Area 88, an anime I didn’t knew nothing about until a month ago. This wouldn’t be a bad thing on its own, but it actually is because Area 88 is an anime ( and a manga ) strongly related to aviation: how could I have missed it?

As the title suggests, there are two anime series: the first one is a serie of three OVA released in the mid ’80s, the second one is a TV serie of 12 episodes that aired in 2004. Both have more or less the same plot because they are both based on the manga with the same title.

As there are no real spoilers here, you can continue reading without fear.

Because I like to see things in order, I watched the OVA serie first, followed by the the TV serie less than two weeks after. Always because I like to do things in order, I’ll start talking about the aviation part of the show.
If you know a little about aviation and air forces, then there is no problem; if you know a lot, there there could be some problems; if you are an aviation enthusiast since 1989 then there would be some more problems.

Nevertheless, the show will be really enjoyable anyway.

Even if some errors are less noticeable than others, like the F-15 / Tornado -style pylons on the F-8 “Crusader” ( you do remember about “Crusader”‘s pylons and hardpoints, don’t you? ) or a drop tank mounted under an F-14A “Tomcat” centerline “Sparrow“‘s mountpoint, seeing aircraft like the F-4 “Phantom II” flying without the RIO or the F-14A used as a ground attack aircraft during the Vietnam conflict could bring some worries to the viewer.

Dogfights are the standard even if there are some ( at least one ) long range actions using the “Sparrow” SARH AAMs.

The main character, Shin Kazama [ 風間真 ], is probably able to shot down a “Flanker” flying a Sopwith “Camel” with three bullets ( one of which is defective ), even if sometimes he screw things. A lot.

While the TV serie is almost always action-oriented, the OVA, even if shorter, focuses more on what Shin feels and what happens back in Japan. The story development is better depicted in the OVA than in the TV serie. I’m curious to see what happens in the manga though.

The animation is of course really different and the aircrafts of the TV serie seem to come straight from Initial-D, and they move in the same way, that is, with the same handling as cars. When flying I mean.
Visual effects are of course better on the TV serie and some details can’t be depicted on the OVA’s hand-drawed aircrafts. I think they’re on par even if for different reasons.

More or less the same characters are present in both shows, the most notable exceptions are two mercenary pilot, Kim ( that is absent in the OVA but came from the manga ) and Kitori ( a brand new character for the TV serie, and currently my favourite character ).

Both shows are fun and I suggest everyone to watch both, starting with the OVA as I’ve done.
I prefer the OVA over the TV serie because it’s shorter and the story is IMHO better developed both around the main character and his background.

Bye

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Market Driven

posted by Viking
giu 27

All the products names are copyrights or trademarks registered by their own manufacturers.

Back in the good old days when computers weren’t mean to be used – and were costly enough not to be purchased – by anyone, there weren’t any design or weight issues.
Desktop computers were rugged and ugly and no one cared, as long as they were powerful enough for their job. Laptop computers were bulky and costly enough to be a professional / enterprise – only choice. Mobile phones were the same, and voice calls were really costly too.

No one really cared about design until Apple made the first iMac, a PowerPC G3 based computer that looked nice and didn’t seems a computer at all, maybe a small colored TV. With the introduction of the various following models, more and more people started buying Apple hardware. The introduction of the iPod was another successful move, selling millions of units. Then followed the iPhone, the rest is history…

Apple did a very good job, creating a large user base and a series of product related – and complimentary – with each others. Owning an iPod, an iPhone, an iPad, a MacBook and an iMac is not that uncommon, assuming a person can afford such an expense.
They ( sort of ) share the same design or style and people continue buying them. Of course competitors started to manufacture similar products with sometimes good, sometimes bad results.

As I wrote, today a device is meant also to be good to see and show to the others, in a similar way as cars and girlfriends ( or boyfriends ). People want them to be that way, because they buy them, so there’s a market for them: the evolution of the well known Supply & Demand model.
Of course common people aren’t supposed to be “power users” or “pro users”, they simply want something that works, that keep working without maintenance and that in case of trouble can be sent to a service and repair center to be fixed until it’s so old that repairing it isn’t the best choice anymore.
The problem is “power users” or “pro users” ( like, for instance, me ) don’t like this way of thinking and are starting to get tired of such products that are not customizable, not upgradable or not fixable.

