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

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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 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.

Burning Windows

‘To describe writing as ” Orwellian ” means that it expresses a pessimistic view of a dull, uniform world where every aspect of life is controlled and organized by the State.’1 This is certainly an accurate description of my writing on the subject of Microsoft (and corporate culture in general). I consider myself a desktop revolutionary, a guerilla sysadmin, a software freedom fighter. I’m one of a growing number of PC techs for whom the phrase “Format C:” (or, more likely, fdisk /dev/sda) is the answer to the many “How do I fix my Windows PC?” questions we get. Microsoft wants to control every aspect of your desktop, server and online experience. They have failed miserably with the latter two, but have completely dominated – through marketing and unfair business practices, rather than technical superiority – the desktop.Why don’t more people use Linux? It’s more powerful, more secure, infinitely customizable… and it’s free.  What’s the problem?

Slackware was my first Linux, back in 1995. It was the Linux distro in those days, largely because of an easier menu-driven installation process. I think installation is even easier than Windows now.  But there are two areas that are always an obstacle for less experienced users: partitioning and drivers. These areas are difficult not because of any inherent flaw in Linux, but because of the Microsoft stranglehold on the desktop.

If you are installing Linux on a box of it’s own, partitioning isn’t any different than a Windows installation: it happens without user intervention. It’s only because many users are installing on a Windows box and wish to dual-boot, that the Linux installer has to shrink the existing NTFS or VFAT partition and create other partitions for itself. This is usually done flawlessly, provided the user has some idea of what is going on. I would suggest that anyone who thinks this is a defect of Linux try to install Windows in a dual-boot config on a PC where Linux is already installed and see how well Microsoft handles that. ;-)

The second issue, driver availability, is due to the lack of response of hardware manufactures to demands from the Linux community for support. Let’s face it, it takes time and money to develop drivers and most companies can’t justify investing in a driver for less than two percent of the desktop market, especially if they will be pressured to release the code as open source. As Linux desktop usage grows, this will change. Indeed, it has already begun. Check out the rivalry between nVidia and ATI for producing the best driver support for Linux users (especially the hardcore gaming crowd).

Unfortunately, businesses are notoriously slow to adopt “new” technology, even when it will save them time, money and the hassle of the Microsoft malware machine. So, those of us who support Windows users must use Windows as well. That is why I no longer support Microsoft products. I will offer help in migrating to a superior platform, be it GNU/Linux, BSD, Mac OS/X, or Solaris. But I will no longer waste my time and effort supporting a system of the clueless, by the clueless, and for the clueless. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. ;-)

1.  ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ – George Orwell, first published by Martin Secker & Warburg Ltd., 1949
This introduction by Gwyneth Roberts,  © Longman Group Limited, 1983

source: CNNMoney

You don’t think Google is making them nervous, do you? The problem with this deal is that Yahoo is now an old school company. They’re stale, trying to keep up rather than leading the way. And what is this deal going to do for Yahoo? You don’t find any company staler and more old school than Microsoft. But this is how The Beast from Redmond approaches every challenge: if you can’t beat them with technology, buy your way out of it. This is similar to their reasoning for “supporting” Linux. Picture this, if you will: Ford makes an offer to buy GM because those pesky Japanese are starting to make pretty good cars.  Clueless! It’s all about evolution, folks. Look around you and tell me where the 500 lb gorilla is? Hiding in the jungle eating grubs while the higher primates are dining in style and feeling sorry for the poor bastard.