Category: IT Managers

More fun with Gates & Ballmer…

The Zeus Trojan – the God of botnets.

NetWitness found a botnet with control of 74,126 Windows systems spread around 196 countries. These systems are found at medical companies, insurance companies, educational institutions, energy firms, financial companies, Internet providers, and government agencies.

And here:

Prevx came upon a cache with logon credentials for 74,000 FTP accounts. These accounts were for companies such as NASA, Cisco, Kaspersky, McAfee, Symantec, Amazon, Bank of America, Oracle, ABC, BusinessWeek, Bloomberg, Disney, Monster, and the Queensland government.

You know, you start to become jaded concerning the security of the most popular OS on planet Earth.

The OS that 90% of the people viewing this blog use.

The OS that your company runs on.

The OS that your government runs on.

The OS your school, college or university runs on.

The OS that your bank probably uses.

The OS that despite being quite clearly not fit for use, somehow continues to be used, because so many people’s lives dependent on it.

What people? Well you, me, the IT department that won’t even let you change your desktop pattern wallpaper at work, your parents, your friends, the guy you overheard talking in the bus queue this morning about how his computer has become unusable again, or the other guy he was talking to who said that all he had to do was:

a) pay for more security software

b) visit this site that tells you how to solve your latest Windows problem in 38 easy steps

c) buy a new computer

d) don’t do anything on your computer to do with online banking or payments of any kind.

And, yes that last group of people who benefit from the crap that Gates & Ballmer peddle every day – the criminals and ne’r-do-wells that use the money they generate from hacking your computer to buy & supply drugs to your kids, fund terrorism, and various other nasties.

Lots of fun for all concerned.

Thank you Mr Gates and Mr Ballmer for all this, and thank you Apple for allowing me to write this blog on a computer that is not affected by any of this.

Sorry for being so jaded, but I don’t see anyone, anytime soon kicking Windows technology out of the door.

Forward delete is an oxymoron…

Mac Forward Delete

Mac 101: Forward delete on a Mac laptop

Posted using ShareThis

As part of my job, I come across dozens of Windows users every day. They have used Windows all their life and have little or know knowledge of the Mac.

These are, to coin a few phrases, the other 95%, the drones, the job security for hundred’s and thousands of IT Managers up and down the USofA.

Occasionally this ‘majority’ have to sit down and use a Mac for a period of time and it’s here where their ‘muscle memory’ of using the upside-down and back-to-front version of the Mac (i.e. Windows), comes into the realm of the way it was done first, and done correctly – the Mac.

One way in which this surfaces is the forward-delete key. This was first brought to my attention when a bemused PC user, typing a document, said, “where’s the delete key on this keyboard?’

My first reaction was that they couldn’t be blamed for not knowing. There’s nowhere on a mac keyboard that says ‘delete’. It’s the key with the left facing arrow, as a Mac user, I just know this through years of use.

However the PC-user, upon testing this said, “No, that’s the backspace key.”

“No it isn’t”, I remarked, “the backspace key on a Mac is the left arrow key, along with the up, down and right keys”.

Not understanding what ‘backspace’ meant, I then learned about ‘forward-delete’ from this PC-user. It’s always been on a Mac keyboard, but I’ve never used it, because it doesn’t make any sense to me. And neither does ‘backspace’.

To me, the word ‘backspace’ does not mean a destructive action. Backspace means, ‘to move back a space’, i.e. the left arrow key.

‘Delete’ means to delete something you have just done. i.e. You type a word, it is wrong, and you, going backwards using the delete key, delete that word. Where does the term, ‘forward’ make any sense in this?

You don’t place your insertion point at the beginning of the word and then when you press the delete key, expect it to move forward along the word, deleting it.

That’s counter-intuitive isn’t it?

I suppose this all comes down to what you’re used to, but ‘forward-delete’ to me doesn’t make any sense to me as a concept.

However as the ‘majority’ use it, I must be wrong, right?

