Nothing Lasts Forever

The time is rapidly approaching when Microsoft will permanently suspend all support for the Windows XP operating system.

Are we sad to see it go? Yes, in many cases, I’m sure that there will be a ground swell of angst and sadness that XP is going the way of the dodo. Unfortunately, life is all about change. We need to learn to embrace it. AHEM! Yeah… I sound like an Anthony Robbins commercial here. The facts of the matter are that many individuals and businesses around the world are still using that insecure Swiss cheese OS called Windows XP. Don’t get me wrong. I used to like XP a lot. I have a lot to be thankful to XP for, actually. It’s the NUMBER 1 MAIN REASON I started using the GNU/Linux operating system as my primary OS on ALL of my production machines.

I often wonder why MS had such a difficult time keeping ahead of the hackers, spammers, and malware merchants for much of XP’s lifetime. Being the numero uno operating system in the world definitely painted a rather large target on XP’s back, I would think. Why would a pimple faced miscreant sitting in front of his Mac on the island of Zoobie-doobie target GNU/Linux’s 1% when it could hit ‘em big by hacking MS Windows XP’s 95% or so worldwide users? Makes sense, right? So, poor MS had to fight a losing rear guard action as it retreated into its hardened (by 3rd party mercenaries) Norton and McAfee bunkers. It was what it was.

MS learned a few things from that experience, though. They implemented many innovations into their new Win 7 and Win 8 operating systems to lessen the need for the hired guns required by XP to guard the gates. Sorry about all the military analogies today. I seem to be stuck in that mode at the moment. But I digress… Er, where was I? Ah. Yes… I was saying that nothing lasts forever. I think that’s the point of this exercise, anyway.

Back in the day, when I was much enamored by the Win 98SE operating system, I dreaded the time when MS would stop supporting it. I swore to never go over to the dark side by submitting to the charms and siren songs of that new OS, Win XP. Myeh… I eventually broke my vow. Sure, XP was an improvement over 98SE, but it was also a seemingly unprepared plunge into the future by Microsoft. I’m not sure anyone could have predicted the explosion of naughty, nasty, downright malicious behavior that would soon raise it’s pimply faced, greasy haired head on the Internet.

The pizza and Jolt soda driven hordes descended on the cyber world like never before. Few operating systems or their overseers were prepared for the onslaught. There are exceptions to this… AHEM. Linux. ;) Anyway, don’t let me gloat too long on that. Moving on… So what now, security wise? Are we any better off in the world now that Win 7 and 8 are in dominance and XP is falling by the wayside? Hmm… I’m not so sure. I understand that MS can’t continue to waste time and resources at their 100% for-profit capitalist corporation to continue to pour hot oil and  push back the scaling ladders of the invaders forever. Yet, there are millions of XP users worldwide who are going to become a giant botnet once open season is declared by MS in just a few weeks. Can you even imagine what fun those acne suffering residents of Zoobie-doobie and elsewhere are going to have spreading their mayhem?

If you’re running an XP system that has access to the Internet, I would strongly recommend pulling the plug on it. I’m being serious now, folks. Once Microsoft stops patching newly discovered vulnerabilities in the XP operating system, your ass will be swinging in the breeze out there. The 3rd party anti-virus and anti-malware companies will not be focusing on XP nor will they be able to keep up with the hordes that will be descending upon that OS after April of 2014. Do yourselves a favor. Move on to Win 7 or even 8. I can’t honestly recommend 8 to you at this time because I’ve read too much bad press about it and because I’ve never experienced it myself personally. I can, however, say that Win 7 is a very solid OS. If you can still find yourself a copy of it, that would be a wonderful alternative.

And I know many of you out there expect me to make the GNU/Linux suggestion. Well, that’s really the optimal alternative, as far as I’m concerned. However, it wouldn’t necessarily be that optimal for many Win XP users. Folks are often reluctant to change and unwilling to invest time into learning something new. They would have to do both to use GNU/Linux. Yes, there are relatively gentle transition distributions out there… Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Vector Linux, Zorin, Ultimate Edition, Mepis, etc., but there is still a pretty good learning curve for folks coming from XP. It is what it is. I’m not one to bullshit, so take that for what it’s worth.

End your XP dependence. You’ll be better for it.

Later…

~Eric

Image credits: all clipart images in this article courtesy of http://www.clker.com/


Microsoft One Drive and Office Online

Don’t be shocked now, but this hardcore Slackware Linux user does still have an MS Windows operating system (Win 7) installed on a partition on my main system and one on my office laptop.

I know some of you are highly disappointed to hear this, but fret not. The only reason I have Win 7 on my main system is for gaming. I don’t use it for anything else. Slackware is most definitely my daily production OS, but the PC games I play perform much better in Windows. It’s just easier for me to play them that way than in any kind of virtual environment. Also, I do need to stay up-to-date on MS Windows in order to be tech support for my family and friends whom I haven’t converted to GNU/Linux yet.

Anyway, tonight I was bored, so I consolidated my Microsoft login credentials and signed up for their One Drive (formerly Sky Drive). It was fast, simple, painless, etc., as is most Windows point n’ click world these days. One Drive is basically MS’s Dropbox; works pretty much the same way, too. However, you get more space (7 Gig) with your initial One Drive account than with Dropbox (2 Gig).

I like the way MS has tied in all their services and connected them to the unified login. I do have one complaint, though. They’re trying to improve security with two-step verification and all that, but they still do not allow passwords greater than 16 characters. What’s up with that MS?

The Office Online service is pretty neato, too. You just go there and start using Word or Excel or whatever. It’s all saved to your spiffy new One Drive account. Ah… computering in the clouds. Ain’t it all grand? Till it gets hacked or crashes. This stuff is all pretty cool, but I probably won’t ever use it for anything of any importance. I don’t trust cloud computing. I want my important data on my own SECURED GNU/Linux systems, not swingin’ out there in the breeze on someone’s cloud servers.

