Microsoft’s products have traditionally reached their zenith in the third version.
Save for experimenters, we all ignored Windows 1 and even Windows 2.1 was an acknowledged dog, but it held promise. The first usable version, with serious networking capability, was Windows 3.1. Although still built atop DOS, we could finally do something productive with Windows. We got used to WYSIWYG.
Windows 95 was a dramatic improvement, but needed to be reinstalled every year or so just to keep it running. Windows 98 was much more solid, and morphed quietly into the product-extending “Second Edition,” which was an operating system that most homes and businesses adopted. Windows Millenium Edition (Me) was a throwback to Windows 98, with added features few found useful.
Finally, in a break with DOS, Microsoft turned to “New Technology.” Windows NT was, for all intents and purposes, an ignored product save for use on Servers. Because it was the first real “server” technology Microsoft sold, NT had a life in corporate America, but few individuals used it. It was quickly supplanted by the dramatically more stable Windows 2000, with more Internet and user-interface features. While limited, it was still a productive tool, and now crashes no longer took down the entire system, which was a boon in business, and in 24x7 servers. It was Windows XP (Windows 2000 with bug fixes, and a new “glossy” appearance) that finally took over the world; XP drove virtually all the earlier operating systems out of the inventory during it’s decade of dominance.
But, Microsoft couldn’t resist tampering: They designed anew and emerged with Vista, and both customers were happy. It was slow, buggy, and poorly thought out, like many of Microsoft’s “first version” products. They reasonably quickly moved to Windows 7, with a cleaner user interface, but still plagued by all kinds of security impositions on users and a complicated security model that only a security expert could navigate. Even though Microsoft forced Windows 7 on new computer buyers, most of them actually installed Windows XP (if they knew how) to regain access to familiar tools and a well-known user interface.
Based on the trend, you might expect that Microsoft has been readying Windows 8 to be the real successor to Windows 7but Microsoft has decided to follow short-term marketing trends to make the product utterly incompatible with user’s expectations: They abandoned the “Start” menu, changed to the “Metro” interface copied from cellphones, and they’re not catering to any of the millions of users who recognize XP is already wickedly obsolete, but saw Windows Vista and Windows 7 as a trip sideways, not a step up.
It’s as if Microsoft has decided that Windows 8 should be the start of yet another line of operating systems, and it will be a dog to learn and use for the next two generations.
But, worse, how will Microsoft replace all the Windows XP systems out there that Windows 8 can’t even emulate? How many retail computer systems, restaurant cash registers, laptops as field-service tools (etc.) are going to go without a new replacement because Microsoft has arbitrarily decided to cater to the “smartphone” and “tablet” users, who don’t have to deal with unique peripheral devices (e.g., receipt printers), or have the robustness that business demands? And, efforts to lockout users from changing their operating system, and creating a “closed ecosystem” for hardware and software products means that Microsoft will pursue the Apple strategyall the way down to Apple’s nominal 10% of the computer market (Apple is an electronic products company, with computers as just another electronic product).
It appears to me that, this time, Microsoft has left their customers in the lurch, focused on the entertainment value of computers, and left the barn door wide open for the now-stable Linux implementations that are cheaper and virtually modeled on the XP experience. Users will find that familiarity preferable to “idiot buttons” limited to eight-per-screen. This may be the final “execution” of Microsoft, by letting the marketers drive product features without much understanding of what people actually want and need for their productivity, and the productivity of their businesses.
I believe that Microsoft has made their fatal blunder: It will break their “stranglehold” on new computer makers, used to delivering the latest Windows version on all new systems; if customers don’t want it, how will they sell computers? They will break the contract model Microsoft has forced them into over the past two decades, and then computer makers will start delivering Linux systems with an XP-like look, at lower cost.
The main question is: How fast will Microsoft recover from this major strategic blunder, orwhen they don’twhich Linux distribution will dominate the desktop computer market in the late teens of this Century?
Basically, telcos--aided and abetted by the government--make broad and extravagant claims about coverage (why, right here where I live, the "Desolation wildnerness" prohibits entry except on foot or horseback, and there are no addresses there, but, if maps are to be believed, the area has marvelous high-speed coverage for Internet services).
For my county alone (aobut 88,000 households and businesses), I am planning a "primary research" survey to find out who has Internet service, and who doesn't). Do do that on a national scale will require tremendous effort and cost.
I know that visiting my local Forest Ranger District HQ recently got me a map of all the cell sites within their jurisdiction, but that would require individual visits to the thousands of sites the govenment own across the Country.
