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.”

Continue reading

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…

I’m a self-taught web designer that got his beginnings on a Windows machine using first Frontpage (gag) and then Dreamweaver. Now, I love my Dreamweaver. It rocks to no end with all it can do. Add in Fireworks and Photoshop to the mix and you have one sweet set of tools that will keep you designing for years to come.

Well with my venture into Linux a while back, I was struggling to find suitable replacements for my favorite apps that I grew to be so fond of as well as used to. It was hard finding what I can now call my new favorites although I do still reserve judgement on The GIMP a bit longer as it still hasn’t quite won me over just yet.

For the Linux version of Dreamweaver, I use Kompozer. It doesn’t have the finesse that Dreamweaver has but it works very well for my purposes. Also, a nifty app called SciTE is an awesome text editor that resembles PSPpad on my Windows machine.

I prefer to do my site work in Windows still but that’s pretty much because it’s a habit and I’m comfortable with them but, I’m getting more and more used to using the apps on my Linux hard drive (I dual boot Ubuntu and XP Pro) instead of the more familiar ones on my Windows hard drive.

My reasons are this:

I want to be as M/S free as I possibly can by year’s end with very few exceptions. I’ve grown to prefer open source apps and software to proprietary apps and software due to the nature of them being much more stable, less apt to be corrupt, less prone to malware or virus infections which helps to free my wallet from the anti- this and the anti- that companies who’ve sworn their devotion to wiping the ‘net’s infections out.

I like the freedom to do what I want with the OS (operating system) of my choosing and not having to dial home (M/S) anytime I reinstall it on my computer and asking their permission to install the OS I already paid for a long time ago.

Now with the exception of my wife’s work having to be on a Windows machine and my new laptop I bought for some work but mostly for some gaming I try to fit in in my spare time (chuckle), I’m slowly working my way to more freedom.

So, in closing I’d like to ask the readers here what their favorite web design programs are or what their favorite apps period are in their distro of Linux. I’m open to new ways of doing things unlike M/S who prefers us to keep our heads in the sand.

Today is the first in a regular weekly series, Tuesday Tech Troubles and Triumphs. I think I’ll probably have more troubles than triumphs to share, so let me start with one I’m having now. A client of mine wants his WordPress archives to be displayed in an expandable/collapsible format in the sidebar. He referred me to this blog on blogspot.com as an example. The code that displays the archives is a widget written by Google software engineer I’ve been looking for a similar plugin, because that would be much faster (and cheaper for him). I’ve found several, including this one by Ady Romantika that would be perfect.

The trouble: they are all only available as widgets and his heavily customized blog is not widgetized. Unless I have a better suggestion from one of my readers, I’ll have to reverse engineer a widget into a straight plugin. I have almost no time to do this. Please comment with suggestions or WordPress plugin stories of your own. Hopefully by next Tuesday, I’ll have turned this trouble into a triumph.

I’ll now tag five unsuspecting techies and turn this into a meme:

Merlin, Merlin’s Minute

Ian, Failure is the Key to Success

Joe, JoeTech.com

Chuck, D is for Dad

Rob, All Things Seen and Unseen

Gentlemen, start your engines.

Anyone who knows me, or knows of me, is aware that I use Free and Open Source Software; painfully aware, in fact. I never shut up about it. The torrent of sarcastic anti-Microsoft remarks must get tiresome. The inevitable lecture on the advantages of FOSS over proprietary systems is endured (usually) with patient grace by my friends and family. Although, I suspect, they stay on my good side so that I continue to provide free tech support.

So why, why am I using a proprietary browser?

It’s simple, really. It’s better. Working on this ten year old Dell PC with Ubuntu 7.10 GNOME desktop, struggling along with 256MB RAM memory and 6GB disk space, Firefox (my heretofore favorite browser) just isn’t cutting it. The memory leaks, freezing and crashing are too frustrating. I’m not a religious man. I’m eminently practical. I use what works. Given a choice, I’ll always choose a FOSS solution. But I will always choose the best solution, for myself and my clients. For a Web browser, that solution is Opera.