Say goodbye to Mininova

This post affects 6/10 people on this planet, because roughly 6/10 people are either directly downloading and distributing illegal content on the internet, or are just getting stuff for free they should be paying for.

In the latest in the clamp down on piracy, we’ve seen Mininova been given the ultimatum to either clear out all illegal content from their search index, or they’ll simply get shut down. Naturally Mininova complied and so you can no longer search for free programs, movies, games, HD rips, or anything of that nature from them. Mininova are just 1 in many Bittorrent distribution sites that are getting rapidly shut down, while Thepiratebay might still have some online presence, they too are facing pressure, and slowly closing their doors.

It seems the war on piracy is making huge leaps forward in eradicating illegal content via the bitTorrent (P2P) protocol. I would imagine that other services offering direct downloads (RapidShare) or newsgroup downloads (UseNext) will too soon be feeling real pressure to legalize.

Is this all a bad thing?

I would say I am not terribly sad to see these services being eradicated. If anything this extermination can’t come soon enough. Human nature is as such, people will get away with what they can. But once they can no longer get away with it any longer they adapt, and order is restored. Before you flame me just yet for this point of view, read on.

The more legal channels (no not TV channels but outlet channels) there are for movies, games and other entertainment media, lets not forget educational media, the more competition there is is the market place. As legal purchases rise, more companies emerge into these profitable arenas, and eventually the prices drop, because that is how economics works (supply and demand). Still you might be thinking nothing beats free?

While this is where you are wrong, because free can only be sustainable for so long. If a platform simply is not profitable enough it can get boycotted. PC gamers are already feeling this effect. Many game companies refuse to target the PC platform, because of the high rates of piracy.

I would say lessons need to be learnt. The public will not stop pirating on their own, and so because of this need these mechanisms taken out of their control. Like in the same way – people will not stop smoking, what they really need is to ban the sale of cigarettes, might sound Nazi, but I can promise you in the long term, people would be happier because of this.  On the flip side, Movie Studios, Music Producers, all artists involved need to tone down a bit, and provide the public with realistic pricing for entertainment material.

This whole sector needs to also start realizing that there are people who live outside of economically stable areas and outside of the US / Euro zone. Vast hordes of people would also like a piece of this entertainment action, but you can’t expect for example Eastern Europeans or Indians to be out buying a BD Disk once a week, when it costs 1/10 or 1/5 of their monthly income. You must understand these people don’t exactly have a moral dilemma pirating when they see John Travolta’s private Lear Jet collection, to these people the industry is rich enough, and they almost feel like they have a right to get that item for free as part of a rebellion to bring the prices down.

I’ve always said it, and I’ll say it again, if you want to stop the piracy – start by bringing the prices down, and make US and UK material readily available for the middle class outside of economically active zones.  Still we see most of the bigger names in the entertainment industry clearly do not understand this, neither are they suffering. The piracy continues, but this brings me to my next point.

The entertainment industry have the philosophy that – “We’re selling 10 now, if we eradicate piracy, people will be forced to buy, and so we’ll sell 100”. This is not exactly true, until the prices drop, most people will cut down severely on their now doses of entertainment material. In person trading (making copies for friends) has been going on for decades, and so far there is no way to eliminate this completely, other than doing away with the ability to have local copies of material.

Why am I fairly happy about all of this?

Because I believe we’re living in a time when the average person is misinformed. Misinformed or simply uninformed about world events and what exactly is going on with our planet. The general population is misinformed because they’re living in the free entertainment era, they’re coming home from work, watching DVD’s or playing XBox games. The average person does not read enough, and is an easy target for media brain washing, and new world order compliance.

Most people are naive enough to think that the US president actually has power, that just 1 man and his staff run a country. Most people have not heard of the Bilderberg Group, Trilateral Commission, neither do they know that the US presidency is run by bankers.The reason why they don’t know any of this is because they’re too enriched with all this free entertainment media floating around and its a great distraction. Take away the freedom to pirate, and the overall awareness of facts will increase as people find better more wholesome ways to invest their time.

