mja's blog

End the Microsoft taxes!

The PC manufacturing business is highly competitive and suppliers seem to do all that they can to reduce costs and beat their competitors on price as well as quality. So it is puzzling that when you buy a new PC, with the intention of running a free operating system (such as the Fedora, SuSE or Ubuntu flavors of Linux - to name a few - or any of the BSDs: FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD, etc.) that you have to buy a copy of Windows XP - or Vista, when it finally starts shipping - that you do not want and do not need. In other words, Linux users are paying a tax to Microsoft. From the PC manufacturers viewpoint, this should surely be regarded as a bad thing as it unnecessarily raises the price of their machines - and, no doubt, reduces their sales and revenue. Or so you might think...

AutoMod on the move again...

AutoMod, a product that I've used professionally for over 10 years, is on its way to a new owner. Current owner, Brooks Automation, has announced that it is selling its Brooks Software division, which includes the AutoMod product, to Applied Materials.

Novell-Microsoft Agreement

Hmmm. I'm sure, if you're at all interested in open source, that you'll be aware of Novell's and Microsoft's recent announcement. I will not attempt to summarize their agreement here, but I am a little concerned about one aspect of it in particular. There has been some speculation that the agreement signals an acknowledgment by Novell that they are in violation of one or more Microsoft patents. Rather than put up their dukes and defend their position, they have capitulated. Their decision, I guess, but one that is bound to alienate many of their SuSE Linux customers.

Off Topic Rant #2: More Palm LifeDrive woes

In my earlier blog entry, I detailed the problems I was having getting support for my Palm LifeDrive device. It turned out the problem was that the device's 4GB hard disk had failed. (Why a hard disk, when flash memory cards are so much more reliable, and getting so cheap and small?) I duly sent the unit in for repair - mailed at my expense - and received a replacement unit within a couple of weeks. It seems to be Palm's policy to use reconditioned units as replacement devices. So imagine my disgust when I found that the unit I received back from them still had someone else's data on it (they had not performed a secure erase of its data). Not only that but the touchscreen didn't work very well either - more on that in a moment.

Off Topic Rant #1: Palm LifeDrive & call center hold music...

I have a Palm LifeDrive that is, quite honestly, a useless brick. I've only had the thing a couple of months and it regularly resets (losing its entire memory). A couple of days ago, it failed to boot but repeatedly keeps trying until the battery dies - this will probably be familiar to the vast majority of Palm users. Anyhow, I tried to do a hard reset and all that happened was that the screen went dead.
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