* Posts by Dan Hall

30 publicly visible posts • joined 15 May 2007

Windows 8 for Kindle-like gear hinted by Microsoft bigwig

Dan Hall

Re: sigh

I've said this before, but it bears repeating.

MS was successful selling an OS for traditional PCs using the desktop metaphor. A lot of people liked it. So when it was time to build their mobile OS (WinCE) UI they forced the desktop interface into a four-inch screen, Start button and all. It sucked, and users told them so. Later, they built the Metro UI for phones. A lot of people liked it. Now MS is forcing that tiled UI paradigm onto desktop machines. My prediction: It will suck, and users will let them know by not buying Win 8.

Unfortunately, whenever MS has a hit, they suddenly think that every problem is a nail that they should use that same hammer on.

So, what IS the worst film ever made?

Dan Hall

Battle Beyond the Stars

Worst. Movie. Evar!

China churns out homemade aircraft for global travel DOMINATION

Dan Hall

Re: Re: How to solve the Chinese copyright leniency issues:

It's not just the flight cert that will stop them selling crap planes to the rest of the world... or at least to the West.

It's the vaunted Chinese reputation for quality control, precision machine work, accuracy in following plans, and transparency and plain dealing with inspectors. Combine how resistant Chinese government officials are to bribery and the sterling reputation of Chinese products for longevity and solid construction, and you'll soon see these planes in service... nowhere outside China.

Microsoft drops 'risky' Windows 8 preview on World

Dan Hall

Re: Vista 2?

This is the company that just doesn't understand UI.

First, they tried to shoehorn their desktop UI into a phone interface. That's right, the start button and the whole "desktop" paradigm right there in WinCE. Well that sucked usability-wise and people hated it. So they had an epiphany: if we can't use our desktop UI on a phone, maybe we should use our phone UI on the desktop! Brilliant!

For a company that spends gobs of money on a usability group and gobs more on studies, focus-groups, and so forth, they're pretty blind.

RIP: Peak Oil - we won't be running out any time soon

Dan Hall

Apocalypse Politics...

Is still alive and well. Just listen to ten minutes of the AGL lobby's Chicken Little predictions and you'll be disabused of the idea that it's dead. All the Himalayan glaciers will melt in ten years, the ocean level will rise three feet before next Wednesday, and the unarmored three-spined stickleback is about to become extinct! The only thing that can save us is giving AGL scientists more money! Or the "carbon offset" of having 6 billion people living in unlit, unheated grass huts so that Al Gore can fly his private jet to climate summits in Hawaii and the Caribbean.

I'm pretty sure that apocalypse politics will be with us just as long as plain old politics.

Will Windows 8 sticker shock leave Microsoft unstuck?

Dan Hall

Re: Confused by the confusion....

The problem will be what another poster mentioned: that's all geek speak to your average user. They don't hear "Windows on ARM" or "Windows 8"--they hear that it's "Windows" and they expect it to work like Windows always has. That means installing apps they download from shady sites and running all that old stuff they have sitting in a bottom drawer. For a user who buys a WOA device expecting that same old Windows experience, being forced into MS's walled garden (no non-MS store apps allowed) is going to be frustrating.

MS has done a pretty good job of making backward compatibility transparent to users. For the longest while, you could run DOS games on Win without thinking about it. You can still run a lot of legacy stuff on the latest Windows. When that ends, customers who aren't expecting it are going to be confused/upset. That's something you want to avoid both to reduce the threat of lawsuits and to prevent damage to your brand.

Space shuttle Endeavour: 'An incredible ship'

Dan Hall


Sad to see the end of the program. While it never lived up to the hype (and what govt. program ever does?) of cost efficiency, extremely short turn-around times, and launches from both coasts, it was a real milestone. I remember going to see Enterprise when it was at Edwards AFB in California... Here's hoping that this isn't the end, just the end of the beginning :-)

Office 15 steals OVERLARGE font, design vision from Windows PHO

Dan Hall

I've said this about 100 times...

Microsoft's main problem with design is that they're usability group is focused on "statistics" rather than actual design. For instance, when they do usability testing they're interested in how long it takes a user to complete a task... this isn't an unreasonable metric, except that it forces their designs to cater to new users. Which means that in a lot of cases, they don't cater to the vast majority of software users, who are neither novices nor power users. The "ribbon" and the "hide unused menu items" are just the most egregious instances of this. The first tries to show everything a new user might want to do in a giant jumble, where the second causes interface changes (to a lot of users this change appears to be semi-random), hiding items.

A second and not unrelated problem is that Microsoft tends to have the "hammer/nail" mentality. When the "Start" button worked out on the desktop, where it really did have some utility, they crammed it into their smartphone UI, where it was a hindrance. Now that their phone UI has garnered some praise, they're moving that model over to the desktop. Whatever tool they're currently enamored of makes every problem a nail.

Schmidt: Android will bring DEMOCRACY to the WORLD

Dan Hall

He doesn't like facial recognition?

Eric, you have nothing to fear if you have nothing to hide right? Right? <crickets>

Oracle coughs $46m for bribe claims

Dan Hall

That's what this is...

