Thursday, June 03, 2004

Google, GMail, Microsoft...

As a beta user of GMail, I have been pleased by how fast Google sneaks improvements into the system. A while back, I noticed that the JavaScript in GMail started to change the page title (and thus the tab title if you use a tabbed browser) to include the number of unread email messages - a small detail, but something that I was anticipating. Just now, I logged in with Apple's Safari browser and noticed that I no longer received an unsupported browser warning. Cool.

Google is all about scalability (I have been either an architect or a technical lead on two very large scale network applications so I have a little appreciation for how amazing it is that the Google system never seems to slow down, let alone not be available).

Enough praise of Google, now I feel like dumping on Microsoft:

I finally have a pain-free Microsoft Windows experience: I own one Windows 2000 license and I use it on my Mac OS X system running under VirtualPC. I have one clean, already configured VirtualPC disk image with Windows 2000 and my usual application set up. I copy this image, use it, then blow away the copy when I no longer need it.

Unfortunately, my wife Carol has a Windows XP laptop - what a hassle for me: I spend more time keeping her one Windows system running (by far) than all three of my Mac OS systems.

Microsoft is rich beyond (my) comprehension, yet they seem to be stuck in the mud: Word has already had for years all the features that I need or want. Internet Explorer (no tabbed browsing: what is up with that?) seems sort of dated compared to Mozilla Firebird, Safari, etc. I am very skeptical about Longhorn: I just don't "get it" about using a SQL database for storing all files. One of my real passions (in computer science :-) is text/data mining: if Microsoft were so inclined to hire me as a research scientist, I would be more inclined to think of using a (plain old) hierarchical file system augmented by a local search agent that would automatically create (plain old) word indices, automatic categorization, look for connections between files (by use, etc.), and generally help people organize and locate what they need quickly.

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