Category Archive 'Software'
20 Oct 2008


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Apple mocks Microsoft’s approach to defending Vista through advertising.

0:30 video

08 Oct 2008

Can Microsoft Be Saved?

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Microsoft is still making enormous sums of money, but cracks are appearing in its $16 billion Windows business. The death of XP has been postponed several times – the current rash of ultra-small, ultra-cheap laptops don’t have the horsepower to run Vista – and while Microsoft claims to have sold 180 million Vista licences, many of those licences are for machines running XP.

As Jane Bradburn of HP Australia told reporters in July, “From 30 June, we have no longer been able to ship a PC with an XP licence. However, what we have been able to do [is] to ship PCs with a Vista business licence but with XP pre- loaded. That is still the majority of business PCs we are selling today.”

There’s no compelling reason for users to upgrade: Vista requires more powerful hardware than XP, and it’s been plagued by driver problems and incompatibilities. As a result, it’s faced an avalanche of bad publicity – some of it deservedly so, as users found that their devices didn’t work.

The bad publicity isn’t helping enterprise adoption. According to Forrester analyst Ben Gray, “Desktop operations professionals tell Forrester that they see the value in standardising on Vista, but many are having a hard time convincing their CIOs that the move isn’t a risky bet, given the mixed reaction it’s received in the press and the speculation surrounding what to expect after Vista.” Forrester reports that 8.8 per cent of enterprise customers have migrated to Vista; 87 per cent are still running XP.

The ‘mixed reaction’ has been a gift for Apple, whose ‘Mac vs PC’ campaign mocked Microsoft ruthlessly. The ads worked: according to BMO Capital Markets analyst Keith Bachman, “More than 50 per cent of customers buying Macs in Apple stores are first time buyers.” …

So has Microsoft lost it? A company with 93 per cent of the worldwide operating system market, rising revenues, a $60billion turnover and around $22.49billion in operating income is hardly struggling. However, the world in which Microsoft operates is changing dramatically, and Microsoft knows it. …

Microsoft is fighting back on multiple fronts. It’s “developing versions of our products with basic functionality that are sold at lower prices than standard versions”, but more importantly it’s chucking enormous sums of money at things that may or may not work. …

To many observers, the way in which Microsoft’s online division is haemorrhaging cash is a sign that Microsoft has missed the boat – but the ‘let’s throw money at this until it works’ approach has worked in the past for Windows, Office, Internet Explorer and Xbox, none of which were immediately successful. Microsoft may not be the leader in search, cloud computing or mobile phones, but the combination of determination and deep pockets is a powerful one.

Hat tip to Meaningless Hot Air.

05 Sep 2008

Better than Chrome: Google Crom

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I wonder if this program is as obtrusive and controlling as Vista.


Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

30 Aug 2008

Never Mind the Homeless, Pity Developers

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1:43 video

Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

28 Aug 2008

Linux: A Cautionary Tale

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Since I detest Vista, I’ve started fooling around with Linux on a new laptop. Ubuntu installed easily, but there is this little problem with accessing the Internet.

My wife sent me the following cartoon some weeks ago as a warning, and I’m afraid it already seems to be a very accurate picture of my Linux experience.

24 Jul 2008

Microsoft Tries Fighting Back

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Ed Bott likes Microsoft’s initial ad attempting to defend Vista, but observes that it’s going to take more than trying to ridicule the messenger.

That’s a pretty good start. The real hard work begins with the messages that immediately follow this one. Microsoft has to identify the real benefits in Windows Vista and communicate them clearly and crisply. That’s not going to be any easy task.

Not easy at all, IMHO.


Adrian Kingsley-Hughes points out that MSFT’s ad isn’t going to get it done, because although the earth was not flat, Vista really does suck.

Even the overall message that the ad is trying to convey is uninspiring. For example:

    Meanwhile, a series of independent speed tests found that Windows Vista with SP1 performed comparably to Windows XP SP2.

