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Comment Re:Magic Internet Access (Score 1) 339

That wasn't in the GA release, there was a Dial-Up Networking update that eventually got rolled into a Service Pack. Before that you have to install PPP drivers etc supplied by your ISP.

You gotta razor-sharp memory on you, my friend. I guess my Gateway came with the update already packaged, so I never knew early adopters still had to hassle with SLIP or PPP apps. Either way, Microsoft deserves credit for making dial-up as painless as your modem and your ISP could allow.

Submission + - Microsoft's Anti-privacy in Windows 7, 8 in Detail

WheezyJoe writes: ghacks, Extremetech, Ars, and even Forbes are providing more detail about Windows 10's telemetry and "privacy invasion" features being backported to Windows 7 and 8. The articles list and explain some of the involved hotfixes by number (e.g., KB3068708, KB3022345, KB3075249, and KB3080149). The Extremetech and ghacks articles suggest what you might be able to do about it.

gHacks notes that ”these four updates ignore existing user preferences stored in Windows 7 and Windows 8 (including any edits made to the Hosts file) and immediately starts exchanging user data with vortex-win.data.microsoft.com and settings-win.data.microsoft.com. These, and maybe others, appear to be hardcoded which means that the Hosts file is bypassed automatically”

Comment Themes! Windows Plus! (Score 1) 339

Another aspect of Win 95, kinda lost now, was it was fun. The Plus! cd packed in all these themes that actually worked, changing fonts, icons, colors, wallpaper, screensaver, and (my favorite) system sounds to an aquarium, a haunted house, sports, and other cool time-wasting stuff. The aquarium screensaver was quite impressive. Sure it ate some CPU, but by the time Pentium 133's were common, who cared? Some of the system sounds from that era I still keep around and plug into Windows, 'cause some of them were just plain well done.

One of my ongoing beefs with Microsoft is how, with each release, they take more of this away. I didn't mind "Luna" on XP, at least not in principle, but they only released 3 possible colors (plus a black Zune theme if you could find it). Otherwise, Luna was locked down (although "classic" was still available).

It got worse from there. On a lot of systems, you have to go through a lot of settings to get Aero to start working even if you have adequate display hardware, and once it's working there's not much you can do with it. Moreover, these things they call "themes" in Windows 7-10 aren't themes at all - they're little more than a wallpaper (albeit a pretty one). Little else can be changed. You have to go skinning or buy Windows Blinds to do anything close to what Windows 95 offered with Plus!, and these methods involve messing with system files which Win 10's mandatory system updates may well wipe out on a regular basis.

Windows 95 was a product that Microsoft was determined to make people want to use on a PC at home. But the guys behind it have probably all retired with their stock options, and the new people figure you'll buy Windows 'cause you just have to. Fuck having fun, give us your ID, your browsing history and your shopping habits. Click on this live tile, watch this ad. Buy a tablet and a phone, so we can track where you're at. It's been 20 years since Windows 95 and we got TELEMETRY!

Comment Magic Internet Access (Score 2) 339

Windows 95, if I remember correctly, solved the modem-to-internet problem. Up until then, I remember getting a modem to dial out meant starting some specialized dialer app or other (like AOL), and this might make it possible for other internet programs like FTP or telnet or Gopher or Navigator to work. Windows 95 had all this plumbing built-in. You set up your dial-up number (or two) and account information in a control panel applet, and then whenever an IP-aware program or app tapped for an address that wasn't available locally, the modem would automagically wake up and dial your ISP while your program patiently waited for the handshaking to complete.

This was pretty damned cool. You could have a LAN card and a modem on the same system, do all sorts of LAN-based stuff and the modem would stay asleep until you pinged a host outside the LAN. It. Just. Worked. With Windows 95, people could ditch AOL, and just subscribe to something cheap and simple like Earthlink. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think Macs got this functionality until the iMac in 1998. For Windows 95 users, this made the Internet a LOT easier to use, and meant any internet app like Navigator would just plain work.

This magic carried on into Windows 2000. I once carried a mid-size office LAN over a single dial-up bridged by a Windows 2000 box and a modem. Windows reliably squeezed every packet through, and re-dialed automatically whenever the connection went down. Slow, but it worked! Why do something like this? Because Verizon couldn't deliver our T1 on time!

