Texas Instruments TI-83 Plus review



#84

TI-83 Plus review


#85

I still have a thing for TI calculators. The TI-83 is nice, but the latest crop of calcs have way too many buttons and needless color and gui-ness.


#86

The TI-89 sucks for many reasons, not the least being that if one is 50-plus years old one needs diopter 4 reading glasses to read the crummy display. The HP-50g display is much better...the cursed HP-49g+ is even better still. TI hasn't made an HP-beater since the TI-59 35 years ago.


#87

90+X % market share in the US for Graphing calculators ;-))

Marketing beats Technology?

Regards,
Joerg


#88

Quote:
Marketing beats Technology?

Microsoft proved that too. :-))

#89

Apple has always been the best example of the triumph of hype and corporate customer control. The Apple II from 1977 was a POS. And today...anyone want to do something really unreasonable...like change the battery in any of Apple's portable products? Nothing in between was any better. Love of Apple is a religious and political disorder.


#90

I generally keep my opinions of Apple all to myself since everyone looks at me as if I'd just grown a second head or a third eye when I voice them...

But, damn, I got to say, when the man is right he is most definitely right!

Cheers,

-Marwan

#91

I should not be bowing to Cupertino 3 times daily and worshipping the apple logo? ;-)

Actually, no electronic apples in this house, only the ones you eat.


#92

As a computer professional I cling to my Macs because they are so much more reliable than any other computer I ever had, even if not a small part of my work depends on M$ operating systems and other software. From my experience these things are just working while Windows systems are mostly occupied with defending themselves against all sorts of hassle, causing more of it in the course.


#93

I have always owned Windows computers but with my latest one noticed something rather annoying. It won't let me update some Microsoft software because my Windows security insists that it's a threat and won't allow updates. Anyway after owning an iphone for nearly two years and being completely satisfied i have swore my next computer will be an apple. To each his own and i'm sure there are those who won't agree but after buying one apple product i will probably never buy another Windows/Microsoft machine again.

#94

The advantage of Apple has always been that they sell you a complete solution - hardware and software that's all guaranteed to work together. In that lies some improvement in reliability - less software errors and crashes. However, hardware failures are not much different to other computers. In the late 80's I used a Macintosh and loved it, but Steve Jobs himself put an end to my Apple days. If he had his way, he would have a finger in the pie of any software that could be run on an Apple computer or device. Too much of a control freak attitude for my liking.

I would prefer Linux, which I did use up to a few years ago. Unfortunately due to the proliferation of Windows systems in the workplace and schools, my family prefers Windows based computers. Also, because of this Windows proliferation, most apps are written primarily for Windows and I found myself more often than not running stuff under the likes of Wine anyway. So now I too work in Windows (when not RPN or RPL ;-).

Windows lends itself to problems on several fronts, one is that just about anyone can write an application, and this allows for sloppy programmers too. Any hardware can be installed, not to mention drivers that totally mess things up. However, I still enjoy the fact that I can play around like this with relative ease on my PCs.

Another hassle for Windows systems is threats of malicious attacks by viruses, trojans etc. Now, despite what Mac OS and Linux proponents say, the reason for the higher number of such malicious attacks is because of the proliferation of Windows systems - because an attacker always wants to maximise the "audience". If Macs and Linux systems were more prolific, I am sure attackers would be more inclined to target their ingenuity to finding holes or circumventing the defences of Mac OS and Linux.

Well, this is my view of the computer world. Not meant to offend anyone. I would say "just my 2p worth", but then it's quite a long post...:-)
-B


#95

Everything you say is so true.

It is easy (or at least much easier) to provide a stable reliable system if you control the ecosystem. Apple controls every piece of hardware and software that goes (or for that matter that can go) on their machines. This is particularly true for hardware drivers. Windows machines allow any hardware manufacturer to build a piece of hardware and throw a driver together to make use of it. Drivers problems are one of the biggest issues for stability on a Windows platform. Microsoft is trying to correct that by requiring validated drivers on 64 bit systems. Well, I have to say that my computers running 64 bit Windows *ARE* more stable. But you know something? People are pissed with MS (at least some are) for limiting hardware use in this way. Some smaller companies just don't have the resources to validate drivers. And I will always have to run a 32 bit system somewhere to make use of all the little toys I own that require drivers. Or I'll have to trick the system into allowing me to install unvalidated drivers.

As for security, The Apple OS is no more secure than Windows. As Bart says, it is a function of which systems are targeted. In fact Apple has been known to try to hide security holes rather than try to fix them. MS learned it's lesson on that score years ago when it used to try the same approach. One of the things that irritates me most is the insistence by some Apple users that they don't need AV software because their machines are just naturally secure. Sorry, that is BS.

Apple's claim of superior hardware is another sore point with me. Their machines are no better than a well built/designed Windows platform. In fact in a survey by a tech warranty company (I'll post the link later if I can find it) they were pretty much middle of the road in hardware reliability among PC laptop vendors with Asus being at the top and (unfortunately) HP being at the bottom.

Their "fingers in the pie" approach to software developers pisses me off as well. Yes, it allows them to control what goes on their machines and makes them more reliable but it is too big-brother for me.

I can't change a battery on their machines. Stupid! That is very much a form over function thing and unfortunately other manufacturers are seeing that it works for Apple and are following suit.

I could go on and on. But I'll end with a comment on the man behind Apple (until recently). I don't like speaking ill of the dead but I loathed Steve Jobs. He was brilliant and creative but he was also a megalomaniacal control freak who wanted to slot all his customers into his perception of what was right. That stupid argument over flash on the iPad is a great example of this--Jobs had his reasons and while they were not all bad there he went again telling me what *I* wanted! Give me a great machine and then let me play with it. Don't limit what I can do with it just to fit your perception of reality. For someone that makes his living in front of a computer monitor I find Jobs' trying to tell me what I want and how I should use my equipment insulting in the extreme. Give me the "instability" of a Windows box that I can do whatever I want with over that tight little box that limits my choices any day of the year.

To each their own but I'll never buy an Apple product until Apple starts treating me like an individual with my own ideas of how to use my toys and stops trying to shove me into their little shoebox. In other words, I don't want to have to "jailbreak" my iPad just to get the most out of it!

Cheers,

-Marwan


#96

I think there is big distinction between ordinary PCs and mobile connected devices. The former, Macs included, are open to software development and driver design without being forced to route everything through Apple or Microsoft. I can't see that this will change much in the future without severe impact on the profits and market shares.

For connected devices, notably phones and tablets with cell phone abilities, things are different for all manufacturers. Apple seems to be most paranoid regarding their App Store and the requirements developers must meet, but others aren't much better: Why is it almost illegal to gain root access to my (Open Source) Android device? Why does my Symbian phone only accept signed applications? Why will the next Windows Phone release no longer support native code for applications?

I think that manufactures try to protect their customers (and thus themselves for liability reasons) from malicious software which may cause severe monetary damage by placing expensive calls or abusing the Internet connection without the permission nor knowledge of the owner of the phone. This comes for the cost of flexibility but if you look at the App markets, not everybody seems to be pissed off. Another point is that carriers request that the subsidized devices can only be used in their respective networks thus pressing the manufacturers to armor their phones against manipulation.

(A slightly frustrated) Marcus


#97

All true. Unfortunately what appears to be the most open platform right now is the one that happens to be going away--WebOS.

And I guess one can thank the American consumer for the liability concerns. After all, if one can win a lawsuit because they got burned by their too hot coffee just think about the liability issues if a phone fails to work when the user is trying to dial 911.

All that, of course, does not change my feelings about Apple one iota. It just reminds me that there are a lot of other companies I have issues with.

Here is the Reliability survey I mentioned earlier.

Cheers,

-Marwan


#98

The two iphones that i own have been flawless. They don't attack themselves like a rabid dog unlike any MS/Windows machine i have owned. I refused to buy apple products for years because i knew how big a jerk Steve Jobs was. Let me pre apologize to forum members outside the U. S. but when you do need apple support you can get an american on the phone who speaks english as a first language. Also if apple products are fourth on reliability (computers) getting it exchanged or fixed is as easy as going to an apple store. I know not everyone lives in a big city and can do this. Also apple has a generous policy with fixing or replacing hardware.


