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In case you haven't heard about, since today, Microsoft's Windows 7, the successor of Vista is available as a free download. Of course, it's just a beta, and maybe they do it to distract a bit from not-so-well performing Vista, but anyway, if I had a PC, I'd certainly give it a try. But because I don't, and I'm not sure whether bootcamp supports Windows 7, I was forced to simply read some reviews and build up an opinion.
And there was this one thing. Imagine a system-wide menu bar featuring all your current apps, plus the one you are using most often. Of course, it's up to you to decide what you want to place in that amazing menu-bar. You can even use a very, very hot ability to place items using the mouse called "drag and drop". Finally, after using an application and closing it, the corresponding icon will just disappear. Unbelievable, I know. There is one other amazing ability this dreambar, as I call it, offers. The grouping of windows belonging to the same application. This is indeed something total new, something I have dreamed about for years, and now it's finally happening.
Well, in case you thought it sounds like the Mac OS Dock. It's not. It's the new taskbar in Windows 7, called "superbar". It seems people at Redmond are a bit desperate these days, instead of being creative..
But let's be serious, just for a moment. I'm really wondering where the innovation is. Even searching for "Windows 7 Innovation" doesn't return much. There is the mentioned superbar ( wuhhzza ), some eye-candy and a multi-touch interface ( if I got that rumor right ). The multi-touch interface is a gift for hardware manufacturers, but not for people with ordinary PCs eating French Fries while surfing the web, the superbar is pretty much a bad copy of several already existing concepts and the rest? Is there still this ridiculous Flip-3D thingy that is so not boosting productivity? Oh it's so spacy I can't see the contents of the other windows..
Windows definitely has some fields where no one is at the moment able to compete with it, but not because of the superior technology but rather because of hardware manufacturers still keeping that platform up, and game vendors still building mainly for it, too.
But actually, this hasn't necessarily to be something bad. Mac OS simply is the best system when it comes to usability, consistency of an interface etc.. And Windows can only profit from ... reinventing some stuff already present there. Calling it Superbar seems a bit exaggerated, but after the Zune disaster I guess it's to polish some Egos.
This is an experiment. And I want to clearify that I'm neither a communist nor someone who never buys music, both isn't true. But an industry not getting tired of trying to control very important aspects of our lives just to guarantee some profit is indeed driving me nuts. So here's my plan.
Maybe you've heard that the music industry finally decided on dropping charges against individuals, and that from now on the strategy is to work with ISPs to simply cut off unprofitable users. This reminds me of ancient laws ( that are, unfortunately, still used in some parts of the world ) where a criminal would get his hand cut off if he used it to steal something with it.
While some countries like France are already in the process of passing such a law, elsewhere lobbyists are still busy convincing politicians to do so. If you want to get into the topic, a good place to turn to is certainly the Electronic Frontier Foundation, featuring an article covering the topic.
If you are just like me, and many other folks, just follow a specially created twitter-user called #ourrights. This account will link nowhere, it's just a statement to follow it. Please also spread the word by posting an update on your tweed. Thank you, and always keep in mind that we are the masses.
Of course, the form factor is yet to be supported by new cutting-edge ( and cutting-tree ) machines, yet the price ( 3x = 1€ ) and the robust design leaves competitors far behind.
Neither is Basic! Really, normally I'm trying to be objective, but I just can't when it comes to PHP. I've done a lot of stuff in PHP over the years ( yes, including a CMS, Portal, Guestbook and Gallery ) but as far as I can tell this language meets every requirement to be disqualified as something to consider when it comes to serious, professional software development.
There is certainly good software ( or software that pretends to be good ) written in PHP. But it's not the majority. PHP just encourages programmers to do everything insecure, non-reusable and not really portable.
Just think of the word PHP/MySQL, which is nothing but a pain in the ass. I've been running Postgres for years, and every now and then a small PHP script comes my way requiring MySQL. Whhuuzza. No Database Abstraction. And now that there is one, all popular software still uses these funny mysql_do_whatever() methods.
Function naming is certainly another thing that terribly went wrong at some stage of the development. Has someone ever scanned the PHP sources for the functionNameObfuscator.c? I guess there is none, as no program could ever obfuscate stuff that badly. Now, in the upcoming PHP release there will be finally support for Namespaces, though I'm not really convinced that any of the built-in stuff will be used there prior to 2010.
PHP is perfect to learn some concepts. Like OOP, because there is no need to compile stuff, no need to worry too much about data types and stuff, but once you're about to do a real project, keep in mind that type checking, namespaces etc. are stuff that could potentially matter at some point of the development.
What I find most confusing is that simple statements just don't work. Why? I don't know, they just don't. Example? There you go
// assuming the function foobar() returns some array. // this won't work. echo foobar();
Cool, hu? Not really. And as far as anything WebProgramming is concerned, I just learned my lessons and use something like Merb, Rails or even Java EE. G'day.
An interesting question, because many people now start blogging to earn some additional income, inspired by some top-bloggers earning remarkable amounts by just blogging. But is it indeed realistic to expect a blog to become a considerable income source? Most of the time it's not. Why?
Why do you have a blog? Is it because you are seriously interested in sharing your opinion on some special topic ( like programming and usability here ) or just because you think that everyone should have a blog, just like a linkedin or facebook account. There is no need to have a blog, seriously, and if you have nothing to share, don't force yourself to. Commenting on someone else's posts can be very satisfying, too.
And even if you really do have something to share, be prepared to be just one of many. It's hard to really distinct yourself from the tons of bloggers out there. You can do so, of course, by choosing a different language, a different style, a yet uncovered topic ( though I guess that's hard to find ) or some other factor I didn't think of. If you do so, because you just feel like, chances you will be successful in monetizing your blog aren't bad. Most of the time, however, blog posts are mostly generic in terms of style and content.
So now we're passed that point: Be very unique. That's certainly a way to attract visitors, and most of all keeping them. But even if you do generate a certain amount of traffic each month, you still don't earn money. Once again: interested users will find your blog, and if not, the blog is not interesting for them. Simple truth.
Now, assuming you've got your few thousand impressions each month, you really need to monetize it. And it's been a long road already. Start thinking about Google's AdSense, though it doesn't seem to generate amounts bloggers sometimes think they might get. Be prepared to earn just some dollars, nothing spectacular. Remember, people still need to click on a link actually.
There are other ways of selling your blogging soul. One is to do paid product reviews. Another is the old-school banner. Decide for yourself what you are willing to give up. Because visitors will notice change, and advertising or the attempt to monetize your writings may offend them. Think about that too.
Or just be happy without all the money-hassle and, assuming you are working like 5 hours a week on your blog, it's pretty fantastic to believe that 5 hours a week can generate enough money to make it worth mentioning. And even if you want to earn money, keep in mind that even one of German's top bloggers, Robert Basic, gets an income from about 3000€ each month. And he certainly has traffic...