Saturday, December 29, 2012

Dealing with trolls and women in technology

Hacker News had a discussion on this a while ago.

The original blog was taken down either by 'hackers' or the original person.

She had claimed at Hacker News (and the tech world in general) that there is a sexist, misogynist attitude towards women as well as harassment, douchbaggery and other things. I feel sad for her that she experienced these things, and this is an issue that needs to be addressed.

Now I have known women in technology that are experts in what they do, they are knowledgeable,  they learn new skills easily, and nobody would deny them a place at a conference or meeting or group to discuss issues. We should not discriminate by gender or any other thing.

What this woman experienced is trolls, they exist on the Internet and in real life. Call them bullies, sociopaths, egomaniacs, people with emotional and psychological problems that take things out on others. You might have known some in high school or elementary school, the very same grow up to become adult bullies.

The thing these bullies or trolls did was target her because she wasn't an expert in her field, even if she came up with the idea and helped organize the event, what these bullies or trolls did was called "bite the n00b" in which a n00b is a new or inexperienced person who is just learning or has basic knowledge in a subject. There exists a small fraction of the hacker community that considers itself 'elite' or '733t' and then picks on and bullies the part that is not 'elite'. "Did your mommy buy you a 'puer for your birthday?" they used to say in the 1980's when a new user signed into a BBS and barely knew what they were doing. I was in the part that believes "information should be free' in that everyone should have the chance to learn and share the knowledge and information on how computers and technologies work

Now she is an organizer and a planner, and she did come up with a new idea. We need more people like that, and we should not discourage people when they come up with new ideas and lack the experience in the area. We need to be inclusive and not exclusive. Yes she is a blogger and writes 'disruptive journalism' that uses negativity to get attention. Nothing wrong with being a blogger, free speech and all that. Just that we hold people responsible for their free speech these days as well as their actions, behaviors, and words.

Not everyone had dealt with her fairly. Was it because she is a woman, or was it that she lacked knowledge and experience in cryptology? Either one is an unacceptable reason to treat her that way. I think part of the problem is that hackers are not held to standards of behavior and courtesy.  True most hackers have a code of ethics or morals that they developed over the years. But I am talking about the small minority that doesn't seem to have a code of ethics or morals and just has anarchy of ethics and morals. True most had dealt with her fairly and wanted to hear what she had to say, but didn't do anything to stop the minority from trolling and bullying her.

Throughout my career I trained and tutored people in learning how a computer works, how to use an operating system, how to program, how to use databases. Not just as an employee at a company, but in college and universities, and on my own free time. In 1986 I was at the University of Missouri Rolla (Now Missouri University of Science and Technology) and pledged a fraternity there. I studied Computer Science and saw that there were few women at the university (I think that has changed since then). There was a woman in my Pascal class that was struggling, and I tutored her to help her pass an upcoming class. Other members of my fraternity had tried to ask her out on dates, and they were stunned to see me on campus and in the student center having conversations with her. Now I wasn't dating her, I was tutoring her, I was treating her like a human being.

My point is that we would be better off helping people who are inexperienced or struggling in computers and technology rather than harassing them, bulling them, trolling them, or even asking women for dates. If you want to date a woman, find a dating site or something, don't turn Hacker News or a forum or your hacker event into a dating one. Part of being a hacker should be being a professional that is willing to help out others and not bully or troll them.

It isn't just women who are targeted by bullies and trolls, it is men as well. In some of my former workplaces I was bullied and harassed because I would not go to happy hour and get drunk with coworkers (I don't drink or use drugs, and I have a family that needs my help at home) or that I didn't join in on the politics or trying to force a coworker to quit by harassing and bullying them and withholding important information from them. You see I believe in helping people out and not doing those harassing and bullying things to them. It happens more often than you think, and it is not the majority but more of the minority of people who do it.

Yes it is important to discuss, and yes it isn't just women who are the victims. We need to have an empathy for others so that we don't do these things. We must not form social kliks and only include an inner circle of elite people and shut out and bully and harass the rest. I think learning Critical Thinking can help in this area. It should be taught in grade schools on up to high schools and be in college and universities (it should already be there in higher education) that not only would help people treat other people as human beings, but also allow people to learn and grow to become better people and learn areas of technology and science.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A farewell to Intel

The PC Era is dead, we are in the Post-PC Era or some call it the Pro-PC era. Intel played a role in the PC era and the X86 based processors. They are even used by Macintoshes now. But all of that could change.

Intel almost had a monopoly until IBM had Intel sign an agreement to have AMD make chips in case Intel could not meet up with IBM's demand for them. Even PC maker used Intel chips, and later on AMD made them cheaper and brought in low cost PC systems as a result. Then AMD made 64 bit processors and licensed it with Intel. The X64 processor was born, and so was multiple core processing and hyperthreading. The PC was no more, it had evolved into the UberPC and software has not quite caught up yet.

Apple used Motorola 68000 and later on with a deal with IBM and Motorola joined the PowerPC alliance with them. It was to challenge the Intel threat and make better processors. Apple had their PowerMacs and CHRP systems based on the PowerPC chip. In 2006 Apple went to Intel chips because IBM could not keep up with Apple's demand and favored the many video game consoles that used PowerPC chips like the XBox 360, Playstation 3, etc. Apple converted their Mac OS X operating system to Intel chips and then later on dropped PowerPC support.

All looked well for Intel, they even bought out a few companies like McAfee. It seemed that only AMD was their real threat and it was struggling to survive.

But the mobile device era came about, along with it came the ARM chips. The ARM design can be licensed and then the ARM chips can be modified and then made cheaply. Apple uses them in the iPhone, iPod, and iPad, Microsoft uses them in Windows 7 Phones and Windows RT tablets, and suddenly some Dotcom companies found out that ARM based Linux web servers in a cluster is cheaper than buying Intel based ones.

Apple makes the A5 chip based on ARM designs and outsourced the manufacturing to Samsung. The very company it is suing over Android devices that also use ARM chips. Apple has plans, you see, to switch their Macintosh series from Intel chips to ARM ones like the A5, and has bought out a chip making company. Learning from the failed IBM Motorola Apple alliance, Apple wants to make their own ARM based chips. This would be a move away from Intel and force users to buy all new apps yet again for ARM based Macintoshes and end support for Intel based Macintoshes. It would also end the Hackintosh era where people modify Non-Apple Intel based PC systems to run the Intel based Mac OS X. Apple would kill two birds with one stone there. Take the iOS/iPad technology and use it for the Macintosh series.

