Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Non MS OSes Gaining Ground

In order to celebrate my 300th blog entry - I decided to revert to one of my favorite topics: slamming Microsoft... and predicting the demise of this (truly) evil empire.

In what is just the latest in a long history of time-sucking, headache-inducing, blood-pressure-raising events - I stupidly set the auto-update of my parent's aging Dell (XP Professional) to on.

When it decided to do an SP3 update - it hosed the boot block of the hard drive. So, I used the recover CD to "repair" the install, issue a DOS "fixboot" and "chkdsk" commands - and go it to book back into windows.

The BAD news is that as soon as one of the profiles is clicked on - the installation script - in its infinite wisdom and desire to "help" - promptly resumed where it left off and proceeded to hose the boot block again.

The end result is that my parents have a useless computer - with outdated backups, and now I need to spend the better part of 2 days doing a full wipe/install/update.

THANKS Microsoft! Awesome QA!

Yes, I know - just because I'm pissed off about having to restore yet ANOTHER install of Windows (I've done it on my own machines countless times) - I'm really at the point of turning Windows into my occasionally-used-for-testing-only operating system.

I'm just sick of it. Sick of the 10 minute boot time, sick of the endless patches, sick of Service Packs that render printers useless, sick of the bloat, just sick of the OS, period.

So, I did a little looking around the Internet - and I'm seeing that there are LOTS more people just as fed up as I am - AND they're voting with their dollars.

People are into "mobile" and anything "small" and "portable."

I mean, really - when was the last time you bought a "desktop" computer? Sure, there are uses for dedicated desktop boxes for things like video-editing, music composing, hard-core software development, etc.

But, in the main, people are buying laptops - and now, netbooks.

Ah, netbooks. Netbooks are the new Model T - but they come in more colors than just black. And with more than one choice in processors. And with more than one choice of operating system.

These (usually) sub-$500 machines come with solid state 128MB hard drives, 1-2 GB of RAM, a VGA-out port (ok, ok, so the 1024 x 768 resolution sucks), a battery that lasts between 5 and 9 hours and an operating system that can be Windows XP, Ubuntu, and now - TA DA - Android (for less than $300!).

The combination of the price point, the capabilities and the fact that most people use their computers to surf the web, check email, do some word processing and spreadsheets - oh, and play games - and viola! It's huge hit in the making.

"Sure, sure", you're saying - "but that's just on the consumer side. Everyone knows that consumers will jump at anything that's inexpensive and shiny."

That's true - but these consumers WILL buy and adopt - and that WILL force corporate IT (and web designers, and major company webmasters) to sit up and take notice. Ever hear of the iPhone? Look what a profound change has (is) occurring because of it... sits have dedicated iPhone "versions" of their sites, IT has been forced to make MS Exchange work nice, and IT - at the end of the day - has had to bow to the mighty forces of "cool" and "useful" over their (in some cases) strenuous objections.

"Well, OK" - you concede. "But Windows is more than just a consumer OS - it's what powers more than half of all the back end servers in the world."

Yep - for sure. However, Linux is no slouch with almost 1 in 3 computers using that OS for their back end servers. Linux, in its various distributions and forms, has been battle-tested and has been proven in the real world over time. Linux isn't going away any time soon.

Sure, it won't displace Windows Server in the near term - but I think the adoption rates will flip-flop as more and more consumers get used to non-Windows devices. As consumers drive the adoption of more non-Windows devices and as more IT folks get used to supporting non-Windows devices - it's only logical that IT's adoption of non-Windows devices will increase as well.

Will the "winner" be Android? Or Oracle's Solaris? Or Ubuntu? Or Red Hat? Or some new operating system not invented yet? Dunno... all I know is - the sooner the better!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Microblog: The New Sun's Oracle

Oh man... Larry Ellison just bought Sun.


Well, if it's one thing Oracle knows how to do - that's monetize their software assets. He gets to kill off MySQL and "own" Java all in one fell swoop - for about the price that's a steal - $5.9 billion.

What will happen to MySQL and Java and Solaris and JavaFX and all the other Intellectual Property of Sun? Only Larry knows for sure... but I bet there are some people in Aramonk, New York that are absolutely kicking themselves that they didn't take a man pill and try harder to secure the Sun acquisition.

Now IBM is in the delicate position of having their #1 rival own the language (Java) that it has based it's whole company and infrastructure on... NICE!

Will this mean an end to MySQL?

Will Oracle start demanding some kind of licensing for Java?

Will they splinter the Java core into their own "brand" of Java?

Now that Oracle's in the hardware business - what does that mean for customers? For HP? For IBM?

It's sure going to be Mr. Toad's wild ride as Oracle assimilates the company... wow! My hat's off to Mr. Ellison - you've really pulled off a shocker!

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Open Letter to Assh*** Credit Companies

Dear ___________ (fill in assh*** credit company or bank here),

I have had an account with you for the past ___ years. I've made 99.9% of my payments on time, and have paid at least double the minimum amounts - even when times were tough. In many cases, I have paid off the balances in full three or four times - and you've increased my credit line on 6 different occasions - in response to my 'excellent' record of payments and my credit worthiness.

I just received your letter in the mail informing me that you have now cut my credit limit by 50-80% because I didn't max out my credit limit. This "excess credit" - and thus the definition of "credit" - is there for when (if) I need it - and it's something that has taken me years of hard work to create, build and maintain.

