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Dave Barry Does Windows 753

retrosteve writes: "Well, it's finally happened. Someone (Dave Barry) in the popular press has finally, explicitly and with a sense of humour, pointed out that Microsoft Windows doesn't get any more reliable or usable, no matter how many versions you buy."
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Dave Barry Does Windows

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  • by tid242 ( 540756 ) on Sunday January 06, 2002 @10:00PM (#2795538) Homepage
    Dave Berry also pointed out in a newspaper clipping that there was no one left living in North Dakota, well i usually see at least 2 or 3 people every day wandering about on this side of the border (not including myself), so take his arguements with a grain or salt...
  • by MA17 ( 309062 ) <> on Sunday January 06, 2002 @10:02PM (#2795547)
    I've been using Win98 since 1998, and it's just as stable as any OS I've come across. It doesn't crash every four hours or anything like that, in fact, I keep my Win98 machine running for weeks on end...with negligable memory leakage.

    Windows runs all the software I care to run, and the games I wish to play, so frankly, as a consumer level computer user (with a self-built system (so as to dispel any notion that I'm totally ignorant)) who has given Linux a try, Windows is just fine by me because it does what I want to do.

    I can't help but wonder how many people choose other OSes just because they're not Windows...
    • by Greg Lindahl ( 37568 ) on Sunday January 06, 2002 @10:26PM (#2795659) Homepage

      The Age of Aquarius dawns once every 26,000 years; it has to do with the precession of the equinoxes.
      Can we assume your knowledge of Windows is as poor as your knowledge of astronomy/astrology?
    • I wouldn't be surprised to learn he's got a low=end pentium or pentium 2 with a whole lot of crap shareware and software toys installed - that's probably what's killing his system stability. I've got no love for Win98, but it isn't as bad as Barry says.
    • I think I realize what happened. You haven't touched it in six months I bet. Dude, go try to move your mouse, your computer is locked up, didn't you notice the time was wrong?
    • by nels_tomlinson ( 106413 ) on Sunday January 06, 2002 @10:48PM (#2795774) Homepage
      Run Win98, SAS, Excel and Word for four hours. Crash, with lost work. Repeat.
      Switch to Linux, R, Latex and emacs. No crashes and no lost work in two years. AND I get better results with less effort.

    • Win98 is Stable (Score:3, Insightful)

      by saider ( 177166 )
      If you follow the rules.

      1) Do not upgrade from Windows95. Do a fresh install.

      2) Install a minimum amount of software. Each new package that you install undermines the stability with extra DLLs and registry hacks.

      3) Do not use exotic, state-of-the-art hardware. Use slightly older hardware with more mature drivers.

      If you follow these simple rules you to can run Windows98 for months at a time. I have a small fileserver at my job which has been rebooted twice in as many years.

      If you can afford it, get another computer or install a hard drive tray. Make one your works system and the other a "sandbox". Use the sandbox to evaluate new software and incorporate it into your work box once you completely understand it. Most of Win98's problems seem to happen to people that install all kinds of different software that they never use. The problem is that many vendors give you a computer that is pre-fucked (much useless software already installed). Your best bet is to reformat these disks and reinstall.

  • It's about time... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by wo1verin3 ( 473094 )
    ... that someone explain to end users that by it's nature, Windows is unstable.

    I'm not saying it's a bad product, but for those of us who support users, we know a machine DOES crash once in a while.

    When a user tells me a machine crashed, and it's only happened once, they've been using the machine for a year, I explain that is a better then average track record, and they want it fixed.


    • Um, if a machine crashes once, that could be a sign of a significant hardware problem. At least that's the case with Unix/Linux. With Windows, support droids often fail to find failing hardware because they expect the software to be a piece of crap. Makes life hell for people who need reliable service.

      So who's the most guilty? Probably the user for being willing to use a Windows machine.
  • Of course! (Score:5, Funny)

    by nougatmachine ( 445974 ) <johndagen&netscape,net> on Sunday January 06, 2002 @10:03PM (#2795550) Homepage
    Dave Barry also pointed out in his book, Dave Barry in Cyberspace (IIRC), that there was always a parallel universe called "Macintosh" created with the bizarre idea a human could actually use it.

    Barry was quick to point out that manly computer users such as himself didn't want a computer they could use, and so the Macintosh has a pitiful market share, even to this day ; )

    • Re:Of course! (Score:2, Insightful)

      by nzhavok ( 254960 )
      Have you ever tried developing on a mac?

      YMMV but for me it was a nightmare, for a start macadmin and OS9 would randomly crash the machine -- by this I mean boot the machine and wait long enough without touching it and it would die in hours (sometimes days).

      And if you didn't free up the memory you malloc'ed uh-oh the system doesn't release it either, time for a reboot.

      Having said this I have never really used a mac, only programmed on them (we used them at my uni before changing to linux) so this may not be applicable to the average user.
      • Re:Of course! (Score:2, Insightful)

        by rebug ( 520669 )
        OS 9 sucked ass, for all intents. Even mac users knew this. It was the lesser of two evils, but it was still pretty evil.

        OS X on the other hand, simply rocks. I've been running it on several machines since 10.0, and I've never (as in not once) crashed it. I'm a rude bastard, too. I'm not saying it's crashproof, but I haven't been able to do it.
    • Re:Of course! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by SirSlud ( 67381 )
      > has a pitiful market share, even to this day

      Like, say, Ferrarris share of the car market? Where people get the idea that one OS cures all that ails you is beyond me. I wouldn't buy a subcompact to win Le Mans, and I wouldn't buy a Ferrarri to make the trip to the corner store. Sheesh.

      Just to bring that into perspective:

      - Windows is nice for browsing the net, cause, well, duh, every website author thinks you're using Windows.

      - Mac is nice to do serious (ie, industry level) graphics and audio. I'll tell you right now that the more services they keep adding to the back of Windows, with each new version, the more frusterating it is to tune it towards pure 'single task' applications.

      Anyways, as for the 'use it' comment, people are always more comfortable using the interface style that has dominated the market. Seeing that windows is a laymans OS, and Mac is for people who'd rather spend money on their computer than time fixing/tuning it, it shouldn't be surprising that most people 'cant use it'.