Microsoft of course has Windows RT and would counter with more Windows RT devices. It has the same GUI as Windows 8, but runs on ARM devices and does not run Intel legacy programs. But if Microsoft pushed it more, they could push Intel based Windows 8 devices and Windows 7 and under devices out of support and end of life.

AMD is licensing the ARM design and will be making ARM chips soon. They anticipate selling more ARM chips. There are many computers like the Raspberry PI that show an ARM based computer for less than $100 can be a good seller. ARM chips use less power, and use a smaller size, and run cooler than the Intel/AMD X86-X64 chips. In a culture that wants to fight climate change the ARM chips are very trendy.

Need I say Linux, AROS, HaikuOS, and other operating systems are being ported to ARM platforms? We might be seeing the start of the ARM Era.

The PC isn't really dead, it has evolved to the UberPC, the old PC standard is the one that is dead. The old PC standard of 32 bit only, Intel X86, Legacy Windows/DOS, single core processor, non-hyperthreading, 32 bit addressing (3.5 Gigabyte RAM limit), and legacy 16 bit mode are over. 64 bit processors are in with multiple cores, hyperthreading, legacy 32 bit mode, RAM over 4Gigabytes (64 bit addressing). The UberPC or PlusPC, whatever you want to call it is the next step in PC evolution.

But somehow with ARM, less is more. Less instructions, less power consumption, less space, less overhead, less expenses, and a lower price tag. Sure an ARM chip won't run at 3.5 Ghz, yet, but unless you are playing really detailed 3D video games it does not matter. ARM chips are being modded for more cores, more hyperthreading, and of course faster clock cycles, and a 64 bit mode. So we might be seeing ARM Macs, ARM PCs to go with our ARM mobile devices.

What will Intel do if companies start using ARM chips instead of Intel chips? Will it end up like Sun and the Sun SPARC chip and get bought out, will it end up like MIPS and get bought and sold? Intel's best bet is to support third party operating systems like Linux and show why Intel chips run Linux the best, Intel needs to modify low end chips like the Atom to compete with ARM chips. Intel has to, as matter of fact, change their business model and business plan.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Alternatives to Windows 8

Since Windows 8 changes a lot of things like the user interface, many people are starting to consider the alternatives. But what are they?

First we have older versions of Windows, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows 2000, and so on. The thing is the farther back you go in Windows the less likely you are to run modern apps. XP, Vista, and 7 run most apps, but soon XP and Vista will be phased out by Microsoft support and then we have Windows 7. Some people need older versions of Windows to run legacy software and in the case of video games and 3D support a virtual machine simply won't do. If it is just business apps a virtual machine runs just fine.

I have been testing Windows 8 Enterprise edition for 90 days on my PC, I am using it right now to make this blog entry. I always use the things I write about. I'm finding a lot of legacy Windows apps won't work in Windows 8, but hopefully they will be rewritten or have newer versions to replace the ones that won't work. Bad luck if you need Visual Studio 2002/2003, or you have a PLC RLL software to control your PLC devices. I'd pick Windows 7 over Vista any day of the week, and dual boot to Windows XP for those old applications that need it for a legacy Windows PC.

Linux is gaining a lot of support as a Windows 8 alternative, with the WINE (WINE Is Not an Emulator) program some legacy and modern Windows apps can run under Linux. WINE exists for other Unix like platforms. But Linux itself has countless free and open source software programs you can use for free, and others that are commercial you can buy. Ubuntu seems to be the favorite as 12.10 just rolled out.

The Macintosh, Mac OS X, well you have to buy a Mac to use Mac OS X to be legal. There are Hackintosh PCs out there that can run a modified Mac OS X but it is not as modern as Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion, IIRC The Hackintosh Mac OSX86 is still 10.6.2 last I checked. Basically if you need Mac OS X apps buy a Macintosh, if you just want a Unix system try Linux like Ubuntu which can have the Cario Dock added and Mac OS X skins added to have a Mac look and feel for free without violating Apple's EULA/TOS.

ReactOS, a free and open source operating system that is trying to rewrite itself as a Windows 2000/XP/2003 clone, and might be sued by Microsoft if it gets too popular. Using the WINE program it tries to run Windows apps and use Windows drivers. It is still in alpha testing and not ready for prime time, but give it five to ten years and it might become something. Don't use it unless you run it in a virtual machine.

Haiku Project, a free and open source rewrite of BeOS. It too is in the alpha stage but it is more stable than ReactOS. It won't run Windows apps, but will run some old BeOS apps. If anyone remembers, Apple was going to buy out Be Inc. and base the next Mac OS on BeOS, but changed its mind and bought out Next, Inc. instead and got back Steve Jobs and turned the BSD Unix based NextOS into Mac OS X. Run this in a virtual machine because it is not stable enough for bare iron yet, and make sure you set a serial port for the debugging part or else the virtual machine boot will crash.

AROS, AROS Research Operating System, this is a much better free and open source operating system than ReactOS and Haiku, but it won't run Windows apps. It is an AmigaOS type OS that can run some legacy Amiga software, and they are developing new software for it. In a few years it might be worth installing on bare iron PCs once they update the drivers and add in a good and decent email and web browser to it. I can really see AROS ported to ARM chips and used in touchscreen devices.

eComStation, honk if you love OS/2! This is the modern day version of IBM's old and busted OS/2 operating system for modern hardware. Sure you pay a lot to license one but the right package has Lotus Smart Suite included and of course the OS/2 version of OpenOffice.Org and access to a suite of free and open source software ported to OS/2. OS/2 was a better DOS than DOS and a better Windows than Windows, but Windows 95 and up killed it dead. IBM eventually licensed an OEM of OS/2 to Serenity Systems International and a lot of legacy OS/2 code is still used in international bank ATM systems and banking systems. I was amazed when I visited Thailand, for example, that the ATM near me showed the "OS/2 Warp" logo after a reboot during a thunderstorm when we were at an island resort. I found out these are all over the world and not replaced and needs OS/2 systems to communicate with them as it was never ported to Windows. There is a thing called ODIN that functions like WINE to run 32 bit Windows programs on eComStation.

