Archive for the 'Rants' Category

Article on Eyestrain and Computer Monitors

The article IMHO misses the boat. It covers the traditional basics, staring too long, at an object too close, etc, etc.

But it completely misses the real issue…”illumination”.

You see, I can stare at my eInk Kindle Reader for hours, keeping it close to my nose, with very little blinking. And yet, doing so provides next none of the strain that just a few hours of staring at my computer screen at work does. Why?

Because my Kindle, is not illuminated. It is NOT emitting light and radiation.  Where as a computer screen is sending an immense amount of light into our eyes.  Try staring at a lightbulb. You get this “glow” from the brightness.  A computer monitor is doing the exact same thing, just on a much much lower level.

And we can thank some idiot way back half a century ago who decided that computer screens should be “white” because paper is white. We would be far far better off if we inverted the screen. When with a black or gray background as the base. Not only would our eyes be healthier. But we could save millions in energy reduction. Furthermore, our mobile batteries would see a significant increase in their battery life.

http://www.cnn.com/2013/11/12/health/upwave-computer-eyes/index.html?hpt=hp_c3

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Is Microsoft that Daft? Yes…

Seriously, Steve Ballmer should have been fired years ago. I am hoping it’s very soon. The man is flat out an idiot of a CEO. Why do I feel this way?

1. He has repeatedly failed to see where the market is.

2. He has failed to leverage Microsoft brands and technologies.

3. He has failed to stop infighting and bring about a conducive team inside Microsoft.

4. He has failed to implement common sense “features” while repeatedly implementing immense change.

***

[Please note, I am actually kind of okay with Windows 8. I am sort of getting used to the interface. So please don’t view this as a Windows 8 knock. I think it’s adventurous and was worth the effort and simply needs some refinement. In fact I jut think they need to incorporate some easy drag n drop arrangement of the new tile screen. And some outlines in metro apps.]

But let me address each of the above:

1. Microsoft is just now pushing into tablets, 4th generation smartphones, and mobile devices in general. Come lately again? Granted Bill Gates nearly missed the internet itself.

2. Failure to leverage Microsoft brands. And to recognize which ones are tarnished and which ones are marketable. I’m going to be point blunt honest here. “Windows” is a tarnished brand; so is IE. Very few people are using Internet Explorer by choice. Even though it’s vastly improved in many ways.

Meanwhile, Microsoft has it’s Xbox and it’s Kinect platform which has an overall strong brand loyalty. I believe it was a mistake for Microsoft to push the Windows Phone platform. Especially, in such an appless environment. It’s not enough to motivate the market.

Rather, an “X Phone” that was branded with the Xbox platform. That had an emulator to play many of the mini-arcade Xbox Live! games. This could have gone somewhere. Yes, it’d need more work. But imagine if the Microsoft phone came out, and while it may have lacked apps, it had a thousand games available at launch. Imagine if it could sync with your Xbox, carry your Live! profile, store your replays of Halo matches. Suddenly, a few million Xbox owners have got a lot more reason to go with Microsoft’s phone. (Ironically, many of these suggestions were sent to Microsoft by myself long before the 360 came out. And they’re still missing the game. Had Microsoft done this back when the 360 came out with their Zune, they might have given Apple a far greater challenge.)

3. Look, I understand Office team, isn’t as fond of Windows team, and neither is as fond of the Xbox/Entertainment branch. Suck it up. A CEO’s job is to make sure the various major divisions of their company are working in synergy. Steve Ballmer repeatedly fails at this. And that’s because of the “pie problem”. Each has their slice of pie and feels at risk. Eliminate the feeling of potential jeopardy so that there can be synergy.

4. Common sense features. Okay, how many stinkin revisions to MS Office do we need? And why can’t I simply schedule a block of time in the calendar and then select “Out of Office”, and automatically have my out-of-office reply turned on ONLY at those times.

Instead, I have to remember to turn it on right before I leave for vacation, turn it back off when I arrived, turn it on a few days later when I might be out for a day, and then remember to turn it back off. Of course, I do none of this remembering. And the feature becomes one of uselessness and guilt.

Logically, one should NEVER set their auto-reply, they should simply set their schedule and denote the status as “out of office”. When that is done, the message should automatically be set. (With an option use a custom message or append a msg to one’s general OOO reply.)

Sadly, this probably won’t make it into Office 2013 either.

***

Please Steve, pass the torch to someone who “can do”.

Adobe’s love of shotguns…

Adobe seems to have a love of shotguns, namely pointing it at itself and/or it’s users and pulling the trigger.

***

I’ve been pretty vocal about my dislike for the present CEO. I sold all my Adobe shares (just to make that clear).  And I really think Adobe is doing EVERYTHING it can to kill itself – which is a shame because they have a lot of good products.

