* Posts by Tom B

29 posts • joined 13 Mar 2009

File Explorer fiasco: Window to Microsoft's mixed-up motivations

Tom B

Preparation for MS Chromebook clone

No need for conspiracy theories. Microsoft has already said they were planning a clone of the Chromebook. To do that effectively, they need a version of Windows manufacturers can use cost-free. To do that, Windows needs to be ad-supported to supply revenue. It's as simple as that. They know darn well their current users would fight ads tooth-and-nail, and won't risk it. Ads will be a great incentive for users to upgrade to Windows Home, which will be ad-free.

2021: A Bork Odyssey. Is it remake of Disney's The Black Hole or explorer.exe being shown the door?

Tom B

Politically Correct Commands

Still, it's better than the command (Unix, I believe) to "KILL ALL CHILDREN". Sterner stuff, indeed.

Ever wondered what the worst TV show in the world would be? Apple just commissioned it

Tom B

For your consideration

First of all, just remember, whether it's a comedy or drama the best TV shows revolve around people and their interactions with one another. It doesn't matter if it's about police, doctors, soldiers, or superheroes. At its heart it has to be about people, or no one will watch it. So what might this show about application developers look like? Hmmm. Let me see...

Title: The Decompiled (something dramatic and suggestive of conflict and personal sacrifice)

The players: The brilliant but naieve CEO of a startup company. he/she is likeable, but far too trusting. Senior management is composed of people out for themselves. They don't care about the CEO's dreams. They'll do whatever it takes to get ahead, and then leave for new hunting grounds, leaving someone else to pick up the pieces. And finally the staff -- programmers, artists, writers and Quality Assurance. We'll omit for the purpose of this discussion the office staff.

The conflict: the staff is given vague, conflicting goals which they are forced to make sense of and deadlines that are created by the Marketing Manager that have no bearing on reality. Fortunately, the staff includes some of the best minds in the business (even if they are oddballs). But the more they meet these impossible goals, the farther the goalpost gets moved. Forced to work long hours, various staff members have to deal with marital problems (e.g. wife pregnant, but husband not allowed to be by her side due to another deadline/crisis). Another staff member is deep in debt due to poor judgement in making investments/spending/whatever and is forced to make money by selling IP to competition, working second job, ratting the company out for violating licensing. You get the idea. Add other forms of conflict such as lawsuits, C-and-D orders, security breaches, unreasonable investor demands, etc. The nature of the conflict doesn't matter. What does matter is how the various people deal with it. In the end, they get the job done, in spite of the potholes in the road before them.

Bottom line is: make it real, don't pull any punches, and cover real issues found in the real world of software development. The company succeeds brilliantly, of course, and the application that finally appears in the app store is a hit (which creates all new problems). But getting to that point isn't easy, and requires hard work and determination by the "people in the trenches". Sure it sounds like a soap opera, but some of the biggest hits on TV follow that formula to one degree or another. To paraphrase Bill Clinton, It's the people, stupid!

Linux fans may be in for disappointment with SQL Server 2016 port

Tom B


@Hans1: You don't know what you're talking about. SQL Server has absolutely nothing to do with Access, VBA, et al. It's a solid world-class relational database on a par with DB2 and Oracle. Yes it's expensive, but then it's not targeted at us ordinary mortals at all. It's an enterprise tool intended to serve the needs of big businesses and government organizations. I would expect that Microsoft will eventually release a Developer's edition that runs on Linux which us mere mortals can afford. Traditionally, the dev edition is priced around $50 US and contains all the enterprise features (it's just not licensed for Production use). What would make this interesting is if they release the full suite of command line tools on Linux (I expect they will), giving developers the ability to combine Linux scripting with the SQL Server engine.

As a professional SQL Server developer, I'll be keeping an eye on this situation.

Weird garbled Windows 7 update baffles world – now Microsoft reveals the truth

Tom B

Controlling Updates in Windows 10

To temporarily delay updates in Windows 10 Home and Pro, simply go into Services and disable the Windows Update service (the service will be stopped automatically). Create an icon on your desktop, and turn it back on once you know the current batch of updates are safe. That way, you can update your W10 machine once every month (say, on the second Tuesday of the month). You should also know that Windows 10 no longer defaults to making a Restore Point when it performs a Windows Update. I suggest you turn that back on in conjunction with switching the service on and off.

Microsoft replaces Windows 10 patch update, isn't saying why

Tom B

Think I'll delay updating

Now that I've discovered how to effectively delay updating Windows 10 (you simply disable the Windows Update service), I'm going to give it a week or so until Microsoft's army of guinea pigs out there have tested it thoroughly. If there's a problem, it'll rear its ugly head soon enough.

