Sunday mornings have a different character to the news. A friend of mine who works newspapers once told me that about the refocus of the news coverage on Sunday to the religious, and the concern over the various ways of offending folks – those who observe Shabbat on Friday night or Saturday may be offended that the news coverage is on Sunday while the majority who observe on Sunday may be offended with the (to them) excessive coverage given to minor sects and heathen cults. I recall offering to solicit news items from the local Wicca and Druid groups to assure a more democratic representation just to watch him reach for a bottle of analgesic.
Nonetheless, one result is that some items creep through the media mill without proper grinding, giving them a different mental taste than on other days of the week. I note, for example, an article in the PHYSORG feed [Link] entitled “Washington Wakes Up to Global Warming”. Of course the article has nothing substantive to report but it does illustrate the cycle of reaction in large organizations:
- initial awareness (called the ‘duhhhh” stage by some;)
- denial of existence;
- admission and debate;
- planning and filibustering;
- action introduction;
- friction and disillusionment; and
- announcement of victory and disengagement.
This gets us into the third stage. With the upcoming political elections, its not clear that this matter will survive even the early debates. Unpleasant reality is seldom as socially meaningful as political fiction.
The new version of WINDOWS (R), VISTA, is coming on sale for Joe Consumer today, and the warning of its problems are already emerging like the giant ants of “THEM”. Monkey Bites [Link] details how an early purchaser discovered VISTA wouldn’t let him have anti virus protection because it would interfere with the operation of the OS. Hmmm, more likely it will interfere with Megahard’s plans for IT domination.
I discovered one click down off the MSN home page this morning a major spread on WINDOWS LIVE One Care [Link] advertising various security measures including anti virus. It emerges epiphanily that Megahard is shutting out the Symantecs and the Macafees so they can take over the anti virus marketplace. Hurray for IT ecology niche cleansing, the consumerism equivalent of racial purity.
More constructively, and obviously an error, is a reprint of a Popular Mechanics article from December on “The Digital Ice Age”. This [Link] is to the original article since the MSN posting is so ephemeral, especially once the web master gets reminded of how the content is a strong implied criticism of Megahard. The article details two aspects of the inherent fragility of our modern ITized world.
Since we store much of our original information in computer files, we run into two problems. One is mechanical in that recording media wear out. Hence, that hard drive on our computer will, not may, fail and carry all of our valuable original information with it. The modern equivalent of the act of nature destroying the home place.
This is relatively easy to fix with a bit of discipline, which makes it inherently anathematic to Joe Consumer, by never storing original information on the computer hard drive, and having multiple copies. The efficacy of using actual file names and suffixes, and keeping a log of file names, dates, contents, and locations is so self-obvious in this context that it is never practiced by Joe Consumer who prefers the cute graphical file icons that convey no distinguishing information of note but are another empty Megahard WINDOWS selling point. Hence my growing tendency to laugh like a Kim Possible villain when I am asked to assist in the resurrection of hard drives. Oh, how I love the smell of baked hard drive bearing grease in the morning.
Sadly, the second problem is more insidious – file creep. We generate new information and store it using the program we crated it in, which is reasonably current at the time. A couple of years later we need to access the file, try to do so with an updated version of the same program, and, lo!, can;t read the file because the program manufacturer has improved the file structure without bothering to give us notice or make provision for us to read our old files. After all, they’re not his files, are they? Should I comment that Megahard is one of the worst in this matter?
There is no good way to do anything about this. The best way is to only use file formats that have some life outside the memoryless, careless environment of software manufacturers, like ASCII. The second best is to only use software that has a read back capability (Did I mention that WordPerfect is a LOT better about this than WORD? Often the second best guys are better this way.) and periodically take all the old files and resave in new file formats – and make back up copies.
Incidentally, if the information lends itself to being saved in an ACROBAT-like file, there’s some slightly better alternative to inscribing the information on sheets of osmium or platinum. The Yankee government has coerced the ACROBAT people into implementing a publicly defined file format called PDF ARCHIVE or pdf/a. The ACROBAT people don’t advertise this very much because since the file format is archival and essentially fixed, and they have to implement ability to read it, now and tomorrow, if you use this file format you don;t need updated software as often. Hence, if you use the pdf/a format, they lose money. (Remember the fight between ACROBAT and MEGAHARD over the latter implementing a write directly to pdf?) So one way of preserving that information is to store it in this archival pdf format.
Incidentally, while we’re picking on Megahard, did I mention that VISTA is designed to reduce hard drive life? It implements a “feature” (reminiscent of the Edsel) that preloads into RAM pieces of programs you MAY use. Now since this fills up RAM, if you run a big program (and which ones aren’t these days?) and if RAM is occupied, you have to use Virtual RAM which is IT speak for HD space. Hence added wear and tear on the hard drive since its metric for failure is the number of bit level read/write events. And since RAM is full, the programs run slower. Who else but Magahard could make the equivalent of arteriosclerosis of the computer a selling point?