Even being the richest man in the world doesn't stop you
from getting a pie in the face.
"But godliness with contentment is great gain."
1 Timothy 6:6 (NIV).
Yet Another Biased Mac vs PC Review
There are really only two ways to have a completely unbiased Mac vs PC
review. One is to have as identical as possible setups (including clock
speeds). The other is to have two systems priced (nearly) identically.
This test had neither - it just had almost identical total test times.
Apple Power Macintosh G3/400
Single 400-MHz G3 processor
128 MB of RAM v 9-GB Ultra2 SCSI hard disk (runs at 7,200 rpm)
Apple 21-inch Studio Display
SGI 320 Visual Workstation
Single 500-MHz Pentium III processor
256 MB of RAM v 9-GB Ultra2 SCSI hard disk (runs at 10,000 rpm)
SGI 1600SW 18-inch flat-panel LCD
List price as tested: US$4,498
List price as tested: US$7,629
Total time to complete benchmark tests: 185 seconds
Total time to complete benchmark tests: 179 seconds
Note this interesting quote from the test write up:
... opening and saving files was about 30 percent faster on the SGI
That's not really surprising - the disk drive itself was 39% faster.
In other words, if the two systems had identical hard disks the Mac would
almost certainly take the lead in the disk section of the test. Despite
this hindrance (and the disparate RAM amounts) the Mac was only 6 seconds
Thus, a not unreasonable conclusion for the review would be that the
G3 Mac gives fantastic performance for the price.
As a sideline, my own conclusion (partly from extra information given
in the review) is that to definitely get the "fastest PC around"
(an SGI 320 with dual PIII 500MHz CPUs - at just 40% faster than a single
CPU) one would need to spend almost exactly twice the amount of the fastest
Big Brother Tactics
Posted 14 August 1999.
Monday November 9. Windows crack'd? Product ills exposed, SP4 for NT
4.0 cumbersome, short on documentation.
By Bob Trott - SAN MATEO
Users who follow Microsoft's advice to blend all of its products into
one harmonious enterprise mix are starting to feel burned as the software
behemoth struggles to address issues ranging from piracy to bug fixes
to slipping ship dates.
The broad release of Office 2000 -- which for Microsoft will usher
in a new method of ensuring that its software products are registered
-- has been pushed back to the second quarter of 1999, company officials
have confirmed. Meanwhile, many Windows NT 4.0 users who downloaded
Service Pack 4 (SP4) for the OS in October -- an update that was more
than one year in the making -- complain that it is cumbersome and is
woefully short on documentation.
The company is also finally addressing some key year-2000 concerns
with Windows. Windows 95 requires several patches to make the OS year-2000
compliant, with "minor exceptions" in Microsoft's words. Microsoft
currently offers those year-2000 fixes only for English versions of
the OS, although officials said they are testing fixes for all of the
Other potential problems on the desktop stem from Beta 2 of Office
2000, which was prereleased to a group of testers this week. Microsoft
introduced a new feature to Beta 2 that steps up already insistent registration
policing. If a copy of Office 2000 is not registered after 50 uses,
it cannot be booted on attempt No. 51 until the user has contacted Microsoft
Microsoft billed the feature as a way to help customers register so
they can best take advantage of updates and other Office resources.
But clearly, the main goal is to curtail software piracy, an area in
which Microsoft has stepped up efforts in recent months.
The company recently began compiling reports that outline how individual
states are losing millions of dollars and hundreds of jobs each year
due to software piracy.
"Some Symantec products continually prompt you to register and
it drives you nuts, but as far as turning it off, I haven't run into
a product doing this," said Rob Enderle, a senior analyst at the
Giga Information Group, in Santa Clara, Calif. "The problem Microsoft
has is people buying one copy of Word in an office and everybody copies
The registration wizard -- which John Duncan, Office product manager,
said could be added to other Microsoft products in the future -- likely
will have to be tweaked for corporate multiuser scenarios, one beta
"Certainly, Microsoft will have to deal differently in shops that
have users working off of the server," said the tester.
Beta 2 of Office 2000, with features such as the capability to let
users save documents in HTML, is set to enter widespread testing in
the next two weeks. However, final shipping of the product has been
delayed until the second quarter of 1999, although it could be in the
hands of the company's biggest customers earlier.
