Windows 8

Monday, 19 November 2012 14:27
claidheamhmor: (AthlonX2)
I bought the online upgrade to Windows 8 yesterday; only $40. Of course, I first did an image backup of my C: drive; after the Windows 8 Preview debacle, I wanted to be able to restore my system easily to Windows 7.

After the download, I saved the install as an ISO file, extracted it, and ran setup. It did the upgrade from Windows 7 quite well, but I did have a few snags after that, and it took a System Restore and some fiddling to get the system booting again. That may have had something to do with some software I'd just installed.

So far...ho hum. The new Modern UI is a bit odd, and I don't see a benefit yet. The loss of the Start button is an irritation. Otherwise, it's much that same. I guess I'll see how it goes.

Google+

Tuesday, 11 October 2011 11:27
claidheamhmor: (AthlonX2)
This comes as no surprise. Google+ was launched with great fanfare, but I think Google seems to have missed the mobile market. I don't know about other people, but I follow Facebook exclusively from my smartphone. Google+ has no BlackBerry app (not sure if there are iPhone and Android apps), and their mobile page sucks. As a result, I spend no time on Google+.

Google+ loses 60 per cent of active users
So much for the amazing growth of the Facebook rival
By Dean Wilson
Mon Oct 10 2011, 12:35


INTERNET SEARCH GIANT Google has lost over 60 per cent of its active users on its social network Google+, according to a report by Chitika Insights, raising questions about how well it is doing against its rival, Facebook.

Google+ was originally invite only, generating significant interest as all and sundry attempted to join what many believed would be the next social networking craze. This frenzy continued when Google opened the doors to its social network to everyone on 20 September. This resulted in a massive influx of new members, with traffic growing by a whopping 1,200 per cent.

However, despite the clear interest in an alternative to Facebook, it does not appear that the people joining are staying around and actively using the web site. On 22 and 23 of September traffic appeared to peak on Google+, but it began to drop soon after, back to pretty much the same level it was before it opened to the public.

Google's problem is not getting users in the first place, it seems, but rather keeping them after they have arrived. For now it appears that a lot of users are merely curious about Google+, but return to the tried and tested format of Facebook when the lustre fades.

Chitika Insights argues that, despite this lack of staying power, Google+ could still become a competitive alternative to Facebook, providing it continues with its fast pace of adding new features. The problem is that Facebook is not going to rest on its laurels while Google attempts to get the advantage. Already it has added features inspired by Google+, particularly in terms of improving the transparency of its privacy options.

While the jury is still out on which firm will win this battle, there's no denying that the intense competition could make both social networks considerably better than they were before.

Source: The Register

My tweets

Thursday, 8 September 2011 12:15
claidheamhmor: (Default)
  • Thu, 09:56: I upgraded my PC's hard drive last night. I hadn't realised it was so simple to move Windows 7 to a new drive. #fb

My tweets

Wednesday, 7 September 2011 12:15
claidheamhmor: (Default)
  • Wed, 07:31: I love Rove Mobile Admin: I can sort out system issues from my BlackBerry while on the way in to work. #fb

My tweets

Saturday, 6 August 2011 12:15
claidheamhmor: (Default)
  • Fri, 18:11: RT @DrTwittenheimer: Everyone knows about the separation of Church and State in the USA, but did you now that they have since reconciled?
  • Fri, 18:14: RT @DrTwittenheimer: I bet I have deleted the words "Shortcut to" more than 10 million times at this point. <- *sigh* Me too...

My tweets

Friday, 17 June 2011 12:15
claidheamhmor: (Default)
  • Thu, 15:19: RT @DrTwittenheimer: Dear online stores. We always, ALWAYS, want to see the maximum number of items per page. Not 10. Not 12. ALL OF THEM.
  • Fri, 10:18: RT @simondingle: Q results for RIM out today. Interesting. 16% revenue growth in the US, but a whopping 67% yoy in international markets.
claidheamhmor: (Vendetta 2)
The things annoying me today:

Deep jars
Companies that sell stuff in containers that are too deep to be practical. Hot chocolate containers are far too deep to use a teaspoon with.

Pronunciation on radio
Whoever reads the news on 702 Talk Radio keeps saying words like "thitty and "Pitoria".

Mobile websites
Websites that are not properly set up for mobile access. m.news24.com, for example - the fonts are so small as to be unreadable unless the phone is held close-up. And their weather defaults to Cape Town - there seems to be no way of setting it to anywhere else and having it stick. m.iol.co.za, by contrast, has the font size right.

Multi-page articles
These websites that display multi-page articles really annoy me. I can read more than one paragraph at a time; I don't need a medium-length article broken up into 11 separate pages.

Rants

Tuesday, 31 May 2011 15:59
claidheamhmor: (Cylon Raider)
Here are my rants for today.

Stupid website designers
Not just public website designers, but intranet app site designers too. The people who make websites that require ActiveX, so won't run in any browser except IE. Or the ones who make websites that are un-navigable from a mobile device. Or the ones who check for specific versions of browsers - like Nedbank, whose internet banking wouldn't work on IE 9 until last week, when IE 9 had been out for a couple of months already. There was no reason it shouldn't have worked, except that they checked the version numbers.

I'm especially annoyed by car manufacturers' websites. The vast majority are flashy, graphics heavy, and completely devoid of any useful technical information, especially for older models.

