Some friends of mine are considering setting up a new company around an e-commerce idea and asked me to research the cost of the IT infrastructure needed. As part of that, I went Web shopping for a low end server to get them started, and found some surprises ...
When Hewlett-Packard announced, just recently, that it was combining the headquarters operations of its PC and printing divisions, but would continue to report their results separately, I assumed they were doing it to provide legal cover for the transfer of costs from the PC side to the printing side ...
One of the oddest facts about the Wintel versus Unix (including Linux and the Mac) debate is that the Wintel proponents practically brag about never having actually used Unix while the most committed Mac/Unix advocates have generally used both. If in reality the Unix products really are better, faster and cheaper, why is it that we're always on the defensive, having to justify our choices against a Wintel default?...
Two weeks ago, I asked for reader aid in getting documentation on early 1990s System VR4 Unix to help understand what things can be done with Linux today but could not be done with AT&T System VR4 ...
When does background noise among alarmists become actionable intelligence? Should managers who read then U.S. Surgeon General Luther Terry's 1964 declaration that smoking causes cancer have reacted immediately by banning smoking in the workplace and preferentially hiring nonsmokers? ...
The English language is a great tool. It's expressive, powerful, inclusive, and evolves through the democratic and open-source processes of accepting change on the basis of common usage. Great, but you know what it doesn't have? Enough useable swear words ...
About two weeks ago Linus Torvalds was reported as having said that Solaris has nothing to teach him. That surprised me because my mental picture of Linux is that of a typical early 1990s megakernel -- years ahead of Microsoft's Windows servers, but not exactly state of the art by any standard and far behind both BSD and Solaris ...
I've been rereading David Brin's first Uplift series -- as astonishingly self-consistent a vision of galactic life as any science fiction writer has ever offered and quite appropriate to the Christmas season. In Brin's imaginary universe, a mysterious and long gone race known as the progenitors set in place a unity of life across five galaxies largely by focusing moral valuations around the development and protection of sentience...
Until quite recently, Oracle's salespeople would recommend Sun hardware because SPARC offered the memory, processor speed and reliability needed to make the database product seem pretty good. Today, however, Oracle sees Lintel (Linux on Intel) as its route to a bigger share of the customer's budget. That's bad news for Sun even if the Linux hardware comes from Sun, because the margins are a bit slimmer and the chances of damage to Sun's reputation as a reliable supplier far greater...
What differentiates a Mac user from a PC user, assuming the usage decision is uncoerced by an employer? ...
If a couple of guys build a company from scratch and then do a billion dollar IPO, where does the market value come from? More importantly, what does the valuation process mean to the typical business employee? ...
During a break in a series of discussions on the U.S. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliance for Canadian healthcare players, one of the attendees regaled the group with a long brag about how his company's techies had defeated a phishing attack ...
I recently had the opportunity, as part of a review of what works in systems security, to look closely at a couple of massively multi-user online games including "EverQuest" and "Star Wars Galaxies." Several of these now support up to half a million registered users and go beyond simple player co-operation to allow the exchange of virtual goods and information between thousands of players. That has some inherently interesting consequences: for example, what legal interest in, or responsibility for, the real world value of virtual goods or information in the game does the gaming company have?...
President Bush has made it clear that tort reform, narrowly construed in terms of medical liability reform, is on the short-term agenda. In theory, that should be easily done and very positive in its effects, but of course, reality is never as simple as theory, and there are some real risks to open source here ...
The newly released Solaris 10 includes a radical new technology called DTrace which lets you look inside the usual black box of a running production application to see exactly where the bottlenecks are and what their impact is. As a result, I've been telling clients with big Solaris operations that they should dedicate a machine with at least two US3 or later CPUs to Solaris 10 and use it to train their people on Solaris 10 and DTrace by having them test all major systems...
About two months ago, I looked at the cost of the Macintosh relative to Dell PCs and discovered that not only are Macs cheaper than PCs once you upgrade the PCs to rough comparability, but the PC line is narrower than Apple's, with Dell offering nothing to compare to the 17-inch Apple powerbook, the X-serve/RAID combination, or Apple's cinema displays...
A few weeks ago, I wrote a commentary on electronic voting for the Washington Dispatch in which I argued that what makes it possible for conspiracy theorists to use e-voting as the basis of an attack on the legitimacy of an expected Bush victory on November 2 is the client-server architecture, not the specific failures of the technologies used within it...
As regular readers of this column know, I'm a big fan of the Apple Macintosh, but I'm much less of a fan of Apple Canada in general and their dealers in the Toronto area in particular ...
I've never gotten the hang of casual chit chat, and I blew it again the other day. We were at one of those things preceded by a wifely lecture about my behavior, and I really thought I was doing pretty well when the "conversation" meandered to I Robot. Since this was the first movie mentioned that I'd actually seen, I thought it within the rules of the kind of social vacuity we were practicing to chime in that I hadn't much liked the movie but thought it made Will Smith a shoo-in as the next James Bond...
On the road Tom he told me all about how it was reckoned I was murdered, and how pap disappeared, pretty soon, and didn't come back no more, and what a stir there was when Jim run away; and I told Tom all about our Royal Nonesuch rapscallions, and as much of the raft-voyage as I had time to; and as we struck into the town and up through the middle of it -- it was as much as half-after eight, then -- here comes a raging rush of people, with torches, and an awful whooping and yelling, and banging tin pans and blowing horns; and we jumped to one side to let them go by; and as they went by, I see they had the king and the duke astraddle of a rail -- that is, I knowed it was the king and the duke, though they was all over tar and feathers, and didn't look like nothing in the world that was human -- just looked like a couple of monstrous big soldier-plumes. Well, it made me sick to see it; and I was sorry for them poor pitiful rascals, it seemed like I couldn't ever feel any hardness against them any more in the world. It was a dreadful thing to see. Human beings can be awful cruel to one another...
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