off topic: new car advice for senior

Page 5 of 16  
rbowman wrote:

Daewoo produced GM cars were all flop. None of them lasted.
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On 9/29/2015 9:50 PM, Tony Hwang wrote:

IMO, safety and "reliability" are, by far, the most important issues in making a car purchase. You don't want to die (unnecessarily) in it. And, you want it to *start* every time you ask it to!
I've watched people take the "penny wise, pound foolish" approach to purchases over the years and the consequences of those short-sighted decisions.
[I recall colleagues who bought "off brand (PC) clones" in the mid 80's hoping to save a few bucks. And, the countless hours they lost when things didn't quite work as they had hoped (hence the rice of the "100% compatible" notion).]
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<stuff snipped>

I was a consultant back then and I built a 6 PC dBaseII data system that had paralegals entering data abstracts on 4 machines nearly around the clock on XT clones. Periodically I would sneaker net the abstracted data onto two AT clones daily for searching. Couldn't have done it without the price break the clones provided and didn't have any trouble running dBaseII and Wordstar on those machines.
I had considerable help from VF associates and owner Tom Von Flandern and his sons. (DC area computer geeks of the time probably know the name.) They lived, breathed and ate clones and stocked what they thought were the most reliable equipment. I spent 10's of thousands of dollars there. The only dud I bought was a Tulin 40MB drive that crapped out very shortly after purchase. Then, the company managed to go bankrupt while "servicing" my dead drive.
I also managed to get a stack of new PC Jr half height 360K drives with an IBM logo on the front to install in the machines I used in the abstracting project. Since the only logo visible was "IBM" no one in a multi-hundred employee law firm knew that they were clones.
I'll agree that the more esoteric the application, the more likely compatibility problems would arise but I rarely saw them. I had legit IBMs on site, but clones could be had for considerably less than the real thing. After a while, I *preferred* clones because I could select what motherboard I wanted from a selection of suppliers that also made boards for the Big Boys. I ended up mostly with Asus motherboards in my machines because they seemed the most reliable but I've used Tyan, Gigabyte, MSI and many more.
I am not sure that the PC revolution would have been as remarkable as it was without the clones. They enabled a lot more people access to personal computing than an IBM-only world would have.
--
Bobby G.



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On 9/30/2015 2:48 AM, Robert Green wrote:

Those are relatively "mainstream" applications. You weren't drawing schematics, designing circuit boards, or creating molds for injection molded parts.

I didn't run "IBM-badged" hardware. OTOH, I didn't run "Peoples' Computer Factory #2733" UNBADGED machines. When my friends were paying ~2K for a machine, I was paying 8K. But, I never called anyone at 3AM complaining that a $3K CAD program "was misbehaving". Or, that my "discount" disk drive's geometry wasn't supported in the machine's BIOS, etc. Or, my (UN*X) coprocessor card was incompatible with the DOS driver it loaded "under" the UN*X OS for "hardware services".
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<stuff snipped>

As someone said in a movie once, "A man's got to know his limitations." Would I try to run a leading edge graphics program on a clone? Probably not, but I also saw plenty of people with legit IBM's and MACs go through some serious tsuris trying to get things to work. The SW of that period had extensive "complexity" issues exacerbated by a rapidly evolving HW base.
I had more problems with programs that used copy protection (like Lotus) that required key disks or that secret sectors be written to the hard disk. those programs invariably caused serious backup problems.
I believe that CopyLok or some such nonsense actually caused several of the software companies that used that or similar technologies to go under. People learned what happened to Copy-locked programs after the first system restore and shopped elsewhere. I believe Borland began eating Lotus' lunch over the copy-protection issue. There's poetic justice in a convoluted scheme to protect against software copying that ignored real-world consequences to users bringing a whole software company to its knees.
--
Bobby G.





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On 10/03/2015 11:39 PM, Robert Green wrote:

We still use a third party application that uses a dongle. It's morphed from a parallel port to a USB dongle over the years but they're still there.
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there.
A dongle is livable. Something like Superlok that demands a file be written in a non-standard way, not so much. I recall we came in on two Mondays in a row with the entire network locked up because the backup had failed due to Lotus' copy protection failing verification.
Plans to replace Lotus with Excel were soon underway and it was gone by the next accounting cycle with only a few die hards having Lotus still on their desktops. When tech inquiries to Lotus made it clear they weren't going to work with us on the subject of failed restores we chose another option.
There are still plenty of industrial programs that use dongles, but very few that I know of that use deliberately corrupted media. (Ducks in fear that I will now learn about all the software that still uses corrupt media to protect their IP).
--
Bobby G.



