Saturday, November 24, 2007

Wayne's Small World

Well, both Susan Bradley and I managed to survive Wayne's Small World yesterday. We actually managed to survive dinner on Thursday night (at the same table), all day yesterday, dinner last night (again, at the same table) and even drinks before hitting the sack!

I don't know why people think that we a) have nothing in common or b) can't agree on anything as there's ALWAYS been a great deal that we agree on as well as a number of things we don't agree on, and we're both as, aahhh, stubborn as each other and stick to our guns. Anyway, no blood was shed, which was exactly as any sane person (and quite a few nutters) would have expected.

So, was it worthwhile? Yeah. I may not have agreed with a number of the things said (Amy and Eric telling a participant that if you want to restrict a "junior admin" with admin rights from seeing client data that NFTS permissions will do it - I call "bullshit" on that, as they are an administrator and can reconfigure those rights just in the same manner they were initially configured), but the vast majority of it was quite good. Nothing eye-opening, but well worth the time and financial investment (I mean the airfares and motel, not the "free" status of this event, for all you cynics out there).

Would I go again? Yup. Will Wayne's World (SMB Focus) next year be bigger and better? Well, only time can tell, but it should be worth the effort, after the SMB Security Summit (Wayne's Small World) this year.


The Outspoken Wookie

Airport Stupidity

So, I have a 7AM flight (Sydney time) to Auckland ths morning. Due to The Bush Age, we're now all required to check in at least 2 hours prior to the flight time whereas it used to be one hour. Yay! So I got a 4AM wake up call in the motel and booked a 4:30 cab who was sitting waiting for me at 4:20 when I arrived in the lobby - a great start.

I get to the airport, check in in 2 minutes and then have to wait 15 minutes before Starbucks opens. I mean, what kind of world is it when you have to be at the airport BEFORE there's caffeine support available?!?!?!

Of course, Customs doesn't open until 6AM - they are a government department. So I have to wait around for an hour until Customs opens until I can even get to the boarding lounge.

Airport Security^H^H^H^H^H^H^Htupidity in the Bush Age!

Oh, well, that's why we have our "pick a pollie" day today so that we can, with any luck, dump the shortsighted idiot that got Australia into the position of "right up Dubya's rear" that we're in and instead install... legoMan as our illustrious puppet leader. (Puppet leader? He has no substance whatsoever, but at least he'll be a slight change. Maybe in 3 years we'll have to change him for someone with a clue, but we really need a change right now!)


The Outspoken Wookie

Thursday, November 22, 2007

The nutters are out in force

It appears that a few religious zealot nutters have vowed to take over Microsoft because it promotes equal opportunity. Equal opportunity to gays, that is. Now, I'm not gay myself, but I also don't discriminate against gay folks. The sexual orientation of a colleague, friend, employee, whatever - it makes no difference to me at all.

What I *do* find offensive is a religious movement who is determined to push their small-minded view of the world down my throat and everyone else's throats whilst they are at it. I don't believe that discriminating against homosexuals, blacks, whites, greens, yellows, old folks, women, muslims, christians or whatever minority or other group you have in mind is going to do one iota of good for anyone. It may make the lunatics that are trying to enforce their view or ideals upon that minority think they feel better, but all in all, it just makes the worl a less nice place to be.

If you read the comments this lunatic, Reverend Ken Hutcherson, has to say, you'll see how delusional he is. As far as he's concerned, the discrimination "the blacks" received in the past (and, for that matter, presently) was wrong, but continuing this tirade of insanity against homosexuals is righteous. You're a tool, Hutcherson.

With all of the collective hatred that the religions of the world generate, I wish we could harness that and use it as an alternative energy source as it sure looks like it won't run out any time soon!


The Outspoken Wookie

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

In need of a good (non kid safe) laugh?

I'm quite a fan of Tim Minchin. I only found out that he was coming to the Powerhouse in Brisbane after all the shows were sold out (typical eh, just like with Joan Armatrading and Bryan Ferry in Wellington, NZ) so I won't be catching his show this time 'round.

But, in the meantime, I feel the need to introduce you to the funniest fucking thing I've seen in years: Angry (Feet) Sure, the A/V sync is slipping (typical with a great many YouTube uploads), but it is still hillarious. For those who can't see, either just listen to it on that link, or download the MP3 available at

Don't blame me if your kids start telling you what they think of you - I warned you!