FreeDOS, yikes, you really don't like Windows 8 so much that you'd consider downgrading to DOS to avoid it? MS-DOS won't run on modern PC systems, or at least not access all the memory and other stuff? Try FreeDOS the 32 bit DOS that is free and open source. I think in some cases there is a FreeGEM you can run on top of it for a GUI, if anyone remembers the old DRI GEM that used to compete with Windows 3.X way back when?

SparrowOS, well this used to be LosethOS but it was renamed. Imagine if there was a hybrid Commodore 64/Amiga 64 bit operating system with C/C++ added instead of BASIC and of course no TCP/IP stack, no serial ports, no 3D support just 2D, and it was written by a mentally ill person on disability who claims you can talk to God in it. I mean it has hymns in it, that is how religious it really seems to be. You'd have to be really really mad at Microsoft to use this OS, or get revenge on your friend or boss by installing this OS on their PC and watching their face trying to figure it out. For recreational use only, if the government would only legalize it. :)

Android tablets, yeah they get very cheap these days. So cheap they forced Apple to make an iPad Mini. Ditch the PC unless you want to install Android X86 on your PC. That might just work as any device can become an Android device.

iOS devices, be it iPad Mini, iPod Touch, iPod Nano, iPad (Maxi Pad?), the iPhone or whatever else Apple comes out with, iToaster, iRefridgerator, iAutomobile, Apple TV, maybe even bringing the Apple Newton back from the dead as an iOS device? They can be used instead of a Windows 8 device and if you don't mind an on-screen keyboard they work quite well.

My favorite choice is Ubuntu, it is free, it is fast, and it is easy to use. It is the cheapest solution to avoiding Windows 8 if you don't mind a bit of a learning curve, well Windows 8's GUI causes a new learning curve so why not try Ubuntu out?

Don't forget if you buy a Windows 8 PC and reformat it and put on a new OS to ask for a refund and return the Windows 8 disk and license. Let Microsoft know that Windows 8 is the New Coke of Windows operating systems.

The 2013 Tablet Wars

By now Apple is ready to announce the iPad Mini, a 7.9 inch tablet for under $300. Something Steve Jobs once said Apple would never do. But the saintly Steve Jobs has passed on. Tim Cook is running Apple now. Many ask, why do this.

Well Google and Amazon had 7 inch tablets for under $300 for a while now, the Android based tablets. Apple saw it was a threat and since lawsuits didn't turn out as well as they wanted, they have to copy Android and make a 7 inch tablet. But of course Apple will be considered to be first with the 7 inch tablet. 7 Inch Android Tablets at Amazon for example you can pick from a lot of them.

Meanwhile Microsoft is ready to roll out Windows 8 on October 26, 2012. Why is that relevant? Well Microsoft has their surface tablets based on Windows 8 that compete with the Android and iOS devices. The kicker is that Windows 8 uses Intel/AMD chips that can run legacy Windows applications (well to be honest not 100% of them but enough) and have a docking feature to turn them into laptops with a detachable keyboard.

Microsoft also has Windows RT (RISC Technology) that looks like Windows 8, but uses the same ARM chip many Android and all iOS devices use. The Windows RT tablet should compete with the Android and iPad in price. The difference is the Windows RT tablet won't run legacy Windows apps, as it is not Intel/AMD X86/X64 compatible.

There is the 7 inch Android 4.1 tablet from China that costs $45 that hasn't even entered the US market yet. The so called A-Pad that All Winners and other Chinese companies are making. If the FCC approves it, and the federal government allows it, you will see cheap 7 inch tablets in discount stores that outsell the iPad, Windows 8, and Google and Amazon and Samsung etc Android tablets. Apple had to make something to compete with it before it hits US shores.

There will be a tablet war in 2013, make no doubt about that.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Big Law Firms need to use technology to cut costs

I used to work for Thompson Coburn, LLP in Saint Louis Missouri. I had developed a Docket Calendar and integrated it with a Practice Area Information System with several other programmer / analysts. It was a web based Intranet system based on Microsoft Active Server Pages ASP around 1999-2000. The system had cut costs by millions because it also had an IN/Out board for each lawyer, partner, employee and so they can find when they are out of the office on vacation or sick days and reassign cases to other lawyers, partners, employees to avoid missing court dates and not getting work done on time. It was shown at a LawNet conference as commercial quality, and there wasn't anything like it at the time.

It had used Microsoft SQL Server and IIS with Windows NT 4.0 Server and later Windows 2000 Server. But in this day and age many law firms ought to look into free and open source options. The XAMP platform for example, is the Apache, MySQL, and PHP solution that runs on Windows, Linux, Mac OS X and etc. Rather than pay the thousands of dollars for Windows Server with SQL Server and IIS and Microsoft's high priced licensing fees, law firms out to consider a Linux based Server solution with Apache, MySQL, PHP. If I had to do it all over again, I'd do it differently.

Now when I developed software, management was in control with using all Microsoft based technology. I had to use VBScript, ActiveX, and develop for Internet Explorer. This is, of course, a mistake and can lead to higher expenses for more server licenses, and more Windows workstations. The problems we had were that when buying out other firms they used Macs, OS/2, Linux, and other non-Microsoft technology and it cost a lot of money to convert them to Windows and buy more Windows Server licenses. The XAMP technology does not require licenses and if written properly will be able to support the other platforms.

I feel bad that I left the company in 2001, I was doing good but ended up becoming too sick to work from all the stress. They no longer required my services. I eventually ended up on disability in 2003. I had planned on working on a new system called CAMELS (Client And Matter Electronic Litigation System) for legal practice management and prototyped a system in MS-Access and Visual BASIC 6.0 to look up some data. It was primitive and not a complete system, but I ended up being sick again and put it on the shelf. I heard that no system developed would be used by law firms because several commercial systems already existed and nobody would want to use one written by a small business or individual.

I quite wonder if I should start work on a XAMP version of CAMELS, open source it, and see if others want to contribute to it. See if it can be freely used as a way to cut costs by providing a skeleton of a bare minimum system that law firms can modify to their own system and use it as a standard to share data between law firms? If there is a primary system in place, there would be a business for contractors to migrate data from one system to another. I used to do that as well migrate from one database or programming language to another.

