Archive for Microsoft

Blackberry a Defense for Google Against Rockstar?

If you haven’t been watching the news today, a big bomb was dropped on Google. The Rockstar consortium (Apple, BlackBerry, Microsoft, Ericsson, Sony, and EMC) has sued Google as well as Asustek, HTC, Huawei, LG Electronics, Pantech, Samsung, and ZTE. Is there an obvious and easy way around Rockstar?

Brief History

So what happened is this. Nortel was going bankrupt. Google bid for their patents, but lost out to a consortium of companies. That consortium includes Apple, BlackBerry(then known as RIM), Microsoft, Ericsson, Sony, and EMC. Even at the time, Google’s Senior Vice President and Chief Legal Officer, wrote that Microsoft, Apple and others were engaging in hostile patent warfare against Android.

Silver Bullet?

BlackberrySo, how can Google and company get around this particular issue? There may be a quick and easy was to do it. Maybe. I won’t pretend to be a an expert at patent law, but I do know that one member of that consortium is not doing particularly well these days. In fact, they’ve been shopping around for a buyer. Blackberry. As a member of the consortium, they would have full rights to the patents owned by the consortium. A purchase of Blackberry by Google would bring ownership of those patents (at least partial) to Google, making the suits against Google moot.

Second Option?

Department of JusticeEven if a Blackberry purchase isn’t a possibility, there’s another possible solution out there as well. During the initial purchase, the DOJ investigated the companies involved because they were concerned (as was I) that the patents being purchased would be used in an offensive against Android. As it turns out, they were right about that (and by extension so was I). The DOJ only approved the purchase with the hopes that Rockstar would only use the intellectual property it purchased strictly to defend itself from Android initiated lawsuits. It may be that the DOJ may not take kindly to this particular aggressive action by Rockstar.

Summary

There’s quite a bit of worry out there today regarding these new suits against Google and the Android ecosystem. I’m not going to say that worry isn’t warranted, but there are options available to Google that could very well make this a minor bump in the road. We’ll have to wait and see how things pan out, but this lawsuit may not be the huge problem so many people think it’s going to be.

Antivirus for Linux

LinuxBugIt never fails to amaze me just how the same arguments keep coming up over and over again, like bad pennies. Most of them ignore facts so blatantly it gives me a headache.

The I’m referring to today is the one about Linux Viruses.

First of all, Linux Viruses exist. Yep, it’s true, they exist. There’s actually a couple of them. Wikipedia lists an even 30 of them. There’s even Virus protection for Linux.

True, compared to MacOS and Windows, that’s a drop in the bucket. Barely worth noticing. And that’s where the same old argument comes up time and again.

“The reason that Linux doesn’t have viruses like MacOS and Windows is because it’s not as popular!” The argument is that if more people used Linux, there actually would be viruses for Linux. The completely ignores the fact that the desktop is the exception, not the rule. Linux dominates elsewhere. Servers, smart phones, super computers, etc. Linux is kicking ass and taking names. A virus that could infect all those systems would be hugely valuable both monetarily and for a reputation. Yet, it doesn’t happen.

Even  the ones that already exist pretty much suck compared to their Microsoft and Apple counterparts.

So is there a reason to even consider running anti-virus on your Linux computer? Shockingly, the answer is still yes, but not for the same reasons some Mac users and all Windows users should.

You should run anti-virus on your Linux machine as a courtesy to your non-Linux using friends. Their systems aren’t as impervious as yours, so even though your computer is unlikely to get any infection, the same can’t be said for theirs. This also helps you in the long run when all those non-Linux computers aren’t infected blasting out TBs of garbage data out onto the Internet, slowing your connection down and filling your Inbox with spam.

In the long run, we all win.

Microsoft Surface Review

Today I finally managed to get my hands on Microsoft’s newest device, the Microsoft Surface. My wife and I were wandering around our local Best Buy with no intention of buying anything, and there they were, sitting on display next to the Samsung tablets. Given the environment, there were obviously problems, but I won’t hold those against the Surface (despite the fact that the other tablets were all working fine). Here are my impressions of Microsoft’s device.

The Device Itself

Holding the device, I didn’t notice much difference in weight compared to other tablets it’s size. This isn’t a scientific measurement, I just held it. I’m sure there’s a difference, but it wasn’t really noticeable in the few minutes I played around with it. The texture of the device was nice. The design? Not so much. Microsoft decided to go the in the opposite direction from every other tablet maker on the market, and make the device kind of, well, sharp. There are unrounded edges on the device which are apparent as soon as you pick up the device. Personally, I didn’t like it as much as the rounded corners of pretty much every other tablet. I didn’t experience any physical discomfort in holding the Surface, but I only held it for 10 minutes or so. The screen was nice, and the resolution was good.

The OS

2012-12-27 14.31.34Wow, this is opening up a can of worms, but the OS is pretty much everything I expected it to be. Horrible. I’ve only had the chance to try it on a phone before, and I thought it was functional but ugly. On a tablet, it’s even less functional, but still ugly. I opened up several different applications, but the one that jarred me the most was the Office 13 Preview. Opening that app kicked me into Desktop mode immediately. To me, it was akin to reading something and having it ripped out of your hand mid-sentence and having to change your point of view to something different. I didn’t like it at all. One of the other things I noticed when I was trying it out was the picture at left. This is a minor thing, but it popped out at me. When I tried out the login, I realized that I didn’t have the password to get back in. I thought that maybe they left it blank for demonstration purposes, so I tried that. I was wrong in my guess, but when it came back to let me know that, the text didn’t even line up correctly in the box.

