Sunday, 25 November 2012

08:47 – Our overnight low was 27.4F (-2.6C), which is the first hard freeze we’ve had this season. The high today is to be only 50F (10C). That’s pretty chilly for around here.

I just checked tracking on the ChromeBook I ordered a few days ago, which should arrive tomorrow. Remember when the “Year of Linux” was a running joke? No more. MS Windows is now a niche operating system. Linux and Linux-like operating systems now dominate personal computing devices, from ChromeBooks and MacBooks to iPads and other tablets to smartphones to Kindles and other ereaders. Microsoft is quickly fading into insignificance, and from what I see Windows 8 isn’t going to change that. If anything, Windows 8 is likely to accelerate the shift.


35 thoughts on “Sunday, 25 November 2012”

  1. I like your use of “niche” to describe the Lion’s Share.

    I’ll avoid Win 8, like I avoided Vista and Windows ME. Win 7, however, is rock solid.

  2. I sense a flog-the-heretic session approaching for our British Colombian correspondent… 🙂

  3. Lion’s share? People are now purchasing far more devices that run a Linux or Linux-like OS than devices that run Windows. The average person I know has a smartphone, a tablet, a Kindle or Nook, a Roku box or something similar, and maybe a Wii. If they have a notebook and/or a desktop computer, it’s probably a Mac. And all of those devices are running *ix rather than Windows. There’s no doubt in my mind that among consumers Windows is now in a very small minority.

    Even businesses are starting to make the shift. There’s more inertia there, mainly because of Outlook, but an awful lot of business people who used to carry Windows notebooks have shifted to carrying smartphones and tablets instead. And, even though I think it’s foolish, a lot of companies are moving from having local server rooms to using the cloud. That puts Google in a lot better position than Microsoft.

  4. I’ll stick up for our BC reporter here; just saw data that indicate the usual corporate monoliths plan to “migrate” from Windows 7 to 8 within this next year; also millions of Windows 8 licenses were sold in the first three days it went on-sale. Yes, Linux is all over the phones and other mobile devices and what the scribes call ‘unified communications,’ but M$ still has their little monopoly and are still stiffing the Euros and not doing what they were legally required to do and choosing to pay the fines instead.

    We’re down to one lonely Windows machine here at Firebase OFD and the ‘rock-solid’ Windows 7 machine is DOA right now; new power supply did nothing; it will not power up, let alone boot. I hope I can at least recover stuff off the hard drive, but we shall see.

    Snow flurries, squalls, freezing rain and sleet visiting the region up here yesterday and we’ve been seeing snow up on our little mountains and hills for weeks now.

  5. Yep. Exactly. “Linux is all over the phones and other mobile devices”. With desktops dying and Windows notebooks getting killed by *ix tablets, what does that tell you?

  6. It tells me that Linux is gaining some ground but that M$ will be around for quite a while yet, as their original slick maneuvers of stealing code and then making sure their bloatware was pre-installed on all the PCs sold have a lot of what the spin doctors call ‘big mo.’ They also snowed major international corporate and State markets and got their stuff on the machines, pretty much like the Borg. I’d love nothing better than to pump the coup de grace rounds into the still-wriggling corpse but someone or something else will probably do that fairly soon. Hell, if nothing else, WTSHTF and the Grid goes down.

    But I still enjoy pointing out stuff to Mrs OFD here; to set up a printer in Windows still takes a lot of hoop-jumping; but all I do is plug it into any Linux machine and it is instantly recognized with all functions available and ready to go. Scanning, which Mrs OFD does a fair amount of, is similar; in Windows it takes forever; with any Linux box it sets up within seconds and is done in one-tenth the time.

    And a bunch more games becoming available for it; but do I wanna do our household budget or a small biz on gnucash? Not so much. Still nothing that I know of that will fulfill the functions of M$ Money or Quicken. I may just use the LibreOffice spreadsheet and be done with it.

  7. The Windows print driver for one of our printers (Artisan 710) prompts me that it’s time to buy genuine Epson ink every time I print something. The Linux driver has no such bullshit. Fortunately, I need to boot my laptop into Windows only rarely, usually because I need to deal with a Word document that uses scripting.

