25 April 2008

Comprehensive list of low-cost ultraportables

Liliputing: Comprehensive list of low-cost ultraportables

I'm really starting to like this recent craze of making laptops as small and as affordable as they can be -- it should really open up the notebook market to quite a few more demographic groups that until now haven't been able to buy them.

Some (like the CEO of Sony) have decried it as a "race to the bottom" (in regards to some slight sacrifices being made in CPU power and build quality to make these ultra low-cost laptops) -- I'm quite certain he said this from the backseat of his chauffeur-driven $150,000 luxury car.

24 April 2008

The OLPC's Demise

Exit of software-learning guru furthers turnover in One Laptop Per Child
"One can be an open-source advocate without being an open-source fundamentalist."

Yeah, but that was one of the original points of the project to begin with (the pushing of open source philosophy) -- to enable these countries' users to have access to the source code of the equipment they had, so that they wouldn't be at the mercy of bigger countries' whims. That's why the machine has a damn "View Source" button built into the keyboard.

If you're going to give them Windows, you can forget about that. It's amazing to see how this project has gone to hell over the past two years -- I used to really advocate it and defend it in forums and whatnot, but I've since stopped trying.

23 April 2008

DRM is Bad, Ummkay?

Techdirt: Microsoft's Final 'Up Yours' To Those Who Bought Into Its DRM Story

Just another story of users of a DRM'ed music "subscription" service (like Napster or Rhapsody) having all the music they bought nullified because the company that runs it shuts down the service. Yes, this does happen. Yes, even if you bought the music legally, you no longer get to use it. Sucks, doesn't it?

21 April 2008

Quick WTF

Just a quick WTF -- I've been using a Windows Vista virtual machine on my work computer for a while, and after finally getting ZoneAlarm to install (their Vista version wouldn't work for the longest time in a VM), I've noticed that the Windows Vista "Disk Defragmenter" is constantly trying to connect to the internet.

Can anyone tell me why in the hell a disk defragmenter needs to be connecting to the internet?

(You see, this is the stuff that makes me hate Vista. That and the damn User Access Control. Now, not the nature of the User Access Control, mind you -- it's the same idea of a "sudo" in Linux, and it's a very necessary and acceptable compromise to making a system secure. But why is the Vista one so intrusive? You may find yourself going "sudo" every now and then in a Linux distro like Ubuntu, even when you're working strictly with the GUI, but in Vista it's like every damn two or three minutes.)

18 April 2008

AT&T-Funded Politicians Accuse Google Of Gaming The Spectrum Auction System

Techdirt: AT&T-Funded Politicians Accuse Google Of Gaming The Spectrum Auction System

Amazing. We've got three Representatives of Congress currently going after Google (with allegations of wrongdoing) for their outright insolence at trying to intrude upon AT&T's turf, and nobody can figure out why all of a sudden these three particular politicians have banded together in AT&T's "defense"...

Well, it's got to be for the common good, right? That's what Congresspeople do, you know, fight for the little guy, right the wrongs...

What's that? Follow the money? Okay, well let's see who the top "campaign contributers" for Fred Upton, Cliff Stearns and John Shimkus have been...

Oh. Well, that explains that, doesn't it?

You know, the thing is, I know this is how Washington DC works. Everyone does. You give money to people with the power to make and enact laws, and you get favors in return. It's the way things have always been. I don't think it's going to change anytime soon.

That being said, if things were just more open—if I didn't have to search for this information every time a politician did something shady—I wouldn't have so much of a problem with it! I mean, it'd be easy -- right there on CNN or C-SPAN, underneath the politician's name where they usually have their party affiliation and state (for example, "R-Tennessee"), they could have their corporate affiliation, as well (for example, "R-Tennessee-Citgo_Boeing_Honeywell").

Not only would it be easier to document, but it'd be easier to predict the way that votes are going to go, too! Think about it: when a particular vote is coming up before Congress (say, a vote banning government subsidies for telecommunication companies or something), you could simply do an index search of Congress' roster for a string like "AT&T|Verizon|Comcast", and if the amount of results that come back equal 50% or more of the total voting group, you could be sure that the vote was going to pass.

Hell, in the interest of further optimization, you could simply get rid of the voting entirely! Just have "virtual" votes where a computer would instantly tally the information, and then if the bill is passed, it could go onto a "virtual executive signature compiler," where, depending upon the current President's corporate affiliation, a "virtual signature" could be either appended to the bill, or a "virtual veto" appended.

Then, if the initial tally was 66% or more, a "virtual overturn" could even occur!

Hell, I just did away with two whole operating branches of the government here, potentially saving the taxpayers untold billions of dollars, which—and I don't think I'm alone in this—these companies definitely deserve back in the form of subsidies, because of all the work they've done in providing the framework.

Yes, I'm totally serious about all of this.

17 April 2008

First look: AT&T’s Pogo browser beta tries too hard, fails

First look: AT&T’s Pogo browser beta tries too hard, fails: Page 1
Moving on, we tested Pogo on a dual-processor, dual-core AMD Opteron 2210 with 1.80GHz CPUs, 2GB of RAM, and a NVIDIA Quadro FX 560 video card with 128MB of VRAM running Windows XP. On this machine, the remainder of Pogo's features actually displayed, but did not do much else. We found that with even minor use, the browser slowed to a crawl, animations built into the UI were laggy, and at some times, unusable. Performance was extremely poor when even trying to perform basic functions like clicking UI elements.

