Thursday, December 29, 2005

It seems that Symantec is sending out letters to IT managers where they restate their claim that Mozilla browsers are more vulnerable than IE.

Well, we all know that is not true, it only takes a few seconds on Google to find articles that refute this claim. Every computer savvy person will know this already, without looking for articles, but most managers will not and the Symantec letter will only heighten their fear.

Anyway, I got quite a bit carried away and kind of angry as well. And while I was getting angry, it just appeared to me that not OS, but Symantec (and other commercial software companies) are the underdog. They have to defend themselves, they must do everything to survive while OS software and projects have nothing to worry about, they just are and always will be.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

There is a nice and lengthy article on Linux Journal about Jeff Waugh, one of the employees of Ubuntu. There is a section in there that can be linked to the recent Gnome vs KDE 'incident'.

"99.9% of the population don't care about computers. This isn't a matter of intelligence; your local doctor may be perfectly bright but when it comes to computers, he or she simply wants a glorified typewriter to write some letters or whatever. When it comes to software, Jeff said, "it shouldn't punch you in the face". To illustrate this point, Jeff put up two screenshots of dialog boxes, one from a Microsoft Windows program and the other from a current GNOME program. The Windows dialog box had three densely written paragraphs of computer terms and finished with two boxes, one labeled "Yes" and the other labeled "No". With GNOME, the developers put verbs on the boxes, such as "Save" and "Cancel". In other words, the user should have a pretty good idea about what is happening simply from looking at the dialog boxes."

Thursday, December 22, 2005

The 'Debunking common GNU/Linux myths' article linked on OSNews turned into the usual pro/anti-Linux war fest in the reader comments.

Stuff like this always works me up, because windows users are accusing Linux users of things they deal with most of the time with as well. You have the usual argument that - Linux is only free if your time is free. While they are forgetting that a lot of time goes into configuring and installing your windows OS and tools as well. In most cases the Linux distro installs everything for you, so you have time enough left to fiddle around with settings, if you so desire.

Hardware support is another favorite, windows supports everything out of the box, if your box is not too old that is. I have seen to many perfectly working hardware turn unusable after upgrading to a new version of windows. And at the same time the driver model of windows turns out to be more hell then convenience for some people. They actually gave me a SoundBlaster Live! because the drivers were so crappy they could hardly use the card. I have a stash of Gravis Ultrasounds laying around, and recently I got a Miro DC30 video capturing card because there are no decent drivers available anymore. After assembling a new PC for somebody else, windows was unable to install because it required SATA drivers to be loaded from a diskette. Firstly, I had no disk drive in this PC, so I had to start a quest to find a drive on my attic to just get windows installed. Secondly, why couldn't this be loaded from a CD or something more modern? Great hardware support it is.

Let's not get into the spy/adware debate. How it's possible for windows user to claim they never have any problems with that, is beyond me. It is inescapable! Unless, you install a ton of extra software monitoring your registry, files, mails and network for virus, worm, spy and adware activity. Lets not forget to adjust some very bizarre and obscure parameters all over the place and the registry itself to lock stuff up some more, all things which normal users like my wife or parents can do on a regular basis, right.

So windows brothers, take a look in the mirror before you badmouth some other OS, I will try to do the same.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Check out this interview on SecurityFocus about the upcoming release of OpenSSH. A must read for every UNIX/Linux administrator. This tool can already do so much and is only getting better.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

This is just plain amazing. Sun didn't do much to me anymore the recent years. But they seem to be coming up strong again, making exciting and cool machines again.

Opening up a processor design is something we haven't seen before, and it will be interesting to see where it will take us. If the right people pick this up, it could be a replacement for the popular PowerPC processor.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

We have Java on one side and C# on the other. None of them is any good. By that I mean they are not free software. This is important, because Java, although available on many platforms, leaves some of them in the dark. Even more so for C#, where we can only hope projects like mono and DotGNU can help us (none of these two implementations is finished or complete yet).

What to do, why hasn't the OSS crowd delivered such a language? Well, they have. That language is called Python. Truly wonderful and easy to use and learn, it also combines a lot of things people want which are available in Java/C#, like the byte-code and ofcourse it's an object based, true platform independent programming language.

