Many people have declared email to be dead in the past, and they’ve all been wrong. The typical play has been from instant messenger advocates, and most recently from Facebook. But, while these options have been a valid all-encompassing solution for teenagers and students, I haven’t met a single serious modern IT user whose life isn’t still driven primarily by email. There’s a reason that Outlook and Exchange are such consistent cash cows for Microsoft, and so many business people own Blackberrys.
I, like many people, viewed the Bing marketing video last week, which promised not to create a search engine, but to create a ‘decision engine’ - if you winced at this blatant attempt at the ‘game changing switcheroo’, congratulations, you can join me on the ‘jaded technology observer’ bench. Despite my distaste at having to swim through the murky waters of marketing blurb in this video, the demonstration looked pretty nice - showing how the ‘decision engine’ picks out flight details, product reviews and other things out of your search terms and provides context-sensitive recategorisations such as price and specifications of digital cameras if that’s what you were searching for etc.
Not being the kind of person who would buy a netbook, I hadn’t really paid much attention to Moblin, Intel & Novell’s new netbook-targetted, Linux based operating system. However, Matt Asay posted about it today and that got me looking at it, and I have to say I’m very impressed. I love that they’ve tried to rethink the operating system interface from the ground up rather than just follow in the footsteps of previous efforts.
It’s always fun to watch Apple and Microsoft slug it out in the advertising space - here in the UK we mostly have to do this via YouTube, since apart from a short stint of amusing Mitchell and Webb Apple ads and those pretty bland “I’m A PC” ripostes, we don’t really see the front-line assaults which take place on US TV screens. So I hear that MS have a new set of ads out, where “regular” people go and look for a laptop, whereby they look at the Mac and say “whoah, far too expensive!
There’s a lesson to be had in here about entrusting important, always-on, unmonitored systems to Windows: Yes, my flight details (this was Gatwick airport) should have been on that second monitor - it’s so nice to be reminded of the frailty of technology when you’re about to entrust your life to a tin box full of electronics and software. Still, it was amusing to listen to a confused couple trying to read & decipher the BSOD text, clearly thinking it was an official announcement of some sort.
So, following my 360’s demise I was looking up the practicalities of using an alternate borrowed machine temporarily until the repair is turned around. I’ve bought a lot of DLC (mostly Rock Band, but also quite a few XBLA games, Gears maps etc), and I know the license for them is associated with the machine, so I looked up the license transfer tool. All seemed pretty sensible and reasonable - I’d have to download everything again, but that’s no big deal.
Yay, I can finally join the not-so-exclusive club of having my first 360 die, with the ever so fashionable E74 error code. I don’t have a launch machine, whose failure rates are legendary, I have the 2nd revision (‘Falcon’), and it’s about 18 months old now. The ‘Falcon’ chipsets are not supposed to be quite as error prone as the launch machines, but still the failure rates are above what is usually expected of consumer electronics, so I seem to have fallen into that statistic (no official numbers, but thought to be around 16%, or 3-5 times the expected average).
My office has finally been christened as a legitimate workplace - I now have a photocopier 😀 Well, of sorts - it’s actually one of those All-in-one devices, which I finally decided to buy because I was fed up of laboriously scanning multi-page contracts / licenses on a flatbed. I went with a HP Officejet J6410 - it was cheap, got some very good reviews, and I’ve generally been happy with other HPs over the years.
Laptops are great, of course, whether you’re travelling or just enjoying the flexibility of having a PC wherever you want in the house at any one time, instead of closeted in a fixed location. But if there’s one dimension in which they suck (barring upgradability - but then modern laptops are pretty nippy these days), it’s ergonomics. Laptops are excluded from the design standards that regular PCs have to adhere to, simply because it’s hard for them to comply within the form factor we expect.
DNS hosting is one of those awkward things - it’s absolutely essential to anyone who controls those little textual brands we call ‘domains’, but it’s an invisible service which you don’t appreciate much on a day-to-day basis. The chances are not good that any user of the internet, after a session of heavy web browsing, will say “Wow, DNS was awesome today”. I’ve used a few approaches to DNS over the years - in the early days when I was naïve, I used the built-in DNS of my web host; which I learned the hard way was a serious mistake, since switching away from a crappy web host is made more difficult when they hold the reigns for routing your domain too.