Saturday, November 24, 2012

National Dog Show

The National Dog Show was on NBC last night, and was a lot of fun to watch if you're a dog lover like me. It's great to see people with their pets in positive relationships, and having fun together.

Of course it's much better to adopt from a shelter or breed-rescue organization than to pay a breeder or (much worse) pet store for a dog or cat. So many beautiful animals are killed every year for want of a home - it doesn't make sense to pay money to add to the pet population rather than adopt an animal that needs a home. Many shelter dogs are purebreds or close relatives too. Anyway, the Humane Society has a great little article: "The Top 5 Reasons to Adopt".

Saturday, November 17, 2012

R.I.P. Twinkie

The NYTimes had an article the other day reporting the planned liquidation of Hostess under Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Management decided to throw in the towel blaming a a failure to negotiate a contract with one of its workers' unions.

Unfortunately the article did not cover Hostess' history of mismanagement including private equity backed mergers and debt loading (this Forbes article has more detail); so the article's comment stream collected many posts bashing the union.

I know nothing about Hostess or its history, but ignorance has never stopped me from offering an opinion - I'd never say anything otherwise. Here's a copy of the comment I posted to the article:

It looks like Hostess failed, because it failed to develop compelling products. Twinkies and Wonder were once trail-blazing brands. A popular snack can demand large markups, but today people don't want to eat twinkies at any price. Management deserves blame for failing to adapt to a changing market.

Many older companies (Sony, H.P., ...) suffer similar problems in their markets. The company has outlived its visionary founders, and is left to stock holders and M.B.A.s who see the company as a collection of assets to manage for optimal profit rather than a vehicle for realizing the founders' dreams.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Running Windows 8

A couple weekends ago I took advantage of Microsoft's $40- Windows 8 offer, and have a spanking new operating system running on my workhorse Dell 1557 laptop.

Running W8 is like having a new machine! It's always fun to see what these monster software companies (Microsoft, Google, Apple) can crank out.

The OS does suffer from multiple-personality disorder. The "RT" personality for new full-screen apps is well suited for a touch-tablet user or a user that spends all her time in a single-window application - reading a web page or whatever.

Fortunately - W8 also still has its old "desktop" personality - which is where I spend most of my time when coding - switching between multiple open windows (IDE's, browsers, shells, control panel, ...).

For either environment - if you install Windows 8 on a standard (non-table or non-touch) laptop, then you'll want to become familiar with the new WinKey+ keyboard shortcuts. I was much more comfortable and productive with W8 once I became comfortable with the WinKey+Tab,C,L,R,X,Z shortcuts.

So W8 is a little bit of a Frankenstein with pieces of different creatures stitched together into a monster, but I like it. It's new, looks great, and is a brave first step in a new direction by Microsoft.