CyberTech Rambler

September 29, 2006

Microsoft Office MVP: Most users use only 10% of MSOffice

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 3:08 pm

In the recent TechEd Conference (South East Asia), one Microsoft MVP says that most users uses only 10% of MSOffice capability.

He also argued that “Behind every feature is a benefit”, and that “Businesses are losing out because they are paying the full price but not getting the full return-on-investment”. I am not sure what he said is true.

First up, it can be counterproductive if I use a feature if none of my collaborators know how to use it or modify it. I’m stuck with the highest possible set of common knowledge which is, 10% of Office, and I can hardly do anything to improve it. Even assuming everyone knows how to use a feature, there are times when activating/using them is itself counterproductive.

As for not getting “full return-on-investment”, it is true. However, it is a double-edge sword. He used it to argue for more skills in Office Application, but I could easily turn the arguement around and ask did I over-paid? In fact, I will use it to argue for incremental payment scheme where you only pay for the feature you need and use. It is actually more difficult to argue for more skills. I should know as I failed constantly to argue for better command line skills among researchers here who depends very heavily on command line for daily work. All they know is to transfer command line we gave them from email to the command line window, mostly by retyping, not cut-and-paste ;(


September 27, 2006

IBM’s new Patent policy

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 7:29 pm

IBM is “taking the lead” with its new Patent policy, as explained by Andy Updegrove here. While its effort is welcomed, lets not forget this is not the first time IBM is taking the lead. The first time it did, it use patents to earn money and can thus be said to be the precursor of this mess. Glad it is taking effort to sort this out, after it too decided it have suffered from the abuse of the patent system, and that the beast it nurtured comes back and haunt its parents as well.

It is, however, also necessary to give IBM credits when it decides to change direction, it did it fast with conviction, like a rhino. The other 1000 pound aminal inĀ  the room, Microsoft, looks more like a clumsy elephant. It too has been on the receiving end of patent abuse. However, while calling for reform, it also threaten to abuse its patent portfolio as well.

EC is hitting back at Microsoft

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 7:23 pm

I thought that EC is simply going to sit back, defends its territory against Microsoft’s concerted campaign to discredit it. I’m wrong. In a tit-for-tat fashion, it decided to reveal that US Embassy has been in “contact” with it over the size of fine Microsoft faces. If it is not hitting back, why bring out something that happens two months ago?

Surprisingly, John Carroll, a Microsoft employee with serious dislike of EC antitrust action against Microsoft, thinks that getting Uncle Sam involved this way is a bad idea.

Windows Genuine (Dis)Advantage of Office 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 7:17 pm

Ed Bott blog post shows that Office 2007 not only validate itself, but your Office XP or Office 2003 as well. In fact, it appears that, if any of your office subprograms is deem to be counterfeit, you do not get to update any part of Office at all.

I hope the latter is not the case, while I do not condone counterfeiting, I feel that this goes overboard. If you have a illegal copy of software A from suite S, suite S have the rights to stop you from using Software A, but not Software B from suite S if you have rights to use it. It is cross-contamination and not unlike the Nuclear Option used by a lot of open source licenses.

Verizon clever use of Voice Mail to thwart PreTexting

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 7:10 pm

One tidbit from the HP saga. According to NY Times, at least one attempt of pretexting was thwart by Verizon employee by comparing the voice in the voicemail message to that of the caller and figure that they don’t match.

That is an ingenious use of voicemail. Unfortunately, although Verizon flagged quite a few telephone pretexting, they did not find it necessary to monitor the online account as well. Although I see this as a weakness is security, Verizon is by no means the only party. In fact, I did not put the two together until I read this article. That is after I read that both telephone pretexting, and illegal access to online accounts were made since the saga begin. Hopefully, the security vendors now see the need to close this loophole.

September 25, 2006

British Library calls for DRM review, and David Berlind clears up misconception about why we oppose DRM

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 6:48 pm

At last, a really big player, the British Library, is throwing its weight behind a call for review of DRM, and a rethink about copyrights, especially with respect to orphaned work. I know British Library has its reservation about DRM for a long time now. This is the first time it goes public with a bang, rather than doing behind-the-scene work in that direction. Hurray!

And in case pro-DRM people think most of the antiDRM people are modern version of one-eye man/woman with a hook and bad teeth working under a black flag featuring a skull and two cross bone, read David Berlind’s answer to Engadget’s editorial on this issue. I have no symphathy for antiDRM people who fit that particular description. I need and use Intellectual Property Law to protect my work, but DRM gone one step too far….

Patricia Dunn MUST go

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 6:39 pm

Heads are rolling at HP. Two key HP employees involved in the pretexting scandal are gone. However, one more needs to go. Her name is Patricia Dunn. If it is serious enough to fire the two employees, how about the person they report to. At present, all indicators point to the fact that Ms Dunn is the one they reported to. The buck does not stop at the two employees, but their boss(es) higher up the chain.

She may be a valuable board member to HP, so fire her, wait for 3 months, then rehire her. Keep the director seat vacant for the time she is away for all I care. Although in practical terms, it is the same as forcing she extended vacation, this solution is not acceptable. The key here is she must be fired. Firing her shows that HP acknowledges the seriousness of her “miscaluculation”. You cannot simply have one rules for directors, another for everyone else. Well, … may be you can have two rules: a stricter one for the directors, not a lenient one for directors. HP is not a small private company where the directors can be tyrants. If it is, the whole HP ship will sink already.

September 22, 2006

Adobe launch official complain to EU about Vista, so does Symantec

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 1:00 pm

By way of John Carroll’s blog, I found this news item that Adobe and Symantec is complaining to the EU about XPS and Windows Security Component.

The Adobe is an update of what I call “Is Microsoft Crying Wolf?“. John Carroll is and should be happy that critics like me is proved wrong. For my defence, I did believe that there is something happenning as Microsoft was forced to make amendment to Office 2007, but was not sure whether it is going developed to be an antitrust complains. My feeling at that time is Microsoft is trying to stop the complains right in its track by creaing a big fuss in userland, astroturfing if necessary, but failed … miserably.

The Symantec side of this story is simply a confirmation that EU has concerns about security in Vista, as blogged by me here. Its beef is that Vista allows it own program access to certain part of the security infrastructure, but not others.

Mr Carroll’s comment on both issues hit the nail on its head. It is mainly about Microsoft pre-installing its own offering in Vista. The lock out complain by Symantec is a logical development from it. He may be right to say that preinstallation should be permitted. After all, the original US Judge on Microsoft’s Antitrust case throws out DoJ’s claim that stopping Netscape from the best way of distributing software, i.e., pre-installation through exclusive deal, does not violate antitrust law. However, the important distinction here is that there is no deal with third party. Rather, it is Microsoft that is insisting that the pre-installation must take place or otherwise it is not licensing Vista. It is therefore, a case of “tying”, which even the said judge ruled as illegal.

Sony dropping PS3 price in Japan.

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 12:44 pm

Sony dropped PS3 price in Japan before it is even launched.

Must be feeling the heat from Xbox 360.

HP story is too big for this blog

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 12:42 pm

Yup, it is snowballing bigger and bigger and it is impossible for me to keep up.

Groklaw has become one of my favourite site for news about HP. So obviously I recommend it for anyone wanting good coverage of the saga.

Only thing I will do is to highlight things that are not picked up by mainstream blogs, nitpicking if you like.

First entry: HP emails seems to be leaking to the press lately. Although the witchhunt in question succeeded, it is possible that it does not catch all the witches, or someone in the State/Federal Judiciary/Senate is leaking information which it should not. If the latter is the case, we might have more serious problem which need, you guess it, another witchhunt.

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