Monday, May 31, 2010

Vail & Aurora - Next Versions of WHS and SBS

If anyone wants to see what's going to be replacing the current Windows Home Server and SBS 2008, can I suggest that you have a look at the new Vail Beta and get your hands dirty with it.  :)

Now, remember that Windows SBS 2003 and WHS were built on the same code base, based upon Windows Server 2003 (well, parts of WS2K3 R2) and that SBS 2008 and EBS 2008 were built on the same codebase of Windows Server 2008.  EBS was killed off just as EBS R2 (for lack of a real name) was about to be released and Microsoft claimed that it was killed by the cloud (oh, really?) and SBS 2008 is going the same way - there will be no R2.

Vail - the recently released replacement for Windows Home Server and Aurora - the sometime (soon, maybe) to be released replacement for SBS 2008 - will also be built on the same code base - especially considering Microsoft's Home and Small Business Server team are involved in building both products.  At least Vail has been made available for public beta - Aurora is still totally under wraps.

I wonder if Nick King, Senior Product Manager in the Windows Server Business Group and Adrian Maziak, Senior Program Manager in the Home and Small Business Server team at KoolAid Central are going to give us *anything at all* when they come to speak to the SMBiT Professionals and other SMB IT folks in  Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide during June, 2010.  Registration for this event, by the way, is free and required so we know the numbers to expect at each venue.

And yes, Jeff Middleton (Mr Swinger) will also be making his way down with these Microsoft folks and I believe will be heading over to Perth to present to the SMBiT Professionals group over there, too.


The Outspoken Wookie

Another Exxon Oil Spill

It seems whilst all the glitz and glamor of the world's media is focussed on the Gulf of Mexico and BP's ongoing oil spill, another large oil spill that has recently been mended occurred in Nigeria.  Commodities Now reports that "An industry source, who declined to be named, said 100,000 bpd of oil had leaked for a week from a pipeline that has since been mended."

That's about 95,500 tonnes of oil (as reported on Wikipedia) and just over 2.5X the size of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill that also happened to gain a lot of attention because it affected America, not Nigeria.

When will "the world media" realise that "the world" involves places that aren't the USA?


The Outspoken Wookie

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Deciphering Intel Core CPU Numbers

Intel's Core CPU Processor Numbering isn't obvious - there's Core i7 CPUs with 4 cores and also with 6 cores, some have dual channel RAM and some have triple channel, and then there's the i5 and i3 ranges.  And then there's the mobile variants!  FFS, can't these guys come up with something that makes *ANY* version of sense to a sane man at a quick look?

I think not - well, not since they dropped their clock speed linked CPU numbering, which made a lot of sense to a lot of sane people.

So, here's my attempt at explaining Intel CPU Numbering:  Confusing jibberish.

Now, here's a slightly more detailed attempt:

CPU SeriesModel Series# Cores# ThreadsCacheSocket TypeDie SizeTurbo Boost# RAM Channels
i7 Desktop Extreme980X61212MBFCLGA136632nmYes3
i7 Desktop Extreme9x5488MBFCLGA136645nmYes3
i7 Desktop9x0488MBFCLGA136645nmYes3
i7 Desktop8x0488MBLGA115645nmYes2
i5 Desktop7x0448MBLGA115645nmYes2
i5 Desktop6xy244MBFCLGA115632nmYes2
i3 Desktop5x0244MBFCLGA115632nmNo2
i7 Mobile Extreme920XM488MBPGA98845nmYes2
i7 Mobile8x0QM488MBPGA98845nmYes2
i7 Mobile7x0QM486MBPGA98845nmYes2
i7 Mobile6x0244MBBGA1288
(620M also PGA988)
i5 Mobile5x0243MBBGA1288, PGA988 (varies)32nmYes2
i5 Mobile4x0243MBBGA1288, PGA988 (varies)32nmYes2
i3 Mobile3x0243MBBGA1288, PGA988 (varies)32nmNo2

There are (obviously) some other differences, such as VT-d, TX and AES New instructions between the CPU models, however they *all* have VT-x - the ability to support hardware-based virtualization.  For more detailed specifications on these processors, click on the link for their CPU Series.


The Outspoken Wookie

A Sad Day In Qld Education

According to the Courier Mail, Intelligent Design (the way of teaching people about Christianity without mentioning God or Jesus, using sneaky pseudo-science and treating mythology as fact) will now be taught in Qld State Schools.

