Thursday, February 11, 2010

Microsoft, Microsoft

...when will they learn? It sure looks like they can't do much right in the last few weeks. First, a Google engineer finds a 17-year-old bug in the kernel that can be exploited. Then on this past Patch Tuesday, they screw up the patch and cause lots of XP users to end up at the Blue Screen of Death. The only fix requires an install CD -- which few home users will have and netbook users can't use. Now they're rolling out Windows Genuine Advantage, Part II.

For those who haven't seen this come over the wire yet, Windows Activation Technologies (WAT) are an optional update which causes Windows 7 installations to phone home every 90 days and nag you if your installation suddenly is discovered as a pirate copy. If you buy a legitimate copy of Windows, how in the world is that going to magically become a pirated copy?

I still wonder how this will do anything but cause more problems -- software pirates are a tricky lot to deal with. They are very smart and band together to rebel against "the man," meaning Microsoft, among others. Every antipiracy technique has been broken or worked around. Every one. Even that hardware-based TPM module from years ago. Making it an optional update renders the whole thing less-than-useless.

The problem with copy protection and other antipiracy tools is that it rakes proper customers over the coals and does nothing to stop pirates. Apparently M$ hasn't learned this one yet. One thing I've learned, though: with each successive version of Windows, you pay more to get less out of a product which is slowly taking away your freedom to use your computer as you wish.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Snowed In

OK. Now it's official: I'm tired of winter now. For the third time in my school's 25ish year history, it closed early yesterday because of the blizzard coming our way. 2 feet of snow in 24 hours. I realize that were I to live in Wyoming, North Dakota, or somewhere in Canada, this might be a frequent occurrence. I'd also have a snowblower. Neither is the case. The roads look pretty good, but digging around 400 cubic feet of snow just to get my van to just get to the road is hard, especially in conjunction with a lower back injury from last November that I still haven't totally recovered from. Barring major financial difficulties or some other sizable lifestyle change, I'm buying a snowblower next fall.