April 17, 2013
Apple shares hit a 52-week nearing $400/share today, even below some of the price points from when Steve Jobs was alive. The news surrounding Apple isn't very rosy. iPhone continues to lose market share to Google's Android, iTunes is losing market share to Amazon, and the PC/laptop markets are shrinking in general dragging Apple down along the way. Analysts aren't predicting a good quarterly report next week.
Now I admit to not being an Apple fan but the one force that was keeping the company firing on all cylinders was Steve Jobs and that is undeniable. When he was there the first time, the company was doing exceptionally well, when he was forced out Apple became a dud, then he returned and Apple came roaring back.
Now Jobs is gone once again and Apple continues on the momentum that he brought with him but that momentum is naturally wearing off. Jobs was a genius and a visionary and it is because of him that Apple has continued to do well much longer than I had anticipated. But eventually the vacuum of vision and innovation must show its effects.
I do wish the company well, but companies don't thrive on well wishes. Jobs was the secret sauce behind the resurgence of Apple and without him the inevitable must now happen. Apple will no doubt survive, but thriving doesn't seem to be the cards.
January 17, 2013
Love this story. Software developers are certainly infamous for being lazy. Most of us are, and that drives us to write code to automate things or write utilities to give to others to perform certain tasks. It's all about finding clever ways to make things easier for us and our employers.
But one guy took it one step further and secretly outsourced his coding responsibilities to a Chinese firm paying them a fraction of his salary and spending his own days having fun. His employer was oblivious to this for years until they ran an audit and discovered the scheme.
The blog post below is really about this coder's exploits and a cautionary tale for others to keep tabs on their networks. Still a part of me wants to high-five him for his cleverness right up to the point he was caught.
Verizon Business Security Blog » Blog Archive » Case Study: Pro-active Log Review Might Be A Good Idea.
January 6, 2013
25 years from now we could be dealing with an issue similar to the Y2K issue, year 2038 problem.
This problem was brought to my attention by user 'Ken' commenting on the countdown tool page on this site. Basically *nix systems keep time in 32-bit integer formats counting seconds since Jan. 1, 1970. On Jan. 19, 2038 the 32-bit integer will overflow, resetting to 0 and many systems may interpret that as year 1901.
Certainly a vexing issue, but one with some time remaining to resolve. Even better, some of us will either be retired or simply no longer around to worry about it at all.
A number of fixes and workarounds have been proposed, chiefly among them using a 64-bit integer to keep time. That will do quite nicely and we won't have to worry about the rollover issue for some 292 billions years
November 30, 2012
I know it's sacrilegious for some to disable a security feature on a platform, but SELinux (an enhanced Linux security feature) has left me no choice but doing exactly that on Linux.
SELinux was added to Linux to give it additional security measures beyond what it inherited From Unix. By default many of the Linux distros such as Fedora have SELinux built into their kernels and enabled upon install.
The issue is that SELinux can be so restricting and obsessive about curbing malicious activity that it can also hinder normal operations leading to server stress or errors. Having been bitten by SELinux multiple times, I have vowed to deactivate it every time I install Linux on a host. The one time I forgot to disable it, the Varnish server I have setup for my company nearly died taking the company's web site along for the ride. Looking inside the messages file, this arcane message is what I saw in prodigious numbers:
setroubleshoot: SELinux is preventing irqbalance from mmap_zero access on the memprotect Unknown. For complete SELinux messages. run sealert -l efce…
I know the security sticklers would accuse me of not setting up SELinux correctly and for the record SELinux is very configurable. But my most favorite setting for SELinux is disabling it in the /etc/selinux/config file by setting SELINUX=disabled.
I don't have the time nor the inclination to learn SELinux's every minutia, which may or may not protect my hosts completely anyways. The old fashion file permissions, file ownership, suexec, sudo, suid, running daemons with least privilege, and a good dose of firewalling is good enough for me. Feel free to disagree.
July 16, 2012
A few weeks ago my children dragged me into the local mall's Apple store, kicking and screaming where I bought them each a Macbook, a cheap Linux knock-off in a shiny skin.
I am a devout Apple-hater and have been so since 1988 when I had to write a LISP program on a Macintosh desktop. Nothing this company does or produces has ever looked remotely exciting or interesting to me and let's not even get started with the ridiculous prices. I personally own nothing from this company and am proud of that fact.
