Social Net-Hacking

Yesterday, we told you about a hacker attack disguised as a Microsoft security alert. Another new threat consists of bogus social networking links that are simply a direct road to malware, at least according to a report from the Georgia Tech Information Security Center.

I'm pretty savvy about computers, but there's a tiny part of me that's tempted to click on these links. I even had a boss that once clicked on an "I Love You" message...and you probably know the rest. The whole organization was infected with the "I Love You Virus."

These tricks will continue to work, which means anti-virus/anti-malware defenses have to be strong.

Ballmer on Cloud Nine and Windows 7
It's got to be great to be Steve Ballmer. He's obviously got plenty of dough, thousands of smart employees and I highly doubt he ever flies coach. And because he's the CEO, he can say whatever he wants. Where others in Microsoft are gun-shy and afraid to say the wrong thing, Ballmer can be bombastic, insulting, fun and inspiring -- and he talks about details other execs would never disclose (not without written permission, or perhaps after the product ships).

Case in point: At a recent Gartner event, Ballmer talked in general terms about its upcoming cloud OS, one that will host Microsoft apps running over the Internet. He was more specific about Windows 7, indicating that it's really an extension of today's Vista but focusing on performance and what he calls "cleanup."

He added, "Essentially, the way I'd characterize it -- it's Windows Vista, a lot better. Windows Vista is good. Windows 7 is Windows Vista with cleanup and user interface, improvements in performance."

Vista will also live on after Windows 7, driving presumably Windows 8 and perhaps even beyond.

Microsoft Celebrates Anti-Piracy Day
Not sure if you knew that today was a special day. Yeah, you probably know that yesterday was National Osteoporosis Day and that tomorrow is International Stuttering Awareness Day, but that leaves Oct. 21 all to Microsoft -- which has now given us Global Anti-Piracy Day. Microsoft is trying to educate users in 49 countries about the evils of pirated software.

I don't agree with committing software piracy, but I find that sometimes the cure is worse than the illness. How many times have you tried to rebuild a system only to be stymied reinstalling software you already paid for?

What do you think about piracy and piracy protection? Shrieks, howls and common sense all welcome at [email protected].

Mailbag: Apple Prices, Vista Problem, More
Here are more of your thoughts on the high price of Apple laptops:

You say that you find it an outrage, in this economy, to charge such a premium. While I respect your personal convictions, that statement is a little too broad for my liking. The Declaration of Independence cites life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as inalienable rights, not low-cost Apple computing. What Apple charges for a laptop is Apple's business. That's the free market. If we find that we are willing to pay that premium, we can join the exclusive club. If not, then we don't. We have no right to anything at any cost other than what the market will bear and what the business will sell for.

Could Apple have greater market share in personal and enterprise computing? I firmly believe so. Do they care? I am not sure, but I would suspect that Apple, marching to the beat of its own drum for decades, has its own version of success. PC computing is definitely the more economical way to go, but it's nice to have the option to drive a Cadillac if you really want one and can afford it.

Your comment about Apple not being interested in matching prices with PCs got me to thinking that maybe it has something there. All of the Mac users I know are competent computer users; I can't say that of all of the PC users I know. The Mac users I talk to are usually asking for help on the PC they need to use at work, not their personal Mac. After 10 years of PC support in a public school district, I am of the opinion that most people have no business using a computer!

It took a lot of convincing to get my wife to go along with getting our Macbook Pro back in February. And I am glad that we made the investment. Looking at the new models and stuff now, it would be great to get another one to take advantage of that extra video memory horsepower and overall performance.

However, the price this time around is not going to work. Apple does need to reduce the cost of its hardware by a large amount if it is going to continue to grow and prosper. Our economy now will more than likely hurt Apple if it does not do something soon. It would be a darn shame to see the current crowds at the Apple store where to be reduced to one to two window shoppers that would briefly stop in.