#99

Considering that my computers are loaded with multiple development environments (4). That I have 3 versions of SQL Server installed. That I run 3 different versions of virtualization tools. That I have drivers installed for all sorts of esoteric devices. I am actually surprised by how *few* problems I have.

Just as a matter of principal I will never own an iPhone. The fact that I don't particularly like the interface is just icing on the cake.

Like I said earlier, to each their own, but for me Apple will have to go a *LONG* way to correcting their holier-than-thou attitude before I'll ever touch one of their products.

BTW, I actually owned an iPod once and I hated it. Funny how with all Apple's high and mighty talk as to how well their applications and devices work iTunes simply did not play well on my machine. Do you know what they told me to do to fix it? They suggested that I get rid of every other piece of CD ripping or burning software on my system. Sorry Apple, but if you can't make your stuff work with others I'll simply go elsewhere for my MP3 players. That for me is one of the basic issues. As long as they control the ecosystem everything works well. But ask Apple to play with others and you are on your own. At least that has been my experience.

Again, just my 0.02. And this is why I don't get into these discussions. People that own Apple products across the line from their MP3 player, to their phone, to their tablet, to their computer do just fine. I, unfortunately, have not been that lucky.

Another BTW... I used to work for IBM and was one of the very first people to develop on OS/2. I even worked on OS/2 V3. As such I am very definitely *NOT* a Microsoft fan since MS played all sorts of games and ended up totally screwing IBM on the OS/2 deal. I choose MS over Apple not because they are better but because their system and the systems they target are more open.

Cheers,

-Marwan


Quote:
Considering that my computers are loaded with multiple development environments (4). That I have 3 versions of SQL Server installed. That I run 3 different versions of virtualization tools. That I have drivers installed for all sorts of esoteric devices. I am actually surprised by how *few* problems I have.

IMHO, You are one of the lucky few. I used Windows for about 10 years and never got a virus and I didn't run anti-virus either. I just didn't download crap from unknown sources or pirate software. I had other issues like drivers and blue screens. The point is, that computer professionals kinda have a sixth sense on how to handle Windows. I think some of that is growing up with DOS, Windows 3.x, etc...
Quote:
Like I said earlier, to each their own, but for me Apple will have to go a *LONG* way to correcting their holier-than-thou attitude before I'll ever touch one of their products.

I do not think it's Apple as much as Apple users you are referring too. I've watched just about every Apple speech and they are no different from MS, et al, i.e. we are great, look at this awesome stuff, etc...
Quote:
BTW, I actually owned an iPod once and I hated it. Funny how with all Apple's high and mighty talk as to how well their applications and devices work iTunes simply did not play well on my machine. Do you know what they told me to do to fix it? They suggested that I get rid of every other piece of CD ripping or burning software on my system. Sorry Apple, but if you can't make your stuff work with others I'll simply go elsewhere for my MP3 players. That for me is one of the basic issues. As long as they control the ecosystem everything works well. But ask Apple to play with others and you are on your own. At least that has been my experience.

iTunes on Windows will always be 2nd class.
Quote:
Another BTW... I used to work for IBM ...

I still do. :-)

Quote:
IMHO, You are one of the lucky few. I used Windows for about 10 years and never got a virus and I didn't run anti-virus either. I just didn't download crap from unknown sources or pirate software. I had other issues like drivers and blue screens. The point is, that computer professionals kinda have a sixth sense on how to handle Windows. I think some of that is growing up with DOS, Windows 3.x, etc...

Perhaps you are right. Maybe if I wasn't a computer person I would have more problems. I ran for years without AV software but like you I never downloaded crap.

Quote:
I do not think it's Apple as much as Apple users you are referring too. I've watched just about every Apple speech and they are no different from MS, et al, i.e. we are great, look at this awesome stuff, etc...

Yes and no. I was referring to decisions such as the one not to support flash. But yes, I find Apple supporters a little over the top. Perhaps like those of us that support RPN <g>?

Quote:
iTunes on Windows will always be 2nd class.

Yes. My point was that they can't (or won't try very hard to) play in other people's sand boxes. But MS has to.

Quote:
I still do. :-)

Where abouts?

Cheers,

-Marwan

I moved from OS/2 over to a Mac. Careers may start similar and end totally different. ;-)


I personally always regretted that OS/2 didn't make it.

Cheers,

-Marwan

Quote:
Another BTW... I used to work for IBM and was one of the very first people to develop on OS/2. I even worked on OS/2 V3. As such I am very definitely *NOT* a Microsoft fan since MS played all sorts of games and ended up totally screwing IBM on the OS/2 deal.

Ditto. I started developing for OS/2 in mid-1987; in fact, only a few months ago I released the slides, lecture notes, instructor notes, etc. for an OS/2 and PM programming course that I used to deliver for IBM, all under a Creative Commons licence. Just for nostalgia, really. There's still a lot of OS/2-related material in the archive section of my web site.

I also got to see some of the MS games from the inside. Quite amazing - but all water under the bridge now. Somewhere on my site is a long interview with Mike Kogan, who was lead developer on OS/2 2.0, which was published in "OS/2 Monthly" magazine. Mike's "off-the-record" comments were very revealing.

I still contract to IBM IT Education Services from time to time, mostly on Linux and security-related things.

Best,

--- Les

[http://www.lesbell.com.au]

Quote:
As for security, The Apple OS is no more secure than Windows.

Proof? OS/X has been around for 10 years now. Give me hard statical facts. Prove it to me.
Quote:
Apple's claim of superior hardware is another sore point with me. Their machines are no better than a well built/designed Windows platform. In fact in a survey by a tech warranty company (I'll post the link later if I can find it) they were pretty much middle of the road in hardware reliability among PC laptop vendors with Asus being at the top and (unfortunately) HP being at the bottom.

With the exception of the exterior the rest of the machine uses the same parts from the same places as any other machine. The nod I have to give Apple is the support of their products when there is a problem. I just have to walk into the nearest Apple store to have it fixed. I do not have to play the game of MS vs. HW vendor finger pointing. My experience has always been the customer is always right even when they are wrong, Apple does the customer right.
Quote:
Their "fingers in the pie" approach to software developers pisses me off as well. Yes, it allows them to control what goes on their machines and makes them more reliable but it is too big-brother for me.

I have mixed feeling about this. I like having a appliance that I do not need to worry about, that I do not need to make a hobby of (both Windows and Linux require a bit of extra time to manage). OTOH, I like my freedom. If I were younger, I'd be all over Android and Linux because when I was young I had more time to fiddle with things. Now I am so busy with work I just want to be productive with no hassles, so I accept the appliance model and get my work done without hassle. BTW, Linux is what I run on all my servers and it's how I make part of my living (both Linux and Open Source).
Quote:
I can't change a battery on their machines. Stupid! That is very much a form over function thing and unfortunately other manufacturers are seeing that it works for Apple and are following suit.

Ah, but then that would make it ugly. :-) People buy pretty. Young people at least.
Quote:
To each their own but I'll never buy an Apple product until Apple starts treating me like an individual with my own ideas of how to use my toys and stops trying to shove me into their little shoebox. In other words, I don't want to have to "jailbreak" my iPad just to get the most out of it!

You'll never buy an Apple product. I fear it is only going to get worse. I can accept iOS as closed, but not OS/X. I may have to return back to Linux if OS/X continues down the iOS path. But I will never ever use another MS product. I've lost too much data and productivity fighting with crappy OS bugs and drivers.

Edited: 3 Apr 2012, 1:22 p.m.


Quote:
With the exception of the exterior the rest of the machine uses the same parts from the same places as any other machine. The nod I have to give Apple is the support of their products when there is a problem. I just have to walk into the nearest Apple store to have it fixed. I do not have to play the game of MS vs. HW vendor finger pointing. My experience has always been the customer is always right even when they are wrong, Apple does the customer right.

My point exactly. The problem is that *so many* Apple fans are under the strange impression that Apple actually uses *special* components to build their machines. The processors in the iPhone and iPad are a case in point. Apple claimed that they developed those processors in-house. The truth is *much* more complicated than that. But who bothers to research the truth any more these days?

