Sunday, January 28, 2007

Vista consumer value is very low

The value a consumer gets out of Vista just seems to be decreasing all the time. Now it's the inability to install a clean copy of Vista with an upgrade copy.

Really, who would buy an upgrade version if they knew this? As seen in my prior posts, Windows has to be reinstalled at least every couple of years. Anyone worth their salt knows it has to be done clean to be effective.

I just don't really see what the consumer is going to get out of Vista. As a developer, I'm happy .NET will be in more people's hands. As a user, I am not sure what Vista offers me that I really want to shell out that kind of money for.

Given that I don't buy PCs with Windows licenses--I've owned my own licenses since NT 3.51--what am I supposed to do with this? Install XP, pop in my W2K disk to prove I can upgrade that, and then install Vista on top of the XP? That's a good use of my time. Plus, I've done a XP-to-Vista upgrade and it's really slow. Granted, the machine I did it on had a bunch of cruft, but it took about 6 hours to upgrade.

I bet Apple doesn't pull this shit. MacOS is getting more tempting all the time.

Gotta love that old school Orwellian double-speak

From Windows Live Mail:  "We respect your privacy. Active Search doesn’t read your emails. It scans them for keywords."

Anyone want to clarify the difference between a computer reading your emails and scanning those emails for keywords?

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Happy Re-Installing Windows Weekend!

It was raining today in SF, so I figured, "What a perfect day to reinstall Windows!"

I've been running the Vista RC at home and the Vista RTM on a couple of work machines.  All in all, it's a good release.  But I decided last week that I'm not going to upgrade any of my home machines to Vista for the time being.  I really just don't want to fork over hundreds of dollars to upgrade my home machines at the moment, therefore ... it's time to re-install XP!

But why?  Why do I have to reinstall Windows?  I don't get viruses on my machine, no Spyware, etc.  What's the issue?

If you read my prior post on Visual Studio 2005 Standard, you'd get an inkling of all of the cruft that has collected on this system over the last 2 years.  I last installed Windows on this machine when I got a new motherboard (Memorial Day, 2005, I think).  Since then, there have been a lot of installs, uninstalls and reinstalls of all things .NET and Vista.  Beta versions of Orcas (the next version of Visual Studio), Vista SDKs, Game Development Studio, oh... and Monad.  Man did Monad screw up my system badly.  I love it when you install software that depends on a beta of a .NET framework, then won't let you uninstall it if the beta .NET framework gets upgraded.  Man, that's sweet installer design right there.

Long story short, my Windows install was screwed up badly.  The good news is that I got a new DVD-RW drive a few months ago that is much, much faster at reading CDs.  Combined with xcopy and a second hard drive, I reinstalled Windows in probably half the time it took me last time around.  I think I'm getting good at this.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

When and when not to bet your company on other people's technology

Hey everybody... Remember Bell Labs?  Remember those guys?  Among many other inventions, they came up with the laser, fiber optics, C/C++, UNIX, the fax machine, mobile telephony, wi-fi (nee WaveLan), and an interesting little gadget some like to call "the transistor".

In 2007, the company now called "AT&T" is a shell.  It's a holding company, an amalgam of shareholder interests that houses zero innovation.  Zero.  AT&T proves the theory that splitting the original, pre-1984 monopolistic AT&T actually stifled innovation.  Oh, it might have helped competition.  But did it help innovation?

Today's Wall Street Journal discussed the hiccups involved with  AT&T's TV offerings.   Turns out that AT&T's attempt to enter the IPTV market is dependent on technology of.... ta da!  Microsoft!  It's called Project Lightspeed.

AT&T, the $230B company that once built everything from their switches to their handsets, now is paying Microsoft to supply their TV offering.  Now, I don't really understand this.  I am a Microsoft fanboi, I suppose, but I'm also of the belief that if something is really important to your business, you want to control your destiny.  You really wouldn't want to turn over technology involved with your core business to someone who might actually be a competitor in the same space

On the other end of the spectrum, we have Google.  Google will acquire companies that use incompatible platforms from what they use.  Then they will spend the time to port it to the platform that Google uses.  Yahoo is similar, where they use their standard BSD platform that they've been using since, like, forever.  Neither of these companies can risk being on Microsoft's platform for the long term.  After all, Microsoft is trying to invade their space as it is (I just saw an ad for "Microsoft AdCenter" as I wrote this paragraph).

