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One-in-five Developers Now Works On IoT Projects

bradley13 Skipping the acronym, on to the contents... (156 comments)

Yes, TFS should have defined it's acronym. Failing that, the editors could have caught it - typically, they didn't. Irritating.

On to the actual content: 1 in 5 developers are developing software for devices with embedded software that are likely to wind up with their own internet addresses. Given the high quality, secure software we are accustomed to seeing in routers, PCs, servers, etc.. Given the high level of security awareness we see in the developers in this area. I just gave a remedial lesson in SQL injection, damn it, isn't this stuff taught in primary school?

Given all of this, just think what we have to look forward to: more mediocre developers hard-coding security holes into every device with an embedded processor. Big companies like Verizon with their supercookies will soon be tracking your toilet flushes. The marketeers and the surveillance state will be vacuuming this up - the marketeers to sell you toilet paper, big brother so that the SWAT team can kick down your door while your pants are around your ankles.

O frabjous joy. Is it too late to strangle the Internet of Things in its crib?

3 hours ago
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Government Recommends Cars With Smarter Brakes

bradley13 A realy cost/benefit analysis would be nice... (304 comments)

Would it be too much to ask for them to explicitly discuss cost/benefit of something like this?

Example: Our car has some "smart" routine for detecting glare ice on the road. I don't know if it has ever been right - but there have been literally hundreds of false posltives over the years. Thankfully, it doesn't do anything but beep annoyingly.

Imagine if your car foes into full emergency braking, whenever it thinks an accident is imminent. What level of false positives is acceptable? What level of false negatives? How many accidents are statistlcally likely to be prevented? How many will be caused. Assuming a positive balance, what are the financial costs of building this system into all vehicles - and what is the resultant cost in dollars/life? These are the kinds of information that the Traffic Safety Administration ought to be publishing with their proposal.

If you look at the detailed report, they break the system into three parts. All together, they expect the system to prevent about 100 deaths per year (plus a larger number of injuries. There is a very brief discussion of false positives that arose in their test scenarios (e.g., in section 4.8.1.4), but absolutely no attempt to estimate the number of accidents caused by the system.

Consider how many rear-end accidents the average person has, over how many years and miles. Then figure the reliability - the number of false positives - that can be tolerated - the number is essentially zero. Achieving this will require extraordinarily reliable sensors and software, which willwill be technically difficult and financially costly. None of this is addresses in the report.

4 days ago
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SOTU: Community Colleges, Employers To Train Workers For High-Paying Coding Jobs

bradley13 Bull pucky (200 comments)

..."we're connecting community colleges with local employers to train workers to fill high-paying jobs..."

This is what community colleges do. Just exactly how is intervention by the federal government supposed to help? The only change is going to be an increase in the number of administrators the colleges hire to deal with the federal bureaucrats. The next step will be to offer the schools money. Then they'll hire even more administrators in order to suck properly at the federal teat. Finally, the federal government will use their dependence on federal money to impose ridiculous rules and regulations, that require even more administrators.

We've already seen how federal "help" has screwed up the American university system. Tuitions have increased by 200% to 300% in the past 20 years (that being the first example I pulled out of Google).

You know the line: "I'm from the government, and I'm here to help you". Time to run screaming in the opposite direction.

about a week ago
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Systemd's Lennart Poettering: 'We Do Listen To Users'

bradley13 RTFA (551 comments)

I'm no expert in the area by any means, However, in TFA, Lennart says:

there’s very little in Systemd that’s actually required. Systemd requires Journald, because every single service that runs on the system is connected to Journald, and we need some way to log things during early boot. So Journald is a requirement, and Udev is a requirement. But pretty much all other components are completely optional.

So there's your stripped down version. Your stuck with the logging, and I'll be the first to agree that binary logs are a dumb idea. However, apparently you can drop almost everything else. The trick will be finding a distribution that does this, since few sysadmins really want to roll their own...

about two weeks ago
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Is Kitkat Killing Lollipop Uptake?

bradley13 Lollipop = Windows Vista (437 comments)

Part of the problem is that Lollipop offers little new, but does destroy existing functionality. Google Calendar is much less usable than before. Personal and business email is now handled by the same application, making it much more difficult to keep private and business separate. Etc..

