Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Change, change, change. Some things never change. Using Fedora 12 in earnest.

I got Fedora 12 on its release date (17th November) and now all my systems have been running Fedora 12 for almost a month. Is it good? I think so. But what about the accolades that Fedora 11 got? I thought they were over the top. It was not the great step forward that everyone else shouted about. For me Fedora 10 was the big step. And Fedora 12 is a much better release than 11, in my opinion. Other than self-inflicted problems, it all went well.

Before I rant let me mention the good things. First unlike Fedora 11's boot time boost 12 gets a real boost on my systems! I am now up and running so fast that I have not yet seen the new graphical boot screen (I am also prone to slight exaggerations)! It looks good. This is the first time I can say that one of my Fedora Desktops looks and feels as slick as I can get with Windows. On my laptop the touch screen works out of the box, or at least it is usable out of the box. In general the hardware support looks much better.

The KVM/qemu virtulisation package ran like a dream rather than my usual Virtualbox. I have not managed to get USB working yet, something I do use so until that is fixed Virtualbox will be my virtual environment. What I can say is that KVM appears to run a little quicker than Virtualbox and gives no errors on the systems tested (including Windows 7). I am hopeful on this one.

Photographic software has all just worked. There is no great leap forward in facilities. I am still awaiting the real Linux break through on workflow but I continue to use Geeqie, LightZone and the Gimp.

I use TurboPrint, a commercial print driver, for my Canon printer. This worked fine with Fedora 12, in fact it integrates even better than before. TurboPrint is a great piece of software and I do not object to paying the developer for this one. If only he made a driver for my Canon Lide 500 scanner. This one piece of equipment is what I need a copy of Windows for. I would probably still have a copy of Windows just out of interest so it is no real extra cost. My advise to anyone who uses Linux is to avoid Canon if you can, their support is patchy at best.

What is wrong? First, my finger print reader still does not work. Support for this stopped with Fedora 11, when they introduced better support for finger print readers. This was the one exotic device that I did use and I miss it. For some reason the developers are not going to bring back this 'legacy' device into the development cycle.

My Nvidia graphics card in my laptop (a Geforce 6150 Go) does not work correctly in 64-bit Fedora with the Nouveau driver. It works fine with the 32-bit release but I use 64 bit Fedora for a reason, I am a masochist. I have spent most of the weeks since the release attempting to get this working. This is a new driver and it is working much better than previous releases. At least I can use my laptop. There are just two features I know of that I cannot get working. First the suspend function does not work, a big disadvantage with a laptop. If this worked I would consider the Nouveau driver a success. The other thing not working is 3-D support. This is something that I can live without. My desktop being dragged across the surface of some virtual cube is not a requirement for business, just yet.

Fedora 12 problems for me all hang around hardware drivers. This is not dissimilar to the Windows 7 situation. I can say that Linux is getting very close to Windows on hardware support but it is not quite there. If you run the 64 bit versions you are more likely to encounter problems, but this is true on Windows as well.

Back to Fedora 12. Is it worth the trouble? It is. Does it compete with other Linux distributions? As always Fedora is pretty cutting edge, not always the safest option. It is full of the latest software Gnome 2.28, OpenOffice 3.1.1, AbiWord 2.28.1 and so on. This list is no different to the other distributions, although Fedora usually manage the latest versions of the big guns before the others. While the cutting edge stuff should make it less stable it is normal for Fedora to have some of the old Red Hat reliability. Fedora 12 is certainly a stable release. A small number of problems effects any new release of an operating system, Fedora 12 was no different. Other than my Nouveau driver problem nothing affected me.

After a month of 'live' running can I recommend it? Of course, it is a pleasure to work with and does what I want.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Windows or nothing - I'll take nothing

In a previous post I ranted on about the supply of software for Linux systems. I decided that it is time to moan in style on these pages. I am moaning about companies who are inflexible in their support of Linux, and many companies take a similar attitude towards Apple's Mac OS X. Note this rant and rave is not about support for Linux but the inflexible attitude of some companies towards a different operating system. I have suffered this for years having always run what is a minority operating system because I prefer that OS at the time.

