* Posts by billdehaan

85 posts • joined 6 Mar 2014

Page:

Who killed Pebble? Easy: The vulture capitalists

billdehaan

Fairly soon, even the Pebble you have will stop working.

This is hyperbole, to put it mildly.

Online Pebble services will, presumably, shut down. There will be no updates or fixes, certainly. No new apps, no new watchfaces, and probably many of the watchfaces will no longer be configured.

So, there's definitely a loss of functionality, no question.

But stop working?

My Pebble is paired to my smartphone, which has no data plan. During the day, it can't reach home base at all. And yet it still tells time, monitors sleep, counts steps, vibrates on phone calls and SMS messages, and shows me my calendar entries.

The calendar sync will probably disappear, unfortunately, but all of the others are independent of an internet connection, and, by extension, Pebble services.

You make it sound like the minute the company closes down, everyone's watch will suddenly become a brick, and that's not the case.

8
1

Fitbit picks up Pebble, throws Pebble as far as it can into the sea

billdehaan

Re: No support or warranties, threat of it turning into a dumbwatch

You mean, is it legal to go out of business?

This is being reported as "Fitbit bought Pebble", but from what I'm reading, that's not exactly the case. Fitbit has bought some of the Pebble intellectual property, and is hiring some of the company's staff, but it's not a merger or acquisition; the Pebble company is ceasing operations. So, obviously, they won't be supporting any warranties.

Since Fitbit just bought some of the company's assets, and not the company itself, it's not obligated to support warranties, either. Especially since the explicitly excluded purchasing the hardware.

0
0

Microsoft's cmd.exe deposed by PowerShell in Windows 10 preview

billdehaan

Re: Wouldn't want a power shell

4NT is still around, though it's called Take Command, now.

You can get it at www.jpsoft.com. There's a freeware lite edition called TCC/LE that is highly recommended.

I've been using 4DOS/4OS2/4NT/TCC since 1989 or so, almost 30 years. Bash is all well and good on Unix and Linux boxes, but on DOS/OS2/Windows boxes, I find I can do more faster, and easier, than with TCC than bash or other ported Unix based shells.

6
0

That's cold: This is how our boss told us our jobs are at risk, staffers claim

billdehaan
Happy

Re: You want cold? I'll give you cold

"This wouldnt be GUS, or one of its tentacles would it??"

No, I'm in Silicon Tundra (Canada). This event took place at a Toronto based firm in the early 1990s. That firm no longer exists.

Mind you, these types of shenanigans are hardly a thing of the past, as we know. There was a case just a few years ago of a worker sitting in an airport lounge, on the wifi, getting live updates of the surprise layoff back in the office. Worker was trying to find out his position had been declared redundant or not, prior to getting on an 18 hour flight to Korea.

4
0
billdehaan

Re: M&A

A similar story was a company that was the result of a merger of two smaller (30-ish employee each) companies. The IT gopher from company A was called in by management, and given a list of those to be terminated, and told to remove their accounts, which he does.

After IT gopher does, they called in the IT gopher from company B and had him confirm all the terminations gopher A had made, and was told to add gopher A to the termination list.

5
0
billdehaan
Coffee/keyboard

You want cold? I'll give you cold

Being a contractor, I couldn't actually be fired. I either didn't have my contract renewed, or they just terminated it, for whatever reason. Most companies hired me (and other contractors) for one of two reasons, generally. Either they were about to ramp down and didn't want to hire anyone full time, or they already HAD ramped down, and overdid it and needed temp help.

In any case, as I often was coming in the door as full timers were leaving, I've seen a lot of layoffs, second hand. And that includes a lot of shenanigans, like:

- A CEO proudly announced that the company was "intending to widely expand its' network of alumnus"

- After a merger of two companies, worker ants came into the office on Monday. If you couldn't log in to your computer, you were told to go to HR, not IT, to get it resolved.

- One company's Payroll department was notoriously bad; everyone's paycheck was a crapshoot, often being off by hundreds of dollars in either direction for whatever reason. In a year of 26 pay periods, one employee had 23 of his paychecks require intervention and correction. So, when Thursday rolls around, and everyone in the department sees their paychecks are far too generous, often having several thousands of dollars (in one case, something like $23,000) added, off to Payroll, they went to complain. Payroll said there was no problem, that was severance pay. Worker ants go back to their bosses to report what Payroll told them, bosses go "oh, yeah, I've been meaning to talk to you, can you come into my office?"