The Outspoken Wookie

More Vodafoniness

I'm heading to Sydney on Thursday for Wayne's Small World (which replaces Wayne's World that was cancelled, pending a triumphant return in 2008, hopefully) which will, if nothing else, be a good chance to finally catch up with Dana and Susan (and whoever else is heading down under) for a chat, beer, coffee, whatever.

Then, after that I'm heading off to New Zealand for a bit of R&R (aka not work), as well as visiting a couple of colleagues and clients. I have a family reunion on my mother's side on Dec 1st and 2nd in between Taupo and Rotorua and aside from that, I'm pretty much following my nose around the North Island. I'm meeting with a mate/colleague near Wellington and another near Rotorua, but the rest is basically whatever, wherever, whenever. And no, I'm not looking forward to it!

Anyway, if I roam my Vodafone handset to NZ, I have to pay (all prices per minute) AU$1.49 to ring local numbers, AU$3.02 to ring back to Australia, AU$1.17 to receive calls and finally AU$0.75 to send an SMS. So I decided to hire a Vodafone SIM whilst I'm in NZ, and the rates are then NZ$1.00125 for national calls (AU$0.86219), NZ$2.5875 for calls to Australia (AU$2.2271), nothing at all to receive calls and NZ$0.87961 for an SMS (AU$0.75714). All prices inc of GST. So, you can see the benefit of the NZ$1.6875 (AU$1.4525) per day SIM card hire! [Note: NZ SIM Card calls to Australia rate updated.]

Now, to make matters weirder, I checked into the GPRS rates in NZ. If I roam my Vodafone SIM, it costs me AU$0.01/KB. In New Zealand, local GPRS costs NZ$0.016875 (AU$0.014525) per KB. Now, that's insane - how can phone calls be so much cheaper, but data be so much more expensive?

So, that means I'll take my SmartPhone and use the NZ SIM in it and take the PDA and use GPRS on that to check emails occasionally. Utterly ridiculous.

And consider this also - Vodafone is the sole NZ mobile carrier. And yes, I have a Vodafone account here. And NZ is just across the ditch from Australia - we're practically in each other's back yards. And Vodafone STILL thinks it is worth overcharging both roaming Australians in New Zealands, as well as native New Zealanders in their own homeland.

Maybe I'll stop complaining that we're getting shafted on telecommunications costs in Australia, when I compare us to our nearest neighbors. Maybe we'll just realise that we're both getting shafted, and by the same company, but not as hard as we are by the Australian Government and Telstra. Now, I *do* apologise for my use of foul tasting language there!

Anyway, to hell with the cost of calls, I'm heading across the ditch and spending some of my hard earned cash in good old Kiwiland. I've paid for the airfares and the hire car, have booked the SIM and at this point, still intend to book a motel when I arrive somewhere I feel like spending the night - I have few plans (aside from what I mentioned above) and will be making my relaxed way around the island in a, well, relaxed manner. If only Frankie was there with me... (no, not in a gay way, not that there's anything wrong with that, I'm just not into it personally.)

If I get the chance to blog whilst over there, I may do it. No promises. Not that anyone here really cares anyway - its just more stuff to read!


The Outspoken Wookie

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Vodafone Mobile Connect

In case anyone is looking for the latest Vodafone Mobile Connect software, please have a look at the links below as these are the lastest releases I could locate:

Vodafone Mobile Connect - Full Software
Vodafone Mobile Connect for Windows (Latest Version)
Vodafone Mobile Connect for Windows (Previous Versions)
Vodafone Australia Downloads

Vodafone Mobile Connect - Lite Software
Vodafone Mobile Connect Lite for Huawei E220 - Windows XP
Vodafone Mobile Connect Lite for Huawei E220 - Vista x86

Hardware Devices
The full list of devices (Vodafone New Zealand)
The full list of devices (Vodafone South Africa)
Huawei E618 Data Card
Huaewi E220 USB (HSDPA) Firmware

Linksys WRT54G3G Setup Wizard
Linksys WRT54G3G Firmware

If anyone knows of later versions, warnings or has any other information, please feel free to add a comment and I'll endeavor to keep this list as up to date as possible.


The Outspoken Wookie

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I Hate To Say ""I Told You So""!

OK. No I don't. :)

Back on April 11, 2007 I seem to remember making this post that stuck the knife into Microsoft for their inability to release patches that work. Now, as we all know, there have been quite a few more patches released and re-released by Microsoft since as they seem incapable of actually implementing reasonable quality control on their patches.

Anyway, cut to this morning (Aussie time) when Microsoft released a broken ISA metabase update for WSUS that has caused a lot of grief around the world. Basically, they forgot to remove the double quotes from the title field when they released this update. Quality Control 101 - check things **BEFORE** you release them. (Now the overabundance of quotes in the title of this post makes sense, I trust.)

