Monday, July 28, 2008
A handful of ex-Googlies have set up a new search engine which they reckon is going to beat Google.
Hmmm. Well, I saw this mentioned on BBC News earlier today but didn't bother checking it out. Then I saw a thread about it on Telford Live so I thought I'd best give it a whirl seeing as how people are talking about it.
What a sack of cack.
A seach for Telford Live comes up with an image that has no relevance to the website. Searching for "wonkos world" comes up with some random sites but "wonko's world" comes up with this place and a couple of images from the sidebar. The mathematically-calculated "relevant" image isn't guessed that well and even if it worked it wouldn't add all that much to the experience. Certainly not enough to make up for the slow, slow response times and poor search results.
Really, I don't see the point in Cuil and I don't see it lasting very long. It's not a patch on Google - it's slow, the search results aren't very good and the only front-end gimmick Cuil has doesn't work properly.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Sometimes it seems like everyone in the IT world thinks they're a psychic - every other day there's some headline declaring the imminent death or arrival of something computer related.
This time it's the turn of the humble mouse. Not the little rodent that goes squeak squeak, can't stand cheese and craps in your cereal - the computer mouse, first developed by Xerox and a seemingly inseperable part of the computer system. But if Gartner is to be believed, the mouse is facing extinction as new gesture and touch technology comes to the fore. Hmmmmm.
Now, I have a Wii and that uses gesture technology of a sort. It has a wireless controller and I can point and click at a button or image on the screen and by the miracles of modern technology it knows what I've clicked on. It even knows what angle my hand was at, how far away I am from the TV and if I had the thing turned in my hand by a couple of degrees. Pretty impressive stuff but the button I'm pointing at with my Wii remote is about 4 inches wide and a couple of inches high and even then I have to give the remote a wiggle to find out which edge of the screen the pointer has disappeared off and then herd it towards the button with my finger poised over the button to click when I veer over it.
Don't get me wrong, I like the Wii interface (even if it's a bit Mac-like) and for playing games it's great but for clicking an icon on a desktop or a link on a webpage? No, I don't think so - not unless your desktop icons are the size of a Vista "extra large" picture thumbnail and your web browser is displaying everything in a 128pt font.
Touch is, perhaps, a more viable alternative. I have a HTC Touch mobile phone and it works well despite the relatively small screen. Even with my podgy fingers I can press buttons and menu items that are really quite small. The software controlling the touch screen presumably centres on the middle of the area covered by my finger or thumb and makes the click happen where it figures out I intended to press. But the monitor on my desktop PC is filthy already with various sets of fingerprints, handprints and sticky sweet residue (the kids use it, not me - honest) and it's not a touch screen. I don't even want to guess how many virulent diseases are living in the crap that my hands, face and pocket leave on the screen of my phone. How often do you fancy cleaning the shiny screen on your 21" TFT?
The mouse works well because it's an extention of your arm when you use it. Your arm is resting on the desktop when you use it, keeping it stable. Unless you have severe co-ordination problems (or no arms) you should be able to control a mouse fairly easily without wandering around the screen like you do with the Wii. And if you have an optical mouse, you don't even have to worry about sticky balls or dirty mouse mats, let alone a smudgy, fingerprint-covered touchscreen.
I appreciate that Gartner are professional analysts and no doubt the analyst who came up with this prediction is a technology expert. I may not be an industry insider but I use a computer intensively all day, every day and unless someone comes up with a revolutionary new way for me to move that little arrow around the screen, my mouse will still be on my desk in 50 years time.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Looking at the browser stats for my main blog, Wonko's World, it seems that the newly released Firefox 3 is proving pretty popular - 124 visitors have used Firefox 3 so far despite the first release candidate being available for only a month.
By way of comparison, only 88 people have visited using Opera since I started using eXTReMe Tracking 6 weeks ago, 199 used AOHell 9 and 216 used Safari. I also had 4 visits from a Playstation 3. Which is nice.