      I appreciate this was Barry's comment, but it irks me when people confuse ease of use with the most widely adopted interface. Many people couldn't drive an F1 car without training; does this make them bad cars? Of course not .. they are built for a specific purpose, and it's only natural that their interface will be different from that of the most widely adopted sibling in it's market. Heck, even Apple only makes half hearted attempts (a la 'just remember we're still here') at competing directly in the home/office OS market. As long as there are media industries, and associated trade papers and mags, Apple will continue to make sense for a significant amount of users out there who require an OS to get the job done.

      Anyways, dunno if you're agreeing with Barry there, but I just had to vent in a controlled fasion there. ;)
  • MSCE (Score:5, Insightful)

    by big_hairy_mama ( 79958 ) <slashdot.pdavis@cx> on Sunday January 06, 2002 @10:05PM (#2795554) Homepage
    Funny how the MSCE in his story has to call tech support and it takes 2 days. Dammit, anyone can call tech support. Do they need a degree too? And why should they get paid for that?
    • Re:MSCE (Score:2, Funny)

      Heh, +1 funny for getting the joke. Lemme try.

      Funny how in the story there are so many versions of Windows. Damnit, they make a new version and it still isn't better. Why do they call it new version? Why do people buy them?
      • Re:MSCE (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jelle ( 14827 )
        "Why do they call it new version?"

        To make new money. Every year sees new cars too, and the 'new model' never is perfect, just different, more trendy, and "New". "New" is a magic word you know.

        "Why do people buy them?"

        1) Because it's preloaded on their new PC
        2) Because it has prettier colors and people are bored with the blue-grey of the older stuff
        3) Because people still hope it might fix some bugs. People like gambling too you know.
        4) Because it makes you fly. Just like Red Bull
        • Gosh, somebody got another one of Dave Barry's jokes.

          Of course it's to make more money. That's why the last version is called "Windows Let's Buy Bill Gates a House the Size of Vermont."
        • Re:MSCE (Score:4, Insightful)

          by mpe ( 36238 ) on Monday January 07, 2002 @09:38AM (#2797808)
          To make new money. Every year sees new cars too, and the 'new model' never is perfect, just different, more trendy, and "New". "New" is a magic word you know.

          General motors invented the idea of the anual model change as a method of boosting demmand. (Other car manufactures followed suit.) The reason was that they feared the market would become saturated, because cars didn't rust fast enough. Software dosn't rust at all, but it is possible to abuse copyright law to obtain the same effect...
    • Re:MSCE (Score:2, Informative)

      by jonnosan ( 300963 )
      I'm not sure what an MSCE - did you mean an MCSE?

      Not that the guy in the article is one of those either.
      • Re:MSCE (Score:4, Funny)

        by AnalogBoy ( 51094 ) on Sunday January 06, 2002 @11:08PM (#2795851) Journal
        My manager at one of my previous employers was an MSCE. Its apparently a very, very rare and highly prized certification, especially in management ranks. Its up there with the CCIE.

        This manager of mine mysteriously got let go from his position. I can't imagine why. According to HR, he had the required BS Degree.. But he recently took a position as a PC Technician just because he wanted something "Less challanging".

        Sign me up for the MSCE next - I wanna be a systems manager, too. They make money, even if they dont know the fundimentals of system security.

        [begin bitch]
        Systems Administrator (21yo, 4YR exp, Clue, MCP, SCNA, SCSA) = $39,500 + Shitty bene's.

        Systems Manager (54yo, 5YR exp, No clue, no certs, no previous management exp.) = $60,000 + the same shitty bene's.
        [end bitch]
        • Re:MSCE (Score:3, Interesting)

          Systems Administrator (21yo, 4YR exp, Clue, MCP, SCNA, SCSA) = $39,500 + Shitty bene's.

          If I may be so bold as to contribute, I think you could be doing better, as long as your count "real companies" only as your experience, in lieu of "freelance consultant" as your 4 years' experience.

          I do Widnows NT and in-house application support for a large company, which categorizes me as a "Senior Application Systems Programmer." For me, it's 26 yo, 7 years exp (3 years as tech support/PC maintenance at University, 4 years at my current corporation), Clue, no certs = 49,000 + 100% Matching 401K, Pension, 4 weeks vacation, Full Medical and Dental for benefits.

          After three years at minimum wage at the University, I applied for two full-time positions paying $16,500 and $18,000 US and was denied for both for having insufficient education and experience. The corporation (which required me to move out of state, but back home for me) offered me $35,000 to start, and I've gotten two good raises, one cost of living increase, and one promotion in four years. Without any college to speak of, or any certifications.

          Just my experience. On the other hand, you may just have to prove yourself with a couple of years corporate experience before someone else will pay you "market value."
    • Re:MSCE (Score:3, Funny)

      by Scooter ( 8281 )
      LOL - I find all these "consultants" do this. The scenario goes like this:-

      PHB A wants technology X (eg "we need an MQ server cluster - anyone know anything about MQ?")

      I (as chief tech architect) say "well erm no, actually we dodn't have any actual experince in implementing that - but how hard can it be?"

      PHB A :"well I want experienced people in to do it"

      Me "OK"

      2 *weeks* or more later IBM (or whoever) supply some guy with a label saying "MQ Expert" on him and he enters the room:-

      MQ Guy: "Stand back, I'm certified."

      He then, as Barry reports, proceeds to read the manual that came in the box, call tech. support and general arse about for 4 days - whilst charging us the Earth per day.

      Eventually, I sidle over and start to chat to him about the various issues, and reading the help/book over hist shoulder get a handle on how it all fits together. I try giving him subtle hints that he's barking up the wrong tree, and he needs to try something or other to prove premise Y and so on but he doggedly tries to follow the instructions...

      Eventually, MQ guy announces that he must go away to confer with more MQ guys back at base. "Fine" say I. I then install the product and make it work in 2 hours, and cancel MQ guy.

      MQ was just one example - it *always* happens like this and the PHB's never learn - they still want to pay someone big bucks for nothing. Same thing happned with Lotus Notes (although the answer to that one is just "Don't"), Oracle this and that, and a myriad of more obscure technologies.

