The crunch credit edition What to do, when things go financially awry? Take to the ‘Net of course, and record songs about the credit crunch on YouTube. Bush and Brown: Link Oooh: Weebl! Link Plenty more of those on YouTube if you care to search for them. Mahalo's Jason Calacanis has some comforting words for us, like “financial tsunami”, “sheer destruction of wealth”, “there will be no white knight”, “nothing to stop the panic or create a bottom”, etc. His advice for start-ups is to forget about Yahoo and Google, because they ain’t gunna come and bail you out. Quite. Calacanis thinks experience will count in the current climate, and he may well be right because tech’s only just come off the dot-com bust and haven’t actually had that many fat years since. Many of the present-generation execs took the rudder in tough times and should, in theory at least, know what to do. He may also be right that advertisers will look to internet advertising that promises “real measurability”. That however depends on if someone spills the beans to advertisers and tells them that internet advertising is as difficult to measure as any other media. One thing’s for sure though: the thinning of the field with the me-toos being weeded out will happen, like Calacanis says. I reckon there will be some severe consolidation too, where the big players quite simply buy out the competition. This is probably not a good thing… — Jason Calacanis: Good news for people who hate bad news While it’s not all doom and gloom in CalacanisLand, Grahame Lynch at CommsDay isn’t Little Mr Sunshine about the telco sector. Let’s see: — Telecommunications isn’t recession-proof — Telecommunications isn’t a utility — Telecommunications won’t benefit from the pressure to cut travel, lifestyle costs — Telecom inputs won’t fall in costs and won’t take pressure off soft revenues. Aggh. Lynch, unfortunately, makes some worryingly valid points about the telco industry. like it being too prone to technology disruption to be a utility and that its customer bases could simply vanish into welfare dependency rather favour e.g. telecommuting due to cost-cutting. There’s little upside to the downturn, Lynch says. Cheaper worker bees and bosses and the possibility to build market share with worthwhile products while frivolent competition withers on the vine; that’s about it. — Commsday: Busting myths about telecoms and recessions Google’s still on a roll, but it seems to be benefiting from consumers searching away the economic blues, trying to find cheaper and better deals. We’ll see how it goes next year. Google’s already preparing for hard times by cutting down on hiring, capex and… the free main courses in cafeterias from three to two. — Latitude Group: Google Grows but hedges its bets on Q4 Oh well. It’s time to follow Valleywag Paul Boutin’s advice to kill your blog and start living on Twitter, Flickr, YouTube and Facebook instead: Twitter, Flickr, Facebook Make Blogs Look So 2004 — Essay I’m happy with that. Already using Twitter and Facebook far more than in the past because… it’s a conversation with others, I suppose. Blogs just aren’t social enough, and there aren’t enough hours in the day to write good stuff with video and god knows what to keep them alive. In fact, why don’t you kill my blog for me? There’s some disagreement on whether the copyright infringement bullet in the neck should be a Section 92A or a 92C one, but I don’t care. Neither does the amended Copyright Act as it stands currently. If you decide to keep your site going, now’s the time to move it if it’s hosted in New Zealand. Not only are chances great that you’ll get an even better deal overseas, but with the Copyright Act effectively allowing anyone to take down any site in NZ, what other choice do you have? In a few days’ time, TelstraClear for instance intends to start complying with the new law and will take down sites accused of infringing copyright. ISPs can’t verify or investigate whether a complaint is valid or not, because if they do and get it wrong, they’ll open themselves up to further liability under the law. At least, that’s what my learned legal friends tell me and what they’ve told Judith Tizard, the minister in charge of the new law, many many times already. — Websites threatened by new Copyright Act
XKCD Secretary, part 1
Robert X Cringely Windows: Unsafe at any speed? Part 1. Microsoft has issued an emergency patch for Windows (again). Is it time to finally trade in that old clunker for something that works? Cringely has a few thoughts. Ever have one of those old jalopies you just can't seem to get rid of? It chugs along, but the wheels keep coming off, the transmission's making a disturbing ka-thunka-thunka noise, and there's a viscous oily substance oozing from the crankcase? Yet its creators keep telling you that it just needs a little wax job and everything will be fine. No, I'm not talking about the McCain campaign; I'm talking about Windows and its latest emergency patch, issued more than two weeks ahead of the usual Patch Tuesday release. Something has apparently gone terribly wrong with the network file and print sharing services for Windows XP, 2000, and Server 2003. (The flaw also affects Vista and Server 2008, but less severely.) Microsoft is not only issuing an out-of-cycle patch for the first time since April 2007, it's fixing a critical flaw that hasn't been reported by any of the usual suspects in the security community. So it must be HUGE. Per BetaNews: "...the list of services that could be affected by this latest hole, is astounding. Most importantly, anything that relies on Server Message Block (SMB) including the Common Internet File System (CIFS), any kind of file or print sharing, remote group policy enforcement, the print spooler, the indexing service, and network logon — all of these are among the items impacted by a potential hijacking of the Server service. Essentially, anything that need[s] sharing or to be shared goes through the SMB protocol, which is managed by the Server service." As IDG's Bob McMillan reports, security wonks needed just two hours to come up with code that could exploit the flaw using that old hacker chestnut, the stack overflow exploit. There was a time when Microsoft would sit on this sort of thing for weeks, waiting for an exploit to occur. So give them credit for being proactive. Still, it's kind of like GM issuing a warning saying your Chevy's engine may suddenly explode when you hit 60 mph, so you might want to bring it in for a tuneup. Part 2
