Last night, I watched a 60 Minutes episode on CNBC which explored the danger foreign hackers pose to the US, especially to the banking industry, the government, and the power grid.  The story (which seemed to be pieced together from stories originally aired on 11/08/09 and 3/27/09) highlighted the rapid spread of the conficker worm, which even infected the station’s network during the production of the show.

They interviewed an exec from a popular security company who, not surprisingly, explained the need for his companies products.  The 60 Minutes crew completely fails to explain the best and cheapest way to avoid the danger: don’t use Microsoft Windows.  The media never seems to grasp there are alternatives, like Linux, that will protect you from 99% of the malware without the need for special security software.  Are these media outfits on the Microsoft and Symantec payroll or are they just not doing a thorough reporting job?  The answer is yes to both.

Media ignores Linux because Microsoft is a major advertiser and they don’t want to lose millions of dollars in ad revenue.  Another reason is most people producing these stories are ignorant of Linux and the technical issues involved.  The OS (operating system) is never even mentioned.  Wake up and smell the conspiracy, folks.  You can and should ditch Microsoft Windows and use Linux – it’s faster, more secure, and free.

Video links:
The Internet is Infected
Sabotaging the System

Related Stories:
The Conficker worm on 60 Minutes
60 Minutes Missed the Elephant in the Room

I am often asked why I prefer the Linux operating system (OS) to Microsoft Windows or MacOS.  One reason is that I like the concept of free sharing of ideas and information espoused by the Linux community.  This is in stark contrast to the vicious, litigious culture of trade secrets fostered by proprietary software producers.  Another reason is the ease with which I can configure my Linux desktop to my liking.  Using other systems, I’m forced to change the way I work to fit the system.

Windows, MacOS, and Linux

In an effort to make clear my more objective reasons, I’m putting together a chart comparing Windows, Mac and Linux operating systems.  It is a work in progress.  I will add points of comparison and update the data as necessary.  If you find any errors or have suggestions, please let me know.  Obviously, I have a bias in favor of Linux, but I want the chart to be fair and accurate.

I hope this will save me from explaining my preference repeatedly.  I also hope this will make it clear to all why Linux is a superior system, demonstrated by a simple comparison of specifications.  Of course, as always, I support your right to pay too much money for an inferior product if that makes you happy.

Today is Document Freedom Day. If you’re not one of the open source faithful, or even if you are, you might not be familiar with this digital independence day. According to the web site at http://documentfreedom.org, “Document Freedom Day (DFD) is a global day for document liberation. It will be a day of grassroots effort to educate the public about the importance of Open Document Formats and Open Standards in general.”

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Currency025.jpg

I had an idea several years ago for a web site that acted as an exchange for real and virtual currencies. I was never an avid gamer but, after discovering Second Life and IMVU, I realized how many people were spending (and earning) money in these 3D virtual worlds. While there are some companies (IGE and others) that facilitate buying and selling of virtual goods and currencies, there didn’t seem to be a true virtual/real currency exchange market yet. One that would provide daily exchange rates for directly changing one currency into another, virtual or real, for a small fee. Like most of my ideas, this was added to a very long “projects” list. I had a good idea, I was sure, but neither the time nor resources to develop it.

Fast forward to 2010. IMVU and myYearbook are the first partners of the new Currency Connect, “a service that allows virtual world and social networking site members to exchange virtual currency among partner websites.”1 They don’t (as far as I can tell) offer exchange with real currencies, though. That would certainly involve regulatory compliances which would complicate matters. But how long can these virtual currencies, purchased with real money, be unregulated? Over two years ago, “Linden Lab, the company that runs the popular virtual world Second Life, announced… that all in-world “banks” must now be registered with real-world banking regulators.”2 Dave Rosenberg noted, in his blog on CNet News last December3, that the door is open for much larger players to bring their huge user bases to the game. Certainly PayPal, Facebook, Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft could stake a claim in this, as yet, wide open territory.

Where does that leave me? Crossing yet another promising idea off my list? Probably. I still don’t have the resources needed for development. So I’m throwing this idea out into the blogosphere. Maybe someone with capital or connections can make use of it.

What do you think? Thumbs up or down?

1 http://www.currencyconnect.com/FAQ

2 http://www.freedom-to-tinker.com/blog/felten/second-life-welcomes-bank-regulators

3 http://news.cnet.com/8301-13846_3-10415702-62.html

Image courtesy of Pulsar Media

I haven’t made any scientific comparisons, I only share my experience. I’ve been a devoted Mozilla/Firefox user for many years. My current workhorse is an AMD Phenom Quad core box with 8GB RAM and it flies. :)

I tend to keep 40-60 tabs open, on average. I can run the latest Firefox on this box and it will have severe performance problems (the screen turns grey, desktop unresponsive) even with nothing else running. I have to restart Firefox 3 times daily. It takes a long time to reload, so this is a major inconvenience.

