Friday, March 31, 2006

Where Apple fails | Perspectives | CNET

"In relative terms, Apple continues shrinking. Back in 1990, Apple was the largest PC maker in the world, with 10 percent of the market. In the third quarter of 1997, the company had 7 percent. During one of its most rocky periods--when it fired CEO Gil Amelio--market share had only dipped to 2.8 percent. Put another way, the company's PC group is about a third the size it was when CEO Steve Jobs returned."

Happy Birthday!

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Judge quashes MS bid to subpoena Oracle and Sun | The Register

"Drawing a distinction between the 'adversarial' US legal system and Europe's 'inquisitional' system, the judge said: 'As a matter of comity, this court is unwilling to order discovery when doing so will interfere with the European Commission's orderly handling of its own enforcement proceedings.'"

But... we never expected the European Inquisition!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Fidelity - Stolen Laptop Response

"Finally, just like you shouldn’t be walking around with a million dollars in a briefcase in today’s world, Fidelity shouldn’t be walking around with a laptop with a client’s valuable personal information… period!"

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Balmer Spouts Off Again

"My children--in many dimensions they're as poorly behaved as many other children, but at least on this dimension I've got my kids brainwashed: You don't use Google, and you don't use an iPod."

Ths man defines the word buffoon.

BBC NEWS | Technology | Video games tackle 'lazy eye'

"'We thought we'd develop a system that needed about 400 hours of treatment like patching. In the end we achieved the same effect in an hour,' said Dr Eastgate."

if u cn rd ths...

Rory Blyth - -Enthusiasthma

"This notion of constantly being excited is exhausting. It’s not healthy. It isn’t normal. It’s downright stupid and counter-productive.

People at the company are so terrified now of not appearing to show passion that they’ll give you Oscar-winning speeches about what they had for lunch and why it was so great for customers. If you end a sentence with fewer than three exclamation points, offset by several spaces to isolate the excitement and drive it home, then you clearly aren’t really behind whatever it is that you’re talking about."

'Sandal and ponytail set' cramping Linux adoption? | CNET

"Quinn, who played a key role in the Bay State government's decision to mandate the use of OpenDocument-based products, said appearance matters when trying to convince decision makers of the merits of open-source software. "

Hey dude! Dig my new photo:

I think though, that we are passing, or have passed, the point where Open Source advocates should be thought of as asking for any favors, with respect to dress code, or otherwise.

As a mainframe systems programmer in the 70s I, on occasion, wore pony tails and sandals to work. It was symbolic that I was important enough to the company that I could thumb my nose at any dress codes. Those days may be over (for me anyway) but that has nothing to do with Open Source.

Companies and government organizations that want to be lead around via a ring through their nose (or lower extremities) by Microsoft should feel free to do so. Microsoft is only so glad to oblige (substitute IBM, Apple, Dell, HP or your own favorite IT dinosaur). If Open Source doesn't represent a competitive advantage to companies that adopt it, then screw Open Source. Don't do us any favors please!

As to dress, I wore my hair long and wore jeans and sandals to work because it was comfortable, not because it was fashionable, and not really for the statement that it made. I wore suits when it was called for too. These days I'm sure there are many dot-net programmers dressing like pigs and still toeing the Microsoft party-line. The two issues are unrelated, and always will be.

Tevanian to leave Apple | CNET

"Another longtime Apple executive, iPod division chief Jon Rubinstein, is slated to retire this month.

The departures come just as Apple celebrates its 30th anniversary, with the actual milestone occurring on Saturday. Tevanian helped to lead development of Apple's Mac OS X, which celebrated its fifth birthday last week."

I see signs this company is falling apart at the seams. Top execs selling off their stock as fast as they get in (to pay back taxes in Job's case!), top techs calling it quits. And what DO they do for an encore, now that they are just another Wintel box running (for now) just another (albeit spiffed up) version of Unix?

I just read that the parking lot is empty at Microsoft these nights too. While Apple never acheived the market penetration they longed for, they are in most respects no different from Microsoft now and may be joining the old guard of name recognition: companies that like IBM, may not go away any time soon, but which are not blazing a trail of new products either, having lost their compass for what is driving consumer demands these days.

"Introducing ajaxWrite

The look, feel, and functionality of Microsoft Word, in a completely web-based AJAX platform. Try ajaxWrite today, and experience first-hand how AJAX applications are changing the way the web works, and redefining the software industry."