Serves 4
You get all sorts of pre-made foods etc. that say "Serves 4" or "Serves 2". Even my coffee pot is marked up to 10 cups. Yet all of these servings must have been calibrated for anorexic midgets. I have yet to see a "serves 4" that would have actually fed 4 adults adequately. My coffee maker makes 5 1/2 cups. Maybe it would make 10 espresso cups.

My tweets

Wednesday, 20 April 2011 12:00
claidheamhmor: (Default)

My tweets

Friday, 8 April 2011 12:00
claidheamhmor: (Default)
  • Thu, 20:06: Overheard: "Sex came later in life. That's why I learned Linux." Response: "And which was better?" #fb

My tweets

Thursday, 10 March 2011 12:00
claidheamhmor: (Default)

My tweets

Tuesday, 8 March 2011 12:00
claidheamhmor: (Default)

My tweets

Wednesday, 1 December 2010 12:00
claidheamhmor: (Default)

My tweets

Wednesday, 10 November 2010 12:00
claidheamhmor: (Default)
  • Mon, 19:30: Kaspersky antivirus is like the Russian Mafia. Offers "protection", but smashes up your shop first, and then lurks at the door. #fb

My tweets

Friday, 5 November 2010 12:00
claidheamhmor: (Default)
claidheamhmor: (Blackberry)
I got a copy of Microsoft Office 2010 Beta at work, and I've been running that for a week or two. Pretty nice so far; it seems a fair bit quicker than Office 2007, the toolbar ribbons are customisable, and there are a few nice feature improvements. Outlook now uses the ribbon, it supports threaded conversations (though they can be annoying at times - not as nicely done as GMail's), and it has something called "Quick Steps", basically mini-macros that let you do stuff like reply to an email and then delete it, or forward to your manager, etc. So far, 2010 has been really stable too.

I also came across a release of BlackBerry OS 5.0 for the BlackBerry Bold 9000, so I loaded it. It's got a bunch of new features, especially in the look of various settings; things like: a bootup logo and progress bar; separate mailbox for BES; a file manager (not nearly as good as FileScout though); threaded SMS conversations; changes to the media player and picture viewer; and a search bar on many screens. Generally, very nice improvements. What I do like is that I can now run the Wallpaper Changer app, which required OS 4.7 or up; I really like having a different wallpaper every 15 minutes. The upgrade itself wasn't difficult, though I did have to re-enter all my app passwords. On the downside, OS 5.0 seems to use a lot more memory, and it seems to run out every now and again, presenting an hourglass for a couple of minutes. Hopefully a later revision will sort that out.
claidheamhmor: (Freudiana)
Since I started using my Blackberry for music, I've been using Windows Media Player to manage my music on my PC. Previously, I used to use WinAmp, which has nice features, but the Blackberry sync software supports only Windows Media Player and iTunes. It wasn't a big hassle to move to WMP.

However, since I recently won an iPod Shuffle, I was left with a bit of a problem: the iPod is supported only by iTunes; there don't seem to be any working alternatives. (I thought we'd moved away from this whole proprietary software thing, but apparently not.)

So I had to install iTunes, and I thought I'd see if it could satisfy my needs well enough to replace WMP. After some googling, I exported my WMP playlists to iTunes, and they came in OK. I tried creating Smart Playlists, and they were OK except that you cannot create a Smart Playlist that is based on the path to any particular music folder, unlike in WMP, and I found that really irritating. WinAmp's dynamic playlists are a fair bit more flexible than iTunes's or WMP's, however.

The interface of iTunes is quite slick, but I prefer WMP's "stacked covers" when viewing artists. iTunes is also unable to retrieve album information and album art unless the album's on iTunes with name etc. exactly the same, which seems to eliminate 95% of my music. WMP, by comparison, is really flexible in that respect, and even lets you choose close matches and edit track names appropriately. iTunes seems to only support album art embedded in the ID3 tags, whereas WMP will read the hidden album art files too. It's also easier to add album art in WMP, with a "paste album art" option. Weirdly, iTunes doesn't dynamically update changed music within the music folders, where WMP does; you have to rescan the folders. iTunes does sync really easily to the Shuffle, but that's what I'd expect.

At the end of the day, I prefer WMP; I'll keep iTunes loaded (though I uninstalled Bonjour almost immediately), and I'll export my playlists from WMP to iTunes every now and again so I can update the Shuffle.

During this whole process, I did manage to do a lot of cleaning up on my music, adding album art (since it's supported on my Blackberry), and finding a whole lot of albums that had never showed up (because they had no appropriate ID3 tags). MP3Tag worked very well for mass updates and cleanups of the tags - things like automatically correcting the case of track names.

Remember Y2K?

Thursday, 17 December 2009 10:49
claidheamhmor: (AthlonX2)
So, what were you doing when Y2K rolled around?

Like many of my colleagues, I spent Y2K at my company's data centre, alert for any issues. We didn't have any; everything had been patched and resolved long before, and a goodly number of forests used up in creating paperwork.