- This same company had a fire department mandated physical reorganization of the floor layout (the cube farm as it was violated the fire code). When the new layout (deemed "HMS Titanic Deckchair Rearrangement" by staff) was posted for all to see, few could not notice that the old layout had 70 cubicles, while the new had 58. There were, however, 6 new offices, for management. The other six employee's names simply didn't appear anywhere. This was for a reason.

- There are of course several examples where the moving staff/IT/facilities departments were informed prior to the employee's exit, and came to repossess the company property whilst the employee was still using it. It's not uncommon to find your position was terminated when movers come into your cubicle while you're working and start disassembling your bookcase.

- One particularly egregious example was the lad who, having just become a father for the first time, took six weeks of unused vacation to greet his new offspring and care for the wife at home for a spell. He returned to the office to find new furniture, new locks on the doors, and a new tenant. He also found a posting on the notice board, dated a the middle of his vacation, announcing that he'd left the company.

- I had one boss in a company where head office deemed her so essential, they required her to move to head office, several hundred miles and one country over. Being in her 50s, with a husband, house, and children (ie. a life), she wasn't terribly keen on the offer and turned the promotion down. Management declared that failure to accept a promotion equated to a resignation, and announced publicly that she had chosen to resign. This was a shock to those of us that reported to her; she told us that it was even more of a shock to her, as you can imagine. For bonus points, company stated that because it was a resignation, not a termination, she wasn't entitled to severance pay. That got resolved when management discovered one of her reports was married to a labour lawyer, who lived for slam dunk cases like that. For double bonus points, only after they did this did they realize she was critical to a project in development, and indicated that they wanted her to stay for three more months. When the issue of salary was raised, they replied "what salary? You're already getting severance pay".

- One large company held an off site "training day", but only some of the employees were invited. Management indicated that it was on a rotational basis. It turned out the training was a job fair; when you arrived at the convention hall, they handed you a notice of termination, and pointed you to other companies that were interviewing.

- One "how not to" example was a company that realized it needed to shrink its' workforce by 40%. However, they deemed a 40% cut to be too emotional, so they decided that they would only terminate 5%. This relieved people, until they realized the company meant 5% per pay period, every pay period, for the next 8 pay periods. So, for 4 months, every paycheque was accompanied by a layoff. You'd make this cut, but you would you survive the next one? And the one after that? And the six after that? So, for several months, the entire staff was on pins and needles, seeing if they'd survive the axe. Remember, management did this to be humane, and keep morale up. For bonus points, payday was Thursday, but deliverables were due Friday. So, people were working 60 hours a week to make a deadline, only to have key team members axed on Thursday. It didn't have the positive impact management had anticipated.

- One lad discovered that when you sign for a company credit card, as a co-signer, you're still legaly on the hook for it. While that protects the company in case of bankruptcy, one company took it a tad too far. They fired the lad when he was on site, and cancelled his company cards. He was in a foreign country, and had been for weeks, and suddenly found that his huge hotel bill, as well as his flight back, were now his to pay, he discovered, to the tune of about $20,000. Fortunately, contrary to what the company believed, they actually could be held accountable for that (and in court, they were, but it had to go that far).

Ah, the memories.

26
0

Narcissist Heidi Powell wants her dot-com and she wants it now, now, NOW!

billdehaan

Re: Ad hominem

"I wonder about people like that, whether they are chancing their arm or are actually deluded."

I have met people like this. One was so pretentious and self-important that he spoke naturally, and without irony, in the third person.

He refused to submit to peer reviews on the basis that "I [sic] have no peers".

He attributed the fact that people were constantly laughing at him, openly and publicly to "jealousy".

As one cohort said, he'd met people who were smitten with themselves before, but he'd never met anyone who was in awe of their own greatness before.

6
0

Microsoft shelves 'suicidal' Android-on-Windows plan

billdehaan

Re: Never fear

I can't say I can ever recall MS "dominating" the US market, unless your definition of the smartphone market is different than mine.

Yes, WinCE (aka "wince") had a respectable presence, but nothing compared to Nokia and Blackberry.

3
2
billdehaan

Re: Project Westminster

I think

https://xkcd.com/1367/

is actually more apropos.

2
0
billdehaan

Re: Biggest problem with Windows phone continues to be mismanagement shocker?

And I say this as someone who actually really _liked_ Windows phone when it first rocked up.

I'm right there with you.

I was an OS/2 developer. I have had two Betamax video machines. And a Blackberry Playbook. And of course a Lumia 520.

No, I'm not the patron saint of lost causes. In each case, the product I got was the right one at the time. I repeat, at the time.

