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Windows 10: Charms Bar Removed, No Start Screen For Desktops

nine-times Re:Microsoft would be onto a winner if... (367 comments)

I tried installing Windows 8.1 a couple weeks ago, and I spent 20 minutes looking for a way to get it to let me install without a Microsoft account, and couldn't find one. I found a way to get it to let you set up a new account, once the install is finished, without a Microsoft account, and that's the best I could do. Even that wasn't easy.

But I tried going through each step carefully, looking for any button I might have missed, and there just wasn't anything. It hit a certain point, and it would not let me proceed without an account.

2 days ago
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Windows 10: Charms Bar Removed, No Start Screen For Desktops

nine-times Re:Microsoft would be onto a winner if... (367 comments)

Are you sure? Because I'm pretty sure that you don't just need an email account, but a Microsoft Live account (or whatever they're calling it now). That Microsoft account doesn't need to include an outlook.com email account, and it can be bound to an email address that's not on a Microsoft domain, but you need to open an actual account for Microsoft services.

And if that's right, that's what annoys me. I wouldn't mind if they set the default to use a Microsoft account. I wouldn't mind if it warned you strenuously, "If you don't set up or use one of these accounts, some Windows features may not work." I just don't like being forced to have an active online account with someone in order to install an operating system.

2 days ago
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Windows 10: Charms Bar Removed, No Start Screen For Desktops

nine-times Re:Microsoft would be onto a winner if... (367 comments)

You know, aside from the "Metro" or "Modern" interface, I don't have a problem with Windows 8. It seems like they've addressed that, so I'm not sure what else you're hoping for.

Actually, I do have one other annoyance: their seeming insistence that you have some kind of an Windows web account (outlook.com or whatever) in order to run the OS I understand that they're actually doing something kind of neat with that, but it's pretty annoying that they won't let you skip it during the Windows setup.

2 days ago
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Ask Slashdot: Best Anti-Virus Software In 2015? Free Or Paid?

nine-times Re:New Laptop? Windows? (467 comments)

I thought the included (pre-installed) Microsoft Windows Defender (or Windows Security Essentials) was already good enough.

Yeah, it pretty much is. The reason to go with something else, or in addition, is largely if you're in a business setting and you want to be able to push updates and monitor results. Also, I'm not sure about the current situation, but last I checked, MSE was free for personal use but not licensed for business use...?

But for home use, MSE is probably good enough. It also doesn't have popups, it doesn't break any apps or anything in the OS, and it doesn't take up tons of system resources. Ultimately, with AV software, you're choosing the lesser evil: having the AV take up system resources and break things is less evil than the viruses themselves, but if you can find an AV that doesn't do those things, go with that.

4 days ago
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Microsoft Announces Office 2016 and Office For Windows 10 Coming Later This Year

nine-times Re:Office 2007 started the move into alternatives (146 comments)

My opinion maybe unpopular here with a large group of slashdotters but I actually hated the menu in Office 2003 and the silly menus to show more.

I agree. I'm not sure if this is what you're referring to, but the worst thing was that Microsoft actually had a feature where it would hide menu items that you didn't use often. So you haven't inserted a page break in a few months? Well that's disappeared now, and you have to click some button to "show more options" in order to find it. It wasn't so bad if you understood what was going on, but as an IT support professional, I absolutely hated it because I would regularly get phone calls from people complaining that they couldn't find features.

Ultimately, the ribbon is an improvement. It's compact, and it gives you a lot of options right on the screen, without clicking through a bunch of menus, in a fairly well organized design. I hate Microsoft as much as the next guy, but I think most of the resistance to the ribbon was simply because it was new, and people weren't used to it.

5 days ago
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Blackberry CEO: Net Neutrality Means Mandating Cross-Platform Apps

nine-times Re:Open protocols (307 comments)

Yeah, I don't think his particular argument quite works. I don't think this is about "net neutrality" as I've heard the idea be defined. I don't think Apple should be forced to develop apps for other platforms.

However, I do think that communication protocols, file formats, and related standards should be open and free (both gratis and libre). That is, should be as in "ought to be". I'm not necessarily opposed to legal requirements for making these things free, but I think it would have to be carefully crafted to make sure it didn't include loopholes or unintended consequences. In doing so, you'd probably need to limit the requirements to certain kinds of things.

In abstract, if there were a law that said, in effect, "Built-in messaging applications on mobile phones must use protocols that are available to developers, royalty free, such that a 3rd party developer can create a client on another platform capable of communicating with those messaging applications with the same capabilities as the native client," I think I would probably support something like that. On the other hand, it would be silly to make a law that says, "All application developers and service providers must support all platforms."

