It’s The Internet Economy, Stupid!

September 8, 2014

Recent headlines scream the news:

Best Buy announces list of 50 stores closing in 2012

Staples to close 140 stores as online rivals take sales away

RadioShack to close up to 1,100 stores

Sears to close 35 more stores as it boosts online presence

We’re all doomed!

Don't Panic!

It’s just the Internet economy.

We used to complain about the large brick and mortar corporations, like Walmart, putting the locally owned mom and pop shops out of business.  But now we get all bent out of shape when we read about the large corporate stores falling to Internet based retailers like Amazon.

The failure and closing of these stores is their own fault.

They failed to recognize that advancements in technology has radically changed the marketplace.  Your nearest competitor is no longer the store down the street.  The big chain stores need to come to terms with the fact that consumers now carry the Internet in their pocket.

Shoppers can compare prices from a brick and mortar store by simply using their smart phone.  Not only can they compare prices, they can order that exact item from an Internet seller while standing in someone else’s store.

I recently needed a fresh supply of blank DVD discs.  I checked my local brick and mortar retailer:

Local price for Memorex 100-pack blank DVD-R

And then I checked my online Internet retailer:

Online price for Memorex 100-pack blank DVD-R

Same exact product.  Huge price difference.

Given the choice, which one would you buy?

I could drive twenty miles up, pay local sales tax and drive twenty miles back.  Or I could stay home, save my gas, save a bundle of money and pay no tax.

Buy local and go bankrupt.  It’s a buyer’s market.

Your local mom and pop shops that attempt to compete by posting an e-commerce website will fail.  They don’t have the purchasing power to buy in bulk volume to qualify for the discounts offered to large national retailers.  Plus their website gets buried by search engines, relegating them to obscurity.

Yes.  Jobs will be lost in one sector, but more jobs will be created in other industries.  This is a natural progression of our willingness to adapt to changing technologies.

It’s the Internet economy, stupid!  Deal with it.


Windows 7 vs Windows 8 vs Logic

August 28, 2014
Advertisement for Windows 8

Advertisement for Windows 8 (click to enlarge).

There is no truth in advertisements.  We’ve gone from “buyer beware” to “buyer be damned” by abandoning the rules of Logic for the sake of selling a product and making profit.  Here’s a good example:

Advertisement for Windows 8 vs Windows 7

The advertising agency that put this together failed to understand one of the key components of marketing:  Never pit a company against itself.

Microsoft makes money by selling software.  The chart above clearly indicates that Windows 7 is inferior when compared to Windows 8.  So customers should purchase Windows 8 instead of Windows 7.  But both are made by the same company.

That would be like McDonald’s telling their customers to buy Big Macs instead of Quarter Pounders, because Big Macs are vastly better than Quarter Pounders.


From a marketing standpoint, McDonald’s wants customers to believe that both are equally delicious and tasty.  It’s up to the consumer to decide which one they prefer, while the company profits more by offering both.

Windows 7 is still supported until the year 2020.  It would be logical to compare expired, unsupported Windows XP to Windows 8, but not Windows 7.

Familiar Desktop:

Windows 95 through Windows 7 used a similar desktop environment.  The Metro user interface of Windows 8, however, was so radically different that it was considered unusable by many computer users.  Tech professional Brian Boyko created the best video analysis of  the Windows 8 graphical user interface:

Works with a mouse and keyboard:

True for Windows 7, not so much for 8.

As the video above demonstrates, Windows 8 was built for use on a touch screen enabled device.  Trying to mimic “swipe” gestures with a mouse is problematic at best.  The operating system can sometimes interpret the mouse movement as a finger gesture but often times not.  Which prompted many end users to initiate their own one-finger gesture towards Microsoft.

Works with Word, Excel, Outlook, and other familiar programs:

Which versions?  And what other “familiar programs” are they referencing?

Legacy support of older software programs is theoretically enabled in Windows 7 and 8, but not always functional in practice.

Games in particular that ran on Windows 98 though XP would no longer work correctly in newer versions of Windows.  Microsoft knew this and created Windows XP Mode for Windows 7 Professional, Enterprise and Ultimate versions only.  Little good this did the Home Premium version user, which was the default version of Windows on the vast majority of Windows computers sold worldwide.

Take note also that Microsoft Word, Excel and Outlook are purchased separately.  Microsoft no longer includes such productivity software with new computers pre-installed with Windows, like they used to do with Microsoft Works.

Built for touch PCs and tablets:

As far as we have been lead to believe, Windows 7 was never “built for” use on a touch screen device.  That much is true.

The mouse is an input device.  The keyboard is an input device.  The trackpad on a laptop is an input device.  A touch screen is also nothing more than an input device.  So if the proper drivers are installed, there is no reason why someone couldn’t use Windows 7 on a touch screen enabled device.  Right?

