Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Microsoft Security Essentials

Even as a long time NOD32 user and supporter, I'm not afraid to look around at something that offers the promise of decent detection and cleaning capabilities.  I won't bother looking at anything that turns a Core i7 920 into a PC Jr (like products from Old Yellow) nor anything that simply doesn't work well (like those from McAfee), however I've been interested in Trend for some time (they've not managed to deliver yet) and then along comes Microsoft with Windows Live OneCare.  It was shit.  Really shit.  That doesn't mean I didn't beta test it and submit bug and suggestion reports.  But it was shit.  Its detection rates were appaling, it allowed insecure applications through default white lists in its firewall and it was sluggish.  AKA it was shit.

So, Microsoft decided to do the best thing they could do to OneCare - they discontinued it.

Then along came Security Essentials.  This was the replacement to OneCare and was going to be released as a free product for desktop users only (compared to Live OneCare that was not free and also had a Server version available).  Here we go again, Microsoft obviously doesn't learn their lessons well - first was MSAV that was terrible.  Then OneCare that was equally terrible.  Now Security Essentials.  So I got on the beta.

Microsoft Security Essentials is pretty good so far.  No, I haven't been actively malware hunting yet to compare it to NOD32, however during my testing of MS Security Essentials on a number of machines runing a number of OSes (Windows 7 Ultimate x64, Windows 7 Pro x64, Windows 7 Pro x86, Windows XP Pro x86 and even Windows Vista Business x86) and it runs well.  It has detected the same malware that I've noticed NOD32 detecting (on other machines, obviously) on particular websites and hasn't missed anything that I've seen.

And now it has been released to market as an official Microsoft product - it has been released from its beta shackles!  :)

So, at this point in time, I'd be recommending people investigate Security Essentials for themselves to see what they think of it.  Would I be suggesting to our NOD32 clients that they replace their NOD32 with MSSE?  Not yet.  I want to see how it plays in the real world a little longer - Microsoft has a less than savoury history in the security and protection fields ths far, but with MSSE and Forefront, it looks like they may well be making some changes for the better.  (For some excellent news about both Forefront and Old Yellow, have a read of this.)

Regards,

The Outspoken Wookie

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Steve Ballmer Finally Agrees With Me

OK, he didn't fire himself (he's obviously not in total agreement with me yet), however he did admit in public that Microsoft has screwed up with Windows Mobile.  Oh, really?  It is that obvious to you now, Steve?  Microsoft's Windows ME R2 (also known as Vista) allowed Apple's desktop PC market share to more than double (and it continues to climb) and their utter disregard for their own Windows Mobile platform has enabled Apple to once again walk into a room and take serious market share away from once-happy Microsoft clients..

Back in June 2008 I blogged that Windows Mobile was like Microsoft's redheaded stepchild.  It had been promised toys to play with, but then left all by itself in the corner with no-one to play with and no toys other than the wrapping paper from the boxes the other children's toys came in.

Over 15 months later Steve Ballmer admitted I was right.  There's hopefully not much longer for him to admit I was right on other things, such as his ineptitude at being Microsoft's CEO.  Oh, well - if you don't have dreams, what do you have?  :)

Regards,

The Outspoken Wookie

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Red Sydney (aka When Mars Attacks)

For those of us (which unfortunately includes myself, though if I knew Sydney would have been like this, I'd have driven/flown down myself) who weren't in Sydney this morning (23 Sep, 2009) and want to see what it looked like, have a look at the Red Sydney Project group on Flickr.

Regards,

The Outspoken Wookie

Microsoft Gets It Right!

This is beautiful to see.  The wording obviously slipped past Redmond's marketroids unnoticed.  When blatant truth like this comes from Microsoft, it seems that there may well be hope after all!

If you look at this link to Microsoft's new efficiency launch event (yawn - unless you're an accountant, when you'll get all warm and tingly in the nether region) you will see the following statement:

Join in the conversation during this must-see event and see top technology leaders and Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer, debate the role of IT during this economic reset...

Yes, that's right - top technology leaders *and* Microsoft's Steve Ballmer.  That's right - he's not included in the "top technology leaders" group.  How true!  And this is where he'll shine.  He's an accountant.  Not a technology leader, not the right person to be CEO of a top technology company.  There's nothing wrong with accountants, but they cannot run technology companies well.

Now, that matter of fact aside, this could actually be an interesting event - if only to see what Microsoft wants to have us sell Windows 7 as.  They have done themselves financial harm with Vista.  Not to mention losing significant market share to Apple and having the perception out there that they can no longer write a viable desktop OS.  Windows 7 - as far as an OS can - will bring a turn-around.  It works.  Well.  Quite well.  Although it really is Vista R2, it is a whole new beast, too.