Dead Horse

I’m not going to keep going. I didn’t get a lot of time with the device, but in the time I did have with it, I wasn’t impressed. Not everything about the Surface was bad, and if there were no other tablets on the market anywhere (say in some alternate reality where iOS and Android didn’t exist), I’d consider it mostly functional. What I did see was that there was absolutely nothing about this device that would ever make me consider it over more well established players in the market. I mean seriously, I’d even choose an iPad over this thing and that’s saying something.

Microsoft Screwing The Linux Foundation

A while ago, The Linux Foundation announced a plan to allow for Linux to boot on systems with Secure Boot enabled. Lately, it has come to light that Microsoft is screwing with The Linux Foundation, and not granting the key required despite the fact that The Linux Foundation has already paid for it. Oddly enough, certain Microsoft apologists still believe that this is the fault of The Linux Foundation, despite the fact that there is nothing to support that contention. Here is a list of links that disagree with that fantasy.

http://www.zdnet.com/linux-foundation-support-for-booting-linux-on-windows-8-pcs-delayed-7000007673/
http://www.muktware.com/4855/microsoft-holding-keys-linux-foundations-secure-boot-solution
http://mrpogson.com/2012/11/20/m-sabotages-uefi-secure-boot-for-linux-foundation/
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/11/21/linux_foundation_secure_boot_fix_delays/
http://www.h-online.com/open/news/item/Linux-Foundation-struggles-with-Microsoft-s-Secure-Boot-signing-service-1754209.html
http://news.softpedia.com/news/Microsoft-Delays-UEFI-Workaround-for-Linux-309070.shtml
http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=news_item&px=MTIzMjE
http://blog.hansenpartnership.com/adventures-in-microsoft-uefi-signing/

Of course, this won’t convince Microsoft fans. Facts seldom do.

BSOD on your PHONE?!?

I have a great deal of pity for Windows phone users.

BSOD on PHONE

Five (Lame) Reasons for Windows 8 (A Linux Users Perspective)?

Today I ran across an article by Preston Gralla titled “Five Reasons You’ll Want Windows 8“. I figured, why not read it? I could use a good laugh.

I didn’t even understand what I was getting myself into. These reasons are sad people. I thought I’d go through them for fun.

  1. Metro:  Seriously? Metro? I will grant that there is some functionality in Metro that is interesting, but damn is it ugly. I have Windows 8 running in a VM on my home computer, and I can’t get over just how ugly it is. Add to this, it just doesn’t seem practical in a non-touch environment. I can see where it would have it’s uses on a tablet or even a phone, but on a desktop computer, it’s terrible.
  2. Built-in apps: I don’t even know what he’s talking about with this one. The built-in apps that I’ve seen in the developer version I’m running are sparse and lame. They operate in a tablet mode (meaning taking the whole screen), and lack functionality that I think would make them useful. Tweet@rama is the example Preston used, and it doesn’t come close to comparing to Tweetdeck.
  3. Cloud integration: Is it 2009 still? Yea, Linux has been doing that since there was a cloud, and Microsoft’s version certainly provides no motivation to switch.
  4. It’s fast: So? Linux is faster. Try again.
  5. New Windows Explorer: This one I thought was the funniest of all of them. The “New” Explorer is virtually identical to the old Explorer, but now it’s got a ribbon! Keep in mind that this is a ribbon that takes up 1/4 of the window, and rarely needs to be used.
Seriously, these are the best reasons you can come up with to try Windows 8? Anyone that’s already using Linux will just look at this and shake their head in wonder. I’m reading it again because I still just can’t believe it said what it said. OK, moving on now.

 

Microsoft bought Skype – Damn it

I have no idea what this is going to mean for the Linux, Android, and even Mac versions of Skype. I just don’t see this is a good thing no matter how you look at it. Here’s a collection of links. I’ll be watching this pretty closely. I’m already starting to look for alternatives.

Ballmer’s Really REALLY Afraid

In an article by Bloomberg today, it was revealed that Microsoft is forking over more than $1,000,000,000 to Nokia to have them make Windows 7 phones. That’s 9 zeros there folks. Despite the fact that Microsoft has handed over (or is in the process of handing over) an extremely large sum of money, it doesn’t seem to be reversing their fortunes any.

Steve Ballmer must be very afraid of Google and the Android platform. VERY.

Pwn2Own 2011 is coming! Place your bets…

The Pwn2Own 2011 contest is right around the corner. It’s going to be March 9th, 10th, and 11th. It looks like Linux will be not participating again this year with the exception of Android. Maybe that’s because it’s a foregone conclusion that it won’t be Pwned. Who knows.

Android is in the mix this year in the mobile category. Here’s the contenders:

  • Dell Venue Pro running Windows 7
  • iPhone 4 running iOS
  • Blackberry Torch 9800 running Blackberry 6 OS
  • Nexus S running Android

My predictions are they will fall in this order:

  1. iPhone 4.
  2. Dell Venue Pro
  3. Blackberry.
  4. Android.

I really was torn about 3 and 4 (but 1 and 2 were easy). Blackberry has been shown to be fairly security aware. I guess time will tell.

What are your predictions?