  8. “Even businesses are starting to make the shift. There’s more inertia there, mainly because of Outlook…”

    The inertia there is vast, and probably locked in for the foreseeable future by contracts. We’re running XP at work, and there’s just too much software that only runs on Windows. I’ve not heard of plans to upgrade but when we do it will be to some type or other of Windows.

    At home I have XP and W7. I’d look at some flavour or other of Linux, except that no one agrees on what’s best any more. And I’m addicted to PC gaming, so that almost demands Windows.

    I’ve got an iPad which I use a lot, and a Kindle, which I use a bit. But surely a Kindle doesn’t count, but mainly I’m immersed in Windows PC boxes.

  9. “Yep. Exactly. “Linux is all over the phones and other mobile devices”. With desktops dying and Windows notebooks getting killed by *ix tablets, what does that tell you?”

    Okay, those little tablets have no keyboard, so doing more than a sentence starts getting very annoying. I post here and at Jerry C’s site occasionally with my iPad but I hate it. I make so many typos. One of my nieces uses her iPhone for Facebook, etc, but she doesn’t do much because of the inconveniences. I agree the notebook is dying but I have the same view of the Desktop-is-Dying brigade as I had 20 years ago of the Mainframe-is-Dying people.

  10. Well, the mainframe *is* dying. All you need to do is look at what the largest computing centers on earth are using: Google, Amazon, and many departments of the federal government are using huge numbers of PCs in clusters.

    As to desktops, I hope you’re right, but only because I need much more power than non-desktop PCs are capable of providing. But most people don’t need any more power than they can get from a notebook. I think the future is portable devices for computing and docking stations at people’s desks. Fortunately, enough demand will continue to exist for desktop processors (if only for those huge clusters) that we’ll be able to buy desktops for the foreseeable future. They just won’t be mainstream computing devices for the majority of people.

  11. My wife travels and speaks extensively in the K-12 school system. She sees Windows as the majority of desktops in the system (office and student use). I’m not sure what they use as servers, but I assume Windows also.

    We’re using Macs and so far have had no problem in document exchange. I’m guessing schools went with whoever offered the best deal. Windows is like old luggage, you can’t seen to get rid of it.

  12. [snip] The average person I know has a smartphone, a tablet, a Kindle or Nook, a Roku box or something similar, and maybe a Wii. [snip]

    Wow, I must be really behind the times; I don’t have any of those appliances. Two desktop machines, 1 each Linux & Windows, and 1 Linux laptop. Plus, at this moment, an intruder Win box that’s resting on my dining table being rebuilt. A buddy got a decent machine for $25 because ‘the hard drive doesn’t work’. Well, yeah, when the drive is as physically damaged as this one was it’s not going to work. But why oh why doesn’t anyone ever make O/S backup disks? (I know, I know, they’re lusers, not users, and things like that keep people like me profitably busy.)

  13. I thought that I’d heard that the Surface was gonna use Windows 8.

    At work they are mandating that everybody use Linux (RHEL 6.3) on their laptops, period, but of course those PHB manglers who don’t wanna, don’t hafta. Mine has the RH on it plus a Windows 7 vm which is what I use for personal crap like email or news feeds. The RH has been working fine and they bundled it with Lotus Notes, Symphony and Sametime, but the neat thing there is that some drone somewhere recognized that the latter products have frequent issues and provided the ability to ‘hard zap’ them if they hang up or cause problems, after which we can re-start them OK.

    Back to the salt mines in the morning, when we will start decommissioning one megacluster that I busted my ass on all last year and shipping it down to East Fishkill, in the Vampire State. We will decommission a second cluster at another data center soon and replace it with more modern stuff and we have more machines coming in and will be consolidating a remaining cluster. We’re moving away from the PITA cluster management app to Xcat Real Soon Now, where we have been told that the new racks will come with an Xcat CD which we then insert and Voila! It will do all the cluster config work. Supposedly.

