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October 30, 2014

Early OS Source Code Available

Filed under: News — admin @ 8:21 am

Both Bill Gates and Steve Jobs stole from Xerox, specifically from the Alto computer. It was the first graphical operating system — plus it had a mouse.

While it took more than a decade for Microsoft and Apple to develop graphical operating systems, the king of text operating systems in the 1970s was CP/M. It ran on a variety of microcomputers, and was the dominant OS before DOS came on the scene in 1981.

The source code for both operating systems has now been released. You can read the article for more info; the source code is available from the Computer History Museum’s website.

I obtained a copy of the CP/M source code files. They’re written in a language called PL/M, which is high-level so it’s readable. Well, readable by nerds such as myself.

IT World

October 29, 2014

Windows 7 Isn’t Dead

Filed under: News — admin @ 10:01 am

Somehow the PC rumor mill is saying that Microsoft is terminating Windows 7 effective this week. The story isn’t true.

Microsoft is dropping some support, but Windows 7 will still be available on new PCs for the foreseeable future — probably for several years. The price will go up, and some editions of Windows 7 may not be available, but Microsoft isn’t nefariously forcing the consumer into the Windows 8 camp.


Thumb Drive How-To Guide

Filed under: Main — Tags: — admin @ 12:01 am

thumb_drive You have them. You use them. But not until you read my handy one-post guide will you really feel like you know them.

October 28, 2014

Millennials and Voicemail

Filed under: News — admin @ 7:45 am

I’m not a millennial, but I also dislike voicemail. I grow impatient waiting for the 1990s-era message that tells me to “leave a call back number,” whatever that is. I don’t mind receiving a short, brief message, but all too often I have to sit and listen through two minutes of blab. And no one listens to my recorded message. Ugh.

End of Rant.

Apparently the millennial generation is also fed up with voicemail. They don’t leave it, preferring text messages instead. Quite a few of them also don’t listen to their messages. I learned this from my kids as well: I don’t leave them messages any more.

Is there a better solution for voicemail, or has its time come and gone?


October 27, 2014

Is Amazon Evil or Prescient?

Filed under: News — admin @ 7:38 pm

Recently, Amazon has been taking hits as a “monopoly,” specifically with regards to books. Despite CEO Jeff Bezos’ resemblance to Dr. Evil, I think he has a point: Are publishers really necessary?

When one of my books makes money, the publisher rakes it in — many multiples of what I earn. And for eBook sales, that multiple is even higher. Where Amazon pays authors 70 percent, my publisher balks at any royalty higher than 10 percent. That’s outrageous!

So, are book publishers really necessary in the digital economy?

To some degree, I think so, but only when they respect the books. When a publisher uses a cheaper paper stock and tries to cut corners by outsourcing production and editorial, it shows that they’re about padding the bank account of their CEO and not serving the reader. Yet I believe that there’s value with publishers who truly treasure physical books.


Amazon Fire Stick

Filed under: News — admin @ 8:27 am

Keeping with the everything-fire theme, Amazon announced their own Internet-ready TV HDMI dongle, the Fire Stick. Click the link to check out the simple remote control.

Yes! Only six buttons and a click wheel. Now we’re taking!

As I’ve ranted about before, the problem with modern TV is the primitive, overly-buttoned remote controls. Amazon gets it. Google gets it. Will Apple eventually get it?

Oh, and according to Droid-Life, the Fire Stick is currently on sale for only $19. The Nexus Player, which is Google’s Internet-ready TV dongle, is projected to retail for $99.


Nine Big Tech Blunders

Filed under: News — admin @ 7:55 am

They could have added Windows 8 as the tenth biggest blunder, but you’ll find enough Microsoft-bashing in the Top 9 list.


The Amazon Fire Phone

Filed under: Main — admin @ 12:01 am

The very nice people at Amazon recently sent me one of their new, Fire phones. I was so grateful, I wrote my latest book on the device, Amazon Fire Phone For Dummies.

October 26, 2014

The Microsoft Tax is Dead in Italy

Filed under: News — admin @ 7:49 am

You probably don’t remember paying the Microsoft tax because it didn’t show up on your computer’s receipt. It’s not a tax, but rather a per-unit fee all PC owners pay.

Bill Gates was a clever man. Not only did he license DOS to IBM, he included an item in the PC manufacturer’s contract that required all computers to be sold with a DOS (now Windows) license. So every PC that rolled off the line brought in more money for Microsoft.

Yes, that’s how you become a billionaire.

The problem is that not every PC ends up with a copy of a Microsoft Operating system. Some people don’t install DOS or Windows, and instead install Linux or Unix or some other OS. Even though they do that, they pay the Microsoft tax.

A court in Italy recently determined that such a tax is illegal. Their reasoning is brilliant: You buy the PC and enter into an agreement for the hardware. That’s part of the purchase. But when Windows installs, you can choose whether to agree to its use or not. Most people click the I Agree button to accept the terms.

The Italian court ruled that if you don’t click I Agree, or don’t install Windows in the first place, you don’t have to pay for it. That’s logical. May the refunds flow — but for now, only in Italy.

Free Software Foundation

October 24, 2014

The Ugly World of Content Moderation

Filed under: News — admin @ 8:44 am

If you think that your job sucks, then lament the poor schlubs who provide content moderation for social networking web sites. These laborers — because it’s not the kind of flashy high tech you’d imaging — sift through mounds of obscenity and pornography to keep the web safe for Grandma and the little kids.


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