In return, we now have fancy animations when you touch the screen, gee, golly, wow. Oh, and existing, well-known icons have been redesigned; just as an example, to go to your home screen you no longer press the house icon, now you press a circle. I'm sure some designer is real proud of that, but they must have forgotten the user-testing.

Lollipop is Google's version of Windows Vista. I'm sure they'll fix it, but in the meantime I wish I could do a rollback to KitKat...

about three weeks ago
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Know Your Type: Five Mechanical Keyboards Compared

bradley13 Read up on the different types of switches (190 comments)

It's worth doing some reading, to understand the differences between the switch types. Here's a good description of three of the switches. You likely don't want the really loud ones - I recently bought a keyboard using Cherry Brown, which are tactile, but a bit quieter - it's still loud enough that my officemates had to get used to it, but at least they didn't kill me.

about 1 month ago
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An Automated Cat Litter Box With DRM

bradley13 Ewww...train your cats... (190 comments)

On a related note, he notes that the cat litter sticks to his cats paws, and he really dislikes finding cat litter particles on his kitchen counters, tables, chopping boards, etc.

Ewww... Why don't people train their cats properly. It's not hard. My cats do not enter the kitchen, and all tables are also off limits. Teach them the rules when they are kittens. Afterwards, maybe once every year or two, you'll need to remind them that the rules haven't changed.

How to train? You just let them understand that there is a really odd law of nature: going in the kitchen or hopping on a table causes them to get wet. Squirt gun, pans of water set back from the table edge, whatever. Don't yell or anything - you don't want them to associate the water with you, but with the location they tried to go. Easy, and well worth it...

about a month ago
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Colorado Sued By Neighboring States Over Legal Pot

bradley13 Commerce clause abuse (484 comments)

The stupid thing is: it may well work. The federal government regularly twists the Commerce Clause beyond all recognition. The most egregious case, the one that really set the ball rolling, was the one where the federal government claimed the right to regulate farmers feeding their own grain to their own livestock. Why? Because that meant that they bought less grain from elsewhere, some of which might, potentially come from out of state. Hence, the Commerce Clause allowed the regulation.

Given that sort of precedent, the federal government can justify essentially any regulation that it wants. Certainly including telling Colorado that it's state-wide laws are invalid, because they happen to indirectly affect neighboring states.

about a month ago
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FBI Confirms Open Investigation Into Gamergate

bradley13 FBI is bored, needs more business... (556 comments)

...because it's hard to see any other reason for an official investigation of a bunch of twits throwing virtual cow patties at each other.

about a month ago
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Spacecraft Spots Probable Waves On Titan's Seas

bradley13 Not /. - that's TFA and science journalism (82 comments)

That idiotic quote comes straight from TFA. It amply demonstrates the quality of what passes for "science journalism". In this case, not only the author, but also the editors of ScienceMag give the impression that they think methane is some weird form of water.

Actually, the author not only thinks that methane is water, he simultaneously thinks that it is oil, because he also writes that one of the methane seas "could contain 55 times Earth's oil reserves". Alternatively, he may be mixing information from unrelated theories: previously, the absence of waves was taken to indicate that the seas were viscous, containing heavier hydrocarbons. Reality could be somewhere between the two extremes.

Regardless, TFA is poor journalism, bringing more confusion than enlightenment to the average reader...

about a month and a half ago
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Why Didn't Sidecar's Flex Pricing Work?

bradley13 Move away from /. (190 comments)

I still visit /. occasionally. The last two times, it was to find a Bennett Haselton article. Just to add fuel to the fire: have you read Bennett's Wikipedia page? I do believe he wrote it his very own self.

I think I'm going to stick to Soylent in the future...bye bye again, /., it wasn't nice coming back...

about a month and a half ago
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How Identifiable Are You On the Web?

bradley13 Currently impossible to stop (160 comments)

As others have noted, the EFF Panopticlick is the better service.

I just spent far too much time playing around with this, on an extended lunch break. I note the following things:

- You had better disable explicit tracking services (Ghostery), or it all doesn't matter anyway.