If it is being taught alongside other creation mythology such as Mithraism, Islam, Judaism, Aboriginal, Witchcraft and so on, clearly mentioned as mythology, and taught in History class, then this is maybe acceptable - people need to know the thoughts and beliefs of previous generations and how they lead to some of the things that were achieved (including being the leading cause of discrimination and war), but these should NEVER be taught in Science class, unless Science class also teaches about Ancient Rome, Crocheting and The Dutch Royal Family - equally unscientific topics.


The Outspoken Wookie

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Gary Coleman Dies

On 28 May, 2010, Gary Coleman, "What'choo talkin' 'bout, Willis?", died after suffering an intracranial haemmorhage, reports People.

Gary Coleman grew to fame on Diff'rent Strokes in the 70s and 80s, was unfortunately ripped off by those close to him (his parents and hiis lawyer) and never saw most of the money he made.

Gary Coleman was recently brought back into the limelight when Avenue Q based a character on him.  Jeff Marx, the inspired creator of Avenue Q has said that in light of Gary's recent passing, there will be a few line changes now that some lines seem a little inappropriate - a sign of the respect people have for Coleman.


The Outspoken Wookie

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Martin Gardner Has Died

In some sad news, Martin Gardner, an outstanding mathematician, Skeptic, philosopher and author - a true polymath - has died at age 95.

Gardner was a founding member of what's now known as the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry and he has had a great influence on a great many great people.

To read more about his fulfilling life, please read these links:

Top News
The Guardian
Skeptic - containing an excellent interview with Martin Gardner (you can subscribe to the eSkeptic mailing list for regular articles and information from the Skeptics Society)

The world is worse off for Martin Gardner's passing.


The Outspoken Wookie

Wake Up Call For Microsoft's Board

I woke this morning to find the best proof that what I've been saying for years now is right on the money:
It's Official: Apple (AAPL) Is Now Worth More Than Microsoft (MSFT).  Ina Fried has more to contribute here, also.

Back in 2003 (or so) I made the statement to a number of people that Microsoft would never have the influence over the microcomputer industry that they had then.  Sure, Windows XP was doing well and Office 2003 was a significant improvement over Office 2000, but with rumors that Apple had been working on an Intel-based Mac if the PowerPC line didn't keep up (which, tbh, it wasn't even back then despite Apple's misleading advertising to the contrary) and Mac OS X having gained popularity since its release in March 2001(yes, Mac OS X Server was released back in 1999 - but I'm talking popularity here), with the iPod being a brilliant success since 2001 and with Bill Gates having handed the CEO title over to Steve Ballmer, the writing had been appearing on the wall for a while.

And now this (from as at the time of the publication of this blog post):

Valuation MeasuresApple (AAPL)Microsoft (MSFT)Google (GOOG)Amazon (AMZN)
Market Capitalization222.12B219.18B151.43B54.91B
Enterprise Value (2010-05-26)199.98B197.29B125.43B50.71B
Trailing P/E20.6912.9621.6453.69
Forward P/E (fye 2011-06-30)15.8310.8314.8331.43
PEG Ratio (5yr expected)1.121.490.931.58
Price/Sales (ttm)4.363.846.102.08
Price/Book (mrq)5.675.003.979.91
Enterprise Value/Revenue (ttm)3.913.315.031.90
Enterprise Value/EBITDA (ttm)12.657.8112.1032.40

While I was at it, I thought I'd throw both Google's and Amazon's figures in for good measure.  Please click on the title links above for the full set of figures and any descriptions as per the Yahoo Finance pages.

This has been on the cards for some time - obviously - but it has now finally happened.  (Even including Apple's interesting way of calculating Cash On Hand, if this "Apple's bigger than Microsoft" point hasn't been reached now, it will in the very, very near future.)

Sure, Apple *still* sells overpriced PCs, but they make a fat wad of cash on each one.  It is a very different model to Dell's and Microsoft's and it seems to be working rather well for them!  According to Business Insider, Apple only has around 7% market share but they have 35% of the operating profit - until people all wake up, that's rather lucrative.

In ballpark figures, since around the time Microsoft injected a measly US$150m into Apple to ward off the legal system and to show support for continuing developing for Apple's Mac platform, Microsoft's profits have risen by $25B from around $37B to $62B - an increase of 67%.  In the same period, Apple's income has risen by $28B from $8B to $36B - an impressive increase of 450%!

