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User Journal

Journal Journal: Vista & Win7 -- The Dongle OS 1

I've been thinking about the differences between "renting" and "owning" software recently because of Windows Vista and the beta of Microsoft Windows 7 ("Vista Reloaded"). (Yes, my friends, I have Vista running on a computer. Not Win7, though. The beta would not install.)

My opinion is that Microsoft needs to adopt a licensing solution that does not penalize its customers.

What consumers receive (or will receive) for their money when buying one of these operating systems is, in short, a rental agreement represented by a sequence of digits (an unlock key). The use of the unlock key is tied to the hardware on which the OS is installed. If a user upgrades or replaces a significant component of the computer, the user must seek Microsoft's permission to use the unlock key. The retail version of the OS allows a certain number of new installations with the unlock code. After that, the user must ask Microsoft for permission or buy a new unlock key. The OEM version of the OS is even more limited.

This is much different from the licensing of previous versions of Windows (which were, I note, successful products). In previous versions, the consumer had the software medium and the unlock key. The number of new installations with this unlock key was/is unlimited. I can still install my (legitimate) copy of Windows 2000, which I had to do recently for a development project. I can still install my (legitimate) copy of Windows XP. Whereas I consider this to be value for my money, Microsoft thinks my value is their loss. But 5 years from now, I may have used the all the permitted renewals of a Vista unlock key. In the last 5 years, I have had hard disks crash and mainboard problems, as well as a new computer or two.

I bought a software product (name not necessary) in the 1990s that was unique and very good. It was also expensive. To prevent piracy, the company sold the product with a parallel-port dongle. I detest the dongle but I have to admit that I can't think of a more effective anti-piracy measure. I'd be punished if I lost the dongle, but that just means I have to keep track of it. I am still using the software after almost 15 years -- I'd say I've got my money's worth.

I cannot say I feel the same about Microsoft's new licensing strategy. It's like having a dongle with an expiry date. Apple ties OS X to its own computers and no one else sells Macs (i.e. the Computer Is The Dongle). Linux is free and can be installed anywhere. Real dongles are not popular for a good reason. And, given that dongles can be cracked and cracks can be distributed today better than ever before, a dongle isn't a guarantee of licence protection. But is the only somewhat effective way for Microsoft to sell Windows under terms that are favourable to them *without* penalizing customers to sell a Windows Dongled Edition?

Or is it an outdated notion that consumers should be able to choose the (1) computer on which they install the OS (and change their minds as it suits them), and be able to use the product as long as it is useful to them?

User Journal

Journal Journal: Ballmer Quotations

"Google?! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOooooooo!"

"GOOGLE?! AIIIIIIIIIIIiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii!"

"GOOOOOOGGGGGGAAAAALLLL! I'm going to fucking KILL those guys!"

"It is hereby forbidden effective immediately for employees and other on-site personnel to 'make googly eyes'."

"Just don't tell me that you're going to Goo... AUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGGGGGH!" [throws chair]

User Journal

Journal Journal: Avoid RSI: ergonomic solutions

I've tried TouchPads, trackballs, and various mice. After 20 years of computing, here are four things that I recommend to everyone:

1. Learn how to type by touch. It isn't difficult.

2. Reduce your clicks: use X-mouse focussing. (If you use Windows, install Microsoft's TweakUI Powertoy. If you use X, you have the setting somewhere.)

3. Keep your forearms flat on your desk. Adjust your chair's height if you must.

4. Use a REAL ergonomic keyboard, one with the split-key design. (Any keyboard that does not have the split-key design is ~not~ ergonomic.)

User Journal

Journal Journal: Notes On Programming Languages 4

Favourable: concise; powerful low-level manipulation; very portable; makes programmers learn

Unfavourable: string manipulation is clumsy; no garbage collection; in general, it takes a good programmer to use C well; no OOP, although you can find workarounds, since an object is really just a struct

Favourable: like C, but with OOP capability; better string manipulation than C

Unfavourable: string manipulation is still clumsy; some OOP purists dislike multiple inheritance and other "imperfections" of the OOP implementation

Favourable: easy to get started with; versatile; near-perfect portability; excellent ability to manipulate file-contents

Unfavourable: poverty of data structures; syntax that worsens in proportion to the complexity of the implementation; weirdness with I/O;

Favourable: object-oriented; can be compiled;

Unfavourable: some portability problems; clumsy REGEX implementation; white-space is significant to the logic;

Favourable: garbage-collection; good implementation of OOP

Unfavourable: cannot be compiled;

User Journal

Journal Journal: The Future Of Linux: STOUs and STEVEs

The future of Linux depends on STOUshare.

STOUs are Simply Task-Orientated Users. STEVEs are Serious Techies, Engineers Vilipending Enslavement.

People stay with M-Windows because most people are STOUs not STEVEs.

STEVEs want an open road, the Mustang GT390 of hardware and the Jacqueline Bisset of algorithms... and, er, hardware.

STOUs want to "send a picture" and "read mail".

A STOU doesn't really buy much software. A STOU doesn't even buy the OS: it comes with the "mail reader" or "picture scanner", or they get it for free from someone. A STOU doesn't care about the implications of anything he needs to do his task. (SUVs are for STOUs.)

In the 90s, MonopoSoft was happy to let piracy go on because it captured STOUshare for them. MonospoSoft understands the economic importance of STOUshare. The first version of M-Windows for which MonopoSoft has seriously tried to control piracy is XP.

It's just much easier for everyone in the retail food-chain to steer and market to STOUs. Why have a variety of foods when this bag of chips -- the brand your neighbours are eating! -- will do just fine. Oh, by the way, you can't eat anything else.

Linux, the STEVE OS, has done most of the catching up that it can with STEVEs. In nations with low per-capita income and a mistrust of the US and MonopoSoft, Linux will probably gain STOUshare.

Until STOUs can talk about Linux without having to know what they are talking about, Linux will not gain STOUshare.

Until STOUs can call a Help Desk and talk to more STOUs about problems neither of them understands, Linux will not gain STOUshare.

Until Linux can do MORE than M-Windows can while supporting all that M-Windows supports and working flawlessly with everything that MonopoSoft controls, Linux can't direct where the market goes and cannot gain STOUshare in North America.

The outlook is bleak. But there is a trump card: any OS that makes Jacqueline Bisset want you is so STEVE that even all the STOUs will fight for it.

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