BAD things happen to GOOD robots in America: hitchBot DECAPITATED

Tom B

Not Surprised

I lived most of my life in Philly, where we used an old metal bed-rail to block the front door at night, and only took trash to the curb in daylight. This doesn't surprise me at all. The robot should have Googled the city before deciding to hitch-hike through it, so it's all the robot's fault.

Still, it's not a total loss. I think there's a potential horror movie in here somewhere.

Reg Latin scholars scrap over LOHAN's stirring motto

Tom B

An Old Favorite

One of my favorite Latin phrases is a twist on the old "Carpe Diem" (Sieze the day): "Crape Diem" (the day siezes you)

The Windows 8 dilemma: Win 8 or wait for 9?

Tom B

A Genuine Touch-Based Desktop

Touch would work just fine if your entire desktop -- not the computer-screen image, but your actual, honest-to-god top of your desk -- was itself a touch-sensitive display screen. I'm thinking here of the original Tron movie, where the boss had this nice big, fancy desk where computer images would appear on it (including the full-size keyboard). In the real world, you might want a desktop that tilted to 45 degrees, though.

But what I'd really like to see is a command-line interface capable of understanding whatever you typed in. If it couldn't understand you, it would ask in plain, simple, obvious language. Then it would remember, so in the end you'd be using your own personal shortcuts every day. The bonus here is that nobody else could use your computer under your login, because after a while, the server would be able to tell the difference between your warped mind and someone else's. There are times when I find typing things into a command line a whole lot easier than figuring out a bunch of @#&%#* little pictures and non-intuitive finger swipes.

Internet of Thingies bods: Forget 3G, let's go straight to 4G

Tom B

Are they nuts?

I can barely afford the monthly bills for my own not-so-smart mobile, and now they're expecting me to sign up for an account for my *car* that's more expensive (with data minutes) than my own? Let's ignore the security issues involved in having a connected car shall we? The cost of that connectivity is simply unacceptable. If someone wants my car to be connected, *they're* going to have to pay the bill, because it's *not* going to be me.

Internet of Things my arse!

Ubuntu 14.04 LTS: Great changes, but sssh don't mention the...

Tom B

Re: The fixation with 'serarch' for everything

I have never understood the fascination with search on your own PC. Now, I'll be the first one to admit that I have a poor memory, but even I can remember where I put a particular program or data file. And if it's a data file, I usually make sure the filename is long enough to give a clear idea what's in it. Searching for that one email from three months ago, yes. Searching for something on my own computer, that I myself put there? Ah, no.

Oh, and one more thing. Where in the bloody blue blazes did you get the phrase "a new P"? Could you be a little more vague, please? I mean, I almost understood what you were talking about, and that was obviously not your intent. Sheesh, next you'll be writing articles entirely in emote icons and text message abbreviations! OMG!

WTF is … the multiverse?

Tom B

Good News and Bad News

First the good news: We're all living in a computer simulation.

The bad news: That simulation's running on Windows XP and support's about to run ou....

I just LOVE Server 2012, but count me out on Windows 8 for now

Tom B

Re: Now here's an idea

Nice idea, but it wouldn't work in the Window's culture. While someone like you and me would no doubt love it (I took a bog-standard Ubuntu and replaced Unity with another User Interface, KDE), I fear the common Windows user would only be confused by being given a choice. I can just picture myself asking an elderly relative which interface to use!

Tom B
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Been There, Rejected That Already

I work pretty heavily in both the Linux and Windows universe, and I've seen all this "Metro" stuff before, in both Gnome-3 and Unity (those are two tablet-style User Interface designs similar to Microsoft's). I've been working in computers for over 30 years, and I know what makes me productive. The tablet interfaces may be fine on a touch-tablet, but they are unacceptable on a 30-inch non-touch-enabled system such as the one I use to work and play. And no, I will not change the way I work just so someone else can make money selling tablets and mobile phones. The sales challenges of Microsoft and Cannonical are *not* my problem.

I happen to think that Windows 8 has some wonderful features, and is a terriffic improvement over Windows 7, if only Microsoft would allow me to drop Metro completely, and continue working the way I want. I use a large monitor and normally work with at least four windows at once (some of which contain different virtual machines or remote desktops), so even the 33/66 sizing is a loser. It's clear that Microsoft wants us all to move over to Metro, so it can discontinue the Desktop interface completely. While I can understand the reasoning there, I refuse to go along with it. That's one "Game for Windows" I refuse to play.

