martes, 31 de agosto de 2010

Microsoft LOVES Open Source!!!

Jean Paoli, the general manager of Microsoft's interoperability strategy team, recently said "we love open source." You can read about it here.
Isn't it great? The company that once called Linux "a cancer" now loves open source! This is the happiest news you'll ever hear! Of course, we all can assume that from this new love relationship between Microsoft and open source, the closed, privative soon-to-be-born Windows 8 will be replaced by a free (both as in freedom and as in free-beer) open-source Windows called PENGUINDOWS.

Penguindows will come in four great editions:

1. Lovey Dovey Edition
2. Rosy Edition
3. Happy-Ever-After Edition
4. Fairytale Edition

You will be able to download it, or you can ask Microsoft for a free copy. They'll send it to you promptly if you accept the license agreement:

"Do you accept to love all human beings and use your Penguindows for the benefit of humanity without asking for anything in reward? YES NO"

Surely, Penguindows will make a new, happy world for everyone!
THANKS, MICROSOFT, FOR TAKING SUCH A HUGE STEP TOWARDS A BETTER WORLD!!! WE LOVE YOU, TOO!!! Let us all dance together with Brother Ballmer!!!

Please...don't let the shadow of doubt and critical thinking cloud such a happy moment for humanity...

Please, don't think that the same Paoli who uttered those words of love is the same Paoli who helped design the XML specification. Yes, the same that gave (and still gives) so many headaches to users of Office 2003 and older. Surely, he was thinking about interoperability when that "open" closed format was adopted and left those users clueless. After all, the new format is for the benefit of humanity! It compresses files! It makes your PowerPoint presentations substantially smaller so you can send them more easily by e-mail! That shows how much he does care for poor users without fast Internet connections...What does it matter if you have to spend hours from your slow connection to download the 27.5 Mb patch for your Office 2003 to be able to use the new format? You will be able to make smaller files after all!!!!

Please, don't think that this new love affair responds to a hidden agenda, either. Let not the crazy thought of cloud computing stain the purity of this affection. It does not matter that Microsoft leaders made the mistake of underestimating the Web when they concentrated all their efforts on desktop computers, pretty much as IBM concentrated only on mainframes during its prime years.

Don't ever think that by releasing Office 2010 and its cloud-computing features, Microsoft is trying to take hold of the market it left aside in the past. No. Forget those impure thoughts. Don't ever link that to Microsoft's new interest in Open Source. No. After all, cloud computing is deeply related to open source technologies, which enable their interoperability, but that's not the reason for Microsoft love.

Why is it that whenever pure love appears, there is always a horrible crow spreading its black wings and piercing the sky with its horrible squawking? Let's believe in LOVE!!!

jueves, 26 de agosto de 2010

Windows Seven Starter...Started so Soon??!!

Today, one of my students who really needed his laptop for studying, told me that without any apparent reason, his Toshiba computer refused to start. All he got was a black screen. Thus, I lent him my tiny Toshiba netbook NB-100, powered by SimplyMepis Linux 8.0 and he worked without any problems on it.

At the end of the class, he showed me the problem of his netbook. True, only a black screen showed after loading the OS (Windows Seven Starter, by the way).

I asked my student about the computer state. He said "It is practically new! I bought it last May!"

The problem was knowing if it was a software problem or a hardware problem. I asked him for permission to run Mepis 8.5 from my USB key on his computer. If Mepis booted fine, that would mean the computer screen was fine...

Mepis ran beautifully. No problem whatsoever. That meant hardware was not the culprit...I even enabled the Windows recovery screen from Mepis and realized the problem was "Windows didn't shut down correctly last time" student probably did something wrong while shutting down his netbook. However, I thought Win7 was more toughly built than XP. For XP, failing to shut down the computer "correctly" could mean headaches. Is Seven the same?? Where's the upgrade then???

How come Seven Starter started giving him problems so soon? How come it didn't wait a bit more? Not even 3 months?? I can't believe it! That's a new record!

miércoles, 25 de agosto de 2010

Usuarios de Windows: ¡¡¡Zeus va tras su dinero!!!

