Linux Phone

Here is the Neo Freerunner, running openmoko.

Update: It’s a GSM device.

More on search engines

Giovanni recommend his site, viewsi as a search engine.

My first impression, “Ugh.”  It is visually unapealing.

I entered a search and got a bunch of blurry small screens along the bottom of my screen.  No indication of what they are or what they are for.  When I selected the first fuzzy screen, I had to wait for it it to tell me there were no results to my search.

Not a good first impression.

I dig a little more and find there is more information avaliable, but poorly organized, not indentified clearly, and a great deal of completely irrelavant to my search.

I don’t see meself going back there anytime soon.

Hackers target Apple products

One of the costs of success is being a target.

Apple users are used to making fun of the security holes in Windows products.  The Apple OS has its own security holes, but it was such a small section of the market, they were not worth hacking.

That is changing as Apple’s market share grows. This includes the iPhone, which has the security lite browser Safari loaded by default (I’m not holding my breath for Firefox on the iPhone).

The word from DefCon is that Apple devices are now being targeted more and more hackers.

Welcome to the real word Apple users.

Search Engines

There have been two new search engines that have caught my eye recently.  One good, the other not so good.

First, the good.  Searchme.com.  They did a slick job in finding a new way to present pages in an eye catching way. The results it returns are useful and relevant as well.

On the not so good side, the over hyped cuil. To start with, I’m not really thrilled with the search results.

Then then there was the “coding slip” that flooded its search results with porn.

Third strike, the buzz is that “ego searches” for key VC investors and tech pundits produced the “best” results. Hand coded? Perhaps, it is an interesting exception to their otherwise lack luster search results.

Searchme.com is the clear winner here.

Friends don’t let friends…

This is the basic Internet security tip I give everyone. Don’t load Outlook & don’t run Internet Explorer unless you have to.

Friends don’t let friends run Outlook.

Think about it. The vast majority of email based virii (viruses or however you want to spell it) take advantage of the huge security holes in Outlook.

It’s not even that good an email client. Really, you are better off with Mozilla’s Thunderbird.

As a groupware scheduling program, it is actually pretty good.  That doesn’t make up for its general, and I’m going to use a technical term here, suckage as an email program.  If you are using Outlook for your personal email, just don’t. Use a web based solution, like Yahoo mail or Google Gmail.  You can even use a client program like T-Bird in IMAP mode with Gmail for free.

I’ve run a couple of small corporate IT departments, which included supporting their Exchange servers and Outlook clients, so I know of what I speak.

For small companies, especially non-profits, going with Google Apps makes a lot more sense.  Outsourcing your email means at least one less bit of server hardware you have to maintain on top of any software related costs.  Even if you are running Linux for your mail server, there is an associated cost for the geek to maintain it, on top of the hardware costs.

Take a look at Worcester State College for a good example of how outsourcing a basic function like email frees up not just money, but the talent of the IT department to help their clients.

Not using Microsoft IE browser is another simple way to improve your basic Internet security.  Web based security attacks focus on IE because it is the default browser for a large majority of computers in use.

Switching to a third party browser, such as Firefox, will not only improve your security, it will also improve your overall browsing experince by using a better designed product.

Simple is good

A gadget doesn’t have to be high tech and fancy to be good.  It doesn’t hurt, but it’s not critical. 🙂

Example, the simple coffee press.  I’ve used different coffee makers over the years and have settled on a basic coffee press for home use.

Why? It makes damn good coffee quickly and easily.  I’m not tied into buying a particular type of prepackaged, pre-ground stuff that the one shot machines require.

The trick is start with good coffee, whole beans, and fresh roasted.  I get mind from Armeno Coffee Roasters, a local establishment in Northborough, MA, that actually roasts their own beans on site.  They also carry Hawaiian beans.  Which in addition to “buying American” is damn good coffee.

A course grind on the beans, hot but not boiling water, wait a few minutes, and my coffee fix is taken care of.

You may ask, “A discussion on coffee in a tech blog?” If you do, you haven’t worked in High Tech.  The business runs on coffee.  According to Bandit Six, so does the US Army, but I digress.

The latest issue of Wired had an article on a high tech coffee machine that Starbucks paid a lot money for. Perhaps it will help hide the fact that they over roast.

NetShare pulled from the Apple Store

Netshare is a very useful iPhone app that allows you to share the iPhone’s Internet connection with other devices over the WiFi connection.

Too bad it isn’t available anymoreIt was on the iTunes app store, but then it was pulled, put back, and then pulled again.

The app was produced by Nullriver Software.

No explanation from Apple on why this extremely useful app was pulled.

Update: Nullriver Software claims that they are “working with” with Apple about getting NetShare back in the iTunes Apps store.

Another reason to stick with the old hardware

AT&T decided to change the data plan rates with the second gen iPhone. The data plan I have with my first gen is a flat $30 a month charge that includes 200 SMS text messages month. I’m not a big text user, so that is more than enough.

The new plan doesn’t include SMS text messaging. It’s $30 a month pluse $0.20 per SMS text message. That’s coming and going. Someone sends you a text and you are tossing two dimes in the jar for your next bill. To get that 200 messages a month, AT&T now charges $5 a month.

AT&T isn’t alone in this price gouging. Most of the other US cell phone carriers are doing similar Evil to their customer basis.

Why is it Evil? IMNSHO, it is because a SMS text message is just data traffic. No different from sending an email from your phone. Hell, even your voice traffic (i.e. old school phone calls ) is just data traffic now.

The cell phone carriers are charging more for SMS text messages because kids are sending them more than crack addicts are looking for their next fix.

As one pundit (either Leo Leporte or Glenn Reynolds I think) put it, his daughter views her cell phone as primarily a texting device that can, in a pinch, be used to actually talk to people not hip enough to text.

One of my kids had just over 350 text messages on his monthly bill. That’s incoming as well as outgoing, and he claims he isn’t a heavy text user. At $0.20 a pop, 350 text messages translates to an additional $70 on your bill. All of a sudden, paying an additional $5 or $20 a month for a texting package isn’t so bad.

Unless you keep in mind the words of Malcolm X, “When someone sticks a knife six inches into your back, and then pulls it out two inches and claims he’s doing you a favor, don’t believe him.”

Google breaks into college email

According to Mass High Tech, Worcester State College replaced its Microsoft Exchange based email system for Google Apps for Edu.  This is expected to save the College IT department $120,000 the first year and $70,000 each following year.

This is a trend I’m seeing in college IT departments.  Very traditional services, like email & database hosting are being outsourced so the IT departments can focus on more innovative services that directly meet the needs of the facility and students.

There are “privacy” issues raised about handing the campus email system over to private company.  On the other hand, I can see a mail server at a college getting hacked at lot easier than a Google based server.

Google Apps also includes Google Docs, so I can see more students storing their files “in the cloud” instead of on their local systems.  Of course, there will be those, both students and facility, who just don’t back up their files.