The thing is, I don't know if there is a market for it, or if law firms will even consider it an option. I mean you have to cut costs, and when you are a big law firm locked into Microsoft's Server pricing you could end up spending millions of dollars to upgrade everyone to the newest technology be it hardware, software, server, training, and support and debugging costs just to get to the next level, and then repeat that every three years when new technology comes out. Perhaps I seem a bit crazy here, but an open sourced XAMP solution would save those millions every three years and cut it down to thousands. When you are pricing your services down to "Suicide Prices" you have to find more ways to cut costs and expenses. Putting all your eggs into the Microsoft basket will cost you dearly, putting them into other areas might not cost you as much.

Everyone is always looking for the killer app for the open source crowd, I think legal practice management software would be a good killer app. You'll have to excuse XAMP for not having Exchange and Sharepoint technologies, they are proprietary to Microsoft and Microsoft does not share them with others. Consider alternatives to MS-Office like LibreOffice and OpenOffice.Org, they still work with the old MS-Office format with some support for the new MS-Office format. Microsoft is going to try and make people and businesses use a "rental software" of moving MS-Office to Office 365 in the Cloud and paying on a per-year basis. There used to be a time when Wordperfect was the standard with legal documents, and then MS-Office took over. Well LibreOffice and OpenOffice.Org can still use your Word and Excel templates.

It is possible to manage a legal office with Linux based systems but the trick is tying together the systems to integrate them into a more user friendly system. If anyone is interested in doing that and would like to help me start up a legal practice management open source solution on XAMP or Linux please let me know at and what you would like to do. I think we as a community can pull together here to develop something to help cut costs and expenses.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

2013 Might be the year of The Linux Rebellion

I am calling it official now, users are getting tired of Microsoft and Apple and want an alternative. Join us in this new Facebook Group or create your own Linux Rebellion group. This is a movement to tell people that there is an alternative to the Microsoft Windows and Apple Macintosh OS X empires and it is The Linux Rebellion!

Gabe Newell knows that Windows 8 is The New Coke of Windows operating systems. He used to work for Microsoft and rolled out Windows versions, this new one, Windows 8 is awful. Video game makers are considering a move to Linux, and it looks like Valve Software headed by GabeN is going with a Steam Linux beta soon. Linux Gaming is nothing new, lookie here at Wikipedia:

Consider these links:

WINE won't run 100% of Windows apps but it will run some. PlayOnLinux is a good utility to use to install Windows programs and games that are tricky to install. Winetricks creates prefixes or WINE profiles for each type of trciky install and even Windows components you need to install the tricky ones. It can even install an older copy of, ick Internet Explorer if you wanted for some strange reason.

Rumors have it that EA, and others are considering porting to Linux as well, but that remains to be seen if those rumors are correct. If I ran a software company of any type, I'd seriously consider making ports to Linux of any major selling software that my company makes. Why? You cannot count the number of Linux converts, because it is a free and open source operating system that thousands of groups make distrobutions of and people download the ISO and burn the CD for free and then install next to Windows or in replacement of Windows. There could be over 100+ million Linux users out there, it is an untapped market and writing commercial Linux apps is the next gold rush.

How do you Mac users feel now that Apple abandoned the PowerPC PowerMacs and then the 32 bit Intel Macs and keeps changing Mac OS X so that older software no longer works and you are forced to buy new software? Isn't that what Microsoft is accused of doing? Consider Linux as an alternative. 68K and PowerMacs: Intel Macs:

Miss the dock from Mac OS X? Try Cario Dock:

Miss the Windows GUI? Try this Windows 7 skin:

Linux is cool like that can change themes and skins to look and feel like any other OS out there. Sort of like having a working chameleon circuit in a TARDIS kind of cool.

Want a free antivirus, I know most video gamers play on their home PC so this Avast Home for Linux is only for home users for free: Though Linux makes it hard for virus code to run, still be smart and use an antivirus program.

Uh yeah sure you could run an older version of MS-Office like MS-Office 2003 on WINE, but I think LibreOffice would do better and it costs less than a bottle of water to download and install.

Linux Newbies go here: It is the blog for you to read.

Join The Linux Rebellion in 2013 to join the fight against the Microsoft and Apple Empires/Monopolies and educate yourself about Linux and educate others as well. There will eventually be a mass exodus from Windows and Mac OS X to Linux when users get tired of the same old pattern of new OS, breaks old apps, forces users to buy brand new apps or stick with older unsupported operating systems.

Consider these links to be of importance:

When you have taken all the abuse you can from Apple and Microsoft as I and many others have, you will consider Linux to be a good alternative that just keeps getting better over the years.

I am switching a few friends of mine to Linux, because they got tired of Microsoft and Windows and the problems they always had with them, and want to move on to Linux. So the idea of The Linux Rebellion came to me, to help promote Linux and educate people on Linux. Why be a slave to a mufti-billion dollar mega-corporation when you can become free and use Linux and be a slave to no one? Don't you want your rights, freedoms, and liberties back? Did you ever read those EULAs and Terms of Service agreements? You basically don't own the software and you wave your rights, freedoms, and liberties so they can keep turning profits.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Why Reboots Don't Always Work

Problem is these days in comic books, TV shows, movies and of course computers and software is that rebooting them or rather remaking or starting over from scratch does not always work.

Let me explain this, DC Comics had rebooted their comic book series into all new #1 issues and changed the way the characters look and act and do things. DC had failing sales and decided to start all over again to appeal to the younger reader and new demographics. Problem is people weren't buying comic books because the price kept going up, and digital comic books cost the same as print so there was no savings. If DC had lowered prices on digital comic books they would sell more and make the difference up in volume sales. Instead they rebooted their universe and alienated the older reader in favor of younger ones. The same was done before for the Green Lantern movie and it bombed. Marvel stuck to their guns and kept their comics the same, the Marvel movies well different Hollywood studios hold the contracts for those so they vary. X-Men tried to stay true to the comic books but Wolverine: Origins and X-Men: First Class kind of rebooted or rewrote things and they didn't do so well. Spider-Man's comic books got rebooted with "Brand New Day" to make Peter Parker single and the marriage to Mary-Jane Watson never happened. But Marvel forgot Ultimate Spider-Man was a younger Peter Parker marketed towards a younger market, so they killed him off later on when comic book sales were low. There is a Marvel Now series where the comic books will be rebooted. Good luck Disney/Marvel I hope it isn't another "New Universe" or "M2" flop, but more like a Marvel 2099 or Earth-X success.

