News Stay informed about the latest enterprise technology news and product updates.

Mad as Hell VIII -- Appliance vs. theory of everything

Putting everything in one box is doomed to fail. Adding technology is not the answer.

Disgusted by security issues and poor performance, Winn Schwartau makes the switch from Windows to the Mac and details the bumps in the road along the way in his "Mad as Hell" series.

It's been a while. I have no excuse. Except, my Mac works.

I have not spent one minute [well, maybe one] worrying about viruses, spyware or any of the usual WinTel crap. I have saved, I figure, in 10 weeks, at least 20 hours of time, not including crashes which means multiples of days.

Last night, in a hotel in Vancouver, I doubled checked my stealthiness, and all is good.

I have been to no less than two dozen networks in the last couple of weeks, and I have never needed to configure to them. I have saved at least 6 to10 hours of time.

I have lost a few seconds here and there because my fingers still 'think' Windows commands, but that is my ancient brain rewiring itself. I have not used my PC in three weeks.

My PC-worry factor is now next to nil, and that is a strange feeling, indeed! It takes a while to get used to the fact that things just work.

Many of the Linux adapters have it right, IMHO.

Here again underscores the increasing problems with WinTel platforms. As a culture we have been

More Mad as Hell

MacIntosh vs. Windows: Choosing to take a bite of the Apple
Disgusted by security issues and poor performance, Winn Schwartau makes the switch from Windows to the Mac and details the bumps in the road along the way in this exclusive intro to his "Mad as Hell" series.

Mad as Hell archive

promised that our PCs will do everything for us. They will solve all of our problems, do anything we ask and just keep piling on the functions you want. It will be all right. Trust us. We are geeks.


We have a tendency to think adding more technology is the answer to solving our technology problems. From a systems and control view of the world this is sheer insanity. It is an especially foolish approach when the vast majority of your customers have just recently conquered push button phones and their VCR/DVDs still flash 12:00.

[BTW: In the security world, vendors are forever saying, "Our new blue widget will solve all of your security problems." Bull. Remember PKI? $5M+ and for what? Fortezza? Expanding headers = non scalable. Or the infamous, "Add a firewall. That'll protect us." Then they get Sally in shipping to configure it. It is people, people!]

Let's say you own your own business. Or, better yet, let's say I do, which I do: a security company. [Which if you remember, is why I began this long series of rants on why WinTel is a national security threat and a danger to your company.]

If I were a one man shop, I would have to do almost everything myself… or, outsource those things where I am not expert. As a larger company, I hire people who specialize in various disciplines. My HTML is good, but I can't design graphics beyond stick figures. I can write, but our marketing and PR is done by people who specialize in that. My geek factor gets lower by the week as new technology is impossible to stay on top of, so I have a great team of engineers. I need a lawyer, an accountant… and so it goes.

But these damn computers! Think how much we pile on them to do. Everything.

One of security's mantras is SPF -- Single Point of Failure. If I concentrate too much workload and expectance of functionality in one place, when things fail [which by now you realize will happen] it all fails. At the desktop we add application after application, and expect the WinTel to perform perfectly. It can't and it won't.

We add patches to fix old problems. We build perimeters of security and embed them in applications and O/Ss. And all we end up doing is making the system more complex and ultimately, less reliable. It is inevitable.

How are Ma & Pa supposed to deal with this? They can't and there is no reason that the computer industry should expect them to.

There is plenty of academic support for the thesis that WinTel will continue to fail as long as the current entropic thinking is maintained.

BILL BASH: The other day [mid May 2005] Gates said something like, [paraphrase] "iPod is a fad. Smart phones will take over and iPod will die." This is the same philosophy of putting everything under one roof, or in one box, that is driving everyone nuts. It's too much.

I like appliances. I have a phone that works like a phone. No pix. I have a camera for that. No IM. I have a computer for that. If one appliance dies [which they will] I am not SOL. I don't like being SOL.

About the author
Winn Schwartau is one of the country's leading experts on information security, infrastructure protection and electronic privacy. Schwartau is president and founder of Interpact Inc., The Security Awareness Company, which develops information security awareness programs for private, public and government organizations.

Dig Deeper on Alternative operating system security

Start the conversation

Send me notifications when other members comment.

Please create a username to comment.