"You will see Office 2000 RTM [release to manufacturing] in the
second quarter of 1999, and we actually expect to have the product available
to volume-license customers shortly thereafter," Duncan said. "Broad
availability likely will be in the second quarter of 1999."
The extra wait for Office 2000 will give IT managers time to figure
out Windows NT 4.0 SP4, which was released in October.
"SP3 was auto-install and it was no hassle, but you have to move
slowly on SP4 and do a lot of things manually," said a user who
requested anonymity. "You can't have a fresh Windows NT install
and put on SP4 -- you must have SP3, Internet Explorer 4.01, and its
Service Pack 1 before you can begin to put it on. It really ties the
browser to NT more than ever; they've really linked it up even further."
SP4 also is designed to apply bug fixes only to what is currently installed
on a system. So if an IT manager adds an NT service later on, SP4 will
have to be reapplied, according to one disgruntled user.
Customer service? What's that?
Posted 14 August 1999.
At the beginning of December last year Microsoft announced something
it called ClearType - "a revolutionary way to sharpen screen text"
- that it was trying to patent. Strange that Apple Computer (specifically
Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak) came up with the idea 20 years ago. It's
based on pixel splitting, using the different coloured dots on LCD and
similar screens to sharpen the horizontal resolution based on the idea
that to make white (for example) you just need three adjacent colour dots
(R, G, B) all lit. It doesn't really matter if they belong to the same
pixel or adjacent pixels (eg, G, B / R). The technology is now public
domain, and the typically unoriginal MS is trying to patent it.
Microsoft has declined to release technical specifications or white
papers explaining ClearType in detail, citing its pending patents.
Not surprising that they don't want to say what they've got. If the patent
application fails they will very likely just make the thing go quiet,
although perhaps still using the idea. Here's the full
ClearType article. Anyone got an update to this?
More Windows Privacy Worries
Posted 14 August 1999.
Tuesday March 9. MS to avert Win 98 privacy issue. Microsoft will offer
free utility to Win 98 users.
By Nancy Weil - BOSTON
Microsoft will modify future releases of Windows 98 to allow greater
user control over a feature that could be used to collect private information
on users of the popular operating system, the company said today in
a letter to customers.
The software giant will offer a free utility to current users of Windows
98 who want to delete the feature, called Registration Wizard, which
sends to Microsoft a globally unique number that is tied to a given
user's hardware configuration when the user registers. The objective
of having the hardware information on file is to shorten customer service
call times, Microsoft said.
However, the company learned on Friday that "the Registration
Wizard might inadvertently be sending a specific hardware identifier
to Microsoft during user registration, regardless of whether the user
chose to send his or her hardware diagnostic information," Yusuf
Mehdi, director of Windows marketing said in a letter today posted on
the Microsoft Web site.
"This hardware ID is only used by the software system and is not
used for customer record-keeping purposes," he wrote. "Nonetheless,
there are hypothetical scenarios under which this number could be used
to learn something about the user's system without his or her knowledge."
Microsoft, meanwhile, will sift through its own database and delete
information that had been "inadvertently gathered" through
the Windows 98 numbers, Mehdi wrote. The company also will modify the
feature in future Windows 98 versions so that hardware ID information
is not sent to Microsoft unless a users checks the option to provide
The number was first discovered by a programmer in Cambridge, Massachusetts,
who contacted Microsoft last week, according to published reports.
IE5 Feature or Bug?
Posted 14 August 1999.
If concerned about privacy and/or "the need to know," we present
one more reason to go for Netscape
An obscure feature in Microsoft's Internet Explorer 5.0: Web browser
informs Web sites when users bookmark their pages.
Software development manager, Kevin Cooke, discovered the feature during
an audit of Wired Digital server logs. It was confirmed Thursday by
Wired News. A Microsoft spokesperson said that the company is investigating
Did you know that FrontPage is banned from SIPRNET, (Secure Internet
Protocol Router Network) the government's separate, secure network?
The reason for the ban is that there may be huge security holes created
by FrontPage code in HTML that makes it easier for hackers to break
into and edit the existing HTML.
In fact, this is such an issue that one of the "features"
of FrontPage 2000 (which is not expected to be released for the Mac,
cutting out more than 60% of all Webmasters) is that you can use it
to create pages free from any FrontPage extensions: "HTML pure."
