Spring is finally here. As I hear about the weather for Easter Sunday tomorrow, we will stay just a little above freezing. Is the cold weather really behind us now. I hope so.We had a special field trip the week after our last meeting to the DataChambers data center in Kannapolis. The facility is almost ready to open for business. There were no equipment racks full of servers or even cabling running all over the place. Even though we saw a big empty building, it was interesting to hear about what will be there. The security will be incredible. Getting into the building will be about the same as getting into a NSA facility. The backing technology and mechanicals of the building are incredible. They have redundant power systems for the building itself as well as the future data center equipment. I will provide time for some of our folks to tell you about it at our meeting. A great thank you to Cliff Culpepper for driving his car to the facility. I was going to drive my van for everyone, but had car trouble that morning. Thank you Cliff!I was just reading an article on “Windows Secrets” about Microsoft changing names again. Remember when they called the native applications on Windows 8 “Metro Apps”? Well, they are now going to call them “Windows Apps”, go figure, calling something “Windows”? Future topics for future meetings, all about what Microsoft is planning for us and how to extract more money from us. Hooray!
This month’s meeting is going to be a free for all on the topics of Google Apps, Internet Neutrality and how to get the best value from your internet provider (is that possible at all).
We may also have time for a short question and answer session, so please bring your questions, issues and problems about computing with you.
I hope everyone had time to reflect on our lives during Passover and Easter. I hope to see all of you this Thursday.
I also want to see some of our members or guests that receive this newsletter who do not come often. Coming to the meeting is the ultimate ‘Social Media’ thing you can do. Don’t just stay at home and e-mail and Facebook, come out and see real people that share a “Common” interest. If you bring your own meal, come to the meeting about 5:45 to 6:00. We have a great time “eating before the meeting”.
See you this Thursday.
Buy your last laptop now?
BIOS. It’s been with us since the dawn of PCs. In some of my first articles I explained that the BIOS is what tells the computer that it is a PC and not a washing machine. In modern times (2007), manufacturers realized BIOS is not adequate for advancing capability such as discs larger than 2 TB, network boot, and more capable peripherals.
Thus comes the advent of UEFI and Secure Boot. Secure Boot requires that every piece of code from power-on to the final handover to the operating system pass a certificate-protected verification. Similar to SSL internet browsing this ensures that an unforgeable signature will not allow a byte of code to change.
Next year your laptop will be a washing machine.
According to reports,* to put a Windows 10 logo on their laptop, manufacturers must implement Secure Boot and not allow the user to disable it. On the upside; we will see the end to rootkits and a lot of other persistent malware, a reliable Windows boot, and probably more stable peripheral drivers. On the downside; you probably won’t be able to install another OS – even Linux or Win7 – or use most scanners, printers, or other devices that pre-date Win10.
OK. IBM, RedHat, and maybe Ubuntu will get certificates for their latest Linux. But don’t try to install FreeDOS or an oddball distro of Linux that you’ve grown fond of. Similarly, the major vendors will have new drivers for the models they’ve sold to big businesses by the thousands. But don’t expect one for the slide scanner or multi-function machine you’ve been using for years. And why would anyone write a new driver when they can sell you a new $400 video card.
So the computer is a “washing machine”. It’s an appliance that does one thing very well; but don’t ask it to be anything but a 2015 Windows 10 laptop.
* Disclaimers and references
Primary material (which I did not read):
Home page to the Microsoft conference in Shenzhen, China; January 2015.
A slide deck on how this will be done. Look particularly at slides 14, 15, and 19.
Discussion on this topic starts 3 minutes in.
Don’t forget to pay for what you use
A story on CBS’ 60 Minutes (http://www.cbsnews.com/videos/wikimania/) April 4 about Wikipedia reminded us that that organization is a non-profit. This is a resource that can blow other encyclopedias out with the number of writers and editors that contribute to it. And it’s all free to use.
If you go to Wikipedia a couple times a year, or a couple times an hour; please donate to their operation. They are so dedicated to their openness, that even finding the donation page requires a search. For your convenience, here it is: http://goo.gl/Z2qcsp. They ask for as little as five dollars per year and could support their whole operation if you will give that amount. Do it now!
Upcoming proposed meeting topics
May – Laptops vs Tablets
June – Security
July – Summer Barbeque
August – TBD
September – TBD
October – TBD
November – TBD
December – Holiday Social
Come join us. If you’d like to make a suggestion – or, better, take responsibility – for one of those “TBDs,” contact President@pc3.org