The Dog’s Bollocks

Truth is like a dog’s bollocks – pretty obvious if you care to look.

Microsoft Word is bloggy evil

MS Word is a great application for writing and editing but when it comes to pasting your latest masterpiece into your blog it will add in all kinds of hidden Microsoft tags and code that can play havoc with formatting RSS feeds. Some blogging platfoms such as WordPress have advanced editing options such as ‘Paste from Word’ which will remove these mutant gremlins.

For example, while cleaning up a feed item I found this <span class=”blsp-spelling-error” id=”SPELLING_ERROR_4″>. WTF? Apparently it’s no longer sufficient to identify possible spelling errors – MS wants evidence stored within the document. Another favorite is <span style=”font-family:trebuchet ms;”>. HTML has default font-settings and hardly benefits from MS requiring the use of a Windows font. Word adds a bewildering amount of MS-specific HTML tags such that 1Kb of text content can turn into 100Kb of superfluous padding, just in case it might come in handy. As any web developer will tell you, MS has its own take on HTML and CSS standards which adds to the cost of creating and maintaining web sites.

A couple of years ago I experimented with my new Nokia mobile’s Bluetooth feature to talk to my Windows XP laptop. As you would know, Bluetooth is a universal communication protocol. Only problem is that MS XP Bluetooth driver was incompatible with Nokia. Again, WTF??

Partly it is a result of MS always seeking commercial advantage by locking consumers into only being able to use MS products, and also from what I regard as MS’s design priority of being all things to all people under all circumstances – which manifests as a typically American desire to be overly helpful. ‘You look like you’re trying to do this, but that can’t possibly be correct. MS thinks you’re trying to something else, so we’ll do that for you instead!’

At school, my Ubuntu webserver completes system updates in around 45 seconds without any need to reboot. Our Windows 2003 Servers can take around 10 minutes to complete updates and almost always requires a system reboot which can take up to 20 minutes while they ‘establish network connections’. What the hell is it doing all that time?? I imagine that the OS is examining all 300 possible scenarios of what you might be wanting to do – setting up conferences between 528 dlls which then proceed to discuss, negotiate and arrive at a consensus before agreeing to connect to the router!

I’ve been a big fan of The Evil Empire over many years – without Microsoft’s monopolistic stranglehold on the the world of computing creating consistent design standards for developers we would not have advanced to where we are now. But MS has outlived its usefulness and I suspect it will gradually become just a marginal corporate player over the next decade in the way that IBM did after being synonymous with computing back in the 70s. The way of the future lies with open source and web distributed applications. I watch the development of the open source Google Phone application platform with interest.

I would even argue that there are sound economic and environmental reasons in support of open source computing platforms. An adequately provisioned Windows Vista PC requires a more powerful CPU, greater RAM, and power to run it all – all at greater economic and environmental cost. For ordinary computing purposes a three year old PC running Linux and web apps will out-perform the latest Vista equipped PC.

The State of Victoria spends countless $millions on Microsoft products and tech support to keep them up to date and running. In my own work environment, at least 30 percent of our tech support is spent on dealing with Microsoft issues – the frustrating kind where everything is setup how it should be, but it still doesn’t work properly because the MS behemoth has other ideas like shutting down your wireless service because you haven’t used it for 20 minutes or repeatedly changing your proxy settings, etc, etc, etc.

I think the French had the right idea some years back when they eschewed Microsoft in the public sector in favour of open source. Bring it on.

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Filed under: Blogging, Technology

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The Dog’s Bollocks

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The Dog's Bollocks: "Bollocks" is one of my favourite words, and this is now one of my favourite blogs and I've only been reading it for five minutes. – John Surname

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