Comment Re:a Mac user praising Windows (Score 1) 339

History will tell you that Apple was in decline when Windows 95 came out. This was the period of the Centris and the Performa lines, plasticky John Sculley potato-chip models (just take the same ingredients and re-package 'em), followed by the rocky PowerPC transition that never delivered the holy-shit-fast performance that it promised, even while "Jean-Louis Gassée... steadfastly refused to lower the profit margins on Mac computers" and helped solidify Apple's reputation as being overpriced for what you get (you wanna cd-rom with that?), particularly as Intel forged steadily forward with the Pentium.

So even if Apple was first, in the mid-90's the desktop computer market was ripe for the taking. All Microsoft had to do was re-invent Windows without the Program Manager and make it work on any and all those crappy 386's still out there, with their shitty 14-inch color monitors, and fuck knows what peripherals. But they did it. It might run slow as shit on a 386, but on a Pentium with some RAM and a decent graphics card (S3 anyone? Matrox? Number-9?), you could drive a 19-inch monitor at full resolution. and the sound card worked! and this kind of rig was affordable! Remember computer shopper? Fully loaded PC's were getting CHEAP! and with Windows 95, they could launch and run Doom and Duke 3D (and, oh yeah, Lotus 123)!

Comment Re:The Right-Click menu? (Score 1) 339

All praise to the right-click menu. The right-click context menu was so intuitively useful that even Apple-users started missing that second mouse button. Apple eventually caved and adopted context menus in their own OS, and started making mice that, if tweaked in the control panel, would behave as if they had an honest right-side button.

If some other UI did this first, somebody post about it. Otherwise, Windows 95 gets a lot of respect for getting this right.

Comment Re:124k? (Score 1) 112

Same here. The green "plus" on the name plate didn't stand out too much. My school library got one with a color composite monitor, paddles, two floppy drives, an Epson printer, and the fantastic documentation (Applesoft Tutorial, Apple ][ Reference Manual) but needed some kid to help with how it works. After I showed 'em how to boot "Oregon Trail" and "Lemonade Stand", they let me use it whenever it was free. Awesome.

Comment Re:124k? (Score 2) 112

The Apple ][ plus had 48K of regular RAM and an expansion slot 0 for the 16K RAM expansion card (known as the "language card" because it enabled Pascal to run on the machine). The older Apple ][ did not have this slot, and maxed out at 48K.

The Apple //e came with 64K built in, but still arranged as above for compatibility. Whereas the earlier DOS fit within the 48K space, the more feature-full ProDOS occupied the language card space and thus required a 64K machine.

The Apple //e replaced slot 0 for a specialized slot for an 80-column card, and the latter came in two flavors, the "extended" one carrying another 64K of RAM which could be accessed through yet another form of bank-switching. One the of the best known apps to take advantage of this was Appleworks.

Third-parties like Applied Engineering expanded on the idea of the extended 80-column card with products like Ramworks, which provided additional 64K bank-switchable banks all the way up to a total of 3 megabytes, useful for ram-disks and so that Appleworks could load it's entirety into RAM. Even at 1MHz, an Apple // operating entirely under ram-disk seemed darn-well snappy.

Comment Flamebait? (Score 1) 112

Ya know, I have nothing against Apple, and lots of praise for interface builder and the other tech that came out of NeXT, but is this AC honestly jizzing for Apple development products, or is he actually an alien trying to test how quickly Apple-haters will start flaming and others will argue frivolously over their favorite development environment?

Submission + - A Breakdown of the Windows 10 Privacy Policy

WheezyJoe writes: The Verge has a piece on Windows 10 privacy that presents actual passages from the EULA and privacy policy that suggest what the OS is capturing and sending back to Microsoft. The piece takes a Microsoft-friendly point of view, arguing that all Microsoft is doing is either helpful or already being done either by Google or older releases of Windows, and also touches on how to shut things off (which is also explained here). But the quoted passages from the EULA and the privacy policy are interesting to review, particularly if you look out for legal weasel words that are open to Microsoft's interpretation, such as "various types (of data)", diagnostic data "vital" to the operation of Windows (cannot be turned off), sharing personal data "as necessary" and "to protect the rights or property of Microsoft". And while their explanations following the quotes may attempt an overly friendly spin, the article may be right about one thing: "In all, only a handful of these new features, and the privacy concerns they bring, are actually in fact new... Most people have just been either unaware or just did not care of their existence in past operating systems and software."

