Aquarium Blog

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Adam Barr's blog

I am quickly becoming a fan of Adam Barr's blog. I haven't read his book yet, but I read his not-a-blog page some time ago, and I liked it. Perhaps, it was "One Example of Why People Dislike Microsoft Software" the first post that got my attention. I just wish others showed more often this attitude:

So anyway I go back to my office and my computer is still spiking its CPU usage, so I call the Microsoft helpdesk. It was actually pretty trivial to diagnose that the problem was that Windows automatic update was obsessively trying, and repeatedly failing, to install some update on my machine. What was a bit trickier was making it stop. The update was being pushed by the domain administrators, so neither I nor the helpdesk person had the ability to disable it. After various attempts (Microsoft helpdesk technicians can, if you authorize it, get access to your desktop remotely and try things directly, rather than instruct you), I finally had to reboot to safe mode, rename a directory, and then reboot. The CPU calmed down, although I guess the update remains uninstalled.
OK, so what can Microsoft do about this? Someone (maybe Einstein, maybe not)
once said "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a
different result." Perhaps Microsoft should fix Windows Update so it isn't insane. We could improve Task Manager so it reveals the path of each executable, and maybe some information like whether it is signed, and also let users snapshot process information so you can catch briefly-running processes. That's all part of the basic ability to figure out what the heck is running on your computer, that Linux does better than Windows. Then you've got Microsoft's historical over-reliance on GUI administration tools and the assumption that things will work, not break, and all the other
questionable design decisions Microsoft has made over the years. Yeesh.

Being Adam Barr an insider with such a clear view of what needs to be fixed, one tends to think that eventually, Microsoft will do the right thing. Way to go!

Friday, September 17, 2004

A9: Competition to Microsoft's "Stuff I have Seen" from Amazon

I have just discovered A9 in my referrers statistics and I haven't still started using it, but for what I see, it really sounds interesting. An excerpt from the site: personalizes your search experience by remembering your searches and giving you easy access to all your history in several ways:

  • Each web search result indicates whether it's new [ New ] or has previously been clicked on [ Clicked 2 weeks ago ]. [learn more]

  • Every search you performed on is stored in the History column and organized by time. You can switch between your previous searches and the sites you've visited. With the A9 Toolbar, the list of all sites you have visited is accessible the same way.

  • If you open the history column on a search result page, it will give you search results of your own history followed by a list of your entire history (as well as from your bookmarks and diary…). [learn more]

  • Try it out:

I guess I will be using A9's toolbar instead of Google's for a while.

Tablet: The Personal Computer of the Year 2000, Back in 1988!

Browsing Stephen Wolfram's scrapbook has been so far a fascinating experience, and I am still at page 4 of 8!

Look at this for example:

Tablet: Personal Computer in the Year 2000 (1988)

Besides, I had no idea that he was once with Dany Hillis at Thinking Machines.

Hey, by the way, I nerver understand what those guys do, I am not even an ammateur, but just a fan.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Why do people subscribe to the main feed in MSDN blogs?

As explained by Robert Scoble, people subscribing to the main feed of the MSDN Blogs has been consuming too much bandwidth. Even worse, as Dave Winer states in a later post, it seems to be a nonsense.

Why would anybody want to subscribe to such a gigantic feed? I think I found two driving reasons:

1. Subscribing to the main feed is overwhelmingly easy.

2. Finding the individual blogs I could be interested in, is really hard from the blogger list.

Of course, I very often subscribe to blogs only after I have found them referenced in other blogs. However, if I had to come to the blog list page to find something interesting to subscribe to, the only tool I would have at hand would be Ctrl+F.

Also, just browsing the list is impractical. There are so many Microsoft bloggers today that I don't think anybody with a full time job will browse the list past the names beginning with C.

There are some things I think could be done to improve the experience. These are just a few examples:

- Implement the list as a table.
- Add columns with metadata, for instance traffic (as an heuristic measure of ranking), team or product, position, frequent categories, a gauge indicating technical level,etc.
- Add ways to filter and sort content based on any combination of those columns.
- Add a good full text search engine that returns a link to the blog (or the feed URL) with each result.

Maybe there is already something like what I describe.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

My blog is dead, long live my blog!

Just another cliché: One picture worths more than a thousand words.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Tropical Storm Nine

While Buzz Bruggeman is expecting to blog about his second hurricane on Sunday, I am still hopping this will be the second false alarm I blog about (first was Odette last year). Look at the pictures of Tropical Depression 9 I copied from Weather Underground.

Now let me tell you I live in Hispaniola, that big island to the east of Cuba. Now look at this historical chart.

Scary, isn't it? It shows at least one hurricane with a similar path visiting my neighborhood. I cannot see that storm name, but it could be George. So, if it keeps its current direction and grows, it is expected to become a tropical storm on Friday and a Category 1 Hurricane on Sunday. At a first glance I would say it could be on my same longitude by next Thursday.
In any case, good luck Buzz!

Gates pitch on Jobs pitch on MSN Music Store pitch on Video

I have just read MSN Music is off-key, Apple says on CNET's The article mentions an interview in BusinessWeek magazine in which Bill Gates says that Steve Jobs is wrong in his notion that Internet video rental isn't an important market:

'Ask kids in the back of a car on a two-hour trip, 'Hey, would you like to have your videos there?' My kids would,' Gates said. 'I guess Steve's kids just listen to Bach and Mozart. But mine, they want to watch 'Finding Nemo.' I don't know who made that, but it's really a neat movie.'
Gates seems to have an amazing sense of humour, don't you think?