Once I tried to open a 5th generation 30GB iPod ( my father bought one, and he always say he’ll not make the same mistake twice ) to replace the dead battery – pretty common after 4 / 5 years – with a new one I found on the net for as little as 10€ ( included shipping from Germany ). After cursing for over an hour trying to open that thing following various tutorials I found on the net, I gave up, but I’m still thinking why on Earth Apple’s engineers / designers didn’t simply put four little torx screws on the rear. Of course I already know the answer: because people don’t like seeing the screws, even if they’re covered by plastic or gum caps, because devices without screws sell better, because the vast majority of people are not expected to replace a battery, they’re expected to replace the whole product with a costly new one.

Of course, from a “corporate” point of view, no one can blame Apple in any way. They’re absolutely right – no sarcasm here. They sell a lot and that demonstrates that they’re doing the right thing, manufacturing devices that people wants.

But, considering how many things ( TVs, computers, LCD and CRT monitors, various electronic devices, etc. ) I’ve successfully disassembled, repaired and reassembled with a minimum effort of time and money – and, sometimes, no money at all – from a certain point of view it’s sad to see how any customer is supposed to be so dumb he’s unable to use a screwdriver to replace an hard drive or a RAM module, while from another point of view, alas, almost any customer will never need that capability because he’ll never replace the battery or add RAM to his system or replace the hard drive because, even if as simple as it is, he’s not able to.

In the meantime, I’ll avoid buying phones without interchangeable batteries, laptops without standard screws or any other device that is, beyond it’s inherent limits, not serviceable, not upgradable nor fixable.
Question is, how long such devices will be available on the consumer market?

Bye

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feb 4

Last year I wrote how to create and configure an IPv6 over IPv4 tunnel with Hurricane Electric.
Now I’m gonna write how to configure a Linux host with two NICs as an IPv6 router using an HE tunnel when behind a NAT-router.
The examples here are referred to a Debian 6 Linux distribution and may be sligthly different for other distros or *BSD OSs.

Let’s suppose your current IPv4 network is a classical 172.16.0.0 with a 255.255.0.0 netmask ( /16 in short ), and that your IPv4 NAT-router is located at 172.16.255.254.
The first thing you need to do is to configure one of the interfaces of your IPv6 router, let’s say eth0, with a fixed IPv4 address in the same subnet of your router, like 172.16.255.253.
Then you have to make sure that your NAT-router forward protocol 41 to your IPv6 router. If this is not the case, you can simply put you IPv6 router in the DMZ. Be careful when you do that! Be sure to apply strong IPv4 firewall policies and keep the daemons listening to that interface at the minimum, maybe on non-standard ports.
After configuring the IPv6 router default IPv4 route ( to your NAT-router of course ), test if you can reach an address outside the local subnet, like 8.8.8.8 ( Google Domain Name Server ).
You’ll also like to assign an IPv4 address to the other network interface, for instance eth1, to allow some daemons to listen to an IPv4 local address ( like sshd or named for IPv4 ).

Debian and other Debian-related distros usually store the network configuration inside the /etc/network/interfaces file.

# This file describes the network interfaces available on your system
# and how to activate them. For more information, see interfaces(5).

auto lo
iface lo inet loopback

auto eth0
iface eth0 inet static
   address 172.16.255.253
   netmask 255.255.0.0
   gateway 172.16.255.254

auto eth1
iface eth1 inet static
   address 172.16.255.252
   netmask 255.255.0.0

In the tunnel configuration page on the HE’s website you can find the routable /64 subnet. Mind the difference between the tunnel IPv6 addresses, that usually are something like 2001:1234:5678:abc::1 and 2001:1234:5678:abc::2, and your routable IPv6 subnet that will be something like 2001:1234:5679:abc::.
The IPv6 address of eth1 is static ( this is a router after all ) and  must belong to your routable subnet. You can choose of using a simple address, like 2001:1234:5679:abc::1, or, if you’re a bit paranoic, you can randomize it to something like 2001:1234:5679:abc:5f32:9b8c:d12e:15fa.
Because your routable subnet is not gonna change unless you destroy your HE’s tunnel and create a new one, you can configure the eth1 IPv6 address as static and put the configuration inside /etc/network/interfaces, by adding the following lines:

iface eth1 inet6 static
   pre-up /sbin/ip6tables-restore < /etc/iptables/ipv6firewall
   address 2001:1234:5679:abc:5f32:9b8c:d12e:15fa
   netmask 64

The second line is needed to enable the ip6tables firewall.

