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GNOME Online Desktop September 30, 2007

Posted by rjdohnert in 1.
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This seems to be an interesting concept.  Basically it just looks to be modeled after the Dashboard concept that Nat Friedman originally thought of.  Either way, they plan to make this software available for Windows as well as Mac and Linux.

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Why Microsoft must Abandon Vista September 28, 2007

Posted by rjdohnert in 1.
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Don Reisinger over at News.com wrote an interesting blog post that says that Microsoft should abandon Vista before its too late.  He cites poor sales figures, bugs in the system and other topics he deems to be proof of Vista failures.

Read more here

While I agree with some of his objections, I think most are materially false.  Im going to go over the exceptions I take to the article.

” With a host of issues that are inexcusable and features that are taken from the Mac OS X and Linux playbook, Microsoft has once again lost sight of what we really want.”

False, if you did your homework you would realize that the Linux crowd and the Apple crowd took many ideas from the longhorn beta and put them into their systems. 

”  Vista Ultimate comes at a premium. For an additional $160 over the Premium SKU price, Ultimate gives you a complete backup and restore option, BitLocker Drive encryption, the ever so popular Windows Fax & Scan, and the “Ultimate Extras.””

Yes I do agree, Vista is too expensive.  And I think thats part of the problem.  Vista does pick up on new PC purchases and what comes with new PC’s?  Windows Vista.  I think that trend will grow.  If you are upgrading your PC then you may find Vista a bit expensive.

“The first indication that Microsoft should abandon Vista is its poor sales figures. According to a recent report titled “Windows Vista Still Underperforming in U.S. Retail” from NPD, Vista sales are significantly behind XP sales during its early days. Even worse for Redmond, some are reverting to XP, citing issues with compatibility and overall design. And if that wasn’t enough, Macs continue to surge and with the impending release of Leopard, Microsoft may be in for a rough holiday season.”

A lot of people are reverting back to XP due to the compaitibility with older devices and/or just until new device drivers have been written.  Many businesses have the problem with older applications that simply wont run on Windows Vista.  Does this mean Vista is a failure?  No, it simply means people have a need that Vista can’t address.  When hardware breaks and needs to be replaced, Windows Vista will simply be the thing then.  Has Windows Vista been the biggest tech blunder?  There have been worse, but throwing that in that Vista is the biggest tech blunder is like telling someone their mother is ugly.  C’mon.

As for his argument on Service Pack 1, will it fix many of the issues.  Yes it will.  Service Packs are often needed to fix issues and Windows Vista is certainly no exception.  Think about all the problems that were fixed when Windows 2000 service packs were released, or even when SLED 10 SP1 was released.  Software has bugs, those bugs are discovered.  They are fixed.  Don wants to sit there and poke at Windows and not at Mac or Linux.  Look at the user bases.  Windows:  Millions of users, billions of different system configurations.  Nobody, not Apple, nor Red Hat nor Novell if they had that type of userbase would be able to guarantee their software would work flawlessly.  In fact, I think Apple would probably collapse in that situation.  The Linux crowds try and look at all the problems they have.

” I also find it interesting that Microsoft decided to take the user access control concept from Mac OS X and make it much worse. Can someone please explain to me why I need to be asked if I wanted to do something entirely innocuous like open a third-party app from a well-known software company?”

And if Microsoft had nothing at all Don and the other naysayers would be criticizing Microsoft for not protecting their users.  Next.

” Not only does it cost too much, it requires more to run than XP, there is still poor driver support, and that draconian licensing scheme is a by-product of Microsoft picking on the wrong people.”

I agree that the hardware requirements are simply stupid but the poor driver support is not the fault of Microsoft the blame lies with the hardware companies.  You call Microsofts licensing scheme draconian?  That simply tells me you havent read the GPLv3.

” The road ahead looks dangerous for Vista and Microsoft must realize that. With Mac OS X hot on its tail, Vista is simply not capable of competing at an OS level with some of the best software around. If Microsoft continues down this path, it will be Vista that will bring the software giant to its knees–not Bill Gates’ departure.”

I think Vista competes extremely well on an OS level.  I think incompetent and biased press commentary has much to do with a lot of the bad impressions of Vista.  Mac OS X is not “hot on the tails of Windows Vista”  Apple controls all the aspects of Mac OS X from hardware to software.  When people buy a Mac they have no choice but to buy from Apple.  If Apple becomes the dominant supplier of OS software they will have to unbundle the OS software from their hardware simply because Apple will not be able to keep up with supply and demand.  As for happy users of Vista,  I have done hundreds of upgrades to Windows Vista for people and Im actually running one while I type this.  How many have actually told me they wanted to go back to XP?  None.  How many have wanted me to downgrade their systems to Linux?  None and none of them have bought a Mac.

” As a daily user of Mac OS X, Ubuntu and Vista, I’m keenly aware of what works and what doesn’t. Mac and Linux work.”

