TV-PGFebruary 23, 2004: Mac OS X officially rates as the most secure server operating system; yay for us. Meanwhile, Motorola manages to churn out one more G4 revision before its chip division goes solo, and muggers are apparently targeting iPod owners as easy marks...
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Bulletproof On Broadway (2/23/04)

Check it out-- we can dance if we want to! No doubt you've heard by now that Mac OS X has been declared "one of the world's safest operating systems" by a London pack of security experts, but we haven't had a chance to comment yet, so allow us to do a little jig in celebration of the inherent protection of our operating system of choice.

Okay, let's see, here... Ya ta ta... Ya ta ta... Thrust, spin, turn... Pivot, pout, jiggy... Jiggy, robot, do-si-do...

Trust us; it's a good thing you aren't seeing this.

If you're looking for a reason to bust a move of your own, faithful viewer hylas was the one who tipped us off to a Macworld UK article which quotes a report from London's mi2g: "The world's safest and most secure online server Operating System (OS) is proving to be the Open Source family of BSD (Berkeley Software Distribution) and Mac OS X based on Darwin." The firm bases its conclusions on a study of over 17,000 successful attacks against servers and networks, only 555 of which were breaches of BSD or Mac OS X. In contrast, Windows and Linux were compromised in well over 15,000 of the attacks. Holy server holes, Batman! And here's more to dance about: "For the first time, the number of recorded breaches against government servers running BSD or Mac OS X worldwide fell to zero in January 2004."

Now, Mac OS X topping the list comes as no particular shock, but we admit that we were surprised to see Linux coming out as far less secure in practice than Windows, with its 13,654 breaches massively outpacing Windows's 2005 to win the dubious title of "most breached online server OS." What's especially weird, though, is that in all previous years, there were more compromised Windows servers than Linux ones, and now suddenly Linux pulls into the lead by a factor of 7? The folks at mi2g think it's because so many more people are suddenly switching from Windows to Linux and aren't doing their homework first, but we can't help noticing that this overwhelming increase in Linux server hacks is reported just three months after Microsoft stood up in front of Big Business and declared that Windows is vastly more secure than Linux and "on average, Windows poses less of a security risk." Suppose Microsoft's got a massive room full of hackers who've spent the past year rooting unprotected Linux servers for the past year to skew the numbers in Microsoft's favor?

And then there's the other reason we might have to stop dancing pretty quickly (aside from the neighbors calling ambulances because they think we're having seizures): with Windows accounting for only 2005 breaches and BSD/Mac OS X grabbing 555, that implies that Mac OS X is barely four times as secure as Windows, which, frankly, scares the bejeezus out of us. Given how leaky Windows has proven to be over the years, you'd have to boost that number to at least 40 before we'd feel safe again. Forget dancing; if we're not even four times as safe as a Windows user, we might as well just lock ourselves in the cellar with a shotgun, a case of No-Doz, and four hundred cans of SPAM.

Wait... Breathe deeply. Relax. And repeat after us: "mi2g's study dealt purely with 'overt digital attacks by hackers' and ignored viruses and worms completely. mi2g's study dealt purely with 'overt digital attacks by hackers' and ignored viruses and worms completely. mi2g's study dealt purely with 'overt digital attacks by hackers' and ignored viruses and worms completely..."

Ahhhh... we almost feel like dancing again. Who's up for the Hustle?

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A New G4. Yay. Wheeeee. (2/23/04)

Motorola's chip division isn't Freescale yet, but it's managed to squeeze out one more iteration of the G4 before it goes indie. We know, we know-- nothing about a new G4 quickens your pulse anymore, and these days your techno-lust is strictly G5-centric. Fair enough. But do try to keep in mind that, at least for now, the G5 is strictly a Power Mac (and Xserve) processor; the vast majority of Macs being sold-- all consumer Macs and even the pro laptop-- still rely on the G4 you now find so soul-killingly boring. So when Motorola announces that it's managed to bump the G4's clock speed another 13%, we do our best to look interested.

We don't always succeed, mind you, but we try. Surely that counts for something.