      You have to marvel at anyone who claims to be able to "fix Windows" though....
      • Re:MSCE (Score:3, Funny)

        by friscolr ( 124774 )
        MQ was just one example - it *always* happens like this and the PHB's never learn - they still want to pay someone big bucks for nothing.

        For me the best was Blackboard (i work at an educational institute).

        Someone ordered this prearranged package of a Dell w/ linux preinstalled and paid the extra points for someone to come out and install the hardware, then someone to install the blackboard software. It was a really big important project which required me to work over the holidays (this is at an edu, which is normally closed around xmas).

        First the hardware installer. He comes out, opens the box, removes the equipment, plugs everything in, verifies it boots up, then leaves. it was around $1500 for 10 minutes of work.

        Then i proceeded to fix up the install - as i recall it was a default 6.2 install with the words "DELL" added here and there - and to go through some stuff blackboard had sent me (make sure mysql, apache, some perl modules are installed on the system).

        Next comes the blackboard installer. He sits down at the keyboard and says, "oh, it's a linux system, i'm not very good at that, why don't you do the typing". He hands me a sheet of instructions of what he's supposed to do - at the top is install apache, mysql, some perl modules (ah, that was *his* job) and then download the blackboard package and install that. Takes me about 15 minutes of typing/waiting then everything's done.

        "Gee, that was easy" the guy says and leaves. He gets another $1500 for watching over me as i typed.

    • Re:MSCE (Score:4, Funny)

      by ImaLamer ( 260199 ) <john.lamar @ g m> on Sunday January 06, 2002 @11:53PM (#2796010) Homepage Journal
      And why should they get paid for that?

      Because! They know what questions to ask and how.

      MCSE: So it's the registry huh?

      Tech: Yeah, it's fucked.

      MCSE: [to Dave] We need to go get XP.

      Dave: Why?

      MCSE: [to Tech] What did you say the problem was?

      Tech: You don't have XP

      MCSE: Ok.

      MCSE: [to Dave] Ummm, yeah. XP supports your old hardware better. And it never crashes.

      Tech: Hey! Don't say never. We never say never at Microsoft. The term is 'more stable'.

      MCSE: [to Dave] XP is a more stable OS.

      Dave: So it won't crash?

      MCSE: [to Tech] What do I tell him?

  • by Ronin441 ( 89631 ) on Sunday January 06, 2002 @10:08PM (#2795571) Homepage
    If you liked this, you'll probably like Dave Barry in Cyberspace (1996, Crown Publishers Inc, ISBN 0-517-59575-3). Despite the impression that he deliberately gives in this column, he does in fact understand what's going on, and the book comes across as one geek's very humorous spin on computers, the internet, and the industry.
  • sending Dave Barry a copy of linux!
  • by Autonomous Crowhard ( 205058 ) on Sunday January 06, 2002 @10:11PM (#2795594)
    One of the things you have to admit about Micros~1 is that they don't just sit on their hands and let the world pass them by. NO!!! They continue to find new and interesting bugs.

    Things that you've never seen before. Things that you would have told yourself, "There's no way anyone would release something with a hole that obvious."

    There's a whole world of possibilities out there. As long as we allow Micros~1 to be free to innovate, they will continue to find them!

    Free software is evil. If you don't pay money for something no matter how bad it is thent he terrorists win!

    • "One of the things you have to admit about Micros~1 is that they don't just sit on their hands and let the world pass them by. NO!!! They continue to find new and interesting bugs."

      Here's the best one I've seen: In a certain issue of PC Magazine back maybe 3-4 years ago (I just picked it up for a few minutes to read at Chapters) they had this little thing highlighting an error in MSIE where a reader had sent in a screenshot:

      It was the following error: "Microsoft Internet Explorer was unable to load the page the data was invalid."

  • by statusbar ( 314703 ) <> on Sunday January 06, 2002 @10:11PM (#2795595) Homepage Journal

    Microsoft (and friends) have taken a long time but they have basically trained the average computer user to expect and accept computer crashes - instead of going back to the store and demanding a refund for a defective product!

    This can be both good and bad. Maybe less people will rely on non-fault-tolerant systems for ultra-important issues like emergency/military/banking?

    Or maybe people will get desensitized to the crashing. Programmer's don't need to fully test their products anymore since people accept the crashes. People just go along thinking that it is the normal way, wreaking havoc in the world with a simple blue screen on a computer that had no business being in a critical system.

    read The Risks Digest [] for scary stories.


    • Maybe less people will rely on non-fault-tolerant systems for ultra-important issues like emergency/military/banking?

      Huh? You mean like the Red Cross getting a bunch of M$ junk to deal with the results of 9/11 in the field? While Dave laughs at the 18 words a day he might lose, I can only imagine what the Red Cross has been dealing with since. Ignorance is always bad.

      • by statusbar ( 314703 ) <> on Sunday January 06, 2002 @10:54PM (#2795798) Homepage Journal
        2 years ago I picked up my phone. No dial tone. Huh. Did I forget to pay my bill? No. Checked the wiring and the phone. 15 minutes later still no dial tone. My cell phone worked though, so I called the operator and asked her about my phone.

        The problem was that Spice Girls tickets just went on sale. The phone call load to the nearby Ticket Master outlet flooded the system. No one in my area had a dial tone for half an hour. No one could call 911 on a land line!

        Problems happen even with properly engineered systems. When an improperly designed system is put into place, all hell will break loose.

        I'm not just talking Microsoft here, there is a real problem with companies/programmers seeing their system work once, and then assuming it is good enough to ship.

        • Thats more the equivelent of a Denial of Service attack NOT a system malfunction.

          If you have a system which can handle 5000 phone calls, and those around you place 10000 phone calls YOU will not be able to make one because it's over capacity.

          Happens in real life too. Rivers can take x litres/second through. When you send down 10x water, the river will flood as only x is going through.

          If a highway can send through Y cars at 100Km/h, and you start trying to send through 5Y cars, problems will occur (like a traffic JAM)
        • by Erris ( 531066 ) on Sunday January 06, 2002 @11:22PM (#2795897) Homepage Journal
          The problem was that Spice Girls tickets just went on sale. The phone call load to the nearby Ticket Master outlet flooded the system. No one in my area had a dial tone for half an hour. No one could call 911 on a land line!