Monday, March 27, 2006

Bleeding Edge: Journalistic jerk upsets Microsoft

"It may that the story David Riches was trying to write is that as much as 60 per cent of the code might have to be re-written if Vista is to regain that new file system we're being denied. That sounds quite plausible to us. We doubt that his story is correct. But it's not without at least some credibility. The irony is that in calling Riches a less than credible jerk, Scoble has almost certainly increased his readership. We can point him in the direction of a calming tree or two."

As someone who recognized the 60% number as an impossibility as soon as I saw it on Slash-dot, there IS a plausible explanation for that number being used. It may well be that on a module by module basis that 60% of the code will need to be touched, or even that 60% of the code will need to be recompiled (due to library changes etc.) It may well be that such a statement could be translated into "60 percent of the code" by a journalist or other non-technical type. For those journalists that have been good enough to admit that they are not coders, you have to take EVERYTHING they say about code with a huge grain of salt. But instead of acknowledging that possibility they are apt to just call one another LIARS, and in the process, bringing into question not only their technical knowledge base but their credentials as journalists as well.

Rough Type: Nicholas Carr's Blog: Seven rules for corporate blogging

"Microsoft's Robert Scoble, who cowrote a book on corporate blogging called Naked Conversations, now seems intent on turning himself into a case study for why companies shouldn't blog."

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Apple's influence already felt at Intel | | CNET

"'That's really what's interesting about Apple, is they look at our technology in a very Apple way,' said Deborah Conrad, vice president and director of Team Apple at Intel, speaking to a group of CNET editors and reporters Thursday at Intel's Santa Clara campus. Conrad's team is helping Apple make the transition to Intel's chips, and meets often with their counterparts just down the road in Cupertino."

Dudes! (and Dudettes!): Stop smokin' that weed. It's bad for you!

Well, it DOES make sense that someone working for Apple would look at the world from Apple's perspective doesn't it? Maybe the two companies are "influencing" one another along the lines of "think small", as in smaller market share.

Of course the two companies two competitors AMD and Dell help them with that thinking too.

Apple will only find it harder to be price competitive now that they have signed on with the Intel half of Wintel. Cheaper Core-duo PCs are already available, and within a year people are going to be loving dual-core AMD laptops that run at lower power (and probably sell for even less). But hey... might as well milk that PR gravy train while you can.

In the mean time, at least one Apple insider seems to be unloading the stock as fast as she can. What a schweet deal! I wish I had tried out for law school. I hope all the California oceanfront property isn't gone yet.

Uhh, Update: And how did I miss THIS?

Oh well. I don't own any. I was just a sucker for their laptops for a while. Nevermore.

Google launches test version of finance site -

Oooh! I dig the new Google finance site. The only thing I miss so far is Yahoo's ability to combine stock graphs into a nice graphic that can be bootlegged onto another page:

Yes, that's Yahoos stock that is joining Microsots(tm), IBM, and Intel in flatline status. Apple, AMD and Google are getting reality checks too, but generally companies that keep producing new things fair better than those that don't.

I'm still waiting, impatiently, for my test of Yahoo's Ajaxified e-mail. I wonder if they have fogotten that they promised it would be out any day now... oh... at least a year ago.

I see dead things.

Ewwwww, things are still crawling around on it!

Not to mention...

Monday, March 20, 2006

Computerworld | Sydney school teaches with Linux monopoly

"Linux may be struggling to gain a foothold in the primary and secondary education market but one Sydney school is setting itself higher grades - all without Microsoft.

At the Lorien Novalis School in the suburb of Glenhaven, 350 students from kindergarten through to year 12 and 38 staff have been learning with the penguin for the past four years.

Stuart Rushton, the school's ICT manager, told Computerworld that senior students first suggested the move to Linux.

'The school was Mac shop and when it was time to upgrade they said why not try Linux?' Rushton said. 'So we bought cheap second-hand computers and put Linux on them and we've been running it ever since.'" - AMCC, Intrinsity developing PowerPC core

Gates wants poor to spend $600 , not $100 or $200, for computers

"There are plenty of people in the world who can scrounge up $100 or $200 for a portable computer but can't afford to spend $600 or $1,000 for one. These are the people you see riding motor scooters instead of driving cars in developing countries. Telling them they can't have a cheap Linux-powered laptop but should have an expensive Microsoft-designed one is like telling them they can't have scooters but must wait until they can afford cars -- and, no doubt, cars with air conditioning, automatic transmissions, plush upholstery, and push-button windows instead of simple, stripped-down ones.

To Bill Gates the difference between $100 and $600 may be too small to notice. And to a family living in a mud hut, wondering if they're going to eat today, a $100 laptop is as distant a dream as a $600 one. But most of us are somewhere between these two extremes."