Windows Touch—available only in the Home Premium, Professional, and Ultimate editions of Windows 7—is fun to learn and easy to use. The Start menu and taskbar now sport larger, fingertip-friendly icons. All your favorite Windows 7 programs are also touch-ready. You can even finger-paint in Paint!

Faster startup times:

Faster than what?

This is a lie that has been foisted upon the consumer market since the release of Windows XP.

From a dead start (not suspend, not hibernate), from a completely off state, Windows 3.x would boot in the blink of an eye when loaded on the same hardware used by Windows 7 or 8.

The operating system has not gotten faster.  The hardware has gotten better.  This is easily proven by looking at the system requirements for past and present Windows versions.

For Windows 3.11:

The minimum client installation of Windows for Workgroups requires:

* 80286 microprocessor or better for version 3.1

* 80386sx microprocessor or better for version 3.11

* 2048 kilobytes (K) total memory for version 3.1

* 3 megabytes (MB) total memory for version 3.1 (2 MB with no network installed)

* 3 megabytes (MB) total memory for version 3.11 (4 MB is recommended)

* 6.2 MB of hard drive space (14.5 MB recommended)

For Windows 8:

If you want to run Windows 8 on your PC, here’s what it takes:

* Processor: 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster with support for PAE, NX, and SSE2

 * RAM: 1 gigabyte (GB) (32-bit) or 2 GB (64-bit)

 * Hard disk space: 16 GB (32-bit) or 20 GB (64-bit)

 * Graphics card: Microsoft DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM driver

Newer Windows operating systems could never run on the same hardware requirements as their earlier predecessors.   Modern software is increasingly dependent upon modern hardware for speed and functionality.

Apps from the Windows Apps Store / Mail, people and other built-in apps / Keep your settings and apps on all your PCs and devices:

Well, duh!

The implementation of “apps” only exists within Windows 8.  Users of Windows 7 would never miss these apps since they never had access to them.

People who use a specific operating system over an extended period of time become familiar with the functions and nuances of that software and with the available software packages for that system.  This true for Mac, Linux, iOS and Android users.

The idea that consumers would switch from Windows 7 to Windows 8 just to have access to the apps in the Windows store is a ludicrous argument.  The natural tendency for most people is to stick with what they know and what works for them.  This would explain why nearly 25% of all computer users are still running Windows XP.

Start Screen with live updates:

This is true of almost any operating system where the end user has enabled automatic login.  The start screen thus becomes the main desktop screen.  And if automatic updates are also enabled, the operating system would naturally update from the start screen.

So this is not an advantage of Windows 8 in particular.

Isn’t time for a change?

Windows 8’s uptake falls again, now slower than dud Vista

Microsoft wants you to forget Windows 8

Consumers vote with their pocketbooks.  The dismal sales of Windows 8 is a clear rejection of the operating system.

Even Microsoft can’t wait to put Windows 8 behind them.

The advertisement posted above is a total farce.  Don’t blame the company that sent it or the advertising agency that created it.  These people are just trying to do the best with what they have to work with.

Thank goodness that the buying public is smart enough to recognize the logical fallacies within advertisements like this one and make better informed decisions about what not to buy.



What Identity Thieves Want

August 2, 2014

ID Thieves 1

The major misconception about identity thieves is that they only want your information in order to obtain credit cards in your name.  While some do have that goal, others have more heinous reasons for wanting to impersonate you.

Email scammers will often use the lure of large sums of money in order to obtain your personal information.  The information they request looks harmless on the surface.  The follow quote is from an actual scam email:

You are required to contact the above person and furnish her with the following of your information that will be required to avoid any mistakes:-

1. Your Full name:
2. Your Country:
3. Contact Address:
4. Telephone Number:
5. Fax Number:
6. Marital Status:
7. Occupation:
8. Sex:
9. Age:

They are not asking for your social security number, driver license number or bank account numbers.  The information above is all an identity thief needs to create false documents and impersonate you.

If you can put your name into Goggle and find the information listed above about yourself, then you are ripe for identity theft.

Some email scammers may go as far as requesting photographs:

Therefore do not hesitate to contact and re-confirm the following information as listed below:


Are there photographs of you posted along with your personal information on Facebook, My Space, Twitter or other social media websites?

Can anyone with Internet access find the names of your spouse and children?

Do you have “friends” or “followers” on any of your social media webpages that you have never heard of before?

Anonymity on the Internet is your only line of defense.  Did you waive your right to privacy in a vain attempt to become famous?

You not only put yourself at risk, you put your entire family at risk.  Is it worth it?

