Sunday, 08 October 2006

So, is now active online. Looks like a Windows Vista viral marketing piece for... well... I dunno what the heck this actually is. It's random, for sure. Not exactly, well, clear.

But hey, it made me watch and I'm typing this, so yeah - it's viral, all right.

Heh, it's funny. I'm really not sure what demographic this is supposed to play to. Maybe kids or young adults. Or people who step in dog poop. Trust me on that one.

An RSS feed is available, and there are "webisodes" being posted periodically. The first one is already up. It's funny. Again, I have no idea what this has to do with Vista, but hey - it's funny. Or at least weird. And stuff.

Here it is:

YouTube? Huh?? Hmm. Heh.

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Geek Out | Random Stuff
Sunday, 08 October 2006 07:54:17 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Thursday, 05 October 2006

Vista_logoWell, honestly, it's about time.

Bloggers are all over the story, and are espousing a variety of opinions, but I have wondered for years when Microsoft would finally crack down on software thieves and simply not allow their software to run unless it was legitimately licensed. I'm responsible for cutting a big check each year to Microsoft to pay for the software we use at the company I work at. It costs me more, in effect, because others are taking without paying.

So, Windows Vista will detect piracy and take action. In Microsoft's words:

"Collectively termed the Microsoft Software Protection Platform, the new technologies will introduce improvements in how Microsoft software activates, is validated online and behaves when tampering or hacking is detected."

Thinking about this from a security guy's perspective, one thing bothers me: Turning off the anti-malware capabilities on unlicensed copies? Are you kidding me? That means the rest of the world falls victim to everyone out there that's running pirated Windows? Please, please, please change this one - Microsoft might be a victim, but no need to invite the rest of the world into that club. And it looks like Richi Jennings agrees with me on that one. That's just poor prioritization. Hopefully someone will rethink the approach in that specific area...

Elsewhere, Ed Bott at ZDNet has written a very good piece describing the changes and his thoughts on the matter. He has some important point, ones that Microsoft should make sure they have thought completely through and have a plan for - especially where it comes to Volume License customers. Those are the people you don't want to aggravate, for sure.

Among Bott's comments:

Microsoft denies that this is a "kill switch" for Windows Vista, even giving it a separate question and answer in its mock interview announcing the program. Technically, they're right, I suppose. Switching a PC into a degraded functionality where all you can do is browse the Internet doesn't kill it; but it's arguably a near-death experience. The accompanying white paper describes the experience in more detail:

By choosing "Access your computer with reduced functionality," the default Web browser will be started and the user will be presented with an option to purchase a new product key. There is no start menu, no desktop icons, and the desktop background is changed to black. The Web browser will fully function and Internet connectivity will not be blocked. After one hour, the system will log the user out without warning. It will not shut down the machine, and the user can log back in. Note: This is different from the Windows XP RFM experience, which limits screen resolution, colors, sounds and other features. [emphasis added]

My head practically exploded when I read this sentence describing the new, improved punishment regimen: "Windows Vista will have a reduced functionality mode but one that is enhanced." Enhanced reduced functionality? Orwell would be proud.

Snarky as ever, Engadget reports:

Well, Microsoft has fired the first salvo in this war on pirates -- according to The Associated Press, the Redmond crew will be taking "much harsher steps to curtail piracy" than in years past. First, the company will "deny access" to some of the "most anticipated features," including Windows Aero, the new GUI. Then, Vista will start issuing ransom demands (we're not kidding about this part), demanding that a legitimate copy be bought within 30 days, or else. What would such consequences entail? How about limiting Web access to an hour at a time? Further, what about not being able to open documents from the desktop or "run other programs such as Outlook e-mail software" ? However, the article goes on to say: "Microsoft said it won't stop a computer running pirated Vista software from working completely, and it will continue to deliver critical security updates." So for those of you keeping score, Microsoft wants to make using your computer as miserable as possible, while keeping it as "safe" as possible, ok?

People out there will whine and complain and say it's not fair, that it's all a bunch of red tape and people will be inconvenienced (and they might be right about that one point), and a million other things that go along with the typical victim mentality (sorry guys, but possession of stolen goods is illegal, even if it's inconvenient, and possessing stolen stuff unknowingly doesn't make the goods any less stolen). And Microsoft needs to make sure that legitimate users are not impacted in a truly meaningful and workable way. But the fact of the matter is that Microsoft is right on this one. In fact, it seems to me that if I ran a company that created software for use by consumers and businesses, and if I wanted to make sure it was being legitimately used and paid for, I'd just keep it from working at all if it was obviously stolen.

