Category: News & Trends

Windows Vista Might Be Slower

A couple of years ago I was telling my good friend, Manzabar, about how I thought Windows Vista was going to be a very tough release for Microsoft and Windows users. My only proof for this was the incredible growing pains which I and many other Mac OS X users had to endure through the many OS X releases that Apple came out with. By far the biggest problem for OS X, other than the Finder, has been the actual speed of the operating system. Everything on OS X seemed to be painfully slower. Most early users put up with it, because of the benefits of using modern features in OS X, for me it was JAVA. There were a ton of new JAVA apps that only worked well under OS X. As Apple improved on OS X, it became more evident that OS X had serious bottlenecks. There was the multi-threading of the FreeBSD layer itself, the MACH kernel design itself not being as fast as Linux, the UI changes that made many users curse the new Finder, and so on. But the major issue is and still is the graphics layer in OS X. When Apple implemented a new graphics system and replaced the old two dimensional QuickDraw, they slowed down the UI immensely. Instead of a window taking a few kilobytes of memory to draw, it now literally took something like three megabytes per window. The math operations alone for all the windows slowed down the main PowerPC cpu and made the entire OS sluggish to use. Apple worked with NVidia and ATI to offload more and more of the UI drawing functions to the graphics card and now OS X is very much improved, but it is still a work in progress, and many would argue that the OS did not speed up as much as the hardware got faster. As of today the G5 PowerMacs and the new Intel based models are a vast improvement on UI responsiveness.

This brings me to Windows Vista, and Microsoft’s first attempt to bring a real 3-D interface to Windows. Of course, since Microsoft does all the code for DirectX, and they have waited for video cards to become DirectX 9 compliant, their UI should have less problems than Apple’s. But as you can tell by Apple’s lastest OS X release, the UI is still being perfected and even after five years of trying to speed it up, Apple still is not finished tweaking it. Vista will have problems running on older hardware and I’m sure Microsoft will end up tweaking just as much as Apple in order to get the 3-D UI to run at acceptable levels. The difference though is that Mac users will put up with quite a lot and for some reason don’t seem to mind all that much in the end, but Windows users are not exactly all that forgiving. If Vista turns out to be slow, they simply will hold off on upgrading and just wait to purchase new hardware, which is the last thing Intel and AMD want to hear.

Then again I could be wrong and Microsoft might pull it off and deliver an incredible release, with an amazingly fast 3-D graphics system.

Filed under: News & Trends

Online Privacy

As a webmaster one of the issues I am faced with is online privacy. Popular media would have you believe that it needs to be protected, but no one really defines what IT really is. At the most basic level, online privacy means that personal identifiable information must not be logged, stored, or distributed. As a webmaster and owner of a web site, tracking my site’s traffic is very important. A server’s access logs can only track an IP address and some information in regards to the browser that a person used to access the site. Although an IP address can lead back to an ISP, without that ISP’s willing cooperation (and access to their logs), a webmaster cannot really track the actual computer, let alone the person who actually visited their site. An IP address alone narrows down perhaps what ISP was used, but after that, the bread crumbs stop.

Losing Your Privacy

Many sites implement cookies, which allow the site to store and retrieve information from your computer. This information is usually basic login information or in the case of forums, what posts you have read or responded to. Marketing companies love cookies because they can use them to build profiles of what sites you like to visit and what interests you. They use this information to sell you more products and to figure out what party candidate you most likely would vote for. If you think this is invading your privacy, consider your ATM card which not only identifies you personally every time you use it, but can be used to track your whereabouts, based on where you used it last!

Today’s sites no longer ask you to store cookies for them, they simply do it. Most Terms of Service Agreements, (you know those pages you never read on any sites you go to), will always include some sort of consent statement. It usually states that by using services on their site, you are consenting to the site storing or even divulging some of the personal information that they will be tracking. Many sites, even commercial ones, will market out your email address and reward your consent with spam email for months to come.

One-Click eCommerce

Enter the single click web site, which revolutionized internet shopping by allowing site users to click once to purchase an item and not even have to enter any credit card information, because the site already had everything on file for you. Convenience led to massive privacy invasion with your consent of course. A worse case scenario is that perhaps your favorite online store messed up their accounting and charged you less for a purchase, and three months later they decide to correct their mistake and automatically charge your credit card. Of course you could complain and try to save yourself the charges, but all of this requires time, time which costs you too. In the end you have given up significant control for the convenience of one-click shopping.

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Bloggers Versus Splogs & Scrappers

If you have a blog and care about your content, you definitely need to read Om Malik’s post on Wholesale Blog Plagiarism. Apparantly Om Malik’s popular Om Malik on Broadband Weblog has been for a long time the target of plagiarism, otherwise known as splogging. Sploggers have been using the RSS feeds from Om Malik’s site to republish his content word for word on their site. The main purpose of this is to of course make revenue from the advertisements of the splog site. Although splogs and scrappers sites do sometimes improve the original website’s pagerank, the lost ad revenue may be more important to bloggers than any pagerank improvement. When it comes to Om Malik’s blog, his popularity I would think would make his content not really suitable for splogging, but obviously sometimes sploggers do not really think these things through I guess.

In general bloggers may need to start considering just how much is their content worth and if RSS feeds should be curtailed to only include post summaries instead of the entire post. But even then, scrappers can use any combination of Perl and PHP to copy any content they wish, so the war against splogging is not going to end by turning off RSS feeds.

The irony of course is that many bloggers see themselves as non-commercial entities that spread information for free, but the minute they realize that someone else is making money off their labors, the converstation takes quite a different tone. However, can you really blame them? In Om Malik’s case, the site’s content is a literal copy, word for word; this makes it not only plagerism, but outright insulting.

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