Friday, January 25, 2008

Technological Digest IX

  1. Road signs in Silicon Valley are different than anywhere else in the US. Where else can you see signs trying to sell you a database, extol the virtues of XDR memory, or advertise the qualities of a server farm. My favorite is one of the mobile carriers, withe the tag line "we have ways to make you talk". Kinda reminds you of the KGB smile.

    But the latest is a string of ads from McAfee, with tag lines like "hackers hack code - we hack hackers" and "Hackers, prepare to be embarrassed".

    McAfee anti virus software is one of the worst out there (in many cases, my customers who suffered from performance issues, found out the McShield agent hogged their CPU and disk cycles). But regardless, it seems to me the hacker crowd is not one you want to agitate.
    I'm secretly crossing my fingers that hackers (whoever they are) take the challenge and embarrass McAfee.

  2. I loved the game Duke Nukem. It was one of the first first-person shooters for the PC, and had a funny story and an irreverent hero, spewing funny oneliners. Everyone has been waiting on the promised sequel, Duke Nukem Forever. But it seems like its name describes it's development schedule - it's almost 10 years late.
    Lately, 3D Realms, makers of Duke, released a short teaser to the game. I wasn't impressed. But what did make me chuckle, is their schedule commitment:
    The release date of this game is "When it's done". Anything else, and we mean anything else is someone's speculation. There is no date. We don't know any date. If you have a friend who claims they have "inside info", or there's some game news site, or some computer store at the mall who claims they know - they do not. They are making it up. There is no date. Period.
    Product managers of the world - that's how you publish a schedule - not. smile
    Read more here.

  3. According to this Engadget article, Apple has disabled it's OS X built debugger, DTrace, so people won't use it to subvert the iTunes DRM (also known as "FairPlay").
    Sure, some developers will suffer, but at least the RIAA will approve.
    My recommendation? Try SoftIce on a PC instead.

  4. And another one from Engadget: seems like Best Buy has sold virus-infected digital photo frames. If you never heard of it, essentially a DPF is a small LCD (5-8") with a storage unit. You connect it to your PC, upload some images and it will cycle through them. Cool device. When not virus-infected smile.

  5. Finally, in an embarrassing move for Microsoft, several hours after announcing the launch party of SQL 2008 on February 27th, one of its product mangers published on his blog a post titled "Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Roadmap Clarification", in which he claims the product is on-track (Microsoftese for: will be out 6 months after the planned date).

    The reason? You, yes you the reader, are the cause for Microsoft missing yet another deadline:
    "Microsoft is excited to deliver a feature complete CTP during the Heroes Happen Here launch wave and a release candidate (RC) in Q2 calendar year 2008, with final Release to manufacturing (RTM) of SQL Server 2008 expected in Q3. Our goal is to deliver the highest quality product possible and we simply want to use the time to meet the high bar that you, our customers, expect."

    "This does not in any way change our plans for the February 27 launch and we look forward to seeing many of you in Los Angeles"
    I just wished I knew the behind-the-scenes story here. Is it the marketing team jumping ahead of Product Management?

    And this ties up nicely to item #2. At least no one at 3D Realms invited the entire world to a party smile.
As you no doubt have noticed, my blog posts have dwindled this month. The reason is work, travel (and lots of it) and jet lag. Hopefully a weekend of rest will restore my creative faculties.

1 comment:

isaacschlueter said...

I saw one of those MacAffee ads recently.
http://skitch.com/t/rmt

Virus scanners as such are a scam. They regularly advertise that they catch "99% of all malware", but that neglects the fact that 90+% of all malware no longer exists. Most of them only protect against 30-40% of malware in the wild, and they use more resources than any of the viruses they protect against!

Additionally, the damage a virus can do is remarkably mitigated if the user does not have superuser permissions on their machines. It is customary to never run as the root user on any POSIX system. If you use a Mac or Linux machine, even if you're an administrator, any program requiring superuser privileges must ask for your password. That's not to say that there isn't any malware on these systems, but it's much less insidious, and this architecture makes virus scanners largely unnecessary. (If a user is going to explicitly grant permission to a program, then the virus scanner usually can't stop it, anyhow.)

Microsoft could make virus scanning software a thing of the past by correcting this fundamental design flaw. For now, I always recommend friends and family to get off Windows as soon as possible.