I am now running Chrome with 42 tabs, as well as Thunderbird, Gimp, Pidgin, 5 terminals, and 2 virtual machines (Ubuntu 10.4 using QEMU and OpenSuse 11.2 using Virtualbox 3.1) – all this on a fully pimped-out Compiz 3D desktop on a 24″ display – with outstanding performance from Chrome.

I love the Fox, but until it gets its act together, I’m using Chrome.

 I’m one of those Linux fanatics who enjoy trying new distros almost constantly. Because of the freedom inherent in the GPL and other “open” licenses, there are always new flavors of my favorite OS springing up.  Early spring of last year, I found an Ubuntu-based distro called UbuntuSE.  I was attracted to the screenshots of the dark blood-red and black theme.  This was essentially Ubuntu with fresh artwork: splash screens, window themes, wallpapers, and amazing 3D screensavers.  The SE, it turned out, stood for Satanic Edition.

I consider myself a spiritual person, but I’m not a fan of organized religion.  One of the few things that offends me are people who are easily offended.  Especially those who  believe they somehow deserve to be protected from any speech, image or ideology which they find offensive (typically, anything not their own).  I found out there were two similar themed Ubuntus, the Christian Edition and the Muslim Edition.  With a few hearty chuckles during installation, Ubuntu Satanic Edition became my desktop for a few months.

UbuntuSE

Recently, I followed a link which took me to Distrowatch, a well-known and respected site which offers reviews and news of Linux distributions.  It is run by Ladislav Bodnar (distro AT distrowatch DOT com).  Mr. Bodnar is an intelligent man with an interesting and impressive background.  I noticed he had included the Christian and Muslim versions of Ubuntu, but not the Satanic version.  I thought it unlikely that he was ignorant of it’s existence, but I sent him a short note just in case.

Hi, Ladislav!

I wanted to inform you of another “themed” Ubuntu distro,
Ubuntu Satanic Edition or UbuntuSE. The site is
http://ubuntusatanic.org/ and it has been around since
2006. I see you have UbuntuCE and UbuntuME. I would
like to see UbuntuSE included on distrowatch. The artwork
and attention to detail are amazing. After all, Linux is a
“journey of freedom”. Thanks for a great Linux site!

Peace,
Tim

I quoted the phrase “journey of freedom” from Mr. Bodnar’s description of his experience with Linux. I received this response a few hours later:

I don’t feel comfortable with listing this distro on DistroWatch. I am not
religious or anything, but I think there are some limits of what is an
acceptable name for a Linux distribution. Sorry :-(

Ladislav

Ladislav Bodnar

I ask you to tell me the unvarnished truth.  Is this in keeping with the spirit of Linux, open source and freedom?  Is this arbitrary dictation of what distro shall be included based on the acceptability of it’s name to the maintainer offensive to anyone else?  I think Mr. Bodnar is not telling me the whole story  Perhaps he fears some expression of outrage by Christian and Islamic fanatics if he lists the UbuntuSE distro.  I can’t really speculate further on his true motivations.  I only post this to express my belief in freedom of expression, religious and otherwise.  That is one of the reasons I love Linux: the devotion of the community to freedom.

Mr. Bodnar is using his freedom as the site maintainer to censor the Linux community.  I don’t think he’s right to do so.  I think he needs to re-read his tagline on distrowatch: “Put the fun back into computing.”  What do you think?

NYT Headline: 3 Detectives in Bell Shooting Acquitted

Why does this come as no surprise? The defendants waived their right to a jury trial, which many people thought was a risky move. What was risky about it? Instead of having twelve honest citizens decide their fate, they entrusted the decision to an agent of the corrupt, murderous, out-of-control mega-gang known generically as “the government”. It’s high time the people took matters into their own hands.

I’m so f#ck!ng  sick of hearing pseudo-intellectual @ssh0les debate the relative merits of the crapweasels running for office as if any of that matters! Do you really think that our civil liberties will be restored if Obama gets elected? Do you honestly believe the war will end, gas prices will drop, the government will stop screwing the poor and middle class? That the police will suddenly act like enlightened protectors of the innocent and not like the ignorant thugs that many (but not all) of them are? How freakin wonderful the bliss of that naivete must be! I wonder how much it matters to Sean Bell, his family, or his fiancee?

Now, I’m off to install Ubuntu Hardy Heron 8.04 on a server and (hopefully) forget goddamn politics, news and people. Like an ostrich, I’ll sink my head into the sands of geektopia. But come the revolution, brotha…