          Don't confuse the issue. There's a big difference between failing because of an overload and just never working.

          The New York Times ran dozzens of articles about what a pain it was for victims to get help. Collection became a full time effort as they wandered from agency to agency and filled out horrendous and mind numbing forms with exactly the same information! They did this instead of finding loved ones, shelter, clothes or food.

          While agencies not sharing information is nothing new, you have to wonder how much more could have been done if those agencies were using reasonable software. Nothing M$ talks to anything else M$. I know, because we use the junk at my Fortune 500 company. What proportion of innacurate, duplicate, non shared data came from inadequate tools, and what share from the nature of the organizations themselves? It's had to tell about there from here, but where I work it's hard to share information you want to share with other departments in the same building, much has to be entered multiple times and is often corrupted, and data sometimes just goes away on it's own. No, our tech support folks are not incompetent. No, the people I work with are not incompetent. We simply have second rate tools. Pity those same tools have been used in an emergency situation.

        • by weave ( 48069 ) on Sunday January 06, 2002 @11:34PM (#2795931) Journal
          Businesses who expect crushes of calls occasionally, like radio stations and ticket companies, are SUPPOSED to get a number within a "choke exchange."

          These exchanges are specifically designed to communicate back to other COs when a crush of calls happen. Those COs back off and return busy to everyone in the CO trying to get that number for a period of time to prevent the end-point CO from going down. ie, they don't even attempt to complete the call.

          Ever wonder why all the radio station contest lines are all in the same exchange in your area?!

          I suspect the spice girl ticket number was not on a choke exchange like it was supposed to be.

          Here's a tip. Next time you need to get a call through to a choke exchange number, get a friend from out-of-the-area to try it. If Philadelphia is having tickets go on sale for some big act at 9am, chances are there won't be people from Nebraska calling in. Their CO won't be "choked."

        • How many of the people responding to statusbar actually read his whole post? He's NOT claiming MS quality is OK or as good as the phone company:

          Problems happen even with properly engineered systems. When an improperly designed system is put into place, all hell will break loose.

          I'm not just talking Microsoft here, there is a real problem with companies/programmers seeing their system work once, and then assuming it is good enough to ship.

          We've all seen examples of that. (And to be fair, MS does put it's products through quite a lot of testing -- the trouble is, they've made it possible to have far more configurations than it's possible to test, give the users few tools to figure out where things are going wrong, market the software as NOT requiring knowledgeable users or administrators, and create code that is beyond any one person's comprehension.)

          But the phone company does maintain pretty good service, and no system can handle a 1000% overload well. But as someone else pointed out, they do have exchanges that handle a single-point overload without blocking other calls; the problem is that Ticket Master bought the wrong kind of service. I agree that phone availability in many parts of the US is less than what I'd really want for life-critical emergency services, however would you rather have a .99999 reliable telephone system that 1/3 of families can't afford, or a .999 reliable (in two tries at dialing) phone in every house?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      To put things in perspective, a well-patched Win2k system run by a knowledgable user (who still incorrigably wants to play lots of Windoze games) will have uptimes of months.
      • To put things in perspective, a well-patched Win2k system run by a knowledgable user (who still incorrigably wants to play lots of Windoze games) will have uptimes of months.

        Can't you see how ridiculous that statement is? A "well-patched system" is reliable?!?!

        What if brand new Levis were sold with hundreds of gaping holes, and you had painstakingly apply a dozen patches before you could wear them without your nuts hanging out. I suppose you'd still buy them. Personally, I'd go naked before I'd put up with that bullshit. Fortunately I don't have to, because there are alternatives that don't suck!
      • by Malcontent ( 40834 ) on Monday January 07, 2002 @12:40AM (#2796216)
        True Story.

        As I am writing this I am into my 5th hour of installing windows 2000. Let me explain.

        Install windows 2K.
        Did not detect anything in the machine including the 3com. WTF??
        I got it to recognize the 3com card by doing an add/remove hardware
        COnfigure internet go to the Nvidia web site to get drivers, install drivers.
        Stick in the CDrom from the motherboard manufacturer (VIA) so I can install sound drivers.
        Who hoo a working system with no apps and tons of security holes.
        Now do a windows update.
        Install sp2 (sorry nothing else can be downladed at the same time). Download and install maybe 100 megs or something (took forever).
        Do a windows update. Download critical updates (sorry nothing else can be downladed at the same time).
        Download the IE 5.5 patch (sorry nothing else can be downladed at the same time).
        Windows update again to download the rest of the security patches.

        Whoo hoo a machine with no apps and lots of services running, no security policies no nothing.
        Scour about a dozen web sites to try and figure out which services are safe to shutdown. Dig around the registry to make more then a dozen changes.
        Reboot just for good measure.

        Whoo hoo a modern secure OS. It only took the entire freaking day and required intimate knowledge of the registry and the inner workings of windows. Not for the faint of heart nor for your average joe.

        Now I get the pleasure of re-installing all my apps I figure it will take the rest of month because I can't simply copy them from my old machine.

        Compare this to what I did at work friday.

        Install debian potato (the only cd I have around). Took maybe 20 minutes.
        vi /etc/apt/sources.list
        apt-get update && apt-get dist-upgrade
        apt-get upgrade (missed a few).
        apt-get install a couple of packages.

        Whoo hoo a secure and up to date operating system with applications!. All that and it took only a couple of hours. Most of that was downloading, my actualy effort was more like 15 minutes of answering questions then going to fill my coffee cup while waiting for the download the finish.


        So. To put in perpective. for a knowledgable user It's a shitload easier to install and secure debian then it is windows 2000 AND you'll have a better uptime because every single service pack, mdac upgrade, ie upgrade etc will not require a reboot.
    • Speaking of Banking (Score:3, Informative)

      by jonbrewer ( 11894 )
      There's a set of ATM/Bank Machines on Numancia around the Sants train station in Barcelona with some sort of "fatal exception error" message on the screen for all of last week.

