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Xenix: the little operating system that could (have been)

The worst of Xenix was still preferable to the best of Windows.

Microsoft had several opportunities to ubiquitize a quality operating system, irrespective of their horrific business practices. They could have built their next-gen OS on top of Xenix. They could have finished the OS/2 project instead of stabbing IBM in the back and doing Windows on top of DOS. They could have even completed Dave Cutler's vision for Windows NT instead of MAKING THE SAME MISTAKE TWICE and top-loading all of their crap into the Win32 layer instead of building around the NT microkernel.

They could have done any of the above, and still practiced their bullshit monopolistic business practices, and they could have still taken over the market. In fact, if they had built Presentation Manager on top of Xenix, it's entirely possible that Linux would not exist today, and the X Window System would never have evolved past the days of TWM and Athena Widgets because all the unixheads would have happily moved to the commodity operating system.

But no. Aside from being monopolistic bullies in the marketplace, they also consistently deliver really bad products. There is a reason Linux has already overtaken Windows in the enterprise computing market, and has denied them a monopoly in this area. People who run back end data center applications don't want an operating system that has a GUI intertwined with the bottom layers of the OS. They don't want mouse clicks in the same event queue as disk and network I/O. Windows is a bullshit design and it will never be adequate.





Posted by IGnatius T Foobar on Sat Aug 04 2007 16:26:00 EDT
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How to survive "The Collapse"
(a practical guide to the completely ridiculous)


Civilization as we know it is about to collapse. It will happen any day now. Just ask your local "survivalist" lunatic. He or she will tell you that it's coming, and it's coming soon.

(We'll set aside, for the moment, the fact that "The Collapse" has been coming "Real Soon Now" for close to two decades.)

Personally, I think the whole "survivalist" movement is a complete waste of time. I'm not saying that our society is stable and our way of life will never be threatened -- not by any means. What I believe, however, is that if anything does happen, it will happen in unexpected and unpreparable ways.

If you take a close look at your unfriendly neighborhood "survivalist" you will see a person with absolutely no social skills whatsoever. This person is completely incapable of functioning in a normal social setting (except, perhaps, with others who share their particular brand of brain damage). This is why they turn inwards and spend their time stockpiling canned food, guns and ammunition, camping gear, and other such things. The only way they manage to get through each day is by desperately clinging to the false hope that the society they are incapable of functioning in, will fall apart someday soon. Then, by golly, they'll show everyone how cool they are! They'll live on bottled water and MRE's while skulking about in their fatigues and wrapping their homes in sheet plastic and duct tape!

Perhaps these people have seen "Mad Max" too many times, and are just wishing so hard for a world of chaos and anarchy that they really believe our world is going to turn into that world sometime soon. I don't think it's going to happen. But what if it does? In that unlikely event, here is an easy, three-step process to follow:
  1. Head over to the residence of your local "survivalist" lunatic
  2. Put one round through his or her head (a .22 will do just fine, but if you've got a larger weapon, messy is good!)
  3. Survive on his/her supplies for a few days, until you realize that an oppressive but organized regime has taken over, then go home.
There you go. Survivalism for the rest of us. The more astute readers among you will notice that this piece was written expressly to annoy the hell out of one specific person. If you are that person, congratulations on finding this page. Now go discuss it with the rest of the folks over at the IG Hate Club. It'll be a great laugh for the rest of us, to watch you get all bent out of shape.



Posted by IGnatius T Foobar on Sun Jul 27 2003 11:54:00 EDT
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Breakthrough Technology

Amazing insights into innovative creations


One of the fundamental problems with the progress of technological innovation is that we incur an ever-increasing dependence on energy. Recently, I spent an evening at the movies with the lovely Mrs. F00bar and another couple -- an independent computer consultant and an IT manager for a cellular phone company. Between the two of them, they had at least five personal gadgets, including cell phones, pagers, a Palm Pilot, and some sort of digital organizer gizmo with an acoustic coupler on the back. And I thought to myself ... "the batteries they must go through!"

But that's all about to change. An independent group of scientists from Delaware (there's nothing to do in Delaware, so they spent all their time hanging out in the science lab, I guess) recently patented a technique which harnesses approximately 32,000 kilowatthours from an ordinary 12-ounce can of Pepsi. Sustained load can be up to 3 kilowatts (enough to power your typical cell phone or clothes dryer) and there are no "memory" effects which can plague other portable energy sources such as nickel-cadmium batteries.

