Microsoft and Adobe? Egad!

I read a rumor today that Microsoft might be contemplating a purchase of Adobe.  Scary!  The first thing that came to mind was, “Oh yuck, that’s all we need is messed-up Adobe software.”  But then it occurs to me that Microsoft hasn’t been all that mac-friendly over the years for obvious reasons, and if you think about it, Microsoft could really hit Apple hard by:

  • Dropping native support for OSX with Creative Suite
  • Bundling Windows 7 with Creative Suite
  • … along with their own PC emulator

The whole idea is really disgusting, but given the fact that PC emulators actually work very well (I happen to love Parallels – it works great!) with the now native Intel hardware, this is one way for Microsoft to get Windows on a bunch more Macs.

Then again, if Apple bought Adobe, they could probably do the same to Microsoft.

I prefer an independent Adobe.

Pay Per Click should Die

Search engines are all about pay per click these days.  It’s part of the revolution that happened with Google’s add-money advent of adwords.  But since Google launched its pay per click model, other search companies have followed suit.

The idea of course is simple – allow advertisers to pay only for visitors that click through their ads.  I (me as a service and goods provider) decide how much I will pay for a click, and then Google determines the placement of my ad to maximize their profit – clickthrough percentage times clickthrough revenue.

For me the advertiser it seems I’m getting a good deal, but no…. that’s not the case.  It just offloads the job of me calculating the clickthrough rate myself and saves me from having to figure out what I’m willing to pay per impression on the front end.  But I still have to figure out how much of my revenue per visitor I’m willing to set aside.

There are problems with pay-per-click, and no actual advantages, for me the advertiser.  But still there are few effective alternatives for businesses who primarily sell via the ‘net.

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Windows 7 Task Bar is Semi-OK

So I’ve been using Windows 7 for a few weeks now actively at work.  The upgrade from Vista went okay, except that the machine locks up every hour or so for a minute, spinning its disk drive. I don’t know what it’s doing, or if this weird behavior is a vestige of the Vista upgrade. Who knows….. maybe a clean install of Windows 7 will fix it. I hope.

But my biggest beef with Windows 7 is the task bar. It’s nicer than XP, yes.  The way it groups and displays applications is wonderful.  But its behavior is inconsistent.

  • When I click on an application that has only one window open, it brings that window to the front. NICE!
  • When I click on an application that has several windows open, it pops up its menu of possibilities. NOT nice.

Why can’t it bring all the windows to the front?  There’s not even an option to do that in there if you right-click.  It’s inconsistent.  Clicking does different things depending on how many windows are open for the application.

This is especially annoying with The Gimp, which has lots of windows:  Pallete, Layer, Paths, Images, Colors, and more.  Getting them to the front is quite simply a pain in the neck, and to edit an image, you really need to bring all those windows to the front.

It also shows up in Firefox and IE, when I want to open the firebug or IE developer console along with the web page when I’m viewing web pages in different browsers.

Almost everything else about Windows 7 I dearly love, but this one thing drives me bonkers. I do hope that Microsoft fixes it soon.  There are tons of other glitches in the user experience that are neglected, but this one’s the most practically annoying for me personally.

Windows Heaven

It’s about time that Microsoft learned something about innovation.  And from what I can see, the company is starting to actually innovate something new of its own.

Windows 7, which I’ve decided to call “Windows Heaven,” is such an example.  The interface is not just fresh and new, but redesigned in fundamental yet subtle ways that give some consistency with the former interface of Windows-95 through Windows Vista, but yet is the most substantial change in interface since Windows 3.1 went to Windows 95.  Though not quite as big a change as Apple’s foray from OS9 to OS-X.

