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Comment: Re:OS/2 better then windows at running windows app (Score 1) 380

by Shirley Marquez (#49764343) Attached to: 25 Years Today - Windows 3.0

Almost certainly WordPerfect's fault. The early versions of WordPerfect for Windows were awful, and by the time they released a decent one the market window had closed.

Windows 3.0 was not the best OS ever, but it was much more stable if you ran the GOOD Windows applications that were available at the time (things like Ami Pro and PageMaker) and/or used it to task switch between DOS programs running in windows. And you really really wanted to run it in 386 enhanced mode if possible; real mode was far less stable.

Comment: Re:*shrug* (Score 1) 380

by Shirley Marquez (#49764289) Attached to: 25 Years Today - Windows 3.0

Windows 3 offered one important thing over applications with GUIs: multiple applications with the SAME interface. The fact that applications now had common user interface elements was important, because it meant less learning as you went back and forth.

One of the reasons that WordPerfect failed to move successfully to Windows was that they tried to preserve their DOS-based user interface, which included some key usage that was incompatible with Windows UI standards, rather than fully embracing Windows and abandoning backward UI compatibility. By the time they figured it out and added a Windows UI mode to WordPerfect, Microsoft Word had already claimed most of the market.

Comment: Re: *shrug* (Score 1) 380

by Shirley Marquez (#49764241) Attached to: 25 Years Today - Windows 3.0

Windows 3.0 did offer an advantage over DESQview and other task switchers: it ran the GUI programs that had started to appear. Notable examples that were on the market by 1990: Microsoft Excel (first introduced for Windows in 1987), Microsoft Word for Windows (1989), Aldus PageMaker (1987), Samna (later Lotus) Ami and Ami Pro (1988), and CorelDRAW (1989). There was also an unsuccessful release of Adobe Illustrator 2 for Windows in 1989; Adobe made another try with version 4 but the Windows version didn't really catch on until version 7 in 1997.

Windows 3.0 was the first version that really allowed running more than one substantial application simultaneously. (Windows 1.0 and 2.0 were severely limited by memory restrictions because they ran in real mode; you could run one major application along with some of the small applets that came with Windows, but trying to run more than one large application tended to make it choke. Windows/386 2.1 was actually Microsoft's first attempt at a version of Windows that ran in virtual 8086 mode but it didn't work well.) As a result, it was eagerly adopted by people who were using those GUI applications. And it was far more stable than the earlier versions of Windows, and computers were starting to be sufficiently powerful to run it well, so it helped drive sales of those computers and applications. Windows 3.1, which came two years later, was the first really solid version (well, by Windows standards) and moved Windows into the mainstream of computing.

Comment: Re:All using ancient devices (Score 1) 91

On early phones, taking the SD card out of your phone and putting it in your computer was a common use case. It was usually a much faster way to get files onto it than tethering the phone by USB was. And those old phones had card slots that were right on the side of the device so the card was easy to remove and replace.

I remember doing that for my first smartphone (Sprint Evo 4G); the SD card was a pain to get to (you had to take off the back cover and remove the battery) but the phone's SD data transfer was very slow so you still came out ahead if you wanted to fill the entire card. And on that old version of Android, tethering the phone and mounting the SD card on your computer unmounted the card from the phone, which made my phone nearly useless because I had transferred as many apps as possible to SD, something you could still do back in the days of Gingerbread. So turning off the phone to do the SD transfer wasn't a major imposition.

Modern Android devices don't actually mount as a file system on your computer; they instead use MTP (media transfer protocol) to make files visible over USB. (The computer's OS may display the MTP device in a way that LOOKS like a mounted file system, but that doesn't change the fact that a different mechanism is used under the hood.) That eliminates the problem of having to unmount the SD card from the phone. It's not in theory any faster, but new devices usually have much faster USB implementations so there is no real speed advantage to taking the card out. And the cards are usually still buried in some location where they are hard to take out, unlike tablets and media players that typically have them accessible from the outside.