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On 10/4/2015 6:51 PM, Robert Green wrote:

DVD video relies on this heavily.
Ages ago, floppy "key disks" were "marginalized" -- so that their contents were not *reliably* read. The verification software simply tried to read them several times. If it got consistent results, it knew this was a forged copy. If the data changed "mysteriously", it knew that this was a genuine medium that was deliberately "flakey".
You have to show some sympathy for (pure) software vendors -- folks that don't ALSO sell a piece of hardware that their software uses/runs on. I always chuckle when I hear folks wanting "free" -- yet also wanting to be *paid* for THEIR work efforts! The Other Guy is always OVERPAID; but never oneself! :>
I note the large numbers of folks who run FOSS and suspect that many of them do so simply because it is "Free". They simply don't want to have to PAY for these "products" and will "settle" for things that are inferior, lack any sort of support, etc. JUST to avoid paying for them! They also seem to be the sorts of folks who don't value their own time.
If you could have a "free" car but had to spend an hour running around pushing levers, adjusting settings, mixing fuel, etc. just to get an hour's worth of use out of it, would you? Knowing that you'll have to do the same thing *tomorrow* for an hour's use at that time?
Would you use a "free" cellphone (exclusively) if the chances of getting signal were 50% at any given time?
How much time would you be willing to post comments on user forums HOPING to find a GENUINE solution to the problem you are having trying to get your FOSS spreadsheet program to calculate your income tax bracket before you could file your tax return?
How many times will you tolerate downloading and installing updates in the *hope* that something that you are having problems with gets fixed? How much RISK do you run that those updates don't BREAK something else? Or, change its behavior in a way that sends you scurrying back to those same forums asking how you NOW perform the task that you previously KNEW how to perform?
Someone has to pay for the efforts of those developers. Just like someone has to pay for the doctor who treats/cures your malady, the accountant who balances your books, the farmer who grows your food, etc.
So, why is software considered different? Free to steal -- if not outright free?
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written

in a

to

the

their

to

few

that

And was cracked a long, long time ago by a 16 year old kid. Also, I don't run my business from DVDs so there's a bit of a structural difference between the two.
The fact that Excel (unprotected) buried 123 tells us something about people's tolerance for copy-protected software that could fail them at the worst time possible - after a network crash. We bought licenses for every seat but even so, we could NOT afford to spend the inordinate amount of time we did trying to restore 123 from a tape backup of the HD.

They also punched physical holes in the disks to accomplish much the same thing, IIRC.

Well, it's not really *that* bad using freeware. People also realized that the marginal cost to the manufacturer of SW box # 2 is very much not the same as tangible property.
It's like when they closed Napster and the CD industry collapsed. They were so paranoid about copying they ignored what Napster did for them. I used it all the time to find music to listen to - and then to buy - because I couldn't stand the chatter of commercial radio stations.
I didn't start buying music again until Napster had basically forced the industry into a la carte sales of songs. Eventually even the RIAA had to give up on its campaign of suing grandmothers for thousands of dollars because their grandkids set up Napster on the computer.
Just the other day I had to help a person convert a Region 2 DVD into one she could play. She had no idea that the world has been carved up into DVD regions that don't support one another.
I also have some issues with supporting companies like Disney who managed to change the copyright laws to their liking at the expense of the very concept of copyrighting. Mickey's copyright *should* have ended long ago but Disney *bought* Senator Hollings (aka Senator Disney) and he spearheaded changing the copyright laws to favor Disney and not the general public.
When Lexmark tried to use the DMCA to prevent people from refilling printer cartridges any sympathy I might have had for the big guys evaporated.

If the chances of freeware working were only 50% I'd agree with that analogy, but it's not. It's more difficult to use, but not by that large a factor.

Probably as much as I might spend finding out how to do what I need to do with a paid software program. I got one of the new 50 dollar Kindle Fire tablets and the documentation is atrocious - and I own it fair and square. Paying for something is no guarantee of good (or any) support.

That's MS, Apple and any company that has to publish updates. They've all failed at one time or another.

The rule of computing for a very long time has been; "The Upgrade Giveth and the Upgrade Taketh Away." It's usually a crapshoot as to what comes and what goes.

