I understand that someone else had a go at AST a few weeks back, so I thought I'd voice my own problems.
Two 166MHz Advantage 9304s were bought to replace two 66 DX2s at home, so what I'm describing are either faults with the entire Advantage 9304 range, or I bought two duff machines.
The DX2s could record full spec audio for minutes on end without a glitch.
The 166s? No chance. There's interference every few seconds indicating a bottleneck somewhere in the system. Some games also cause the machine to hang for five seconds while it switches between red book audio tracks.
DE bottleneck somewhere?
I'm willing to lay odds that it's not Windows 95's fault as I'm running Real Mode DOS for the games. Are the machines just thrown together and not tested for this kind of problem? Surely they must take care if aiming this kind of high-priced machine at the home market (I bought them at Comet - which has been very helpful in solving problems that AST washed its hands of). Their helpline's answer (and that's another issue) was to get a recorder that could edit out the interference. The point is that on a machine of this spec there shouldn't be any interference in the first place!
The helpline staff admitted to me that there is a large grey area over what they should and shouldn't support. Some technical advisors, on encountering a user in such a grey area, are saying: "Sorry, we don't support that." It's a problem that's driven me mad, but I understand that AST is trying to solve it.
Unhappy with Windows 95 on your AST? Want to load a different operating system? Then you're on your own, mate. I've managed to get everything apart from the Mwave modem working under DOS and 3.11 - which means that I'm stuck with 95, which does some spectacular crashes when running DOS Windows - but I don't think that's AST's fault.
What is AST's fault is the L8+VAT for extra plastic runners. After complaining bitterly, I finally forked out u28 for three sets, but guess what? AST was so cheap that it couldn't even be bothered to supply any screws!
AST's documentation is so non-existent that it doesn't even tell the user which driver to use to send things to the fax. And it has the gall to offer a machine to the home market in a state like this!
Dear Compaq, I sincerely regret having left your stable of excellence and will gladly return to your fold when I next upgrade if you will have this sinner back. (Which will be sooner than expected with this AST kit.)
I have just discovered a pricing anomaly with Lotus Notes licenses which I consider ridiculous. I am a certified Lotus Notes administrator/developer who has just moved to the UK from Australia. The anomaly involves inquiries I made recently for the cost of upgrading a Notes 4.1 licence to Notes 4.5.
I rang the Lotus office in Staines and asked them for a price for an upgrade of the full Lotus Notes licence from 4.1 to 4.5 and I was quoted something like #269. This seemed an awful lot to me so I rang Lotus in Australia to see how much it was charging. It quoted me Aus$45 for the licence or Aus$55 including the CD (which is about #30). I thought this couldn't be right and told the Lotus Australiaconsultant how much I was quoted in the UK to which he suggested that I check they weren't quoting me the full price of 4.5 and not an upgrade. I rang Staines again and they gave me the lower price of #226 (I think) including the CD and confirmed this was the UK retail price of a 4.5 upgrade. Finally, I rang Sydney again just to make sure the price of Aus$55 was correct and they confirmed this.
This seems a rather crazy situation to me as there ought to be nothing to stop large corporates saving nearly 90% of the upgrade cost by buying international Notes licences from Australia rather than the UK. After all the licence is the same and even if the CD media was slightly different here (which it isn't) the CD is relatively inexpensive (less than #20, I believe) and only a few are needed.
I would have thought that an international company ought to charge roughly the same price everywhere to prevent revenue loss in particular countries through abuse of this pricing difference.
Time to act on buggy software
There's a law which protects users from the consequences of software which is "Simply not up to standard" (Leader, PC Week, 11 March). In the case of off-the-shelf packages, it's called the Sale of Goods Act.
Losses, including consequential losses, can be claimed if the product doesn't do what it should do and you suffer loss as a result. A similar principal applies to software which fails because of the Year 2000 problem - the starting point is that if things don't work as they should, the user has a claim. We've written a detailed legal argument which explains why this is so. Anyone who contacts me is welcome to a copy.
Software suppliers have been getting away with selling buggy software for too long because no-one dared take them on. Until recently, lawyers who held themselves out as knowing about IT were few in number and most of them were already acting for the likes of Microsoft or IBM. Many others didn't have the confidence to tackle the issues on behalf of their user clients, as the legal position hadn't been clarified.
For example, it wasn't known whether the courts, when asked, would say that software on disk was "goods". The courts, part of whose job it is to clarify the law, will only do so when someone is brave enough to ask them, and risk paying the cost of doing so.
I am pleased to say that this isn't as risky as it sounds if a proper combination of legal, business and IT skills are applied to the problem.
Full marks for doing this go to St Albans Council, which took on the mighty ICL. While their case wasn't about an off-the-shelf package, it sorted out one big issue which does affect packages: that software supplied on disk or tape is "goods" - and so has to be fit for purpose.
Cotton seedling freezes to death as Chang'e-4 shuts down for the Moon's 14-day lunar night
Fortnite easily out-earns PUBG, Assassin's Creed Odyssey and Red Dead Redemption 2 in 2018
Meteor showers as a service will be visible for about 100 kilometres in all directions
Saturn's rings only formed in the past 100 million years, suggests analysis of Cassini space probe data
New findings contradict conventional belief that Saturn's rings were formed along with the planet about 4.5 billion years ago