- Fonts are a big factor. Fonts are identified through Flash. There is a configuration file "mms.cfg" that can disable this. The location of this file depends on your operating system and on your browser - it took me a good half-hour to find it for my particular configuration.

- However, even after disabling fonts, and even using a "user-agent switcher" to look like a Windows/Chrome combination (instead of Linux/Chrome), I was still uniquely identifiable. The biggest factor were my language preferences, the list of plugins, and the precise browser version. Refusing to report system fonts was also pretty important :-/

In short, there's not much way around it - if you include other information available, like your IP address, you will be uniquely identifiable, and trackable across websites.

What is missing from this picture: Browsers provide an "incognito" mode. This mode needs to be extended to provide only absolutely essential information to the server. The server needs to know roughly what level of standards support you have (e.g., "Mozilla/5.0"), and what language to send content in (one language, not a list with weights). Everything else could be omitted, and virtually all websites would work perfectly.

Go a step farther and disable JavaScript in incognito mode, to prevent explicit sniffing. That will disable more websites, but if those sites start losing traffic, they'll offer versions that don't require JS.

about a month and a half ago
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French Cabbies Say They'll Block Paris Roads On Monday Over Uber

bradley13 Win hearts and minds (295 comments)

Oh, yes, causing massive traffic snarls is a sure way to with the hearts and minds of the public. Reminds me of the German train drivers who keep striking, not for more money or better working conditions, but because their union bosses are at risk of losing their negotiating power to a larger union. Makes everybody in German just love the train drivers.

Paris taxis charge to just come and pick you up. Get in the car, and find that the meter has already been running from wherever the driver let off his last fare. Given a new competitor, the taxi drivers could always compete by offering better service, or lower rates, or more reliability, or... Nah.

about a month and a half ago
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Peru Indignant After Greenpeace Damages Ancient Nazca Site

bradley13 Picture of damage (465 comments)

Here is a picture of the damaged Greenpeace caused. Basically, all of the lighter color in the red-marked area is where their footprints broke the crust.

Repair is, of course impossible. Serious financial consequences, plus criminal prosecution of all involved.

about a month and a half ago
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Deflating Claims That ESA Craft Has Spotted Dark Matter

bradley13 Dark matter and the sniff test (85 comments)

I'm just a lowly engineer, but for me "dark matter" has never passed the sniff test. It's a kludge factor thrown in to make equations balance. And a kludge factor so huge that "dark matter" is supposed to outweigh all of the observable matter in the entire universe. The only reason this doesn't sound ridiculous is because we've been hearing it for so long.

If you need a kludge factor that big, it is far more likely that the equations are wrong.

There are other possible explanations. For example, if the speed of light were a function of space and time, then the situation changes completely. All observations of the distant/ancient universe are suddenly thrown into question; the interactions within that distant/ancient universe were also different from what we see locally, today. This particular theory (variability of C) is one that crops up periodically, most recently in 2013. It is difficult to prove, but really, it's no more unlikely than the existence of huge amounts of dark matter that stubbornly refuse to interact with the known universe.

about a month and a half ago
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Once Again, Baltimore Police Arrest a Person For Recording Them

bradley13 Personal consequences (515 comments)

Move to a malpractice system, like doctors have. Make individual officers personally liable for their own behavior. They carry professional liability insurance, and can be sued if they do something egregiously stupid. Screw up enough, and no insurance company will cover them. Changing jurisdictions won't help, because the insurance companies will be sure to trade information.

about a month and a half ago
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Congress Passes Bill Allowing Warrantless Forfeiture of Private Communications

bradley13 One more step towards a police state (379 comments)

And the US takes one more step down the slippery slope. At the bottom lies a police state.

Aside from a few nerds and right-wing blogs, no one noticed. Interestingly, this information is nowhere to be found on mainstream media sites. Why is that, I wonder? Maybe all those conspiracy theorists have a point.

