5 Really Random Bits from the Intertubes

Here are some small tidbits of information I’ve run across this week that may be of interest to you, the humble system administrator (YMMVIANALWTF.)

Inter-tubes?

    Photo by extranoise

The Secret Origin of Windows

An interesting blast to the past of Windows during the earliest of days. Written by Trandy Tower, the product manager over the 1.0 release. It’s interesting to see how the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Windows had been announced the previous year with much fanfare and support from most of the existing PC vendors. However, by the time of my discussion with Steve, Windows still had not shipped within the promised timeframe and was starting to earn the reputation of being “vaporware.”

Microsoft Gives Rival Browsers a Lift

It’s still early days, but it appears that the European requirement for Microsoft to display browser alternatives in Windows is spreading the love around. Will it keep up, and if so, is it good for the industry? What about the really small players who don’t get a spot on the screen? It may already be too late for them. An interesting experiment to keep eyes on.

The 50,000-plus Firefox downloads that have occurred via direct links from the browser choice screen are only a fraction of overall downloads of Mozilla’s browser, which can reach half a million a day across Europe, Mr. Lilly said. That total has not changed much since the Microsoft initiative began at the end of February, he added.

But Mr. Lilly said downloads could increase once more people received the choice screen. Microsoft says the system was tested first in Britain, Belgium and France but has not said how widely it has been rolled out elsewhere in Europe.

Why the Web Won’t Be Nirvana

Count me in to the group of people who thought that the Internet wouldn’t succeed in the mighty face of the walled gardens of online services.  Or, at least, the group of people willing (or clueless enough) to admit how wrong they were. Some people, though, made their opinions known in print so they couldn’t hide if they wanted to. This article from Newsweek in 1995 shows not only how common this view was, but it’s a cautionary tale today for how wrong our predictions of technology can be.

Then there’s cyberbusiness. We’re promised instant catalog shopping – just point and click for great deals. We’ll order airline tickets over the network, make restaurant reservations and negotiate sales contracts. Stores will become obselete. So how come my local mall does more business in an afternoon than the entire Internet handles in a month? Even if there were a trustworthy way to send money over the Internet – which there isn’t – the network is missing a most essential ingredient of capitalism: salespeople.

When The Power Goes Out at Google

If there’s anyone who knows hosting, it’s Google. And it’s very instructive to see how they handle a major power outage. Their openness about what went well and what didn’t is a benefit to anyone who has the ability to learn from the mistakes of others.

What happens when the power goes out at a Google data center? We found out on Feb. 24, when a power outage at a Google facility caused more than two hours of downtime for Google App Engine, the company’s cloud computing platform for developers. Last week the company released a detailed incident report on the outage, which underscored the critical importance of good documentation, even in huge data center networks with failover capacity.

Bill Gates Finds $1 Billion in Box in Back of Closet, Possibly Richest Man Again

We can all give a sigh of relief for good old Bill. I was worried about where his next meal would come from.