The State Department is just one of many examples of IT gone rogue

Much has been made of Hillary Clinton’s use of her own mail server, running out of her home. It didn’t change my opinion of her, and I don’t think it changed anyone else’s either–it just reinforces what everyone has thought of her since the early 1990s. Then, Ars Technica came forward with the bizarre case of Scott Gration, an ambassador who ran his own shadow IT shop out of a bathroom stall in Nairobi.

The money quote from Ars: “In other words, Gration was the end user from hell for an understaffed IT team.” And it concluded with, “[A]s with Clinton, Gration was the boss—and the boss got what the boss wanted.”

Indeed. And it doesn’t just happen in the government.

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Snickering at the Emachine

For several years, I administered a command and control system for the U.S. Air Force. I sat in a datacenter, surrounded by racks jam-packed full of servers, and they kept the building at 64 degrees year round. I quickly learned to keep a jacket handy. I did several things, but mostly patch management.

Our system consisted of a diverse collection of Dell 1U and 5U servers, HP blades, and a couple of Sun SPARC boxes. It was a professional-looking setup, and except for the times we were doing massive system upgrades, the system generally worked as well as it looked.

Then we got a neighbor.

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Happy 30th birthday, Commodore 64

The C-64 sort of turns 30 this week. It was introduced 30 years ago this week, though it wasn’t until August or so that you could actually buy one. It took that long for memory prices to come down to reach the target price, and if memory serves, the machine they displayed at CES in January wasn’t quite production-ready anyway.

I remember the machine well. It was my first computer. It seems like just yesterday the thing turned 25. And not all that long ago that I still used one on a regular basis.

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Windows for Morons

Microsoft is considering a numeric ratings system for PCs for the upcoming version of Windows–The Operating System Formerly Known As Longhorn, that is. I believe it’s going to be called Windows LH.

I smell marketing.

The Microsoft Killer

Yet another story about what’s going to kill Microsoft popped up on Slashdot today. This time it’s cheap solid-state computers running open-source software. I didn’t bother reading it.

Here’s what I think the Microsoft killer will be: Windows.

Say what?

Beware the “flat screen” scam

I was just pricing out some parts for the pending Compaq Presario upgrade when I remembered the latest scam–well, it’s not technically a scam, but it’s definitely deceptive advertising. Many stores offer a bundle with a low-end PC and a 17-inch “flat screen” for an unbelievable deal, like $499. Chances are, if you read this site, some relative of yours is going to be asking about that, if they haven’t started asking already. And I’m pretty sure you know that right now $399 is a pretty good deal for a 17-inch LCD flat panel alone.

Windows 98 CD-ROM drive not working? Try this.

Windows 98 CD-ROM not working

Occasionally, a PC’s CD or DVD-ROM drive will stop responding for no known good reason. Sometimes the problem is hardware–a CD-ROM drive, being a mechanical component, can fail–but as often as not, it seems, the problem is software rather than hardware. Here’s what to do with a Windows 95 or Windows 98 CD-ROM drive not working when the same drive works just fine in another OS.

If Windows has both 16- and 32-bit CD-ROM drivers, it can get confused and disable the drive to protect itself. The solution is to remove the 16-bit driver, then delete the obscure NoIDE registry key to re-enable the 32-bit driver.

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