So I've been thinking about a razor for when it is and when it is not acceptable to develop your own tools.  It's not completely based on cost.

The razor is this:  if the tool is integral to the core business of  your company--or even just one product--for the long term, you should develop it internally almost no matter what the cost.  There's a very good chance that you're going to end up spending that kind of money with vendor lock-in.   There are two caveats though.

a) You are developing for that platform.  For example, a Windows developer really can't avoid buying Windows and Visual Studio and being tied to those.

b) The training or outsourcing costs and risks outweigh the risk reduction and cost savings you would get from developing the software. 

Back to AT&T for a second.  They haven't used this razor to evaluate what to do for their IPTV solution.  As everything these days, they instead wanted to rush their product to market probably to appease shareholders.  And they made a deal with the company that can ultimately bury the product they're trying to make.  Huge, huge mistake by a company that used to develop and own everything themselves and control their destiny. 

Monday, January 15, 2007

Don't buy Visual Studio 2005 Standard

[Updated 1/17/07 - 12:04am]

Wanted to let everyone know that is was some kind of configuration problem on my machine and you can go ahead and buy Visual Studio Standard after all.

A co-worker suggested getting rid of XNA Game Studio Express on my machine. I did that, but it didn't help. I doubly checked that I had removed all Express editions as well. Then I repaired the VS 2005 Standard install, but that didn't help.

The only thing that helped was installing VS 2005 on a partition that hadn't had it installed before (which happened to be running Vista). I could probably try uninstalling it on my XP partition and blowing away the Visual Studio 8 directory completely, plus settings in my home directory. Oh man, what a pain.

Long story short, it looks like it's time to start rebuilding my Windows install at home :(

[/Update]

For hobbyist programming efforts at home, I finally decided to upgrade from the various Visual Studio 2005 Express Editions. I thought that I could do it with Visual Studio 2005 Standard, which has an upgrade price of around $150. The main thing that inspired this was when I wanted to build an ATL or MFC app with Visual Studio C++ Express, but couldn't because ATL/MFC isn't included with that version. Looking at the product comparison, Standard looked perfect for my needs. It appears to include everything I'd want at home, minus the stuff I use at work (like SQL 2005, Dev Edition).

Well, one itty bitty problem: VS 2005 Standard doesn't let you have multiple projects in a single solution. DUH. So you can't have a C# application project and a related library in the same solution, whether it's C# or C++. That essentially makes it useless for anyone looking to do any kind of serious development unless you want to open and close solutions all day long. Since I only use Professional at work, I wouldn't have ever imagined that Standard would not let me do this. And, of course, no one would know this in advance because Microsoft only lets you download the Professional Edition as a trial.

The only beneficial thing in VS 2005 Standard is that you can load VS plugins and compile for x64, both of which have very limited usefulness. I was able to load the Orcas plugin for designing WPF forms -- something that is inevitably going to work its way down to Express editons anyway if Microsoft has any hope of getting people to write for WPF. And since I have no plans on running x64 soon at home, I don't really need that. But it sure makes a good bullet point on their website.

So here's my advice, don't be fooled by MS marketing and waste your money on VS 2005 Standard: just stick with the Express editions or pay for VS Professional. VS 2005 Standard will probably make managing your projects more confusing than just keeping them in completely different solutions in different Express Editions.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

SF on pace for 156 murders this year

There were four just in the last 24 hours, two of which were about 5 blocks from my place.

Just letting you know that the situation looks worse than it has in decades.  That's what your police and government leadership have begotten this city.   See my last post on the subject.

Tip: Don't upgrade XP to Vista unless you have direct access to the domain

After the Bears beat the Seahawks today, I ran some errands and took a 20 minute drive down to work just to dock my laptop, log back in, then leave and come home.

Why?  Because I made the mistake of doing an upgrade to Vista without access to the domain that has my password.  Vista would deny my login while I had the work laptop at home because of this. 

