Re: My money...
Windows NT 3.51 running Office 97 is still a surprisingly useful setup for light word processing and spreadsheet work...
209 posts • joined 13 Jan 2017
My last car was a 2005 Saab, the radio was a wall of a couple of dozen buttons, yet everything made sense, and I had tactile feedback while driving.
Replaced by a 2013 Skoda, the radio is a touchscreen, it is an absolute danger to try and do anything at speed. Crossed a border and lost radio station? Want to switch from MPH to KM/H? You'd better find somewhere to park for a minute. (Poverty spec so no wheel controls, though you can cycle through modes on a control on the wiper, which itself also takes your eye off the road. I prefer keeping it on digital speedometer mode.)
The more I see new cars where the entire dashboard and centre console are taken up by large touchscreens I despair. Window suddenly fogged up? You need to dab at a tablet and hope you pressed the correct function to set temperature and front window demist.
Ever tried typing a text message on a smartphone while on a bus on a bumpy / speed humped road? Think that.
I hope that someone recognises the safety implications, and we return at least to a combination of duplicated controls on buttons and screens.
Last time I was forced to endure Lotus Notes (our company was borged by the big blue, it was foisted upon us), mid 2000s the user interface still looked like a piece of Windows 3.1 shareware, the kind of thing that would be on a cover floppy disk of an early 90s edition of Computer Shopper or Windows User magazine.
I will say though, that I did like Lotus Symphony for the tabbed documents user interface - something I wish they would add to Libreoffice.
Early memories of these in education. Around 1990 or so typing up an article on a compact for the school newsletter. They seemed to have one of these, an RM Nimbus 386 and a BBC Micro.
Then mid 90s in secondary school, one of the computer labs had a suite of macs - a mixture of classics, SEs and LC475s. the LCs were fought over as they had the bigger screen and colour. Another computer lab had a suite of RM Nimbus 386s on a BNC network booting off a central server. The 1st 15 minutes of an IT lesson was spent watching it boot.
One of the individual teachers had a beige G3 which ran MS Ancient Lands. It had a 'PowerPC' label, I wondered if that meant it could run windows software (before I later realised it was the architecture). Then later in the 90s one of the teachers got one of the trendy new blueberry iMacs - "But it has no floppy" / "USB external floppy!".
Then early 2000s into university education, the lecturers seemed to like their macs. My first exposure to OSX even though they were using the OS9 version of Powerpoint. Our labs were Windows 2000 and RHEL mini ITX boxes, it was late into a university project before I used a Mac again to run some old software written on a Sun workstation. Bought a cheap Mac Mini about 6 months before Sir Steve moved the shop to Intel.
But we are all used to them now, though my toddler is more comfortable with a touchscreen interface than trying to understand how a mouse moves a cursor on a WIMP interface.
Though I did get used to the little "accupoint" and similar nib mouse in old laptops, touchpads in modern laptops (though they are a pain for some drag and drop / select operations). And in every office you always have at least one person using an external touchpad or a trackball.
Still better than using joysticks on some GUI applications on 8 bit micros in the 80s.
A bit like cars - it took them a while to standardise the clutch-brake-accelerator layout, even the steering wheel from an initial tiller back in the days of steam cars. For anyone learning to drive it is not initially intuitive, but once you learn it's like riding a bike and you couldn't use any other layout. (Though clutch pedal-less automatics are useful in heavy traffic...)
None of which are related to Wellworths, the chain of N.Irish supermarkets, the smaller ones became SuperValu (pronounced super value) the larger stores bought by Safeway, very very briefly a Morrisons before they decided NI money was no good to them, then brushed off to ASDAs.
Strangely the logo looked like Batman symbol - http://roevalley.com/newsbrowser/newspics99/santa.jpg
Yep I got sick of cheap inkjet printers burning through cartridges and blocking their own printheads
Went and bought a midrange Samsung laser printer for those few times a year I need to print boarding passes etc.
Though reliability wise it hasn't been great as it keeps printing little red dots across the page, they sent an engineer out who thought it *might* resolve itself if I change the red toner cartridge, as far as I'm concerned it's unresolved.
I remember mid 90s computer shopper magazine, it looked like Apple was going the way of Acorn computers, Atari etc. quite often the Apple column had little to do with Apple.
The original iMac harked back to the all in one, and product placement of Apple products in movies and TV series, together with the industrial design made Apple trendy again.
iPod gave (relatively by turn of the century MP3 player standards) large capacity and an easy to use interface, though it needed iTunes which was originally a Mac application.
iPhone redefined the mobile phone. It wasn't the first smartphone - by the mid 2000s every road warrior and exec had a blackberry. It wasn't the first touchscreen - there were various cludgy CE devices in the early 2000s, but it brought everything together, easy to use, and used Apple's walled garden for that 'drink a pint' app that everyone seemed to have.
