Jon (j_b) wrote,

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"A millstone around the neck of computing", or: "MacGyver, how could you work for THEM?"

In which your humble author decides to express his deep deep love for PTEC, the lousy company responsible for enough frustration and misery amongst computer owners to fuel a river of slime the size of the Hudson.

j_b: holy crap! ahahaha! You know that feature in IE and Firefox that nobody ever turns on, "check for certificate revocation" ? <-- REVOKED LOL
couldn't happen to a nicer company
shiny: is phoenix evil or something?
abelits: j_b: I don't see it there
abelits had revocation check disabled, too, so he didn't notice it first
j_b: shiny -> really and truly.
  1. they started the idea of shipping hardware crippled by its software. "congrats, your new mobo with the MODONGO chipset has all these features, however you can only change settings for the ones the manufacturer paid us to activate settings-changes for in the bios"
  2. they fuck up specifications and have bugs in their products, then tell the manufacturers they'll have to pay if they want the bugs fixed, so the manufacturer never releases an updated BIOS, thus committing lots of perfectly good hardware to the junkheap early (ACPI / APM are main examples, lack of booting from CD, lack of booting from new media, USB support)
  3. they're right there with the media companies (macrovision, etc) in helping to ensure users can be barred from doing X with their hardware
  4. they now install trial-ware IN THE BIOS FLASH, often intermingled with data stored in a (wonderfully easily damaged/corruptible) hidden partition on the drive. "hey wow your PC has check-in-and-tattle capable antitheft software! do you want to activate? OK, fill in your info... please wait, copying software from secret partition onto Windows partition, booting windows, running driver install, bing HEY SUPRISE PAY FIFTY BUCKS NOW"
  5. they're responsible for selling as a "feature" the idea that OEMs should not have any Microsoft OS / driver restore media at all, and only use the "Phoenix System Restore" feature, which 1) leaves the hard drive in a DIFFERENT state of software config than when it really was new out of box, and 2) means you're hosed when your HDD physically fails -- so - my laptop, which had the hdd physically die, now, to get Windows restored, requires it to be sent in for a $100 hard drive re-image. As opposed to the $30 here's-a-new-CD direct from Microsoft, or the $11 here's-our-restore-media from the manufacturer's 15 other models of laptop.
  6. they get into standards specs (trust us to provide the OS with the hardware map) forcing chipset specific bugs that are completely in software to be unable to be worked around (Intel Server chipset can't access full 4GB of RAM because IBM-licensed-from-Phoenix BIOS insists on mapping upper .6GB as "RESERVED FOR PCI DMA" fake ram area, leaving the "shadow" RAM living underneath completely inaccessible, even though they could either PAE32 or AMD64 their way around that -- linux core developers gave up on working around it as it would mean tampering with the RAM map handed to the OS from the [chorus-of-Handel's-"Messiah"] BIOS (where are the architects of QEMM when we need them - I would happily pay $35-40 qemm cost to make full RAM accessible, it's stupid that out of 64 bit address space most of a gig is pinned under BIOS stupidity)
  7. They acquire makers of superior BIOS (Microid Research) and independent aftermarket BIOS upgrade sellers (whose upgrades could fix some of their bugs or enable features that weren't on) (UNICORE) apparently for the purpose of shutting them completely down.
  8. They sue open source web browsers based on their name, despite no chance of confusion
  9. Phoenix's killing the competition is pretty much responsible for the lack of serial console BIOS , netbooting , etc on x86 hardware until the past decade

shiny: So, I guess they're evil.
abelits: I love monopolies
tyan-based trogdors will have linuxbios option
oh btw, looked at the new 8-cpu tyan board specs and layout
thewinglover: ...
abelits: I think, I can stuff that thing into 2u
(holy shit eight quads)
abelits: j_b: but this is all pretty weak by software companies' standards
phoenix is the only member of BSA that has absolutely no reason to be there
j_b: abelits -> wrong - they are there to sue people who distribute hacked flashes of their BIOS with the pay-to-enable features turned on
abelits: but this is not what bsa is doing
j_b: people who want to, gasp, change a setting on the chipset they paid for
abelits: bsa is to sue end-users
it does nothing against distributors
(really more like to intimidate end-users)
thewinglover: But they didn't pay for it
abelits: no one sells bios upgrades
thewinglover: Any more than you paid for a 20-client-access-license to Windows Server 2003
j_b: Wing -> They paid for the physical hardware. If you support that logic, you support Ford selling you a car with the hood welded shut and a speed limiter.
thewinglover: when you really paid for a 5-CAL
abelits: hardware manufacturers pay for them, to be able to make them available
j_b: Their software is getting between the hardware you own, physically, and you.
thewinglover: Hardware manufacturers pay for some of them to be made available
j_b: Your argument does hold weight, say, if they provided their own cool software raid
abelits: Wing: but you can't buy bios from phoenix
j_b: then you're infringing on their copyright by using their software in violation
thewinglover: Right, that's what people are doing
abelits: Wing: their only customers are hardware companies
j_b: but if they don't let me change the RAM timing value, which is one byte to one port on a chipset, I disagree with you.
abelits: so end-users are unable to "steal" a bios
j_b: Which is why, say, Apple can't sue the people who install rockbox to listen to Vorbis files.
thewinglover: j_b, when you said "pay-to-enable features", I thought you *were* talking about enabling things like onboard RAIDs that had been disabled because you didn't buy the RAID version
j_b: ah, nope
just the slider knobs
that tweak the hardware's settings
thewinglover: ah, that's different
j_b: that was the beautiful thing about unicore, you could buy an AMI BIOS with all features turned on (they were an AMI vendor)
abelits: Wing: onboard raid is too complex for phoenix, they don't do controllers firmware
j_b: suddenly you had all these little things to twiddle and frob to make your PC lock up
thewinglover: tea, that's not the point, is it.
j_b: and you felt all Gentooey
thewinglover: You've been able to netboot x86 hardware since about 1986
j_b: (I can see using a nic card BIOS chip in the ISA days when the ROM was just that)
yeah, with an extra chip. But since BIOS were flashable since at least, what, the Triton pentium chipset days, better netboot technologies could be made available using plain NICs
thewinglover: If it was *available*, why are you whining that such a specialty function was not available, just because Phoenix didn't make it more convenient?
abelits: it required a nic with flash
j_b: Because they killed off featureful competing BIOS that were actively adding new cool features (Microid / MRBIOS)
j_b: abelits -> he knows.
or rather, NIC with EPROM to be tea-pedantic ;-)
abelits: and phoenix could make it available by default, so office network could have netbootable antiviruses and upgrades in early 90's
abelits: j_b: yes
j_b: thewinglover -> Now, I understand that what they did was optimal for their business. In fact i'm suprised that they not only survived out of the DOS era but are apparently doing quite fine financially.
But I wish it was because of the superiority of their products leading to their market domination, like Microsoft.
j_b runs and dives behind the potted plant.
thewinglover: well, whatever, I am late for going to the dojo, i'll have to let you guys have your little slashdot wankfest without me
abelits: j_b: that _is_ weak

(edited to remove about 50 cursewords for some readability)
Tags: babble, rant
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