Good old E-merica

One of the first things you notice when looking at anything computer-related in the US is that it is probably less expensive there than where you come from. The second thing you notice is that you can order nearly anything — and if you pay a little extra, can have one delivered in a couple of days, even faster if you pay a little more. All of those "we can't ship this product to your address" messages also vanish. The world of online ordering becomes completely open to you.

I immediately ordered a new case with a keyboard for my new tablet and a new 64GB MicroSD, because for some reason the 120GB one in my phone died immediately after I landed on US soil. Luckily all it had on it was my music. The ease, variety and low cost of average consumer products are a real eye opener. I saw, for example, a new Mercedes Benz advertised for US$35,000 (about 1 million baht). I suspect my bag will come back heavier than when it arrived.

Since it has just arrived, some quick feedback on the Logitech case for the Galaxy Tab 2 10.5. It is solid, comes with a nice keyboard and a strong magnet connection. Pairing was quick and easy, and with a solid cover it works very well on my lap. Bluetooth connectivity seems stable. The unit is recharged using a standard USB connection. All in all, it seems to be a perfect fit for the tablet. Now I guess I have no excuse to not finish my book.

On the other side of the world, China is developing COS (or the Chinese operating system), which is apparently due out as early as October this year. The primary target is all Apple, Microsoft and Google operating system users on desktop PCs, but there are plans for mobile devices to follow sometime in the future. The claim is that Android developers, for example, have no intellectual property rights (my apologies to those reading this and drinking their coffee at the same time).

Since XP has officially ended its life and Windows 8 has now been banned from all government desktops — along with anything Apple-related — the door is open for a Chinese-built and -managed operating system. COS is being developed by China's Institute of Software at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Shanghai Liantong Network Communications Technology. There have been some concerns that development is being pulled in multiple directions, so meeting the target date is perhaps unlikely. According to some reports, the new COS is "Android-like" in appearance.

The last security patch from Microsoft managed to resurrect the lovely "blue screen of death". It has now released a new patch for the patch that also contains the first of the non-security updates I mentioned in an earlier article. Since the earlier update was removed, this is really a re-release. The new releases come from Microsoft Trustworthy Computing, which is somewhat ironic given the circumstances. Since the patches are typically delivered through Windows Update it was spread fairly far. If you are not on this update path, you are encouraged to manually download the latest patch as soon as possible.

In other problems, according to the measurement firm Cast, about 70% of all financial services applications are open to data breaches. Among other factors, the problems stem from poor coding practices, typically due to tight deadlines causing programmers to cut corners. Note to IT management: meeting unrealistic schedules leads to a sacrifice in quality and security. I suspect that many readers will be able to empathise. It is worth pointing out that Cast provides technology for detecting such issues in code, so there is a possible conflict of interest here. Bottom line is that many applications from all sources contain errors and vulnerabilities, be it Android, Apple, Microsoft or elsewhere. The percentages may vary, but they are there.

In related news, more than 50 Norwegian oil and energy companies have been hacked recently, with another 250 companies advised by the Norwegian government to check their networks and systems for any evidence of a breach. Both the method used and the reason for the attacks are unclear.

Apple lost a little more ground in their US legal battle with Samsung, as Judge Lucy Koh decided against giving Apple a permanent injunction to stop Samsung selling smartphones — well, the basically obsolete ones, that is.

As readers will know, I am a fan of the Amazon Kindle. There will be a new version out this year, and speculation is already rife — thinner, double the memory, waterproof, flat with the case screen, better screen resolution and a new font specifically designed for the device. On my wish list, there is a scalable font, as the larger sizes are too far apart for me. If half of the above features are included I'll be upgrading.


James Hein is an IT professional of over 30 years’standing. You can contact him at jclhein@gmail.com

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Writer: James Hein
Position: Database Writer