Microsoft has lost forever those clients that have moved to Apple.  Once there, people don't tend to come back despite the application compatibility and availability issues.  Once they have made that leap, the ships seem to be further apart than they were for the initial leap.  That may not be the case, but that's what they see.  What Microsoft needs to do is to retain as many of those contemplating the leap as they can, and Windows 7 should do a decent job of that.  It works fast on existing hardware (even older hardware that would make Vista crawl like a sedated sloth through molasses), looks and feels nice and is reliable.  None of those things could be attributed to Vista.  OK, maybe the look and feel, but if you have an OS that looks nice yet runs applications slower than your fridge could, that's not going to win you any Brownie Points.

So, yeah, I'm going to have a look at this event and I suggest anyone interested in seeing where Microsoft's looking in the future, as far as business plans, should also have a look.  Sure, it may be 2AM-4AM EST here in Australia, but sometimes making the effort is well worth it, and this is one case where I think it will pay off.

Regards,

The Outspoken Wookie

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Lunatic Fringe

Just so that you know where the Family First Party is quite possibly heading, have a close look at the Religious Right in the US.  To get a better understanding of the Religious Right, have a listen to the comments of a man (Frank Schaeffer) who was a member and believer in it until recently yet had the ability to use his own mind and made some serious changes in his beliefs.  He's still a Christian, however he can see what damage these people are doing to his religion.

First is a 12:30 long section of the Rachel Maddow show.

Next is an 8:05 interview with D.L. Hughley from CNN.

Regards,

The Outspoken Wookie

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Walkin'... by myself...

Sorry, that was totally uncalled for.

Well, after unsuccessfully talking myself out of being lazy (after I said to Robert Crane that I'd go for a walk while he sits and eats some of the chocolate he received as his Spotlight Session thankyou gift), I asked Ben for some podcast ideas, and he suggested iTunesU.  I don't have iTunes installed anywhere here, but am going to run it in a virtual machine when I get a few minutes to spare.  So I looked around a bit more and came across Armed with Science which had a number of interesting podcasts available, so I downloaded and listened to Episode #20: Carbon Nanotubes -- From Super Molecules and Super Computers to Super Strong Fibers and also Episode #28: Designing Intelligent Braces and Exoskeletons to Facilitate Walking After Paralysis during my 6km walk this evening.

Why podcasts?  Well, walking bores me shitless.  Totally.  Utterly.  Completely.  And I've tried walking with music, but it didn't help.  So I thought I'd try podcasts.  And it works quite well.  I can walk, listen and learn at the same time.  And I can learn stuff I normally wouldn't spend the time sitting in front of the computer listening to - such as things about the design of intelligent exoskeleton braces to help paralysed people stand and walk.  That's right - I can learn *cool shit*.  :)

I think I'll listen to Episode #1: Atomic Time and the Master Clock of the Naval Observatory and Episode #8: Earth Orientation Parameters for Geopositioning tomorrow morning.

So, if anyone knows of any interesting podcast sites, please let me know!  :)

Regards,

The Outspoken Wookie

Kiva - AASFSHNR nears $1m loaned

Aahhh, it is good to see the Atheists, Agnostics, Skeptics, Freethinkers, Secular Humanists and the Non-Religious team on Kiva nearing the US$1 million loaned mark. We currently have 5675 members who have made a total of 30177 loans totalling US$912,050.00. :)

It is a good thing to see a strong team of lenders who are guided by their own morals and choices and who do not base their benevolence and willingness to help others on some fairy tale or other mythical beliefs.

Can I just say how proud I also am to see that the FSM team is the top lender amongst the "Religious Congregations".

That's 2 for common sense, logic and reason and 0 for mystical mumbo jumbo! :)

Regards,

The Outspoken Wookie

Britain's ITV dumps Silverlight

ITV was using Silverlight to deliver some of its online content, but has recently dumped it in favor of the much more widely spread and slightly more cross-platform Adobe Flash product.

Stupidly, both Adobe and Microsoft have ignored Internet Explorer x64 and neither have a plugin available for that. Strangely enough, Flash is available for Linux in both x86 and x64 variants.

Silverlight 3.0 is available for Windows x86 and Mac x86, however Silverlight is only available for Linux as Moonlight 1.0 - two whole versions behind the times. Adobe Flash Player is available for Windows x86, Mac x86 and Linux x86 and x64 and are all at the current release version.

Microsoft's Silverlight is nice - I really like what it can do and can see its potential, however at this point in time it seems not to have made any real headway in its war against Flash.

The problem now with Silverlight will be for developers - if they continue to develop in Silverlight and then Ballmer pulls the rug out from under them like he has with other products recently, most of their development time will have been wasted. Without knowing exactly what the foreseeable future of Silverlight will be, more companies may take ITV's lead and abandon it for the more common Flash platform. That's again what you get for allowing an accountant to run a technology company.

