A Look Back At OS/2

This ends up being a look back at the entire history of the PC, to do it justice and give it context. Via Bill Quick, who used OS/2 more than I did: Half an operating system.

In my case, I had a friend who ran a BBS that gave me my first online experience, and he was an OS/2 fanatic and Microsoft detractor. One of the newsgroups he carried (or maybe it was a Fidonet group) was Team OS/2, for fans and users of the OS. This was int he lead up to the release of OS/2 Warp 3.0, which I went out and bought. That was just before Windows 95 released, after I’d been doing Microsoft Word support for nearly a year. After fifteen months in Word support, I moved to Visual Basic support, but not until I’d received pre-release training on Windows 95. I was blown away by 95, especially given the quality training and a degree of relatively inside insight into the OS.

I gleefully bought Warp and installed it on a 386 I was able to spare for the purpose. In retrospect, I was not sure this was entirely fair, as I installed 95 on a 486. I thought OS/2 was cool, and it installed without real issue, apart from duration. Thing is, it crashed readily. I was shocked it was so unstable, given the hype among the fanatics. By comparison, 95 was a rock. It took almost no time for me to abandon even playing around with OS/2, but I always felt that they could keep trying and it would be great to have the competition.

Some of the details in the article are news to me. Some are not. The heavy hand of the mainframe division of the company was always a factor in the PC division, and even more deadly when it came to OS/2. What a shame. I hadn’t realized, or at least hadn’t remembered, that there was ever any connection between Microsoft’s NT effort and OS/2, apart from competing. I know Microsoft spent what was a staggering sum at the time on developing NT from scratch, which paid off brilliantly.

Finally, it’s easy to look back more dispassionately on Microsoft, now that they remain big and powerful but are no long scarily “monopolistic” in the post-PC era.

Digital Revolution

Excellent interview with Wired co-founder Louis Rossetto. I first subscribed to Wired in 1994, and in retrospect it seemed like they’d been around much longer than a year or so.

Computer Show Shock

I went to my first computer show in 1992, almost 19 years ago. I used to go regularly, buying parts to build or fix my own machines, or ones for other people. It was the place to go. It was routinely mobbed.

With my own business, parts vendors, and limited need, I stopped going very often, and haven’t been to one… probably since 2003, come to think of it, maybe 2002. If they weren’t exactly the same then, they were still of interest.

I went to one today, since the local one, formerly one of the largest the show company held, was local. I was mainly curious to see what was new, what prices there were, and how it had changed.

It was sad to see what it has ground down to with time and internet. It took maybe a third the former space. There were as few as half a dozen actual vendors. Most of it was computers, mostly laptops, heavily Dells, at what generally seemed to be great prices for used/refurbished machines. If I’d had the kind of stray money I’ve had now and then, I might have come home with a machine or three. There was one that essentially matched or beat a machine I recently helped people with, similar to one of the two on my desk now, eighty bucks. I feel like I can toss most of the old machines that might have maybe been used by kids, or been parts for same, or for anyone who wanted to play legacy DOS games natively, because I can replace them and better for nothing.

Bottom line: If I decide I need a laptop but don’t care if it’s brand new, I’d go there and know I could get a buy on one. Ditto if I wanted a slightly (or much) older Apple machine, just to have used one and become more familiar.

It took me maybe 15 minutes to walk through and give it a good look. Since I was out of the house, alone – free!!! – I didn’t want simply to buzz home. Heck, I could have gone to a movie, come to think of it. I went to the supermarket I seldom visit because it’s not local. Got enough good buys to be happy.

Not sure what I’d do if I were running the show. Probably keep it going, if there were any money in it. Sounds familiar. It’d depress me, though. Sounds familiar.

More on the Merger Plus Wireless News Generally

Fear the merger? Don’t fear the merger? Mileage varies!

Maybe everybody loses and it’s unthinkable, or maybe the industry overall is so vibrant there’s no need to block it (which we all know has no bearing on whether or not it actually gets blocked).

Perhaps the carriers ought to work on the problem of cell reception worsening, focus on service offering innovations that seem cool, or concentrate on technological solutions to the expense and regulatory hurdles associated with building up capacity with traditional methods in the face of NIMBY. All NIMBY were the suburbanites, and ye cell users outraged…

I still don’t like it, despite seeing some business and regulatory logic to it. It ought to be an interesting next several weeks trying to figure out who will be least evil and most useful as I try to work out my own phone decisions.

Cloud Backup Trends

Rob May has a great post at the company blog at Backupify on trends driving cloud backup. It sounds right to me, particularly the parts about data portability, it being managerially smart to prepare for black swans, and users being vastly more the problem than permanent data loss by a cloud provider is likely to be.

It has always irritated me when vendors try to “own” your data. It still happens, but I’d love to think it’s on the wane. In my ill-fated business, one of the key elements and benefits of our not-quite-finished document management software (and associated law firm case management, but the package could be used in other environments, or as a generic/personal doc manager) was that you owned your data and your documents. There was no lock-in. There was an easy ability to locate and access documents directly should the software not be available.

Thus I’ve always loved the data portability angle Rob brought to his startup.

Intentional… Or Malware?

I have run into the scenario of checking an end user’s computer for signs of p0rn, or surfing p0rn sites, and seen ambiguity introduced by popups from sites that are not p0rn per se, or clicks that were unintended and aborted. Obviously, malware can not only cause popups, but also download files nefariously.

This is an extreme cautionary case, in which a worker was fired for child p0rn, had his reputation ruined, faced criminal charges, and was found to be innocent. Tech support completely failed and even helped persecute him. That’s bad.