Vista Disappointment

Paul Thurrott wrote about why Vista is a bit of a disappointment and where it fails.

People use their computers to try and complete tasks. At the moment, I can't see anything obvious in Vista that will help someone achieve those tasks more efficiently.

Windows isn't bundled with any real applications such as an office suite, etc. To upgrade your productivity, upgrading your text editor, web browser or office suite would help you achieve those tasks faster and more efficiently – not the operating system.

One feature of Vista which has had a lot of hype is glass windows. I personally don't see the point – they don't look particularly good, they don't make it any easier to use the system and there are inherent problems with glass windows – it is hard to see which window is activated, muddy text, etc.

With Luna Element, Windows XP looks kinda nice. It's not really worth investing in new hardware and system resources in creating a banal glass interface.

I think Vista will be a hard operating system to sell.

Weebl and Bob fight the Apple Squad

In the latest installment of Team Laser Explosion, Weebl and Bob fight the Apple Squad. The evil guys are Apple BOZOs. The monkey has an iPod which transforms into an evil robot which Bob destroys by putting a denim wrapper on it which causes it to become scratched.

Nice Team Rocket references too 🙂 

Another sweet Weebl toon here – this one takes place on the London Underground and is live action. 

WTF: Client Side PHP

Some guy combined XmlHttpRequest or AJAX with PHP's eval() in a Web 2.0 fashion to create a real monster.

I think the code says it all:

function saveform()
{
var firstName = escapeSql(mainForm.elements.txtFirstName.value);
var lastName = escapeSql(mainForm.elements.txtLastName.value);
/* ... */
var offerCode = escapeSql(mainForm.elements.txtOfferCode.value);

var code =
' $cn = mssql_connect($DB_SERVER, $DB_USERNAME, $DB_PASSWORD) ' +
' or die("ERROR: Cannot Connect to $DB_SERVER"); ' +
' $db = mssql_select_db($DB_NAME, $cn); ' +
' ' +
' if (mssql_query("SELECT 1 FROM APPS WHERE SSN=\''+ssn+'\'", $cn)) ' +
' { $ins = false; } ' +
' else ' +
' { $ins = true; } ' +
' ' +
' if ($ins) { ' +
' $sql = "INSERT INTO APPS (FIRSTNM, LASTNM, ..., OFFERCD) VALUES ("; ' +
' $sql+= "\''+firstName+'\',"; ' +
' $sql+= "\''+lastName+'\',"; ' +
' $sql+= "\''+offerCode+'\')"; ' +
' ' +
' /* ... */ ' +
' ' +
' mssql_query($sql, $cn); ' +
' mssql_close($cn); ';

execPhp(code);
}

No doubt the escapeSql() function is most robust in stopping SQL injection attacks. 

Web Applications 1.0

I was glancing through the Web Applications 1.0 spec earlier as I wanted to find out what the differences between the ways Web Application 1.0 comments and SGML comments are handled as changed in Opera 9.0.

It surprised me to see so many references to Stargate SG-1 in the specification. The code example for example 2.10.9 is: 

<p>The <dfn><abbr>Zat</abbr></dfn>, short for Zat'ni'catel, is a weapon.</p>
<p>Jack used a <abbr>Zat</abbr> to make the boxes of evidence disappear.</p>

Sounds a bit like the episode 1969 to me.

From section groups (tabs), section 2.17.5

  <ul>
   <li>Jack O'Neill</li>
   <li>Samantha Carter</li>
   <li>Daniel Jackson</li>
   <li>Teal'c</li>
   <li>Jonas Quinn</li>
  </ul>

Yup, the specification for the next version of HTML considers Jonas Quinn to be more of a member of SG-1 than Cameron Mitchell and Vala Mal Doran! Jonas is way cooler anyway although I know quite a few people who don't like Jonas.

From 2.10.8 dfn element

<p>The <dfn><abbr title="Garage Door Opener">GDO</abbr></dfn>
is a device that allows off-world teams to open the iris.</p>
<!-- ... later in the document: -->
<p>Teal'c activated his <abbr title="Garage Door Opener">GDO</abbr>
and so Hammond ordered the iris to be opened.</p>

Not sure which episode this refers to.

There might be a few more references to Stargate or other sci-fi shows in there; let me know if you find any

Digg: Editor's Playground

Forever Geek says that Digg is an editors playground. They pointed to two articles which seem to have made it to the front page where the first 19 diggers were identical.

