* Posts by ShelLuser

1905 posts • joined 19 Dec 2010

Pity the poor Windows developer: The tools for desktop development are in disarray



"I think whoever is in charge of this at MS should be told their number one priority is to make sure that it's a piece of piss to be able to write some simple game and the choice of technology is a no-brainer."

Uhm, but it already is a nobrainer where technology is concerned. A mere Google search for "visual studio gaming" would point your direction towards the XNA Game Studio environment.

I don't develop games myself, but from what I can tell this has been around for quite a while already. It's basically yet another approach of their "write once, use everywhere" doctrine since this platform should allow you to develop for all Microsoft gaming platforms (Windows, XBox & Windows Phone).

As I understand it its a replacement for DirectX; more of a framework (like so many others) which more or less abstracts some of the requirements. Here is an interesting discussion with regards to the differences between the two platforms.

Although I do agree with your comments; Microsoft makes certain things a whole lot harder then they need to, I also don't think it applies here.


Ten excellent FREE PC apps to brighten your Windows


Missing 2 things...

One of the things which I think should also be in the list is an image viewer. I'm actually surprised that none was included because well, surely we still like to look at a few pictures every once in a while? I'm very happy with IrfanView. It's an image viewer which provides tons of extra features as well, including features such as editing your pictures a bit (scaling / resizing, cropping or cutting out a selection and obviously plenty of filters and effects to apply).

When it comes to editing then it's not always perfect (trying to cut a transparent PNG file can sometimes be a little awkward, I usually resort to The Gimp for that), but it goes a very long way for "merely" an imageviewer.

Second; although you mentioned a program which can make it easier to copy things onto cloud environments, what about copying files to local storage media or even regular network shares / drives? I've become quite fond of TeraCopy. Its a free copy program which also has a paid counterpart. The reason why I like this program is because despite the commercial alternative it doesn't get in your face. You can use it to its full potential, even though the authors obviously hope that you'll get the commercial version too.

And clicking "test" while copying a large(r) file only to discover that the copy action did not go as expected and that the copy checksum failed can really be a priceless experience.

Finally... Sure, Winzip and Peazip are excellent programs. I'd still would like to mention WinRAR too. An archiver which has been with us for decades already; I licensed this product during the BBS era (last century) and I still have and use a license today (to be honest; I got new licenses too; one for my company and a new one for personal use, simply because it makes little sense to advertise for your BBS these days ;)).

It's a brilliant piece of software IMO, I especially like the integrated checksum parts where it can add a so called "recovery record" (both embedded or detached) which allows you to repair an archive in case it should get damaged. Invaluable option... It heavily leans upon the so called PAR checksum options; a format which allows you to create a checksum block which can also be used to recreate parts of the original file.

This feature alone makes WinRAR a very powerful archiver for me; especially when we're talking about making backups which are meant to be kept around for an X amount of time.


Dragon Age, Inquisition: Our chief weapons are...


What about gameplay?

Read a lot about impressions but I can't find much about gameplay here. At least the screen shots show that blasted 'weapons wheel' is still there, which would be a no no for me. Its what I disliked in D.A. II because it didn't have any easy quick select options; only the weapons wheel. Very cool indeed while you're under attack and can't prepare with potions being quickly available to you with one press of a button.

I'm also missing out on customization options. Another big issue with DA2. Because you hardly could.

And speaking of storyline: DA2 went horribly wrong (IMO) where storyline was concerned by degrading the Marabi warhound as an entity instead of a fully worth player. Simply because it went straight against their own storyline and backgrounds. After all: In 1 we learned that a Marabi would easily fight itself to the death to protect its master. That's the whole vision of he warhound. Yet in 2 you could only summon him with a spell. And no matter how much you (its master) were under attack: when time ran out, *poof*, and it was gone. Uhm, fighting to the death? how?

The reason I mention this is because the author mentions the criticism regarding DA2, but doesn't bother to explain how and where this game differs.

Another thing: it looks to me as if this game is full 3rd person. Its been a while since I played DA but I do recall that one of the reasons I initially picked it up (and bought the whole official guide too) was because it wasn't 3rd person. I don't like seeing a bunch of puppets running across your screen and you just have to "imagine" that those can represent you.

Its what I loved about DA, the original concept: attacking thieves could actually hide behind you, esp. if you didn't have the presence of mind to look around but instead kept focussing on the enemy in front of you. THAT was brilliant gameplay in my opinion. Heck; even better: I could do the same thing myself too!

3rd person ruins that experience because... Good luck hiding as a thief when there's an "all seeing mastermind" (the player) present.

Final comment, but this is just me being critical: so we gain influence by capturing forts or keeps. Why does this sound horribly familiar to me? You do the same thing in Assassins Creed, Far Cry 3 & 4, Watch Dogs, and so on. Isn't that approach getting a little old?

I suppose seeing could be believing, but so far I'm not a believer.


Useless 'computer engineer' Barbie FIRED in three-way fsck row



I for one hope that someday people will grow back a bit of common sense and stop looking for meanings which aren't there in the first place.

So just because Barbie is a girl you can't write up a story about how she doesn't understand computers because she's a girl and therefore its sexist? However, you can write up such a story when the main character is a male? So how is that not being sexist?

I'm getting annoyed too; with the double morals being uphold.

So when someone writes a story about how a girl doesn't know anything about a computer its an outrage (even though, shudder, some people (who cares about gender in the first place? you? you sexist!) actually really don't know shit about computers).

Yet when someone writes a story about how certain women allow themselves to be degraded to mere party / company or heck: sex slaves (Fifty shades of grey anyone?) then it's quickly turning into a best seller. Oh I know: "that's different because its targeted at adults".

Sure, however; this Barbie book was targeted at teens and from what I can tell only a bunch of stuck-up adults actually had problems with it. So... different? How?

In my opinion some people should be forced to watch The Tale of Scrotie McBoogerballs. A South Park episode no less. One of the many reasons why I think the older seasons were /so/ much better than what we got now.

SO basically; the boys write a book, with the only intend to make it as offensive and disgusting as possible. A mother (don't want to spoil the plot ;)) finds it, gets disgusted with it yet still thinks she understands "what the meaning of the story is".

While in fact there was none. Just writing up a disgusting piece of work for fun. Using as many "no no" words as possible.

This is IMO no different. Just because Barbie is a girl some people consider it sexism if she doesn't know shit about computers. Apparently those people are even totally incapable to realize that the target audience would never get those ideas of sexism.

Unless of course you bring them into contact with such. Like, for example, making a huge fuss about it and making all the kids believe that this actually is a BIG deal, even though they never would have thought so in the first place.

And voila; now all of a sudden you realized the exact opposite of what you tried to do; because now the people involved get into the stereotyping that "writing stories about girls who don't know IT is bad".

Why it's bad? Would anyone ask that question at the risk of being called a sexist?

So now we're down to "girls aren't bad with IT per definition, because 'we' said so".

Gee, and when I put it like that it sure as heck sounds like dictatorship to me!

Who cares about allowing people to decide for themselves if they think the story is suitable for their children or not?. Naah, who cares about freedom of choice anyway? This is all for the common good after all!

Yah, and that last sentence is what most dictators also use to justify their actions. Just saying....


Far Cry 4 REVIEW: It's a far cry from Far Cry 3


Not quite sure...

My main gripe is that Far Cry has so far always been radically different. FC1 on the islands fighting a horde of mutants ("trigands"), FC2 which put you in the role of a hitman right within an African turbulent war... And FC3 which, as was to be expected, changed the decor quite radically again and introduced us to Vaas.