Anyway Microsoft rebooted Microsoft Office with 2007 using a ribbon interface that confused users, and then later with Office 2010 got rid of upgrade pricing and limited options. Windows 8 is a rewrite of the Windows GUI as the start menu is now replaced with a start screen and apps have to be rewritten for the start screen. People are still clinging to Windows XP and Office 2002/2003 because that was before Microsoft started to mess with how the GUI worked in Office and Windows, and before Microsoft changed the API calls to break legacy Windows software to force people to buy all new copies of certain software.

Ubuntu well that Unity GUI isn't doing so well, and people want GNOME or KDE back.

I learned a long time ago when developing software to keep the UI and GUI the same, and just make the new version work better, run faster, reduce errors, and reduce crashing by managing memory and resources better. I would rewrite a program but keep the UI/GUI the same to reduce the learning curve of the new version and also to save on training costs and avoid confusion. Those software developers/programmers who changed the UI/GUI ended up with nothing but complaints, errors, crashes, confusion, and a lot of angry users and managers trying to figure out how things got so messed up.

By the way how did that "Total Recall" reboot work? Not so good I heard. Sometimes you have to stay true to the original book for a successful movie, the same for software and technology.

Sometimes the original is better than the remake/reboot or improvements. In DC's case they kept the Batman and Green Lantern books almost the same but rebooted everything else, why? Because the Batman and Green Lantern books sold. The Marvel Avengers Movie stayed true to the comic books but put everyone in modern times and it was a hit. Sometimes you just have to go back to the original when the reboot/rewrite doesn't work like The Hulk movies that failed, in The Avengers it was a different Hulk more like the comic book version or TV series. Had the used the Hulk from the two failed movie remakes it would have been a flop.

Look sometimes the reboot/rewrites work like the Star Trek reboot or the Battlestar Galactica reboot, but not in all cases. Windows ME and Windows Vista flopped because they broke compatibility with legacy apps and made the OS unstable and buggy, but Windows 2000 and Windows 7 fixed that by trying to fix the compatibility issues and bugs so it is more stable. Windows XP and Windows 7 are more popular choices because they are truer to the original Windows that worked great and had the original UI/GUI. Will Microsoft ever learn that lesson, or will they keep repeating mistakes and force the unpopular Windows and Office UI/GUIs on the masses?

Friday, August 24, 2012

Applecalypse Now!

Jury awards Apple $1.05B and finds Samsung guilty of infringing on their patents.

But wait there is more!

Apple is filing lawsuits against all other mobile makers including Microsoft. I mean maybe you remember the Windows XP Tablet in 2002 and Apple copying it for the iPad in 2010? Maybe you remember 1996 Windows CE devices and mobile smart phones before the iPhone? Maybe you remember a company called Palm that had the Palm Pilot and later PalmOS smart phones. Maybe you remember Rim and Blackberry smart phones? Maybe you can remember all kinds of smart phone makers before Apple got into the smart phone and smart tablet market as a Johnny Appleseed Come Lately? Why Innovate when you can Litigate? Why make your devices better than the competition when you can simply sue them into bankruptcy?

Don't get me wrong I own several Apple based devices, but these lawsuits are getting to be too much. There is a lot of prior art that the iOS devices stole, and Apple made their devices popular with a cult following, and then became the most profitable company by offshoring the manufacturing to Foxconn in China and then charging a premium price for their devices.

But what company is going to survive the Applecalypse? Steve Jobs strikes back from the grave with the 'thermonuclear option'

Apple even copied a bunch of Android features for iOS 5:

Apple is starting to sue competitors before they start to sue them. What happened to the Classic Apple of out innovate your competition and make a better product and service than they have, instead of just suing them over patents.

I hear Apple will be getting into set top boxes soon, the TiVO area with their own DVR, want to bet they will make their own DVR and then sue TiVO and others over it?

I also heard that Apple wants to make the smart TV market, a TV set with apps built into it, will they sue others who have had this for the past five years or so?

Apple made record profits by switching to mobile devices and making an App Store to sell apps on it. Something other companies had before Apple had it.

If Apple made teapots, they'd take an ordinary teapot worth $15 and stick the Apple logo on it and sell it for $350 and then sue all other teapot makers for stealing their design, and the public would buy millions of Apple Teapots.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Science and Techology Predictions by 2037

Predictions in the next 25 years. 2012 to 2037.

A change in energy to solar power and fusion based power. The fusion based power will use water for fuel and hopefully end our dependence on carbon based fuels. Space based solar power will provide cheap and clean energy, fusion energy power plants will help launch space ships. If the US government refuses to do this to fund social programs, private and public corporations will do it for record profits.

Civil Rights the GLBTT same sex marriage bill will pass federal legislation and at a federal level have equal rights for GLBTT people. The USA will give up the traditional marriage definition for a more modern one. Generation-Y took control of the government to pass the laws.

People will be leaving religion having lost their faith because of a bad economy, because of attacks on religions, because many religions didn't support same sex marriages, and also because people have become more materialistic than spiritual. There is a worship of science and technology instead.

Thin computers are in, have become so miniaturized that they resemble pieces of paper but a bit thicker. The screens are flexible and respond to touch and voice. A smaller smart paper device that is more rigid will replace the mobile phone. Work on the neurochip, a computer implanted in the human brain is in process that allows people to think instead of type on a touch screen will revolutionize the computer industry.

Many Dotcom companies will have ultimately failed because they had broken business models. Very few will have survived. Many moved to parts in Asia for lower taxes and cheaper labor with hosted servers in the EU and USA for customers there. The Internet has changed to the Ultranet that is a managed network but restrictive on what one can do. Some hacker groups make their own Darknets to host pirated materials that are near anarchism on rules, there are proxy servers on the Ultranet that allow access to Darknets, and governments keep trying to shut them down.