      Who in the world would use NT as the OS for an ATM? And do you think they've kept up to date with their security patches? :-)
      • by Annamite ( 94222 ) on Monday January 07, 2002 @12:23AM (#2796120)
        Many banks are using Windows NT for their CAT machines. They do have strict procedures on what get install (minimal), and how every updates get installed remotely (via their own UNIX network controllers).

        NT configured correctly can be reliable considering how little work the CAT machine actually need.

        Siemens, NCR/AT&T do produce topnots CAT/ATM machines with IBM/AT core for banks to be customized with their own OSes, often to be Windows NT. The IBM/AT core allow them to sell these boxes cheaply and still satisfy the conformity needed for almost all CAT/ATM machines that banks want. Specially made cryptocards can be added/removed/upgrade very quickly and do not require a complete redesign/code rewrite for the machines.
  • Win2k, XP (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tom7 ( 102298 ) on Sunday January 06, 2002 @10:13PM (#2795601) Homepage Journal
    Win2k and XP are actually quite stable.

    I think pretty soon. Windows and linux will be on equal footing for stability and security... we can't ride the "more stable" horse (ha ha, get it?) forever.

    So linux is free, which is great, but what else?
    • Windows and linux will be on equal footing for stability and security...

      Microsoft is compelled by their business plan to churn their user base ever year or two with new versions of their OS products. As we have seen with the introduction of Windows XP, each new version will introduce a new set of security and stability problems. Therefore it is very unlikely that Windows will ever match Linux stability or security.

      So linux is free, which is great, but what else?

      For me freedom is enough.
    • Right now, linux is secure and stable, but little else. Actually this in itself is a naive comment as anyone surfing bugtraq will see that linux is not lacking in bugs, exploits, and the like.

      So once MS catches up in the stability dept (all the while, doing the whiz-bang stuf people want), how will linux be marketed? This isn't a troll, a serious question - in my own opinion it will boil down to price, as linux will likely have no technical advantages by mid-2003.

      • What a minute -- really? You think that there will be a consumer version of Windows (what the topic of Dave's column was) that will match the stability of any flavor of Unix by 12/31/2003. Really?

        What's been stopping them for the last 10 years? I've been using the sundry versions of Windows since 2.0. Heck, I even used Windows for Warehouses (oh -- I mean, Windows for Workgroups), because with the 32-bit "bits", it was supposed to be better. Ok, it was better.

        But arithmatically -- if you take the number of current bugs, add the new ones, and then start subtracting at the rate that Microsoft fixes them, do you really thing you end up with a number for n (insert your favorite Unix flavor here) for day-to-day productivity tasks?

        I guess my real curiosity is where you came up with 2003. I know that those infinite number of monkeys will eventually get it right -- but you really do need the power of infinite time.
    • Re:Win2k, XP (Score:5, Insightful)

      by unformed ( 225214 ) on Sunday January 06, 2002 @10:48PM (#2795776)
      So linux is free, which is great, but what else?

      Hmmm. Let me think. It's also open-sourced. Yes, I know, very few people actually go through the source. But it's there. There are no really hidden APIs (besides those in obfuscated code). Any knowledgable programmer can use it and change it for his own advantage. And regardless, isn't the fact that it's free - completely, no strings attached, free - a good enough reason?

      And besides, I don't want a really stable Windows if I have to worry about what it's sending when it calls home.

      I like my privacy, thank you very much.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      what a fucking troll - what will linux have to offer? how about freedom from the upgrade yolk that microsoft has you on. how about peace of mind that the time you invest into it, won't be thrown into the garbage in two years when ms dumps what you were working on for the next cools sounding technology.

      give me a fucking break. if you want to live in a microsoft only world then just admit it, otherwise grow up and use some real technologies that can be used outside of ms's little pee see sandbox.

      oh by the way, I understand quite well that this comment is bound to rise to 5 and stay there, no matter how many times it gets modded down. sometimes I think there are more ms shills on slashdot than actual linux supporters anymore.
      • by Tom7 ( 102298 ) on Monday January 07, 2002 @01:33AM (#2796500) Homepage Journal

        Dear AC,

        I am a linux supporter. I run linux on my web server, it's great for that. (I had to rewrite some of my network services though, because they were full of security holes and I was sick of patching.) I hope that some day I can run a free OS on my desktop computer too, but in order for that to happen, I need apps, and in order for that to happen, linux needs a stronger desktop user base.

        Linux is not a technologically advanced OS. This is another common misconception on slashdot. It is a clone of Unix, a very old (and rather good) idea. There have been loads of new ideas and technologies since them, and I wish that hackers would implement these in new operating systems. (Do we *really* need to be running our network services as root just so that they can bind to a low-numbered port?) But the operating systems world (much like the rest of computer science) is very fad-oriented, and a good idea is worth nothing unless there is good marketing.

        Linux has pretty good marketing. Windows has great marketing. But linux marketing is based on stuff that's starting to be less and less true. linux kicked the ass off of Windows 95 in terms of stability and security. (I remember rebooting to linux when the rest of my dorm was getting WinNuked all day.) But, Windows has practically caught up. 2000 is very stable; it crashes about as often as X does for me (and I do a lot more daring things with 2000, like play Quake and watch DVDs and burn CDs and do video capture). As linux has become more and more complex, certain major distributions are just as insecure as (or even more insecure than, perhaps) Windows. My question was, when joe consumer doesn't care about stability because his computer doesn't crash, and doesn't get hacked (Win XP has a personal firewall now, no?), why would he want to use linux?

        The post wasn't intended as a troll, merely to stir the waters. Complacency is a terrible thing.

        (PS: 12 moderations done to my post! Jeesh!)
    • Re:Win2k, XP (Score:4, Interesting)

      by astrashe ( 7452 ) on Sunday January 06, 2002 @11:01PM (#2795824) Journal
      I agree with you about the reliability -- they've made great strides. For a long time it seemed that they just didn't care, but as soon as linux appeared on the distant edge of the radar screen they started to get serious.

      In this sense, linux has already done the vast majority of PC users a great service.

      They still don't seem to be taking security seriously, though, and I think it's going to hurt them. The problem isn't buffer overflows, or individual programming mistakes -- the problem is that they pick business models and marketing strategies even if those models and strategies entail inherently unsecurable designs.