Reaction to Microsoft’s answer to ‘GetaMac’

I’ve not published for a while as I have been knee-deep in the negotiations to convert my company’s website from a standard informational website in to a fully-fledged ecommerce site.

So I’ve let pass the current effort by Microsoft to counter the resurgence of the Mac with their own set of advertising, costing $300 million no less.

Being very busy, I don’t have the time to look into the metaphorical reasoning behind the Seinfield ads, but I assure you I will sooner or later.

I’m a marketing guy and I deal with peddling bullshit to consumers on a daily basis, and at first glance these ads seem amateurish at best.

In addition, I’m too late – they’ve been pulled already.

Microsoft have continued the assault on Apple with the ‘I’m a PC’ ads. Again however, the ads seem poorly thought out and clumsy in their execution.

But I’m not going to go into detail, but one thing I’ve noticed is the reception that any advertising effort by Redmond seems to generate in the media. It seems that the press is resoundingly negative in their judgement.

Why is this? Surely something can be said of these adverts that would give Microsoft some hope? Even myself at my most impartial, could, if pushed, muster some sort of positive morsel.

It seems to me that the tables have been turned.

Back in the 80’s & 90’s, the main motivating factor, the thing, above all that would sway someone’s opinion on whether to choose an IBM PC or a Macintosh, was their friendly (or not so friendly) neighbourhood geek.

The spotty nerd at work, the weirdo that fixed the computers, the clumsy nobby-no-mates that bored you senseless with talk of RAM, memory, DOS & hard disks.

And his recommendation was (you guessed it), the DOS (and Windows) PC. He scoffed at the Mac, calling it a toy, lacking in software, no powerful and something that nobody used.

And his recommendation stuck. For years. And years. We’ve been at the brunt-end of that decision ever since. The entire IT industry is geared towards pushing us to Windows and the PC.

Fast forward to the last few years. After years of crashes, viruses, trojans, malware and ever cheap computers, that seem to last little more than 18 months, the consumer who relied of their geeky friends recommendation just doesn’t believe them anymore.

So who do they believe? Well who’s left?

Their not going to listen to a Mac user either, because we get lumped together with those geeky weirdoes.

The only thing left is the media. They are listening to the media, the ad-men, all those artists who use Macs in all the creative departments up and down the land, all those PR agencies and marketing people who use predominantly the Mac.

The Mac’s time has come – for years the IT geeks recommended the PC to anybody who would listen, well those days are gone. Now that the consumer’s ear is turning towards the media, we will recommend nothing but the Mac.

Poetic justice for all the years of misery they’ve put us all through.

My god, these people still exist..?

Live with it: Mac is not the greatest

Oh dear, I thought we’d already discussed this a million times on every forum in the known universe.

The public has spoken, and they want Mac’s, not PC’s – live with it.

I thought that people like this would just, y’know, go back to their server rooms or something, but it seems that every now and again, between chocolate bars, squeezing spots and the hosing down and reinstallation of Windows, they post flame-bait like this.

They can say anything they like, because they are journalists with a PC-bias, and we are just Mac-users who just want to tell everyone that there’s a better way.

We can’t say anything in retaliation because if we dare to speak up, we’re pigeonholed as blind cult followers.

All those stories you hear about Windows users switching to Mac and then wondering why they didn’t do it years ago, well that’s just lies put about by these ‘weird’ Mac people.

But you can’t win with situations like this, so I suggest to everyone that please, please, please when the next Windows-spod pokes his head from around the server-room door, and tries to convince you that all these Macs are a waste of time and you ought to be on Windows, just ignore him.

Please don’t reply to his article, even if it’s well meaning – he’ll just use it as ammunition against us.

If you want to post a retort, then start your own blog if you have to so you don’t give him the traffic that he most sorely needs.

In another few years these people will quieten down, after the people they work for/with start bringing in iPhones, and telling everyone they’ve just bought a Mac as well, and that they’d wished they’d done it years ago.

Apparently, we’re weird because we like computers to look nice…

 

PC users don\'t care about the hardware

Apparently, we’re weird because we like computers to look nice…

Link: I’m going to write about people who I completely misunderstand.

