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Microsoft Releases Final Windows Phone 7 Dev Tools

loudmax Re:Android, iOS, Blackberry OS, Windows Phone 7? (170 comments)

The mobile space is an important strategic market for Microsoft. Open standards that exist on mobile could leak into the corporate space. A competitive free market would erode their primary source of revenue. I really don't see losing money on each phone being sold as much of a problem for Microsoft. Better for them to lose money now, even lots of it, than for a free market (or a competitor) to win.

As long as subscribers can chose from several competing mobile platforms, Microsoft has lost in this space. They need for Silverlight to become a de-facto standard to maintain their long term control. Expect them to keep pushing developer tools and corporate back office integration.

more than 4 years ago

Video Appliance For a Large Library On a Network?

loudmax Re:WD HD Live (516 comments)

Also seconding (thirding? fourthing?) this. They have them for about $120 at Costco. They're tiny and silent. I had a little trouble with old DivX avi's I transcoded a few years ago, but it plays x264 + matroska just fine. I used one to replace a mac mini in my living room and it generally does a better job of making video streaming convenient. They play files over SMB, but they've been hacked to support NFS.

Big thanks to the guys hacking it at http://b-rad.cc/wdlxtv/

more than 4 years ago

Facebook CEO Accused of Securities Fraud

loudmax Re:Hating facebook (247 comments)

Personally, what I find worthy of hate isn't the lack of privacy, it's their locked-in system. Users create a web of friends in Facebook, and that web only exists inside FB's servers. Within Facebook you can't link to friends on LinkedIn or Myspace or Buzz or whatever. Protocols need to be used that allow users to link identity across social networks.

As far as privacy goes, it's really a question of how you use their service. For now, you really need to assume that anything you post on FB will be shared with the entire internet. Just as Microsoft eventually figured out how to make Windows reasonably secure, Facebook will probably figure out how to make their privacy settings reasonably simple. Assuming they get it right, what's left to hate? Same as MS: monopoly lock-in.

more than 4 years ago

Asus Budget Ultraportable Notebook Sold Sans OS

loudmax Which Ubuntu? (263 comments)

The article says they used Ubuntu, but doesn't say whether they're using regular desktop Ubuntu or the Netbook remix. They admit that they haven't optimized the kernel: it's entirely possible that battery life could be improved by recompiling the kernel with different flags or some equally esoteric maneuver. Of course normal users shouldn't have to optimize their kernels, but installing the netbook edition shouldn't be that esoteric. The article doesn't say if they did that or not, but if they had, I suspect that they would say so.

I haven't installed plain Ubuntu in a while, so I don't know if it offers to optimize for netbooks at install time. It would be nice if it did that.

more than 4 years ago

New Hotmail Integrates Office Features

loudmax Re:Losing (90 comments)

I don't think Google is all that interested in on-premise software. On-premise is valued by sysadmins because they perceive themselves as in control of the system. Once online companies can start delivering software that equals the reliability and UI quality of local apps, you're going to see a huge migration away from locally maintained software. Obviously, that's a tall order and not something we're going to see for a few years. But give the cloud another decade and people will wonder that every mid-sized organization had their own help desk and IT staff.

Lots of IT folks today like being in control of their own hardware and focus on that aspect of running their systems locally. They argue that management will see things the same way. Ten years ago, I thought pretty much the same thing: "Surely, no organization that cares about its data will let themselves be locked into proprietary software. That is why open source and open formats will soon dominate corporate IT." I was wrong. Open source has proved itself, but most organizations today still run a proprietary IT stack. Any sysadmin who thinks that management cares that Sharepoint and Exchange are running on local hardware is fooling himself. Management will be happy to outsource the IT division to cloud services run by Google or Salesforce or Microsoft or whoever offers what appears to have the best ROI. Once cloud software reaches the reliability and responsiveness of desktop apps, they'll demand the infrastructure be switched to the cloud in a heartbeat. No more desktop support and server rooms in the basement. Just plug your monitor and keyboard & mouse into the network and go. Microsoft realizes that their days of locking in customers via proprietary local apps are numbered. The future of vendor lock-in is the cloud, and that is the market that they, and Google, and others, are aiming for.

more than 4 years ago

Genetic Testing Coming To a Drugstore Near You

loudmax Re:What's the point? (110 comments)

Not everyone has a very good grasp of their family history. I know my grandparents, but very little about my great-grandparents. Also, I know how my grandparents died, but not what else they were at risk for. Adoptees may not even know their biological parents.