The USA and EU suffer a great depression, there is a great collapse of the global economy. It is caused by a moral collapse, a social collapse, a cultural collapse, and the USA going into deep debt so that the US Dollar is basically worthless once it is no longer used to trade for other currencies. There will be an effort to use the Euro instead, but the new standard will be a bushel of currencies from more stable nations called the Global Unit or GU. Some people and nations will use the Bitcoin instead as a global currency. The US Dollar will be replaced with the Amero as Canada, Mexico, the USA and other nations in North America, Central America, and South America form the American Union in order to save local economies, mirroring the European Union. Many groups will leave the USA and other nations to start their own pirate nations.

Since most 'smart' jobs got offshored to India, India leads the world in science, engineering and technology resource and patents. The economy in India booms. China also has a booming economy as most manufacturing jobs have been moved there. They found a partnership in Asia with other nations, research done in India, manufacturing done in China, distribution to most of Asia without import taxes.

Due to climate change, the middle of the USA suffers droughts and turns slowly into a desert. The USA isn't able to produce enough food for the rest of the world. There is starving, until someone develops floating cities on the ocean and bodies of water and floating farms to control the environment under a climate controlled dome to grow food better. Some farms are put into climate control domes with water pumped in because of droughts.

As Generation-Y takes over, marijuana is legalized and taxed like tobacco. Since more people are killed by automobiles than guns due to being intoxicated by alcohol, marijuana,  and other things computers take over the driving of automobiles for most of the population. As a result there are less automobile accidents. But since people are dependent on technology they think less and are more emotional because of mood altering drugs.

Computers go to 128 bits, Moore's Law is broken as computers cannot advance fast enough due to limits in quantum mechanics and the law of thermodynamics but will go from 64 bits to 128 bits. What we know as Windows no longer exists and Microsoft develops a brand new operating system called Singularity written in C Sharp that has been under development for a long time. Apple reinvents the Macintosh OS renamed Mac OS 128 or iOS 128 that drops 64 bit support and develops new Macs and iOS devices using 128 bit technology. Linux moves to 128 bits with a new 128 bit kernel. The Nanochip will replace the Microchip on a much smaller scale using less power.

3D printers are all the rage now that they are affordable. First there are plastic printers and then metal ones. It revolutionizes small businesses by just printing out 3D parts using plastic and metal to make things out of to keep costs down.

Space Travel is commercialized, there is a vacation resort on the Moon, but time there is limited because it is expensive and getting resources to the Moon is costly. There are attempts to travel to Mars, but until fusion power plants are developed it won't be a reality. using water as fuel in fusion power plants will use the exhaust to push a ship in space. There will be asteroid mining for materials, and food and water put in orbits around the Sun near Mars, Jupiter, and the Asteroid belt like we have "gas stations" today in case people run out.

In the USA some states will want to secede from the Union, this will lead to a second civil war. Due to the federal government's out of control spending and bailouts, due to lack of funds to fight crime, due to the loss of rights freedoms and liberties for security and wars, there will be many states leaving the USA to become their own nation with their own currency. There will be many battles over it on land and at sea. Some people will go crazy with bath salts and be like zombies that the others will fight in a zombie uprising. The result is either a reformed third world USA, or separate states with a better economy.

2012 Predictions from 1987

25 years ago I was just out of high school and in college and made some predictions. I found them and thought I'd post them here.

Technology will advance and make a faster way to transfer information than the BBS Modems, this global network will connect people together and create new industries.

The Personal Computer era will be over, there will be touch screens to replace the keyboard and mouse. Cell phones will have gotten smaller and have their own touch screens.

We never made it to Mars nor made a base on the Moon, NASA lost funding because of foreign wars and the federal government going deep into debt trying to fund Social Security because the Baby Boomers outnumber everyone and the birth control and abortions in the 1960's cut the growing population to pay taxes to support Social Security and the government.

I expect the cold war with Communism is over, and we made peace with Russia and China, but went to war with other nations over natural resources like oil or perhaps some terrorist acts.

There should be a civil rights movement over gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transvestites, transexuals wanting rights and same sex marriage. No doubt some religions oppose that while other groups are for it. But there will be no civil rights for the mentally ill and some other groups.

I expect more gun shootings as society and culture breeds sociopaths and the economy has gone into a depression as people get desperate for work and income. If Social Security is shot, no doubt our healthcare is shot as well and you have people going without medication and suffering. Suicides should be up as well.

The Stock market should be corrupt as executives lie and cheat and defraud investors. Many companies are selling stock and going public only to go down in value. We will be seeing the 1920's all over again with worthless stock and swampland. I expect people will protest Wall Street and Big Businesses as many lose their jobs in the depression and all the government can do is protect their special interests that give them campaign money and let the people go without jobs, food, housing, and medical care.

I expect as science and technology advances that people lose their religion and worship science and technology instead. But because of corruption in science and technology it is used to attack religion and establish some sort of cult following. It won't be a religion per se but be a cult much like the people who worship Apple. I think that Apple will get a large following of people, most with little to no education or knowledge, who worship it because it made computers easier to use. Companies like Atari and Commodore won't get as many followers and be crushed eventually. IBM will lose to the PC Clone makers and wish it hadn't used off the shelf parts.

I expect some renewable energy sources will be found or developed but because of politics we will still be forced on carbon based fuels and nuclear reactors. I expect politics to play a part in this. One side for carbon based fuels, and the other side for renewable energy. I expect pollution to be worse because of the Wall Street corruption and the federal government looking the other way.

I expect society and culture to become corrupt, businesses will invent lifestyles and fashion of clothing for the masses as they call themselves individuals, people will be rebels for wearing these fashions but keep the companies rich who keep making and selling them.

I feel the dumbing down of the media and news, as well as books and movies being more about emotions, feelings, and sex and violence rather than plot, logic, and the moral of the story.

Colleges will make tests easier so more students can pass and so will public schools, and while our education system is a joke, the rest of the world will have a better education system in Europe and Asia, and somehow get all the good jobs while we in the USA get stuck to service jobs and retail jobs.

I expect the average US citizen will have health problems and weight gain as they are mass marketed food and drinks in the media, movies, and the like and spend less time exercising and more time wasting time instead of living a good life. Many are brainwashed by the media, movies, TV shows as products have become part of those things.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Global Warming has happened before according to Tree rings

Now this doesn't mean that global warming doesn't exist or is not human made. But during times in the past we had higher records than we have now. Human contributions to climate change, I want to use that name instead of global warming, are but one factor.