Some food for thought!

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Microsoft Security Essentials, why it’s less than perfect

MSE (Microsoft Security Essentials) did get some very good reviews, and overall it’s not a bad anti-virus and spy-ware package. It has a native 64bit version and its free, and does provide adequate protection for the average user who doesn’t wonder off onto stay sites, or use cracked software. But I wouldn’t call it an ideal package for novice users.

  1. It has a serious usability flaw: The program does not automatically update itself. This means that the green systray icon turns red, and requires the user to manually update this. Now if there is one thing we should all know about usability, something the MSE team strangely don’t know, is that novice users can be scared or weary of anything relating to a virus, including the use of the anti-virus software. You see, when you ask a novice user to “update your anti-virus software”, the novice user might not, because they are too afraid to do something wrong. As far as they’re concerned something is already wrong, and they’re already worried, and who can blame them, the AV product 2-3 times a week is telling them – your system could be at risk. If you’re an advanced user, it’s just plain annoying, and makes no sense at all. AV product knows its out of date, knows where to get the update from, knows that by not updating it’s putting your system at risk, but it just sits there knowing all of this, expecting you to manually update it. Bottom line – never run this product on anything that is unattended. If you’ve installed this on your wife’s PC or your 60 year old mother, who uses the computer for the odd email, then expect to get a call every time the AV out dates, and you’ll get asked – “Something is wrong, what should I do?”, even if its clear to you, it’s certainly not clear to the notice.
  2. The real-time protection is hackable even by a script kiddy. In hacking terms, the script kiddy is a very entry-level hacker, and also very common. Anyone with a devious nature and a bit of programming knowledge can become a script kiddy, and a decent AV product should at least protect you against the layer of attacks coming from such a low skilled group of for lack of a better word – “hackers”. Anti virus packages typically provide you with 2 levels of protection, one of these is real-time, which means, files are scanned for viruses before you execute them, when a file is finished downloading, when a file arrives in your inbox, etc. Real time scanning is not exactly state of the art, its been around for a long time, and I would consider it essential given the high number of threats coming in from email and internet browsing and downloading. So why do I say its very easily hackable? Well here is a fact that may shock/surprise you. Once real-time scanning is enabled in MSE, all you need to do to turn it off is overwhelm it. This is because once MSE becomes overwhelmed it automatically shuts down real-time scanning. So what does this mean? All a hacker needs to do to shut down your real-time scanning is somehow get a file onto your computer (yes even the very virus, but it could also be a completely harmless file) that confuses the real-time scanning engine, either by (a) containing too many files (innocent or not) (b) script files (even in smallish doses, and even innocent) and ladies and gentlemen your MSE real-time virus scanning will turn itself off, and your system will become unresponsive.
  3. Based on the above point MSE HATES PHP. PHP is a scripting language that programmers use to create business applications for the web. MSE treats all script files as potential threats, and so when confronted with the .php extension MSE deep scans the script, however…. MSE does not have the intelligence to detect potential threats in PHP files, instead what happens is MSE locks up, real-time scanning gets disabled, all this happens after explorer crashes, and restarts. Even if you might not in danger of getting hacked that very second, it’s still extremely annoying for anyone running PHP scripts for legitimate purposes.

Because of these 3 points, I’m slowly loosing my patience with this otherwise average product. It did during my initial review look like a viable option for those of us running Win7 64bit, but now I must conclude it’s not designed for the power user in mind.

Preview your web pages in IE (6,7,8)

The market has long been screaming for a way to test multiple versions of Internet Explorer on the same installation of windows.

Along comes Microsoft Expression Blend 3 Super Preview (free download),  which claims to be able to test your pages in IE 6, 7 and 8 all on the same machine, and without installing previous versions, the paid version can even do Firefox.

Now I know a lot of the web development community are excited by this product, but I personally am not too sure this app will find its way into my list of useful web development tools.