Regards,

The Outspoken Wookie

Friday, September 11, 2009

HSDPA, HSUPA and HSPA+ Devices

OK, I'll get some TLAs and ETLAs sorted right up front:


1G
Retrospective name for the long obsoleted analog mobile communications system
2G
2nd Generation
2.5G
2nd Generation + a packet-switched domain
3G
3rd Generation (actually IMT-2000, but who'd remember that, eh?)
3.5G
Basically HSDPA
3GPP
3rd Generation Partnership Program
CDMA
Code Division Multiple Access (also CDMA-1x)
EDGE
Enhanced Data rates for GSM Evolution
EVDO
Evolution-Data Optimized (or Only)
GPRS
General Packet Radio Service
GSM
Global System for Mobile communications (originally Groupe Sp├ęcial Mobile)
HSPA
High Speed Packet Access
HSDPA
High Speed Downlink Packet Access
HSUPA
High Speed Uplink Packet Access
HSPA+
High Speed Packet Access Evolved
LTE
Long Term Evolution
NextG
How Telstra spells HSPA :)
UMTS
Universal Mobile Telecommunications System
WCDMA
Wideband Code Division Multiple Access


Update: In general usage, the terms "WCDMA" and "UMTS" can be interchanged without offending anyone but the telecommunications purist. WCDMA combines CDMA with the GSM network and really came around through the 3GPP in an effort to ensure compatibility between different 3G networks. Have a read of Chris Knight's comments (the first comment) for a bit more relevant information.


Both Vodafone Hutchinson Australia (the result of the merger back in early 2009) and Optus are providing regional HSPA access on the 900 MHz band, whereas Telstra uses the 850 MHz band for their regional NextG services. This means that any handsets that operate in the UMTS/WCDMA bands of 2100/900 will work well on the VHA and Optus networks in regional Australia whereas only those Telstra-authorised devices with 850/2100 support will work in regional Australia.


Now, as far as theoretical maximum speed goes, it is basically as follows:


2G
14.4 kbps down / 14.4 kbps up
2.5G
57.6 kbps down / 14.4 kbps up
GPRS
57.6 kbps down / 28.8 kbps up
CDMA
153 kbps down /
EDGE
236.8 kbps (Type 1 MS) to 1894 kbps (Type 2 MS)
EVDO
2457 kbps (Rev 0) to 9300 kbps (Rev B) down / 153.6 kbps up
HSPA
14400 kbps down / 5760 kbps up
NextG
21600 kbps down / 5570 Kbps up
HSPA+
42000 kbps down / 11500 kbps up
LTE
173000 kbps down / 58,000 kbps up


Please note that the Telstra NextG network has been upgraded from 3.5G (HSDPA) to full HSPA+ in the recent past and this is what enables it to achieve its theoretical maximum 21 Mbps download and 5.8 Mbps upload speeds currently. They are predicting to have this upgraded to 42 Mbps downlink by the end of 2009 for a large percentage of their network. Sure, it costs as much as a horse per month, but it *is* faster than Yodafone, Optus or any other network!
Now, some of the currently available devices are listed below, along with the theoretical maximum speeds at which they will operate. Please don't assume this means that they a) are A-Ticked, b) are approved by your carrier nor c) will work with your mobile device...


