Monthly Archives: December, 2006

Europe’s feeling foxy

The Firefox browser continues to gain popularity in Europe, with a market share of just over 23%, according to research done by a French firm and reported in The Inquirer.

We in the Royaume Uni are a little behind some of our neighbours at 15.8%, while Slovenia has adopted Firefox to a whole-hearted level of over 40%.

Conical Comical

Today’s fun YouTube movie…

The Amazing Shrinking Nivo

I’ve posted a picture of the innards of the next Ndiyo Nivo on the Ndiyo blog.


There’s a new beta of Parallels Desktop for Mac – the virtualisation software that lets you run other operating systems in a window on your Mac. Follow the link to see a whole host of nice new features.

For example, you can resize the Parallels window and it just tells Windows to change to the right resolution. Very nice.

And there’s also the ‘coherence’ mode, which is a bit like a full-screen mode but with the background taken away, so you can see and interact with your Windows windows alongside your Mac ones:

parallels coherence mode

And you can simply drag files from the Finder into your Windows world, which is very convenient. When I tried to go the other way, Windows blue-screened and then rebooted inside the window – remember, this is still a beta.

One thing that virtualisation has really brought home to me is just how little I need Windows. I installed Parallels when it first came out, had a quick check of my web sites to make sure they looked OK under IE, and then shut it down again. Since then I’ve run Ubuntu in a window many times, but I have only started up Windows for two reasons: to upgrade the firmware on my Blackberry, and to upgrade the firmware on my Nokia E61. There are Mac applications for normal interactions with these devices, but not for the low-level grungy stuff.

All of which makes me think that it may be virtualisation, rather than Netscape, that really fulfils Marc Andreessen’s 1995 prophecy about Windows being reduced to a “poorly debugged set of device drivers”.

Free as in Font?

Ever feel the need for a new font or two? I’ve just discovered Abstract Fonts – a wonderful resource. How come I didn’t know about this before?

Font sample for Beinet

Cheap power and free space

From John’s Observer column:

I can look at someone’s PC and generally infer from the pattern of folders and files on the disk when they first started using computers. The clue is that older users tend to have orderly filing habits. They also tend to cull old or temporary files, and are more wary of accepting large downloads. Why? Because when they first started using computers, disk space was scarce (and therefore expensive and precious); the same applied to connection bandwidth.

Smashing the clock

When I started at the Olivetti Research Lab back in 1996, the topic of ‘how many hours people actually worked’ came up in conversation one day.

“Here”, I was told, “you aren’t judged by the number of hours you work. You’re judged by what you produce.”

It was a very good philosophy, and I’ve tried to adopt it in more recent years with people who have worked for me. The hours were flexible, and the number of hours were also flexible. (The unspoken, but understood, corollary was that simply turning up at your desk each day for a certain amount of time wasn’t enough. You had to be productive, and people who weren’t would sometimes be encouraged to pursue their careers elsewhere.)

That was 10 years ago, and it’s much more common now. It’s a bit surprising, though, to see a company like Best Buy wholeheartedly endorsing this approach, as described in this BusinessWeek article. Excerpt:

The endeavor, called ROWE, for “results-only work environment,” seeks to demolish decades-old business dogma that equates physical presence with productivity. The goal at Best Buy is to judge performance on output instead of hours….

Since the program’s implementation, average voluntary turnover has fallen drastically…

Meanwhile, Best Buy notes that productivity is up an average 35% in departments that have switched to ROWE.

Thanks to Claes-Frederik for the link.

© Copyright Quentin Stafford-Fraser