Tom B

Re: Already looking

You're doing it wrong, but it's a simple fix. Move your /Home directory to a separate hard drive partition. You'll still have to reinstall the apps that don't come with the OS (for me, the big ones are True Crypt and Virtual Box), but you don't have to touch your data files. I have over 1TB of data in my /Home directory, and I'd hate to back that up and restore it every time. Plus, in any Linux distro, a clean install is always a better idea. I've had mixed results with simple updates.

Diebold demos cloud-based ATM

Tom B

Diebold? Where have I heard that name before?

Isn't this the same company that did such a fine outstanding job on voting machines?

Hadron Collider 'could act as telephone for talking to the past'

Tom B

Thrice Upon a Time

This was the subject of a novel by James P. Hogan, called "Thrice Upon a Time". Interesting read, as is all of Hogan's stuff.

Google versus Facebook: stop your photocopiers

Tom B

Your Head In The Cloud

Ah ... no.

The problem with depending on the Web for everything is a matter of trust. Do you really trust these people with your data? With your day-to-day operation? I'm sorry, but I don't. Microsoft, Apple, Google, et al are all cut from the same cloth, willing to sell their own grandmothers (or your privacy) for a buck. I trust nobody but myself to look after my own interests. I keep multiple layers of paranoia between myself and the Web in general, and multinational, multi-billion dollar corporations in particular. And don't get me started on how far any *government* can be trusted.

The bottom line is that desktops and laptops are here to stay, and while the Web has become an integral part of the computing experience, it is merely a component of that experience, after the fashion of a Firefox add-on, and not the center of the computing universe. The industry "leaders" may have moved on, but the users haven't. What we've got now works very well, thank you.

DARPA witchfinder-ware to SMITE America's IT traitors

Tom B

Obama Anti-Virus?

I don't know why everyone's having such a conniption over this. It just sounds like the next generation of anti-virus or anti-malware, with added smarts to detect the activity of potential threats before systems can be compromised. Sounds like a good idea to me.

Does anyone out there really want hackers mucking about with the power grid, water treatment plants, or even traffic lights? If this works, maybe it'll filter down to the desktop and make Windows more secure (although "FORMAT C:" works well for me).

Microsoft Silverlight - now with hidden Windows bias

Tom B

Drilling Holes To Let Out The Seawater

Microsoft has worked feverishly to turn WIndows 7 into a secure, world-class operating system worthy of resepect. But how can you expect to plug all the leaks in a boat, when you have the Silverlight people drilling more holes in the bottom? This I'm-ok-you're-ok-let's-share-everything-with-everybody philosophy is the reason Windows suffers so many security problems. It needs to be far more paranoid than it is. COM and direct file system access from the browser? Are these guys *serious*? I run a browser in its own Virtual Machine that always starts with a clean snapshot, completely sandboxed and cut-off from anything I consider valuable. The Internet is a dangerous place, and needs to be treated with the appropriate caution and -- yes, I'll repeat myself -- paranoia. Doing otherwise is like a half-naked woman standing on a street corner in the wrong part of town at 3am waving wads of cash in the air. It's not a question of "if", it's a question of "when". Silverlight is not a solution, it's the beginning of a new round of problems.

What if you had a launch party and nobody came?

Tom B

There's a "Danger" here somewhere.

All our software moves to a remote Microsoft server somewhere, huh? Sure, that'll happen. Microsoft has proven itself quite capable of handling that one. Pah-leeze. IT control freaks have been trying to tell us that Network Appliances are the "wave of the future" ever since the Mainframe lost the hearts and minds of just about everyone. If your data's important to you (and you like buying software instead of renting it), ignore this "Cloud" fad and hold on to your stuff using your own hardware.

Trust no one!

Microsoft plays ads-funded Office 2010 Starter gambit

Tom B
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Sorry, No Sale

Having struggled with Office 2007's ribbon interface, I'll stick with Office 2003, thank you very much. As for putting Office 2010 starter edition on a new PC, it will be one of the first things I remove, along with the idiotic mini games, Norton/McAfee, and other bloatware that gets installed on a new machine. I would never use click-to-run, as I prefer to have a physical disk on the shelf to serve as a master backup. If a physical disk is not available, the purchase price better be heavily discounted. So, that's *another* couple of gigs I'll have to remove from the new hard drive.

In the final analysis, the version of Office I have right now suits me fine. Besides, it's not that long ago I got rid of Office 97, and my wife is *still* using her copy. So don't rush me, ok? Ask me again around 2015.

