Tech World’s Top 10 Mistakes – Series II

Continuing from where I left off in my previous article, Tech World’s Top 10 Mistakes – Series I, let us now look at the remaining half of the technology world’s top ten blunders – counting down from number 5 to number 1:

5. IBM PS/2 a little too late

IBM PS2 MCA Model 55 SX
IBM PS2 MCA Model 55 SX (source : Wikipedia)

IBM was indeed very late to put to action its pro-active idea of counter-attacking its competitors. IBM’s break-through concept of bringing a computer to every office desk in the world worked very well until competitors like Compaq and others began to hit back during the era of the 3rd generation of the PC market. What the competitors did was they started to fabricate a PC clone of IBM and started to eat away IBM’s PC sales whose prices were, as per business consumers, pretty high and hence they did not mind buying working PCs without the IBM logo on them.

In order to get back into the PC marker groove, IBM gave birth to a new idea and named it PS/2 which was supposedly ‘a completely new PC with a closed micro channel architecture that would force the cloners to start again from scratch’. This could have been fantastic, considering competition would suffer till the time they found a new way to hit back. But the worst part of the entire scenario was that even consumers would have to start from the scratch in terms of getting compatible with the new system. IBM thought that they had enough influence that can pull this idea off. But they were wrong. Another basic mistake that IBM made was the non-realization of the fact that the time for earning more margins on hardware products was long gone and now software is where the real money lies.

4. Iridium hiccup

This should probably be considered as a brilliant technological breakthrough backed by stupid execution tactics. The idea of never having to experience spotty mobile phone coverage and dropped calls surely would be much appreciated and loved by consumers. However, this seems as a dream yet to come true for users, for the team that launched the Iridium satellite went through nightmares to come up with its execution. A mobile network which would cover the entire globe was launched in the year 1998 and nine months post that they had to file for bankruptcy. To achieve the set ambition, they had to actually launch 77 orbital satellites on which the Iridium satellite would rely on. Launching one satellite itself costs loads, so multiplying the loads of cost into 77 would result as quite a large expense. Hence, the bankruptcy. The mission is now seen as a specialist service for remote applications like that of Ocean Vessels and rescue operations.

3. Itanium case

A simple case which focused on engineering optimism and lacked business sense. Intel’s huge investment during early 2000 went into fabricating Intel’s first 64-bit chip. Similar to what IBM did with its PS/2, Intel did with Itanium. Intel did not realize the essence of backing their hardware product with the requisite software application which would enable better deployment and usability of its 64-bit code. This is exactly what competitor AMD did – Operton chip; a chip that combined 32 and 64-bit operations and beat Intel in understanding the exact business trend at that time. Technological business firms are always paralysed by the inability to distinguish between “can we do this?” and “should we do this?”

2. Sony’s ‘deadly’ battery

Now this one is quite different from the already mentioned blunders which either caused user dissatisfaction or created financial losses. Sony apparently developed a battery during 2006/07 which was so deadly that it could have killed users. These battery-packs were made for computer makers like Dell, Apple and Acer and were of lithium-ion make. Once if the computers of laptops were slammed hard on the floor, the battery cells would heat up to the level of creating a small time blast due to a violent combustion. The computers made up of these batteries were recalled and re-fabricated with to ensure there were no dangerous elements in the systems.

1. Intel Pentium Zero processor

One of the most premium inventions that ever took place in the computer hardware-world is Intel’s Pentium processor. But there was a huge blunder that Intel committed and that was a technological flaw supported very well by pathetic engineering and PR planning. During 1994 Intel was doing very well with its Pentium processor earning very good accolades with its astonishing 66MHz clock speeds. But one mathematics professor’s problem with the processor turned out to be disastrous for Intel. He’d installed a few Pentiums in a system being used to enumerate prime numbers, but had been getting very dodgy results back ever since. Intel already knew what the problem was, but chose not to rectify it reasoning that the problem wasn’t an issue unless you were really performing high level mathematical functions. The issue was with the chip’s floating point unit and they presumed they would sort the entire predicament out later. But it was too late too ugly for them.

So there you go, the list of the top ten most obtuse technological blunders made by some of the most renowned technology players in the world.