Thats funny considering poor hardware support, buggy software and breaking of applications is one of the biggest complaints with Ubuntu 7.04.  With that comment Don has simply wrecked all credibility with me.  Of course he can come back and say ” All my hardware and software works with Ubuntu”  My response could be so does mine with Windows Vista but we would both be exageratting a little.  Linux doesnt simply “just work” and I doubt he has the know how or the experience to get Linux to “just work.”  He has jumped on a train with a lot of other people.  Its cool to hate Microsoft these days and it jacks up blog hits.

Apple to Brick up iPhone September 27, 2007

Posted by rjdohnert in 1.
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If you use a third party hack or SIM card and expect support, forget it.  Apple has said its not happening and if you use a third party SIM your phone will just be a very expensive paperweight.

Link here

Did anyone actually think anything good was going to come out of this?  Hell no.  Apple is vendor locked to provide the iPhone though AT&T and the other providers for awhile, it was the only way they could get them on the shelf.  Apple should have released the iPhone with a pick your provider feature, but considering AT&T distribution was better than the Apple store numbers it doesnt surprise me.  It also would surprise me if AT&T are the ones pushing Apple to brick up hacked iPhones.

Fed up with MP3 players September 22, 2007

Posted by rjdohnert in 1.
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I have spent some good money on a variety of MP3 players.  Some had the cool factor, some were cool and one was the underdog.  Overall, I didnt like any of them.

I bought an iPod nano.  I liked it even though it lacked interoperability with the one music player I liked, Windows Media Player.  The thing kept crashing.  Spontaneous rebooting and sometimes even with iTunes my database would get screwed up and sometimes the iD3 tags would get screwed up.  For example, Far Behind by Candlebox would be labeled Mexican Radio by Walls of Voodoo.  Or Nickelbacks If Everyone Cared would be labeled as George Straits, I can still make Cheyenne.  screwey.  The thing is sitting in a drawer and I have yet to use it or pull it back out.

The Creative Zen was a better player.  Didnt crash, didnt reboot and didnt screw up the iD3 tags.  It drank battery power like a homeless guy guzzles wine.  After 2 or 3 hours it was dead.  Figuring something was screwed up I took it back to Best Buy and got it replaced.  The first day battery power was alright but after my 3rd PC sync to dump music on to it the battery power started lacking again.  After a week and a half it was dead and I returned it for my cash back.  Please note** My trusty Creative Zen V 1gb player still works Im referring to the larger player.

With my cash back I opted for the Sandisk e250.  Popular player next to the iPod and I can see why.  Sleek and sexy, the volume wheel lights up.  Whoo hoo.  I turned off the light a couple of times to watch in amazement the blue glow that made me feel I had something worth writing home to mama about.  Try loading more than 670 songs on it.  It will delete your music.  Untolerable.  Updated the firmware and still did it.  Took it back to Best Buy and found out it wasnt refreshing the database like it was supposed to.  Software glitches in MP3 players, gotta love em.   I gave it to my dad and he syncs Sinatra and country music to it.  Also, dont use this player with Windows Media Player.  Switch USBMode to MSC, dump your tunes to the Music folder and undock. 

The next purchase was the Zune.  Everyone hates it, dont have to worry about it being stolen.  It was actually one of the best ones.  Performance wise and everything it worked great.  1 exception, video is choppy.  Its heavy, feels clunky and clicks too much.  What it lacks for in elegance though it makes up in performance.  No rebooting no freezing, no losing tracks and its got a pretty good wireless features.  If Microsoft fixes the clunky feel the player has to it it may be a nice contender.

Overall, Im fed up with them all.  So what did I do?  I went back to using my 2gig Triple A battery powered MP3 player and I just recharge the batteries the old fashioned way, recharger to the wall.  No muss, no fuss and it works perfectly.

Sometimes bigger and more expensive doesnt mean better.

Windows vs the world September 19, 2007

Posted by rjdohnert in Uncategorized.
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Being a Microsoft user and a supporter I often get slammed by the occasional open source or Mac zealot who tell me all the time I made a bad choice.  Windows sucks, Mac and Linux rock and Microsoft is going to die a horrible death and the industry will be stuck relying on an outdated, unsupportable and dead thing on my laptops, server and desktops.  The best way to roll is open source all the way or the more pop culture poular choice, Mac OS X.

I can admit Windows has its faults.  Its expensive, plagued by script kiddies and has bugs.  I often cough this up to Microsofts success.  Microsoft has been successful and at the time when Windows was initially designed the threat matrix was slightly different.  Back then you only had to worry about some moron with a floppy disk, now if any computer is hooked up to the world wide web its at risk.

Does Windows Vista defy the laws of physics and manage to suck and blow at the same time?  No it doesnt.  Sure it has its problems.  Hardware doesnt work with it, some companies are delaying the release of device drivers while some device drivers wont be rewritten and the hardware will be obsolete.  Does this make Linux and Mac any different or better?  No, some hardware I have is incompatible with Linux and the Mac, with no device drivers in sight.  Some of it is the same hardware that Vista doesnt supportso if I go to Linux, Im screwed, if I switch to the Mac, Im screwed.  So I have to buy new hardware either way.  This is why I pull out some of my remaining hair and Im north of 30 so you know its not coming back.  The constant sensless blathering of the extremists that I need to switch because of hardware support.

