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HTMLfixIT Archive for April, 2005

Monday, April 18th, 2005 by Franki

Recently MSN has started sending visitors this way who were looking for registry cleaners (don’t ask me why). In order to stop it from being a wasted visit, I’m going to mention two useful free tools I have used in the past to clean up machines I’ve been asked to fix. The first such program is one I use for Windows 2000 and XP systems and it’s called CCleaner, among other things it will find and remove invalid entries from your system registry.

The second tool I use when asked to fix systems running Windows based on the Win95 tree, (Win98, Win98, Win98SE, WinME) is called Easy Cleaner and does a very nice job of fixing registry errors in Win98 and co, (again among other things). So if you arrived here after searching for registry fixit in MSN, it hopefully won’t have been in vain now. Enjoy.

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Monday, April 18th, 2005 by Franki

Trading Technologies, a company based in Chicago has a few software based patents for their trading system and have just filed suit against a UK firm by the name of Man group (a hedge fund company) in the hopes of getting a 2.5 cent contribution per trade on the Chicago Board of Trade, Chicago Mercantile Exchange, Eurex US and Euronext.liffe exchanges. Trading Technologies have stated that their software saves much more then would be provided by the 2.5 cent per trade tax would return.

This quote from Josh Poulson describes three of the software patents.

One of the patents appears to describe any trading order entry system that displays market depth (essentially the difference between highest bid and lowest ask prices) and allows a trader to select (with one click) a region of prices in which to place an order it could affect a large number of home-grown or commercial trading software. The next patent describes the fancy table that is used to describe the market. The third appears to patent the idea of using multiple colors to make a more readable chart, although the added value comes from specifying additional colors to parameters of the table on the fly.

For more detail on the patents and lawsuits see Groklaw. This should start people thinking about the real consequences of Software patents if they can use patent litigation to get a tax on trading transactions. The odd thing about the three patents listed above is that two of them are similiar to what has been used by pricing comparison software and websites for years. Just taking an existing concept and applying it to an alternative subject does not constitute “state of the art” and “non obvious” so at least a couple of the patents should not have been issued in the first place. (Although I am of the opinion that patents that describe software methods shouldn’t be valid at all as they generally help one and hurt many.)

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Monday, April 18th, 2005 by Franki

Dell is the 800 pound gorilla in the hardware arena, they have mastered the mass produced, mass marketed PC market for some time now and always seem to show glowing revenue when others are faltering. Could their decision to sell only Intel CPU’s affect that ranking in the future? I rather suspect it will, at least in the server market as Intel have stumbled somewhat with their CPU range and arguably given AMD something of an advantage.

AMD’s Opteron CPU’s are very good performers, and compare very favourably with Intel’s Xeon CPU range in both price and performance. That alone won’t win the race for AMD, but it’s possible that dual core Opterons might make a significant difference. AMD has a couple of things that Intel doesn’t, Hypertransport is far more effective then the bus architecture Intel has used in present and past systems. The integrated memory controller in the Opteron, together with multiple Hypertransport interconnects has enabled the Opteron to leave Xeon in it’s wake for memory intensive applications. When you add in the fact that Opterons where designed for 64bit and multicore from the word go, and that Intel has seemingly been playing catch-up and grafting the new features like 64bit and multi-core to it’s existing line-up you begin to get an idea of how the dual core server processor race is likely to turn out (at least until Intel catch up). Not only that, but dual core Opterons run on the same motherboards that single core Opterons do, usually requiring only a bios update. That gives buyers the ability to buy a cheap single core CPU based system now, and upgrade to dual core by simply replacing the CPU later on (or buy a dual CPU server now, and upgrade to four cores later on). Enterprise cares more about price and performance then it does about marketing. Now that Opteron (and thereby AMD) has gained itself a stable foothold in the server market, if a dual core Opteron system is the same price as a Xeon system, but out performs it significantly, most will end up choosing the Opteron based system. All AMD has to do is make sure that enterprise CTO’s know about their superior performance and pricing.

Dell will be able to compete on price. Because of their massive buying power, they would be getting unrivalled pricing for their base hardware, but can they use pricing to compete against superior performance in the server market? Dell has said many times that they will consider offering AMD based systems if enough people ask, but many in the industry seem to think that is just to get more concessions from Intel. If Dell were to start offering a successful Opteron based line of servers, the current AMD/Intel market share figures would significantly change almost overnight. As it stands now, we have Dell in one corner offering Intel only, in the other corner we have IBM, HP and Sun offering AMD Opteron based systems. HP has already revealed it’s dual core based systems, and we can expect the same from the others in the coming weeks. Intel isn’t even slated to release it’s dual core Xeon’s until Q1 2006 which gives AMD a significant lead time to further penetrate into enterprise server rooms.