Even worse, Vista automatically denies access to the local "Administrator" account when there is a domain in use, so I couldn't go in that way to get the thing up and running again.

The upgrade itself actually went well.  It took hours and hours -- probably about 5 hours, but other than the domain login problem, it was seamless.  I decided to upgrade this work laptop because I'm a chronic early adopter and because I've continually had problems with it getting confused when I undock it at work and then bring it home.  My first test of this, when I brought it home today, went very well.  Even the virus scanner upgraded seamlessly, which shocked the hell out of me.

Anyway, I hope this warning helps people who have laptops on the go but log into a work domain.  If you're in Minot and your home office is in Cheyenne, don't upgrade to Vista until you get back to work.  I'm sure most people wouldn't upgrade to Vista themselves, anyway, they'd leave it to IT.  I'm one of the exceptions who doesn't wait for IT to upgrade me, so I felt it necessary to warn others. 

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

TRIMBO's Top 100 Search Terms for 2006

So what search terms have people end up at TRIMBO?  "Viagra"?  "Mortgage savings"?  "Home loans"? 

Nope.  Here are the top 100 terms that people searched for and then arrived at this blog.

 

xna collada
trimbo
trimbo blog
collada xna
a call to bind was not well formatted
xna load .x
a call to bind was not well formatted.  please refer to documentation for the correct parameters to bind
a call to bind was not well formatted.  please refer to documentation for the correct parameters to bind.
a call to bind was not well formatted.  please refer to documentation for the correct parameters to bind.
a call to bind was not well formatted 
my xbox 360 froze
ajaxy
error 1 a call to bind was not well formatted.  please refer to documentation for the correct parameters to bind.
collada fbx
rails apps
humans ruining the planet
*.blogspot.com
fbx versus collada formats
.net collada reader
google blogspot "add a calendar"
chelsey clinton
xna fbx
yahoo vacation
how to make rails apps look nice 
trip to england
ps3
world in 3d
use pcs
xna is cool
http://trimbo.blogspot.com/2006/09/your-ajaxy-rails-app-is-ruining-planet.html
subclassing objectdatasource
wii programming language used
your ajaxy destroying
how to scale rails apps
qualcomm
javascript scrollbar live search
ajaxy mail
trimbo musik
.net "a call to bind was not well formatted"
trimbo blogger
collada sucks
a call to bind was not well formatted.  please refer to documentation for the correct parameters to bind. 
the great forward-slash `/' versus backslash `\'
can graw run in vista
ghost recon advanced warfighter laptop
compviz
google uses rails
rails fill in search box
castro shooting
are computers bad for the environment?
xna x collada
lumines soundtrack torrent
xna load fbx
 collada xna
celebs-who-claim-theyre-green-but-guzzle-gas
times reader
rails app javascript client
collada reader
presario 1700t  torrent
min spec laptop
top 20 artists of today
xna collada importer
environment"green"software"c#
rails blogspot code
compaq presario 1700"cpu"spec"package
tom skerritt microsoft
movies blogspot
rails app
javascript incremental search slow
microsoft tom skerritt
rails grid ajax
play backup game son xbox 360
bridge n tunnel 
hacking your xbox 360
fbx xna
castro halloween shooting
rails cycle with ajax
bridge tunnel crowd
collada for xna
ajax mail app
ps3
google analytics "network location" wrong
franz ferdinand
united states "cdma mobile providers" list
tmz aol's
xaml clientside scripting
top 20 artists
the top 15 artists 
objectdatasource in a gridview
forward slash vs backward slash
madden_nfl_07 java
a call to bind was not well formatted.  please refer to documentation for the correct parameters to bind
bridge and tunnel
play backup games on 360
green cheek software
ssx 3
ssx tricky xbox torrent
hack the 360 play backup
computers ruining the environment
abc93b63e20579dd1c0d740aca5eee8d0435f9378355b5ae

 

My favorite is the last one.

SFPD needs a new chief badly

Gavin Newsom needs to fire Heather Fong. She has done nothing to make the SFPD look better after the infamous "Fajitagate" incident. San Francisco's homicide rate spiked dramatically when she became police chief. She is not a leader. In fact she alienated officers in 2005 when she suspended a bunch of them for some mildly tasteless videos and spoke about their actions like they were child molesters. She speaks with the authority of a gnat and lies for whatever reason in the face of rising crime rates. And now, we hear that some Yale students visiting our city got beat up, yet none of the perpetrators were detained or arrested. What the hell is that?

