In my post last Friday that I called ‘Looking Through The Windows’ (click here if you want to read it) I mentioned that the demise of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser was imminent and Windows 10 would see a whole new ‘streamlined’ internet browsing system bundled with it.
Now it’s official.
Microsoft is indeed ditching Internet Explorer. If fact it is getting rid of the entire brand.
Microsoft has confirmed that it was re-branding its new browser, currently known as ‘Project Spartan’, when it is released in summer.
As usual, the need to kill off Internet Explorer is Microsoft’s own fault. They have released a series of bloated and buggy versions of IE over recent years, every one worse than the previous one. Now IE has attained a very negative reputation with internet users, particularly experienced ones.
But IE’s death will not be a quick and painless one. Instead a lingering demise is planned. Why I don’t know.
Some versions of Windows 10 will apparently still be shipped with IE still on board. Presumably you will have to go through the rigmarole of deleting it and replacing it when the new version is ready. Possibly a reason not to buy the new Windows 10 system until they get their act together.
On the positive side, the new browser will be free. Not because Microsoft likes to give things away for free (that’s not what made Bill Gates the richest man in the world), but because they started that trend when they were trying to kill off Netscape, which they successfully did.
Since then no one pays for a browser. Apple, Google, Mozilla, Opera and the rest are all freebees these days. Inadvertently I suppose Microsoft did us all a big favor.
The only thing that scares me is the hype coming from Microsoft.
Statements like, “Microsoft’s change in direction is a smart, albeit bold, and a symbolic gesture.” don’t fill me with confidence. It is the same type of nonsense that preceded the release of ‘Windows Vista’ and ‘Windows 8’, and if you read last week’s post you will know what disasters I thought they were.
So will a change of name, or re-branding as Microsoft calls it, mean that their new browser will be a good one? The jury is still out on that. Like everything else we will have to wait and see. If they stick with the name ‘Spartan’ the implication would be that the new browser will be slick, fast and not memory hogging. That would indeed be good and a welcome changes from recent versions of Internet Explorer.
Having said that, I don’t think Google Chrome is in any imminent danger though.
They say that success breeds success and to a great extent that is true. If, for example, you have a successful business it can give you the confidence and the cash to acquire or set up another.
But is the opposite also true? Does failure breed failure?
I think it does. Most people tend to get the confidence knocked out of them when they fail. That’s why most never really succeed after one or two set backs. Some are so afraid of failure that they won’t even try the first time.
But, when they fail, some do get up, dust themselves down, and try again. And they are the ones who prove that failing a few times can, in the long run, actually lead to greater success that would otherwise have been the case.
Most of the world’s greatest serial entrepreneurs have had their failures. Some have even been bankrupt or been close to it. It may have dented their confidence a little and made them more cautious for the next time, but it didn’t stop them trying and that’s the key to real success.
Sure, plan well, be smart, work hard and all those good things, but don’t give up.
Does that mean you are bound to succeed? Well, no it doesn’t. There can always be extenuating circumstances well out of your control that makes things go wrong, but on average you should come out ahead. And you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you did your best and that’s as much as any of us can hope for.
It also helps if you set you sights at a realistic level. Barring a highly unlikely win on the lotto you won’t become a millionaire overnight, no matter how many of those self-help books you buy or how many internet webinars you attend. Nor will you become a Hollywood superstar if you move to L.A. and fill in the time waiting tables in the hope that some famous producer will stop by and ‘discover’ you.
Winston Churchill perhaps summarized it best when he said that success was going from one failure to the next without any loss of enthusiasm. Be sensible and it may be success that waits round the corner for you.
The World Wide Web, created by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, turned 25 years old this year, 2014.
There has never been anything like it before, certainly not as regards the impact it has made on society and the way we live our lives. Many of those changes are good, many are not so good and a few are downright annoying.
Here’s my take on some of them.
To concentrate on the good parts first, the one thing the www has done, for those who can use it effectively, is to give access to information that was previously only available to the elite few who managed to claw their way into the lofty heights of academia, or who worked in places where information was readily available. Now the same information is accessible at the touch of a button to anyone and everyone with a smart phone, tablet or computer.
Another benefit, in my view anyway, is that is has sent a massive wake-up call to telephone providers world wide, many of whom were fast asleep, content to rake in healthy profits from antiquated systems. No longer do we have to settle for slow and temperamental data transfer lines. Nowadays, particularly in the last few years, people are demanding systems that can cope with download streams in the gigabyte range. If you are old enough to remember the first modems you will know you wasted too much of your life trying to download at 12Kb/sec., sometimes less.
Freedom is also a welcome by-product of the World Wide Web.
