Monday, August 30, 2004

Release Early and Often

At first I didn't want to say anything about the disclosure that Longhorn would no longer include the much-hyped WinFS, if only to avoid the appearance of gloating, but this article pushed me to change my mind.

Steve Jobs was wrong: Apple’s Mac OS X 10.4 “Tiger” won’t be Longhorn after all.

Jobs and Co. tweaked Microsoft’s collective nose with this brassy assertion back at June’s Worldwide Developers Conference. During that Mac developer lovefest, Apple insisted that its next big cat (due in the first half of 2005) will deliver most of the features promised for the beefy Windows upgrade (slated for 2006). Longhorn is cowpathing, Apple maintained, and Tiger will take a chunk out of its hide.

Now that boast turns out to be inaccurate: It was too conservative.

Thanks to the intrepid journalism of Mary Jo Foley and Darryl Taft, we learn that Microsoft has put its big bovine on a radical reducing plan in order to make that 2006 deadline. Prime cuts carved out of the OS include the pivotal Windows File System and Avalon presentation technology.

"Longhorn is going to stop being a whole new thing and more of an XP with a lot of good new stuff," one unnamed developer told our intrepid Windows watchers.

Meanwhile, back here on the Mac OS X side of the tracks, Tiger development proceeds apace. In fact, the buzz is that the impressive feature set previewed at WWDC represents about half the loaf, and that Apple will unveil plenty more by the time Mac OS X 10.4 arrives. (I’m still holding out hope for my speculation that significant system-level Windows emulation will be one of those features.)
This is as complete a vindication of my conviction that Apple's incremental approach was to be preferred as I am ever likely to see. What is it with Microsoft and the need to do "Big Bang" releases anyway? Haven't they ever heard the saying "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush?"

With the announcement that WinFS will no longer be part of Longhorn, and that Avalon and Indigo will be backported to Windows XP and Windows Server 2003, I see no compelling reasons left for anyone to even consider upgrading to the new operating system whenever ite ends up being released.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Making Windows Programs Large Address-Space Aware

Raymond Chen gives an informative rundown of what it takes to give programs an expanded address space of 3GB. Simply using the /3GB switch available with Windows 2000 Advanced Server and Windows Server 2003 isn't enough, as the programs must also be marked as /LARGEADDRESSAWARE, which raises further complications of its own.

Generatingfunctionology

I was sitting there wondering to myself how on Earth I was going to obtain a copy of Herbert Wilf's excellent but apparently out of print book when for some strange reason the thought occurred to me to run a Google search for the title. On doing so, what should I discover but that a PDF version of the book should be freely available for download via Wilf's own page? It's an amazing act of generosity on his part, as I'd have been more than willing to pay hard cash for a copy were it still in print, and I'm sure I'm not alone in feeling this way.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

SIGGRAPH Screenshots of Half-Life 2

A very impressive slideshow of pictures originally incorporated into a PowerPoint presentation given at this years SIGGRAPH by Viktor Antonov of Valve. The level of realism on display is amazing, but at what cost in hardware to obtain a decent level of performance, I wonder?

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Angels, Assholes and Morons

An amusing rant by Mark Pilgrim about the different classes developers fall into when it comes to complying with product specifications.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

PostgreSQL 8.0 Goes Beta

At long last. What's even nicer to know is that it finally comes in a Windows Installer package, which can be found here.

Friday, August 13, 2004

A Retrograde Step

Microsoft once again shows that it just doesn't get it. What kind of a controlling fiend must one be to oppose the distribution of a vital security update except through one's own website? This is just too stupid for words.

Microsoft has taken steps to stop its security update for Windows being shared on file-swapping networks.
The SP2 update for Windows XP was being used by file-swapping activists to show how such systems can help get large, important files to lots of users.
But legal warnings from Microsoft have forced the file-swappers to end their experiment and stop making the software available to downloaders.
Now the only place people are able to get the update is from Microsoft.

[............]

When it started sharing SP2, Downhill Battle said: "This project shows how file-sharing technology gives people without budgets or huge server space the power to solve problems themselves, without waiting for the government or some corporation to do it for them."
The version being made available on the BitTorrent network was intended for corporations who have a lot of PCs to patch. A smaller consumer version of SP2 is due later this year.
When asked about Downhill Battle's action, a Microsoft spokesperson said: "The Microsoft Download Center site is the only authorized web source for downloading a licensed copy of Windows XP Service Pack 2.
"To report a website offering unlicensed copies of Windows XP SP2 for download, please send an e-mail to piracy@microsoft.com."
According to the Downhill Battle website, Microsoft has now gone one step further and issued take down notices to two of the web hosts helping the group distribute the file.
It's bad enough that Microsoft should be trying to block the redistribution of such an important security update, but that it should be doing so with the loathsome DMCA really takes the cake.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

When to Use Stored Procedures?

Slashdot has an interesting discussion on the subject. I personally think they're invaluable, if only because they help mitigate the risk of SQL injection attacks.