This recent posting postulates the question, “Mac users don’t like others touching their stuff.”

The reasoning behind it is that because we pay so much (apparently) for our kit, we don’t like other people using it and supposedly breaking it.

But, as usual PC pundits fail to see the wider issue.

It’s because I don’t want ignorant PC users who see technology as a useless commodity, covered in stickers, touching my pristine Mac’s/iPod’s/iPhone.

It’s got nothing to do with how much I paid for it, it’s to do with the way in which Windows users treat their technology.

If I get another PC user coming up to my flawlessly clean LCD screen and smudge it with his or her greasy finger, I’ll scream.

I walk through our Windows IT department daily and see ugly tin boxes, covered in dust, stickers, pen marks, yesterday’s lunch wrappers and worse.

When the electrician’s come to my company and test all the electrical equipment, they have to put an ugly ‘tested’ sticker on everything. PC users are quite happy to have this sticker anywhere on their PC, I have almost punched said electrician for considering to stick it on the ‘front’ of my G5 Tower.

I had to loan a little iBook to a PC user once, I received it back a month later and it was filthy, and had what looked like jam on the LCD screen. I actually felt sorry for the poor thing and spent over an hour giving it a good clean.

PC users don’t care. PC users pay next to nothing for basement-spec PC’s. PC users think nothing of the hardware.

Am I weird? Probably, but I have to work with these computers all day, and I also have to be creatively active at a moments notice.

I, like most creative people realise that ideas best surface in a clean, ordered environment, where the equipment I use has had time spent on it’s look and feel (both hardware and software).

This is why we don’t like PC users, ‘using’ our equipment – they just don’t think that this is important.

 

More Windows problems…

 

Oki

Currently I have a PC in my studio that is connected to a USB printer, and this printer in Windows is being shared to the network.

I also have a couple of Mac’s that access this shared printer, and occasionally use it if the main workhorse A3 laser printer is busy.

This has worked fine on the Mac side, but occasionally, about once a month, the Mac’s connection to the printer doesn’t work.

The standard way to fix this is:

Test the PC to see if it still prints, 100% of the time it doesn’t, so we call in our in-house Windows IT spods to recreate the printer and share it again.

The Mac’s then work normally again, with no reconfiguration at all, they simply pick up the new printer and they’re good to go.

The mantra is, “If the PC prints, then the Mac will print also. Automatically.” This is why I use the Mac, it just works.

 

However, last week this wasn’t the case. The Mantra didn’t work.

As usual the Mac stopped printing to the shared USB printer. However this time, the PC printed fine.

So I asked the Windows IT spods to recreate the printer anyway. They did, it still didn’t work.

So I recreated the shared printer on the Mac and this is where we got to the bottom of the problem.

When you connect to a shared Windos printer on the Mac, it asks you for the login information for the PC. We knew this info, and we put this info in correctly, however the PC wasn’t accepting it, giving a ‘NT ACCESS DENIED” error, whatever that is.

So we thought the problem was with the Mac, and after half an hour trying different things, I gave up, telling the Mac-user to print to the A3 printer instead in the meantime.

I thought that was that, except next day the Windows PC wouldn’t log in to it’s desktop at all. The same log in info now wasn’t working on the PC either.

The spods came in, took it away, seemingly recreating the user with a new account & login.

Guess what, when I tried recreating the shared PC printer on the Mac – it worked fine.

So the problem was the PC simply deciding that it had had enough with that account and the only solution was to create a new one, which in turn solved our printer problem.

One day, Windows simply decides it’s not going to work anymore and needs massaging back to workability, and a whole career has been created around this concept.

I can see now why WIndows IT people are needed – and why they are scared sh*tless of the Mac.

 

Microsoft PlaysforSure, doesn’t play for sure anymore (for sure)…

Plays for sure

Here’s the bad news.