I'm not disputing your larger point that family history shouldn't be ignored. But genetic testing is available to anyone, regardless of their relationship with their parents. This is also a science that's advancing by leaps and bounds. Imperfect as it is, we can reasonably expect it to improve greatly in terms of accuracy and accessibility in the near future.

more than 4 years ago

An Early Look At Civilization V

loudmax Re:I'm already excited (286 comments)

I personally think that the best "Civ" game ever made was, by leaps and bounds, Alpha Centauri.

I haven't played the newer Civ games, but Alpha Centauri was so full of awesome that I don't find that hard to believe. And you're right, it wasn't about the tactics. Being able to build your own units was cool, but what made it a great game was the narrative. There was a real sense of different, evolving cultures fighting for the soul of the planet. In my experience, what made playing Civilization so enjoyable wasn't just the conquest strategy, it was the sense of playing out history. Alpha Centauri got that right. If the rest of the Civ franchise hasn't, they may be fun games, but they won't be anything special.

more than 4 years ago

Bing Gaining Market Share Faster

loudmax Re:Good (406 comments)

I agree that competition is good. The analogy with Window's isn't quite accurate though, since Google doesn't (or can't) lock out competitors the way Microsoft can.

Ideally, Bing and other search engines will continue will continue to improve and gain market share at Google's expense, and Google Chrome and other OS's will also gain market share at Window's expense.

about 5 years ago

$199 Freescale Tablet Design Runs Chromium OS

loudmax Work around Flash (93 comments)

The best solution to working around Flash video that I've worked out it to use the Video download helper Firefox plugin, then play the videos in Mplayer. It has pretty good support for Youtube and its many imitators. Unfortunately, it doesn't handle copy-protected stuff so it won't work with the full length movies on Youtube or anything on Hulu. It is an extra step to download the video before playing it, but the add-on makes it pretty easy, so I find it worth the hassle if I'm going to watch anything more than a few minutes long.

I haven't seen anything approximate ported to Chrome yet. Hopefully it'll get one soon... or better yet the <Video> tag becomes universally supported even sooner.

about 5 years ago

Google Upgrades Chrome To Beta For OS X, Linux

loudmax Re:Been using it for a while (197 comments)

I've been using Chromium on Gentoo for about a week. It's generally stable and definitely feels faster and more responsive than Firefox. The proof-of-concept toys over at Chrome Experiments are worth checking out. A lot of them work in Firefox too, but Chrome's speed advantage is more obvious. It's a shame Chrome can't do for Flash what it does for javascript. I do miss extensions like NoScript, NukeAnything, and VideoDownloader. Chrome is extendable though and I expect to see their equivalents in Chrome pretty soon.

I don't care too much about my own browsing stats being reported to Google, but I am glad that SRWare's Iron browser is available. In fact, as long as the browsers are standards-compliant, the more the better. I'm generally supportive of Google's agenda to make the browser the primary interface for the PC. Of course there are some applications that really should run on a desktop... but the other 99% of what people do with their PCs would be much better served by a standards-compliant web framework.

more than 5 years ago

Some Early Adopters Stung By Ubuntu's Karmic Koala

loudmax No problems with my Karmic Xubuntu here (1231 comments)

I upgraded to Xubuntu 9.10 the day after it was released and I haven't had any problems with it. Admittedly, this machine isn't doing all that much. It's for my kids and they mainly use it to browse the web or play Battle for Wesnoth. The wireless and Flash and everything works fine though. If there were any problems, they'd have told me about it. I don't know if running Xfce instead of Gnome should make this machine more or less likely to have problems, but it's been a smooth upgrade for me.