Apple has no place or desire to exist in the enterprise. It uses a tailored version of Unix at the core of its OS, but that does not make it comparable to *nix clients or servers. It is a consumer-grade device provider, in that it gives you a shrink-wrapped phone, media player, laptop, 1U server, etc. with bells and whistles. It does not give you the utility that is a machine of your own. I would not start buying T-Mobile routers if they started making them.

Standard or branded PC hardware running Windows or *nix will give you far more customizability than Apple will ever offer, which is the first foot into the door of any serious enterprise. Its computers are "pretty" versions that try to do the exact same thing, but seriously fall short. Any hardware running XP, Vista or *nix will beat a Mac hands-down in every enterprise usability test you can throw at it.

There are a number of companies that do not market to the low end of the market. Not sure why you are thinking that Apple needs to be all things to all people. Also, way too often reviewers do not look at all the differences in the systems (i.e., the mag attached power cord). Mac has a lot more going for it than a Windows system in a lot of ways. Most people can use a Mac and not look back to Windows. If you are doing any multimedia, then Mac rules. For those that must have Windows apps they can get them with Parallels, and it is seamless.

I think that although the laptops are a bit pricier than Windows laptops, Apple is right on for being a very profitable company. It is moving up in market share consistantly. I am seeing more and more Mac laptops in public. I know of a lot of people that are migrating to Macs also. And I know a very large number of people (like myself) that are network engineers of one sort or another that have moved to Mac for their personal systems because we are just tired of the Windows crap. Macs just work, pure and simple.

What hasn't been working, at least for this reader, is Vista. More specifically, older apps that worked fine in XP but fail in the new OS:

About two months ago, I bought a new laptop with Vista Home Premium on it. I am getting used to the new interface, but have been having a little trouble with two older applications. Other than e-mail and Internet browsing, these two are my primary uses for the laptop.

Sometimes the applications will just stop. The mouse doesn't seem to work and I have to use Ctrl-Alt-Del to get to Task Manager and end my "not responding" task. When I get to Task Manager, the mouse is responding again, but not the application. Is this typical Vista execution or what? I have been using the apps under XP for at least four years and they work fine, but now that they are installed under Vista, they seem unreliable. What's up?

But John's problem notwithstanding, at least one reader still thinks Vista is just as good as a Mac:

Put 64-bit Vista (other than Vista Home or Basic) on a computer with a quad-core processor, 4GB RAM and only Microsoft-approved applications, and it will cost and operate similarly to a Mac. It will perform well and applications will be expensive and limited. On the plus side, it will be easier to find qualified people to support it and networking is much simpler than on a Mac. Put it on a low-end computer and it will "suck." This is a classic case of "you get what you pay for."

Example: Sit at a Vista computer and try to share resources. The Help menu is easy to find and easy to follow. Try the same thing on a Mac. You will find out how to connect to shares on other computers. Getting help for a Mac is easier using a Web search than using its documentation. Our local Mac store offers free training for purchasers of new Macs. If the system is that easy, why do users need the training?


And finally, Stephen's not so impressed with Chrome. Here's why:

If you're still collecting "Chrome Woes," may I add a few? One, this site took five minutes to load in Chrome, whereas I was on the page in two seconds in IE 7, browsed the entire week in photos, voted and closed out before Chrome had rendered anything more than the banner and left-nav. Two, we use an open source Web-based product, Gemini, to track our internal development projects. It has a RAD Editor component that in IE behaves fine, but in Chrome the Ctrl+ shortcuts are ignored.

Three, signing in to see my iGoogle page took me to a blank page that was "redirecting" for fully a minute. Maybe those guys at Google really need to talk to each other before they dink around with the main pages. For some reason, after 10 minutes, the page was still "loading," as evidenced by the spinner on the tab title. "What's it doing?" one may ask.

Check in tomorrow for more of reader letters! In the meantime, share your own thoughts by leaving a comment below or sending an e-mail to [email protected].

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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