Tech World’s Top 10 Mistakes – Series I

There can never exist an industry in this world that can survive from making mistakes. And an industry that needs to be very meticulous in fabricating every product, service or solution can also not escape the ugly part of making blunders – I am talking quite obviously of the technology industry. There can be errors made by any and every person in this planet and technologists also cannot get away with a clean chit. Take the beginning of this very financial year for example; there was the counterfeiting of the Apple prototype iPhone. Also, reported during the same month was the blunder made by McCafe. Though it is a cliche statement it is worth mentioning here that ‘to err is human’ but should we be kind enough so as to ‘forgive the blunderers and be divine’.

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11 Free Softwares from Microsoft!

Microsoft - The road to ?

Photo by Nils Geylen

Microsoft The road to ?

Microsoft has been known for the proprietary softwares and need no introduction! There has always been a conflict of views across communities. While some claim that Microsoft provides value for money, FOSS activists have often denied it. Suites and programs like Open Office and GIMP have often been compared to MS Office and Adobe Photoshop, on various grounds. One of the factors being the price.

However, there are a lot of free programs that Microsoft has to offer. We list 11 of them, today;

  1. Windows Live Writer
    This is undoubtedly the best desktop-blogging application that comes for free. The amount of flexibility it offers is matchless, making it one of the best picks for bloggers across the world, both professionals and amateurs.
  2. Server Quest Game II
    Do you find it relaxing to sit and play on your console of PC for hours on end? Well, there is one more item to include to your inventory. If you are into classics, it is one classic you will want to try your hands on. It features the same pixilated graphics featured in King Quest and Leisure Suit Harry. The game is designed with Silverlight and runs on the Internet browser.
  3. SQL Server Express 2008
    This is a slimmed down version of the SQL server but with the same powerful tools to enable you create your websites and applications. The server comes in three variations – Express, Express with Advanced Services and Express with tools. The program is simple to learn, easy to use and offers the same database capabilities as the SQL server.
  4. Office Accounting Express 2008
    Structured on the familiar Microsoft office interface, Office Accounting Express 2008 is a simple to use but powerful accounting tool of all times. It is engineered to blend seamlessly with other office applications.
  5. SyncToy 2.0
    As the name has it, SyncToy acts a synchronization tool that is tailored to help you keep duplicate files open on your computer or over a network. It is also a powerful back up tool. It has a simple to use interface which is a plus.
  6. Windows Steady State
    If you operate a cyber café or a large class and the chances of computers getting crashed is high, you might want to try out Windows SteadyState. The program allows you to restore every computer to the first day of configuration.
  7. Worldwide Telescope
    With images straight from the Hubble Space Telescope, this program brings the power of outer space exploration right into your house. You can engage in a rich user experience where you shuffle through hundreds of images from space.
  8. Virtual PC 2007
    This program allows you to run several operating systems and applications on one physical computer. A simple to install and run software.
  9. XML Notepad 2007
    If you find XML scripting task boring, you might want to give XML Notepad 2007 a try. Featuring different colors for different tags and classes, it is developed to make scripting and editing your XML files easier and fun.
  10. Visual Web Developer 2008
    Wannabe website developers have something for them! This program allows you to get as imaginative and diverse as it can possibly get. Tagging along powerful tools, it is one of the easy-to-use web design tools.
  11. Paint.Net
    This is simply a clever, well designed image editing software. Structured on the .NET platform, it is set to take your image editing to an entirely new level.

How many of these have your had a hands on? Which are the other Microsoft programs that are free to use? Do share your experiences with us.

10 common mistakes made by Linux users

Be human: Make mistakes. Learn from them.

Photo by Greg Biche

Be humanMake mistakes. Learn from them

Working on a Linux machine is a matter of proud and gravity for a lot of geeks. I could never know why! But there are a few ubiquitous mistakes which a lot of them make while administering a Linux box. If kept in mind, these mistakes can be avoided to keep a smooth work flow in a Linux environment.