If you currently use FrontPage 98 or earlier and you don't manually
go through it line by line and strip out the FrontPage specific code,
you run the risk of getting hacked through the huge security holes caused
by FrontPage extensions.
Far superior HTML authoring environments include BBEdit, GoLive, Dreamweaver, Freeway, and PageSpinner.
Moral: Do NOT use the aforementioned product if you interested in creating
quality HTML or secure HTML.
MS Windows Security Insecure
Posted 7 September 1999.
From a secret ianman info source:
Yesterday reports broke out that the NSA has a backdoor key into the
crypto software found in Windows. This is because the NSA requires this
backdoor in exported versions of strong encryption software and Microsoft
did not bother to change this in the US version.
In other words, all Windows strong encryption has a backdoor key.
Anyone for paranoia?
Bill's Big Briefs
Posted 11 September 1999.
Came across a news report on the MS vs DoJ case, which is in its late
stages now. It had the following passage in it:
Microsoft has vigorously denied the charges, arguing that there is
no evidence it has violated any laws. It will file its most detailed
opposition to the case yet later today in a brief that is expected to
be more than 600 pages long.
I don't know the words "Microsoft" and "brief" really
can be put together in the same paragraph like that. Microsoft is the
most widely known creator of "Bloatware" - software that is
far bigger (bloated) than is normally sufficient to do the job.
MS Hotmail Needs Help
Posted 11 September 1999.
You may have heard of the big security breach Microsoft's Hotmail email
service suffered recently. What I haven't found out yet is why it took
Microsoft about ten hours to pull the plug (for two hours) on the service
after being told of the problem.
According to a CNET article, Microsoft needs help in making sure it doesn't
Microsoft is turning to an outside auditor to test the security of
its free email service, Hotmail, after a breach was discovered last
week that threatened its users' privacy. The potential damage varied
from allowing unauthorized parties to see a user's list of messages
to allowing them to take complete control of an account.
Read the full article here. But does Hotmail really work when it is up and running
(without security problems)? Here is what Sharon Greenspan, a Hotmail
user since 1995, said in an email correspondence with CNET News.com.
I don't recall having many problems in the beginning, but as of the
last year, they are so many I've lost count... Sometimes mail takes
hours to get to me... Sometimes I never get mail that people say they
sent. I constantly have problems logging on. People have told me they
get a message back saying that their message was undeliverable, when
they have the right address. I've often gotten mail a week after people
have sent it.
I've personally found that free email services such as Hotmail will bounce
email if the user's in-tray is full - either of read or unread messages.
Shop around. There are email services that grant more storage for messages
IE 5 Bug Leaves Computers Open to Invasion
Posted 13 September 1999.
This is getting very serious:
By Paul Festa
Staff Writer, CNET News.com
September 13, 1999, 9:40 a.m. PT
Microsoft is warning users of its Internet Explorer 5.0 Web browser
about a security hole that could let an attacker take the user's computer
The vulnerability is in IE 5's ImportExportFavorites feature, which
lets users import and export lists of commonly accessed Web addresses.
The trouble is that the feature lets a malicious Web site operator run
executable code on the computer of someone who visits that Web site.
"The net result is that a malicious Web site operator potentially
could take any action on the computer that the user would be capable
of taking," warned Microsoft in a security alert.
Microsoft said IE 5 users can disable Active Scripting to protect themselves
pending the release of a patch. Scripting lets Web authors run mini
applications, or "scripts," on a visitor's computer that operate
without the user's interaction. Scripting typically is used on Web sites
for functions like launching pop-up windows or scrolling text across
Microsoft posted a list of frequently asked questions, which includes
instructions for disabling Active Scripting.
Microsoft acknowledged Bulgarian bug hunter Georgi Guninski for discovering
the security hole. Guninski has been credited for discovering numerous
security holes in Microsoft and America Online's Web browsers, many
exploiting unintended effects of Web scripting capabilities.
Guninski reported a similar hole in IE two weeks ago. Microsoft patched
yet another hole in IE's armor the same week.
Bug after bug after bug. And all with serious security flaws. My advice:
Just say NO to Microsoft. It is possible. Simply refuse to have
anything to do with them until they have demonstrated that they can write