March 5th, 2008
For over a year now, I have watched Microsoft’s Vista get banged around by being called a tech disappointment (and much worse!). Even though Microsoft has sold a great deal of Vista licenses, the OS is continually getting a raw review. Some are due to OS partiality, some to pure ignorance, and others come from an inability to recognize that Windows is going through a metamorphosis. The paradigm for the OS is, and should be, always changing, always striving to be better.
I feel that Windows Vista is a marketing disappointment, not a failure as an operating system. Microsoft has done little to market the evolution of the operating system, to really educate consumers on what the new features are and where they are headed. You hear a great deal of noise about the security functions in Vista. While security is quite important, it makes for poor marketing to only rave about this one feature. Would you go buy a new car just because the locks on it are better than the one in your garage? The answer to that is “No!” (and it should be). Chances are, you’d just do something to improve the security of the car you already own. It’s the additional features that will get you to go buy a new one.
Much is also said about the steep hardware requirements needed to truly run Vista. However, the OS itself is not the only reason that better hardware is necessary. Quite a few new applications and definitely most new games require that you have something decent under the hood. As more and more people get into viewing and editing video, the hardware requirements will increase for them as well. Microsoft has done little to educate the masses about this reality.
Microsoft should have done more to press upon the consumer why they should consider moving to Windows Vista. Features such as the Aero interface and the Flip 3D task switcher are vast improvements to the visual experience. Let’s face it, people want something that is pleasing to the eye. Another feature that should have had more said about it is the Instant Search functionality. Most users have a hard time locating files on their PC and this feature is a great assistance to them. The Parental Controls in Vista are stellar, allowing parents to keep better track of what their kids are doing on the PC and keeping young children from experiencing things they shouldn’t (like playing mature games or going to inappropriate sites). The Side Bar and it’s growing collection of Gadgets is another piece of eye candy that can be quite useful. Being able to view news, sports, and weather right on the desktop without opening the browser is not a bad thing at all. Other features like the Photo Gallery, built in Tablet functionality and Media Center are also worth noting.
While it is doubtful that Vista is able to convert any Leopard users, it definitely has what it takes to get XP users to upgrade to next step. But if Microsoft never lets them know what they’re missing, why would they ever change?
July 26th, 2007
Everyone has heard of Murphy’s Law. There are different versions that float about, but the point of it is that if anything can go wrong, it will.Â However I find this to be an incomplete perception of the true occurrences that demonstrate Murphy’s Law.Â It would be more accurate to state that something will go wrong a certain percentage of the time that the task is performed.Â This variable percentage increases in direct proportion to the importance of the task itself.Â One of minimal importance would have a relatively low percentage of failure while a critical task would have a much, much higher percentage of failure due to something going horribly wrong.
Additionally, there are phrases that I refer to as Accelerants.Â Accelerants are to Murphy’s Law what gasoline is to fire.Â When one states one of these phrases, they change that varying percentage mentioned above to a fixed percentage – 100%.Â Think of them as a magical spell for disaster.Â We have all performed these, examples are: “I am going to put this where I won’t lose it”, “What could possibly go wrong?”, “That could never happen to me”, and “We’ve got plenty of time”.Â Accelerants should be avoided at all costs.Â This is a difficult proposal since humans seem almost drawn to speak Accelerants into action.
Another characteristic I have noticed about Murphy’s Law is that it rarely shows up when expected.Â If you are expecting disaster, it usually doesn’t happen.Â You can’t go through life with the attitude that everything is going to go wrong, then Murphy’s Law has defeated you without even lifting a finger.Â Instead, you should be mindful of what you do and have preparations in place for disasters that might come your way.Â By doing this and avoiding the Accelerants, you will minimize both the frequency of occurrence and also the damage done when things go wrong.Â
January 15th, 2007
Today I had the misfortune of sitting through a 90 minute presentation. I say misfortune, not because the material was dry and boring, but because the presenter had not learned how to avoid the biggest PowerPoint pitfall – his part of the presentation boiled down to reading off of the PowerPoint slides. He offered no discussion on these slides, no greater detail, only the words on the screen. Word by painful word. You could feel the clock grinding to a stop, as seconds seemed like hours. The 5o pages of the presentation had been sent out last week for review so that people could have a chance to see if there were any areas that they saw as problematic. If we reviewed the 50 pages and all he was going to do was read the 50 pages, then why bother with the presentation?
A PowerPoint presentation should never be used as the speaker’s script. The speaker should discuss the points on the presentation. Go into greater detail, paint a larger picture of the statements and info on the slides. You never want to make your audience spend more time looking at their watches than paying attention to your message. Being a PowerPoint parrot is the quickest way to completely ruin even the greatest of presentations.