      All of the virus problems flow out of MS's desire to link products -- that's why word processor documents can contain VB programs, and why email clients used to open up office docs automatically.

      As other people have pointed out, MS has plenty of smart engineers working for them -- there had to have been people there complaining about this. But they didn't have the clout to carry the day. It must be frustrating as hell to be a security wonk at MS.

      I predict that .NET is going to be the biggest security quagmire in the industry's history, and as MS has said repeatedly, they're "betting the company on .NET".

      The whole .NET idea is to allow developers to build programs VB style, except that the components can live anywhere on the Internet. By "VB" style, we're talking about low end programmers who don't cost as much as the other guys -- are these guys going to be able to think about threats in a sophisticated way?

      The security seems to be tacked on to this model as an afterthought, and it doesn't inspire much confidence in me. Passport's already had problems, and that service was designed by MS itself, and it's at the very center of their business model.

      Who believes that the low end visual developers who populate so many corporate offices are going to do a better job than the elite MS employees who built Passport? .NET is a train wreck waiting to happen.
    • Yeah the NT family of OSs certainly aren't the crash happy win95 OSs. In the article Barry deals with 98 on a daily basis. This article would have been relevent before 2k came out, but now it seems pretty dated.

      What do people see in Barry anyways? A pun here a stupid reference there and he's selling books and getting posted here when he writes something criticizing well-know problems with win98.

    • > I think pretty soon. Windows and linux will be on equal footing for stability and security... we can't ride the "more stable" horse (ha ha, get it?) forever.

      > So linux is free, which is great, but what else?

      You seem to have it backwards. What you should have asked is, "When the for-pay stuff finally catches up with the for-free stuff, will that actually be a recommendation for choosing it?"

    • How would we know ?

      Windows 95 possessed a clock rollover bug that locked the machine every 47 days.

      It took 3 years to find this bug.

      Why, you might ask ? Was it because Windows 95 machines never stayed booted for 47 days, or because no one payed much attention when it locked, b/c that was expected behavior ?

      Win2k and XP are only stable until you start installing 3rd party software. Then the fun begins.
    • Re:Win2k, XP (Score:3, Insightful)

      by krogoth ( 134320 )
      The most important part about Linux (to me) is the power, although any UNIX-like system has the same advantages. Even with cygwin, you can do a lot more in Linux.
  • The Inmates. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SocialWorm ( 316263 ) on Sunday January 06, 2002 @10:14PM (#2795608) Homepage
    The way Dave Barry keeps on talking about how the computer "blames him" reminds me of the way Alan Cooper said that error messages are often worded to make "The User" feel responsible when something goes wrong.

    Personally, I just think of error messages as "status indicators" -- much like a "paper jam" light on a copy machine. Apparently lots of other people don't feel this way.
    • So many error messages do make the user feel they've done something wrong. "Invalid operation!", "Syntax Error at line 14!" and all the rest of them.

      My recent application had the following user error message: "Ooops, something went wrong. Don't worry, it's probably not your fault. Try it again."
    • Part of the problem is that the error messages are usually written in the most passive-voiced, weenie ways possible. For example, the MS Scandisk message I always see (which I assume Dave Barry is referring to) is, "Windows was not shut down correctly," or something very close.

      Technically, that's perfectly true. Windows did not shut down correctly - the fact that this is because Windows crashed horribly and needed a cold boot to get back on its feet again is beside the point. Joe user will read that message and assume that the box is yelling at him.
  • by J.D. Hogg ( 545364 ) on Sunday January 06, 2002 @10:17PM (#2795622) Homepage
    That Windows isn't getting any more usable as versions go up is not entirely true : remember Windows 2.0 ? the only person I know who still uses it is a friend of mine who doesn't have a lot of money and wants to keep his 286. And 2.0 is about the only thing that'll run on his 286 with the amount of memory he has. Well, guess what ? 2.0 is a huge TURD. And truthfully, 3.0 was better, 3.11 better still, 95 a lot better, NT was a lot better than the whole lot just mentioned, and I haven't tried any later version but each time there is one out, I'm told it's better.

    Better, but always "not quite there yet". So is Windows not getting better ? no, it is getting better, only it's always at a level of "betterness" that's 10 years behind what Un*x users have come to expect. M$ has fought so hard over the years to brainwash people into thinking that computers naturally and unavoidably hang regularly that people actually believe it ! (remember that famous quote supposedly from a M$ support guy saying to a customer that "memory is like gasoline, you use it up then your computer has to fill up the tank again by restarting" ?)

    To M$' credit though, they did design Windows to be run by computer idiots, so I'm not surprised that the OS has a lot of tradeoffs that make it unstable so it's easier to use, but then OS/2 was also designed to be run by anybody and it was a lot better than Windows. So I'd tend to think that Microsoft engineers either (1) suck, (2) are instructed to adopt shitty designs because Microsoft prefers to win battles on the marketing front than on the technical front, or (3) both

    • I was in that boat for a while... Get your friend a copy of PC-Geos. It kicks Windows' butt, and does so without needing a 386. Back when the community college I used to go to had only 286es, it was the only way to get any real work done.

      Unfortunately, Geoworks (the company that makes it) doesn't kick Microsoft's butt :-). And, of course, current versions of Windows FAR outdo Geos in every way. Although I still find myself using or wanting to use GeoWrite instead of the comparatively unfriendly Microsoft Word (GeoWrite is a frame-based word processor -- very impressive).

      There's a demo version, named something like NewDeal Office.

    • by tunah ( 530328 ) <> on Sunday January 06, 2002 @10:37PM (#2795731) Homepage
      each time there is one out, I'm told it's better.

      And they don't lie, them MS marketers. Dem good honest folk.

    • M$ has fought so hard over the years to brainwash people into thinking that computers naturally and unavoidably hang regularly that people actually believe it ! (remember that famous quote supposedly from a M$ support guy saying to a customer that "memory is like gasoline, you use it up then your computer has to fill up the tank again by restarting" ?)

      Oh, I always thought this was caused by the computer being on too long, overheating the electrons and causing them to expand to the point that they got stuck in one of the small bends on the circuity resulting in a crash...

