So, new digs?

It looks a bit different around here lately. Sure, it’s roughly the same as what it was, but something is off.. A little bit here and there, so what changed?

Well, to tell the truth, I’ve switched blogging platforms. Don’t get me wrong, I love Serendipity. I’ve used it for years, love the features, love the simplicity. Unfortunately, Serendipity doesn’t have the greatest support for offline blogging, updates are relatively sparse, and it’s limited to just blogging. So I decided it’s time for a change.

Ok. Deep breath. I’ve switched to WordPress. Yes, yes, I know. I’ve decried WordPress as an insecure platform for a long time, but I’ve somewhat changed my thinking. The team at WordPress has done a great job ensuring the core platform is secure and they’re actively working to help older installations upgrade to newer releases. Plugins are where the majority of the security issues exist these days, and many of the more popular plugins are being actively scanned for security issues. So, overall, the platform has moved forward with respect to security and is more than viable.

I’ve also been leveraging Docker in recent years. We’ll definitely be talking about Docker in the coming days/weeks, so I won’t go into it here. Suffice it to say, Docker helps enhance the overall security of the system while simultaneously making it a breeze to deploy new software and keep it up to date.

So, enjoy the new digs, and hopefully more changes will be coming in the near future. WordPress is capable of doing more than just blogging and I’m planning on exploring some of those capabilities a bit more. This is very much a continuing transition, so if you see something that’s off, please leave a comment and I’ll take a look.

MacHeist – Software for Charity

This past christmas, I was made aware of a interesting site called Macheist. They go through a lot of trouble to create an elaborate story with lots of twists, turns, and some really tough puzzles, just to give away software.. All of the software given away is developed by independent developers.

The latest heist, Macheist 3, just finished the other day. Today, the bundle was released. In short, you get a ton of software for the low price of $39. 25% of that goes to various charities. You can either choose a single charity, or split it amongst all of them. Once the total sold hits a certain amount, additional apps are released for download.

This years Macheist bundle has the following apps:

World of Goo
Wiretap Studio
The Hit List
and Big Bang Board Games (For the first 25,000 buyers)

Oh, and you get EventBox free, just for checking out the site.

All said and done, if all apps are unlocked, the bundle is worth just under $1000. And there’s some great software here, too. I highly recommend World of Goo, it’s an amazing game. In addition, there are various tools for photo editing, sound editing, cooking, and more. Definitely worth the $39 purchase.

So, if you’re interested, you can use this link. Full disclosure, that’s a referral link. Why? Because if you use it and purchase the bundle, it unlocks additional software, Pop Pop and the Koingo Utility Package. The Utility Package is a collection of 20 apps. If you’re not into the referral thing, that’s cool, just use the link up towards the top of the page, or go to yourself. But hurry, you only have until April 7th.


Vista… Take Two.

With Windows Vista shipping, Microsoft has turned it’s attention to the next version of Windows.  Currently known as Windows 7, there isn’t a lot of information about this latest iteration.  From the available information, however, it seems that Microsoft *might* be taking a slightly different direction with this version.

Most of the current talk about the next version of Windows has centered around a smaller, more compact kernel known as MinWin.  The kernel of any operating system is the lifeblood of the entire system.  The kernel is responsible for all of the communication between the software and the hardware.

The kernel is arguably the most important part of any operating system and, as such, has resulted in much research, as well as many arguments.  Today, there are two primary kernel types, the monolithic kernel, and the micro kernel.

With a monolithic kernel, all of the code to interface with the various hardware in the computer is built into the kernel.  It all runs in “kernel space,” a protected memory area designated solely to the kernel.  Properly built monolithic kernels can be extremely efficient.  However, bugs in any of the device drivers can cause the entire kernel to crash.  Linux is a good example of a very well built monolithic kernel.

A micro kernel, on the other hand, is a minimalist construct.  It includes only the necessary hooks to implement communication between the software and the hardware in kernel mode.  All other software is run in “user space,”  a separate memory area that can be swapped out to disk when necessary.  Drivers and other essential system software must “ask permission” to interact with the kernel.  In theory, buggy device drivers cannot cause the entire system to fail.  There is a price, however, that of the system call required to access the kernel.  As a result, micro kernels are considered slower than monolithic kernels.  MINIX is a good example of an OS with a micro kernel architecture.

The Windows NT line of operating systems, which includes XP and Vista, uses what Microsoft likes to call a “hybrid kernel.”  In theory, a hybrid kernel combines the best of both monolithic and micro kernels.  It’s supposed to have the speed of a monolithic kernel with the stability of a micro kernel.  I think the jury is still out on this, but it does seem that XP, at least, is much more stable than the Window 9x series of releases which used a monolithic kernel.

So what does all of this mean?  Well, Microsoft is attempting to optimize the core of the operating system, making it smaller, faster, and more efficient.  Current reports from Microsoft indicate that MinWin is functional and has a very small footprint.  The current iteration of MinWin occupies approximately 25 MB of disk space and memory usage of about 40 MB.  This is a considerable reduction in both drive and memory usage.  Keep in mind, however, that MinWin is still being developed and is missing many of the features necessary for it to be comparable with the current shipping kernel.

It seems that Microsoft is hyping this new kernel quite a bit at the moment, but watch for other features to be added as well.  It’s a pretty sure bet that the general theme will change, new flashy gadgets and graphical capabilities, and other such “fluff” will be added.  I’m not sure the market would respond very nicely to a new version of Windows without more flash and shiny…  Windows 7 is supposedly going to ship in 2010, but other reports have it shipping sometime in 2009.  If Vista is any indication, however, I wouldn’t expect Windows 7 until 2011 or 2012.

Meanwhile, it seems that Windows XP is still more popular than Vista.  In fact, it has been reported that InfoWorld has collected over 75,000 signatures on it’s “Save Windows XP” petition.  This is probably nothing more than a marketing stunt, but it does highlight the fact that Vista isn’t being adopted as quickly as Microsoft would like.  So, perhaps Microsoft will fast track Windows 7.  Only time will tell.