Malware torrent delivered over Google, Yahoo! ad services

Tom B

Caveat Pasco

And some people wonder why I insist on blocking all ads and most scripts in my browser. Not only are many of them annoying, but you have the possibility of them being carriers for malware.

"Let the browser beware"!

MS and Sophos incompatible over Win 7 XP Mode

Tom B
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Then Why Upgrade to Win7?

If you have to maintain the virtual copy of XP just like a stand-alone machine in order to run your older programs, with all the bother and expense that entails, why upgrade at all? I mean, the main reason to use Win7 is the added security. If none of that penetrates through to the XP Virtual Machine, then might it not be a better idea to stay with XP until there's a better reason to change? In fact, I still have a machine running Windows 2000, not because it's incapable of running XP, but I can't think of any reason to upgrade (it doesn't use the internet, for example). Just because something is new, doesn't mean you need to use it.

Oooo, shiny!

Ah, sorry. I need a better reason than that if I'm going to disrupt my life.

Firefox 4.0 flashes lusty leg at Windows lovers

Tom B
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Epic Fail

I haven't used Internet Explorer since version 5.5, so why would I be interested in (or even tolerate) something "familiar" to IE8 users (both of them)? As for the tabs on top idea, the browser isn't the be-all-and- end-all of my computing life, so why should it look different from everything else on the computer? The browser ought to blend in, not stick out like some sort of multicolored clown car at the circus.

Smaller, faster, secure, and standards-compliant. That's all I want and need in a browser.

Microsoft retires AutoRun (kinda, sorta)

Tom B
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Everyone Should Turn Off Auto Run

First of all, there is no excuse in the world to have Auto Run activated on your Windows computer. It is too big a security risk, used by big companies (e.g., Sony) and malware authors alike to abuse your trust and violate your security. It's not worth the tiny convenience.

As for U3, the company has a utility that can remove the faux-CD partition. This partition should be removed from all new thumb drives as it is a huge security risk, and probably a violation of company rules if used in that environment. Again, it's a bad idea whose utility is outweighed by the risk.

Gnome answers Linux critics with 'big' vision plan

Tom B
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You're kidding me, right?

First of all, Gnome is fine just the way it is. It doesn't need a redesign.

Hopefully, by the time the development team decides to make major changes to Gnome (read that as: clone the Vista UI. Arrrgh!), KDE 4.x will finally be feature-complete and stable (around KDE 4.9, just before they rip the whole thing up again. Double Arrrrgh!) so that there's a good alternative to what I expect to be as big a mess with Gnome as happened with KDE 4.0.

Here's a tip for you, guys: No matter what the voices in your head tell you to do, don't send out a public beta as a "release" version. We're your (hopefully loyal) users, and not your guinea pigs/lab rats. Make it feature-complete, and make it stable. Anything less is ... well ... something less.

-- Former KDE user.

Microsoft: Judge us by our deeds on open source

Tom B

Actions Speak Louder

Microsoft will be judged by its actions, and its actions with regard to patents belies its pretty words on interoperability and community. Microsoft has shown -- again by its actions -- that it cannot tolerate *any* competition in the computer software arena. Historically, it has used every weapon at its disposal to destroy every competitor that has dared to "steal" its rightful market share of one hundred percent.

Interestingly enough, it is the actions of predators like Microsoft that demonstrate the danger software patents are to innovation. These actions do not serve to advance the way people get work done, but merely increase the profits of a known monopolist. That the FAT patents are considered valuable IP by Microsoft would be laughable if the current lawsuit didn't threaten the jobs and the livelihood of a company far smaller than the Redmond giant. Make no mistake, TomTom cannot settle the lawsuit. If they do, they break the GPL and cannot use the software. If they lose the lawsuit, they will face massive payments to Microsoft. Either way, they will be out of business.

So, yes, judge Microsoft by their deeds, not their words. But judge them on *all* their deeds, and not just the ones their PR department would like you to focus on.

MS packs yet more tweaks into 'near-ready' Windows 7

Tom B

Been There, Done That, Been Burned

As a software developer I can appreciate the pressures that cause a product to be released with untested last-minute changes. But I can tell you that *every single time* I have done this, I have been burned. Badly! Rules and recommendations exist for a reason, and you ignore them at your peril. Unfortunately, release schedules aren't made by developers or Q&A, they're made by the PHB who believes that an extra round of testing is a waste of time and money. Their motto: "Quality is job 1.1" (or, "We'll fix it when enough people complain").


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