The freedom to work in any country in the world, from virtually any country in the world is one big plus – it is for me anyhow. Another one I particularly like is the freedom to watch TV programs that I like, when I like, no longer tied to the schedules of some brainless bean-counter working for a broadcasting company. And the freedom to have your say on things as and when the mood takes you – they call that blogging don’t you know! – is also a great advantage to the ordinary person.
As is the freedom to disseminate information across the globe instantly, as Mr Snowden ably demonstrated, although I would hazard a guess that the powers that be would not agree with me on that one.
Indeed, this is the one aspect of the www that really bothers big brother.
China for example is one country where access is controlled by the state. Coincidentally this year also marks the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, you’ll find articles about that if you do a search, but probably not in China. They get away with it because they are not a democracy and do not pretend to be one.
In other countries, like the good old Land Of The (Not So) Free (Anymore)), the powers still like to con their people into believing that they are living in a democratic nation and that the people have the power to vote for this or that. But think for a moment, when was the last time you got to vote on whether to start a war, or whether to give $billions of your money to the greedy banksters to pay themselves huge bonuses and gamble away the rest?
It is because they need to keep the pretence of democracy going, that they do not yet have the confidence to start overtly censoring the internet. But they do all they can to snoop on what people are reading, or writing, or looking at.
This is where the freedom the www and associated technology provides can also be a negative, when it is used by governments to surveil us and record every piece of data they can. If they were doing this selectively and targeting terrorists and criminals no one would be too worried. But they are doing it to all of us, guilty and innocent alike.
They are also doing everything they can think of to impose taxes on internet commerce – of course they have to coz they’re stoney broke.
The www has revolutionized business practices and created all sorts of new commerce opportunities, Amazon perhaps being the best example of a company that has gone from nothing to a multi-billion dollar business in just a few years.
Communication and social interaction are also areas where the www has liberated the ordinary person – first with email and more recently with social media. In the near future expect to see social media expanding to become much more than individual platforms such as Facebook or Twitter. We are already seeing many new applications that are allowing people to communicate more widely, more easily and more often.
Another negative is that the World Wide Web has unwittingly facilitated the proliferation of pornography and violence, and is teaching a generation of morons all the wrong things. Things that will ensure they become a burden on society, not an asset.
And it has also opened a whole new environment in which criminals can operate. Millions of dollars are being stolen every day through scams, confidence tricks and outright theft.
You could say (and I frequently do) that people dumb enough to fall for these scams deserve all they get, or all they lose, is perhaps a better way of putting it. You know, the idiots who believe they really have won a lottery they didn’t buy a ticket for, or who think that Dr Umbungo Watanga from Nigeria is being truthful when he tells them that someone they never heard of has left them $25 million and all they need to do is send all their personal details and a few thousand dollars to unlock the fortune that awaits them. There really is one born every minute it seems!
All that said, and twenty-five years on, the www is still in its infancy. We have come a long way in the past 25 years, but we have really only scratched the surface as regards what the web has the potential to do to further improve our daily lives.
Where the vision to develop the www will come from in anyone’s guess. The only thing we know for sure is that the initiative won’t come from governments or their bureaucratic servants, simply because the people we elect to those positions do not have the required intelligence.
So its up to you. If you have any great ideas you want to share, send me an email.
Whether we realize it or like it, the advent of the internet has changed all our lives. From power users like myself to just casual users, things are a lot different from how they used to be.
There are, of course, negatives like the increase of spam, fraud, pornography and so forth, but by and large the impact of the internet has been a positive one.
It has made finding information much quicker and easier.
It has given us better and cheaper communication possibilities such as Skype.
It has revolutionized shopping for millions of people.
And it has spawned new social interaction platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, and not forgetting blogging sites such as WordPress, allowing people to find groups and individuals all over the world with similar interests to their own.
But perhaps the greatest thing that the internet has achieved is to give freedom for ordinary people to say what they want to say and have that reach a much bigger audience than would have hitherto been possible without having to spend vast sums of money trying to do it.
Unfortunately, however, that freedom is the one thing that governments cannot tolerate. Hell bent on control, they see the freedom that the internet provides as a threat to their power. And slowly but relentlessly they are chipping away at that freedom.
In China there is no pretense or deceit. The government there controls the internet and that’s just how it is.
However in the West, as they always do, governments create smokescreens to hide their real objectives. They read our private emails and listen to our private phone calls in secret, only reluctantly admitting to it when they are exposed by a whistleblower such as Edward Snowden, last seen leaving Hong Kong and heading for Moscow.
And even when they are exposed they can’t tell the truth about what they are doing and why they are doing it. Invariably the excuse trotted out is “security issues”, in other words, they are doing what we don’t want them to do and invading our privacy, for our own good!
