36 posts • joined 27 Nov 2007
I've thought they're stuffed for years
My opinion (which hasn't really been proved either way yet) has been that Microsoft's biggest problem is the fact that they need to keep the revenues going for the shareholders - that means keeping selling all those CALs that don't make much sense any more, the difficulty of developing new techniques without impacting existing cash cows - hence the netbook debacle with XP having to be revived and the question of how much should a web-enabled office be able to do - and the forced "innovation" in Windows so that there's something to sell every couple of years for the usual range of price tags.
This results in a licensing headache for companies that the "Microsoft ecosystem" tries to fix, but the problem really needs to be tackled at source.
Simplification is what's needed, but that is undoubtedly going to mean ripping up their existing licensing and development playbook and sacrifcing short-term cashflow which the shareholders might not like so much.
The question is how long the slide has to continue - will they wait until they've lost enough market share across all markets that the switch is easier because fewer customers are affected, or will they take the hit and transform into something relevant before that slide reaches a tipping point.
I think the answer to that question will determine the relevance and success of Microsoft in the future.
But Debenhams suck....
Every time I've ordered from Debenhams online, I get an e-mail about 2 weeks later saying they can't locate the item and have cancelled my order.
What's the point in having a sales website without a working stock-control system??
(Report based on a sample of 2 orders, 100% of which went unfulfilled - it may not be statistically significant, but it still means I've no intention of ever using the Debenhams website again)
Just don't go near it on Orange (yet)!
Orange have completely screwed this phone and I haven't yet got a fix out of them. They removed the iPlayer and YouTube apps, but the S60 uninstall stubs are still there meaning you can't even install the proper YouTube app yourself.
Of course, when I first tried to explain this to their support people, I got told that "Orange don't ship these applications and you'll need to install them yourself", which kind of missed my whole point. The second response to much the same query was slightly more helpful (they promised to at least pass it on to someone else) and I've tried to attack the problem via the SonyEricsson route too hoping that they'll help the network sort it out since they're going to suffer too.
Also, at least on Orange, iSync doesn't work properly (despite there being iSync drivers on the SE site), it won't accept the "Send all Contacts" file from previous non-S60 SE phones (like the K750i, K850i, etc) and the it's missing the number-type icons in the history. Older SE phones show an icon for mobile, home, work etc and despite this phone having the numbers (eventually), it doesn't distinguish between them in the call history list which is a big fail on user interface consistency.
The TV-out is pretty neat too, though watching iPlayer through TV-out is pretty ropey on quality. Oh yeah - that's another thing - why does iPlayer not work over Orange's HSDPA network? It's certainly fast enough, but for some reason I'm told I'm only allowed it if I'm on Vodafone! Are the BBC protecting me from bandwidth charges or what??
I also hate shareware like QuickOffice and Adobe Reader on the phone - if you're going to put them there, licence them and give me them or leave them out for me to decide.
All in all, 70% is probably fair (I might go to 60% until some of this stuff is fixed). They are all pretty small annoyances in the grander scheme of things and I'm sure that before this contract's out I'll be enough of a pest to get Orange and SE to fix them!!
Nothing to choose between them?
Nothing to choose between them, except that - in general - Orange can actually operate their network and keep it running. Particularly the data part of things, which works quite nicely (although I only got 1.1Mbit downstream the last time I tried it from deep in the bowels of a building in central Glasgow).
I also still like the fact that you get Network Performance Minutes with Orange, so they actually have a reason to make their network better (reducing refunded call time) instead of just leaving customers with ropey reception.
Anyway, I'm still not touching an iPhone till I can have a bit more say in what runs on it and when. 1 app at a time = unappealling offer.
That said, Orange's insistance on branding their phones is annoying, though I'm hoping that Google Maps with free turn-by-turn directions will convince them that Orange Maps is no longer viable and that will mean there's no need to remove other more useful features from phones to put their crapware on. (e.g. SE Satio: YouTube and iPlayer built-in apps removed, but leaving behind uninstall files so you can't actually install them yourself).
Overall... I'd still take Orange over O2 any day.
...you can understand why people just get ISO files from BitTorrent. Once again those who pay have the most aggro.
I'm starting to think we should have a Proprietary Technology tax and anything that doesn't use open standards has to pay it. Anything to get rid of the constant increase in crap standards, from Nespresso capsules to .BOX image formats. Companies who play the standards game properly can then benefit from being able to offer lower prices to consumers.