OS/2 became dead to me when Windows 95 came out and, while technically inferior, actually did things like display my 1024x768 display at 1024x768 rather than 640x480, support my Irwin tape drive, and had access to a library of supported software. But I don't begrudge using OS/2; it was a damned sight better than Windows 3.1. IBM promised to extend its' life by supporting Win95 apps, then Win32 apps, the "Win32se" apps (whatever they were), then "hey, Java!". IBM broke its' promise to support Windows 32 bit applications, and OS/2 never recovered.

The Blackberry Playbook I got on the cheap for $99, so I didn't expect much; I really just wanted a 7" tablet that had a decent web browser and could do mail. I was curious about the promised Blackberry OS10, which Blackberry promised as a free upgrade. But when OS 10 came out, Blackberry realized that it wouldn't work on the Playbook, so they broke their promise, and that was it for Blackberry in the tablet space.

And now Microsoft appears to be reneging on their promises for Android compatibility. Regardless of whether it was a good idea in the first place (and I certainly had my reservations), breaking a promise puts WinPhone in Playbook territory.

The chicken/egg problem of apps requires critical mass in order to take off. In other to do that, it's critical to build confidence in both the developer and consumer space. This just torpedoed that.

4
0

Linus Torvalds targeted by honeytraps, claims Eric S. Raymond

billdehaan

Re: Seems sensible for anyone with a high profile.

I've not only seen it with coaches, I've seen it with PARENTS.

About three years ago, the male coach of a girl's volleyball team stated that he wouldn't return after the season. He demurred giving a reason, but when pressed, it was because one of the girls on the team had cornered him and demanded more time on the court, and if she didn't get it, she'd accuse him of molesting her, and his career and life would be over.

Of course, it was denied, at which point he showed the video taken by his laptop (the encounter had occurred in his office), showing exactly what he claimed. At which point, the SJW types promptly piled on, accusing him of having the camera on for some illicit purpose which was never quite clear.

The actual facts of the matter - that a girl on the team had clearly tried to blackmail the coach - didn't seem to matter; he was an adult, white male, and she was a teenage minority female, and therefore, he had to be guilty. Of something. It didn't really matter what.

I've also seen two cases where children have threated their parents, telling them some variation of "if you don't do what I want, I'll tell my teachers you touched me there, and they'll take me away". Fortunately, both parents were wise enough to give the "well, we hope you like your new family" response, and called their bluff.

esr's claims may or may not be right, but his recommendations are just common sense. I know many managers at companies that have a policy that they WILL NOT meet with a female colleague in a closed office without a third person present.

In an age where the flimsiest of accusations are treated as fact, and every man is considered a potential rapist, men are going to avoid putting themselves "he said/she said" situations.

Or, as one comedian put it, "why don't any of these potential rapists want to be alone in a room with me?"

28
0

How far will Microsoft go with Android?

billdehaan

Re: In the 1980s Microsoft probably laughed at IBM's failure in the desktop market

I was there for the OS2/Windows wars of 1987-1992. Microsoft wasn't laughing (although a lot of Windows users were), as much as sweating, since IBM was still the 900 pound gorilla in the OS market. For the most part, they just followed Napoleon's recommendation to not interfere with an enemy that is busy committing suicide.

The nearest analog to OS2/Windows these days would be Blackberry OS10/Android; both Blackberry and IBM (a) were being outsold by orders of magnitude, (b) casually brushed that fact aside as they talked confidently of recapturing the market, as if it was a fait accompli, (c) had their OS run binaries written for competitors' OS, thereby negating the need to write anything for their platform in the first place, and (d) had management that was considered delusional by everyone outside the company.

I'm not putting much hope in WP gaining a huge market share anytime soon, but unlike Blackberry (and OS/2 in days past), they aren't just going point to point against Android. They're differentiating the WP platform from Android with the Windows Everywhere idea, pushing the concept that the phone, tablet, and PC should run the same code, with the same services, just with different interfaces and form factors. I don't necessarily buy into that model, but there's no denying that they've got a different vision than Google does for how a phone should plug into a computing ecosystem.

1
0

Microsoft sabotages own Lumia smartmobe flagship launch

billdehaan
Meh

Re: No comments an hour after posting.

Sadly so.

I've got two phones, a Lumia 520 and a Moto G. This started as a Android/Lumia/Android transition over the years (preceded by a decade of Nokias, culminating in a S60 based 5800).

Although I liked my 5800, having picked up an Android tablet in 2011 (Asus Transformer TF101), when the 5800 started to die, I decided to try an Android. Most of the decent Android phones at the time were hideously expensive, so I grabbed a cheapo $130 or so Gingerbread (LG P500H) which showed promise. It was dog slow, and very limited as a smart phone. I'm not complaining; for $130, it was great phone, if not a terrific computing device.