Comment Re:Stupid comparisons (Score 1) 345

This (where are my mod points?). Every time the Concorde comes up there comes this flood of chest-thumping off-topic U.S. v. Europe horse shit and arm-chair economists preaching about how money should be spent.

It's a shit article, anyway. Not once does it present any fact establishing that the 747 is being retired. Instead, it alludes to slow sales of the latest refresh of the plane (doesn't mention that the de-facto replacement A380 is also selling slowly - jumbo planes are not hot right now), analog instruments compared to the A380 (apples to oranges, and the debate rages on whether fly-by-wire makes pilots lazy and confused), something about sound, and then multiple paragraphs of anecdotal filler. At the last paragraph, some more unsubstantiated conclusory statements.

The 747 is not going away. It's a proven design, far easier to refresh than start from scratch to meet whatever the market for jumbos comes up with in the future. There's something called the Yellowstone Project to completely refresh Boeing's line, but we may all be in nursing homes before that bears fruit. Today, the biggest problem for the 747 (and the A380) is smaller long-range fuel-efficient mid-size planes like the 777, which are easier to fill (empty seats mean lost revenue). They are also far more comfortable in coach, particularly if you're stuck in the middle aisle.

Comment Re:Effectively removes only reason to own an apple (Score 1) 435

People buy apples because so many PC laptops and desktops suck. Take a walk to any Best Buy, Wal Mart, or even Microsoft Store and you will see stacks of cheap, plastic underpowered suckage. Apple has an incentive for their machines to run their OS well or they won't sell. PC manufacturers have the luxury of getting to sell junk to people who don't know any better. To Microsoft's credit, Windows 10 seems to work pretty well on underpowered PC's, but at the cost of substantial privacy issues.

There are some good PC laptops out there. I really like the new Dell XPS 13, for example. But pound for pound, it costs about the same as a comparable Mac, particularly if you go with an SSD, which is standard on all Macs (e.g., Dell XPS 13 with 256 GB SSD and 8GB RAM and Windows Home is $1599; a 13-inch Macbook Pro with similar specs comes in at $1499).

But as some other poster already said, the reputation of PC's generally stinks because the quality, and after-market support, is so spotty. A lot of people are posting that ThinkPads kick ass (and I can attest that they used to be awesome), but I've seen just as many people post ThinkPads have gone steadily downhill since Lenovo took over. Right now, the XPS 13 is the only laptop I have confidence recommending to people. And PC desktops? Roll you own, lest that retail box come with a two-year-old Celeron and a 90 Watt power supply.

Comment Re:As much as possible (Score 4, Insightful) 350

Slap in a 1tb SSD and it really makes a difference I run 2 VM's daily on 16gb on a late 2011 MBP and the SSD make it faster than any brand new dell I have seen come in the office.

Try spending a quarter as much on the dell next time you compare.

Hmm. 1tb SSD going on newegg today for $477. Quarter of that is ~$120. What would $120 buy to dramatically speed up an office-grade dell?

I think the point is swapping out a spinning hard drive with an SSD is the single best way to show dramatic improvement to your rig, and SSD's are cheaper and more reliable than ever (plus, that whole TRIM thing with macs is now solved). OTOH, spinning drives and 4GB RAM are still the standard on all the cheap new dells for sale out there. Once you deck out a dell with similar features to a mac, the prices become pretty comparable (e.g., Dell XPS 13 with 256 GB SSD and 8GB RAM and Windows Home is $1599, whereas a 13-inch Macbook Pro with similar specs comes in at $1499). The rule applies: fast, reliable, cheap (choose two).

I was playing poker the other night... with Tarot cards. I got a full house and 4 people died. -- Steven Wright