It’s amazing that this has not been reported more widely in the press. After countless arguements that Microsoft’s DRM was the future, and you’d be mad to go with iTunes, now comes the news that puts Microsoft’s take on the user/provider firmly into sharp relief.

Put simply; you know all that music that you spent your hard earned cash on from any one of a number of ‘PlaysForSure’ partner of Microsoft’s?

Well, they want it back please and no, you don’t get your money back.

Can someone please explain to me again, why Apple isn’t at 95% market share and companies like Microsoft at 5%?

Why do Windows users put up with being slapped in the face constantly – do you think they actually like it?

Can anyone really trust Microsoft again?

I’m glad that all my online music purchases are from iTunes, because at least I know that Apple will still be around in 10 years time.

It’s strange that back in the 90’s the ‘still being around in 10 years time’ was the reason given by a lot of IT Managers when giving a reason for choosing Windows over the Mac.

How times have changed, it’s a pity a lot of IT managers haven’t.

We’ve reached 21% (10% worldwide) – so it’s plan B…

Astroturfing 
 
 
I’ve spoken in previous article’s how Apple’s plan to completely dominate the computing landscape is well underway.
 
Various initiatives such as the move to Intel, the fleshing out of Apple’s software, the iPod and iPhone halo effect, are all part of their plan, and that plan is going very well.
 
21% consumer market share and 10% worldwide is nothing to sniff at – we’re winning the war against the great unwashed PC masses.
 
They, for various reasons, continue to stick with the outdated model of proprietary OS on open hardware, but constantly complain about the shortcomings of that model – it’s reliability.
 
Although we’re making great strides, this dinosaur will be difficult to kill, too many people’s jobs, lives and whole personalities are propped up by the Windows monopoly.
 
They have tried in the past to discourage the ignorant masses from choosing the Mac, but those reasons are becoming more difficult to justify.
 
The Windows OS, is not getting any better with each release – indeed quite the opposite, and they couldn’t care less about Vista.
 
The Windows OS, is still prone to viruses and malware and they’re fed up of constantly having to call their geeky friend or pay through the nose for an expert to fix their PC.
 
They have however noticed that the Mac OS, just gets better and better.
 
More of their (non-geeky) friends are recommending it.
 
They’ve been to an Apple store and been very impressed.
 
And guess what? They are ignoring their geeky friends advice and actually buying a Mac.
 
In the eyes of those whose very existence depend on the Windows monopoly continuing ad infinitum, this cannot continue, but the old tricks aren’t working anymore.
 
And so we come to plan B.
 
Call in all the favours, gather in all the shills, and start planting stories of companies switching away from the Mac – astroturfing, something that Microsoft are very good at.
 
So, please don’t click on this link, your life will not be any the richer because of it. Just see it for what it is.
 
The dinosaur to getting scared and is finally starting to contemplate a future that doesn’t include it’s influence.
 
Expect lots more articles such as this to follow…

In response to this pile of drivel…

Total drivel  

Think before you click please 

Every reason over the years that stood in the way of a Windows user to switch has been shot down.

Can’t find anywhere to buy Mac’s? – Sorted with the new Apple Stores.

Mac’s use non-standard chips – sorted with Intel.

Mac’s haven’t got the exact software I need – sorted with dual booting or full-speed emulation.

No games – PC’s are on the way out for gaming, buy an XBox/PS3/Wii.

No, there’s only one thing left to shoot down, and that’s the army (and I mean ARMY), of Windows IT support people who still, to this day, recommend Windows over the Mac. We’re making some inroads with these morons and some are seeing the light, but we’ve only scratched the surface and there’s a long way to go.

I feel that we’ll have to wait until the die-hards retire or drop dead through over prolonged exposure to Stockholme Syndrone until we see the tipping point and Apple’s 1/2 point increases in market share start to accelerate.

The Windows maze… where do I begin?

Windows maze

I’ve long thought that the complexities of the Windows world were, in part, exaggerated by Apple users and their media (I’ve even been guilty of it myself), but I’m here to tell you now, it’s worse than everyone’s ever thought. 

