Archive Page 2

Best Linux Advert Ever?

This is pretty cool over at Kill Bill by Lahandi. Be sure to click the image to read the content.

Oh, and if you like that, check out the gorlilla advertising Cadbury Daily Milk chocolate bars. Phil Collins never looked so good!

What Microsoft Mac BU should have said

Microsoft faced a savaging after Wednesday’s announcement of “Art of Office“, a web site promoting the sharing of work created by Mac Office Users.

With most comments clearly frustrated at Microsoft creating new applications while the long awaited Mac Office 2008 is delayed Microsoft responded in typical style asking for patience and promising previews from September.

Perhaps I can offer an alternative posting, one which would have had a slightly more positive effect. Here goes my attempt at a Microsoft announcement spoof.

An Office 2008 Update

Here at the Mac Business Unit we’re excited to be releasing a few screenshots of what we’ve been working on, and a little explanation on why it has taken so long to get where we are today.

Firstly you will be aware that our last Mac Office release was before Apple moved it’s hardware to Intel processors. You will also be aware that our colleagues on Windows Office recently released their newest version to retail. Both of these developments have led to considerable upheaval for Mac Office.

Let me explain the end product first.

Gone is the old interface, in comes a clean, fresh one based on the functionality of Windows Office. Compatibility is very important to us, so pretty much everything in the Windows interface is here now on the Mac version. Additionally we have some further interface improvements now on Mac which will be making their way across to Windows in the future. We also believe that products on Mac should look and behave like other Mac products, so we’ve included a completely native interface too. Whichever way you want to work, just select the right interface for you.

Entourage, our Mac Office mail and communications application, is now fully compatible with the latest Exchange server. We use Exchange all the time and this was one of the most obvious requirements we heard from customers. It is done. Don’t worry, you can still use IMAP and POP 3 mail servers. RSS and ATOM support is also there. Pretty much everything you can do in the latest Windows Outlook can be done in Entourage.

Word for Mac has seen significant improvements too. No longer is it just a word processor, today it can create pretty awesome looking web pages with tabular data from Excel and interactivity provided by PowerPoint. Far more to be discussed soon.

PowerPoint now has modules that are no longer tied to PowerPoint. Think of creating a nice graphical interactive presentation then exporting as a series of web page fragments with Silverlight for rich user experiences.

And Excel? The basics are there and improved with larger spreadsheet support, more mathematical functions and far faster. More than that though new wizards allow you to create documents that serve common purposes far faster. As a specific example, the PivotTable system is now far easier to understand and use. The presentational aspects are also far improved.

Clearly the specifics of our improvements are to come, but I wanted to give at least a few clues on what to expect in 2008.

Now a little look at why things have taken so long.

With Apple hardware moving to Intel and Office being given a new release on Windows, the Mac Office and Windows Office groups got together early on to discuss compatibility and came to the conclusion that as far as technically possible our code should be one and the same. So today we announce that aside from required platform differences and “a few” improvements in the Mac Office over the Windows office, they are essentially the same.

What you do on one should be pretty much the same procedure as within the same application on the other platform. And it is almost all the time. The differences come mainly in areas like File Open / Save As. Integration with other non-Office applications has to be different of course but the important compatibility is there. The business logic that creates the XML for Windows Office applications is the same code as that used by Mac Office.

To achieve this level of compatibility required an unprecedented level of API work for the Mac BU. Our development staff worked with Windows Office counterparts to build API code for the Mac which Windows Office components required. You can say that some of the Windows OS APIs now run on the Mac too, although only those required to run Office. For performance reasons some of our Mac code is native, like display routines, and these are optimized for both Tiger and Leopard, just as our Windows edition has XP and Vista optimizations.

it’s by far the closest we can get for compatibilty reasons and the more technical amongst you will hopefully now understand and appreciate the timeframes we required and how we are so confident Mac Office 2008 will rock your world.

Right now we are feature-complete. Today until RTM we are testing and bug fixing, and documenting. And yes, some of our bugs are being fixed in both Mac and Windows Office together.

Moving forward releases of Office on each platform should be much closer together. Clearly being so close has additional advantages too. Here’s one: All the languages Windows Office supports are in Mac Office 2008 too. Full read/write compatibility between platforms together with backward compatibility as well.

We’re sorry it has been so long, but the we promise the wait will be worth it. Roll on with the feature previews from September.

Over To You

That’s my take on what Microsoft should have said through their blog. Specifics are a little difficult to come up with but you get the sentiment. Question is, are the specific things you’d like to see in Office 2008 aside from obvious compatibility?

Should Google Buy Zooomr? Maybe Zoho Too!

One could use a decent photo sharing site. The other needs more resources. They both want to make information available. Sound like a recipe for marriage?

Google needs no introduction but clearly needs a proper photo sharing site to pick up where Picassa leaves off. To plug their vacant video group they purchased YouTube which, so far at least, appears to be good buy. Just needs to make some money now.

Zooomr you might have heard of. For those who haven’t here’s the lowdown.

Think Flickr. You’re 3/4s there. Zooomr is privately owned, majority of shares between Thomas Hawk and Kristopher Tate the co-founders. Thomas is a recognised photographer and technology blogger who’s personal missions include building the largest collection of photographs of neon in the world. Kris is a web scripter who doubles as a photographer in his own right, and who’s desire to share his photographs with his friends (including non-English speakers) drove him to write Zooomr v1.

Earlier this year a new version of Zooomr went public and pretty immediately crashed their servers causing Kris directly and Thomas more indirectly a great deal of stress. Damned Dell RAID systems. Anyway, in steps Zoho offering data center space and additional technical resources. Others including Dell also realised getting Zooomr back on-line would be a PR-bonus and leant a hand or two.