Now, I appreciate the fact that my credit is a potential liability for your company. But, since I'm a taxpayer, and now a majority shareholder in your company - I want my credit line restored.

I know that you have a "super cool" computer algorithm that goes through all your accounts and looks for any possible reason (or none at all) to reduce your liabilities and that absolutely zero human review takes place before you ruthlessly destroy faith in your company and the loyalty of long time customers.

However, I would respectfully suggest that you add two more factors into your obviously flawed algorithm: a) the lifetime value of me as a customer; and b) the number of years I've been doing business with you.

I have been worth tens of thousands of dollars to you in terms of interest payments over the last ____ years - and it just seems to me that it's really not very sound business practice to completely screw over the people that have consistently paid you tons of cash over many years. But hey, that's just me.

Since you place absolutely ZERO worth on our business history, and you don't give a rat's ass about the money I've paid you over the years - I have really good news!

When this recession fades (and it WILL) - I will pay off your balance in full - and then I will close my account (as you might expect).

However, the one thing you should also know is that under zero circumstances will I EVER do business with you or any of your affiliated companies again as long as I live. Not only that - but I will go to great lengths to vocally discourage all of my family, friends, co-workers, business associates, church members, civic groups, and anyone else I come in contact with to do the same.

You may have screwed me over successfully - but you have no idea who I know (and who they know) - and therefore, you have no idea how I can affect your bottom line when things turn around.

So, congratulations! Along with tossing me aside like a piece of sh*t - you've also just flushed all of the time and money you've spent in successfully marketing to me as well as all the goodwill your brand as created over the past 15 years - and you've managed to do it in one, single, 12 sentence letter.


Bob Cusick

Friday, April 03, 2009

Microblog: So Long Solaris!

Well, it's not a totally "done deal", but IBM is still looking to acquire Sun. If they do - it'll be interesting to see what happens to Sun's operating system: Solaris.

My guess = c ya! IBM already controls 37% of the high-end Unix market. Guess who is #2? Yep, Sun - with 28%.

Hmmmm.... nice. Buy 'em, kill Solaris... and nearly double your Unix marketshare overnight. Sweet!

Sun's shares were in the $5 range - making its market cap about $3.6 billion (don't get me started on why the hell they bought MySQL for $1 billion!) - and IBM is offering a 100% premium of $10 per share.

So - for only about $6.5 billion IBM can basically kill the #2 competitor. Oh yeah, they could also sell off Sun's hardware stuff - and probably recoup around $1 billion or so.

AND, if you act right NOW- you'll also get Java for no additional cost - we'll even pay shipping and handling! IBM is ALL about Java. Hopefully, if the buyout is successful, they'll FINALLY put some resources into updating the thing (it's LONG overdue!).

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Google Is The Next Linux Desktop

Since HP announced that it was "thinking about" using Android as the operating system for its new netbooks, and since both Asus and Freescale have also announced plans to do so - I got to thinking about Linux on the desktop.

It's been the "holy grail" of Linux to find a home on the desktop as a real, viable alternative to Windows. However it's taken many, many years and there is still a lot of "competition" among the various Linux distributions as to who is best for the desktop user.

The current reigning champion in the desktop Linux world is Ubuntu - and it's been embraced by Dell and HP in various combinations and configurations for some time. HP even went so far as to write their own user interface for Ubuntu (be THAT was fun!).

Now, I really like Ubuntu - and I've installed it and have used it (at the GUI level - not at the command-prompt level) and it's pretty cool. It does take some getting used to - it's like switching to OpenOffice from MS Office. The features are "similar" and the paradigms are "similar" - but there are enough differences to where there is a slight learning curve.

The problem with Ubuntu is not the distribution. It's not the still somewhat lacking UI, it's not the limited number of applications (that part is improving in general). The reason that Ubuntu hasn't become the "real" alternative to Windows is the fact that Canonical, Ubuntu's developer, hasn't beat the consumer drum and put out a really slick GUI that people will love.

They haven't spent the marketing millions that it would require to drive "pull" adoption (people asking for it). They really don' t have the industry muscle to drive wide adoption.

However, there IS one company that has all those things and more: Google. Yep, ever since Android first appeared (and the collective groan about yet another mobile operating system rang out) - both developers and consumers have been interested in seeing if the search giant could bring to an operating system the "coolness" and simplicity it had to search.

It wasn't long after the first Google mobile phones shipped that some smart folks got the OS to run on a netbook - instead of just a phone. The netbook, just like a phone - uses the Atom processor - rather than an x86 processor found in "regular" computers. These little powerhouses sip the power and don't heat up to microwave-hot temperatures like the other chips do.

So, we have the brewing of a perfect storm: an operating system based on the free, open-source Linux kernel; a huge, international company with a huge consumer and business base of customers; a huge, international company with extremely deep pockets to spend on marketing (not to mention that 1 in 3 people who use the web visit their site EVERY DAY); brand-name hardware manufacturers who want to leverage Google's brand to move inexpensive hardware.

To be sure, there are other operating systems that might have a run - the WebOS by Palm (not likely), the Symbian OS (could be interesting - but it's years away) - or maybe even Ubuntu itself (but not until it runs on a phone!).

But, given Google's track record to try things; and the fact it's already invested a huge sum to make Android work on phones; and given the fact that iPhone users are turning into Mac users at a record rate... they could be on to something.
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