But the politics of huge-mega-corporation-attacked-by-angry-mob is a multi-billion-dollar business, apparently.

Glad to see they're finally doing something about it, though.

Some Techmeme-tracked discussion on the topic:

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IT Security | Safe Computing | Tech | Things that Suck
Thursday, 05 October 2006 06:51:25 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Google Labs has deployed Google Code Search, which allows regular expressions to be used to search public source code on the Internet. You can also restrict searches by language, license or filename. Earlier this year, Krugle launched a source code search engine, too. I'll need to think about the potential IP, license and security implications of this (there are many software licenses being used in the world, so how do they respect those that don't allow republication, for example, or what if they don't detect a license in the crawl?), but I suppose if it's out there, it's out there. At any rate, it's interesting what you can do. I bet a lot of people will get a lot of mileage out of this:

Google crawls as much publicly accessible source code as their system can find, including archives (.tar.gz, .tar.bz2, .tar, and .zip), CVS repositories and Subversion repositories. And there's also a GData API available to allow mashup apps access to the functionality.

Syntax and Examples (more about regexp syntax)

Search for a regular expresion
go{2}gle hello,\ world ^int printk

"exact string"
Search for exact string
"compiler happy"

Search only in files or directories matching regexp
file:\.js$ XMLHttpRequest file:include/ ioctl
file:/usr/sys/ken/slp.c "You are not expected to understand this."

Search packages with names matching regexp.
(A package's name is its URL or CVS server information.)
package:perl Frodo package:linux-2.6 int\ printk

Search only for programs written in languages matching regexp
lang:lisp xml lang:"c++" sprintf.*%s

Search only for files with licenses matching regexp.
license:bsd int\ printf -license:gpl quicksort

(via Google Blogoscoped)

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Thursday, 05 October 2006 06:00:53 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Wednesday, 04 October 2006

I just submitted my name at the BerryWare site to get information about availability of the "bimmerberry" line of custom-finish housings for Blackberries.

From the BerryWare site:

“Available in 6 colours - Red, Pink, Green, Blue, Midnight Black, and Silver, these replacement houstings are not the clip-on cases you find everywhere, but an actual refinished housing for your Blackberry painted by a certified professional refinisher using high quality paint and clear coat.”

You have to admit, that's kinda cool. And with my Cingular 8700c and the not-so-cool finish Cingular chose, a metallic black or red finish sounds good to me.

Blackberry Cool says: "Pretty neat, but we’re really hoping the combination of this and the adoption of the BlackBerry in celeb-world doesn’t result in a 'Pimp My ‘Berry' scenario. That would not be pretty."

Ummm... Oops. :)

via Blackberry Cool - Disguise your BlackBerry

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Geek Out | Mobile | Tech
Wednesday, 04 October 2006 21:46:14 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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(the one where I ponder the personalness (or is it personality? (both?)) of blogs and notice how level the playing field really is...)

I was glancing at this evening to see what I have been missing the past day or so, and I started browsing the names of the weblogs listed there. I noticed mine was listed, which was pretty cool, and a whole slew of others. For those that don't know, Techmeme lists current online news and blog entries about - you guessed it - technology. Where a topical post appears, the author is attributed and when others write about the same topic, those weblogs or news sites will sometimes also get listed under the main entry. You can click on each one and see what each author has to say about the topic at hand. It's really very slick, and it's all automated. You can blame Gabe Rivera for it's creation. It's really pretty much virtual ice cream for a geek's hungry mind.

Anyhow, as I was passing through Techmeme during my end-of-day, finally-got-home-from-work, just-have-to-see-what-the-rest-of-the-world-is-thinking time, I realized that not many people with tech blogs use their own names in the title. That got me to thinking that tech blogs are often "properties" by name, rather than direct representations of the people that author them, which is interesting to me since one of the things I like best about blogs is that they are uniquely personal.

Then it also occurred to me that except for certain specific blogs I already know (Engadget, TechCrunch, big names like that), I am naturally drawn to blogs that have someone's name in them. I had not thought about it before, but often I want to know what other people think about something. So, I guess when I see a person's name, I am drawn in. Interesting.