Some people in high profile positions have no choice but to release personal information about themselves.  However, famous people are rarely ever the target of ID thieves, since their names are too easily recognized.  The average Joe Schmo, on the other hand, doesn’t warrant even a second look when presenting his identification credentials.

Criminals who manufacture methamphetamine (meth) require large amounts of the drug pseudoephedrine, which is chiefly found in nasal decongestants.  US Federal law requires retailers to obtain and record the identification of anyone purchasing over-the-counter cold remedy medications containing pseudoephedrine.  Such decongestants can only be legally purchased in limited quantities.

Meth makers will therefore use a large number of false identifications at different locations to obtain the necessary amounts of pseudoephedrine to keep their production at profitable levels.

Your identification might be used in such nefarious operations if you’ve provided enough personal information online for someone to produce a fake ID.

Take note that both of the examples quoted above ask for your age.  This gives the identity thief the year you were born.  From that they can obtain, through public records, your exact birth date.  Is your real birthday posted online?  In with your profile, perhaps?

Using a pseudonym online is a good idea if and only if that pseudonym is never cross-linked to your real name.  Hiding behind a nom de plume only works if no one can connect it to your actual identity.

What information can identity thieves find about you?

Do they already have all of your personal information?

You sure about that?

ID Thieves 2





Abandon Ye The Linux Command Line

July 29, 2014

The Linux command line interface is an extremely useful tool.  It expands the overall functionality of the Linux experience by giving users access to programs that otherwise may not have a graphical user interface.

To the lifelong Microsoft Windows or Apple Mac user, however, the command line just looks like this:

The Linux command line as perceived by a Windows user

A complete pile of nonsensical crap!

It’s also the basis for attack FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) by fanboys and paid commenters\bloggers\trolls, who routinely post on various websites in an attempt to discredit Linux and dissuade users from considering Linux as a viable alternative to their current operating system.

The average user isn’t going to know to download the source code and compile it to run their apps…  Using linux is the absolute worst thing you can do in this situation.

The preceding FUD is a complete and total lie.  Repeat a lie enough times and people will start to believe it.

I’ve been using Linux since 2008 and have never once had to compile a program or kernel update.  The Linux desktop environments, in all their various forms, are just as point-and-click user friendly as MS Windows, if not more so.

From a purely marketing standpoint, if you want more people to convert to Linux, you must convince them that they already posses the intuitive computer skills needed to use a Linux based operating system.

There is no learning curve.  Anyone who can use a Windows or Mac PC will have no difficulty switching to Linux.

There is a bigger learning curve going from the PC environment to an iPhone or Android based user interface.  But millions of people have adapted.

Continue posting tutorials about the use of the Linux command line.  That information is important.  And whenever possible, include instructions for the GUI version of that same task.  Please don’t fuel the FUD.

We want more people to know that Linux is just as easy to use as Windows or Mac.  Help spread the word.


Loading Windows 3.11, 95, ME and XP In VirtualBox

July 28, 2014

Windows 3.11 running in VirtualBox

For many of us, this was our first experience with the Microsoft Windows graphical user interface (GUI).  Windows 3.1x was nothing more than a graphical shell around which DOS operated.

Thanks to VirtualBox, you can relive that nightmare all over again!  Just point your browser to Kirsel’s amazing website and download all the image files you’ll need to install Windows 3.1x in VirtualBox.

If you know nothing about VirtualBox, now would be a good time to learn.  An image file (.img or .ima) can be used as a substitute for physical floppy disks in VB.  You swap image files under the Devices menu at the top of the screen while VB is running.

Before attempting to load Windows 3.1x or Windows 95 in VB, you must disable VT-x/AMD-V and Nested Paging under the System > Accelerations settings tab.

A full tutorial has been created by Glijnos to walk you through the process.

I have all of the images files for DOS 6.22 and Windows 3.11 that were included with my first Windows computer: a Packard Bell Legend series system with a 50MHz Intel CPU, 4MB of RAM built onto the motherboard (upgraded to 36MB by adding two 16MB RAM chips), and a 512MB hard drive.

How cool was that?

Program Manager Windows 3.11 About Screen

Not very.

Why would anyone want a working virtual copy of Windows 3.1x?  Well, perhaps you have a bunch of old software programs lying around and just need to open a document in Microsoft Works 3.0:

Microsoft Works 3.0 in Windows 3.11

Or maybe you just want to see the Berkeley Systems After Dark Loony Tunes screensaver you bought years ago run just one last time:

Looney Tunes After Dark Screensaver

That Pepé Le Pew sure was a scoundrel!

Pepé Le Pew After Dark Screensaver

Or you just want to rekindle old skills you’ve forgotten.

Or you’re like me and you have a bunch of old Windows install discs collecting dust that are just begging for new life.

