Archive for May, 2007

May 30 2007

“Closed” Computers: retro or not?

Published by under retro

Twenty five years ago, an open hardware spec (IBM PC) and a mediocre, proprietary operating system (DOS evolving to various forms of Windows) nearly killed off closed systems which bundled software and hardware (Atari, Apple, et. al.). But now closed systems are making a comeback. First Apple’s Mac is gaining share in the laptop market and is certainly thriving. Then there’s Apple TV and don’t forget the iPod. All are tightly sealed. And now Microsoft seems to be making a move in the same direction. Today they announced their “Surface” table computer; hardware with a slick vista based interface. Initially, it will be only for commercial use. Recently, they also announced developers tools which target the Xbox game machine; another closed system. So maybe we’ll be seeing a variety of ‘applications’ that run on the Xbox which will at least turn it into an Internet client and maybe more.

Microsoft seems to be moving away from all soft to closed hard(ware)? Open they’ve neer been.

No responses yet

May 27 2007

Honking Horn

Published by under retro

The automobile horn has lost it’s role as a communications device used to call a person, typically but not always a teenager, from his or her house to a waiting automobile. Rarely used(?) now Generally, it has been replaced by a cell phone call or text message from the driver of the car.
The end of a tradition and a small part of the answer to the question of what did we do before we had cell phones.

No responses yet

May 23 2007

Time for retro “Newton” to return?

Published by under retro

With a designation of “retro tech” this page is essential reading. A “gushing” review of a very old, by computer standards, “failed” technology; Apple’s Newton. With all the advances in hardware since the Newton was first produced, it might now be a good package. Add several gigs of storage, a fast processor, wireless and cellular connectivity and you have a nice package.

Probably won’t come from Apple. (Unless they call it an iPhone)

No responses yet

May 11 2007

Zenith Angle

Published by under Books

by Bruce Sterling

I picked this book off a library shelf on the strength of the author’s reputation. I’ve heard some interesting podcasts of his talks, and he is a well regarded science fiction writer. However, this book is not a science fiction tale, and overall I was disappointed. The story is a post 9/11 spy, technology and political thriller (satire?). The main character is brilliant as is typical. Somewhat atypically, this brilliant ex professor falls in with a government funded, freelance mercenary and becomes a killer himself. Also atypically, the hero is married, doesn’t chase beautiful women, and stays married. The story has a definite feel of an Ann Rand sort of brilliant individualist against the system.

As it is set in the recent past, it is full of references to real people and real events. That got to be tedious as it felt like too much name dropping instead of plot or character development. Many or the references were somewhat science or technology oriented. I found myself skimming a lot.

The jacket has glowing reviews from other respected authors. Two out of three think it a funny satire and one a manual on government workings enhanced with dry humor. It had some of both, but this book wasn’t for me.

No responses yet