 Operating system features.  Do I really care?  No.  Do I need rotating desktops, to see through windows, to have my windows do a little dance.  No I dont.  I really like to turn some of that crap off.  Its useless, I dont call my friends over to look at my dancing windows and I sure as hell dont see a need to do a screencast and post it on youtube.  Does this show technical superiority as far as OS’s go?  No, it just shows that developers like some users have too much time on their hands.

So Vista was released with some problems, well guess what.  So was Ubuntu 7.04.  My wireless USB adaptior that I love so much still doesnt work and it kernel panics when I use ndiswrapper.  My networked printer still doesnt show up in Ubuntu.  The curious thing is that it works with Freespire 2.0 which is Ubuntu based.  So if I really hate Vista and decided to give Bill and Ballmer the middle finger, where would I go?  To the mac? You think you have vendor lock in problems with Windows?  Besides I hate white, gets dirty too quick.  How about Linux?  Lets go with Ubuntu. Like I said, its a no go. 

WGA is a problem in the Windows world.  What happens in three years I go on eBay and decide to buy a used server, I get a copy of Windows XP or Windows Server 2003, will I be able to activate it?  Probably not.  I can hear the barely english understandable rep now.  ” we dont activate those systems now, you have to get Windows Vista”  Even if Vista wont run on the machine.  So granted in a case like that I have one of three options.  Pirate Windows.  I like my freedom and dont feel like commiting a larceny. 2nd option, buy a Mac instead.  Where Im locked in hardware and software and Apple with the very next release could very well say the next version of OS X wont run on my hardware purchase.  3rd Option; move to Linux where that community will witch and moan and cry in my beer that Hardware developer A wont commit to the open source community.

So whats the whole point behind this opinion piece?  Im getting tired of everyone complaining about Microsoft and their products.  I get tired of hearing about them complaining about percieved problems when guess what the grass isnt necessarily greener on the other side.  Im definately sick and tired of eWeek and other journalists who think they are experts in the field of IT and giving “recommendations” on what people better use.  Here is my recommendation, use what you want and what works for you.  Windows has its problems. Every system out there right now has its problems.  Mac users and Linux users and developers, quit focusing on Microsoft and Windows Vista and fix the problems with your own platform.  Oh and please quit telling me Microsoft is a dying company.  Its not, it shows your stupidity and doesnt help your case at all.

A day with Symphony September 19, 2007

Posted by rjdohnert in Opinions.
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IBM Lotus Symphony that is.  After I spent a little more than 12 hours testing this software on a wide variety of documents, presentations and spreadsheets.  My verdict.  Still mixed.  It has a pretty good interface.  Its based on Eclipse with some OpenOffice.org 1.1 mixed in there so performance is lacking.  On some of my documents the software would crash.  When trying to export to PDF in some cases graphics wouldnt show up nor would charts.  Load times are slow, start it and go make breakfast slow, and the app would have trouble refreshing itself when switching virtual desktops using Microsofts VDM powertoy.  When using the quickview instead of showing documents it would show my web pages that I had open in IE 7.

What I really like about this software is the tabbed interface.  When working on multiple documents it was fairly easy to switch to and from and for people that collaborate this can be a useful feature.  The Open button on the bar is also a nice touch instead of having to hit file –> open, you have that quick access.  Another thing I like is the colorscheme.  Its pleasant and easy on th eyes and not distracting at all.  I was pretty much able to jump in and start working.  The biggest curve was in the presentation application.  This is the one thing that doesnt look at all like PowerPoint and none of the tools are in the right place.

Overall, I dont see this as an office killer.  For people with tight budgets and want free software from a reputable company this may be successful.  This may even be popular for home users and OEMs can preload this instead of that damn Office 2007 trial.  Windows 2000 users tho are out of luck and are stuck with OpenOffice.org.  When Works 9 is released we will see the supported platforms and the system resources it takes as well as how intrusive the ad system will be in Works 9.  Symphony may not be my first choice of Office apps but it brings some competition and thats always a good thing.  Please do not though, this is beta software when the final version is released we will see what if any improvements are made.  From my testing IBM cant possible screw it up more.  Seriously, lets hope not.

IBM Symphony: Music to the ears? September 19, 2007

Posted by rjdohnert in Opinions.
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While I await the download, I figured I would comment on this.  This Office suite will tank I think.  How do I know this?  First, its based on the OpenOffice.org office suite.  While OpenOffice is not a bad suit, I sometimes comment its on the same level as Office XP, its still got a lot of faults in it.  Some functionality just isnt there thats in MS Office.  Second, its missing the one feature that most people look for, a good e-mail client.  OpenOffice isnt more popular because its missing the good collaboration tools such as outlook and calendaring that is available in Microsoft Office.  Sure you can piece together a solution but the winning point for Office is the integration and not some bubblegum and barbed wired solution.

 IBM Symphony like Novells OpenOffice.org derivative will have one thing in common.  They will both share the faults and inadequacies of the main OpenOffice.org tree and I feel it will show.

 Once the download finishes and I have had time to use it, I will either eat crow or bask in the glow of my superior intellect again that I managed to call it right down the middle.  One thing is for sure tho, Office 2007 will not be leaving my machine anytime soon.