It will be interesting to keep an eye on this and also on Google to see where they move with their Android-based mobile (and maybe soon desktop) devices and their Google TV (as I blogged recently).  But one thing's for sure - Microsoft no longer has the influence they once had when Bill Gates was running the company - "visionary" has been replaced by "myopic" and they can't seem to see the wall they are walking towards!


The Outspoken Wookie

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Smartphones - Again

OK, so while I've got the State of Origin broadcast muted so I don't have to listen to the mind-numbing drivel that the Channel 9 commentators come out with before the game, I thought I may as well post a link to this post that I read on Sunday.

Microsoft's losing market share hand over fist in the SmartPhone market - and has been for ages - I even waited for some time after I saw Microsoft's lack of support (almost disdain) for the SmartPhone market before I posted this back in 2008.

Steve Ballmer's "No chance" quote is a classic example of a CEO without any real idea of what he's CEO of - a retail store accountant running a tech company.  I've said it before and I'll say it again - he's NOT the right man for the job (and Ray Ozzie seems to be following fast down this slippery slope, too).


The Outspoken Wookie

Do You Like Being Flashed?

The second of my posts on cookies (the first is available here) addresses Flash cookies.  These are a lot less well known as compared to HTML cookies and are in many ways a lot sneakier.  HTML cookies, as per my previous post, are relatively easy to stop using one of a few methods and are easy to clean out from your browser of choice.  Flash cookies, well, aren't.

Now, anyone who pays any attention to computer security knows that Adobe isn't well known for having secure products - Flash and Adobe Reader are two of the most common sources of vulnerabilities in modern computers.  Now we can add Flash cookies to the legion issues that Adobe products have (which - I'm *sure* is why Apple hates them so much - if it weren't for Adobe, Apple would be far and away the leader in insecure software releases).

I'm not going to repeat information that's already available - have a read of this post from August 2009 and also this post from October 2009 (updated in Mar 2010) for some background information and ways to address this issue.

Basically, Flash cookies can be (and are) used to reinstate some HTML cookies after you delete them - this is poor form.  Sneaky and poor form.  Make sure you have a read of the comments to these posts to learn more than is contained in the posts themselves.

So, as well as the relatively easily handled HTML cookies, you should also be aware of - and wary of - the Flash cookies that may well be stored on your computers.


The Outspoken Wookie

Open Wi-Fi - My Thoughts

Now, I'm not a huge fan of Google's international wardriving efforts recently - personally I think that a company that promotes "Don't be evil" as an unofficial company motto should be trying to live up to that.

Now, having said that, if someone has an open Wi-Fi access point, then they MUST accept accept some of the responsibility if their connection gets abused.  I'm not saying - in any way - that the abusers should be absolved of their responsibility to the Law, but I am saying that the owner of an open Wi-Fi Access Point that's broadcasting it's openness to the world (which they do) needs to take some responsibility for their slackness and lack of consideration for their own security.

This is in no way any different to someone who left their house unlocked and a sign on the street letting passers by know this.  The insurance company certainly wouldn't be likely to pay for their loss of property - so if they do the same with their Wi-Fi, why should an insurance company, ISP or anyone else reimburse them for losses?

Yes, in both cases, the people stealing their property need to be prosecuted according to the relevant Laws.  They had no defined right to be there, therefore they should cop a legal whack for being criminals.  But this should not absolve the owner of the Wi-Fi AP from their responsibility to provide an acceptable form of security.

WA Greens Senator Scott Ludlam, as reported in CRN, asked the Australian Privacy Commissioner (Karen Curtis) about the legal status of Wi-Fi APs that you happen to drive past and pick up, to which he got the response:

"We have not firmed our legal perspective on it yet, but it would appear that if you have an unsecured wi-fi network you probably are publicly broadcasting, so you may expect that others may intercept it," Curtis replied. "We would be urging people to make sure they secure their networks."
I have to agree with this - if you don't secure your own property, you need to accept some responsibility when it is abused.

As an SMBiT Professional, we at Quark IT hold the safety of our clients' data in high regard and ensure that we deploy Wi-Fi Access Points with WPA2-PSK (AES) encryption, even at home locations.  This is the *only* current non-enterprise (read: needing a server to secure the Wi-Fi AP) security that hasn't been compromised - even WPA2-PSK (TKIP) is no longer secure, and WPA as well as WEP are nowhere near secure.

