Monday, January 22, 2007

What To Do When The English Language Has Some Seemingly Unsolvable Problems

I was reading about an online magazine, when I came across a statement " published bimonthly...". I got confused - because I knew that bimonthly means two things - "twice a month" and "once every two months". How is a reader expected to guess, which particular meaning of bimonthly is being used (especially when both the meanings are equally probably in this situation).

It is fair to say that the use of this word will almost always create confusion, and so a standard rule needs to be created to resolve this issue. One solution is to always specify the intended meaning in braces

For example

...bimonthly (once every 2 months)...


...bimonthly (twice every month)...

That is, if instead of simply writing bimonthly, we always start writing bimonthly (once every 2 months) OR bimonthly (twice every month), then there shall be no confusion. Of course, one could then argue that why use the word at all? Why not just write once every 2 months OR twice every month. This is a reasonable and sensible argument.

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Saturday, January 20, 2007

Apple's Efficient And Sensible Strategy - Extend Third-Party Technologies

I observed this interesting strategy of Apple, one that appears to be working for them. On one hand is Microsoft, which undertakes (costly and slow) original research to develop technologies from the ground up (such as WMA, WMV, the Windows kernel, ActiveX, and so on), and on the other hand is Apple - which chooses an appropriate open source or open standard technology, optimizes and extends it, and fully embraces it. This strategy allows Apple to equal or surpass Microsoft while making smaller investments in technology.

A few examples

Microsoft - Trident (MSHTML), Direct3D, Windows Kernel, WMV, WMA, ActiveX

Apple - WebKit (KHTML), OpenGL, FreeBSD, H.264, AAC, Java

Apple's strategy is good for the world too - instead of spending millions of dollars in creating new and different solutions for the same problem, Apple picks the 'good enough' existing solutions to those problems and improves them. Microsoft, on the other hand, prefers reinventing the wheel.

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Thursday, January 11, 2007

Convenient Way To Keep Using Trialware Software Repeatedly

This idea came to my mind circa June 2005, and I don't know whether other people already use this trick.

Software companies typically release demo or trial versions of their programs that work for a limited number of days and then either stop working, or disable many features - requiring the user to purchase the software in order to access its full functionality.

If one could quickly reinstall Windows somehow (a fresh install), one would be able to repeatedly install the trial software and use it in trial mode (in which it provides full functionality).

Create a c: partition that is less than 4475 MB, and install Windows on it. Next install other useful programs that you use. Now install the trial programs that you want to use infinitely. Finally, make a 'disk image' of c: partition on a DVD, using a program such as Symantec's Norton Ghost. Every 30 days (assuming each of the trial programs expires after 30 days), simply restore back the c: partition from the DVD - the trial programs shall never realise that they are being used over and over again.

Remember to never keep any user data on c: else it will be wiped out during the restore operation. The restore operation should take less than 30 minutes, and 30 minutes every 30 days is definitely worth this benefit.

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