Thing is; I liked FC3 but I didn't consider it all that great. It had too many flaws which added up could easily be a deal breaker, at least to me. Take for example the option of not being able to quickly swap between your weapons; only the current and the last can be quickly picked up (d-pad), the rest is all weapons wheel. While we could easily switch between the three main categories in previous titles. That has always bugged me with this game.

Missions aren't all that brilliant either. You see; when I learned "towers = weapons" I started on a raiding rampage, combining stealth with force. And I have to admit; the experience was very good! Didn't take me too long to get all the towers on the first island (amazingly enough, the weapons dealer in the main camp kept bugging me about "unlock more towers", yah, duh?). SO I eventually came across missions where it felt like I had weapons which the developers didn't anticipate for.

What I mean?

So you have an assassination: need to kill this dude between the left and right island. He's sitting right in the middle (small strip) between the main Rakya village and, as said, the section left to it. And as is accustomed: you need to kill the main villain with a traditional knife. Everyone else is expandable So far, so good.

Thing is: I had a sniper rifle here. So I started to scope the area out, sniped of some of the bad guys and the main villain started to walk towards me. So: way outside the mission parameter. I sneaked up, killed him and... mission failed, you need to use the knife!. Which is of course exactly what I did.

As it turned out you need to enter the mission area before you can do stuff. And some of the areas in FC3 are horribly small. In this case I never went near it, but thanks to my sniper rifle could already step in. Apparently the developers never anticipated this. Duh!

My other main gripe was that once you liberated the outposts there wasn't really much left to do. They were never taken back (not even attacked), and from there on you could basically go wherever you wanted to go without any risk. This was a major downer on re-playability for me too, but Ubisoft fixed this in the mean time by allowing you to reset the whole outpost issue.

FC3 was nice, but not that good IMO. At least not for playing the game in a completely different (but still valid!) manner.

So yah... this game seems a lot like a repeat of moves to me. Outposts, main villain, etc. The critic in me can't help wonder how much they're going to try to sell the visual aspects and perhaps use it to draw attention away from gameplay.

Not saying that they will, but if they do then I wouldn't be surprised.

So yah, I'm not a believer and most likely going to sit this one out.


Doctor Who trashing the TARDIS, Clara alone, useless UNIT – Death in Heaven




In fact, it's not a completely unknown plot twist either since it has been done before. Season 2: Army of Ghosts / Doomsday. The head of operations of Torchwood gets converted, but is later seen killing other cybermen while ranting "I did my duty for queen and country".

Not just that, we even see something like a tear coming from her eyes. Talk about a situation which doesn't add up!

Which is basically my only gripe with this new season: the heavy re-use of plots which have already been done.

btw; the only reason I remember this is because of the interesting clash between the Daleks and Cybermen in that episode arch. Both species tried to invade earth yet unknown of the others presence. And it was as funny as it was dark:

Cyberman (talking to a Dalek): "You will identify first!".

Dalek: "Daleks do not take orders!"

Cyberman: "You have identified yourself Dalek..."

That was as brilliant as it was simple. But in comparison to all that I have to agree that this season is lacking.


Find My Phone does just one thing but Samsung's messed it up


Still needs 'help' from the user..

The youtube movie starts with the following quote:

"Cross-Site Request Forgery (CSRF) is an attack that tricks the victim into loading a page that contains a malicious request".

So it still boils down to "be careful what website(s) you visit". It doesn't make this attack less dangerous, obviously not, but even so the targeted users can still do a lot themselves to prevent any damage as well.




When reading the headline...

I was hoping for some kind of revenge act from Sun Microsystems and that they somehow "sabotaged" Oracle. Oh well,wishful thinking ;)


Ubuntu 14.10 tries pulling a Steve Ballmer on cloudy offerings


This proves one important thing...

"“It hurts my eyes,” Steve Ballmer once joshed during a demonstration of Microsoft’s Virtual Server 2005 Service Pack 1 managing Red Hat Linux.".

In my opinion comments like that clearly prove that Ballmer's main approach was that of marketing and administration and that he severely lacked any feeling for the technical approach of things.

I don't care if you're pro or anti Linux or Windows; one cannot deny that Microsoft has made some interesting progress here within their line of virtualization products. Yet it seems that even that detail is completely wasted on Ballmer and all he can see is his own petty ideas.

Must have been fun for the developers who worked on this.. First thing the head honcho says is that your work is hurting his eyes, such motivating words indeed!

Anyone with a small bit of feel for tech would at the very least recognize some progress here. Who cares if Microsoft are more or less re-inventing the wheel here?

And I think that lack of "tech vision" on the part of Ballmer is one of the reasons which caused Microsoft to alienate themselves from so many users, developers and fans.


Microsoft promises Windows 10 will mean two-factor auth for all

Black Helicopters

More security, or more Big Brother?

It may sound wonderful: extra security enhancement to make sure you're safe. But are they really?

Where people say "two-factor authentication for more security" I say "more options for the manufacturer to snoop on the end user". Especially because mobile phones will be the preferred method. Why does Microsoft need my phone number if all I want to do is use Windows?

Second; as I feared they're pushing their software store forward. Sure; I fully agree that it may make things easier for the end user; all they need to do is pick their software from a list, click install, and off you go. But it also locks the market down. And that is not such a good thing IMO.

As I mentioned before: Microsoft launches their new Office version and LibreOffice has just released their latest release. Do you really think LibreOffice would make it into a Microsoft store if there would be a risk that it could take away the spotlight from MS Office?

But most of all I can't help wonder why do we need more "security" like this?

Lets look at that latest PowerPoint attack. What is mentioned, but not as clearly as I'd like, is that end users had to go through several warnings and notices before their systems got infected.

You can apply a 4-way authentication scheme here; lets call the users on their phone to verify that they're really them before allowing them to use Windows. But that won't change the users mentality!

If said user opens a malicious document and clicks on several warnings that they're sure that they want to open it, then what?

The reason I mention this? The more you lock things down, the more the users will rely on the system and the more ignorant some will become. In the end these kind of options may very well lead to even less secure environments than you'd hope for. Because people start to rely on their system to keep things safe.

But, as we all know, a safe computer environment doesn't foremost depend on the system. Its the user who has the final say in all that.


Lords take revenge on REVENGE PORN publishers



So what hope do we have that this new law will make any difference?

It's simple really, the politicians simply use a very advanced plan of action which basically guarantees success. Rumour has it that even large corporations seem to apply this business model with great success:

  • Create a new law to ban $unwanted_public_behavior
  • ???
  • Profit!

The worst part of it all is that it actually seems to be true. And I'm somewhat shocked to learn that this isn't a problem which only occurs in my country.

I call it "taking the approach with the least resistance". Its relatively easy to make a law; but enforcing said law, that's going to be the real challenge. A challenge which more and more government officials seem to be either overlooking or completely ignoring.


MARS NEEDS WOMEN, claims NASA pseudo 'naut: They eat less


And once again "El Reg" works ;)

When I read the article I was amazed at the amount of dumb stereotyping going on. And well, then its really refreshing to see some of that reflected back into the comment section ;) At least to me, and yes; I'm a male too so that's probably it.

I suggest we nominate Awesome Kong, otherwise also known under her WWE alias Kharma. I actually enjoyed her short stint in the WWE, it was new, it was bizarre and nothing like we've seen before. Unfortunately it was also cut way too short IMO.