Are there viable alternatives to Microsoft Windows? And what happens when tech bloggers make snide remarks about political candidates? Read on for the enlightening answers. My, my. The “Windows: Unsafe at any speed?” post last week certainly raised a few hackles — thanks in part to a totally unexpected appearance on the New York Times Web site. (Hello New Yawkers, and welcome to Geek Street USA) I haven't gotten this violent a reaction since I suggested the Creation Museum add exhibits for the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy. (Oops, I did it again) All I need to do now is mention Scientology and I'll hit the trifecta. Here's the tally so far, based on exit polls. * 24 readers think I should stop hating on Windows, dude. * 36 Cringesters say the Mac OS is the one right and true way (praise be Saint Steven of Cupertino, maker of all that is holy). * 37 are screaming "Linux! Linux! Linux!" while wearing penguin costumes. Many of them also vote for the Mac. * 3 are still clinging to OS/2, amazingly enough. I understand they're also holding onto their rotary phones, just in case. * 2 highly vaporous individuals voted for some form of cloud computing. * 1 person opted for an Etch-A-Sketch. Meanwhile, over in no-mans-land.... * 18 voters are seriously ticked off about my comparing the McCain campaign to a broken-down jalopy. * 11 think the McCain whiners should get a life, or maybe a new candidate. Note: These votes were counted by hand, no optical scanning machines were used, and all hanging chads were collected and mailed to Katherine Harris. Now for a not entirely random sampling from the hundreds of comments and emails I've received. This first comes from someone known only as “The General,” and judging by how he writes I'm guessing he's expecting me to salute. "Blaming Microsoft for security flaws is like blaming the guy behind the counter at the convenience store for getting robbed. He knows he's a target, and he does the best he can to prevent it. I guess they're teaching journalism majors that you can't sell newspapers without a lazy, uninformed populist message. It's certainly easier to repeat what the loud people say. Maybe the circulation numbers will shock you out of it someday." I like the convenience-store analogy. But when a 7-Eleven gets robbed, everyone who shops there doesn't end up getting his wallet lifted. When there's a critical Windows flaw like the one they patched last week, everyone is vulnerable. We need more than security cameras here, bub. On the other hand, using Microsoft products is a lot like eating a microwaved burrito. It probably won't kill you, but you don't hear many people boasting about about how great it tastes. Certainly not in Cringeville, where the Mac OS and various flavours of Linux own the hearts and minds of most. Commenter Sean rejects the convenience store metaphor for fast food: "Macs and 'nix are more secure, shown time and again. Not perfect, but better. Why isn't it a news story? For the same reason that the news doesn't report other non-news. When's the last time you saw a documentary on the guy who's 80 years old and living a quiet life eating a balanced diet? Never. But turn on Discovery Health and you'll see the special on the 28 year old, 400-lb guy that subsists on fried food and McDonalds." Would you like to supersize the fries with your Windows Vista Ultimate Business Edition? How about a big tub of Coke? Like many Cringesters who found me via the Times, D D is all Mac all the time: "Just after all these years being a Windows user since DOS days, bought a Macbook. You must try it and see why so many people love it. The thing just plain works beautifully." BB, who votes for OSX or Linux, depending on the platform, adds this somewhat hopeful conclusion: "It's been a long haul, but it seems like the general public is finally starting to realise that reboot as a troubleshooting technique, extensive user education (don't click on X, don't open Y, watch out for Z), and ugly additional layers of security (anti-virus, anti-malware, intrusion detection, multiple layers of firewalls, periodic reinstalls etc) aren't necessary for a modern computing environment." The rest of my faithful readers ask a simple question: If not Windows, then what? Unfortunately, the answer isn't so simple. It's relatively easy to trade in your old clunker for a sleek new roadster. It's not so easy if you've got an entire fleet of them. As reader GT notes: It seems like the computer world is in the same position with MS/OS as the physical world is in regard to oil. It will take a significant effort, expense and inconvenience to switch to an alternative. Unless of course you believe global warming is a myth, drilling is the answer, and exhaust fumes are good for your lungs. In which case we're all just peachy. But if so, you've probably stopped reading by now. Finally, some Cringesters have asked me to make an Obama joke to keep things even. I've been wracking my brain, but so far I got nothing. Even the Lettermen-Leno-Stewart crowd has a hard time making Obama funny. Let's face it, the man is boring. He doesn't kill and clean his own food, own 11 houses, or whiten his teeth with industrial solvents. So I'm going to steal this joke from Craig Kenworthy, a listener to Minnesota Public Radio (who, strangely, lives in Montana): Q: How many Obamas does it take to change a light bulb?
A. Only one, but it has to be a change the light bulb can believe in. My thanks to all the Cringesters (new, old, and ticked off) who wrote in. Sorry I couldn't quote more of your responses.