It has taken AMD many years of hard work to get past the “Intel inside” mentality that a vast portion of the market once clung to, and they have made great strides in that regard. It remains to be seen just how well the dual core Opterons perform before we know if they will dramatically improve AMD’s performance lead. Based upon what I have read about the respective technology in the past year, I wouldn’t even consider another Intel based system unless there was a serious price difference in favour to Intel, something that going from past history is unlikely to happen any time soon. Hopefully Dual core Opterons will extend that technological lead further. As it stands now, I know what CPU all my new machines will be based on.

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Monday, April 18th, 2005 by Franki

Adobe has just announced a deal to acquire Macromedia for 3.4 billion dollars. Macromedia’s press release can be found here and Adobe’s here. The repercussions of this merger are unknown but potentially worrying. For example what happens to Macromedia Fireworks now that the same company produces Photoshop? What happens to Macromedia Freehand now that the same company owns Adobe Illustrator? If you develop using any of Macromedia’s or Adobe’s tools, then you should watch this situation carefully to evaluate if you need to change to a different application.

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Sunday, April 17th, 2005 by Franki

The Mozilla organisation have released another update for Firefox (1.0.3), this is the 3rd update in as many months and closes holes found by their “bug bounty” system as well as a some found by other parties. The download for Windows users is 4.6MB so it is not a big load for dial-up users to put up with.

In other Firefox news, Firefox has now been downloaded over 46,000,000 (46 million) times. Many predicted the download rate would slow after all the technology enthusiasts had their copies, but that does not seem to be happening and downloads continue at roughly the same furious pace.

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Friday, April 15th, 2005 by Franki

When you want to really judge the security of an Operating System (OS), you don’t ask Microsoft to “Get the facts”, as they will most likely just pay a company to research defined on criteria that they (Microsoft) probably provided or outlined to ensure they get the answer they want you to get. You likewise don’t ask Linux zealots as their answer is likely to be more emotive then factual. So what do you do? Well, I’d ask guys working at the front lines, the guys that deal with OS security on a day to day basis.

With that in mind, Bzresearch has done just that, they asked 6,344 development managers, and the answer they got makes for good reading. These 6344 folks are not trying to sell anything, they are not trying to convince you of anything, they are just stating the facts as they see them. Ironically what they are saying is in almost direct contradiction to what Microsofts “Get the facts” campaign has been touting. Why do you suppose that is? I should point out that I was unable to find out if the research was funded or not and if it was, by whom. But since Bzresearch sell their research for some significant $$$, I’m guessing they funded themselves. (Please correct me if I am wrong). You might also find this article interesting for the same reasons.

Recently I’ve had a need to start researching a new distro to take over as our primary web server as the old one is approaching the end of it’s supported life span. After much looking around, I decided on CentOS 4 which is 100% RedHat Enterprise Linux 4 (RHEL) binary compatable. In fact CentOS is basically all of RedHats source RPMs compiled and with RH’s trademarks removed. So you get the benefits of Redhats Enterprise linux offering, without the rather expensive subscription price tag. I’ve been using Linux since before Redhat 4 and as such I don’t require hand holding, so the RHEL support is not something I need, so CentOS fills my needs rather well. RHEL4/CentOS includes SELinux to tighten security even more, and on top of that I’ll be employing VSFTP/TLS for remote logins and the mod_security Apache plug-in to watch everything coming in ports 80 and 443. I’d put that sort of security up against a Windows server any day. CentOS is fantastic for both the Open Source community and for Redhat. For the users, CentOS gives us an enterprise tested Open Source Linux distribution, and for Redhat they get to show they really are a full Open Source company and refute the claims Sun has been levelling at them of late. From my perspective, it allows me to have a fast, stable and secure Operating System at a price I can afford.

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Friday, April 15th, 2005 by Franki

CNET has an interesting piece about the record companies and Itunes. Apparently they (the record companies) are not so happy with Itunes as it has become so popular that Apple is now dictating terms to them instead of the other way around. The record companies want to change more for popular songs and less for old stuff, but Apple wants to stick to it’s 99 cent per song scheme that has proven so popular. The record companies are now looking toward mobile phones as their possible salvation, because if users will pay $2.50 for a ring tone, the record companies think they will pay more for a full song. The question we should be asking, is “should they be permitted to charge more for a song then you would pay for the same song on a CD” (if you paid 18 dollars for a CD with 18 songs on it, that’s a dollar a song). The record companies have far less expenditure for digital music, but passing those savings onto us appears to be a priority that is way down on their list.

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Browser Statistics
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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%
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Netscape 4.x0.00%
Opera 9.x0.00%
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Opera 7.x0.42%
Opera 6.x0.00%
Opera other0.42%
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Safari Windows25.2%
Google Chrome1.51%

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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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