We decided once again to step it up and run Pogo on a dual-processor Opteron 256 with two 3GHz CPUs, 4GB of RAM, and an NVIDIA 8800 GT video card with 512MB of VRAM. From here, we were finally able to use Pogo enough to actually find out how well it works—for the most part, anyway.

I just love how the silly little demo flash movie on their website for this shows this being used on a laptop...

This beta, though it is just a beta, is really, really embarrassing for AT&T. Please don't mistake the testers' inability to get this thing to run correctly as a sign that their hardware wasn't up to the task -- instead, know that this is just a sign of incredibly poor coding. Even the smallest, simplest type of computer program will run slowly on a really fast computer if it's coded inefficiently.

I've seen 3D type interfaces like this, but they don't need anywhere near the amount of hardware that this thing needs to run correctly -- hell, Apple has a nicer interface than this, and it runs on an iPod! (Which isn't a bad piece of hardware, but you have to understand, is kinda of slow when compared to your average desktop.)

All this aside, I wish them the best of luck (once they fire whatever 3D guys they have working on this). Pogo is apparently built on the Mozilla platform, so it's got a lot of power behind it, and AT&T is just the kind of huge company (with huge financial resources) that could help challenge Microsoft. I don't specifically like AT&T anymore than I do Microsoft, but if AT&T decides to try and help break Microsoft's monopoly on the browser market (through whatever means), then I'll go along with it, at least for now!

15 April 2008

The Worst Programmers, Ever.

Oklahoma Leaks Tens of Thousands of Social Security Numbers, Other Sensitive Data - The Daily WTF
"One of the cardinal rules of computer programming is to never trust your input. This holds especially true when your input comes from users, and even more so when it comes from the anonymous, general public. Apparently, the developers at Oklahoma’s Department of Corrections slept through that day in computer science class, and even managed to skip all of Common Sense 101. You see, not only did they trust anonymous user input on their public-facing website, but they blindly executed it and displayed whatever came back.

The result of this negligently bad coding has some rather serious consequences: the names, addresses, and social security numbers of tens of thousands of Oklahoma residents were made available to the general public for a period of at least three years. Up until yesterday, April 13 2008, anyone with a web browser and the knowledge from Chapter One of SQL For Dummies could have easily accessed – and possibly, changed – any data within the DOC’s databases. It took me all of a minute to figure out how to download 10,597 records – SSNs and all – from their website:"

Words are failing me right now. SQL statements... in an URL... dear lord... why?

I have no way possible to describe how dangerous this was -- just read the article. Trust me, you don't have a to be a programming master to understand it. Whoever the hell these morons were, it was almost like they were deliberately trying to be this bad.

(Just goes to show you, life does imitate art.)

UPDATE: Thanks to an intrepid commenter on The Daily WTF, all my faith in humanity is gone. These websites deserve to have their web dev teams FIRED, now. Seriously, someone from these areas with a little bit of political clout get on the phone.

10 April 2008

nihilogic: Super Mario in 14kB Javascript

nihilogic: Super Mario in 14kB Javascript

Here's a link to an fully-functional version of the Nintendo classic Mario Brothers, all written in JavaScript!

And you thought JavaScript was just for making little boxes appear on web pages... :P

07 April 2008

Hidden Google Updater Download

...at least as far as I know.

So, I was trying to download the latest version of Google Earth, but I'm having problems with it as usual -- it seems that the download page requires the use of Google-Analytics.com, and my NoScript Firefox extension blocks that (I like it that way).

So, I go looking through the code of the page to see if I can uncover the actual redirect URL, and I find this code...
// Redirect a portion of XP and Vista users to cider
if ((xp || vista) && rand <= 50 && bRedirect) {
location.href = "http://pack.google.com/integrated_download?ciint=ci_earth&hl=en&utm_source=en-cdr-earth4&utm_medium=cdr&utm_campaign=en";

Well, that's interesting -- what is this?

So, I go to the URL, and I'm directed to download "GoogleUpdater," which seems to be a Synaptic-like (Ubuntu users, you know what it's like) updater program for most of Google's apps... pretty neat!

04 April 2008

Article Wrapup

Just a quick wrap-up of some articles I've read lately:

Another blow for PC gaming: EA drops PC version of Madden '09

I am so sick and tired about hearing about the "death of PC gaming." Want to know the real reason why this game dried up? They even say it in the article:

While Madden may not be the foremost concern in the minds of hardcore PC gamers...

As in, "football is becoming increasingly irrelevant among users of computers intelligent enough to find pleasure in watching other things than grown men, dressed in tights, grabbing and tackling one another."

Homeland Security blinks on Real ID: No hassles on May 11

You just have to love the graphic that the DHS released regarding which states "met compliance" with the REAL ID act -- what do you know, it's all of them! But how -- even the governor of Montana has come out and said that his state will never acknowledge this law...

Oh -- that's how. They just changed the rules of "meeting compliance" by granting all states that haven't "met compliance" free extensions, whether they asked for them or not. Oh, how nice.

I've talked on this blog before about the dangers of colossally-huge databases storing all data important to an individual, and this is no exception.