We've reached the point where we're no longer even pretending like we're holding people accountable for their actions... as long as they can pay. In this particular example, we have a big corporation paying off the government to avoid having employees do jail time. You see the same thing when a Hollywood "star" gets rehab after a drunk-driving hit-and-run, or when Charles Rangel "forgot" to pay taxes.

Makes one look back on the pillory and public shaming with nostalgia, and the days of jail time for crooks with something like fondness.

Israel and US fingered for Stuxnet attack on Iran

Dan Hall

Ah, the N.Y. Times...

When investigative reporting leads nowhere, just making stuff up since 1851.

Barring someone who was directly involved coming out and saying "We did it" all this speculation is just... dare I say it... speculation. The N.Y. Times (as always) just collected up all the conspiracy theories and random stories about this off the net, made up facts where it had no information, and then cobbled it all together into a "hard-hitting investigative report." What's next? A timely story on the "All your base belong to us" meme? An undercover investigation into the realities of Time Cube?

Why does anybody still bother with that rag?

US Army 'to issue every soldier with a smartphone'

Dan Hall
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Awkward ring tone

The scene is a dark and cloudy night, at a top-secret facility set in a remote location. This is where the "Axis of Evil" does all their nuclear research, and the facility must be taken out. As the view pans to the sky, we see figures in black fatigues maneuvering their parachutes for a pin-point landing on the roof of the lab. They furl their chutes and take perimeter positions.

The team leader takes out a roving guard with a silenced shot. One by one the commandos rappel down the face of the building and approach the door. The first stops at a corner and peers around to check that all is clear.

Suddenly, breaking the silence we hear the jarring tones of Rick Astley's "Never Gonna' Give You Up" blaring. Zoom in to the startled face of the trooper, who grabs at the iPhone holstered at his waist. Hundreds of henchmen burst from the laboratory, firing in every direction. Fade to black.

US Army trials robot 'leccy-n-bandwidth war-mules

Dan Hall

Skip the wireless

Just have a generator on board and have all the troops hardwired to the mule for coms and power. There might be the occasional tangle, but that's the price you pay for modern kit, right? What could possibly go wrong?

This is all going to end very badly. It's the classic example of why you don't have folks who've never done the job designing tools for those in the trenches. There's no real advantage to having every individual troop kitted up with all this crap and the downsides are practically limitless. When you're supposed to be heads-up walking through Baghdad, the last thing you want is the distraction of some "land warrior" display junking up your situational awareness. In the middle of a firefight, kids are going to get killed because higher is micro-managing tactics over wireless. And when you're humping along on some 10 click patrol, having to stop three or four extra times for fresh batteries just adds that many opportunities to get hit while you're distracted by the distribution and installation of batteries into said crap.

Until every soldier is issued nuclear-powered armor that never gets tired and can't be penetrated by IEDs or small arms, the best infantry is going to be a set of well-trained guys with rifles, using eyeball mk1 to see targets, all within yelling/signaling distance of each other.

Another huge ice discovery made in Asteroid Belt

Dan Hall

Ice Pirates?

So, once we're desperate for water here on earth and take to the asteroids to solve our problems, are we going to have to worry about space herpes?

eBay Meg still chasing California's top job

Dan Hall
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Can't we just give them both a lethal injection

and start over? Why is the choice down to the governor formerly known as moonbeam and the high bidder from eBay?

My personal preference is to eliminate elections and just pick a citizen at random to fill to post of mayor, governor, representative, senator, president, etc. every four years. I can't believe that random selection could be worse than the current crop of term-serving ignoramuses we have "serving the public" now.

New Euro multicopter aims bitchslap at American X2, V-22

Dan Hall

Chopped troops

That was my first thought--marines pile out of an Osprey or "normal" helicopter during a touch-and-go operation. When I was in service, we often un-assed blackhawks before the wheels were down. The idea is to get the highly vulnerable birds back into the air as quick as possible, either so they can exit the AO without taking fire or so they can go back for more troops.

I foresee shortened careers for anyone hopping out of the side doors of this little number directly into the props.

Swedes decline to FCKU2MF

Dan Hall


My all-time favorite :-)

'I'm an IT worker not an assassin'

Dan Hall
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Assignation attempts?

I understand these guys get 70 virgins when they go to Allah, but was this guy practicing up or something?

Digital River makes total hash of Windows 7 upgrade offer

Dan Hall

Digital River == FAIL

Problems with Digital River? I'm shocked! Shocked!

This is a company that will basically give you the finger if you purchase something and then the download fails. They try to get customers to pay "protection money" on top of the price of the software "just in case" something bad happens. Dealing with them I've gotten the strong impression of a big guy in a bad suit saying "Youse wouldn't want nottin to happen to your download, would youse?" in a cheesy New-York accent.

Digital River and Microsoft together? A marriage made in heaven, no doubt.

Amazon goes Kozmo in US

Dan Hall

Notice, no CA cities

This is because Amazon doesn't want to have to pay sales tax in California. Which they would have to do if they had a "substantial presence" here. As soon as they open a distribution center in Cali to provide this service, they have to start collecting the 9.25% sales tax from California customers for all on-line transactions. It ain't gonna happen.