As far as comparing the release of Karmic Koala to Windows 7, there are some pretty huge factors that need to be taken into perspective. First of all, Ubuntu is developing at a significantly faster pace, which pretty much means that you should expect more problems. If you want an Ubuntu machine to "just work" you should be sticking to the LTS version which comes out every two years. Vista came out three years ago, so the Windows release cycle is slower than even Ubuntu's LTS cycle.

And look, I really have different expectations from a company with nearly $60 billion in revenue and 93 thousand employees and universal unconditional support from all PC hardware vendors than I do from a company with $30 million and 200 employees. And considering the role that proprietary protocols and vendor lock-in plays in MS's near monopoly, I also have different sympathies. So is this making excuses for Canonical? Yeah, could be, but IMHO it's a pretty reasonable excuse.

more than 5 years ago

MySpace Trying To Regain Lost Ground With Games and Music

loudmax Seen this before (76 comments)

I worked for America Online when Jonathan Miller came on as CEO. It was pretty encouraging to have someone who seemed clueful about the internet making decisions for a change. There was a big push to get the company thinking in terms of Web 2.0. During one of the company all-hands in 2006 or 2007 or so he even brought in Tim O'Reilly for an interview. For a company whose culture was just getting around to realizing that the AOL dial-up client was a dead-end product, this was a big change. Eventually Jonathan Miller was pushed out from AOL and a former NBC executive was brought in, and the company went back to trying to understand the internet in terms of television.

As it was with AOL, I suspect MySpace's reawakening is too late. There isn't any likelihood MySpace is going to challenge Facebook or Twitter, but there may still be some value left. MySpace was popular among kids at one point, maybe they can make something of that. Based on what I saw at AOL, Miller has good a chance of salvaging MySpace as anyone. The biggest danger that I can see is that the company is ultimately owned by Rupert Murdoch who isn't exactly a friend to progress.

more than 5 years ago

Avatars To Have Business Dress Codes By 2013

loudmax Re:Makes Sense (221 comments)

I pretty much agree with everything you said, up till the "Crazy Frog" and Star Wars part. The Crazy Frog themes I've heard are Axel-F and Popcorn. I can understand not wanting the phone to ring when you sit down with a client, but in the technology world having 80's pop hits or science fiction themes as ring tones are about as innocuous as it gets.

But yeah, the overall point still stands as long as we're talking about company avatars, not private avatars. If you're being paid to represent a company, it makes sense for them to set the terms. Of course companies that set overly restrictive policies may hurt their own image if their image is perceived as too staid. It depends what kind of industry they're in. If I were to find that my bank had a presence in Second Life I'd count it against them no matter what the avatar looked like.

more than 5 years ago

Ballmer Admits, "We Screwed Up Windows Mobile"

loudmax Re:Seriously they screwed it up a long time ago (275 comments)

but MS let it fall apart to crap and die once they killed the only competitor in the market

Yeah, makes one wonder what corporate desktop computing would be like today if there were serious competition in the market. There have been great strides made in hardware, cell phones and consumer electronics and the past decade. The typical corporate desktop computer doesn't crash as much as it used to, but there's hardly been the revolution you see in other fields.

more than 5 years ago

Windows 7 vs. Windows XP On a Netbook

loudmax VirtualBox (397 comments)

VirtualBox is very easy to use and it's GPL. If you use the free-as-in-beer desktop integration tools, then it's quite slick as well. I run a 64-bit Gentoo desktop with 32-bit Windows XP as a guest OS. This gives me all the power of Unix with MS compatibility when I need it. In full screen mode, I might as well be running XP for all you can tell.

I haven't tried 3D accelerated graphics. I understand that VirtualBox has been making strides in bringing OpenGL to the guest host, but they don't have any expectation of getting DirectX working any time soon if ever.

