Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Dixie Chicks...

Dixie Chicks:
So the Dixie Chicks have a new CD out “Taking the Long Way”. It is their first new material since the controversy of 2003. If you are not aware of that then search Google and you’ll find plenty on it. The new album is sparking controversy of it’s own. The Dixie Chicks are not ashamed of what they have done, and they should not be. The United States of America gives its citizens the right to speak whatever they want about whoever they want. I found a couple of quotes about this and wanted to share them.

Conservative Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly wrote an essay about the group in Time Magazine’s recent feature “Time 100: People Who Shape Our World.” In his piece, quoted in a story on, he wrote that Maines’ “primary mistake” was criticizing Bush on foreign soil. He calls “Not Ready to Make Nice” “a pretty good song. There is no reason not to play it.” “Natalie Maines has paid the price for her remarks. Her life has been threatened, and she remains under siege. That is wrong as well. The woman has the right to believe what she wants to believe. You have a right to reject her beliefs and not to buy her stuff. But to punish her further is not in the spirit of America.”

Country legend Merle Haggard not only defended the Dixie Chicks, but has also sung and spoken critically about the president and the conflict himself. Haggard, who sang pro-America, Vietnam-era songs such as “Okie From Muskogee” and “The Fightin’ Side of Me” 35 years ago, has a new tune called “America First” which includes the line, “Let’s get out of Iraq and back on track.”

How about them apples?

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


Neighbors you can’t live with them and you can’t burn down their house. Why is that some people don’t want to act neighborly and talk to their neighbors and instead call a third party, be it the city or home owners association for intervention. Let me paint a scenario… Last summer we installed sprinklers and then in the fall we planted some grass. So it wasn’t until this year that the grass actually began to grow. So last night I extended the time of the sprinklers in the back to help the new grass grow. Apparently there is some fine-tuning that needs to happen for the sprinklers, pressure issues. So when the sprinklers were on last night they flowed into the yard of my neighbor to the south. His house is down hill from mine, so he should expect that water will drain into his yard. When it happened last night, instead of calling or coming over to our house to talk to us he called the city and complained. This is the first time that this has happened and the problem will be resolved, but it irks me that he would be such a jerk about it (do I sound frustrated, I AM). Usually I can handle neighbors and the issues that come along with them, but this guy is driving me crazy so to add fuel to the fire… There is a fence that separates our houses (the one the water crept under) anyway my son was playing in the yard the other day and was kicking a ball against the fence, not at midnight, this was before noon. This neighbor yelled out the backdoor of his house to my son to “stop hitting the fence”, first he was kicking a ball not hitting and second if you didn’t want to deal with neighbors you shouldn’t have built a house in a subdivision. I guess what I am trying to illustrate is that this guy has not been too neighborly. Not that I expect to get along with everyone, but some people just rub you the wrong way.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Macs ARE more secure than windows.(DUH!)

Macs ARE more secure than windows. Don’t believe the hype! Stan Beer writing for iTWire spoke with UNIX expert Con Zymaris regarding this issue. I am going to include some quotes plus a link to the story later on, but I wanted to mention the bullet points that have been true since Mac OS X was introduced in 1999 as Mac OS X server then a client version Mac OS X beta was released in September 2000. That was almost six years ago. For six years UNIX has been the backbone of the Mac OS and has kept the Mac virus free.

"All platforms are capable of getting viruses, including both Mac OSX and Linux. If you did your work, you could create a virus which would infect some Mac systems but not many systems, not by any stretch all Mac systems and you're not likely to do much damage," says Zymaris. According to Zymaris, at the most basic level, Windows machines get infected by malware through poor design, which is not the case with Macs. "Where do these things called viruses come from? In Windows there are a number of different vector approaches. One of them is that somebody sends you a word file and you open it up and get infected. In more recent generations they're blocking these things off by making Word not run macros automatically. So now it comes back and asks you: "Do you want to run this macro?" That's a big mistake. It should not ask you and it should not allow any macros to run at all ever without you specifying yes run this macro. This is neglect in design which is how many Microsoft viruses work.

