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FOSS Force

Back to the Future With Apple’s Rumored Smart Watch

For the last couple of decades we’ve watched as our technology has caught up with the world of Star Trek much faster than Gene Roddenberry could ever have imagined back in the 1960s, when Kirk, Spock and the gang first rode into our living rooms, mostly in “non-living” or “dead” black and white, as not many of us had “living” color back then.

Well, here we are, nowhere even close to the 23rd century of the original Enterprise, and we already have our smart phones, which are an awfully lot like the gee-whiz communicators into which Kirk would bark “beam us outta here” whenever a bug-eyed monster got too close for comfort. Indeed, we even have satellite phones, which could presumably communicate with the crew of the Enterprise if they were in orbit around our third rock from the sun. Though we don’t yet have replicators, holodecks or transporters, we can only imagine its only a matter of time before we can pick them up at Best Buy too.

Avast AV Finds Malware On LA Times Website

This morning the Prague based antivirus company Avast! pushed notification to it’s subscribers of the presence of malware on the LA Times website. The notification came by way of a link to a blog on the antivirus company’s site delivered with the morning’s virus signature update. According to the blog’s writer, Brian Krebs, the Times site has been affected for about a month and a half. The problem is not site wide and only affects visitors to a small section of the site:

“…Fortunately for most of the users, only one of the low-profile websites was infected, so the assumed number of the infected people is not really high. But! I checked yesterday’s stats, then day-before-yesterday and the result was a bit of shocker! We have consecutive reports of malicious iframes on their sub-site from 23rd of December and it is still working there while I’m writing this blog.”

FOSS’s Response to Office Rumor

Depending on who you talk to, Microsoft may or may not port their Office productivity suite to Linux. Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols at ZDNet seems to be the biggest naysayer at the moment. You can count me in his camp. He’s right; at present we don’t represent a big enough potential market for the Redmond folks to entertain any thoughts of putting high dollar coders to work doing the porting work. I’m sure the Microsoft bean counters would estimate it would take decades for them to earn their investment back. For that reason alone, it ain’t going to happen.

But the big story here is that this isn’t the big story here.

The big story is in how we, the FOSS community, have reacted to this rumor in a way that shows how much we’ve grown and matured in the last four or five years. We’ve reacted to this rumor like responsible grown-ups and I, for one, feel like a proud parent.

A Nightmare on Linux Avenue

Let’s say it finally happens and the big OEMs get tired of dealing with Microsoft and decide to make Windows only one choice of several on new computers. Not a world like we have now, where the likes of Dell halfheartedly offer half baked and broken installs of Ubuntu, installs that need serious tweaking before they’ll work. Not that world, but a pretend world of Linux being offered across all models, with a choice between two or three distros. You know, OEMs giving Linux exactly the same treatment as they give Windows today.

Sounds like Tux heaven does it not? Don’t be in too big a hurry to celebrate.

Microsoft Cranks Up FUD Machine

If I were Yogi Berra, I might say something like, “When times get desperate, the desperate get desperater.”

We’re hearing reports that Microsoft is having trouble pushing copies of the whiz-bang don’t-call-it-metro Windows 8 even at reduced fire sale prices, with one tech writer suggesting a Vista-esque rollback to Windows 7. The new Microsoft Surface Pro tablet that was supposed to make Microsoft the new Apple and Steve Ballmer the new Steve Jobs has brought less than enthusiastic reviews. What’s a down on it’s luck technology company to do?

Linux Won the Desktop Wars a Long Time Ago

Linux has won the desktop wars and Tux now represents the dominant desktop operating system. We’ve been in this position for a while now. The reason many of us haven’t recognized it is because this win doesn’t look anything like we thought it would. When wishes come true, they’re rarely what we envisioned.

To make my point, I’ll take us back to 2006.

Just like now, in 2006 the FOSS press was busy at work asking, “Will this be the year for Linux on the desktop?” Let’s start by looking at what we meant by “desktop” in those days, because what we really meant was the personal computer.

Java: Where Oracle, Twitter and Black Hats Meet

Back on January 24th, Oracle was sitting on their hands after issuing incomplete patches to not handle security issues in Java, issues bad enough to evoke dire warnings from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. I opined on that day that Ellison’s hired help needed to get off their duffs and come up with a good fix quick, even if Java has turned-out to be a puppy Larry Ellison no longer wants to keep. Evidently, somebody in Deadwood City felt the same way, as Oracle pushed a patch this past Friday addressing 50 security holes in the beleaguered programming language.

Wait a minutes, did I just write that the patch addressed 50 security holes? I’ve got a five pound block of Swiss cheese in the fridge that has fewer holes than that. I think if I was Larry Ellison I would be ashamed to admit I’d allowed that many security vulnerabilities to accrue unfixed while any project was under my care. I think I’d fix ten a day or something in five separate patches and try to make it look like I had my security eagles working overtime finding new holes ahead of the bad guys.

CBS To CNET: ‘Free Beer, Not Free Speech’

No one who understands the attitude of broadcasters in general or the history of the corporate culture at CBS in particular should have been in the least surprised by the brouhaha over this year’s Consumer Electronic Show’s (CES) “Best of Show” award.

In case you just got here, let me explain.

CNET, one of the tech sites that everybody reads, was bought by CBS in 2008. Most of us, including me, figured this wouldn’t mean anything editorially at the site, that CBS would concentrate on its core business of television and leave CNET to do what it already knows how to do–which is publish a tech oriented web site. This is pretty much what’s happened until now.

QtWeb: Not Quite Ready For Full Time Browsing

I thought my motherboard was dying.

I have an old Lenovo built, IBM branded desktop with 512 megs of memory and a 3 GHz processor. It runs Windows XP Pro, because the bank requires I run a piece of crap software that only speaks Windows. I’ve learned to live with it.

It’s got a Pentium 4, which had heat dissipation problems, which is why I figure the folks at Lenovo installed a gee-whiz thermostat controlled fan that’ll rev-up way high when needed. Normally that hasn’t been necessary, except when I get carried away watching high def movies or spend too much time strolling down memory lane on YouTube.

Linux Achieves Bodhi Enlightenment

Until recently, most desktop Linux distros were about the same on the surface. What differentiated them were things like configurability. Some distros, those preferred by Linux purists or designed primarily to be used as servers, required users to open a terminal and change settings with a text editor. Others sought to be newbie friendly, and had devised schemes so that most systems settings could be done point and click, just like with that evil operating system from Redmond.

On the surface, though, whether newbie friendly or designed for geeks, the user was mainly offered an out-of-the-box desktop, usually KDE or GNOME, that was maybe dressed-up a bit with the distro’s logo but otherwise seemingly added almost as an afterthought.

Will Oracle Wake Up & Smell the Java?

Does Oracle not know their own code?

I’m talking about Java. You know, the write-once-run-anywhere platform that seems to be severely broken from a security viewpoint, rendering it more than useless when used inside a browser.

Oracle, the company that’s owned Java since purchasing Sun Microsystems in 2010, seems to be clueless. Back in October the company pushed out a patch to fix some security holes that were already being exploited. There were complaints at the time that they were being secretive, saying little to nothing publicly about the problem, acting as if they were sweeping dust under a rug. Indeed, two months earlier, in August, the founder and CEO of the Polish security firm Security Explorations, Adam Gowdiak, told PCWorld that Oracle had known about the security problem for months:

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