The background, why I run Linux: I used Acorn's RISC OS. I needed some extra disc space and a few more peripherals. RISC OS was expensive to add the latest peripherals to. The best way of getting them was to put in a server and supply them from that. I looked at Windows and Red Hat Linux. Red hat was the cheaper solution, even though I then paid the full Red Hat license. The big plus for Red Hat was the inclusion and support of the various servers I needed. Once I made this move to Red Hat Linux 5.1. Slowly I used it more and more until it replaced RISC OS. Please note that I have nothing against Windows and I do use it on Virtual machine at times, I just prefer Linux.

So what is my problem? I have just changed the ISP supplying my broadband. The new ISP set-up could be done from Windows or Mac OS. In fact it could be done from Linux or any other operating system if only they would tell you how! That is my problem. They do have a small section on how to setup routers other than the one they supply on their web pages, from that you can set up your own router on your Linux system. How do I access this before I get on to broadband? Could they also not include similar instructions on how to set-up the router they provide? Could they not even put these in the box, just in case you are on Linux or some other operating system.

They also warn you that there could be problems if you cannot run their test program if you have problems. They of course only supply this for Windows and Mac OS X. Everyone else takes pot luck. This is the norm in the ISP market. Don't tell me about the Linux friendly ISPs, I am not in their price bracket at present. I have only moved to save money. Besides many ISPs are the same even though they support Linux, they will not help a React OS chap for example.

What I find appalling is that I sit at my bash prompt typing away attempting to configure the router via telnet or ssh. I then look at this router and realise that this CLI stuff is familiar. Is this Linux in another guise, probably. All the Windows fans who would not give Linux a home should throw out their routers. My ISP is willing to send you a Linux box but not support one, strange but true.

Is this a major problem? No. I have yet to be refused support by any ISP just because I run Linux. I have yet to fail to get a router working just because I run Linux. Most ISPs are accommodating. They want your custom. In fact I am very happy with my ISP for giving me what I want at a price I can almost afford. What they don't want to do is just give that little extra help that they could. And it is something I can use to step onto this, my favourite soap box.

What they need to do is give a simple list of technical information. An A5 sheet in the box explaining the required settings would help. They can put a little warning on it that this is only for users of minority systems and not for those willing to let their scripts configure things for them. Most have the information hidden away on their web pages, but you can see the problem with this. I am sat at home with my new ADSL connection, a new router and no instructions to help me. I am sure that the information would also be useful to those Windows and Mac OS users who prefer to do things themselves. We live in the information age, all I want is one small piece of paper.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Geeqie Whiz!

I have said that I have an interest in photography and I use Linux. Naturally my photographs are processed on Linux. In fact last week I ranted on about the supply of software for Linux systems. I had used the services of fotoinsight to produce a photo booklet. This was such a success I tried two more! So thanks to the chaps at fotoinsight they have made my family happy and supported Linux. Now my family can see my photographs so I need to improve.

There are lots of columns and articles describing photographic software available for Linux. I have tired most of it but do keep looking. In fact I have just lashed out on a commercial product, LightZone, but I am not going to tip you off about the advantages I think it presents. I do still look around for the perfect Free solution. I have not found it but I have found a gem that almost does what I want. I want something to organise my workflow. Geeqie is a fork of the GQview project. I like it. It is quick and simple. I found it very quick to review a shooting session. Problems? Of course it does not do all I want.

There is little to complain about in Geeqie other than its simplicity. This is also its strength. The authors appear to have written a specification and stuck to it. Admirable. I can see how the software could be improved. That is not too difficult as it lacks a lot of features that I would want. Most of these are available if I use the link that allows me to use the GIMP (or any other image editor) to edit my photographs. The problems are not with Geeqie but with my demands.

What are my problems with the software? I want to change a whole batch of RAW files to JPEG. This is a normal thing for those of us that shoot RAW, our friends often cannot see the photographs if we send them a RAW file (as well as saving lot of bandwidth). I have not yet found a method of converting the RAW files to JPEG in this software. On the other hand the software is the fastest way to review a shoot I have! That is praise I cannot express too loudly.