Quote:
I have mixed feeling about this. I like having a appliance that I do not need to worry about, that I do not need to make a hobby of (both Windows and Linux require a bit of extra time to manage). OTOH, I like my freedom. If I were younger, I'd be all over Android and Linux because when I was young I had more time to fiddle with things. Now I am so busy with work I just want to be productive with no hassles, so I accept the appliance model and get my work done without hassle. BTW, Linux is what I run on all my servers and it's how I make part of my living (both Linux and Open Source).

Fair enough. And a very valid point.

Quote:
Ah, but then that would make it ugly. :-) People buy pretty. Young people at least.

Agreed. And it pains me that so many companies are following the form over function approach.

Quote:
You'll never buy an Apple product. I fear it is only going to get worse. I can accept iOS as closed, but not OS/X. I may have to return back to Linux if OS/X continues down the iOS path. But I will never ever use another MS product. I've lost too much data and productivity fighting with crappy OS bugs and drivers.

I have never lost data on a machine running Windows. I posted elsewhere about just how heavily loaded my Windows machine is. Given that I live my life in front of a Windows based computer I am really surprisingly happy with just how reliable the entire system is given the complexity of the open ecosystem that MS Windows lives in.

Quote:
Proof? OS/X has been around for 10 years now. Give me hard statical facts. Prove it to me.

Since this appears to be the only point on which we may be in disagreement I moved it to the bottom to tackle it last <g>.

I'll have to admit that much of it is anecdotal. However, there are yearly (or so) competitions to test system integrity. From what I remember reading in the past Apple does no better than any other system when it is targeted. I'll see if I can dig up solid information on this.

Here is one article on OS/X security.

Here is another.

Cheers,

-Marwan


I realize to you this is anecdotal evidence, but for me this was firsthand experience.

I once attended a small digital photography class. The morning was mostly on the photography part, the afternoon was the digital part. The instructor brought a Mac with a big screen, the students had six or seven Windows laptops between us. During the course of the seminar we had two occurrences of a computer crashing. Both times it was the instructor's Mac dying under his hand (or mouse).

Quote:
Quote:
But I will never ever use another MS product.


I actually should retract that since "never" is a very long time (and I do not want to suggest that I am close-minded). I never thought I'd use a Mac again or buy and iPhone, but I did. MS still has a chance to awe me.
Quote:
I'll have to admit that much of it is anecdotal.

Hard facts distilled into numbers is very hard to find and then you have to question the methods how the data was obtained. Finding one security hole in OS/X or even 100 does not make it as bad (or as good :-) as Windows, but it does prove it is not bulletproof.

Yes, if Apple stops trying to control the world maybe I'll give them another chance.

Your second point is well taken. What pisses me off are all those people that simply state that Mac OS/X *IS* bulletproof and that they are completely immune to hacking. I have heard that from way too many Apple users and I think that is the fault of Apple as much as their users. They are quite willing to propagate the myth the their OS is superior and unhackable to the detriment of the less well informed user. One of the articles I linked to sort of makes that point.

Quote:
In Miller's experience, Apple's position in terms of security continues to be quite relaxed: "They sell lots of computers and nobody doesn't buy Apple computers because of a perceived lack of security. So in their minds, they don't have a security problem until it affects their bottom line, which hasn't been the case, yet", said the expert.

I once sold a computer to a friend. He never even turned it on because I had suggested to him that he should probably get an AV suite and so he ended up too scared to use it. Ok, the guy is a little weird. he doesn't drive either. And he lives in Albuquerque not some big city with good public transportation. His wife has to drive him everywhere. His solution was to some time later buy a Mac. I asked him if he had gotten an AV program for it. His answer? He didn't need one, that Mac's were secure. Apple will take that sort of lack of common sense and computer literacy all the way to the bank.

Cheers,

-Marwan

Quote:
I can't change a battery on their machines. Stupid! That is very much a form over function thing and unfortunately other manufacturers are seeing that it works for Apple and are following suit.

While the following video is company propaganda there is method to this madness of having a non-replaceable battery.

Macbook battery philosophy


While everything in that video is accurate (if Apple actually does do any battery research--I am sure that there is more to *that* story than the simple claim in the video) it is also definitely propaganda. While a unibody chassis *is* stiffer, and while you can squeeze a few more milliamps into the space used by connectors, doors, etc. the truth is that there are other ways to stiffen a chassis and the additional energy you can store in the space used by doors is relatively small. I would take a 1 mm increase in thickness across the entire machine for extra energy storage in exchange for a battery that I can replace myself.

Apparently I am in the minority here but I also think that it is very much a case of Apple leading it's customers by the nose. Once again, they are telling me (or trying to tell me) what I want and need. Sorry Apple, I don't want a system where I can't change the battery just because you tell me that is what I want.

Again, just my 0.02.

Cheers,

-Marwan


No you're not biased at all.

Give me a break. I've heard all these arguments for the past 30 years. Read comp.sys.mac.advocacy if you want to see even more insane arguments.

Or more accurately:
John Gabriel's Internet Theory


I never claimed to not be biased. I *am* biased against Apple. For a lot of reasons. That is my prerogative. I usually don't talk much about it but if someone were to ask me in person I would be just as willing to expound on my beliefs. And can you say that you are not biased? I have met very few people that don't have biases of one sort or another. Maybe you are the exception but most of us have our biases. I am biased in favor of RPN, does that make algebraic entry bad? No. But it means that I tend not to use it. My prerogative. I am biased in the cars I drive, the places I choose to live, the list goes on and on. We all have our "favorite" things and those other things that we don't like so much. Like I have said often enough during this discussion to each their own and my opinion is my own.

BTW, can you elaborate on what is insane about my argument? I like to be able to replace my own battery and would trade 1-2 mm in thickness for that ability? You find that insane? So are you telling me that because Apple says it is so that makes it right? If you are you just made one of my points for me.

I don't feel anonymous on this forum since we all share of ourselves but you can believe what you like.

Most people who strongly support Apple don't like hearing my opinions and that is also fine. You can however try to be polite. I don't remember attacking anyone personally. I would not do that since each persons opinions are as valid as my own and each person in this discussion (until your post) has presented valid arguments to support their position(s). If I have said anything in the previous posts that is rude or inconsiderate I hereby apologize for it but I honestly don't believe that I have.

Cheers,

-Marwan

Edited: 3 Apr 2012, 9:41 p.m.

I'm with you. I would never buy a battery-powered device for which I can't replace the battery myself. I would also never buy a computing device that required me to pay an annual fee to load my own developed software on the device.


Well, if she can do it, I can do it :-)

http://www.ifixit.com/Guide/Installing-MacBook-Pro-13-Inch-Unibody-Early-2011-Battery-Replacement/5116/1

I have found with many things like phones and here with the Mac book, if the mfg will repair it, you can too if you have any technical skill whatsoever. And there is usually a pretty good guide online to help you along.

I don't think Apple ever told any other companies that they should stop using replaceable batteries. They decided to make their product in the way they thought was best. Like stated here, not everyone will like that that that is fine too. They just will buy another brand.

Personally I have had 2 lemon Asus laptops in a row. I will not likely buy another Asus product. Everyone has their features and concepts that are non-negotiable. That is what makes life interesting. Otherwise there would only be one computer, with one OS etc.

I'm just sitting at the precursor of the MacBook in question, having a replaceable battery. I don't think I ever will have the need to actually do this. My feeling is that other components (disk, screen) will fail before I need a new battery pack.


Hello!

Quote:
I'm just sitting at the precursor of the MacBook in question...

And I am just sitting at the pre-pre-precursor of that MacBook (my very trusted Titanium PowerBook from 2002) that is running on its second battery now. One battery change in over five years, who cares whether this needs to be done by an Apple service center? That adds 10 Euros per year to the cost of the computer. Some people on this forum pay two orders of magnitude more for old obsolete pocket calculators ;-)

Regards, Max (Apple customer since 1989, before that, my only DOS machine ever was an HP-150, sadly not continued by HP)


Quote:
That adds 10 Euros per year to the cost of the computer

A computer already costing three times a comparable PC from another manufacturer... ;)

Greetings,
Massimo


Hi!

Quote:
A computer already costing three times a comparable PC from another manufacturer... ;)

Yes, unfortunately. Just the same as with HP calculators... (or Italian Sportscars and Italian shoes!) Money well spent in all these examples :-)

Max

Quote:
Apparently I am in the minority here...