November 26th, 2006
I find it interesting how many blog posts there are out there that slam the Zune device. If you don’t believe me, go to Google Blog Search and do a search for the term “zune”. You will notice post after post that put down Microsoft’s new portable media player. These posts really started popping up with Zune’s release on the 14th of this month, but if you take a closer look at most of them, you will find that they are total and complete garbage. They post negative comment after negative comment showing a comparison between the Zune and an iPod or Zen. Some have been quite responsible with their opinion and backed it up with side-by-side comparisons and great explanations as to why they do not like the Zune. My problem is not with them, in fact I find their input quite useful. I am concerned with the group of people that start spinning negativity strictly because the product is from Microsoft. These radical time-wasters literally worship at the House of Mac or some version of a penguin idol. I’m sure you’ve met people like this, they think their technology is so great and yet they can only prove how great it is by slamming the competition. I guess they will all have futures in politics. They are writing rubbish, trying to sway people away from trying out the Zune instead of simply stating their case using reality and letting the people decide for themselves.
I like my Zune. I find the vertical navigation of the Zune to work better for me than the circular navigation of the iPod. I don’t think that iPods suck or that they are evil because they have a different navigation than what I like. I just think that I like the Zune’s better. I plan on sitting down and doing an indepth comparison on the two players. I want anyone who reads the post to be better informed when they decide to make their purchase. I have no need to go pro-Microsoft or anti-Apple.
The bottom line is simple, don’t fall for the spin being laid by those with an agenda that doesn’t include helping you find what works best for you. Look for reviews that do a fair comparison and do not lean completely on way or another. The truth is that they are both good pieces of hardware. Each on has its own strengths and weaknesses. Any article that completely negates that from either one is biased and cannot be taken seriously. Buy the technology, buy the product, not the hype.
November 19th, 2006
Well the Zune finally arrived. I couldn’t wait to see whether all the bad press was warranted or not. I was very pleased to find that the Zune is a very nice piece of hardware. All the junk about it being an iPod killer and doing side-by-side comparisons was a real waste of time. What people need to realize is that the iPod is mainly for Apple users who are used to Apple interfaces and Apple intuition. Zune is geared towards Windows users. I found it to be quite nice and it has more than met my immediate needs. First, the controls are much easier and more intuitive (for me, a Windows user). To move up a list, click the top of the control. To move down, click the bottom. There’s none of the circular motion requirements of the iPod. Another complaint that I was noticing was its size. I found it to be a perfect size, especially considering the 30GB size. The Zune software, that is necessary for getting your music and video on the player, wasn’t bad. I found it to be no better and no worse than the iTunes software. I plan on analyzing all of the functionality on a more indepth level, but as far as a first impression goes, the Zune rocks.To prove the point even further, my daughter (a Windows user) picked up the Zune and immediately had it all figured out. Not to mention the fact that she would gladly trade in her iPod for a Zune. She’s never been exposed to the hype, just the hardware.
November 5th, 2006
Looking at some of the latest info regarding Digg, I started wondering how much longer it can continue to be a powerhouse. Digg claims to have 20 million visitors per month and continues to grow. But the big question is how long this growth will continue. Digg is starting to approach rough waters and it will be interesting to see how it decides to navigate through them.
Digg has had to come up with different ways to keep the site from being abused by groups trying to promote their work to the home page. This has resulted in deletion of violator’s accounts and various changes to the core algorithm. The latest algorithm seems to be alienating Digg’s top posters. In my opinion, this is a major red flag. They are making their top contributors feel unappreciated. I am really concerned that Digg’s homepage will start really suffering from the growth and necessary changes. Will we start seeing lukewarm headlines that have been dugg only 10 times reach the homepage? At some point, the business model will have to be modified. Just like any business, once growth reaches a certain level – major change must take place in order to survive. I hope Digg can endure the challenges that its growth and popularity bring. I guess only time will tell.
October 20th, 2006
Recently, there was a posting at See One, Do One, Teach One regarding the release of IE7. If you look closely at the comments, they were infiltrated by an Apple enthusiast, namely Quinn (Whatâ€™s cooking at Tech-Recipes). I feel bad for him, no one responded to his commentary, I am sure he is suffering from being left out. We can’t have that, can we?
First, you need to understand that Quinn has slipped way into the dark side, as seen in his post about getting his new MacBook Pro (see Christmas in October?). The poor guy’s mind has obviously been poisoned. I recommended that he pick up a Bible and note that an apple was the downfall of man. If you look at Apple’s logo, you realize that they even flaunt that point by using an apple with a bite out of it. When confronted on this, he did make a valid point of the fact that the word apple isn’t mentioned in Genesis, but then fell back into a Mac-trance and stated that the pictures of Eve holding an apple were all some marketing spin by Microsoft. He then went to Google and did some research with the following results:
“microsoft is evil” -> 54,100 results
“apple is evil” -> 647 results
“bill gates is satan” -> 490 results
“steve jobs is satan” -> 45 results
Obviously, his Mac-trance induced state is telling him that more people think that Microsoft is the bad guy. I, however, see a much different message in these search results. The Google results show that Apple users write far more garbage than do Microsoft users. It really isnâ€™t their fault though. It probably is coming out of a mixture of boredom and frustration stemming from having to use the software. Microsoft users are far more productive and therefore have much less time or reason to write such material and post it on the web.
