Does the $200 Linux PC Matter?
A lot of people are sending me links to the $200 desktop running Ubuntu Linux
that Wal-Mart is offering. While it's a fairly low-end box, it packs some decent
power for short money. The Everex Green gPC TC2502 (how's that for an intuitive
name) has 512MB of RAM, an 80GB drive and a CD burner (the DVD is unfortunately
What's most interesting is just how much usable software one can get for free,
and gPC has it all -- Mozilla, OpenOffice and every Google app that ever came
out of Mountain View.
The bad news is there's no built-in wireless, and reviewer Gary Krakow of MSNBC
found it rough
around the software edges. The worst news is that Wal-Mart may not be planning
to carry it in all its stores (though my local Wal-Mart has plenty).
I'm hoping for broad distribution and a good, hard marketing push. We'll know
if Linux is an alternative only by having loads of people (and not just Linux
geeks) give it a whirl.
I'm very tempted to pick one up for my sons, who yearn to be Linux geeks. But
before we all get too excited, keep in mind that for an extra $100, Everex will
give you a machine with twice as much RAM and Vista pre-installed. And before
you get too excited about that, keep in mind that neither come with a
monitor or a wireless card.
Open Document Format Not So Open, Not So Great
The Open Document Format (ODF) is a terrific concept: a single file format that
can be used by productivity apps and more, and allows for easy sharing -- even
with Microsoft Office. That's the promise.
The reality ain't so hot. A leading advocate of ODF now says it isn't living
up to its promises, isn't so great at interoperability, and thus not so great
at application migration. All this is leading former ODF proponents to suggest
a newer format, the
Complex Document Format (CDF).
Hey, if that's what it takes to get a nice, common file format, I'm happy to
wait for CDF to take hold.
Hacker Spotting 101
For parents, there's no shortage of articles on how to tell if your child is
sniffing glue, drinking booze or even addicted to the Internet. For those worried
about computer mischief, there's also a guide by T. Reginald Gibbons called
Your Child a Computer Hacker?"
I have no clue whether this is real or a put-on (if you know, tell Redmond
Report readers by writing me at firstname.lastname@example.org),
but Reginald claims he's a model parent, scrutinizing every aspects of his kids'
lives and even tagging along when they go to parties to make sure there are
no shenanigans (I'm pretty sure this is an Irish beer).
Reginald was unprepared for all this computer stuff, and suspected that his
previously perfect son was a hacker. You may be facing a similar crisis, so
here's what he says to look for:
- If your son asks you to change from AOL to a "hacker-friendly ISP,"
he might be a hacker.
- If your son plays "Quake," he might be a hacker.
- If your son becomes a Lunix (that's how Reggie spells it) geek, he might
be a hacker.
- And if your son becomes "argumentative and surly," he might be
Based on the last one, all my kids are hackers!
Mailbag: Keeping Out the Malware
Last week, Lafe
asked readers what meaures they take to ensure their users are safe from malware.
Here's what some of them had to say:
We have learned that technology, education and common sense have failed
miserably for most of our users when it comes to protecting them from harmful
spam. Most users don't keep up with technology, others don't heed IT's warnings
and the rest simply don't use their heads. They simply cannot resist opening
an e-mail and attachment or clicking on a link from someone they don't know.
We use FrontBridge's spam-filtering service, but as you know, it's impossible
to catch everything.
No matter how paranoid you get, you just can't keep up! I tried to report
a new phone phish to email@example.com just today and that address no longer works.
The new address for reporting spam is firstname.lastname@example.org
(the federal agency for spam). Another good address is Anti-Phishing Working
I also copy and paste phishes into this
Tell us what you think! Leave a comment below or send an e-mail to email@example.com.
Doug Barney is editor in chief of Redmond magazine and the VP, editorial director of Redmond Media Group.