So, what happened is, basically, anyone who enabled download for ISA updates and all SBS 2003 R2 users who have not modified the settings from the default "download everything, even if you don't use it, just to keep the telcos rich" to more sane settings (and thereby breaking the "Green Check" and turning it into a "Blue Check" and invalidating the usefulness of the SBS 2003 R2 reports based on WSUS) would have received this update and would have had their WSUS and SBS reports die.

Luckily, a few people have realised that Microsoft's dumbing down of WSUS in SBS 2003 R2 has gone too far and chose to make sensible changes to the defaults and ignore the Blue Check and reported "issues" that this generates and those people (ourselves and our clients included) have not been adversely affected by this further example of Microsoft's inability to release functional patches.

The broken patch has now been expired in WSUS so it won't be downloaded onto any further machines, but there are still a large number of affected WSUS boxen out there that probably have not been fixed as yet. For those suffering from this issue, have a read of the report and implement the SQL workaround they offer. [Edit: This TechNet blog post also offers some information on the issue and workarounds for it.]

It was claimed that this proves that WSUS has failed this test and that other patching solutions are therefore better. Insofar as those other options are provided by people who understand what Quality Control is, this may be true. But again, this goes to show that moreso, the dumbing down of the Administrator's control over WSUS in SBS 2003 R2 is at fault. If you can disable the download of crap you don't need and still have a green check, then that would be - sensible. But this is Microsoft we're talking about, and unfortunately common sense is often coded out of their products before the public (even the early beta tester folks) get to add their input.

Of course, the bright side of this is that Microsoft will learn from this lesson and make improvements to their patch release process. (The unfortunate reality is that they have a long history of continually releasing broken patches and this is just another example of them following in their own footsteps without wondering if they are leading off a cliff.)


The Outspoken Wookie

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Brain Death 101

And whilst I'm at it, how could anyone possibly be this dumb?

Toys R Us outdumbs themselves.


The Outspoken Wookie

Streamed Direct? My Arse

OK. I give up.

I was trying to hold back and not post on this topic which has no doubt been covered by fuck knows how many other non-brainwashed members of the Australian viewing public, but with Channel 10's insistence that we're phenomenally stupid, I just couldn't.

Apparently they get "Californication" streamed direct from the U.S. And Supernatural. And House M.D. And who knows what else? Well, I say this is utter bullshit - it is only Ted Stevens' Internets that will ever be this slow - I watched the final Season 1 episode of Californication over a week ago at a mate's place who had apparently downloaded this from the Internet - now, that's still not streaming direct, but it is 14 days or so faster than Channel 10 can manage. "Streamed direct" would, if you took it at face value, mean that they are downloading it off the satellite and rebroadcasting it live. Well, they're not.

At least they aren't 2 years behind like they have been in the past. But "streamed direct" this most definitely is not.

I had a funny feeling that blatantly misleading (and even subtly misleading) advertising was a crime in Australia. So I wonder why Channel 10 is continuing to falsely advertise that they are "streaming direct" TV shows that they are showing at a delayed time?

I know that downloading TV shows off bit torrent sites is also illegal, as it deprives the local television stations of their advertising revenue, but with things such as Tivo and Media Center, who watches things live these days? And therefore, if you're not watching them live, who actually watches the advertisements? (OK, I watch some things live(ish), but I generally watch until the first ad break, pause the playback for 5 or 10 minutes or so, then skip the advertisements and continue doing that until I catch up and then do it all over again.)

How many people would pay a reasonable price for non-advertising filled downloads of television programs? Quite a lot. Anyone listening?

I also wonder if Channel 10 is EVER going to come to grips with the term "scheduled programming" instead of leaving that Australian Idol mindnumb go continually past its time slot and interfere with other programming. I wonder if they're ever going to lose the Formula 1 rights to a channel that understands the term "streamed direct"?


The Outspoken Wookie

Queensland Daylight Saving

Here in Queensland, our cows get to vote. People have approximately one vote per person, but the cows count as 2.5 votes, because of their mass and methane production (I suppose). So, because we've not yet been able to convince our cows of the value of DST - they don't care about trading issues with NSW and Victoria as they are generally not businessbovines, just cudeaters - it doesn't matter how many people vote for DST, it won't be coming in until we can either a) convince the cows that DST is a good thing for them (maybe by someone inventing a shankwatch) or b) somehow find a loophole in our Laws that will allow us to remove cows from the voting register.