It runs well on all platforms. And is popular both on windows (you'll find many python applications for windows) as well as on the Linux desktop. If you haven't done so already, check it out now.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The sales figure of games is down, Analysts say it's because of sequels. That's not completely correct I think. Sure people are bored of sequels, but most of these are coming from EA, who manage to produce update after update of the same title.

I can't see this model working for much longer. In an age where everybody is connected most of the games from EA should be available as a downloadable patch/update. Just take a look at what Blizzard is doing with Diablo 2. It still gets worthy updates and changes, if EA would have released this game we would be at Diablo 9 or something by now. The game changed, but it would not have changed enough to warrant spending 50 euro on.

People are not tired of sequels, Doom 3 and Half Life 2 are good examples of this. They are both FPS and sequels, still they sold lots! Because they were good games, they presented a worthy upgrade to the previous game(s).

The industry might not be heading for a crash, but EA certainly is.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

So I went to Linux World Expo in Utrecht - The Netherlands yesterday. And although its primary focus group was manager type of people there was one interesting thing to go to, the panel discussion about software patents.

All types of people were presented in the panel, lawyers, programmers, multicorps and jurists. The talk was OK, although too short and nothing new came out of it. Although the stance each of these people take was interesting to witness.

The programmer was against it, which is logical. The lawyers and the multicorps were pro patents and the jurist was slated against patents (note the this difference between a lawyer and a jurist).
The lawyers said there is no problem because there are no court cases on software patents in Europe. I'm sure he would love to have more of them. The multicorp (in this case Philips) said they wanted to patent as much inventions as possible and required it from anybody who worked together with them to do the same. They also said in this day and age it is unclear on where software comes into play in an invention because almost everything invented these days contains software of some kind. Another point they raised was that if you invent something physical made with your hands it is patentable so why shouldn't it be the same for software.

These people had a hard time discovering the true danger and problems behind software patents. The lawyers denied the problem, but were faced with hard facts when the programmer pulled up some letters against popular open source projects threatened by a company holding a patent in Europe. Asked if they would want to defend this project they merely answered - 'if they are willing to pay us, sure.' - which made it very clear why they are pro patents.
The reason why you could make a difference between a software patent and some other products is that software has no costs involved except the initial development. Other, more physical, products have initial costs as well, but also recurring production costs, they need a factory line, perhaps specialized machines to reproduce the invention. Software on the other hand, once made, can be put online and downloaded unlimited times adding no extra costs (perhaps the hosted server, but at the cheap prices these days they can be neglected).

Several topics were not covered, but still interesting. Like the fact that patents are not world enforceable. The extreme long time a patent is valid, etc. I don't have to tell you that I'm against software patents myself. Everybody in the EU (you don't need to be an EU member though), I must recommend to go to the European of the Year voting guide.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

I just bumped into the escapist magazine issue 17, which deals about women and gaming. A good read is OMG girls don't exist on teh intarweb!!!1, there are some very funny anecdotes in that article.

Still, not surprising at the least. The biggest game playing group are men, from all ages for sure, but those with the most time to lose in games are teenage boys, most probably of the geek/nerd type. Just give those guys a few years to grow up, they're not all bad.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

If this is true, I would say it's about time!

Don't forget that Novell both owns Suse and Ximian. You should compare Suse with RedHat, which are both targeted at the server side of things. Ximian is a long time linux desktop company, they should be looked at as really the first Ubuntu. I'll confess to the fact that I even bought Ximian in the past during the RedHat 8/9 days because it was so good compared to all the other so called desktop linux offerings around.

Suse was never about the desktop, Ximian is. I was never a Suse user, but now I just might give them a try once more.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

I just found out about x2x, this must be the hottest app I've ran into these last months. Finally, using two keyboards and mouses on one desk drove me almost insane at certain times.

No more, thanks to x2x, which can be considered as a software KVM, but without all the wires.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Interesting news for dyslectic people. Although the article states that the called gene is only responsible for 20% of the cases, it's still better then nothing.

I can't tell you how though it has been for me, in all those language classes throughout my school years. And back in my days it will not widely accepted yet, as it is now. It runs in the family though, so I'm a little worried about my little boy when he starts to go to school and learn to read and write.

Monday, October 24, 2005

There is a small crisis going on in Belgium. The government wants to raise the retirement age from 58 to 60. They want to do this because in the future it will be next to impossible to keep providing pension funds as the populace ages.