Windows 95:

Windows 95 running in VirtualBox

Historically significant, Windows 95 set the standard for the desktop GUI.  It was also insanely unstable.  Even in VB, it may still give you fits.

Create a new VB install.  Set the virtue hard drive (.vdi file) to a fixed size of no more than 2GB.  Set RAM to 128MB.  Set video RAM to 32MB.  Remember to disable VT-x/AMD-V and Nested Paging.

If you have a full Windows 95 install disk (OEM disks or full commercial release), load DOS 6.22 just as you did for Windows 3.1x.  Add the  cdrom.img files to the completed install.  Now you can reboot your virtual install and use your Windows 95 disc to install the OS.

Windows ME:

Windows ME running in VirtualBox

One of the most hated operating systems in Microsoft’s history, Windows ME still gives users headaches when trying to do a VB install.  But I found a way around that problem.  Install Windows 95 first and then upgrade.

Here we go again!  Create a new VB install.  Set the virtue hard drive (.vdi file) to a fixed size of 8GB.  Set RAM to no more than 512MB.  Keep the video RAM at 32MB.  Remember to disable VT-x/AMD-V and Nested Paging.

Load DOS 6.22 just as you did before for Windows 3.1x.  Add the  cdrom.img files.  Now you can reboot your virtual install and use your Windows 95 disc to install the OS.  Once installed and booted, insert your Windows ME disc (full, OEM or upgrade) and follow the onscreen instructions.

When Windows ME finishes installing and completes a first boot, shut it down and enable VT-x/AMD-V and Nested Paging.  This will speed up ME in VB.

When you loaded Windows 95 in this install, it created a virtual hard drive of only 2GB, but our .vdi file is 8GB in size.  How do we get those 6GB back?  With Linux!

Download the 32-bit version ISO image file of GParted.  Or use your favorite Linux distribution Live Boot Disc that contains the GParted program.  Boot your Windows ME VB install into Linux and use Gparted to format the unallocated portion of the virtual hard drive to FAT32.  You can name the dirve if you wish.

Remove the Linux disc or image file from VB and boot back into Windows ME.

Windows ME My Computer Screen

Your install now has two hard drives!  A 2GB C: drive and a 6GB D: drive are both accessible from within the virtual environment.  Thank you, Linux.

Installing Guest Additions:

Forget it.

None of these operating systems are compatible with the VB guest additions.  However, you might manage to get part of the guest additions to load in Windows ME before you get an error message.  This will at least load the mouse integration drivers and allow you to automatically “capture” the pointer when hovering over the ME window.

You will have no Internet access, no USB access, no shared folders and no full screen integration.  Other than that, it works great.

Video Drivers:

The best video drivers for Windows 95\98 and ME can be found at the VBEMP 9x Project.

Right-click on My Computer > Properties > Device Manager > [+] Display adapters and select the entry under that heading.  Click the Properties button at the bottom of the box.  Click the Drivers tab and then Update Driver… to install these drivers.

I didn’t say it was easy.  But it does work.  Once installed, you can set your screen resolution from 320 x 200 256 color up to 1600 x 1200 True Color (32-bit).  Do not use the full screen integration feature of VB.

There are three sets of drivers folders provided by the VBEMP 9x Project.  Each folder is marked to the corresponding amount of video RAM you allowed in the VB settings.  If you set the video RAM to 32MB, use the folder labeled 32MB.

A Few Tips and Tricks:

The easiest way I found to import files into the VB installs is to use AcetoneISO.  This Linux only program can be used to convert a folder and its contents to an ISO image.  The image can then be mounted in VB and accessed by any Windows install as a physical CD\DVD.

Alternatively, you can always burn the files to a blank CD\DVD.

Backup your .vdi file.

If this is your first introduction to VirtualBox, there are some excellent tutorials to help you get started.

If you are loading Windows 95\98\ME from scratch, don’t forget that you must use fdisk to create partitions on the virtual drive and then format the drive before loading the OS.  DOS 6.22 formats before it installs.

Installing old operating systems in VB is a fun way to learn more about the history of operating systems and how they worked.

It can also be useful for playing older Windows based games that no longer run on newer Microsoft platforms.

The most useful out-of-date OS is still Windows XP:

Windows XP running in VirtualBox

Windows XP has full integration with the guest additions software in VB.  You can backup and port the .vdi file to other computers.  Although Microsoft no longer supports XP, there are still plenty of compatible software packages available from other vendors.

Old Version and Old Apps provide free downloads of older software programs.

For more information about old operating systems, check out the History of Operating Systems.

VirtualBox is a fun tool for exploring operating systems both old and new.  Now, go put those old discs to good use!

VirtualBox Installs of Windows



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.