I've downloaded Firefox 3 to give it a bit of a test drive and although it's noticeably faster than IE7 and Flock, I don't think I'll be switching from Flock. The good people at Flock have already release their first beta of Flock 2 which is built on Firefox 3.
My advice? If you're using Firefox 2 or below then upgrade. It's faster and the default interface is a bit more modern and cleaner looking. If you're using IE7 then consider swapping - it's even quicker compared to IE7 and if it's as reliable as Firefox 2 then it'll be infinitely more reliable than IE. If you're a blogging, social networking or media fiend then use Flock.
Monday, May 26, 2008
Yesterday Adobe Acrobat popped up and told me that there was an upgrade available and would I mind ever so much if it went ahead and installed the upgrade as it had been asking me for a few weeks.
The upgrade was downloaded and the installer did its business. So did Spybot, asking me if I was happy for the upgrade to install a Browser Helper Object (yes) and a startup entry for the accelerated startup thingy (no). That was where I ran into a small problem.
Adobe Acrobat installer doesn’t like it if it can’t install the accelerated startup thingy and retries if it fails. Forever. In the end I had to hold down the power button of the laptop to turn it off.
Not what you expect from a company like Adobe.
Monday, February 11, 2008
Yahoo has rejected a takeover offer of $41bn (nearly £21bn) from Micro$oft saying that it undervalued the company!
Shares in Yahoo closed at $19.18 (about £10) on the 1st February when Micro$oft made their offer and the $41bn offer would have been worth $31 (about £15) per share. Amazingly, the Wall Street Journal reckons that Yahoo won't accept less than $40 per share and that Micro$oft will probably pay it.
A combined MSN/Yahoo will put Google back in the position of plucky underdog which can only be a good thing because they've been turning corporate lately. But increasing the dominance of Micro$oft is generally a bad thing for the consumer and, of course, merging MSN and Yahoo reduces consumer choice.
Micro$oft reckons that by merging with Yahoo it can offer a better and cheaper service but Google already offers a better search engine and better free web applications than Yahoo and Micro$oft for nothing. As painful as it is to admit it, Micro$oft is good at writing software. Ok, it tends to be bloated and full of features that are useless to most people, not to mention incredibly expensive, but technology would be nowhere near where it is today if it wasn't for Micro$oft. They now need to move away from the desktop and look at ways of better supporting remote working but for that they need the communications industry to "grow up". Micro$oft are approaching the challenge the wrong way - at this stage they would be better off investing their $40bn in the communications industry to develop the technology that will allow them to deliver their bloated applications into the home over residential internet connections than investing in a company attempting (and failing) to create a market for online content that only a relatively small percentage of the population can fully benefit from.
Monday, January 14, 2008
Federal Europe is launching yet another investigation into Micro$oft 3 months after concluding their last investigation which resulted in a €500m fine.
The first investigation was into allegations that Micro$oft was shutting out rivals in order to dominate the web market. They were found guilty in October 2004 and launched an unsuccesful appeal which ended in October 2007. This latest investigation is into interoperability with rival applications and has been requested by Opera, which is based in Norway, and a European software developers group.
I don't like the way Micro$oft does business. I don't like the way they price their products out of reach of most people then impose restrictive measures on their software to try and stop people from pirating their software. However, this is a step too far. No other company is subjected to this kind of treatment. No other company would be forced to hand over its trade secrets to its rivals.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Microsoft has lost an appeal against a fine of $690m which the European Commission had imposed following an anti-trust suit.
The European Court of First Instance dismissed the appeal and upheld the decision that Microsoft was abusing its market dominance by shipping Windows with Media Player built in.
The European Commission has been bleating on about how good this is for consumer choice and how consumers will be much better off as a result of the decision.
What a load of rubbish.
Firstly, who will pay for the $690m fine? Microsoft? Of course not, they’ll just bump up their prices some more and the consumer will pay. Already, the price of software in Europe is higher than the US and in England it’s even higher.