The Lumia 520 was $99, and beat the pants off the LG 500, and really showed the difference between a $100 WinPhone and a $100 Android. At the high end, Android may have overshadowed WinPhone, but on the cheap devices, WinPhone really did shine.

However, eventually cheaper Androids appeared, and the $150 Moto G caught my eye. There are still things I prefer about the Lumia: the smaller 4" form factor, the tiles (when they work, which was not always), and the microSD slot amongst them. And, of course, the excellent HERE maps. But as more and more apps got added to my Moto G, and fewer and fewer of them had WinPhone versions (seriously, even KeePass implementations on the WinPhone are limited, feature wise), the Lumia was finally relegated to backup car phone, a role that a battery-sipping, offline GPS laden phone with the decent Sygic dashcam app ($10) was suited perfectly to.

However, with my last birthday, my friends noticed I was GPS-less and dashcam-less, and decided to rectify those matters with gifts. So, with my new TomTom GPS and generic 1080p dashcam, the Lumia has moved into the glove compartment, still a car phone, but now only hooked up to the battery once a month to retain a charge.

I still keep any eye out on the Lumia world (if for no other reason that I still have a $25 credit at the Windows Phone store and I can't find anything worth spending it on), but I find the offerings less and less compelling.

Oh well. I still have my second Betamax machine (the first died after a decade of use) and my OS/2 2.0, 2.11, and Warp 3.0 CDs in the basement as well. They all served me well, but their time has come and gone (or is going, it seems for WinPhone). De moritus nil nisi bonum.

2
0

World finally ready for USB-bootable OS/2

billdehaan

I guess I'm nobody, because I certainly chose Win95 over OS/2.

After being forced to use Win3.1, I jumped to OS/2 as soon as was possible. I ran it for three years, hoping in vain for IBM to fix the bugs (specifically the input queue), and waiting for various vendors to start releasing things other than bare-bones, feature starved applications. And waited, and waited, and waited.

When I got a new PC in March 1995, I spent seven weeks struggling with drivers, trying to pry support from IBM and various vendors (I'm looking at you, ATI). Then I got a peek at the Win95 beta. In comparison, it slid in like butter - my printer worked, my video card was now showing 1024x768 rather than 640x480, and even my tape drive worked. I figured I'd switch back OS/2 once IBM caught up and achieved feature parity. I guess I'm still waiting.

0
0
billdehaan
Meh

You didn't actually have a PS/2, did you

I was on contract at IBM during the OS/2 2.0 rollout.

Trust me, actual IBM machines had just as many (and in some cases more) issues with OS/2 as clones.

When OS/2 2.0 was released, its' stability and performance in 4MB was so pitiful that rumours about new IBM PCs having 4MB were dismissed as "Microsoft FUD". Of course, IBM subsequently released machines with 4MB of memory, which ran OS/2 abysmally, earning it the pejorative "Slow Es Two".

OS/2 did *not* low memory situations; that's one of the reasons why, when Warp (OS/2 3.0) was released a few years later, it was rejiggered significantly to fit in 4MB of memory more comfortably.

As for "get it done right" versus "knock something up", I saw both mindsets at both IBM and Microsoft concurrently. MS had the benefit of *not* having a definitive reference platform, so Windows had to work on *all* machines. In contrast, IBM very often responded to issues with "if it works on the PS/2 Model 80, it works, your machine is just shite", which meant if you had a Dell/Gateway/Compaq you were out of luck, and usually just fled into Microsoft's arms rather than buy a $10,000 IBM computer to run OS/2.

Video was a particular bugaboo because IBM stood fast with their 8514/A graphics standard, while everyone else was using nonstandard "SVGA", that IBM couldn't be bothered to support.

0
0

Peak Google? Chocolate Factory cuts costs amid dwindling growth

billdehaan

Re: The problem with advertising as a revenue source...

Some of us remember Web 1.0

Some of us remember PointCast, which was going to monetize everything in site, by taking over the user's desktop, and getting rid of that silly voluntary browsing, and making the users see what the advertisers wanted them to see. You know, like how it works with television, where people watch six hours of continuous commercials and can't leave the room.

When that failed, the next up was the "free PC" era, where people who couldn't afford PCs were given free ones, which were locked down, and their browsers forced them to watch a mandatory number of adverts when browsing. Which technically worked, until some sod realized that people who don't have enough money to buy a PC of their own were perhaps not the idea target market. A friend's sister had one of these, and was apparently irritated that "none of the ads are for anything I could afford even it I wanted them". The feeling was evidently mutual, and the program eventually ended.