¡Estos dos últimos meses han sido un período bastante duro para los usuarios de Windows! El mes pasado, la amenaza del gusano W32.Stuxnet, que se propaga por medio de aparatos USB, se descubrió atacando plantas industriales...
Ahora, el recién llegado este mes es la nueva versión de Zeus, un troyano y keylogger que aparentemente contiene tecnología anti-piratería al estilo Windows (??!!) y ha vaciado ya $1 millón de cuentas bancarias en el Reino Unido! ¡Wow! ¡Parece que ahora hasta los dioses griegos quieren competir con Microsoft para obtener el dinero que posean los usuarios de Windows!
Este troyano Zeus (tan paradójico como pueda sonar...¡¡¿¿el dios griego como un troyano??!! ¡Bueno!) se puede obtener, de acuerdo con el artículo, ya sea visitando un sitio Web legítimo que alberga secretamente el malware, o un sitio diseñado para albergarlo, o un sitio legítimo que albergue el malware en los anuncios. También menciona que el ataque primario vino por medio de anuncios infectados, incluyendo anuncios enviados por, de Yahoo. ¡Esa es de hecho mala publicidad! Luego, Zeus actúa como keylogger y como ladrón de contraseñas, pero hace más que eso: prueba todas las debilidades que conoce en la máquina víctima para lograr una infección exitosa.
Ah, pero hay más: "cuando el usuario accesa el sitio Web de su banco, el troyano transfiere la identificación de acceso, la fecha de nacimiento y el número de seguridad al servidor de control y manejo. Una vez que el usuario accesa la sección de transacciones del sitio Web del banco, el troyano recibe un nuevo código JavaScript del servidor remoto para reemplazar el JavaScript original del banco usado para la forma de la transacción.

Cuando el usuario interactúa con la forma para realizar una transacción legítima, el troyano trabaja oculto para manipular la transacción. Primero revisa el balance de la cuenta y si sobrepasa cierta cantidad, determina cuánto sustraer dentro de un límite para no activar las alarmas automáticas de detección de fraudes".

Queridos usuarios de Windows: es hora de que consideren seriamente realizar sus actividades bancarias en línea de manera segura. ¿Temen que si instalan GNU/Linux en sus PCs les acarreará la ira de Microsoft a ustedes y a sus familias por tres generaciones? ¿Qué tal usar un buen Live CD de Linux, entonces? GNU/Linux no muerde, ¿saben? Aún si lo hiciera, no se puede comparar a darse cuenta algún día que uno fue víctima del crimen por Internet. ¿Están dispuestos a esperar que alguien les vacíe sus cuentas para actuar?

lunes, 23 de agosto de 2010

Windows Users: Zeus Is after Your Money!!!!

These two months have been such a tough period of time for Windows users! Last month, the menace of W32.Stuxnet worm, which spreads through USB devices, was discovered targeting industrial manufacturing plants...
Now, the newcomer this month is the newest version of Zeus, a trojan and keylogger which apparently contains Windows-like anti-piracy technology (??!!) and has already emptied $1 million from bank accounts in the United Kingdom! Wow! It seems that now even Greek gods want to compete with Microsoft for the money that Windows users may have!
This Zeus trojan (as paradoxical it may sound...The Greek God being a Trojan??!! Oh, well!) can be obtained, according to the article, by either visiting a legitimate Web site that is secretly hosting the malware, or a site designed to host the malware, or a legitimate site hosting the malware in an advertisement. It also mentions that the primary attack came through malicious advertisements, including ads delivered by Yahoo's That's bad advertising indeed! Then, Zeus acts as a keylogger and a password stealer, but it also does more than that: it tests the victim machine for each exploit it knows in order to get a successful infection.
Ah, but there's more: "When the user accesses his or her bank Web site, the Trojan transfers the log-in ID, date of birth, and a security number to the command-and-control server. Once the user accesses the transactional section of the bank Web site, the Trojan receives new JavaScript code from the outside server to replace the original bank JavaScript used for the transaction form.

When the user interacts with the transaction form for legitimate business, the Trojan works behind the scenes to manipulate the transaction. First it checks the account balance and if it is over a certain amount it will determine how much to steal within a limit so as not to trigger automatic fraud detection alarms."