Minority maybe, but not alone. I agree with you.

Quote:
Minority maybe, but not alone. I agree with you.


Definitely.

Quote:
Sorry Apple, I don't want a system where I can't change the battery just because you tell me that is what I want.

Enjoy:

Best,

--- Les

[http://www.lesbell.com.au]


Ouch! I know I shouldn't but I found myself laughing!

Cheers,

-Marwan

I'll bet Mr. Jobs could have gotten the 35s fixed.


John

Quote:
As for security, The Apple OS is no more secure than Windows.

There are some strong arguments (and supporting evidence) that this is not, in fact, the case.

The first is the modularity vs cohesion in the operating system and major subsystems. Windows is a closely-coupled morass of code, developed by a single company, with all developers having access to the code and "borrowing" library routines from other parts of the system. You can see this in the IE browser, which is really implemented as a collection of libraries, code from which is "borrowed" by other subsystems (e.g. help) and applications.

This then causes major problems for Microsoft when fixing vulnerabilities. Because so many subsystems are coupled, regression testing is a bit of a nightmare, so rather than fixing a problem in the code where the vulnerability actually resides, they try to detect and block an attack at a higher level. As a hypothetical example, they would try to deal with a flaw in the HTML engine by blocking it in the URL parsing of the browser - but an enterprising attacker would work out a way to invoke it via the help subsystem, or via Outlook, or in Word, or . . .

It has sometimes taken Microsoft several iterations to achieve a proper fix in shared subsystems - perhaps the most obvious example is the classic sequence of Unicode, double-decode, etc. exploits against IIS many years ago.

The cohesion problem was demonstrated graphically some time ago by two graphics showing the sequences of library calls invoked by a request for a static HTML page from a web server. The Linux/Apache diagram was a fairly linear, straight-up-and-down series of calls through the subsystems. The IIS/Windows diagram was an absolutely rat's nest of calls heading off in all directions. (I can't find those diagrams in my files - if anybody recognises what I'm describing and knows where to find them, I would love to find the original article.)

While I've used server subsystems to illustrate the point here, the same problem applies throughout the client versions of Windows, too.

The Mac, by contrast, is based on a FreeBSD/Mach kernel, plus various GNU components and other open source projects with a proprietary UI layer on top (and device drivers below). These are all developed by separate teams, hence modular with a much lower level of coupling. Regression testing is easier and faster, and problems can be fixed in the correct location.

The second big problem for Microsoft is the overly-complex security architecture, which has evolved since the days of DOS+Windows, with the addition of notions from VMS 5. Most people have no idea how permissions are set in the ACL's of a newly-created file, or how to share it, and a separate model for device access means that many users are reduced to running with admin privileges on their own machines. By contrast, the Mac uses the simpler - but well-understood - model of Unix, along with the use of sudo to allow admin functions when required. The fact that user apps run with only user privileges restricts the ability of malware to gain a foothold.

MS's third big problem has been backward compatibility - something they finally tackled with Vista: and didn't they take a public beating over it! Windows 7 wasn't any different, from this perspective - it's just that developers had had some time to get to grips with the new requirements. However, there are still some old applications out there that can't cope with newer security features like ASLR and DEP, amongst others. Apple took the hit when OS X was introduced, and have been reaping the benefits ever since.

The final problem for Microsoft has been a corporate culture which - among other problems - has consistently favoured ease-of-use (and hence sales) over security. That culture has gradually been changing and is now much improved. It's also the case that it is often possible to improve security without compromising ease of use, through good design, but Microsoft has consistently trailed the rest of the industry in good UI design (look at the outcry over the current Windows 8 previews for examples).

I've formed much of the above views from discussions with Microsoft staff, and occasional long conversations with Microsofties over lunch at conferences like Black Hat Las Vegas. They've admitted to many of the problems, and are trying to deal with them, with some success. A good example is the redesign of the device driver architecture to allow the use of model checking in order to reduce the number of BSOD's caused by drivers - that's real innovation.

The argument that the larger installed base of Windows machines attracts financially-motivated attackers only explains away a very small part of the *massive* disproportion of malware for Windows vs other platforms.

--- Les Bell, CISSP-ISSAP, M. Info. Tech. (System Security)

(and PhD student in information security)

[http://www.lesbell.com.au]


For some-reason, the Google-fu is strong with me, today. The two system call traces I referred to can be found at:

http://i.zdnet.com/blogs/SysCallApache.jpg

and

http://i.zdnet.com/blogs/SysCallIIS.jpg

Best,

--- Les Bell

[http://www.lesbell.com.au]

Hi Les,

Very well presented and very informative. Unfortunately I am not a security expert so I can't debate you on the points that you make. However, I did a google search with the following "Mac vs. Windows security" and skimmed the first seven articles. Not one of them appeared to argue that OS/X was more secure. At least one argued that the discussion of platform security had really become a non-issue, others made the arguments that you have seen here that Windows has a larger installed base. But generally the consensus among various experts appeared to be that the Mac was no more secure than Windows (particularly Windows 7) on a computer by computer basis (ignoring the installed base and the tendency for hackers to target Windows more than Macs). This article is particularly interesting since it provides hard numbers for vulnerabilities reported in 2007.

Now it may be that we are talking apples (no pun intended) and oranges here and that what you are saying is not the same thing as what these individuals are arguing (perhaps potential vs. actual risk? Vulnerabilities vs. exploits?) but it seems to me that my statement that Mac OS/X is not inherently more secure than Windows still stands. I realize that you are much better able to assess these articles since you are more familiar with security than I am so perhaps you might be able to tell me why what I am seeing is so different from what you see.

Thanks,

-Marwan


Quote:
This article is particularly interesting since it provides hard numbers for vulnerabilities reported in 2007.

The major effect you are seeing there is very simply explained by the fact that open source programmers are much more candid about revealing vulnerabilities to the world than the Redmond-ites. If you look at the CVE (Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures) database entries for many of those vulns you will see that they affect multiple Linux distributions and Unix implementations. So, the developers take the responsible course: they reveal all, and their downstream customers (Red Hat, SUSE, Ubuntu, etc. - and Apple) obtain the patch, recompile and repackage, and then redistribute the fixed versions to their.

Up in Redmond, they take a reported vulnerability, work away at fixing it in private, and eventually roll out a patch on a Tuesday morning some time later.

A second confounding factor is that the figures for OS X include vulnerabilities in server subsystems such as BIND, Ruby, Ruby on Rails, etc. which are not commonly executed on desktop systems and which have no equivalent in Windows XP/Vista. A fairer comparison would have been the vulnerability figures for Windows Server 2003 (which was current then) plus Exchange and a bunch of other optional components.

So, yes - that article compares apples with chestnuts. The facts are that desktop Mac users experience far fewer infections and attacks than users of the comparable Microsoft desktop products. A direct comparison for server products is more difficult, but the results are probably similar.

As a general observation, I would say that the battleground has shifted from the operating system to application exploits. The Bad Guys are mostly occupied in attacking web browsers and plugins like Flash and Adobe Reader via XSS exploits, as well as more directly attacking web server applications via CSRF, exploitation of poor coding practices (e.g. OWASP Top 10) and vulnerabilities in web programming languages such as PHP, Ruby, etc. For the average end user, that means they're more likely to fall victim to having their Yahoo! account hacked than falling victim to a buffer overflow vulnerability in the desktop OS.

Best,

--- Les

[http://www.lesbell.com.au]


You're right, from OS to application exploits.
They do occur, however... just today.

Greetings,
Massimo

Thank you for the explanation on the numbers.

I know that MS used to under report vulnerabilities but I thought that was a game that they stopped playing quite some time ago. I had also read (although I can't find the article at the moment) that Apple had started playing this game. I will say IIRC that the article in question was NOT written by a security expert and may have been a Windows fan so maybe he was just bashing Apple.

Quote:
So, yes - that article compares apples with chestnuts. The facts are that desktop Mac users experience far fewer infections and attacks than users of the comparable Microsoft desktop products. A direct comparison for server products is more difficult, but the results are probably similar.

