— Going backwards — Yebbut why? — Who blinked? Going backwards Having ADSL2+ from Orcon was great. Imagine getting 20Mbit/s downloads over a phone line. No, seriously — I escaped all the problems that plagued the launch of Orcon's @Home service, and had the DSL line humming along rather nicely in Freemans Bay. Orcon deserved the pat on the back from Communications Minister Cunliffe at the recent TUANZ Telecommunications Day, in my opinion. Now however I've returned to the wondrous North Shore, to a non-LLU area. Due to some mix-ups that weren't anyone in particular's fault, there's no DSL in the house yet. I'm not sure how well it'll work either, as I believe the part I'm in is serviced via roadside cabinets. Here's hoping it won't be the ones with a meagre 2Mbit/s backhaul shared with all other customers. Meanwhile, Vodafone's HSDPA worked really well at my place. Got full strength, which meant around 2.5Mbit/s downloads and the ususal 384kbit/s uploads. Telecom's T3G EV-DO Rev A doesn't seem to cover our house though, unusually enough, and only finds CDMA 1xRTT to lock onto. A couple of days ago though, something happened... now I'm lucky to get one bar of HSDPA and 120kbit/s downloads. The modem drops down to GPRS much of the time, and that particular connection alternative is painfully slow to use for anything beyond simple emailing. I'm not sure what's going on with the 3G connections, but suspect the nearby roadworks are to blame. I'm guessing some access points have either been turned off or relocated. I can see the magic black band on the Sky Tower, so maybe it's time to go back to wireless? I think Compass still has the Wired Country service running; it was very good and stable once the initial network issues had been ironed out, and I was quite happy with it. It's maxes out at 2Mbit/s down and 1Mbit/s up though, and it'd be nice to have something quicker in 2008. A WiMax connection could be a faster alternative, but don't think anyone's beaming a signal towards the Shore, unfortunately. Connection suggestions would be very welcome.
Yebbut why? Could someone explain to me why anyone half-sane would want to retain Intarweb Exploder Sux? Sure, there's probably the odd app that refuses to work with anything else, but those should be recoded and not used as an excuse to keep IE6 alive. Microsoft's actually done a pretty decent job with IE7, so it's mystifying to see that people cling onto the clunky previous version for dear life. If you have to use Internet Explorer, why not use a version that's reasonably standards-compliant (well, compared to the previous one at least) and secure? What am I missing? — Microsoft warns of IE7 lock-in with XP SP3
Who blinked? No more Yahoo! + Microsoft = True then. The withdrawn offer from Redmond had the analysts scratching heads throughout the week, with some wondering if Microsoft's retreat was just a ruse to push through the deal at a lower cost. Most believe Yahoo! copped a bodyblow that will be hard to recover from, however, something that's evident in the search portal's plummeting share price. Yahoo! is a funny company. It pioneered a whole heap of things and didn't appear to be evil to start with. I mean, they use FreeBSD, don't they? Nevertheless, Yahoo! appears to have lost its way, with Google out-competing it at every turn. Replacing Terry Semel with founder Jerry Yang doesn't seem to have made a blind bit of difference, and it's hard to see what Yahoo! will do next to get out of the rut it's in. Likewise, Microsoft's withdrawal has to be seen as a failure for Redmond. There were plenty of sceptical voices when the offer for Yahoo! was first tabled, saying that the two companies were too different in terms of culture and technology to ever marry. However, nobody doubted Microsoft's financial might, and it was assumed the deal would go through, no matter what. Now Microsoft finds itself without the "accelerator" that it hoped the Yahoo! would provide, and no clear strategy as to how it'll bolster its Live offerings to catch up with Google. Err, so I guess that means Google wins again? — Microsoft and Yahoo: Now what?
Robert X. Cringely Malware r Us
If there were any doubt the underworld of malware and the universe of legitimate software were converging, it was dispelled last week, after researchers at Symantec uncovered a malware EULA (written in Russian) that was more restrictive than the kind of thing Microsoft puts out. According to the Associated Press report, the botnet software had the following restrictions: "The customer can't resell the product, examine its underlying coding, use it to control other bot nets or submit it to antivirus companies and agrees to pay the seller a fee for product updates....The threat: Violate the terms, and we'll report you ourselves to the antivirus companies by giving them information about how to dismantle your bot network or prevent it from growing bigger." In other words, steal our software and we're going to run and tell Mommy — err, McAfee. Kinda funny that the hackers are the among the few parties who still believe anti-virus software is effective. I don't know any security wonks who do. It's yet another candidate for Andy Brandt's entertaining series on Stupid Hacker Tricks. Which puts me in mind of other stupid hacker tricks — the ones committed by legitimate companies. Sony's CD Root Kit is a classic example of a large mainstream firm using black hat techniques against its own customers. Microsoft's secret WGA installation is another example of a Big Public Company pulling tricks out of the hacker's handbag. Even Apple's less-than-forthright attempt to sneak Safari onto Windows PCs borders comes pretty close, at least according to Mozilla CEO John Lilly. I'm sure there are others, but they're slipping through my brain. What other companies have been pulling their own stupid hacker tricks?