On Swiss TV last night they showed an interview with some of the USAF people flying drones. Surreal: sit down at your joystick, , drop a hellfire missile on a vehicle, go home to the kids. The fact that some debatable-but-large portion of the drone targets are misidentified? The Captain playing the video game really, really didn't want to discuss that. He just shoots what he's told to shoot.

Sad to see - the once great bastion of freedom now tortures prisoners, kills civilians by remote control, and now freely spies on its own citizen's communications. It may be time for y'all to abandon the sinking ship.

about a month and a half ago
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Warmer Pacific Ocean Could Release Millions of Tons of Methane

bradley13 The return of Cthulhu might be really bad... (329 comments)

For those interested, this appears to be the paper. The paper itself is paywalled; you can look at the supplementary material, which includes the diagrams. Oddly, the paper does not seem to be online at the university, even though other papers by the various authors are. Why do I know this? Because I wanted to see the temperature data that they used, so I went hunting.

The paper implies that the temperature data is very noisy, but that they were able to extract a signal anyway. The raw data should be provided in the supplementary material, so that people could attempt to replicate/verify this essential finding. Of course, the raw data are no where to be found. So we have no way to check.

Personally, I'm tired of "science" like this. If you're going to make a claim, put your damn data out there where anyone can see it. Raw data, a clear description of how you processed it, program code if you wrote a program. Otherwise, you're no better than the astrologist pontificating about the influence of Venus on your dog's love life.

about a month and a half ago
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Tesla Wants Texas Auto Sales Regulations Loosened

bradley13 Ah, auto dealer politics (137 comments)

I had a friend years ago whose family owned a dealership in Texas. More cutthroat politics are hard to imagine: among the dealerships, the car manufacturers and the government (local and state), some of it pretty clearly out-and-out corruption. Just as an example, they built a new showroom, but the building kept failing some inspection or other. The inspector would write up faults, they would fix them, he would write up new faults...eventually he lost patience and let it be known that the real problem was that he hadn't yet found a blank envelope filled with cash.

This is yet another industry deserving of some serious deregulation. There's no better way to put corrupt bureaucrats out of business.

about 2 months ago
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I prefer my turkey ...

bradley13 With lots of dark meat? (189 comments)

Modern turkeys, like modern chickens, have been bred to have a huge amount of tasteless, white breast meat. This is in the mistaken belief that fats in meat are somehow bad for you. This has gone unquestions since by childhood (to many decades ago); only in the last few years have researchers started actually testing the common knowledge, and they are discovering that it is largely nonsense.

Last time I bought chicken, I specifically bought whole legs, no breast meat. Roast with the skin on, eat skin and meat together, yum! Last time my wife made chicken soup, she also skipped the breast meat, because it's basically tasteless. Her soup actually tasted of chicken, instead of some anonymous vegetable broth.

So - if I were to eat a turkey, it would be the dark-meat pieces...

about a month ago

Submissions

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Censorship in the West

bradley13 bradley13 writes  |  more than 2 years ago

bradley13 (1118935) writes "Pussy Riot has highlighted censorship in Russia. With millions of news hits, the entire Internet now knows that speech in Russia will be suppressed with jail sentences.

In Scotland, a blogger finds it curious: A man by the name of Stephen Birrell has just been jailed for eight months, for posting "religiously prejudiced abuse" on a Facebook page. But you won't be able to find out many details, because the press shows no interest. For bonus points, the blogger claims that the few news items that do exist are not findable in search engines.

The blog mentioned above does overstate the case: If you enter "stephen birrell jailed", some news items do show up, but nowhere near the number that do for Pussy Riot. Still, isn't it ironic that the free-and-enlightened West is jailing people for "hate speech" at the same time that it criticizes Russia for much the same action?"

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Choosing anonymous proxies

bradley13 bradley13 writes  |  about 3 years ago

bradley13 (1118935) writes "There are lots of anonymous proxies out there, and anyone concerned about their privacy probably uses one for at least some of their web-browsing.

The Megaupload story highlights the fact that having servers in the USA is not a great idea. There are also other countries one may not want to trust. Oddly, very few proxy services mention where their equipment is located.