That's called the last straw. Either Heather Fong goes, or you'll go, Mr. Newsom. Here's a chart of homicides in SF. Note that Fong was put in charge in early 2004.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

The Jobsian Renaissance has Jumped the Shark

When Steve Jobs was bought back from NeXT in 1997, it jumpstarted Apple Computer. First the iMac, then sleek new G3 Powerbooks. Then the G4 Powerbook, MacOS X. All of these were tools which powered people who wanted to be creative with their computers.

Today we ushered in "Apple, Inc.": consumer electronics junk vendor for the MySpace generation. The computer company I loved from age 6 to age 26 has become... maker of new things to go in landfills.

If you don't get what I'm talking about, the iPhone was announced today. It's just another phone that plays music and can browse MySpace, yet Apple is betting the farm on it. It costs $600 -- with the 2-year-contract Cingular subsidy -- for a, well, smartphone just like any Motorola or Danger or Nokia or Treo handset, except with Apple hype wagon and brand name on it.

But $600. Let that sink in for a minute. That means with the applicable taxes, since cellphones are taxed at what they would cost without provider subsidy, you're looking at $700 to get out the door with one of these. I bought my wife a really nice Core Duo laptop for only $50 more than that.

Plus you're probably going to have to pay a chunk of change for data usage, even though this device is not even 3G.

Not only are they entering the market with Motorola, Nokia, Samsung and LG, all of which have tons of experience and patents for mobile technology and their own plants to manufacture this stuff (unlike Apple, who uses FoxConn et al), but with the providers themselves. Providers don't roll with phone manufacturers -- they run them. Handset makers do whatever the providers tell them to do. Vodafone even steamrolled RIM into putting a Vodafone UI on their Blackberry. If you don't play with them, your handsets don't get subsidized. And if they don't get subsidized, no one will buy them. Most people out there want a free phone.

What truly invalidates Jobs' claim that "Apple revolutionizes the phone" is that there's nothing innovative about the services to be offered. There's nothing this phone does through your cell service that you can't already do. It's completely still up to the provider, which takes a lot of this device's destiny out of Apple's hands.

Yet Apple wants to sell $6 BILLION of these phones in the next year. That's 18% of Motorola's revenue that Apple hopes to take away. Assuming these phones cost more to make than $600, or at least around that much, this is a huge gamble for Apple.

I also think it hurts their core business. The Mac is increasing its market share. It seems to be a reasonable priced machine to buy even if you're going to run Windows. Yet, as noted first by Paul Thurott and later by David Pogue, Jobs did not mention the Mac or Leopard once except to say that the iPhone runs "MacOS X" (whatever that means... a Mach kernel I guess? Does it have a boot time? Does it link very slowly at runtime like Objective-C?). Why would you want to buy a computer from a smallish company that's now only focusing on consumer electronics? Would you buy a Motorola-branded computer? How about a Nokia computer?

Where is the innovation at Apple? I think Quicktime was Apple's best innovation. They also had a lot of ideas that failed, like OpenDoc and Dylan. But what happened to the "Power to be your Best"? Is that what an iPhone does, or are we just getting new ways to send another SMS to MySpace?

How lame.

Monday, January 08, 2007

IUPUI!

Hey, I saw today in the logs that this blog had a visitor from IUPUI, also known as the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.  Or, as I like to call it: "Ooey-Poohey". 

To whomever visited from there, a warm welcome!  I root for your university whenever I can.

Friday, January 05, 2007

I tried Kubuntu.

I have a really old laptop--1ghz Pentium III, 384MB of RAM, 20G drive, lame ATI graphics--that I installed Kubuntu on yesterday because my temporary Vista beta license expired.

Everything went pretty well on the install.  For some unknown reason, it launches into a full fledged window system off the CD instead of asking me if I want to just install.  Ok.  The install was pretty fast, probably twice as fast as Vista.  Unfortunately that's more of a good sign for Vista, since it has significantly more functionality than a base install of Kubuntu.

