Posts tagged cnet

CNET have their old logo back!

CNET was one of the first websites I visited when we first got internet in the 1990s. I was horrified (mortified even) when they replaced their uniquely tech-retro typeface with a generic font a few years ago.

Needless to say, a horrendously egregious error seems to have finally been corrected! I applaud CNET for re-introducting their classic logo, and restoring a part of my childhood :). Now they just need to do something about the overwrought, ZDNet-esque site design, and degrade gracefully when people access their site without JavaScript.


It’s started on CNET…

CNET advertising for a Britney Spears Top 10

And here I was worrying that CNET's standards would slip when CBS bought them out. Glad to see my fears were unfounded, groundless and unwarranted. Hey, I didn't even need to use a thesaurus for that one.


CNET email marketing #fail

CNET

Dear CNET Member: Get ready for this year’s big game by creating a new list on CNET, and enter to win a new LED TV in the Samsung Super Bowl Wish List Sweepstakes! […]

SWEEPSTAKES OPEN TO LEGAL RESIDENTS OF ONE OF THE 50 UNITED STATES OR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA AT LEAST 18 YEARS OR AGE OF MAJORITY IN STATE OF RESIDENCE AND OLDER ON DATE OF ENTRY. […]

Dear CNET, I provided my location in my account profile with you, please don't send me spam that doesn't even relate to me. Sincerely, Ruben in Singapore and Australia.

This sort of thing happens to me all the time, and not just from CNET. How hard would it be to check a user's provided country before sending them offers and competitions they're not eligible for? One or two extra lines of code?


CNET advertisement positioning #fail

CNET advertisement positioning #fail


CNET News.com comments are getting old

News.com comments

CNET News.com is rapidly degenerating into a mudslinging centre. Every single news story dealing with Windows has a couple of legitimate criticisms of Microsoft's business practises followed by tens of posts from people calling them Apple fanboys, on Apple stories the reverse is true. My kingdom for rational discussion!

I've decided enough is enough, with the exception of stories from The Pervasive Datacentre by Gordon Haff who's writing seems not to draw these kinds of childish antics, this will be my last comment on a CNET Windows story.

Putting aside the concerns of prior art (which I believe there is here), let’s be honest here folks. Most people don’t care about this nonsense, they just want a computer that works. As soon as the general public starts getting messages saying they need to purchase a premium extension to do something extra that other machines could do out of the box, there’s going to be even more negativity.

This whole move along with having 7 different versions designed to confuse consumers, one version of which only allows three applications to run at a time (lunacy) shows how completely out of touch Microsoft is with their customer base. It’s a shame, because Windows 7 has the potential to be much less of a headache to use than previous versions.

The sad thing is, they can get away with it, and they will.


Why Microsoft, labels cling to music subscriptions? Greed

The RIAA

Referring to an article on CNET News.com published earlier today entitled Why Microsoft, labels cling to music subscriptions?:

For anybody wondering why Microsoft and the top record labels continue to promote subscription music services, the answer was revealed Thursday.

David Ring, executive vice president of business development for Universal Music Group’s digital arm, said at the EconMusic Conference that the recording industry simply can’t sustain itself with download sales alone.

“If what we’re trying to do is one-by-one downloads…that’s not a business that can grow,” Ring told conference attendees during panel discussion he participated in. “It won’t be healthy for the industry.”

The commercial music industry has long enjoyed exorbitant prices for their content for one simple reason: they could get away with it. Now a paradigm shift in the form of the internet has happened which allows people to purchase individual good tracks from an otherwise mediocre album where before they had to buy the whole thing. I'm not Bill Kurtis.

Yes the labels themselves will lose money (not "loose" money!), but to be blunt they're only losing what they shouldn't really have had in the first place. With the internet artists don't need labels anymore. It's time to bury them and move on.

Icon from the Tango Desktop ProjectWhat the report should have said was "beurocratic top heavy and now unnessisary labels can't susatin themselves with download sales alone" and that it "wouldn't be healty for labels.". It really aggrevates me when I read music label executives talking about how they're the music industry… you're only a part of it, and not a good part.

Two other paragraphs that stood out:

Ring made clear subscription services are not the only business model Universal Music, the largest of the four top record labels, is exploring. Universal execs will continue testing strategies until they find one, or a combination, that works.

I think they meant "that works for the labels, not artists or consumers"

What strategies show promise? Panel members discussed some well-worn ideas, such as bundling music fees into people’s Internet-access bills.

Pardon my French, but what bullshit. These people really don't have a clue — once again they don't think they have to earn our money, they think they're entitled to it (a quote from Digital Flotsam I heard on a Whole Wheat Radio audio magazine from 2004).

Update

There certainly are a lot of Microsoft and music industry shills commenting on the thread for that story, they're really quite painful to read. If I read one more comment on such a site by a person equating walking into a store and stealing a CD compared to someone removing the DRM from a track they bought a vein in my head is going to burst!