My second complaint is on Printing to a boarderless 6x4 (snap size) results in a small white margin at the bottom, left and right of the picture even though I have reduced the margins to 0. This is a common problem for me with Linux and printing boarderless prints so possibly not down to Geeqie. You have to get the frame size ratio to match the paper size ration, much easier for the program to allow a little bleed. When all boarders are zero then it is probably best just size the image so that the image covers the whole area and bleed off a couple of pixels on one edge. The biggest problem is that resizing the image is not possible, so boarderless printing is a no go area. I also got a black and white copy rather than colour but I was confused by the printer selections so it could be me. I would not use it to print photographs as it was too much hassle. This is probably the biggest flaw.

The last complaint is just about lack of editing features. I am sure more simple additional 'edits' will come in later versions. I would need just 2 basic 'edits'. The most important would be format conversion, RAW to JPEG is important for me. Cropping would be useful, if only to get around the boarderless print problem. Others would be nice. If like me you use the on camera flash because it is too much trouble to get out that expensive plastic brick that weighs down the backpack then red-eye removal help is a must. Sharpening is a boost for most shots. Exposure and colour adjustments are often wanted so a simple first hit method would be nice. OK I can do all this in the GIMP but when a quick fix is required it is very slow to use from Geeqie.

With all these problems what does it do? Well first it does not require pictures to be imported into a database. It uses directories and files or this is the default mode. That is my own preferred method of filing my photographs so it suits me. You can choose to use collections. The tools are all there for the user to make their own choice. (Did I say this was simple software?)

The view pane can be structured to almost whatever you want. There are three basic panes. The image, the tools (and directory selection) and the files (image selector). You can see your photographs and decide if they are up to scratch and viewing them is fast. Since installing the software I have started to use this a quick method of reviewing a shooting session. I keep all my shots in directories based on the shooting session. Working like this makes Geeqie in folder mode work for me. Once in a shoot the thumb nails and first image are available in a flash. Even on my modest laptop it displays a session with a pace that I could only hope for.

You can get at the information your camera stored with the picture, the date and time and exposure information should all be available via the EXIF window. You can also overlay the image with a subset of the information and add a histogram of the exposure if you want. You can even show the RGB values of any pixel that the cursor happens to be on.

You can tag the photograph with a numeric mark from 1 to 6 and display the tags in the file list. You can add titles and keywords to each photograph. All this will make searches easier when you need to find a shot that you need. I admit this is where I am less than rigorous and will never keep up this matching of a shot to a keyword but the facility is there if I should choose to use it.

It is simple software! Simple in that it only does what it sets out to. Simple in that it is structured in its efforts. It is this simplicity that most of today's offerings should attempt to emulate. I can only recommend that you look at Geeqie if you use a Unix like operating system.The version I am looking at is Geeqie 1.0 beta 1. If like me you use RAW then the speed is as good as I have seen, Bibble and LightZone included. I can say that if I had seen this before I purchased LightZone it may have saved me money (but I do like LightZone, for exposure correction there is nothing better IMHO)! I expect that by version 2 Geeqie will be my preferred tool! I am already using it for the 1st review of a shoot. If they add a few basic edits and fix the printing then it will become more than a review tool. This tool has the chance of becoming the best Linux workflow tool about. Personally I think it is now, even with the limited features.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Support Linux?

Sorry for going quiet. I am attempting to satisfy all the family and their demands for my services. I like them but they are an unreasonable bunch. They just expect too much of me. I am a keen photographer and the dawn of the digital era was a gift to me. I can take photographs and only show those I want to. No longer do I need to dash from the darkroom clutching my most recent prints to a quiet spot, avoiding all human contact on the way. I do not like people to see the shots I am not happy with, most of them. Having been on the annual family jaunt to the coast I had taken a few (hundred) photographs. Now they wanted me to print them. Seeing them on my laptop is not a substitute for getting hold of paper copies I am told.

Why have I not printed them? Well not only do I moan but I am a miser. The cost of printing these photographs is getting astronomical. What can I do? Somebody suggested I get a book printed. There are lots of companies who allow you to print your own 'photobooks'. Yes, you can produce your own books for the coffee table. It all looks interesting. It costs about the same as printing the photographs but this is a new way. A new challenge.

