% fortune -ae paul murphy

Scary Bloggie

Mr. Editor person asked that the regular zdnet bloggers honor Halloween by discussing something scary... so, since I'm always happy to oblige - and, besides it is Friday the 13th today - I'm setting aside the regularly scheduled program to bring you some scary realities.

And, FYI, the regularly scheduled blog for today will run next Tuesday - it's about IBM making an honest woman out of Red Hat by marrying it.

So what's scary? how about Paul Murphy doing Windows?

Trust me, very scary...

Kai Ryssdal of public Radio's Marketplace has a fascinating interview with Scott McNealy. Some scary snippets:

Of all of the companies left of the hundreds and thousands of computer companies since we've been in business, it's us, IBM and Microsoft.


I think that you look at the number of Java devices out there on the planet - three and a half billion Java devices. That dwarfs the number of Microsoft clients out there.


And I think, you know, the Microsoft thing was clearly a very important battle for us to undertake, because a lot of people weren't, and if you look at all of our contemporary companies who didn't take on Microsoft, just about every one of them is gone and have been relegated to a different business model and have gotten out of the R&D.

We took them on and, in fact, have established ourselves. SPARC and Solaris and Java is the alternative to the X86 Windows .Net model and those are kinda the two architectures.

And if you don't think that's Friday the 13th before Hallowean scary - take another look: ask yourself which big players, and big products, aren't important enough to mention as survivors.

And, FYI Intel fans - here's a fact to thorw into the intellectual hopper: IBM's Power6 dual core, altivec equiped, PPC coming out next year? 5.0 Ghz on 32MB of cache at the time of first product release.

And then, of course, there's the VR-Pod that's coming. It's a PPC/cell application and it's scary - Got a pre-teen? Prepare for the worst of the worst.

Television has become generally boring, pop music so stereotyped and mass produced it's embarrasing, and even the massively parallel player games have become repetitive, so where will your teenager go for his hot tech entertainment fix - and privacy?

Into his nicely hooded solar jacket, the one that both carries and powers an embedded network device driving a combined aural, visual, and tactile VR representation.

A private world all his own - with a massively parallel gameset in which the computer plays all the roles except his. Imaginary friends in an imaginary world totally cut off from parents and reality: no communication in, no communication out - personal bio-locks you won't know exist -teenager heaven, and for parents? that other place.

Oh, and in the US, as Eric Sinrod makes clear parents can be sued for the resulting anti-social behavior. You're responsible for them, remember - and yes, 13 is considered unlucky because it's the beginning of the teenage years. So want some advice? enjoy Hallowean with your kids this time, because you may never speak to them again once that thing comes out.

Now if you don't have a pre-teen and aren't worried about what tech like this will do to their little heads, you may have a job selling or supporting Windows desktops. If so, you should be afraid, very afraid, because sooner or later people will start to catch on what a fraud that all is - here's a bigger excerpt from that same interview:

MCNEALY: ... And over time, we believe the technology is gonna drive more and more of your content and stuff to be stored remotely out on the network where the network is the computer and we think that positions us very nicely.

RYSSDAL: But still, most of us are schlepping around laptops all the time.

MCNEALY: I'm so sorry.

RYSSDAL: That's a fact of life for most of us, probably not you.

MCNEALY: Yeah, well, I can take my Java card right now out of my badge here, stick it into any terminal here and my desktop shows up from - I don't know where it is. I think it's in Colorado. But I can go home. I can go to my house, stick it in there and, boom, there it is. Away you go. My desktop goes where I go.

RYSSDAL: Well, let's go do that. Let's go find a terminal and see how it works.

So here we are. It's an empty conference room. You've got strapped on your belt a card, basically, and a computer terminal that looks like, frankly, any other computer terminal but with some little Sun docking port.

MCNEALY: Right. So I've got my standard I.D. card. It has a swipe to get me in the door. It has an RFID tag and it also has a Java chip on it and I just use that as my I.D. It's got my picture and my employee number and I can walk up to any terminal anywhere in the company and just stick it into the card reader and it is now roaming the network trying to find my desktop and so it's looking around and it's got my I.D. in here and it's about anywhere from three seconds to ten seconds to go - it found my desktop in that time that I was talking and it asks for a second factor authentication. So I am typing in my password to authenticate. There's my desktop. Now I'm not gonna let you look at my email.


MCNEALY: And this is channel Scott. My I.D. card is channel Scott.

RYSSDAL: And you just pulled it out and now it's gone.

MCNEALY: The screen's blank. There's no - you can steal this terminal now. There's no data here. There's no state. You can't steal anything. It's like stealing a TV and thinking you ran away with the next, you know, Alias or whatever.

RYSSDAL: Now I have to ask you, though, this to me is fabulous.

MCNEALY: It's science fiction.

RYSSDAL: Well, I mean it's reality 'cause you just did it. It's great. But the question is why aren't you the most powerful technology company on the planet if you have this thing. I mean -

MCNEALY: Well, you know, so I was just with the head of a big intelligence community CIO this morning and he thinks this is the most unbelievable and most secure environment. This solves your VA Hospital issue of losing all the laptop information. It's a multifactor authentication, in other words, two factors - what I have, my card; what I know, my password. And you can add biometrics to who you are.

It's secure when I walk away 'cause I can't get through the next door without my card so I have to pull the card out and I've completely logged out just by pulling my card out and I stick the card back in and I can re-log in in a matter of seconds and, boom, I'm right back to where I was. So the - we don't have any move costs. We can - and I work from home during the day, during the rush hour, 'cause I've got a Sun Ray at home in my office and there I am. I'm back.


Paul Murphy wrote and published The Unix Guide to Defenestration. Murphy is a 25-year veteran of the I.T. consulting industry, specializing in Unix and Unix-related management issues.