Now, as far as his comments on IE7. First of all, IE7 is designed to run on quality operating systems, that is why you found no download for your system. I’m sorry for this, hopefully they will be able to find some way to lower its requirements. I was going to try OS X, but found that none of my important and necessary software would run on it. I guess they are trying to reduce their requirements as well.
Now for my top ten list, we’ll aim at what’s wrong with OS X (exercising my creative license):
- Responsible for the U.S. dependency on fossil fuels.
- Responsible for the depletion of the Amazon Rain Forest.
- Disguised itself as IE7 and put diesel fuel in Quinn’s gasoline vehicle.
- Created nicotine and caffeine addiction.
- Secret distributor of all news stories found in the National Enquirer.
- Responsible for anal leakage being an acceptable side effect of fat substitutes.
- Originator of every bit of spam in your inbox.
- Responsible for placing Little Richard in that Geico commercial.
- Created all political ads that interrupt your TV shows.
- Causes gingivitis and tooth decay.
Okay Quinn, I know you’re itching to get back at me. Just remember to type slowly so your laptop can keep up with you.
October 18th, 2006
I have been trying out the latest release candidates for both Internet Explorer 7 and Firefox 2.0.Â I’m not going toÂ going to go into an indepth review of their respective functionality, but let’s look at some of things that stand out.Â First of all, if you’re an IE user, you’ve got to love the tabs.Â A much needed improvement that Firefox users have been enjoying for a while now. Another area of improvement is the integrated RSS feed readers.Â While this is a new functionality for IE, Firefox has improved so much that I would have to call it a new feature.Â While I do like Microsoft’s, it is pretty much up to the tastes of the userÂ as to which is the better one.Â Both browsers have added phishing protection and IE7 seems to have take some major steps in added security.Â
Yeah, I know, you already knew all this.Â Good, just making sure.Â My real purpose was to get a feel from you as to which is the better browser.Â I have been splitting time between the two so I have a limited experience with either one.Â Those of you that are dedicated to one or the other will have a much richer experience to pull from and I would appreciate some feedback as to what your findings are.Â I think that both browsers contain very good features and that the true winner is the user.Â What are your thoughts?
October 17th, 2006
I have been looking forward to the release of Microsoftâ€™s latest and greatest operating system for some time now. But the closer we get to the magic date, the more apprehensive I have become. Not because of the software, it is looking to be something pretty nice. The licensing, however, is starting to leave a rather sour taste in my mouth. Iâ€™m not a lawyer and I do not play one on TV, but the EULA is a pretty scary piece of legal goobly gook. The explicit limitation only once to another machine is the part that made me choke. Iâ€™m the kind of guy that is always looking for ways to beef up my PC, better memory, better graphics, new burner, extra USB and firewire ports. By the end of a year or two, it hardly resembles the machine it once was. My understanding of Microsoftâ€™s viewpoint on this would be numerous transfers to different machines. That means that I would have to go get another license (or another).
This falls right into place with some practices of other industries, namely the music industry and Hollywood, that kind of rub me the wrong way. These businesses feel that they should be able to control their product and strictly determine how the product will be used. The customer, however, believes that once they have paid for the product, they should be able to do as they wish. This is a rather wide chasm that definitely needs to be narrowed. Compromise is necessary on both parts to allow both sides to truly benefit. A reduction in this gap would (in my opinion) reduce the amount of piracy that affects these industries. The tension would be reduced and digital rights could be seen as a path instead of a burden to all involved.
I donâ€™t expect Microsoft to eliminate their limitations on Vista, Iâ€™d just be happy if they allowed a little more breathing room.
October 14th, 2006
As I am sure you know, Google is acquiring YouTube. The deal makes sense as it definitely adds a great avenue for Google’s internet advertising strategies. Where I start to get a little lost is the where the price tag came from. $1.65 billion (yes, billion) in stock is an astronomical figure. It immediately reminded me of the dotcom bubble (that burst) when the tech stocks were so incredibly overvalued. I have no doubt that YouTube is definitely worth a considerable amount. It is one of the largest and fastest growing online video communities on the net. But $1.65 billion? I would be very interested in what the method for establishing the value for the acquisition was, how did this make sense to the Google’s shareholders? If someone can explain this to me, I would greatly appreciate it. Right now I fear that there will be future acquisitions with over-inflated price tags happening over the next year. I hope I am wrong, but I look back at how the analysts look at tech companies and I am not very optimistic. What about you?