Smoothwall Firewall project

Thursday 29 January 2009

If you are religious, look away now

I often pop over to the Richard Dawkins web site to see how the video/book output is going, and occasionally join in the forums for a chat on all things existential.

I did however notice on my last visit this new tee shirt they had for sale, which is a quote from his God Delusion book.

It made me laugh, and I think I shall get myself one ordered ;)

Athiest Tee Shirt

It's sort of a follow on to all the great work that the secular movement has been up to with the anti-religious adverts on the London bendy buses.

The twitter spell has got me

Well, I caught a post on Glyn Moodys blog a while back about how he had got the twitter bug , so I thought I would give it a go.

I'm really glad that I did as I have met lots of very interesting people from all over the globe, and they have all got interesting things to chat about. You name the topic , from the latest goings on in the NFL , to how Everton got on last night in the UK premiership. Technology knowledge is flowing from all sorts of angels, on every thing from what Intel are going to be up too next , to why microsofts figures look so bad.

There are my friends in the Open Source community from both Smoothwall and Eeebuntu, which makes for a really great information flow away from the forums.

I can't recommend it enough, give it a go and I'm sure you will enjoy it as well.


Wednesday 28 January 2009

Free Ubuntu Pocket guide

While reading my tweets yesterday , I came across this post on a free downloaded book, from the same people that brought us the Ubuntu kung fu book.

I have had a quick glance, and it looks to be of the same good standard.

Here is the link:

Ubuntu Pocket Guide

Tuesday 27 January 2009

Microsoft's malaise

Unless you have just returned from Mars you will have heard about the massive drop in revenue for the once omnipotent software manufacturer, with the inevitable sacking of 5,000 staff and 15% of it's temporary/contract staff, my heart goes out to those guys.

I have be discussing this with friends for a long while, and this is not remotely surprising to me, just the length of time it has taken for the adjustment. I will caveat everything else I discuss here with the facts that in the last quarter, Microsoft still made 3 billion, so it is not even vaguely likely to be going bust any time soon, but the rate of descent is going to accelerate.

However, it has become apparent for several years that they have stopped innovating and are constantly late to the party with every product. Vista, was five years late, and what a mess, it couldn't have been more out of tune with the hardware paradigm shift that was taking place in 2008.People wanted greener, smaller, compact machines, that did just enough web stuff to make them useful, with excellent battery life. What were the people at Redmond doing to have missed an entire market that last year should millions of units, not very much obviously.

Cloud computing has been around for a while, and to be fair MS had a simply offering in the early days, namely Hotmail, but they just didn't develop it or move it forward at all in any meaningful way, so along comes Google and steals all their clothes. Again they are now trying to play catchup again. Where are all the bolt on apps and services that you now get with Google?

Internet Explorer, through it's monopoly installation on every machine sold, held a 95% market share once, that is now down to under 70% and falling rapidly as Mozilla,Opera,Safari and Google Chrome all take large chunks out of the pie. IE7 was a bad copy of Firefox, and people have just been moving away in their millions. According to spread firefox, today will see 800,000,000 downloads of the Firefox software.

They have released Office 2007 , without really talking to the customers and again there has been a lot of negative feedback about thee new ribbon look. Customers who use 10% of the functionality of this product have started asking why do I need a new version, what is it offering me for all the time and effort required to change. Many have moved to open office, and are now very happy knowing they will never be forced to upgrade.

Recently we have seen yet another round of nasty worms and viruses hit the base operating system, causing businesses lots of expenses on upgrades, checking their defenses etc etc. No operating system is free of problems, but if you use Microsoft products, the problems are relentless and continuous.

When you role all of these issues up, they do start to show the picture of a very large company who is starting to do things by committee, and all of these symptoms reflect that. As IBM before them, I now fully expect them to still be around but slowly move into the technology background. As many people have invested heavily in their technology, you are not about to throw that out, but they have become less and less relevant as a technology innovator.

The future is with the open source, and as more and more companies shift away from the Microsoft proprietary lock in, and the costs savings that spring from that. The cost savings with open source virtualisation being offered by companies like Amazon and Google show us clearly where and how the shift is happening in the cloud. With Netbooks costing £150 , why would you possibly want to spend £350 on Microsoft office? The desktops will go the same way, with massive energy savings and cost savings on applications. With the current economic problems, businesses will take no FUD while their competitors are making use of those massive cost savings.

