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The Great QNX Give-Away 2 October 2000 Edition
Previous Edition

QNX is one of the computer industry's best kept secrets -- well at least in my opinion -- and now, this operating system which used to cost several thousand dollars is available for download on the Net -- free of charge to developers.

I first encountered QNX back in 1982 when it became the most reliable multi-user, multi-tasking operating system for the PC platform. Since then it has gained a very strong following amongst a small and close-knit community of developers creating PC-based and embedded realtime applications using Intel processors.

It seems that QNX Software Systems Ltd have decided that there's more money to be made by making their product attractive to developers than there is by repeating the mistake which drove IBM's rather excellent OS/2 operating system into the history books as an "also-ran."
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Mr Anderton says everyone with business experience... - Stan

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Those who remember OS/2 will likely also remember IBM's arrogance towards developers. Instead being sensible and helping developers by offering them free or low-cost tools and product so as to encourage the growth of OS/2-specific applications, IBM charged like wounded bull for all their upgrades, compilers and documentation -- effectively alienating the developers so essential to creating a base of native OS/2 applications.

IBM mistakenly assumed that it was a good idea to spend more than US$50 million on fancy TV advertisements featuring nuns and goat-herders while at the same time gouging programmers by charging a small fortune for the tools required to tool up for OS/2 development. Of course developers said -- "get stuffed -- OS/2 is really nice but we're already tooled up to develop Windows software and we're not going to pay that much just to write apps for your OS." So OS/2's potential to become "the" desktop operating system was never realised -- a superior product sunk by an inferior and arrogant attitude to the market.

The guys at QNX however have wised up and figured that by giving developers everything they need -- including easy porting to QNX from Linux, they're likely to recruit a lot of smart people who appreciate the unique features this OS has to offer.

If you are a Linux developer or user, check out the QNX site and then download your own free copy of the OS and tools.

Be warned however that you're looking at a 24MB download for the minimal system or 94MB for the full CDROM image file. However, even those with only 56K modem connections should be able to bring down the minimal 24MB file in a reasonable amount of time. Hint -- the Tucows server seems to have more bandwidth than the QNX one itself.

I'd be interested to hear from those who do take a look -- let me know what you think. I know it's not going to be everyone's cup of tea -- but it's free!

IHUG's Satellite Service To Get Speed Boost
As regular readers will know I've been using IHUG's satellite-based broadband internet service (now called Ultra) ever since it was launched and I've consistently been impressed.

When downloading the free QNX developers' system I consistently got a transfer rate in excess of 250K bits/second which meant it took just a few minutes to bring down these fairly large files.

Well good news for satellite-based Ultra users -- IHUG are about to provision some extra bandwidth to improve performance. This new bandwidth arrives mid-month and some early adopters will need to upgrade their satellite cards but it looks like a great system is about to get even better!

Another Month Slips By
Here it is, the first working day of October and I find myself bound to repeat the same message I have during the first edition of the month for far too long now.

Despite endless posturing and rhetoric on the part of government, we're still no further ahead in the creation of an environment which will help foster new economy industries.

The meagre grants scheme which is now available to would-be developers has been swamped with applications -- such that only a small percentage are likely to receive anything like the help they're seeking. This is surely a clear indication that there are plenty of would-be participants in turning this country's sorry economy around but that the government's blatant reneging on its election promise with respect to R&D continues to stifle innovation and investment.

No New Economy "Rubbish" for this man!

Bla bla -- rave rave -- clearly I'm wasting my time pointing out the bleeding obvious, yet again.

The quote of the week has to come from "let's play ostrich" Jim Anderton who has decided that his Industry New Zealand board doesn't need anyone with hi-tech knowledge or expertise. Jim said:

"I think these words like knowledge economy, old economy, new economy are all a bit of rubbish."

That's right Jim -- if you don't understand something then first pretend it doesn't exist and, if that doesn't work, just criticise it.

I'm Trying To Paddle Against The Current
In spite of, not because of government policy, I'm still prepared to have a go at developing and launching my next "million-dollar idea" from an NZ base -- but whether I end up taking the expressions of interest received from the USA and Asia or whether I keep it here is entirely dependent on the availability of local startup funding.

As I mentioned in Friday's edition, I'm presently seeking backing for what I know will become a key infrastructure component of e-commerce on the Internet. This is a system that will have global impact and which has already generated expressions of interest from major players in the US marketplace.

I'd like to "keep it kiwi" because the overseas earnings and local jobs it stands to create are massive -- particularly when you look at the projected size of the online e-commerce marketplace by the end of 2001.

Will this become yet another case of NZ's economic future disappearing offshore?

Only the next few days and local investor interest will determine that I guess.

And have I applied for one of the government's grants? No thanks -- ideas like this require that all involved move at "Net speed" and, quite frankly, the time involved in jumping the hurdles is far more valuable than measly $100K on offer.

As always, your feedback is welcomed.

Security Alerts
Microsoft issues new patch for Windows 2000 Telnet security hole (Computerworld)

Windows ME Bugged by Flaw (Wired)

Microsoft adjusts sign-on feature to patch Windows 2000 (CNet)

Word documents susceptible to "Web bug" infestation (CNet)

Trojan horse rears its head on Palms (CNet)

Virus Alerts
UBS warns of new virus (CNN)

Killer Virus Streaming Near You (InternetNews)

'Pokey' virus hits U.S. (CNN)

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Copyright © 2000, Bruce Simpson, free republication rights available on request