Frequently I can get stuff from Amazon far cheaper than in retail stores here, because the lack of sales tax (at nearly 10%) trumps a higher cost of the item, even when I have to pay shipping costs.

US cedes control of net governance

Dan Hall


Now, not only will the U.S. prevent .xxx type TLDs, but Germany and France will prevent registration of Nazi-related domain names (even those that seek to bury the National Socialists, not honor them), China will block Tienanmen-square domains, Zimbabwe will block domains about white farmers being killed, and every tin-opt regime will get to have their two cents.

The point to keep in mind (but it's too late now) is not that U.S. control of ICANN was perfect, or even really that good. The point is that having one country (a democracy with a history of supporting freedom of speech) basically overseeing things was better than the mess we're likely to see going forward.

So long, Internet free speech! We hardly knew &*%$ NO CARRIER

US wireless carriers demand more spectrum

Dan Hall

Remote control for cats

Let me know when that's available, eh? It might be worth moving across the pond for

Nissan: buy our electric cars... rent our batteries

Dan Hall

Why can't an eco-car look cool?

I'm not completely opposed to an electric car (though I'd need a second, petrol powered vehicle for longer trips I take several times a month). But I am NOT buying a brown, potato-shaped monstrosity like the "NuVu"

What we need to get electric cars accepted is a vehicle that costs around the same amount as a conventional car (which means not 20K and then 300-a-month for "fuel") and that looks like a car. It doesn't have to be the Tesla sportscar, it just has to not look like shite.

US made to wait for Quantum of Solace

Dan Hall
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Craig's not Bond

Wasn't last time out, and still ain't.

I won't be going to see a 5' 6", afraid-of-heights, can't drive a stickshift "Bond"--so you all over the pond can enjoy.

'Legit' website compromises reach epidemic proportions

Dan Hall
Paris Hilton

Not me...

My two boxes at home run Linux and my two laptops are Macs.

Could we please stop with the "OMG haxxors are taking over the web!" FUD? The only end users who are affected by this are those who choose to use a crappy plug-in on browser on a crappy OS. Cry me a river. It's not like it "suddenly" sucks to be an IE on Windows user--that's always sucked. We're just talking about an increase in suckage.

What we have here is basic Darwinian survival of the fittest. Every twit that clicks a phising link, gets hacked because of bad choices, or has their bank account emptied because they think they're going to get 60 million dollars from Nigeria's oil minister DESERVES to suffer. I'm hopeful that eventually we can get these drooling idiots off the Web and into group homes where they can be supervised.

Paris, because of the suckage, of course.

Citrix boss wants data center 'dinosaurs' to evolve

Dan Hall

No thanks

When you've got a horse in the race, I guess it's normal to try and sell people on it, but most people with SaaS experience should be yelling loud and clear "Thanks, but no thanks!"

In the niche areas where remote storage/aggregation of data makes sense, then by all means plug SaaS. Tie your salespeople and order fulfillers to the back-end. But there are lots of areas where there is NO SaaS replacement for plain old OS-installed applications--in fact, there are vastly more software uses where there isn't a SaaS option than otherwise.

'It's Britney, bitch' riding high again

Dan Hall

Interest in the freakshow

doesn't necessarily equate with interest in the music, per se.

Sure there are a lot of teenie-boppers out there who think that Spears' music (and I use that word in it's loosest sense) is cool. But a lot of this activity is based on the typical bread-and-circuses interest in a freak of nature. A lot of folks are just curious as to how her new music sounds, perhaps wondering if it's as bad as the MTV show seemed to indicate.

I wouldn't count the initial release of the first new song from the album as a "comeback" quite yet. Let's see where the numbers are in, say, 30 days when the bizzaro factor has worn off.

BT aims to make UK a Wi-Fi kibbutz

Dan Hall

Is that "extensive" as in wide-spread

or "expensive" as in over-hyped and over-priced?

Zoom up ropes on silent electric drive

Dan Hall

Luke, get that walker!

Anyone else think of the scene at the beginning of Empire Strikes Back where Luke uses a similar gizmo to disable an Imperial Walker. The only thing missing is the light saber. Sweet!

SF Wi-Fi plan with Google and Earthlink shelved until July

Dan Hall

Government-run option?

You're kidding, right?

...that route put quality, reliability and privacy ahead of convenience...

Obviously written by someone who has never had to deal with the "quality and reliability" of city-run services in the Bay Area. If the City of SF is running this service, you can count on it being slower than snail-mail and about as reliable as Mayor Newsom. We'll get the customer service you'd expect from the DMV at lunchtime (motto: I'm busy filing my nails, but I'll get to that line of 500 people sometime today") combined with the efficiency of street maintenance (motto: "If we worked any slower, we'd be going backwards") and the convenience of the US postal service (motto: "We keep shorter hours than bankers")

At least Google and Earthlink are losing money if the network goes down. When a city-run network goes down, the city employees are collecting their paychecks as they lean on their shovels.