Why Windows 8 Will Be Support Nightmare (Especially in Small Businesses)

Windows 8 offers a radically new interface for computers, with new features like new Metro (what do they call it now? Windows 8 interface?) and other features, or non-features like lack of the Start button.

So why this is bad for small businesses? Simply put, it is bad for small businesses, unless whoever taking charge of IT in the organization is a Microsoft fanboy. In the context of small businesses I’m talking here, it is a size of around 3 to 10. (If the company is small enough, that it is only by yourself, or with just one other person, this is probably less relevant as IT administration is more of personal user than business users.)

So what small businesses lack that bigger corporation don’t? Usually, it comes down to more unstructured, and unorganized IT policies and privileges.

To name a few:

  • Smaller companies lack well defined upgrade path. Upgrade happens whenever the system gets updated. If the company is not big enough to take advantage of volume licensing, upgrade paths are often tied to the system being replaced.
  • Generally speaking, smaller businesses do not have access to downgrade privilege.
  • IT human resources for small businesses may not necessarily be dedicated. They may be wearing more than one hat beside IT. This means skill set of IT staffing in smaller company may be motivation driven — for instance, one who are investing more time on Linux or Mac may not be willing to improve their support ability in the new aspect of Windows 8 even when they are already knowledgeable in general know how.

I am maintaining IT assets for company size of 4 people, and it has been already bad enough when I have to support iOS devices — often I have to resort to unhelpful response, “I don’t know, I don’t use iOS.” Being a LibreOffice user (with a copy of Microsoft Office 2007 installed on the VM for occasionally compatibility, that I rarely boots up) I am more comfortable supporting Microsoft Office 2003 than what’s offered in those “ribbon interface” which makes it very difficult to support the application as well. (After all, I consider myself to be a computing expert, not vendor expert.)

So, yeah, this is pretty scary when it is time to upgrade a machine in the office is newer device. Hopefully, configuration of those devices is close enough that Windows 7 would be enough.

Freenet as a Network Node Heartbeat Monitor

While real application of Freenet is for anonymous, censorship tolerant network. I am experimenting its usefulness as poor man’s server heartbeat monitor.

The idea is, I’d configure each node as Darknet only mode, and only exchange keys with nodes to monitor the server. Participating nodes can monitor status of server by whether it is available or not, and there are unique advantages in this setting:

  • The system does not require global IP — NAT traversal works seamlessly with Freenet.
  • Completely decentralized — you do not need dedicated server to monitor.
  • Freenet runs on just about any operating systems.
  • Not only you can get information about whether you can connect the A node to the B node, but you can also figure out if the B node to the C node connections are available. The Friends page on Freenet makes itself evident if one of leaf node has access to other. (In smaller network, you could exchange a noderef among each node. Bigger set of servers probably will require more coordinations.)
  • Possibly expandable using FCP. For example, you can set each node to push out reachability report every once in a while to be retrieved from monitoring systems, for example.
  • The load on the network is light in Darknet settings.
  • No plain text transfer.
  • N2NTM feature makes it easy to transfer small segment of text or a file across the node, and it is encrypted, too.

Setting up a Darknet node without extra plugins makes it very lightweight, in my test environment, taking as little as 60MB of RAM, which seems to make it an ideal solution for small scale network environment where setting up a server monitoring system unpractical.

A Statement Regarding Interview by NHK of Japan About Tor Technology

This is a document originally written on September 20th, regarding interview about Tor conducted by NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation)

Written on 9/20/2012

I’ve received inquiries from NHK (Nippon Housou Kyoukai) regarding interview they want to do with me. As they will be having a discussion of anonymizing technology in their show called Science Zero to be aired on October 7th, they wanted to do a segment with me, in the topic of why use Tor.

I maintain information site for GnuPG in Japanese and advocacy of information technology is a big thing for me, thus, I accepted their inquiry to appear on TV.

The interview itself was conducted over Google Hangout, for about an hour. Being myself not used to those press interviews, there were times I have explained things for quite a bit of time. (They wanted something simple.)

And this is what happened so far.

So answering their questions, why use Tor, first point is that it is useful when searching for “questionable” matters. (For instance, I am interested in military technologies, like submarines) I feel it is a real threat as in post-9/11 era, information that used to be public is now obscured. Also, eavesdropping capability of NSA is improving in recent year, it is a real fear my activity online would be interpreted in pieces, causing misunderstandings. Another point is simply that the importance of this type of technology only increases over time. I am not sure how they will be using my interview footage, but I wanted to write few words about it.

I am in a stance that information itself should never be incriminating. It is more of the statement that what matters if what action people take with these information in hand, and it’s not the information itself that is a crime. This is also related to freedom of the speech, but regulating information itself will inevitably infringe such freedom of the speech. This is because globally speaking, the only way to protect your own free speech is to also protect someone else.

It is very challenging to describe question of why use Tor without myself sounding like a conspiracy theorist. In practicality, deep webs, such as Hidden Service and Freenet are also important to cover, but as a scope of this interview, I mainly explained it in context of Tor use in public web. (As deep web is not easily perceived by the general public, it would require its own session to explain about it.)

These technologies are in surge of being more important, and I am looking forward to see how this is covered in the show.

More opinions to come after viewing the show.

[ Updated 9/24 ]
NHK just wrote to me that they had to cut my segment due to time constraints. Bummer, but oh well.

An encrypted version of this document is released first and key will be released on certain days (when they have the show listed with the topic on their webpage) so everyone can decrypt. For verification, a passphrase for decrypting encrypted version of this document as follows:

gOsuUwhhUPb6FUBvBW

http://int.tumblr.com/
http://google.com/+HidekiSaito

This document is released under Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported (CC BY-ND 3.0).

Errata

  • Grammatical changes but overall meaning should be same.
  • Terminology fix: Darkweb -> Deepweb
  • Few hyperlinks are added.