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Comment: Re:My Plans for Firefox (Score 1) 147 147

Thanks for the offer. And yes, in a couple of cases I've reported a URL via the Firefox made me sad feature.

I'm torn about doing more. On the one hand, of course I'd like to see the issues fixed and in principle I'm happy to help. As a software developer myself I understand the usefulness of detailed technical information and test cases.

On the other hand, every time I go near Bugzilla I seem to spend 15-30 minutes trying to figure it out, before sometimes getting to the stage of actually submitting a useful issue but more often just giving up. I'm sure it's great for people who use it regularly, but for an occasional contributor it's awful. And unfortunately the reality is that I can't justify spending a client's money like that every time I find a bug in a browser if I have four other browsers available to me within 10 seconds that can load the site just fine, and as selfish as it sounds, there's only so much income that I'm willing to give up by working on non-billable activities.

So again, thank you for the offer, but if you have any pull with Mozilla I would encourage you to spend it on either improving the reporting systems so we can all contribute more effectively in the future, or on improving the built-in diagnostics in Firefox so if I come across a site that does hang there is still a mechanism available to capture what was really going on internally at the time and report it back.

Comment: Re:My Plans for Firefox (Score 1) 147 147

In that specific case it would be understandable. Frankly I'm expecting Perl 6 and Half-Life 3 before Electrolysis ships anyway, but if it ever does, I think most people would understand that it's a significant architectural change and there are very good reasons for making it.

It's the frequent breakage of useful extensions just because someone felt like rearranging the UI or some superficially unrelated APIs that winds up a lot of users and extension developers, I think.

Comment: Re:My Plans for Firefox (Score 1) 147 147

Perhaps instead of trying to be all things^W^WChrome to all people, they would do better to go back to their roots as the simple, expandable browser the AC mentioned, and perhaps focus on the robustness issues with plug-ins and cross-tab contamination that have plagued them for so long.

Unfortunately these two things are somewhat conflicting. They are working on a process-per-tab/plugin implementation ("Electrolysis") but it will require changes to many add-ons.

Comment: Re:My Plans for Firefox (Score 3, Insightful) 147 147

I was there before Mozilla existed, and I respectfully disagree.

To answer your question about how it's bloated since 1.0, please consider this: which updates in the past year or so have not added an extra icon to the main toolbar and/or come with a splash screen about the update that primarily advertises a new feature that isn't a core part of the browser and would previously have been handled with an add-on (if at all)? Why is there an "Apps" entry on my "Tools" menu now? Pocket? Hello?

Meanwhile, quality seems to have dropped significantly since the rapid release schedule. There are currently several sites I visit regularly -- as part of work, mind, so these are professional business sites not bleeding edge web geek blogs -- that will crash Firefox. I literally have to fire up another browser to use them, and that could be IE or Chrome or even Safari on iOS, so it's not that someone has written an IE-only site in 2015 or anything like that. Of course it's particularly annoying with Firefox because unlike every other major browser for many years, taking out one tab in Firefox can still take out everything else as well.

Perhaps instead of trying to be all things^W^WChrome to all people, they would do better to go back to their roots as the simple, expandable browser the AC mentioned, and perhaps focus on the robustness issues with plug-ins and cross-tab contamination that have plagued them for so long. They might not take over the entire Web that way, but at least they'd still be the best choice for a significant part of the market instead of slowly drifting into obscurity on their current course.

I really hope they do, because the two reasons I still tend to use Firefox by default on most PCs are the add-on ecosystem and my general distrust of Google and more recently Microsoft. Mozilla seem to be going the wrong way on both fronts right now.

Comment: Re:Just in time (Score 1) 174 174

Sorry, but I think you're mistaking a somewhat similar historical position for what we're talking about here.

You're talking about the published support times for existing operating systems, not the support period based on hardware lifetimes that Microsoft has been referring to in connection with Windows 10. The supported lifetime for the OS itself becomes a concept with little meaning if they plan to treat Windows 10 as an evergreen system, but to my knowledge they have not yet given any clarification of how to interpret their hardware-related statements objectively.

You're also talking about contracts that typically only large organisations will have. Those contracts are irrelevant to home users, because that's not how they buy Windows. Clearly there will be bigger changes than you are implying with Windows Home, because for a start you have no option to ignore or defer updates; you'll need Windows Pro or higher for that from 10 onwards. And of course if you take Windows 10 as a free upgrade, so you haven't paid anything for it, it's questionable whether you'd have any basis in law for complaining even if Microsoft shut down tomorrow. At least with previous versions, if you purchased for real money (or got Windows preinstalled on a new computer you paid for) you could refer to public statements Microsoft have made about support durations and backing out of those commitments would probably lead to a class action suit in the US, for example.

