RIP, Sheri

Learned today that the author Sheri S. Tepper has died. My favourite book of hers has to be The Family Tree. For almost two thirds of the book there are two very different plotlines intercut with each other. And then the kaleidoscope shifts and the two lock into one with the force of a sudden revelation. A brilliant coup de théâtre. The story is good too.

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Windows Essentials 2012 – the Bell Tools For Thee

Microsoft has announced that its Windows Essentials Suite will reach end of support on January 10, 2017.

Not really a surprise, the software suite has had no upgrades at all over the past four years. Still, it will be sad to bid goodbye to Windows Live Mail and Photo Gallery (two of the applications in the suite). They both have more functionality in their little fingers than Microsoft’s Mail and Photos apps have ever had in their whole stunted bodies.

The Photos app, in particular, is a miserable thing that still does not offer support for managing descriptive, people and geo tags, or face recognition, even four years after its introduction.

Microsoft has failed to deliver yet again.

Posted in Computers and Internet, Photography | 2 Comments

Now It’s Amazon’s Turn

I often castigate Microsoft here on the blog for their seemingly boneheaded decisions. Now it’s Amazon’s turn in the spotlight of shame.

I’ve been using their Kindle app for Windows 8 ever since it was launched back in 2012; never saw the need to buy an Amazon Kindle e-reader device.

Now Amazon has announced that they will be withdrawing the Kindle app from the Windows store later this month, and advise people to install the Kindle desktop application instead. Hooray – let’s all go back to 2005. Why on earth Amazon isn’t putting its development effort into a UWP version of the Kindle app instead, I have no idea. If they did, the app would be usable across all Microsoft Windows devices (PCs, Phones, Xbox, HoloLens, etc.).

It also rather begs the question as to what will happen to the existing Kindle app on Windows Phones. I’ll be prepared to bet that Amazon will shortly announce that it will be withdrawing that as well. Since you can’t use the Kindle desktop application on a Windows Phone, the only possibility will be to use the browser-based version of the Kindle reader on the phone. That promises to be such a poor experience that I expect to be giving up using my phone for Kindle books.

Amazon – what on earth are you playing at?

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As I’ve written before, Adam Curtis makes amazing documentaries. Tomorrow sees the release of his latest work: HyperNormalisation. Unfortunately, it only seems to be available on the BBC iPlayer – which is geofenced to viewers in the UK. I hope that it will become more widely available…

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Microsoft Band – Time for Plan B

Ten months ago, I treated myself to a Microsoft Band 2 for Christmas. A combination of fitness band and smartwatch, I really like the functions that it offers. However, a brilliant idea has been let down horribly by poor hardware quality. I’m currently on my third example – the first two developed splits in the straps.

Microsoft could have learned from this, and produced a third version to address the product failings – it’s always been said, apocryphally, that Microsoft needs three goes to get anything right. Instead, Microsoft has thrown in the towel, withdrawn the Band 2 from the market, and announced that it has no plans for a Band 3.

I think it’s a real shame. I do like the Band 2, and I was looking forward to see what a Band 3 would be like. It would seem that Microsoft has blinked, rather than push the envelope. So Microsoft Band will join the list of products that Microsoft has failed: Zune, Windows Home Server, Windows Phone. And I can’t help feeling that they failed, not because of any fundamental shortcomings in the products themselves, but because Microsoft failed to deliver what it needed to do to get the products established in the market.

I need to plan for what I will get as the successor for my Band 2 when it finally kicks the bucket. I suspect it will be a Garmin vivosmart HR+ – this seems to be the closest match in functionality to the Band 2.

Thanks a bunch, Microsoft – you’ve failed me yet again.

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The Photo

In November 1990 LIFE magazine published a photograph of a young man named David Kirby. I remember the photo very well. It still moves me to tears, and evokes memories of friends who went far too soon. Here’s the story behind the photo.

Posted in Health and wellness, LGBT Politics, Society | Leave a comment

The Prisoner

I can’t believe it has been fifty years since I was first glued to the TV whilst following the adventures of Number 6.

Posted in Television | 2 Comments