And he's still a butthole.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Why do Malformed URLs Redirect to Microsoft?

"The Solution

The solution to this problem is simple. By abusing Google's own page-rank algorithm, the correct web site can be brought to its rightful position. All that's needed is for a large enough population of people to embed the following HTML into blogs, message boards, and personal home pages:


Thursday, March 16, 2006 - Microsoft to Spend $500 Million On New Marketing Effort

"At a customer event in New York, Microsoft demonstrated a number of products, promoting how they integrate to help people work more efficiently,..."

Funny, it doesn't seem to work for Microsoft. HALF A BILLION to market, and TWENTY BILLION to develop? Maybe they need IBM consulting services to help them get their projects organized!

Banned from WoW for using a programmable keyboard

WOW! (pun intended). Sounds like the WoW people are real asswipes.

Fortunately there is now a program that demonstrates that good 3D-VR software doesn't have to be OS dependant.

Second Life now runs on Windows, OS X, AND Linux!

Our Options Have Changed …

"Please note that while you were listening to the previous menu, our options changed yet again. For Option 1, press 4. For Option 7, press 3. For Option 6, press 7. For Options 2 through 4, press 0 or hang up and call our Consumer Relations Department at (427) 555-9221. Long-distance charges may apply."

Mini-Microsoft: Interesting Incoming Comments

"In the meantime, some homework: why is Vista better than XP?

If your non-techie friend or financial advisor or Mom asked you that question, what are you going say?

I only ask because recently I was watching a video of a speaker at Microsoft. During the Q&A, he asked that question of a lady Microsoftie in the audience. Not only could you tell her brain was momentarily frozen (uhhhhhh), you could feel that the entire crowd hit a panicked brain freeze. The lady then came up with an almost apologetic answer saying the Vista is more stable, safer, and faster than XP."

Well, is there any reason to leave out the simplest, and I think, most honest answer: Windows Vista is not significantly better than XP, and the new Office isn't significantly better than the old one.

In both the operating system and office automation areas, Microsoft products have achieved commodity status along with most of the hardware they run on.

If you got an announcement every few years from General Electric that you simply MUST buy their new toaster, you'd think someone at the corporate headquarters had a screw loose. Still a lot of toasters are sold every year for one reason or another, my most recent was white instead of chrome, matched my other appliances, and was only $15.

I'm sick and tired of being expected to go out and pay over $1000 every few years for a new PC, even when my plan might be to format the hard drive and install Linux. Months ago Balmer said the world needs a $100 PC, yet today Gates is being quoted as saying the MIT effort to produce such a device for developing countries is stupid. So which is it? The head office there needs to get its story straight for a change. The fact is that the world is heading for cheaper and cheaper PCs whether Microsoft approves of the idea or not. Current prices are being propped up by bundling more and more extras, monitors, printers, cameras, TWO DVD drives, DVD and CD burners that will print labels on the disks, and so on, but the base machine is floating around a couple hundred already for the average user (excluding gamers) and the price of Microsoft software is beginning to stick out like a sore thumb by comparison.

Microsoft isn't alone in this of course. I can hardly tell the difference in the last three versions of OS X I've used, and in fact I'd like nothing better than to be able to turn off some of the new "features" and just settle for the pretense that the new version are maybe a bit more secure, or 3% faster. But I know the truth is that every few years, Apple has budgeted to receive an infusion of cash from simply announcing the availability of the new toaster, er, OS.

Users are hopping off this treadmill at an alarming (to you vendors) rate. The stock analysts know the score, and I even suspect Bill and Steve know the score. Who can still be in the dark about it except someone squeezing their eyes closed?

In the "ideal" world (for Microsoft and Apple stockholders) we would be on the verge of some revolutionary technology, such as voice recognition, or a system that could easily pass the touring test, etc. Gates has been predicting this for so long it's tiresome, and of course we all know these things will happen eventually. But for now, the networking technology we have is "good enough", the interfaces like USB are "good enough", and how many people really need more than 1600x1200 resolution on a 17 inch screen? Hard drives keep getting bigger, but so does the nagging feeling that you should have an external 250Gig to back that internal one up. More and more people (like me) are using multiple computers with multiple operating systems and wondering why we can't just keep everything online, backed up by someone else, and we don't necessarily want to pay $20 a month for the privilege (even though it may well be worth that).