There are others such as the orbit of Earth around our Sun is not a perfect circle and it is an ellipse, perhaps it wobbles over time. Perhaps the Earth's poles move in position as the Earth shifts and changes the climate over time.  Perhaps we have natural sources of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. The only thing we have control over is human made greenhouse gases.

We should avoid fossil fuels and switch to green renewable energy not just for climate change, but because fossil fuels are finite and will run out one day in the future. Not only that but fossil fuels can become expensive at times. If we look at the Middle-East many terrorist states have money from the sale of fossil fuels, and switching to green renewable energy will cut off their funding. If we have wind, solar, water, and geothermal sources of energy in place it will be cheaper energy costs and less greenhouse gases. Most of our energy comes from coal burning plants, and in some cases nuclear reactors and the pollution from them we can do without.

We need to plan for the future, and find ways to have green renewable energy sources reduced in price and more available. So that people can put them on their homes and businesses to help reduce costs and even sell the surplus back into the grid if they save enough electricity. We need to develop the technology to put space based solar power into operations to harness the power of sunlight in space and then sell it to foreign nations to pay for our social programs and paying off the national debt. If done correctly, this will create wealth and help power third world nations.

Look the human race has survived higher temperatures in the past, and we will survive them in the future. While we may not be able to reverse climate change we can build technologies and discover sciences to better survive it. Even if that means underwater cities if the Earth floods or artificial islands. We have the science and technology potential to survive this. We need to stop arguing over if climate change is real or not, and work together to develop cheaper sources of green renewable energy and new technologies and scientific theories to help the human race survive into the future.

We spend so much money on wars and needless programs, we waste so much time arguing and pointing fingers, that we never seem to plan for the future and take responsibility even if it isn't our fault. We have evolved to a point where we are able to overcome natural selection with science and technology. There is no better computing device than the human brain that we know of. How about we start learn how to solve problems rather than creating new ones?

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The problem with IT and management and five problems and their solutions

There seems to be a problem with Information Technology. At least according to management. Let me explain.

#1 Lack of qualified job applicants forcing them to move jobs to third world nations and hiring H1B Visa workers.

#2 Unable to keep expenses under control even with IT workers who earn pennies on the dollar in a third world nation.

#3 Unable to get the quality correct with the product and service even with ISO 9000/9001 certification.

#4 Lack of documentation and communication skills.

#5 High turn around rates in the IT department sometimes reaching as high as 90%.

Despite the fact that the USA has more and more IT, Computer Science, and Engineering college graduates each year and they cannot find a job in their field, how can it be that there are not enough qualified IT workers?

There is a problem in management since long before I was born, a problem in the USA and a problem in how corporations work and function. It is called Classical Management and it needs to be reformed and managers retained for Participatory Management, Servant Leadership, Stewardship and other things. Let me explain.

Managers are often promoted from the field, it is not so much what they know or can do, it is more of a social thing than having a hard work ethic and having good results. This is a social problem, one in which having social skills and being friends with management will take you to the top. You got business meetings but they meet in bars and in some cases strip clubs or whatever and it is all about socializing and hanging out and having good times with each other than talking actual business. This is basically what happens in high school and other areas, you get divided up into social kliqs or social groups and then start excluding others from it.

Perhaps you heard of the glass ceiling? The one that women and minorities cannot break? It is a social ceiling and they run the board of directors and departments. If a woman or minority or woman minority is given a management job they try to control that person as a puppet instead of letting them decide for themselves. It is sort of like a gang of bullies at high school that run the school yard and won't let certain people join. The rules and the law does not apply to them as they are untouchable, royalty, gangsters or gangtas. This happens in other areas of society be it politics, government, non-profit groups, and the like. The old boys' club is basically ruining our economy and business and they get rid of any competition that thinks otherwise. Well I think otherwise.

To me diversity is a good thing, because you have people who think differently than some of the others who can think of things that others cannot figure out. Team work is a must, synergy is a must, but the old boy's network does not know how to make that work. They micromanage employees, they have team building events, they monitor their work and work them extra hours for no extra pay. They just do not know how to manage a diversity of people, so they go out of their way to force those who are different out of management and out of the firm if possible.

Problem #1, lack of qualified IT workers. Why is this a management problem? It is a management problem because management takes the easy route to use web sites to discriminate or reject candidates for the job based on criteria. For example they want Visual C# 2010 developers with 10+ years of experience and at least a bachelor's degree. Wait a minute, it is 2012 and Visual C# 2010 came out two years ago, so how can someone have a decade of experience in it? Sure you have people who have Visual C# 2002 experience for ten years, but they reject them, Visual C# 2002 is too old so anyone who has it on their resume is rejected. Even if they have Visual C# 2010 on their resume as well. Plus there are a lot of experienced people without a college degree or even with an associates degree that could not afford a bachelors degree and they are automatically rejected even if they have Microsoft certification.

I mean not understanding how the technology works or the terms is a big problem in management. If a manager is going to manage someone and hire them for the job, that manager better know the technology and terms the employee will be using and not just read talking points or Powerpoint slides on them. If they did then they'd know that a person with Visual C# 2002 on up to Visual C# 2010 experience is the one they want and not reject them, or set the filters on the web sites to not reject such a person. I mean come on, I have managers bragging to me that they get 500 to 1000 resumes a week for a programming job but no qualified candidates? Really? Check your mental filters and check your web filters too.

Problem #2 unable to keep expenses under control even with workers in third world nations earning pennies on the dollar compared to US workers. I have no hate for foreign workers, in fact I pity them as they are being used and abused and are not given much to show for it in pay and of course no benefits. If they get hurt or sick at work, they are out of a job, end of story. But it seems the more money managers save on labor the more money slips out of their fingers in expenses. You will find most of those expenses are for tech support of the product or service and they offshored tech support as well. All management did was hide the problem, it is usually a quality control problem, communication problem, defect, or just plain confusion.

Look, this makes as much sense as cutting off arms and legs of a patent to stop the bleeding. Your company is bleeding money and instead of finding out where the wound is a close it off and stop the bleeding you've just made the problem worse. There is a thing called job cost accounting let me sum it up you look at your revenues per product or service and assign numbers to track each product or service and then you track expenses by product or service. It is very simple the product and service that has more expenses than revenues are the ones you need to look into. That is where your business is bleeding money. You either need to stop those products and services or figure out what is wrong with them and fix them. Going for cheaper labor is not going to fix the bleeding all of the time. Then replace each product or service that was removed with a different one that you designed better. Remember Apple? Apple removed the Newton and then replaced it with the iPod which led to the iPhone and iPad. If Apple kept the Newton and didn't replace it with the iPod, where would it be today?