10 Years After Y2K -- Stories From the IT Battlegrounds
claidheamhmor: (Blackberry)
Blackberry App World was (finally!) made available to Blackberry users in South Africa a few weeks ago. Nice to finally browse all the apps available; because I'm a cheapskate though, that means the free apps. :)

Opera Mini 5 Beta 2 was released yesterday, and I gave it a try. It's far better than the previous beta, and seems slick and quick. It now supports Opera Sync, so all my settings and bookmarks were just downloaded off the net, and it seems better integrated with the Blackberry. On the downside, the tabs are somewhat fiddly, and Opera doesn't have much in the way of useful keyboard shortcuts - stuff like T for top, B for bottom, keys for switching tabs, etc. Also, on mobile pages, having a mouse-cursor is just irritating; I preferred it when scrolling up or down simply ran through the available links on the page. Still, it['s a nice improvement.

iPhone

Wednesday, 2 December 2009 20:09
claidheamhmor: (Cylon Raider)
I helped someone with an iPhone the other day, and it was interesting seeing how it worked. There were some things about it I really liked, and others I wasn't so keen on - at least, based on my shortish experience with the device. (So if I'm wrong about anything, let me know).

I liked the screen; though it's the same resolution as my Blackberry Bold, it's physically large, which helps a bit. The touch interface is really good; I didn't find myself mistyping things much, or having problems touching parts of the interface accurately. Best thing about it, I think, is the whole interface to the App Store and iTunes. It's so easy to download/buy apps either on PC or from the iPhone, and sync to the PC completely seamlessly. In this case, one app had been purchased on the PC, and the others on the iPhone; once I set up iTunes and synced them, all apps were available. I absolutely loved that; it's no wonder the iPhone is market leader in that arena. Obviously the iTunes music sync was good too, and the chap I was helping was delighted by the whole concept - he was happily ripping CDs when I left; not too many options for those who don't like iTunes though.

On the downside: most irksome thing for me was constantly wanting additional options, and looking for an options button. No such thing; if it's not on screen, you don't seem to have any additional choices. Despite the reputation, I found parts of the interface somewhat unintuitive; I suppose that gets better with practice. The touch-keyboard, though good, is no replacement for a real qwerty keyboard, and obviously there's no capability for one-key shortcuts to apps. No automatic correction of apostrophes/capitals that I saw - maybe it's a setting somewhere? The inability to multitask is a bit of a killer, but it does seem that the apps at least suspend and resume again at the same place. Though I've heard how fast the iPhone is, on this one (iPhone 3GS 32GB) there were some significant delays (several seconds, in some cases) when doing things. Maybe just the particular apps? This one (I don't know if it's the case with other service providers) had no built-in free turn-by-turn GPS software, and the owner was going to buy something for $70.

Apple have done a really decent job (especially when it comes to booting the whole smartphone and smartphone apps market).
claidheamhmor: (AthlonX2)
I installed Windows 7 (the release version) on my work PC, my work laptop, and my home PC a couple of weeks ago. So far, I've been impressed; it's working as I expected, and seems to have fixed the awful Office 2007 bug I had experienced on my work PC. Driver support is excellent; the only thing I've had an issue with is my Canon LiDE scanner, of all things; I did get it working, but it's a workaround.

For my assignments, I've been doing quite a bit of work in Word 2007, but also in Visio and Powerpoint 2007. Frankly, I'm not impressed. Word is more than capable for handling day to day documents, but its style support is still flaky and unpredictable, bullets and numbering is still broken (those issues have existed in every version of Word for Windows), and document layout is still quite crude and somewhat unpredictable (for example, I could lay a document out, with page breaks, images, etc., and not be 100% sure that when I reopened the document that everything would be where it was supposed to).

As for Visio and Powerpoint: both are easy enough to use, but I found myself using a mixture of both because neither on its own had the features to do everything I needed. Back in the early 1990s I used to support the Micrografx products, including the Micrografx presentation package, Charisma, and the flowcharter, ABC Flowcharter (at the time, the market leader). I fail to understand why products from 15 years ago were more full-featured in many ways, and easier too, than Microsoft's latest. Has "office" software really reached a features dead-end? Microsoft's stellar office packages are Excel and Outlook; the rest are really not best of breed.

Be Bold.

Friday, 31 July 2009 17:03
claidheamhmor: (Fiday)


I was given a Blackberry Bold 9000 at work last week, as an upgrade to my Blackberry Curve 8310 that I was given in January.

Wow, it's quite a difference. Nominally, the Bold is better in that it has 3G and wi-fi capabilities. Practically speaking, it's much improved: the 3G is certainly better than GPRS for downloading apps, but the major difference is in how the phone responds - it's far snappier, and does things far more quickly. Application loading is quicker, and switching between apps, and just generally even moving the cursor. The Curve, I'd found, got quite bogged down when running 4-6 simultaneous apps, and it would lag and even hang for periods of time. The Bold doesn't do that - at least, not with the roughly 9 or so simultaneous apps I've tried running.

The one downside I can think of with the Bold is that the camera is the same rather poor 2MP device as on the Curve. Blackberry cameras really need some improvement.

The Bold's screen is lovely too. It's not physically huge, but with a 480x320 resolution, it's very clear and sharp. Very pleasant. I like the piano-black face, chrome edging, and the faux-leather back on the Bold; it looks both stylish and professional.

Migrating to the Bold from the Curve was remarkably easy. The Blackberry PC software has a "Device Switch Wizard" which lets you migrate from one Blackberry (or some other phones) to a Blackberry. I ran it, and it copied all my data over, and all my settings, even down to my ringtone choices, wallpapers, applications, the whole works. Absolutely amazing. All I had to do was activate the new one on the Blackberry Enterprise Server at work, and I was in action. I did have to go and recreate my wallpapers, but that was only because the screen resolution differs between the Curve and Bold. There are a bunch of decent third-party themes for the Bold; I'm currently running one called "Iphone4" which has a nice selection of iPhone-like icons.