Good times, good times.

0
0
billdehaan

Re: Just the next phase rolling in

The funny thing is, in 1990, I worked in an IBM building, which IBM built for itself, back around 1967. It even had its' own on and off ramps.

The history of that building was itself hilarious. IBM designed and built the thing for itself, because no one else would ever need, or could use, such a custom-built place, except a company that matched IBM need-for-need.

Of course, owning it, they paid monstrous taxes on the place. So, they sold it. No one would buy such a monstrosity, so IBM, as the story goes, promptly funded a realty company, which bought the building, and in turn, leased it back to IBM. IBM, now leasing, happily writes off the lease. But eventually it tires of the huge leasing fees, so it buys the company that owns the building, allowing it to, err, lease it's building to itself, with several layers of writeoffs existing between IBM the owner of the realty company, and IBM the rent-paying tenant. Said story was told to be by a long-time IBM accountant who felt IBM's success was not solely attributable to their engineers (who he admitted were top notch), but their legal and accounting team, of which he was a part. The difference between engineers and accountants at IBM, he said, was that engineers were expected to be conservative, and accountants were expected to be creative.

I'm not entirely sure he was kidding, or wrong.

In any event, if IBM was in its' death throes when it planned that building, it's a pretty spry corpse 58 years later.

0
0

Don't suit up: Microsoft drops dress code for Android visitors

billdehaan

Re: It's OS/2 all over again

Speaking as a fan of both OS/2 and Windows Phone....

Yeah, pretty much.

OS/2 had lots of technical advantages over Windows; you could do things with it that could not be done in Windows. DSOM, the WPS, and the back end database features of the Extended Edition provided enormous potential ... that was never, ever, realized. And as developer, dealing with IBM was simply too difficult, and expensive, for to justify; especially since the OS/2 user base was paltry compared to the Windows user base. The fact that OS/2 users were notoriously miserly with respect to paying for applications didn't help, either. Microsoft offered free development tools to let you build apps for a market of something like 15 million at the time, while IBM wanted $500 for tools to build apps for a market of about a quarter million. Yeah, no shock developers stuck with the Windows API.

On the one hand, it's no more expensive to develop for WinPhone than it is for Android/IOS. On the other hand, unlike OS/2, it's not like WinPhone can do a lot of things that Android can't. It may use less resources than Android, but feature-wise, there's not much I can see in my Windows phone I don't see in my Android.

There's one other big issue in this equation: Microsoft is marketing their Windows phones almost exclusively at the segment of users who don't buy applications. I like my Lumia 520, but I've only ever bought a single $10 application for it (from a $25 gift card, which still has $15 credit on it), and I'm afraid that's typical of the user base. Most Windows phones are entry level cheap phones, while lots of Android phones are $500 and up. People who balk at spending more than $99 on a handset aren't likely to spend lots of money on applications.

And for those of us who've lived under emulations before, remember what happens when a problem occurs? Nothing. I still remember when Quicken for Windows came out, and crashed on OS/2. Users screamed at IBM, who washed their hands of it, saying it was a Windows problem. Microsoft pointed out that people had bought a Quicken product to run on an IBM operating system, and it had nothing to do with them. And for their part, Quicken said right on the box that their application was written for Windows, so if you were running it on an emulator, you were on your own.

As much as I like the technical underpinnings of Windows Phone, I can't really see it changing from the niche position it currently has.

0
0

Welcome, stranger: Inside Microsoft's command line shell

billdehaan

DOSKEY was available from MSDOS 5.0 and later.

And there were many other keyboard and command line enhancers before then. My personal favourite was Chris Dunford's CED (command editor) back in 1987, three years before DOS 5 came out. I liked it enough that I bought the the professional version, PCED. Sadly, it had some conflict with the Smartkey keyboard enhancer, as I recall, but by then, we were already playing with the (late, but not lamented) Command Plus shell, and later 4DOS, rendering DOSKEY moot.

Sadly, I now have a quirky application which for unknown reasons doesn't like to run in TCC/Take Command, and so I *must* launch it from a DOS shell, forcing me to learn/relearn DOSKEY, thirty years later...

1
0
billdehaan

I liked DR DOS too, but you can't really compare it to 4DOS, they were different things. And yes, I have run 4DOS on DRDOS (4DOS v3 on DRDOS v6, I believe, around 1991).