If governments expect the people to have confidence in them, then they in turn should show confidence in the people. That means doing their job properly and targeting people and groups that are a possible threat without treating everyone as a potential terrorist.
And it means being honest with their people.
Will that happen?
Not a chance!
As I said earlier the game isn’t about what is good for the people, the game is about control of the people. And a big part of that control is ensuring that the herd shall not be heard – if they have anything important to say that the government doesn’t want us to know!
The original title of this post was “Farting On Airplanes” because it is really about farting on airplanes, but I thought it might be better just to call it “It’s An Ill Wind”.
No, come on, now you know don’t turn your noses up, or pretend this is something that (a) you’ve never thought about, or (b) never done. Farting on airplanes is an international phenomenon that transcends all nationalities, religions, ages, creeds, classes and colors.
It is in fact the common bond of all the world’s travelers.
Whether it can ever bring us closer together, however, is another thing (Phew!)
This is a quite embarrassing story. Not something one would normally admit to, but people write unusual things on blogs.
It concerns one of the first long haul flights that I was ever on.
Nowadays, as a seasoned flyer, I always have a good meal before the flight. I don’t suffer from air sickness of any kind and I don’t care for the stuff they call airline food. Back then, however, I was a novice and ended up on board without any breakfast other than a cup of coffee. My stomach was empty – of food anyhow.
All was well for about twenty or thirty minutes and then it started.
The obvious solution would have been to get up and go to the toilet. But easy options aren’t the way I have gone through life so far.
Also it was a big plane, a 747, and the toilets were quite a bit away from my seat. I would face a long walk down the narrow aisle.
Not that the walk itself was the problem. It was just that whoever designs airline seats has arranged things so that the nose and ears of the person sitting down is just about at the same height as the bottom of the person walking casually past.
You see the predicament?
In any case, I found myself in a window seat with two other seats to negotiate before I got to the aisle. Such was the pressure building up that I feared the exertion of hopping over the additional seats would make the whole purpose of the journey somewhat redundant.
There was nothing for it but to stay where I was, with the unfortunate choice being either bursting or releasing some of the pressure. Not unnaturally I chose to do the latter option.
As these things go it was a substantial outcome. But the drone of the plane engines (they were a lot louder in those days, I think, I hope, weren’t they?) seemed to drown out any other background noises.
I didn’t hear a thing.
I double checked by having a quick look at the person unfortunate enough to be sitting beside me, but there was no sign in the expression on his face that anything untoward had happened. Either that or he was a professional poker player with a practiced deadpan expression – or in a state of semi consciousness as a result of the concussive force emanating from the seat beside him.
My confidence grew. I thought of the famous campfire scene from Blazing Saddles and let a few more go in tribute.
I was so happy at the relief and at the fact that all was undetected that I allowed myself a triumphant smile, and then even a laugh. The movie I was watching was a comedy so my laughter didn’t look out of place either.
It was all good.
Hang on a minute.
All was not as good as it seemed.
Cut the laughter and cue serious worried face.
I suddenly realized that all this time I had been wearing the headphones the flight attendant had given us for the movies they were showing. No wonder I had heard nothing!
Oh dear me! What had I done?
Well, I knew what I had done, of course. The big question now was, did anyone else know? Had they heard me doing it?
I looked again at the man in the seat beside me. Again no perceivable reaction on his face that indicated that anything out of the ordinary had happened, although now I was aware of them I saw that he too was wearing the headphones.
I was relieved a bit, but still very curious. And when I get curious about something I have to try to find an answer.
So there was nothing for it but let rip again, this time with my headphones off.
And that’s what I did.
Thankfully, in the interests of the scientific experiment now under way, the quality of the offending item had not diminished in force. A guy knows about these things even without any audio feedback.
To my great relief, in every meaning of the word, I still didn’t hear a thing. The drone of the airplane engines had indeed drowned out any other sounds.
It was a magnificently liberating experience and from that day on I have never looked back, as it were.
Further experimentation revealed that the same undetectable result could be achieved even on much smaller airplanes. Commercial jets I’m talking about, of course, this is not a sport to indulge in on a single engined Cesna or something like that.
I also found out that it is possible I have been saving the airlines lucky enough to win my custom a small fortune. As you know the air in airplanes these days is all re-circulated and, as the methane content of a fart is lighter than air, the captured gas therefore contributes to keeping the airplane airborne with a consequent saving on fuel. That’s my story anyhow.
And the good news just keeps on coming.
Independent research confirms that a person’s sense of smell is greatly suppressed in the reduced cabin air pressure, which incidentally is also why airplane food tastes so bad.
So now if you are on an airplane and sitting beside someone who is chuckling to himself – or herself, yes ladies your secret is out – you’ll know the real reason why!