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By apotheon ·
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Washington outlaws Windows

by apotheon In reply to bITs and blogs

<p style="text-align: justify">The Washington State House and Senate passed Engrossed Substitute House Bill 1012. This means that spyware is now illegal in the great State of Washington, home of Microsoft (in Redmond, Washington). In fact, Microsoft helped support the passage of the bill, along with eBay.</p><p style="text-align: justify">Does anyone else here see the irony of this? Here's Microsoft, purveyor of some of the worst spyware on the planet (especially by the broad standards of <a href="http://www.leg.wa.gov/pub/billinfo/2005-06/Htm/Bills/House%20Passed%20Legislature/1012-S.PL.htm">Bill 1012</a>), supporting the passage of a law in its own home state that will effectively make a criminal organization of it.</p><p style="text-align: justify">Consider what you know of Microsft's planned "Black Box" functionality for Longhorn, its inclusion of spyware-riddled software such as MSN Messenger and Windows Media Player in Windows already, and its recent use of Windows Update functionality to remove competing products from end-users' computers. Now read this description of what is defined as "spyware" according to the new Washington law:</p><p style="text-align: justify">software that opens "multiple, sequential, stand-alone advertisements in the owner or operator's internet browser", logs keystrokes, takes over control of the computer, modifies its security settings, falsely represents "that computer software has been disabled", or prevents "through intentionally deceptive means, an owner or operator's reasonable efforts to block the installation or execution of, or to disable, computer software by causing the software that the owner or operator has properly removed or disabled automatically to reinstall or reactivate on the computer".</p><p style="text-align: justify">The only question now is whether the EFF and ACLU will get together and sue the crap out of Microsoft as they should. One can only hope.</p>

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Washington outlaws Windows

by DC_GUY In reply to Washington outlaws Window ...

What are the details of the law? It's easy for legislators to sit in their chamber and draft rules, but it's much harder to apply them to real life. I'd be surprised if there was language in the law specific enough to prosecute the people who threw together the software that enables the invasion of spyware.

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Now Playing: Slack Nerdeth - MMORPGs

by apotheon In reply to bITs and blogs

<p style="text-align: justify">I'm not much of a fan of MMORPGs. They just seem like a tremendous waste of time to me. They're misnamed: they should be called MMOAGs, or something, for "Adventure" rather than "Roleplaying". Computer roleplaying games of <b>any</b> kind are just roleplaying games without the roleplaying.<br />
<br />
To understand my perspective, maybe it would help to understand that I started playing real, pencil-and-paper RPGs in the early-to-mid-eighties. I know what "roleplaying" really means in the abbreviation RPG. There is a lot missing from computer "RPG"s of any kind that we just don't have the technology to recreate from "real" RPGs using computers, yet. What's missing is what makes an RPG into an RPG rather than a "Choose Your Own Adventure" book.<br />
<br />
I know some people that play MMORPGs. That's fine. To each their own. I'm not actually offended by MMORPGs, or other computer RPGs, at all. I just find them to be silly, pointless, and wastes of time. I have hobbies that are silly, pointless, and wastes of time too, probably.<br />
<br />
Maybe. Well, maybe not, but I don't necessarily see such hobbies as being "bad". The fact that I'm very, very good at constructing arguments and recognizing spin on neutral facts makes it easy for me to chide friends for playing MMORPGs, though, so I do. It's fun. I guess that's one of my silly, pointless hobbies that wastes time. That's okay. They do the same to me about some of my own hobbies. I cheerfully accept chiding for being such a Linux geek. Such is life. Recently, though, I found myself singing entirely the wrong lyrics to the tune of Black Sabbath's "War Pigs". I'll post them here for your enjoyment. The following is released under <a href="http://ccd.apotheon.org">CCD CopyWrite</a>, just like everything else in this blog.</p>

