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The Art of Sarcasm

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 4:34 AM

Gruber on the recent discovery of a serious security hole in Adobe Flash Player:

Flash Player for iOS is not affected.

The Approach of the iPhone

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 5:24 AM

OK, how can anyone not want one? Sure, I'm not going to be there on Friday night, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't be delighted to be one of the writers who had a review unit in my pocket right now. The rate plans seem to shore things up nicely too, with unlimited data ringing in at a very decent price of $20/month. It is really unfortunate that the phone does not support 3G data, because with it being EDGE it won't be nearly as beneficial, but… that's for iPhone 2.0. The support for MS Exchange that has been revealed today also looks like it should help ease some concern about the phone's capabilities.

It's still a lot of money, it still lacks some things I wish it had, but, I can't say I don't find it tempting all the same. It may be a “status phone,” but it is intriguing for ever so many additional, vastly more important reasons.

The Apple Code

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 6:33 AM

My blogging buddy (and friendly OS nemesis) Mark had a fascinating dream that sounds almost like the Da Vinci Code turned into a story about operating systems. Mark would make a good substitute for Prof. Robert Langdon in such a book — maybe he should write it, after all, computer debates do have a tendency to take on a religious feel. ;)

Unfortunately, Mark still has not seen the light concerning Mac OS X, so I need to help him understand the nature of this “insanely great” platform.

Now 5x Faster! Mark rightly questions how Apple could go from claiming that PowerPC was better than x86 to announcing the new Intel Macs are “5x faster.” You'll notice that the 5x number only shows up on the comparison of PowerBook vs. MacBook laptops. This is for the simple reason that Apple couldn't get a PowerPC G5 processor into a PowerBook, and hence everyone was still using a Pentium III-era competitor in the Pentium M and D-era. I think very few were deluded in this regard. The PowerBooks do handle extremely well given their aging architecture, but that's a testament to *nix not to the architecture (though RISC still seems admirable in many ways). I would suggest that the PowerPC remains a superior architecture (even Linus says so!), but that PowerPC needed someone of the likes of Intel or AMD to be pushing its desktop-oriented progress forward for it to have become a success (PowerPC's manufacturers primarily focus on the embedded space).

The Mac Pro is a different story. If you look at the numbers, while it is faster, it isn't that much faster, especially when you consider it came out almost a year after the PowerMac G5 Quad. The Xeon should be faster, because it is significantly newer and has more cache and other goodies. If we ask whether the PowerPC G5 was “slow” because a processor that is a year newer and has more cache happens to go a small amount faster, then we should also ask if pre-Woodcrest Xeons are perhaps “slow” too. The answer, of course, is no, they are just older. In fact, even in the case of the PowerBook, I would add that the Intel Core line of processors not only speeds things up because of the delay in any significant upgrades for the G4 series laptops, but also because Intel has made seismic leaps in progress over the last six months.

As a whole, no surprises, if we don't look to find fault with Apple just for the sake of finding fault.

Apple the iPod Maker. It is true that Apple now draws a significant portion of profit from the iPod, but I would note that it is still a minority of their business, and most people now seem to have come to grips with the reality that it cannot be Apple's primary focus forever — especially now that Microsoft has decided to go into its “we'll lose money for as long as it takes to beat our target” mode against the iPod. I don't think anyone other than Sony (with their PlayStation) and Google have held up to Microsoft when it decides to lose short term money in order to win a market, and right now even Sony is in for the fight of its life. The Redmond road is littered with companies such as Netscape and Palm that have been unable to resist Microsoft.

Apple the Evil DRM User. iTunes does not make the iPod DRM laden. If you never use the iTunes Music Store, you will never touch DRM. It is that simple. Now, why do pragmatic foes of DRM such as myself use the iTunes Music Store? Because every once-in-a-while I'd like one song from an artist, and I sure like paying ninety-nine cents a lot better than $13.99 for that one track. (And, by the way, you do get a nice digitized album cover in that price, and if you buy the whole CD you often get a digitized booklet and perhaps a music video, so the point about lack of album art is moot.) I don't know how many others are like me, but I for the most part have what I call my “two track rule.” If I try a new artist (or old one, for that matter) and find that I want to buy more than two tracks from a given CD, I refuse to buy any more from iTMS and wait until I feel like coughing up the price for a normal CD. Right now, for example, I have an embargo on buying any tracks from MercyMe because I have bought a track or two from each of their CD's, and now I'm going to either buy nothing more from them or buy a real CD from them.

