austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,
austin_dern
austin_dern

Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind

Hazards of getting up early, not-intended-to-be-comic division: you might end up hearing bits of morning news/personality programs. Particularly when Dad woke me up this morning there was Bill Gates being interviewed by someone or other about the scheduled escape of Windows Vista. The interviewer started off by saying, ``As a parent I think I know what people want in operating systmes.'' That's nothing that any decent person should have to hear in a half-conscious condition. Even fully conscious it's not much better. It reads like a new vocabulary tape was fed into The Bard's memory spools, with parsing for semantic content beyond its capacity: ``As a Canadian, I think I know what hamsters want in online universities.'' ``As a superhero, I think I know what toasters want in 17th century Dutch tempest-and-shipwreck paintings.'' ``As a bag of groceries accidentally taken off the shelf before the date stamped on myself, I think I know what liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen rocket turbopumps want in car insurance.''

All of which is silly since what people want in operating systems is the same thing they've wanted for twenty years: they want to stop having to place desperate calls to Technical Support with alarming reports like ``I was running Internet Explorer and trying to open up today's `This Peanuts in History' page when suddenly Outlook popped up and opened up a blank mail to the web site, and then the desktop screen went blank and the speaker started making this howling, buzzing and squealing noise like an imbalanced washing machine marching toward the cat, and then XP grabbed little Timmy and Ashley and ordered me to turn over secret formula 6076767 or it would destroy the world and I was wondering how to get it to release Ashley because she's the only one who knows how to work the Tivo,'' only to be told that they should reboot and try updating their device drivers, so that the computer will be better able to wield devices at the users. I have no idea if this has changed. (If the computer is running Linux, the advice is to recompile the kernel. If the computer is running Mac OS X, the advice is to stand around looking vaguely nervous for a while. I remember we used to spend time zapping the PRAM and rebuilding the desktop, but I haven't done either in a while, so my PRAM and desktop are probably just a perfect fright. I'm not even sure what I would zap my PRAM with anymore.)

The other curious thing was the introduction mentioning that Microsoft earns only about ten million dollars a year on its operating system. I must have heard that wrong; if it were just ten million dollars that's, really, an awful return on investment. They could make more money in a savings account and save the bother of operating systems altogether.

Jean-Baptiste-Joseph Delambre and Pierre-François-André Méchain's Base du système métrique, describing the measurements and calculations used in the initial definition of the meter, filled about 2,000 pages in three volumes. Source: The Measure of All Things, Ken Alder.

Currently Reading: Inside Star Trek, Herbert F Solow, Robert H Justman. I finally found a copy years after I probably should have read it. Hardcover, too.

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