An often irreverent look at some of the week's other news, including a successful arrival in Ireland and a not-so-successful debit card adventure, Midori madness, 64-bit Windows on the rise, a 10-K filing about Microsoft's competition, and so much more...
So, we're in Ireland. It's been a great first week so far, mostly in and around Dublin, but there were a few bouts of stupidity, including Aer Lingus not bringing one of our bags along with us and then not delivering it until 36 hours later. But the more troubling event occurred about four days into our trip, when we started being unable to get cash out of ATM machines with our debit cards. This happened enough that we called the bank, and long story short someone had copied the card at a processing center and was charging gas to our account in upstate New York. The bank eventually agreed to turn off the credit card functionality but leave on the ATM functionality so we can continue to get money here, and we have credit cards to fall back on if we actually need a card for some reason. Aggravating, but at least it had a happy ending.
The weather is of prime concern in Ireland, of course, but so far so good. We've only had one actual day of rain so far, and most other days have been overwhelmingly sunny, which is both unexpected and quite pleasant. Not that this place is the Caribbean or anything: There's a beach right down the street from here but I don't think I've ever seen a seaside so devoid of humanity, especially in the dead of summer.
As expected, I've had to alter my work schedule because of the time change difference, compared to what I've done the previous two summers in France. I'm working in the mornings here, so I get going at what is about 3:00 am back home, 8:00 am here, and work until sometime between 10 and 12, depending on what's going on. Then we head out. If we don't get back too late, I try to catch up on email and occasionally get a bit of writing done at night as well, but oftentimes there's little interest in that for what I assume are obvious reasons.
Despite the less-than-perfect Internet connection and distance, Leo and I managed to record another epic, one and a half hour episode of the Windows Weekly podcast yesterday. As always, we can expect to see the new episode sometime this weekend.
But wait, there more. Don't forget to follow me on Twitter, Friendfeed and the SuperSite Blog. I'm still posting from the road as usual. Or, as close to usual as possible.
Midori? I Moved Away from Mixed Drinks Years Ago, Sorry
I love the way tech enthusiasts can get all in a lather over absolutely nothing. The latest example is a Microsoft research project codenamed Midori, which many believe/hope is a future replacement for Windows. Hey, maybe it is. But let's be honest here: There was no truly new information about Midori "leaked" this week, and there's nothing to suggest this will be any more viable in the real world than any of the other hundreds of OS-related research projects Microsoft is currently working on. If you're looking for the next NT--that is, a completely new platform that will someday replace Microsoft's current platform--you're going to have to keep looking. Or, you can get a life. Either way.
Finally, 64-Bit Windows is Taking Off on the Desktop
After years of false starts, and half-hearted efforts from Microsoft (like Windows XP x64), it looks like 64-bit versions of Windows are finally starting to sell in appreciable numbers. According to Microsoft, the installed base of Windows Vista x64 editions has more than tripled in the US in the last three months (i.e. the most recent quarter), and more than doubled worldwide. In June, 20 percent of all Vista PCs hitting the Windows Update service were x64 versions, up from 3 percent in March. That's a huge jump all of a sudden, given that Vista shipped concurrently in both 32-bit and 64-bit versions in November 2006. How big is that? Well, there are probably as many people using x64 versions of Windows as there are Mac users. That's how big it is. And its apparently growing at quite a clip.
In Filing, Some Talk About Microsoft's Competitors
In its annual 10-K filing, Microsoft once again provides an inside look at how the company really feels about its competitors. Apple, for example, has made "inroads in share, particularly in the U.S. and in the consumer segment," leading Microsoft to begin an expensive transition to a more integrated, Apple-like sales model (which is not discussed in detail). But the Apple threat pales in comparison to a more dire change: Users are increasingly accessing computer resources on non-PC devices like cell phones, or what the company calls "alternative platforms and new devices that may reduce consumer demand for traditional personal computers." Cell phone makers ship over 1 billion mobile devices a year, 3-5 times the sales rate of new PCs. On the server side, Linux remains a threat, as are Web-based productivity options like Google Docs. It's a whole new world, baby. And while Microsoft seems like it gets that, the company also appears to be moving a bit slowly to embrace it.
Let the Games Begin: Yahoo!'s Annual Meeting Happens Today
While Yahoo!'s board of directors obviously avoided the biggest potential threat to their existence by settling with billionaire investor Carl Icahn, today's long-delayed annual shareholder meeting should still include some fun fireworks. (By the way, the key concession from Icahn appears to be this: He won't appear at the meeting today.) Yahoo! hasn't exactly had a banner year, and while its on-again-off-again flirtation with Microsoft has generated a lot of headlines, the big news of course is that the company's leadership is absolutely clueless. I'm expecting shareholders to take them to task for that. And if they're smart, they'll toss a few of the more useless board members out onto the street.
Dell to Revive its MP3 Player: DJ 2, The Quickening?
As crazy as this sounds, Dell is planning to re-enter the MP3 player market and battle Apple anew, despite the utter failure of its first attempt, a line of portable devices marketed under the Dell DJ brand. The PC giant is currently testing an MP3 player design that it could begin selling as soon as September, according to a "Wall Street Journal" report, and it will include a Wi-Fi connection and sell for less than $100. Honestly, I think this ship has sailed, but I do appreciate Dell's persistence.
Microsoft is Looking for More IE 8 Beta Testers
In a post to its Internet Explorer blog, Microsoft this week put out the call for more IE 8 beta testers. "Currently the only way to directly file a bug with the IE Team is to be a part of the IE8 Technical Beta program on Microsoft Connect. Beta 2 is right around the corner and we are expanding our reach! If you wish to be a part of making IE better by contributing great bug reports then please email us at IESO@microsoft.com and tell us a little about yourself including why you'd be a great beta tester." Go for it.
And I am outta here...
I realize Short Takes is a little, well, short this week, but we've got castles to scale and Guinness to drink, and it's not even lunchtime yet. :) See you next week...