Rants

Why the mandatory IE7 upgrade was a bad idea

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For anyone who keeps their Windows XP machine set to automatically install updates, a few weeks ago they would have been surprised to see their Internet Explorer look different. The reason for this was that Microsoft set their new web browser, IE7, to be pushed out via Windows Update as a security fix / upgrade, which meant for anyone with their updates set to automatic that it happened without their knowledge. For many people this will be a welcome improvement - there's no denying that IE7 is better than IE6, but there are problems with the new browser that haven't been publicised very much and people are experiencing problems.

A telling article from Microsoft Watch details how many people have no trouble at all but others discover that many applications they've bought stop working. A good example of the conflict is intimated by "Rick Kuhn, an IT Specialist based in Indianapolis," where he doesn't have any "bloatware or crapware, only brand name vendors for software and hardware," which sounds great except that earlier on you discover that a recent version of the most popular CD/DVD burning software, Roxio Easy Media Creator, stopped working upon installing the update. While another person recommented to "do some research in regards to application compatibility before upgrading from IE 6 to IE 7," how much research is the average person going to be in able to do when the upgrade was forced upon them and only discovered the incompatibility afterwards?

In short, if your software is ubiqitous to the point that a large portion of 3rd party software requires it, and your new version is known to be incompatible with much of this software, don't force the upgrade on the masses - it's just common sense!

Subversion's one problem

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I've used the document revision management system Subversion for a few years now and find it to be an excellent tool that has never given me any problems. Until this week, that is. I was helping to set it up on a web server that has Fedora Core 4 as its OS - we wanted to have a central code repository for the various projects we worked on and it was a logical step to place it there. Well, I started searching around for an installer for the latest Subversion release (v1.4.2) that was compatible with FC4 only to discover that there wasn't one! It seems that during the v1.4 development cycle they updated one of their code's dependencies (libapr) to a newer version than is compatible with FC4, you need to have FC5 or newer to be able to install it without any hickups. So, rather than asking the server's service provider to upgrade to a newer OS I'm going to see if there's a way to hack the code to make it install with the older version - wish me luck!

Irish government considering license fees for Internet usage

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According to a report in RTE News, Ireland's government is considering expanding their current mandatory TV license to also cover:

anything that is made visually available to the consumer, including developments such as Internet-based television stations and video blogging

according to "Technology expert Ronan Coy". Should this be enacted as quotd (which tends to be how things play out) it would mean that licenses would be required for any computer with Internet access. So much for watching The Show with Ze Frank for free.

The part I find at fault is that the original purpose of the TV license was to funnel money into the country's national TV and radio statios, i.e. to pay for the costs of running these services and development of future services. If they believe they should be receiving funds for internet broadcasting then they should set up a micropayments system to cover *their* costs. If someone is viewing or listening to broadcasts other than the state's national services then the state has no incurred expenses therefore has no right to demand fees. Lets make this clear, this is a license fee for Internet usage, and depending on how they word it, potentially for *any* digital media playback.

Reasons why Microsoft's OpenXML standard is junk

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Here's a wonderful explanation of why Microsoft's "open" OpenXML "standard" is a wolf in sheep's clothing:

In short, the specification is littered with little tidbits which say that to properly display a file you must understand details of how 12 year old software (Word 95) worked, or reverse engineer it. So here's a wonderful schematic on how to build a new house, but the kitchen won't fit unless you know how to arrange atoms at the quantum level, meagre saws won't work. And that, folks, is why I don't use Microsoft software and stopped buying their junk several years ago.

Update: Just to better explain why this is a problem, there is no guarantee that Microsoft is using its own specifications in its own software, namely Office 2007. In fact current reports state that they are doing their old tricks of using a mix of the current specifications with chunks of the older (undocumented) formats thrown in for good measure. Given this you'll have a slim chance of being able to use their published specifications and generate the same output that their own software creates. That is why people should use software that supports the internationally recognized OpenDocument format in either KDE's KOffice, Openoffice.org, StarOffice or the other programs that support it.

Why Vista is a 10-year-old history lesson nobody has learned

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Microsoft's upcoming Windows Vista operating system is a perfect example of why people should stop supporting this useless company: it doesn't have most of the new features it was supposed to have, it is more expensive than it needs to be (the feature-complete version costs $400, versus $130 for Mac OS X), and will cause a great deal of headaches both short-term and long-term due to its poor design. Here's a great article which explains why the public needs to realize this is the second time Microsoft have done this and they shouldn't be let get away with it:

So, learn from history, stop taking the garbage that you're been spoon-fed and don't upgrade to Vista! Do yourself a favor, buy a Mac!

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