Viva La Vista

Eye candy; two words that accurately describe Vista. My main gripes with Vista are the layering and hiding of many features that previous Windows versions have. The most obvious to the new user has to be changing the background/display settings. When right clicking on the background there no longer resides a ‘properties’ option, but instead a window for themes/visual settings exists. The old properties menu has been butchered to only show the first two tabs, with settings having its own window. After getting over these setbacks of ‘hidden’ options, I really like Windows Vista.

The lack of anti-aliasing support for the windows + tab replacement for alt + tab, and in the new photo management application is very annoying. Speaking of the photo manager, I’d say it’s almost as good, if not better than iPhoto, and is multitudes better than Pisca. Web 2.0 inspired tag organization along with other methods makes organizing photos a snap. One photo belongs in three tag categories? that’s fine and supported. This is particularly useful for creating slide shows for special events with pictures from different categories. In the slide shows that have about 10 different themes that can be chosen from so far, the edges of some photos, when using a theme that lays the photo down at an angle causes sever aliasing along the edges. This better be fixed by the final release.

Other minor gripes are about Foobar2000 not being able to play files, it is shut down because of an access violation. Songbird also fails to load due to missing DLLs. I guess I expected a heavily optimized application such as Foobar2000 to not load at all. Running in compatibility modes didn’t resolve the problems with these audio applications.

As a linux user, I see many ideas from linux desktops migrated into Vista. What comes to mind is the ‘protected’ administrator mode, and new user folders. Even as an administrator in Vista, programs don’t automatically run in administrator mode. Just as in linux with root users, Microsoft is migrating away from everyday users being able to do everything to their system. While this is a good idea, I constantly find myself needing to run applications as root in Gentoo to do the things I need to do, but that’s because I am typically doing server administration. Now in linux every user has their own folder and their desktop is somewhere within this folder, the same sort of thing has been in windows for a while. What is different is the new focus on the user folder being the main folder for the user, with the documents folder for documents, not downloads, which now have their own folder on default. The entire ‘My’ thing is gone from Vista, instead of My Documents, or My Music there is just Documents and Music folders located in the user’s folder.

Other perks of Vista include automatic support of all plays of sure devices, without having to install drivers or anything. I plugged my Zen Micro in and was ready to transfer music, it just worked. The search for drivers on the internet feature on XP that usually doesn’t find what you need now works with Vista. Originally the driver for the onboard sound wasn’t found, within seconds of going though the install driver wizard my sound chip was recognized and working, without me going to a single website to download drivers, which I had to do for XP. The new searching is nice too. There is no run program anymore, search takes the run program’s functions now.

-John Havlik

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Access to the Internet: It is a privilege

It’s not just broadband providers who are lobbying to be allowed to create a tiered Internet, it’s the telephone companies. Instead of comparing the Internet to cable/satellite television a single fact will be shared: the media wouldn’t stand for an a la carte TV system. The nature of the media is to deliver to the consumer what ever they feel is appropriate for mass consumption, regardless of quality or popularity.

Recently, due new technologies, the process of delivering different content at different speeds via the Internet has become much easier for ISPs. Cisco Systems with their next generation packet shaping routers can be thanked for this. Given this new power ISPs are limiting the bandwidth available for VOIP, p2p, streaming media, and online gaming. This is an end-user experienced tiered Internet, relative to the looming threat the damage this can do is minimal.

The big fuss is over what telephone companies ATT and Verizon want to do to the Internet’s backbone. Think of the Internet’s backbone as the water main that feeds the entire city. If it is decided that even though the main is at capacity the city decides to run a telephone utility line inside of the water main, taking up space that is already used. Now imagine that the city utility company was allotted several billion dollars to install a new water main and instead the money was lost within the management of the utilities company. In a sense this is what is happening today, and the cheapest solution for ATT and Verizon is a tiered Internet. Verizon and ATT have plans of rolling out their own VOIP and IPTV networks on top of their current Internet backbones, which currently are nearly at capacity.

Instead of paying the money to upgrade their networks, the telephone companies want to slow down the traffic to websites that don’t pay an extra fee for access to their networks. The main target is Google. Consumers are supposed to believe that Google doesn’t pay for its Internet connection, and should be made to pay up. In reality there is no such thing as free lunch, and nobody actually gets on the Internet for free.

Promises of more choices are deceptive at best. There already is established competition in VOIP and streaming media. The telephone companies truly desire to eliminate the competition to establish a monopoly choke-hold on the Internet. Packet shaping can do this easily by decreasing the bandwidth allowed for the competition until access to it is so slow that it is abandoned. Any extra cash collected via higher fees will end up financing a new yacht for the heads of the media companies instead of financing improvements to their own network.

Don’t give the telephone companies another chance, they’ve had too many already. Support network neutrality.

-John Havlik

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Can’t Swim, Can’t Graduate From MIT

MIT, among several other ‘high end’ universities require all students to pass a swimming test of four laps in their pool in order to graduate. Swimming, a basic survival skill as viewed by the university, may be the first test many freshmen will fail in a long while. I found this amusing since it would be the first test that I would ace at MIT, if I was to attend that college. Someone that I know at Chaska is going to MIT, which he found out only a few weeks ago, and has been trying to sell off his AP test spots since they won’t do him any good for MIT.

Here is the link: The Boston Globe

-John Havlik

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Stupid Phishers, I’m No Idiot

Today someone claiming to be part of the Chase-Security Support Service sent me an e-mail claiming that they ‘discovered’ recent activity on my account and that I had to log-in to my Chase Online account to resolve the issue. Funny how they ‘knew’ that I ‘have’ a Chase card, which I don’t.

Hovering over the hyperlink, which they tried to discreetly insert a bit of cover code so the average moron would think it was valid, but instead of going to or some related URL the hyper link pointed to some adsl-numbers link and then the cover… Knowing that this was definitely a scam, which Thunderbird warned of, I clicked the link. Firefox displayed the address as with additional variable passing in the address, defiantly a scam. I tried the https version, and got an access forbidden.

I have taken the liberty of contacting JPMorgan Chase, notifying them of this scammer, which wants your name, credit card number, mother’s name, social security number, and CVV2. After collecting this information, which I provided fake information such as 123 12 1234 for the social security number, and [Expletive] You Scammer as my ‘name’, I was sent to Chase’s real website, which is not entire secure as it redirects https traffic to its http server.

-John Havlik

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First Annual CSS Naked Day

Spreading awareness of web standards is the goal of CSS Naked Day, a day in which webmasters and bloggers remove all CSS styling from their website and blogs, leaving the xHtml ‘naked’. In his blog Dustin Diaz announced that he wants April 5, 2006, that’s this Wednesday, to be the first annual CSS naked day.

That’s right, I’m starting the first annual CSS Naked Day. In the spirit of promoting Web Standards along with good semantic markup and proper hierarchy structures, April 5th will be a day of nakedness for all webmasters to remove their style sheets from their website for one day. Signing up is not required, just simply comment in this thread with a link to your website and let everyone else know that you’re participating.

Over at Digg some people are having hard times reading the actual article, so I quoted Dustin’s first paragraph.

Dustin is recommending that anyone who participates includes some html that he wrote that explains the disappearance of styling and a link to the CSS naked page.

I will be participating, will you?

Here is the link: Dustin Diaz’s Article

-John Havlik

[end of transmission, stay tuned]