Sunday, August 14, 2005

Where to Now?

Bloatware Rules OK! No! Not OK at all.

I am not a professional programer, I can write small applications in C, C++, Java, Assembler, Forth, Qbasic and Vbasic. I have always detested the huge overhead required to write Windows programs. The bit required to actually make the window interface for your program and the really crappy way needed to make the message queue function.

I have recently been playing with RapidQ and I quite like it. One of the things I like is that I don't have to play with the messaging queue or the window overhead, that has all been handled in the interpreter.

This version of basic is still interpreted but with a twist, when you compile your program it creates an executable including the interpreter so you can deliver the program as a normal executable program and it will run.

Not only that but the programs are 32 bit programs. It is a bit odd that the compiler is only a 16 bit program.

So what I hear you ask. Well, at my place of work the IT folk in their infinite wisdom have just recently migrated the whole workplace to Citrix and Windows XP on the few desktop machines.

What a load of crap. The security is so tight that we are unable to have our own screen savers, backgrounds or run 16 bit programs. Theoretically we can't FTP anything despite having broadband internet access. All internet access is through port 80 and no others. Most programs can't be installed without Administrator permissions and everything is logged.

However, some programs can be installed. Those that don't try to write to the registry can be installed happily (so much for Microsoft security) and they run fine.

Back to the RapidQ compiler question about why 16 bit is a problem. While my work computer will run the RapidQ programs, it won't run the compiler to make them. Doh! Not a real big problem but, I needed to make a program to help me do my job better so I made the program with the VBasic Macro in Word - Hah! Beat the system with their own software...

And it works great.

Took me weeks to work out how to circumvent their system but I don't give up on a challenge easily. But I managed to build my own program to run my system within their very tight constraints.

The other bits I have had to do to get stuff to work has been real fun. I set up an ftp program on my website so I could work on my stuff from work and I set up a cgi proxy program so I could get to my webmail (works with some kind of 4 digit number on the webmail URL that the security identified as being a port number other than port 80).

Hmmm... No, I don't work in the IT department. No, I don't have Admin access. No, I won't tell you where I work. I might get into trouble and right now I would like to keep this job.

Where was I going with all this? I dunno. Oh, yeah, I was making a point about bloatware, the marketing juggernaught that is Microsoft keep doing uncompetitive deals with large corporations to keep their smaller competitors out of the market and they are aided by the ignorance and inexperience of the IT professional.

One of the problems with the bloatware companies is that they are often big enought to be able to deliver rubbish to the market and never fix it purely because they can get away with it. By keeping out the smaller companies they kill off the competition despite the fact that their products are often better, faster and uses fewer resources.

By doing uncompetitive deals they are admitting that their own crap cannot stand the heat of real competition but they don't care because they have the bulk of the business. I believe that the tide is beginning to turn, it seems to me that Linux is making inroads into the market that actually counts - the developers.

When it turns, it will turn fast. Within a couple of years there will be a swing against Microsoft but they will fight back by releasing their own versions of their current Office suite and other programs to run on Linux. Frankly I hope that the community refuses to accept it but I would actually almost be prepared to bet that the business community will fall for the Microsoft line again.

Some such rubbish as "the industry standard" of software. I always thought that a standard was set by an entire industry and all of them strive to meet it, not one company telling everyone else what the standard is.