Off I went on my search to find a suitable company. Many companies allowed you to compose your books on the internet. A good idea as you have to send the photographs to them. For me these remotely hosted applications are awkward so I avoid them. I made notes of those I liked but carried on the search for some software I could run on my desktop and demonstrate to the rest of the clan on my laptop.

My search uncovered many who offered software for Windows. Most even offered Mac OS software. I found only one offering that allowed me to use Linux, a requirement for me. I have therefore used fotoinsight to print my book. As a Linux enthusiast I have to show support for any company that supports my platform. In fact there are at least a couple of options, the software is written by cewe and their offering also uses the software.

I am not complaining about the minimal support for Linux. This is what is expected for a system used on so few computers. Most enthusiasts have access to Windows should everything else fail, this limits the minimal damage for companies. Why do I mention it? First I want those who do support Linux to know that I appreciate their efforts. Then I want to let others know that I do use commercial software when required on my Linux system. I have about 4 paid for applications on my Linux systems, that is more than my Windows using friends own on average! Linux users are not the people who make illegal copies of software, after all that is one of the points of the GNU license.

Those who follow free software do so because they care about copyright, supporting them could be worthwhile. I think you will get a better percentage of legal software take-up than on other platforms. What you will have to do is take a bit of verbal knocking from those who think that all software should be free (as in speech). If you cannot handle that then do avoid the Free Software world. If you can then we all attempt to do the right thing. But there is another option! Why create your own software? Why not put out a request to the Free Software world. Give them a specification and see if there are any takers, you may be surprised. Will this be Free (as in beer)? It should not be. The idea of Free (as in speech) is that we should all support via our support for the community. What the community will do is surprise you in the quality of their efforts.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Mortality and Mistakes

This blog is a meandering mess. I think of a title and them write a few notes on the subject when I can. No structure, no aim, no real thought. The purpose is to keep me thinking, to enable me to communicate ideas in a reasonably constructive way. So far them I have failed. I guess that this is no different to life. I am a failure at that as well.

Failure? I earn enough. I enjoy my job and my life away from work. Why am I a failure? I am what the HR crew now call a believer. I don't work for money. I am not goal orientated. I believe, I work and live for my principles. I believe in myself. I believe in my abilities. I believe that I am correct most of the time.

Or I did! As I get older I am starting to see the cracks in my armour. I am not always correct. Twenty years ago the previous paragraph would not have said 'correct most of the time'. I would have been correct (in my own mind) all the time. Misunderstanding was for others and not for me. Now I can see that I am wrong sometimes, just like everybody else. But even in my youth I knew I made some mistakes. What I can say is that I know that I always made mistakes. I would not sit back like the shrinking violet but would step forward to declare that the mistake was mine. It was my principle that if I was not correct I should admit it and make sure that it did not happen again.

It was important to me that I admitted when I was wrong. It still is. Yet today I am capable of letting others dig out my mistakes. I am not brave enough to declare the fault. I leave it to others to force the declaration.

I am a failure because I have let my principles slip, I have failed because of my own mortality. Yet it is in this failure that I can now be seen as a more complete person, a better man. Now you see my fault, I try to twist even my failure to be a positive. Am I such a bad man?

Friday, August 28, 2009

Linux is hopeless?

The title was just to stir everyone up. Linux is of course a good operating system. There is also nothing wrong with Windows. The main difference is, as the Free Software Foundation would have us believe, all about freedom. With Linux I am free to do as I please. But this time I cry, cry for help.

With Windows I expect to have to hunt for bug fixes. The difficulty is not with Microsoft but the model which drives all the software creators. I expect one product to interact with another and everyone deny responsibility. I do not expect the same with Linux. It is after all a community thing. Everyone working for the good of the community. I have heard such claims before! Politicians all clamour to tell me how they work for the community. Enough said I think.