Comment: Re:Just in time (Score 1) 174 174

Yes, that was part of what I had in mind.

However, there appears to be a more general problem (and a more deliberate strategy) with Apple than any one device or platform. In theory, there are still updates available for my iPad (an early Retina model) but in practice they are widely reported to perform so poorly that we daren't "upgrade". However, that means we are locked out of various apps or upgrades, because Apple forces app developers to target its more recent versions of iOS only. Need a new app? No problem, upgrade your iOS. New iOS makes your device so slow it's barely usable? No problem, just buy a new device. Want to just use what worked fine before on a device you only bought a few years ago, and run apps that developers would be happy to write for it? Sucks to be you.

With the direction Microsoft has been pushing in for a few years now, with what-was-Metro and RT and it looks like now with some of the Windows 10 integration as well, I'm very wary of being forced down the same artificial-obsolescence path. And at least with Apple you can ignore the prompt to update your system and keep using what you had before. The fact that Microsoft are disabling that ability for Windows 10 Home makes me extremely sceptical about their motivations.

Comment: Re:Just in time (Score 1) 174 174

I doubt anyone actually believes Microsoft considers the "supported lifetime of your device" to be only a year or two for a desktop computer.

True, but people would have said the same about Apple once upon a time, while lately Apple's software policies seem tailor-made to artificially limit the lifetime of its already relatively expensive product range, up to and including the high-end business laptops and such.

I think the concern is that this is a one-way trip. Once consumers and particularly businesses start making the switch to Windows 10, it is unlikely there will be any going back.

If Microsoft then ships one box-bricking Windows update to all those Windows Home users, who will have no option to defer or skip any update under the current proposals, there is going to be carnage.

The other significant risk I can see is that if Microsoft's new business model doesn't work out -- after all, it seems they're essentially betting on giving away Windows for a considerable time in the hope that it will drive more sales of other software, media content, and related services -- then they are going to need to make their money somewhere else. It would be a brave person who bet against a major tech company exploiting its locked-in users in the face of shareholder anger and probably changes in senior management under those conditions.

Comment: Deliberately shipping unfinished software (Score 2) 174 174

It is the likely change in philosophy that concerns me.

Very often, once software has moved to on-line upgrades from static installation, or from on-line upgrades being available to routinely applying rolling updates for new versions, the quality at initial launch time drops sharply, and the quality of rolling updates is significantly lower than professional standards should dictate. There's something about the mindset that means shipping half-finished products is now somehow OK, like the "perpetual beta" junk that even some of the biggest companies in the business have inflicted on us in recent years.

This slide towards version-less rolling updates has so often been used as an excuse to ship sub-standard products, or to actively damage previously acceptable products after the fact, that I don't want anything to do with it for anything I actually rely on. Browsers have turned to sh*t since Google started doing it with Chrome and Mozilla started copying them with Firefox. Apple have been systematically nerfing iDevices by forcing apps (which are only available through the App Store that they control) to update to match recent iOS versions, even though there are widespread reports of those newer iOS versions crippling performance on "old" (like, maybe two years old) devices to the point where they are basically useless. Adobe have alienated a substantial part of the creative/design industries with the move to Creative Cloud rentware, and I have yet to see anyone say a good word about the updates they rolled out a few days ago (complete with awful performance and blatant bugs). Even Microsoft, long the champions of doing things with professional standards of stability and backward compatibility in mind, seem to have gone full see-what-sticks in recent years, and I don't see this changing given they appointed Nadella as CEO.

Personally, I like my operating systems working and staying that way. That's why I no longer install anything but designated security updates on my Windows 7 systems unless I have an active reason to do so; I just ignore everything else on the assumption that it's going to break something, hurt performance, start nagging me to update to Windows 10, or otherwise make my experience worse. And so far, after following that policy for some considerable time, I'm quite happy with not having those updates and having a stable system I can actually use.

Comment: Re:Microsoft is not trustworthy for a rolling rele (Score 1, Troll) 174 174

I couldn't agree more.

"While the RTM process has been a significant milestone for previous releases of Windows, it’s more of a minor one for Windows 10. Microsoft is moving Windows 10 to a 'Windows as a service' model that means the operating system is regularly updated."

Yay, now my OS can also ship as bug-ridden, slow, insecure software, because "we'll patch it later".

Sounds about as promising an upgrade as moving to subscription software-for-rent for something I rely on to earn my living. Ask anyone using Creative Cloud since the latest updates how well that one works out.

Comment: Re:Monkey Island on a satnav (Score 1) 210 210

A friend of mine at work traded in his minivan, and somehow in the process ended up with a Toyota GPS unit that he didn't need for his new ride. This was way back around 1994/5— the olden days when GPS was still fairly new, expensive and exotic and hadn't been unlocked to its current precision.

