I Think I’ll Wait to Wash the Windows

userpic=compusaurUnless you’ve been  hiding under a rock (or perhaps an apple), you’re probably aware that Windows 10 dropped and is available to install. As to why it is numbered Windows 10, given that it follows after Windows 8.1, the answer is simple: stupid programmers. Yup. You probably remember Windows 4, Consumer Edition? This was the version that followed after Windows 3.1, and ran on top of DOS. Microsoft, in their wonderful style of naming conditions, called that version Windows 95, and its successful successor was Windows 98. Application software tested for this by, you guessed it, testing for the string  “Windows 9”. Now there is hopefully none of the code from the Windows on DOS branches left in the OS (except perhaps for the start button), but those applications are out there: and Microsoft didn’t want to break them. Thus the jump from Windows 8 to Windows 10 (because presumably there are no Windows 1.0 applications still running).

[In case you’re curious, Windows 10 is not from the Windows on DOS branches: it’s lineage traces back to Windows NT 3.5, which begat Windows NT 4.0, which begat Windows 2000 (NT 5.0), Windows XP (NT 6.0), Windows 7, Windows 8 (and 8.1), and now 10. Windows-on-DOS died with Windows ME.]

In any case, Windows 10 was officially released yesterday, and for a year (until 29 July 2016) it is available as a free upgrade for anyone on a home edition of Windows 7 or greater. There’s a little Windows icon where you can reserve your copy and everything. All of the early adopters are downloading like crazy. The reports are that Windows 10 is a pretty good product (Ars Technica, TechspotNewsweek), but they are also noting that if you don’t need it immediately…. it’s probably worth waiting a month or two for problems and patches to settle down. Then again, there are good reasons to stay on Windows 7.

I would tend to agree. There have already been a number of problem reports, from odd installation problems to problems with too many items in the new start menu. I’m also leery of how upgrades vs. clean installs work: I want to see some actual reports from users in the field that Windows 7 actually upgraded well, and all applications still were in the right places and ran. That will take some time.

However, all the news is coming out now, so I figured I’d do a post to help me keep it in one place. Feel free to comment with useful articles of your own. This is the stuff that interests me:

[ETA 150731: PCWorld has also published a superguide bringing together all their articles. Note that many of the links they have are also linked above.]

So what are your thoughts? Did you upgrade from Windows 7? What do you think of Windows 10 on  a former Windows 7 machine (for the record, I’ve got an intel Core i3, 2.4 GHz, with 4GB (3.80 available) memory. The other Windows 7 laptop is an i5 processor. The old XP print server is an AMD Athelon 64 3200 with 160GB disk and 512MB memory (I think the HP has more memory, perhaps 2GB)). (XP issue is OBE: We installed a Dlink Printer Server card instead.) Have you upgraded an XP era machine, and was it worth it? What installation problems did you run into? What do you think of the new OS?


A Matter of Time: Mail, Mobile Phones, and Mainframes

userpic=anniversaryToday’s lunchtime news chum collection comes to you courtesy of Timex, for it is all about time and anniversaries. This is appropriate, as NIST is about to introduce a new, more-accurate atomic clock.

  • Mail. This week marks the 10-year anniversary of Gmail. Many of you may remember life before Gmail. I certainly remember the days of command-line email — /bin/mail, mailx, and numerous other mail readers (I was particularly fond of using email within emacs). Then we moved to nicer email clients, such as Pegasus, while the Corporate folks dealt with Outlook and Notes. Web-based email, at that time, was horrid — limited storage, limited interfaces, limited searching. Google changed all that with gigantic limits and great interfaces, all for the cost of your soul (no, that not right) your privacy (getting closer) the ability to search through your mail and sell you stuff based on it (that’s the ticket). Gmail isn’t perfect — there still isn’t the ability to work with digital certificates and encrypted mail. Hopefully we’ll get that. Otherwise, Gmail has become such a juggernaut (especially when combined with Android) that it is unstoppable.
  • Mobile Phones. Speaking of Android, this week is also the 41st anniversary of the first mobile phone call. Talk about life-changing devices. No longer can you hide anywhere — being incommunicado is now unthinkable. We’ve got from only a few having cellphones to everyone having them with them 24×7. In fact, you now no longer have just a phone, but an entire miniature computer with you. As evidence, I just added a page to my Passover Hagadah to remind people to turn off their cell phones; yet another form of escaping from slavery!
  • Mainframes. This week also is the 50th anniversary of the IBM 360 mainframe. Now, many of you youngsters (hey, you, get off my lawn) don’t even know what a mainframe is, so bear with me. Back in the 1950s, computers were one-shots — built for a specific purpose, for a specific task. Some smaller computers (such as the IBM 7090) started to come in, but they still often used plugboards and were unsuitable for the enterprise. In the 1960s, IBM introduced the 360 line — a range of computers, all running a common OS (at that time, OS/MFT) with common machine instructions that were extensible. Business could now afford computers. I programmed on a number of 360 systems: the 360/50 at LA Unified, the 360/91 and 360/75 at UCLA, and later, the 370/3033 at UCLA.



Old and New: Los Angeles International Airport, Old Computers, and the Lion that Roared

userpic=psa-smileToday’s news chum brings together three articles all related to history and old things:



I’ll Take Techology for the Loss, Alex

userpic=verizonWhile eating my lunch, I received an Email from URJ about the new issue of Reform Judaism magazine. An electronic issue, where they note that “(1) the magazine is now available as a digital edition for computer, iPad, and smartphones, and (2) all RJ magazine stories are indexed by topic at reformjudaismmag.org. For example, if you click on Strengthening Synagogues, you’ll see subject offerings from “Finding Funding & Cost Savings” to “Management” to “Membership” to “Worship.” From there you can easily access all the articles we’ve published on those subjects 24/7.”