"Other things that look at first glance to be a really cool idea can be a problem. For instance, we pop this CD-ROM in and Windows automatically recognises it and it runs the software that launches the program installer. That's really cool for Joe and Jane Average. Except when you get a disk with a virus on it and it goes ahead and runs it.

"If you allow the operating system to essentially launch code unbeknownst to the user then you're in deep dog doo-doo. This is essentially what Microsoft has done with Outlook. With Outlook you can send it an email with an attached script and it will go off and execute the script. What insanity is that? This is years after they had a spate of all the Word and Excel macro viruses."

So what happens in the Mac OSX world?
"Now with the Macintosh, let's say Apple did the same thing. Then essentially Macs would be infected via the same approach that Windows is with Outlook, Word and whatever else. However, Apple are clever and they don't provide that kind of facility, so that greatly reduces the chances of their devices getting a virus. "Second port of call is a system where if you put in a disk and run a program that the system will automatically be infected, including its core system components rather than just user data. On Windows, you can put
in a disk and get a virus just by running an .exe file off it. That can do substantial damage to your system because the system internal components aren't substantially protected. Whereas on the Unix based Mac, not the old Macs, and on Linux the system components are protected.

"If you're Joe User, you could never do anything that damages your core operating system. Yes, you could run a program that brings up a virus which runs something that deletes your files - and that is a problem. However, you couldn't do something that damages the system. That's because both Mac and Linux are underpinned by a Unix-based system that has a particular view on who has rights and privileges to access and modify different things in different areas. Windows never really had that which is the other big reason why they get the kinds of viruses that Mac OSX and Linux class just don't get."
So do Mac computers need firewalls and anti-virus protection?
"Essentially no is the answer. Why do we need firewalls? We need them if and only if you have services which offer connectivity from the outside world into your box. So if you're running a standard workstation and it does not have a mail server or an FTP server or a file sharing server or a web server or none of these other things that offer the outside world the ability to come and connect to your box, you don't need a firewall. On the Windows machines by default it goes off and creates all these services that sit there and create these gaping holes. Having said that, firewalls are by default available on OSX and Linux and there is no reason not
to run them if you're running a small office environment.

"As far as anti-virus software is concerned if you're running Mac OSX or Linux, you don't need it. How is a virus going to infect you? If you're a Mac or Linux someone has to send you a program and tell you to login as root and run this program as administrator - that's how you would get a virus. What are the odds of that happening? In the Windows environment, you don't have that kind of rights segmentation, so when you click on that fake greeting card that someone sent you by email, the program will happily infect your system because the system didn't have to ask you to login as administrator and give it permission to make changes to itself. Having said that, there are ways around the system but they take an immense amount of work and, to do real damage, other than deleting files, a virus writer would have to be lucky enough to deliver the payload to someone logged in as administrator."

Apple has recently started marketing the Mac again in TV ads touting the ease of use, security and interoperability of the Mac. This is something that I have know and been communicating to others since 1998. My wife was raised using Macs and when I met her I had not really used computers much and had no preference. After using Macs in college I was hooked. They were easy to use and they did what I was asking them to do without any cryptic messages. We bought our first Mac in 1999, a Blueberry iMac. We still have that computer and it is still used. There have been some RAM upgrades (up to 320MB) and OS upgrades (up to OS X 10.3), but it still has the factory hard drive and processor, a 266 MHz PowerPC G3. Four years ago we bought a second Mac an iBook. It came with OS X 10.1 and has been updated to 10.3 also. We use this as our main computer. How many windows pcs are still being used as a primary computer since 2002? I don’t think there are too many out there. Now the new Intel Macs allow you to install windows xp and have it run as well. You would never need to buy another computer, buy a Mac and if you needed windows instead of buying a pc just buy windows xp and run them both natively on your Mac. Think about all the money that organizations will save on hardware by just purchasing Apple hardware and installing both operating systems. By the end of this year we may be in the market for a new Mac, we’ll have to see what Steve and the gang have for us by then. It is a great time to be a Mac user.