Editorial Archive

My PC Doesn’t Understand Me

"To speech recognition is the way of the future. To imagine a world where you can simply capture devices, write him the males and messages to friends, and receive your fingers from the syndrome site carpal tunnel syndrome. Unfortunately, it's not perfect. Obviously, the paragraph above was "written" using speech recognition, and clearly either I, or the software, has a ways to go. It's not even clear what I was trying to say, which was: "Speech recognition is the wave of the future. Imagine a world where you can simply talk to devices, write emails or messages to friends, and relieve your fingers from carpal tunnel syndrome". Read the article at ExtremeTech.

New Windows Filesystem a Threat to Open Source

On March 13, a special report published on News.com site described the revival of an old Microsoft initiative. That News.com report said: "Microsoft is replacing the plumbing of its Windows operating system with technology borrowed from its SQL Server database software. Currently, documents, Web pages, e-mail files, spreadsheets and other information are stored in separate, mostly incompatible software. The new technology will unify storage in a single database built into Windows that's more easily searchable, more reliable, and accessible across corporate networks and the Internet."

Interview with EFF’s John Perry Barlow

Totalitarianism. Urban pathology. The death of creativity. These are the fears that keep John Perry Barlow awake at night. The co-founder of the 12-year-old Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) tries not to be bleak. But he sincerely worries that Microsoft will usurp e-commerce and AOL Time Warner will seize media, and the two forces will extinguish dissenting voices in a "diabolical" plot to own the economy and the human mind. "I worry that the Net is closing. I would say that (Microsoft e-commerce initiatives) .Net and HailStorm are huge threats and really diabolical. The problem is that hardly anybody recognizes it because they don't know what .Net is or how it works. They don't know that Microsoft is trying to own all of your transactions, literally."

OS Themes Are Only Skin Deep

"What advocates of 'theme' or 'skinning' software fail to realize is that OS consistency is only truly realized when an entire platform is universally similar. As computers continue to dominate an increasing number of daily activities, it is ever more important that operating systems adopt the most idealistic standards to allow their users to be as productive as possible. In the world of user interface design, consistency is king. A consistent user interface not only can make a product more intuitive, but also can help users be significantly more productive. Unfortunately, the latest trend in 'user-friendliness' is allowing users to modify the interface of an operating system extensively by applying 'skins' or 'themes.'" Read the interesting analysis on the phenomenon of skinning at OSOpinion.

Voice Recognition: Another Dead End

"You've heard of killer apps? How about an app killer? This is what voice recognition has become over the years, because for the most part, it doesn't work. I see no evidence that it ever will, at least not in the sense that we can achieve true voice dictation capability. What annoys everyone most about voice recognition is that it almost works. This is the problem. When something almost works, developers continue with the same thinking that got them to "almost," rather than starting over with new ideas. We are now stuck in a blind alley." Who else? Dvorak is hitting the nail in the head again.

Chips Ahoy at Salon.com

"AMD competes with Intel, and the public wins. The right Microsoft antitrust settlement can bring the same energy back to the software market. The personal computer industry may be in its worst slump in history, but you wouldn't know it by following the news from the processor wars. Over the past two years, Intel and AMD have unleashed an incredible competitive cycle in Silicon Valley." Read the interesting editorial at Salon.com.

Thoughts About the New iMac Pricing

I made some price comparisons this evening following the release of the new iMac. So, here is what I discovered, by trying to build an "iMac"-like PC (I targetted the configuration of the middle range iMac which sells at $1500), consulting prices from PriceWatch & PriceGrabber. The mentioned prices are retail and the individual components probably have costed even less for Apple, but I am going to overlook that and give the benefit to Apple. Update: Some good comments and further clarifications on the subject, can be found here. Update2: And speaking of eMachines (whose quality is not bad, neither the company is out of business (yet)), check out their brand new systems and prices. They even prepare for sale a NorthWood P4 system at 2Ghz. NorthWood is the new P4 CPU model which is much faster than its P4 predessesor at the same clock speed.