So why nominate Ms. Stevens? Well, someone's got to keep those Martians in check, and I think she'd be the perfect man, err, sorry: woman for the job!


Will.i.am gets CUFFED as he announces his new wristjob, the PULS


Just too bad..

I stopped wearing watches when I started carrying a phone around since it also displayed the time.

So yah, definitely not planning on picking up on some wrist thing (again).


Microsoft, Docker bid to bring Linux-y containers to Windows: What YOU need to know



"Windows is always trying to catch-up to Linux."

Perhaps that's true; but would that be a bad thing?

Because I could also argue that Linux is now trying to catch-up to FreeBSD; this container development sounds very much like a FreeBSD Jail. I could also argue that they're not very fast either considering that Jails have been part of FreeBSD since version 4.0; see here. Release date? Around 14th of March 2000; this is the announcement.

Seriously; what's the problem? Open source was made to be used, people don't give out the source code just to make them look better. The whole idea is to embrace and extend or expand.

And here's the thing with software freedom and all that: you don't get to chose who's going to use your product. Because doing so would not only be an insult to the whole idea of free software, it would also turn the whole thing into a tyranny. Freedom is the art of allowing everyone (so even Microsoft!) to use the fruits of your labour.

When I see Microsoft using something which already exists on Linux, or in this case see Linux do something which is already available somewhere else, then all I can't help think is: "the idea really works...". Meaning the idea behind free software and shared knowledge.

In the end we all benefit.

(sorry for a small rant).


NetWare sales revive in China thanks to that man Snowden



"No, for ages Novell was way better and easier to administer than NT, early Active Directory, and Domains before it were a joke, and who can remember the ritual of restarting NT servers at regular intervals to get around memory leaks?"

I have to disagree there, although being a former Novell netware administrator myself I'll easily admit that Netware had many advantages. But it wasn't better "by design".

Example; (re)configuring your server. As you said; lets talk Netware Directory Services ("NDS") vs. Active Directory ("AD"). On Windows I was able to use a client environment to connect to my server console to perform specific administrative task, even then. Although with NT 4 the 'terminal service' was more or less a separated feature.

But there was more... The Microsoft Management Console; a management protocol which allowed you to truly perform remote administrative tasks. You didn't need to gain access to the server console; as long as you got a connection to the server itself. Then mmc.exe could contact the server and perform its administrative tasks. This even holds true today (obviously).

And even then NT had already options which allowed you to divide tasks between an administrative team. You could assign rights; preventing your PFY from accidentally resetting your server (which, lets be honest; was likely bound to happen anyway, but the fact still remains).

With Netware the only option you had to administer your NDS was to go to the server itself in order to work behind the console, just like with so many other tasks. Dozens of administrative tasks required you to sit behind the server console because you needed a specific NLM for the task. Now, granted, you had rconsole & remote.nlm which allowed remote access to the server console (just like NT could).

But here's the problem: it had no options to differentiate between administrators. Only one password stood between you and the server console. So even your PFY could easily mess things up to extreme heights when he had access.

They managed to overcome some of it by developing client tools which could also run on Windows (and thus also provide a graphical environment, something which NDS required at one point; no more commandline management tools). But by doing so they made it all the more appealing to move to a Windows server as well. After all; if you already required a Windows client to administer a server...

Don't get me wrong though; Netware had many strong points in comparison to Windows NT. But it wasn't better by design, not as you make it sound anyway.


Microsoft left red-faced after DMCAs dished out to Windows bloggers


Maybe unintended, but fitting nonetheless...

With fitting I'm referring to the ongoing trend where all Microsoft seems to accomplish is to tick off their user, developer -base. At the very least a very large portion of it. And now we can even add the fanbase to this list as well.

From developers who got ticked off with Visual Studio 2012 right down to gamers who cried out over the XBox One limitations and insane regulations ("If you're not online at least once every 24hrs you can't play certain games").

Sure; sometimes the damage got fixed, but it always left two important issues. First of all its the first impression which counts, and second: did the problems really get fixed?

When looking at Visual Studio the "fix" was an upgrade to the next version (so basically buying a new version). Looking at the XBox One we learned that Microsoft reversed some of their plans. But there were no guarantees that they wouldn't implement their plans at a later time anyway (you know; when the platform has fully settled thus leaving people with little other options).

It seems to me as if Microsoft still doesn't realize the most important rule of an open market: the customer is king. Not always, but you most certainly do not want to piss them off to such extends where they might even want to stop using your products.


Sway: Microsoft's new Office app doesn't have an Undo function



Agreed with the OneNote reference, but next generation?

Check the OneNote website. It can already do everything this weirdness can.

Providing contents based on the device its on? Check.

Defining your own look & feel (even with the use of templates)? Check.

Allow the use of bullet points to sum up your ideas? Check. (sway doesn't it seems)

Separate between sections, cards and even notebooks? Check.

Related to point 2: change the layout of a card? Check.

Publishing your stuff into the cloud (OneDrive or Web app)? Check.

Using an undo function? Check!

OneNote next gen? I disagree. I'm more inclined to name this: "OneNote the cloud version". So basically selling us something which already exists, is slightly changed and (here's the cynic in me:) is most likely going to be a reason to charge more for the upcoming Office release.

Also important: another attempt of getting people to move away from the traditional approach of storing their contents on their own computers or (home) servers and instead move to the "cloud". A development I personally consider to be very dangerous.

For the record; that's coming from an Office fan ;) Although I'm still using 2010 to my satisfaction and have no need for the later products.


Need to switch from Windows Server 2003? Here’s a workshop just for you



Ha, someone beat me to it... So since this thread is about promotion, and you already opened the door, I'd like to extend on this a little.

My (small) company has actually done this (actually; we're in the middle of the transition): moving away from Windows Server 2k3 (which we honestly enjoyed using, in my opinion its a very solid environment) straight towards FreeBSD 9.3. Its a transition option I can actually advise others to look into as well, especially considering the costs involved.

First of all, most important for Windows users (in my opinion): the support lifetime. Just check the FreeBSD release overview: FreeBSD 9.3, released 16th July 2014, will be supported until 31st of December 2016. So that's approx. 2.5 years. Not as extensive as Windows, but speaking from personal experience I'm sure you'll also notice that upgrading to a later version won't be as bothersome as it is with some other OS's: please notice how version 9.1, also with extended support, got released on the 30th of December 2012. As you probably know: "minor" upgrading (9.x to 9.x) is less intrusive than major upgrading (9.x to 10.x). Effectively meaning: With the 9.x branch you basically got a system which was released near the end of 2012 and is supported until the end of 2016. That's 4 years worth of update support in total!

Another important issue: documentation. I can well imagine that a Windows administrator will have a hard time with all this, no matter if it may (or may not) sound appealing. One extensive source of information is the FreeBSD handbook. Available in several languages, and it describes nearly everything there is to know about FreeBSD. From the installation process, updating process and using the several individual aspects such as, for example: setting up a GUI or setting up printing. But also more administrative tasks like auditing (probably also well known amongst Windows administrators) and even the process of securing your system is heavily documented.

Features... Those should be comparable to Windows 2k3 thanks to the extensiveness that is Open Source Software ("OSS"). But lets be honest: the same applies to other Unix-like variants such as Linux and of course the other BSD projects such as OpenBSD and NetBSD.

Having that out of the way: File sharing? You'll want Samba. IIS compatibility (ASP.NET)? The Apache webserver extended with the Mono project can take you a very long way.

