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HTMLfixIT Archive for the ‘Operating Systems’ Category

Wednesday, July 18th, 2007 by Franki

Not that long ago Microsoft released the Vista operating system to what appeared to be an eager world. That appearance was apparently a mistake. Vista has been said to be rather slow unless it’s running on high end equipment and lots of hardware is still lacking drivers for Vista. DRM or Digital Rights Management software is probably partially responsible for the lower performance of systems running Vista. (compared to the same software running XP). Encoding and decoding encryption needs lots of CPU and ram power, and Vista is loaded with it, all designed to make sure you can’t do anything Microsoft and possibly any of their affiliates don’t want you to do. That’s right, it’s all designed to police what you can and can’t do with your computer. And best of all (from their perspective) YOU ARE PAYING THEM TO REDUCE YOUR CHOICES AND FREEDOM!. For example, the Hardware changes required to adhere to required Vista DRM standards ends up being added to the price of the hardware and Microsoft gets paid hand over fist for it every time someone buys a PC with Vista on it. Recently I downloaded the latest drivers for a piece of hardware I own, and these new drivers were designed with DRM and content protection in mind. After I loaded the new drivers, I found my hardware had slowed down so much that I couldn’t use it anymore. That’s because DRM is not free in any sense, it uses CPU cycles and it uses memory. Strangely enough, it doesn’t seem to surprise anyone, that the latest hardware running the latest Windows seems to do heaps of stuff slower than the previous versions running on slower hardware. Where is all that extra CPU and memory going?

There is allot more to this issue, but it’s been really well covered by people much more knowledgeable then myself. Here are some pages you really should read if you are curious or angry about paying a company to take away your choices. Let’s start with this informative article entitled “Who owns your computer“. Then follow it up with a “Cost Analysis of Windows Vista content protection” which will open your mind and possibly freak you out a little as it did me. After reading it, you can watch an add for Microsoft Vista and marvel at how Microsoft’s high priced advertising execs can spin it all to sound like stuff you really want to pay for. As long as they focus on the eye candy and gloss over everything else, most people don’t know enough to look any deeper.


Wednesday, June 13th, 2007 by Franki

In a normal week, I probably try somewhere between 5 and 10 different programs for one reason or another. Once of the programs I tried this week is Eraser, mostly because it is GPL (Open Source Software) and is totally free. Recently I was called upon to recover sales data from a ex staff members laptop as said staff member decided that the company in question really didn’t need their sales data and deleted the lot (along with about 2500 emails) before returning the laptop.

What led me to Eraser, was the ease with which I recovered all the data. Sure it was time consuming, but in one evening, I’d recovered nearly all the data, and all the deleted emails from Thunderbird. (I’d have gotten all the data, but the laptop had been used for a couple of days and rebooted about a dozen times, so some of it had been overwritten).

Anyway, onto the theory. When data is deleted and emptied from the recycle bin, it isn’t really deleted at all, only its index is removed, the data itself is not changed. Think of it like a map book, the pages of maps themselves are the data and the index is the list of what data is in what place. Removing an entry from the index doesn’t remove the map, you just can’t find it anymore. Same with deleted data. The big difference is that once an area is cleaned from the index of a hard drive, the area in question is allocated as free space meaning it can be over written the next time some free space is need. As long as the data hasn’t been overwritten, it is usually recoverable. Anyway, the ease with which the data was recovered made me think about ways of making it harder, cheap ways at that. 30 seconds of Googling later and I was looking at Eraser. As a test, I put a heap of files between 20 and 700 mb onto a 120 gig hard drive. Then I completely deleted the lot and used Freeundelete (another great little free program) to recover the lot. I was not using this drive as my main system drive and had not added any new data so the recovery was 100% successful. Following that, I deleted the lot again, and ran Eraser on that drive to delete (overwrite) the deleted files and tried to recover them again. this time I was completely unsuccessful, I got nothing usable from the recovery at all. That is to say that Eraser did exactly that it was written for, it made recovering the data next to impossible. It is possible that some experts using much lower level tools could recover small parts of the deleted data, but for all intents and purposes, it’s gone for good.