    • Blockquoth the poster:

      To M$' credit though, they did design Windows to be run by computer idiots, so I'm not surprised that the OS has a lot of tradeoffs that make it unstable so it's easier to use

      Um, the fact that it's unstable comes from it being easier to use?? Most of the computer phobia I encounter among my less tech-driven friends stems exactly from the mysterious and unexplained Blue Screen of Death that strikes without cause or warning, like some angry pagan deity...
  • Most career newsies I have ever met were Mac people, who loved stability, well-engineered applications that got the job done, and abhorred a command line. Mac has been the standard for newsrooms for a long time, so it's no surprise if the media has been slow to notice how little Windows sometimes delivers.

    I find it ironic that many people who make thier living as professional communicators appear oblivious to things that shape the state of communication technology overall. But then I've seen a number of posts on /. from people who say they are journalists, so maybe there's hope.
    • Of course they'd be Mac users - most news companies are probably willing to spend a bit more on hardware in return for reducing the time they spend on user education, broken machines holding up people on deadlines, and sysadmin labor, and they're willing to ignore the occasional smart-quote turned into a Q,R,or S in return for getting their work done. Also, Mac layout software is relatively common, so it's a compatibility thing.

      And besides, before they got Macs, lots of people in that business used to use things like XYWrite and Wang Word Processors, and after using the Mac they've got no desire to go back to the old days, or even halfway back :-)

  • Dilbertism (Score:5, Interesting)

    by xueexueg ( 224483 ) on Sunday January 06, 2002 @10:26PM (#2795661)
    Unfortunately, this isn't "Someone in the popular press pointing out that Microsoft Windows doesn't get any more reliable or usable." Any more than Dilbert comics are "Someone in the popular press pointing out that upper management has seriously flawed priorities and is usually much stupider than the drones".

    I say this not because Dave Barry is a humorist. It is possible for humorists, comedians or whatever, to really get people pissed off motivated, or at least make people think: think Lenny Bruce; think "A Modest Proposal". But Dave Barry and Dilbert are not that kind of humor. They are both the kind of humor that makes its reader laugh at himself, giggle at the funny things people do, the funny stuff we get ourselves into, without thinking for a moment that any real change is necessary. I've always felt that Dilbert is an oppressive force, because by making people think that incompetent management is normal and funny, it keeps people from bothering to actually demand competent management. Same thing with this column: by commiserating about Windows, by poking fun at the flaws that it has on every level, from technological to social, it serves only to further entrench people in a Windows monopoly. I'm sure this column is making the rounds at Microsoft, and I'm sure it is universally loved. I bet Bill Gates tapes it to his monitor, or invites Dave Barry to his next keynote. The message here is "Windows is crap, but there are 200,000,000 people in America who will NEVER SWITCH TO ANOTHER OS, NO MATTER WHAT. Ha ha ha."

    This is not to say that humor necessarily trivializes an issue: maybe it's a distinction between "parody" -- which, we'll say, gently pokes fun without suggesting alternatives, thereby reinforcing norms -- and "satire" -- which, let's say, savagely disillusions people and has at least a shot at changing their minds.

  • 95, the first release, was atrocious. Gradually enough patches and services packs fixed it up. Then came Win95SR2. This code was good stuff. Never had alot problems with it. Then came 98 -- it sucked. 98SE was rock solid (unfortunately, $100 upgrade for no more features, just reliability increase). Then WinME -- ick. How did this get out of QA, one wonders.

    NT4 and Win2K have been great to me. Just use WHQL'd drivers for everything and your problems vanish (well, at least for my usage patterns). NT4 reliability was cyclical in service pack releases, but at 6a, it was rock solid for a desktop OS.

    NT4 and Win2K and for the most part Windows 98SE, were OSs that I could sit in front of and get work done and not worry about the machine dying of some ill conceived crash from Windows. A feeling I had only known before as a Solaris workstation user. I'm not sure what some of the people here used nt4/win2k on that gave them such a bad experience or bad uptime for a workstation, but your habits must not fall to the areas as mine, as I don't hit them.

    What about Linux you ask, since this is slashdot. Well, my experience with linux as a server has been that the kernel and daemon apps like samba and the appleshare IP stuff are rock solid, handling heavy loads and delivering long uptimes. But the "modern window managers" like KDE and GNome suck bad, like the bad versions of Windows I mentioned above. I never know when the window manager is going to die, leaving me with the only choice of CTRL-ALT-BKSPC to get out (and sometimes that even doesn't work, I have to ssh into the machine and kill X the hard way). I may reinstall X on a machine in the near future, but I am staying well away from the new glitzy window managers. They are all up on features, down on performance and reliability.

  • Prediction (Score:2, Insightful)

    by horster ( 516139 )
    here is what I've seen happening whenever a negative microsoft related article gets posted on slashdot (xbox,windows,.net,etc).
    first few hours most comments that spike up to 4 or 5 generally make a few good humored comments, ranging from neutral to chiming in with similiar microsoft dismay stories.
    then a few hours later, lets say about 5 or 6 hours since the original post, those posts get sent back to 2 or 3 land, and a new crop of 5's crops up. The strange thing about this new bunch is that they are _all PRO microsoft_!

    it is a strange phenomena to say the least. the posts themselves, at least some of them could be genuine, but the way they are moderated is _very_ suspicious.
    anyway, my prediction holds that the same will happen today, watch for it.
  • Dave points out something, probably accidentally, that Alan Cooper [] rails about in About Face []: The users don't care about the specifics of how the computer works:
    You just know that if it finds any errors, it's going to blame me, even though I don't even know where its disks ARE.
    Dave doesn't know that there are these spinning platters inside his computer, NOR SHOULD HE NEED TO.

    The changes we need to make in software are far greater than just having "the most reliable Windows experience ever".

  • New .sig (Score:2, Funny)

    by mlknowle ( 175506 )
    I just found my new .sig:

    "I bring this all up because now Microsoft has a new version out, Windows XP, which according to everybody is the ``most reliable Windows ever.'' To me, this is like saying that asparagus is ``the most articulate vegetable ever.''
  • Funny, but untrue. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ryanvm ( 247662 ) on Sunday January 06, 2002 @10:47PM (#2795772)
    Windows 3.1/95/98/ME were all horribly unstable - there just isn't any denying that. But the *nix crowd is starting to look incredibly silly sitting over in the corner snickering about the reliability of Windows today.