Manuf.
Model
Downlink
Speed
Uplink
Speed
WCDMA Bands
GSM/Edge Bands
Ext
Ant
Huawei
E220
7.2 Mbps
384 kbps
2100
1900/1800/900
-
Huawei
E226
7.2 Mbps
2100/1900/850
1900/1800/900
Huawei
E230
7.2 Mbps
2 Mbps
(5.76 ready)
2100/900
1900/1800/900/850
Huawei
E510
7.2 Mbps
2 Mbps
(5.76 ready)
2100/900
1900/1800/900
Yes
Huawei
E156
3.6 Mbps
384 kbps
2100/1900/850
1900/1800/900/850
Huawei
E160
(Vodafone K3565)
3.6 Mbps
384 kbps
2100/1900/850
1900/1800/900/850
CRC9
Huawei
E166
7.2 Mbps
2100/1900/850
1900/1800/800/850
Huawei
E169
(Vodafone K3520)
7.2 Mbps
384 kbps
2100/900
1900/1800/800/850
CRC9
Huawei
E176
7.2 Mbps
2 Mbps
(5.76 ready)
2100/1900/850
?
Huawei
E1762
7.2 Mbps
2 Mbps
(5.76 ready)
2100/900
?
CRC9
Huawei
E180
(Vodafone K3715)
7.2 Mbps
2 Mbps
(5.76 ready)
2100/900
1900/1800/900/850
-
Novatel
Ovation MC950D
7.2 Mbps
2 Mbps
2100/1900/850
1900/1800/900/850
-
Sierra
AirCard 875U
7.2 Mbps
384 kbps
-
Sierra
AirCard 880U
7.2 Mbps
2 Mbps
2100/850
1900/1800/900/850
-
Sierra
AirCard 881U
7.2 Mbps
2 Mbps
1900/850
1900/1800/900/850
-
Sierra
Apex 880 USB
7.2 Mbps
2 Mbps
2100/1900/850
1900/1800/900/850
-
Sierra
Compass 597
3.1 Mbps
1.8 Mbps
CDMA
Yes
Sierra
Compass 885
7.2 Mbps
2 Mbps
(5.76 ready)
2100/1900/850
1900/1800/900/850
-
Sierra
Compass 888
7.2 Mbps
5.76 Mbps
2100/1900/850
1900/1800/900/850
-
Sierra
Compass 889
7.2 Mbps
5.76 Mbps
2100/900
1900/1800/900/850
-
Sierra
USB 306
21 Mbps
5.76 Mbps
2100/1900/850
1900/1800/900/850
TS9
Sierra
USB 307
21 Mbps
5.76 Mbps
2100/900
1900/1800/900/850
TS9
ZTE
MF626
3.6 Mbps
384 kbps
2100/1900/850
1900/1800/900/850
-
ZTE
MF633
7.2 Mbps
5.76 Mbps
2100/1900/850
1900/1800/900/850
ZTE
MF633BP+
7.2 Mbps
2.0 Mbps
2100/1900/850
1900/1800/900/850
ZTE
MF636
7.2 Mbps
2 Mbps
2100/1900/850
1900/1800/900/850
-

A "-" in External Antenna means that there is definitely no external antenna socket, blank means that I've not yet confirmed either way.
Regards,

The Outspoken Wookie

Things that concern me about Microsoft Live Mesh

While Microsoft Live Mesh looks to have potential (and a Googol orders of magnitude better interface than Groove or even SharePoint Workspace (which looks almost 100% exactly as crap as Groove looks), there are a few things that concern me greatly about it:

1. It installs as a limited user without asking for elevation

2. When you try and run the installer with elevated rights, you get the following error message:
     Live Mesh
     Product does not support running under an elevated account.
     This class is not configured to support Elevated activation.
     Get more help (Error: 80080017)

3. If you try and configure Remote Desktop access in Live Mesh, unless you're running as an Administrator with UAC turned off (OMG, who the hell would do this and still claim to be sane), you then get the following error:
     Live Mesh Beta
     Some updates were not configured
     Get more help (Error: 80010123)

Now, in addition to point 3, the help text for this error if you click on Get more help, offers this wisdom: "This error typically occurs if you have User Account Control turned on but you are not logged on to your computer as an administrator. Log off your computer and then log on again as an administrator." Yes, that's correct - this is after you enter the admin username/password at the elevation prompt.

Now, since when has being able to install and run software as a Limited User been acceptable? Definitely not since the XP days and for those savvy network administrators out there, long before then. It has been especially unsavory since the introduction of F^HVista. So WHY THE FUCK does Microsoft Live Mesh (and this is not the only one of their products that does this, by the way) refuse to install with admin rights and even worse, actually install as a limited user?

Does Microsoft WANT to encourage malware to be able to install and run as a Limited User?

Now...

As one of my favourite security conscious colleagues has mentioned, there's finally a Limited User Malware product on the loose. OK, he calls it Standard, I call it Limited. Whatever.

Thanks, Microsoft, for encouraging this with your inability to understand how security is meant to be employed. We security conscious network administrators really appreciate the additional workload you've given us. :( GGRRRRRRRRRRR...

Regards,

The Outspoken Wookie

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Google Gadgets - Tools

I have been looking through the Google Gadgets today for various things and when I looked through their "Tools" category, I found this. I started to wonder what this had to do with tools, but then it dawned on me! :)

Regards,

The Outspoken Wookie

Sunday, September 06, 2009

SharePoint Spotlight Session

Just to let everyone know that we've got Robert Crane starting his SharePoint Spotlight Session for the SMB IT Pro Brisbane group.

Adam Clark from the SharePoint User Group will be along a little later as well.

WSS 3.0 is *in* SBS 2008 - how many people know anything much about SharePoint? WSS 2.0 was in SBS 2003. How many people used it? Have a serious think about this - SharePoint is Microsoft's *BIGGEST* money maker and has been for a good 12+ months - if we're not getting on the bandwagon, why not? Have a look at Robert Crane's site for his Windows SharePoint Operations Guide - well worth the subscription.

Regards,

The Outspoken Wookie