Tag Archives: Fail

Windows 8 DP

I played with the Windows 8 Developer Preview in VirtualBox for a while this evening. Those who spend time around computers will recall that every other Microsoft OS is a loser. The betas for XP and 7 were clear upgrades when they started circulating. They were fast and stable and added desirable features. Me and Vista hit the market like an animal carcass and stunk up the place for a while. They were slow, and fragile, and changed things for the worse. Windows 8 goes beyond that. This shit is the next Microsoft Bob.
The quirks and performance instability can be excused as a developer preview running in a virtual machine. The fact that every UI change from 7 is for the worse cannot.
The Windows8 DP Launcher Screen
The big feature is the Metro interface. Metro is trying to graft a mediocre appliance UI (I thought “Cell Phone” a lab mate compared it to their DVD player) on to the desktop, in place of a sane launcher or window manager. The login screen is a “Swipe up to unlock” affair, with no indication that that’s how it works. Finding programs is like sorting through a desk full of business cards. The task model is more akin to Android, where programs suspend to quietly consume resources in the background until swapped out instead of quitting cleanly. All metro apps run fullscreen, one instance per application, and none of the reference apps have any mechanism for tabs or fields. Task switching is performed by hovering near the left edge of the screen and clicking to cycle through active programs (Alt+Tab switches through all active Metro apps, all Desktop apps, and the desktop itself). There is no indication of what is running, so “active” is more than a little unclear. I still haven’t found a mechanism to shut down without first logging out.
The Explorer Ribbon UI element in Windows8 DP
You can partially drop to a conventional desktop mode, which is much like Windows 7, but a little bit worse in every way. The start menu is GONE – clicking where it used to be just drops you back to the Metro mess. Task management is confusing because some programs are programs, and some programs are entities in Metro. The “hover near the left edge of the screen” switching behavior persists on the desktop. Menus have been replaced by ribbons – which are, I shit you not, 115px high in the file manager. To put that another way, 209px of the default file manager’s 597px height are taken up by static decorations – I’m reminded of those pictures of browsers where the user never turned down a toolbar, but it’s the default style.
Looking for new UI metaphors is commendable, and it’s especially nice to see something other than the “Hide ALL the UI elements!” hyper-minimalism (see the new Google bar) that is the current trend being tried, but this may actually be worse. Users deserve better than the fleet of terrible regressive change-for-change’s sake UIs that have been foisted on the personal electronics world of late.
At least we’ll be making mean jokes about this one for years to come.

Posted in Computers, General | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

I was still kind of hoping the promised 2011 MeeGo handset would be an attractive option… instead the N9 as it came to be called is a slab-phone. I loved my n810, but a Linux box with only a virtual keyboard? eugh.
Edit:So it looks like there is a limited distribution Deverloper Version which is the rumored n950, with hardware QWERTY keyboard and the like. It is fairly attractive specs-wise, but sounds like it will be hard to get a hold of, and I suspect will be something of a buying into an orphan platform situation.

Posted on by pappp | Leave a comment

PSN Outage Reading

I don’t have any stake in the PSN outage issue, not owning any Sony products more complicated than headphones (The last console I bought was an original Xbox- used- to ‘chip and run XBMC on), but it has made interesting reading on the interwebs. There are the official releases, which until today were basically “The system is down.” There is also all kinds of amusing speculation, because when you take video games away from geeks, they suddenly have all kinds of time for that sort of thing. A fairly credible and highly publicized bit of speculation comes from this thread at reddit, where someone from PSX-Scene places the root of the problem on custom firmware that allowed consoles onto the developer network, which subsequently allowed users to purchase paid content with bogus credit card information. The specific details aren’t that interesting to me – the interesting thing is that almost all the speculation has something in common: that Sony was, at least in part, relying on a client-side security model*. If true, this is seriously fucking stupid, even by Sony standards. Ignoring security concerns, when writing software there is a standard adage “Never trust the user.” Usually, the user can’t be trusted because the user is a fucking idiot. Occasionally, the user can’t be trusted because the user is malicious (where, in this case, “malicious” is defined as “Wants to run their own code on hardware they own”).

Back in December there was the excellent Fail0verflow talk at 27C3 where they eviscerated the security model on the PS3, and pretty much demonstrated that Sony screwed the pooch on that front (watch the talk if you haven’t; it is by far the best security presentation I’ve ever seen). Even before this, the PS3 was fairly deeply compromised by a variety of other techniques, and the PSP has been compromised (and re-compromised) almost since it shipped, so they didn’t just have a reasonable assumption that clients couldn’t be trusted, they knew it for certain.

There was also the rootkit scandal with the copy protection on some Sony BMG audio CDs. All together, this sets up precedent for an almost unlimited degree of poor design in Sony security systems.

Now, Sony is saying that a huge quantity of personal information on every user may have been compromised, and there are a spate of complaints about bogus charges on cards used with PSN services floating about on the ‘net (complaints of unknown correlation and reliability). This leads to the really interesting questions: Was all this information stored in plaintext? – it sure sounds like it was if it was extracted on such a scale. If both the Sony release and the speculation about access being gained through compromised consoles is true, why was this information accessible from clients? And finally, how did a system with all the above properties come to be designed? I’m seriously hoping this gets analyzed in public, because it will make an amazing instructional case study, and something of worth might as well be salvaged from this clusterfuck.

* There are a couple non client-side attack theories too. The boring “Organized criminals did it” option, and the theory that Anonymous (big A) is doing their gleeful mayhem thing, like they threatened. These aren’t any more or less credible, they just aren’t as interesting.

Posted in Computers, DIY, Entertainment, General | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Why are there no recycling containers in the fancy new “green” building? I just wanted to get rid of some plastic packaging, but nooo…

Posted on by pappp | Leave a comment