The Bold doesn't fit my old phone-holder in the car, so my project for this weekend is to get a new, wider one mounted.

Very cool phone.
claidheamhmor: (AthlonX2)
This is one of my personal nightmares - having some or other script I've written go out and trash large areas of the network because I wasn't careful enough about the parameters.

Bourne Into Oblivion
2009-07-21
by Mark Bowytz in Feature Articles

Jerry wasn't the sort of guy who would normally vent frustration out loud at work, yet here he was - cursing into the air at two individuals in particular - the first round of explitives being directed at the toolbag, somewhere, who had botched months of server backups by reusing the same set of tapes for months and the other being a long ago departed developer whose name he was continually being subjected to in the comments of the rotten shell script he was now stepping through.

What had started out as a 7:30am ticket from an early-bird user getting a error message when trying to open a spreadsheet test plan from the week before had turned into a full-on, corporate-wide DEFCON 1.

To make matters worse, Jerry had just delivered his two-week notice a few days prior which meant that in every meeting Jerry was getting "thanked" for the company's current nuclear crisis and that he should have set his little "time bomb" to go off AFTER he was gone. Naturally, while his being "blamed" helped to improve the morale of everyone else, it didn't do much to help Jerry's outlook - especially since it appeared as if this was someone else's "parting gift".

Questions? Please Refer to the Scriptonomicon

For as long as anyone could remember, everyone just kind of just coped with the Bourne shell script that was the framework to a test environment. It was originally designed to run automated tests for a single product, but management was so thrilled at how well it worked that they got other projects to adapt the framework.

Over the next few years, it became the de-facto test framework used by applications throughout the corporation. However, in order to make "one size fit all", it had morphed into something... different. It became one of those gnarly applications that everybody acknowledged was a bit sketchy behind the scenes, but it worked. So long as you stuck to the S.O.P. and knew the different locations where the same value had to be defined and accepted that P_OPERATOR_ID was a unique network identifier that is NOT a normal network ID that you had to get from Chuck in the Infrastructure Group, you'd be ok.

However, recently, the developer who had originally created the framework had left the company in search of greener pastures and, rather than handing off the task of running the scripts to a developer, it was given to a co-op student. After all, running the script was like checking off steps on a list, right? The co-op set up the configuration, scheduled it to run over the weekend, and merrily left it to return the following week. As it turned out, he missed a few details.

Cleaning Up

From a high level, the Bourne script would essentially ssh into each target machine, do its thing, and then exit. As part of its "thing", the designer of the framework wanted to make sure the script cleaned up after itself so subsequent runs of the framework would not re-process old data. To accomplish this, one of the enhancements after the initial release was to add two cryptic variables that (redundantly) contained the project name and the version being tested. Utilizing an unpatched flaw in sudo's setup to gain real root access, the script would then do the following as part of the clean up:

rm -rf $var1/$var2

Ordinarily, this worked just fine, but the co-op student was unaware these SPECIFIC variables needed to be set. With them being left blank, the following was the end result upon execution of the script:

rm -rf /

With the script running as root on a setup with NFS (which, in turn, granted access to everything on the entire UNIX/Linux network and a few Windows Servers via SAMBA), the script had a chance to do a good bit of damage... and it did. Home directories, file repositories, customer data, test results, all seemingly evaporated into nothingness.

All told, it took 6 hours to wipe out the entire network. It took 4 hours to figure out what happened (turns out the script ssh'd onto its own server and the rm -rf wiped out the scripts which did the rm -rf and most the evidence of what happened) and it only took 10 seconds to realize that the latest backups were completely SNAFU'd.

So, as his parting gift, while the most critical drives were being sent off for possible forensic recovery, Jerry was asked to review the test framework and look for any possible flaws where something similar could re-occur. After hitting the 10th instance where deviating from the normal routine would result in some degree of disaster, Jerry knew one thing - even though he had less than two weeks to go, this is one script that would be haunting his nightmares for a long time to come.

Source: The Daily WTF
claidheamhmor: (AthlonX2)
This was an interesting article; nice to see a point of view on really influential software. Personally, I'm not sure I agree with some of their choices; I'd go with Solitaire in place of Minesweeper, and I'm not sure PGP should be there. Many of the others, I remember when they came out and changed the industry.

Top 10 industry-changing applications )

So, readers, what applications do you think changed the computing world?

Edit:
I can think of one or two. How about WordStar or WordPerfect? Both changed the world of word processing pretty extensively.

Opera

Thursday, 21 May 2009 14:17
claidheamhmor: (Default)
So I'm back to Opera as my primary web browser. For some reason, after I upgraded my work machine to Windows 7, Maxthon's screen no longer refreshed properly; I couldn't find a solution. Next best option is Opera. I found a workaround for Maxthon's most missed feature, the "Open all links as background tabs", by mapping mouse middle-button to one of the side buttons; now I can click on the side button to open a link in the background.

I do miss some of Maxthon's other features, like the Ctrl-Click to instantly save an image, and IE compatibility, but Opera is a lot quicker, and I love the instant "back" reload. Still, it's good to be using a totally rock-solid browser.

Opera

Wednesday, 20 May 2009 14:19
claidheamhmor: (AthlonX2)
So I'm back to Opera as my primary web browser. For some reason, after I upgraded my work machine to Windows 7, Maxthon's screen no longer refreshed properly; I couldn't find a solution. Next best option is Opera. I found a workaround for Maxthon's most missed feature, the "Open all links as background tabs", by mapping mouse middle-button to one of the side buttons; now I can click on the side button to open a link in the background.