Again, that's Windows, Apple and even Unix when a new version or a bugfix is required. Why did MS change "Find" to "Search?" Perhaps we'll never know but changing 'happy' to 'glad' just for the sake of changing something has been going on for a long time - way before the PC revolution.

Software is perceived differently than all of the above (right or wrong) because it's IP, not tangible property and not work confined to one client or customer.
> So, why is software considered different? Free to steal -- if not

Stealing a piece of software is not the same as stealing a tangible good like a truck fill of vegetables. Steal from the farmer and he's out real time and money that it will take to regrow that crop. Steal from a SW and the physical damages are the incremental cost involved with making another copy.
With Free/Shareware it's the cost of disk storage space and perhaps not even that with CNET and other places that will take on the distribution cost. I am not trying to justify the theft, only to answer your question as to why people think it's OK to rip off software. People just don't see IP the same way as tangible property.
--
Bobby G.



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On 10/5/2015 7:14 PM, Robert Green wrote:

No, Excel buried Lotus because MS marketed/bundled it far more aggressively. Why did MSWord bury WordPerfect? Was it because WP had some onerous licensing terms/technology? Why did MS C bury Borland's offerings? etc.

Should software vendor set price of each copy to recover his total costs for developing said product? Offer a deep discount to buyer #2 and let first adopters pay for all the development??

I interviewed with a company that sold "distilled water" prepackaged for their instrument -- at prices that rivaled what you'd pay for a vintage wine! How is a little bottle of water justified at an outrageous price (to help defray development costs for the "toilet paper dispenser") but software that tries to control *its* users is considered "outrageous"?

Maybe for "plain jane" applications (office/productivity suites). But, have you compared the features and quality of those "modern" FOSS offerings with *paid* offerings from 20 years past? Let alone trying to factor in the effects that hardware advances have GIFTED to the current FOSS offerings (try running some of these programs on 20 year old hardware for a REAL eye opener!)

Because the market your fishing in has been driven by bottom feeders. No one *wants* to pay for support -- so what vendor would devote resources *to* support? If you *charge* for support, then users grumble. So, you set up a web portal and HOPE users can get enough support from their peers that they will continue to use your product; even if that means they only use a small fraction of what is possible!
I was building 3D CAD models some 20+ years ago (AutoCAD v11 w/ AME). I can recall having a problem with the package (some $3K as an *upgrade*) and having a fix in my hands within days.
We'll ignore the fact that there were no FOSS 3D CAD offerings "back then".
If I had a similar problem with a FOSS product *today*, it would probably be weeks for someone to "take an interest" in my particular problem, devote some time researching it and then days or weeks for someone to decide it was worth *fixing*!
Meanwhile, the clock is ticking on *my* project. What do I tell *my* client? "The FREE software that I'm using doesn't work correctly. I'm hoping someone will step up and offer me a solution sometime soon. I realize *you* have market constraints that are pressuring you for a product offering but there's nothing *I* can do to speed things up..."
[And, hope I don't get slapped with a suit charging me for failing to meet my contractual obligations -- and wanting me to pay the costs for them to hire someone else to provide those results!]

And the same is true of FOSS software. Download a newer version of <whatever> and you discover that a whole slew of dependencies get dragged into that effort. Not that they *need* to be but no one has spent the time to make the upgrade as painless as possible: "just grab it all" (and worry about the changes/bugs that you've now inheritted, later!)

Of course! And the FOSS community is no better than the COTS vendors. "Update often" is a *mantra* of the FOSS community. A reflection that there is very little formal testing going on -- no one's "business" (reputation) is at stake.

But the FOSS world is just as guilty. No one takes ownership of a (FOSS) "product" and thinks about it from the consumer's point of view. Instead, its wide-eyed "look at this neat feature I added!" ("Mommy, I made a poops!")

No, that's not true. Let *everyone* steal from that developer and it doesn't matter how many incremental copies he makes -- no one is BUYING those copies! What's to stop EVERYONE from "taking a freebie" instead of paying for it? Look at how few "shareware" (voluntary payments) companies/developers are "successful". Are any of them publicly traded? Any have net positive cash flows? :>

So, they shouldn't see their own *labors* as having value, right? After all, the time you spend digging a ditch or balancing someone's books or diagnosing someone's medical problems aren't TANGIBLE things. So, why would you expect folks to PAY for those things? Make me a bowl out of a sheet of copper and I'll pay you for the bowl. Balance my corporate books and what do I have to show (tangibly) for the effort?
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On 10/05/2015 09:41 PM, Don Y wrote:

