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Oct 09 2014

The Breakfast Club (Trolling, trolling, trolling)

breakfast beers photo breakfastbeers.jpgScience and Tech

Last week I was surfing my Tech sites when I ran across an article celebrating the demise of Windows 7 OEM pre-installation packages which HP and Dell (among others) buy in bulk and re-sell at a reasonable price to roll-your-own and custom builders.

The author’s expressed hope was that this would finally force consumers to adopt the “clearly superior in every way” Windows 8 OS and help out “poor beleaguered” Microsoft who shouldn’t be forced to support antiquated and obsolete systems,

Well, you know me.  There were no replies yet and I wanted to show my appreciation of the writer’s effort, so I posted what I considered a rather mild response

Windows 8 (and 8.1 for that matter) is a failure on par with Vista, not because it’s inherently unstable the way Vista is, but because it’s useless in a business environment which is Microsoft’s meat and potatoes and they should never forget it.

Why should I waste a month or two to train all my users a new interface?  Why should I switch to expensive touch screens that get greasy and smeary instantly, often require reconfiguring office space, fail incessantly, and are expensive to purchase and replace?

Windows 9 may have a chance if they find a easy way to configure for a simple (but fully featured) NT style desktop where workers see their document drafts and templates and the approved productivity applications that they require frequently and a Start Menu for those less used…

And that’s it!

Some applications benefit from touch screens (Point of Sale), some do not (document creation and processing, arguably spreadsheets).  Tablets and phones are field toy substitutes useful for enterprise communication and navigation (phone) and client presentations (tablets).  Otherwise they are huge black holes of productivity where your employees play games and update their personal social media (phones), and watch streaming video (tablets).

I will admit the Surface has the right idea with a real, though inferior, keyboard.

If Microsoft does not address those concerns I will continue to purchase Windows 7 as long as I can find an available copy and when I do switch my enterprise to a different Operating System it will be to Linux which provides my IT department with the necessary tools for easy installation, upgrade, maintenance, and control; and my workers with a consistent interface that requires minimal training to be productive.

Business computers need to be easy to use, not a colossal waste of time (which is money) and money (which is also money).

Alas, once a troll always a troll.  To their credit the dialog was more polite (if less creative) than I have been trained to expect from my involvement with political sites.  I wasn’t called a no-good Naderite more materially responsible for the demise of the Republic than corporately corrupt, moronically myopic, lesser evil legislators, but the attacks seemed faint-hearted and lacking in the glittering venom that the shills, toadies, and bullies bring.  Oh, for a foe worthy of my rapier wit.

And of course 2 days later Microsoft announces Windows 10 which validates my every criticism.  I’m sure they will apologize profusely.

Windows 10 is ‘Windows for the masses’

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, ZDNet

October 7, 2014 — 12:48 GMT (05:48 PDT)

Let’s get one thing straight. I’m convinced that the purpose of this Technical Preview is to convince all those Windows 7 enterprise users that Windows 10 puts behind it all that Windows 8 nonsense. Windows 8 put far too much focus on features that businesses saw at best as irrelevant because most of their PCs don’t have touch, and at worse expensive because it meant lots of costly retraining, downtime, and inefficiencies.

Mission accomplished. Windows 10 proves that Microsoft is brave enough to admit that the Windows 8 experiment was a failure and that it’s now time to get back to the serious business of building a platform that people want, not one that they are told they need.

Now I’m certain that there are going to be people who are distressed by Microsoft’s decision to resurrect the Start Menu and put it and the Windows Desktop back in the limelight. I don’t blame them. They’ve put a lot of effort into morphing their workflows to fit in around Windows 8, and then changed that again once to accommodate changes bought about by Windows 8.1. Some even went as far as evangelizing the changes, claiming that they represented the future, and that everyone is just going to have to get used to it.

Yeah, about that…

The important thing to appreciate about Windows 10 is that Microsoft isn’t building an operating system specifically for you or me. Microsoft is building it to cater for the billion or so people out there using PCs that aren’t touch-enabled. These are the people who have invested billions and billions of worker-days in creating effective workflows that utilize the Windows paradigms they have come to know (and perhaps love), and for Microsoft to come along and make drastic fundamental changes to this is a risky maneuver.

Windows 10 is a clear signal to all the uneasy enterprise customers that those crazy days are over. Windows 10 isn’t for those people who want to live on the cutting edge. Windows 10 is Windows for the masses.

Windows 8 was undoubtedly a brave move. I think Microsoft thought that if it made Windows a touch-first platform, it would revive flagging PC sales by fostering new PC form factors. But it didn’t work. Partly because people are getting out of the habit of buying new PCs every few years, partly because Windows 8 user interface was an incoherent muddle, and partly because Microsoft and the OEMs didn’t do a good job of communicating the benefits of the new platform.

And now it’s equally brave that Microsoft is moving on.

