Welcome to the Oct 25, 2014 issue of
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Ballmer and Win8In a Yahoo! News article way back in September 2012, the CEO of Intel told his employees that he believed Windows 8 was "half-baked" and not ready for release on October 26, 2012, the date that Microsoft planned its kickoff. But Microsoft's balmy-looking CEO Steve Ballmer went ahead with the launch, his first major project kickoff since Bill Gates stepped down. Ballmer felt they had to quickly try merging the smartphone and PC user interface, or they would bleed market share to Apple and Google.

Several other news outlets picked up this story, and in the month before the public release of Windows 8 they spread the idea that it was "half-baked" - not ready to take out of the oven and feed it to the general public. This may have contributed to the public's perception that Win8 wasn't fit for the real world. Then people began nit-picking, whining - "Where's my Desktop and Start button?" or "I can't stand these crazy Metro tiles!" or "Solitaire doesn't work like it used to!" All of these could have been minor tweaks, or "Service Packs" as they were called up through Windows 7. But instead, Microsoft chose to call them "Windows 8.1" and "Windows 8.1 Update" ...and Steve Ballmer left Microsoft not exactly in the best shape.

If you laid a trillion one dollar bills end-to-end, they would reach to the moon and back seven times;
if you laid all our reprehensatives in D.C. end-to-end along the Beltway... it would be a good thing!

Was this the first time Microsoft launched an operating system that wasn't quite ready for prime time? If you're old enough to remember DOS 1.0 you'll know that it received its share of complaints that were addressed by DOS 1.1. Then DOS 2.0 introduced some major "new" technology: a tree-structure file system consisting of folders and sub-folders, but it was sort of buggy. Those problems were mainly fixed with DOS 3.0 and by the time DOS 3.1 was released it was a very popular operating system that pretty much annihilated look-alike OSes such as Digital Research's DR-DOS and Radio Shack's TR-DOS.

Then Windows 1.0 came along with its GUI (Graphical User Interface) of icons and a mouse. The original Windows 1.0 was rather clunky, but was polished up when Windows 2.0, 3.0 and 3.1 were released, and then Windows 95 came out, a real multi-user, multi-tasking operating system, not just a file structure and program launcher with makeshift, cobbled-together gadgets to load extra programs into memory. By the time Windows 98 cleaned up the bugs in Windows 95, Windows had garnered about 95% of the personal computer market, far outstripping Apple's operating systems and computers. Similarly, Windows Millenium was a flop although it introduced "NT" - New Technology, but was quickly replaced by Windows XP that became extremely popular because the New Technology got the bugs worked out. And the same happened with Windows Vista: more new tech and a rather buggy, unpopular product... only to be replaced by Windows 7 - "Vista done Right" - a very popular operating system.

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Do you see the pattern now? Whenever Microsoft introduces some new technology, it's "half-baked" - not very polished: lots of bugs that still need to be ironed out. But then the next version comes along that's nicely polished, and everyone loves it ...except Apple and now Google fanboys. So I'm convinced that Windows 10 will become very popular as people gradually get used to the new tile interface and begin to switch over from the old Desktop, and just maybe people will start buying more of Microsoft's (formerly Nokia's) new phones with the tile interface.

Meanwhile, shipments of Google's Chrome operating system running on inexpensive Chromebooks has grown by 67% in the past quarter, giving Microsoft a run for the money: Microsoft and PC manufacturers are introducing a whole new crop of under-$300 PCs this fall, and Windows 10 follows in the spring. Now rumors are that Google will merge its two Linux-based Android and Chrome operating systems into one by next summer, creating one seamless user interface. Will Microsoft's tiled user interface for PCs and smartphones be able to keep ahead of the Google juggernaut? We'll see!

The Security Blurb:
In our Sep 28, 2014 issue we discussed how to "Opt Out of Cyber-Warfare" by installing your programs on a flash drive and using encryption. Well, now the bad guys have worked around that too: the article "New malware can live inside any USB device undetected" describes how virtually any USB device - flash drives, keyboards, printers - can be re-programmed with malware that can "call home" or infect the computer it's plugged into, or both. We've known for a long time that a flash drive could pick up malware in its memory chips, but this is different: the actual software driver that is included with every USB device can be modifed by Chinese manufacturers or by the NSA to break into any computer.

How can we adapt to this new threat? Simply by using an older technology: rewriteable DVD disks! An RW-DVD doesn't store as much data as a newer flash drive, but DVDs are far less susceptible to being "hacked" by Chinese manufacturers or by the NSA. You first download and save a copy of the AxCrypt2Go encryption program to the DVD, then go offline to write whatever information you need to keep private, encrypt it and go back online to send it. If you want something that's more portable than a full-size 5" DVD, you can buy a 5-pack of pocket-size 3" mini-DVDs for $5 or $6. Sometimes the old technology is better than the new stuff!

Check out the article "iPhone Encryption and the Return of the Crypto Wars" in Bruce Schneier's latest Crypto-Gram Newsletter: Apple has decided to close a security hole in its new iPhone 6 devices by encrypting all of the data on the phone and not providing a "backdoor" to law enforcement agencies. But total device encryption not only thwarts law enforcement agencies with a search warrant, it also protects the user's data from hackers, criminals and foreign governments. As far as it concerns law enforcement, in very few cases have they relied totally on decrypting data to solve a crime. The FBI's complaint that the iPhone 6 opens the door to pedophiles, kidnappers and other criminals is simply overblown hype.

The goal of our CN.Net-News is to share information that we think you'll find helpful as you wrestle with that little monster on your desk or at your side, your computer, tablet or phone. And we aim to present this information from a Christian worldview. Thanks for your time!

Best regards,

"Dr. Bob the CompuNerd"

Robert D hoskEN
See the "nerd" in my name? (It helps if you're a little dyslexic!)
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