So recently on Slashdot there was a discussion of Adobe’s handling of a Photoshop CS5 bug. Where Adobe’s solution is “Pay us to upgrade to CS6”
https://www.adobe.com/support/security/bulletins/apsb12-11.html

Now some might point out the fact that CS5 was released 2 years ago and CS6 is the second version since CS5 (with CS5.5 in between). But let’s consider whether that is legitimate justification.

CS5 was released in April 2010, followed by CS5.5 in April 2011. CS6 was just released this April. Let’s say you bought the top of the line “Master Chief Suite”.  The upgrade cost from CS5.5 is $550, and from CS5 – over a thousand $$$$.

But let’s say you bought Adobe CS5 suite in March 2011. You’re now on the hook for over a $1,000 just to secure your 14 month old software suite.  That’s pretty damn petty IMHO.

I already dislike how tiered Adobe’s upgrade path has become.  Essentially they’ve kept the the high upgrade price while moving to a shorter upgrade cycle. And tiering the upgrade based on the version.  But it used to be that upgrades were available to the last two cycles. And I think it should still be that way.  Instead, Adobe is trying to get $500/year, every year from it’s users.

Why this is bad?  $500/year isn’t bad if you’re an active business with a high production rate.  But it’s very bad if you’re an independent or part time user (ie: many of us with a 40 hour a week day job that DOESN’T use Adobe products) and you just want to stay in the game and stay current with Adobe technology and do the odd job here and there.   It then becomes cost prohibitive; and why is this bad? Because it means people like me will fall behind on Adobe’s technology platform and cease maintaining the skillset,  in other words, shrinking of Adobe’s developer base – and that’s a VERY BAD thing.

Adobe is becoming an extremely greedy company under it’s current leadership; and a foolish one to boot.  I’ve long advocated for the removal of Adobe’s current CEO and a replacement with someone who better understands the present digital world.

SOLUTION: Release a reduced developer edition of CS Master Suite. The developer edition requires that you sign-up as an individual programmer. It gives you a limited license. Full featured, but you can only produce personal or not-for-profit products.   Make it cheap!

This is similar to the licensing that Adobe did with giving away Flex Builder in 2009 to anyone who was unemployed.  That was a REALLY cool thing, and I give Adobe HUGE Kudos for that. 

Adobe’s Flash, although oft criticized has a tremendous amount going for it technology wise. But it’s been mis-marketed, managed, and like Coldfusion is kept from it’s potential.  I truly believe Adobe is going in a direction that will ultimately lead to it’s eventual demise/purchase within a decade’s time. Where as I believe that Adobe if it were to take advantage of certain opportunities in his playing hand could propel itself to a position of near rivalry with Apple and Microsoft.  But so far, I haven’t seen them do ANY of the right decisions they need to do for that.

😦

 

Google Botches Big

UPDATE:  So I cleared out a conflicted email, which ironically was conflicted on Google tools I never really used. But it may have come down to posting on some Blogger accounts with the same account name.

The next step is uber-intuitive. Google’s addition of YouTube service to Google App accounts is not enabled by default. You must enable it before you can log in. And while Google does have a blog post stating this, it doesn’t provide much info for where to go in order to accomplish this feat.

Log into your Google Apps admin account (or other account with administrative privileges).  Then click on “Organization & Users” <sarcasm>because everybody would think to find the enable services under that heading</sarcasm>.  Next, click on the Services tab to the left of the Users tab. Scroll down, in my case, all the way to the bottom. You will see three YouTube services. Enable these….

You should now be able to use your Google for your domain email accounts to log into YouTube. In my case, I had already de-linked my YouTube account and associated it with a stock Gmail account. So I re-associated it back to my email. I am not entirely sure how the transition will go for you.

Also, my first attempt at association failed. I tried it a second time and succeeded.  I am guessing it was just a matter of latency in processing the service add request; and communicating it to YouTube.

Anyways, it’s nice to sign back in….

🙂

 

*********************************************************************************

Recently, Google chose to migrate it’s google app accounts (ie: google hosted email accounts such as ***@mydomain.com hosted by google) and merge them with their general account system.

But IMHO they failed big time, and should receive a “2010 Award for Biggest Botches”

The problem arises where you have utilized your email address to sign up with another Gmail service (ie: youtube).  So if you created your youtube account using an email address ****@mydomain.com that was hosted by google.  Have fun logging in…

So what is Google’s solution to this problem? Have you create another account. Rather than merging accounts together, or recognizing that to the user it is all the same account, they’ve created quite a nightmare.  This should have been a seamless transition on the part of Google. In fact, there is no reason people on the front end should ever have had an issue.  At worst, we should have encountered an alert that read something to the effect of “This login was established separately from google domains account. Would you like to merge these accounts. Please provide authentication.”

BAM!!!!