I do miss some of Maxthon's other features, like the Ctrl-Click to instantly save an image, and IE compatibility, but Opera is a lot quicker, and I love the instant "back" reload. Still, it's good to be using a totally rock-solid browser.

Windows 7 RC

Monday, 11 May 2009 15:16
claidheamhmor: (AthlonX2)
I got Windows 7 Release Candidate last week, and I've been trying it out a bit. I've now got it installed on 5 machines: our 3 machines at home (including the kids' PC), my work PC, and my work laptop. It's working well on all of them. Generally, a very pleasing experience: somewhat better performance than Vista (especially on my laptop, which is underpowered: Windows 7 is much, much faster than Vista). Plenty of new shiny bits.

On my work PC I upgraded from Vista, and that was an easy, but lengthy process. My home PC and the kids' PC were upgraded from Windows 7 Beta2, with the help of a change in a config file (otherwise Win 7 RC won't allow an upgrade from earlier Win 7 releases). The others were clean installs that went quite quickly.

I really like the hardware driver support: Win7 just goes out and gets the right drivers for virtually everything. Most impressive.

Windows 7

Tuesday, 3 March 2009 17:18
claidheamhmor: (AthlonX2)
I installed Windows 7 Beta on my home PC a few days ago, finally taking the plunge with it on a live working machine.

Installation was a couple of hours, but it did a perfect upgrade of Vista, leaving most stuff working just fine afterward. I did update graphics and sound drivers afterward, using Vista driver packages, to make sure.

So far, so good; I've encountered very little in the way of issues. Picasa needed to have the shortcut modified to "Run as Administrator", otherwise it started up every time as if it were the first time. Windowblinds doesn't run at all under Windows 7, but given that it replaces the Windows interface, that's not surprising. The most annoying thing is that all the Vista Sidebar gadgets I'd downloaded simply don't work on Windows 7; only the 10 or 12 standard ones that come with 7 seem to work at all. I haven't read up on the issue though, so maybe it's something silly.

Otherwise, all the apps I have seem to run perfectly. On my Pentium E5200 at 3.1GHz with 4GB RAM, it doesn't visibly seem any quicker than Vista, but I was perfectly happy with Vista's performance.

I like the new combo quicklaunch/taskbar. It took a little getting used to, but it consolidates things very well, and I think as more Windows 7-aware apps come out, the context menus on the icons will be more useful. I do wish the icon sizes had a greater range though, rather than "small" and "large", both of which are too wide for my liking (I believe that's fixed in the Windows 7 Release Candidate).

The "libraries" feature is cool - it lets you show files from disparate locations in a single library, as if they're all in one place. For example, my "Pictures" library incorporates images from 5 or 6 folders scattered all over my hard drives that contain pictures.

There seems to be a lot more customisability and flexibility, and that's definitely a good thing; plenty more options to play with, and many little improvements.

Windows 7 does include IE 8 beta, which is much quicker than IE 7, but I was running IE 8 beta on Vista anyway.
claidheamhmor: (AthlonX2)
This was amusing...

If programming languages were religions...
Monday, December 15, 2008

"If programming languages were religions"
(Inspired by "If programming languages were cars")

C would be Judaism - it's old and restrictive, but most of the world is familiar with its laws and respects them. The catch is, you can't convert into it - you're either into it from the start, or you will think that it's insanity. Also, when things go wrong, many people are willing to blame the problems of the world on it.

Java would be Fundamentalist Christianity - it's theoretically based on C, but it voids so many of the old laws that it doesn't feel like the original at all. Instead, it adds its own set of rigid rules, which its followers believe to be far superior to the original. Not only are they certain that it's the best language in the world, but they're willing to burn those who disagree at the stake.

PHP would be Cafeteria Christianity - Fights with Java for the web market. It draws a few concepts from C and Java, but only those that it really likes. Maybe it's not as coherent as other languages, but at least it leaves you with much more freedom and ostensibly keeps the core idea of the whole thing. Also, the whole concept of "goto hell" was abandoned.

C++ would be Islam - It takes C and not only keeps all its laws, but adds a very complex new set of laws on top of it. It's so versatile that it can be used to be the foundation of anything, from great atrocities to beautiful works of art. Its followers are convinced that it is the ultimate universal language, and may be angered by those who disagree. Also, if you insult it or its founder, you'll probably be threatened with death by more radical followers.

C# would be Mormonism - At first glance, it's the same as Java, but at a closer look you realize that it's controlled by a single corporation (which many Java followers believe to be evil), and that many theological concepts are quite different. You suspect that it'd probably be nice, if only all the followers of Java wouldn't discriminate so much against you for following it.

Lisp would be Zen Buddhism - There is no syntax, there is no centralization of dogma, there are no deities to worship. The entire universe is there at your reach - if only you are enlightened enough to grasp it. Some say that it's not a language at all; others say that it's the only language that makes sense.

Haskell would be Taoism - It is so different from other languages that many people don't understand how can anyone use it to produce anything useful. Its followers believe that it's the true path to wisdom, but that wisdom is beyond the grasp of most mortals.

Erlang would be Hinduism - It's another strange language that doesn't look like it could be used for anything, but unlike most other modern languages, it's built around the concept of multiple simultaneous deities.

Perl would be Voodoo - An incomprehensible series of arcane incantations that involve the blood of goats and permanently corrupt your soul. Often used when your boss requires you to do an urgent task at 21:00 on friday night.