I thought about this as I munched my salad. I decided it was time to climb on my lunch-box and say something.

I’ve written before how I don’t believe the Internet is a wholly positive force. I’ve opined that the Internet has magnified the voices of the crazies and the fringes — one can see this by reading the comments on almost any news article on the web. This magnification has served to increase the hyper-partisanship in politics and society, with people essentially talking to (as Rush Limbaugh would put it) “dittoheads”, and only reading the online news sources slanted the way they think. This is not a good thing.

I’ve also written before about how I think the Internet has hurt communal institutions. More and more organizations are “saving money” by moving from printed newsletters and fliers to email blasts. Now email is great and good, but shouldn’t be the primary mechanism. Email is ephemeral — I doubt anyone prints an emailed organizational newsletter and puts it on their coffee table, or prints an emailed flier to put on the refrigerator. We read it… and promptly forget about it. As any organization, and they will bemoan the fact that attendance at their events has gone done. They blame it on the apathy of society, but I’d love to see if there is a correlation between the drop in attendance/participation and a move to emailed announcements. If you want participation, not only do you email, but you send out paper flyers and you have a call-tree to personally invite people to your activities.

So that brings me to Reform Judaism Magazine. People seem to love online papers and magazines (and trust me, I do, as evidenced by how many papers I skim these days, and how few magazines I read). However, that is an elitist notion. Yes, you, the person reading this, are in an elite class. We forget that much of the world doesn’t have access to the Internet, or the high speed Internet. Some have access, but are unable to use it due to disability or age. By moving to digital sources only, we are disenfranchising such people from participation. So not only are we producing ephemeral product, we’re cutting off a chunk of society from reading it.

I’ll admit I’m a compusaur. I’ve worked on IBM’s big metal. I was on the Arpanet in the late 1970s (on SF-LOVERS and at MIT-AI). The Internet is an extension of who I am. Yet I’ll keep screaming — it is not all for the good.

And now I’ll climb off my lunch-box (before the cheap plastic collapses — I think I ate too much), and go back to work…


The Historic and the Small

First, some unfinished business. Although I am walking every day for at least an hour, I am not going to run a marathon. I’ve never been the running type. And as for yesterday’s news, it was mostly true, except for the bit about “drips” and Bing changing its name. Oh, look, a squirrel.

Turning to today’s news, I do have a few items of note:

  • From the “Passings of Note” Department: Dr. Henry Edward Roberts has died. Most of you kids won’t know him, but Roberts is responsible for much of what we see on computers today. Roberts was the developer of the build-it-yourself computer kit called the MITS Altair 8800, which was the original inspiration for two kids called Billy Gates and Paul Allen. My memories of the Altair were from my days with the Southern California Computer Society back in the mid-to-late 1970s, when people were building their Altairs and Kim 1s.
  • From the “Milestones of Note” Department: Yesterday marked the 50th anniversary of the launch of TIROS-1 from Vandenberg AFB. If that name doesn’t sound familiar to you, TIROS-1 was the first weather satellite, and so 50 years ago the science of weather forecasting changed forever. Can you imagine long-range weather predicting without the benefit of satellite?
  • From the “Ridin’ The Circuit” Department: USA Today had a nice piece yesterday on the Southern Rabbi Circuit, which is not an electrical mechanism but a project where a rabbi rides around the Southern US visiting small congregati0ns. I first learned about this about a year ago, when Rabbi Sheryl Nosan-Blank was leaving Sacramento. She’s now serving a congregation in Australia, but one of the places she was looking was the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life out of Jackson MS. ISLI is the place that provides the visiting rabbi for the small congregations. Interesting article.
  • From the “You Look Mahvelllous” Department: Speakings of the problems of the small and mighty: The LA Times has an interesting article on the troubles on niche menswear shops: in particular, the disappearing shops for short men. Yup. If you are under 5’3” (I’m safe at 5”6½”), there are only two places left in Southern California where you can buy a suit off the rack and only have minor alterations. For many others, it’s the boys department or cutting down a suit (which leaves many components, such as pockets, in the wrong places).

Out With The Old

Today’s collection has a common theme: getting rid of the old…

  • From the “Do Web Pages Go To Heaven When They Die?” Department: After many, many years, Yahoo! is terminating their Geocities service… and yet another provider of free web pages bites the dust. Remember when people expressed themselves on the web by putting up personal web pages? That’s so 1990s. Now, people just put up pages on Facebook or MySpace, and no one needs personal pages. Soon, no one will even know what ~username means. Of course, the death of Geocities means I need to examine my highway links pages… for a number of highway pages were (at one time) on Geocities.
  • From the “Hotel to the Stars” Department: The Los Angeles Times is reporting that the Century Plaza Hotel is facing demolition. Years after the ABC Entertainment Center and the Shubert Theatre were demolished, the fancy hotel across the street may be the next to see the wrecking ball. The modern hotel (for 1966) in the semi-city designed for the next century seems not to have weathered well. Is Los Angeles following in the footsteps of Las Vegas as a city that doesn’t know how to preserve its history? I hope not.
  • From the “How Quickly They Fall” Department: The backlash against Susan Boyle has already started, just because she dumped her frumpy looks, dyed her hair, and got a brow trim. Is our society so shallow we can only root for someone when they are ugly? No, you don’t have to answer me.