Everything gets associated. You can log into Youtube with the same account you’ve been using for years. But nope, that’s not the way it’s done. And trying to understand Google’s cryptic instructions which seem to offer no real solution is always fun.

Google needs to take some time and hire some non-developers. People who can help Google in communicating.

*sighs*

Come on Google, I expect better of you than this. I’ve waited several weeks hoping the matter will improve and am finding that it’s only getting worse.

FAIL

Anti-Apple….

Yes, I think I have fully moved back into the anti-Apple camp.

My wife dropped her iPhone. It dislodged some buttons, then later the screen went gray from a dislodged cable.  She went to an AT&T store. They sent her out to the Apple Store (about 45 minutes away).  Who did jack. Except offer to replace it for $199.

They didn’t even bother to open up the case and try to fix it.  Oh and gave the whole “moisture” BS.  Come on Apple, it’s pretty much been proved that your moisture sensor is a FAIL.  But damn if it doesn’t give you enough excuses to not do jack.

Needless to say my wife was quite frustrated. Both with the lack of service and the lack of care.

So fast forward about 2-3 days. And my iPhone goes into the perpetual reboot. Won’t ever make it past boot. Apparently, this is a fairly well documented issue that Apple’s never bothered to resolve.

Meanwhile, Steve Jobs goes on and on talking about Flash and it’s poor performance. Something I’ve never really experienced (outside of a poorly written app here and there).  Hey Steve, how about you insert your foot in your mouth and focus on burying your own crap before criticizing another company.

So once again I am stuck wasting time with my iPhone/iTunes.  The software that has wasted more of my time in the past 2 yrs than all the other software I’ve used combined.  Why thank you Steve.

Looks like I am going to have to restore my iPhone to factory settings. Lose half my contacts which I have just restored over the past few weeks.

Yes Steve, I am paranoid about evening synching this POS.  I really really hope the 4th generation iPhone overcomes some of this BS.

– The Saj

$11 million in taxpayer money for Microsoft’s new bridge?

Many Americans have lost their jobs, including many within the IT community.   In a time when America is struggling financially, when many companies have found themselves in difficulty and government intervention is on the rise – trust is key.   Americans are struggling with trusting both their government and the big corporations.  The management and actions of both often of questionable judgment.

So when Americans see  a company with as deep pockets as  Microsoft

Microsoft is building a bridge across the interstate in order to connect their two campuses.  In fact, from looking at the picture in the article at CNN, it’s quite a nice bridge.  But when nearly half the funds are coming from taxpayers at a cost of tens of millions of dollars.  Americans are left with a lot of questions.

1) Why are we paying for a bridge to Microsoft.

2) If the funds are not there, why are they designing a designer bridge? Would not a simple ordinary bridge be suitable?

3) Isn’t this the time for those corporations with deep pockets to be contributing to the community, not taking away. 

The claim is  that there will be additional traffic from people other than Microsoft employees.  According to a study which purports that only 40% of the traffic will be Microsoft employees.  Such studies often have questionable track records. Who funded the study? Were there counter-studies done? 

With Microsoft struggling with a bad image since Vista. And hoping for a significant turn-a-round come Windows 7.  It seems to me this bridge has the potential to turn into really bad publicity. Americans are getting a bit tired of our tax money being handed out like political candy, especially in a time when so many of us are struggling, facing unemployment or worse.  Bailing out a company with billions in the bank just seems wrong. 

http://www.cnn.com/2009/US/03/31/bridge.microsoft/index.html?eref=rss_topstories

UPDATED: Microsoft’s response here…

iPhone 3G: My thoughts upon… (and rants upon)

I have had my iPhone for a few days now. First off, there is a LOT to love about this little gadget. However, there are several significant annoyances and a number of lesser impediments that truly keep the iPhone from being all that it can be.

A number of these are software related, but a number of the more grueling annoyances exist merely due to restrictive policies.

***

SMS – The bubbles is a nice way to follow a conversation. But there is an element missing. The fact that my wife and I like to keep some of our text messages, in particular those sweet encouraging ones from each other.  The current conversation based messaging setup deletes an entire conversation.

What I’d like to see…a means to add a text message as a “Memory”. Give a little heart option, whatever. And it could be saved in a separate folder. And not deleted when you delete the whole conversation.

Overall, the discussion thread layout is appealing and probably worth the loss. But why, when a little modification could make it a full win?

Calendar – Sub-par, while it’s a pretty nifty little calendar. It fails IMHO at calendering. The iPhone’s calendar lacks basic features that a Jr. level programmer could have coded.  Particularly in regards to recurring schedules.  I have a writer’s group that meets the last Thursday of every month. But good luck getting that scheduled into your iPhone.  Create the event, tell it to repeat monthly. And it will, but only on the date of your event.

