Thursday, October 30, 2008

Okay, Fair Enough...

When I'm (mostly) wrong, I'm (mostly) wrong. It seems that what Google has, while indeed being incompatible with OpenID 1.x is (mostly) compatible with OpenID 2.0. Thanks to those who pointed this out.

That said, if I "have an axe to grind", it's largely because I spent a good deal of the last year listening to folks like Eric Chu from Google spouting idiocies like "open source projects can't be relied on to ship according to schedule" while standing in front of a whole bunch of GNOME folks (which, of course, ships every six months like clockwork) and "current open source projects are too desktop-oriented" (which is simply nonsense) as justification for reinventing more wheels than I care to count with Android. It gets tiresome.

I'll look forward to seeing both Robert and Leslie participating in the GNOME Foundation Advisory Board; they know I'm an opinionated bastard, and they won't hold it against me...

Continuing to Not Quite Get It at Google...

So, Google made a big announcement about how they're now supporting OpenID from Gmail. Except it turns out that they're really not. They're using an extra-special Googleplex fork of OpenID, incompatible with the standard. It's not OpenID, it's GopenID, or GoogleID, or Andro-ID, but whatever it is, it's not what they claim it to be.

I know the folks at Google aren't stupid, and I'm unable to understand what it is about actually working with a community--one that isn't contained within the Googleplex, anyway--that they find so scary. They did it with Android (and then spent the better part of a year publicly running down mainstream mobile open source development as "not good enough", "too desktop oriented", etc.) and now they've gone and done it again with OpenID.

Let me try to explain this to you, guys: a standard only has value when everyone uses the same one. If you decide to have your own version of a standard, it's not a standard any more, it's just pointless fragmentation.

Google's pretty good at things that simply involve writing a check, like the Summer of Code, like sponsoring GUADEC (and then not showing up), like joining the GNOME Foundation Advisory Board (and I certainly hope someone's planning on showing up for that), like Android. They're consistently terrible at actually getting out into the community and simply working with people and projects that don't happen to be Google-driven.

I don't get it. Or if I'm feeling especially cynical, maybe I do. Like we used to say at Apple, if you think you're too cynical, you're not cynical enough.

Friday, October 24, 2008

My Hopefully-No-Longer-Ongoing Vista Ultimate Upgrade Nightmare

Yes, I use Vista. I'm sorry if that troubles you, but in fairness, I use pretty much every OS known to humankind at one point or another.

The reason I use Vista is that I use Illustrator, Photoshop, Dreamweaver, and the rest of the CS3 Web Suite for a bunch of things and—after having used them on a Mac, with an external Wacom tablet for several years—I succumbed to the allure of the generally-despised Tablet PC, especially one which used the Wacom technology. There's nothing like "painting" directly on the screen with a stylus, and a pressure-sensitive stylus is even better.

So, for a couple of years, I had a Lenovo X41 Tablet on which I ran CS2, and with which I was quite happy. I decided I needed a new system earlier this year and ended up getting another Lenovo, an X61 Tablet this time. The Lenovo's are small, (relatively) light, travel well, and generally seem to work nicely for me; in addition to the X61, I've got an X60 (non-Tablet) on which I run Ubuntu 8.04 at the moment (and on which I've been spending way too much time looking at Android sources, but that's a story for another day...)

Anyway, the X61 came with Vista Business installed, and it worked just fine. Except for one thing: Vista Business doesn't let you do Japanese input, you need Vista Ultimate for that. There isn't a single other feature in Ultimate that I think I care about, and it's worth noting that Japanese support on XP was free, the upgrade kit for Ultimate cost me $220 at Circuit City.

Okay, fine. I can really use it, and while it used to be free (and is free on Linux), I'd put down two Benjamins for good Japanese support. So, I get my official Windows Vista Ultimate disk, and get to installing.

First off, this is a process which takes a whole large number of hours, I haven't managed to stay awake through it so far, but it's got to be nine or ten hours. Having done that, I discovered that the keyboard and "Trackpoint" joystick no longer functioned. Thankfully, the stylus did, and an external mouse and keyboard did, but I ended up spending an hour or two on the phone with Microsoft Tech Support, removing devices from the registry, re-scanning, searching for new drivers, etc., before everything was finally working again.

Then, some overnight automatic update or other killed the Trackpoint again. Luckily, I knew what to do, and I got that sorted out.

So, everything was fine until I went away to Singapore and Tokyo at the beginning of the month, and took the Linux laptop with me. When I got back, the first thing the X61 did was download a whole new bunch of updates, which somehow had the net effect of persuading the system that it was no longer a Tablet. No stylus response, no input panel, when tablet-specific software was started up, it denied that there was any tablet hardware in evidence.

So, I've spent pretty much all week on the phone, alternatively, with Lenovo support and with Microsoft support. Lenovo won't send me an Ultimate recovery disk, so they say, because their policy is to only send recovery disks for the OS with which the system originally shipped. Microsoft insisted the whole thing was so vendor-specific that getting help from Lenovo was really what was needed (a position with which I basically agree).

All in all, Microsoft tried harder to be helpful, calling me back multiple times and spending several hours on the phone looking at options. Where we finally wound up is that, late yesterday afternoon, I uninstalled Norton 360 (there seems to be no way to turn it off), turned off a whole pile of startup programs and services using msconfig, and did a fresh upgrade.

And got exactly the same results as the first time: tablet functionality was back, but no keyboard, no TrackPoint. Luckily, all of the previous experience gave me a notion of what to do. I let Vista install the 24 additional upgrades it wanted to, then I ran Lenovo's updater, and installed all the updates it found. Still no keyboard or TrackPoint, but the stylus, etc., still work.

I went to the Device Manager, and saw that neither the "Tablet PC Keyboard and Button" nor the "PS/2 TrackPoint" were running. So, I searched for an updated driver for the "Tablet PC Keyboard and found one. Next, I downloaded the latest TrackPoint driver installer from Lenovo and ran that. After a reboot, everything worked.

I took a system restore point called "Everything Works Here". At least I have a fallback now, but what a pain in the ass. Now, I've got about two dozen "optional updates" from Microsoft which I'll have to go through, one by one, ready to back them out individually if the cause new trouble.

And what a circus from, in particular, Lenovo support. They were never able to give me any explanation of what someone who wanted to upgrade to Ultimate was supposed to do, and they made moronic suggestions that I'd voided my warranty with them by doing so.

And people say Linux is hard to install!