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Zap's Digital Lighthouse is
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Sun, 30 Jun 2013

Happy Canada Day

happy Canada day

Hey, it's July 1st. So happy Canada Day to all Canadians, from coast to coast to coast... I hope the weather's nice where you are :-)

/misc | Posted at 19:37 | permanent link

Windows backup software

Windows 8 task manager

I have been using the Time Machine backup software under Mac OS X for a number of years now. It's quite good, and once saved me, as a disk in one of my iMacs crashed, and I was able to restore the machine to a full working state by just changing the hard disk in it, and using the Time Machine to restore it to its last known working state. I did not lose a thing!

Time Machine is also very nice to use: you just plug an external disk in one of the USB ports, and voila: a couple of simple manipulations and you're on your way.

So, given this experience, I decided to try the Windows backup software that came with Windows 7 Ultimate. It's not as nice, and now that it's also ridiculously slow...

I have a relatively fast Windows 8 64-bit desktop machine (3.4GHz, 8GB of memory, and 2 x 1TB of disk space)... well, i've been backing it up to an external USB3 2TB external drive for literally hours now, and it's still at 31% completion!

What's worse, it that it doesn't appear to be doing very intensive I/O to the USB3 disk, as can be seen in the above snapshot from the Windows 8 task manager...

Disks fail. Not all the time, but eventually they do. Being able to back up my PC to a local USB drive would seem like something that should come into the box with the O/S I purchase... heck, Unix has had tar and cpio for years.

Oh well.

Time to go to sleep now.

/software | Posted at 19:16 | permanent link

Online games

The internet is enabling a number of interesting multi-player computer games.

World of Warcraft, World of Tanks, a whole range of games in the Steam universe (Counterstrike, Borderlands 2, Team Fortress 2, and many more), and even more (LoL, StarCraft II, ...)

The first multiplayer computer game I've played was probably VTTREK on the DECsystem 20... I seem to recall having played mostly single player games before that: moria, empire, advent, and more on VAX/VMS and CDC NOS, along with a variety of Apple ][ and IBM PC games (Wizardry, Trek, Decathlon, and more)... dating back to CASINO and TREK on the CDC CYBER under NOS/BE around 1976 or so.

Technology is making this a fascinating age to live in :-)

/games | Posted at 17:59 | permanent link

Sun, 09 Jun 2013

Microsoft Office in 2013: Buy or Rent?


I am tempted to get the most recent version of Microsoft Office for my PCs at home. In the past, I would buy a 'family license pack' of Office for Windows, and a 'family license pack' of Office for Mac, and that would cover all of the machines that I wished to upgrade.

Now, I can either get 'Office 2013 for Family', which will only cover 1 PC and costs 139 Euros, or I can get 'Office 365 Family Premium', which would cover 5 of my PCs or Macs, but which will cost 99 Euros per year!!!
Now, I probably use MS Office at home about 10-12 times a year... so getting a 99 Euros a year subscription doesn't seem very reasonable. On the other hand, I want to be able to use it on my main PC, on my laptop, on my iMac, or on my wife's PC... so paying 4 x 139 Euros to be able to use it across those 4 machines is just ridiculous.


So at this point, I think I will continue with Office 2010 on my 3 main PCs, and see how the licensing for Office 365 evolves. Perhaps, I will find that the corporate 'Office 365' contract at work also allows me to use it at home? I need to check with our procurement department about that.

Infrequently used software should have the option to purchase a 'pack' of 'prepaid usage fees'. There are quite a few models to pay for software licenses:

1) Flat fee: pay once, and then get licensed to use forever (there can be restrictions about moving the license from machine to machines, but basically you pay once for a version, and then can use this specific version anywhere, anytime, on a single machine)

2) Rent: pay on a monthly or annual basis, and then get licensed to use the product for that period of time only. I hate these sort of recurring fees, and generally avoid them as much as I can.

3) Pay per use: everytime you use the software, you pay a certain amount. Ideally, you can buy in advance a 'pack' of 'usage rights' and you try to evaluate how many times you're going to use the software. I would dearly love to be able to use this sort of licensing for MS Office, Adobe Premiere, Adobe Photoshop, etc.
These are pieces of software that I use between 0 and 12 times a year... paying a whole bunch of money for them just seems silly.

4) Actually, there are lots of other models: pay per headcount, pay per annual revenues or profit, etc, but they do not really apply to running software in the home. Perhaps I should also mention 'Free', 'Freemium', and 'Free with publicity' (sponsored) applications...

Anyway, so my preference is the Flat Fee licensing model, except for those pieces of software that I do not use very regularly... in those cases, I would love to be able to use Pay per use, but that doesn't seem to be a very common licensing model for the home.

P.S. as a follow-up, I ended up buying a copy of Office 2013 for my Ultrabook laptop. Too bad, I will not be using it as much as I would have if it had also been on my main desktop. Didn't want to turn Office into a compulsory annual spend...

/software | Posted at 20:40 | permanent link