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Comment: Re:It's a start (Score 1) 294


The Ribbon is an eye-candy solution to a problem that only existed in focus groups. Microsoft may have been legitimately worried that OpenOffice and others were encroaching on its turf, productivity apps increasingly looking the same, and wanted something to look new and different. And that's fine, but they made it mandatory, and also yanked the menus and other, customizable interfaces people had gotten used to for getting their work done.

Seriously, a very important feature of Microsoft products was the ability to customize them to a particular job or work environment. That's one way businesses got locked into Microsoft.

The ribbon shot that in the foot at the expense of precious screen space. Shills and trolls just say "learn something new". Thousands of offices still using Office 2003 respond "we're real productive with what we've got, and don't have down-time to gamble on something new." Microsoft has it backward. You don't fish for one or two consumers who want a pretty ribbon to buy one license... you cater to what businesses need, and sell site-licenses at tens, hundreds, thousands of seats at a time. Then, the consumer will buy a copy because that's what he or she trained on at work.

But that's Office. Sticking the ribbon into the File/Windows Explorer is just weird, like an attempt to brand everything in some effort to evangelize one-interface-to-rule-them-all, as if putting it everywhere is going to make people like it. I'm hoping Microsoft is gonna stop forcing it's homegrown ideas down people's throats, and get back to making software people actually want to use to get work done. Clue: busy people don't have time to participate in focus groups.

Comment: What Took Them So Long? (Score 1) 294

Some of the changes are actually pretty good. The hover-over title bar on Metro Apps seems like a no-brainer. The hover-over, universal task bar for easy app switching is also a really good idea. Right-clicking works now on the Start Screen... where have you been?

I mean, it's real easy to see these things in hindsight, but you gotta wonder whether anyone in Microsoft was testing this out on desktops with large screens, and didn't reflexively hit the right-button and expect something to appear. I mean, the developers didn't create Metro on small-screen touchpads, did they? Someone over there must have noticed how awkward and strange it is to work modern apps on a workstation, right?

Don't know whether to give Microsoft credit or slap them. If these features had been in the original Windows 8, there would have been a lot less hate (read: a lot more adoption) of the operating system on the desktop, and maybe an easier path for people to jump off XP. It's the arrogance, the suck-it-up, get-used-to-it, and the desktop-is-history BS that turned me off so hard, with a blatant disregard for just plain stupid things, like switching out of the desktop to some lame Metro previewer each time a user opens a PDF file (with no visible way of getting back).

These changes, plus the promised Start menu in an upcoming release, might just make Windows 8 usable in the workplace like 7 is. In view of that, I hope Microsoft has turned a corner, 'cause like it or not most people (me included) depend on Windows to make a living. Hopefully, they understand that again, and will keep throwing bones out to us desktop users (maybe permit more desktop customization features? fix those ugly window decorations? drop shadows?). But they wasted almost 2 years in the doghouse alienating their biggest customer base, and encouraging people not to migrate off XP and older systems. Hope their learning their lesson.

Comment: Re:It's a start (Score 2) 294

I liked gadgets, too. Minor things like a desktop clock, calendar, weather, scrachpad, that kind of thing helps your workflow and save you the time and risk of looking for some random shareware solution. I was never too clear on any security problems with gadgets, thought they were sandboxed. I figured they got dropped because Microsoft just decided the desktop was history and all is Metro. Same reason I figured this or that UI bug in 7 would never get fixed.

There are unofficial ways to get them back on Windows 8, and so far it's worked reliably for me.

Comment: Fix for Border Width (Score 1) 387

Just trying to be helpful, there's a site that has a bunch of tweak apps for Windows, and one of them called Tiny Window Borders does exactly what you want.

That's the amazing thing about Windows... you think they screwed something up? Chances are, a google search will show a lot of people agree with you, and one or two (or in the case of the Start menu, a whole lot of people) have done the work to develop a fix.