<p style="font-style: italic">Dorks are gathered in their masses<br />
Just like methods in their classes<br />
Newbies desperate for instruction<br />
In skills of character construction<br />
Ships and victims bleeding, burning<br />
Worlds of Warcraft keep on turning<br />
City of Heroes wasting time<br />
Poisoning their brainwashed minds<br />
Jolt Cola!<br />
<br />
Computer game geek hide away<br />
From the burning light of day<br />
Why go out and get real jobs?<br />
They leave that to dads and moms<br />
<br />
Time slips by, more power-ups<br />
Adding gemstones to their hoards<br />
Collecting golden coins and cups<br />
Playing GUI games without boards<br />
Save!<br />
<br />
The world outside could just stop turning<br />
I'd never know my house was burning<br />
Now the MMORPGs have the power<br />
Evercrack has stolen hours<br />
I'm selling characters to newbies<br />
And buying magic swords and XPs<br />
The swivel chair I'm sitting in<br />
Is adhering to my skin<br />
/pizza!</p>

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Now Playing: Slack Nerdeth - MMORPGs

by Jay Garmon Contributor In reply to Now Playing: Slack Nerdet ...

I think Scoot Kurtz said it best with <a href="http://www.pvponline.com/archive.php3?archive=20020425">this classic <i>PVP</i> comic</a>.

I actually excised video games from my life after nearly losing a whole term in college to the original PC X-Wing simulator (damn trench run mission) and Sid Meier's Civilization. However, I still avidly roleplay via tabletop, and I love tabletop startegy games (Risk 2210 AD, for example).

What I've come to realize about live roleplaying and gaming as opposed to online roleplaying and gaming is that the in person experience is inavariably richer and more memorable. It isn't as convenient as the instant gratification of online games, but you get more out of it.

The same was true fo TechRepublic's live Roadshow events--people talked and exchanged ideas and solution in person more enthusiastically and efficiently than they ever would have online. People are build to work with other people, and while online games are getting more intuitive and more complex, they can't outdo the innate human disposition to communicate, and I doubt they ever will.

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posting comments

by apotheon In reply to bITs and blogs

<div style="text-align: justify">
<p>I've been sorta kicking around
inside my own head over the subject of comments in the TR blogs. I'm
used to threaded comments for blogs, where you can reply to a comment
with a comment of your own directly, rather than your comment simply
being tacked onto the end of the list of "root" level comments as it is
here at TR.</p>

<p>I've been thinking about the advantages and
disadvantages of a threaded comments approach, and I've realized that
it's nice, for a chance, to have a blog that does <b>not</b> have that
feature. For one thing, it reduces the conversational tone of the blog
to a certain extent, which changes the entire character of the blog.
This way, it's more geared toward article-like blog posts and comments
directed at the blog's author, rather than becoming sort of a social
circle centered around that author. In short, it's a little more
"professional" this way.</p>

<p>I'll be taking advantage of this
situation as an excuse to order my blog in a particular, probably
abnormal, manner: I won't post comments in it, ever. If I have
something important enough to say that is inspired by a comment, it
will be said in a blog article. This should help cut down on the level
of fluff, among other benefits, and will probably cut down on flame
wars as well, since the ability to answer back in anger will be
severely curtailed (in part by my nonparticipation, and in part by the
lack of threading in comments).</p>

<p>As for the frequency of posts,
it will certainly come in crests and troughs, with multiple posts over
a day or two and several days of silence. I'll post when I feel like
it, and when I have something interesting to say. I won't post random
crap just to ensure a steady flow of words. When you read something
here, it'll be because I thought what I posted was worth saying,
whether or not it's worth reading.</p>

<p>I'll likely post at minimum
once a week, at least for a while, though my online activity level in
any given forum rises and falls in irregular cycles, generally. It's
not like I'm getting paid for this, after all.</p>
</div>

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What's INTJ, and what has it got to do with IT?