Contacts – Okay, I think we have a winner. Yes, there are a few things I’d like to be able to do. But very few and very minor. The ability to create your own labels is a gift from the good Lord above. (You know it, how many contacts do you have that are a husband and wife pair, and you’ve got a cell phone for both. Then you call the wrong part of the couple. No more, now you can create your own custom labels (husband/wife, etc.).   Note, that these labels show up EVERYWHERE in contacts as options. So you might want to limit yourself to generic labels. (ie: Beeper versus John’s Pager). Definitely like the contacts. And clicking on address loads up Google Maps.

Oh wait, one grueling aspect is missing. “Groups”  Yes, I’d really love to group my contacts. (ie: Personal, Work, Church, etc) and quickly filter by such.  It’d be a bit easier than scrolling thru a 100+ contacts.

Voice Dial – Some 3rd Party apps but nothing to write home about yet. Truly, I’d love to see Microsoft step in and sell Microsoft Voice Command for iPhone.

Google Maps – Quite a nice little app. There is something to be said to looking up one of your favorite restaurants on your new phone. Touching it and adding it to contacts and dialing the restaurants and placing an order for “Large cheese pizza please!”.

Though, for navigation it pales when compared to my old Verizon XV6700 with Odyssey Navigation using my bluetooth Pharos GPS unit.  I found the GPS to be less than accurate, at least on Google maps.  Often it will show my location as being an entire block off. Kind of a bummer. But this may be a Google map issue. As it probably is not pinging the GPS as much as my old nav software did and it probably doesn’t have the functions for calculating one’s progress (dead reckoning) to help maintain estimates when GPS signal might be blocked.

Safari – Nice browsing, wish it had Flash Player.  That said, I’ve found that a large number of sites I visit serve up mobile editions. Hey, I thought I got the whole internet with the iPhone (minus Flash player).

Bluetooth – Haven’t tested yet, but the rumor is that almost all bluetooth profiles are disabled other than headsets. WHY? WHY? WHY?

Synching – What a pain. If you thought Apple’s iPod was restrictive and cumbersome.  The iPhone is a lot worse, especially if you’re trying to keep songs, files, etc synchronized between multiple PCs. Change a few settings (auto-sync or manage yourself) and the synch will delete files form your iPhone.  The iPhone will only recognize a single machine. (Makes me shudder to thing what would happen if my PC went down. I believe I’d lose everything on my iPhone. Because I’d lose the back up. And if I tried to make a new machine (or re-installed machine) the synch-machine. It will automatically erase everything on the iPhone.

I must be missing something here, Apple can’t be that big of morons – can they?

3rd Party Apps – Some nice offerings, even on the free end. But still a bit weak on some of the productivity.

I’ve been waiting for a tethering app, which apparently one was released only to be quickly pulled (probably from pressure by AT&T). *argh* More restrictions.

Ringtones – Really, you want me to pay an extra $1 to make a ring tone of a song I already own. Excuse me…. you have to be smoking something Steve.

Oh, and I can only make ringtones from those tracks that iTunes says I can.  A whopping 30 songs out of over a 3,000 legitimately owned songs I have in iTunes.

***

All that said, the interface, user interaction, etc. Is a beauty. Even tasks that require more work (such as creating a contact) on the iPhone than my old WM5 PocketPC phone have the pleasure of interacting.

There is tremendous potential with this device. Truthfully, I believe all these flaws are easily curable if Apple and AT&T could get out of their own way (ie: stop with the super-secret, super-restrictive bullcrap that really achieves nothing *)

Why such a critical eye? Because my wife desperately needs a PDA phone. And we’re trying to evaluate whether the iPhone is a good, decent, okay, poor, or lousy choice for her.  The inherent advantage of the iPhone (both her and I would have them, and we could use the same tools) and a wonderful interface, the disadvantages….some major lacks in some major areas.  Might simply drive my wife mad. (Something no husband wishes to do!)

ADDENDUM I:

* Nothing….

Super-secret: iPhone SDK license agreement requires you not to talk to ANYONE else about anything in it. Mind you, the SDK is free, anyone can download it. So what the heck are they hiding. The downside, developer’s can’t create networks or forums to assist each other in coding and improving their software.

Super-restrictive: All the restrictions on moving media files, data files, etc. Between your various 5 active instances of iTunes simply makes things more cumbersome.  It does nothing to prevent digital piracy as their are ways to access all of this information with simple hacks and procedures.  What is does, is piss off users like me who have thousands of $$$ invested in albums. And hundreds of dollars invested in hardware. And am unduly restricted. You want me not to pirate, don’t make legally using my own music harder than if I simply pirated it.

*******************************************************************************************

PS –  I apologize for the long rant. I wish I could use LiveJournal’s  <lj-cut></li-cut> tags. A great feature of LJ. Anyone know if WordPress has a similar tag/function to condense and hide a large chunk of text?


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