It borrowed a lot from the Mac:  a more functional dock thing that’s still called a “taskbar” but works more like the Mac dock.  Windows groups applications together now always by default, and not just if it starts running out of space.  Gone are the useless titles like “C:\My Docum…”  which don’t tell you a thing.  Replaced by pretty functional icons.  And when you mouse over them, two wonderful things happen:

  • You get a preview of the window that pops out above the dock icon and….
  • The entire interface dims out all but the windows you are previewing, enabling you to see all of what’s in there.

As a consequence, Microsoft Windows actually does windows now!  Prior to that, I could not run more than a few apps at once on my PC.  I use a Mac too and frequently have 30-4o windows open with 10-15 applications.  Under Windows Vista and predecessors, that number of windows was simply unmanageable.   Now, Windows is actually as good as managing lots of windows as my Mac.

It’s interesting to see Apple borrowing some of the functional ideas for its new Snow Leopard from Windows 7.  I hear that the Alt-TAB functionality in Snow Leopard will shade out the other windows that don’t belong to an application so you can more easily pick which application you want.   Windows 7 does that, but Alt-TAB switches between windows, and not applications. I prefer switching between applications the way my mac does because usually if I am working on a project, I will have several apps open to work on it, and the most recent window for that app is almost always the one I want when switching between them.

But the improvement in Windows Heaven of actually letting me SEE the windows I’m tabbing over, instead of that stupid ridiculous long name that I can’t read quickly, is just fine!

I actually bought some stock in Microsoft. Not just because of this OS, but the company seems to be changing the way it works, innovating more, trying new things.  That’s new for Micro-shaft (which is what I used to call it).  They’re a bit late in the game with some technologies, but with some new things coming out, I’ve got my eye on them.

Maybe it’s cause Bill’s gone.  Never did like him much. He has a whiney voice, and looks like his butt’s in the front of his body instead of the back.  That’s not his fault and I don’t want to knock him for it – he’s apparently a very generous man!  But I’ve never been impressed with the way he ran Microsoft.  In my opinion he thought backwards, too, gobbling up other companies and then trashing their products instead of designing new things.

We’ll see what Microsoft does next!

Web 2.0 – Satellite Killer

Satellite internet connections have for a few years been a good substitute for direct wired broadband connections in rural areas.   The first satellite internet systems used the orb in the sky to beam down a fast signal, and used a modem to send data back upstream.  Even though it takes 2-3 seconds for the page request to get from your computer up into orbit and back down to earth and out on the internet, once the page started coming, it came fast.  That worked okay – but was a bit slow for lots of uses particularly if you wanted to email an image to your grandson or whatnot.

With the advent of services like Wild Blue that have true satellite uplinks as well as downstream,  things got better!  Sending files became more responsive, but there’s still a large lag problem because the signal has to travel up to a satellite and back.  Gaming, of course, doesn’t really work well over this kind of laggy (or high latency) connection.

Now, there’s another problem.  Boom.  Boom.  Boom…. the death knoll for Sattelite Internet.  Web 2.0.  Boom. Boom.  Boom.  You can hear the drumbeats in the distance.

The reason things are getting bad again is that  the lag time is becoming a problem.  Web 2.0 web-based applications work by sending bits of data back and forth between your computer and a web server on the internet.  From periodic saving, to getting the contents of a dropdown menu….  from moving the mouse around in a document to positioning and streaming of video….. Web based applications require frequent small communications between your computer and a web server.

That doesn’t work well when it takes 3 seconds for your “hello!!!! I’m here!” to get from one end to the other and back.  I’m using my mom’s Wild Blue connection now, and there’s a lot of things I simply can’t do.  I can’t watch video on Ted.Com.    (I suppose I could download them.) Most interactive websites just don’t work at all.  Gmail works.  That’s nice!   Chat… kinda works..  Those “software update” tools don’t work.  They often get the mistaken impression that the connection goes down.  It doesn’t.  It’s just slow.

The new breed of web-enabled apps need reasonable latency.  You don’t need uber-fast connection speeds, but uber-slow just doesn’t cut it.  I’m not so wild about wild blue anymore.