A lot of boo-ha for 2 years more work, and then I bumped into this article. So, if you want to enjoy your pension and live longer you're better of retiring at 60. Hey, I'm all for that!

Saturday, October 22, 2005

I bought the Tacx Flow Egrotrainer to get me through the cold months up ahead. It really is a great piece of kit, the display gives you a bunch of information that helps your training a lot. On the Tacx website you'll find a bunch of training programs you can use with each of their trainers. The included booklet also includes some basic trainings and so I quickly followed the endurance program, which is a 45 minute course which pushes you into the +100 rpm zone for several minutes a few times.

It also displays the watt-power you are producing, my average (during the 45 minute endurance program) was 180, which is pretty sad when you imagine pro-cyclers push out 400 watt on average. I'm interested in the climbing training programs, which i'm going to try out tomorrow. It must be said that the device mimics real road conditions fairly realistic, ofcourse you don't have any hindrance (or aid) from strong winds. Can't wait for the cycling season to start again next year!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

After all these years, Bill Gates still hasn't figured it out.

When you read that article you'll discover that he says Microsoft has free software (as in 'gratis') too, but that is not what Free Software is about. OK, I admit, it will probably be a factor for some people, but you'll only find this to be true in a very few specific cases. The price point is important in the few cases where people have grown tired of illegal software, tired of hunting down cracks, downloading warez from the net, especially since every little stupid tool or programs has a rather high price. For them, an OSS program will be just the tool for the job for an unbeatable price.

Though, for most people who turn to OSS, this will not be the driving factor. The quality will be (i'm not saying all OSS is high quality though), another important feature is that OSS gives power to the user and not to the vendor. These are the two important advantages to 'Free Software' that flow from the fact that the source code is available for the user.

As long as Bill Gates keeps his focus on the free (as gratis) piece of OSS we have nothing to worry about.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

This was rather surprising. I remember Quake3 and UT actually running better on Linux, now according to these benchmarks Doom3 really lags behind XP by 25% (for HQ, no AA at 1024x768).

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

There are some interesting interviews on Mad Penguin with the OOo developers regarding the pending 2.0 release.

The part worth a read is on page 2, where it is explained more in detail what dirty tactics Microsoft is playing. Here is hoping OOo2 gets a lot of good press and publicity, thereby increasing its popularity just enough to stop this massive tie-in MS is looking at with the new release of MS-Office.

Friday, October 07, 2005

You know the world is in serious trouble when you read this. Tell me how this is any different from an Islamist fighting for his believe, his God?

I hope he understands that makes him an extremist as well and it's a very dangerous situation when two extremists are fighting each other. They're both sure 'God' is on their side, so how could they possibly lose? Well, you just have to check your history lessons to see how that ends.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

I sometimes wonder how certain people got their jobs as a tech writer, take this guy for example.

It's just mind-bending how he confuses a standard file format with a closed proprietary one because it has the biggest market penetration. It also doesn't matter how many applications can 'read' a document format, but it seems he hasn't figured that out yet either.

Mostly this kind of article isn't worth anybodies time, but there is something going on, I tend to, dare I say it, notice some kind of trend. I won't go into it this time, stay tuned if you want to know more...

Saturday, October 01, 2005

A new version of the GPL is in the works. The thing that got the most attention on /. was the fact that the source of web services based on GPL software should be made available.

Well, isn't that a very good idea? With the rise of AJAX applications, which are getting more and more impressive each time. Indeed, since an AJAX application is not distributed, but accessed via your browser, there is no need to make the source available if it is build on existing OSS. And that is a dangerous path, because people who choose for a GPL license want information to be free.

For me personally, the most interesting change is that 'a clause to penalize companies that use software patents against free software and a clause to prevent companies from using digital rights management in free software applications.' and while the part about DRM is explained, nothing is mentioned on patents and what measures they would like to take. Software patents are just another tool for multi billion corps to stay multi billion corps. It is their ultimate weapon, it allows them to kill or neutralize others as they please. The only valid penalty is that patents used in programs making use of GPL code will have to make that patent free for all other programs using the GPL license.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Recently I have been getting the feeling we are going back into time instead of advancing as a human race. The proof is in this article. You should know that I am an atheist, and thus news like this makes me shake my head in disbelieve.

