Hmm, it’s about time

My main domain, tralfaz.org was a compromise. When I first registered it in 1999, the tralfaz.com domain wasn’t available, so I grabbed the .org variant.

I have often kept an eye on the .com domain to see if it expires, but the scummy domain squatter hasn’t budged. I wouldn’t have minded, but over the last 14 years, the owner has done nothing with that domain. It has moved between registrars (because the “coming soon” message changes every couple of years), but never once has there been any “real” content at that site.

Then today I get three queries that it is going up to auction. It looks like I am going to be able to pay some scuzzball too much money to get the domain I wanted originally.

Astro(For those that don’t know, Tralfaz was the original name of Astro, the Jetson’s dog before they got him. At the time I had an English Mastiff named Astro, and I wanted a domain that reflected that, so “Tralfaz” it was.)

A lot of Microsoft Hate this afternoon

I have seen lots of friends and respected news sources bashing Microsoft today with the announcement that the CEO, Steve Ballmer, will be retiring in the next 12 months.

First and foremost: I am not a microsoft fanatic. I am a Mac user, and am far more productive on the Apple platform, so take this with a grain of salt.

Many of the messages I have seen are lamenting that Ballmer should have retired/been fired a decade ago. Lots of hate around Vista and Win8.

But I think those are unfair criticisms.

As a Mac person, I moved my work laptop to Vista when it launched, and I actually liked it. Of course, it had well supported hardware, and I waited long enough for quality signed drivers for our printers and other items I connected to. I found it to be very stable, and actually quite decent to use. I feel like a heretic, because the mantra in the wild is to bash Vista as a huge mistake. But it was the first Microsoft OS that put security in the forefront. Yes, that meant that you were not allowed to just run as administrator. If the software you wrote expected administrator privileges, you’re gonna have a bad time. And the desktop search was well done, and after it completed its initial indexing really improved the user experience.

Windows 7 is much more polished. Microsoft used the three years in between the two systems wisely, and put out a great, usable, and very accommodating OS. I have been using it at home and at work since it’s day of launch in 2009 and it is a strong performer. Of course, all the cruft demanded by my employer causes me to curse the ground that Microsoft occupies, but that is hardly their fault.

A few weeks ago, I had some time to kill, so I sat infront of a new-ish laptop with windows 8 and a touchscreen. I was pleasantly surprised. It was no where near as awful as the pundits make it out to be. I am confident that I could use it day to day. I have yet to try Office 2013, but I liked the transition to the Ribbon in Office 2007, and the significant improvements in 2010, so I am sure that when I am forced to move to Office 2013, it will be no big deal.

What kills the Windows experience is the proliferation of crappy, under powered, poorly supported and unreliable hardware. The drive to sub $400 laptops comes at the cost of quality, and capability of components. While you can get decent hardware, you have to hunt, and read a lot of spec sheets to ensure that you get what you need. Hardly a task for the novice.

Microsoft has also greatly improved their reputation in the back office. SQL Server is a solid, capable platform. Server OS’s are quite good today (even if licensing is a bit wonky), and Hyper-V is a decent bare metal hypervisor for virtualization.

The real problem for Microsoft is their connection to the average consumer. What they sell comes bundled with hardware, and the experience of the user is dominated by fit/finish and appropriateness for the application. Apple does this so much better, they have fewer choices, but just do not offer a poor performing system. Everybody is on an even keel, and that leads to a greater degree of user satisfaction.

Of course, the XBox also is a huge success for Microsoft in the consumer space. But beyond that, their products are me-too, and lack the attention grabbing that Apple or Android devices get.

But Microsoft still own the enterprise, and is growing in the data centers. Their cloud computing platform is promising, and their hybrid cloud based document creation/sharing/collaboration solution is in many ways superior to GoogleApps.

Yes, Microsoft’s stock has been a mediocre performer for the last 13 years, but that is not a terrible thing for a company with a market cap of 1/4 trillion dollars.

Boo: flat tire

I have had late calls all week, which has prevented me from cycling in to the office. I have been jonesing to ride in during the week ( a good stress reliever after a long day, even if it is 105F).

This morning, I headed out to the garage after walking the dogs, and bam, flat tire. Sigh.

Since it has probably 2800 miles on it, I shouldn’t be disappointed that it finally got too thin to prevent thorns and other debris to penetrate and hole the tube, but it is time to replace the tires.

So, I had to drive in, and at lunch I will trek on over to Performance Bicycles, and buy a pair of tires. I guess my ride(s) will have to wait for the weekend.

Pleasant Memories: Necco Wafers

The memories flood back in when I see these
The memories flood back in when I see these

My grandfather on my mother’s side passed when I was pretty young. I don’r remember when, but I do remember fishing trips, and an annual weekend in Yosemite to play in the snow.

Driving the big Ford pickup truck, with a camper on it, we would head out. And there was always an adequate supply of Necco wafers in the cab. We would probably go through 2 rolls each way. All us kids would jockey to sit in the front, and partake in the ritual.

A couple weeks ago, I was at the airport, and I spied a display of Necco wafers. I had to buy a roll for good ol’ times sake.

Good memories. (ok candy)

What a way to waste a Sunday – troubleshooting edition

On our trip last week, my wife (again) dropped her laptop. After that, it stopped working. Oops.

First thoughts were that it was a failed hard drive. All my utilities failed to find it. So I replaced it with a known good drive.

It had a clean install of OS X Lion on it, and was pretty lightly used before I replaced it. I know it was good.  The system wouldn’t boot.  So I thought maybe that the install didn’t support her older laptop. So out came the Snow Leopard (10.6) install DVD. It failed to install. It found the drive ok, but it couldn’t properly access it. No way to write to it, and diskutility was unable to unmount the drive.

Out it goes, and back into an external case and off to my main mac. No problems, the drive behaves as expected.

Crap.

Take the original drive and put it into the external case (a generic OWC FW800 enclosure), and bam, the system boots off it fine.

So, it is either in the drive cable (unlikely) or the system Logic Board (much more likely).

Alas, it is beyond my ability to troubleshoot, or repair, so off to Apple for my wife. But I spent about a half a day fiddling with it. Oh well.