So, Linux is all about politics? Perhaps I exaggerate. Linux is diverse, especially in its development stage and this in itself can cause problems. It is supposed to be about freedom. This is what all new converts are told. Linux does depend on the distribution but take it from someone who has been running Linux as a user since the mid-1990's that this dependency is minor. If your distribution does it now then they all will within a year.

I run Fedora at home. I keep it pretty up to date. It is seen as a cutting edge distribution by some. I chose it for stability! I have been running Red Hat in various versions from Red Hat 5 and Fedora gave me continuity and methods I knew and understood. I accept that it does choose the latest release for most of the provided software, or the latest it can. I currently run Fedora 11 and will download Fedora 12 at some point soon to test it before mid-November (the planned release date). I will probably be running it live before December. I am that much of a fan of Fedora and Linux in general.

My problem? Things keep breaking! As I install each release things change. Suddenly something that would not work just jumps into life. Unfortunately things also stop working. The parts that suddenly work are fine, they are all documented. Just as with commercial software nobody admits "this fix will stop devices x, y and z from working with this software".

I have not always been careful when buying hardware. My scanner does not work with Linux and my printer is not that well liked. Still that was my own fault. What I was careful with when buying was my laptop, or at least parts of it. One part I wanted to work was the fingerprint reader. It did, without a problem. I have been using it since Fedora 9.

Now, as part of the Fedora 11 upgrade from 10, I am given a better fingerprint reader software and the ability to use a greater variety of fingerprint readers. "Extensive work has been done to make fingerprint readers easy to use as an authentication mechanism" I am told. I cannot tell you because the fingerprint reader does not work any more!

Why not? Because nobody wants to develop the hardware I have, developers cannot get hold of it and other niggles. This is a problem for me. I am told to check up if hardware works and it did. Now it does not.

I used to recommend that companies give up commercial software and go open source. Can I now? I recommend options to companies running 1000's of systems. These systems have to work for years, many are still running Windows NT. That is not a typo XP was not an option as the upgrade is too expensive and will not run on the computers! Enter Linux perhaps? It is difficult to get them to try. My clients are conservative in their purchases. These problems stop them trying it.

My only hope is that when other Linux distributions pick up the new fingerprint software from Fedora, and they will, then they will re-introduce support for the hardware I have. This is not a major problem for me, I will stick with Linux but it could upset quit a few people. Fancy having that very piece of hardware you needed suddenly stop working.

Is Linux ready for the desktop? Of course it is. Where it fails is in the development model which Linux followers like myself think is so good. There are times when the developers cannot not help. These are also the times when a user with more pressing needs will turn around and say that Linux is not ready for his desktop. Over to the Linux community (I think I just passed the book to myself!).

Monday, August 24, 2009

Holiday or Vacation

I have just returned from my annual trip to the seaside. My holiday or vacation is built to refresh me, to recharge my body from the pounding of the last year, to improve performance for the coming year. It got me thinking. Why two words to describe the same thing? There are others often we 'take a break'.

In the UK we prefer to user the term holiday. In the US vacation is the more common term. I am sure that my US cousins are as familiar with the two terms as I am. I am also sure they will stick to using the tried and trusted terms they use, just as I do.

What is the difference? Vacation is the act of vacating! Leaving empty is not a description that appears to fit out modern view of the vacation! But that is just what we are doing, vacating our offices for somewhere more pleasant.

Holiday is a derivative of holy day. Not appropriate you might think but my period of holiday certainly covered one holy day as defined by the Roman Catholic Church. Back in the bad old days when employers had a little more control over their staff they were all you got away from your job.

Both words are derived from old practices or terms and have come to mean something a little different over time. This is how our language develops. There is in the UK a battle by more traditional media against the language developing out of mobile phones, blogs and social networking sites. They dislike the laziness of using terms like l8 or the short form misspelling of certain words, like luv. They complain about the lack of structure or grammar. They do a good job of being crotchety.

I am old but want English to be a living language. Look at the differences between UK English and US English. In the intervening two hundred plus years since the rebel forces broke away from His Majesty's government the two major English speaking nations language grew apart. We both still talk of special relationships, but cannot even agree on the pronunciation of the term. English is alive.