Back in the day I used Borland's OWL IDE. At the time it was arguable better than MFC. Gates had deeper pockets however. Borland did piss me off when they bought the BRIEF programming editor and effectively buried it.
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On 10/5/2015 9:37 PM, rbowman wrote:

+42
I sorely miss Brief. Unfortunately, modern machines appear to be far too fast for it to run effectively. I can recall trying to run it on a 25MHz (!) 386 and the mere act of *touching* an arrow key would instantly scroll past the end/edge of the document!
Paradox was another "class above" compared to "Abcess". In the technology world, quality rarely wins.
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My recollection is that it was because the initial releases of Word Perfect for Windows were worse than atrocious.

FOSS does everything that I need, have not used commercial software for many years.
--
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Roger Blake (Change "invalid" to "com" for email. Google Groups killfiled.)
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On 10/5/2015 9:58 PM, Roger Blake wrote:

How often do you draw schematics, design FPGA's, layout circuit boards, design mechanical enclosures/injection molds, draw architectural floorplans, publish "camera ready" documents, done any symbolic math processing, etc.? (these being some of the things I've done in the last 12 mos).
I use FOSS tools to write software and build software systems (gdb, gcc, eclipse, etc.). And, for some "commodity utilities" (mail, news, www, etc.) But, beyond that, everything is COTS software. I'd rather spend the money and have a tool that does what I *need* and *want* than have to struggle with a tool that *aspires* to do so "when it grows up" -- and having to "settle" for its current state of completion.
A neighbor gave me a bicycle. I can get around town with it. It would cost me NOTHING in terms of gas, licensing, insurance, etc. Yet, I prefer to spend money driving a *car* -- so I can get where I want to go without making *that* a separate chore unto itself!
<frown>
[Don't get me wrong, I am a huge proponent of FOSS! Every line of code that I'm writing, every schematic diagram, PCB layout, mold assembly, etc. are all destined to be released unencumbered -- not even with the obligations like the GPL imposes! I just don't think FOSS is ready for prime time, on the whole. There's no sense of ownership/pride in it as a "product" (PostgreSQL seems to be a notable exception)]
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Not relevant to my use of FOSS. Remember, I said that FOSS software does everything that *I* need, it was not a blanket statement saying FOSS was suitable for anyone else. My own usage, aside from general desktop, would be primarily servers of various types, network management and diagnostic utilities, rescuing data from dead PCs or corrupt filesystems, etc. (Basically for me FOSS is a Swiss army knife of capabilities for EDP work.)
Anyone else's mileage may vary.
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On 10/5/2015 10:27 PM, Roger Blake wrote:

Exactly. Returning to my bicycle analogy, that bicycle MAY be a good solution for someone else -- someone who doesn't need to travel as far or who doesn't care how much time is spent on "the journey", etc.

On my NetBSD/FreeBSD machines, I don't even run a "desktop" -- just a lightweight window manager (twm, uwm, etc.) over a bare root window. No need for file managers, office suites, etc. (all of that sort of stuff happens in the Windows world).
I rely on core services (NTP, FTP, HTTPd, POP/IMAP, NNTP, DNS, etc.) provided by the (FOSS) OS -- I wouldn't even *try* to set up IS under Windows.
The things on which I rely on FOSS are primarily things that I am prepared/committed to maintain on my own -- without having to risk being *dragged* into some newer release of a COTS product *just* to get some particular bug fixed (I can find and fix the bugs myself; something that COTS software won't let me do!).

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My primary use for a GUI is to run multiple xterms. :) I've been working mainly with Linux in recent years but may go back to BSD ("real Unix") since I don't care much for the idea of the new systemd init system taking over as much as it does.
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On 10/6/2015 4:29 AM, Roger Blake wrote:

Exactly. I have simple .twmrc's that let me call up an Xterm, xcursor, etc. with mouse buttons on the root window (along with windowops). Cut and paste text from one window to another, etc. (of course, "other window" may be a client running on an entirely different host from first window)
I have several X terminal appliances (diskless) that I can use to access clients running on the NetBSD/FreeBSD/Solaris/etc. hosts. Even my Windows machines have X servers so I don't have to physically move to a different workstation to access those clients.
From a "text console" (i.e., X not running), I use hotkeys to switch between virtual TTY's so I have several "screens" that I can be working in (helpful when troubleshooting a system). I arrange for each to have a different color scheme so I can just remember where I was based on the color of the text/display (instead of having to remember which VTY to select).
I had this capability in the mid 80's with an OpusV system: could even switch to a DOS session from within UN*X alongside UN*X consoles. On my Solaris hosts, a Chimera lets me run DOS/Windows in a Solaris window -- e.g., Doom under Solaris/SPARC!

