Bill Gates, who seems to be following the tradition of Tony Blair in doing the sort of ‘long goodbye’ which makes us wonder why he’s still here, like he’s holding out for a standing ovation and encore or something - has irritated me again by doing another presentation of technology we’ve all seen before but that Microsoft is reinventing, just rather less impressively, and touting it as their innovation. It all links back to Microsoft Surface which has always been a total rip off of the work of people like Jeff Han, just with more lag and a clunkier interface.
So, as we all know the whole MicroHoo! idea has been called off now, unless you believe the conspiracy theorists who believe this is all still part of Count Ballmer’s plan to devalue Yahoo! (as some of its shareholders go through a set of inevitable legal tantrums) and make it easier to pick up later. I’m not so sure about that myself - after all didn’t the rotund billionnaire say he wasn’t going to raise the original offer for Yahoo!
I’ve been a little busy for the usual diatribe these last couple of days (a fact for which no doubt the Intertubes will be grateful) so for the moment my spleen will have to simply tolerate the increased pressure in anticipation of future venting . In the meantime, here’s an interesting site I found recently: TED. It’s made up of a ton of videos of presentations from quite interesting people on a variety of subjects including creativity, technology and politics.
I’ve been a fan of cross-platform development for a while now, I like competition and have a dislike for single-supplier dependence - my general rule is that if you put your eggs in one basket, and then give that basket to a monolithic corporation-being with the power to crush planets with a single cybernetically enhanced pectoral clench, odds are that you’re not your own boss any more. However, as a developer who must inherently exchange the scribing of cryptic text for food & shelter, I haven’t always been able to follow that preference.
For the last several decades, the computing industry has depended on what was perceived to be an insatiable desire for more raw computing power. The WinTel alliance has worked well, with the world’s most popular operating system demanding ever increasing resources (sometimes for debateable practical benefit), driving the demand for new chips. One of the latest drivers making people buy new systems is virtualisation, a nice little earner for those wanting to sell nice big mainframe-like boxes to replace the multitudes of servers - the ones they previously sold people to replace their original mainframes in many cases of course.
It’s official - Vista’s UAC was designed to annoy users. The idea was to piss them off enough that they’d beat on the ISV’s to make them change their software so it didn’t trigger UAC prompts anymore. So that’s at least one feature in Vista that’s a rip-roaring success then. To be fair, it’s a bitter pill that had to be swallowed. Microsoft built OSs for decades that were concentrated on flaunting all their wares to developers with little or no protection; because you know, security just gets in the way and all those rookie developers get upset when things are difficult.
A few weeks ago I posted a rant about how companies keep way more code to themselves than makes any rational sense, under the pretense of protecting their competitive advantage. I asserted that in a large number of cases, what they’re keeping to themselves is actually exactly what everyone else is also developing internally, and also keeping to themselves in the hope that it’s worth something. Result - a ton of duplicated effort that is worth very little.
They’re not announcing the results officially until tomorrow, but it appears that enough countries have changed their votes since September 2007 for OOXML to become an ISO standard. Some of the key ‘switchers’ responsible include the UK, Ireland, Denmark, Norway, Japan (all from No to Yes) and France (from No to Abstain). We need document standards to preserve business data over long periods and thus as a core principle it’s a good thing to have an ISO standard used by Microsoft Office, the dominant business office suite - and for good reason, it’s been a great product over many years.
It may be going on for 4 years old now, but GPU Gems is still a fantastic resource - in fact now that you can rely on being able to use the techniques it contains on a much larger array of hardware, it’s perhaps even more practically useful than it was on release. Graphical products outside the hardcore gaming space (and this is where Ogre gets used most) are increasingly catching up and using more advanced shader effects now, and so a resource like this is actually maturing rather well.
It hasn’t been that long since I last upgraded my main dev machine, but as it happens although the 320Mb 8800 GTS seemed perfectly adequate for my needs late last summer, most of the people on the team I’m working on now bought their cards more recently, and of course now the 8800 GTS 512Mb is now the ‘sweet spot’ for nvidia cards. It didn’t really matter until I started running out of memory, and of course since I was always the first on the team to run out, it was a mite inconvenient.