What is Vista worth to you?

There will be six versions of Microsoft Vista, each coming in 32 and 64 bit editions, except for Starter. That makes an actual total of eleven versions. But wait, there will be “N” versions of several of these; due to antitrust litigation in the EU, Microsoft will have to release separate versions. It is due to ship in the 2nd half of the year; currently cost estimates have not been given.

The cost, however, can be estimated. Current costs of XP are about $90 and $190 to upgrade (home and pro, respectively); around $200 and $250 for the full versions.

The starter edition of Vista will probably run between $50-$150 range. Lower end for upgrading, higher for full version. The Basic Home will likely run $100-120 to upgrade, and $200 for the full version; Premium Home will be more like $170 upgrade, $250 full. The Basic Business edition will probably cost $220 upgrade, $320 full. The Enterprise edition, $270/$390. And the Ultimate edition will look something like $330/$460.

Those are just guesses based on the current XP pricing and the number of editions. Some of the prices may be staggered closer to one another with the intention of getting the consumer to pay just a little more money for a “better” version.

I haven’t seen Vista first-hand yet, but let’s talk about its features.

The biggest feature it seems to tout is the new Frankensteinian GUI. The name is “aero” I believe, and it is a new “theme” for the user. It takes advantage of 3D widgets, transparency, and many other look and feel enhancements. It will require a high-end PC to run efficiently. This is a major point: most PCs today will not run the high-end GUI of Vista. They can’t handle it. They will, however, be able to run the operating system on a less-fancy GUI.

Okay, stop right here. The biggest selling point of the damn Operating System is the eye candy? Is it a game, or an OS?! Do I want a bloated User Interface to coddle me into believing that it’s helping me do something? No. Although I like GUIs and I like graphics and eye candy, I don’t feel the need. I run XP Pro with the classic widgets. I like some minimal skinning as seen in my last post on userChrome.css, but I don’t want the main attraction to be the damn window itself. The content is what takes center stage.

I hate to do it, but I felt forced to go dig in the Tao Te Ching:

Thirty spokes converge on a single hub,
but it is the space where there is nothing
that the usefulness of the cart lies.
Clay is molded to make a pot,
but it is the space where there is nothing
that the usefulness of the pot lies.
Cut out doors and windows to make a room,
but it is the space where there is nothing
that the usefulness of the room lies.
Benefit may be derived from something,
but it is in nothing that we find usefulness.

Point being, the GUI is there to hold the content. Sure, a pot, a room, a cart, all must meet some minimal level of structure to provide the space, and hence utility; that does not mean that a fancy-pants cart, pot, or room necessarily serves the purpose better than a less attractive one. I don’t need my room, pot, or cart to make me feel sexy in order for them to be useful.

Anyway, that’s most of what I have to say for now on the subject. I may continue this post at a later date as more details come to light. That is more likely as details regarding the DRM parts of Vista, as well as other revelations such as final price details, etc. come out.


I’ve been playing around with the customization in FireFox lately. Basically, userChrome.css is a Cascading Style Sheet that defines the look of the browser itself thanks to a flavor of XML known as XUL.

Anyway, here is a comparison of my basic(left) to the changed version(right):



Compiz is a desktop manager based on XGL. It is a Linux project that allows the user to manage the workspace in new ways. It takes advantage of the XGL project code, using OpenGL to fuel some very innovative GUI enhancements.

You can find a short demo (11 minutes) and some screenshots here.
If you run Linux, you can also download it via a CVS.

Currently my main operating system is Microsoft, but it is looking more and more like Windows Vista will be a trojan horse for DRM. More-likely-than-not, I will be switching exclusively to Linux in the future. That is in no small part due to truly amazing, free projects such as Compiz.

The future of computers is Open Source. A bold claim, but a true claim. Proprietary operating systems and software do not extend usability and customizability to the users and their organizations.

Open Source does exactly that. You can imagine an Art Department customizing Linux & a setup such as Compiz to allow for the following scenario:

The department head could simultaneously view the works in progress of the artists, and give feedback, as well as allowing the individual artists to see what one another was doing. If one artist was better at working on part of what another was doing, the control of the workspace could be “switched,” allowing the second artist to instantly jump in and work on the piece.

This is all possible using current technology. It wouldn’t be very easy with a closed-source system, but it wouldn’t be that hard with linux.

Anyway, I encourage you to watch the video for yourself.


This is a test of a “data:” url.

test image


You can use the <img src="data:img/(type);base64,(base64 string of image)" /> tag format to put an image file directly into the HTML document. This is known as a “Data: URL.”

This page contains a command line utility for Windows to encode/decode base64.

Right to Left

Nothing much on a Sunday happens, but here’s a bunch of news for the hell of it.

For starters: AIDS money going to religious/conservative groups.

Conservative Christian allies of the president are pressing the U.S. foreign aid agency to give fewer dollars to groups that distribute condoms or work with prostitutes. The Bush administration provided more than 560 million condoms abroad last year, compared with some 350 million in 2001.

Cindy Sheehan certainly is doing her part to make a change. She has met with the Venezuelan president, plans to protest at the US president’s Crawford Texas ranch during holy week, and may even run for the US Senate.

Libya has closed its embassy in Denmark. Just one of many actions coming down against Denmark due to a set of portraits depicting the Islamic prophet. To wit:

Saudi Arabia recalled its ambassador to Denmark last week and Saudi citizens were boycotting Danish goods. Kuwait’s state-supported supermarkets have announced a similar boycott and the government summoned a regional Danish ambassador to complain.

Egypt’s parliament demanded that Egypt recall its ambassadors to Denmark and Norway, where a newspaper reprinted the cartoons. The opposition Muslim Brotherhood demanded a boycott of products from the two countries.

Daily Kos is running a story about how the Democrats ought to proceed regarding the filibuster.

A newsblip on Kuro5hin led me to examine the blog of a deceased man, who apparently posted suicide notes on his blog and some public forum prior to his death. The forum was shut down permanently, but I found an article in his blog from June of last year that was quite interesting.

If you’ve finished reading the draft of The War Room you can see some interesting connections between this and that.

The Drudge Report is carrying a transcript of Al Gore’s speech at Constitution Hall on January 16th (Martin Luther King day). It is a fairly good detail of why the DomSpy scandal matters, and why we have a duty to do something about it. Alternatively the video is available through Google.

New Scientist: Most stars form solitary, this is good for prospects of alien life.

And finally, the Republicans are asking President Bush to make the information dealing with Jack Abramoff public. New York Times requires site registration.

Senator John Thune of South Dakota and Representative Mike Pence of Indiana, both Republicans, echoed that thought. “More is better, in terms of disclosure and transparency,” Mr. Thune said on Fox.

That’s all I have at the moment. Peace.