by apotheon In reply to bITs and blogs

<p style="text-align: justify">As TR member AmericanVoter reminded me in a comment to a previous post, not everyone in the world knows about the Jung Typology and the derived MBTI personality tests.<br><br>Famed psychologist Carl Jung developed a theory of psychology types, known generally as Jung Typology. This begins with some general statements about how people's personalities can be described by classifying them according to categories of psychological characteristics. For instance, most of the rambling that goes on in common parlance about "introverts" and "extroverts" arises from Jung's uses of the terms, though most people misuse them terribly. Also important in Jung Typology are four modes of experience that bear the labels Thought, Feeling, Sensation, and Intuition. These have been grouped in opposed pairs, where Thought and Feeling are opposite sides of one coin, and where Sensation and Intuition are opposite sides of another. To these three (including Introversion/Extroversion) was another pairing added, consisting of Judging and Perceiving.<br><br>These four opposed pairs are assembled into a letter-code personality classification that makes up the basis of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, which is in turn used as the set of metrics on which many personality tests are designed. I've taken a few, and I tend to vary somewhat between two results: I'm always either an INTJ or an INTP, depending on the test and, I imagine, my mood and current personality traits. I score INTJ rather more often than INTP, and as such tend to occasionally refer to myself as an INTj, indicating a less strong attachment to the J than the other three letters in that label.<br><br>If you've been paying attention, you might by now have guessed that INTJ means I'm Introverted, Intuitive, Thinking, and Judging, primarily (though the Judging might by some measures and at some times actually be replaced by Perceiving). The INT personality types are the analytical types, and among INTs the J-types are more the qualitative variety and P-types are more the quantitative variety. In other words, INTJs are big on analyzing for value, and INTPs are big on analyzing for details. I do quite a bit of each, but for me the details of a thing are (usually) primarily useful as a means to the end, that being evaluation.<br><br>Being an INTJ suits me well as a consultant. So, too, would INTP. While INTP is probably best suited to technology implementation once all the major decisions are made, INTJ is probably best suited to making those decisions, and in advising others on the making of such decisions. In addition to having the personality type suited to that kind of work, I'm also rather intelligent. No false modesty here: I know my limitations, and to some degree I also know my strengths, and don't feel like pretending they don't exist for humility's sake.<br><br>INTs tend to make the best programmers, and Js and Ps each have their own strengths within that. They're synthesists, good at taking a series of preexisting parts and assembling them into something new and useful. They're not, however, usually the best salesmen, and that failing is one that I suffer quite notably. This is one reason I work better for a consultancy than as a consultant on my own: I'm no extrovert, which is where real sales talent lies. I rather suspect that the best salesmen are ENTJs, and that the best chairmen of the board are ENTPs, but don't quote me on that (without including disclaimers that it's just wild speculation on my part).<br><br>There is some speculation about the actual validity of the MBTI tests, including the official MBTI test whose trademark is owned by a trust that exists for that purpose, if I'm not mistaken. There are a great many copy-cat tests out there, however, which seem to be able to get away with it by virtue of the fact that the MBTI itself is derived from the theories of Carl Jung. These copycat tests are of varying worth, and when I say that I've taken many MBTI-based tests, I don't know how many were copycats and how many were officially sanctioned derivatives of the MBTI itself (though I know that at least one was just a copycat, and am not at all sure that any were "official" MBTI tests).<br><br>Here's an MBTI-like test for you:<br><br><a href="http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/JTypes2.asp">Human Metrics Jung Typology Test</a></p>

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What

by jmgarvin In reply to What's INTJ, and what has ...

Thanks for the test. I used to be an INTP, but now I am an INTJ. 
An intersting switch I'd say.  While I don't think the INT will
change, I am surprised by the switch from P to J.  I would guess
it is because I've become far more cynical and jaded than I was 10
years ago when I first took the test ;-)<br />
<br />
Thanks!<br />

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What's INTJ, and what has it got to do with IT?

by ruisert In reply to What's INTJ, and what has ...