SO I went back and looked for examples at TechMeme. There are some people names scattered around. My name is right there, listed as "greg hughes." Robert's is listed as "Scobleizer," which is a play on his name. And Ed Bott's name is part of his weblog's title. But look at all these other names - most are some pithy or cool geeky blog name. Here's a partial representation of what's on there this evening:

Download Squad, Engadget, TechBlog, The PC Doctor, Ed Bott's Windows Expertise, Todd Bishop's Microsoft Blog, Guardian Unlimited, Silicon Valley Sleuth, Blackfriars' Marketing, Tech Digest, Ed Bott's Microsoft Report, Microsoft News Tracker, Gearlog, Slashdot, Under The Stairs, TechCrunch, Search Engine Journal, Office Evolution, Download Squad, Screenwerk, ContentBlogger, InsideGoogle, Black Voices,, 21talks, GigaOM,, Between the Lines, Silicon Valley Watcher, Good Morning Silicon Valley, Valleywag, Googling Google, Search Engine Journal, Google Blogoscoped, Download Squad, Mashable!, Digital Inspiration, Google Operating System, digg, Scobleizer, Beet.TV, AdJab, IP Democracy, TechEffect, Search Engine Journal, ClickZ News Blog, Bloggers Blog, Digital Micro-Markets, Techdirt, rexblog,, E-consultancy, Web Worker Daily, StrayPackets, rexblog, greg hughes, Gadgetopia, Scripting News, digg...

Quite the mix of properties, blogs, new sites, names and sources there. Also quite a group to be associated with, to be honest. Often individuals who post on personal weblogs are listed right alongside pro bloggers from big organizations and companies. That's proof that the playing field is as level as you care to make it. Listed in the same context as CNN Money, Todd Bishop, Michael Arrington and Om Malik? That's a level field, alright. Heh.

And another thought... I find that even though I subscribe to Techmeme via RSS, I prefer reading and using it via the browser because of the way it positions and presents information on the page. You just don't get the same dimensional organization in RSS, and not everything works best in "river mode."

Do you read Techmeme? You should. Really.

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Blogging | Tech
Wednesday, 04 October 2006 20:52:54 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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Rob Bushway over at has posted some pre-announcement specs about the forthcoming ThinkPad X60s Tablet PC, which is highly anticipated as the next big Tablet PC thing from Lenovo (the company that now makes those ThinkPad notebooks we all love).

Supposedly, from what people are saying, the actual announcement is not scheduled until next month, but here's what Rob says he hears we can expect (go to his site for the details). If it all holds true, this looks like a very interesting machine. I have to hope the graphics and DualTouch will support Vista. In fact, one has to wonder when Vista will be the default OS on these things. When you consider RTM is likely to happen early next month for the new OS, the stars do seem to align. Hmmm...

Anyhow - back to the geek-out specs:

  • Intel 945GM chipset

  • Intel Core Solo and Core Duo Processors Low Volt Processors

    • Core Duo ( L2400 (1.66ghz) and L2500 (1.83 ghz)

    • Core Solo (U1400 (1.2 ghz) to announce in January 2007

    • new 2.5" SATA high-speed, standard models with 5400rpm, up to 120gb capacity and optional 100gb 7200 rpm HD available

    • 128mb of Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 950

    • Up to 4gb of PC2-5300 DDR2 memory (667 MHz) - 3.2gb available to the operating system

    • 2 memory slots - memory is no longer soldered to the mother board

  • connectivity

    • 802.11 a/b/g

    • Embedded Wireless WWAN

    • Bluetooth options

    • Integrated modem and Gigabit

  • 12.1" XGA Wide angle display ( 170 degrees) comes standard with

    • Anti-glare / anti reflective coating, now with dynamic screen orientation that adapts the screen to how you want to work ( we are assuming this is like the M200 and M400 accelerometer that auto rotates based on the angle you hold the screen)

    • Plus two other new screen options

      • Optional models available with SXGA ( max res of 1400 x 1050)

      • Optional models available with indoor / outdoor viewing capability with touch screen for enhanced ease of use and flexibility

        • MultiTouch screen allows either finger or pen touch to move cursor for ease of use and more natural interaction with tablet

        • MultiView display provides better screen technology for viewing indoors, outdoors, and from wide angles ( 170 degrees )

  • UPDATE: The pen has an eraser on the end of it

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Tablet PC | Tech
Wednesday, 04 October 2006 04:50:42 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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