The energy, beverage, and technology industries immediately sprung to action, of course. Coca-Cola launched a development effort to come up with a similar technology using their own cola brand, but they were unable to achieve the cola energy effect (which is fine, because Coke is better if you drink it; let the Pepsi be used for energy supply). The big oil companies made efforts to have cola power outlawed in the United States in order to protect their interests. Microsoft Corporation unsuccessfully tried to cut an exclusive deal with Pepsico to have their Internet Explorer web browser running on every soda can.

So far, the scientists who invented cola power technology have not sold the manufacturing rights to Pepsico or any other beverage company. The lead engineer, Luke Warmfizz, had this to say at a recent press conference: "Hey, this stuff is really cool. We're just gonna use it to power our Playstation until we can figure out something else to do with it, ok?" Until then, the rest of us will have to continue to make do with our trusty old "Mr. Fusion" boxes.





Posted by IGnatius T Foobar on Thu Aug 05 1999 00:13:00 EDT
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A small tribute

There is a semi-popular cliche that mentions something about some people walking into our lives and then walking right back out, while others leave lasting footprints. Traditions come and go (with the exception of some traditions in my family which nobody wants to bother with anymore but my mother insists on dragging out year after year, but I digress...), but one of our group's more memorable traditions was the weekly "user meetings" held at the North Castle Diner from 1993 through 1997.

In the early days, it was just me, Stu, and Ethan, getting together in the time-honoured nerd tradition to conspire on bizarre and inconceivable networking specifications for our BBS's. Eventually, of course, that particular project reached its maturity, but the diner meets kept on going. Soon, others joined in, and by 1996 we often had ten or more people each week.

Each week, we were greeted by Annette Gall, a truly remarkable waitress and a kind, compassionate human being. Annette put up with our occasionally loud antics, our habit of rearranging the furniture in the diner, our somewhat confusing banter, and all the other idiosyncrasies of the weekly meets. She always managed to get our food orders correct, and she always remained cheerful and friendly. I recall one particular week; it was only the second time Joe had attended, and he ordered "the usual." She got it right, too, remembering exactly what he had ordered the previous week. And, of course, Annette served up countless instances of "The Mighty Dead Dinner" -- soup, burger, fries, Coke (no ice).

One of the events leading to the demise of our weekly meets was Annette's departure from the North Castle Diner in late 1997 due to health problems, and I was deeply saddened to learn that she had passed away last September. More disturbing was the fact that her ex-husband arrived in town only to have her cremated and then immediately left - no funeral, no memorial service. From what I've been told, the staff at the North Castle Diner was very dismayed to not have the opportunity to pay their respects. I feel much the same way, and I suspect others from the group of DinerMeet attendees do as well.

We have monthly meetings now at Applebee's in Mount Kisco (second Thursday of the month, 7:30pm). The food is better and the company is just as plentiful and boisterous, but the DinerMeets of old will always be recalled with fond nostalgia, and with them, the memory of Annette Gall. She will truly be missed.





Posted by IGnatius T Foobar on Mon Jan 18 1999 23:49:00 EST
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Welcome to IG's Skeptic Tank
For several years now I've been intending to start a personal blog. I assured myself that I would begin as soon as I wrote my own blogging software. That's still the plan -- I want to add blogging capabilities into the Citadel system. But those plans are behind schedule, and in the mean time I've missed out on the opportunity to write about various things happening in my life, in the news, in the world, and in general.

Today I had some comments that I posted to my home page, which hasn't yet evolved past the 1990's and is still maintained as static HTML. I was copying those comments to LiveJournal because I have a friend there who I wanted to share them with, and I realized that I had enough bits and pieces sitting around that if I collected them all and back dated them, I'd have a blog that goes back more than a decade. So I did, and here it is. I don't really have a good starting date to associate with this introduction, so I'll simply use the date and time of my birth.

My blog is called "Skeptic Tank" because I have a tendency to mistrust mainstream thinking about most topics unless I can confirm it myself. I find that the accepted wisdom on most topics is simply wrong. More on that later. And rest assured that when I do get my own blogging software running, this blog will move to UNCENSORED! where it belongs. Please go there now, though -- even without the blog it's a wonderful online community with some really cool people to chat with and hang out with.



Posted by IGnatius T Foobar on Fri May 28 1971 01:10:00 EDT
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