  14. Anybody know what the Windows Surface tablets use as an OS?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_Surface

    “…The Surface comes in two versions: one with Windows RT and another with Windows 8 Pro. The Windows RT model uses an ARM CPU, while the Windows 8 Pro model will use an Intel CPU. Both models are able to install new applications via the Windows Store, however only the Windows 8 Pro model allows the installation of traditional third-party desktop programs…”

  15. Yeah, I know that in a sense the mainframe is dying, but people were predicting its death 15 years ago and the old beast is still hanging on, and I expect them to outlive me by a considerable time. My work has clusters of PCs for some things but that big old iron is still there and not going away any time soon.

  16. It’s a complicated landscape. One might have thought mainframes would be long dead, but they are still built and sold. Microsoft may have their operating system only on a minority of devices, but they have it on a majority of devices where people actually pay money to purchase an operating system. Windows 12 will probably be the dominant operating system used by businesses. Windows 20 (whatever they actually call it) will still be widely used.

    The vision for Windows 8 is something a bit new for Microsoft. Since Windows 8 is also available on mobile phones, I think they intend to replace RIM as the dominant business platform for mobile computing. The same operating system on your phone as on your business laptop is compelling: You work on your super-duper presentation with PowerPoint, with backup documents in the form of Excel sheets and Word documents. You can go to the meeting without lugging along a 5-pound laptop, because you can use your phone to presentation and print the documents.

    I’m mostly a Linux user, and I have an Android phone. Nonetheless, the Microsoft business software really is better than the OSS alternatives. Spreadsheets in LibreOffice are very limited. Presentations in Impress periodically eat random illustrations that they contain – a catastrophic bug first documented nearly 10 years ago, and still present the most recent versions of OpenOffice/LibreOffice. Presentations usually work fine, but occasionally slow to molasses; flipping a slide takes many seconds, for no apparent reason. The LibreOffice Writer is the only one I have no real complaint with, but it is still missing lots of little niceties that Word has offered for years. For example: if you highlight and delete an entire word out of a sentence, you are left with a double-space; Word is clever enough to delete one of the spaces.

    Microsoft has grown too big, and has all the problems that brings. However, just like IBM survived the downturn in mainframes, Microsoft will survive any downturn in the PC market. Unless they screw up in some improbable way, they will still be a player in 20 or 30 or even 50 years.

  17. I find myself agreeing with brad here; the Linux folks have had a long time now to get the biz software right, along with equivalents to Quicken and Money and the host of games that’s been out there all along. But they haven’t done it; they’re apparently content with the server market and the ‘unified communications,’ which the career carny barkers have been touting as the Next Greatest Thing for developers and programmers. Mrs. OFD would be a good candidate for open-source stuff but unfortunately her job means she needs to interact with other people and software in such a way that she really has no choice but to use the M$ o.s. and associated Office apps. Multiply her by tens of millions out there and we can certainly appreciate that Microsoft really will still be churning out bloatware for more decades to come. Unless there is some really wild tech breakthrough that renders them irrelevant.

  18. In the engineering world it’s windows. At one time it was Unix. I guess if Linux had started sooner it might have picked up the engineering software but it didn’t. So how do people plan to do serious writing on a tablet. I have an android which is great. But I need a keyboard.

    Andy

  19. So how do people plan to do serious writing on a tablet.

    Answer 1: With an external keyboard. I know a pro writer who used to tote his iPad and ext keyboard to a coffee shop to write. Now he uses some other tablet or subnotebook, also with the external keyboard.

    Answer 2: They don’t. Most people are information consumers, not producers. IMs, tweets, and short emails cover most of their information production needs.

  20. Once again, SteveF is correct; I’ve used external keyboards for a long time now because I have fat fingers and I type real fast and most laptops don’t work well for me in that regahd. I like to prop the laptop up on a stand while I do this stuff, which at work is mostly CLI in the terminal and email, etc. in the vm.

    And the vast majority of people are just tweeting and emailing at most; very few write actual letters or anything substantially longer than a memo. The population grows increasingly illiterate and innumerate; Princess here is gifted at foreign languages but having been educated in the publik skool system, her writing in English sucks, with basic spelling and grammatical errors that would have got me the dunce cap in 9th grade and public humiliation in the form of withering sarcasm from Mr. Donovan. By the time I finished my freshman year in his grammar class, I had it in my bones and DNA. This isn’t done anymore; vastly more important to indoctrinate the little darlings in neo-Marxist PC claptrap and malarky while rendering the whole of Western/Christian civilization in utter contempt and loathing.