The only real problems I had with DRDOS were that (1) it wouldn't run Windows reliably (no great shock), (2) there was some funny bug that caused the internal "xdir" command to crash the PC occasionally for a reason I could never determine, and (3) it had problems running in a DOS box under OS/2, and *really* didn't like HPFS partitions. But as a standalone DOS replacement, it was great.

1
0
billdehaan

4NT for the win

It still is.

It's called Take Command, now, and it's an all-singing, all-dancing command process as well as a terminal on steroids (think of xterm in terms of functions).

The command processor can run separately; it's called TCC (Take Control Console), and there's a freeware dumbed down version (still orders of magnitude above the Command Shell) called TCC/LE. You can get it at JP Software, and it's strongly recommended.

I've played with PowerShell, but I still find I can knock out a TCC/4NT/Take Command shell script in a tenth of the time, and it does a hell of a lot more, and easier, than the PowerShell script.

2
1

Pebble: The brilliant stealth wearable Apple's Watch doesn't see coming

billdehaan

1. Battery life is variable; heavy usage of the backlight and vibration will significantly drain it. On days where I've received 40+ calls/SMS/emails, I've seen the battery drop 30%; on a Sunday with practically nothing happening, it was still at 90% when I went to bed. I went a week without charging it just so see how long I could reasonably go without a recharge. On day 7, it was at 20%; on day 8 it hit 10% and there were lots of warnings to charge it.

2. I'm not really sure "UI" really applies. It is, after all, a watch. It's got the same UI that all my old wind up watches had - a few buttons on the side.

3. Resolution could be higher (of course, at the cost of battery life), but given that it's just a watch, I don't see it as a limiting factor. I *do* see the lack of readability when wearing sunglasses as a limitation, however.

4. It's not that it doesn't support Windows Phone, it's that Windows Phone doesn't support it. There are lots of discussions on the Pebble forums on this, but the upshot is that the WinPhone API limits what can be done. There are a few third party apps in the Windows store, but outside of the calendar, the apps can't get at incoming phone calls or mail messages. Until that's opened up in the OS, there's not much for the watch app to do. Sure, you can play music, or check you phone's battery, but the core functionality of mail and SMS requires OS support, and that's missing.

4
0
billdehaan

Re: 4. Doesn't support Windows Phone...

Actually, I have a co-worker with a Blackberry Z10, and he *does* have it working with the Pebble (he's ported/hacked the Android Pebble application onto the Blackberry, I think).

2
0
billdehaan

I just like Pebble's approach. It's not a computer. It's not designed to be used without a phone - it's just a nifty little low notification screen/controller, that happens to be on your wrist, not your phone.

I agree. The Pebble/iWatch/Wear arguments reminds me of the PDA wars with the first generation Palm Pilot, fifteen years back. The big name competitor then were the WinCE devices.

Back then, I had a Palm Pilot, and a friend had a Cassiopea. My PDA was low-resolution, monochrome, light, pocketable, and ran for a month on 3 AAA batteries. It was basically a battery-powered Franklin Daytimer. It hooked up to a cradle that plugged into any serial port and synced with my PC trivially. My friend's PDA was high-resolution (for the day) colour, had sound (stereo!), rechargeable batteries that lasted six hours (at best), was almost size and weight of a paperback book, and, like Nosferatu, it was powerless in sunlight. I could get to most of the functions from the four buttons, my friend had to root around with the stylus to get to the right menu to access functions. I could enter the same data in Graffiti in about a third of the time it took him with Jot (although his speed increased over time, whereas mine was constant).

Oh, and to sync that WinCE device with a PC required two of us spending a Thursday night getting Windows Networking to communicate with the thing.

It was really hard to compare the two, because although they were both PDAs, they were vastly different in capabilities and limitations. It wasn't that one was "better" than the other, because they were doing different things.

I much preferred my Palm Pilot then, and I much prefer my Pebble now, for the same reasons. Both do a few things extremely well, compared to competitors that have more features, but don't execute them as well.

As the technology advanced, I eventually did get a WinCE device and dumped my Palm Pilot, because the WinCE tech was advancing faster than the Pilot was. Of course, that's because it had a lot more to improve; the Pilot got a lot better out of the starting gate. I suspect the same thing could happen with the Pebble over time. If Wear devices start getting battery lives of a week, and sunlight readability, Pebble will be in a real fight. But that's a ways off, I think.

2
0

Moto 360: Neat gizmo – if you're a rich nerd

billdehaan

Re: I have this watch.

Actually, that's almost exactly how I view my Pebble - as a pager that happens to sit on my wrist.

The Pebble is a good watch, it gives me alerts on SMS, emails, and phone calls, silently, so I *don't* have to pull out my phone to see what that buzz/beep was. It also includes pedestrian watchlike things like a countdown timer and a stopwatch, but that's about it.