Isn't that safety vs. security however? I never argued that PC's don't suffer more attacks and infections. But isn't that a measure of how many "Bad Guys" are targeting each platform? The Mac is "safer" because it is targeted less. The security experts in many of those articles I scanned pretty much agreed that the Mac was indeed safer (I never argued this) but not more secure. In fact some even went so far as to say that Windows was more secure (even a supposed Mac security expert although I think he was referring to the last iteration of OS/X). Most simply said that the two OS's were about equal in security.

And yes, if I were to recommend a platform to someone that I knew was going to ignore security completely I would definitely suggest a Mac over a PC simply because they are targeted less. As a PC user one has to be more aware of what they are downloading, what software they are running, and also has to (or at least should) run a decent AV suite. A Mac user, the friend I mentioned above is a prime example, can get away with much less security and safety precautions than a Windows user.

I am not trying to be a PITA here but I am trying to understand why, when everything that I have read in the past 5 years or so makes the claim that the Mac OS is no more *secure* (as in less crackable when targeted) than a Windows PC I am hearing something completely different from you. In my recent searches I have not seen a single reputable source that makes the argument that the Mac is more secure--safer, yes, but not more secure. In fact, in those competition to break into machines, the Mac seems to fall victim first. I have no idea how realistic or rigged those competitions are but it seems to me that it does say something about overall security when the OS is the first one cracked.

Thank you for partaking in this conversation. Some very interesting stuff you have presented.

Cheers,

-Marwan


Quote:
Isn't that safety vs. security however?

I'm not aware of any such distinction in the general literature and everyday usage of information security. If you mentioned "safety" to an infosec person, he would probably think it referred to embedded systems in transportation, aviation, power generation, etc. where there's a risk of physical accidents. (The academic literature, particularly on formal methods, has other, more specific meanings for "safety").

So, to me, security is essentially the preservation of various security properties of a computer system and the information on it:

* confidentiality (and the related concept of privacy)

* integrity (of the information, including the system configuration)

* availability (of the system and its resources such as CPU and bandwidth)

(This is an abbreviated list - there are other properties in the literature to cover obscure applications).

So it doesn't really matter whether you suffer loss because of a worm infecting your system and using all your ADSL bandwidth to send phishing emails, a virus installing a keystroke logger and grabbing your online banking password, or your leaving your laptop on a train and someone successfully reading your confidential company reports off it. In all cases, it's a security breach.

But really, that's just a semantics issue.

Quote:
I never argued that PC's don't suffer more attacks and infections. But isn't that a measure of how many "Bad Guys" are targeting each platform?

If you're counting incidents of attack or infection, it has more to do with relative market share and the number of PC's vs Mac's connected to the Internet at any one time, combined with sizes and speeds of the botnets which are spreading infections, the currently-known vulnerabilities, etc. However, one very important part of that equation is the number of distinct vulnerabilities on each platform which are available for the Bad Guys to exploit - and that's a much higher number for the Windows platform than for the Mac and Linux, because of the factors that I listed earlier, plus some others. In essence, it comes down to the old mantra: "The enemy of security is complexity" - and Windows is just too complex.

Quote:
The security experts in many of those articles I scanned

In many cases, I think you'll find those are journalists, not security experts. ;)

Quote:
I would definitely suggest a Mac over a PC simply because they are targeted less.

They're targeted less primarily because they present a smaller attack surface and harder for the attacker to compromise. There are enough Macs out there - and they're owned by "Mac fanbois" who think they're invulnerable and so they don't have anti-virus, third-party firewalls, etc. and who also must have more money than sense, don't you think? - that they represent a highly attractive target for hackers. And yet, the hackers aren't making much headway against them.

Quote:
As a PC user one has to be more aware of what they are downloading, what software they are running, and also has to (or at least should) run a decent AV suite.

That's exactly the point. You have to do those things because Windows is inherently less secure than OS/X or Linux. Q.E.D.

It has (and has had) more vulnerabilities, which gives rise to more distinct exploits. And that's why it attracts more attackers.

Quote:
everything that I have read in the past 5 years or so makes the claim that the Mac OS is no more *secure* (as in less crackable when targeted) than a Windows PC

I think you may be being a bit selective in your reading. ;)

There's also a tendency to publicise any exploit against the Mac, perhaps as a rejoinder to those (few) idiots who insist that the Mac is "totally secure".

Quote:
In fact, in those competition to break into machines, the Mac seems to fall victim first.

No - that happened once, at the CanSec West "Hack it to own it" contest a few years ago. The winner had stumbled across a new browser exploit which he carefully kept to himself and polished specifically to use at that conference. It's the exception, rather than the rule - which is why it's so memorable, of course.

Let me briefly turn to the OS/X "Flashback" trojan which hit the newspapers yesterday (again, newsworthy because it's so unusual): although it targets Macs specifically, it relies on a Java vulnerability (CVE-2011-3544) which would work against the Java Runtime Environment on Windows, Linux and other platforms, too. In order to get itself installed on the Mac, the trojan actually prompts the user to enter the admin password; a clueful user will wonder what caused that, and not enter the password (the trojan will try other techniques if it doesn't get the password (actually using vulnerabilities in the Microsoft (!) Office apps, and then Skype). On a typical Windows XP system, there's a high probability that the equivalent trojan would never need to ask for an admin password, because the user would already be running with admin privileges - a small point in favour of the Mac.

In any case, any Mac user who had followed Apple's advice to use the Sun/Oracle JRE and update it regularly (which the JRE automates) would not be vulnerable. In the private security mailing lists that I subscribe to, all the discussion has been framed as a Java issue, not an Apple issue.

I will say that Microsoft has done a lot of good work to improve security in their products, within the constraints that I mentioned in my original post. The culture within the company has improved enormously within the last five years or so, and Windows 7 is a much better platform, from a security perspective, than Windows 2000 and XP. They're probably playing in the same league as Apple, at this point, but still have a lot of work to do.

Best,

--- Les

[http://www.lesbell.com.au]


Quote:
Quote:
Isn't that safety vs. security however?

I'm not aware of any such distinction in the general literature and everyday usage of information security. If you mentioned "safety" to an infosec person, he would probably think it referred to embedded systems in transportation, aviation, power generation, etc. where there's a risk of physical accidents. (The academic literature, particularly on formal methods, has other, more specific meanings for "safety").


I am using the distinction (as I read it) offered by some of the "experts" in the articles I read recently (search term: "Mac vs. Windows security"). Where it was suggested that *safety* was the risk to a system when all factors, such as number of systems targeted, number of attackers, number of viruses in the wild, are considered and *security* is how hackable a single system is.

Quote:
Quote:
The security experts in many of those articles I scanned

In many cases, I think you'll find those are journalists, not security experts. ;)


Maybe. Sometimes they provide backgrounds sometimes not.

Quote:
Quote:
everything that I have read in the past 5 years or so makes the claim that the Mac OS is no more *secure* (as in less crackable when targeted) than a Windows PC

I think you may be being a bit selective in your reading. ;)

There's also a tendency to publicise any exploit against the Mac, perhaps as a rejoinder to those (few) idiots who insist that the Mac is "totally secure".


No, I am not being selective in my reading. Using the search term presented above I scanned the first 7 articles. Not one suggested that the Mac was more secure. I didn't pick and choose articles. The same thing has happened in the past when looking for security comparisons. However, your second point is well taken. It may be that Mac vulnerabilities are better reported.


Quote:
I will say that Microsoft has done a lot of good work to improve security in their products, within the constraints that I mentioned in my original post. The culture within the company has improved enormously within the last five years or so, and Windows 7 is a much better platform, from a security perspective, than Windows 2000 and XP. They're probably playing in the same league as Apple, at this point, but still have a lot of work to do.

That has been my point all along although much of what I have read took it back one iteration (skipping Vista) and made that claim for XP.

Thanks for your insights.

-Marwan

Quote:
Quote:
As a PC user one has to be more aware of what they are downloading, what software they are running, and also has to (or at least should) run a decent AV suite.

That's exactly the point. You have to do those things because Windows is inherently less secure than OS/X or Linux. Q.E.D.

And I think it is proponents like yourself that have made Mac users complacent, and this complacency is what has given Flashback the opportunity.





Quote:
On a typical Windows XP system, there's a high probability that the equivalent trojan would never need to ask for an admin password, because the user would already be running with admin privileges...