5 days ago
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Time For Microsoft To Open Source Internet Explorer?

nine-times Re:But the inevitable (165 comments)

Try to spin it however you want, but there've been competitors for quite a while (Netscape and Opera), and yet the market has shifted from Microsoft being so dominant that major sites commonly were "IE only" and wouldn't work in any other browser, to a position where its more common to see sites go the other way and say, "If you want things to work right, use pretty much any browser other than IE".

It's not so bad now, since a few years ago Microsoft saw the writing on the wall and started supporting web standards. But a few years ago, I was running into a lot of sites where the developers simply refused to support IE.

about a week ago
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Microsoft Reveals Windows 10 Will Be a Free Upgrade

nine-times Re:Please no... (570 comments)

For one thing, it'd just be a good enticement to get people in the door. And Windows is the only OS you pay for anymore. As I pointed out way up several levels, making it free encourages people to update to the latest version, diminishing the need for legacy support.

Sure, you get a lot of the same benefits from going with a subscription, but needing a subscription simply for your computer to work will leave a bad taste in people's mouths. I don't think I'd be willing to buy a computer for home use with the expectation of running Windows if it meant I had to have a subscription, for example. And Windows copy protection schemes have always been a pain in the butt for IT with very limited benefit to Microsoft, and no benefit to Microsoft's customers.

I think they'd earn a lot of good will at a relatively small cost if they were to offer Windows for free, and perhaps even open more of the source code, and focus more on services. I don't expect them to do it, but I actually think it would (possibly) be a smart move. They could still charge for MS Office, Windows Server, Sharepoint, Exchange, server CALs, and any number of other things.

In general, I think Microsoft has a significant problem in that their customers see their solutions as something that we're all stuck with, and Microsoft is taking advantage of having us all over a barrel. Somehow or another, I think they need to reverse that perception, or their position will continue to erode as people find ways to become un-stuck.

about a week ago
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Microsoft Reveals Windows 10 Will Be a Free Upgrade

nine-times Re:Please no... (570 comments)

And that's not a bad business model. As weird as it might be, I actually think, though, that they might be smart to do something like:

$0 /mo for just Windows (free)
+$3 / mo support & select business features
+$3 / mo for office
+$3 / mo for sharepoint and storage
+$4 / mo for dynamics CRM
+$2 / mo for Azure management of your cloud services
+$5 / mo to back all those services up

etc..

And an option to bundle the most common features (Business support, Email/Exchange, Cloud AD controller, MS Office, online storage and backup) for something like $20/month/user.

about a week ago
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Windows Server 2003 Reaches End of Life In July

nine-times Re:MS FAIL (156 comments)

I know it seems like a simple question, but the answer is a bit complicated.

First, the easy part: hardware. You'll want to upgrade/replace hardware for a few different reasons, one being improved performance or new features. Also, inevitably, all hardware eventually breaks, so you'll need to replace it eventually or just cope with its loss. Often, if you're dealing with important hardware, you want to replace it before it actually breaks.

I know, you're thinking, "Why?! That's stupid. If performance is fine and it's still working, why replace it?" Well, in short, it comes down to warranty/support issues. First, if you have a brand new server, the chances of some hardware component failing is a bit more slim than a 12 year-old server. There hasn't been any wear and tear on it yet, so outside of a straight-up manufacturing fault, you'll probably be fine for a while.

But if it does fail, you often have some kind of warranty in place with an appropriate response time. So if I have a brand new Dell server, I can have a warranty with Dell that says if a some hardware component fails, I have a replacement part in my hands in under 4 hours. With a 12 year-old Dell, Dell might not even carry a replacement part anymore. I have to call up and find out, and I'm going to pay for whatever limited support that I get.

So if you have a computer, and you're thinking, "Well if it goes offline and takes a few days or a week to get it running again, that's fine," then by all means, run it until it breaks. If you don't want downtime, plan to replace the hardware every 3-7 years. For a lot of businesses, the potential loss in productivity of an outage is not worth the money saved by not replacing hardware.

Beyond all that, keep in mind that I'm saying "plan to replace hardware every 3-7 years". That doesn't mean that you must absolutely replace all hardware on that timetable, but you should sure as hell budget for hardware replacements. If you're running a business and you have an old out-of-warranty business-critical server that you can't afford to replace if it breaks, then you're in a bad place.

Software is less obvious and potentially harder to explain, but the easiest part of the explanation is, again, regarding "support". Windows 7 and Windows 8 have security patches coming when a new exploit is discovered. Windows XP doesn't. Why doesn't Microsoft just continue to support XP? I'm no fan of Microsoft, but I'd suggest that the reason isn't some kind of nefarious manipulation. It's simply that they don't want to keep supporting all the quirks and bugs of an application that was built over a decade ago, filled with legacy code and bad decisions.