    Why doesn’t it win? Simple. Behind the scenes, Windows Vista is doing a lot more on your behalf than Windows XP does. It’s indexing your files so you can find them fast, keeping your hard drive organized, saving your work so nothing gets lost, and defending your computer against hackers and phishers.

So, when your favorite first person shooter starts to stutter, or that photo is taking a little too long to open in Photoshop, you can take comfort in the fact that Vista is doing a lot more on your behalf than Windows XP ever did.

I tried Vista recently, and I thought it was doing a lot too much for me. Every mouse click produced a close relative of MS Office’s infamous dancing paperclip freezing the action and popping up to warn me that opening a browser or clicking on an application could expose my system to viruses or possibly initiate a fatal sequence of events leading to the heat death of the universe.

I gathered a distinct impression that Vista’s designers really believed one should take that PC and admire the nice Microsoft wallpaper through the lucite block you had cast around it.

Everyone assured me that one could reduce the level of pestering by tweaking security settings, so I reduced them alright. I just installed XP right over it.


Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

10 Jun 2008

Your Own Fonts (Cool!)

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Jason Fagone, at Stale, has an article on a program calculated to keep people like my wife out of mischief for days.

In April, an online font clearinghouse called FontShop quietly uploaded a program that, the company wrote, was meant to be “purely entertaining—something to kickstart creativity.” FontStruct, a browser tool that lets anyone create an original font, was so popular that the site’s servers crashed within days of the official launch. …

No disrespect to Adrian Frutiger—who is, of course, the Swiss graphic designer who created the Univers and Frutiger typefaces—but why would anyone want to be a little Frutiger? More broadly, why do people create their own fonts? What’s the payoff?

There’s something about that moment when your own letters begin to flash across the screen. Partly, it’s sheer childlike bliss—after all, how many hours do we spend as kids learning how to write in cursive, writing our name over and over, regarding our handwriting, hoping it’s special, stylish, distinguishable from the next kid’s? But it’s also satisfying in a distinctly grown-up way. If you’re reading this, you’re probably like me, and you have a job in which you stare at a screen all day. And it’s not even your screen. It’s somebody else’s pixels and windows and letters. Make a font and you start to screw with the scenery—the banal yet elemental DNA of your daily existence. It’s as if you could design and build your own subway turnstile or change the color of a Starbucks cup from off-white to fuchsia. Here’s a program that lets you commit a small, safe, infinitesimally subversive act and then share it with the world. FontStruct may make it worth aspiring to be a little Frutiger, after all.

10 Mar 2008

I’m Still Using XP

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Yesterday’s New York Times discusses Microsoft’s Vista debacle, which is now producing lawsuits from frustrated consumers.

One year after the birth of Windows Vista, why do so many Windows XP users still decline to “upgrade”?

Microsoft says high prices have been the deterrent. Last month, the company trimmed prices on retail packages of Vista, trying to entice consumers to overcome their reluctance. In the United States, an XP user can now buy Vista Home Premium for $129.95, instead of $159.95.

An alternative theory, however, is that Vista’s reputation precedes it. XP users have heard too many chilling stories from relatives and friends about Vista upgrades that have gone badly. The graphics chip that couldn’t handle Vista’s whizzy special effects. The long delays as it loaded. The applications that ran at slower speeds. The printers, scanners and other hardware peripherals, which work dandily with XP, that lacked the necessary software, the drivers, to work well with Vista.

Can someone tell me again, why is switching XP for Vista an “upgrade”?

05 Jan 2008

Redmond Does it Again

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As Computerworld observes, those geniuses up in Redmond have taken another giant step toward persuading their customers not to trust them.

Microsoft Corp. deliberately broke access to older files, including many generated by its own products, to step up security with the newest Office 2003 service pack, a company evangelist said yesterday.

The months-old Service Pack 3 (SP3) for Office 2003, said Viral Tarpara, a U.K.-based IT evangelist for Microsoft, blocks old file formats for security purposes. “Some older file formats, including some from Microsoft, are insecure and do not satisfy new attack vectors that hackers can use to execute malicious code,” maintained Tarpara. “The decision to block the formats is strictly to protect your machine from being compromised.”