This product is free for a reason. I can’t see this as a viable option really for a serious HTML handcoder / Javascripter.

So what exactly is wrong with it. It starts off looking really good, the installer is clean, and the app has a decent enough interface.

  1. Its too slow. It takes so long to load pages into the preview it goes against the flow of the way I design. This is to make small changes, save and check in each browser. This way when an issue comes up I can correct it without having to rewrite too much code. Unfortunately during testing, I found that a refresh could take up to 40 seconds per page on my live site. I am constantly saving and checking and so this product would just drive me crazy with all the wait time.
  2. I guess the main reason I dislike it: Its called super preview, but it doesn’t give you a live preview option, where you can click around and test the functionality of your site. It only loads a static view and after that the JS or dynamic content cannot be checked, unfortunately.

So if you really want to know how to test in IE 6, 7 or 8. Here are some options for you.

http://stackoverflow.com/questions/574463/running-ie6-ie7-and-ie8-on-the-same-machine

Win 7 Breaks VPN Clients

If you’re like me, you’re already a huge fan of Windows 7. Its simply the best OS Microsoft have produced to date. But as good an operating system that it is, it has one serious draw back. Most existing VPN clients don’t work with it.

In my line of work I use 2 custom VPN clients at the moment, and there simply isn’t a work around to get these clients working, except for running XP Mode.

Microsoft assure that VPN client vendors are upgrading their software to work with Win 7, so future versions should be fine, but at this very minute, if you’re using VPN on a daily basis, then be aware of this issue, more information can be found here: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd787668%28WS.10%29.aspx

Could twitter be shitter?

Could someone please teach me how to extract truly valuable information from Twitter? The whole system to me seems like a searchable collection of verbal diarrhea.

I’ve really tried searching twitter for topics I find interesting, but in my experience most of the results (well ALL, but I will try to be diplomatic) are not very informative at all.

I can understand that Twitter might be used as an event tracking system or possibly even to quickly give others insight into your product development, but I’ve yet to see this being used effectively. A lot of companies have a link to a twitter feed, but its questionable if this is the inside track you might be looking for.

Just because someone said it, doesn’t mean they’re right, because so few people are really in the know, and so many people like to talk, a lot of the information you find on Twitter is speculative or downright wrong.

Are people who use Twitter bored or lonely?

Here are some typical twitter posts ! If these are yours you need to leave the house, right now!

Racquetball with the guys , it’s been awhile.

up early in the morning, had my breakfast at home, in the class right now. success.

Im sleepy. Never been like this in 6 months or so.

my internet is down yet my spirits are up

Yes they’re all colored pink because these posts couldn’t be more gay.

Password Manager for Google Chrome.

Sorry to disappoint you if you clicked on this post, expecting to find a solution. It seems there just isn’t a really good password manager for Google Chrome, neither a free solution or a commercial option.

I really like Chrome its fast and light weight. But how could anyone seriously use it for day to day browsing? Google Chrome is similar to a fast sports bike. Great for Sunday drives around the track, but its not road worthy, and miserable in the rain. You’re going to miss a boot, and a hood.

Firefox is just a much more mature browser. It has a built in spell check, loads of skins and addons. Chrome might start up faster, might be able to run outrageous JS and AJAX, but at the end of the day I need more out of a browser than pure speed.

Google in all their brilliance might have revolutionized the browsing engine, but they’ve also failed critically to provide a truly usable product. With all their talk about open source, I wonder why they failed to release a developers SDK for Chrome? How are add-on vendors supposed to support this browser?

How to get SharePoint 2007 to run under Windows 7?

Ever wanted to know How to get SharePoint 2007 to run under Windows 7?, Well you’ve come to the right place.

This solution should work with both 32Bit and 64Bit versions, but you’ll be pleased to know its fully tested to work with Windows 7 64bit RTM.

Ok let’s get started.