That's the high level - I've no idea how to make it work in real life though... :-s
Small businesses and IT
I try to make things better for companies I'm well acquainted with -- helping out those that I understand the business for and those that I'm happy just to help even if not for a big pay day.
It's surprising, however, to go into small business and try to expand their horizons about what IT can do. Many, it seems, make do with repeated manual processes and don't even use rudimentary IT tools to help out. One reason, no doubt, is that many of these organisations have small IT budgets with little IT staff time available; often the IT department is someone who can plug things in, set up accounts and run the backups but isn't a coder or application developer and simply doesn't have the time to learn - and so often it's a part-time role. My experience with end-users in such organisations is almost always of suspicion about promising what IT can deliver and difficulties in specifying how they'd like things to work. Whilst it's one thing to understand, at a high level, what a business needs you still need user input and in smaller businesses it can be a challenge just to educate and identify the exact requirements from users who are foreign to IT projects where developers actually take heed of what they want.
I like to think I've helped and that by showing companies the capabilities of a small bespoke solution they may take it further or identify other opportunities to streamline their processes, but at the SMB level it's definitely a leap of faith towards enterprise-style solutions which all too often isn't made.
I guess the problem when you get to bigger organisations is that the end-users are suspicious of IT for different reasons - there's a much bigger chance of making processes so efficient your job disappears! In growing companies it can help a person do more, but in shrinking ones, it's a risk many people just won't to take.
It seems that the police see road safety as purely being about speed limit compliance, but tackling driver frustration would go a long way to help too, especially in Wales with all the twisty turny roads.
I'd like to see the police pulling more drivers for driving too slowly for the road conditions - I'm thinking those who only drive at 40, whether in a 60 limit or a 30 limit - so that those of us who obey the speed limits, but like to drive as fast as is safely possible within that limit, aren't inconvenienced by these drivers.
Perhaps having a notional minimum speed on the cameras too and dropping these people a letter when they are well below "average" to warn them that the behaviour is unacceptable would also help to reduce accidents. It must be possible to review the averages to find outliers at the end of the day and this would allay driver concerns that the police just want to automate, automate, automate so they can go after the photographers.
Good point Mike - I was also thinking that even a non-rewritable disk can be appended to and, in so doing, the directory entry can be updated to point to a new version of a file. AFAIK when you drop a CD-R into a machine, it only shows you the latest directory, so without a bit of digging to check for multiple sessions on a disk, you'd never know if it's the first, or nth version of the file anyway, even if the disk is non-rewritable.
So you pay, then they take your CPU cycles...
You pay, then the notification code kicks in eating CPU cycles and slowing your machine down and consuming your battery power. Also, I have a (properly licensed) XP on a machine at work, but the CMOS battery was nearly flat, so the date was never right. In that case, you'll get told that XP isn't genuine and are directed to buy a new copy (which would suffer the same problem). It's rubbish!
I do like the way my Mac works - it's all licensed properly anyway, but as far as I know, none of this crap is going on in the background to check.
Forget the clarity... make all the features paid for work!
This seems to be another issue like MP expenses where the fix they wanted was to stop people finding out rather than cleaning up their act.
Why on earth would you turn this feature off?? The last Vaio I had wasn't cheap at about £1,800 -- if I wanted a laptop right now I'd expect it to allow system development and testing across OSes. Rather than provide clarity, I'd want a fix and cast iron assurance that the processor advertised hasn't been crippled. This looks a bit like when Intel turned off defective 486 DX co-pros to sell the chips as cheaper SX parts: inferior hardware but without the "cheaper" bit.
Sorry Sony, you were the only PC manufacturer I'd have considered if I'd fallen out with my Mac. Fortunately I haven't, and all its bits do work as advertised, so I'll stick here for now.
DRM = Fail
I've now bought loads of music tracks online -- but bought precisely none until DRM free tracks were available. I only started buying music online about a year ago.
I understand movies via iTunes remain an impossibility for me and now that books are ruled out for the foreseeable future.
I don't care that authors might feel aggrieved if I bought and paid for a book and they couldn't take it back, DRM is not a technology for me. Look at the issues with WMA downloads and Walmart wanting to pull the plug on the servers when it was no longer viable to keep them running. I'm sure that once the world moves to HD they'll want to pull the plug on the standard def servers and will "encourage" me to re-buy all my content. And the same will go with books once the next great technology (which improves the "end user experience") comes along.
Bollocks to that.
Never mind your OOXML vs ODF - the future is plain text!