Now, Zoho, who are prominently featured across Zooomr for their support, happens to be building web applications such as a word processor and spreadsheet. And Thomas reckons it’s faster than Google’s suite.

So we have Google with enormous resources and a phenomenal income but without a photo sharing web site (unlink Yahoo! who bought Flickr) plus a web application suite. Then there’s Zooomr and Zoho. Do I see options? Yes I do.

One of Zooomr’s guiding principals is that images should be free to be shared. They use Google advertising to raise cash. Slip them $20 and you’ll be a Pro user with ads disabled. They don’t want to censor you and document this matter clearly, unlike many other companies who shy away from sweeping public statements. Google are known to want to make the world’s information easy to find and access. There could be conflict here, between Google’s lawyers and Zooomr’s founders. Can it be overcome? Flickr for instance began censoring some images particularly with local laws affecting what people can see in their native country, which ended up including some of Thomas’s photos; as a result Thomas left the Flickr side completely.

Just me rambling on what is probably obvious to everyone else.

ICSTIS rebranding itself PhonePayPlus

It sounds a bit like a company it should in fact be regulating, doesn’t it?

ICSTIS, the premium rate telephony regulator in the UK who’s behaviour can often be described as ‘lacklustre’ has decided that recent press coverage damning the industry and the regulator’s lack of, well, regulation, can only be resolved one way.

So, buried deep inside a PDF is an announcement that from October 2007 the “Independent Committee for the Supervision of Standards of the Telephone Information Services” or ICSTIS, who’s tagline currently reads “the premium rate services regulator” will be called PhonePayPlus.

Is it me ???

Nope, apparently not. A survey asked people what they thought the name meant. Most people got the wrong answer. OK, 99% of people got the wrong answer. But they are going ahead, presumably because someone’s been given a budget, someone made a decision and now the entire country is stuck with it.

El Reg readers have raised an interesting idea. Perhaps “those in charge” also had a hand in the London 2012 branding.

What happens when you run over a MacBook Pro

This guy left his MacBook Pro behind the trunk of his car. Crunch. Guess what, the damned thing still works! He even includes some pictures.

Damaged, sure. But at least it’s repairable. AppleCare says he’s not covered for accidental damage. Here in Blighty we can get Home and Contents Insurance and my laptop is covered for accidental damage anyway (saved me buying extra insurance when I went on holiday). Hope that guy checks his policy.

Secure File Delete on Mac OS X

Under Linux I always used wipe within a terminal to securely delete my files, and I was about to purchase “ShredIt X” to essentially perform the same thing under Mac OS X when I came across a comment on a software download forum mentioning srm.

srm is a Unix command-line tool to securely delete a file. It is installed by default for us Mac OS X users too, just open up a Terminal and type the following:

srm my-file.doc

Quick, right? You did type srm, not just rm, right? srm is designed to operate just like rm so it takes the same command line switches or options, but rather than just deleting the file (or the link between what is essentially an index of files and the actual location of the data on the physical disk which in reality is exactly what a normal delete does (hence it’s lightning quick)) it looks at the data on the physical disk and overwrites it.

Now, the US Department of Defence specifies certain requirements about the overwriting process to ensure the chances of recovery are limited. Basically hard disks are like magnets and file data is stored as magnetic fingerprints (yes, this is highly simplified) on those disks. Consider a fridge door with magnetic letters spelling out a message. Same difference. However, remove those letters and although the information cannot be read by the naked eye specialist data recovery firms (and law enforcement agencies) have methods and tools to retrieve the fingerprints just like they were ghosts or shadows of the original data. Very clever, very scary.

Anyway, the DoD specification reads quite simple compared with a data overwriting algorithm specified by a guy called Guttman which basically entails random data repeatedly written over the data thirty six times. The DoD I think specifies six.

There is a disadvantage to using Guttman’s method: The process is a whole lot slower than the DoD’s method and obviously orders of magnitude slower than a standard delete. Swings and roundabouts, as they say.

I prefer the more secure route. And srm uses the Guttman method by default. So that .doc file above really did go, unless you forgot the s.

Now, if you think you have already removed via Trash or rm files that you wish you’d securely deleted, there is a get out clause. You can ask Disk Utility to securely delete your free disk space. When a file is removed the normal (non-secure) way, the physical space on disk although not overwritten is now available for other files to be written to. Otherwise when you deleted a 1 gigabyte file you’re disk free space wouldn’t go up by the same amount! However, once it has been overwritten (in whole or in part) by future files like videos, emails, documents or resources used by your operating system, the physical area on the disk may or may not right now be in use. Areas not in use will be securely erased, areas in use obviously not.

Thank you Apple and open source software developers.

MacOffice Pro Just Re-Badged OpenOffice Suite?

So I spotted this post about MacOffice Pro, claiming to be a superior software suite for Mac cloning most of Microsoft Office including comptibility with Open XML, Microsoft’s new XML based file format for it’s Office applications as off 2007.

Ars Technica reviews the new kid on the block finding particular similarities with another application: OpenOffice. Can a DVD with 1 Gb of clipart and free technical support be worth almost $50 (discounted rate)?

The body text of OpenOffice’s Writer application appears to have been copy & pasted into MacOffice Pro’s details page on word processing – I can only see minor grammatical adjustments. There appears to be no accreditation to on MacOffice Pro’s web site although I may have missed it, and without the software itself I cannot check the documentation that shops with it.

Usually re-brands of open source material credit the original source somewhere and happily add value to it, generating own-brand revenues. This instance may generate the frown of the open source community, however.

“They” (assuming MacOffice Pro isn’t some bloke operating out of his bedroom) appear quite anonymous with no personal names listed. The whois record only reveils a street address in New York. Not sure where the added value is here.