<p>I'm an INTP, and was first introduced to MBTI by my aunt, who was at the time Dean of Psychology at a major uni. It really helped finding out it was ok to be what I was, since INTP's and INTJ's each make up only about 1% of the total population. There's a lot of pressure to conform to the norm, as extraverts make up about 75% of the population. Interesting that the writer and the two responses so far are all from these two groups. </p>

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Is anyone buying this?

by apotheon In reply to bITs and blogs

<div style="text-align: justify">
<p>Wipro is a technology consulting
firm that benefits from a "strategic alliance" with Microsoft,
including "building financial models and ROI calculators for Microsoft
product deployments" and "co-product development and engineering of
Microsoft products". They're about as deeply enmeshed with Microsoft as
a company can be without actually being owned outright. Wipro is even
engaged in "managing call center operations for Microsoft product
support" and ".NET evangelism with focus on enterprise and mobility
applications". In other words, Wipro's business model is tightly tied
to developing, maintaining, and marketing Microsoft product lines and
services. This is anything but independent. For more detail, check out
the Wipro Technologies website: <a href="http://www.wipro.com/aboutus/alliances/microsoft.htm">Wipro ? Microsoft: a strategic relationship</a></p>

<p>Recently,
Microsoft commissioned a study of patch management costs, comparing
Windows platform patch management with open source platform patch
management. Considering the above explanation of the relationship of
Wipro to Microsoft, and the fact that Microsoft commissioned the study
and reported the results, I suspect you can guess whether or not the
study favored open source software for patch management costs. Once
again, a Microsoft-commissioned study performed by a company that is
little more than a Microsoft lackey shows Microsoft undercutting the
cost of software that can be had for free. Go figure.</p>

<p>The study
results, in a little more detail, indicated that the patching costs
were very competitive between the Microsoft platform and the open
source software platform. It was admitted in the study that Microsoft
systems required more patching, but this is supposedly balanced by the
fact that the per-unit cost of patching for Microsoft systems was
lower. Of course, it's also claimed that patching is easier for Windows
systems ? a subjective, qualitative statement that cannot really be
statistically demonstrated in a study, and can thus be safely spouted
without worrying about the facts disproving the claim. When pinned down
on such issues, of course, Microsofties will always fall back on the
old "Windows GUIs are better!" argument. In my own experience, a simple
shell or Perl script handling sorting and distribution of apt patching
on Debian systems (for example) is about as easy as it can possibly get.</p>

<p>This
study, of course, actually compared corporations that use third-party
patch management software for organization and distribution of software
patches. These third-party solutions cost money to use, of course.
Interestingly, the per-unit per-patch cost that showed Microsoft's
stuff being cheaper used the same back-ends as the open source
software. Why is the per-patch per-unit cost lower? Simple: more
Windows systems were required for performing to similar standards.
Since the back-end cost was for the network, and not for the individual
units, where Windows systems require more computers in place the
per-unit cost involves a smaller division of the total cost over the
larger number of units, leading to a lower "per-unit" component of the
cost. Add to that the fact that patches are more numerous for Windows
systems than for Linux systems, and the "per-patch" component of your
cost is lower as well, because of similar division of cost between
instances. Considering that the per-patch cost division occurs on each
individual unit, that means that your total manipulation of cost
figures to produce "per-patch per-unit" costs involves dividing the
total cost by a number reached by multiplying the number of units by
the number of patches. Thus, the total cost of your solution is likely
more because of greater labor overhead (longer hours spent in
patch-management), but since that total cost for your network is
divided into such small numbers when divided by number of patches and
number of units, your per-patch per-unit cost can be significantly
lower. Thus, cleverly massaged statistics prove the sky is orange.</p>

<p>This would be why such
Microsoft-sponsored studies always examine per-unit costs for
distributed bulk services: multi-unit
services that only cost once can be whittled down when you split them
up over a larger number of systems, since a larger number is often
needed to achieve the same end results. Go figure. This turns the
real-world increase in financial and management resource expenditure
for a full-network solution into a decrease in resource expenditure for
each individual unit. So much the better for your study results if you
have to perform the same tasks over and over again, allowing a decrease
in expenditure for each iteration, though the total cost climbs.</p>