Sure; other areas are going to be different and maybe even a little difficult, depending on your environment. For example; Sendmail (FreeBSD's standard mailserver) isn't exactly comparable to IIS (back with 2k3 IIS provided SMTP support) or Exchange where configuration is concerned. Nor are most of the other popular mailservers (such as Postfix and Exim to name two).

I'm not claiming that after you installed FreeBSD you'll be immediately good to go. It'll most likely take time to get to know the environment, and even more time to set it all up.

Which brings me to the costs involved. Time = money, so simply put FreeBSD (or any other Unix-like OS) is most likely not going to provide you with a totally free solution. Even if the OS can be downloaded, installed and then used totally free of charge.

But I also think its noteworthy that the OS can most likely easily be used on your current hardware, even if that hardware is (heavily) outdated by now. And that is probably going to save you some money as well, although I would make sure that you still got plenty of spare parts to make sure that your environment is going to continue to function.

Finally... Community. With all due respect: on the Microsoft fora you'll often get redirected to documentation sections, even if you were asking for more information because the official documentation confused you tremendously. Not all the time, and in my opinion the Microsoft fora are also a very good and reliable source of information, but this is an ongoing trend.

Obviously we have Murphy floating around, so I cannot make any claims that this isn't going to happen to you when using FreeBSD. But being quite a regular on the official FreeBSD forums I also think its fair to say that in general you'll get all the information you require. Sure; there will most likely be times where people refer you to the documentation, but when asked for more information those same people will most likely also have no problems to fill in the missing gaps for you. Note: the latter is strictly my own personal experience and impression, there are of course no guarantees.

SO yeah; I think this can definitely be another very liable candidate. Personally I'm not looking back; FreeBSD does it for me.

Finally, once again: I am not claiming that FreeBSD is the perfect replacement for Windows Server 2003, all I'm saying here is that it is very likely that it can do the job for you. So what I am doing here is suggest that you check it out sometime :)

Used the devil obviously: FreeBSD d(a)emon for the win ;-)


Zippy one-liners, broken promises: Doctor Who on the Orient Express



"Kind of weird that in the last episode the right choice was the ignore the wish of an entire planet and put them all at great risk on the long shot that some unknown giant space birdie wouldn't go full blown toddler on the nearest gravitational well."

Not only that, but it looks to me as if the writers are now also re-using plots from the past. Worse yet: the recent past. Because the "impossible choice" was already done in the episode The Beast Below.

An episode I actually enjoyed because of the (small) plot twist. The British nation now lives on a spaceship with a "star whale" below them to drive / power it. Every once in a while they learn about the (ugly) truth of their spaceship (that they're actually torturing a rather magnificent creature) and are given a choice: release the creature or forget all about the issue at hand. And because it is implied that releasing the creature would also mean the destruction of the spaceship the choice is more or less already made.

Until Amy Pond gets to make the decision... again..

Lets see; who was the writer of that episode... Oh right; Steven Moffat again.


Software gurus: Only developers can defeat mass surveillance



"In the short term, true. But you do have some choice about your employer. You can take your labour-power elsewhere, unless you have been made redundant and/or there is a recession on."

True, but that's also assuming that developers have actually applied for jobs within those "vague" companies. However, software development is usually outsourced these days. So the developer wouldn't even be directly working for the "misfits" but for his own company which got a nice deal to develop the software. Now what?

Next you have the obvious other examples such as a company changing its ways which leaves the developer little other choice between quitting or continuing his job. And well, it's always easy to tell someone that they should quit or deny a job on principle when you're not in their position yourself (so basically if you don't have to worry about your income).

These issues aren't as black and white as some people, like these so called "software gurus", want to make us believe. That is; not in the real world.

Black Helicopters

Well meant but still narrow minded thinking...

"Software developers should not be content with writing code that works, they have a responsibility not to harm their users"

I know I'm playing the devils advocate right now, but when it comes to surveillance then the user(s) of said software are the ones responsible for doing the surveillance. Something tells me those won't be "harmed".

As to their "dark pattern examples": Examples include ecommerce sites that add insurance to your purchase without asking, or printer drivers that refuse to print even when there is ink in the cartridge because the vendor thinks you should buy a new one after a certain number of pages..

I have to disagree that this is something related to the developer (or designer even). It's up to the people who use the product who are ultimately responsible, and these guys should know and acknowledge that fact too.

Lets talk ink: with a different setting that software can be used to simply warn the user of the printer of the upcoming obvious problem: running out of ink. Instead of being confronted with vague prints he now gets a warning up front. Its the manufacturer who chose to lower the threshold.

ECommerce: Isn't it up to the vendor to determine what he's offering and or selling? Shouldn't a developer cover as much ground as possible to provide the most optimal experience?

This line of thinking brings us back to the stone age I think; we're taking the easy way out. Instead of blaming people for their actions (which, considering the fact that we're often talking about huge corporations, might not be very effective) we're now using hindsight: "It shouldn't have been developed in the first place!". That's too easy and as said; I think it's the cheap way out.

I'm not claiming that they don't have a point here, I think they do. Its a very good thing to raise awareness of these issues going on around us. Especially since the bite with these kind of problems is that they develop slowly; slowly but steadily.

But do take it out on the people who are actually responsible. Even if those are huge corporations and your complaints or comments are probably lost with the masses who use their services.


'MYSTERIOUS PYRAMID STRUCTURE' found on COMET beyond Mars: Landing planned



I'm not an expert mind you, but this is just my take on the matter. And I think there are several reasons..

Less data. In the end all the data still needs to be transmitted back to Earth. When talking bitmaps (each pixel of the image also contains a colour value) you also have to take colour depth into consideration. So basically; how much information is stored with the pixel (which makes up the image) to indicate the colour.

From the top of my head you got black and white (which is obviously 1 bit; either black or white) and then comes the grayscale image which is usually 8bit (colour value of 0 - 255). The next step is adding colour, but that requires extra data. For example, if we're talking about common RGB (Red, Green, Blue) then all three colour values also need to be stored. So now the requirement would be three times the capacity of the grayscale; each colour would now require its own 8bit value.

So now we'd be looking into a 24bit value which essentially requires more data.

Another problem, but this is just my theory, is resolution. Now, this isn't much of a problem with modern camera's but in general you need to increase the light if you want to capture more information. In the old days you couldn't easily make colour images when it was dark, simply because of the lack of light.

That problem has pretty much been solved with modern technology. But the fact remains that when you have less light you're usually better off using greyscale images if sharpness is a requirement.

So I think that's also an argument why grayscale images are preferred here. Capturing the colour would generate extra problems, and the added value of those colours usually isn't all that much.


Facebook scammers punt fake 'sexy vid' of Emma Watson


Nothing new here...

I mean, to my knowledge this trick is used all the time and it will continue to be used as long as users don't bother to think their actions over before taking them.

People (should) know that searching for "explicit contents" can end you up on malicious websites which are only after your money. It has been like this forever. So; a juicy chunk of media (picture, movie, etc.) requires you to update your image viewer of movie player? Then why not go to the official website of whatever it is you're using to check for yourself?

Better yet: why not start by opening your picture or movie viewer first and then load your juicy contents instead of mindlessly clicking on whatever it is you downloaded?

Its for this specific reason why I think that Windows made a huge mistake when they started to hide the extensions for known file types. It has become way too easy to spread an executable file while making its icon look as if its simply trying to start a popular image of movie viewer.