Microsoft's two cash cows are rapidly staring to look like dinosaurs, and the company's sudden increased focus on things like MS Live, new portable devices, and the XBox is beginning to look a bit like desperation. The sad news for Microsoft is that the replacements for the cash cows all look like a lot of work for a lot smaller payback. You're like the rich kid who has spent through his inheritance and now has to look for a job. The world looks on as you mutter to yourself "what's a resume?"

Microsoft is big enough, bright enough, and still rich enough, I think, to work (oh there is that word again) its way out of this inevitable end-game that monopolies go through. A large measure of re-invention is necessary, and not just around the edges. I read your blog because you seem to be one of the few MSers who, at least publicly "gets it". So I don't know whether your question on Vista and Office is serious or not. It will be interesting to see what people come up with though. As for the reinvention that I think the company needs, I've posted about that before, and my convictions get stronger with every "new" product announcement, and every new quarterly report. The window (pardon the pun) of opportunity is closing though and like so many companies, I wonder if you won't start changing after it is too late.

For the record, I dropped out of the computer industry, partially over frustration at having to support Windows users. OS X and Linux are more than meeting my personal needs, and ultimately I'll probably stop using OS X too, because I don't like the Apple treadmill any more than I liked Microsoft's. I moved far from the big city so that my friends who call me for free support will have to at least pay for long distance charges, and more and more I feign ignorance when asked about registry keys (the worst design decision in computer history). So there is little chance that I'll feel compelled to buy any new MS OSs or applications. Not , at least, until we have that talking computer that notices when I'm waking up and starts the percolator and lays my clothes out for me. But I think that will be a while yet, and sadly, I fear the vendor will have a foreign sounding name. Will Microsoft still be around?

Gates mocks Negroponte's poor peoples' PC | The Register

"In a move unlikely to endear the world's richest man to PC users in either the developed or the developing nations. Gates advised them to 'get a decent computer' that offered a decent screen, a broadband connection and isn't powered by a wind-up handle."


Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Boot Windows XP on an Intel Duo Core Mac and Make Money

Step 1: Eliminate that goofy old oddball processor.

Step 2: Replace low percentage OS with the same thing the majority uses.

Step 3: Find the cheapest hardware to run this "new" combo on.

Step 4: Bye bye Apple.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

FORTUNE: Trapped in cubicles

"Reviled by workers, demonized by designers, disowned by its very creator, it still claims the largest share of office furniture sales--$3 billion or so a year--and has outlived every 'office of the future' meant to replace it. It is the Fidel Castro of office furniture."

Another case in which, with both common sense and logic on our side, the bad guys still won. I stayed out of cubicles for most of my career, but had to endure them for a year here and there too.

Does this mean that Windows is the Fidel Castro of operating systems?

NewsForge | Second Life released for Linux

"Fans of the online virtual world Second Life can now connect from Linux machines. Linden Lab, creator of Second Life, recently launched a public test of the Linux client, sporting the same feature set and interface as the Windows and Mac OS X versions. The download and membership are free, so there is no excuse for not taking a look. If you were ever jealous of the exciting world your Sims live in, now you have the opportunity to get a taste of their experience firsthand."

When SL first came out I tried to convey to them that a Linux client would yield a lot of users. This is especially so when Linux systems often take a back-seat in the gaming world, having to run Wine, or some other go-between software making the Linux experience second rate, if it exists at all. I think there is pent-up demand among Linux users (which apparently include a lot of Linden Labs staff) and after all, the huge (2000 server) back-end is all Linux powered, so now we can see what is possible on a very large scale using only Open Source infrastructure (even if the client app itself isn't open).

Since the Linux client has taken so long, I've since switched to OS X, but with Apple now only a subsidiary of Intel (boy it must burn them up to be left out in the cold while Intel once again makes sweet love to Microsoft with that Origami device) I'll probably be going back to some sort of dual processor AMD desktop and Linux sooner or later. I'd almost guess sooner so that I can see this new SL product at full speed.

Get on in there Linux fans!

Thick, as a Brick

Thick as a Brick, by Jethro Tull. That's my idea for the theme song for Microsoft's new portable device, which was code-named Origami, but should properly be called Tablet PC II. I see no reason why this effort will be any more successful...

But, most computer users long for something more portable, more "handy", and every few years someone comes out with something that looks like it might fill the bill. Only problem is that there are a few "gotchas" that you inevitably "get" after you have plunked your money down and used the thing for a while. Depending on your retailers return policy, you may be stuck with more than a bad attitude about whoever's name is on the thing. In no particular order:

Battery life. Standard benchmark for this seems to be a transcontinental (New York to LA for example) plane trip. Not surprisingly, nobody bothers to market anything like this with less than 4-hours battery life. Ooops, well, nobody but Microsoft, but if you'll notice, as was the case with the tablet PC, they helped design the thing, they won't be making them, and they won't be stuck with an inventory of unsold units should the thing flop. It sells Windows licenses, and that is all MS cares about at this point (often seemingly to their own detriment). These will last from 2-3 hours of that plane flight, promises of better battery life (is a portable fusion reactor in the works?) are already being made before the first units go on sale.