    But hey, don’t get me stahted…

  21. Once again, SteveF is correct

    Yah, I’m awesome that way. Now if only various wives, bosses, and clients could see things that way. After all, according to various non-logical people (eg, wives, bosses, and clients) it’s not enough to be right; you have to be right in the right way. Among other things, that means making sure not to hurt anyone’s feelings even when what they want to do will take longer and cost more, or won’t accomplish the stated aim, or is so far off the mark it’s not even wrong. And never make the boss look bad, even when he flat-out lies to you or to the customer or he is single-handedly responsible for some failure. And always make allowances for the “little ways” of all the people around you while not expecting reciprocal consideration from them.

    In case anyone’s wondering, yes, some days I would gladly kill the majority of my species. Present company excluded, of course.

  22. Andy wrote:

    “In the engineering world it’s windows. At one time it was Unix. I guess if Linux had started sooner it might have picked up the engineering software but it didn’t. So how do people plan to do serious writing on a tablet. I have an android which is great. But I need a keyboard. ”

    In answer to your last question: you don’t. Seriously.

    I post here from desktops at home and work, and very occasionally from my iPad, which goes almost everywhere with me. Typing on an iPad is a royal PITA, so I only do so for one or two paragraphs.

    As to UNIX, it could have taken over the mainframe world, for a while, if only Control Data had ported it to their Cyber series as the 180-state operating system, instead of developing a new propriety o/s from scratch: NOS/VE. A nice o/s but people were turning away from propriety mainframe o/ses except for IBM’s 8000 pound gorilla MVS.

    A good definition for UNIX: The operating system with no balls.

    I like to trot that one out to get a rise out of the UNIX/Linux fanboys.

  23. OFD wrote:

    “By the time I finished my freshman year in his grammar class, I had it in my bones and DNA. This isn’t done anymore; vastly more important to indoctrinate the little darlings in neo-Marxist PC claptrap and malarky while rendering the whole of Western/Christian civilization in utter contempt and loathing.”

    Yeah, I didn’t learn English grammar in school either, or spelling. I still can’t spell really well, and I keep getting the same words wrong again and again. I started learning Latin in 1988, when I was 30, and that is when I started learning English grammar. A year or two later I heard some Vietnamese women discussing all the terms I was just learning, of course they either had already learned it in Vietnam or had had to learn grammar when learning English after escaping from Uncle Ho’s paradise.

  24. “…some days I would gladly kill the majority of my species. Present company excluded, of course.”

    Ditto. But then I look at them and commiserate. We’re all bozos on this bus. I figure the 80/20 rule applies, as at work: 80% are folks just trying to get through the day and get through life; this is true humanity-wide. 10% are evil sons-of-bitches and children of Asmodeus, Beelzebub, or Whoever. And the remaining 10% are angels and saints. I am on the border between Beelzebub and ordinary schmuck.

    “…I started learning Latin in 1988, when I was 30, and that is when I started learning English grammar. A year or two later I heard some Vietnamese women discussing all the terms I was just learning, of course they either had already learned it in Vietnam or had had to learn grammar when learning English after escaping from Uncle Ho’s paradise.”

    I had Latin in high school along with AP English and AP history courses but I sucked at math and science, thanks partly to my own inaptitude, ineptitude, and boring-as-hell teachers. My mom and dad taught me to read at age four and from that point on I was lost to books and remain so to this day. As for Vietnam, those women probably learned it after leaving; the ordinary second language for them back there would have once upon a time been French; in fact my middle-school French enabled me to get over like a big dog with Laotian and Khmer chicks, whose languages I otherwise had only a minimum of at the time, and none at all now, though I still remember a bit of Thai.

    Fuck Uncle Ho and his murderous criminal henchmen and thugs. But man oh man, we missed an opportunity when he came to us back in the 50s for encouragement and help.

