Monthly Archive for September, 2009

Dell Latitude shipping with built in ARM system with Linux

They call it Latitude ON, a hardware module with a:

Cell phone processor with its own unique operating system.

What it really is, is an ARM based mobile device running Linux. Booting in just 2 seconds, it looks like a great little interface which quickly provides access to the web and more.

* Instant access (about 2 seconds) to business information (E-mail, calendar, contacts, Internet browser & Citrix Receiver client)
* MS Exchange integration or POP e-mail Access
* Always on/connected – the module continues to run regardless of the state of the main OS
* Ability to view MS Office and .pdf document attachments
* Long battery life (about 17 hours on a 6-cell battery)
* Designed for the future with upgradable infrastructure (flash-based software updates)

I wonder if you can download the source code somewhere..

This guy says it much better than I can..

Charlie Brooker from the Guardian says it much better than I can..

I know Windows is awful. Everyone knows Windows is awful. Windows is like the faint smell of piss in a subway: it’s there, and there’s nothing you can do about it. OK, OK: I know other operating systems are available. But their advocates seem even creepier, snootier and more insistent than Mac owners. The harder they try to convince me, the more I’m repelled. To them, I’m a sheep. And they’re right. I’m a helpless, stupid, lazy sheep. I’m also a masochist. And that’s why I continue to use Windows – horrible Windows – even though I hate every second of it. It’s grim, it’s slow, everything’s badly designed and nothing really works properly: using Windows is like living in a communist bloc nation circa 1981. And I wouldn’t change it for the world, because I’m an abject bloody idiot and I hate myself, and this is what I deserve: to be sentenced to Windows for life.

That’s why Windows works for me. But I’d never recommend it to anybody else, ever. This puts me in line with roughly everybody else in the world. No one has ever earnestly turned to a fellow human being and said, “Hey, have you considered Windows?” Not in the real world at any rate.

Until now. Microsoft, hellbent on tackling the conspicuous lack of word-of-mouth recommendation, is encouraging people – real people – to host “Windows 7 launch parties” to celebrate the 22 October release of, er, Windows 7. The idea is that you invite a group of friends – your real friends – to your home – your real home – and entertain them with a series of Windows 7 tutorials. So you show them how to burn a CD, how to make a little video, how to change the wallpaper, and how to, oh no, hang on it’s not supposed to do that, oh, I think it’s frozen, um, er, let me just, um, no that’s not it, um, er, um, er, so how’s it going with you and Kathy anyway, um, er, OK well see you around I guess.

To assist the party-hosting massive, they’ve also uploaded a series of spectacularly cringeworthy videos to YouTube, in which the four most desperate actors in the world stand around in a kitchen sharing tips on how best to indoctrinate guests in the wonder of Windows. If they were staring straight down the lens reading hints off a card it might be acceptable; instead they have been instructed to pretend to be friends. The result is the most nauseating display of artificial camaraderie since the horrific Doritos “Friendchips” TV campaign (which caused 50,000 people to kill themselves in 2003, or should have done).

It’s so terrible, it induces an entirely new emotion: a blend of vertigo, disgust, anger and embarrassment which I like to call “shitasmia”. It not only creates this emotion: it defines it. It’s the most shitasmic cultural artefact in history. Watch it for yourself.

Even Microsoft can’t get OOXML right..

That’s right, even Microsoft can’t get their own data format right.

Readers commented on an article about 2008 Service Pack 2 that it broke their existing OOXML files:

I am having EXACTLY the same problem. It seems that any .pptx file created on my mac will not open. All .ppt files open fine. All .pptx files created on a PC open fine.

But, everything I was working on this morning no longer opens….what am I going to DO? I am totally screwed, can’t work at all……

Microsoft’s recommended fix? Un-install and re-install Office, but don’t do the updates. Re-create your files in their older non-OOXML formats.

Sure, they’ve now released a fix, but you have to wonder how something like this could get all the way through to the service pack. Oh wait…

NSW locks students into proprietary systems

The NSW Government has announced the roll out of 240,000 netbooks to year 9 students.

The system is completely proprietary:
Windows 7
Microsoft Office
Adobe Photoshop
Apple iTunes
and more..

But then I guess you’d expect nothing less from the Australian Indoctrination Education system.

Not only that, but the Government is touting these as “unhackable.” Oh yeah, right. Here we go..