And that's about all I want it to do. I don't want a complicated superdevice on my wrist; I want a watch that, like my old watches, has alarms. It's just that the alarm function includes phone calls, and text messages/emails.

It's not for everyone. There are people complain that it doesn't do enough, and there are people who complain it does too much. But I'd rather have an unassuming device that does a few functions well, rather than one that has a hundred functions I can't remember.

It reminds me a lot of my old Palm Pilot. While WinCE devices and other PDAs were trying to put computers into people's hands (at a time when the tech really didn't support that), the Pilot was really just a battery-powered Franklin Daytimer, and it took off because of that.

From what I've seen of most of the competing smartwatches, they show promise, but they are definitely works in progress.

1
0

Microsoft's SELFIE-TASTIC Nokia 830, 730: Complete with DOG SMILE WHITENER

billdehaan

Re: Do we really want Google 'owning' all mobile devices in the same way MS 'owned' PCs?

Whether the OS is open or closed is irrelevant to its' market share.

Both points you made extolling the virtues of open source Android - that the larger the market share, the more likely your device will run your apps, and that you can switch between hardware vendors and retain your applications - apply to Windows as well.

Open source is not a magic incantation that makes software immune to the laws of economics.

2
0

Doctor Who season eight scripts leak online

billdehaan

Re: Wait and see

To me, the gold standard for spoilers remains this link: http://preview.tinyurl.com/p32jdkw.

For those unwilling to click the link (sadly, the direct link also spoils it), a hugely popular show was airing its' last several episodes, each of which addressed the final fate of one or more characters. So someone on the east coast saw an episode, promptly wrote up the above review, and posted it to Slashdot. The subject title gave away the major plot point, before the episode had even aired on the west coast, let alone non-American markets. Sort of like having an Citizen Kane review titled "Kane's only love was his sled, Rosebud". Bonus points for the clueless author claiming people who didn't want it spoiled shouldn't read the review.

0
0

Windows XP fixes flaws for free if you turn PCs into CASH REGISTERS

billdehaan

Re: Is it not ethically and maybe legally questionable to provide this reg hack?

The issue here is that there are patches available, possibly ones that are of use to XP users, yet they do not have access because the provider wants users to move to new products at a price to them.

The other issue is that the patches (a) will not cover XP components that aren't in the embedded OS, (b) may or may not work in any event. The result of this could be the worst possible scenario from a security standpoint: an insecure machine that customers mistakenly believe IS secure and trusted. "The only thing worse than no security is false security", and all that.

3
0
billdehaan

Re: Is it not ethically and maybe legally questionable to provide this reg hack?

Now imagine as a business you'd have demanded the source code.

Have done. I don't need to imagine.

Switching to whatever OS is comparatively simple, you hire a programmer who will modify that software till it runs on whatever the current Version of Windows is.

Comparatively simple, yes. If what you're comparing it to is building the Great Wall of China brick by brick, perhaps.

Sure, a company I worked with got the source code to their business critical software from the vendor. Over 2.5 million lines of it. C code, C++ code, assembler code, shell scripts, perl scripts, and at least two proprietary scripting languages. It was multi-threaded, network distributed, with certified and validated security models, proprietary protocol stacks, database interfaces, custom hardware drivers, the works. It took a team over 18 months to read, analyze, and generate in-house documentation before the company would even consider making changes to that source. Do you think Windows, or any modern OS is going to be simpler?

Have you ever looked at operating system source code? I have. Why do you think the OpenSSL bug wasn't discovered, or patched, for years? Everyone had the source code. Perhaps it's not as simple as you think.

5
0
billdehaan

Re: Personally I think

Using that logic, your 1965 RCA television would need to be retrofitted by RCA to support digital signals.

Using that logic, your 1976 VHS player would need to be retrofitted by the vendor to support HDMI.

Using that logic, your 1903 Model A would need to be retrofitted by Ford to add seat belts, airbags and meet current emission standards.

That logic assumes an unchanging world, with no advances in technology, laws, or social behaviour. That logic isn't all that logical.

5
9

Motorola Moto E: Brill budget blower with one bothersome blunder

billdehaan

Re: I don't see this as a problem.

Unless you're carrying around a Nokia Lumia 1020 or the like, it's pretty much a given that even the cheapest camera will outperform a cell phone camera. However, having a camera in the phone is beneficial, because unless you're a professional photographer or a camera buff, you'll often not have your camera on you.