I’m now in charge of the company’s website. I relaunched it in the middle of last year and when faced with the complete rewrite that was needed, I decided that the best approach was a Content Management System (CMS) for the website so that anyone with a basic grasp of computers could update it. I certainly don’t have time to administer the website using Dreamweaver, so the plan was to buy in a CMS so that the less web-ware members of my staff could update the site in my absence. 

The journey through this has been a difficult one with various problems too numerous to mention, except one. One that has shown me that the complexities of the Windows world are not exaggerated. 

At the heart of the website is a registration system that allows a web-user to fill in a standard html form, upload a couple of graphics and then submit this to a choice of a dozen or so destinations. In the background this submission is then uploaded to a centrally stored database, and then automatically emailed to 1 of 10 users of the system. Once received, these users then contact the web-user and process their registration. 

Except it doesn’t work. In fact in the 10 months or so since the website launched, it’s never worked.Of course, actually finding this out was an arduous task in itself.

Suffice to say after tracking the problem it appears it boils down to this: The web-users form is received centrally, perfectly. It’s when this form is emailed through my company’s webserver, we have a problem. It just never gets there. Doesn’t even register as spam, it just doesn’t arrive. 

Changing the destination to a ‘@googlemail.com’ domain – it works fine.

It’s something to do with the website’s backend software communicating to our email server, they just don’t get along. Of course the one set of Windows users (who run the back-end website software for us), blame the other set of Windows users (who run our email server). I have the envious task of arranging a meeting between these 2 groups to hammer out a solution. 

In the meantime, I, a lowly Mac-user, not versed in the intricate voodoo of email systems, has come up with a solution. All submissions from the website go to a ‘@googlemail.com’ email address, I set up for this purpose. They then come through to Apple Mail, where a Apple Mail set of rules, then examines the email, determines which destination it’s meant for and then forwards it on. This works fine. 

But why doesn’t it one Windows based email system, work with another? It seems to me that these ‘experts’ haven’t a clue, at a low-level, how Windows actually works, and that is a scary thought, and it has taken a single G5 Mac and Apple Mail, to sort out the problem (at least in the short term).

How to kill a Mac design studio…

Dust

Sorry it’s been a while since my last post, but as well as going through one of the most busiest periods of the year, I’ve also had to move the entire studio to new premises whilst this busy period was in full swing. 

It was one of the hardest move’s I’ve ever had to accomplish. The studio, since moving to the previous premises has expanded considerably, adding 2 large format printers and 2 new members of staff and consequentially, the move took about a week to complete, (and it’s still not really finished) the studio’s at about 80% capacity now. 

It’s not been without it’s problems though. I’ve wrote long into the night about  Windows IT Managers and their constant battle to make the life of the Mac-based, in-house design studios difficult, if not impossible and their overall goal being to get rid of them completely. However the biggest problem I’ve had with the studio move, has not been the IT guys (they seem to have, at least for the moment, given up on the anti-Mac crusade), but something else entirely – dust. 

The studio was at it’s old premises for about 3 years, and it was always  going to be a temporary thing, because the premises were totally unsuitable. Noisy (vibrations from heavy equipment outside), dusty (were attached to a full-service centralised warehouse) and cramped (making planning for large scale projects difficult). But, things seemed to tick along fine until about 3 months before the move.

One of the large format printers broke down with various error messages. After 3 vists from a technician, it was deemed that the problem was dust. It was cleaned up and now works fine.

It wasn’t until the move that the dust in the Macs became apparent. It seemed by moving them it unsettled the dust inside them and caused even more problems. After moving all the equipment over and trying to set the studio up, I was faced with the following problems:

1) One of the work drives in the G5 was DOA (just a clicking noise and no mounting), thank goodness I have good backup.

2) The superdrive in my G5 was unoperational

3) One of the 160gb backup drives was DOA.

4) The CD drive in one of the G4’s was unoperational.After cleaning up I’ve managed to get one of the optical drives partially working (now burns CD’s but not DVD’s), but the rest need replacing.