Dear Windows user: it's time you seriously consider doing your online banking safely. Are you afraid installing GNU/Linux on your PC will bring Microsoft's wrath on you and your family for three generations? How about a nice Linux Live CD, then? GNU/Linux doesn't bite, you know? Even if it did, it can't be compared to realizing someday you were a victim of Internet criminals. Are you willing to wait until someone empties your account to act?

jueves, 19 de agosto de 2010

Astroturfing against MEPIS??

Today I learned something about Microsoft, bloggers, and forums. As I was browsing the Mepis Forum (I had posted a question, maybe a silly one, but still got some prompt and friendly help), I found this post by someone. He called Mepis 8.0 and Mepis 8.5 "losers" because, according to him, both Mepis editions had failed miserably to work properly.

Now, that's a possibility. The kernel version Mepis uses may not be fully compatible with some hardware specifications. That problem can be worked around, but it is not the kind of task a novice like me would like to undertake alone. That's where the communitiy support shines.

However, this "linux user" was not a newbie like I am. He described himself as "having 10 years of experience using Linux" and also "knowledgeable about forums"...That seemed to ring a bell on the mods and other community members. One of them said the original post was an example of "astroturfing".

Of course, I didn't have any idea what the word meant. After a little searching, I learned about this ugly side of the blogsphere, even though it is not restricted to it, or to Microsoft.

Anyway, if anybody is interested in learning about specific astroturfing cases by Microsoft, here are some examples.

Wow! They even gave away laptops?? Will they offer me one soon? :P

(note: the image was taken from El Blog de Enrique Dans)

viernes, 13 de agosto de 2010

Noise about Linux

After the FUD article published not long ago by Ken Hess for PC World, Katherine Noyes, from the same magazine, has come up in defense of Linux. She wrote two articles:

1. Is Linux Really Harder to Use?

2. Why Linux is More Secure than Windows

Also, in terms of security, it's interesting to see how Windows advocates keep saying "Windows is safe. Just download MS Security Essentials..."

The executable installer for XP is 11 MB and for 7/Vista is 7 MB. I don't really know if that covers the full download or that will act as a downloader for heavier files...

Anyway, it would also be interesting to investigate why those "essentials", being so essential, are not included with Windows to begin with. Why does MS make acquiring those vital security tools the user's responsibility? Is it really that hard to include them with the mastedon-size and voracious resource-eating OS they currently promote? If they can't even include "security essentials" in their DVDs, what are those media filled with? Letters to Santa Claus?

I don't know! :P

domingo, 8 de agosto de 2010

On Computers, Cookies, and Beacons

Some people still surf the Web without thinking at all about their privacy. Firefox does its best to offer solutions that let users surf and at the same time protect their identity. However, Internet spying on users is becoming more and more difficult to prevent.

This article provides very useful information about one of the latest trends used by companies to spy on Web surfers and collect information about them: Beacons.

According to the article, Beacons are small files stored in a computer. They consist of a single code that stores data about specific user. For example, in the case of the woman in the article,

The file consists of a single code— 4c812db292272995e5416a323e79bd37—that secretly identifies her as a 26-year-old female in Nashville, Tenn.The code knows that her favorite movies include "The Princess Bride," "50 First Dates" and "10 Things I Hate About You." It knows she enjoys the "Sex and the City" series. It knows she browses entertainment news and likes to take quizzes.

Now, wasn't that the same as a cookie?

Not really. Cookies are text files that keep track of the websites a person visits, so they are much more limited and open to scrutiny. See the difference?

We don't stand much a chance with the increase of these tracking technologies. I don't want to sound paranoid, but did you read about Samy Kamkar, the hacker who successfully tracked online one computer with an error margin of 9 meters?

jueves, 5 de agosto de 2010

News about MEPIS...

After some time of silence, there's noise again about the new Mepis.