Lua would be Wicca - A pantheistic language that can easily be adapted for different cultures and locations. Its code is very liberal, and allows for the use of techniques that might be described as magical by those used to more traditional languages. It has a strong connection to the moon.

Ruby would be Neo-Paganism - A mixture of different languages and ideas that was beaten together into something that might be identified as a language. Its adherents are growing fast, and although most people look at them suspiciously, they are mostly well-meaning people with no intention of harming anyone.

Python would be Humanism: It's simple, unrestrictive, and all you need to follow it is common sense. Many of the followers claim to feel relieved from all the burden imposed by other languages, and that they have rediscovered the joy of programming. There are some who say that it is a form of pseudo-code.

COBOL would be Ancient Paganism - There was once a time when it ruled over a vast region and was important, but nowadays it's almost dead, for the good of us all. Although many were scarred by the rituals demanded by its deities, there are some who insist on keeping it alive even today.

APL would be Scientology - There are many people who claim to follow it, but you've always suspected that it's a huge and elaborate prank that got out of control.

LOLCODE would be Pastafarianism - An esoteric, Internet-born belief that nobody really takes seriously, despite all the efforts to develop and spread it.

Visual Basic would be Satanism - Except that you don't REALLY need to sell your soul to be a Satanist...

Source: Aegisub
claidheamhmor: (AthlonX2)
I thought this article on things Microsoft can look at in Mac OS X to improve Windows 7 really interesting. Some good stuff there.

7 lessons Windows 7 can learn from OS X
An Apple user's take on what Windows 7 needs to succeed

Windows 7 will run faster than Vista, and it's breaking new ground with support for multi-touch displays, but we can think of seven more simple things that Windows 7 needs to address.

One way to make Windows 7 a hit is to take a look at what Apple has got right (and wrong) with OS X, to see what Microsoft can learn from its experience.

So, here are seven things we'd like to see in Windows 7.

1. Easier product versions

Keep it simple, please Microsoft. Having too many different versions of your product is too confusing for the buying public to understand. Should they go for the Home, the Professional or the Ultimate version?

Vista shipped in six different editions, while OS X 10.5 Leopard came in just one (if you forget the server edition). If Microsoft can at least halve the number of editions in Windows 7 then it will be a huge step in the right direction.

2. New visual hooks

So far Windows 7 looks pretty much like another version of Windows Vista. That's not such a bad thing: each successive version of OS X had a similar look, but subtle things were changed in each version to give it its own unique visual identity. Apple knows the value of a nifty graphic effect. For example, OS X's widgets drop onto Dashboard with a fantastic ripple effect and Time Machine sends you down a 3D time tunnel.

These visual fancies might not be of any real use, but they wow people enough to draw them in, where they get hooked on the other great features of OS X. Microsoft needs to develop a few interesting new visual hooks of its own if Windows 7 is going to land with a bang.

3. Less alerts

Probably the best feature of OS X is that half the time you don't even know its there. OS X has a minimal (if slightly tired looking) interface - there's no imposing Start menu button or task bar, for instance. Instead, there's a simple Dock that's totally customisable and can be hidden if you find it distracting.

OS X doesn't keep bugging you with warning messages, either - Vista's constant warnings and alerts can feel like somebody constantly jabbing you with their finger. The first indications are that Windows 7 is a step in the right direction in this respect, giving you the ability to choose which prompts you'd like to see. Let's hope development continues in this vein, and that we never hear from the likes of that infernal Office paperclip assistant ever again.

4. Invisible security and backup

The key with security in an OS is to make sure it doesn't get in the way of using your computer. Admittedly, this is a harder challenge for Microsoft than for Apple, but there are still some good lessons to learn from Apple's approach to security.

Microsoft: people don't find it helpful when you block a website because its 'security certificate' isn't valid, especially since this seems to apply to most of the non-Microsoft websites on the Internet. It's just annoying and breeds a culture of fear.

Included in security is backup, again an area where Apple is ahead when it shouldn't be. Why is it that Apple can come up with an easy to use backup system like Time Machine while Microsoft can't? Windows 7 needs a proper built-in backup solution.

5. Clear naming

Microsoft needs to stop coming up with dreadful marketing-speak for different parts of its operating system. A good example is "Windows Genuine Advantage" - what on earth is that?

Look at what Apple does - System Preferences is full of obviously named stuff like "Appearance" and "Date and Time". Already Microsoft seems to be making the same mistakes all over again in Windows 7. Windows Security Center is renamed "Windows Solution Center". That might sound more positive, but it's not helpful in telling you what it does.

Another example is Windows 7's "Device Stage". It's some sort of wonder-window for managing any device connected to your computer. The thing is, normal everyday people don't call these things 'devices'. They call them what they are, like cameras or printers.

6. Pain-free registration

Take a look at the difference between registering Windows and registering OS X - Windows registration is a bag of hurt, and inadvertently ends up making you feel like a criminal. You must register to use it, which involves entering deliriously long product codes, then verifying them over the internet, or on the phone. Then if Windows detects your hardware has significantly changed it can lock you out of your own PC! Is there really any need for this? With OS X you don't even need to enter a serial number. There's no need for Microsoft to go to that far, but it could loosen the reigns a little.

7. Proper search

Microsoft really has to get this right in Windows 7. The Spotlight icon on the Leopard menu bar gives users access to a system-wide search that is fast and accurate. It's not flashy, but it just works. As Steve Jobs famously said when he introduced Spotlight, it shouldn't be easier to find a file on the web than it is to find a file on your own computer.