With Texlipse and MacTex I can use Eclipse for most of my document creation and editing now and Office 2008 is installed just because a) it's covered under a MS Campus licence anyway and b) some people insist on still using proprietary formats to send me stuff. Add in version control using Eclipse Team Providers for Subversion (or your preferred repo) and you've got a much better and more compatible collaborative working solution than Office and Sharepoint for a lot less cash (and also working properly, now).
The problem is Microsoft...
...and this is exactly the EU anti-trust complaint. This remains a hangover from when they were pushing IE6 onto all the machines and agressively monopolising the browser market. Companies then design in-house solutions and they write the spec saying "it must run on..." (what do we have? IE6 - let's write that in) "...IE6". The system is developed (over a long period, no doubt) and deployed. Except all the specs say "requires IE6" because the developers were told that was the only platform it needed to work on and the company is forever stranded on that version because it's tied to the OS and they don't want to pay the supplier to modify the code for the new version. The solution is simple - always insist on open standards when specifying a system. Microsoft are themselves the creator of their own destiny with companies wanting to stay on XP - at least IE6 runs on it, whereas apps only compatible with IE6 can't run properly on anything later! With any luck people will realise that IE isn't a stable platform and get their apps redeveloped properly, but don't count on it people.
Where to start?!?
Right, so Steve takes a shot at Google over multiple OS - doesn't Windows Mobile have a different codebase to the mainstream desktop crippleware they peddle? Surely only Apple have a common base between mobile and desktop products. Next, "don't worry when we steal your business" to partners? Well, he has a point. Microsoft has done it for ever and partners and other Windows ecosystem providers must be used to it by now (CD writing, firewalls, the TCP/IP stack he mentioned himself). And Microsoft has tenacity? Well, for some products perhaps, but what about their "scatter-gun" approach to technologies where they pretty much throw as much out as possible and see what sticks. If you're a partner and build your business on the wrong one, tough - you'll need to adapt. I'll agree on one thing though - they should evolve Internet Explorer. Preferably in the same way that the mammoth and the dodo evolved. In short: same story as ever at Redmond - screw everyone you can get away with. Default search provider stays as Google after that....
Why is tethering Bad in the US??
Is this just a US problem? I've tethered my phone for years and as long as I pay for the bandwidth, my Telco seems happy enough (well, there's also the "don't use IM, etc" clause, but that's fine). Is there just more bandwidth to go round in the UK than in the US, or are US Telcos just luddites who fear people doing new things??
Surely it's up to individuals to realise that if they go to YouTube and watch videos or download big files from iTunes, there may be a cost to that, but that's exactly the same with capped home packages.
It's just Bad Research
The "boffin" also failed to take account of charging efficiency - we have to assume whatever efficiency on the generation of electricity from the source it comes from, but the charging efficiency hits all cars.
It's a very misguided picture which is somehow trying to make a point about emissions (which, once charging is taken into account, may not be reduced if we use coal or gas to generate the electricity) and energy at the same time. If your electricity comes from a zero- or low-emission source, do the electrical inefficiencies matter much as they are - by definition - not contributing (or not contributing much) to additional emissions?
If it is a comparison between fossil fuels via a battery and fossil fuels in the car itself then yes, the figures should be quoted as MWe and MWth so people can make a fair comparison. That doesn't mean the whole electric vehicle thing is rubbish though.
I still think the whole issue is much more about diverse energy sources and electric vehicles give you the choice of how to get the juice rather than just sucking up oil, chucking it through some fractional distillation and sticking it in the tank. Hydrogen could give the same flexibility.
Somehow these other benefits are lost though in a pointless and obvious rant which comes down to "the units are different".
Interesting choice of stats
Completely agree about the interference - it's obvious really and why my "cheap AV sender" hit the bucket in favour of installing a few runs of co-ax round the house about 3 days after I bought it.
The stats are interesting though - they're presenting "mean frames per second". I know myself that the two access points I have - one B/G and one N - are sitting there most of the day when I'm either sleeping or out at work dealing almost exclusively in beacon and management packets and that the data is only going to be there whilst someone's in the house (everything that's usually on, except the Wii, is connected by cable).
As such, an apartment block with 30 access points and people out from 8am-7pm most days will generate a lot of management traffic with almost zero data. It would be interesting to know how the distributions changed throughout the day as I'd bet that there is far more data during, say 8pm-10pm, than the overall mean. I'd expect daytime usage to be even higher skewed towards management over data too.
Additionally, it'd be nice to know over what period they conducted the sample - was the kit left running for a month or did someone just test it for an hour during the day..?
Dell at fault too...