Look at French. It is desperate to remain as it is, the government has attempted to force the French to see standard French rather than English derivatives. English does not need a Toubon Law! We are happy to announce before a meal 'bon appetit' (even though the spell checker is proud to highlight our fault). The French media used to avoid le weekend and le fortnight to avoid Anglicising their language but there are no French words for these two important periods! Usage has won out and French is a richer language for it.

The Internet if altering language faster than anything else. Blog is still rejected by spell checkers, even those built to edit blogs. Twitter has taken on a new if not entirely different meaning. SPAM is not a tinned meat promoted by Monty Python's famous song. The list of new words and altered meanings is very long. These additions to language make it richer and easier to communicate not only on the world wide web but in our everyday life.

No language should be impervious to change. Usage needs to be tempered with sense. My own spelling and grammar are appalling. However, I still bemoan what appears to be the death of the apostrophe. I would like to know what is correct so that any deviation from the standard is known and understood. More than that I would like my language to the one that gets its message to the most people.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Shoot the messenger?

In my spare time I take snaps, photos. I have an interest in photography that goes back to my early days when my father taught me how to develop black and white films myself. It was also Dad who gave me an interest in technology for its own sake. He is probably the reason I ended up working with computers, rather than people.

My interest in photography is not for the photograph but the technology that surrounds it. Silver Halide was a difficult medium, you worked blind. You needed hope and skill just mixed with a small hint of inspiration. Each frame you shot was at a cost. It needed to be correct. I have spent hours waiting for the correct light, taken much of the time just to measure the exposure. I waited and hoped, as each exposure cost me money.

I now have a digital SLR and all the modern wonders that an amateur photographer needs. I am not restricted by the 36 frames of a 35mm film but the 500+ shots I get on my 16Gb memory card. OK, I can do several thousand, if only I would shoot jpeg. Do I shoot more frames? No. In a way that only the cantankerous and crotchety can, I will not submit to the enhanced abilities of the new technology! But is it cheaper? No, see what has to say on the subject! OK, the article is a little out of date but it takes about 3 years for digital to beat film on cost! I guess that I need to take similar care with each frame.

Do I show off my work? No. I keep it hidden on my hard disc, only for my eyes. I am perhaps over critical of my work. I think that it is not good enough to show, yet when somebody bursts in and sees the pictures on the screen they usually want to see more. I have posted a shot for you to see. Now everyone is laughing at my abilities.

Why are my pictures just not good enough? I may not take thousands of photographs like some but I am just as careless! The framing is wrong, the exposure is out. It is just not what I wanted to produce. As much as I edit them in the Gimp I cannot get them to my look as I want. This does have the advantage of reducing my costs, I don't print them saving me a lot of cash and time.

What to do? I guess I go with the flow and get some decent workflow software for Linux. This is bound to help. New technology always makes me feel better. The photographs? They will remain private, adoring only my desktop as that is all they are worth. This allows me to kid myself that my very expensive DSLR pays for itself when compared to my old film camera!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Free Software?

Have you ever read Eric Raymond's book The Cathedral and the Bazaar? Have you ever read any of Richard Stallman's many articles on the subject of Free Software? You are probably aware that free is as in speech not as in beer. There are however a huge number of 'free' software licences available. Each has its own little clauses to catch us out. My problem is what is free!

The Free Software Foundation, an organisation that promotes and holds copywrite and started by Richard Stallman, provide us with a great starting block with the GPL. There are restrictions in that licence as there are in many others. These restrictions cause a lot of hot air. For example with the GPL if you use the code then you have to release your amended code under the GPL. This is not a restriction of the BSD licence that covers the underlying OS Apple used for their systems. The Open Source Initiative have listed a lots of them here. A quick glance will show you how fragmented the free software movement is (and yes even Microsoft have a couple of listings).

What does free mean to me? What do I want?

It happens that I run Linux, but not because I have any great belief in Freedom. I run it because I happen to like it. Freedom is important, as is Free (as in beer) but what matters is that it suits me. What I do not understand is why there needs to be so many free software licences.