The cows do have some good points, however. The extra hour of sunlight will result in faster fading of curtains which does place an extra burden on the farmers whereby they need to either re-dye the curtains (too labor intensive), or re-buy the curtains, meaning more cotton farms are needed (which themselves, are not a good use of our limited water) which means less available room for the cows. So, though it may be a good point, it is also quite a selfish point. They also say that our sunflower crops will get confused by this additional hour of sunlight, which may also not be good for farmers.

Their best point, however, is that this extra hour of sunlight during the harsh Queensland summer will result in more skin cancer and will mean that more of our elderly people die (or at least succumb) to heatstroke. Obviously, as cows are generally outside working all hours of the day and night, this will give them one hour less in which they can rest and one more hour more to work in, meaning we will expect higher production from them - and this during our hottest months. I do think that this is a little unfair, and if we expect them to endure an extra hour of sunlight each day, we should be providing some sort of shade cloth area for them, somewhat like a beer garden. And maybe a few extra kegs. Its only fair.

So, one big bonus that our cows have brought by voting against DST is that we've not been affected by any of the Microsoft DST patch issues - and there have been quite a few that we've all heard about. Maybe the cows *do* have it right and the energy savings just aren't worth the hassles?

Anyway, it will be interesting to see how they go in the Federal Election that's being held later this month. The Bovine Party, with its theme song "Moooove over, we're cowming" (to the old Sam and Dave tune), seems to be a valid option to the Little Johnny Whoward? Party and the Lego Man Party, which are both just playing "me too" politics with each other, trying to see who has the most policies that they've been able to base on their opponent's ideologies. I also have a funny feeling that we may end up with Alf for PM this time.


The Outspoken Wookie

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Post Windows XP - Where To Go Now?

I was having a discussion with a colleague recently about Windows Vista and how far off target Microsoft was and still is with it. We were discussing OS X and that he'd likely move to OS X if he could get Microsoft Outlook running on OS X, when I mentioned that Novell Evolution ( is a very, very nice Outlook-alike that works well on anything that can run the Gnome libraries, and this includes OS X.

Sure, it doesn't look and feel like Outlook 2007, nor does it come with the utterly unstable RSS issues that make RSS in Outlook 2007 totally unusable, nor the stability issues that Outlook 2007 is slowly (too slowly) recovering from, but it does connect to Exchange, handle RPC over HTTPS and basically provide all the features that Outlook provides.

Expressing surprise that Evolution could run under OSX without any major hacks (see this and some important info at and that if Apple had the presence of mind, they'd allow Apple OS X to run on non-Apple branded PCs, I replied with basically what's shown below. I really hope both the Apple and Linux camps, as well as the Windows camps have a look at, read of, and serious think about some of the points I raise below:


Evolution was written for the Gnome project to run in a Gnome environment, no matter which Windows Manager was used. Whether you use X Window Manager, IceWM, AfterStep or whatever you choose, as long as Gnome is installed, Evolution should run fine. Then along came OSX using an OpenBSD core and their own X-like Window Manager. Gnome can install under OSX, therefore Evolution can run under OSX.

Apple, whilst brilliant at marketing at their own insular community, is appalling at marketing to the wider community. Look at their smug "Mac vs PC" propaganda campaign - the one that has about as much truth as Microsoft's own "Windows vs Linux" propaganda campaign. Look also at their "BSOD on a CRT" icon for the "Windows" computers as displayed on a Mac. If this is designed to do anything other than lick the arses of their own, very small market and take a dump on anyone who'd seriously consider looking at the Mac OS X in comparison with Windows (especially Windows Vista), then Apple Inc should take their marketing company to the cleaners.

Apple, like the Linux community, has no intention of trying to market to the Windows community and also has no interest in trying to displace Windows from its pedestal as "Most Desktop OSes Installed". Linux had a brilliant opportunity in the 5 or so years that Microsoft took to release an upgrade for Windows XP. Apple made a huge leap forward when they moved from obsolete, almost utterly incapable of multitasking hardware and software (PowerPC and OS 9) to a modern hardware and software base.

Sure, *I* know that the PowerPC (and its predecessor, the Motorola M68000-series) processors were more than capable of awesome multitasking performance. I used to own an Amiga and the multitasking capability of that, based on the M68000-series processor platform was an order of magnitude better than anything else available then, or even in the 5+ years to follow it. Apple *just* managed to scrape some form of multitasking together in OS 9 - their 9th attempt at an OS. OS X, being based on a real, useful, multitasking OS, is their first *realistic* OS that offers not only multitasking, but decent performance.

