Archive for May, 2014

Travel Computers

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

I’m heading out later today for my first business trip in six months. Seems like a long time between trips after all the travel I did for a bunch of years at Microsoft. It’s a trip long in distance (California) and short on time (leave on Wednesday and return on Friday) so I want to travel light. I’m used to traveling with a carry on bag for my clothing and the like and a backpack for computer stuff. The backpack is the heavy part. I decided I didn’t really want to carry two bags this trip. I thought about not traveling with a computer at all but that seemed extreme. So what to do?

I have a lot of options. I have two regular laptops, a Windows 8 Slate, and a Surface RT. I have an iPad mini as well but have trouble taking it seriously for more than games and light web browsing. I don’t have a keyboard for it and I haven’t paid for an Office subscription (yet?). The laptops are sort of heavy and awkward in confined spaces. The slate is not but I don’t have a keyboard for it and I really need a keyboard for some things. The Surface RT is small, light and has a keyboard. It just doesn’t run all the software I like to use. But I’m bringing it anyway.

I’ll get by without Windows Live Writer for blogging. If I feel the need write anything to I’ll use Word. I’ll get by without running Visual Studio for a couple of days. Everything else? Pretty much there. But I do wish I had those two pieces of software running on the Surface. I’m sort of drooling over the new Surface Pro 3s that were just announced. Seems like having ones cake and eating it too.

I keep a lot of other things in my computer bag besides a computer or two. All sorts of cables, thumb drives, power cords and other supplies. For a different trip, longer or with different type of activities, I’ll probably still bring the bag for all that other stuff. But I like the idea of keeping the computer light.

My Issues with Linux

Thursday, May 15th, 2014

My big problem with Linux is not that it was based on UNIX although in all honestly I would probably have adopted it to some extent if it had been based on VMS or any other DEC OS. UNIX was never my idea of an OS done right.  My real concern though is that OS development has become, with the exception of Microsoft, little more than tweaking Linux. One can do this because the source is available.

Having the source available is not completely bad as it can be very educational to read and play with source code. It’s a good tool for education. But it seems to me that it has made developers, in a sense, lazy. There is little to no incentive to start from scratch or the make major changes when most short term goals can be reached by tweaking Linux.

It used to be that companies had an incentive to create new and better operating systems. They needed them to make their hardware useful. Now that they can just tweak Linux there is no real incentive to do more. Also since one can’t easily make money off improvements to Linux AND one has to share what one developed with everyone there is no incentive to differentiate your hw/sw combination at the operating system level.

Apple moved to a UNIX core some years ago. Based on FreeBSD I believe. Why? Well it was too much work to continue to develop their own OS from scratch. And software was not their core strength either – though they have had some really good coders there from time to time. Apple is more a hardware company and using free OS code was a natural for them. It was cheap and easy. Not always an indication of best or innovative.

And then there is the mono culture risk that so many people are concerned about. It concerns me as well but the answer is not to replace a Microsoft mono culture with a Linux mono culture. I’d live to see three or more major OSes “in the wild.”

Is Twitter More Reliable Than Email?

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

I received an email today with a most interesting idea that was centered around the following statement:

Because email is becoming increasingly unreliable, we will be making all major announcements and updates on Twitter.

I’m not sure that I understand how or even if email is becoming increasingly unreliable. Perhaps what they are worried about is being caught in SPAM filters which I find are getting better all the time. Better about not having false readings as well as better at catching real SPAM. Moving to Twitter though seems a poor choice regardless.

I suppose if your audience is following a very small number of people Twitter may be a good way of reaching them. Sometimes. But if they are only following a few accounts they are probably also reading twitter less often.  One hopes this organization is not moving to Direct Messages on Twitter. That would truly be annoying at least to me.

I follow a lot of people (that is to say they are listed as people I follow) but most often use a Twitter list to filter out a majority of the traffic which I just could not keep up with. I scan the full feed, look more closely at a select list, and look closely at notifications of people referring to me or taking action with my tweets. I don’t have time in the day to read every tweet by everyone I follow. It’s just not possible.

So do I miss a lot? Of course. But there is still plenty of interesting things to read. No one has to drink the whole output of a fire hose to get all the water they need. And that brings me back to the idea of using Twitter as the communication path of first resort. A lot of people are going to miss a lot of what one sends unless they are closely watching that one particular account (or perhaps one particular hashtag) all of the time.

At least with email people tend to at least scan the subjects of everything that comes though. People miss a lot on Twitter. The way Facebook handles things it is not much (if any) better. Only a small percentage of friends will see every post one makes on Facebook.

Seems to me like email is still the best way for things you want to reach everyone whose contact information you have acquired. Just don’t SPAM them and get into trouble with filters.