They also say that rather than being a real democracy, moderators seem to be determining whether articles are suitable. Forever Geek's article was posted and removed from Digg and the person who posted it was banned for "misuse". Forever Geek also got banned from Digg.

They conclude:

"Digg as an idea is fantastic. As a system of disseminating news without having to wait for editors it is amazing. But it seems to be suffering from a power complex. The two articles we originally mentioned were obviously promoted to the front page in an artificial manager.. Our website getting banned was obviously in retaliation to our story. Their entire philosophy now feels shallow and false – the editors decidedly put those two articles to the front page, just like they decidedly removed us from their system. Users may have originally driven the website, but it looks like that ideal is nothing more than a nice idea in the past."

BoingBoing asked the founder of Fark.com on his views. He talks about how Fark implemented a Digg-like social voting system but how it didn't work out in the long run:

"We had to disable the feature because the funniest ones weren't getting picked.

Social engineering self-selects the least-offensive crap right to the top. It's a great idea but it doesn't scale."

Certainly the digg for friends issue exists. People I know over MSN Messenger often ask me to digg their articles and I have no problem doing that. And yes, I've asked people to digg my submissions before. 

I've been getting my news from Slashdot recently because I've found it to be a lot higher quality. The links are more on topic, the slashdot articles are of a higher quality (less typos, links through personal blog, etc.) Perhaps popularity is killing Digg.

Hopefully Digg can resolve these issues and get back to it's glory days. 

Visual Studio 2005 Express "free permanently"

Microsoft's "express" set of programming development tools are going to stay free. At the moment, they are time limited.

Dan Fernandez: "We are incredibly excited to announce that effective April 19th, 2006, all Visual Studio 2005 Express Editions including Visual Basic, Visual C#, Visual J#, Visual C++, and Visual Web Developer Express will be free permanently!

Prior to this pricing announcement, Visual Studio Express Editions were promotionally discounted to be free for one year, starting on November 7th, 2005. With this announcement, the promotional discount for Visual Studio Express is now permanent and Express will continue to be free."

I originally downloaded it because I wanted to try out Visual Basic and try to learn a bit. The reason I didn't was because it sounded very much like a free trial that Microsoft was running and that as soon as they decided to charge for it, it'd be impossible to update existing programs without purchasing a license. Without a valid, working copy you've essentially wasted a lot of time which could have been used learning a cross platform language which nobody can take away from you at any time.

I'm still not sure whether these "Express" products will be updated and whether future versions will also be free. These tools can become outdated quite quickly and there is no guarantee Microsoft won't charge in the future. Visual Studio Express tools still don't offer you the same amount of freedom that open cross platform tools can.

GLTron

GLTron is a simple open source retro style game where you are a "lightcycle" which is a futuristic bike (view screenshots). 

The game takes place on a grid. Everywhere you go you leave a wall behind. The aim is to stay alive as long as possible by not crashing into any walls. You can win by forcing other players to crash into walls or simply by holding out for the longest.

Enemy Territory (another free but not open source game) Fans: There is a tron map

On the topic of games, I’ve also been playing Battle of Wesnoth recently. It’s free, open source and quite addictive. Kinda similar to Age of Empires.

Swapping a paperclip for a house

This guy started off with a red paperclip in July. By making deals with people and continuously swapping his item for a better one, he's now got a one year recording contract with a house. He plans to continue swapping until he has a whole house, out right.

BBC News

Mr MacDonald originally swapped the pen for a ceramic doorknob, which he in turn traded for a camping stove.

This was followed by a generator, bartered for an "instant party package": an empty beer keg, a neon Budweiser sign and a promise to fill the keg – offered by a man in New York.

The beer package went to a Montreal DJ, in exchange for a snowmobile.

This was traded for a white van, which was used to secure a recording contract which in turn led to the offer of free accommodation in Phoenix.

But Mr MacDonald is not taking his eyes off the big prize: "I'm going to keep trading for bigger or better things until I get a house."

Dave the Chameleon

Via Opher, Labour has released a "Dave the Chameleon" website and campaign criticising tory leader David Cameron's "flip flops". They've compiled a document of all of Dave's "flip flops". This reminds me of the Bush campaign in the US election

Watch the advert

Of course, it says nothing great about Labour; it's simply a dig at David Cameron. The fact they dedicated a whole advert and website to David Cameron must show they see him as a real threat! You can even get it in iPod flavour so you can watch it again and again on the bus, on the tube and at school.

There are also a collection of downloads including a comic book, posters, screen savers, wallpapers, a FREE ringtone (ba ding ding bem bem) and mobile phone wallpaper (that costs £1)