It’s made me realise that part of my maintenance routine needs to be more hardware related than software, and I’ve ordered several cans of spray air.

Email bankruptcy..?

spam

The Washington Post reports that some PC users have declared their email bankrupt, announcing to everyone on their contacts lists that they are giving up on responding to the glut of e-mail in their inboxes. Some are even giving up on email entirely and returning to the communication technology that started it all – the telephone.

I look at news like this and roll my eyes and sigh. The world has been given short shrift on a fantastic communication technology, one that should have revolutionised our lives for the better. What went wrong? I can sum it up in one word – Microsoft, and the minions that serve them.

I run a small art department inside the belly of a larger PC-based organisation. Having set up this studio myself from the ground up, I had complete say in exactly what I wanted – the Windows based IT department is full of clueless PC drones who’s last experience of the Mac was sarcastic Mac-bashing articles from copies of PC magazines back in 1996.

So I was left well alone – and thank god. Mac OS X 10.2 was my choice when I got the studio running and I made sure that certain things were in place:

1) We had our own network – all Mac network & printer ethernet cables go through a single switch, positioned in the studio, and we have a single ethernet cable which connects us to the PC network, therefore any problems caused by the PC network can be disconnected straight away.

2) Although we use the PC network’s email, we do not use software that they recommend. I used the crap OS8 port of Outlook for years – very painful. No, we use Apple Mail.

3) All Mac IT related problems are our problems – we sort them out, and in turn, we end up sorting them out with minimal fuss. No putting a support call through to IT and then waiting 3 days before it’s answered in this department. Not that this happens very often, I’ve had 1 days down time in 6 years, and that was to upgrade to Tiger.

So there I’ve set the scene. The company email used to run through Outlook. Lucky for us, it allowed POP or IMAP access, so Apple Mail worked quite happily, as long as we knew the IP addresses.

However I began to notice that when sending email back to PC’s I would sometimes get no reply. Upon investigating I found that it was not a technical problem, it was a social one – the recipients simply had too much email spam to get through and would either resort to deleting it en masse, in the hope that any really important messages would be re-sent, or simply ignoring their email completely.

Something has to change. The IT department decided to ‘upgrade’ the email, by moving over to a web mail service provider (not one I’ve ever heard of), with (apparently), 1st class spam filtering.

This move didn’t affect us; I didn’t expect Safari (or Firefox for that matter) to work, and it didn’t. However being web based we could access it via POP or IMAP in Apple Mail, so that is what we do, and it works fine.

However the spam problem still remains. The ‘1st-class spam filtering’ seems to mean that any email that isn’t our company domain is labelled as [SPAM], it still gets through,it still clogs up people’s email, and ‘real’ email still gets missed.

The main problem (and its solution) here is the difference between the way in which Apple Mail handles spam, and the PC server handles spam.

Faced with the spam problem, PC-based IT departments choose to handle the spam centrally – all email is fed through the filter and one size fits all. I get important communications for instance from newpapers, telling me about last minute availability of ad space. Guess what? It’s labelled as spam, and I can’t tell the server that this shouldn’t be labelled as spam, it doesn’t work like that, it sometimes goes into my junk folder, sometimes doesn’t.

Now somebody else getting that message, may agree that it IS spam, in my department it ISN’T spam. Get it?

The solution to the whole spam problem, is to handle spam at the client level. The spam filter in Apple mail is absolutely the best piece of software engineering I’ve ever seen. I roughly get 300 emails a day, about 25 of these are legitimate and Apple Mail 99.9% of the time gets it spot on, I’ve been training it for about 3 months, but it got it pretty right first time.

One person’s spam, is another person’s great offer, so why don’t we just let it all through and let the user decide? Because again, this shows the fundamental problem with computer infrastructure’s: you dear user are hated and loathed by those people who should serve YOUR best interests, instead they choose to serve THEIR best interests.

An unknown writer once said, “”Personal computing can be seen as serving the needs of those who have CREATED the system, instead of serving those who USE the system.”