Now, me personally, I think the flat look is horrible. Seven's Aero Glass transparency wasn't all that great, but drop-shadows, rounded edges, and get-out-of-my-way color schemes actually make a difference in my productivity. To each his own, and if you're cool with flat candy-bright, cheers to you. But it sucks that Microsoft removed a means to look like 7 if you wanted to. Thanks to 8, I'm forced to go third-party-themes, taking my chances with patching system files and all.

Comment: Re:Lets divert some military funds (Score 1) 292

by WheezyJoe (#46545239) Attached to: Back To the Moon — In Four Years

But honestly, what do you think would happen if the US military were suddenly defunded?

A lot of bullshit pork contracts would have their fat trimmed, we'd murder less people for profit, or both.

A very large fraction of the population, particularly scientists and engineers, would be permanently out of work. Oh, and science/engineering education, too, never to return as old people die off and young people spend time on things more likely to get them a paycheck, like auditioning on American Idol. Like it or not, the free market is just a little too risk averse, too interested in next quarter's profits, to invest in the long-term, high ambition projects that ultimately keep the STEM community alive.

Read: Laid off. No work. Will design radar-evading SCRAMjets for food.

Maybe he'll get a job in China. Nobody cuttin' the military over there.

Comment: Re:Becuz (Score 1) 273

by WheezyJoe (#46474631) Attached to: Is the New "Common Core SAT" Bill Gates' Doing?

Public policy? Twaddle! Smart people with money. That's the cure for what ails society!

Yeah, well, so long as the public goes into a 4-Minute Hate every time some pundit says "wasteful spending", people with money (and they don't need to be smart) will be the only ones who pick up the ball.

Five words guaranteed to put a damper on anything: "Who's gonna PAY for it?"

Comment: Re:How to fix: Windows 7 (Score 1) 860

by WheezyJoe (#46411679) Attached to: Microsoft's Attempt To Convert Users From Windows XP Backfires
That would require making a new commitment to the desktop, which would require standing up to all the marketing analysts who insist that the desktop is soooo yesterday.

As one who's livelihood depends on the desktop, I badly want Microsoft to get back to its bread and butter, and quit forcing Ribbons and Modern Apps that only get in the way of workflow. But I don't hold out much hope that anyone in Redmond has enough spine to turn it around.

Comment: Re:What a surprise. (Score 5, Insightful) 248

by WheezyJoe (#46410819) Attached to: Steve Ballmer Blew Up At the Microsoft Board Before Retiring

It would have made more sense to have the mobile GUI run as an application over a desktop system, and just give users the choice.

Agreed. But Microsoft got greedy. It wasn't just about getting into the mobile market, it was BEING a market. Metro is a vector for the Microsoft store, where they get to take a cut of every app sold. Bean-counters saw the revenue of Apple's App Store, and demanded that Microsoft get in on that racket by leveraging their market-share of the desktop.

They figure if Metro wasn't front-and-center on every desktop as a non-option, people would opt out and the Store might take too long to take off and generate the apps needed to persuade people to switch from iOS or Android. Trouble is, these things can't be forced.

Comment: These Tweaks Help my Productivity (Score 1) 531

by WheezyJoe (#46382737) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Software Can You Not Live Without?
I use Windows 7 at work, lots of word processing and PDF documents. These are now essential to me:

Winroll (right-click on X pushes window behind other windows)
Handyfind (must-have find-text-as-you-type tool, works in most apps incl. Office)
Cygwin (rsync, fortune messages in a periodic loop)
PDF-Xchange Viewer (free OCR)
Actual Window Manager (Commercial, but worth it. Sizer is a less capable but free substitute).
T-Clock 2010
Office 2003 (white-hot hate for the Ribbon; will re-consider LibreOffice/OpenOffice if they ever provide a Normal/Draft Mode for Writer)
Marxio Checksum Verifier
LibreOffice Draw
Gimp (imports and edits scanned PDF files)
...and my weirdest one: Window 7 hack to enable focus-follow-mouse.