Obvious for most of us, usually not so much for your average user:

But you don't even have Photoshop, so why would you think this file would start your image viewer?

I thought that it shipped with one, didn't know it could be a virus...

Stupid? For sure. But just because we understand what is happening here, a lot of users don't.


Windows 10's 'built-in keylogger'? Ha ha, says Microsoft – no, it just monitors your typing



"I smell pure evil here."

I don't. Here's the thing: Microsoft has never made it a secret when and/or how they're doing data collection. First, and foremost, its in the EULA and other official documentation which Microsoft has. Especially considering the fact that this is a beta / pre-release version (as such not yours) I think they got every right to do this. In fact; I can understand that collecting "usage data" would help them out.

But if you look at areas where data collection has become the standard, I'm now talking about mobile (smart)phones, then once again its Microsoft who turns out to be the gentleman.

When I got my Windows Phone and started using it I was first confronted with several questions which informed me that Microsoft would like me to enable data collection. This happened when using the virtual keyboard ("to improve the automated responses"), the search feature ("to better optimize the search results"), the OCR (text retrieval from pictures) feature, the photo scanning feature and the voice dictation feature.

In every case this was opt-in. I had to give them permission otherwise the data collection would be disabled.

I once discussed this with a friend who has a "different brand" of mobile phone. And guess what? It was all opt-out. Everything had been enabled by default and if you wanted it off you simply had to go over all the settings yourself.

Microsoft evil? For sure; they most certainly have their ways. But not in this case in my opinion.


Linux systemd dev says open source is 'SICK', kernel community 'awful'



"In the past, Torvalds has explained away such outbursts, saying that being grumpy is just in his nature.

"I'd like to be a nice person and curse less and encourage people to grow rather than telling them they are idiots," Torvalds said during an online chat with Finland's Aalto University in April. "I'm sorry – I tried, it's just not in me."".

Sounds pretty arrogant and/or extremely lazy to me. I can understand the "its just not me" part, I really do. But here's the thing: a relationship is about giving and taking, won't work either way. Well, it may work but then it usually doesn't last for too long.

So yah; its easy to simply take without giving. In this case; not giving a little more effort to keep yourself in check, even if it isn't you. I'm pretty sure that if Mr. Torvalds would have a regular job where this behaviour isn't tolerated then he'd also refrain himself from bursting out.

Oh wait, I know: that's different. Because that's a job and this is merely a hobby, right?

Yeah sure... For some this might explain it, for me it simply re-assures that Torvalds simply doesn't seem to care at all about other people. And (IMO) doesn't even want to take any effort into that issue at all.

Its easy if you don't have to. Which is why I describe this behaviour as arrogance and laziness. Because a moment when you don't have to is where your actions count the most. Because then its your choice and yours alone to make.

And some people would rather do what they want without even bothering to think about how others might feel about that. Me, me, me, its all about me and I don't care about the rest.

It works if you're in a position of power. Take that power position away, with the right attitude that usually happens sooner than expected, and all of a sudden you'll end up getting back what you sowed. Which won't be pretty by then.


Doctor Who becomes an illogical, unscientific, silly soap opera in Kill The Moon


They "had" to make it work

When I look at the current batch of Who episodes, well; the plot descriptions actually, then I can't help wonder if the writer "had" to make it work.

Think about it; they threw in a lot of topics which are generally favoured by the public. Robin Hood, Orient express, Titanic, the moon; all subjects which (when done right) are bound to provide interesting mysteries and draw some attention to them.

But I think that's also the problem of this season: it's too much!

What I personally liked about Doctor Who was the subtlety. He wasn't always trying to save the world or England or the queen of England or the entire human race... Nonsense! Sometimes he was only helping a small group of people, sometimes even only one and sometimes he even was only trying to help himself or his companion.Or both I guess.

But with the new new series (last seasons) it seems that all Doctor Who does is saving the world. Almost on a daily basis too. How boring is that going to get? Both for the doctor as well as the audience?

Personally I think that's what we see happening here. Its almost as if the writers can't come up with a more subtle plot anymore. Something which simply doesn't matter at all on the grand scale of the universe, but simply matters because it makes a good story.

I don't need the orient express to provide a story on a train. When the story is good then the train (the setting of said story) won't matter at all in the first place!

But it seems that is something the writers behind Doctor Who don't agree with. And the result of that becomes clearly and painfully clear.

As with the others: this is all just my opinion of course.


So long Lotus 1-2-3: IBM ceases support after over 30 years of code


Back in a time where...

.... companies realized that it would be much more profitable to cooperate and join forces to make sure you all give out the most optimal user experience instead of trying to dominate a market by trying to do it all yourself.

I lived the day, and was utterly fascinated, how it was easily doable to link a Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheet right into WordPerfect 5.1. And with updated contents too mind you (so change the spreadsheet and you'd also get different values in your WP document).

But wait; there's more. dBase III and dBase IV. You could easily access dBase from Lotus and even from WordPerfect.So keep your data stored in a most optimized way (where you could also use, for example, Clipper to build database powered applications) and then use that data in your other programs.

All without international standards, regulations and other dumb stuff such as software patents.

Not saying that it was all better back then, heck no, but IMO the companies were much more focussed at providing the best customer experience.


Windows 10: One for the suits, right Microsoft? Or so one THOUGHT



"Icons seem to be an effective alternative."

Agreed; I think the big issue or question is if these live tiles will replace or extend the use of icons. As long as people are given a choice then I think its a welcome addition.

Keep in mind that MS also whacked the desktop "gadgets" in Windows 8, and some people actually used those too. For example; I have a weather & picture gadget on my desktop; one shows the current weather and the other random pictures which I got on my PC and some network storages.


Microsoft WINDOWS 10: Seven ATE Nine. Or Eight did really


Told you so...

Most has already been said, nothing more I can add to some of the already solid given arguments, but there's one thing I'd still like to get off my chest. Aimed towards people who I had some discussions with in the past (some good, some annoying):

Told you so!

The whole start screen had "fail" written all over it, something which most people immediately realized, and here we finally got our proof. Here's not saying the start screen is utter crap mind you. It has potential, it can be made to work, but only in the right place.

I love the Metro environment on my (Windows) phone, it really works excellent there. IMO of course.

But not on my PC; puhlease....

SO, having that off my chest.

Amazing; they now bring an enhanced start menu to Windows 10. Am I the only only one who looked at that and wondered: "Gee, did they look at KDE recently?".

Because that's one of the things which I think KDE did very well: start menu sections (or whatever the official name is). One start menu, several sections which you can click. So basically several start menus rolled into one. I think that's impressive, even though I personally favour using XFCE4.

Has Microsoft been looking at Linux lately? It sure looks that way to me ;)


Hackers thrash Bash Shellshock bug: World races to cover hole



"One edge to OpenBSD to staying true to its real UNIX roots is it doesn't include bash in the base system."

I see your OpenBSD, and although I actually agree with your opinion to a certain extend I'd like to raise the stakes by throwing in FreeBSD to this equation as well (which is my personal favourite).

I'll be honest; it was my first thought as well: "Well, thankfully I run FreeBSD which uses the Bourne and C Shell (for the root user) by default".

The problem with this reasoning is the fact that its not the OS itself which provides a safe and secure environment; it's the administrator. And lets be honest; Bash is merely a few commands away: "make -C /usr/ports/shells/bash install clean" or "pkg install -x bash".

That's not saying I don't agree of course. Thing is; I hold the opinion that its a very good thing that the BSD environments provide a different shell for the root user (C Shell). It holds many advantages, amongst which the dependency on a shell which resides within the base system only (think about external dependencies).