What anonymous proxy services do members of the Slashdot community use? What criteria do you use to select them? How paranoid are you, and for what types of Internet usage?"
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Gibson Guitar raided again

bradley13 bradley13 writes  |  more than 3 years ago

bradley13 (1118935) writes "Practically everyone has heard of Gibson Guitars. In 2009, they were raided by the feds, who impounded stacks of ebony wood under asset forfeiture laws. No charges have ever been filed.

Well, they're at it again — the feds have again impounded palettes of topical wood and guitars. The wood is clearly certified by FSC. The feds have given no explanation of their raid, but apparently there is some evidence that they are enforcing a law from the wood's country of origin (India), even though no complaint has been made by India or anyone else.

Gibson claims that the feds are bullying them, probably because they continue to fight the asset forfeiture from 2009. There are less favorable interpretations, having to do with jack-booted thugs..."

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Simple email encryption - not possible?

bradley13 bradley13 writes  |  more than 3 years ago

bradley13 (1118935) writes "Like practically everyone on Slashdot, I often play "free consultant" for friends. The most recent inquiry: local law will soon require small companies that send accounting information electronically, to do so "securely". Many small businesses outsource their accounting; correspondingly, some accounting companies handle the accounts of dozens of small businesses. Lots of sensitive information is sent by email — which ought to be encrypted.

So my friend asked me — from the perspective of one of these accounting companies — how they can exchange encrypted email with their customers. The problem: businesses to small to handle their own accounts are certainly too small to have read IT — some cousin set up a couple of off-the-shelf computers. This means: the solution has to be (a) easy for a non-technical person to set up and (b) has to work with people who use Outlook, or Gmail, or whatever else their company happens to use.

By now, one might think that there would be point-and-click solutions to this sort of problem. But no — you need certificates, implementations are platform specific, set up requires IT expertise. About the best thing available seems to be PGP (but who wants to do business with Symantec? Anyway, when did they buy PGP — that is just sad).

Can easy-to-use, secure, cross-platform email encryption really still be an unsolved problem? What do other Slashdotters use?"
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Do not show your ID when robbing a bank

bradley13 bradley13 writes  |  more than 3 years ago

bradley13 (1118935) writes "Combine a clever teller with, well, not the brightest bank robber. When poor Nathan went in to rob a bank, the teller told him she needed to see two forms of ID before she could give him the money. Nathan is now enjoying three hots and a cot."
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Best Internet payment method for young teens?

bradley13 bradley13 writes  |  more than 3 years ago

bradley13 (1118935) writes "Many of us have kids in their young teens, who want to spend money on various Internet fripperies (browser games, etc.). Kids are too young to have their own credit cards (and that's probably not appropriate anyway), PayPal requires kids to be 18, etc. Yet it would be nice to give the kids some independence, so they don't always have to ask a parent to come and pay for them.

There are a few solutions, like Internet Cash, but the fees are pretty outrageous. What other solutions are out there? How do you handle Internet payments with your kids?"
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RPost suits Swiss Post for secure email

bradley13 bradley13 writes  |  more than 3 years ago

bradley13 (1118935) writes "RPost owns a pile of software patents around the idea of secure email delivery. They are not a patent troll — they actually do offer a secure email service. However, their patents are classic software patents — simply algorithms. There is nothing non-obvious about them — any competent practitioner would come up with these or very similar ideas. Here are the two patents being used as a basis for the suit: Patent 1 Patent 2

Yet another argument to get rid of software patents?"

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Does GPS tracking violate the 4th amendment?

bradley13 bradley13 writes  |  more than 3 years ago

bradley13 writes "Last year, college student Yasir Afifi discovered a GPS tracking device that had been attached to his car. After he discovered it, the FBi showed up and demanded that he hand it over. They told him that they would make his life difficult if he did not cooperate by giving the device back. The FBI had no warrant or court order allowing surveillance.

Now Yasar Afifi is filing suit, hoping to get a ruling that installing tracking devices without a warrant violates the fourth amendment. Unfortunately, his local federal district court is the 9th circuit, which has already decided two similar cases, coming down in favor of tracking.