Comment: Re:Can it run apps from the Google app store? (Score 1) 107

Bytecode typically IS quite a bit smaller than a native binary. The amount of difference it will make for typical apps is limited because most of the bulk is things other than code: icons, images, sounds, data tables, and so forth - the kind of things that would have been in the resource fork of a Macintosh program back when they still had that separation.

Comment: Re:wrong (Score 1) 360

The problem with voter ID laws is that they effectively act as a poll tax. There is a cost in time and money to get the necessary documents. The system is often set up so that the burden of getting those documents falls disproportionately on minorities, the poor, the disabled, and other disadvantaged populations. For starters, they are less likely to drive or to travel internationally, so they are less likely to already have some of the acceptable IDs. Urban DMVs that are badly underfunded and understaffed relative to their suburban counterparts are also common, meaning that the time burden of visiting them hits urban populations disproportionately.

Of course, the Republicans who push for voter ID laws don't care about those people, as they tend not to vote Republican. But even Republicans may care about the difficulties that some elderly people have had with the laws.

Comment: Cross-platform support is also important (Score 1) 409

by Shirley Marquez (#49752753) Attached to: The Reason For Java's Staying Power: It's Easy To Read

Java's cross-platform support is mentioned in passing in the article. But they fail to recognize its importance in a key setting: the academic environment. Not only is Java available for all the important platforms that students may own (Windows, Mac, and Linux), the SAME implementation of it is on all those platforms. That means that students can use any of those platforms to do their assignments, and be confident that their programs will run correctly on the systems used by the graders. That is a key advantage over using C or C++.

Python is also cross-platform, and it has seen substantial growth in academic use in recent years. Vendor-bound languages like Swift and C# aren't in the running for general academic use, though schools offer courses that are specifically about them. (C# may become more usable in the future now that Microsoft is opening up parts of .NET but it has to be considered a Windows-only language for now.) The next frontier may be browser-based programming environments using Javascript; those will offer excellent cross-platform compatibility so long as all students use the same browser (which means one that is available on multiple platforms such as Chrome or Firefox), and probably an acceptable level even if they use a different one.

Comment: Re:Windows? (Score 1) 107

Firefox 3.6 may load those same pages with half the memory. But it also has a small fraction of the Javascript performance, and serious compatibility issues with modern CSS.

Modern web pages are also overloaded with Javascript, some of which runs all the time in the background. Facebook is one notable example, and an understandable one because it automatically updates your social media feed. But it also happens with seemingly innocuous sites like Salon; despite the fact that their pages are basically static text to read, they nonetheless have scripts running to support useless stuff like the way the text view expands when you scroll down and to update the Livefyre comment view at the bottom of the page.

Comment: Re:Windows? (Score 1) 107

They are selling two versions in the US. The $199 model has 2GB RAM, 16GB flash, and a 1.8GHz Atom. The $299 model has 4GB RAM, 64GB flash, and a 2.3GHz Atom. There are additional variations sold in other markets.

ASUS isn't going to bother putting Windows Phone 8.1 on it at this point in time. But I wouldn't be surprised to see a Windows 10 version in the fall when Windows 10 for phones is launched - the summer launch is for desktops and laptops, the version for phones and small tablets will follow a bit later. You are correct that all the hardware is in place.

Comment: Re:Compelling? (Score 1) 243

by Shirley Marquez (#49737159) Attached to: Why Apple Ditched Its Plan To Build a Television

But you can fix the TV UI problem with an external box. Basically, you do everything with your Apple TV (or whatever) and use the TV as a dumb monitor. You'll be doing that with your TV in five years anyway because all its smart features will be too out of date to be useful; TV makers rarely update them.

The problem is that Apple TV doesn't do everything you need to take on that role. Notably, it cannot tune into over-the-air or cable TV. TiVo is the closest thing available but their subscription model kills it for a lot of people; a hefty monthly fee that you are basically paying just to get the program guide feels like a poor value. Windows Media Center could have been that TV UI killer app if Microsoft had continued development, but they abandoned it.

FORTUNE'S FUN FACTS TO KNOW AND TELL: A firefly is not a fly, but a beetle.