It is scary and hopeful at the same time. Scary, because these kind of stories are becoming more common all the time. Most of the they are time originating from the US. Hopeful, because there are still people who find it reason enough to take this to court.

You should have figured out by now that I can only accept Darwinism as a valid evolutionary process, backed up by science. And science is the key word here people, how can anybody, who has had an decent education still believe in god(s) or the like?

Science is a very broad word, but it has brought us humans where we are now. The common argument of believers (any god) are that science is not able to explain everything. This is true, many questions remain unanswered, but this does not mean we should presume by default it is gods work. Remember in prehistoric times every natural occurrence was a sign of god, ofcourse they did not have science to explain these phenomenas to them and so it was just as easy to explain everything as supernatural. Even in more recent history, and for this we should only go back for 100-80 years, the church was keeping the common folk down with claims of heaven and hell so people would keep quiet and not revolt with fear for the afterlife. This made the church mighty powerful, and since most people still had no education (and could not even read, less pay for education) they didn't know any better then to believe any good or bad was the way god intended and it would be better not to taunt the lord.

Let me get this straight, if you are a Christian and you want to put more believe in your evolutionary theory, that is 100% your right and your freedom of choice (yes, we believe everybody can have his believe, unlike most religions who do not allow other religions to exist). The problem in this case is that it should not be in the general tutoring package. I couldn't care less if they discussed this to death in the Christianity class, but it does not belong in biology which should deal with science only!

I hope they win their court case, they should, but since the judge is appointed by Bush I'm just not so sure.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Isn't this just great news?
It was just painful to see adventure games die as they did. They were my favorite type of game back in the days, and Lucas Arts was the best of all. Sure, I started out with dialog adventures like the famousInfocom games and then the mixed gfx-txt adventures from Sierra but after playing one Lucas game I was sold for ever.

Never had more fun playing a game then the Monkey Island series. I played this game together with 5 friends and even after finishing it it came up in discussions every now and then. Talk like a pirate day brought back the good memories as well, and just then I read the good news. Sam & Max was not their best adventure, but it was a good typical wacky Lucas type of game.

Ron Gilbert, you are a pain in the backside, sir!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

A few days ago the new Nintendo controller was presented to the world. Certainly exciting as several spoof articles were released in the last year, and none of them were correct.

When I saw the pictures for the first time, I didn't know what to think. It is the most radical change in console controller history ever. My first thought was that most games probably would use it in horizontal mode (mimicking the old NES controllers),and it took me a while to realize how neat the whole idea was.

Admit it, the first time you played a game on console you couldn't keep your hands still, and the controller moved along with the action on the screen. Soon enough you learn not to do this and just laugh at the next kid who discovers games for the first time.
It is such a great idea, because it is so natural. I wouldn't be surprised if Nintendo got this idea from watching kids play games for the first time. This idea is great and good for the same reason the analog buttons on the PS2 pads are so neat.

The idea there was that the pressure on the button would have an impact in game, like the gas pedal in a car, the impact of punches, the hight of jumps etc. Though it seems this feature is not used much, so we'll just have to see how much this revolutionary controller from Nintendo catches on.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

I'm a dad, yeeh! World, say hello to; Daan my baby boy.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Seems like a never ending story. I already discussed some of the points previously, but I want to touch on something different now; the filesystem.

If I try to understand the point that this guy is making I fail to see how it is better. What he and a lot of people are saying is that each application should have its own directory separated from the rest of the programs. Wrong! Again, this is thinking Windows, where indeed you install each program in a separate directory. God forbid if you put them all in one or two folders.

Important to know is that filesystems are outdated. Sure you need them, but who cares how they are organized? If I install me application through Synaptic it is added in my menu and just works automagically. Why should I care about where all the files are located, all I want to do is use that program.

What about user data? This is already taken care of in every Unix, each user has his own directory, called home to populate with anything he wants. Ubuntu takes the right approach and will try to guide the user into only his home directory with his own personal stuff in it. Browsing the whole drive is possible, but not many people will access it (this proves the point again that nobody is interested in what the OS does with programs).