Linux typifies what's wrong with FOSS (IMO) -- too much tinkering just for the sake of tinkering. With the MIPS available on today's *cheap* hardware, all that effort should be spent making things more *reliable* and robust -- instead of RE-bugging systems with features that "sound cool".
It's no different than MS's "arbitrary" changes to Windows -- each of which adds back in some of the same old bugs/vulnerabilities that they tried to remove from previous versions.
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wrote:

That's what I recall.

And it does for me, too, although I do use a lot of commercial software as well. Whatever does the job well at the lowest cost to me. I am sure most programmers have the same sort of utility CD/DVD that I have containing all the FOSS that's been of use - WireShark, Hexedit, VNC, VLC, WinZip, SANDRA, MemTest and many, many more.
--
Bobby G.




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the

every

time

Lotus had a well-established lead over MS and they blew it. I remember those times quite well. The two largest PC user groups took up the cause against copy protection. Then companies like mine scraped it off their servers as soon as it became obvious how much more complicated "protected" software made the restoration process. Our user group came to blows over whether to call for a boycott of Lotus. As you can imagine, the user groups had plenty of SW authors who believed in copy protection as well as plenty of end users that didn't.

Word Perfect was slow coming up with a Windows 9X version when the market was moving like wildfire. In the world of keep or die WP chose death. Same with WordStar.

that

I don't know how to counter the attitudes concerning IP. But I know that's how people think, despite all the admonitions on every DVD we watch not to engage in piracy.

managed to

concept

Disney

changing

printer

Outrageous is selling printer cartridges that could *easily* be opened and refilled and using the non-reverse engineering clauses of the DCMA to "brick" the cartridge once it's run out of ink.

getting

large a

But the same can be said of commercial software. SW writers would be foolish not to incorporate the latest hardware advances in their design.

do

Fire

square.

Amazon's actually pretty good at supporting their products. Apparently they've got other issues, among them writing good documentation. Another is not really knowing their market, i.e. their cell phone offering that dropped like a stone.

I've gotten a lot better support from FOSS authors than I have from commercial SW vendors. If you're talking to the original coder you're going to get the inside track. If you call some big SW house you're getting a foreign national who's reading from a script.

For every example like that I can find a dozen where end users were left hanging with a promise that "we'll look into it in the NEXT version." Hell, MS NEVER fixed a bug in Word that disables the cut and paste keys in the file picker dialog. It's been in every version of Word since it came out.

then".
It's a niche market and a very complicated one to serve. I wouldn't expect FOSS developers to jump on that sort of SW until well after the big boys had even defined the market.

That's not my experience. I got to know a lot of home automation software AND hardware designers quite well and some of them would have a fix for a problem I found within a day or so, particularly if it was something that might effect a lot of users. Getting to talk an actual coder at MS is far less likely. Infinitesimally less likely.

If you picked the wrong tools for the job, that's on you. But a developer that can cut costs by using FOSS *successfully* has serious advantage over someone who pays 10 or 100 times as much for commercial software. Irfanview has served my photo needs for quite some time. Hexedit, Winamp, DVD-Shrink, VLC and lots of other FOSS programs have served me quite well over the years. But when it came time to publish a newsletter professionally, I turned to a very expensive (but industry standard) DTP package.

fixed?

all

<whatever>

So if things are the same for FOSS and COTS how does that prove anything?

and

Agreed. So why bring it up as a liability for using FOSS when COTS suffers the same problems? It proves nothing other than software has bugs that need fixing.

Updating means they are responding to bugs that people find. That's a good thing. How many times have security analysts had to go public with an exploit they found in COTS SW because the vendor appeared unwilling to patch it?

previously

bugfix is

know

has

But it's SO MUCH CHEAPER! If I can produce a program to do X with fewer costs than my competitor, I can make more money. That's a good thing. For me, anyway.

Disagree, quite strongly. How does a COTS "team" take any better ownership than a guy like Irfan whose name IS his products?

Yeow, you really have a thing for FOSS writers that's pretty hostile. Some of the best software I have ever seen came from 17 year old FOSS developers.
--
Bobby G.



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