You’ll need:

  • Your Original SharePoint 2007 with SP1 Install media. If you’ve got an MSDN subscription download the ISO and mount it.
  • SharePoint 2007 SP2 (either 32bit or 64Bit), can be found here (from Microsoft)
  • A setup helper application , located here
  • A database (I would go with SQL Server 2008, or get an express 64bit edition)
  • IIS Running

Overview:

To get SharePoint running on Windows 7 is not that difficult. We need to slipstream the original installation media with SP2 (because Win 7 won’t install prior versions). Then we’ll fire up the setup helper app, browse to the slipstreamed setup, select the setup.exe and it will now bypass the OS check. Once this is done we can install MOSS. After MOSS is installed, we will install a database. After this, we will run the SharePoint Products and Technologies Configuration Wizard, provide the database instance, and MOSS should install nicely.

Step 1 : Mount your install media, or insert the DVD (remember this is MOSS with SP1) or for example (en_office_sharepoint_server_2007_standard_and_enterprise_edition_with_service_pack_1_x86_x64_dvd_x14-40187.iso)

Step 2: Copy the setup folder on the disk either the 32bit or 64bit folder to a local drive on your PC (for example: c:\MOSS2007)

Step 3: Download SharePoint 2007 SP2 can be found here (from Microsoft)

Step 4: Extract SP2 – and place extracted files in the updates folder of the copied original install media (for example c:\moss2007\updates)

This can be done… by doing this… (here is a 64bit example)

officeserver2007sp2-kb953334-x64-fullfile-en-us.exe /extract:c:\moss007\updates

or

officeserver2007sp2-kb953334-x64-fullfile-en-us.exe /extract

If you don’t provide a path, you’ll get prompted to browse for one.

Step 5: Turn windows features on, make sure you have all of the following enabled:

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Step 6: Install SQL Server 2008 You decide on a version.

Step 7: Now the fun part… install MOSS using the setup helper application and it should go through without any problems at all….

Good luck – and have fun…..

And if you need more help just ask 🙂

Is there such a thing as affordable Flex Builder?

If there is one thing you’re going to battle to find fault in, its an Adobe Product, its true, and the pricing says it all.

I’ve had no motivation to buy an Adobe product mainly because Adobe Products are available via free channels and the main problem I have as a freelance developer is that even if I wanted to buy an Adobe Product, they’re expensive, and Adobe don’t have a “donation system” on their web site. Up until now I’ve been talking about my own personal budget, but even small design companies simply can’t afford Adobe Products, this is not to say they aren’t using them.

Recently I found a technology that I’m really interested in developing around. Yup you guessed it – Adobe Flex. While Flex might be free (the engine) the Flex Builder Application (The car) is not free at all, and what good is an engine without a car.

I’m not saying Adobe should give their product away, All I am saying is – think about the maths. While Adobe are trying to maximize pricing, Silverlight is getting better, and at least its priced realistically.Is Adobe heading in the same direction as JD Edwards?

For every 1 corporate that has to by law actually pay for licensing, there are about (thumb suck!) 1000 designers/ developers out there who are not paying for the Adobe Product, but still using it. Obviously its hard to tell, exactly how many users are actually out there illegally pirating PhotoShop or Flex, but its a sizable number, considering that Adobe Photoshop remains one of the most in demand P2P Applications.

So someone at Adobe might want to rethink the pricing. Someone at Microsoft did exactly that , releasing Express (free) versions of their products into the market place. Adobe remain vigilant with their $800 dollar price tags.

Would it be so bad if Adobe started offering software like Flex Builder out at $35-40 dollars. That’s suddenly looking affordable.

Why is the solution so easy to spot, yet the outrageous pricing continues?

1x$800 x 35 (Average Developers in a Large Corporate) = $28000

$35 x 1000 (Users on the street who would actually buy an Adobe Product if it was reasonably priced)  = $35000

Will I start developing around Flex, unfortunately not,  it’s overpriced, and the way I see it for something to catch like wildfire it has to be in the grasp of the average man. In the meantime I will stick to using plain old HTML / Ajax / JS front ends, until something changes in the market place.

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