The IT landscape is definitely changing and the role that Microsoft are going to play in that will change. The role for open source is increasing on a daily basis in every area, and that snowball is only gaining momentum.

Wednesday 14 January 2009

Six months with my Eeepc 1000 and still very happy

Yes, it's been that long since I upgraded my netbook, and I can honestly say there has not been one second of regret. Looking at the prices you can get them for today, it might have been worth waiting until after Christmas, but that is always true of all technology , and you would probably end up getting nothing.

In my previous post on this great little machine , I mentioned that I had upgraded from my original 701 model to get a couple of issues sorted, screen size and keyboard size being the main ones. These have proved to be successfully cured and are now a none issue on this netbook. One major added bonus is the increase in battery life , which really does deliver 5.5hrs after every charge.

The operating system that came pre-installed worked effectively enough , Xandros, and had all the applications one could possibly want in a netbook style computer. It would make sense for most people who just want a netbook to get some work done effectively and without much fuss to leave it at that.I however have now switched all my machines over the last twelve months to using Debian derived Ubuntu Linux, and I really wanted to install this on my 1000.

After much searching of the web and playing with various versions, I have now become formally involved with Eeebuntu Linux for the eeepc's and I have to say it really makes this little PC shine. I think one of the unsung heroes of the efforts to successfully using Ubuntu on this platform is Adam, who has put in a considerable amount of effort to make sure as much as possible works out of the iso.

To be fair , the main Ubuntu project has also made our lives over at Eeebuntu HQ much easier with the introduction of the USB key installer with the latest release of Ubuntu, 8.10. This utility makes trying out as many distro's as you like on the Eeepc as simple as possible. I would certainly recommend people to test drive the new environment from a USB stick before installing to make sure they like it.

Have I found any problems with this netbook? Well not with the unit itself, but with the fact that the very latest netbooks now have 3G capabilities built in, rather than having to use a USB modem. The 1000 works perfectly with them, but it does make it so much tidier to have the SIM card internal to the device, but thats being really picky. Apart from that, I can't think there is much I would change. The black case can show your figure marks from time to time, but nothing a cloth can't rectify in moments and I'm really straining here to make that point.

So in conclusion, I'm very glad I bought this unit, use it regularly and will continue to do so until someone comes up with a netbook that has everything this one does , plus some features that make me take notice. That hasn't happened yet, and I suspect it will be a complete technology refresh from the underlying components, like a new more efficient Intel processor that will cause this to happen. It could be a touch screen, although I'm not convinced that would be that useful on these machines, but I would be prepared to take a look.

Thursday 1 January 2009

Happy New Year Tux

I read a blog by a long time Linux supporter , Stephen J Vaughan, and he made a statement that in his opinion the year of the Linux desktop had already come and gone. Well I have been mulling over this thought for a few days and I have to say I agree with him.

I'm currently posting this from my Eeepc running Eeebuntu Linux, and I haven't used anything on my desktop/laptop computer since 1998 that wasn't a version of one kind of Linux or another. As I work in the IT industry and have to communicate with other people who use Microsoft, it is obvious that it is perfectly possible for them to co-exist, as I'm doing it on a daily basis.

I'm also a big user of virtual environments, and I have an XP virtual machine on my works desktop, but I honestly haven't powered that up in long time. I tend to use the virtualisation software, KVM at the moment, for testing new operating systems, like Opensolaris etc.

Yes I do agree with you Stephen,the perennial question no longer needs to be asked, it is as irrelevant as asking if this is going to be the year of the laptop.

I think a far more interesting question, is when will Microsoft deliver a decent and relevant operating system since the release of XP seven years ago? Linux is delivering today on a whole range of products, including multiple processor types. I can get the same command prompt on everything from an IBM z90 mainframe to my Google phone, seemless. Same Bash, same commands, no new interface to learn and assimilate.

I also use firefox, which is a great broswer, but more importantly it also runs on every operating system I need to use, again no need to learn another application, just because I have to work with Solaris today. Can you say the same about IE. Suddenly their technological silo concept looks very dated and very last century.

I think the ball is firmly in Redmonds court to deliver, the view from planet Tux is looking decidedly rosey.

So my new years question has to be , "When are Microsoft going to deliver anything Interesting".