Source: TechRadar

Regarding point 6: I must admit, I've had more issues with this in XP than in Vista. That said, the whole damn activation thing is a pain. (Not as bad as in the Adobe products though, it must be said).

As for 7: I don't know what Spotlight is like, but I've found Vista's search to be pretty decent.
claidheamhmor: (Time enough for love)
I find it interesting to see articles like Mormons Tipped Scale in Ban on Gay Marriage, essentially saying that the involvement of Mormonism was one of the major factors in California's Proposition 8 (restricting marriage to a man and a woman only) being passed.

What disappointed me was to see that Alan Ashton, one of the co-founders of WordPerfect Corporation, had donated $1m to support Proposition 8. I used to work for the WordPerfect distributor in South Africa, and the reason that distributor was chosen was because of their non-racial policies during the time of apartheid. It was sad to see someone who had obviously been pro-human rights aligning himself on the side of bigotry.

Then I was pleased to see someone else who'd also donated $1m: philanthropist Bruce Bastian, the other co-founder of WordPerfect Corporation. He, however, donated his money to oppose Proposition 8.

I wonder which way Pete Peterson would have gone. Pete owned the 1% of WordPerfect that Ashton and Bastian didn't, and was the guy involved in the day-to-day running of the company. He seemed like a nice guy; I had an email conversation with him once on how WordPerfect had failed.

Incidentally, I still miss WordPerfect; in the DOS days it was king of the hill, and the later Windows versions are still far better than MS Word at handling huge documents or documents requiring precise layout.
claidheamhmor: (Tartan)
I was rather pleased to see that Gmail for Mobile 2.0 has been released. I installed it on my cellphone, and it's a big improvement over the old version. Most importantly, it supports offline mode, auto-refresh, and saving of draft. There are plenty of other new features though. On the downside, it uses more data.

It seems to me that my day-to-day planning revolves around Google Calendar. I enter all my non-work appointments in Google Calendar. Then Google Calendar Sync synchronises all my work calendar items (in Outlook) to Google Calendar, and vice-versa. Google Calendar sends me appointment reminders via SMS to my phone. Vista Calendar on my PC at home syncs with Google Calendar using my calendar iCal links, so that's up to date. And then periodically I use MyPhoneExplorer to sync my Google Calendar to my cellphone. Lots of syncing going on...

New Google Apps

Wednesday, 3 September 2008 11:56
claidheamhmor: (AthlonX2)
So Google has been busy: Picasa 3 and Google Chrome are out.

Google Chrome web browser
I downloaded Google Chrome last night, and gave it a bit of a test run. I like the interface - it's slick and clean, with nice visual effects. Most noticeable feature is the speed though: it's fucking fast. It also loads pages elements as it gets them, rather than waiting till the whole page is downloaded before displaying it; this makes it seem even quicker. I ran it through a bunch of my commonly-used sites, and it worked just fine on virtually all of them; the exception is the Intranet site at work, which breaks at the same place Firefox 3 does; my guess is that our web designers have broken something. One particularly nice feature is the ability to inspect page elements: if you work with CSS a lot, this must be fantastic, as you can see exactly how it all renders.

On the downside, it's like most Google applications: it's stripped down and great for 80-90% of the functionality, but that remaining 10-20% is not available at all, and you need to decide how important it is to you. Also, like other Google apps, it has fairly limited customisability; if you don't like the way some of it works, that's tough. In the case of Chrome, the killer features it doesn't have that I won't give up Maxthon for are being able to open all links in new tabs, ad-blocking, customisable proxy settings, and tab groups.

I suspect that Chrome, being open-source, will be used as a base to add things onto, or as the core for other browsers, and that, I reckon, will be a good thing.

Picasa 3
Picasa 3 Beta was released last night too. I'm a huge fan of Picasa generally, and Picasa 3 builds on Picasa 2's solid features. New things I really like: being able to auto-save screencaps; limited retouching; adding of watermarks; adding of text; web album syncing; and a really fast and spiffy image viewer for Windows.
claidheamhmor: (EF-111 in the sunset)
So yesterday I deleted most of my Internet Explorer favourites (after backing them up, and exporting them to an HTML bookmark file). I realised that I regularly use only 30 or 40 sites, and most of the time, I don't go looking for links I've saved, I just go googling. Keeping the favourites in sync between work and home was becoming an issue too - copying 2500 favourites to my flash drive could take a couple of hours.

So I first used Maxthon's link checking feature to scan all my favourites to see if the sites were still online, and after deleting the 300 that weren't, backed the favourites up, and deleted all except the sites I use regularly.

The big advantage now is that Maxthon's automatic online favourites and settings feature works: my favourites, settings, ad-block lists, etc. are all automatically synced between work and home. Previously, it didn't work because there's a 300KB limit on favourites, and I exceeded that.

Vista performance

Wednesday, 23 April 2008 16:03
claidheamhmor: (AthlonX2)
Give Vista 4GB of RAM and it's a lot quicker. Not as quick as XP, but quicker. There is one interesting improvement to Vista though: disk caching. The other night, I was cleaning up my hard drives; I was copying 60GB from one drive to another, while at the same time I was running 4 separate delete processes, each of several gigabytes, on the drivers. (I was using the fantastic file management app, Total Commander, to do this, BTW). As you can imagine, the drives were churning away, running at 100% utilisation. Then I noticed that Total Commander's process was using almost a gigabyte of RAM...and that despite all the disk activity, the desktop and running apps seemed perfectly responsive. I loaded GuildWars, and that was completely playable; it didn't seem like it was being impacted by all the activity.