Why are there so many licences? The only reason I can think is the lawyers! Lets face it they get everywhere. Can they sniff the money available in the potential fights over patents? Where there is an attorney there is cash. Whatever the reason the lawyers are gathering, we would be better freedom fighters if we created a scheme of free legal aid rather than software.

Strike me down! The chaps at the Software Freedom Law Center appear to be doing for law what the FSF does for software! And President Obama picked David Kappos as the Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Mr. Kappos, a known supporter of Open Source software, is now in charge of enforcing Software Patents. Are we seeing a change? Is Freedom more important than Free (as in Beer)?

My own view is that Free is only worth while when it is Free (as in choice). I for one prefer to have the choice of two or more products. The price can help the choice, as can other Freedoms to do as I please. Most of all though I want to feel that the products I use were chosen for my own reasons (the best reasons).

Friday, July 31, 2009

Virtual Walks

I have been looking at some solutions recently. They were simple. No special requirements but needed a little thought. Real problems that required a real solution. I approached several well known companies and guess what, they all wanted to supply virtual solutions. Is that not a little silly?

Virtual was used in the sense of "as good as" or "almost". So a program that is virtually complete is one that is as good as or almost complete. Think about it. A virtual solution is not a better solution. Virtuality relies on the fact that the solution is almost as good! A quick google shows 66 million+ results for web pages associated with virtual solutions but these solutions are as good as what?

My solution required more computers, not a problem in the "virtual" world. These can just pop up out of my current infrastructure. I am assured that my disc requirements would be better met if I used a virtual solution. There are virtual printers, virtual network routers and you can even get virtual finance! Yes, look that last one up on your favorite search engine. At the moment you could spend hours attempting to find real hard cash.

I can see how the use of emulation on computer systems helps. I can even see that today the emulation of other systems is very sophisticated. Why do we need things that are almost the solution?

In the case of my problem I certainly did not need the power of a quad core processor. But I did need a little bandwidth for certain components. This meant that the Virtual solutions were not solutions in this case. I stuck out for real systems. I have to say that they will end up on a SAN, using virtual discs and tapes. Many of the local services will be provided by servers that are virtual.

The current fashion is to take on the concepts of virtual components. Do we need to follow the herd? We don't but before we discard the concept it is worth looking at what it can provide. In my case I discarded the concepts as they did not help me. Then I took an about turn and used the virtual components that helped my solution.

In other cases I have picked up the virtual soap box and stood with those who shout for something (almost) as good as the real deal.

Not going with the fashion may sound typical of the crotchety old man. It is not my cantankerous nature that brings this on but a careful analytic process. I will use the virtual world but only when it produces results that fit into the environment in which I work. I can say that I have virtually taken up the virtual world. What we should realise is that the word virtual is almost as much use as the word nice. The word can virtually be used in any situation without altering the meaning at all.

My point? Why invent terms using innocuous words? Why not use the term emulator? After all the purpose of our virtual component is just to emulate the real deal. Why not? Because the early emulators were not the best, the name became associated with poor performance. The marketing teams reacted.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Hello! But why?

This is my first attempt at blogging. If it is as successful as my attempts at keeping a diary then it will fail within a very short time. I tend towards the morose, grumpy without the fun. I can find fault with anything.

The purpose of my blog is to moan. The first few entries will probably be about blogging software, as I get use to its quirks. Why, for example, is the editor presented to me able to check my spelling but unable to recognise that the word blog has arrived to our language?

Blogging software is designed to allow us to express ourselves. It appears to do a reasonable job. I am not too sure that the expression of design is quite as simple as the expression of words. I guess that I need practice, I do moan but am willing to accept my own inadequacies. You are at the brunt of those practices.

I have many interests but most of my time (off the golf course at least) is spent attempting to get computers to help me in my activities. This will probably be the main content of the blog. I will not restrict myself to these activities and will use this platform to shout about anything I want.

I do not expect you to enjoy this page. I certainly would be affronted if you thought I wrote this blog for anyone other than myself. If you want to make comments that I am happy enough for you to leave them. Just understand that like myself once you do this you will be opening yourself up to receive a small portion of the abuse I get.

Please enjoy this page for what it is. A rant.