Monday, July 16, 2007

Last forced upgrade of Second Life carries adware: FALSE POSITIVE

I walked into work this morning and turned on my notebook, and what am I greeted with but a Symantec AntiVirus Notification that there is adware, Adware.CPush, as part of the Second Life uninstaller. This showed up after a forced upgrade of the Second Life client software over the weekend.

I barely have time for a first life, let alone time to waste in Second Life. I got involved October of last year out of curiosity, based on comments from Dr. Roger Smith of PEO-STRI. Since then my sojourns into Second Life have been infrequent at best, and every time I have fired it up I've been forced to download and install one client upgrade after another. Looks like it's time for me to move on and reclaim a bit of disk space being consumed by the Second Life client.

UPDATE

Looks like I was too trusting of Symantec. The detection of Adware.CPush in the Second Life uninstaller was a false positive. I found an entry on Roger's Information Security Blog that detailed the same problem, except he was having problems with Filezilla's uninstaller. So I upgraded Symantec's virus definitions since I also run Filezilla. In any event Second Life won't go back on the notebook. As stated earlier I don't have the time, and Second Life is just so boring.

I wish I had an operating system that was secure enough that it didn't need a virus scanner and yet had widespread adoption and acceptance for business use. And no, it's not Vista. Or Mac OS X. Or Linux. *sigh*

Sunday, July 01, 2007

ASUS Eee PC

Criticizing a product as poor as the Nokia tablets accomplishes nothing in the long run. What's the point unless you can find something better? From a technology standpoint you can make a very good argument that the Apple iPhone is better, but the iPhone still has some significant disadvantages, not the least of which is the need to get an AT&T Wireless contract.

It looks like such a better product may be shipping around mid-August. Manufactured by Asus, the Eee PC is a folding ultra-portable with a 7" display. Unlike the OLPC, the Eee is aimed at the general market. From what I've been able to gather, the Eee should come with the following features:
  • Display: 7" 800 x 480
  • CPU & Chipset: 900MHz Intel Dothan based Pentium M CPU, 910 mobile chipset
  • OS: Linux and Microsoft Windows XP compatible
  • Communication: 10/100 Mbps Ethernet; 56K modem
  • WLAN: WiFi 802.11b/g
  • Graphic: Intel UMA
  • Memory: 512MB, DDR2-400
  • Storage: 4, 8, and 16GB Flash
  • Webcam: 300K pixel video camera
  • Audio: Hi-Definition Audio CODEC; Built-in stereo speaker; Built-in microphone
  • Four USB 2.0 ports
  • Battery Life: 3hrs (4 cells: 5200mAh, 2S2P)
  • Dimension: 22.5 x 16.5 x 2.1~3.5cm
  • Weight: 890 grams (nearly 2 lbs)
The price for this machine? The 4GiB is $200, the 8GiB is $300. The 4GiB is half the price of the Nokia N800, half when comparing the 8GiB Eee to the 8GiB iPhone. There's more than enough horsepower in the processor as well as DRAM to run a decent, properly tuned version of Linux. As usual, you mileage will vary, especially with un-released hardware. But it's something I certainly want to look at a lot more closely.

Slamming the Nokia 770 one more time

It's no secret I despise the Nokia 770. That's why I didn't rush right out earlier this year and spend another $400 on the N800, just 10 months after I'd spent my initial $380 on the 770, and after countless hours working with the 770 and complaining about what was wrong. Hey. Everybody needs a hobby, right?

Well, in perusing the LinuxDevices site I came across an article detailing how the 770 had dropped down to $140 on buy.com and shop.com. Sure enough, I went looking on buy.com and found it for $139 brand new and still in the box. I thought it was cheap enough to get a spare. But when I chatted with my friend Matt about buying a spare, he asked "Why?" Even Matt, who owns one and is more hard-core geek than I am about these things, smiled and said it wasn't worth the money, even at that low price. Matt's advice was like divine guidance, and because of Matt I'm $140 dollars richer. Bless you, Matt.

Of interest to me were the snarky comments about the N800 in the LinuxDevices article:
On the upside, the 770 bests the newer N800 in power management and ruggedness, thanks to a hardware slide-on cover that uses a magnetic switch to induce sleep (with or without WiFi keep-alive) much more reliably than the N800's four flaky software suspend options and fabric bag. To boot, the 770 has a spare, elegant, angular industrial design that some might prefer to the N800's slightly puffy 60's retro look.
I haven't seen nearly the same hysterical interest in the N800 I saw for the earlier 770. Certainly nothing like the full-page picture treatment on the front of Linux Journal that the 770 garnered. Could it be all the negative reviews the 770 generated from the regular tech press, reviews that I failed to pay attention to? If nothing else it can be said what I paid for the 770 was a course on how to really, really, really pay attention to the reviewers when shopping for expensive tech gear.