Brooko, one of the Mepis team, shared this information about the next MEPIS release:

1. The new Mepis will be MEPIS 11

2. MEPIS 11 may be final by January 2011

3. MEPIS 11 will be Squeeze-based with 2.6.35 or 2.6.36 kernel (depending on stability.)

4. It will include Firefox 4.

5. Warren might have an alpha released by the end of this month.

6. MEPIS 11 may stay with Grub-Legacy.

7. Concerning KDE, it might have KDE 4.5

It seems I may jump from Mepis 8.0 to 11 without getting used to Mepis 8.5 :P

miércoles, 4 de agosto de 2010


このまえ、私は まんがかリヌックス(MANGAKA LINUX) についてちょっと話した。でも、最近OSとまんががだんだん近づいている気がする。

たとえば、MECHATOTOROは ここに WINDOWSのアニメを見せてくれた。


MICHI MIFUNE という少女は自分のまんがを作って、MICHI's Homepage でWINDOWSとLINUXガールができた。

PRO じゃないかもしれないが、かわいいだろう? ^_^



次の例は本当にすごい!!JUZO KUN という人は色々なLINUX DISTROS の まんが少女ができて、こんなすばらしい結果になった!

すごいだろう? 全部の絵を見たかったら、ここに あるんだ。

でも、いつもの質問は MEPIS少女は? T_T 

lunes, 2 de agosto de 2010

Linux Is not for Everyone...

Recently, Ken Hess from PC World wrote the article "Warning: Five Things to Know Before Switching to Linux."

He opened his article by saying "Linux isn't for everyone-yet. However, Ubuntu, Mandriva, and a few other distributions come close but for now, Linux is a little more difficult to use than Windows." Hehe, Mepis is always left out...What an invisible distro I picked! :P

Now, is it true that Linux is not for everyone?

In his article, Hess mentioned the following aspects to consider about Linux when someone wants to switch from Windows:

1. It Isn't Windows
2. It Isn't Quite Unix Either
3. Printers and Other Peripherals
4. Documents and Files
5. Technical Skills Required

I agree with the article on the point of printers and peripherals. Most hardware manufacturers don't want to include Linux compatibility and that adds extra complications for Linux users.

However, the author missed a very important point concerning aspects 3 & 4: Is Windows fully compatible? Guess what, Windows DOES HAVE COMPATIBILITY ISSUES AS WELL! Actually, part of Microsoft's business model rests on creating compatibility issues, not only with peripherals, but also with files and previous Windows versions! How does that sound? Nice? If you are one of those who use the word "upgrade" to mean using a heavier (and more expensive, of course) system with less functionality than its previous versions, then you have been happily brainwashed, for that system is more like a downgrade if we think logically.

About aspect number 5, "technical skills required", I agree, too. For using Linux, you need to have a very sharp and difficult technical skill: using your brain.

Those who say technical skills are not required to run Windows are simply lying. Most Windows users think they don't need any tech skills because someone else installed their hardware, software, and configured their system for them.

Oh, I love it when they say "unlike Linux, Windows has a great tech support". How many of them have actually called Microsoft's Tech Support when experiencing problems? At least in my country, what they do is turning for help to friends who know more. What if those friends got wise and charged for their services? These users with no tech-skills would have two options left: either calling MS or solving their problems themselves (which is virtually the same thing, for MS won't send any technicians to your house to check on your Windows system).

Mr. Hess says "If you're the type that likes to tinker with computers, to learn new things, and to celebrate a victory when you're successful, then Linux is for you." Reading such lines made me really sad! That means Linux is not for me because I am more the type that:

1. like my computer to tinker with me, bug me, and even haunt me in my dreams!
2. try by all means to prevent any new knowledge from entering my brand-new and ever-sleeping brain
3. love to mourn or curse whenever I am successful (if I ever am!)

The author ends his article stating that "If you want stay with the familiar and comfortable pitfalls that you're accustomed to, use Windows."

I do agree with the idea that Windows pitfalls are familiar, but comfortable??? Since when being infected with a trojan, having a nasty virus swipe out all my data or getting a BSOD in the middle of an important job or presentation became the standard of computer comfort? Whoa! Was that the voice of brainwashing that I heard or it is that Linux separated me from the world of computers that much?

Anyway, I agree with Mr.Hess. Linux is not for everyone. It is for those that, as he said:

"choose to suffer a little pain,"
[the pain of learning many things; some good, some bad. Among them that they were ripped off by M$soft in the past]
"make a few exceptions" [like learning to live without some peripherals on one hand and without viruses or BSOD on the other]

"use Linux to power your desktops and servers and experience a new level of computing freedom."