The key part of the reasoning in the previous cases is this: "attaching the tracking device ... did not constitute a 'search' cognizable under the Fourth Amendment because '[t]he undercarriage is part of the car's exterior, and as such, is not afforded a reasonable expectation of privacy.'” Very strained reasoning indeed, since the point of the tracking device is not a search of the undercarriage, but rather a search of a person's movements."

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Diagnosis of Tucson shooter

bradley13 bradley13 writes  |  about 4 years ago

bradley13 (1118935) writes "This article in the New York Times points out that Mr. Loughner, the person accused of shooting 19 people in Tucson, has shown increasing mental disturbances over the past few months, and offers this diagnosis: "the rambling, disconnected writings and videos he has left on the Web are consistent with the delusions produced by a psychotic illness like schizophrenia, which develops most often in the teens or 20s". If true, this means that all of the fans of political conspiracy theories will need to look elsewhere..."
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"Configuring VMware" for the complete idiot

bradley13 bradley13 writes  |  more than 4 years ago

bradley13 (1118935) writes "Another virtualization question... On the side, I play "sys admin" for a micro-company of 3-4 employees. This company has an old VB6 application that they still support, and until now the old Visual Studio and all associated tools have remained installed on the two developers' systems. This summer, it's time to replace the computers, and — because of the numerous problems with running an ancient Visual Studio, Tools, etc. next to more modern versions — I want to create a VMware instance that can be loaded up on the two developer systems "as needed" to maintain the old software. One developer works mainly under Ubuntu, the other under Windows.

This VMware instance, once everything is in place, will access a VSS repository plus home directories across the network. I intend to have it revert-to-snapshop after every execution — it should be able to live on unchanged for years. I have used the free VMware server a couple of times, for example, to set up test instances of various SQL Server environments, but we're talking maybe 8 hours per year of time I spend with it. It's mostly called "accept the defaults and pray".

Could Slashdot experts provide a list of "tips for the complete idiot" on how to set up VMware server instances so that they perform well, and will continue to do so for the long term?"
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Poll: How many lawsuits?

bradley13 bradley13 writes  |  about 5 years ago

bradley13 (1118935) writes "Lots of users post legal questions, and we all know that sharks never bite lawyers. How many times have you involved in a suit
Never ever ever
I have been sued
I have sued someone
I've done both
I sued myself, just for fun
I am a lawyer — I sue for other people
My name is not "Sue""
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The story of Windows version numbers

bradley13 bradley13 writes  |  more than 5 years ago

bradley13 (1118935) writes "Just a very nicely written summary of the history of Windows versions, from Windows 1.0 through Windows 6.1 (called, for reasons only Microsoft understands, Windows 7)

"...it is of course more complex than that, and I am going to attempt to explain it. Reading the rest of this post is unlikely to improve your life in any way, although it will teach you something about the mindset of Microsoft and/or that of nerds in general. Madness may lie at the end of it.""

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Office 2007 vs Office 1997

bradley13 bradley13 writes  |  more than 5 years ago

bradley13 writes "In a paragraph near the bottom of Jerry Pournelle's latest mailbag, Doug McAllister gives his opinion that Office 2007 is not a notable improvement over Office 1997:

I have found nothing in Excel or Word 2007 that would justify an upgrade from the 1997 versions of these products. For the most part, they have arbitrarily moved things around and made it harder for me to get my work done. I bought them because the earlier versions are no longer available and I try to stay legal with my software.

This got me to thinking that Microsoft is bad for the economy. They offer new versions of products that have no real benefits. Instead, users spend millions of hours installing new versions and dealing with issues such as I have described with no productive benefit. Microsoft has spawned an upgrade industry that is a drag on productivity as far as I can see.

I have probably used every version of Microsoft Office since it's inception. I was very happy with Office 1997. Office 2003 was most memorable for discarding the well-indexed help system in Office 1997 and putting in with a pretty-but-useless replacement. Office 2007 brings the ribbon, which — despite using it for two years — I find mainly frustrating, since controls appear and disappear arbitrarily, for example, based on window width. If it were possible, I would frankly move the whole company back to Office 1997 in a flash.

What do others think? What significant improvements has Microsoft made to the Office suite in the past 10 years?"

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