The Reality Distortion Hammer

I'm writing this opinion piece on the eve of perhaps Apple's most hyped MacWorld Expo ever. TIME Canada has already pre-released an article about the next-generation flat-panel iMac machines, complete with pictures of the it, its industrial designer and Apple CEO Steve Jobs. While the complete picture has yet to be painted (and will be in the morning when Jobs reveals the specifications during his keynote speech), I'm starting to believe that Apple feels that "innovation" and "revolution" are a matter of hardware and user interface aesthetics. Where Apple used to pave the way for new technologies, programming methodologies and user interfaces, they remain stuck in a rut of their own creation, bound to re-create a lot of the same mistakes that caused them to lose the majority of their market share and relevance to Microsoft in the 1990's. E-I-C's note: The article was written before the actual MacWorld Keynote took place.

Designing a Dream OS or GUI

We hail those who attempt to create new operating systems from scratch. They are the leaders, the visionaries, the influencers of this great tech-age. There will always be only 2 areas of how an OS can be great - great marketing (which provides great third party support), and great design. Microsoft has always invested more in the former, and Apple in the latter. This article discusses some design aspects. Update: The article has been updated at several places.

The Year the Hype Died (but Open Source Thrived)

In the year 2000, some pundits suggested the growing enthusiasm about open source was destined to give out. Once economic conditions returned to pre-dot-com levels, they reasoned, open source would be seen as a fad, just like the pet rock. The editorial at InfoWorld concludes that "the hype surrounding open source did not survive the year. But open source itself not only survived, it began to thrive in the business world."

Hardware Platforms: Worth a Change?

There were an amazing number of people (around 300,000) who visited OSNews recently to read Scot Hacker's article on MacOSX. As part of the camp of BeOS refugees, I have been searching for some time for a suitable replacement. Many come close - FreeBSD is fantastic, but still complicated, the new school of Linuxes are very close to ready for me, even Windows XP has come a long way. My x86 machine is pretty fun - it gets a new OS every two weeks or so. But what does that say - that I like variety or that I can't find what I want? I'd suggest most of us still feel that we're missing something - otherwise, why read osnews.com?

Artificial Intelligence Gets Ready to Party

"Cocktail parties and relating to the opposite sex are two very human activities that preoccupy many during the holiday season. Computers are notoriously poor at both: artificial intelligence researchers have long envied the human abilities to assign gender to faces and pick voices out of a noisy babble. Now San Diego company HNC Software has taught personal computers equivalent feats of recognition, and claims that the technique is a significant advance for AI, both theoretically and for building practical applications." Get the rest of the story at ZDNews. Our Take: Last February I wrote an editorial on Artificial Intelligence and how this can change the way we are using computers or the way operating system's... actually operate.

Making Linux Look Harder Than It Is

"Many 'gurus' teaching new users about Linux make it look harder than it needs to be, and apparently fail to explain that yes, you can make PowerPoint-style presentations in Linux, you can view Web Pages that use Flash animation and other "glitz" features, and that you can manage all your files though simple "point, click, drag and drop" visual interfaces. Could the biggest problem with Linux usability be that most of the people teaching newbies to use Linux are too smart and know too much?" Robert Miller's excellent editorial found on NewsForge.

Dreams of the Perfect UI Platform

From the latest Open BeOS Newsletter: "Imagine this. GUIs designed completely outside of the realm of the application. Something like, say, SoundPlayer, coming with a default interface. You can do more than "make a skin", you can redesign the whole UI, so long as you send the right messages. Applications basically become servers. The GUI becomes a client. It shouldn't be too hard to make an add-on to a web browser that could display this hypothetical solution. And, if BMessages could be sent across a network, one could run their apps from anywhere in the world. Imagine that." What are your throughts on the subject? Discuss.

Operating Systems Dwindle Towards a Big Two

"It is becoming increasingly clear that we are heading for a world in which there are only two operating systems Windows and Linux. Within 10 years virtually all computers, from the smallest wristwatch (don't laugh) to the largest mainframe (they will never die), will run one of these two operating systems. All others are headed for extinction." Maybe true, maybe not. Get the rest of the story at It.MyCareer.