Windows 8 Is Here

Windows 8 has launched, and it’s been quite silent. Not many seem to even care. Every media outlet has some coverage, but it’s hardly the buzz that Apple even got for their latest upgrade. Certainly not the buzz iOS 6 got. Sign of the times.

I’ve got 2 computers that currently run Windows 7. I think at least one will be upgrading to Windows 8 in the next week or two, I just haven’t decided which will be the one to go first. It’s not a bad OS in my experimentation, the UI takes some getting used to, but otherwise it’s really not bad. Do I “like” it? Not terribly much, but I didn’t “like” Windows 7 either.

Upgrading before January 31 is discounted to $40, worth taking advantage of if you can.

Two Security Updates

This patch Tuesday I have 3 updates for this XP box. Two of them seem rather similar yet one is given a title that’s much more obvious than the other. Why is one a “security update” and the other merely an “update”. I’m guessing severity, but I don’t think this is very clear. For the “update” it should still be clear that it’s security related regardless of severity.

Security Update for Windows XP (KB972270)

Size: 555 KB

A security issue has been identified that could allow an unauthenticated remote attacker to compromise your system and gain control over it. You can help protect your system by installing this update from Microsoft. After you install this update, you may have to restart your system.

More information for this update can be found at http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=169348

Update For Windows XP (KB955759)

Size: 1.1 MB

An issue has been identified that could allow an authenticated remote attacker to compromise your system and gain control over it. You can help protect your system by installing this update from Microsoft. After you install this update, you may have to restart your system.

More information for this update can be found at http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=123411

The Next Generation Of Computing

I got my current laptop in Oct 2005, though the model was released in spring/summer of that year. My Mac mini is an 1st Gen (G4 1.4GHz) from Jan 2005. Needless to say my hardware at home is getting close to the point of needing an upgrade. Due to my laptop being replaced unexpectedly I have two computers getting to that magic point at almost the same time. Not much I can do about that. I’ve been thinking about the next generation and what I want to do. Ideally I’d like to simplify my setup, and hopefully in that process get more bang for the buck. In some ways I think I will, in others I won’t.

My initial though is to eventually get a MacBook Pro once it’s truly 64bit and supports at least 8GB RAM. GPU accelerated video decoding would also be nice. I like my computers expandable and to last a while. In 3-4 years time I think I’ll want more than 3GB of RAM considering I think 2GB is the minimum today. Yes the hardware they ship today technically supports this, but Apple’s firmware doesn’t for reasons unknown. I’d also like one or more USB 3 ports, but we’ll see if that happens in the 2nd half of 2009 or not. I don’t think the lack of would be a deal killer though. I think it will take quite a while for USB 3.0 speeds to be necessary to the point of widespread adoption.

Laptops are great since they can be moved around which is handy from time to time (though I use my laptop more at my desk than anywhere else), but they do lack the power that I sometimes want. The Mac mini obviously never delivered what I really needed in that department. My thought is to build a desktop rig composed of a multi core CPU (whatever makes sense at the moment), min 4GB RAM, at least two SATA drives (primary/backup) and dual boot Windows and Linux. This beast would be pretty much for when I need some real horsepower. By building it myself I could invest a little wiser in a good case, power supply, etc. and upgrade this thing through several revisions for years to come rather than throw it all away after a few years. I can also target my $ towards components I care about.

My primary (day to day) computer would be the MacBook Pro and would likely have Parallels installed so I can run Windows if/when necessary (mainly since Quicken for Mac sucks last I checked and so I can test web pages in Windows). When I need to do something that laptops suck for due to small slow disks or just being slower, I would have the desktop rig available.

One of the downsides here is that while my current display is VGA/DVI, both of these systems would be DVI. I could either degrade the signal to VGA and use my current KVM, or upgrade to a DVI capable KVM switch which isn’t cheap (I haven’t seen less than $250 for something like a IOGEAR GCS1782). The DVI switches don’t support dual displays unless you drop some serious cash, so that’s pretty much out of the question. This adds to the complexity. Is building a KVM for DVI really that much more difficult to warrant the price difference? Or is it simply there aren’t enough in the market to drive the price down?

When should I start this? What system should I target first? Which should that system replace? Who the hell knows. I’m thinking later next year. It’s not so much a “plan” as an idea. I know I need to upgrade to more modern hardware since I won’t be able to run Mac OS X 10.6, and XP is getting to me. Both use 2.5″ ATA/100 drives which are becoming hard to find, and even when you find them are pretty small. Both are maxed out in RAM.

I’ll likely retire the Thinkpad to just for travel and other silliness, and perhaps save the G4 mac mini for some diabolical scheme. Apple even alludes to some of the possibilities on it’s site (see “Big Ideas” on the right rail of the Mac mini page).

It gets surprisingly complicated when you want it all and have it fit on your desk.