Dell may well have some decent grounds here, but if TigerDirect were still selling older but unused computers, they remain "brand new", even if not up-to-the-minute spec. And the simple answer on price matching is "we don't sell that spec any more - if you want that price/spec, go buy it from them". Where's the problem here? Also, the bastardised Dell logo also has a different D (look at the curve) and the L's are different too. So that's rubbish too.
In my mind, this looks like Dell trying to prop-up profits using their lawyers, the sign of a company in real trouble as they can't make money any other way. If they were in such trouble though, that'd be awesome.
In response to:
"I'm surprised you didn't try to crowbar in Google or Wikipedia, although you did manage to shoehorn Windows in to the story."
They did, but that probably isn't Windows running on that laptop. The decorations around the GUI window are from GNOME's default Crux theme. It might be Solaris, it might be Linux, but it's almost certainly not Windows on its own and I'd be surprised if it has Windows running there at all.
Yay! This is why I held out for DRM-free
So I held out till DRM free took off... yay! Well, that and the fact that DRM didn't really play well with my Linux desktop.
Now can someone tell me why DRM is still good for movies and TV downloads, and if there are DRM servers - sorry, key management servers - for BluRay just waiting to be switched off when Sony want us to go out and buy the next new format...?
It's all bollocks - the fact that Vista was supposed to be an OS purely for the benefit of M$'s DRM platform, and not for the people they wanted to buy it, has got to be one of the biggest reasons for its slow death.
So raise a glass and let's hope that the Daily Mail et al get stuck right into this and give DRM the right royal kicking it deserves.
I completely agree food waste in the UK is too high - but lay a huge wedge of the blame on supermarkets. Our local Sainsbury's fruit and veg almost _never_ lasts more than a day or two and I'm convinced it's to keep me going back to the store - and to do this, I'm pretty sure it must just sit out the back or in warehouses for days until it's nearly ruined.
Then when their short-shelf-life produce finally makes it to the shelves, a lot is destined for deep discounting or the bin.
Perhaps if they got the food from the local farms and into the store quicker, and thereby with a longer shelf-life, I'd be buying more fruit and veg there, and there'd be less waste!
RealPlayer's not that bad...
I'll get a kicking for this I'm sure, but the thing is that as far as I've experienced, only RealPlayer on Windows is crap. RealPlayer 10 on Linux and RealPlayer 11 on my Macbook are fine. The latter even does a 1 hour rolling buffer for chase play already, so this isn't really a new feature at all. You just need to go and pull out the proper links and then something like rtsp://rmlive.bbc.co.uk/bbc-rbs/rmlive/ev7/live24/radio1/live/r1_dsat_g2.ra?BBC-UID=e49845cba76065f17a7ed014a03075e3ab14de6dc0605104f40f5a0f1f52d019_n&SSO2-UID= will give you live Radio 1 whenever you want. I really hope they keep the RealPlayer streams as it means not having to run stuff in my browser which I sometimes need to restart when testing software.
National Express Trains All Bugged Now Then?
The last time I was on a National Express East Coast train with the free wifi, I went to Google.com and was presented with the "local" version, www.google.se. On checking, I was accessing the Internet through nsabfw1.nsab.se. Does this mean, therefore, every time you surf on National Express trains that your data is being horse-traded since your point of presence is in Sweden? I'm not sure I like that.
"Click here to remove"...
I love the comments saying the researchers should display a message getting the user to remove. These people have obviously been enjoying safe, pop-up free browsing for a while - every time I end up on an ancient PC that I can't update (it happens from time to time...) I see messages exactly like that that are part of web pages - and _all_ the education says "you never click 'em".
Go down the road of putting a message on screens and you're playing right into the botnet controller's hands.. a valid reason to run a program presented to you against your will or knowledge.
The only answer is to go via the ISPs - they might not be able to contact everyone and probably wouldn't want to spend money calling people, but it's the best answer without opening up a social engineering attack vector.
RE: If they have it parked.......
The web content on the domain may be "parked", but as the article says, TWS still have customers using the domain for e-mail - if they sell the domain, these users will be without an e-mail address that they may have used for many years.
It's probably the case that not annoying long-standing customers is more important - which it certainly is for many small business - than the money they might raise from MySpace. Who would probably now accuse them of trying to profit from domain camping...
That pic looks like a Robin Reliant with a jet engine stuck in the back (door removed, of course) and a couple of wings bolted on to the side.
I, too, will believe it when I see it!
