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Distance Multimedia: 4 score & more

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Looking at and past the windows permanent reference link
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(1965) "Same old places and the same old songs...        
It's the singer, not the song." - Jagger/Richards
(1929) "You may forget the singer, but don't forget this song." - A.P. Carter

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pixel January 19, 2007 -- My head hurts from all of the explorations I've allowed myself, such as Like Poirot, I need to rest the "little gray cells". But not this morning. Many of the things I thought were important to say seem lost in the gray cells, so here goes with what I remember.
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pixel Writing about the ad hoc benchmarking was unsatisfying both because it was probably not very interesting to many and yet not thorough enough for others. For example, the startup times really don't capture the performance effects after the startup phase. The 486 machine really is painfully slow, trying to use it as a web server with Apache or IIS. Thanks to a friend, the table has a couple more Mac timings. They are interesting in that they are so consistent with clock frequencies of the three Macs in the table. (But not necessarily perceived efficiency per clock cycle of the G3, G4 and Core Duo.)
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pixel Though it was confusing and enlightening to look back at older hardware and lots of software configurations, the applications and operating systems often cost more than the hardware these days, so they deserve more scrutiny. But the scrutiny is inherently more subjective -- individual priorities and perceptions dominate. Rather than create an even longer single page, this page has abstracts of some major topics and links to separate, topic-specific pages. If the details are not of interest to you, here are some summary suggestions: pixel Most individuals probably do not consciously consider the operating system in a technical sense, but are influenced by OS design decisions more than they realize, particularly with regard to permissions and windowing. Not surprisingly, 3D windowing and permissions seem to be the hot new topics in reports about Vista -- the Microsoft Features page lists "User Experience" and "Security" ahead of all other topics.
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May I see your permit?
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pixel The biggest security problem in Windows (ignoring bugs in the code) is the way permissions are used, such that ordinary tasks, even viewing a web page with Flash or a YouTube, seems to require full Administrator privileges in Windows XP. Microsoft seems to think Vista has better answers -- I'm most curious to get my own Vista system to see for myself, but am not ready to buy one just for that or to experience 3D windowing.
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Which windows?
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pixel Until the 1980s, windowing wasn't even a part of commercial operating systems, and didn't become prominent until 1984. Working with a plethora of windowing systems, I find Mac OS windowing far clumsier than reputed. The evolution of Windows 95 to Windows XP has left me mostly comfortable with what Microsoft has done, at least before Vista. A good part of why I said "plethora" is the multiplicity of windowing options in Unix/Linux environments, and a good part of why that doesn't bother me as much as it might is that I tend to not use one of those options unless I really need to.
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Office mates?
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pixel Though the current Microsoft windowing feels comfortable, trepidation about Vista changes seems justified, based on preliminary reports. Personal experience with IE 7 and Office 2007 exacerbate concerns. Using a 60-day trial version of Office 2007, I can say what I like and (mostly) dislike about this release. Today I mostly use Office 2000 and am glad I own copies of Office XP to use when Microsoft drops support for Office 2000.
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By your command
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pixel Who needs a mouse, anyway? Gina Trapani writes of a command line comeback, and Microsoft tries to finally displace the legacy DOS command shell with PowerShell, but some of us, like Gina, never forgot the command line. Whether Linux, OS X, Unix or Windows (with Cygwin), a command line shell such as bash is a necessary tool for me. I don't pay attention to Linux windowing, even though I spend lots of time using Linux, because bash is the "window" of choice.
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pixel After bash, one of my dominant tools is Bill Joy's vi editor. I probably use vi for the majority of my writing, for configuring systems and for code development. (Microsoft Word, Outlook Express, Apple Mail and TextEdit are the main writing alternatives for me.) One of my Unix mentors is a staunch vi advocate, to the point that he uses vi as his primary email tool. I don't go that far, but I probably do use vi to manipulate email at least once a day. Even for those who don't directly use vi are probably unaware that they use (or can use) aspects of the vi input model in very recent software, including Google Reader.
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coda
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pixel There are so many other perspectives appearing every day, spurred by anticipation of Vista and "Leopard" (OS X 10.5). Chris Pirillo committing to Vista and sharing his frustrations. Walt Mossberg, often a staunch Mac advocate, gently endorses Vista. Microsoft Watch is even more cautioning. With all of the awareness of Microsoft bugs, the Apple Vulnerability Project is using January to try to raise consciousness of bugs in OS X. Lockergnome seemingly says we've heard these songs before.
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