(my personal favourite is the difference in loops; "for a in * do" vs. "foreach a in (*)", this has actually saved my ass one time ;)).

Just check BSD related forums (the FreeBSD forum for example) and see how many users change the shell for the root user and also how many users sometimes manage to run into problems because of it.

And well, this whole bash thingie is IMO no different.

Used the devil, not trying to be the devils advocate but it kinda resembles the FreeBSD daemon ;)



"This episode isn't exactly a good advert for the thinking that open source code is more secure because there's plenty of people looking at the source code.".

Actually I think the whole thing is a little more nuanced than what most people seem to make off it in the first place. IMO only a few people (zealots or strong advocates I guess) actually use this argument as some weird "fact" of superiority. But the thing is that the whole "quantity makes quality" argument is flawed by design anyway, there are plenty of cases where this doesn't or even cannot work.

Heck, there have already been way too many examples where the whole analogy failed. Take for example the (Debian) OpenSSL disaster which cause could even be backtracked to made changes in its engine itself (by the Debian package maintainer I might add).

And even that went on for years until it finally got out into the open.

On the other hand: many hands do tend to give out better security though in my opinion.

Think about it: if the original developer, for whatever reason, wouldn't be able to come up with a fix then I'm pretty sure that there are dozens, maybe even hundreds, of developers out there who would be perfectly willing and capable to fix this.

Personally I think that's where people tend to go wrong with the whole "many eyes" argument. Even many eyes can overlook the obvious. Many hands otoh....


Ordnance Survey intern plonks houses, trees, rivers and roads on GB Minecraft map


Sound of.. what? ;)

"The... hills... are alive, with the sound of Minecraft players"

More likely the sound of friendly mobs such as cows, sheep, pigs and chickens ;)

Esp. since players usually don't make much sounds, unless they got some nice TNT of course :)


Microsoft staff brace for next round of layoffs – expected Thursday



"Microsoft is a legacy IT company."

Well, that maybe true but I think the biggest problem with Microsoft is that they don't act like one. Instead of actually trying to be competitive they still seem to believe that people (their customer base) will "simply" buy the next Windows "because".. Because what; that is everyone's guess.

My take on that would be: "...because everyone always does.". But welcome to the modern times where some people can actually use other options than Windows as a full substitute for their day to day activities.




"So why is Microsoft firing so many people, when it makes way more money?"

Keep in mind that revenue isn't necessarily profit. So while they may be dealing with a lot more money it doesn't mean they get to keep all of it. And that can be an important factor into decisions like these.


Microsoft buys Minecraft for $2.5bn. Notch: I'm getting the block outta here



"I still don't actually get the point (or popularity) of Minecraft. I mean, what's the deal?"

First of all there's the extensiveness in the game itself. The ability to construct ("craft") things in many different ways. Example: collect sand and you can smelt ("cook") it into glass, and if you got glass you can craft it into glass panes. Or a little deeper: collect clay balls and you can smelt ("cook") them into bricks, which you can then assemble into a "brick block" (the commonly known red/white brick pattern). OR you can use the balls to re-create the clay block(s), then smelt ("cook") that and you suddenly got yourself hardened clay. That can be used to apply different colours on and all of a sudden you got yourself lots more variety in your building blocks.

The mechanics heavily reminds me of Command & Conquer; it wasn't only the RTS approach which appealed to me with that game; I loved the building mechanics and all the different "tech trees".

Another thing which I personally like about Minecraft is that it can probably go much deeper than you may give it credit for. Lets talk digital circuitry: building AND, NAND or XNOR logical gates? Doable. In fact; you can set up a whole "digital / analog" circuitry to automated and/or control all sorts of things in the game. That can be quite appealing as well...

Most of all, to me, is that I'm always in control over the way I play the game. I can simply play the (Survival) game (with or without cheats) or I can opt to use "Creative mode" which gives me access to all the blocks in the game right from the start. That's used to get creative; build stuff without having to worry about gaining resources and overcoming restrictions.

Minecraft can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be. And that even applies to its looks. Don't like the standard "8-bit like" blocky design? Simple! Install a different (hi-res) texture pack and off you go!

SO yeah; the main appeal is its diversity IMO, hope I managed to give you a little impression of that.


Microsoft splurges 2½ INSTAGRAMS buying Minecraft maker Mojang


Re: How long

Now I finally understand; they were after the lapis lazuli blocks! (place 9 lapis lazuli onto a crafting table and you can make a lapis block).


A dangerous decision IMO...

I'm an adult and a big Minecraft fan myself. What I like most about the game is that it doesn't force you into doing stuff you don't want; you can play the game how you want to play it. Just want to build houses and other stuff? You can; there's Creative mode. And did you know Minecraft even provides options to build complex digital circuitry (redstone circuits)?

Or do you want to play the (Survival) game; can do that too... With or without cheats; it's all up to you.

THAT's a true open world for you in my book.

But this is still a dangerous move. Mojang has recently "changed" their EULA. Well, not really but they started laying down several rules which they feel should apply to server operators and players alike.

Unfortunately they've been very vague about 'm, not to mention that their whole legal stance is kinda shakey. You see; you can download patched Minecraft server software (which allows the use of plugins). This gets you the Minecraft server while you wouldn't even come near this EULA thingie (its a completely different website).

The fun part? That kind of distribution (modified server code) is in direct violation against their EULA.

One of the largest (?) or at least a very popular "Minecraft modding site" has been Bukkit. You can find them here.

Guess what? Those new EULA changes, or the vagueness around it if you will, didn't go well there either. Dozens of staff members and developers got so fed up with it that they decided to leave the Bukkit project.

Just to put this into perspective: I think its fair to say that 90% of all the existing Minecraft servers out there uses Bukkit. And that project is now shaking on its very foundations. I also think its fair to say that the thing which makes Minecraft so popular are the servers.

See the problem here?

Yet amidst all that turmoil, all that bickering and people actually giving up on Minecraft... Here comes Microsoft and coughs up a major amount of cash for a company which, according to them, was already writing up losses.

And now we have Microsoft which is a direct competitor for Java (which is what Minecraft was build on), is a company which many people distrust when it comes to doing what their audience wants or expects of them (look at Windows Vista and Windows 8, or even look at Visual Studio 2012) and giving the fact that all Microsoft seems to be focussing at right now is mobile...

I for one hope this won't be the end for Minecraft on the PC as we know it. Even though this process could already have been set into motion...

Many people complain about the decreased performance in the latest version of the game (1.8). And here we suddenly learn that Microsoft has been helping Mojang for a considerable amount of time already. Could one be a result of the other?


Boffins: Searching for ALIENS is like looking for PIZZA among students


But even his theory...

Assumes that life can only exist in the way we visionize it.

Lets start with a life form which doesn't require oxygen for example... then what?

Well, then you get a goose chase because you'll be looking for too many possible hints for you to handle.

Its easy to criticise but you gotta start somewhere...


Assange™: Hey world, I'M STILL HERE, ignore that Snowden guy


He needs the attention, but still...

Although I do believe that it is important for Assange to remain somewhat in the news (am I the only one who's thought after reading this was: "Whoah, 2 years already?") I also can't help wonder if this doesn't work against him as well?

Because I know in the beginning the British government had posted police agents outside of the building to make sure that he didn't come out. I can't help wonder if that was still the case after these two years (I simply don't know). Because if it wasn't the case then surely there should have been some option to get out of the country, optionally with the help of the embassy personnel?

