“Microsoft Security” Oxymoron

A recent quotation from Bruce Schneier says it all.

Bruce Schneier is recognized worldwide as an expert in the area of computer security. He puts out a regular newsletter covering current issues, and in the current issue had this to say about Microsoft’s latest “initiative” to improve the security of their products:

Honestly, security experts don’t pick on Microsoft because we have some fundamental dislike for the company. Indeed, Microsoft’s poor products are one of the reasons we’re in business. We pick on them because they’ve done more to harm Internet security than anyone else, because they repeatedly lie to the public about their products’ security, and because they do everything they can to convince people that the problems lie anywhere but inside Microsoft.

virtual (void)

A great piece of music, and former corporate theme song for Be, Inc.

Since getting started on refurbishing all these BeBoxes, I’ve been listening to Baron’s “virtual (void)” [MP3], over and over again.

For those who never saw a BeOS demo, “virtual (void)” was the song baked into one of the most compelling demo apps we had, a 3D audio mixer that never failed to get jaws to drop. Andy Grove himself said “I didn’t know a PC could do that” when he saw the BeOS demo.

At any rate, listening to this song, which I truly love, and which is so completely tied to Be in my mind, I’m reminded (over and over) how much fun it was to work there, and how much I enjoyed working with the other people who were having fun there, like Baron.

So, I named the first BeBox “Baron”. ’Cause I still feel guilty for trying to take the files from him.

Another BeBox

I tried another three BeBoxes today, and one was good.

I spent an hour or so testing another three of the BeBoxes. Of these, two are very likely hosed, and one is apparently working (though it has some funkiness going on).

If you’ve been keeping track, I was three of five up to this point, and this would make me four of eight. But I’m pretty sure that at least one of the systems I tested today (a dead one) was a machine I’d already tested and counted.

So, while I’m very sure of the four that are working, I’m only partially sure of the ones that are dead. I only have three marked as bad…

Improvements for This Weblog

My biggest requests for improvements to this weblog.

So after using this weblogging software for a few months now, I have a list of things I’d like to see added to it:

  • Graphics management, and easy insertion of graphics into stories
  • Better, more automatic ways to refer to previous stories
  • More complete logging of page views, click-throughs, etc.

Are there things you (my many readers, ha) would like to see done differently on this weblog? Send me e-mail, at the address in the sidebar.

Don’t just say “post more,” either. I want that, too…

RTFM

Contrary to popular opinion, reading the manual for a complex device like a digital camera is not hazardous to your health.

In the nearly three years since Rochelle and I got our first digital camera (for our wedding present to each other) the technology has gotten amazingly better. Between that and upgrading to a new Mac that doesn’t have a floppy drive (our Sony Mavica uses a floppy to store and transfer photos), we’ve been wanting to get a new one that would work better with how we take and share photos.

So, last week, after a couple weeks of trying to buy one, we finally managed to find a store with a Canon PowerShot S110 in stock, and bought it. We promptly went out to dinner and tested it out on our meal.

And then I couldn’t get the photos off the damn camera.

Theoretically it was supposed to be easy. Just plug it into my USB port, and iPhoto would open up and import them automatically. This is what we bought the new camera for! Except, after trying a whole lot of different ways to connect the camera, it just didn’t work.

Out of complete desperation, I actually resorted to reading the camera’s manual. And discovered that I needed to put the camera in Playback mode to have the computer see it as a camera.

Doh!

Um, follow the link to see our photos from Bloo

Bit Me!

Yes, it’s already happened, my ass has been bitten.

Ha! Well, it happened already. (My one-line modification coming back to bite me in the ass, that is)

I just added the date information to the end of each story, and it’s not quite right. Close enough, though, I’ll just work around the corner cases…

Sorting, Part Two

I figured something out.

OK, I figured something out to get the sorting behavior to be what I want (this item should appear above the first sorting story).

It’s not truly correct behavior, but it’s close, and it was a one-line change, which was a lot better than doing it the “right” way.

Which, of course, means that this will come back to bite me in the ass.

Sorting of Multiple Stories…

Why this weblog sorts stories funny.

A couple weeks ago I complained that the weblog software I’m using is doing something funny when sorting stories. Each day is sorted correctly, from most recent to least. But when a day has multiple stories, the stories are ordered the opposite, from oldest to youngest.

When I complained, I also vowed to fix. Unfortunately, in digging into the code that runs the site, that’s kind of hard, because only the publication date is being stored, i.e., there’s no time information to sort on.

So now instead of modifying a simple SQL statement, I will actually have to go in and modify the database, and hack at the application logic to keep some time information.

Probably more trouble than it’s worth. I’ll look for a shortcut.

What I Bought

What I bought at the Be liquidation auction

So I went to the Be liquidation auction last week, and was the high bidder on a lot of “BeBox chassis.” It was a giant pile of BeBox carcasses, piled high up outside Baron’s old cube.

When I went back the next day to pick up my winnings, in that pile there were 20 computer boxes, 19 BeBoxes and one random PC (a dual-Pentium II system, gutted), plus three miscellaneous 17″ monitors, and some keyboards, and some other junk.

I managed to squeeze 15 BeBoxes and the PC into my Integra hatchback, which was a lot more than I’d expected. I wish I’d managed to fit the other four, though, because when I returned to pick up the rest of the lot, the 4 remaining BeBox carcasses had been swiped. Oh, well, the auctioneers refunded me $55, and 15 carcasses is more than my wife wants in our living room anyway.

Tonight I processed three of the 15. I got two working, and set one aside as probably dead. Of the rest, at least three look like they might be salvageable. My biggest problem is going to be finding RAM for the machines, which use totally obsolete SIMMs.

The individual BeBoxes went for $175 at the auction, and I heard that not all of them worked. After the refund my lot cost $400 + sales tax + auction fees, or around $475. So if I get one more working, I’m ahead.

Not that that makes Rochelle any happier to have them on the floor of the living room.

Liquidation of History

Today’s auction of Be Incorporated’s assets is the opportunity to purchase computing history. Unfortunately, the market said they were mostly evolutionary dead-ends.

This morning I’m headed down to Menlo Park, where I worked for three years at Be Incorporated.

It’s been over two years since I left Be, and in the time that’s passed, so has Be. Today they’re just another victim of the economic downturn, and their assets are being auctioned off.

I was at Be during some of the most exciting times, including the first public release of the BeOS, being invested in by Intel, and the public offering.

Be was a special place to work, and BeOS is still unmatched by any other operating system in some areas of functionality and technology. Be, the BeBox, and BeOS have a place in computing history, and it’s a tragedy that it will be as curiosities, evolutionary dead ends, rather than as an important turning point in the computer industry.

I’m headed down to Menlo Park to collect my piece of that history. Some momento of what it was like to work there, what it meant to me, what the company accomplished.

I’m taking the credit card. Don’t tell my wife.