As the saying goes, "the picture you take with the camera you have on you is better than the better camera that's back home". Cell phone cameras are particularly useful for taking pictures of car accidents, altercations where it's legally useful to have proof of something, etc. In scenarios like that, things like colour separation or proper lighting aren't really a concern as much as just providing a photographic record of the event.

1
0
billdehaan

Re: I don't see this as a problem.

You aren't. Years ago, a friend got a then-new iPhone, and was marveling at all the new features it had. One was the front-facing camera, which was a Big Thing, apparently.

I, with my two year old Nokia 5800, was left out in the cold for video conferencing on my 2.8" phone. Until I actually looked at my phone, and discovered that the 5800 *had* a front facing camera, which I'd been carrying around for about two years without knowing. Even knowing, I still never used the thing.

2
0

Microsoft’s 'FIRST NOKIA' arrives at £89

billdehaan
Happy

Re: One for Mrs Cornholio please

Not much of a surprise there.

I suspect that the main reason that you'd hear fewer complaints about Win8 on a phone or tablet than on a PC is that phone and tablet users are using the swipe metaphor naturally, not struggling to use a keyboard and mouse to emulate it.

People are upset with Win8 not because of the underpinnings of it, or the APIs, but because Microsoft is trying to force PC users to unlearn PC skills and use a phone/tablet interface instead. On the phone, there's no such disconnect.

5
0

Microsoft to get in XP users' faces with one last warning

billdehaan

Re: How MS could really help

"Does anyone know of a reasonably quicker way to do this?"

I'm currently upgrading one XP box to Win7 by doing a clean Win7 install on another partition and alternating between XP and Win7 for a while. The actual Win7 installation, from DVD disk, probably took about an hour or so. Unlike XP and previous versions of Windows, it was nice enough to just ask me all the questions upfront, then let me go off by myself.

When I came back two hours later, the PC was at the Win7 login prompt. That's a welcome change to coming back and finding the install was stalled at the 3% mark, waiting for me to answer a yes/no question before proceeding, as in other Windows. So while I can't say what the clock time of the installation was, the user time involved was probably about 20-30 minutes. This was a new Windows 7 Home Premium DVD, which included SP1.

Once installed, I had to download motherboard drivers from Gigabyte. Despite the Win7 Advisor Tool saying none were needed, in fact my onboard networking didn't function properly, and my onboard video resolution maxxed out at 800x600 rather than 1920x1080. So, add 80MB of driver downloads (done from XP, obviously). With that out of the way, Win7 with SP1 was installed, and promptly ran Windows Update, which pulled down 300MB of fixes; another 30-40 minutes for that. One reboot later, and I had a current Win7 box, albeit with no installed applications.

My recommendation would be to get a DVD of the Win7 installation you're using (Home Premium, Pro, whatever) with SP1 included. Since you already have the licence, it's just a question of the media.

As for comparative install times, I had two XP boxes. One, I upgraded to Ubuntu 12.04. That was chosen after playing with Ubuntu 13.10, XUbuntu 12.04, Mint 16 KDE, and Mint 16 Cinnamon (reasoning for choosing Ubuntu available on request). While Ubuntu was a joy to install compared to my previous forays into Linux installs circa 1999-2003, it still had a number of issues that needed addressing (like Samba, and messing with fstab) that didn't exactly make it a one hour upgrade, either.

To their credit, MS is now releasing a free XP to Win7 upgrade tool. Of course, it's to migrate between computers, not to upgrade an existing computer, but for those who are in the market for a new machine, it's better than nothing.

0
0
billdehaan
Alert

Re: Yes I predict it will be exactly as terrible as Y2K!

"Banks mostly dealt with Y2K years before".

Having worked are two schedule one (or tier level one, depending on the local terminology) institutions, with friends in two other schedule one banks, I can call bollocks on this.

Yes, the mortgage departments were keen on this, and well up on Y2K issues in many cases as far back as 1970. Their mainframes were well prepared.

Other departments, including treasury, branch management, personal banking, corporate banking, etc. were less so. The invasion of PCs in the 1980s resulted in a shedload of branch-developed apps that conformed to little or no formal standards, and they spread like weeds. And then there were the Unix-based Treasury departments that deployed Y2K non-compliant systems as late as 1992-1993, and in one case, 1996, with the caveat of "don't worry, this will be decommissioned and replaced by 1999, so it doesn't matter".

Many bank apps were converted decades before Y2K. Many more were converted in the five years running up to Y2K. And there was definitely a forced march effort in the last six months prior to Y2K to replace/scrap non-compliant systems in the banking sector.

0
0

Page:

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2018