The law that entropy always increases holds, I think, the supreme position among the laws of Nature. If someone points out to you that your pet theory of the universe is in disagreement with Maxwell’s equations – then so much the worse for Maxwell’s equations. If it is found to be contradicted by observation – well, these experimentalists do bungle things sometimes. But if your theory is found to be against the second law of thermodynamics I can give you no hope; there is nothing for it but to collapse in deepest humiliation.

Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington, The Nature of the Physical World (1927)

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Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

I would never make fun of LaEscapee or blame PhilJD.  And I am highly organized.

This Day in History

News

U.S. Focus on ISIS Frees Syria to Battle Rebels

By ANNE BARNARD and ERIC SCHMITT, The New York Times

OCT. 8, 2014

As American warplanes cross the Syrian sky dropping bombs on Islamic State militants, another set of air raids has sown destruction across the country, as the Syrian government returns with new intensity to its longstanding and systematic attacks on rebellious towns and neighborhoods.

On Saturday, a mushroom cloud towered over the town of Saraqeb in the northern province of Idlib, after a ground-shaking government bombing that residents said killed two civilians and wounded six.

On Sept. 26, government warplanes struck the nearby town of Bdama, injuring 11 people, damaging a school and enraging residents who initially assumed the planes were American.

And in the northern province of Aleppo, army helicopters have been dropping crude barrel bombs packed with explosives on a near-daily basis, sending residents to dig the dead and wounded from the rubble with their bare hands. Dozens have died in such bombings since the American-led air campaign began.

Such attacks – from airspace that American warplanes now enter at will – have fueled anger at the United States among opponents of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, who wonder why the Americans are leading the fight against the Islamic State but give free hand to a dictator whose fight to remain in power has left as many as 200,000 of his own people dead.

German Recession Fears Mount as Exports Plunge

By REUTERS

OCT. 9, 2014, 8:04 A.M. E.D.T

Exports slumped by 5.8 percent, the biggest drop since January 2009, in the latest sign that Europe’s largest economy is faltering amid broader euro zone weakness and crises abroad that have battered confidence and led German firms to postpone investment plans.

“The economy seems to need a small miracle in September to avoid a recession in the third quarter,” said Carsten Brzeski, an economist at ING.



Hours after the trade data was released, a group of leading economic institutes joined the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in slashing forecasts for German growth. The institutes are now expecting growth of 1.3 percent this year and 1.2 percent next, down from 1.9 and 2.0 percent previously.

The institutes also urged the government to cut corporate taxes, spend more on infrastructure and education, and take steps to encourage private investment, stressing that there was sufficient “financial room for manoeuvre”.



The institutes criticised this dogged focus, with Ferdinand Fichtner of Germany’s DIW research institute criticising the balanced budget goal as a “prestige project” with “no immediate economic significance”.

“There are surpluses in the public budget which could be used to increase investment,” he told a news conference to present the institutes’ report. “I don’t believe the schwarze Null is appropriate at the moment from an economic point of view.”

St Louis police officer shoots dead black teenager while off duty

Mark Tran, The Guardian

Thursday 9 October 2014 06.44 EDT

The St Louis metropolitan police chief, Sam Dotson, said the officer was on patrol for a private security company late Wednesday when he engaged three men in a chase.

Dotson said the men ran away when they spotted the officer, who believed one of them was carrying a gun because of the way he was running. The officer chased the man, an altercation ensued and the man fired at the officer, the police chief said. The officer returned fire and killed the man, who was 18.

Police mistake black teen for burglar at white foster parents’ home

Associated Press

Wednesday 8 October 2014 15.46 EDT

Responding to a neighbor’s report of a break-in, police said they used pepper spray Monday when 18-year-old DeShawn Currie “became profane, threatening and belligerent” and “refused to follow instructions” from officers.



“They was like, ‘Put your hands on the door,'” DeShawn told the television station. “I was like, ‘For what? This is my house.’ I was like, ‘Why are y’all in here?'”

Currie’s foster parents, Ricky and Stacy Tyler, said he has been with them for about a year. The Tylers, their three young children and Currie moved into their new home in July and don’t know all their neighbors in the suburban Raleigh town of Fuquay-Varina, the Tylers said.

Lego ends Shell partnership following Greenpeace campaign

Adam Vaughan, The Guardian

Thursday 9 October 2014 01.00 EDT

The environmental campaign group, protesting about the oil giant’s plans to drill in the Arctic, had targeted the world’s biggest toy maker with a YouTube video that attracted nearly 6m views for its depiction of a pristine Arctic, built from 120kg of Lego, being covered in oil.

Initially Lego had resisted Greenpeace, arguing that it ought to deal directly with Shell, but on Thursday it will relent. Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, the toy maker’s chief -executive, said Lego would honour its existing deal with Shell, which began in 2011, but “as things currently stand we will not renew the contract with Shell when the present contract ends“.

Lego toy sets are currently distributed at petrol stations in 26 countries, in a deal valued at £68m. Lego had previously argued that the relationship had a positive impact on the world by inspiring children with its toy sets.

