New keyboard

Friday, 26 August 2016 13:27
claidheamhmor: (Blackberry)
I bought myself a new computer keyboard last week to replace the 11-year-old Logitech G11 gaming keyboard that has served me so well. The replacement is a Logitech G19:

Logitech has stopped making them, and the replacements are not only not very nice, but really expensive. So I bought a G19 online from a site still selling them.

It's got a nice soft feel to the keys. The LCD screen can show a variety of things, but I'm using it as a clock. There are 12 programmable keys; I have programmed them to do things like Cut/Copy/Paste/Undo, and to insert text strings like my name or email address(es), all for convenience. The G19 acts as a USB hub too; it has two powered USB 2.0 ports. The keys are backlit, and the colour is configurable. It has big enter and backspace keys, just like I like them.

All in all, damn nice. Let's hope it lasts a decade, like its predecessor.

Steve Jobs

Tuesday, 17 January 2012 14:37
claidheamhmor: (Blackberry)

I recently read Walter Isaacson's biography of Steve Jobs. It was absolutely fascinating, and I found myself riveted from beginning to end.

Jobs was a complex man. A genius, certainly, but a horrible human being. For the first part of the book I couldn't decide whether to pity him, or just to be disgusted. For example, he believed his fruitarian/vegan diet obviated the need to bath more than once a week...and he wandered around barefoot in the offices. He believed rules didn't apply to him, so he drove at high speeds, without number plates, and parked in disabled parking bays. When he rejoined Apple in the late '90s, he terminated all charitable donations. (By contrast, the oft-vilified Bill Gates has sunk $28 billion into charitable causes, and is estimated to have saved millions of lives.) 

For a smart guy, he also seemed to be singularly oblivious in some ways. For example, when first diagnosed with pancreatic cancer his doctor was very relieved because it was the rare, easily curable variety. So Jobs avoided medical treatment for the next year, believing his fruit diet would cure it. We know how that ended...

His obsession with detail and his broad visions were his genius; he wanted everything just so. Of course, that meant that anyone who didn't want it that way was wrong - which is why Apple devices are so tightly locked down. I don't personally subscribe to the Apple way; I like my choices.

One thing I found interesting was the amount of emotion around Jobs. For example, there are numerous mentions of Jobs bursting into tears in board meetings or when arguing with people. Not just him either - it seemed to be a relatively regular occurrence with others too. 

I did think there was quite a bit of post facto revisionism in some ways. For example, the book talks about how long Steve Jobs took with the design of the case of the original Apple II, and how beautiful and elegant it was. I went and took a look at pictures of some of the Apple II's contemporaries, and to be honest, the Apple II doesn't seem any better than most (e.g. the early Commodores). The same applies to various other Apple devices mentioned: hailed only as visionary because they became popular.

One curious omission in the book was any significant mention of operating systems. There are a couple of brief mentions, but by and large, iOS, MacOS and MacOS X are pretty much ignored. I don't know why that is, given how tightly integrated the Apple hardware and operating systems are.

Anyway: highly recommended.

claidheamhmor: (Blackberry)
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To start with, I'm not a fan of Apple products. I don't like the way I work (or play) being dictated, and I don't like the limitations imposed on me by the products or their ecosystem, no matter how easy it's supposed to make it.

That said: because of Jobs's vision and products, the products I do like have been influenced for the better, in terms of features, look and feel, and time to market. He forced competitors to innovate, or to package their products better, or to include features that would not otherwise have been there.

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

Sunday, 14 August 2011 12:00
claidheamhmor: (Default)
  • Sat, 13:17: Just saw a Mac Mini being used for point of sale at a clothing store. First time I've seen a Mac used for POS. #fb

My tweets

Saturday, 14 May 2011 12:00
claidheamhmor: (Default)
  • Fri, 17:50: Almost every time I deal with HP printers, I am forcibly reminded how truly horrid the HP printer software is. #fb

My tweets

Tuesday, 10 May 2011 12:00
claidheamhmor: (Default)
  • Tue, 09:57: RT @AkiAnastasiou: The iPad 2 has the same processing power as the Cray 2 supercomputer which was world’s fastest computer in 1985. #fb

My tweets

Tuesday, 19 April 2011 12:00
claidheamhmor: (Default)

My tweets

Saturday, 2 April 2011 12:00
claidheamhmor: (Default)
  • Sat, 09:54: RT @gussilber: I wish SA cellphone companies would put as much effort into improving service, as they put into stupid rebranding campaigns.

