Once upon a time, many years ago, I was a control systems programmer.
I managed to control up to £1 million worth of plant with an 8080 processor and 128Kb of RAM. Now we are buying machines for word processing with 1,000 times the memory and 40 times the processor speed, and still they crawl.
The problem is lazy and undisciplined programming. Software should run as small as it can, and only call in extra modules as extra functionality is required. The vast majority of Word users have no interest in pretending that their word processor is a DTP package, so take out the DTP features unless they are requested. Who wants talking paper clips? Not me. Get rid of them. Will I ever use Word to write HTML? Hell, no. It writes poor HTML and the elements end up all over the place - plus, if you edit an existing document, it strips out the tags it can't do itself. Can that feature.
Oh yes, and those pivot tables. It took me about three hours to learn how to use pivot tables properly, and for the next week I used them for everything. Now I can barely remember where the button is on the toolbar.
Let's have a "ditch the bloat" campaign, spearheaded by PC Week!
Lay off IBM - blame MS!
Andrew Shore (Letters, PC Week, 1 June) seems to think that IBM lost out to Microsoft due to incompetence.
I have to take issue with him on all three of his examples. I thought MS-DOS was written by Microsoft - if IBM wrote it then it would have been called PC-DOS so we have to lay the blame for MS-DOS 4 firmly at Microsoft's feet. Then OS/2 - you only have to look at the antitrust trial to see that Microsoft made life almost impossible for OS/2. In a world where the majority of your customers want Windows, and it will cost you dear to give users a choice, the only options for PC makers were to cave in to Microsoft's demands for "Windows and only Windows" or risk almost certain commercial suicide. When Microsoft is offering to sell Windows for £6 a copy if you put it on every PC, or £30 a copy if you offer customers the choice of anything else, then the decision is a no-brainer.
Lastly, Andrew's belief that IBM's involvement will make Linux big and clumsy is an absolute hoot. Sure, IBM might possibly succeed in screwing up the RS6000 port, but if their code is anything short of excellent Linus et al will merely consign the rest of it to /dev/null.
Know your subject
I am writing in response to Andrews Shore's rather glib letter. That Andrew does not like IBM comes through loud and clear, but his argument is nonsensical. He is either allowing this dislike of IBM to cloud his judgement or displaying a lack of understanding about open source code.
The point about open source code is that the program code is available to everyone. The ways the programs work are visible to any interested users. Even if a user, such as Andrew, is not technical, many users will be. This will result in badly written or inefficient pieces of code quickly being spotted. Once a badly written program is spotted there are no shortage of volunteers willing to rewrite or amend the programs. In this way a product can very quickly be improved or fixed. As long as these potentially numerous fixes or changes are filtered through a central body, who can take the best changes and ensure these do not conflict with each other, then a stable release can be offered back to the public. This gives the best of both worlds; sloppy code is not tolerated and will soon be weeded out, added to the release control of a commercial product. This combination should lead to a stable product, and this is what appears to happening with Linux under the control of Linus Torvalds.
Therefore Andrew's suggestion that IBM making code available to Linux is a threat to its stability is laughable. Any new code, be it drivers or new functionality, can only strengthen Linux. His suggestion that IBM does not write efficient code, even if true, would not be a problem, as inefficient programs would quickly be rewritten, but the added functionality will remain.
There are many good reasons for keeping Microsoft Windows on the desktop, but "Linux being bigger clumsier and less reliable" are never likely to be among them.
The jury is out on how a product without a marketing machine behind it will eventually do in the market place. With the recent press coverage and supplier support it has been getting, Linux now has a certain momentum behind it.
Given the press coverage that Linux has had in the last few months I find it concerning that a professional with strong views can display so little grasp of the issues.
MS mouse is mature
It's good to see another "new invention" from Microsoft. Having "invented" the GUI and the 32 bit multi-tasking O/S, it appears from your article (PC Week, 8 June, p13) that it has invented the Optical Mouse!
This "Next Generation" mouse seems a little familiar to me. When I first joined my current company I was given a Sun Sparc 2 workstation to use for remote accessing from home. It was pretty old and beat up, painfully slow, and came with an Optical Mouse! I was very grateful when later a newer machine was found, and this time it came "proper" mouse!
I see from page 8 that Microsoft is also about to invent Perl!
Is Iomega in on the Clik joke?
I found Lance Concannon's article "Iomega unveils Clik" (PC Week, 8 June) intriguing.
There has long been discussion on various newsgroups, about the alleged Iomega "Click of death", where Zip drives start clicking and then won't operate.
If you do a search on Deja.com with "Click of death" you get pointed to the alt.iomega.zip.jazz newsgroup, where there is a very negative attitude to the company and products.
Now they have released a new product called "Clik". Is Iomega having a sly joke or could it be that its PR department aren't Net literate?
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