Problem #3 Uh sure you passed certification for quality control but still have poor quality. Did you try Six Sigma? Did you try not stressing out IT workers and Engineers and letting them do quality work instead of quantity? Did you try not going with "Fast Food" IT that cuts down the development cycle, cuts out the analysis and design cycle, cuts out documentation cycles, cuts out debugging or assigns it to one or two employees with "Legacy Projects", or did you actually give your IT workers and Engineers the support, time, tools, and training they need to reach their potential and make better quality products and services?

I mean really it used to take months to get things right, but somehow management decided to cut it down to weeks. Management wanted to make promises to have things made quicker faster, and those employees who took too long got fired, but they did quality work, so they are left with "Burger Flipper" quality workers who do the work quick, cheap, and on time. A business plan that works for Fast Food won't work for IT or Engineering. In fact in most cases the business plan makes no sense at all or just plain does not work.

Problem #4 lack of documentation and communication skills. Really you hire workers with English as a Second Language because they work for cheaper labor, and you cut out the documentation cycle, and you of course rush everything to get done as soon as possible and shortcuts are taken and then you ask "Where is the documentation? How come the employees didn't do it exactly the way we wanted it?" I mean common sense tells you why that happens.

Uh look giving ESL courses is nice, maybe a few weeks, teach workers how to communicate in English better. But it takes years if not decades to get to the level you want them at. You'll be better off learning their native language or hiring a translator, or just giving ESL workers extra time to document things better. You need to set up native English speakers with ESL speakers and have them teach each other and train better communication skills. You need to train employees on proper documentation and proper design specifications with more details than just Powerpoint slides.

Problem #5 High turn-around rates, how is that not a management or environment problem? Either you have to learn how to manage employees better and give them their freedoms, or you have to figure out if you have a toxic work environment that just breeds stress or both. Are you paying employees enough in a salary, are you providing good enough benefits? Do you have any workplace bullying? You could have sociopaths as workers or managers that just drive people away.

Something has to be done, or else a high turn-around will drain your talented employees away to your competitors. Your managers could be the problem, your employees could be the problem, you might even have to provide some diversity training. If this is happening to your company, something is wrong. You need to fix it before it gets worse.

TL;DR most of the problems with business are management related, and I am showing five problems and how they could be fixed. Management keeps blaming employees, but after excuses and excuses and downsizing and firing workers in mass groups and then claiming there is a lack of qualified workers, well after eliminating the problems with the workers, what do you have left to blame but the management? Take responsibility for your own management mistakes and learn from them.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Social stuff more important than math and science?

Discovery of evidence of the Higgs Boson.

I find it sad that there is evidence of the Higgs Boson and our news sites have headlines about celebrities behaving badly and other narcissistic stuff.

True it could be an imposter particle, and true we don't know if it is the real Higgs Boson either because there are a lot of particles in the particle zoo. The Higgs Boson tied the Standard Model of Physics together.

As Carl Sagan wrote in "The Demon Haunted World" we have moved away from math and science and the youth have lost interest in it.

I can myself see that many benefit from the technologies that science provides even if they don't understand how they work. I myself have made a living fixing computers and writing programs for people who have no clue how a computer works.

 I've talked to recent college graduates who claim they don't know why they cannot find a job, and I found they don't know how the law of thermodynamics works and cannot figure out simple math. I guess they have done too much work copying and pasting from Google, Wikipedia, and other students for their work, or maybe our colleges don't do a good enough job to teach them.

For example one recent graduate told me when I explained there was ice on our Moon, that ice cannot exist in the vacuum of space as it would evaporate into nothing. Huh? Many others called me a liar and using pseudoscience. But NASA did find ice on the Moon. Yet I am called stupid and crazy for saying there is ice on the Moon. This is something I reasoned out of high school in 1985 using high school Physics, and eventually NASA proved me right even if I was bullied and made fun of for it by classmates at the time.

I asked about a simple Math question, 2 + 1 + 4 * 0 and many answered that the result was 0 because the last number is multiplied by zero. Nope you do the multiplication first and then the addition next. 4 times 0 is 0, but 2 plus 1 is 3. Order of operations has to be followed and if it was using parenthesis like (2 + 1 + 4) * 0 then the result would be zero.

How do people pass college without knowing these simple things about math and science? Are they too busy partying, or playing video games, or social activities? When I was young my father told me to not use a calculator as it was a crutch and he was right. My math scores increased as I did my own work on paper instead of a calculator or computer. Has making things easier for people to use cut down on their skills and abilities? We see that with automobiles, people no longer walk down the street when they can drive and thus don't get exercise anymore and thus drive to the coffee store for a $5 cup of coffee. For $5 they can buy a bag of coffee from the super market and then use a coffee machine to brew all the coffee they want, but they would rather waste the gas driving down the street for a $5 coffee? People no longer call each other on the phone or write letters, they use text messaging or a social networking site like Facebook. Well what of others who don't use them? They get left out. Plus the message is just not as intelligent as it used to be, using acronyms and thinking with emotions instead of critical thinking, logic, and reason.

No the problem is not religion, the problem is not science or technology, it is in the way people have socially evolved. People have socially evolved to use technology as a shortcut to make things easier. Why write a birthday card when they can leave a message on someone's Facebook wall? Why the need for math when a program can figure out the math for them and all they have to do is press buttons and fill out forms? Why the need for science when they clearly don't understand it anymore and have a science fiction version of it? Why help out the less fortunate when they can listen to music and watch movies and TV shows and keep buying them to have corporations reach record profits?

Are we a Demon haunted World, or have we just reached a level of ignorance about technology, math, and science?
Hello there and welcome to my first blog. My name is Norman King and this blog is named The Norman Conquest of Technology and Science. I will cover technology and science areas along with epublishing, politics, and other related areas.

I have over 26 years of experience in the area, two college degrees, and I have worked for large and small companies. I have even run my own small businesses as a hobby, and have ideas for tech startups, software, and inventions.