This comment on Slashdot by by GradiusCVK says it all:

What is it with governments and hubris? If they had just shipped all these laptops without any mention of “unhackableness”, you know what would have happened?
1: 240,000 kids would have gotten reasonably secure systems with useful software on them
2: People would have noticed how secure and safe the systems were, and appreciated the low rate of problems they experienced
3: Eventually, some smart students would have figured out how to bypass all the security so they can play world of warcraft or something, but nobody would have cared and it wouldn’t have gotten any press

Instead, some asshat announces to the world “Bow to our unhackable laptops! We are awesome! HAHAHA!”, and now thousands of hackers and security researchers out there have made it their personal crusade to find a way to totally decimate all the security on the box. You’re right… It’s gonna take about 1 month for an exploit for these things to make it to the front page on slashdot. F****ing idiots.

Footnote:
Yes, I’m aware that security through obscurity is no security at all, but that’s not the issue here. The issue is that instead of nobody caring or trying to break the reasonable security they’ve implemented, now they’ve got thousands of people working on it. THAT does matter.

Sigh.

Moblin v2.0 final & v2.1 preview released

I almost didn’t see this, but the Moblin steering committee has just announced the final release of Moblin v2.0, as well as a preview of v2.1.

“Expect to see OSVs and OEMs shipping products based on Moblin v2.0 for netbooks.”

There is even a builder to create your own custom Moblin version.

Also released is a package manager for Moblin:

“You can now browse and easily install new applications on your Moblin based netbook, using the Moblin Garage and Moblin Application Installer.

The Moblin Garage is an online applications catalog that contains free/open source software applications released under a recognized open source license along with proprietary applications redistributed at no cost.”

Things are heating up!

Dell release Ubuntu Moblin Remix Developer Edition on Mini 10v

Dell looks to be moving more and more towards Linux for their products with the release of a developer version of Ubuntu Moblin Remix Developer Edition.

Naturally it’s not the final release, things like Bluetooth don’t work, but Dell is hoping the community will pick it up and help to improve the system.

You can purchase the machine with this special developer release from the Dell website, or download the image yourself from the Dell Moblin wiki page.

How to host a Windows 7 Launch Party

My goodness, Microsoft is so hip and cool.

They’ve made a video on how to host a Windows 7 Lunch Party. Of course for each of the characters you’ve got representatives of everyone; the nerd (red shirt), the older lady (blue shirt), the younger woman (purple shirt) and the African American (green shirt).

They try and be cool by cutting in and out and zooming the camera around, which really just ends up looking stupid.

One of the hot tips:

“Now, of course the first thing you want to do is install Windows 7.. [All laugh].. Der, der! Make sure you do that a couple of days in advance of the party..”

A few days before, hahaha.. Then it cuts over to a badly dubbed voice as though it’s the same guy continuing with:

“..call customer service if you have any questions..”

Amateur hour! I’ve got tears in my eyes!

My favourite quote?

In a lot of ways, you’re just throwing a party with Windows 7 as an honoured guest! Sounds easy, and it is!

“Oh my gosh, well when everyone was there and settled, I led an overview of some of my favourite Windows 7 features. I showed my guest things from two of the Windows 7 orientation videos and it took like ten minutes. Oh you know what was great? It was totally informal, like, everyone just crowded around the computer in the kitchen.”

Finally, it ends up with a deep message to everyone about how Windows 7 is all about you..

My goodness, what a shocker.

Kiwis ahead of us in FOSS?

First they started beating us in the footy and cricket, but now they’re moving ahead of us in free software too?

Negotiations between the New Zealand Government and Microsoft over subscription costs failed this year, and as a result has given FOSS a bit of a shove in the back.

Now the Open Source Society there is doing something positive – helping the public sector adopt free software by showing how it fulfills their needs. This is a great idea and should be encouraged.

The Public Sector Remix project aims to help public agencies reduce the cost of desktop computing. The project will deploy free open source software for nominated staff to use for common business tasks and evaluate the results.

Go Kiwis, go!

12 of the best Linux and free software promotional videos

Came across this clog entry which presents 12 of the best free software videos. Some great stuff there.

The New Ubuntu Netbook Remix is Totally Karmic: An Early Look

If you’ve been looking for a lean, sleek, well supported operating system for your netbook then look no further. Due out next month, Karmic Koala Netbook Remix has a cleaner interface, complete hardware support and numerous other improvements. Let’s take a look.