Two for Patch Tuesday

Tomorrow may be the most relaxing Patch Tuesday ever, as it's a nearly patch-free Patch Tuesday. Only two fixes are currently on tap. One is for a flaw that can let a hacker gain super-user status on Windows 2000, XP or Vista. The other is for another remote execution exploit.

Don't ignore these two patches, but at least it shouldn't ruin your whole day!

Bill Has a Great Sense of Humor (or Just Good Writers)
At this week's Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Bill Gates gave what he said was his final keynote, as he's retiring from full-time Microsoft work this summer.

In the speech, Gates gave his vision for the future of personal computing, one where mice and keyboards are replaced by natural language and touch (maybe he's been inspired by the iPhone).

But the best part was a video showing Gates' last day, starring George Clooney and Bono.

The writers must read Barney's Rubble, as the video showed Gates vying for a role on this year's presidential ticket. As my column did over a year ago, observers noted the fact that Bill's retirement coincides with the next presidential term. Of course, you heard it here first, long before "Dilbert" writer Scott Adams took all the credit.

Apple: Censor or Noble Protector of Corporate Secrets?
This story I'm about to tell makes me sweat, brings chills to my spine and has me madder than a flea on a freshly shaven poodle. You see, I spent well over a decade breaking news, which meant I told things well before IBM, Microsoft or Lotus wanted me to. I never heard one complaint -- and this is after my stories moved market caps by hundreds of millions and, in one case, over a billion dollars.

If I'd been covering Apple, I may have had a less pleasant experience. Apple, for all its touchy-feely, hippy-dippy, Volvo-driving, fancy-wine-drinking image, has a view of freedom of speech and personal privacy that would make Mahmoud Ahmadinejad proud.

Here are three examples. I recently spent time -- way too much time -- at an Apple retailer. They call the sales reps Apple Geniuses, but after one guy told me it would cost $500 to replace a DC-inboard that I know costs $50, I changed the name to Apple Imbeciles. Then it took five phone calls to actually get them to a ship a replacement for a battery that could possibly catch on fire. And I soon learned that none of these Apple Imbeciles gave out their phone numbers, so reaching someone required all of my social-engineering skills.

While at the Apple store, I casually asked what kind of machines were expected at the Macworld show this January. The imbecile told me that Apple would fire anyone that discussed future products.

I must be mad; I've wasted 244 words complaining without getting to the real point.

Point No. 2 is that Apple sued and recently settled with a college kid who owned a Web site that had the audacity to talk about unannounced products. Under the settlement, thinksecret.com will "retire." As a journalist, I'm appalled -- and now more appreciative of Microsoft's more mature attitude.

Next I found out (thanks to Tom's Hardware) that Apple has shut down a thread discussing problems with its 20- and 24-inch iMacs. If you post a complaint, all forum visitors see is an error message.

But Apple backers counter that the thread is still open (an old version is), and that only true flames were deleted. In fact, I found a thread focusing on iMac display problems, so perhaps Tom's is being a bit rough on Apple.

The Mac Gains a Multicore Ally
There's a huge debate raging about just how well XP and Vista exploit our new generation of dual and multicore systems.

Critics argue that Vista does little to take advantage of additional cores. And because most multicore systems run at slower clock-speeds, apps can actually run more slowly. (Do you run dual or multicore desktops? If so, are they faster than old-style single-cores? Let me know by writing me at dbarney@redmondmag.com.)

While Microsoft says little about Vista's multicore support (after a week of solid research, I still haven't gotten any clear answers and have found some contradictory information on Microsoft.com), Apple is touting how Leopard was designed for multicore. Leopard apparently has a multicore-optimized network stack and a scheduler to distribute work across cores.

But perhaps the best way to exploit multicore is to write apps with multiprocessing in mind. And here, perhaps, RapidMind can help. The company has a development system where programmers define which parts of the software is to be multithreaded, and then RapidMind automatically makes these components run against whatever cores are available. Originally for Linux and Windows, RapidMind today is announcing support for the Mac.

Mailbag: How Do You Browse?
Last week, after AOL announced that it was pulling the plug on Netscape, Lafe asked readers to share their browser of choice. Here's Raymond's take:

I started with Netscape when it came out in 1994. Eventually, I became an IE user. For the past couple of years, I have become a Firefox user at home (I think it is a better browser). At work I use IE, because that is the standard build here, and it is best not to mess with the "build."
-Raymond

Share your thoughts with us! Leave a comment below or send an e-mail to dbarney@redmondmag.com.

About the Author

Doug Barney is editor in chief of Redmond magazine and the VP, editorial director of Redmond Media Group.

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