My tweets

Friday, 25 February 2011 12:00
claidheamhmor: (Default)

My tweets

Sunday, 6 February 2011 12:00
claidheamhmor: (Default)
  • Sat, 18:36: RT @DrTwittenheimer: The camera adds 10 pounds, but cropping and Photoshop take off 20.
  • Sat, 18:36: RT @gussilber: Zuma says if you vote for the ANC, you'll go to heaven. That's the best argument against voting I've ever heard.
  • Sat, 18:47: Computers are like dogs and horses - they can sense fear. #fb

My tweets

Wednesday, 26 January 2011 12:00
claidheamhmor: (Default)

My tweets

Friday, 10 December 2010 12:00
claidheamhmor: (Default)
  • Thu, 19:23: Excellent! I have book 13 of The Wheel of Time, "Towers of Midnight", in my greedy paws. #fb
  • Thu, 21:42: RT @DrTwittenheimer: My new computer has a huge number of bells and whistles on it.(The secret is efficient placement and a lot of hot glue)

My tweets

Thursday, 4 November 2010 12:00
claidheamhmor: (Default)
  • Tue, 12:27: On my way to the Da Vinci graduation ceremony in Midrand. #fb
  • Tue, 15:12: They just brought a cheetah into the graduation ceremony! His name is Byron, and he's purring... #fb
  • Wed, 06:14: My son is singing songs to his silkworm moths. #fb
  • Wed, 09:34: I am carrying 56TB of storage space in a plastic bag on my arm. #fb
claidheamhmor: (AthlonX2)
20GB of disk space in 1980 compared to 32GB today:

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: (Freudiana)
Back in the days of bulletin boards, dial-up modems, SLIP/PPP, Winsock, and those things, just about anyone you chatted to online had some IT connection or involvement, and I think it became a natural thing to assume that people who were interested in IT were interested in online communications.

As connecting to the Internet became more prevalent and easier, I started noticing that the people who communicated a lot were the same people who communicated a lot in the real world: the social people. They're they ones who simply took a new medium of communication into their stride. By contrast, I'd have to say that the vast majority of those people I know (socially) who are in IT tend to be among the worst communicators around; they tend not to answer emails, don't get involved in blogging/Twitter/LJ, don't use messaging clients socially, and don't participate in web forums for non-technical reasons. All very interesting, but sad, in some ways.

What do you think?
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.
claidheamhmor: (AthlonX2)

A few weeks ago I finally got sick of the regular random disconnects from my Logitech MX5000 Bluetooth wireless keyboard, and bought a replacement: the Logitech G11 gaming keyboard.

Some of the nice features:
  • It's wired. No more wireless disconnects.

  • The keys are all backlit in blue; nice for dim environments.
  • The arrow keys and ins/del/home/end/pgup/pgdn keys are in conventional layout, not the stupid new layout Microsoft and Logitech seen to like nowadays.

  • Rotary volume control.

  • Best of all: 18 fully programmable additional keys on the left. These can be programmed to do particular keystrokes or keystroke sequences or run apps or do various things, all specifically in particular apps, if desired. That's a lot of combinations! I have some of my keys set to run programs, and others to do certain things. For example, the very convenient G13, G14 and G15 keys do copy, cut and paste; so much easier than Ctrl C, Ctrl X and Ctrl V. I have one key set to do a Ctrl A Ctrl C in order to select all and copy; this is so that when I type up a long post response and click post, it doesn't disappear into the ether when our flaky Internet connection drops the connection.
On the downside:

  • The keyboard comes with two built-in auxiliary USB ports. This would seem useful, except that they're not USB 2.0, so no use as all for flash drives or hard drives. Might be handy for a mouse or joystick though.

  • The soft-touch keys don't have the best tactile feedback around.
Otherwise, great device.
claidheamhmor: (Cylon Raider)
Interesting article from Wired.