I managed to hook up the Toyota GPS unit to the cigarette lighter in my Probe for power, and used a bunch of cable adapters to interface it to the serial port of the cradle for a 512K U.S. Robotics Palm III for display.

I used an old Logitec parallel port hand-held roller scanner to scan long black-and-white stripes of maps, then stitched them together on my computer. Then the stitched maps were loaded into the Palm as graphic files. With some software I found God knows where, I could drive to a known location near one corner of the map and mark it on the Palm III, then drive to another known location at the opposite corner of the map and mark it on the Palm III. Then the software would scale the map image and scroll it so the map would follow me as I drove around.

Each map file covered about 50x50 miles, which was plenty for getting around the medium-sized metro I lived in.

It was a free GPS. No directions. But if I got lost I could pop the Palm out of its cradle and look to see what was around me.

Comment: Re:Assumptions are the mother of all ... (Score 1) 172 172

And should I also put the bigger screen, full size keyboard and mouse in my bag and carry it with me every time I visit a client on-site?

Taking a portable computer with a big screen with me is better than taking a portable computer with a small screen with me, for exactly the same reasons that having a big screen (or more than one) on my desktop is better than having a small screen on my desktop. Yes, it's balanced out modestly by weight and power issues, but carrying a bag that weighs an extra pound from the train/car to the client's office/facility is hardly a burden for any reasonably fit adult.

Comment: Re:Assumptions are the mother of all ... (Score 1) 172 172

I don't need to install an alternative shell. I've got one that works just fine out of the box. It's called the Windows 7 UI.

FWIW, it's not the start menu I'm bothered about. Since Win7 I hardly use it anyway, I just have my regular applications set out in the task bar and use jump lists probably 90% of the time I load one. This gets me to anything from a spreadsheet I worked with recently to a shell on a remote server I use regularly with two clicks and is one of the cleanest UI set-ups I've ever seen in an OS GUI.

The thing that annoys me about the Win8+ GUIs is how dumbed down and in-your-face they are. Huge areas of bright colours (yay for eye strain), boxy styles where you never quite know what you can click (sorry, tap) until you try, clumsy icons that don't really tell you anything anyway, and everything all spaced out so fat-fingered people with tablets don't accidentally reformat their disk instead of sending an e-mail. For someone using a keyboard and mouse with good screen(s), all of this is moving backwards. If I wanted dumb UIs for simple stuff, I'd buy an iPad and use web apps instead of desktop applications.

I do realise that some of this related primarily to what was then called the Metro UI in Win8 and some changes have been made since then. But from what I can see so far with Win10, it looks like they're pushing the overall UI theme even more in that direction, even if the default method of interaction looks more like a traditional desktop again.

Comment: Re:Assumptions are the mother of all ... (Score 1) 172 172

Unfortunately, I'm in the UK, where the selection is much more limited.

For example, Dell UK's web site lists exactly one laptop with a 17+" screen and SSD, and it is also a touchscreen and comes with Windows 8.1.

HP do at least promote the Windows 7 option (via Win8 downgrade rights) for the high-end ZBook laptops on their site. However, the pricing on those tends to make the closest equivalent Retina MBPs in specification look cheap.

Also, Microsoft UK don't seem to have any high-end devices at all within their Signature Edition range, so it's invasive crapware city all the way with a lot of the big name brands, even on their expensive, high-end models.

Comment: Re:Assumptions are the mother of all ... (Score 2) 172 172

But the screenshots I've seen of Windows 10 still mostly look flat and/or garish, and it seems to be more a case of trying not to make the visuals too much worse than what is already available via Windows 7 than actually trying to be better. Another example is the icons, which have gone from being widely ridiculed to being... well, slightly less widely ridiculed... in all of the reviews I've come across, and with considerable justification if the examples I've seen myself were representative.

It's not just the visuals that put me off, though. It's also the fact that I use a traditional desktop PC with multiple large monitors, and I want an OS and software that work well in that kind of environment. I saw a review the other day of the new preview release where literally every screenshot that had substantial content in it also included the word "tap" somewhere, with obvious concessions to touchscreens that just don't make sense for a desktop workstation. This was one of the big problems with Windows 8, and it seems like with the Surface tablet hardware and Windows 10, Microsoft are doubling down on touchscreens. #donotwant #haverealworktodo

I'll wait to see what people say when Windows 10 actually ships and we're not just talking about preview releases and educated guesswork, but so far the signs don't seem promising. Windows 7, on the other hand, is tried and tested and works just fine on the numerous computers I use it with today, so as I said, if I could buy an approximate equivalent with newer and more powerful hardware right now, I'd be right in there. Sadly, I'm in the UK, and what you can pick up over here is quite limited compared to what you can get in say the US.

Your mode of life will be changed to EBCDIC.