After this leap, the Mac OS X platform has made small but steady gains in the desktop market. The largest gains were made when their main competition stumbled, fell, and let Windows Vista fall on the ground. Even after that, aside from some smug adverts, Apple has not realised how much of an opportunity it now has.

I said back in about 2002 that Microsoft would never again hold as much power and influence over the computer industry. It seems that they listened to me as they have been steadily losing their market edge, their technological edge, and hence their desktop and server market share ever since. If only the Linux crowd or Apple actually had the business sense to see this and adjust their focus accordingly, they'd have a good chance at making a noticeable impact on the desktop and server market share graphs. At this point in time, neither camp has been able to look outside their own 4 walls.

With OSX Leopard's utterly appalling security issues, Apple Inc needs to take a long, hard look internally before they even think of taking on the Microsoft behemoth - right now they are more of a laughing stock than Windows Vista is. (Not saying Vista security is poor, but almost everything about this OS is quite poor. Security is one thing it almost got right - and I don't mean to say I like how they implemented UAC, Linux did much, much better than this years ago, just that there have been relatively few security-related issues with the Vista code base.)

If (and this is a huge "if") Apple were to relinquish their silly notion that OS X should only run on Apple-branded hardware and if (and this is the biggest "if") Apple were to remove their smugness core OS component and start looking at the 94% of the world that don't think of Mac OS X as a religion, Apple would likely have the best successor to Windows XP on the market. (That is, if they pull Leopard and release a version that has security in it, not just a sticker on the box that claims it does.) Ubuntu is getting close. Apple OS X is getting close. Vista has lost the plot and is far from being the best available upgrade to Windows XP - just ask pretty much anyone who has tried to use it. Right now, Microsoft has no suitable replacement for their best OS to date - Windows XP. They are stuck between a rock and a hard place with both Linux (mainly in the form of Ubuntu) and Apple's OS X catching up slowly. Microsoft can afford to be slack - they realise that neither the Apple nor Linux crowds can see what's been plainly in front of them for the past 5 years or so.

I do wonder, however, for how long that will remain the case?


The Outspoken Wookie

Monday, November 05, 2007

The US CAN-SPAM Law In Action

It appears that the rather lax US CAN-SPAM Law can actually land some punches on spammers. As compared to the Australian Spam Act whereby it is illegal to send someone UCE (you have to have had an existing business relationship with the target and the target should be reasonably expecting marketing emails from you) else you'll get a warning then an AU$11,000 fine, the US CAN-SPAM law basically allows anyone and everyone to be able to send you as much UCE as they want until you ask to be removed from their spammer list, and at that point, they must stop sending their spam to you or face prosecution.

Well, it appears that Todd Moeller from New Jersey was sentenced to 27 months jail and a US$180,000 fine for sending spam to AOL subscribers. Todd's partner in crime, Adam Vitale from Brooklyn, faces sentencing on 13 November, 2007 and I hope that he also gets what he's due.

In other anti-spammer news, Jeffrey A Kilbride of Venice, California and James R Schaffer of Paradise Valley, Arizona were sentenced in October 2007 to more than 5 years jail each and were fined US$100,000 and ordered to pay US$77,500 in restitution to AOL. They were also ordered to jointly forfeit US$1.1m - the estimated entire proceeds of their porn spamming efforts. Jennifer Clason, 33, of Raymond, New Hampshire (previously of Tempe, Arizona), Andrew Ellifson, 31, of Scottsdale, Arizona and Kirk Rogers, 43, of Manhattan Beach, California managed to escape punishment by pleading guilty and turning state's evidence - a lucky escape, but let's ensure no-one forgets their names and their part in these crimes.

Out of interest, Jennifer Clason, a 33 year old stay-at-home mother runs a website called and even after admitting her guilt in this porn spamming operation, continues to run this website. I wonder how many other stay-at-home parents she's trying to lure into crime?

Jeffrey Brett Goodin of Azusa, California was sentenced in June 2007 to 6 years improzimne t for phishing emails sent to AOL users.

From the above recent cases, as well as a number of older ones, it seems that AOL is the only ISP to actively seek punishment for people spamming its members. While this is a good thing for AOL subscribers, it is simply not enough - all ISPs should be actively seeking compensation from spammers and actively chasing them down and having them prosecuted. Of course, as the number of spams that originate in the AOL network is still far from insignificant, AOL needs to keep an eye on their own users as well.


The Outspoken Wookie