  25. Our host said: …I need much more power than non-desktop PCs are capable of providing.

    This surprises me. You write rather a lot about things you do: writing books, designing lab kits, mixing chemicals, assembling kits, mailing kits, walking Colin, visiting Costco, stalking Santa, email, web surfing, and so on. I can’t recall anything so demanding of computer resources that it couldn’t be handled by any reasonable notebook computer, and not many tasks that are beyond a netbook. Any of them can be enhanced with a keyboard and monitor easily enough.

  26. Writing books requires a surprising level of cpu power. Especially if you are using a kinda WYSIWYG product like Word for Windows. Which, I know that our host uses Linux boxen so I wonder what he uses. I’ll bet that he has told us less than ten times.

    My staff and I write manuals for our software using Word ( http://www.winsim.com/doco.html ). 300 to 500 page manuals can bring any desktop to its knees when loading or reformatting. And we do a fairly half-a**ed job compared to our host who obviously spends a LOT of time on content and formatting.

  27. SteveF writes: ” it’s not enough to be right; you have to be right in the right way”

    Once upon a time I was standing all-night watch. Downtown Boston, so we were not exactly expecting an invasion or anything, and there was the most eclectic collection of books lying around. One of these was, iirc, “The art of getting your own sweet way”. Whatever book it was, it was the typical advice book for managers: a couple of core ideas that could be stated in a few sentences, but had to be blown up into book-size to be taken seriously.

    Anyway, I have found the ideas genuinely helpful, especially when dealing with difficult people. Here’s the book, in condensed form:

    – If you want to convince someone of something, lead them around to it so that they think it’s their idea. Then all you have to do is agree.

    – When trying to figure out someone’s motivations (especially someone who is being difficult), imagine what they were like at six or seven years old. They’re still the same today, just with a better facade.

    Sometimes it’s incredibly helpful. With the latter, you can sometimes cut through a lot of BS and understand someone’s real motivations. Not always: the guy I’m meeting with was probably one of the big, dumb kids who stuffed little kids into lockers. Hard to do much with that type, other than be bigger and meaner, which doesn’t engender much in the way of cooperation.

  28. This surprises me. You write rather a lot about things you do: writing books, designing lab kits, mixing chemicals, assembling kits, mailing kits, walking Colin, visiting Costco, stalking Santa, email, web surfing, and so on. I can’t recall anything so demanding of computer resources that it couldn’t be handled by any reasonable notebook computer, and not many tasks that are beyond a netbook. Any of them can be enhanced with a keyboard and monitor easily enough.

    Video editing and crunching large scientific data sets.

  29. Writing books requires a surprising level of cpu power. Especially if you are using a kinda WYSIWYG product like Word for Windows. Which, I know that our host uses Linux boxen so I wonder what he uses. I’ll bet that he has told us less than ten times.

    Libre Office Writer.

  30. My current (elderly) desktop system is fine for what I do. It’s a Core2 Quad Q9650. However, I do want to reclaim Barbara’s office system, which is a hex-core Core i7.

    The current system renders 480p video in about realtime. One of the reasons I’ve held off on buying an HDTV camcorder is that rendering becomes much slower.

  31. I have played around with HD cams a good bit, as we look to the future of what our video recording business should use. I still maintain that—unless you have some special viewing need, like projecting a very large picture with high-quality DSP equipment—regular video is quite sufficient. Even on HDTV’s, the difference is discernible only to a small number of people.

    If you are a hardware geek, then yes, we all will move to HD as old standard D will ultimately be phased out, so no harm in early adopting. But you have to have extraordinary vision and even then some training to really discern the difference, unless you are one of those very few who have superior visual acuity, like some few people have perfect pitch, others a gymnastic sense of perfect balance, and still others the ability to fold their bodies into strange positions that most people cannot even begin to achieve. HD is really lost on the masses of people. Well maintained standard definition cameras produce very high quality images good enough for just about any ordinary use.

    The best pictures I have ever witnessed were high-speed film projections of high-speed cameras. Much higher quality than HDTV. In fact, so amazingly sharp that it really gave an impression of being other-worldly: looking different than how the eye actually perceives reality around us.

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