I agree this is a vulnerable state. I have said in past posts about wanting Admin rights, but note I said "have an admistrator account", not being an Administrator all the time - I want to know when a program wants to use Admin priviledges. I must add that indeed between Microsoft and other application writers, there leaves much to be desired on the management of user priviledges that result in the necessity to have Administrator rights in order for the app to work properly. (And I did mention too that I would prefer using Linux, but the Borg, oops I mean Gates, was too good in getting his OS out there).

Quote:
And I think it is proponents like yourself that have made Mac users complacent

I'm not an advocate or proponent for the Macintosh; I'm an advocate for the proper understanding of the risks of using *any* networked computer system.

Best,

--- Les

[http://www.lesbell.com.au]

Quote:
Now, despite what Mac OS and Linux proponents say, the reason for the higher number of such malicious attacks is because of the proliferation of Windows systems - because an attacker always wants to maximise the "audience". If Macs and Linux systems were more prolific, I am sure attackers would be more inclined to target their ingenuity to finding holes or circumventing the defences of Mac OS and Linux.

That is true, but what is unknown is how many holes they would find. Until that is known we cannot assume that Linux and OS/X will be as bad as Windows. What is known today is how bad Windows is and that alternatives like Linux and OS/X statically are safer.

In my experience the greatest threat is the user, they create the opportunity for most problems. Servers have fewer problems than desktops because users cannot alter them, same is true for closed devices like the iPhone and iPad.


Quote:
In my experience the greatest threat is the user, they create the opportunity for most problems.

I agree. The first time I got a virus on my personal computer was the "Stoned" virus. I vowed that I would never have that happen again, and have had 20+ virus free years since. However, I help friends & family with their computers and have regularly needed to give their computer a good clean. (Can't they tell that their usually shy friend will not write in an email "Hey chum, check this out!" ?).

I expressly said "my personal computer" above, because I once had a virus on another computer I was working on. It was the "Blaster" worm. In this case the IT department of the company I was working for was to blame:
  • they decided all employees were to have "restricted user" accounts (including electronics design and software negineers)
  • a few weeks before the virus struck, a patch from Microsoft was released that would have prevented the virus from affecting the computer
  • I had attempted to download and install the patch, but could not do so in a "restricted user" account (the IT department had not set up automatic updates)
  • Although the virus didn't care about my account restrictions and copied itself in the System32 directory (IIRC), the anti-virus did identify it but decided it did not have the necessary authority to remove it
  • all computers were infected within an hour and the whole company was computer-less for the rest of the day (Blaster kept resetting the computer).
Later I was given a "power user" account (for other reasons), and they went to no end to tell me how privileged I was. I left soon afterwards. I have since refused to work for any company that does not allow me to have an Administrator account on the PC I usually work on. It is their machine and I will not fiddle with it, nor put anything on there that shouldn't be on there. If they can't trust me in that respect, then goodbye.

As for my own computers at home, it is mine and I want to be able to do with it anything I want - who is Apple to tell me what I can and can't do?

Hope not to offend you, but in a company environment the worst thing are PC users who think they can do better than the administrators.
There are cases where the admins aren't worth their wages, but in general it's contraproductive if a user tries to be his own administrator.

Would you have taken responsibility if the patch you ran on your PC had affected your daily work in a negative way, say if it deleted your most important files,
or put down the LAN for a day? Rather not, I'd say;-)


Perhaps true. But I have also run into administrators that get a god complex and won't let users do the simplest things on their machines. One place I know wouldn't even allow the user to set display resolution so ended up displaying 1024x768 on a 1600x1200 LCD panel because they would not allow the change or make the change themselves.

In my current job all developers have full admin access and so far no one has managed to reboot a production server unintentionally.

Cheers,

-Marwan


The problem is the definition of what should be "admin" and what shouldn't be "admin." Changing screen resolution shouldn't be "admin" but ^%$#$ing with the LAN settings should be.


I think that you may have missed my point. I was providing an example of an administrator with a god complex. You don't need to be an administrator to change resolutions in Windows. This particular administrator went to the added extreme of locking down the desktop using security policies--that is not a good administrator, just a control freak.

Cheers,

-Marwan

Quote:
Would you have taken responsibility if the patch you ran on your PC had affected your daily work in a negative way, say if it deleted your most important files, or put down the LAN for a day? Rather not, I'd say;-)

Actually, I am quite happy to be held as accountable as the IT department - who have recently cost us several days of downtime due to stupid errors.
Quote:
Hope not to offend you, but in a company environment the worst thing are PC users who think they can do better than the administrators.

No offence taken. However, I am in an environment with electronics and software development engineers. We know our PCs very well, and yes sometimes better than the administrators, and I don't think so, I know so. However, a good administrator is very much appreciated. They also usually have a good relationship with the engineers. They don't feel threatened because they know that engineers don't want to be IT administrators, but that we know our PCs well because they are our tools and we want to make the best use of them. There is always pressure to "get it done last month", so we can't afford to wait to have things done that affect only our local PC - if at 5pm GMT I receive a file from a US customer that requires an add-on to see properly, I can't afford to wait to install that add-on because the costomer wants it back by the end of his working day (and no, our IT dept. does not work out of hours unless it is some pre-planned maintenance). Now where an administrator is worth his salt, I am quite happy to let him do what is necessary to keep my tool working for me. But when I can't do some quick changes (sometimes settings that require admin rights (I am talking local PC only) are really not significant1) to make my work easier, I get frustrated. And when I have to give the man a hint how to fix a (netwrok related) problem after seeing him faff about for two days after it was reported, it is really frustarting.

Note 1: for instance as an XP "User" only account, you cannot even change file associations. At the time I had a particular program that saved some files in text form. I wanted to 'open, make a change, save and close' a bunch of files. The said program had a long winded way to open a file (it also only allowed one file to be opened at a time). So an easier way would have been to change the file associations to let the progam open it by double-clicking the file (heck, with the right permissions I could change that to a single click). I only wanted this for an hour or so, as I did have other text files that I was happy to have Notepad open. And even the request for this was met with "it is policy to set Notepad for text files and we cannot change that without a written request from your manager approved by the IT manager". Just to change a file association one way and back again? And of course I would need to do this more than once. Then there were draughtsmen that couldn't make changes in Autocad they needed to for their everyday work. Not to mention programs that wouldn't even work in "User" mode (which is why I became a "power user") (the debate about their programming continues - MS says they don't implement it well enough, they say MS implementation of "user" mode has problems). At the end of the day I want a computer I can use.




Quote:
...say if it deleted your most important files...

I have seen other posts here too referring to "lost data". It is a concept I am not familiar with. I keep backups of my files. If I work on a live file (i.e. someone else's working file) on the network, I make a copy in my own working directory (which paid off just recently as a network glitch reduced it's size to 0 bytes (the one I was working on)). And fortunately the IT dept. has set up daily backups (but recovery was a bit of a nightmare once with newer files being overwritten by older ones - again my propensity for backups paid off).

I think too that the market share determines the number of virus written for a platform, but the easiness of write them is also a factor. The evidence of this is the Mac itself. I owned Macs since 1984 and I can guarantee and prove that there were a lot of viruses targeting the macs. I still have the floppy with several of the anti viruses: Disinfectant, Vitamin C, etc. The mac os of that time was more complex then dos; an application was segmented in several code resources, those making up the main program and those that handled specific features of the Toolbox. For example, windows and menus had the corresponding WDEF MDEF code resources that took care of drawing and handling events for those UI elements. Nothing prevented to modify or even replace these code resources to customise the behaviour. They were then an optimal virus vector and it was easy to do. Differently from DOS, the mac also accessed the floppy disk as soon as it was inserted, executing another code resource that was resident on disc, and I remember the antivirus had to intercept the floppy insertion event to scan the disk before the execution of the code on the disc: I can't remember the name of that virus but it was pretty nasty as it would erase your HD! Therefore, the Mac was an ideal system to target as it offered so many more attack points than MsDOS. I used in fact MsDOS computers as well at that time, and I have never come across any virus, whilst the antivirus programs for the mac were working quite hard!


Wow, that brings back memories. I forgot about that floppy virus but now I remember that!

Being a computer professional myself, I've seen problems with Windows and Macs alike (the most prominent one being the user).