Anyway, faithful viewer Chris McDevitt sent us an article from The Register which reveals that almost-but-not-quite-Freescale has just announced a new G4-class processor, the 7447A, which can run at speeds of up to 1.5 GHz while burning a smidge less power. The 7447A also supports frequency cycling, which means that the chip can throttle back its speed (and, consequently, its power consumption) during light workloads in order to prolong battery life. Sounds like a decent chip for revised iBooks, right? And maybe even PowerBooks, too, assuming that Apple might want one more G4 revision before it manages to shoehorn a G5 into a PowerBook chassis later this year.

And hey, with faithful viewer and laptop shopper Mitch telling us that both PowerBooks and iBooks are currently scarcer than scarce in his neck of the woods (north of the border, down Canada way), there's at least some sketchy anecdotal evidence that Apple's been flushing the channel in preparation for a speed bump. Then again, the Apple Store lists iBook lead times as just 1-3 business days and PowerBooks as "Same Business Day," so we wouldn't necessarily put a whole lot of stock in that indicator; for all we know Steve declared a laptop embargo on Canada because he's really upset that they keep calling ham "bacon." But we have heard a few whispers here and there that zippier portables, both consumer and pro, are due sooner rather than later. How's that for vague?

Ooooh, see? News of a slightly faster G4 chip may not float your boat directly, but turn it into the prospect of revised 'Books and that boat starts getting a little buoyant. Because you never know; alongside a processor boost, Apple might also increase RAM and hard drive sizes, and maybe even trim prices a little. Faster G4s are just a teensy piece of the puzzle. Heck, suddenly the whole thing even seems exciting! Sort of. A little.

Doesn't it?

Sigh. Okay, fine-- come back when there's G5 news. We understand.

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White? No, These Are Ivory (2/23/04)

How did we just know it would come to this? Simple: the experience of listening to an iPod is far too joyful and perfect an experience to avoid corruption by the baser elements of this degenerating world. iPod owners have always identified each other by spotting the telltale white earbuds, and while that practice started out as an innocent way for people who'd attained portable music nirvana to acknowledge the enlightenment of other similarly blessed individuals, back in November, things started to get a little dodgy.

The first signs of trouble surfaced when some iPod owners reported being approached by other 'Podites to engage in the promiscuous swapping of earbud jacks for thirty seconds of anonymous (dare we say "tawdry"?) tune-sharing. And okay, hey, free love and all that, yay freedom of expression, yay community of iPod lovers, but there's still something a little unsavory about wearing white earbuds and being accosted by a total stranger who takes that as a standing invitation to stick his own 'buds in your jack. 'Taint funny, McGee.

But now the white earbuds have taken on an even more unpleasant association: by wearing them, not only are you inviting others to invade your personal music space, but you're also signalling muggers that you're a good mark for a quick buck. Faithful viewer David Poves alerted us to an article in the Evening Standard which confirms our long-held worst suspicions: "A series of muggings of people for their iPods has been reported, and experts warn the distinctive white headphones could be the secret of its appeal to criminals."

The party's over, folks. In London, and no doubt elsewhere, wearing white earbuds is no longer the secret badge identifying you only to other smug members of the elite; now it's the equivalent of strapping a flashing neon sign to your head that says "BIG SCORE." Or "COME AND GET IT." Or, less concisely, "I'M CARRYING A TINY AND EASILY PAWNABLE PIECE OF ELECTRONIC EQUIPMENT THAT COST AT LEAST $299, AND I'M CURRENTLY LISTENING TO MUSIC SO THERE'S NO WAY I'D EVER HEAR YOU SNEAKING UP BEHIND ME WITH THAT BIG, SCARY KNIFE. OH, AND SINCE I'M RICH ENOUGH TO BLOW SEVERAL HUNDRED BUCKS ON AN iPOD, THE ODDS ARE PRETTY GOOD I'M ALSO CARRYING A REALLY NICE CELL PHONE AND A WALLET FULL OF CASH."

So if you're going to be listening to your 'Pod in public, particularly at night and in urban areas (we've yet to hear of an iPod-jacking by a cow or a gang of field mice, but you never know), you may want to consider getting an alternative set of earphones that don't act as a beacon for muggers out for an easy score. Or, if you really like the way your iPod earbuds sound and you don't want to drop the cash on a less conspicuous set, spend ten minutes with your existing 'buds and a Sharpie. Turquoise, anyone?

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