Apple the Stealer of Virtual Desktops. XGL vs. Spaces is really a stupid kind of comparison. This is really looking at things backwards. While it is true that XGL and related technologies have provided 3D representations of virtual desktops first, I would note that all of these FOSS implementations appeared initially as ways of cloning Apple's Exposé, which premiered in June of 2003 at WWDC and was released to market in October 2003 as part of OS X 10.3 Panther. Spaces continues by adding the virtual desktops that FOSS has had for years, yes, but Apple was the one that came up with 3D accelerated navigation of running applications — Spaces is a logical extension of Exposé. Yes, Apple is copying virtual desktops, but XGL is nothing more than playing catchup with Apple's Quartz Extreme (which showed up in OS X 10.2 Jaguar in 2002) and the aforementioned Expose. Apple was the first to offer an OpenGL hardware accelerated desktop, something Linux is just starting to offer in a consumer oriented distro this summer and Windows will not offer until next year.

The 4" iPhone

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 6:22 AM

I'm still not entirely convinced Apple will move to a bigger display size on the iPhone, but they would be much more likely to if the physical device size differences were minimized. That is what makes this mockup very interesting.

That Terrible iPhone Reception Problem

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 1:29 AM

John Gruber notes the folks at Consumer Reports looked into the iPhone 4 reception issues and made the (shocking, I tell you, shocking!) discovery that such reception issues are “the case with all cell phones” and that it wasn't a big deal. Gruber responds,

Who am I supposed to believe, the sensationalist hacks at Consumer Reports, or the straight-shooters at Gizmodo?

It's not as if Gizmodo is the sort of place that would buy a stolen iPhone and then have an axe to grind for being prosecuted for it.

(For an added chuckle, Gruber's English translation of Apple's latest comments on the matter are worth a read if you'll excuse some of his coarse language choices.)

Thank-you HM!

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 2:14 AM

This is a departure from my normal content here, but I wanted to take a moment to thank the wonderful folks at HostingMatters web hosting. Looking at my file modification dates, it seems that I officially migrated to HM two years ago today. I haven't regretted it one bit.

I've gone through a lot of web hosts. I've used seven (five commercial), and over the last two or three searches I also created a 20-something point questionnaire that each host was inspected by — and I inspected a lot, something to the tune of probably 800-1,000 companies in 1999 and 2001. Very few hosts met my criteria, even fewer earned my trust to actually deal with them.

I've had ups and downs in commercial web hosting. I first moved away from free web hosting to DataRealm. They were fine, although there plans were just too expensive for what they offered. After spending most of 1997 with them, I moved on in April 1998. I then moved to They started out great, but my site was down a lot, their control panel wasn't very good, and it was often impossible to get a response — after one issue in early 2000, I finally had to phone them long distance after having my site down for a week. Things got worse and the whole deal ended with a $90 overcharge in July of 2000 (I hadn't been really using them since October 1999).

I had known things were going down hill for awhile so I had already started migrating in the fall of 1999 to BurstNET. They were fairly big then and are now much bigger — they have their own datacenter, etc. But in July 2001, things went from sort of unreliable to bad. They were constantly breaking Perl modules with oddball upgrades. They'd deny problems that I clearly demonstrated, etc. Nice people, but they wouldn't fix things. Finally, everything just died during the week of August 13, 2001. They got the web sites back up a day later, but after four days they were still denying the fact that e-mail was down. I needed a new host.

I tried one, which I'll not name because there was nothing wrong with it, it just wasn't for me, but they turned out to be a reseller for HostingMatters still at Alabanza (I noticed HM's domain in the e-mail headers of the welcome message). I jumped over to HostingMatters and everything looked like exactly what I wanted and more. So I signed up.

And what a great decision that was. Annette set me up with exactly the plan I wanted with reseller features (rather than having to get the normal reseller plan), answered all those questions I had, and got me started. The rest of the staff (or sock monkeys as they called themselves at the time) was great too. And as an added bonus the HM client community on the HM forums was delightful too!

Since part of my time with SmartHosting I had already migrated away but was still paying because I wanted to keep the subdomain I had been renting, I was really with them less than two years. Likewise I've never made it with any other host two years… except for HostingMatters. There's a reason too — they really genuinely seem to care. They are great people (I now consider one of the HM employees a friend, but that's another story), fast to respond, and their servers are ultra reliable and at a discount hosting price.

Oh, and did I mention that, a site of mine that is “Slashdotted” (hit by thousands of users from all at once) a few times a year, is hosted there and fairs fine under the pressure? It's so good, we awared HM an award last year and at least one other large GNU/Linux site now uses HostingMatters.

