Archives for: "June 2007"

Brown's government even further right than Blair's

It certainly looks like it, most of the remotely "lefty" people in the cabinet have been moved off, and today Brown has finished appointing his junior ministers, some of which aren't even in the Labour Party, a few examples:

We've got Sir Ara Darzi, health minister. Admiral Sir Alan West, Home Office minister, Lord Stevens advisor for international issues. Lord Malloch Brown, Foreign Office minister for Asia, Africa and the UN. Lord Lester advising constitutional reform.

Best of all Sir Digby Jones, formally of the CBI now trade minister. Labour's Fightback has the scoop on this guy, who is rather well known among the labour movement - for all the wrong reasons.

Atlantis ISS together in one phenomenal picture

This image is a huge leap past anything I've seen before, the amount of detail is far beyond what other people have managed to get from the ground (albeit they were using far smaller telescopes), usually most photographs show a T-shaped object fly through the field of view, but the amount of detail in this is incredible.

Space Shuttle Atlantis and the International Space Station together in orbit

This is a photograph of the Space Shuttle Atlantis and the International Space Station together, taken from the ground. Atlantis is the lower-left of the image, it is facing away from the telescope and so you can see the engine nozzles, it casts a shadow over the rest of the station. The solar panels to the right of the station are what have just been installed. You can clearly see one of the stations two robotic arms and can easily identify all the separate modules of the station.

Things in orbit are difficult to photograph, as they can pass overhead in just a couple of minutes so getting the telescope to follow them is a difficult challenge.

This is one of the most impressive images I've seen on APOD in a sometime.

Apple's inconsistent user interface

Apple's UI on Windows is an absolute train wreck. Below is a screenshot of QuickTime, Safari and iTunes running on Windows XP, I'll only install these applications in a virtual machine, I won't let them near my Windows Vista box, I don't want more background apps running all the time that don't need to be thank you. None of the applications in this screenshot are focused.

Anyway the first thing that strikes you is that ugly grey colour, I don't know what Apple's obsession with it is exactly, but it doesn't look good. Especially on Windows XP (where bright Fisher Price colours rule by default), and it looks terribly bad on Windows Vista, which actually look good.

Obviously they don't bother following the UI guidelines for Windows (not that Microsoft do anymore either), and they'd rather impose their own window frame upon you.

Apple's inconsistent UI

So what have we got wrong here?

1) Different shades of grey.
2) Different fonts, Safari is all blurry.
3) Different shading of fonts, Safari looks in focus when it's not.
4) Different sliders, Safari is the bright gel, yet iTunes is gray when not focused and just a plain blue when focused.
5) Different size and colour arrows on the sliders.
6) Window controls (close, maximise, etc) are different colours, and different sizes.
7) The resize icons in the bottom-right are different colours and sizes.
8) Search icons are different shades.
9) File menu is in line with the title in iTunes, yet a line lower in QuickTime and Safari.
10) Apple is used in the QuickTime title, yet not in the other applications.
11) The buttons between applications are completely different styles.

From a control stand point they even behave differently, QuickTime for example won't maximize, it just gets a bit bigger. iTunes can be resized by dragging the window frame, yet Safari you need to go down to the resize area and drag the window around.

So what else is there that I've missed?

Bogosity, debunking creationism

I stumbled upon this guy's YouTube videos thanks to Phil Plait. Here he is taking on a few creationist claims, mainly from the damn evolution vs. creationism video that's been floating around for ages on many internet video websites, it's the one with the annoying host, with far too much money wasted on flashy graphics, yes that one, the one set in studio, made up to look like a court room.

Great stuff, he says completely bogus exactly like me. He's also done an episode on astrology (another favourite topic of mine) and the Moon hoax.

Is it me or does his bogosity machine look like a Game Boy?

Windows Vista six month security report

Jeff Jones has thrown up a report (available in PDF on his web page) on Windows Vista's 6 months security record and compared it to some competitors.

Like the 90 day results I posted up a while back, Windows Vista is still leading the field at this milestone too.

Windows Vista security vulnerabilities compared with other operating systems

Looks similar to the 90 day report, Windows Vista having just half the number of vulnerabilities as the supposedly "secure" Mac OS, somebody should really do them for false advertising.

Windows Home Server Connector on x64

It's nice to see Microsoft leading the field in support for 64-bit operating systems.

Windows Home Server Connector, which is the little application installed on the clients which handles backups and opens the Home Server Console, doesn't install on x64.

Officially the team says they don't have the resources to support x64 and so there will be no support at this time.

What I want to know is why Microsoft isn't putting the money into the team to support x64. I don't know about you, but I want the transition to 64-bit completed as fast as possible, that means all vendors pulling their weight writing compatible software. We're running out of RAM fast, there's games around now which chew up over 2GB quite happily, we need to migrate soon. Having Microsoft, who was among the first (with AMD) in the x86 space to start pushing 64-bit dragging their feet with Home Server is somewhat annoying.

You can force the install of the Connector software on x64 by using the following on an elevated command prompt:

msiexec /i \path\to\whsconnector.msi WHSMSI="RUNSETUP"

But backups simply won't function properly, and it is not officially supported. What I would like to see a few months down the road after release is x64 support.