The latter was available for XP under TweakUI, but went missing with Windows 7 and I needed it so bad I wound up hacking something myself.
Like Winroll and Actual Window Manager, this feature is inspired by a lot of time with X11. I cut my teeth back in the day with twm and lots of X-terms and Emacs windows, and I grew used to simply hitting the mouse with the side of my hand to shift from one window to another, without actually gripping the mouse and lining up my finger to click the button. Now, I find wherever I put the mouse pointer, I expect the underlying window to scroll with the wheel - I don't expect to have to click the left-button first and often don't want the window to raise either (oddly this is how it works on stock OS X, but only for the scroll wheel).
Windows plays surprisingly nice with focus-follow-mouse, and the odd UI glitches here and there with one app or another I've learned to work around; it's worth it.

Comment: Re:tl;dr (Score 1) 712

by WheezyJoe (#46304309) Attached to: Are Bankers Paid Too Much? Are Technology CEOs?

And I'm sure you could find countless folks willing to do the dirty work for such "unsexy" companies for just 1% of what modern (US) CEOs are taking home. And chances are they'd be far more qualified and effective to boot.

The fact is the rest of the planet doesn't have this issue. The rest of the planet doesn't find it necessary to throw ungodly amounts of cash at folks to get them to take a CEO job. Only in the US does this happen, and their performance, globally speaking, is pathetic in comparison. So we're paying far more and getting far less.

Your entire theory is bunk.

Well, I wasn't trying to suggest a theory, more an observation. :-\
and I tend to think you're right that U.S. companies are paying far more and getting far less. The nagging question is why this keeps happening.

If I have a theory, it's that when money gets big, people start getting irrational. You can't control whether the man you hire is going to do a good job or not, but you can control how much you pay him. Pay him less, and he fails, shame on you because you were too cheap and you got what you paid for. Pay him more, and he fails, shame on him because you did all you could.

Puts a well-connected CEO-type in a real sweet bargaining position, which would tend to keep inflating CEO salaries.

Comment: Re:tl;dr (Score 3, Interesting) 712

by WheezyJoe (#46299493) Attached to: Are Bankers Paid Too Much? Are Technology CEOs?

Are you sure? I find it hilarious how huge companies have to lay off thousands of employees, yet the CEOs are still making their 10s of millions in salary. How about first eliminating bonuses, as well as dropping salary before eliminating employees.

For example ,Blackberry CEO getting a compensation package of 88 mil literally days before laying off a bunch of employees. How about offering him 50 mil instead and keeping on 700 workers

Here's why that didn't happen: Blackberry was in financial trouble, losing money each day, which gets the biggest shareholders (including the Board members) really nervous. When a company is losing money (or widely perceived to be), it can't get (or has to pay a lot more for) loans, like the short-term kind (commercial paper) it needs to do day-to-day stuff like pay salaries. The Board demands quick action, and that requires an intact management structure. The Board can't get things done if all its executives are jumping ship to save themselves. But to stick around, the senior-type executives gotta get paid.

Eliminate bonuses? Take a pay cut? Here's the thing: dollar-for-dollar, most senior executives are better off quitting ("retiring"), unless some divorce, gambling addition or coke habit has eaten away all their savings. Also, it's just a thing that senior management types tend to find new jobs (e.g., consultant) more easily than your typical laid-off worker (or just about anyone else). All this adds up to one thing: Mr. CEO can demand the kind of pay that makes it worthwhile for him to come to work each day for a company that isn't sexy, that may not be around much longer, and requires that he do, well, unpleasant things. Like fire 1000's of workers.

And by shedding thousands of workers the company can't afford to pay, he makes the books look better, which gets Wall Street to lend money again, which pays the bills to keep the lights on a bit longer, and makes the Board members a little happier, who pays him a bonus to stick around longer and save them the hassle of having to find someone else to do his job. At least until the company is worth enough on paper that it can be sold off and finally be someone else's problem.

Awful, isn't it? That's how shit happens!

If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.