Stage two:  I boot it up, it won't connect to my Wi-Fi.  Why?  Silly me, I didn't follow the instructions on a wiki somewhere that tell me to make sure to install knetworkmanager and a post on a forum somewhere that I needed to install and configure a kernel extension called ndiswrapper.  Its all so obvious!

Stage three:  Working with it.  Has anyone else noticed that the font situation is still abysmal on this OS?  I'm trying to type this blog entry from Opera on Kubuntu but it's ... sooo... ugly.  Microsoft has definitely done one thing right with their ClearType fonts on XP and Vista.  Plus Opera on Kubuntu seems to have a lot of issues trying to keep the text wrapped around in this box I'm typing in.  Never noticed anything like that on Windows (though that's arguably an application issue).

Stage 4:  This thing keeps hibernating for no reason.

Bottom line is, since I own a Windows license I can just pop back on here sooner or later, I'll probably take it back to Windows or just get rid of the laptop altogether.  I'm not sure what the advantage of using this OS would be unless I had to do development for it right now.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Comcast's network is extremely fast

I just downloaded a 695MB ISO image @ 1176 K bytes per second.

Oh, did I mention I was downloading Superman Returns in HD to my Xbox at the same time?

Comcast's network is sickeningly fast. This is almost 6 times the performance I would get from my Sonic.net 3Mbs DSL (average speed, 1.6 Mbs) -- which I paid $25 more per month to have. And no, there's no lack of people on my block who have Comcast. I live in the middle of San Francisco.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Why iTV will fail miserably

I read today on Gizmodo or somewhere that Apple's iTV will not make it out by MacWorld (next week). They're having trouble getting an embedded version of OS X to work for them and it will be released sometime later next month. In thinking about this, I realized that there's almost no hope for this box.

Let's first talk about bandwidth. It's supposedly an attachment that will show movies and TV in HD over Wi-Fi. Anyone who has experience with a Windows Media Center Extender already knows that just won't fly. My Xbox 360 can play back video from my Media Center (Vista Ultimate, of course). Can it do it well? No. On 802.11g, it can barely do SD video and is not that far away from my router. I guess Apple could ask everyone who wants one of these to upgrade to 802.11n -- which is not an approved spec -- but is that going to happen before the bad reviews start rolling in? In the general case, I imagine there are going to be unhappy people here.

Second problem is processing and caching. I started wondering how much RAM and/or disk such a box might have. It would be nice if it had a significant amount so the video stream could be cached to give a better playback experience. But I also started wondering what kind of processor they're planning to use in this box? Intel? That wouldn't be prudent -- Intel is well disliked for embedded systems (ask Microsoft about Xbox 1). PPC? I suppose that might work. Even if these are all worked out, I just think that at $299, it's going to be an interesting price squeeze for Apple. The Xbox 360 Platinum (i.e. the one with the HDD) is reportedly costing Microsoft around $330 these days. I am just a little surprised if Apple will be able to make their first embedded HD system profitable from the get-go, but I'm sure they have top men working on it.

Third problem is the competition. This is one issue that I feel strongly that Apple can't overcome. Their competition isn't BitTorrent, or Microsoft's Xbox Live initiative, or any other downloadable movie gimmick thing. The juggernaut they face is the streaming HD digital content that Comcast is already delivering on demand (their service is originally called... On Demand™). Nobody can compete against Comcast when it comes to sheer bandwidth. I routinely get upwards of 8-10 Mbs when using my cable modem, and I'm able to stream HD content to my cable box using On Demand™.

Apple thinks people will spend $300 on this iTV box, another $1000 on a computer to serve content to the iTV box, and then wait for movies to download to watch them? I spend $10 a month on a Comcast DVR that does HD both On Demand™ and as a DVR. Not even Tivo can compete against that. Comcast's highly flawed--but very cheap--DVR makes the new $800 Tivo Series 3 POA (Pointless on Arrival).

So, I hope Apple has a trick up their sleeve. I really do. I'd like to see Apple give Comcast a run for their money. I just don't see it happening though. The big guy who controls the fast pipes is ultimately going to win this content battle.