Monthly Archives: January 2007

Microsoft Windows Vista: the “wow” isn’t now

One day after the release of Microsoft’s 6 billion dollar operating system and there already reports from UK’s PC Advisor of the Windows Vista DRM being cracked by a canadian kernel developer.

On the eve of the Windows Vista launch numerous retailers opened their doors at midnight to sell it. Very few consumers decided to show up for the event. The excitement and hoopla surrounding the launch seems to have disappeared.

The Dallas Morning News and numerous other sources are reporting the luke warm response to the official Vista launch.

Upgrading to Windows Vista

Unless you’re running Windows 2000 or Windows XP you won’t be able to install upgrade versions of Windows Vista Home Basic, Premium and Starter Edition will not install on any PC unless Windows XP or Windows 2000 is already on the machine. Microsoft knowledge base article #930985 (kb930985) details upgrade installation key issues.

Vista’s EULA: Possible deletion of programs without user consent

Check the fine print on the EULA (end user license agreement) when you go to install or use Windows Vista. An article in the Toronto Star covers a few of the highlights from the EULA such as extensive provisions that grant Microsoft the right to regularly check the legitimacy, possibly deleting certain programs without a user’s knowledge, the right to revalidate the software or require the user to reactivate if they make changes to computer components.

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Windows Vista DRM causing concern

A lot of the hoopla surrounding the new Windows Vista operating system (os) is based on it’s new multimedia capabilities. However, people purchasing it to use these enhanced multimedia capabilities to watch high definition or blu-ray dvds or to listen to some audio cds may be in for a very upsetting surprise.

In a disturbing albeit eye-opening white paper detailing a cost analysis of Windows Vista Contect Protection, Peter Gutmann (a Department of Computer Science security engineering researcher at the University of Auckland, New Zealand) details the consequences of Microsoft’s new Digital Rights Management (DRM) cost in terms of system performance, system stability, technical support overhead, and hardware and software costs and their affect on Windows Vista users and the computer industry.

Basically the paper explains how a new kind of technology is built into Windows Vista that will take high-definition or blu-ray dvds you purchase as well as audio discs and degrade the play back quality drastically because of the content protection mechanism built in and the Microsoft requirements for drivers. At one point he refers to the new content protection scheme as suicidal.

Per the white paper the new operating system will limit the functionality of certain pieces of hardware such as video cards and monitors from viewing High Definition (HD) content, requires customized device drivers and it requires that vendors of the hardware get the ok from major movie studios such as MGM, 20th Century Fox and Disney.

On top of that, more additional costs will be incurred by vendors of the above mentioned devices because Microsoft disallows a one-size-fits-all design for devices in the new system and it bans the use of add-ons such as TV-out encoders, DVI circuitry and other add-ons since the new system disallows the feeding of unprotected video and audio to external components.

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Microsoft hard at work on Vista Service Pack 1

An article from a leaked email memo from APC Magazine has revealed that Microsoft is already rushing to rollout Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1).

Microsoft has sent out emails to customers and partners to test and provide feedback on (SP1) to help prepare for it’s release in the second half of 2007. It took 11 months after the release of Windows XP for Microsoft to rollout the first service pack.

Specific details of the changes codenamed “Fiji” have not been released by Microsoft yet. Microsoft claims that regressions from Windows Vista and Windows XP, security, deployment blockers and other high impact issues are the primary focus for the service pack. The operating system hasn’t been released yet, but it has “high impact issues.”

Testers are enrolled in the Vista SP1 Technology Adoption Program (TAP) and must be willing to provide feedback and deploy pre-release builds into production environments.

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New travel laws in effect for air travelers

As a result of recommendations made by the 9/11 Commission, Congress passed the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 into law. The new travel document requirements make up the Departments’ Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI).

The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 requires the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of State (DOS) to develop and implement a plan to require all travelers, U.S. citizens and foreign nationals alike, to present a passport or other document, or a combination of documents, that denote identity and citizenship when entering the United States. Congress amended portions of the Act in 2006. The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative is the Administration’s proposed plan to implement this mandate.

The goal of the Initiative is to strengthen border security and facilitate entry into the United States for U.S. citizens and legitimate foreign visitors by providing standardized, secure and reliable documentation which will allow the Department of Homeland Security to quickly, reliably and accurately identify a traveler.

In order to obtain national security benefits as quickly as possible, and to expedite the processing of arriving passengers, the plan will be implemented in two phases:

The first phase:

Effective January 23, 2007, ALL persons, including U.S. citizens, traveling by air between the United States and Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, and Bermuda will be required to present a valid passport, Air NEXUS card, or U.S. Coast Guard Merchant Mariner Document (MMD), or an Alien Registration Card, Form I-551, if applicable.

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Microsoft announces new ways to purchase Vista

Microsoft will be releasing Windows Vista, it’s newest (long awaited) operating system (OS) on January 30, 2007 to consumers. For those of you adventurous enough to purchase the new Windows OS, Microsoft has announced 3 methods to buy, upgrade or license multiple copies of Windows Vista once it’s released to provide customers with more flexibility obtaining the version that meets their needs: Windows anytime upgrade, Windows Vista family discount and Windows marketplace. Windows Vista is expected to retail for $100.00 to $400.00 depending on which version you get.

Windows Vista will be available in 6 versions:

  • Windows Vista Home Basic – for basic home needs such as email and internet access
  • Windows Vista Home Premium – for the best home computing and entertainment
  • Windows Vista Business – for small and mid-sized organizations
  • Windows Vista Ultimate – for work and entertainment, the most complete edition
  • Windows Vista Enterprise Edition – designed to help global organizations and enterprises with complex IT infrastructures lower IT costs, reduce risk, and stay connected. It also provides higher levels of data protection using hardware-based encryption technology (only available to volume license customers with PCs covered by Microsoft Software Assurance)
  • Windows Vista Starter – not currently scheduled to be available in the United States, Canada, the European Union, Australia, New Zealand, or other high income markets as defined by the World Bank.

Note: Windows Vista Enterprise and Starter editions are not part of Windows Anytime upgrade.

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Recognizing and preventing Road Rage

Road rage is a growing problem. If you drive at all, there’s a good chance that you may see or feel, or worse, become a victim of road rage. Road rage is an incident caused by one driver (usually an aggressive or angry driver) doing something that sets off another driver.

Upon provocation angry drivers sometimes commit acts of violence upon other drivers, and sometimes murder. It’s pathetic that someone is in such a hurry on the roads or freeways, but they have the time to assault or murder someone.

Road rage usually stems from selfishness (concerned only with oneself without regard for the well-being of others, egotistical) and in some cases pride (an excessively high opinion of ones self, conceit).

In a perfect world, you would always be on time, never have any traffic and wouldn’t have to deal with someone else’s stupidity and rudeness. But alas, the world we live in is far from perfect. Below are some things that can lead to road rage and some ways to help prevent it.

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