But aside from the simple issue of "security patches", there's a more subtle issue that people don't talk much about, but every IT guy has in the back of his head: there's all kinds of crap being built for Windows 8 and Windows 2012 right now. If someone is writing new drivers, they're going to write drivers for the new OS. If someone is testing their new software version, they're testing against the new OS. If Microsoft developers are looking at a piece of code and thinking, "This is kind of buggy and unreliable, but fixing it would mean overhauling a lot of code..." then those improvements are going to be in the new OS.

So if you want things to be reliable and work well, you generally don't want to be on the bleeding edge (where things aren't tested well yet), but you also don't want to fall too far behind (where nobody is bothering to test anymore). And you know this too, I'm sure. If you're running Linux, you probably don't want to be running production servers on the kernel released yesterday, but you also probably don't want to be running them on the kernel release 12 years ago.

There are more reasons than these, but these reasons are good enough.

about a week ago
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What Will Google Glass 2.0 Need To Actually Succeed?

nine-times Same as other products (324 comments)

I think sometimes, when it comes to computing/technology, people forget that there are some common things that make products popular. For example, it's great if it lets me do something that I would like to do, but which I otherwise cannot do (or it would be difficult to do). For example, smartphones are great because they allow me to check my email, look something up on a website, or look up an address and get turn-by-turn directions. When it comes to smart watches, Google Glass, or other "wearables", the benefit is less clear to me. What does it allow me to do that I can't do on my cell phone?

And keep in mind that the answer to such a question should be something I actually might want to do. It shouldn't be something obscure or with limited appeal (e.g. "I use my Google Glass all the time, because I like to shoot a video blog while rock climbing, and I need it to be hands-free!" might be good for you, but that's not a use most people will appreciate), and it also shouldn't be a gimmicky thing that you might use once to try it out, and then never again (e.g. "This NFC on my phone is great! I can bump phones with someone to give them a copy of a music playlist!")

The other quality that great products have, aside from a genuinely useful feature set, is a relative lack of drawbacks. Seems obvious, I know, but it's something that a lot of people seem to miss. In the case of Google Glass (or other "wearables"), you have to look at how obtrusive and obvious it is that you're wearing one. Having a block of electronics on your face potentially looks dumb. Having something in front of your eye means potentially blocking vision, and just as importantly, interfering with making eye contact with people. Plus, there are issues like, "How often do I need to charge it?" or "Is it comfortable to wear, or does it put pressure on my ear in a way that I don't like?" These things don't necessarily keep people from adopting new products, but it does increase the threshold of usefulness that the feature set must present.

So if you're asking what it for the Google Glass to become a success, I would say that Google Glass would have to present a compelling feature set capable of overcoming the drawbacks. Again, sorry for being obvious, but that's the answer. And by "feature set", I don't mean "a fast processor" or "a lot of RAM", but possible uses that would actually help me in some way. Or to put it another way:

I think wearing Google Glass will make me look like a jackass. Tell me what I can do with it that's good enough to make me willing to look like a jackass, or else redesign it so that I don' t look like a jackass, and then I'll consider getting one.

about a week ago
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What Will Google Glass 2.0 Need To Actually Succeed?

nine-times Re:Shutter (324 comments)

Or maybe something like a visible recording light? The way camcorders have a red light that shows it's recording?

Yes, someone could potentially disable the light or put tape over it, but it would be something.

about a week ago
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What Will Google Glass 2.0 Need To Actually Succeed?

nine-times Re:Size (324 comments)

The hardest problem I've seen people have with Google Glass is how obvious it is you are wearing the glasses. People in public assume you are recording them and it bothers them.

If you over come that, I think it would be a fantastic barrier to remove.

Does that really address the problem? People don't like the idea that Google Glass can be used to record them covertly, so your solution is to make it more covert?

about a week ago
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Microsoft Reveals Windows 10 Will Be a Free Upgrade

nine-times Re:Please no... (570 comments)

I think you're right, and Apple has done something similar. I actually think Apple's move was very smart. By encouraging people to stay up to date with the latest version, they significantly cut the demand for legacy support, which in turn, I'm sure, cuts their support costs in general.

Microsoft can't do quite the same thing, though. While Apple has always treated software as a loss-leader to sell hardware, Microsoft has relied on Windows licensing as a pillar of their business. I suppose they can give the desktop OS away for free, indefinitely, as a loss leader to sell other associated software/services (Office 365, Windows InTune, Windows Server, Exchange, and whatever else), but I would imagine that would be a significant change in their business model.

about a week ago
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Microsoft Reveals Windows 10 Will Be a Free Upgrade

nine-times Re:Rent seeking (570 comments)

Renting software, especially non-essential software, is one thing, but renting the OS, without which the system won't even function, is more akin to renting ransom-ware. (good move M$, he said sarcastically)

Yeah, this is the problem I have with the idea of the OS specifically. If I'm an average consumer who doesn't know much about computers, and I buy a new Dell with a subscription version of Windows, that means I have to keep paying Microsoft every year or else my computer is effectively bricked. (assuming the computer stops functioning when the subscription runs out)

You can say, "No, the computer works fine. You can just install another OS!" And this hypothetical average-consumer-me will say, "I have no idea what you're talking about when you say "OS". All I know is that my computer doesn't work unless I pay Microsoft every year.