Whew, calm down. Off to listen to some Marian Call :)


Turning a Firefox story into an anti-Mac story?

This is another post that’s been sitting in my Drafts folder since the 20th of June 2008. In trying to clean out this backlog I’m finishing and publishing these posts now, even if this particular story is somewhat outdated. Cheers ^_^

Robert Vamosi over at Defence in Depth has reported that Mozilla Firefox 3 has suffered a vulnerability since being released on the 19th of June.

Less than one day after its launch, Firefox 3 has a vulnerability.

According to Tipping Point’s Zero Day Initiative, the vulnerability, which it rates as critical, was reported within the first five hours of Firefox 3’s release.

Although the Zero Day Initiative team does not offer specifics until the vendor has a chance to patch it, the blog post did say this vulnerability, which also affects Firefox 2, requires user interaction and could result in an attacker executing arbitrary code.

There were the usual posts from people ignoring past trends and decrying that Internet Explorer is therefore obviously better, but by some miraculous feat of asserted association, Tbird1996 somehow managed to twist the story into a anti-Mac fanboy story.

..ok…it’s better than anything that MS has to offer. Mac guys…sorry you’re soooo insignificant…and when Linux get just a little further down the road…we’ll all be better for it.
(why do the Mac people trash Linux so badly when their OS is based on Linux…?’ eh?)

Firefox icon Don't get me wrong, I hate it when vocal Mac users loudly proclaim everyone else as stupid for not having Macs, but I do agree it's a superior platform for many uses. I also don't like it when generalisations are made, by people on either side of an argument. This was my response:

I’m a Mac user and I love Linux. Most Mac users I know acknowledge Linux as a positive force. Please don’t whitewash entire groups of people.

Oh and for the record, Mac OS X is not based on Linux. Please check your facts before submitting such comments.

Though to be fair, I actually "love" FreeBSD and "like" GNU/Linux, but I suspect if he thought that they were the same in asserting that Mac OS X is based on them, he/she wouldn't know the difference.

For what it's worth, Mac OS X is based on NeXTSTEP and FreeBSD with a Mach kernel. Despite having a few GNU userland tools and common commands, Mac OS X and Linux have almost no code in common, and one is certainly not derived from another! The funny thing is a 30 second look on Wikipedia would show this.


A hilarious Windows 7 beta report!

Screenshot of the current release of the KDE Unix desktop
Screenshot of the current release of the KDE (Linux, FreeBSD etc) desktop.
Wait, I mean Windows 7.

Ina Friend over on CNET News is reporting that Microsoft has made beta versions of it's Windows 7 operating system available for download. Normally I would have yawned at such an announcement, but given I was waiting for my sister to get ready before we headed out for lunch, I figured I'd skim it.

Microsoft has apparently decided that it has enough server capacity and has made the code available for the Windows 7 beta.

“The Windows 7 Beta is now available for download,” Microsoft said on its Web site. “Thanks for your interest and help with the beta.”

The software was supposed to be made available on Friday, but the company delayed the release after a day filled with Web site problems.

The real gem though that made me laugh out loud so hard that I might have broken a few windows was this:

Furthermore, the company cautioned that the beta is not the quality one should expect from a final release. “It can be glitchy–so don’t use a PC you need every day.”

Please, please… say no more, I'm wetting myself here! :-D

To be serious for a second though, I really do home Microsoft picks up the ball they dropped with XP and Vista. They won't of course, but for all the people in the corporate world who are stuck with Microsoft's subpar products (including my dad who I can hear swearing in the distance) I hope they at least make a sincere effort. Excuse me, I have to go laugh again!


Stop blaming Microsoft for cybersecurity woes?

Often by reading just the headings for blog posts themselves I'm amply alterted to current issues and news stories from the likes of the Australian ABC, Channel News Asia and CNET which just choose to syndicate small samples of their posts rather than the whole post. When I read that "Australian Minister for Communications is a dolt" or "Clinton chosen for Secretary of State" everything else is really just filler.

Today though while reading the headings from various news sources, I was instructed by Jon Oltsik from the Enterprise Strategy Group in my CNET news feed to "Stop blaming Microsoft for cybersecurity woes."

"Painful" would be the word I would use to describe his story, which is a shame because he starts out great with his first two paragraphs. He instructs those who are thinking of cutting back on security during these difficult economic times to read the latest CSIS report and realise that as we build more infrastructure around the internet we're introducing more vulnerabilities which are ripe for attacks. He echoes his tagline "information security is far worse than you think.". I completely agree, security is too critical an area to cut back on even during tougher times.

Unfortunately, I think he starts to slip in paragraph three:

[…] I humbly submit an additional requirement to the security community: it is time to stop blaming Microsoft for the sorry state of cybersecurity. Now, I realize that this is a rather controversial request, but I think the time has come.