How the user structures his data is unimportant. If you haven't figured it out yet, the way data is displayed to users has changed. Programs like F-Spot, Rhythmbox, Evolution and Beagle all take care of data sorting and searching for you. No longer is it necessary to create deeply nested directory structures which are mostly lagging in efficiency anyway.

Still, to provide all these features the filesystem needs to be good, stable, fast and recover easy from errors or failures. Luckily Linux already provides several of these, unlike other systems out there which require the user to spend time managing the filesystem.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Once again this years edition of Rock Werchter has finished. This is not, for me personally, the best festival in Belgium, but it is certainly the biggest in number of visitors. Since a few years now it lasts for 4 days and the music is spread out over 2 stages, the main and the pyramid stage. Although the weather was horrible, the music was extremely good.

On the Thursday we had New Order doing their thing. They brought a good mix of old and new songs, ofcourse the crowd went wild when they played Blue Monday. The band itself hates this song and feels Temptation is better while at the same time I think Bizarre love triangle is their greatest, it was also the best performed number of the excellent set. Next up was Ozark Henry, an old time favorite of mine. One of the best performing Belgian artists and a real musical talent. The songs were played perfectly, but seemed lost on the big main stage. The band was having a good time for sure, but somehow it didn't seem to translate to the public. Best performed song of the set was Intersexual. The surprise and certainly in the top 3 of best gigs this year is courtesy of Kraftwerk. They blew me away. Those old German geezers still performed with a minimal of content but a perfect, spotless, amazing set. Best songs in the set where Man machine and Radio activity, although when they started The model the crowd went through the roof. If you get the change to see them perform, don't hesitate!

The next day Garbage wasn't doing to bad, although it seemed they had a hard time getting the people in the right mood, although that didn't stop Shirley Manson to show us her ass, yep, nothing beats showing your ass in front of 70.000 people, except playing a great version of Push it. As far as I know, the only Dutch singing band on Werchter this year was Monza, which is a reincarnation of Noordkaap. People who know Stijn Meuris, know he is a real performer. It seems like he gets consumed by his own music once he is on stage, this time it was not different. Funny was the way they dressed up, like a band from the 60's or something, looking like they walked out of a bad episode of Happy Days. The set was dead on; new work, older work and even several oldies from the Noordkaap repertoire. Ik hou van U had the usual effect, although Panamarenko was my favorite. The happy punk songs and excellent show of Greenday did nothing but confirm this had been a great second day. The band sure knows how to entertain, fireworks, interaction with the crowd, and although I saw them already once and this was mostly a rehash it didn't bore for one second. Again they selected 3 people to come on stage and play a song, this time they even gave away their guitar. And although it is a punk band and they are naughty they are mostly entertaining and I'm sure they gain a few fans each time. It is difficult to pick their best performed song, but if I had to pick one, it would probably be Boulevard of broken dreams.

Everybody who knows me, should know that Millionaire is one of my favorite bands, since Tim Vanhamel is an ex Evil Superstar and he is not afraid of trying new things and touching the boundaries of musical genres. Anyway, after a few songs Mauro came on stage and played one song along. Great, great, great! The set however was mostly made up out of new songs, so I didn't know that many of them. Played very loud and required some effort to appreciate. Surprise nr.2 of the festival was Interpol, as I don't really like their songs when played on the radio, they are not bad at all, but they seem a bit over-hyped. Still I must confess to being totally blown away by the set they played. Perfectly played, enjoyable music and the crowd loved every second of it. Although there wasn't much going on on stage, except some light effects, the music did all it had to do and impressed. Best performed song was Evil. Go see this band if you get the chance.

Zita swoon is really transforming as a band, going back to their roots, which are Moondog Jr. Gone are the days of disco and Banana Queens, back are the gentle, relaxed songs. I really like this band, no matter how they play their music, however some of their songs don't translate to this relaxed musical way of playing (like banana queen), but the overall set was beautifull, an oasis of love and wisdom. The side effect of playing this way is that the crowd is not easily pumped up, so it was difficult for them to get interaction at some times. Still it rates as one of the best performances this year, best played song was Jintro and the great Luna. I like the Foo's more then Nirvana. And it seems there is nothing that can get in the way of these party animals. What a perfect set! This was not the first time I saw them, but certainly the best. Although the sound was hard, rough and loud it was also very clear and perfectly performed. Best song; My hero

Bands that should be avoided at all costs are: Snoop dogg, Within temptation, Faithless, Audioslave and propably others but I didn't have a change to see everything.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Every time I read something like this I grumble. The problem is that there is no problem, at least not with Linux. The problem, again, is the people using the system, but they are not to blame either, because they have been 'raised' this way after years and years of windows usage (probably this will be valid for Apple as well).

