Wherein I promote a fleeting computer experience to cosmic proportions…
It was a slow night of continuing to get nothing done, so I figured, “Why not go ahead and do the XP SP3 update?” Why not, indeed.
Let’s go back to the late ’70’s or early ’80’s. At the time I called Microsoft “the GM of 2020”. Remember GM – General Motors? They are still around, losing a few billion dollars now and then. Cadillac and Saturn are both GM cars. GM makes some other cars, too. Something called a Chevrolet, for instance. Sold to corporate/government fleets, one must suppose. Anyway, back in the day, GM was the company. And my faith in computers said Microsoft would be the company in 2020.
Fast forward to 2000 or so, when Microsoft made their catastrophic decision to not split up in the face of being IBM’d by the feds. That was jolting. Microsoft had done a very good job of not catching the monopoly disease, but they took a wrong turn with that decision. The pundits said that Microsoft had rolled the feds. I was never sure what these guys were smoking. Microsoft is a rounding error on the fed’s budget. Charles Atlas can’t roll an aircraft carrier. Microsoft decided, in brief, to acknowledge that they were no longer a private company but were an adjunct of the US government. Brussels, too, continues to claim a piece of ’em! Sad.
But I bought the stock. Heck. They were local. They had a lot of strengths and were fundamentally in great shape and would be for a long, long time.
Since Bubble 1, though, the big, center parts of Microsoft have been drifting. Their treatment of IE is a perfect micro-picture – ignored until the world has long passed them by. Then a sort of a “me too” upgrade.
They had caught the monopoly disease.
A couple of years ago, I test-installed Ubuntu on a new, vanilla box. Then, for fun, also installed the Vista RC1. Hmmm. Ubuntu struck me as very competitive against Windows from a few years before then. Ubuntu was “getting there,” but not quite “there.” It could have been called quite different from, but equivalent to Vista. Not quite up to XP level.
Recently, Ballmer decided that it would be a good idea … here’s the punch line … to buy Yahoo.
I sold the stock.
A week or two ago I upgraded ‘alexlap’, the 7-8 year old Ubuntu Dell laptop. This upgrade was to Ubuntu “H”, Hardy Heron. 3 problems:
1) 2 obscure config files fussed about being changed and what should be done about them?
2) With those 2 files, I experimented with the option to see the “differences side-by-side.” The side-by-side display is unusable. And the UI flow is a little disconcerting when you step through the options to check out the config file differences. You can’t go wrong, but you’re given a single, ambiguous button after you view the “side-by-side” comparisons.
3) Apache (custom installed on ‘alexlap’s desktop version of Ubuntu) didn’t start up properly. Apparently, the machine name, “alexlap”, is used somewhere in Apache’s configuration. I’d not put “alexlap” in /etc/hosts as a special name. Or something.
Put another way, the upgrade went very smoothly. Surprising, as the previous “G” upgrade from “F” presented a lot more fussing to ignore. And the laptop is unquestionably unusual hardware stocked with extra programs left over from various experiments and tests.
So, last night it was XP SP3 time for my main PC. This PC is a stock box, already completely up to date with respect to Windows Update.
Here’s the nice part about the XP update experience: They offer, as a pop-up when Windows is booted in Safe Mode, something called “System Restore”. I tried it because of the reassuring message that the “restore” could be undone. The system booted OK after it was “restored” to a couple of days in the past. So there is the good and troubling news: The Windows mechanism to handle catastrophic failure is quite smooth.
Cosmic conclusion: No new information. Microsoft should make a note to wake up when Apple’s consumer share shoots past 30. Can you say “Christmas 2008?” Is Microsoft on the road to specializing in fleet sales of their Impala of OS against a world of Crown Vic Linuxes?