The only other brand I can think of with such a turnaround is Audi. In the 80s they were quirky aero styled saloons that lecturers might drive, and rally bred coupes. A leftfield choice being left behind by BMW and Mercedes. The B5 A4 took the fight to the 3 series, and the TT gave them a fashionable trendy model. They never looked back.
The 90s were full of huge leaps like that. If you took a PC from 1991 and a PC from 1998 it was incredible the difference.
Whereas if you took a PC from 2011 and from 2018 there really isn't that much of a difference.
Even in the console world we started the 90s transitioning from 8 to 16 bit, then via the 32/64 bit Playstation-Saturn-N64 era, by the end of the decade we had Dreamcasts and getting ready for Playstation 2 - many of the games of which still hold up today.
Mobile phones too, 1990 these were rare, brick like, and still had a whiff of finance yuppie about them, by the end of the 90s they fitted in your pocket, everyone had a mobile (thanks in part to PAYG) and they were getting internet connectivity (remember WAP?)
What car would they use? There is nothing like the iconic DeLorean DMC12 in production today. No doubt some manufacturer would see it as a golden marketing oppurtunity, but given the current US car market about the only choices are SUVs.
How long would it take a 2 ton SUV to get up to 88mph?
At least they could go back in time to the early 1900s, when tall, square shaped, big wheeled cars were last in fashion, and not look out of place.
It's like the old urban myth of the Nova / no-go, which was renamed in South America. (Spain used the Opel Corsa name like the rest of Europe).
Or the actual case of the Toyota MR2, which didn't go down well in French (Merdeux) and was renamed MR-S.
And the Citroen Evasion which was renamed Synergie in the UK, as 'Evasion' tends to mean 'Getting away *with* it' all rather than *from* it all.
Strangest pay system I encountered was a big blue megacorp who paid you in advance for the month you're about to work.
It meant that when you join / they borg your employer you get an extra month's pay.
It also means that when you leave to go to a company with normal backpay, you had best had a month's wages saved up to live off.
I then went to a company that paid on the very last day of the month, however once they started pushing that out to the 1st-3rd of the next month (and presumably skimming the interest) I started looking to leave. They claimed they would pay for any fees relating to missed payments, what they wouldn't answer was how they would repair any damage to employee's credit records.
I'm now paid 25th-ly, or the nearest working day beforehand. Which is strange when it is about a week before the end of the month, most of my bills come out at the start of the month, I look at my wages and panic. But then remember I'm a few weeks off the next pay.
Once had a standing order to a company who didn't understand how bank holidays worked. It was due to go out on the 1st, but if that was a Saturday and there was a bank holiday (or two!) the money might not transfer until the Tuesday 4th or Wednesday 5th. Cue phone calls "Where's our money?" "When the bank sends it"
Horrible new keyboards.
The sort that corporate types expect people to try and actually use.
(Usually you can BYOK, but some places are worried about keyloggers and the sorts and insist you use their equipment.)
Where did it all go wrong? Up until about the mid-late 90s keyboards were a joy to use, then they became spongy low keyed horrible to use. My theory is that the old keyboards were designed for typists, with long key travel and feedback, but modern ones are designed for people that have never used a typewriter and think that crappy keyboards are normal.
Q: "How do you know if someone has an MBA?"
Other than it being the suffix to their email signature name, business card name, linkedIn name, no doubt the numberplate on their leased/PCPd Audi is something like 'AB18 MBA'?
The only other people I've seen do this are junior HR personnel who take a course and suddenly their last name is CIPD, despite the office being full of people with degrees from bachelors to PhDs who think it vulgar to do so.
On my employer standard issue macbook pro I use a USB to RS232 convertor with the lead patched through to the RJ45 serial port on the Cisco switch. Screen as the terminal.
Ways and means. I did similar on a Win7 machine, but make sure your terminal runs in admin mode, for some reason, to load the USB-serial drivers.
Indeed the company I work for pays for github access allowing for private repos amongst other things.
Do we get to have a good gurn then?
I thought the whole point of freemium is that it was almost like the old shareware of old that never quite expired after the 30 days - get people using it, used to it, then when they need to use the tool professionally they'll pay for it for familiarity.
If github can't offer a reliable free service then they should not offer a free service. Certainly they couldn't offer a reliable paid-for service either.
