Caveat: Venter

Think about all of the things that make your brain itch. These are mine.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

I Told You So!

It takes the world a while, sometimes. A year ago (almost to the day) I wrote an entry here about the repeated delays to Microsoft's new version of Windows, dubbed Vista. I noted the number of (major) consumer OS versions Apple had produced for the Mac before it stalled out between System 7 and MacOS X. MacOS 8 and MacOS 9 were stopgap measures, but both were more about unfulfilled promises than delivered features, much as what we are seeing with Vista.

More recently, the folks over at Mac 360 addressed much the same issue (I like to think that a message I sent to Tera helped inspire the piece, but I can't be sure). The simple fact is that after seven consumer versions of Windows—to review, they are 1, 2, 3, 95, 98/ME, 2K, and XP—Microsoft has stalled, just as Apple did. Now the aggregators over at osViews have picked up on this little gem at ars technica. Guess what: commenters are making the same comparison I made 365 days earlier (I love being right—ask anyone who knows me about that).

Here's the problem: they are misremembering history in a few cases. User "Geg" writes, "it took apple 6 years to make OSX workable." Others hint at that, but the fact is that it did not take six years. Apple did not start working on what became OS X until Jobs returned to Apple, and within two years had the OS working, starting from an entirely different code base. Microsoft is using legacy code as its foundation, and that is causing problems.

It gets worse, however. Microsoft's plan to enter the digital music realm with its Zune (Microsoft, despite publicly naming its product leads and rough release timeframe, has yet to put a page together for Zune), and now there is more chatter out of Redmond that Vista may be delayed . . . again. It may ship in winter 2007, but it is now a little confusing. This article includes a bit from Microsoft VP Kevin Johnson that has Vista on track for "2H 2007" (note that the quote is from the article, not Johnson). Many might hope that "2H" is meant to be "2Q"—second quarter, which could refer to the second quarter of Microsoft's July-to-June fiscal year (coinciding with the proposed November/December release of the corporate version) or to the second quarter of calendar 2007 (a quarter later than the proposed release of the consumer version). If it is "2H," meaning second half, then it might coincide with a first- or second-quarter release in calendar 2007 (second half of fiscal 2007) or already signal a delay to the second half of the calendar year.

Anyone wanna bet on what it means?

Monday, July 24, 2006

Dogpiling Namesakes

I know—I have known for many years, in fact—that there are a few others out there with my name, and a couple of them are significantly more famous than I am ever likely to be. Just for fun, I have Googled myself, returning pretty much the mix of results I expected, but today, I searched Dogpile. Sadly, the results were as exciting and interesting as, well, paisley window coverings buried in a landfill twenty years ago. Result 41, however, was at least amusing.

I was surprised when I saw the title, so I noted that it came from MSN Search. Replicating the search at MSN showed that the result in question was 11th overall. Now, We are told that Microsoft wants to beat Google at the search game, so can anyone explain how this site has anything to do with me?

This feels like MSN Search has (at least one of) the same problems as Office: it tries to think for the user. After all, what does it matter if we are off by an "s"? In the URL? They make Windows, they make MSN Search, and now they are planning to come out with the Zune? Yeah, that'll fly.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Go With The flOw

I had read about Jenova Chen before at, back when they did a story on some free games, two of which were Chen creations/collaborations. Now he has flOw (link goes directly to Flash game).

Let's be clear on one thing right now: I have not read the directions for flOw. I figured that the name suggested everything I needed to know, and, oddly enough, I was right. The player begins the game as a simple microorganism with a mouth (you'll figure that out easily) and a couple links in its body. Move the mouse, and your little guy swims toward the mouse. Hold the mouse button down, and he swims even faster. Yay! Wait, there's more.

There are two things that show up on every level (well, one is missing from the lightest, and the other from the darkest), but first you need to understand that "level" here is more about depth into some sort of sea, not something you pass and move beyond forever. Eat the one with the red center to go deeper, the cyan center to rise (the periodic colored ripples indicate their direction and distance). At various levels, you may see simple organisms without mouths, and they are good eatin'. They usually make you bigger and/or more complex. Some levels have organisms like the one you control, and they can get a little hungry. Eat their larger circles (whether on a tail or in orbit) without getting too many of your own eaten, and you can break the bad guys, such as they are, into their component parts, which equates to food for you or other nearby bad guys.

Eventually, on the darkest (deepest?) level, where no red-centered thing ever appears, is the big organism. You could call this the "Boss" at the end of the level. Beat that one, and you evolve into another kind of life form and start all over again. No, you can't lose. If they eat everything that is you, you just get sent to shallower waters to build up (unless you really want to go back right away and take on whatever just beat you so handily, which can work too) before returning. Pay attention to the background. As you munch the red-centered doohickeys to move deeper, you may see organism with which you cannot interact, but they are one level deeper. It's a free preview of what is below.

While I can see how very many people would find this game utterly uninteresting, those who are willing to take an hour or two at a stretch to relax—OK, sometimes it is not entirely relaxing, but those are rare—this is a wonderful break from the world of FPSs, turn-based strategy games, MMPORGs, MUDs, and the like. I have yet to get my second life form to evolve, but one day . . .