It is our responsibility, as SMBiT Professionals to ensure our clients are protected - the real problem comes when a home user buys a Wi-Fi router or access point from National Irons, Curling Wands and Computers and takes it home without being told about the need for Wi-Fi security.  How do we fix this issue when the large national and multinational chains can't take the time to inform their customers of the dangers of ineffective computers because the salespeople won't make commission that week if they do their job thoroughly?


The Outspoken Wookie

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Om Nom Nom Nom

Just as with scissors1, there are good HTML cookies and bad HTML cookies. Not only does Cookie Monster like eating the good cookies ("Me want cookie"), we should all look for these good HTML cookies and install them in our browsers if we don't want to have our browsing habits aggregated and used to target advertising at us.

There's quite an array of advertising networks used to aggregate your browsing habits, so if you want to opt out of their tracking cookies, there's quite a number of sites that you'll need to go to in order to achieve this.  To save you setting aside a day each time you install a new browser or reinstall a computer, I've made a bit of a list below of the main sites you can go to in order to stop a number of these advertising sites from getting all up in your face.

Now, please note that the Internet advertisers are used to track your browsing habits and target advertising at you.  This in itself isn't a bad thing when this is used to offset the cost of hosting a number of services on the Internet, but we all have the right to choose whether we want to receive targeted advertising or not, so if you're happy with the status quo, there's no need to opt out of anything.

There are a number of different options available depending on the browser you use.  The way to block *all* third party cookies is shown below for each of the major browsers.

Google Chrome
  1. From Chrome, click on the "Customize and Control Google Chrome" icon, and in the drop-down menu, select "Options"
  2. Select the "Under the Hood" tab
  3. Under "Privacy" click on "Content settings..."
  4. Select the "Cookies" tab
  5. Select "Block all third-party cookies without exception"

Mozilla Firefox
  1. From Firefox, click on the "Tools" menu, and then select "Options"
  2. Click on the "Privacy" icon
  3. Under the "History" section, click on "Firefox will:" and choose "Use custom settings for history"
  4. Uncheck the "Accept third party cookies" option

Internet Explorer
  1. From Internet Explorer, click on the "Tools" menu, and then select "Internet Options"
  2. Select the "Privacy" tab
  3. Under the "Settings" section, click on "Advanced"
  4. Check the "Override automatic cookie handling" box
  5. In the Third-party cookies section, select "Block"

  1. From Opera, click the red "O" up the top left of the browser, and then select "Settings" and "Preferences"
  2. In the Preferences Dialog Box, select the "Advanced" tab
  3. Select the "Cookies" option
  4. Make sure the "Accept cookies only from the site I visit" option is selected

  1. From Safari, select "Safari" in the menu bar, and then select "Preferences"
  2. In the Preferences Dialog Box, select the "Security" tab
  3. Make sure the "Accept cookies:" setting is set to "Only from sites you navigate to".  You can also set this option to "Never", but this will prevent many web sites that rely on cookies from working

Below are the instructions on how to opt out of individual advertising sites or networks.  PLEASE note that each different browser you use (or install) needs to be configured for Opt-Out individually - opting out of an advertising cookie in IE won't mean it is opted out for Chrome nor Firefox just as opting out in Firefox won't make it opt-out in IE nor Safari.

The most effective way to take out the majority of Internet advertisers is to go to the Network Advertising Initiative website, choose Select all and then Submit.  This will opt you out of 47 different sites (at the time this blog post was written).

Next, go to the World Privacy Forum and opt out of those sites not included in the NAI opt out - (and Omniture), Bluestream (IonAd), Doubleclick, Exponential, Hitbox, NextAction (see below), Nextag, Nielsen/NetRatings and Zedo.

Additional Opt Out sites include MyAdChoice (NextAction and others), AdTech, AdShuffle, Lijit, Tealium and Vindico Group.

The following Internet advertising sites do not (as far as I can tell) allow for easy Opt-Out.  That says a lot to me about their business ethics:  IAC Advertising (Evite,, Pronto,,, TruEffect (AdLegend - the Opt Out page 404s).

There's also an option from a company called Abine that allows you to install an Add-On in your browser (Firefox and Internet Explorer) that blocks advertising cookies.  This is the TACO (Targeted Advertising Cookie Opt-out app that's been around for some time now.)