But that’s just me. Try Microsoft’s new One Drive and Office Online services. They are pretty COOL! :)

Later…

~Eric


SmoothWheel – Firefox Extension

Well, I don’t usually jump for joy about Firefox extensions; however, in this case…

For quite some time now, I’ve experienced herky-jerky scrolling and excessive CPU hogging in Firefox. It’s been very annoying. Some versions seem to fix it, then in a few weeks, when there’s another update, the jerkiness comes back. This happens to my Firefox in Slackware Linux, but I’ve experienced it in other distributions and in MS Windows, also. I’ve tweaked till I was nearly blind. I’ve searched for remedies all over the Internet. I’ve done the usual suggested “Safe Mode” operations and disabling selected extensions here and there to try to get FF to behave. Nothing has worked, until tonight…

I decided to install an extension that was recommended to me by someone quite some time ago. I apologize to that person here and now for not believing that this extension would resolve the issue. I had enough extensions. I didn’t really want another one. Well, a couple weeks ago I lightened the extension/addon load on my FF down to about 1/3 of what it was; just some Profile house-cleaning. It needed to be done. So now I have my leaner meaner FF to work with here. I decided to install this smooth scrolling extension and see if it would actually work as advertised.

The extension is called SmoothWheel by Avi Halachmi. Right out of the box, it performed miracles on my FF.  I didn’t even have to adjust the pre-set preferences. I mean this thing works! I can pull up a Bing Image search page for “cleavage” now and FF will scroll just as smoothly as all the curves on that search result page. It’s wonderful! I love my FF again. Thank you Avi! By the way, the $5 donation he asks for is well-worth it.

So there, you have it…

~Eric

Image credits: “Squee” jumping emoticon by CookiemagiK (Joel) on devianART


CentOS Joining Red Hat Family

CentOS Project Leader Karanbir Singh writes:

With great excitement I'd like to announce that we are joining the Red
Hat family. The CentOS Project ( http://www.centos.org ) is joining
forces with Red Hat. Working as part of the Open Source and Standards
team ( http://community.redhat.com/ ) to foster rapid innovation
beyond the platform into the next generation of emerging technologies.
Working alongside the Fedora and RHEL ecosystems, we hope to further
expand on the community offerings by providing a platform that is
easily consumed, by other projects to promote their code while we
maintain the established base.

Read more about this fabulous development in this ars technica article and in Karanbir Singh’s CentOS Announce list posting.

I’m very excited about this. CentOS has been a favorite of mine for many years. I used to tell folks it’s the closest thing you can get to Red Hat without spending money. Now it’ll be closer than ever before.

Best of luck with this endeavour CentOS and Red Hat!

Later…

~Eric


2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 13,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 5 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.


It’s That Special Time of Year…


My CPU Diary

Here’s a diary of my personal CPU history going back to my college years in the late 70s/early 80s.

Prehistoric systems

8080A – This was the processor used in the lab systems that we worked with when I was in tech college in 1979. It was programmed in octal machine code.

Z80 – Later we also had systems with this processor, the Timex Sinclair.

MOS 6502 – This processor was used in the Commodore VIC-20 machines that were used in the labs in the tech school where I worked as an equipment technician/part time instructor from 1984-1987.

MOS 6510 – This is the processor that was used in my first home computer, a Commodore SX-64 briefcase system. I learned how to program in Forth on this machine… just for fun. I’ve completely forgotten it.

Intel 80486 – This processor was in a system that I used where I worked in 1993-1994. It ran MS Windows 3.1. It was the system where I first experience Microsoft Project. I HATED that program! I also got my first taste of AutoCad on this machine. Now that was a cool program!

More “modern” systems

Intel Pentium I – This is the processor that was in the little computer that my brother gave me in 2000 after purchasing his Gateway AMD Athlon K-7 Thunderbird monster. This is the machine on which I first experienced the World Wide Web portion of the Internet. I had previously experienced USENET and Gopher on some of the older machines above.

AMD Athlon K-7 Thunderbird – This is the processor I used in the very first modern machine (ericsbane01) that I built for myself (from a bare bones system purchased at a computer fair here in Tampa). This machine was souped up a bit with a larger hdd, more RAM, and a better vid card and given to a friend of mine quite a few years ago. He still uses it.

AMD Athlon XP  – This was the processor in my next home built machine (ericsbane02). This one was built from the case up, though, not a bare bones start. This was also the first machine on which I installed GNU/Linux – Ubuntu 6.06 Dapper Drake in June of 2006. Slackware followed a few weeks later and became my primary OS almost immediately.

AMD Athlon 64  – This processor was the heart of my ericsbane03 home built system. It was my first 64 bit system.

AMD Turion 64 X2 – This is the hearty little workhorse processor in my ericslaptop01, a Dell Inspiron 1521 given to me by pal Josh (securitybreach from Scot’s Newsletter Forums). I’m actually typing this on it right now. :)

Intel Pentium M – This is the processor in the Sherman tank laptop, a Dell Latitude 610 (jenslaptop), given to me by my niece a while back. It sits on my office desk running Slackware 14/Xfce with no trouble at all.

AMD Athlon 64 X2 – This processor was the heart of my ericsbane04 (later to become ericsshop02, my current shop system). I actually bought the processor for this home build used from a fellow on eBay. The price was right!

AMD Phenom X4 – This processor was the brains of my ericsbane05, my most recent main system which crashed (bad mobo) on me just a few days ago. It was a great system… until it broke. :(

If you’ve read An Open Letter to Santa, you already know what I’m shooting for on my next system. ;)

And that’s how it was…

~Eric


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 40 other followers