As to wikileaks... I still think we need something like this. I've always wondered; the media's attention has always been pointed at Assange as the one who caused all the misery and drama, and of course also the person who is to blame for all of it.

But the thing is; if the people who's crimes (because that's what they were at times!) hadn't committed those in the first place they would have been in the clear and Assange would have had nothing on them to publish.

Even so; there still seems to be this tendency that Assange is the bad buy, and strangely enough: everyone seems to easily forget about the people who's crimes he has pointed out in public.

Because what ever happened to those criminals? And don't give me "for the greater good" please, because that was also more or less the argument when it came to the US invasions in Iraq and Afghanistan and well; its kinda hard to keep under lids I guess, but it's anything but good over there. The situation in Iraq has even gone worse and downhill really fast. I'd say Iraq has become more of a threat to world peace than it has ever been before.


Sony tries to make PlayStation Network hack row go away with $15m in cash and games


@Anonymous Coward

Agreed. Although I can understand the sentiments I also can't help wonder whatever happened to one's own responsibility? At least where personal data is concerned, it becomes a different story when we're talking about creditcard details of course.

However, the players in Europe got a much better deal I think. Because this article speaks of either 1 free game for PS3 or PSP, 3 themes or a 3 months subscription to PlayStation Plus.

The initial "Welcome back" action however dealt with 2 free games for the PS3, people who also had a PSP registered were also entitled to 2 PSP games and on top of that we got a free 1 month subscription to PlayStation Plus.

PS3 titles people got to chose from: "Little Big Planet, Infamous, Wipeout HD/Fury, Ratchet and Clank: Quest for booty, Dead Nation".

And the PSP titles: "Little Big Planet PSP, Modnation PSP, Pursuit Force, Killzone Liberation".

I remember quite well because this is how I got into contact with inFamous. And that resulted in me grabbing inFamous 2 and I still enjoy that title up to this date because of the awesome mission and level editor. If only we got access to Lucy Kuo and Nix in their conduit form, that would have been so major kick ass... But, can't win 'm all :)


NO MORE ALL CAPS and other pleasures of Visual Studio 14


Oh the irony...

If this isn't a huge slap in the face of many licensed .NET developers then I don't know what is.

Think about it: first they came with the mess that is VS2012. In all fairness it needs to be said that Microsoft has managed to undo some of the idiocy (such as initially enforcing colour schemes which gave many people headaches). However, it's also fair to say that it wasn't so much Microsoft but more so a handful of people / developers within Microsoft who came up with the temporary solution. To my knowledge the theme editor I'm referring to here was created by one man.

And then we got VS2013. This undid more of the nastiness, brought colours back to the several icons and added some other common stuff. Of course; people who already got a VS2012 license don't have to expect any leniency or something. If you want to upgrade you'll simply have to purchase a full license again.

So now we're up to VS2014. The first thing which springs to my mind when looking at those screenshots is: "Gee, that looks even more like VS2010 than before". That might be a step in the right direction, for sure. But I also notice that Microsoft (tried to?) sell 2 extra licenses in between where both versions (VS2012 and VS2013) were met with a lot of criticism and scepticism.

From where I'm standing VS 2010 developers who bought into the new VS (2012) got an unwanted interface change (no colour in icons and braindead colour schemes) and only after purchasing 2 extra licenses (2013 and the upcoming 2014) do they finally get (most of?) their trusted 2010 interface back.

Which makes me wonder why you'd want to upgrade in the first place? I've had many discussion with 2010 developers who pitied me for not being able to get hold of a 2010 license (the only one sold was 2012 when I stepped in) and now I more or less pity the newbies who can only get their hands on 2013 or up.

Oh wait, I forgot.. You can only get your hands on a Visual Studio license with an MSDN subscription. Making those Express versions even more appealing than before.

Now; I maybe cynical here but I have to admit that the Express versions are very impressive and do their job excellently. However... I would be more impressed if I could still obtain a stand-alone license like I did when I got VS2012. Although the Express versions are good, there are many situations in which a license is better (think about being able to combine projects such as a .NET library and a web project).

Am I being too cynical you say? I doubt it. Lets put it another way: if these new versions are all that fantastic, then why is Microsoft still providing access to the VS 2010 Express versions?

If you want to step into ASP.NET then my (very bias) advise is simple. Try to get hold of a (second hand if you must) license but don't go higher than VS2012. Then become familiar with Mono, slap it onto your Apache environment and go from there. It doesn't support all the full modern features but I'm still pretty sure you'd still be impressed with the stuff you can do with it.

And the best part: Visual Studio can fit the project like a glove.

No subscription nonsense for me, thank you!

Yeah, it really is surprising how Microsoft continues to lose money these days... I don't get it. I paid approx. E 400 - E 500,- for my VS2012 license and consider it money well spend. Now you can only step in around E 1000,-. And only on a subscription level; so if you end your subscription you no longer can use the program any longer.

Timeless and free Express license anyone?

No, I really don't get it how Microsoft manages to loose revenue this quickly...


So whither Microsoft? If Nadella knows, he is keeping it well hidden


Microsoft has major potential, if only...

I've written it dozens of times and I will probably continue to do so (maybe even more times) because quite frankly I really think that Microsoft does manage to create some very impressive software environments. Were they late to the party when looking at common aspects such as multi-user? Sure. Did they come in late when it comes to better security, separation of userland and kernelspace and rolling all of that into a user friendly manner?

For sure.

But looking at Windows 7 I also think its fair to say that eventually they did manage to do just that. And when looking further, the management components, I also think that their whole MMC (Microsoft Management Console) is plain out impressive when looking at all the stuff you can do there. From controlling your firewall to managing certificates (on a user, service or system level), and all of that can even be applied to remote computers or servers too. Before I discovered PowerShell I actually used an MMC module which I had set up myself which contacted all my in-house servers and allowed me to easily check up on their event logs. All from one program.

Even Windows 8 and Server 2012, which I personally despise due to the Metro interface, has made some significant progress on this field. Which, despite my personal opinion about these products, is impressive.

Office? LibreOffice is coming really close now where basic functionality is concerned, but having a whole programming environment at your disposal (VBA language & full IDE) which allows you to program on an "office level" (full access to the whole office suite, not merely the program you're working with. I can 'do' stuff in Excel or Outlook even if I'm basing my software on Word) is pretty darn impressive too.

Service management? Either you check 'm out using the GUI (which is, you might have guessed is, is powered by MMC) or use commandline tools such as sc ("service control"). Need to check if the service behind your shares is still up? Open a DOS prompt: "sc query lanmanserver" and wham.

And that's not even mentioning other interesting software such as Microsoft Expression Web (discontinued) and/or Visual Studio. Both of which can be used completely free of charge, even for commercial purposes.

If only they would put their money where their mouth is. They have a huge infrastructure (once again something I consider impressive) when it comes to the "Microsoft community" if you will (dunno of that's the official name). There are dozens of fora, many websites will conduct periodic surveys (it sometimes can even get annoying) and for most products they even maintain official means for the end users to respond to the software (for example by allowing them to send in suggestions).

Its all there. Not always as easy to find perhaps (but then again..) but still there.

So here comes the hard part: why doesn't Microsoft pay any attention to what the masses have to say? It has happened time and time again on a lot of different platforms. From Visual Studio 2012 (in which I also participated) to Windows 8 and Office related manners. Thousands of people who vented their opinion, and if you went through those (huge) threads it became pretty clear what the general opinion regarding a product was.