So at that point, the whole equation of "buying a computer" will have changed. You won't really "buy" a computer anymore. Your computer itself will be a rental with a very large down-payment.

about a week ago
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Windows Server 2003 Reaches End of Life In July

nine-times Re:MS FAIL (156 comments)

It's not just a budget constraint problem. If you have multiple servers in a farm for an application that is currently running 2003, you don't want to add a new variable into that with a new OS. You'll need to update your existing servers first.

That's debatable, and depends on the context. I think generally, if you have a server farm, you would want to add a new variable by adding new servers. You'd add new servers, migrate the old services to them, and then decommission the old servers-- re-purposing them if they're still good, tossing them if they aren't. And if you run a server farm, you probably should have started doing that to move from 2003 to 2008R2 a few years ago. At this point, you should be planning your migration from 2008R2 to 2012R2, or whatever comes next.

The point is, IT departments should always be planning for and budgeting for the next upgrade. The idea of migrating from a 12 year-old OS to a newer version shouldn't be catching anyone by surprise. If they can't do it because there's no budget for it, then the person doing the budgeting doesn't understand IT needs.

about a week ago
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Time For Microsoft To Open Source Internet Explorer?

nine-times Re:But the inevitable (165 comments)

Eh... you make a good point in that it caused the sort of problems that Microsoft seemed to be aiming to cause, but on the other hand, it was temporary and eventually led to IE losing a lot of market share. Now web developers often target Firefox and Chrome, and IE has sort of become the second-class browser.

about a week ago
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Windows Server 2003 Reaches End of Life In July

nine-times Re:MS FAIL (156 comments)

That's really not fair. He's responding to someone claiming that Windows 2003 is the default for many companies for new deployments. If you're deploying a new server, you shouldn't be deploying a Windows 2003 server, and that's been the case for a few years. Whether you have the budget to deploy a new server is a different question.

Aside from that, honestly, any company who is relying on servers and other IT resources, and doesn't have an IT budget to fund regular updates/upgrades/replacements, really needs to rethink their strategy. It's not the IT worker's fault that there's no IT budget, but it's certainly someone's fault.

about a week ago
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Why Some Teams Are Smarter Than Others

nine-times Re:Really? Theory of Mind (219 comments)

I think "empathy" is generally characterized more by feelings. You see someone who looks upset, and you find it upsetting. I think this "Theory of Mind" business is more about understanding what else might be going on in another person's head.

Like... you know how when you're a kid, and you're shocked to see your teacher at the grocery store? You hadn't really thought about it, but you had somehow assumed that your teacher lived at the school, and perhaps didn't need to eat. And the important part there is, you hadn't really thought about it.

I think that's sort of an early level of the realization, "Other people are also people, like me. They have lives of their own, they think their own thoughts, just like me." There are deeper understandings of this that people develop, like perhaps realizing, "I sort of think of life like a story, and I'm the main character. But other people must also think of themselves as the main character. To an outside observer, there's no reason why my perspective is more correct."

And I think that in adulthood, some people develop that sensibility in much deeper and more profound ways. They can put themselves in another person's shoes, and not just feel empathy for them, but actually understand how things must appear to another person. They can think about things like, "I disagree with you, but I completely understand why you think that, and I'm not sure you're wrong." Some adults develop very strong skills and impulses along those lines, while others don't. Many people, even into adulthood, think as simply as, "I disagree with you, and therefore you must be wrong and stupid."

I'm not sure that's what they mean, but I would guess that's the sort of thing being included in "keeping track of what other people feel, know, and believe."

about two weeks ago

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What's holding back encryption?

nine-times nine-times writes  |  about 5 years ago

nine-times writes "After many years in IT, I've been surprised to notice how much of my traffic is still unencrypted. A lot of businesses that I interact with (both business and personal) are still using unencrypted FTP, and very few people use any kind of encryption for email. Most websites are still using unencrypted HTTP. DNSSEC seems to be picking up some steam, but still doesn't seem to be widely used. I would have thought there would be a concerted effort to move toward encryption for the sake of security, but it doesn't seem to be happening.

I wanted to ask the Slashdot community, what do you think the hold up is? Are the existing protocols somehow not good enough? Are the protocols fine, but not supported well enough in software? Is it too complicated to manage the various encryption protocols and keys? Is it ignorance or apathy on the part of the IT community, and that we've failed to demand it from our vendors?

What challenges have you faced in trying to increase your use of encryption, and what do you think we can do about it?"

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