    I hate to break it to you guys, but as far as stability is concerned - Windows 2000/XP are VERY stable operating systems. NT was pretty good, but 2000 and XP will seriously give any desktop OS out there a run for its money.

    I'm not claiming 2000 or XP are the most secure OSes out there - far from it. And I still don't think a server should be running a GUI. But zealotry aside, Windows XP is a very good desktop OS.

    [Note: For what it's worth I use 2000, XP, and Mandrake for the desktop and Debian or one of the BSDs for servers.]
    • by krmt ( 91422 ) <therefrmhere&yahoo,com> on Monday January 07, 2002 @12:02AM (#2796038) Homepage
      I agree with you entirely, but look at it from this perspective: we're trying to meet each other in the middle.

      Since you use Mandrake, you're aware that it's a good desktop OS. All those people who say "Linux is a great server OS, let it be" just don't get it. It's on it's way to becoming a great desktop OS, the same way Windows is on it's way to becoming a great server OS. Windows has gotten security features and stability over the years, while Unix has gotten things like KDE and graphical installers.

      Neither is perfect right now, but in the end, what's going to be the difference? It'll be cost and freedom vs. compatibility. The fact is, we've never really seen a battle like this before in the industry. We've seen cost vs. compatibility before, and cost won, but not against this kind of overwhelming force. The question is whether or not freedom will tip the scales at all. I, for one, hope it does.
      • True story: my Mom (in her 50s) recently moved, and left her old computer behind. She's not a computer expert or anything, but does all right once stuff is set up for her.

        Anyhow, she needed a new computer, but didn't want to spend much money. So, she goes down to Fry's, and they sell her a $300 machine with "Fast Windows" preinstalled. You guessed's some sort of weird Taiwanese Linux distribution!

        Someone figured out they could hit a price point by eliminating the most expensive item in a PC today: Microsoft software.

    • by f00zbll ( 526151 )
      Win2K was an upgrade from NT4.0, since NT4 didn't support dvd or directX 7+ correctly. XP on the other hand feels like a down grade to me. Not only is the interface ugly (some will like it, I don't), but all the extra services running in the background makes it run slow with 128. There are a few nice features in XP, like network settings now allows a second set. Though I really wish it allowed more, like 5-10 since laptop often are on 3+ networks (dialup, work, home).

      The home edition especially is a lame disabled version of win2K. The new web look of folders, control panels is pretty ugly and annoying. It's a good thing you can change it to classic. Overall, XP is a better OS than 95/98, but it is still not better than win2K. But I'm biased.

  • Hmmmm,
    does anyone know where I can get a copy? Just for eval, of course
  • by BrookHarty ( 9119 ) on Sunday January 06, 2002 @11:07PM (#2795845) Homepage Journal
    Not many people can say they know the entire system, every program, every lib, dll or driver.

    Windows and Linux(or BSD) for the whole distribution take hundreds of megabytes. Yes, Even thou linux the kernel can boot up under a meg and give you a shell its rather useless other than a rescue disk.

    Windows XP is a great workstation os. There is just so much going on you need 3rd party utilities to see whats happening. Tasks running in the background, files loading and unloading, registry updates/calls, files trying to update themselves, etc.. And then there is all the tweaks you have to put on for common sense options, tcp/ip QOS at 80% wasting 20% of your bandwidth, Explorer and Internet Explorer sharing the same memory if 1 crashes they both crash, Turning off Last access attribute in ntfs for performance, etc... Play around with sys-internals utilities you can see programs looking for missing fonts, updates to the registry, all kinds of system functions.

    Linux on the other hand is rather up front with what it needs. You see what libs a program needs with ldd. lsof shows all files open and what program is using them. Good for a server, more secure when you know whats running. Bad points are the software releases, even thou most of the software is free, it can either not compile, not like the version of libraries you have, or need libraries you cant find. You don't have these problems on the windows os.

    Even thou things are getting more complex, things are getting better. Good linux distributions that install and detect most hardware, X configuration, less configuration and more operation. Windows XP has a nice GUI, very intelligent user interface, more stable, great workstation os.

    Only thing that scares me, is if M$ goes totally .net. I like being in control of my OS, and Linux isn't ready to take over the Desktop yet. Maybe in 10 years Games and Applications will run on any OS, but until then, M$ will keep the market.

    I dont see the OS as perfected yet, but its come along way since DOS.

    The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected without trials. - Chinese Proverb
    • Bad points are the software releases, even thou most of the software is free, it can either not compile, not like the version of libraries you have, or need libraries you cant find. You don't have these problems on the windows os.

      One word: Debian.

      One command: apt-get.

      And that's without going into Ximian's rather nice Red Carpet tool, which runs on the Debian, Mandrake, Red Hat, SuSE and Yellow Dog distributions.

  • Most people don't even realize it's the defective OS. Most people fall into 3 catagories;
    1) Think it's the hardware
    2) Think it's the programs
    3) Know it's the OS, but think all OS's do this because the problem is so complex.

    I've heard media reports of predictions of new computer technology of the future that will give us stable computers--they have no idea the *nix has been stable from day 1!!
  • The good stuff (Score:4, Informative)

    by Animats ( 122034 ) on Monday January 07, 2002 @04:10AM (#2797109) Homepage
    There have been two good versions of Windows: Windows NT 3.51 Service Pack 3, and Windows 2000 Service Pack 2.

    NT 3.51 SP3 was the result of the NT effort under Dave Cutler, before they let the kode kiddies from the Win95 group put code in. That was a dull, but solid system.

    Windows 2000 SP 2 represents all the fixes to date to the NT code base, but doesn't yet contain the control-freak stuff from Windows XP. It's what you want to run if you have work to do and have to use Microsoft.

    So actually, for about six months or so every five years, Microsoft ships something that works.

Houston, Tranquillity Base here. The Eagle has landed. -- Neil Armstrong