When people slide over from the windows platform, to give Linux a try, the list of questions you'll get is mostly something like this: don't I need an anti-virus? don't I need to defrag my disk? don't I have to use anti-spyware and ofcourse; how do install this program/driver. The answer to all these questions is, you don't need any of this stuff. You don't need to install drivers, you don't need to install software. Most of the stuff everyday people might need is basically installed by default, and the things that might be missing are probably available as an installable package from your distro.

I show people how they can find software, using synaptic (which is included on ubuntu, debian and a lot of others). Still this knowledge is lost as soon as they do need some extra package and what is the first thing they do? The windows reflex, roaming the net looking for the program which might perform the needed tasks. After reminding them to use the included tool for looking for programs they use it, but the next time they are roaming the net again. Seems like a hard habit to break.

Still, after a while it settles in, and in case of ubuntu with all repositories enabled, it really amazes them. People don't realize what advantages this system brings. The software is integrated perfectly into that distro version you are using, it is secure, a very fast way to get extra software and keep it up to date automatically. The same is true for drivers, need to install a driver? No! Your distro should support it out of the box, if not you should not have bought that piece of hardware at all (though, it could get supported in the future, but who can predict the future).

This is all good for OSS, but what about commercial software? Well, there is no problem either. There are a bunch of games available on Linux like nwn, the UT series, Doom 3 and more. Let me tell you how the install of these games works; they come with an installer that pops up a graphical window that allows me to choose a destination directory, and after transferring all files from CD, to add menu entries. At the end of this procedure, I select the game from my menu and it works (what else did you expect). Nothing difficult or different from the windows platform (this procedure is also valid for other commercial programs which I tried, although they use different installers).

Does this mean you cannot toy around with source tar files anymore? Hell no! But if you are doing that, I suppose you know what you are doing anyway, and you will not be making foolish comments about the fact that installing software is difficult. Computer savvy people will always want to tinker with their machines, and they can do so, to the full. These people also exist on windows and they do things no normal would do on that OS either. To end my story, I just want to say that installing is only part of the game, try removing stuff and see who is the clear winner each time!

Thursday, June 23, 2005

It has got to end, the heat is unbearable. I thought it was hot last year, but that was not a real heatwave, or at least that is what they are telling us now (although they called it a heatwave last year too, it seems it did not qualify).

During this heat a lot of people are losing their sanity and start attacking other people. It seems it is turning us all into zombies like in the 'Dawn of the Dead' movie (the old one, because everybody moves real slow in this heat).
We already had several shootings and traffic aggression is rising every day. My dear colleague even attacked our manager with a football this afternoon, truly amazing.

Our water supply is running out and in some cities they have to hand out water in bottles. At the same time we are no longer allowed to wash our cars, water our gardens or most other watery stuff. If you do, you can get a fine or even prison time. As you can imagine the Tom Cruise incident has caused serious controversy here, as precious water should not be used in pranks or spilled during these days.

You can help! Send as much water as you can to Belgium, we and our dry tongues will thank you.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Take a look at this, and follow the thread '1. Re: LAN failover (Maurice Peterse)'.

Now just imagine working with this guy, sheez! And no complaining, you asked for it!

Monday, June 13, 2005

I have been reading every now and then a few pages from Open Sources - voices from the Open Source Revolution from O'Reilly.

This book, from 1999, has some interesting bits on SCO (the text has been adjusted a bit, for the full story buy the book);

SCO' s OS is essentially all the have, and in their case, that's not good enough. What will SCO do?
In the beginning of 1998, SCO sent out a letter to its vast mailing list of users slamming open Unixes like Linux and FreeBSD as unstable and unprofessional. SCO eventually published a retraction on their web site.
In late 1998, SCO sent out a press release talking about how SCO Unix now has a Linux compatibility layer. The response was underwhelming.
SCO is in a unique position. They must, however, make a leap of faith. Instead of seeing Open Source as a threat.