Further it is easy to say that something "just works" until you use it in a restricted, personal, environment or in a peers' one.

I work in a few thousands users' organization, taking care of our servers (Windows/linux), and it's always funny when Apple users try to explain me how great their hw/sw is. They never realize how they can use that departmental printer, WiFi, how the user is profiled, etc.

And, when something "doesn't work" the blame is always put on the infrastructure, of course... :)

That said, Apple products are nice and "shiny" ;) And they work, too! I won't buy them however, my only Apple will remain that old //e, at least until they won't be open to the rest of the world as they once were.

Greetings,
Massimo


The problem with Macs or Linux systems in large organizations is that they are alien to the environment which is dictated by proprietary technology made by Microsoft. The SMB protocol has so many quirks that an open implementation (SAMBA) has almost no other chance than to lack behind and cause trouble. Microsoft's implementation of open standards is sloppy at best. Their own products often take undocumented shortcuts while the poor vendors of different technology need to adhere to the official and often unsatisfactory interfaces. This is true for software running on Windows as well as for systems trying to integrate themselves in a Windows infrastructure. No wonder that in the Windows dominated corporate world all other systems look hampered, at least to the admins.

Corporations cannot easily switch to alternate infrastructures for a very simple reason: The Office file formats contain a great deal of the intellectual property of a modern enterprise. No other software than MS Office can treat them in their full range of features, again, because it's proprietary and not fully documented. And MS Office is Windows only. (I don't trust their Mac offerings to be fully compatible.) A company running SAP has the added complexity of losing access to some features for non Windows clients. Many tools rely on Internet Explorer, MS Excel and VBA...


You have your reasons, that's for sure, and I am the last one who wants to defend MS egemony but, on the whole, this seems to me a view from some years ago. Office should offer full compatibility (that's the whole point to have it on Macs, after all) and liberality on protocols implementation is widespread (albeit a MS plus, I concur).

But it was not my intention to start the usual war on OS vs OS, so I will stop here.
After all, if all things went smooth, I should find another job... ;-)

Have a nice day,
Massimo

Quote:
Corporations cannot easily switch to alternate infrastructures for a very simple reason: The Office file formats contain a great deal of the intellectual property of a modern enterprise. No other software than MS Office can treat them in their full range of features, again, because it's proprietary and not fully documented. And MS Office is Windows only.
I and my family use Open Office under Linux and don't find any compatibility problems.

I think the last time I re-started my computer was sometime last fall (when an update required it). Linux hasn't been perfect, but it has gotten rid of 90% of my computer problems. I won't use Windows again.

Edited: 3 Apr 2012, 2:49 p.m.


I ran two Windows servers back home. They ran for years (not kidding, literally years--I think it was 3 or so) without crashing. They were not connected directly to the internet so I was not terribly concerned about security patches. Anyway, in both machines the hardware gave up before they did.

Cheers,

-Marwan


My Windows server is very stable but I do not run any user software on it and do not plug any peripherals in except external disks. That's just not the point. MS doesn't care much about stability in their operating systems for the public. As long as it looks shiny and they can push it to 98% of the hardware manufacturers it's good enough.

OpenOffice is fine, I do all my writing with it (stemming from StarWriter in the OS/2 V2 times). But you cannot rely on it when it comes to VBA macros or the formatting of large Word documents. You almost always have to do more than trivial reformatting for any non trivial document. And the SAP Business Warehouse Tools, the Business Explorer, is tightly integrated into MS Office respectively does not work correctly in any browser except IE. Corporations just don't have the choice, at least not for all of their work force.

Edited: 3 Apr 2012, 4:12 p.m.


You make a good point. When Vista came out I decided to run the Server version instead (2008R1 I believe?). Anyway, while Vista was a piece of crap Server 2008 actually performed ok. Perhaps the best Windows OS I had used to date. Anyway, your point of business users vs. consumer (home) users is well taken.

I actually did run some regular software on my servers and never had an issue but I didn't install any funky drivers.

Cheers,

-Marwan

Quote:
tightly integrated into MS Office respectively does not work correctly in any browser except IE
According to a friend who's a software engineer currently working for a major social-networking site, MS is the worst for sticking to HTML industry standards though; so it only works in IE, then it's probably wrong. Our soon-to-be daughter-in-law who is majoring in computer science agrees.

Edited: 3 Apr 2012, 6:06 p.m.


From a software developer standpoint I wholeheartedly agree that if a web site does not work in FireFox, Safari or Chrome it's probably buggy. But this really doesn't help any corporate user who needs to access his SAP portal and BI analysis tables through the browser. Without IE on Windows he simply can't do his work. :-(


In our company we've skipped all PC:s. We use Mac and Parallells desktop to emulate PC. This configuration gives the "PC" an almost rock-solid behaviour. We can use all mac program and the PC-program runs without any problem at all.

'Seems that the well-specified hardware environment in the Mac makes it easy to have 100% functionality on the emulated PC!

I can use the best part of both worlds!


Same here. And we never regretted it. Quite the contrary. Even if we still use Windows & Linux. But our desktops are under MacOSX.

Quote:
I and my family use Open Office under Linux and don't find any compatibility problems.
In 2007 I missed a transparency problem with graphics in a ppt file when reworking a poster with OO. That got me into enough trouble to never again use it. Still, I like it, but it's not applicable in business because a single glitch can cost more than an Office licence for the whole company.

Recently I've setup a Linux server for documentation. It does a great job on executing PHP scripts and doing XML stuff with FOP. The show stopper was an Access DB, from which I have to retrieve some information to get the documents together automatically. Go and try to find an UnixODBC driver for Access which can actually safely update entries (a necessary step, unfortunately). I managed to introduce a (not so nice) workaround, but it took some time and now I eagerly await our new ERP system which will replace that Access B/S.

I don't like the MS environment at all, but in 2 out of 2 situations where I wanted to replace MS software to save some money, I found myself in big trouble. _Never_ again!

Quote:
Love of Apple is a religious and political disorder.

Change "Apple" to "RPN" and you will see how most of the world sees it.

The attachment to RPN has been properly described as a fetishism.

I see that attachment another way -- it's a cult thing.

Quote:
The Apple II from 1977 was a POS.

Compared to what? Seriously, give a concrete example.

Here's some info on what came out in 1977:

Computers from 1977

I like the variety that was available back then, but the quality left a lot to be desired.

Quote:
Compared to what?

POS is an intrinsic characteristic of the Apple II. There is no requirement to compare it to anything. If one says something is blue, he doesn't need to answer "compared to what"! :-)

Quote:
Seriously, give a concrete example.

Compared to anything that did not use the cheapest and least-capable junk toy microprocessor that was available then, the MOSTEK 6502, of Commodore PET notoriety as well.

I won't discuss the dishonest marketing that Apple used for the II. That only established Apple's permanent modus operandi.


Mike, it seems that your experience with the Apple II was not good. My experience with the Apple II+ was quite good. Coming from a background of mainframe FORTRAN programming, it was a thrill to have your own computer that you could program to do exactly what you wanted. Having two versions of BASIC right out of the box was pure joy. Learning 6502 assembly language was great as well. I remember vividly the first version of Flight Simulator by Bruce Artwick, I think it was FS4, with wire-wrap scenery; I spent probably hundreds of hours flying around the virtual world. Most weekends I would visit the Egghead Software store in Annapolis Maryland to see what goodies they had. The Apple II+ never let me down and opened up a fantastic world.

One of the best parts was the local Apple users group--Washington Apple Pi--that I joined. They had monthly meetings and a top-quality monthly publication and tons and tons of good software written by members. The crowning moment came in January 1984 when they bought the Woz and Andy Hertzfield to DC to demo the new Macintosh. I literally left that meeting and headed directly to my neighborhood Apple dealer and ordered one. I have no use for current Apple products, and that original Mac was surely under-powered, but what a world it introduced. No more CTRL+B text you want boldface CTRL+B.

Your experience was obviously different, but I have nothing but great memories of the original Apples.

Quote:
Quote:
Seriously, give a concrete example.
Compared to anything that did not use the cheapest and least-capable junk toy microprocessor that was available then, the MOSTEK 6502
I'm not particularly fond of Apple. Even 30 years ago though, people naturally thought the Z80 for example, which has more registers, wider registers, and a higher clock speed, should vastly outperform the 6502; yet the 6502 (and 6800) routinely did better in benchmark tests. The 6502 runs Forth about 25% faster than a 6800 at a given clock speed.

