Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Hacking the boat.

It has recently come to my attention that a certain university near me is lacking a bit of security on their public machines. All public machines use a single local admin account. Among other things, this means that for every student that doesn't clean up their mess, the next student on the computer can see everything they left behind.

What's interesting: no one seems to notice.

Having come from a university known for its school of computer science, I'm pretty aware of what can happen if an insecure system is left in the open. To combat some of the issues, my school forced all users to log into the public computers with their personal credentials. This meant that if you did something bad and didn't completely cover your tracks, they could easily see who it was who made the attack (unless you were smart enough to use someone else's account, but we'll ignore that scenario).

The insecure school in question isn't filled with geeks who get off on hacking into their buddies' computers. It's not filled with people who actively think about computers at all (unless you count mySpace, and facebook). So the question is this: do I bother bringing it up? They have some big vulnerabilities on the inside of their network, but there's no real threat.

The geek in me wants to do some grey-hat hacking and offer up the results to the administration, but the humanist in me doesn't want them to fix it if it isn't broken. Oh blogosphere, what should I do?

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

In the world of media it seems no one enjoys their content.

If you know me, you know that I love music and own a rather large CD collection. I also have a much smaller collection of DVDs. If one looks at the plethora of piƱatas portable media players on the market right now one would assume that by-golly, people everywhere must own lots of content as well. However, if one looks closely, one will notice it is nearly impossible to find a PMP with a hard drive of over 30GB. In fact, it's significantly more common to find only a 20GB HDD.

Personally, I have over 30GB in just music, and a few more with the few DVDs I've ripped. My theory is that people either don't have much content, or they choose not to enjoy it. If I'm wrong, then I think more companies besides Archos would be producing large-screen media players with 60GB+ HDDs.

So people, what is it? Do you not own any music or video, or do you buy a PMP to just not watch all of it? Or maybe we're all getting snubbed here. Maybe we would be happier with 80GB HDD PMPs. I know when I see a beautiful, sleek, feature-full player with good reviews I want to buy one, but not when it only comes in 20GB.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

A word on licensing...

Recently, I purchased a Microsoft Windows XP Professional Additional License Pack from some guy on eBay. Many things are sold on eBay, including lots of software. Thinking to myself, "hey this is a good price, and I already own installation media," I bought the pack. Now, using a perfectly good Windows XP Professional OEM installation media that I received with an OEM license I attempted to install Windows XP Pro on a second box. Instead of the two products playing nicely together I was informed that I had an invalid license key.

Here's something odd, there is no difference whatsoever between a full version of Windows XP Pro and a full version of Windows XP Pro OEM. There are no features missing or edited. The only difference is the EULA. One would think that it would be easy to attach a license key to a EULA and be done with it. But no, it seems that Microsoft needed to slightly modify the installation routine for each type of exactly the same Windows XP Pro such that only an OEM CD will work with an OEM key. This goes for volume licenses as well.

Would it not have been less expensive for Microsoft to just stamp out 1 version of the software and have the user agree to a different EULA depending on the license key they typed in? So now I'm stuck. I have a Windows XP Pro CD and a Windows XP Pro license, but I am unable to use them.

So I called Microsoft. I asked them, what are my options? Instead of saying, here's where you can buy a media-only edition to compliment your license, they told me that the guy who sold me the license was a...PIRATE! It turns out that not just anyone can sell an additional license. Their representative told me it was clearly stated "all over" their web site that one MUST purchase an additional license via Microsoft directly. I have yet to see this "clearly" marked anywhere. Please, someone, find out where it says this and contact me.

My attempt at going legit with my Windows has been a disaster. I'm now looking at finding a good deal on a FULL RETAIL BOX of Windows XP Pro. In the end I get screwed because Microsoft can't just have a simple licensing structure and implementation.

I've heard that Windows Vista will be one media fits all versions... but I wonder if one media will now fit all licenses. Wouldn't that be nice?

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


Come, enjoy my photos! Come see the wonderous sights I've seen!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The itch.

After many months I'm getting the itch again. No, it's not a medical condition.

I want to start building scale models again. There, I said it. My problem I'm having is this: I can't stand painting inside, but I have no good place to paint outside. I'm not willing to forego painting my models, because I know how great they look with paint, and how satisfying it is.

For now, the itch remains. Maybe I'll even scratch it one of these days.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Apple, putting the cock in cocky...

Well, today Apple had another announcement. All the Apple fanboys and a lot of us regular people got excited about what could be so great that Apple needed another mysterious conference. We watched and waited. And when it was over, we all sat there, stunned. But not because Apple actually brought out something amazing, but because they got a little too cocky for their own good.

Things that we were expecting:
-New video iPod
-Tablet Mac
-New Intel boxes

Things we got:
-New Intel box
-iPod boombox
-A leather sleeve

I will admit it, the new Mac Mini is hot. It's a pretty worthwhile thing to make an announcement about, but it doesn't nessecitate an event like this.

The iPod Hi-Fi is a huge boombox that puts your ipod up on top like a little phallis. Steve Jobs touted it as a replacement for your home stereo. He went as far as to say he's getting rid of his home stereo for this. Wait. It's a boombox. It's physically impossible to get good stereo separation from something with its speakers so close together, while keeping acoustic accuracy for differing room types. But he insists it's for audiophiles. Maybe as an expensive joke? Maybe he was tripping on acid during the presentation. We will never know, but we do know that he's wrong, and this silly system will not replace a good home stereo, and it's too big and heavy for real portability.

Apple's latest iPod acessory is $99. No, it's not anything electronic, it's a leather sleeve. Yes, it's $99 for a strip of nice, soft leather. Sure, it covers up your controls and really isn't terribly stylish, but someone thought it deserved a price tag much higher than any reasonable person would ever pay. There are many alternatives out there. Why would Jobs agree to sell this product? How could he have any self respect and go out there and say buy this?

Steve Jobs is cocky. He's always been cocky, but recently he's really gone into new territories of cockfulness. I mean, cockiness. Even the fanboys saw the Apple iThong they're selling and said, hey, this is too much. People are reporting Apple's stock fell immediately after the announcements. Oops.

Monday, February 27, 2006

News Flash: Microsoft Does Something, People Gripe!

Hey everybody, it seems that Microsoft has released the lineup for their new OS, Vista. We've got 8 "flavours." People everywhere are griping about how Microsoft is ripping people off and confusing customers with all of these different editions. So you know what I'm talking about, here's a rundown of the 8 editions:

The ones that most people will ignore:
1. Windows Starter 2007 - for developing nations, I'm not kidding.
2. Windows Vista Home Basic N - "N" edition is for Europe, doesn't have media player. Sales of XP N edition have proven that no one will buy this.
3. Windows Vista Business N - see above, but for businesses.

The ones businesses will want:
4. Windows Vista Business - Has usual array of configuration and permissions tools for businesses
5. Windows Vista Enterprise - Like business, but has fancy things like encryption and UNIX app compatibility.

The ones that real, actual consumers will care a about:
6. Windows Vista Home Basic - A trimmed down version for people who want the upgrade, but don't have lot of money or a fancy computer.
7. Windows Vista Home Premium - All the fancy bits that the majority of people who will care about upgrading will want, including media center and tablet functionality.
8. Windows Vista Ultimate - This is everything in one. It's got all the fancy bits from all the different editions we care about (though I'm unsure if the Enterprise parts will be there).

As you can see, there's only 3 editions that people will even bother to look at. Now, your average consumer doesn't bother actually upgrading their OS: they buy a new computer. I can see 90% of new computers being shipping with Home Premium, since it'll have the new Aero interface everyone is so excited about. Customers won't have to choose, it'll just be there. For those who want to upgrade, their choices really aren't any different than they are now. For some, they will actually have an easier time choosing.

To explain, here's what Microsoft currenty offers for people:

Windows XP Home
Windows XP Media Center Edition
Windows XP Tablet Edition
Windows XP Professional

Wait, is that FOUR?! So it is. And to make matters worse, if you desire the Media Center functionality, you would currently have to sacrifice the luxuries of Professional edition. Microsoft has combined MCE and Tablet into their Vista Home Premium edition, and if you want to add Pro features to it, you get Vista Ultimate.

So now consumers' decisions are clear: do they care about Media Center functionality or tablet functionality? If not, buy Home Basic. Do they care about having fancy permissions and remote entry to their computer? If not, buy Home Premium. If they want it all, just buy Ultimate.

Why is everyone griping?

Maybe I should "masturbate" more often...

It's been a long while since I last posted here, but you didn't miss out on anything. I could have told you all about how I worked a lot a couple of weeks ago, or how I had dinner out a few times, but really, no one wants to hear about that.

However, I'm hoping to add to this blog more frequently by discussing - or more likely yammering - about my views on what's going on in the world. least the stuff that I find important.

Yeah, look out for more masturbatory ramblings on technology.