Just funny, we should have seen it coming from miles away. The writing was on the wall, still it took us all by surprise.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Sony said that the PS3 HDD extension will come with Linux installed. First, this could be a pure marketing stunt by Sony, and secondly it doesn't mean we'll get a bash prompt (but an interface that runs on top of the Linux kernel) when powering on our playstation.

But imagine for once that Sony really delivers and gives us full access to PS3-Linux. With that they will turn the PS3 into what the XBOX is now, a hacker-lovable machine. The advantage is that the system is already open by default and you can go hacking straight away.

I'm sure the XBOX360 will get hacked as well, after a few months, or longer. But then we are just booting a kernel, no sound or gfx yet. Which will make it rather useless.
Sony should not fear indie game producers. Simply because it will be hard for them to top the commercial games. I don't think indie games are bad, but the production costs are much lower, and although they can have really good gameplay, the gfx and music/sound is not up to the same level.

I know people who have bought and XBOX simply for one reason; the media center software available thanks to the hackability of the device. Sony should keep its promise and deliver on this one and they will at least have all the geeks on their side.

Monday, June 06, 2005

The apple has fallen of the tree! Nah, nothing exciting, I say, good for them. I'm referring to Apple changing to Intel in the future.
Who says this is surprising? The never ever made it a secret that they have an x86 port of OSX running along their available PPC version internally, using a FreeBSD/Mach-UNIX as their core, which is highly portable. If they wanted, they could switch to something else again, in a few years, probably in a snap.
I have made a post on slashdot about why it might be a good time for Apple to switch, so I'm not going to repeat that here. What I would like to comment on is the fact that a lot of people are predicting the end of everything that is Apple. Can anybody tell me why it would be? Is there a reason to believe the x86 Macs will be bad or will OSX suddenly be less 'sexy'? They will still be Macs and if they would release models with x86 CPUs in the same case as G5 machines, the user will not even notice the difference.
'Oh, but it will not run PPC software, it will be hell.' - Is that many software on OSX using low level calls, directly accessing hardware so that it would be a problem running OLD software with the PPC emulator included on those machines? Will it be something a recompile won't be able to fix? How fast will the popular programs be ported/recompiled?
Let me tell you this much, I run Linux both on x86-64/32 and PPC (G3) and for Linux there is no difference, everything that runs on my AMD box runs on the PPC as well, except stuff like shockwave plugins and some media codecs. But guess what? You can be damn sure Apple will be taking care of those.
So Apple lovers worry not, in fact, it will be probably be a good thing (tm), even for you.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

I don't know how old java is exactly, though I remember the first releases way back. They didn't teach it in school or the college I went to, until a good few years later. Still, bad things like this discussion have never stopped. The whole 3 page article is already summarized at the beginning; memory and speed are the big problems.

Really now, when it first came out, it was even more a problem then it is these days. Because everybody has plenty of RAM, but mid 90's I was stuck with 8 or 16MB max, and the CPU wasn't much faster as the first Pentiums just started to roll out the door. In those days, Java was even worse then it is today on those two points and still today perception hasn't changed much. That is the least you can say about the whole thing.

The most complete website I could find about total performance comparison of languages is The Computer Language
Shootout Benchmarks
site, which not only takes a bunch of different tasks to perform, but also considers memory usage, cpu and amount of code lines into the test. Even more sweet is the possibility to select a large amount of languages to compare (against Java or something else).

As you can see, Java isn't that bad, according to these benchmark results (lies, damn lies and benchmarks), but talk to anybody who is not a Java programmer and I'm sure you'll get nothing but badmouthing about it. I'm not a Java programmer, and I can tell you it isn't my favorite language either. I prefer python, which, although should be slower then Java, feels so much faster. The cause of all this is the fact that Java is easy to pick up, but few really master this beast. It is not impossible to make really good software using Java (we are talking desktop here), and a really good proof of this is azureus. If only all Java apps where like this!

The solution? Well, should there be any? the market always has a natural selection. On the desktop I don't really see Java taking off, if it hasn't happened after all these years, it's never going to happen, excluding a few apps now and then. But in business software it is already the defacto standard, and it will be long before this will change, and for some reason nobody gives a damn about memory and CPU usage there.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Boy oh boy, the last few months have gotten me addicted to 2 of the newly available MMORPGs available. The first one is City of Heroes while the other is the well known World of WarCraft. CoH won several awards the year it was released in the US, now ofcourse WoW is getting its share of awards as well. I have been playing both on and off, so I can share some of my views with you, if you don't like RPGs stop reading now and avoid possible brain damage.