Secondly, what’s wrong with shipping Media Player with Windows? It’s a free download from the Microsoft website - what difference will it make to the price? A couple of quid as a token gesture to stop the European Commission from suing them again? A previous anti-trust suit made them take Java out of Windows - now, whenever I install Windows I have to go and download Java from the internet before I can browse a website that uses Java.
It doesn’t make Windows better, it makes it more irritating for me, the consumer. I want my Windows disc to be so chock full of programs and gadgets and tools that I don’t have to spend half an hour downloading stuff that I need from the internet before Windows is useful. I want to be able to use Java-enabled websites out of the box. I want a media player out of the box. Windows Media Player is great - it does pretty much everything I want it to. It doesn’t play DVD’s but I’ve got something else to do that. It has a “thing” for Microsoft’s proprietry formats when you rip CD’s but my MP3 Player is quite happy with WMA files.
This ruling was nothing to do with giving choice to the consumer. It was about extracting loads of cash for the EU propaganda fund from the big bad American corporation. I don’t very often defend Microsoft - I don’t like the way they do business - but in this case, they were in the right and you have no idea how much it pains me to say that.
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
I thought Box.Net would help me keep up to date with backups but it hasn't worked like that, partly because I never get round to doing it. Problem now solved, though, by your-data. The backups are made via an SSL connection to a server in the UK and backups can be scheduled on your PC to happen automatically. The standard package is £10pm for 1GB of disk space but you can buy more if you need to. There's also a server option aimed at SME's and uber-geeks. The service is pitched at the UK market but they tell me that it will work anywhere in the world. I've been using it for just over a week now and no problems.
Click here for their website.
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
Tuesday, July 18, 2006
Do not, under any circumstances, buy an Evesham Laptop
They are a truly awful company with poor quality laptops and an even worse excuse for customer services.
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
I had an invite to Box.net yesterday from a friend so I went and had a look to see what it was all about.
Basically, it's an online storage type thing with 1gb of free space similar to Flickr but not restricted to pictures. I used to use something similar a long time ago which disappeared off the web back in the 90's.
There's an upgraded version with extra features and a 5gb limit which is $5 a month.
The free version gives you 1gb of space, drag & drop and public/private files. You can't deep link files using the free version but you can share them with a url which will serve a page with a thumbnail link.
Anyone can register for Box.net and there is an affiliate-type scheme where you can get a free upgrade by referring 5 people to their service.
Friday, February 10, 2006
A division of Lucent reckons they'll have a 300Gb "holodisc" on sale this year.
The name "holodisc" isn't really accurate but in a nutshell, this is how it works:
On a normal disc (CD or DVD), the data is burnt as a series of pits in the surface of the disc representing 1's and 0's. On the new "holodisc", the data is written at various levels inside the disc itself. A CD or DVD drive can only write one layer of the disc but the new drives will feature lasers that can vary their angle and intensity allowing them to write at multiple levels within the disc. It doesn't burn through the other layers because it combines multiple lasers with beams too weak to burn the disc but where the two beams meet, that point is sufficiently strong enough to burn to the disc.
No idea of the costs but ... 300Gb on a CD-type disc? That's pretty impressive.
Saturday, October 22, 2005
I installed a "skin/patch" to make XP look like Vista. The best word I can find to describe it is "pretty". Anyone else tried it?
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
Miscrosoft has successfully sued Opt In Real Big, one of the worlds most prolific spammers, for $7m (£3.9).
Microsoft estimated that Opt In Real Big was sending up to 30 million spam emails a year.
They have pledged to spend the $7m on its anti-spam campaign.
Wednesday, July 13, 2005
Ok, so it's a bit lame but it's my first VB.NET application and I made it all by myself (with a little help from Ged's cSFX class to make it play a wav file).
The application is a simple stopwatch and alarm. It's all self-explanatory, no instructions needed.
You can run it from here and download it from here.