It certainly is a controversial request sir! Conveniently for me he's broken up his argument into three easy bullet points, which I will address in order. Why does he think we should ease off of Microsoft?

Security through obscurity
A basic Security 101 mistake

1. It’s a numbers game. Microsoft’s success makes it a target–no other platform has nearly as many systems connected to the Internet. The fact is that if Linux, Macs, or UNIX systems dominated the Internet, they’d be under pervasive attack, too. Would we be better or worse off? Who knows?

This argument is so old and has been so thoroughly debunked so many times, it was cringeworthy reading it here. While it is true there are more Windows clients, "UNIX" machines do in fact dominate the internet: more pages are served under open source projects such as Apache from Unix-like systems than Windows servers with IIS, and yet these Unix-like servers suffer far fewer vulnerabilities, and the ones they do suffer from are generally far less destructive when taken advantage of. So much for the market share argument.

If we play along though and assume for the sake of his argument that market share is responsible for Windows being more vulnerable, doesn't that then translate into a greater responsibility for Microsoft which they've failed time and time again to deliver on? Why were they so lax about this for so many years when they knew they were a primary target?

Windows is a flawed system regardless of their market share.

Reductio ad Absurdum argument

2. It’s unproductive. I really don’t understand what anyone hopes to accomplish by blaming Microsoft. Should governments single out Microsoft for some type of special security threshold? Should Windows systems be kicked off the Internet? There is plenty of blame to go around beyond Microsoft, so singling it out accomplishes nothing.

I suspected what this point was but couldn't remember the phrase, fortunately Penguinisto mentioned it in the feedback section. Reduction to the absurd attacks are dangerously close to strawmanning and don't achieve anything.

Microsoft does deserve to be singled out because desktops and servers running their software are responsible for the single largest source of security problems online, in a higher percentage than their market share would explain away. This isn't a case of being unproductive, it's the exact opposite. Microsoft needs to be held accountable given their previous performance, just as every other major player in every other industry needs to be.

Nobody is suggesting we unplug every Windows machine online by building giant radioactive zombies to trawl through every household. See how ridicules arguments get us nowhere?

"Security isn’t claimed, it’s proved"
– Bruce Schneier

3. Microsoft is actively addressing past security shortcomings. Think what you will about the security of Microsoft products, but few other companies have done more to improve their software security development, employee training, and testing processes than Microsoft. Microsoft is also taking its Secure Development Lifecycle to others through its SDL Pro Network partners like Security Innovation. In fact, Redmond even contributed to the CSIS report, Microsoft Corporate Vice President of Trustworthy Computing Scott Charney is one of the CSIS co-chairs.

To use a colourful phrase from my grandfather, even if it took Microsoft this long to get their arses into gear, it is clear Microsoft is actively addressing security problems. Despite this though and your laundry list of examples, what they still lack is results.

I've been saving this topic for another post, but in brief what Microsoft really needs to do is admit to everyone that the Windows codebase has become unmanageable with disastrous results, and start fresh. Projects like ReactOS have shown it is possible to create a compatible system that's clean and lightweight, and Apple has proven you can emulate existing systems inside new ones while people migrate.

Instead of developing all the cruft, features nobody wants or uses and tacky eye candy, Microsoft needs to be addressing the problems of the NT architecture itself. I have every confidence that Microsoft is capable of this; what they lack is direction. In the meantime they can continue to be claiming progress, and people wise to them will continue to point out otherwise.

As for the order posed in the title by Mr Oltsik, we have sufficient needs and sufficient evidence to continue to blame Microsoft for their responsibility and failings in our current cybersecurity woes. What won't get us anywhere sir is putting our hands over our ears and pretending they shouldn't be.


Gordon Haff’s Pervasive Datacentre review

Gordon Haff's Pervasive Datacentre
The best CNET blog you may or may not be reading

Given I've been unabashedly brown nosing and sucking up to tech writers of late, I figure doing it again won't sink me any further. Besides, talking about interesting people in a positive way is such a refreshing thing to do after sadly discussing all the nonsense going on around the world right now. I could get used to doing this!

I am well and truly addicted to a ton of CNET News and ZDNet Australia material; I am subscribed to no less than 12 of their feeds. The real gems aren't in their general homepage feeds though, but rather in the individual feeds of some of their writers, some of which I hope to talk about more in the future.

My favourite CNET writer by far though is Gordon Haff who writes the Pervasive Datacenter blog, buried an unceremonious 32 links down on CNET's News and Tech Blogs page. He discusses enterprise systems as well as free and open source software on the desktop and server, alongside some well thought out opinion pieces and some general how-tos he's picked up (in other words, the exact material I'd be talking about right here on my blog if I stayed focused rather than deviating into an assortment of other topics all the time!).

If you have a feed reader set up and ready to go, you can subscribe to his RSS feed here. He's also provided links for Google Reader and My Yahoo!.

Some of my favourite articles of his in the last few weeks where he's hit the issues right on the head:


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