First point of discussion are the virtual worlds you reside in. Now in sheer size It is difficult to tell because I have only explored so much in any of the two. And it seems that the maps are smaller in WoW, ofcourse dungeons and cities are huge, but in CoH the dungeons can be quite big as well. The maps in WoW might seem large but they are mostly not that big, once you get into a new area it is quickly explored and your whole map is discovered. While in CoH there is only one city divided by districts, which are really huge and when you have no transportation powers at the start of the game it is frustrating because it takes so long to get somewhere. Getting the whole map explored is also not as easy as it sounds, some places are even so hard to discover you get awards (badges) to do so. The quality of the virtual world graphics is best in WoW, the environment and dungeons are rather dull in CoH, but at the same time it never stands in your way or is really ugly, lets call it simple but functional. This is valid in both worlds, except I found the player characters in CoH to be much better then WoW. There is almost an infinite number of possibilities to change the look, which is really nice.

This brings us to the character development, which is one of the important parts of playing RPGs. I received CoH one month in advance because some delays at amazon, where I had ordered both games. So at the beginning I had only one game to play, and got a nice head start with CoH. I always though my character would me more developed and higher level in CoH, which turned out not to be true. Character development in WoW is fast, XP is received constantly and when you are 'rested' it even speeds up the whole leveling process. This is good, because at each lvl-up you get something new to play with, new powers, enhancements or possibilities to wear better gear etc. As everybody knows by now, WoW doesn't know debt while all other MMORPGs use this particular system. I'm not sure yet if I like this or not, a lot of times you will get yourself into a dangerous situation and if you don't make it, you don't lose anything (except 10% of equipment endurance). So where is the danger? The worst that can happen is some downtime/delay before you can resurrect again. While in CoH people are still punished for getting them self in a bad situation and must plan their attacks better, play more as a team (or at least try) or fear to build up debt upon debt upon debt.

As versatile as the look of the characters is in CoH, at least as different are the possibilities for adding super-powers. The creators clearly had in mind that each player should be different and although some powers are very popular, it is again almost impossible to have a hero with exact the same powers, just like in the comic books. In WoW you can differ your character mostly by specializing in certain talents and the equipment you carry, but this does not even begin to compare the diversity of possibilities in CoH.

Anybody playing CoH will agree that in the lower levels endurance is a real problem. During fights you will always run out of endurance, which each class uses to perform special powers, it is the same thing as mana in fact. This problem can exist in WoW as well, except they have developed a genuine system for fighting classes like the warrior where you have to build up rage to perform your attacks. Thus preventing, that type of class at least, to run out of mana. I feel like this should be incorporated into each future MMORPG, as it makes more and more sense after playing like that for a while.

Missions are done differently in CoH then WoW, that is my impression at least. WoW will allow you to have up to 20 open missions at a time, you can in fact mix story lines and do each mission in the order you like the most or is most convenient at that time. While playing in CoH I tend to stick to one contact providing me mission after mission and following the whole storyline in one go, certainly gets you more into the game at some points.

When WoW was released, it was marketed as the 'quick' MMORPG where you could jump in for an hour and do something. I don't see it that way, the only straight-on game is CoH. It is made simple, there are no extras but contains enough to play it for short sessions or hours on end. WoW is really a time sucker if you want to get something done, and there is too much to do and maintain or take care off. The only thing that is correct is that levels advance pretty quick, at least in the beginning they do.

Both games get updates at regular times. CoH has already doubled in size compared to the first version, and we all know blizzard won't sit still adding new features and other things to WoW, just like they do with all their other games.

So which is my favorite MMORPG? Hard to say, they are both very good games. And perhaps my preference still goes out to CoH. It seems the people who play that game are more friendly and willing to help each other (just like real heroes), you can be sure you will be adding a lot of people to your friends list in CoH. I never had that in WoW, there are parties but they contain no spark. It is fun playing WoW because the game itself is really well made and a lot of people are playing that game, and in fact all my real friends play it too.