One other important lesson I learned is that Linux shouldn't be used as a cover for all sins. Just because it's got Linux running on it doesn't mean it doesn't suck.

For those who feel that the 770/N800 is better than the Apple iPhone, you can go back and re-read "10 Ways The Nokia N800 Is Better Than Apple’s iPhone." Published in January 2007, six months before the official release of the iPhone this past Friday, it attempted to show why the N800 was superior to the as-yet-unreleased iPhone. I blogged at the same time why I thought the N800 was crap compared to the iPhone. I didn't number mine, but I did split the comparison into two separate but cross-correlated lists.

What I found interesting about the "10 Ways" was the trumpeting of the N800's video playback. There were already videos on YouTube, for example, that showed how poor video playback was on the N800. "10 Ways" commented on all the wonderful formats you could play back. Big deal. Poor playback is poor playback. Apple understands all about the user experience. They're going to make sure that video playback, limited in format though it may be, is going to be as good as, if not better, than what you currently find on PCs as well as the video version of their iPod.

The only point I agree with is that you don't have to get a Cingular (now AT&T) contract to use the phone part. All the other points are poorly made, and with the iPhone in release, my January post is turning out to be more relevant than "10 Ways".

Bottom line: The Nokia N800 suffers from terminal lameness compared to the Apple iPhone. Unless you're a hard-core Linux fanatic.

i'm iPhone conflicted

No, I didn't buy an iPhone, but it's not because I don't want to. Oh, how I so want to. The reason I won't buy an iPhone is that T-Mobile is my provider, not AT&T, and T-Mobile doesn't sell the iPhone, at least not in America. And I'm so very happy T-Mobile is my provider.

I was once an AT&T Wireless customer - back in 1996. Back when every minute was charged, and roaming fees would eat you up alive. And service was absolutely abominable (and it looks like it still is). After a year of very costly and very bad service (in which one monthly bill ran over $300 in 1996 dollars), I ended my contract with AT&T in 1997. It was the start of a nine-year fight to get away from them completely.

AT&T decided I owed them another $127 because I ended my 12-month contract after 12 months. I wrote them a letter saying I did not, and why. Nothing came of it, and I thought it was at an end. I was wrong. AT&T never forgot, even though through the years I had a plan with BellSouth, then VoiceStream, and then finally T-Mobile (when VoiceStream was purchased by T-Mobile).

Over the next nine years (1997 to 2005) I would get a slow but steady stream of letters and phone calls from bill collectors for my final 'unpaid' AT&T charge. At first I would ignore them, but then I finally got mad enough to either call them or write them a letter, explaining that I did not owe AT&T. Somebody would pay attention at the collection agencies, because I wouldn't hear from them again. But 12-24 months later, I'd get another agency dunning me, and I'd have to go through the whole process yet again.

In all that time the agencies wanted me to pay my bill to AT&T Wireless. Even after AT&T Wireless had been spun out. I have no idea who at AT&T kept it up, but every time I got another mailing or phone call from a collection agency I was reminded yet again why I hated AT&T so much, and how I would never ever do business with them directly. I have kept that promise all these years, to the point where when I read that The New AT&T was buying BellSouth, my land-line provider, I switched my house phone from BellSouth to Brighthouse Networks (a.k.a. Time Warner). TimeWarner/Brighthouse has always been good (at least in my neighborhood). I even got to keep my old phone number when I switched.

I believe in the iPhone and the positive effects it will have on the current horrible handset market. I have no problems spending the money on such a device; after all, I was idiot enough to drop nearly $400 on the Nokia 770 when it first came out (much to my later regret). I am waiting for the rest of the market to catch up with the iPhone, and possible even surpass it. I'm also waiting for AT&T to thoroughly fsck up the iPhone. AT&T's historically monumental cluelessness with regards to high technology spans decades, from personal computers to wireless to abusing its technology base in helping the Bush administration conduct domestic spying.

I'm hoping that the iPhone will flourish. The entire cellular market needs Apple to really kick their fannies. I just hope it can flourish in spite of AT&T, and in the end that it (or something very much like it) comes to T-Mobile America.