I hope Oracle decides to keep VirtualBox alive. As it is, VirtualBox is great for desktops, but the server side tools aren't in the same league as VMware. With Oracle backing, VirtualBox could become a serious contender.

more than 5 years ago

The Hidden Cost of Using Microsoft Software

loudmax Malware is beside the point (691 comments)

The cost of malware is beside the point. MS has improved security in their product tremendously over the past several years. It's now possible for a competent admin to run a secure Windows server. But the social cost of a monopoly software vendor is larger and the price is more deeply hidden. For a typical small business that wants to run an office suite that's interoperable with their customers and vendors and perhaps some piece of third party software that's relevant to their line of business, there just isn't much choice. Their options are:

  * Macs (since MS supports their office suite on Mac), but they have a single hardware vendor and few options for commercial third party software.
  * Open source, which is great for those of us who understand the technology, but not everyone wants to do that for a living. And commercial third party software options are even fewer.
  * Microsoft.

So for a small business, the choice to go with the dominant software is pretty obvious. The thing is, the overall benefits of using MS software have little to do with technical merit. MS is better at some things and worse at others. By far and large, their main advantage is they control so much of the ecosystem.

The cost here is born by society. MS software may be far better than it was a decade ago, but to think that the market is better served by a single vendor than by competitive free enterprise is to ignore centuries of economic history. So an individual business may save money by going with the flow, but the economy overall suffers from the lack of choice.

more than 4 years ago

Has Bing Already Overtaken Yahoo?

loudmax Re:I Still Don't Buy It (319 comments)

So using these numbers we can establish that China's numbers should be reflected in Asia's numbers at 1.33/4 or 33%.

I would expect the internet access rate to be lower in China than it is for Asia as a whole. China has an enormous emerging middle class, but it has an even more enormous rural farmer and migrant worker population which doesn't have access to a computer. The middle class (that is, people who can afford to use a compuer) is relatively larger in Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia, etc, and much larger in Japan, Korea, and Taiwan.

more than 5 years ago

How Does Flash Media Fail?

loudmax My SD Flash is flaking out this morning (357 comments)

I got a 16 GB Transcend SD memory card as expansion storage for my Aspire One netbook. I reformatted it for ext4 and put about 4 GB worth of music onto it. It worked fine for a couple of months, then just recently, especially today, I've been getting read errors and it's hiccuping on songs that used to play just fine. The weirdest one is that one track will actually jump to a completely different song from a different artist about a minute in. I'm playing stuff in mplayer which is extremely forgiving of read errors, but I shouldn't expect any errors.

Aside from reformatting to ext4, this card has had very little rewriting. I haven't filled it yet, and very little has ever been erased or rewritten. I don't know whether the weirdness should be attributed to the the cutting-edge ext4 file system or to the cheapo Transcend SD card. I'm leaning toward the latter, but I'm curious if anyone else has experienced this sort of thing.

more than 5 years ago

1 of 3 Dell Inspiron Mini Netbooks Sold With Linux

loudmax Re:What, 33% market share and we're complaining? (230 comments)

Hear, hear!

This is exactly the attitude we need. I run Gentoo Linux on my Acer netbook, but I'd be insane to say that Gentoo is for everybody. What's frustrating about Windows isn't the OS itself, it's the proprietary APIs and protocols that have become de facto standards. It isn't just open source that's locked out. There simply isn't any competition from commercial software vendors in the generic hardware market. (OS X isn't supposed to run on generic hardware, and Microsoft allows interoperability by selling the office suite for macs.)

Firefox made a huge impression on the web, even when it had less than 10% market share. Safari, Chrome, Opera, Konkeror, all of these can be pretty much expected to just work thanks to open standards that were largely forced on the web by Firefox adoption.

The promise of Linux isn't that everyone will run Linux, it's that regular users will have a real choice who they buy their system. Bring on the BSDs, Haiku OS, and more commercial derivates, and life will be much easier for us Linux users as well.

more than 5 years ago


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