5 Things RIM Needs to Fix in its BlackBerries )

My thoughts:

Browser: Yeah, could do with an update. It's a reasonable browser, but it could do with more features, like tabs, better script support, and suchlike. Opera Mini is a decent browser on the Blackberry, but it's not as well integrated as it should be.
App store: There's a Blackberry app store? Oh, wait...they have one, called App World - but despite the name, it's only available in parts of North and South America and Europe. Fat lot of good that is.
Wi-Fi: I have a Blackberry with wi-fi, but hardly ever use it. There aren't enough free wireless access points around, and I'm not even sure how to make the Blackberry use wi-fi instead of 3G in the various web-enabled apps.
Desktop Software: I don't use the media part of the Blackberry software, but it would be nice to be able to compose and read messages on PC when the Blackberry is connected.
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
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?

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


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.


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: (Cylon Raider)
I was commenting to the Verdant D&D group the other day about how I seemed to have experienced a sharp drop in the amount of spam I was getting. Obviously, I don't get the spam directly, since it's all marked as spam in Gmail and I have a rule to autodelete it, but I trawl through my trace once a week or so. I noticed that I had surprisingly few spam messages there - instead of the 50 per day I normally get, probably only 5-10 per day. I wondered what was happening, and it seemed to me that better initial spam-blocking measures by Gmail were more likely than the big spam-senders going down.

The mystery was resolved this morning when I read this:
Freakonomics: Since last Wednesday, the torrent of junk e-mail coursing through the internet has been slowed dramatically, with 40 percent or more of it cut off at the source. )

The link in the Freakonomics article above that details what actually happened to all the spam is this article:
How Does So Much Spam Come From One Place? )

A damn good thing, I think - I hope they stay down.
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.
claidheamhmor: (AthlonX2)
This article was interesting.

IT professionals have keys to your personal details )

This sort of thing is one of IT's dark little secrets. A network administrator in most companies can access just about any data in the company, whether people's mailboxes or even their personal files on their PCs. What's more, they can generally do it completely undetected, and even if there are suspicions, getting security auditing logs into some useful form is an almost impossible task.

Now, I'm not one of those admins who does dig around in confidential files, except in the direct line of work. I regard myself as having a position of enormous responsibility at work, and I try to treat data the way I would want mine treated. Digging around in people's files for salary information or whatever would be unethical, and anyway, I don't think I want to know about it.
claidheamhmor: (Cylon Raider)
This is pretty interesting: HP wanting to buy my former employer. I can only think it would be a good thing for both; HP gets some long-term contracts and a lot of well-trained staff, and EDS employees might get bonuses.

HP in talks to buy EDS
Cut for length )

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 or his blog, The Raw Feed.

Source: ComputerWorld
claidheamhmor: (UnderworldEvolution)
I found this article really interesting. I've also noticed that technology - blogs, journals, IM, email etc. - seems to make for more face-to-face meetings with people, and better personal interaction.

How Email Brings You Closer to the Guy in the Next Cubicle )

Bizarre call

Thursday, 17 January 2008 09:28
claidheamhmor: (UnderworldEvolution)
I just had a bizarre problem to deal with at work.

A user logged a call to say that her user ID in made, on the network, on the mainframe, and everywhere else had disappeared, as if she had never existed. Helpdesk checked with her that she hadn't got married or changed her name or anything.

I checked the mail system, and found no mailbox with her name, and it would have shown up even if her user ID was deleted. Deciding she must be delusional, I searched through old extracts of user IDs from the network from months past, and finally stumbled across an old alias name from the mail system we phased out last year. Turns out that her name had indeed changed, definitely before September last year.

I'm wondering if she forgot her own name during the holidays...
claidheamhmor: (Broadsword-blue)
I saw an article listing a bunch of amusing 404 errors apparently found on an Eastern Cape government web site. I suspect they have an administrator with a sense of humour...

And it wasn't even hacked...

January 08 2008 at 07:21AM

By Louise Flanagan

Can't find an Eastern Cape government webpage? It could be on holiday, on strike or even promoted to vice-president.

A routine error message on the department of health's website offers some rather less-than-routine excuses for webpages that can't be found.

"Sorry … but the page you are looking for cannot be found," starts the error message.

Reasons it offers for this include:

"The page is on holiday and will be out of the office until next week or when it feels like coming back."

"The page was considered redundant and was given a raise, so it now works even less."

"The page performed an illegal operation and was promoted to vice-president."

"The page was on strike. We are busy negotiating with the unions now for better wages so it can come online."

"The page is running late. This could be because the taxis need to collect at least another 404 passengers."

"The page is sleeping. After all, this is African time we are talking about."
The Eastern Cape department of health said on Monday the website had not been hacked.

Source: IOL


claidheamhmor: (Default)

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