Mac In The Office

Business Week has a great write up on Macs in the office. Apparently more and more companies are becoming receptive of a dual platform environment, and more and more employees are requesting better computers (yea, I said “better”).

I’ve found consistently over the years that they are just more reliable requiring much less effort to keep running smoothly for years on end. I can’t recall a similar experience even with Windows XP, which is clearly the winner of the Windows family. Less time fighting the OS is more time being productive. Not to mention the improved usability just allows for more efficiency (ExposĂ© is still amazing).

I don’t think the reason for the rise in corporate popularity is so much about the usage of an Intel processor, but because of OS X. Most companies I’d venture won’t want to pay for dual OS (and emulation) since that bloats the cost of the workstation. Some obviously will, but not too many. The rise I’d say is mainly attributed to applications becoming more web based, meaning less proprietary software installs. All you need these days is an office suite (Office X, Google Docs) web browser (Safari or Firefox) and email (Entourage, Thunderbird, Apple Mail). Apple’s also made giant leaps in ensuring compatibility with other platforms such as NFS, SMB even Active Directory.

Linux is totally usable in the workplace, but lacks the usability and the sparkle to compete with Apple in this new open market thus far. Ubuntu’s made great strides, but it still doesn’t hold a candle to Leopard’s polish.

Apple does however sorely need a mid-range line to compete further, and to enhance it’s business and consumer sales. Essentially an iMac but trading the built-in display for some expansion at the same cost as the iMac line. The result would be a pretty impressive line up. It likely wouldn’t kill Mac Pro sales since anyone currently spending $2,500+ is likely still going to be willing to drop that cash for the top models. It would likely impact Mac mini and iMac sales slightly, though it’s a reasonable trade-off. Apple would still have a hard time pushing it’s display’s to accompany those computers, due to Apple’s rather high price as opposed to a more generic Samsung or Dell, but they could easily introduce a lower end for general office use, and make the current models a higher class.

It will be interesting to see how Apple decides to go after this market share.

FUSE For Windows

Reason number 1,000,001 to use a Mac for development purposes. MacFUSE rocks (thanks Google). sshfs and ftpfs (when no ssh) are life savers. Yes in Linux there’s the original FUSE which is just dynamite. I just don’t understand how in 2008 there’s no port for Windows. It’s so insanely useful and practical.

IDE’s with FTP browsers built in pretty much suck, or their FTP implementation is just too buggy.

Surprisingly the Mac has FUSE, and the one IDE that I like Coda also has an awesome FTP/SFTP implementation. Avery rare coincidence. To my surprise, several weeks ago I found out it even supports SSH keys. The trick is to use SFTP and to enter your keys password in Coda when setting up the Site. Coda will then connect and use the ssh key. Awesome.

Silverlight Update System?

Silverlight update dialog

So when I pointed Firefox to MSN tonight, this is what I saw. Is this really the best way of notifying users of an update? Could they have at least used a confirm() to allow the user to decide if they want to visit that url or not. Or perhaps use a <div/> to overlay the content of the page when it loads. Is a user supposed to type that url in by hand? Does the average user even know what to do when they see this dialog (other than hit “OK”)? Perhaps just say “visit silverlight.net and download the latest version”?

Just goes to show how awesome the Firefox automatic update system is.

Considering Microsoft has an update system on all Windows systems, you’d think at least for the Windows platform, they could rely on Windows Update.

Am I missing something? Is there really no better way than an alert()?

Remember everyone, that’s 0x4009e, those are ‘0’, not ‘O’.

No wonder people hate technology so much.

Top Windows Programs Open Source

CNet has a slide show with it’s top Windows programs. It’s a pretty good list. I’d agree with it for pretty much everything. What I found really interesting is that of the 9 listed, 7 are open source. Here’s the rundown with the license for the source of each:

Interesting to see the penetration of open source here.

DEMOfall 07 Browser/OS Statistics

Stephen Wildstrom did a little survey of demo machines at DEMOfall 07. 81% Windows, 19% Mac. He says that’s growth, and I’m not shocked to hear that. He also did a survey of browsers and found all Mac’s use Firefox over Safari, and makes a reference to it’s skin (an interesting observation considering the current discussion over reskinning the browser for 3.0). Firefox did decent on the Windows front as well. I’ve noticed this myself. People seem to prefer demoing their web based product in Firefox. Is it out of habit? Or because some ajax based websites feel slower in IE7?

Windows Ad On A Mac

I see these every once in a while. Advertisers occasionally think it’s clever to make their ad mimic the OS interface in hopes that novice users get confused and click on it. I’m sure this is (sadly) pretty successful despite being rather deceptive. It becomes comical when these ads show up on a Mac since it looks so out of place as shown in this image.

Stupid Windows Ad

You can’t really expect a Mac user to fall for this. It looks pretty strange. The best part is how for Operating System, it says “unknown”.

if (navigator.appVersion.indexOf("Win")!=-1){
    showAd();
} else {
   // Don’t even waste your time.
}