Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Wasting Energy on Energy Preservation

The ridiculously myopic Energy Preservation Act of 2005 mandated that Daylight Savings Time - a predictable fixture for longer than I've been alive - would be modified to start sooner and end later.

Hilarity ensues.

Unlike the Y2K issue, EPA2005 approached rather unexpectedly. Much like Y2k, however, it highlights the remarkably poor, closed-minded job software companies do at planning and developing software.

As one might expect, nothing is immune from the DST change. And, as cynics would bet, patches for this issue wouldn't be available until mere months before the change was to take place - spinning IT departments into instant crisis mode. "Yes, we would have fixed this sooner, but *none* of our vendors got it right." Keep in mind that this was the Energy Preservation Act of 2005. It's now firmly 2007, and we're just now in possession of all the patches we require.

So, again, the entire IT industry looks like a bunch of children who couldn't plan their way out of a wet paper bag. This should be a very, very easy problem for IT departments to fix. OS vendors would simply issue patches that contain the new DST start and end dates...we apply them...end of story.

W r o n g .

Turns out that very few applications rely on their host OS to tell them the correct time.

. . .

So, the fun begins. The insidious plague - the scourge of mankind - the boil on the face of IT known as Java - keeps it's own time. Each JRE keeps it's own time. And as you've read here before, seems like Sun has never embraced "backwards compatibility" as it applies to Java. So in short, just about everything we have that runs on Java needs it's own patch. Nice.

It gets worse.

Novell GroupWise needs patches too. Again, it runs on servers whose time MUST be kept in synchronization with one another. I understand that WebAccess might need to know the new parameters....actually, no I don't. I also don't understand why the GroupWise SMTP server, or GWIA, can't just ask the OS "Hey, what time is it?" now and again. I don't understand why the GroupWise CLIENT, which runs on WINDOWS, which KNOWS THE TIME, can't figure out from the OS itself what time it is, let alone the DATE.

It all confuses me. It's all ignorant. It's an embarrassment for anyone other than an OS vendor or hardware platform vendor with a proprietary embedded kernel (like Palm, RIM, etc) to require patches for the changes to DST. If you have custody over an IT shop of any size and haven't figured out NTP, you're a bozo and need to turn in your resignation right now. If you're a software developer and think that YOU know better than anyone else how to track time, you need to smash your computer with a sledge hammer and never ever touch one again. The sooner, the better.

In the mean time, those of us whose laps receive the problems and challenges that nobody else has the guts or brains to tackle - the enterprise IT professionals - will dutifully go about cleaning up someone else's mess....again.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Computerworld's "Vista" About Face

Interesting how the tone & tenor of Computerworld regarding Windows Vista has changed post-launch.

An article on Vista today begins like this:

Microsoft is losing consumer operating system market share to Apple for many reasons, but most of those reasons can be oversimplified thus: Mac OS is simple, and Windows is complicated. That's why it may be such a costly error for Microsoft to make the Vista upgrade such a confusing mess.

Until today, even experts couldn't tell you off the top of their heads the differences between each of the many Vista versions -- or even how many versions there are -- or what the basic requirements are for the Upgrade versions. Ordinary consumers are baffled to the point of paralysis.

I have to say that my next PC will probably be an iMac, as my 8-year-old HP Pavilion is showing it's age. The 24" version is particularly stunning. That said, a MacBook Pro isn't out of the picture.

Back to the Big 12 country, the Sooner State is again a bit ahead of the curve...pity for them. Listen to the way Computerworld opens this article:

Unlike most large organizations, the University of Oklahoma plans to deploy Windows Vista on more than one quarter of its 65,000 PCs by the end of this year.

Because of those early migration plans, Dennis Aebersold, the university's CIO, is already well versed in the new operating system's volume activation features.

But Aebersold was disappointed to find that Microsoft Corp. has yet to release its Volume Activation Management Tool, which the school needs in order to use a proxy server to centrally activate multiple Vista desktops via a single connection to Microsoft's systems.

To meet Microsoft's requirement that Vista be activated and validated on systems within 30 days of installation, the university also plans to use an internally hosted Key Management Service developed by Microsoft to support automatic activations.

But Matt Singleton, the school's director of IT services, voiced concerns about that method of activation as well. He said Microsoft's KMS offers no user-based authentication, so to enable students who aren't connected to the university's network to activate Vista, the IT department will have to customize its firewall rules to allow only authorized users to access the system running the KMS.

"We believe the new volume-activation process can be beneficial for license compliance purposes," Aebersold said. "But the existing tools need more work and should have been released sooner."


Regular readers of this blog (all of whom have too much free time on their hands) will note that I view just about everything from Redmond as's the stuff from Speen St. that I usually trust a bit more. In my opinion, Computerworld's coverage of Microsoft as it applies to Vista has been all over the map - especially as it applies to their electronic content - to the point that one could make a good case against them as a reputable, independent journal.

Having corresponded with Don Tenant, I know he'd find this troubling and unacceptable. I hope he has a chance to see how wide an arc his publication has travelled with regard to it's "positions" on Vista.