Nov 30, 2007

Windows PowerShell overkill

Sometimes OO paradigm is an overhead, not a savior. Especially when it comes to simple manipulations such that are typical to shell scripting tasks. I mean, what appears more to the point and is faster to implement? This:

ipconfig | findstr "Address"

Or this:

ifconfig | grep "Address"

The latter is more flexible, you can search for pretty much anything. And once you get regex involved -- opportunities are endless.

As usual, instead of conforming to POSIX, Microsoft invents its own incompatible way of doing scripting. Sure, anything would seem to be better after horrors of COMMAND.COM and CMD.EXE. But it did not have to be that bad.

Maybe (quite certainly) I am biased, having spent years in a warm comfort of bash and tcsh. But maybe I am right and PShell is just another failed MSFT experiment at "borrowing" ideas from others...

Nov 27, 2007

OLPC threat for Intel, Microsoft

When I am reading an article like this one in WSJ that talks about how Intel and Microsoft have found themselves threatened by Negroponte's OLPC, I can't stop but shudder at utter stupidity and pervasive greed that totally obscures any understanding of what OLPC project means.

I do not work for OLPC, I have no affiliation to the project other than occasional contribution to the UI translation effort.  What has been refreshingly awesome in the idea of this little machine was not the price tag.  It was not even the idea of providing it to so many children in impoverished countries.  It was the fact that it can help so many people (children) understand what computing, information, technology are about.

All that Intel and Microsoft seem to be able to see there is competition — Intel because OLPC uses AMD chip, while Microsoft, naturally, because OLPC doe not run Windows.

Bot these companies, as well as a number of governments that are hesitant to jump the OLPC bandwagon, are missing the whole point of why it is done that way. Why offering a striped-down Windows XP or Vista that can run on a similar machine (be it Classmate PC or EEE PC or any other entrant into low-cost/small form factor laptop market) is not the same by a long mile as what Sugar provides a kid with on OLPC.

What a child gets when handed the "$100 laptop" is not just hardware and OS. He gets a whole slew of little applications that allow him or her to start learning things right there and then. He or she can be creative and doodle or can access any number of web sites and find useful information to put onto a class report (and he also is safeguarded with a number of options there not to end up on a warez or porno sites). The great EToys environment that comes with Squeak that is included on OLPC allow a child to learn what programming is about in a long-forgotten way that. It all comes tuned and made for a child not in a generically heartless and usability poor Redmond way.

An old analogy comes to mind:

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

What Intel and Microsoft are doing is the former — they are very much eager to give (or more like sell) lots of fish, while OLPC project addresses the latter — it teaches how fish, meat, veggies and anything else can be made.

Update

This is just great: a Nigerian company (but it happens to be based in US) has filed a suit in Lagos claiming that XO infringes on LANCOR's patents. Can anyone trace this back to Redmond, I wonder?

A good /. comment on the same.

Nov 26, 2007

Leopard — a very personal view

Not that it matters, but:
  • I like new Dock. It's more or less always hidden, hence it's reflections are lost on me, the small dot looks more or less the same (so far) as the black one.
  • Transparent menu bar — very much the same, I use a solid color background and end up nearly unaffected by transparency thing. I did notice, however, that while menus are rounded now, menu bar screen corners are not any longer. The soft rounded rectangle look of Mac is gone...
  • Finder Cover Flow view comes out handy at times.
  • Unified look takes a little getting used to, but over all is not bad.
  • Network preferences pane re-arrangement is a good thing.
  • Stacks are probably cool, but I have not built them into a usage pattern yet.
  • Spaces — don't work as I used to use them in FVWM. But it's the same with a number of products offered for Windows, hence there may be also a hint on getting that crowd over (however small that is).
  • I do not like new Finder folder icons.
I think that just about does it for this moment.

Things that Apple is *really* good at

There were numerous referenced posted on a variety of social bookmarking sites about smart hackers going for a re-implementation of this or that feature of Apple's latest Leopard release of Mac OS X. And this is ├╝ber cool that you can now hack your N800 to scroll like iPhone or to show a keyboard just like in iPhone (with just a few hundred lines of Python!) or that you can now pretty much as easily back things up on a Linux box as on a shiny MacBook with Time Machine.

What is missed in all of that is that all of what was no redone after it's been released by Apple has been around for ages, yet it was not wrapped right, or was not working quite the same, or was the last worry on the mind of dominant forces... Then comes Apple picks an idea up, does a magic something to it — bang, you have an iPhone/Time Machine/etc. Then everyone and his brother says "Look — I can also do it and could really do it for ages!"