Eraser is surprisingly easy to use for an OSS program. It works in a schedule type arrangement where you create tasks and then “run” them. So I created a new task, (in this case to erase all free space on drive D), then I right clicked on the task and selected run and off it went. About 4.5 hours later it told me my drives free space was clean. This probably wouldn’t be the NSA’s chosen program for covering their tacks, but for the vast majority, it’s more than enough (wouldn’t hurt to defrag the drive afterwards either).
It never hurts to cover your tracks, even if you are not doing anything questionable, if you don’t like the idea of someone going though your machine, make it harder. Besides, the price of Eraser is right (free), and it takes next to no space or time to use so why not? I give it at 9 out of 10 for doing perfectly, exactly what it is supposed to and nothing more. Small, fast and tidy.

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Monday, June 11th, 2007 by Franki

Apple has announced that they are releasing a version of the Safari web browser for Windows. Apple say that Safari for Windows is twice as fast as Internet Explorer (is that saying much?) and that a beta release is available for XP and Vista.

It will be interesting to see if the Windows and Mac versions render the same (unlike MS IE on Windows and Mac). Also interesting is the fact that Safari’s rendering engine is in part based on KHTML the Linux/*nix GUI, which will hopefully help raise the status of Open Source code even more.

Many people (myself included) were not terribly impressed with the layout of Windows Itunes, hopefully Safari will be a more intuitive experience. If we (as web developers) are really lucky, Safari will end up with 25% market share (who knows, perhaps the Iphone will drive that since it comes with Safari.) and the rest is divided between Firefox, IE and Opera. That way it will be impossible for any one browser to drive developers away from W3C standards ever again.

See Apple/Safari for more details.

1 Comment »

Friday, February 23rd, 2007 by Franki

Another country has decided that they would be better off using Open Source software instead of proprietry “binary only” software from the likes of Microsoft. South Africa has announced that as soon as possible they will be swapping to Linux and OSS in government departments. It could be a tactic to get better pricing from companies like Microsoft, but time will no doubt tell.

In other MS news, they just lost a patent case with Alcatel-Lucent regarding the playing of media files and their office suite just got some more competition from Google in the form of Google apps premium.

Lastly, ITwire, notes the irony that Steve Balmer of Microsoft has been making comments about the potential legal problems with Linux, even going so far as to suggest they may sue GNU products, while on the other hand Microsoft themselves have just lost a 1.5 billion patent lawsuit themselves.

These statements about IP violations in Linux are being made by the CEO of a company which is being sued by AT&T for sending development work overseas to avoid US patents. Lest we forget, this is the same company which was successfully sued by Eolas for infringing patents relating to browser plug-ins.

There’s more. A small company named Visto is suing Microsoft for alleged mobile email and data patent infringements; another firm VirnetX is taking action against the Redmond giant for alleged patent infringement in VPN. Remember, Timeline successfully sued Microsoft for patent infringement in SQL Server.

Apparently Microsoft is of the “Do as I say, not as I do” philosophy , they don’t want their own IP taken, but seem to have little respect for anyone elses.

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Thursday, February 22nd, 2007 by Don

Bill and Melinda Gates claim they limit their oldest daughter’s screen time, or so says the headline at C-Net. Of course the limit doesn’t restrict her homework time, only her free time. Of course, what isn’t homework? At least according to my kids, everything relates to homework — instant messages to clarify assignments, posts to facebook to clarify assignments, etc. etc. When you drill down a little what you really find is an advertisement plug for Vista that allows parents to set controls. While that isn’t a bad thing, that is what the article is really about, selling Vista from my view-point. What do you think?

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Sunday, December 31st, 2006 by Don

Apparently some people are getting a computer with Vista loaded to get exposure among the influential. And I didn’t get one? Either they figure I already have used Vista enough or they think that I might not like it? Are they only giving it to their huge fans? I use Windows — heck I have an install of 98, 2000, NT, XP (and we don’t run it often but we even still have 95 on a machine) … and there is a Vista in my house. I don’t use Vista yet, despite having edited two books on Vista so far for Wiley Publishing, because it is on a desktop and I am usually on a laptop. Oh well I guess I won’t be one of the influencers.