I could have bought my children very nice Windows laptops at a third of the price, but that wasn't an option. Apple seems to have plenty of people under its spell. They can sell them street garbage stamped with the bitten-apple image like it's some magical product from Venus.
Since Apple has the policy of not selling to Iranian-Americans, I just wonder where the Apple police was on the day I wasted my hard-earned money on their junk.
Apple sucks. Always has, and probably always will.
April 5, 2012
When I recently installed Fedora 16 on an experimental server at work, it felt like dealing with a whole new platform. Prior to version 16, my last install was version 14 and things seem to have been in their familiar places. With 16 I was suddenly dumbfounded, like starting to learn Linux anew. I am not even referring to the GUI here, not a big fan. Windows is fine with me there.
For starters, there's the new Grub2 boot loader to learn. Then there's NetworkManager which tries to sniff out and configure everything when I was just happy with the plain old network startup. Related to that is what’s known as Consistent Network Device Naming. My ethernet adapter was suddenly labeled p1p7 instead of the familiar eth-0.
But the worst offender of all is the startup hell known as systemd. In a not too distant past the daemons and other startup processes were housed under /etc/init.d/ and then configured via chkconfig. Those were the good days of SysV. No more, now we have the purported super-polished, parallelized, speedy and advanced systemd, managed via the systemctl command. random symbolic linking here and there and strange file extensions. Even worse, old commands like chkconfig are hacked to call the newfangled systemd functions. I'm still trying to figure out the systemd craziness.
I know some of these changes started with previous versions and these changes were supposedly introduced to take advantage of new architectures and simplify, streamline, and accelerate operations, but that doesn't alleviate the shock and confusion of finding oneself in an unfamiliar terrain so unexpectedly.
Maybe I'm too old and set in my ways. And perhaps I should understand that Fedora is free and experimental and radical changes are par for the course. But there's a lesson Linux can learn from its nemesis, Windows. Microsoft hasn't scrapped Service Control Manager or Device Manager with every successive release of Windows. They improved them and added more features but the core functions remained the same and that goes a long way to allay users' and admins' fears of upgrading to new versions.
October 13, 2011
My first programming language exposure was 8088 assembly. Pascal was my second. but my third, C, was the one I absolutely loved.
Dennis Ritchie, Creator of C Programming Language, Unix and Inferno OS Dead at 70.
October 10, 2011
Plenty has been said about the life and legacy of Steve Jobs. I'm no Apple fan but I knew technology lost a leader when Jobs died. His passing reinforced a few truths I believe in life myself and here they are:
- Do what you're passionate about.
- You don't need a lot of people in your team, just the right people.
- Luck is an important determinant of success. Be ready when it comes along.
- Don't be afraid to start all over.
- Don't let success spoil you or failure ruin you.
- You are our own best competitor.
- Life is short and death doesn't discriminate.
- Life goes on after you're gone.
August 27, 2011
It's such a stereotype, but there's a reason why Indians are associated with IT (Information Technology). Obviously Indians are very active in the field and most likely they are biggest ethnic group in the IT industry.
So where does a company go to hire IT people? In this case they post a giant want ad on an Indian grocery store's window. I snapped this photo recently while passing by a nearby Indian store. The sign had me do a double-take.
While the sign is indeed stereotypical, it's posted in exactly the right place. I'm not Indian but I do shop at the Indian store and I am in the tech field. I bet many more IT people shop there too.
July 24, 2011
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This is superb reporting by NPR (link at bottom) on the murky business of software patents and how the real spirit of patent and copyright laws have been subverted by patent mills out to make a quick pile of cash.
These days greedy companies get patent protection for the most ridiculous and obscure algorithms. Most developers behind these patents don't even know what the patents actually cover. The patents are then sold to patent mills, which are front companies with a few lawyers and accountants collecting patents.
The patent trolls then go after anyone they deem to be a good target to extort money from, using frivolous lawsuits. From the thousands of patents in their lists, they can cash out with one or two, and that's what keeps this repugnant but lucrative practice alive.
The fact is that just about any idea anyone can fathom is covered in one way or another under one or more patents, mainly in vague general terms. That is why software is under siege now. Any entrepreneur who would dare conceive and implement a new product with a modicum of success, will inevitably be in the cross-hairs of patent lawyers.
And so we give yet another boost to countries like India and China and extinguish innovation in USA. I'd like to see how far these sleazy patent sharks can get in those countries.
Intellectual Ventures And The War Over Software Patents
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