For all it's on films and TV, I've never encountered people beeping in traffic jams*. Maybe it's an American or Continental Europe thing, whereas on these isles we tend to resign ourselves to being stuck in traffic.
*(Unless the cause is that car in front that takes forever to move off on green, or someone deliberately blocking lanes/yellow box juntions)
If you were lucky enough to have Windows 95 plus, it had 'themes' which included nice high colour icons (better looking than the modern flat efforts), and sound schemes. Every time you clicked a button / maximise / minimise etc it would make a little sound.
I usually use vibrate now, and have actually seen on a colleague's twitter him complaining about the noise of phones vibrating on desks. Though I also get the phantom vibrates, and miss calls with the phone in my pocket having not felt the vibrate.
A few weeks ago I had to run my wife to A&E with sleeping infant in tow. While waiting, some annoying chav girl kept typing on her mobile which had noises for the oncscreen keyboard. It was just "tap tap tap tap tap tap tap tap tap...." constantly. Of course she seen woke baby up, to which she got a glare and a tut and a hint to put it to silent.
But I'll admit that in the past I've been the phone user with my shiny new Nokia 3310, annoying other people in the pubs by showing off to my pals the polyphonic ringtones. The girl in the table beside us got - quite rightly - annoyed and threatened that the Nokia would visit a very dark place. I'd bet it would've survived that trip anyway.
Those of us who were too stingy to buy the polyphonic ringtones from those listings in the back of the newspapers (together with 'no fear' or cannabis leaf 40x20 pixel wallpapers) could always find a site with the notes to type them in. This was the modern day equivalent of writing BASIC listings, except you didn't have a clue what each symbol meant. And inevitably there were errors, meaning it never quite sounded like the sound you wanted.
When I finally got a phone what could use .mp3 / .wav sounds for notificiations I took a Sonic phase and used the 1up sound for messages, and green hill zone as ringtone.
One of the few fond things I got when my old employer was borg'd by the big blue, was replacing MS Office with Lotus Symphony.
I actually quite liked the tabbed layout. It was the difference that browsers have these days vs opening a window per active document / site. That you could flick tabs between .docs, spreadsheets, into presentations etc. within the same window I thought was a really nice feature. Something I was hoping that big blue was going to bring to AOO when it axed Symphony, but last I tried it it was still application-window-per-document centric.
I remember the early Mac OpenOffice, ran on an X server so you had Windows/Linux style menus with X11 (or your flavour of X server) using the native Mac menu.
I strangely liked the *nix-y feel, and differences in UI were par for the course when half your software booted into OS9 'Classic Mode' anyway. Running X server applications reminded you of the availability of OSS for OSX.
25 years ago, for the most part, the height of coffee culture in the UK were the glamourous couples in the nescafe Gold Blend advert, or perhaps Maxwell House. Granulated coffee that you made with boiling water and throw in some sugar and milk from the fridge.
Then an American "sitcom" (the -com bit is debatable) showed characters in a social location a bit like a pub, but not drinking alcohol. A coffee shop. (Note, this differed from a traditional UK 'cafe' that may be closer to a US 'diner' in that it served hot filling food but rather than a waitress patrolling with a coffee jug it had a big silver boiler for instant tea).
Soon these coffee shops sprang up in every high street, shopping centre and retail park. Soon they spawned branded machines so that even backstreet petrol stations could offer their wares. It's got to the point where even the likes of Maccy D's offer a perfectly adequate cup of coffee.
In trendy places (London), this even took off as people started wanting different exotic varieties. Almost like the tobacco shops of old.
Yes! This even allowed ne'er-do-wells to map out military bases.
I thought Google/Android was able to differentiate between walking, busing, driving etc.?
Certainly my phone is unable to differentiate between me visiting a shop and the dodgy pub across the road, asking me to rate it.
Those "instant boiling water" taps are convenient but also bloody wasteful, continually keeping water up to temperature in the off chance that you are in and want a cup of tea.
Until the free energy revolution arrives (what happened to the unmetered energy promised by the atomic age :p ) I'll keep boiling a kettle. (And yes sometimes too much water in it, the outlaws have a 1 cup kettle which is even more efficient)
"For that matter. I find dedicated satnav devices significantly more usable than smartphone implementations."
Assuming you keep them up to date. I'm sure I could dig out a 10-15 year old satnav from my old tech cupboard that would get very confused at some updated motorway junctions.
Whereas screen sharing a smartphone maps app to your in car entertainment screen (whatever those tablet-y stereos are called now?) at least means you'll have an up to date map. Even if the marketing does try to get you to visit car dealers and fast food emporiums along the way.
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