Friday, August 19, 2005

Ariz. School Trades Textbooks for Laptops - Yahoo! News

Ariz. School Trades Textbooks for Laptops

Arizona's Empire High School in Vail has issued iBooks to each of its 340 students as it becomes one of the first public schools in the country to turn away from printed textbooks

From the article:
"School officials believe the electronic materials will get students more engaged in learning. Empire High, which opened for the first time this year, was designed specifically to have a textbook-free environment."

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Tuesday, August 16, 2005

With OS X you spend time working

I've been thinking about how one has to devote their time to a Windows based system versus OS X and a Mac. We all know that Windows systems are prone to virus infection, spyware, malware, and unpatched systems are begging to be exploited. In fact, Windows is the most attacked, least secure operating system around. A Windows system is unsecure out-of-the-box and keeping a Windows system safe demands a high degree of vigilance. After purchasing a new Windows computer, it's vital to run Windows Update to download the numerous "critcal fixes" that if unpatched "could allow an attacker to remotely compromise your Windows-based system and gain control over it". Now that's a scary quote from Microsoft. They admit in thier security bulletins that an attacker can gain control over your computer thanks to holes in Windows! In fact, it's highly likely that an unpatched Windows system will be exploited within minutes if connected to the Internet.

Attacks by viruses, worms, spyware and browser hijackers can be reduced but you have to put in time and effort on an almost daily basis to secure your Windows system. For one you have to install anti-virus software and a better firewall than the one that ships with Windows. Installing anti-virus software isn't enough, it's critically important that you keep your virus definitions up-to-date. You should also install a Spyware and Malware cleaner to clean your Windows system of those malicious programs that found their way onto the hard drive.

Prior to Microsoft's Monthly Update (where they release patches for vulnerabilities) it wasn't uncommon to find a new patch every few days or weeks. I've been on a Mac since September 2004 and can count on my hands the number of security patches that have been released to address vulnerabilities. The thing I've noticed is that Microsoft releases a patch after a vulnerability has been identified whereas Apple releases a patch well in advance of the public learning of the vulnerability.

I have a background in Enterprise Hosting but on the UNIX side. I've seen so many examples where sites must go down in order to apply a patch to a Windows machine and often, that can cause problems to an application and/or site. Futhermore, when a problem is faced a common workaround is to reboot the Windows machine which in turn causes a site to go down. This is very serious when a customer's business relies on the uptime of their site. In addition, many customers decide to hold off on a patch until they can test the patch in a staging environment. This delay in patching a production environment exposes that site and it's customers to the vulnerability.

The point I'd like to make is that Windows based systems require that you spend a lot of time and effort to keep them secure and operational. With Macs and OS X, you spend your time working which in turn leads to productivity. This is the case with UNIX based systems. Less time is spent securing and protecting the Operating System and server, your time is focused on the issues that matter most work, productivity, and uptime.

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Monday, August 15, 2005

Opinion: OS X Hacked to run on any x86 PC

This story has been around for a few days so I thought that I would give my opinions on the matter. To start off, I pose the following two questions:

- Did Apple intentionally release the developer version of OS X so that it could be hacked?
- Was Apple's agenda to get current users of Windows and other OS's to try Mac OS X?

My Comments
The fact that OS X has been hacked could be a blessing in disguise for Apple as it has potentially exposed OS X to an untold number of users.
I'm sure that when OS X is offically released for x86, it won't be as easy to hack. What Apple may have done here is get more people excited about OS X and this may draw more users to the platform once the Mactels are released. Either way, more people are going to get their hands dirty by playing with OS X and I'm sure that many will find it appealing. I think that Apple has more to win here than loose as it will bring more "Switchers" to OS X.

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