Out of many, I would like to enlist a few of them;

  1. Root User Log in: Always try to avoid logging in as a root user, because logging in from root gives you access to all permissions which has a couple of dilemmas. The first being a probable mistake via GUI can hamper the system extensively and the second being the running of X via a root which makes a PC more susceptible.
  2. Avoiding updates: As a good administrator it is always expected on one’s part to keep updating your system to make it a more secure one. This will make the system more resistant to attacks hence make it more stable.
  3. Installing applications from different binary types: Installation of various files from .deb package and their dependencies from source, or vice-versa might not always work, because the dependencies are more complex in nature. So, it is advisable to install files from .deb package as many related applications become simple to upgrade from within the package management system.
  4. A server boot to X: In order to make a few administrations tasks trouble-free, the server boot to X ultimately results in memory wastage and loss in CPU cycles. This also helps in restricting the access to your system and results in utmost privacy.
  5. Low password strength: Passwords should always have the utmost security and their strength should be good. It is better to keep a password which is hard to memorize than keeping a password more prone to the hacking fraternity.
  6. Misunderstanding the file permissions: The rwx method which stands for r=read, w=write, x=execute is used to handle permissions effectively. Proper permissions can help a system in many ways while improper permissions can lead to a system getting hacked. Therefore, an administrator must have good enough knowledge of the unique code of permissions.
  7. Zero backup of critical configuration files: To avoid unnecessary problems, it is always better to have a backup of all important configuration files. Necessary backups include those of Samba, Apache, and MySQL.
  8. Ignoring log files: /var/log is the default destination for all log files. Log files are used to locate all generic errors. The use of third party applications is also growing day by day and thus an application called logwatch has come into prominence which creates various reports for us to solve the discrepancies in /var/log files.
  9. Neglecting the command line: It is actually a tough task to memorize all the commands and this is taken care of mostly by GUI. But at times, ignoring command lines which is faster, easier, more secure, and more reliable is a moronic decision on the user’s part. A basic understanding of the working of command lines can help a user and lead to correct judgments.
  10. Non-installation of a working kernel: A machine requires a kernel and its proper updating. An update of a current kernel, if it works well, is actually a better thing to do than deleting previous kernels. If an update is successful deleting previous kernels which acted as backup is advisable.

These were few of the top mistakes which a Linux administrator/user can avoid to help use the resources in a better and safer way.

10 Myths of Free & Open Source Software

It does not require immense general knowledge to know that all those things that have been successful irrespective of their fields have had lots of myths attached to them. FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) being one of them and it is the responsibility of people like you and me to make others know that these logics are just plain and jane myths and nothing more than that. I feel honored to enlist few of the top myths we have in the society regarding FOSS:

  1. FOSS is 2nd Best: Presently the myth is not at all true as applications like Firefox and OpenOffice.org are equally competent than their proprietary software counterparts. But there are areas like OCR Scanning where functionality and usability still has a larger scope to move to perfection.
  2. FOSS is just for developers: Contrary to common belief, FOSS is not just for its developers, users and their founders. But in recent times there has been a plethora of opportunities for technical writers and other category of users to develop their expertise in the highly rewarding FOSS community.
  3. FOSS is devoid of support: The enhanced feature of codes being available to everyone actually increases the chance of getting software support. For example,Red Hat earns huge profits by offering support solutions to enterprises.
  4. FOSS is monotonous: Initial attempts of FOSS trying to copy and offer monotonous software has been completely replaced these days. FOSS now has revolutionized its business operations in entirety by being able to market its services domain in equality with the software domain.
  5. FOSS is not free at all: By contrast, there is just a FOSS license which has to be purchased and the result is an individual’s decision to use FOSS as and when he likes. Two types of licenses which can be used are BSD style licenses which are very permissive in nature and Copyleft licenses which are very restrictive in nature.
  6. FOSS requires money: FOSS is absolutely free and open source supporters’ infact have a long term relation as the availability of code and generation of ideas by interacting with the community serves as a major advantage to them.
  7. FOSS has lesser security: People perceive that things which are hidden are safe. But, in FOSS, the focus is more on the protection of information than the methodology used to implement it. Several codes are made and rectified in the public and it thus increases the knowledge of all the users worldwide.
  8. FOSS works just for small projects: The truth is that FOSS has projects ranging from medium to large scale and a few examples of it are GIMP, Xfce desktops, Ubuntu, etc.
  9. FOSS is only for software: After initial hiccups, FOSS has started manufacturing 3-D games, though it continues to be 2nd best because of the unavailability of free 3-D video drivers. Nowadays, several online games support Linux/GNU clients as well.
  10. FOSS costs nothing and does no good: The availability and shipping of FOSS actually costs nothing and is thus perceived to be not of superior quality. But, it being an exception has falsified the fact and thus presented a new business logic which says that “Free can be good too”.