On other software I have recently given a test run. LeadTools Eprint 5 was given to me for a test run. It sounds fantastic. It promises to essentially let you hit print and output to many formats, most significant to me being pdf (Adobe Portable Document Format). I often take a Window’s Office document (based on this template) and open it in Open Office (oOo 2.0) for the simple purpose of outputing it in pdf format. Unfortunately in my limited testing, it only works so, so. The first document I tested it on converted just fine. But then I did my Christmas Newsletter (more on Christmas Newsletters in a moment in another post) it butchered it. It turned the solid backgrounds in text boxes into plaid colored backgrounds making the overlying text impossible to read. In turn it flipped several of the little eye candy images like the reindeer upside down. To put is simply, it didn’t work on this document so I opened Open Office and it converted it near flawlessly (it also had one glitch … the connected text boxes didn’t connect completely so I had to make a little edit, the first time I might add when oOo has failed me even a little in the conversion process). My wish for the new year — a pdf output program that works 100 percent.

Maybe I’ll go get Open Office 2.1 that was recently released and see if it does any better. As an interesting aside, Google still talks about downloading oOo 2.0. I wonder if Open Office has missed a step in updating that is causing Google not to react? They have the 2.1.0 in most of the bottom links, but the first link on the page in navigation doesn’t reflect the change. Perhaps it should?

1 Comment »

Thursday, November 2nd, 2006 by Gary

Internet Explorer 7 has been available for download for about a fortnight, but it wasn’t until today that I received my first task-bar prompt to update from IE6 to IE7 via Microsoft Update / Windows Update. As Don mentioned in an earlier post folks who develop and test web pages would be wise to run both IE6 and IE7 (on different PCs) until IE6 usage drops away, and this High Priority Update is the first step towards that goal.

In the interests of dumping the dud that is IE6, my guess is that this High Priority Update will see most personal Windows users migrate over the next few weeks via Microsoft Update. This would leave corporate and small business users at the mercy of system administrators to update SOEs in their own sweet time. And with IE7 only able to run on Windows XP (or higher) and many businesses still running Windows 2000, this will be “a journey” for many. Point in case is my employer, who only recently rolled out XP nearly 5 years after I first started running it on my home PCs. The other group of users, unable to update from IE6 at all, will be those people running an ancient version of Windows or one that fails the “genuine Microsoft product” test.

After all of this, the next round of IE7 converts will probably come from people buying new PCs or otherwise upgrading to Windows Vista from early 2007.

As a fan of Firefox and Opera I only run Internet Explorer (6 & 7 now) as a tool to check web pages as I develop them. But I’m certainly looking forward to the day when IE6 usage statistics reflect those of IE5 and earlier versions, and then I can trash it forever!

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Browser Statistics
Internet Explorer 85.88%
IE 717.63%
IE 62.3%
IE 50.00%
IE other8.6%
Moz Firefox 3.x3.03%
Moz Firefox 2.x0.18%
Moz Firefox 0.x/1.x26.65%
Netscape 8.x0.00%
NS 6+/Mozilla2.73%
Moz Seamonkey0.00%
Netscape 4.x0.00%
Opera 9.x0.00%
Opera 8.x0.00%
Opera 7.x0.42%
Opera 6.x0.00%
Opera other0.42%
Safari Mac/Intel5.21%
Safari Mac/PPC0.06%
Safari Windows25.2%
Google Chrome1.51%

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640 x 4800.25%
800 x 60026.14%
1024 x 76836.55%
1152 x 8640.25%
1280 x 80011.68%
1280 x 8540.00%
1280 x 102417.01%
1400 x 10500.00%
1600 x 12001.02%
1920 x 12007.11%
2560 x 10240.00%

OS Statistics
Windows 741.55%
Windows Vista2.4%
Windows 20033.91%
Windows XP20.86%
Windows 20000.36%
Windows NT40.05%
Windows 98/ME0.05%
Windows 950.00%
Mac OSX8.03%
Mac Classic0.00%

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