You'll get a small step up from the 6502 (used in the Apple II+) to the 65c02 (used in the Apple IIe and IIc), and a much bigger step up from there to the 65816 (used in the IIgs). Even a 6502 outperforms an 8086 in the Sieve of Isosthenes benchmark in cycles required to finish the job though, in spite of number and size of registers, and all the more an 8088. For completing ten iterations of the Sieve:

 5MHz   8088    4.0  seconds
4MHz 6502 3.1 seconds
8MHz 8086 1.9 seconds
4MHz 65816 1.56 seconds
8MHz 65816 .78 seconds
8MHz 68000 .49 seconds
16MHz 65816 .39 seconds
IOW, a 4MHz 65816 (I think the IIgs used 2.8MHz) did it faster than an 8MHz 8086 which has more and wider registers. None of the 65816's made in the last 10-15 years are rated for any less than 14MHz. The fastest '816 in this test did it faster than the fastest 68000 which had 32-bit registers and a lot more of them. I also find the 65816 much easier to program than the 6502. It has more instructions and addressing modes, and features that make it far better suited for code relocation, multitasking, and a lot of other things where the 6502 is either clumsy or totally inept. But any idea that the 6502 is worthless would conflict with the fact that it is being produced in volumes of hundreds of millions of units per year today (according to Western Design Center who licenses the IP to client companies), although they're mostly invisible because they're the core of a lot of custom ICs controlling processes in your car and other things, even life-support equipment.

The 6502 also has the best interrupt performance of any 8-bitter, AFAIK. It is not unrealistic to service 50,000 interrupts per second at 1MHz, a million per second at 20MHz.


Edited: 5 Apr 2012, 6:52 p.m.

Yes, the 6502 had its detractors. But in 1977 its 256 byte stack limitation was matched by the RAM limits of almost all machines - 16k of RAM cost hundreds of dollars (thousands, now, after inflation). And its single cycle performance forshadowed the later development of RISC CPUs.

Meanwhile, the Apple ][+ manual included a complete schematic, source code of its monitor ROM and more. Its hardware included text and two resolutions of color graphics, sound, game control input, a keyboard, tape I/O all standard, unusual at the time.

Its expandability let mine go to 192k of RAM, dual disks, 80 column and hi-res text and graphics, full type-ahead buffer, dynamic mix of text and graphics and more using boards we designed as hobbyists and built at HP far below market prices. It served me well in many serious roles until replaced by an Amiga 1000 in 1985 rather than boosting its CPU to 4MHz - equivalent to a 12+ MHz Z-80 - and 16 bits (available by then).

In overall performance, it kept up with every CP/M benchmark I found. I did have a Z-80 card it it as well but never ended up using it and gave it to a friend.

No, I've not had an Apple machine since (save an SE in '89-'92). I miss their Steve Wozniak inspired open designs.

Maybe its my tendency to go for the performing underdog is why I had the ][+, the Amiga 1000, a no-longer-made Android phone, a PlayBook and, of course, HP calculators(!).


Quote:
Yes, the 6502 had its detractors. But in 1977 its 256-byte stack limitation was matched by the RAM limits of almost all machines
When you know you're accessing the stacks constantly but don't know what the maximum depth is you're using, the tendency is to go overboard and keep upping your estimation, "just to be sure." I did this for years myself, and finally decided to do some tests to find out. I filled the 6502 stack area with a constant value (maybe it was 00-- I don't remember), ran a heavy-ish application with all the interrupts going too, did compiling, assembling, and interpreting while running other things in the background on interrupts, and after awhile looked to see how much of the stack area had been written on. It wasn't really much-- less than 20% of each of page 1 (return stack) and page 0 (data stack). This was in Forth, which makes heavy use of the stacks. The IRQ interrupt handlers were in Forth too, although the software RTC (run off a timer on NMI) was in assembly.
Quote:
And its single-cycle performance forshadowed the later development of RISC CPUs.
Actually the Apple II did two memory accesses per clock (two million per second at 1MHz), interleaving processor access and video access.

The 6502 had minor pipelining too, so for example ADC# (add with carry, immediate) is an example given in the programming manual, which says it requires five distinct steps, and yet does it in two clocks, meaning 2us at 1MHz, 100ns @ 20MHz, etc.. That number of 5 could be increased if you add the incrementing of the program counter and the implied automatic CMP#0 instruction; so conceivably you could say it does at least 8 or 9 operations in two clocks' time.

I've developed a lot of products using PIC16 so-called-RISC microcontrollers for our company, and in spite of all Microchip's boasting about their speed and efficiency, I can tell you from plenty of experience that the PIC will take approximately twice as many instructions and twice as many clock cycles to get a job done as a 6502 would take-- if the PIC can do it at all.

Thanks! I thought it was just me. As far as the 89 goes, the menu/Function key menu at the display's top has the screwiest font and point size. And yes, various other screen display quirks are just either too darn small, blurry or illegible. I'm in a quandary. As a top of the line TI graphing unit that I have the cable & software for, I'm tempted to keep it as the day-to-day rough & tumble unit and keep my HPs treated with greater care. On the other hand, as far as retaining the 89, my 50G is so much the superior.

Edited: 2 Apr 2012, 5:22 p.m.

TI-86 is a superb calculator that should never have been outlived by the TI-83 kin. Full complex support, nice solvers, enough memory, large display, easy conversions and straight menus. Not as fast as the newer z80's from TI, but much more capable. TI-89 is amazing (it runs a subset of Derive, it's a real shame that TI killed that too), but I don't get the point of CAS calculators surrounded by computers running Mathematica.

It is interesting and a bit of fun too reading the several comments to that article. I am assuming the majority are US students, high school and university, and what transpires is that they have almost no choice but getting a TI because even math/engineering textbooks report the solutions of the problems using TI-83-84-89 steps. From time to time, you can read a short comment of somebody who has got an HP 50g, recommending it as superior compared to all the others. What puzzles me is the perception in some of those students that if they don't have a TI they wouldn't be able to follow the textbook and they just don't want to learn to use another calculator. My question is then: if you consider yourself smart enough to take on math/physics/engineering courses, I am sure you can manage learning another calculator, can't you? My first calculator had to be a TI-30, because that was what many had at that time. I went with my dad to buy it, but by chance he saw a 32E and asked the sale assistant what that big "ENTER" key was for, and he received a vague and unsatisfactory explanation. He ended up buying the 32E to me instead the TI-30, because he said it looked a lot more solid and robust and because he was curious about the ENTER key and wanted me to find it out. During the following ten years, we bought other 10 HP calculators, and I still have them all in very good working conditions.


Possibly Related Threads...
Thread Author Replies Views Last Post
  HP48GX - looking for Chotkeh Engineering Review Software MANUAL giancarlo 0 481 12-06-2013, 04:28 PM
Last Post: giancarlo
  [HP-Prime xCAS] Review Polynomial Tools + BUGs + Request CompSystems 0 320 09-05-2013, 12:53 PM
Last Post: CompSystems
  A hands-on review of the HP Prime Adrien Bertrand 7 798 08-14-2013, 03:45 AM
Last Post: Juergen Keller
  Review of the Fourier Hygrometer for HP StreamSmart Mic 3 508 03-30-2013, 02:40 PM
Last Post: Gerson W. Barbosa
  Review of the Fourier Thermometer for HP StreamSmart Mic 7 702 03-30-2013, 02:39 PM
Last Post: Gerson W. Barbosa
  HP StreamSmart Review Mic 6 704 03-13-2013, 02:33 PM
Last Post: Jedidiah Smith
  Review of the HP-40gs Mic 1 330 02-27-2013, 03:31 PM
Last Post: Eddie W. Shore
  Review of the DM-16CC hpnut 1 385 01-04-2013, 04:21 PM
Last Post: Guido (Canada)
  Review of the HP-300S+ Mic 22 1,815 01-01-2013, 06:07 PM
Last Post: chris smith
  Review of the HP-10S+ Mic 0 270 12-30-2012, 09:06 AM
Last Post: Mic

Forum Jump: