* Posts by ShelLuser

1969 posts • joined 19 Dec 2010

Office MACROS PERIL! Age-old VBScript tactic is BACK in biz attack



"Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) is one of the easiest methods to deliver malware nasties: simply by dropping malicious code into an Office doc as a macro and attaching to an email. The victim would be lured by a plausible pretext into opening an Office file attachment delivered to them by email."

Nice theory but based on old Office technology. Microsoft was late to the party, sure, but they have been working on securing their macro environment. First the differentiation between documents with macro's and those without (.doc vs .docx and .docm (document using macros) extension).

But most of all: Secure locations.

When I open an e-mail attachment which contains a weird macro then so what? Because Office will open the document with macro execution disabled, because it got opened from an insecure location.

By default only the standard location for Office documents is trusted, and those are not the places where downloaded documents or e-mail attachments will end up in.

The only way where this will go wrong is if the user is still tempted to click the button next to the big warning: "Macro execution has been disabled, click here if you want to enable it.". And even then it won't execute fully.

This has been the case since Office 2010 (which is no longer supported even), and I think it may even have been part of 2008 as well.

“Office macro exploits are just about the only cool thing that Visual Basic gets used for any more,” he added.

Then this guy is completely ignorant of what you can actually do with VB or Office macro's.

My whole company administration is automated through VBA. All handwritten but the best part is that I could easily "tie" the components together. Example: I store a lot of customer data in Outlook, its for keeping appointments, e-mails, etc. So; if I have an appointment I can quickly check the address if needed.

So what happens when I need to send 'm a bill or letter? Simple! My Word macro opens the Outlook contact database, checks for the customer name and then retrieves the right data and adds it to my template. Last time I manually typed a customer address in Word is 3 - 4 years ago.

Document references.. You don't think I'm making those up myself do you? That's what my "Private Function RefGen(naam As String) As String" function is for.

Note that I'm not saying that there is no risk at all, but I do think it's hardly as extreme as this guy wants us to believe. For starters he's ignoring the issue that the end user once again needs to click on a button which has a big bold warning next to it.

PS (edit):

The solution is a group policy to only allow certain people to run macro's? Uh huh. I'd personally opt to disable the "run macro anyway" override option which is also doable. Through a policy or, for example, by using a VBA macro which gets automatically started when Office starts.


Untangling .NET Core: Open source for Windows, Mac, Linux



No sane dev wants anything to do with MS, simple as that.

Then there are tens of thousands of developers out there who might disagree with you, on either one or both statements (about dealing with Microsoft or regarding their sanity) ;) The thing is: you don't have to "deal with Microsoft" (much) in order to use their (development) technology. And sure, Microsoft has its share of problems when it comes to keeping their user and fan -base happy, but that doesn't mean that they don't provide have anything interesting at all.

You know, I used to share your opinion regarding C#. Any sane Java developer would steer clear from that as best as they can, right? After all; it is a blatant rip-off from Java (MS trying their "embrace & conquer" technique) which in some ways is an insult to Java. Of course I totally overlooked the fact that Sun was actually happy about some parts because it also meant that Java definitely had its share of popularity.

Then Oracle took over, starting to try and make money from just about everything Sun related (bye bye "geek licenses" (as I tended to call them: free licenses to Sun products restricted to non-commercial but not to production use. iow: you were free to run your hobby website on Sun One: the Sun Java Systems webserver and back it up with the Sun Java Systems Directory Server for example)) and I didn't really feel motivated anymore to even closely support this money squeezer (I'm surprised that they haven't started selling Netbeans already).

So then I looked into .NET and C# and I learned that although there are similarities with Java it actually is a completely different environment. And, in my opinion, one which isn't half bad either.

I primarily use ASP.NET and well; there are plenty of things which it can do which Java (EE) can't. Nothing negative about Java, and most certainly not a comment in the likes of "one is better than the other", they both have their place in my opinion.

Did you know that ASP.NET is a full fledged OO environment where even the webpage itself is a class of its own (the System.Web.WebPages)? And did you also know that .NET supports partial classes? In short: a class definition which is divided over multiple files.

This is the perfect recipe for webdevelopers in my opinion because it fully integrates with the HTML 4.0 ideology where contents (HTML) and design / markup (CSS) should be kept separate. You basically get to keep this model (in a base minimum only one identifier line will be added to the top of your HTML document) where it merely adds an extra component: a separate file in which you can do your coding (your web application code or business logic as MS likes to call it).

Each to his own, but not having to dig through HTML code in order to check up on my programming has already saved me lots of time. From fixing programming errors right down to extending on already existing stuff.

And the fun part? I also don't like the way Microsoft is going. I think quite poorly about Windows 8, I'm still sceptical about Windows 10 and I also think their choices with regards to their development platforms were highly questionable.

That's one of the reasons why I'm now using all of this stuff on FreeBSD and Mono. All thanks to open source software.

So if Microsoft wants to open source this stuff then I'd say let 'm. Chances are high that we'll all be able to benefit from it.

IMO it's hardly as bad as you make it..


Furious GTA V gamers seek similar ban on violent, misogynistic title: the Holy Bible


Change.org has a point, but are also missing a few..

First of all I can fully understand that some people would be offended by GTA V. And lets be honest here: there is no denying that what they say is true; you can pick up prostitutes, pay them to perform sex on you and afterwards choose to kill them in order to get (some of) your money back.

Its true.

But is this reason enough to ban the game?

If I were a police officer I might get offended over this. After all: apparently its perfectly OK to murder or completely annihilate a police department but as soon as it happens to a woman then it should be a bannable offense. And make no mistake about it: this isn't just about blowing up police cars or shooting down cops. Wouldn't be the first time a cop car gets caught in the aftermath of an explosion setting both the car and the inhabitants on fire. Who then run out screaming and yelling while being burned alive. That too is GTA V ladies and gentlemen.

Now that I mention it; would I be a fireman, heck: would I work for any help service I might get heavily offended too. After all: its perfectly OK to get people to call 911 to call for help, and when help arrives you then steal their vehicles (or worse of course). As long as it isn't a woman... Think I'm making this up? Then why did this happen in both versions of the game: IV & V? In IV your cousin (Roman) gets kidnapped and you need to get a police car so that you can pull over a couple of vans which smuggle TV sets for another crime family. If you miss the cop car driving over (and the cop cars parked across the city) then your option is simple: call 911. In GTA V you need to impersonate both a cop (driving on a bike to steal two sport cars) as well as a group of firemen (depending on which heist outcome you picked) to rob a bank.

As said I can understand that some women may get upset over GTA V, I really do.

But I also think that it is unfair to single out what can happen to a woman character in GTA (V). Because the game doesn't discriminate here; you can do the same horrible stuff to any man too. Maybe even worse.. Shopkeepers in GTA V online mostly sound "foreign" to me, perhaps an Indian heritage, I dunno. And what can you do? You can buy food there to help you out (you can use this in missions to boost your health) but you can also rob them if you so choose. Even after you bought stuff to get your money back! Better yet: smack them over the head with a baseball bat (so that they don't die, you'll get less wanted stars) then clean out the cash register yourself when they have fled.

Wear a mask so that they don't recognize you! Next time you pop in you may even notice this very clearly: "Hello friend!", is how they'll sometimes greet you. Some friend you are!

My point is: yes, some women are sometimes treated poorly and can indeed be murdered after performing sexual favours. But men get treated just as poorly.

Most of all: this is all at the discretion of the player. Which is the most important thing to realize: players don't have to kill prostitutes if they don't want to. Same applies to those shop keepers.

Maybe an unfair comment, but considering how GTA is controversial by design anyway I'm going to share this anyway: personally I'd rather see people get their kicks from this violence in-game than in the real world.


The internet is less free than last year. Thanks a bunch, Snowden



The keyword here is control.

When we were still ruled (more or less) by the church it was all heaven and hell; best do what they said otherwise it wouldn't be good for you.

More or less (to a certain extend) during the cold war. Communism was the root of evil so yah; very terrifying indeed. Now; this isn't really a black/white subject but some events regarding Russia didn't quite go as we were being told. Only now does the truth come out here and there.

Terrorism is also a very good way to keep people under control. Once again, and the main problem, is that it is a grey area. There are threats and there are dangerous situations. But not all of it comes "out of the blue". Perhaps an extreme example, yet still legit: when the US has put Saddam Hussein into power he pretty much kept things more or less stable in the Middle East. That is, of course, ignoring the war with Iran but we didn't have much other threats with regards to extremists because they were kept under control. Look where we are now... Just like most everyone who knew the region predicted; create a power vacuum and you will attract problems... Yet it still happened. Under a false flag operation too.

But yah; thats the main problem for governments: the Internet usually doesn't forget. They can make sure to keep some things out of the media (the classic "We found $major terrist!", and 6 months later (on page 13) you read in the newspaper that he wasn't a terrist afterall), and this is happening, but opinionated bloggers and other "community media" usually doesn't forget these things and will address them.

And there's the main problem, especially if it could spell problems for a current administration.

Now you're in trouble...

Big brother is here, they're simply smart enough to stay hidden in the shadows. And anyone who shines their flashlight will soon be dubbed enemy of the state.


Gaming's driving ambitions: The Crew and Grand Theft Auto V



I have to agree with you about the hype part, and I also thought your review was interesting. However; I've also spotted some items I don't agree with. For example: "X game is better than GTA V" really is in the eye of the beholder. At times I like playing Minecraft much more than GTA V but that doesn't make it necessarily better per definition.

One of the reasons why I thought the graphics in GTA V (ps3) were disappointing is because they borrowed (or used) the same graphics engine which was being used in L.A. Noire. Granted; GTA V brings much more detail to the environment, but the look and feel is pretty much the same.

My personal gripe with GTA V is the crammed up storyline. It just isn't long enough to do dive into all three characters. This worked flawlessly in GTA IV but only because all characters got time to develop. Niko had to cope with both learning you all about Liberty City and dive into the character. But as soon as you got TLAD you already knew about the basics thus could dive right into the main course. And it still provided plenty of character building. Same with TBoGT.

Story wise I enjoyed GTA IV a whole lot better. It felt like it had much more depth. And of course there was a surprise angle when you got to play certain missions again yet from a whole different perspective (it was pretty cool when I played Johnny and met up with Niko; I knew what was gonna happen yet they still managed to add new surprising elements to it).

But that magic is all gone in GTA V.

GTA Online.. its kinda cool but also pretty much ruined by R*'s constant changes. Esp. the reward system. It seems to me as if R* doesn't know shit about providing a good balanced multi-user gameplay where economy is concerned. Because right now it seems everyone has a buzzard (attack helicopter) yet few know how to use it. Wouldn't be the first time I tried to take on a mission (taking out an enemy crew for example) only to get shot down by some idiot in a Buzzard.

Its unbalanced. The whole of it. Some missions require a minimum of 2 - 3 players while they can easily be done alone while others force you to repeat your actions because you're alone ('gentry does it'; steal 2 boats. If you destroy one its game over. You need to deliver a boat, go back and deliver the other. While in other missions you can just destroy one vehicle, deliver the other and you're good).

For me the replay value of GTA V is very low.


Google? Microsoft? What the heck do they do in cloud?


The main problem with the cloud...

Is it absurd pricing model. Sure; in theory it sounds wonderful; you only pay per hour and only for the resources you use. Sure, sure.

Unfortunately getting a good indication of what you're paying for and how much will often turn into a major investigation case. And for the record: all of the major cloud vendors are guilty here.

Lets talk Amazon EC2: Free tier (with the dreaded asterisk of course): 750 hours of running EC2 (750/24 = 31,25; nearly a month), 30Gb storage and 15Gb data traffic. Sounds too good to be true? Well, if you look into the detailsyou'll soon notice that it applies to the t2.micro instance. So what's that? Well, in order to check that you'll need the instances overview. And lookie! Now all of a sudden we're looking at: 1vCPU, 6 CPU credits/hour (what are CPU credits?), 1Gb memory and EBS storage only. As it turns out (quote): "Each T2 instance receives CPU Credits continuously at a set rate depending on the instance size. T2 instances accrue CPU Credits when they are idle, and use CPU credits when they are active.". So; what happens if I run out of credits, and how much credits would my hobby Linux webserver use? To know more about this we need to check the "Burst section" on that same pricing page:

"For example, a t2.small instance receives credits continuously at a rate of 12 CPU Credits per hour. This capability provides baseline performance equivalent to 20% of a CPU core. If at any moment the instance does not need the credits it receives, it stores them in its CPU Credit balance for up to 24 hours. If and when your t2.small needs to burst to more than 20% of a core, it draws from its CPU Credit balance to handle this surge seamlessly. Over time, if you find your workload needs more CPU Credits than you have, or your instance does not maintain a positive CPU Credit balance, we recommend either a larger T2 size, such as the t2.medium, or a Fixed Performance Instance type."

So it is possible to obtain a negative CPU credit balance. At what costs? Well, your guess is as good as mine here. You should probably contact them or use their "amazing" pricing calculator (which really only left me with even more uncertainty and questions)... For example; I can tell it that I got a Linux box, 1 instance, t1.micro and its used for 3hours/day. That'll cost me $1,84. But, but, but; wasn't this free? And what happens if that 3 hour usage pops a little (say Wordpress which gets a small boom)? How much for those CPU credits?

Don't gloat yet you guys because Azure isn't much different. So now I'm a Microsoftie (no offense!) and I want a Windows server to experiment on. You know; IIS, a small bit of ASP, and lots of mmc (Microsoft Management Console) action. "Website for free" the pricing page says. If you click it you'll quickly see: "Try for free". Small difference indeed. At least they let you know that a virtual instance starts at approx. $13 / E 9,69 per month. But... what does that get you? Well, an "A0" instance (1 core, 0,75Gb RAM and 20Gb disk size). Not exactly much to run a Windows server on... So what exactly is an A0 instance? Check out their Virtual Machines page and what do you know: it doesn't say! It tells me that I can do Sharepoint, how open the whole thing is ("you can use open and community driven OS"), I'm saving money, get hybrid connections and "True HPC capabilities". But what exactly IS an A0 instance?

Eventually I ran into a loop. the Virtual Machine MSDN page tells me I should check out the Azure documentation page. And that page points me right right back to the MSDN Virtual Machines FAQ when all I'm trying to do is getting some specs.

SO with Amazon I can't get a grip on exact prices, with Microsoft I can't get a good grip on exact specifications...

Last candidate: the Google cloud.

So; same as above: we want an experimentation machine to lust on our Linux, FreeBSD and/or Windows passion. Well, one thing becomes pretty clear when you check out their Compute engine: you'll get a virtual machine, no direct access but all you need to click & install applications on it. Not what I had in mind but it'll work.

So what does this cost me and what performance do I get? That same Compute page tells you at the bottom. For example: n1-standard-1: 1 virtual core, 3,75Gb memory, 2 GCEU which will roughly cost you about $0,069 / per hour. So $1,65 per day and approx. $50,- / month.

But there is more; you'll be charged for a minimum of 10 minutes. After the first 10 minutes you'll be charged extra per minute, but at first 10 minutes. Nice approach when you're testing a machines performance or are trying to bugfix it (which will require reboots and/or turning it off or on). Is that it? No; when using "premium operating systems" such as RHEL, SuSE or Windows you'll be charged extra. And there's also storage pricing: Standard persistent disk costs you $0,04 per Gb per month. Or SSD provisioned space: $0,218 per Gb per month.

SO; if your instance is off then it won't cost you anything, right? Wrong! If you have an IP address assigned to an instance but you aren't using it then it'll cost you $0,01 per hour. It'll be free once the machine is on of course.

My conclusion?

They're all a bunch of rubbish. Its hard (if not impossible) to get a good grip on pricing or what it is you're paying for. At most you'll be paying for "virtual computing space" while you may hope that you'll actually get charged for what you're using it for (how are you going to check and/or complain otherwise?).

My advice? If you want easy computing or such you should look into a regular hosting provider. Sure, you'll pay per month but at least you'll know exactly what you pay for. Like with my favourite provider: 1 Xeon CPU, 1Gb memory, 50Gb SSD storage, 1Tb data traffic, 1 IPv4 address, /64 IPv6 range and all that for E 10,- / month (= approx. E 0,0134 per hour). Community OS's are free (Linux and BSD) and for Windows based OS's you'll pay an extra licensing fee per month.

Cloud computing is nice if you're a big company which doesn't want to mess with on-site management and instead have that delegated / outsourced. But for everyone else I'd say your regular hosting provider is all you need. Best yet: even those can provide cloud based services (like the one I mentioned above). Main difference is that it's their private cloud, yet publically accessible still.

Don't give in to the hype!


Microsoft: So sorry for NOT paying Xbox indie game devs on time



At least MS fessed up and promised to take action.

Last time this happened with Google (android) they simply locked the topic, told ppl that they should e-mail Google (even though one of the most heard complaints was that mailing didn't do anything at all) and eventually the thread got removed entirely.




Well, he has a (misquoted) point I think.

I think the main issue here is that Hawkins doesn't say that doomsday is going to happen. That's only what the media makes of it in their headlines. Look at El Reg: "Stephen Hawking again warns AI will supersede humans".

So now the actual quote from the interview: "The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race."

And there are more misquotes. El Reg: "Humans limited by slow biological evolution cannot compete and will be superseded.".

Quote from the BBC article: "Humans, who are limited by slow biological evolution, couldn't compete and would be superseded".

So basically all he's saying is that it could spell doom for us and if it did then he thinks its because of our slow evolution in comparison. No where does he claim that this is going to happen no matter what.

With these kinds of articles it really is important to read past the headlines and base your opinion on that which has actually been said.


One year on, Windows 8.1 hits milestone, nudges past XP


Stimulating warez perhaps?

If you take into consideration that Windows 7 is dominating the market (50.4%?) I cannot help wonder if the strategy of not selling it (the consumer version) won't have an opposite effect: instead of stimulating Windows 8.1 I think it also creates a serious potential for the use of warezed copies.

In my profession its the most heard of excuse when it comes to Microsoft products: "I'd love to buy it if I could, but I can't. So....".

If the people prefer Windows 7, why not sell it? Sometimes I think Microsoft still have no clue, what so ever, to appeal to the market.

Which I personally consider a tremendous shame. Despite of my criticism sometimes I'll also be the first to say that if there's one thing Microsoft has its a lot of potential. Some of their software is really pretty solid and of good quality (your mileage varies of course).

If only they learned how to sell it...


Star Wars: Episode VII trailer lands. You call that a lightsaber? THIS is a lightsaber


Seems they're re-using stuff again...

Solely judging from the trailer I do think that it gives away the impression that some people have a hard time coming up with new ideas, which would be my only gripe with all this.

I mean; when looking at SW1 the double bladed lightsaber was a pretty nifty spinoff from the classic design. But this new design looks to me as if they desperately wanted something new (why?) and thus came up with this. Which leaves me wondering; what's wrong with the classic lightsaber design in the first place? Some things are good enough as it is and don't need constant evaluation.

And well; when looking at the Falcon getting chased by tie fighters... Could be an interesting angle, but also makes one wonder; wasn't the empire overthrown? But most of all; wouldn't it be more interesting to add something new into the mix instead of re-using aspects from the past?

Still, one way or the other: the trailer sure did its job well. After all; it got people to talk about Star Wars again, and sometimes pretty passionate too. Mission accomplished!


Azure has put new life into Active Directory



"Azure AD's the future, and it'll ****ing crush anything else out there."

I recall reading the same thing about Metro aka the start screen within Windows 8 and future versions. The start menu was gone for good because the "tiled start screen" was the new way to go; it would completely (re)organize your information streams with the utmost efficiency.

Microsoft was so convinced that they even pushed this forward within their server products.

And look where we are now ;)

I admire your passion but you might want to check up on how the modern market is working ;)



The main criticism here isn't so much regarding the centralisation but towards cloud storage and Azure in particular. Even within *nix environments the value of centralised management is well known, otherwise we wouldn't be having features such as LDAP and NIS / NIS/yp.

But there is a huge difference between storing this information in-house or placing it wide in the "open" within a cloud. That is where the cynicism and criticism comes from.

You're making yourself completely dependant on the service provider(s) (cloud as well as the connection provider) whereas with in-house management you will keep a large dose of freedom and flexibility.

Black Helicopters

I beg to differ ;)

"It will be more deeply integrated into every aspect of Microsoft and will be the de facto identity service of the next 15 years."

Sure, and the new Windows servers were also going to revolutionize things and get everyone cheering. The cold fact however is that there are millions of Windows 2k3 servers out there within environments where people simply don't see the appeal or need for all these new "benefits".

Now, don't get me wrong here: first and foremost I'm not claiming that there isn't any value in these developments at all. But I do think it gets way to much hyped (even in this article) where people only look at the (theoretical!) advantages but ignore the potential risks which lure in the shadows.

You say: push everything into the cloud to broaden your potential whereas I say: create a single point of failure with every bit of risk involved. Because lets be honest: cloud services aren't really well known for their reliability.

Another problem here is the cost factor. Its often argued that this new way of doing things makes it easier, and thus there's less time involved with management. Less time means less money and as such you're looking at a potential revenue saver. But are we really?

First and foremost there's risk management. Often ignored but oh so important: what happens if the cloud services do fail? What costs are involved when you're looking at a few hours or even half a day of non-productivity? Easily ignored ("that stuff doesn't happen anymore") but what if it does? Then your whole company comes to a screeching halt.

Directly followed with: what are the extra costs involved for insurance? Sure; you could rely on regular cloud storage (which isn't free), but I'm pretty sure that companies would really want some kind of failsave. Ergo we're looking at things like SLA's (Service Level Agreement), which often don't come cheap either. After all; if you're going to be hosting your data in the "cloud" you'd want some guarantees that this cloud will be available when you need it.

You say less administration overhead, I say less freedom: "No $admin, upcoming week is our sales week and we're doing a training. Could you please postpone the full maintenance for 2 days so our staff has time to prepare?" versus: "Darn, we were fully prepared for the upcoming sales week training but Microsoft will be performing maintenance on their Azure services tonight, so we can't fully rely on it right now.".

And well... Looking at Azure pricing wouldn't it be fair to say that there is a really big chance that anything which you might safe by incorporating this technology will also find its way back into having to pay for it? Quite dearly even if you want to make sure that scenario's as the one I described above can never happen.

Which brings me to: "If it isn't broke, why change it?".

Seriously: is this really about providing a better product, or about trying really hard to make companies and people more depending on these new services which Microsoft has to offer?

I know I'm often quite cynical, but it really looks to me as if Microsoft is basically saying "Ok, lets throw away 20+ years worth of development and start all over". Where the customers are obviously the guinea pigs.

Lets not forget that Microsoft is in dire need of more revenue. Sales are dropping just like customer opinions. They can't rely on Windows to be sold based on principle anymore, so they really need to find other ways to gain revenue. Enter the cloud subscriptions...

Good for us? Or mostly good for them?


A WHOPPING 8 million Windows Server 2003 systems still out there


Not surprising...

I think it could become a very dangerous time for Microsoft where their server products are concerned because lets be honest: most products don't really look very appealing at all. Although it shouldn't but "eye candy" matters, at least to some extend. If that weren't true then how come we gained so much when looking at Windows 7 in comparison to, say, Windows 2000 or Windows XP?

And on servers, especially those with a graphical user interface, some people will expect to see an environment which will at least look somewhat familiar. Its what has been happening over the server lines for over the past years anyway.

Well, I don't have to mention how great Windows 8 is going, and the new server line basically follows the same path as the client. Including the addition of all the touch crapola. If people hate it on the desktop, why would they embrace it on the server-side? I personally think you'll get even more resistance on that front.

Another problem: once a new product is out, good luck getting the previous one! Windows 7 is more or less still around, but trying to get Microsoft Office 2010? Or what about server products; Windows Server 2k8 is pretty straight forward, but these days 2012 needs to be pushed forwards making 2008 nearly impossible to get.

Which poses us with yet another problem where "eye candy" is concerned. Windows used to be all about providing us with a detail rich interface, which really looked pretty amazing. Of course also taxing on the hardware, but lets ignore this for now.

So here we are; and what is the current development all going to be? Making the interface as flat and minimalistic as possible. Each to his own, but the modern products look extremely unappealing to me. Starting with the often flat and boring icons, right down to hard to look at screens (such as the new MS Office products). And since the server products follow the clients...

If people hate the clients (think Windows 8) why would they bother looking into a server which follows the same idiocy? (something I never quite understood; why make developer and server products follow a consumer market? isn't it fair to say that functionality should have a higher priority than desktop styles?).

My take? Open up the sales of Windows server 2008 again, and I think you might be surprised at the results. Same applies to the Office products. I know for a fact that plenty of people would rather buy Office 2010 than getting their hands on the new stuff. And I think the same (to a certain extend) applies to the server range as well.

Alas; for me & my (small!) company its already too late. We started a full transition into FreeBSD and so far things are looking pretty good. Solid support & documentation, nearly every piece of software is provided; both open source as well as commercially licensed products (Ports collection) and best of all: with the help from the Mono and Samba projects you may very well end up with a better Windows-like server than the original!

So far we never looked back.


Pity the poor Windows developer: The tools for desktop development are in disarray



"I think whoever is in charge of this at MS should be told their number one priority is to make sure that it's a piece of piss to be able to write some simple game and the choice of technology is a no-brainer."

Uhm, but it already is a nobrainer where technology is concerned. A mere Google search for "visual studio gaming" would point your direction towards the XNA Game Studio environment.

I don't develop games myself, but from what I can tell this has been around for quite a while already. It's basically yet another approach of their "write once, use everywhere" doctrine since this platform should allow you to develop for all Microsoft gaming platforms (Windows, XBox & Windows Phone).

As I understand it its a replacement for DirectX; more of a framework (like so many others) which more or less abstracts some of the requirements. Here is an interesting discussion with regards to the differences between the two platforms.

Although I do agree with your comments; Microsoft makes certain things a whole lot harder then they need to, I also don't think it applies here.


Ten excellent FREE PC apps to brighten your Windows


Missing 2 things...

One of the things which I think should also be in the list is an image viewer. I'm actually surprised that none was included because well, surely we still like to look at a few pictures every once in a while? I'm very happy with IrfanView. It's an image viewer which provides tons of extra features as well, including features such as editing your pictures a bit (scaling / resizing, cropping or cutting out a selection and obviously plenty of filters and effects to apply).

When it comes to editing then it's not always perfect (trying to cut a transparent PNG file can sometimes be a little awkward, I usually resort to The Gimp for that), but it goes a very long way for "merely" an imageviewer.

Second; although you mentioned a program which can make it easier to copy things onto cloud environments, what about copying files to local storage media or even regular network shares / drives? I've become quite fond of TeraCopy. Its a free copy program which also has a paid counterpart. The reason why I like this program is because despite the commercial alternative it doesn't get in your face. You can use it to its full potential, even though the authors obviously hope that you'll get the commercial version too.

And clicking "test" while copying a large(r) file only to discover that the copy action did not go as expected and that the copy checksum failed can really be a priceless experience.

Finally... Sure, Winzip and Peazip are excellent programs. I'd still would like to mention WinRAR too. An archiver which has been with us for decades already; I licensed this product during the BBS era (last century) and I still have and use a license today (to be honest; I got new licenses too; one for my company and a new one for personal use, simply because it makes little sense to advertise for your BBS these days ;)).

It's a brilliant piece of software IMO, I especially like the integrated checksum parts where it can add a so called "recovery record" (both embedded or detached) which allows you to repair an archive in case it should get damaged. Invaluable option... It heavily leans upon the so called PAR checksum options; a format which allows you to create a checksum block which can also be used to recreate parts of the original file.

This feature alone makes WinRAR a very powerful archiver for me; especially when we're talking about making backups which are meant to be kept around for an X amount of time.


Dragon Age, Inquisition: Our chief weapons are...


What about gameplay?

Read a lot about impressions but I can't find much about gameplay here. At least the screen shots show that blasted 'weapons wheel' is still there, which would be a no no for me. Its what I disliked in D.A. II because it didn't have any easy quick select options; only the weapons wheel. Very cool indeed while you're under attack and can't prepare with potions being quickly available to you with one press of a button.

I'm also missing out on customization options. Another big issue with DA2. Because you hardly could.

And speaking of storyline: DA2 went horribly wrong (IMO) where storyline was concerned by degrading the Marabi warhound as an entity instead of a fully worth player. Simply because it went straight against their own storyline and backgrounds. After all: In 1 we learned that a Marabi would easily fight itself to the death to protect its master. That's the whole vision of he warhound. Yet in 2 you could only summon him with a spell. And no matter how much you (its master) were under attack: when time ran out, *poof*, and it was gone. Uhm, fighting to the death? how?

The reason I mention this is because the author mentions the criticism regarding DA2, but doesn't bother to explain how and where this game differs.

Another thing: it looks to me as if this game is full 3rd person. Its been a while since I played DA but I do recall that one of the reasons I initially picked it up (and bought the whole official guide too) was because it wasn't 3rd person. I don't like seeing a bunch of puppets running across your screen and you just have to "imagine" that those can represent you.

Its what I loved about DA, the original concept: attacking thieves could actually hide behind you, esp. if you didn't have the presence of mind to look around but instead kept focussing on the enemy in front of you. THAT was brilliant gameplay in my opinion. Heck; even better: I could do the same thing myself too!

3rd person ruins that experience because... Good luck hiding as a thief when there's an "all seeing mastermind" (the player) present.

Final comment, but this is just me being critical: so we gain influence by capturing forts or keeps. Why does this sound horribly familiar to me? You do the same thing in Assassins Creed, Far Cry 3 & 4, Watch Dogs, and so on. Isn't that approach getting a little old?

I suppose seeing could be believing, but so far I'm not a believer.


Useless 'computer engineer' Barbie FIRED in three-way fsck row



I for one hope that someday people will grow back a bit of common sense and stop looking for meanings which aren't there in the first place.

So just because Barbie is a girl you can't write up a story about how she doesn't understand computers because she's a girl and therefore its sexist? However, you can write up such a story when the main character is a male? So how is that not being sexist?

I'm getting annoyed too; with the double morals being uphold.

So when someone writes a story about how a girl doesn't know anything about a computer its an outrage (even though, shudder, some people (who cares about gender in the first place? you? you sexist!) actually really don't know shit about computers).

Yet when someone writes a story about how certain women allow themselves to be degraded to mere party / company or heck: sex slaves (Fifty shades of grey anyone?) then it's quickly turning into a best seller. Oh I know: "that's different because its targeted at adults".

Sure, however; this Barbie book was targeted at teens and from what I can tell only a bunch of stuck-up adults actually had problems with it. So... different? How?

In my opinion some people should be forced to watch The Tale of Scrotie McBoogerballs. A South Park episode no less. One of the many reasons why I think the older seasons were /so/ much better than what we got now.

SO basically; the boys write a book, with the only intend to make it as offensive and disgusting as possible. A mother (don't want to spoil the plot ;)) finds it, gets disgusted with it yet still thinks she understands "what the meaning of the story is".

While in fact there was none. Just writing up a disgusting piece of work for fun. Using as many "no no" words as possible.

This is IMO no different. Just because Barbie is a girl some people consider it sexism if she doesn't know shit about computers. Apparently those people are even totally incapable to realize that the target audience would never get those ideas of sexism.

Unless of course you bring them into contact with such. Like, for example, making a huge fuss about it and making all the kids believe that this actually is a BIG deal, even though they never would have thought so in the first place.

And voila; now all of a sudden you realized the exact opposite of what you tried to do; because now the people involved get into the stereotyping that "writing stories about girls who don't know IT is bad".

Why it's bad? Would anyone ask that question at the risk of being called a sexist?

So now we're down to "girls aren't bad with IT per definition, because 'we' said so".

Gee, and when I put it like that it sure as heck sounds like dictatorship to me!

Who cares about allowing people to decide for themselves if they think the story is suitable for their children or not?. Naah, who cares about freedom of choice anyway? This is all for the common good after all!

Yah, and that last sentence is what most dictators also use to justify their actions. Just saying....


Far Cry 4 REVIEW: It's a far cry from Far Cry 3


Not quite sure...

My main gripe is that Far Cry has so far always been radically different. FC1 on the islands fighting a horde of mutants ("trigands"), FC2 which put you in the role of a hitman right within an African turbulent war... And FC3 which, as was to be expected, changed the decor quite radically again and introduced us to Vaas.

Thing is; I liked FC3 but I didn't consider it all that great. It had too many flaws which added up could easily be a deal breaker, at least to me. Take for example the option of not being able to quickly swap between your weapons; only the current and the last can be quickly picked up (d-pad), the rest is all weapons wheel. While we could easily switch between the three main categories in previous titles. That has always bugged me with this game.

Missions aren't all that brilliant either. You see; when I learned "towers = weapons" I started on a raiding rampage, combining stealth with force. And I have to admit; the experience was very good! Didn't take me too long to get all the towers on the first island (amazingly enough, the weapons dealer in the main camp kept bugging me about "unlock more towers", yah, duh?). SO I eventually came across missions where it felt like I had weapons which the developers didn't anticipate for.

What I mean?

So you have an assassination: need to kill this dude between the left and right island. He's sitting right in the middle (small strip) between the main Rakya village and, as said, the section left to it. And as is accustomed: you need to kill the main villain with a traditional knife. Everyone else is expandable So far, so good.

Thing is: I had a sniper rifle here. So I started to scope the area out, sniped of some of the bad guys and the main villain started to walk towards me. So: way outside the mission parameter. I sneaked up, killed him and... mission failed, you need to use the knife!. Which is of course exactly what I did.

As it turned out you need to enter the mission area before you can do stuff. And some of the areas in FC3 are horribly small. In this case I never went near it, but thanks to my sniper rifle could already step in. Apparently the developers never anticipated this. Duh!

My other main gripe was that once you liberated the outposts there wasn't really much left to do. They were never taken back (not even attacked), and from there on you could basically go wherever you wanted to go without any risk. This was a major downer on re-playability for me too, but Ubisoft fixed this in the mean time by allowing you to reset the whole outpost issue.

FC3 was nice, but not that good IMO. At least not for playing the game in a completely different (but still valid!) manner.

So yah... this game seems a lot like a repeat of moves to me. Outposts, main villain, etc. The critic in me can't help wonder how much they're going to try to sell the visual aspects and perhaps use it to draw attention away from gameplay.

Not saying that they will, but if they do then I wouldn't be surprised.

So yah, I'm not a believer and most likely going to sit this one out.


Doctor Who trashing the TARDIS, Clara alone, useless UNIT – Death in Heaven




In fact, it's not a completely unknown plot twist either since it has been done before. Season 2: Army of Ghosts / Doomsday. The head of operations of Torchwood gets converted, but is later seen killing other cybermen while ranting "I did my duty for queen and country".

Not just that, we even see something like a tear coming from her eyes. Talk about a situation which doesn't add up!

Which is basically my only gripe with this new season: the heavy re-use of plots which have already been done.

btw; the only reason I remember this is because of the interesting clash between the Daleks and Cybermen in that episode arch. Both species tried to invade earth yet unknown of the others presence. And it was as funny as it was dark:

Cyberman (talking to a Dalek): "You will identify first!".

Dalek: "Daleks do not take orders!"

Cyberman: "You have identified yourself Dalek..."

That was as brilliant as it was simple. But in comparison to all that I have to agree that this season is lacking.


Find My Phone does just one thing but Samsung's messed it up


Still needs 'help' from the user..

The youtube movie starts with the following quote:

"Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF) is an attack that tricks the victim into loading a page that contains a malicious request".

So it still boils down to "be careful what website(s) you visit". It doesn't make this attack less dangerous, obviously not, but even so the targeted users can still do a lot themselves to prevent any damage as well.




When reading the headline...

I was hoping for some kind of revenge act from Sun Microsystems and that they somehow "sabotaged" Oracle. Oh well,wishful thinking ;)


Ubuntu 14.10 tries pulling a Steve Ballmer on cloudy offerings


This proves one important thing...

"“It hurts my eyes,” Steve Ballmer once joshed during a demonstration of Microsoft’s Virtual Server 2005 Service Pack 1 managing Red Hat Linux.".

In my opinion comments like that clearly prove that Ballmer's main approach was that of marketing and administration and that he severely lacked any feeling for the technical approach of things.

I don't care if you're pro or anti Linux or Windows; one cannot deny that Microsoft has made some interesting progress here within their line of virtualization products. Yet it seems that even that detail is completely wasted on Ballmer and all he can see is his own petty ideas.

Must have been fun for the developers who worked on this.. First thing the head honcho says is that your work is hurting his eyes, such motivating words indeed!

Anyone with a small bit of feel for tech would at the very least recognize some progress here. Who cares if Microsoft are more or less re-inventing the wheel here?

And I think that lack of "tech vision" on the part of Ballmer is one of the reasons which caused Microsoft to alienate themselves from so many users, developers and fans.


Microsoft promises Windows 10 will mean two-factor auth for all

Black Helicopters

More security, or more Big Brother?

It may sound wonderful: extra security enhancement to make sure you're safe. But are they really?

Where people say "two-factor authentication for more security" I say "more options for the manufacturer to snoop on the end user". Especially because mobile phones will be the preferred method. Why does Microsoft need my phone number if all I want to do is use Windows?

Second; as I feared they're pushing their software store forward. Sure; I fully agree that it may make things easier for the end user; all they need to do is pick their software from a list, click install, and off you go. But it also locks the market down. And that is not such a good thing IMO.

As I mentioned before: Microsoft launches their new Office version and LibreOffice has just released their latest release. Do you really think LibreOffice would make it into a Microsoft store if there would be a risk that it could take away the spotlight from MS Office?

But most of all I can't help wonder why do we need more "security" like this?

Lets look at that latest PowerPoint attack. What is mentioned, but not as clearly as I'd like, is that end users had to go through several warnings and notices before their systems got infected.

You can apply a 4-way authentication scheme here; lets call the users on their phone to verify that they're really them before allowing them to use Windows. But that won't change the users mentality!

If said user opens a malicious document and clicks on several warnings that they're sure that they want to open it, then what?

The reason I mention this? The more you lock things down, the more the users will rely on the system and the more ignorant some will become. In the end these kind of options may very well lead to even less secure environments than you'd hope for. Because people start to rely on their system to keep things safe.

But, as we all know, a safe computer environment doesn't foremost depend on the system. Its the user who has the final say in all that.


Lords take revenge on REVENGE PORN publishers



So what hope do we have that this new law will make any difference?

It's simple really, the politicians simply use a very advanced plan of action which basically guarantees success. Rumour has it that even large corporations seem to apply this business model with great success:

  • Create a new law to ban $unwanted_public_behavior
  • ???
  • Profit!

The worst part of it all is that it actually seems to be true. And I'm somewhat shocked to learn that this isn't a problem which only occurs in my country.

I call it "taking the approach with the least resistance". Its relatively easy to make a law; but enforcing said law, that's going to be the real challenge. A challenge which more and more government officials seem to be either overlooking or completely ignoring.


MARS NEEDS WOMEN, claims NASA pseudo 'naut: They eat less


And once again "El Reg" works ;)

When I read the article I was amazed at the amount of dumb stereotyping going on. And well, then its really refreshing to see some of that reflected back into the comment section ;) At least to me, and yes; I'm a male too so that's probably it.

I suggest we nominate Awesome Kong, otherwise also known under her WWE alias Kharma. I actually enjoyed her short stint in the WWE, it was new, it was bizarre and nothing like we've seen before. Unfortunately it was also cut way too short IMO.

So why nominate Ms. Stevens? Well, someone's got to keep those Martians in check, and I think she'd be the perfect man, err, sorry: woman for the job!


Will.i.am gets CUFFED as he announces his new wristjob, the PULS


Just too bad..

I stopped wearing watches when I started carrying a phone around since it also displayed the time.

So yah, definitely not planning on picking up on some wrist thing (again).


Microsoft, Docker bid to bring Linux-y containers to Windows: What YOU need to know



"Windows is always trying to catch-up to Linux."

Perhaps that's true; but would that be a bad thing?

Because I could also argue that Linux is now trying to catch-up to FreeBSD; this container development sounds very much like a FreeBSD Jail. I could also argue that they're not very fast either considering that Jails have been part of FreeBSD since version 4.0; see here. Release date? Around 14th of March 2000; this is the announcement.

Seriously; what's the problem? Open source was made to be used, people don't give out the source code just to make them look better. The whole idea is to embrace and extend or expand.

And here's the thing with software freedom and all that: you don't get to chose who's going to use your product. Because doing so would not only be an insult to the whole idea of free software, it would also turn the whole thing into a tyranny. Freedom is the art of allowing everyone (so even Microsoft!) to use the fruits of your labour.

When I see Microsoft using something which already exists on Linux, or in this case see Linux do something which is already available somewhere else, then all I can't help think is: "the idea really works...". Meaning the idea behind free software and shared knowledge.

In the end we all benefit.

(sorry for a small rant).


NetWare sales revive in China thanks to that man Snowden



"No, for ages Novell was way better and easier to administer than NT, early Active Directory, and Domains before it were a joke, and who can remember the ritual of restarting NT servers at regular intervals to get around memory leaks?"

I have to disagree there, although being a former Novell netware administrator myself I'll easily admit that Netware had many advantages. But it wasn't better "by design".

Example; (re)configuring your server. As you said; lets talk Netware Directory Services ("NDS") vs. Active Directory ("AD"). On Windows I was able to use a client environment to connect to my server console to perform specific administrative task, even then. Although with NT 4 the 'terminal service' was more or less a separated feature.

But there was more... The Microsoft Management Console; a management protocol which allowed you to truly perform remote administrative tasks. You didn't need to gain access to the server console; as long as you got a connection to the server itself. Then mmc.exe could contact the server and perform its administrative tasks. This even holds true today (obviously).

And even then NT had already options which allowed you to divide tasks between an administrative team. You could assign rights; preventing your PFY from accidentally resetting your server (which, lets be honest; was likely bound to happen anyway, but the fact still remains).

With Netware the only option you had to administer your NDS was to go to the server itself in order to work behind the console, just like with so many other tasks. Dozens of administrative tasks required you to sit behind the server console because you needed a specific NLM for the task. Now, granted, you had rconsole & remote.nlm which allowed remote access to the server console (just like NT could).

But here's the problem: it had no options to differentiate between administrators. Only one password stood between you and the server console. So even your PFY could easily mess things up to extreme heights when he had access.

They managed to overcome some of it by developing client tools which could also run on Windows (and thus also provide a graphical environment, something which NDS required at one point; no more commandline management tools). But by doing so they made it all the more appealing to move to a Windows server as well. After all; if you already required a Windows client to administer a server...

Don't get me wrong though; Netware had many strong points in comparison to Windows NT. But it wasn't better by design, not as you make it sound anyway.


Microsoft left red-faced after DMCAs dished out to Windows bloggers


Maybe unintended, but fitting nonetheless...

With fitting I'm referring to the ongoing trend where all Microsoft seems to accomplish is to tick off their user, developer -base. At the very least a very large portion of it. And now we can even add the fanbase to this list as well.

From developers who got ticked off with Visual Studio 2012 right down to gamers who cried out over the XBox One limitations and insane regulations ("If you're not online at least once every 24hrs you can't play certain games").

Sure; sometimes the damage got fixed, but it always left two important issues. First of all its the first impression which counts, and second: did the problems really get fixed?

When looking at Visual Studio the "fix" was an upgrade to the next version (so basically buying a new version). Looking at the XBox One we learned that Microsoft reversed some of their plans. But there were no guarantees that they wouldn't implement their plans at a later time anyway (you know; when the platform has fully settled thus leaving people with little other options).

It seems to me as if Microsoft still doesn't realize the most important rule of an open market: the customer is king. Not always, but you most certainly do not want to piss them off to such extends where they might even want to stop using your products.


Sway: Microsoft's new Office app doesn't have an Undo function



Agreed with the OneNote reference, but next generation?

Check the OneNote website. It can already do everything this weirdness can.

Providing contents based on the device its on? Check.

Defining your own look & feel (even with the use of templates)? Check.

Allow the use of bullet points to sum up your ideas? Check. (sway doesn't it seems)

Separate between sections, cards and even notebooks? Check.

Related to point 2: change the layout of a card? Check.

Publishing your stuff into the cloud (OneDrive or Web app)? Check.

Using an undo function? Check!

OneNote next gen? I disagree. I'm more inclined to name this: "OneNote the cloud version". So basically selling us something which already exists, is slightly changed and (here's the cynic in me:) is most likely going to be a reason to charge more for the upcoming Office release.

Also important: another attempt of getting people to move away from the traditional approach of storing their contents on their own computers or (home) servers and instead move to the "cloud". A development I personally consider to be very dangerous.

For the record; that's coming from an Office fan ;) Although I'm still using 2010 to my satisfaction and have no need for the later products.


Need to switch from Windows Server 2003? Here’s a workshop just for you



Ha, someone beat me to it... So since this thread is about promotion, and you already opened the door, I'd like to extend on this a little.

My (small) company has actually done this (actually; we're in the middle of the transition): moving away from Windows Server 2k3 (which we honestly enjoyed using, in my opinion its a very solid environment) straight towards FreeBSD 9.3. Its a transition option I can actually advise others to look into as well, especially considering the costs involved.

First of all, most important for Windows users (in my opinion): the support lifetime. Just check the FreeBSD release overview: FreeBSD 9.3, released 16th July 2014, will be supported until 31st of December 2016. So that's approx. 2.5 years. Not as extensive as Windows, but speaking from personal experience I'm sure you'll also notice that upgrading to a later version won't be as bothersome as it is with some other OS's: please notice how version 9.1, also with extended support, got released on the 30th of December 2012. As you probably know: "minor" upgrading (9.x to 9.x) is less intrusive than major upgrading (9.x to 10.x). Effectively meaning: With the 9.x branch you basically got a system which was released near the end of 2012 and is supported until the end of 2016. That's 4 years worth of update support in total!

Another important issue: documentation. I can well imagine that a Windows administrator will have a hard time with all this, no matter if it may (or may not) sound appealing. One extensive source of information is the FreeBSD handbook. Available in several languages, and it describes nearly everything there is to know about FreeBSD. From the installation process, updating process and using the several individual aspects such as, for example: setting up a GUI or setting up printing. But also more administrative tasks like auditing (probably also well known amongst Windows administrators) and even the process of securing your system is heavily documented.

Features... Those should be comparable to Windows 2k3 thanks to the extensiveness that is Open Source Software ("OSS"). But lets be honest: the same applies to other Unix-like variants such as Linux and of course the other BSD projects such as OpenBSD and NetBSD.

Having that out of the way: File sharing? You'll want Samba. IIS compatibility (ASP.NET)? The Apache webserver extended with the Mono project can take you a very long way.

Sure; other areas are going to be different and maybe even a little difficult, depending on your environment. For example; Sendmail (FreeBSD's standard mailserver) isn't exactly comparable to IIS (back with 2k3 IIS provided SMTP support) or Exchange where configuration is concerned. Nor are most of the other popular mailservers (such as Postfix and Exim to name two).

I'm not claiming that after you installed FreeBSD you'll be immediately good to go. It'll most likely take time to get to know the environment, and even more time to set it all up.

Which brings me to the costs involved. Time = money, so simply put FreeBSD (or any other Unix-like OS) is most likely not going to provide you with a totally free solution. Even if the OS can be downloaded, installed and then used totally free of charge.

But I also think its noteworthy that the OS can most likely easily be used on your current hardware, even if that hardware is (heavily) outdated by now. And that is probably going to save you some money as well, although I would make sure that you still got plenty of spare parts to make sure that your environment is going to continue to function.

Finally... Community. With all due respect: on the Microsoft fora you'll often get redirected to documentation sections, even if you were asking for more information because the official documentation confused you tremendously. Not all the time, and in my opinion the Microsoft fora are also a very good and reliable source of information, but this is an ongoing trend.

Obviously we have Murphy floating around, so I cannot make any claims that this isn't going to happen to you when using FreeBSD. But being quite a regular on the official FreeBSD forums I also think its fair to say that in general you'll get all the information you require. Sure; there will most likely be times where people refer you to the documentation, but when asked for more information those same people will most likely also have no problems to fill in the missing gaps for you. Note: the latter is strictly my own personal experience and impression, there are of course no guarantees.

SO yeah; I think this can definitely be another very liable candidate. Personally I'm not looking back; FreeBSD does it for me.

Finally, once again: I am not claiming that FreeBSD is the perfect replacement for Windows Server 2003, all I'm saying here is that it is very likely that it can do the job for you. So what I am doing here is suggest that you check it out sometime :)

Used the devil obviously: FreeBSD d(a)emon for the win ;-)


Zippy one-liners, broken promises: Doctor Who on the Orient Express



"Kind of weird that in the last episode the right choice was the ignore the wish of an entire planet and put them all at great risk on the long shot that some unknown giant space birdie wouldn't go full blown toddler on the nearest gravitational well."

Not only that, but it looks to me as if the writers are now also re-using plots from the past. Worse yet: the recent past. Because the "impossible choice" was already done in the episode The Beast Below.

An episode I actually enjoyed because of the (small) plot twist. The British nation now lives on a spaceship with a "star whale" below them to drive / power it. Every once in a while they learn about the (ugly) truth of their spaceship (that they're actually torturing a rather magnificent creature) and are given a choice: release the creature or forget all about the issue at hand. And because it is implied that releasing the creature would also mean the destruction of the spaceship the choice is more or less already made.

Until Amy Pond gets to make the decision... again..

Lets see; who was the writer of that episode... Oh right; Steven Moffat again.


Software gurus: Only developers can defeat mass surveillance



"In the short term, true. But you do have some choice about your employer. You can take your labour-power elsewhere, unless you have been made redundant and/or there is a recession on."

True, but that's also assuming that developers have actually applied for jobs within those "vague" companies. However, software development is usually outsourced these days. So the developer wouldn't even be directly working for the "misfits" but for his own company which got a nice deal to develop the software. Now what?

Next you have the obvious other examples such as a company changing its ways which leaves the developer little other choice between quitting or continuing his job. And well, it's always easy to tell someone that they should quit or deny a job on principle when you're not in their position yourself (so basically if you don't have to worry about your income).

These issues aren't as black and white as some people, like these so called "software gurus", want to make us believe. That is; not in the real world.

Black Helicopters

Well meant but still narrow minded thinking...

"Software developers should not be content with writing code that works, they have a responsibility not to harm their users"

I know I'm playing the devils advocate right now, but when it comes to surveillance then the user(s) of said software are the ones responsible for doing the surveillance. Something tells me those won't be "harmed".

As to their "dark pattern examples": Examples include ecommerce sites that add insurance to your purchase without asking, or printer drivers that refuse to print even when there is ink in the cartridge because the vendor thinks you should buy a new one after a certain number of pages..

I have to disagree that this is something related to the developer (or designer even). It's up to the people who use the product who are ultimately responsible, and these guys should know and acknowledge that fact too.

Lets talk ink: with a different setting that software can be used to simply warn the user of the printer of the upcoming obvious problem: running out of ink. Instead of being confronted with vague prints he now gets a warning up front. Its the manufacturer who chose to lower the threshold.

ECommerce: Isn't it up to the vendor to determine what he's offering and or selling? Shouldn't a developer cover as much ground as possible to provide the most optimal experience?

This line of thinking brings us back to the stone age I think; we're taking the easy way out. Instead of blaming people for their actions (which, considering the fact that we're often talking about huge corporations, might not be very effective) we're now using hindsight: "It shouldn't have been developed in the first place!". That's too easy and as said; I think it's the cheap way out.

I'm not claiming that they don't have a point here, I think they do. Its a very good thing to raise awareness of these issues going on around us. Especially since the bite with these kind of problems is that they develop slowly; slowly but steadily.

But do take it out on the people who are actually responsible. Even if those are huge corporations and your complaints or comments are probably lost with the masses who use their services.


'MYSTERIOUS PYRAMID STRUCTURE' found on COMET beyond Mars: Landing planned



I'm not an expert mind you, but this is just my take on the matter. And I think there are several reasons..

Less data. In the end all the data still needs to be transmitted back to Earth. When talking bitmaps (each pixel of the image also contains a colour value) you also have to take colour depth into consideration. So basically; how much information is stored with the pixel (which makes up the image) to indicate the colour.

From the top of my head you got black and white (which is obviously 1 bit; either black or white) and then comes the grayscale image which is usually 8bit (colour value of 0 - 255). The next step is adding colour, but that requires extra data. For example, if we're talking about common RGB (Red, Green, Blue) then all three colour values also need to be stored. So now the requirement would be three times the capacity of the grayscale; each colour would now require its own 8bit value.

So now we'd be looking into a 24bit value which essentially requires more data.

Another problem, but this is just my theory, is resolution. Now, this isn't much of a problem with modern camera's but in general you need to increase the light if you want to capture more information. In the old days you couldn't easily make colour images when it was dark, simply because of the lack of light.

That problem has pretty much been solved with modern technology. But the fact remains that when you have less light you're usually better off using greyscale images if sharpness is a requirement.

So I think that's also an argument why grayscale images are preferred here. Capturing the colour would generate extra problems, and the added value of those colours usually isn't all that much.


Facebook scammers punt fake 'sexy vid' of Emma Watson


Nothing new here...

I mean, to my knowledge this trick is used all the time and it will continue to be used as long as users don't bother to think their actions over before taking them.

People (should) know that searching for "explicit contents" can end you up on malicious websites which are only after your money. It has been like this forever. So; a juicy chunk of media (picture, movie, etc.) requires you to update your image viewer of movie player? Then why not go to the official website of whatever it is you're using to check for yourself?

Better yet: why not start by opening your picture or movie viewer first and then load your juicy contents instead of mindlessly clicking on whatever it is you downloaded?

Its for this specific reason why I think that Windows made a huge mistake when they started to hide the extensions for known file types. It has become way too easy to spread an executable file while making its icon look as if its simply trying to start a popular image of movie viewer.

Obvious for most of us, usually not so much for your average user:

But you don't even have Photoshop, so why would you think this file would start your image viewer?

I thought that it shipped with one, didn't know it could be a virus...

Stupid? For sure. But just because we understand what is happening here, a lot of users don't.


Windows 10's 'built-in keylogger'? Ha ha, says Microsoft – no, it just monitors your typing



"I smell pure evil here."

I don't. Here's the thing: Microsoft has never made it a secret when and/or how they're doing data collection. First, and foremost, its in the EULA and other official documentation which Microsoft has. Especially considering the fact that this is a beta / pre-release version (as such not yours) I think they got every right to do this. In fact; I can understand that collecting "usage data" would help them out.

But if you look at areas where data collection has become the standard, I'm now talking about mobile (smart)phones, then once again its Microsoft who turns out to be the gentleman.

When I got my Windows Phone and started using it I was first confronted with several questions which informed me that Microsoft would like me to enable data collection. This happened when using the virtual keyboard ("to improve the automated responses"), the search feature ("to better optimize the search results"), the OCR (text retrieval from pictures) feature, the photo scanning feature and the voice dictation feature.

In every case this was opt-in. I had to give them permission otherwise the data collection would be disabled.

I once discussed this with a friend who has a "different brand" of mobile phone. And guess what? It was all opt-out. Everything had been enabled by default and if you wanted it off you simply had to go over all the settings yourself.

Microsoft evil? For sure; they most certainly have their ways. But not in this case in my opinion.


Linux systemd dev says open source is 'SICK', kernel community 'awful'



"In the past, Torvalds has explained away such outbursts, saying that being grumpy is just in his nature.

"I'd like to be a nice person and curse less and encourage people to grow rather than telling them they are idiots," Torvalds said during an online chat with Finland's Aalto University in April. "I'm sorry – I tried, it's just not in me."".

Sounds pretty arrogant and/or extremely lazy to me. I can understand the "its just not me" part, I really do. But here's the thing: a relationship is about giving and taking, won't work either way. Well, it may work but then it usually doesn't last for too long.

So yah; its easy to simply take without giving. In this case; not giving a little more effort to keep yourself in check, even if it isn't you. I'm pretty sure that if Mr. Torvalds would have a regular job where this behaviour isn't tolerated then he'd also refrain himself from bursting out.

Oh wait, I know: that's different. Because that's a job and this is merely a hobby, right?

Yeah sure... For some this might explain it, for me it simply re-assures that Torvalds simply doesn't seem to care at all about other people. And (IMO) doesn't even want to take any effort into that issue at all.

Its easy if you don't have to. Which is why I describe this behaviour as arrogance and laziness. Because a moment when you don't have to is where your actions count the most. Because then its your choice and yours alone to make.

And some people would rather do what they want without even bothering to think about how others might feel about that. Me, me, me, its all about me and I don't care about the rest.

It works if you're in a position of power. Take that power position away, with the right attitude that usually happens sooner than expected, and all of a sudden you'll end up getting back what you sowed. Which won't be pretty by then.


Doctor Who becomes an illogical, unscientific, silly soap opera in Kill The Moon


They "had" to make it work

When I look at the current batch of Who episodes, well; the plot descriptions actually, then I can't help wonder if the writer "had" to make it work.

Think about it; they threw in a lot of topics which are generally favoured by the public. Robin Hood, Orient express, Titanic, the moon; all subjects which (when done right) are bound to provide interesting mysteries and draw some attention to them.

But I think that's also the problem of this season: it's too much!

What I personally liked about Doctor Who was the subtlety. He wasn't always trying to save the world or England or the queen of England or the entire human race... Nonsense! Sometimes he was only helping a small group of people, sometimes even only one and sometimes he even was only trying to help himself or his companion.Or both I guess.

But with the new new series (last seasons) it seems that all Doctor Who does is saving the world. Almost on a daily basis too. How boring is that going to get? Both for the doctor as well as the audience?

Personally I think that's what we see happening here. Its almost as if the writers can't come up with a more subtle plot anymore. Something which simply doesn't matter at all on the grand scale of the universe, but simply matters because it makes a good story.

I don't need the orient express to provide a story on a train. When the story is good then the train (the setting of said story) won't matter at all in the first place!

But it seems that is something the writers behind Doctor Who don't agree with. And the result of that becomes clearly and painfully clear.

As with the others: this is all just my opinion of course.


So long Lotus 1-2-3: IBM ceases support after over 30 years of code


Back in a time where...

.... companies realized that it would be much more profitable to cooperate and join forces to make sure you all give out the most optimal user experience instead of trying to dominate a market by trying to do it all yourself.

I lived the day, and was utterly fascinated, how it was easily doable to link a Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheet right into WordPerfect 5.1. And with updated contents too mind you (so change the spreadsheet and you'd also get different values in your WP document).

But wait; there's more. dBase III and dBase IV. You could easily access dBase from Lotus and even from WordPerfect.So keep your data stored in a most optimized way (where you could also use, for example, Clipper to build database powered applications) and then use that data in your other programs.

All without international standards, regulations and other dumb stuff such as software patents.

Not saying that it was all better back then, heck no, but IMO the companies were much more focussed at providing the best customer experience.


Windows 10: One for the suits, right Microsoft? Or so one THOUGHT



"Icons seem to be an effective alternative."

Agreed; I think the big issue or question is if these live tiles will replace or extend the use of icons. As long as people are given a choice then I think its a welcome addition.

Keep in mind that MS also whacked the desktop "gadgets" in Windows 8, and some people actually used those too. For example; I have a weather & picture gadget on my desktop; one shows the current weather and the other random pictures which I got on my PC and some network storages.


Microsoft WINDOWS 10: Seven ATE Nine. Or Eight did really


Told you so...

Most has already been said, nothing more I can add to some of the already solid given arguments, but there's one thing I'd still like to get off my chest. Aimed towards people who I had some discussions with in the past (some good, some annoying):

Told you so!

The whole start screen had "fail" written all over it, something which most people immediately realized, and here we finally got our proof. Here's not saying the start screen is utter crap mind you. It has potential, it can be made to work, but only in the right place.

I love the Metro environment on my (Windows) phone, it really works excellent there. IMO of course.

But not on my PC; puhlease....

SO, having that off my chest.

Amazing; they now bring an enhanced start menu to Windows 10. Am I the only only one who looked at that and wondered: "Gee, did they look at KDE recently?".

Because that's one of the things which I think KDE did very well: start menu sections (or whatever the official name is). One start menu, several sections which you can click. So basically several start menus rolled into one. I think that's impressive, even though I personally favour using XFCE4.

Has Microsoft been looking at Linux lately? It sure looks that way to me ;)


Hackers thrash Bash Shellshock bug: World races to cover hole



"One edge to OpenBSD to staying true to its real UNIX roots is it doesn't include bash in the base system."

I see your OpenBSD, and although I actually agree with your opinion to a certain extend I'd like to raise the stakes by throwing in FreeBSD to this equation as well (which is my personal favourite).

I'll be honest; it was my first thought as well: "Well, thankfully I run FreeBSD which uses the Bourne and C Shell (for the root user) by default".

The problem with this reasoning is the fact that its not the OS itself which provides a safe and secure environment; it's the administrator. And lets be honest; Bash is merely a few commands away: "make -C /usr/ports/shells/bash install clean" or "pkg install -x bash".

That's not saying I don't agree of course. Thing is; I hold the opinion that its a very good thing that the BSD environments provide a different shell for the root user (C Shell). It holds many advantages, amongst which the dependency on a shell which resides within the base system only (think about external dependencies).

(my personal favourite is the difference in loops; "for a in * do" vs. "foreach a in (*)", this has actually saved my ass one time ;)).

Just check BSD related forums (the FreeBSD forum for example) and see how many users change the shell for the root user and also how many users sometimes manage to run into problems because of it.

And well, this whole bash thingie is IMO no different.

Used the devil, not trying to be the devils advocate but it kinda resembles the FreeBSD daemon ;)



"This episode isn't exactly a good advert for the thinking that open source code is more secure because there's plenty of people looking at the source code.".

Actually I think the whole thing is a little more nuanced than what most people seem to make off it in the first place. IMO only a few people (zealots or strong advocates I guess) actually use this argument as some weird "fact" of superiority. But the thing is that the whole "quantity makes quality" argument is flawed by design anyway, there are plenty of cases where this doesn't or even cannot work.

Heck, there have already been way too many examples where the whole analogy failed. Take for example the (Debian) OpenSSL disaster which cause could even be backtracked to made changes in its engine itself (by the Debian package maintainer I might add).

And even that went on for years until it finally got out into the open.

On the other hand: many hands do tend to give out better security though in my opinion.

Think about it: if the original developer, for whatever reason, wouldn't be able to come up with a fix then I'm pretty sure that there are dozens, maybe even hundreds, of developers out there who would be perfectly willing and capable to fix this.

Personally I think that's where people tend to go wrong with the whole "many eyes" argument. Even many eyes can overlook the obvious. Many hands otoh....


Ordnance Survey intern plonks houses, trees, rivers and roads on GB Minecraft map


Sound of.. what? ;)

"The... hills... are alive, with the sound of Minecraft players"

More likely the sound of friendly mobs such as cows, sheep, pigs and chickens ;)

Esp. since players usually don't make much sounds, unless they got some nice TNT of course :)


Microsoft staff brace for next round of layoffs – expected Thursday



"Microsoft is a legacy IT company."

Well, that maybe true but I think the biggest problem with Microsoft is that they don't act like one. Instead of actually trying to be competitive they still seem to believe that people (their customer base) will "simply" buy the next Windows "because".. Because what; that is everyone's guess.

My take on that would be: "...because everyone always does.". But welcome to the modern times where some people can actually use other options than Windows as a full substitute for their day to day activities.




"So why is Microsoft firing so many people, when it makes way more money?"

Keep in mind that revenue isn't necessarily profit. So while they may be dealing with a lot more money it doesn't mean they get to keep all of it. And that can be an important factor into decisions like these.


Microsoft buys Minecraft for $2.5bn. Notch: I'm getting the block outta here



"I still don't actually get the point (or popularity) of Minecraft. I mean, what's the deal?"

First of all there's the extensiveness in the game itself. The ability to construct ("craft") things in many different ways. Example: collect sand and you can smelt ("cook") it into glass, and if you got glass you can craft it into glass panes. Or a little deeper: collect clay balls and you can smelt ("cook") them into bricks, which you can then assemble into a "brick block" (the commonly known red/white brick pattern). OR you can use the balls to re-create the clay block(s), then smelt ("cook") that and you suddenly got yourself hardened clay. That can be used to apply different colours on and all of a sudden you got yourself lots more variety in your building blocks.

The mechanics heavily reminds me of Command & Conquer; it wasn't only the RTS approach which appealed to me with that game; I loved the building mechanics and all the different "tech trees".

Another thing which I personally like about Minecraft is that it can probably go much deeper than you may give it credit for. Lets talk digital circuitry: building AND, NAND or XNOR logical gates? Doable. In fact; you can set up a whole "digital / analog" circuitry to automated and/or control all sorts of things in the game. That can be quite appealing as well...

Most of all, to me, is that I'm always in control over the way I play the game. I can simply play the (Survival) game (with or without cheats) or I can opt to use "Creative mode" which gives me access to all the blocks in the game right from the start. That's used to get creative; build stuff without having to worry about gaining resources and overcoming restrictions.

Minecraft can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be. And that even applies to its looks. Don't like the standard "8-bit like" blocky design? Simple! Install a different (hi-res) texture pack and off you go!

SO yeah; the main appeal is its diversity IMO, hope I managed to give you a little impression of that.


Microsoft splurges 2½ INSTAGRAMS buying Minecraft maker Mojang


Re: How long

Now I finally understand; they were after the lapis lazuli blocks! (place 9 lapis lazuli onto a crafting table and you can make a lapis block).