Microsoft: "SQL Server not suitable for large datacentres"
When I see:
"Microsoft technical fellow Dave Campbell told Reg Dev: "We are not using an off-the-shelf SQL Server to power this, we've taken the technology and shifted it around to make it more suitable for large-scale datacenter deployment.""
...what I read is: "SQL Server is not suitable for large-scale datacentre deployment".
Who makes the laws??
Seemingly, according to Jacqui Smith, this is all because "the al Quada training manual encourages terrorists to obtain multiple identities" (rough quote) and this is designed to stop it.
So... if Osama and his lads fancy a laugh, they can put "terrorists should own a dog" in their manual - and within a few months it'll be "leaked" and there'll be legislation getting pushed through to stop everyone owning pets!
Just you wait...
And a quick Google...
Quickly Googling all .gov.uk site was "exemptions in the freedom of information act 2000" reveals a mere 3,800 (ish) occurrences!
Does anyone know why the structure of all the pages is retained but the content isn't? Is that not just plain weird - I can only think that someone went through each page copying and pasting that text and then at the bottom of the page said "well, I've pasted that in now, I'm not just replacing the whole page with one message"!
Apache and Windows Integration
Actually, Apache integrates nicely with Windows for authentication - if that's all you want, there's no need to go through the pain of IIS. Where I work, we run source control services and gropupware all under Apache but since there's a working AD system we figured there was no need to reinvent the wheel - Apache gives you the choice of mod_sspi (on WIndows boxes), Kerberos (for single sign on) or LDAP against AD - all work very nicely for AD integration and authentication.
(I'd steer clear of Sharepoint - it seems that once your data's in there, you'll never get it out alive, regardless of what MS were spinning last week.)
Finally, I never use .htaccess files for permissions - that always sounded hacky when there's a perfectly good configuration file per site where you can set all the permissions up in one place.
Think of the children!!
Last time I went through Greenock (I don't know what I did wrong either), I noticed a turbine in the grounds of a new school which is being built. Let's hope the Entegrity turbine doesn't suffer the same fate and take a few West of Scotland schoolkids out.
At the same time, it'd maybe do wonders for getting the Scottish Government to realise that nukes really are what we need before all the engineering talent deserts Scotland (but that's another rant).
Flash should be purged from the web anyway...
I'd be tempted to give a tentative "well done" to the Beeb on this, as long as something better for cross-platform viewing comes along. Adobe still haven't produced a 64bit flash plugin despite the, albeit slow, proliferation of 64bit desktops.
I support any move that marginalises Flash and eventually purges it from the web.
As someone who did complete the BBC survey requesting cross platform (at least Linux and Mac) support for iPlayer, I'd welcome something better than Flash. If they can rollout an iPlayer Wii Channel whilst they're at it, that'd be very cool. Surely there are more Wii users who'd like that than iPhone users demanding it??
MS ditched the Win3.x/95/98/98SE/ME codebase after ME - the numbering there doesn't mean much for these former "Consumer" OSes - enterprise should've been on Windows NT through 3.5 and 4 (through all 6 service packs) at this time.
Since then, the numbering all followed the Windows NT scheme with NT4 succeeded by Windows 2000 (5 - "completely new", DRM, etc), XP, (5.1 - new UI skin and some incremental improvements over W2k), Vista (6 - more DRM no-one seems to want but MS)... and then into the murky future.
I completely mis-read this line in the article:
"Ivan's running Windows XP on his Eee, which makes driver support a little less hit and miss than the machine's own version of Linux."
Have you actually read the guys Wiki page and seen how much faffing was needed trying to alter Windows drivers from the wrong sources to get this thing working? In my experience, Plug and Play actually works in Linux because it can control a chip and not just the one with the given manufacturer ID.
I think that the only item on that list I'd be unsure about in Linux is the GPS receiver, but since it's running via a USB serial port, I can't imagine any difficulties there either.
You'd really rather hack a Windows driver than plug it in and use it??
At £19.95 for 64MB...
...I'd expect a battery compartment, a USB socket and "tape-head interface thingy" allowing it to be put in a real tape player for both playback and recording!
But alas no; it's just expensive packaging.
Strengths of the PC
Didn't the PC platform become the powerhouse it is by not sticking everything on one single-vendor controller board? This will undoubtedly be useful for lower-end laptop manufacturers and those trying to build small devices, but it goes against the things I like about the PC platform - choice and flexibility.
It reeks of Microsoft too... one day you have a business selling compression software, the next it's in the OS (and a bunch of other features like firewalls and CD writing). The same may go for graphics vendors...