So, to be clear: The precision of data you can get from telcos and the regulatory agencies is as precise as those "coverage maps" for their "cellular service area;" Dramatically more aspirational than factual.
Let's start with the basics: What's in it for YOU? Is open source a buzzword, something you think you have to do ethically, just don't have the chops to turn it into a business, it based on other open source code? Is income something you vitally need to continue your work, to live a better life, or are you independently wealthy (I think you've ruled out the latter)?
I agree with an earlier poster: Make the core code that delivers basic utility to the user open source, if you want to use it as your "loss leader" to show them what's possible. Include all the extra features in the menus or configuration options of your program, so users can see what they're missing (clicking on it opens a window telling them it's in the commercial product, if they'd just buy it).
But, remember, open source is just a way for other people to leverage your code and make it into a competitive product...some will even violate your license agreement, and modify it to suit their customer base. Do you really want to spawn your own competitors?
An interview that just plows the same old ground is worthless; if it yields new insights that others can glean, it could be priceless.
I'm betting it's the former.
As one example: I keep a Technology database of hard-won knowledge and acquired information about fixing computers (my own, private Knowledgebase). When (as just the other day) I discover a new solution (the nasty uses by malware authors of the HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Image File Execution Options registry key, and how to clean it out), I document it, so I have the solution on my notebook wherever I go. When I find new information and add it to the database in the field, it's immediately copied back to the server for others to use when I return to the office.).
I expect many of you to issue the usual gripes and outrageous claims about Lotus Domino/Notes, but unless you really build apps for it in a hour, you don't even understand the power of the product. I've been using it since 1992, and it's STILL the primary tool on every computer in my company.
I recommend everyone have three passwords, for situations that demand High, Medium and Low security. Your bank and credit card accounts, and places where you have to supply a bank or credit card number (e.g., a site where you purchase stuff) deserve High security. Places on the Internet where your identity is at stake (e.g., do you want a criminal sending eMails from your account?) deserve Medium security. And, finally, you need a "throwaway," Low security passwords for those situations where you are required to provide a password, but you don't sense a security need (e.g., a password required to read a newspaper online; do you really care if someone else uses your password to read that same news?). But, mind you, three is not a magic number. If you have need for four security levels, by all means, select four...or more. Or, if you have different passwords for your business and your family matters, set up two sets of passwords (say, three for the office, and four for home).
Now I'd like to show you a way to create a High security password that's easy to remember, in xx easy steps:
1) Pick a word that connects with you, one that isn't particularly obvious. It might be a term of art in a hobby (not "woodworking" but, perhaps, "dovetail," not "stamps" but "philatelist."). Make it a longer word if you have more concerns about security. You can use very longs words, like "antidisestablishmentarianism," but make sure you can easily remember it (for purposes of illustration, I've picked "philatelist").
2) Pick a short string of digits, but don't use your age, your home address, or some part of your Social Security number, or other common information other people already know about you. And never use your bank account number as a password! I like to pick a word (say, that word you use to refer to some silly event in your past that still produces a smile), tap it out on the telephone touchpad, and write down those digits. Now there's a number that's hard to guess! Or, pick the month and day of an important date (but avoid those dates easy to learn or guess, like your birthday). Let's use "3981" for our example.
3) Now, take the word you picked, and break it into two parts (most people like to split on syllable boundaries, but you can pick, say, the first six letters, leaving all the rest. Write down the two parts on a piece of paper, separated by some space (you'd see "phila", some space, and then "telist").
4) Now, insert the digits you created in step #2 in the space between the two parts; you get "phila3981telist".
5) Finally, capitalize some of the letters. Capitalizing the first letter of each of the two parts is fairly obvious; maybe you'd like to make it a bit more complex and captialize the second letter in each string, ending up with "pHila3981tElist."
That makes your password easier to remember (it's a word and string of digits you know, with your own personal preference on positioning of the parts and the capitalization).
From this you can easily use use the first two-thirds or the last two-thirds for your Medium-security password (e.g., "pHila3981" or "3981tElist"; just pick one, and remember that).
Finally, for a throw-away password, just pick some easy part of your Medium-security password (e.g., "3981t"; notice I included one of the letters, too; some websites refuse all-digit passwords).
Within a couple of days, you'll have easily remembered three different passwords, none of which are easy to guess. And, you won't have to keep them written down, anywhere (however, I always recommend you write them down and store them in a safe, or a bank deposit drawer, in case you're incapacitated and somebody needs to legitimately act like you to pay the mortgage, etc.)
I hope this helps someone else, too.
--Carol Anne (Copyright 2009, Carol Anne Ogdin)