If you need a host, check them out.

Tee Hee Hee: I Made Some Spammers Mad

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 4:34 AM

Well, my new SpamAssassin auto-rejection seems to be doing a good job. I got this automated letter letting me know I was removed from the EDEALSSUPER list (as if I ever cared to be on it to begin with). Note especially how impassioned it is about how this must have to do with the quality of my e-mail service. Content based bouncing of spam must be becoming common place enough that now spammers are trying to convince the user that the anti-spam savvy ISP is providing the user with bad service when the exact opposite is actually true.

Subject: Your removal from the EDEALSSUPER list
Date: April 6, 2006 11:00:07 PM CDT
To: Address Removed -Tim.

Fri, 7 Apr 2006 00:00:07

You have been automatically removed from the EDEALSSUPER list
(eDealsSuper) as a result of repeated delivery error reports from your
mail system. This decision was based on the automatic error monitoring
policy in effect for the list, and has not been reviewed or otherwise
confirmed by a human being. If you receive this message, it means that
something is wrong: while you are obviously able to receive mail, your
mail system has been regularly reporting that your account did not exist,
or that you were otherwise permanently unable to receive mail. Here is
some information which may assist you or your local help desk in
determining the cause of the problem:

- The failing address is TBUTLER@UNINETSOLUTIONS.COM.

- The first error was reported on 4 Apr 2006.

- Since then, a total of 2 delivery errors have been received.

- The last reported error was: Probe failed.

PLEASE DO NOT IGNORE THIS MESSAGE. While you can of course re-subscribe
to the list, it is important for you to report this problem to your mail
administrator so that it can be solved. This problem is not specific to
the EDEALSSUPER list, and also affects your private mail. This means that
to you during the same time frame will probably have received the same
errors for the same reason. The EDEALSSUPER list is but one of the many
people who may have tried to write to you while your mail system was

normal for a mail system to claim that a valid, working account does not
exist, just as it would not be normal for the post office to return some
of your mail with “addressee unknown” when the address was written
correctly. It is true that some mail systems are less reliable than
others, and your technical people may be doing the best they can with the
tools they have. But, ultimately, the level of service that you are
receiving is the result of a business decision, and not something due to
a universal technical limitation that one can only accept. Reliable mail
systems do exist, and it is ultimately up to you to decide whether this
level of service is acceptable or not.

Tabula Rasa

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 7:03 AM

OK, everyone has their predictions filed for the Apple Tablet, iPad or whatever. Oh, and the Verizon iPhone, too, which I am increasingly convinced will be announced, if not actually launched, tomorrow. Let's say that all happens at high noon tomorrow. Then what? I'm glad you asked.

T-Mobile Selling Linksys Routers for $19.99

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 1:58 AM

Anyone need a Linksys WRT54G router? T-Mobile is selling their branded version for $19.99, even to non-customers. Just go here click any phone on that page and then choose the Linksys router (they also have a D-Link router available).

If the information that has been reported is correct, the model is a customized version of the WRT54GL (the “Linux version” that has a larger amount of ROM). I needed another router, so I ordered one; my invoiced showed the model as a WRT54GS, which is the “Speedbooster” model, which fits the reported specs — essentially a WRT54GL with double the memory of a normal WRT54GL.

Symbian OS and the Linux Desktop

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 7:36 PM

A frequent counter argument against the iPhone comes from folks touting Nokia's various flagship phones. No one using an iPhone points to a Nokia phone as a better or more capable device, mind you. (That should be telling.)

So, this is interesting. From The Symbian Guru:

If you recall, when the Nokia N97 was announced, we all drooled over it endlessly. We marveled at its features, its monstrous internal storage, sliding hinge assembly, 1500mAh battery, and more. We waited a disturbing 6 months for it to actually be available…only to actually get it. The launch firmware on the Nokia N97 was so bad, I sincerely hope that whoever gave it the A-OK to be released has been fired from Nokia. It took them another 6 months just to release a firmware that wasn’t rubbish, and now, the ‘flagship’ languishes behind other devices, frustrating owners like myself more and more each day.

Their sentiments remind me of when I gave up on the Linux desktop. While Vista a few months later was a major stumble for Microsoft (to put it mildly), Apple has continued to charge along and Microsoft has regrouped with Windows 7. Meanwhile GNOME remains relatively stagnant (though superior to KDE) and KDE managed to out-Vista Vista.

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