For the record: Even with something as the Office Ribbon it became quite clear that people were divided, that there wasn't a clear like or dislike. Heck, even though I dislike the environment with a passion I'll have to admit that the same applies to Skype. In general people like Skype, simple.

So what does Microsoft do with this major customer feedback? Absolutely nothing. At least that's the impression they give out. Sure; I wouldn't be surprised if there are people within Microsoft who are tasked with customer feedback and customer relations. But it doesn't get nearly as much attention as it should have. Worse yet; as soon as it becomes clear that the masses really do not like a specific feature or option (for example because it gets tens of thousands of votes and comments, in an area where a few hundred reactions is common) then Microsoft doesn't seem capable to adapt. In the many cases I've seen so far the initial "solution" was mostly driven by a single person who merely so happened to work for Microsoft and thus could also only do so much.

So a long story which basically boils down to: Microsoft needs to wise up and start realizing that they no longer live in a world where there's only Windows and Office. There is no more expectation of a large customer base simply because said customer base has no alternatives to begin with. Because they do.

Microsoft should realize that the massive popularity of tablets is something they could easily have created themselves. No, I'm not talking about the Windows tables or Metro, quite the contrary. I'm talking about a growing amount of people who got totally fed up with Windows (esp. during the Vista and Windows 8 days) and started looking for decent alternatives. Preferably something cheaper than Apple while still easy to use. Enter the tablet...

If people massively cry out for a start menu then give them a start menu. If you don't then I'm pretty sure that you can start preparing for the next major cutback.

If Microsoft doesn't wise up here, if they don't start becoming a competitor instead of a dictator-want-to-be then they are heading for a lot more trouble.

Something I personally really hope to see will never happen, but if they keep this up...


Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers



Good points, however there's one more which can directly help to prevent nastyness like this:

* Disallow exec permissions on temp directories such as /tmp and/or /var/tmp.

* Do the same for the web root directories (/home/client/public_html for example).

In a lot (if not most) cases where a webserver gets compromised the attacker needs a place from which to run its stuff. And since you're usually dealing with script kiddies they'll most likely stick to commonly known places. Thus; the current home directory and if that doesn't work /tmp will be used. Yet when that also fails then your average kiddie will be unable to proceed.


BBM beta comes to Windows Phone


This could be a smart move...

Microsoft had a very nice "social network" which even integrated seemingly within their Windows Phone environment as well as their XBox environment. Heck; it even blended in perfectly with their "web tools". I'm talking of course about their Messenger / MSN service. It could be used on PC, it could be used on WP and even using nothing more than a browser would give you access. It was a very nice alternative.

Of course, directly in line with their "Lets tick off our customer base" (as I like to call it) Microsoft discontinued messenger and the whole social media environment behind it; all instant messaging needs to be handled by Skype. Well; I'll pass. I don't like "free" services which constantly spam you with "buy more credits" advertisement. Even on neutral ground such as your profile page. Really; WTF?

So yeah; if they manage to pull this off and also introduce a desktop counterpart which can run on your PC (like Messenger could) then I think they may very well be filling in a huge gap on WP.

And who knows; it could also just as well get them some interest for their phone line as well...


You don't need a HERO, you need a ZERO. From Google


Hire for what?

Since this concerns Google I can't help wonder... Are they going to fix the bug and/or exploit or will they be looking for the best ways to exploit said bug and gather even more information from you?


Do YOU work at Microsoft? Um. Are you SURE about that?


Sad, but hardly surprising

Microsoft has finally seen experienced something never had to cope with before: competition. But instead of actually listening to their fan and customerbase they simply continued doing that which they always did.

So in a time where the economy is already fragile Microsoft started on a "how to tick off your customers" campaign. You see it happening on Windows (Vista being a failure, now Windows 8 which heads down the same road), systems administration (no more TechNet; it may seem like a non-issue now, just give it 6 more months or so...) and of course even their Developers, developers, developers -base. A lot of those, if not the most (I can't tell for sure of course) actually prefer sticking with Visual Studio 2010 and are more than happy to ignore all the modern idiocy (as in: "Look guys, no colours; isn't that MUCH easier to use? Oops, you're right; we'll bring some colours back. Look guys: a new version, we brought most of the colours back. See? We LISTEN to our customers!").

Governments can get away with idiocy like that, and even then only to a certain degree, but a commercial company which is actually heavily depending on their customers for their income?

So yeah, I think its a sad development but I can't say that it really surprises me.

I just hope that the new CEO can put a stop to all the idiocy and roll back some of the recent brain-dead decisions. Provided it's not already too late of course.


New leaked 'Windows 8 screenshot': The Start Menu strikes back


So I think it's safe to say that...

... if this does turn out to be true then we've learned some very important things.

First off, and I know people who actually follow all the news surrounding Microsoft will know this already, but it would appear to me that Mr. Ballmer isn't the visionary or "business mentalist" which some still seem to account him for.

Basically we're back to where we started.

And I can't help imagine how much money, good will and customers this will have cost them.

Lets assume this is true; would we also see the revival of TechNet?

That would be a virtual slap in the face for a certain ex-CEO if you ask me ;)


Tech talk bloke compares girlfriend to irritating Java tool – did he deserve flames?


@Risc OS

"does he even have a girlfriend? He is a computer nerd giving a talk to other computer nerds, has he even popped his cherry?"

I think the real question is if he still has a girlfriend after all this ;)


Charity: Ta for the free Win 8.1, Microsoft – we'll use it to install Win 7


Why Windows in the first place?

A non-profit organisation; IMO a wrongly used term from the get-go, because a lot of these organisations do keep employee's on the payroll. Ergo; they'll need money in order to survive themselves, and something tells me that will go before their ideals.

Even so; it would be my impression that one of the main aspects of such organisations would be to reduce your own costs in order to get even more revenue for the help you want to provide.

So why isn't open source software much more widespread within these organisations I wonder?

I'm running a business myself and yes, I also rely on Windows and MS Office (2010) to keep up with my administration. But part of the decision to do so is also based on my profession: ICT. I actually use Office as a development platform to build other (VBA powered) applications which then help my own environment but which can then also be implemented on customer sites. And having to deal with customers which run Windows themselves also helps here. Even so; it goes beyond your average "write a report, send a bill, do your bookkeeping".

Recently I've started experimenting with Xorg, Xfce4 and LibreOffice on my laptop and I have to say that there's tons of options there as well. More than enough to run your entire administration on it, especially if it's mainly aimed at writing reports, keeping track of finance and all the extra stuff (Thunderbird on Linux/BSD really isn't that much different than Thunderbird on Windows).

SO yeah; why Windows and why haven't these organisations experimented (and embraced) open source software I wonder? I can't help think that it should fit in just fine.

My cynical opinion on that? Because there's plenty of money to be made in this field and so these kind of cost reductions are the least of their worries.

In my (very biased) opinion a real non-profit organisation would be mostly run by volunteers which may indeed have some costs to deal with (I could imagine that you prefer an accountant to handle your financial administration) but not in the likes of what we see happening right now. Where the whole "charity organisation" is actually a company of its own.

The reality however is that such organisations are usually run by people who get their full incoming out of it and supported by volunteers which try to do the right thing and help other people out.

And in case you're wondering; yes, I don't like most of these "charity organisations" at all.


French software developers are all beautiful women



I have to admit, the third "engineering" picture was the only one which made me grin a bit.

Thanks for getting us the original.