Certainly seems like Microsoft radically improved disk-handling techniques (if you have enough RAM, at least).
claidheamhmor: (Default)
I found this article by Mike Elgan really interesting, and I think he makes some good points.

One thing I definitely agree with: his comment on Vista, "a convoluted user interface that prevents ordinary users from gaining a sense of control over the OS". I've found that; there are some serious usability issues compared to XP, something that should not be the case. While there are a few improvements in some areas, some things in Vista take several times longer than in XP. That's just not acceptable.

Elgan: Was Windows XP Microsoft's last good OS?

Windows Vista is a disaster. Windows Mobile is unusable. Is there hope for Microsoft?

By Mike Elgan
March 1, 2008 (Computerworld)


Everybody's talking today about "Drivergate" — internal Microsoft e-mails that show senior Microsoft executives personally struggling to use hardware products sporting the "Windows Vista Capable" sticker. The e-mails also show that Microsoft lowered its standard for some hardware compatibility, apparently to help Intel impress Wall Street.

This revelation is simply the latest in a long series that add up to one inescapable conclusion: Windows Vista sucks. (And making it cheaper won't help, either.)

Compatibility of drivers is just one issue. Another is a convoluted user interface that prevents ordinary users from gaining a sense of control over the OS.

Windows Mobile, Microsoft's operating system for cell phones, suffers from a similar problem. The Windows Mobile OS isn't horrible per se, it's just that it's completely wrong for cell phones and other small screen devices.

Windows Mobile clearly compromises usability to mimic the WIMP (Windows, Icons, Menus and Pointing device) focus of Microsoft's desktop operating systems. To quote Dr. Phil: How's that workin' for ya? It hasn't helped eroding desktop Windows market share, and it hasn't helped Windows Mobile, either.

The biggest problem isn't that the company's newest products are unusable, but that Microsoft may have actually lost the "ability" to make good operating systems. It may not be able to let go of its dogmatic insistence on the flawed vision of the same Windows "experience" from wristwatches to supercomputers.

And there is evidence that delusion or, at least, wishful thinking, prevails at Microsoft. The company's founder and chairman, Bill Gates, said last week that "Microsoft expects more Internet searches to be done through speech than through typing on a keyboard." Hey, Bill: Do you want to bet $10 billion on that? I doubt even that Microsoft will fix its Vista driver problem within five years. This is the same guy, by the way, who bragged that Microsoft would "solve" spam by 2006.

It's imperative for Microsoft to get the next major OS right. The secret lies in the company's Surface initiative.

Microsoft has never understood the importance of "simplicity," a fundamental design concept it has always swept aside to make room for "feature rich" (i.e., bloated and complex).

Right now, the Windows Vista type user interfaces are in their final days. The future belongs to what I call the 3G user interface, which replaces flat icons and folders with multitouch, gestures, physics and 3-D.

It's imperative for Microsoft to get the next major OS right. But how?

The secret lies in the company's Surface initiative. Sure, Surface is at present a little more than a semishipping demo usable for product marketing.

The Surface demo dazzles with its 3G goodness. But what's impressive and surprising is that somehow someone at Microsoft was allowed to create a user interface unburdened by "compatibility" with two decades of spaghetti code. What a concept! And no "Start" button!

Another hopeful sign is that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer appears to agree that Surface is important — or, at least, urgent. He announced earlier this month that Microsoft is accelerating the development of a consumer version.

Here's what I believe Microsoft needs to do to save its vitally important operating systems business:
  1. Never compromise on driver compatibility, not even for Intel.

  2. Insist on the highest standards for compatibility stickers, then use your marketing millions to drive customers to partners that have earned those stickers. Drive the laggards, the cheaters and the inadequate vendors out of business. They're poisoning your swimming pool.

  3. Make an operating system for each computer type — cell phone, UMPC, consumer desktop, enterprise desktop, enterprise server, supercomputer — optimized for that type, not as a dogmatic slave to the limitations of the generic desktop Windows vision.

  4. Emphasize usability and simplicity over "feature rich" complexity. We don't need more options, features, capabilities, applications, peripherals and hardware vendors. We need better ones.

  5. Emphasize usability and simplicity over backward compatibility for the consumer version of Windows. The 1990s are over. Don't sacrifice the future for customers and partner companies that are living in the past.

  6. Throw everything they've got at getting the consumer version of Surface right. Surface is the future of the company. And Apple won't wait around. That company is aggressively patenting elements of the user interface of the future, and you know they'll build and market it successfully.

  7. Be afraid of Apple, Google and Asus. Apple is eating your desktop marketshare because they succeed with simplicity and UI elegance. Google might do so with its cell phone UI. And Asus, a two-bit Taiwanese motherboard maker, was able to cobble together a quick-and-dirty UI for Linux that's way better than Windows Vista for UMPCs.
Microsoft: I'm rooting for you. I really am. But you've got to get your act together with your core business and ship an operating system that works, or this could be the beginning of the end of the company's leadership role in the industry.

Mike Elgan writes about technology and global tech culture. He blogs about the technology needs, desires and successes of mobile warriors in his Computerworld blog, The World Is My Office. Contact Mike at mike.elgan@elgan.com or his blog, The Raw Feed.

Source: ComputerWorld

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