I'd also like to see a stripped down Exchange plug-in for Home Server, with a web front end hooked in to the Home Server web page too.

What the iPhone lacks

The iPhone lacks the following commonly found features:

Songs as ringtones
Any flash support
Instant Messaging
MMS support (picture and video messages)
Video recording
Voice recognition or voice dialing
Wireless Bluetooth Stereo Streaming (A2DP)
A real keyboard
Removable battery
Expandable Storage

Talk about a version 0.1 product, way to release an engineering sample Apple. Why the hype? My dinosaur phone from the 17th century could do half of that stuff, for an 8th the cost.

It also lacks things found on Windows Mobile devices, like voice recognition, so things like asking the phone what track is currently playing and it speaking back to you (using something like Voice Command) is out of the question, being able to copy and paste text, being able to install 3rd party applications. Oh and the operating system uses a whopping 700MB of the hard drive.

All hype, no substance.

No thanks Quentin, clear off

Quentin Davies defects from the Conservative Party, a lot of Labour Party fans are cheering. Why?

This is a guy who voted against the minimum wage, is pro-Fox hunting, anti-gay, anti-trade unions, and is hardly what I'd call Labour Party material.

We've got enough of these Tories hanging around, we don't need anymore.

Brown and Harman

After a waste-of-time election we've got Gordon Brown and Harriet Harman, both solidly New Labour.

You only need to look at the turn out, half of Labour Party members, and just 8% of affiliated Trade Unionists. I certainly couldn't vote for somebody who didn't nominate John McDonnell.

I'm sick of right-wing politicians talking the socialist talk while busy selling off public services, the deputy leader election really brought some of this out. But as Owen Jones points out, they needed to use left-leaning language in order to get anywhere, thanks to the recent shift leftwards in the unions and the party.

The move leftwards has clearly alarmed the New Labour gang, Brown announcing he'll scrap trade union votes on policy making at the Labour Conference.

For those under any illusions about Brown, John McDonnell recently covered a sticking point at the EU summit.

True to his neo liberal philosophy, the reason Brown demanded Blair go back into the negotiating room and dig his heals in was because he was fearful that the French were undermining the free market. He was angry that Sarkozy of all people was seeking to "dilute" the operation of free competition in the EU market.

On the plus side in a recent poll only 22% of people said David Cameron would make the best Prime Minister. I think from that we have no danger in losing the general election, and I think it is time to start pressing the campaign against New Labour, and the Tory moles inside it, and ultimately for us to reclaim our Party and steer it on a socialist course.

Mac zealots' iPhone reality distortion field

Has anybody else noticed that the Mac zealots seem to be getting dumber lately? I spotted this (via Channel 9) on MacDailyNews:

MacDailyNews Take: The IT guys are in for a rude awakening and the iPhone is only the beginning. They will have to accommodate the iPhone. Too many important employees will demand it and IT won't be able to stem the tide. The fact is that business people will decide which device they want to carry and their businesses will adapt to it. Just as they did with "Microsoft-incompatible" Research In Motion's Blackberry. Apple's iPhone will be a success with business users whether the IT guy wants it or even whether AT&T and Apple tailor marketing to businesses or not.

Note to CEOs: Who runs the company, you or the IT guy? It's your job to make the decisions and it's the IT guy's job to implement your decisions that relate to technology. Just as with Macs, you need to educate yourself instead of relying on someone with their own, possibly hidden, agendas to make extremely important technology decisions for your company. Most of you could be saving a LOT of money right now, but you aren't because you've delegated an important part of your company's decision-making to people who, frankly, in our experience, aren't capable of making good, sound, strategic, long-term decisions. Most IT guys (and we know many) are not open-minded enough to be able to consider new, better, more effficient, more effective options that would benefit your company. In fact, most IT guys we've met will throw up road blocks and repeat myths until they're blue in the face in order to avoid change. Especially change that might make their department less critical or smaller. Bottom line: most of you CEOs have given the IT guy way, way, way too much power. It's time to take it back.

The iPhone in a corporate environment? Have they lost their minds. The iPhone just isn't built around that sort of environment. Businesses don't use Yahoo! to handle their e-mail, most businesses use Outlook and Exchange, does the iPhone sync with Outlook? No. Employees who need e-mails pushed to their devices like with Blackberries and Windows Mobile devices are out of luck with the iPhone, I guess they'll visit Yahoo! Mail, or try and jiggle up POP3, and hope they don't have many e-mails waiting, the iPhone lacking 3G and only having Wi-Fi when you sign up for an AT&T data plan would make that rather painful. Then what about security? Oh dear, stolen or lost iPhone with corporate data on? Devices for the corporate market have security, Windows Mobile devices can be set to erase if the password is entered incorrectly.

Then they have the nerve to call "most IT guys" not open-minded enough. The fact is these Mac zealots of closed-minded to the possibility that their platform, well it's not even a platform, their phone isn't for businesses. Worse still they urge CEOs to take charge of IT in companies, yeah put somebody who probably isn't an expert in technology in charge of the IT department, great call and fantastic business sense there.

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