The rise of the planet of the legal persons formerly known as apes

Alan Yuhas, The Guardian

Wednesday 8 October 2014 10.24 EDT

Tommy, a 26-year-old privately owned chimp in Gloversville, New York, is the plaintiff in a suit brought on his behalf by Steven Wise and the Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP), a group of environmental lawyers who seek nothing less than to break through the “legal wall … erected between humans and nonhuman animals”, as Wise told the Guardian.

But before the US can consider pongid personhood, Wise must argue before a panel of five appellate judges, who have agreed to hear out his petition for a writ of habeas corpus – an order demanding that the custodian of a prisoner prove a legally justifiable reason for detainment.

Unprecedented in a case of animal law, habeas corpus became Wise’s strategy after a career spent researching animal rights. Wise argues that the court should recognize Tommy as a limited legal person entitled to the bodily liberty that habeas corpus protects.

Aides knew of possible White House link to Cartagena, Colombia, prostitution scandal

By Carol D. Leonnig and David Nakamura, Washington Post

October 8 at 11:40 PM

As nearly two dozen Secret Service agents and members of the military were punished or fired following a 2012 prostitution scandal in Colombia, Obama administration officials repeatedly denied that anyone from the White House was involved.

But new details drawn from government documents and interviews show that senior White House aides were given information at the time suggesting that a prostitute was an overnight guest in the hotel room of a presidential advance-team member – yet that information was never thoroughly investigated or publicly acknowledged.

The information that the Secret Service shared with the White House included hotel records and firsthand accounts – the same types of evidence the agency and military relied on to determine who in their ranks was involved.

Can You Imagine Jon Stewart Anchoring ‘Meet the Press’?

by David Knowles, Bloomberg News

Oct 8, 2014 5:36 PM EDT

Fake news almost got very real. Before promoting Chuck Todd to the anchor role of “Meet the Press,” NBC reportedly considered offering the position to comedian Jon Stewart.

The move to enlist the Comedy Central host of “The Daily Show” was seen as a way to try and appeal to a younger audience, New York Magazine reports, and NBC was willing to pay a pretty penny.

“They were ready to back the Brinks truck up,” a source familiar with the proposed deal told the magazine.

New right-to-farm laws protect Big Ag, not small farmers

by Mary Turck, Al Jazeera

October 9, 2014 6:00AM ET

Backed by Big Ag and tea party property rights absolutists, many of these laws are based on language drafted in the 1990s by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a conservative think tank that crafts pro-business bills and pushes their passage in state capitals across the country. With these new right-to-farm efforts, they aim to protect industrial farming and its expansion, including takeovers and transformation of traditional farms.

How do the laws work in practice? In August a pesticide plane mistakenly sprayed dozens of residents in Gold Beach, Oregon. The state imposed fines and suspended the pilot’s license after the pesticide applicator lied to state investigators about what and how it had sprayed. The people who suffered health and property damage say that’s not nearly enough. They filed a legal action to challenge the unconstitutionality of the right-to-farm law (PDF) so they can sue for damages.



Under the ALEC-written right-to-farm laws, anyone who sues, for example, an industrial dairy farm whose manure pit is emitting fumes that make neighbors so sick that they have to evacuate their homes, would not only lose the lawsuit but also have to pay the farm’s attorney fees. ALEC’s legislation protects current farmers and their operations under future new ownership.

Even more alarming, no local government could pass laws that in any way limit pesticide spraying or drift, zoning for large feedlots (concentrated animal feeding operations), standards for fertilizer application and runoff, drainage of wetlands or any other agricultural technology and practices. The expansion of ALEC’s right-to-farm laws means an end to local control and the stifling of local voices.

That is not all. These laws do not protect all farms. They privilege and protect large industrial farms at the expense of smaller, sustainable and organic farms. For example, this means that pollen drift from genetically modified crops may legally contaminate fields of unmodified crops and that pesticide or fertilizer drift may contaminate nearby organic fields or cause illness in humans and animals. And the neighboring farmers or residents would have no recourse in the courts.

Islamic State seizes large areas of Syrian town despite air strikes

By Daren Butler and Oliver Holmes, Reuters

Thu Oct 9, 2014 9:06am EDT

Islamic State fighters seized more than a third of the Syrian border town of Kobani, a monitoring group said on Thursday, as U.S.-led air strikes failed to halt their advance and Turkish forces nearby looked on without intervening.



The commander of Kobani’s heavily outgunned Kurdish defenders said Islamic State controlled slightly less than a third of the town that lies within sight of Turkish territory.

However, he acknowledged that the militants had made major gains in a three-week battle that has also led to the worst streets clashes in years between police and Kurdish protesters across the frontier in southeast Turkey.



“ISIS control more than a third of Kobani. All eastern areas, a small part of the northeast and an area in the southeast,” said Rami Abdulrahman, head of the Observatory which monitors the Syrian civil war.

Esmat al-Sheikh, leader of the militia forces in Kobani, said Islamic State had seized about a quarter of the town in the east. “The clashes are ongoing – street battles,” he told Reuters by telephone from the town.

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