Deluxe, Open Circulation, and SurfSide which range in price from $0 to $89, with varying levels of Windows support.

Xandros.com lists the following features for the Business Edition:

- Four-click install with automatic disk partitioning
- Industry-leading hardware detection & configuration
- A single control center for all your settings
- Shield your files from prying eyes with automatic home folder encryption
- Acquire images through the USB scanner support
- Support for new nVidia and ATI PCI-Express video cards
- Recursively change properties of files in selected sub-directories
- New! Synchronize your system clock with a network time server
- Xandros File Manager
- Xandros Disc Burner
- Full server-accessed Windows networking
- StarOffice 7 with full commercial support
- Special Xandros edition of CodeWeavers CrossOver Office 3.0.1
- Xandros Networks updates
- Get notified of updates immediately with the Xandros Networks panel applet
- Startup and Trouble-shooting Guide
- 380 page User Guide (PDF with download version)
- Access to a huge inventory of free Linux software
- 90 days e-mail installation technical support

For those considering Linux in an office which requires Windows this is excellent news. The pricing leaves something to be desired, as the high price for the full set of features puts it only slightly below the cost of Windows, making it less likely to win many converts who would rather stay with the status quo, or experiment with using the freely available Windows support (WINE and Linux NTFS).