Office 2003 SP3 was released in September, and questions about file access error messages began appearing almost immediately on Microsoft’s support forums.

Those questions continued into December. A user identified as “dberwanger” complained that he called Microsoft’s support desk, but was told it would cost $250 to “fix a problem with SP3 that they created. Finally completely uninstalled Word 2003 and reinstalled (because you cannot just uninstall SP3) and the problem is fixed.”

Microsoft has posted a document to its support database that includes a Windows registry hack that returns full file format access to Office 2003. Like Tarpara, the document claimed that the file blocking was done for security reasons. “These file formats are blocked because they are less secure. They may pose a risk to you,” according to the document.

Among the blocked files are older Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint formats, as well as older formats used by Lotus 1-2-3 and Corel Corp.’s Quattro Pro — a pair of ancient and aging spreadsheets — and Corel Draw, an illustration program. Word 2003 with SP3, in fact, blocks a staggering 24 former formats, according to Microsoft, including the default word processing file format for Office 2004 for Mac, the currently available edition of Microsoft’s application suite for Mac OS X.

21 Dec 2007

Upgrading From Vista to XP

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Coding Sanity, like many, is improving his new PC’s performance by “upgrading” in the direction of the past.

One really has to marvel at what an organization with the financial resources and human talent at Microsoft’s disposal is able to accomplish.

there appears to be no contest. Windows XP is both faster and far more responsive. I no longer have the obligatory 1-minute system lock that happens whenever I log onto Vista, instead I can run applications as soon as I can click their icons. Not only that, but the applications start snappily too, rather than all waiting in some “I’m still starting up the OS” queue for 30 seconds or so before all starting at once. In addition, I have noticed that when performing complex tasks such as viewing large images, or updating large spreadsheets, instead of the whole operating system locking down for several seconds, it now just locks down the application I am working on, allowing me to Alt-Tab to another application and work on that. I am thrilled that Microsoft decided to add preemptive multitasking to their operating system, and for this reason alone I would strongly urge you to upgrade to XP. With the amount of multi-core processors around today using a multitasking operating system like XP makes a world of difference.

In addition, numerous tasks that take a long time on Vista have been greatly speeded up. File copies are snappy and responsive, and pressing the Cancel button halfway through actually cancels the copy almost immediately, as opposed to having it lock up, and sometimes lock up the PC. In addition, a lot of work has gone into making deletes far more efficient, it appears that no more does the operating system scan every file to be deleted prior to wiping it, and instead just wipes out the NTFS trees involved, a far quicker operation. On my Vista machine I would often see a dialog box from some of my video codec’s pop up when deleting, moving or copying videos. No more, now all that is involved is a byte transfer or NTFS operation.

Automatic Updates has also gone through a performance facelift in that it no longer hogs your bandwidth when you’re surfing, a nice touch. …

To be honest there is only one conclusion to be made; Microsoft has really outdone themselves in delivering a brand new operating system that really excels in all the areas where Vista was sub-optimal. From my testing, discussions with friends and colleagues, and a review of the material out there on the web there seems to be no doubt whatsoever that that upgrade to XP is well worth the money. Microsoft can really pat themselves on the back for a job well done, delivering an operating system which is much faster and far more reliable than its predecessor. Anyone who thinks there are problems in the Microsoft Windows team need only point to this fantastic release and scoff loudly.

Well done Microsoft!

Hat tip to Karen Myers.

21 Jul 2007

Hollywood IT Conventions

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If you’re writing a sceenplay, you need to be aware that personal computers work differently on the big screen. Here’s a FAQ explaining some of the key differences you need to understand.

Examples: In Hollywood movies,

All text must be at least 72 point.

Incoming messages are displayed letter by letter. Email over the Internet works like telegraphs.


Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

21 Jul 2007

Great Internet Crash of 2007

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The Onion produced this 3:00 video report.

“Nigeria was the first nation to report a full economic collapse from the Internet Crash. 94% of its Gross National Product came from Internet ventures.”

From Lifehacker via Karen l. Myers.

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