Display brightness. All new portable devices, even if they are "desktop replacement" laptops these days brag about display brightness. I don't have a single display, CRT or LCD that I don't have to adjust down so that I feel safe from radiation burns. That is, under normal indoor lighting conditions. Take those same displays out into bright sunlight and suddenly you can't tell if the thing is switched on or off. My original black on grey Palm Pilot from years ago had no trouble in bright sun, but my new COLOR model requires me to pull off the road and cup the thing in my hands forming a little "room" so that I can see the thing, only then my eyes are too close to focus. Maybe they should come equipped with a shoe-box that you could put them at one end of and look through a peep hole from the other end to read the display. I'll send Palm that idea. Raise your hand if you know why there is this disparity between color and black and white displays.**

Ruggedness. No, not the lumber-jack kind. But you know you are going to drop one of these eventually. You may also sit on it, put it in a briefcase with a few to many other things and of course, fling the briefcase across the room when you get home (or am I the only one this careless with the tools of the workplace?) When the tablet PC I came out a few years ago I made the effort to track them down in several local retailers. None of them were in working order, and it wasn't because the batteries had run down. Cracked display, or displays that didn't respond to the touch any longer were the norm. Even in the store, bolted to the counter so they couldn't be flipped about, they were not rugged enough for inspection by the public. Today, in stores that might have 20 laptops on display, all in working order, you are not likely to find a tablet PC. Ask yourself why. When the screen on these things is quarter inch plexiglas that has somehow been made touch sensitive, I'll be interested. Until then, like many people, I'll take one only if my employer agrees to pay for it.

Familiarity. Finally, from the lowly Palm Pilot to the most sophisticated Tablet PC, without a keyboard and a mouse you have a contextual transition*** to make as you go from what you are used to on your desktop to anything else. Even on laptops with the new scrolling touch-pad I'd rather hook up a mouse when I have the space. Scrolling touch-pads, joystick controls and things your touch on the screen to move around don't get to feel "normal" unless you use them a lot, as in ALL THE TIME. If you ever manage to get used to such a thing, then chances are when you use a regular PC you will be reaching for the touch-pad that isn't there or putting fingerprints all over your screen to no avail. Go into Second Life for a few hours or play with Google Earth for an equal amount of time and then go brows a web page. Feel a little hesitation as you navigate from one page to another, bump the text size up or down, scroll down the page? Well, I do. Which is why I hope someday they merge the actions we take from gaming and 2D work so that one is a subset of the other. It hasn't happened yet, and won't, not in this product's lifetime anyway.

Really, don't mind if you sit this one out.

** Brightness of display is an important factor ONLY for displays that depend on self produced, rather than ambient light to work. The original Palm Pilot and similar devices actually were EASIER to see in bright light because they used reflected light by coloring a normally grey surface black. Moderns color LCD devices really should be given a different name because they depend on backlighting for everything you see. In a dark room, the original black and white LCDs were useless, which is why Palm Pilots and those old LCD watches came with some sort of button you could push to momentarily light the display from behind. That has a lot to do with why the original Palm Pilots (not to mention all those digital watches) would last for months or years on a set of batteries, but the new "improved" color devices will probably always last for hours, or, given fancy new fuel cell batteries, maybe days.

*** Or maybe a better term is Cognitive Dissonance ( a term you can also use to describe the feeling you have after you have had a new toy for a few weeks and realize it made your life more complicated, not less.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Winner mocks OS X hacking contest | CNET

And there was great gnashing of teeth in Cupertino.

Intel confirms hyperthreading is a goner

"Still, you have to give Intel credit for pushing so much money into the software industry. That is not something that Microsoft does."

Who woulda thunk it.

Glimpse Inside a Metaverse: The Virtual World of Second Life - Google Video

Sunday, March 05, 2006

IBM Linux head says savings real

"The New Zealand government could save millions of dollars a year using open source software, says IBM's global head of public sector Linux sales.

Mary Ann Fisher says IBM is pushing an open standards and open source approach for public sector customers, but one tied to proprietary software as well."

Interesting. This was our account rep, or SE (I can't remember which) when I worked at Mitre.