For a bit more of a read on how we're all being tracked on the Internet these days, have a read of Seth Schoen's technical analysis of tracking on the Electronic Frontier Foundation's website.  Don't forget to also read Part 2.

Don't forget, for Australian readers, there's also the Do Not Call Register where you can register your Australian fixed line and mobile numbers, provided the numbers are used primarily for private or domestic purposes.

1. If you've ever heard your mother scream out "Don't use the good scissors" and wondered if you could use the evil scissors, then you know where I'm coming from!  :)


The Outspoken Wookie

Monday, May 24, 2010

Kiva AASFSHNR Reaches US$2m Loaned

Congrats to all those involved in the Kiva AASFSHNR Team on reaching the US$2m in loans goal, on being the first to get there (after being the first to get to US$1m in November 2009) and especially to all those people we've helped make their lives a little better - they are the real reason for us reaching this goal.

I'm proud to be a member of such a team, focussed on enabling the underprivileged to enrich their lives without some supernatural, mythological creature being used as an excuse or reason.  We loan because we want to loan.  Because it is good to loan.  Because it helps people help themselves.


The Outspoken Wookie

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Google TV

Referring to this post, here's my thoughts.

Google has significant inertia right now. Microsoft has (very) effectively abandoned the Smartphone market, allowing Apple and their "more proprietary and more closed than anyone" iPhone to make significant inroads and almost totally wipe Microsoft out of this marketplace. Then along comes Google with Android, taking the Smartphone market by storm... if not by surprise.

Google is so obviously the dominant search player.

Android, laughed at by many, has stood up well so far, and with Google's CEO actually having a clue about it's client base (as compared to The Steves who are both relatively clueless, but each in their own special way) this OS looks to have a bright future. The consumer electronics market is *massive* and until TV is (almost) totally replaced by on demand web-based content in the forseeable future, a device that acts like a toaster which combines the two will be welcomed in many homes and office lunch rooms. Windows Media Center is great for geeks, but *way* too unlike a toaster to work in a regular consumer environment and Apple TV is too proprietary and closed to be taken seriously.

Google has the world at it's fingertips here. I just hope they can pull off what has eluded so many before them.


The Outspoken Wookie

Microsoft Software - Is It Too Hard For Microsoft?

Oh, the wry smile this brought to my face was a sight to behold!  ;)

Microsoft, it seems, finds it too hard to manage the deployment of their own operating systems and applications and are outsourcing this to an Indian outsourcing company, Infosys, for the next 3 years.


The Outspoken Wookie

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Ian Curtis

Today is the 30th anniversary of Ian Curtis' death. Joy Division has influenced a great many bands and Ian will be remembered through his music for many years to come.


The Outspoken Wookie


RIP Ronnie James Dio  Your music will play on.


The Outspoken Wookie

Friday, May 07, 2010

Office Pro Plus for MAPS

Just to let all those MAPS folks know, Office Pro Plus 2010 is now available for download on MAPS!  :)


The Outspoken Wookie

Securing Your Facebook Profile

The *FIRST* rule to all Social Networking sites is this: If your grandmother would be embarassed or shocked or disappointed by this, then don't post it.  Of course, if you're not concerned about what your grandmother would think, then you can safely ignore this rule.

The *SECOND* rule to all Social Networking sites is this: If your employer or a future employer would be embarassed or shocked or disappointed by this, then don't post it. Of course, if you're not concerned about what an employer would think, then you can safely ignore this rule.

The *THIRD* rule to all Social Networking sites is this: Assume everything you post and everything people post to and/or about you is going to be made public.

Now, having said all that, Facebook seems to have issues in defining what Privacy means.  Or should I say that have a constant need to redefine *down* what your privacy means to them.  If you want to ensure your Facebook profile contains some semblance of privacy, have a read of Jason Perlow's steps to put Facebook in lockdown.


The Outspoken Wookie

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Humble Indie Bundle

Now, even though I'm not a gamer (well, aside from Minesweeper, occasionally), here's a great bundle for those of you who like nice, well written, cross-platform (Win, Mac, Linux) games including the *exquisite* World of Goo- go to and make a payment - it's your choice how much to pay.

Your money will be split evenly between the 5 game developers, the EFF and Child's Play - or in any percentage you so choose between all of these.  Not only the price you pay, but also the final resting place of your money is in your hands.


The Outspoken Wookie