<p>Ultimately, none of this is all that
relevant to real-world costs. Real-world costs for actual patch
management and deployment are almost nothing for a knowledgeable
admin, regardless of the platform. What costs money and man-hours is
pre-deployment patch testing and post-deployment rollbacks and recovery
when patching goes awry ? and, of course, downtime from both
patch-related complications and the patching procedure itself. These
are, to the people who run these studies on the Microsoft paycheck,
irrelevant ephemera, but for those of us in the IT trenches they are
the meat and potatoes of the almighty TCO (total cost of ownership) and
administrative overhead (how much work and stress is involved in being
a system or network administrator).</p>

<p>Microsoft's track record in
post-deployment complications for new patches is legendary, and not
positive. The fact that most statistical analyses of system failures
during XP Service Pack 2 deployments performed by IT professionals were
in the range of 10-15% is just astounding. This sort of astronomically
high system failure rate after a patch purported to increase system
security and stability is simply unacceptable for most production
environments, and drives post-deployment recovery costs through the
roof for many administrators. Smart admins see a resulting increase in
pre-deployment patch testing because it simply becomes that much more
critical that patches are fully tested for potential problems before
deployment.</p>

<p>Then, of course, there's the matter of planned
downtime. Unplanned downtime is of course an incredible, and often
disastrous, addition to total cost of ownership for a given platform.
Planned downtime doesn't compare in terms of cost increases in most
environments. There's still an associated cost, though: even if
business isn't damaged overtly by planned downtime on the revenue side,
downtime of any kind tend to involve increased costs where such
concerns as the salaries of admins and contractors are concerned.</p>

<p>Almost
every single important patch applied to a Windows system requires a
system restart. The only time a system restart is required for a unix
system (such as Linux) patch is applied is when it's a kernel patch.
One of the major reasons for this is the system configuration scheme of
Windows, where all services are configured through a single flat-file
database. This is, to say the least, suboptimal for system uptime.</p>

<p>Time for some anecdotal evidence:</p>

<p>I've
never, in all my work as a consultant, had to recover from a Linux
system patch. Not once. All Linux system patches and upgrades worked
flawlessly for me. On the other hand, I literally paid my bills for a
while on Windows patch recovery when clients started applying SP2 to
their Windows XP systems. Linux systems used by the same clients hummed
along, undisturbed.</p>

<p>While I didn't service the Server 2003
systems that developed major problems with the deployment of SP1, I
know that similarly impressive spikes in the consultancy's revenue
stream occurred with that patch as well.</p>

<p>On top of all that, I'm
still waiting to hear about a number of patches for things that have
been languishing on Microsoft's back burner for far too long. I haven't
heard of a needed patch for the Linux systems I support that has yet
taken more than a few days to appear after the need was discovered. I
can only thank my lucky stars that my duties with the consultancy are
moving more and more into Linux and web development, and farther from
Windows system support. The stress levels have dropped considerably. I
get to design and implement, and spend less time fixing.</p>

<p>With
all of that in mind, and casting a scornful glance back at the
chicanery of Microsoft and Wipro Technologies, I have to ask:</p>
</div>

<div style="text-align: center">
<p><b>Is anyone buying this?</b></p>
</div>

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Is anyone buying this?

by jmgarvin In reply to Is anyone buying this?

The sad truth?  Yes!  CFOs, CEO, CIOs and COOs are buying
into the MS hype and FUD machne at an alarming rate!  While many
smaller shops are moving to Linux, most larger corporations don't seem
to get it.  The CFOs seem to think that MS products are cheaper,
the CIOs seem to think they are better for their IT staff and users,
and the COOs buy into the marketing hype.  <br />
<br />
MS claims their patch managment is top of the line (it isn't) and very
easy to deploy (it isn't).  MS also claims that Linux costs far
more than their bloated POS.<br />
<br />
I'm a Red Hat kinda Linux user, but I feel at home in any flavor. 
Why?  Because across all distributions there are MANY
commonalities that just don't exist in the MS family.  MS needs to
get its act together or more and more home and business users will just
drop it and more to either *nix or OS X (ya...I know it is BSD, but it
has its own special flavor)<br />

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