The configuration for ip6tables is based on a more or less ‘standard’ requirement: all the hosts behind the router have unlimited access to the internet on every protocol or port while they’re not reachable from the rest of world with the exception of some ICMPv6 messages.
Just to avoid some types of DOS attack, I’ve decided to limit the amount of ICMPv6 echo requests the router ( and the network behind ) is gonna receive.
The content of the /etc/iptables/ipv6firewall file is the following:

# Generated by ip6tables-save
*filter
:INPUT DROP [23:2392]
:FORWARD DROP [4:320]
:OUTPUT ACCEPT [30:2888]
-A INPUT -i lo -j ACCEPT
-A INPUT -i sit1 -p ipv6-icmp --icmpv6-type echo-request -m limit --limit 5/sec -j ACCEPT
-A INPUT -i sit1 -p ipv6-icmp --icmpv6-type echo-request -j DROP
-A INPUT -i sit1 -p ipv6-icmp -j ACCEPT
-A INPUT -i eth1 -j ACCEPT
-A INPUT -i sit1 -m state --state RELATED,ESTABLISHED -j ACCEPT
-A FORWARD -o sit1 -j ACCEPT
-A FORWARD -i sit1 -m state --state RELATED,ESTABLISHED -j ACCEPT
-A FORWARD -i sit1 -p ipv6-icmp --icmpv6-type echo-request -m limit --limit 5/sec -j ACCEPT
-A FORWARD -i sit1 -p ipv6-icmp --icmpv6-type echo-request -j DROP
-A FORWARD -i sit1 -p ipv6-icmp -j ACCEPT
COMMIT

Then you need to enable IPv6 forwarding at boot time by putting the following file ( you can name it as you want, as long as it ends with .conf; I’ve called it ipv6_forwarding.conf ) inside the /etc/sysctl.d/ directory:

# /etc/sysctl.d/ipv6_forwarding.conf

net.ipv6.conf.all.forwarding = 1

The next thing to configure is the router advertisement daemon, that can be installed ( as root ) using the command:

# apt-get install radvd

The configuration file is /etc/radvd.conf and should be similar to this one:

interface eth1
{
   AdvSendAdvert on;
   AdvManagedFlag on;
   MinRtrAdvInterval 5;
   MaxRtrAdvInterval 15;
   AdvLinkMTU 1280;
   prefix 2001:1234:5679:abc::/64
   {
   };
};

Some flags are required ( like ‘AdvLinkMTU’ set to 1280 ) for the tunnel to work, some are optional ( like ‘AdvManagedFlag’ ). Maybe next time I’ll wrote how to configure a DHCPv6 server. DHCPv6 is a little more complex than DHCPv4 also because it must be deployed side-to-side with router advertisement, but allows far greater flexibility than its IPv4 counterpart.
In the meantime, with IPv4-reachable nameservers answering with AAAA records, there’ll be no real need for IPv6-reachable nameservers on the short term ( that is, until IPv4 will be the mainstream protocol ).

The last part is to set up the tunnel using a shell script. Actually, two scripts are used. The first one contains only variables like the username, the tunnel ID and the password that should be passed via http on SSL to configure the firewall at Hurricane Electric and tell it our public IP.
The file I created is named HE_personal.sh and is stored inside /root with 0700 permission. The content is the following:

#!/bin/sh

USERNAME=■■■■■■■■
PASSWORD=■■■■■■■■
TUNNELID=■■■■■■■■

The other file is HE_tunnel_setup.sh that contains the real commands needed to create the tunnel. I’ve decided to launch it manually ( must be executed as root ) but you can decide to launch it at boot time writing an init.d script or by simply using another ‘pre-up’ directive in /etc/network/interfaces. The content is the following:

#!/bin/sh

. /root/HE_personal.sh

rm ipv4_end.php*
wget --no-check-certificate https://$USERNAME:$PASSWORD@ipv4.tunnelbroker.net/ipv4_end.php?tid=$TID

ifconfig sit0 up
ifconfig sit0 inet6 tunnel ::123.45.678.90
ifconfig sit1 up
ifconfig sit1 inet6 add 2001:1234:5678:abc::2/64
route -A inet6 add ::/0 dev sit1

The –no-check-certificate flag for wget is needed because of a little issue with an HE’s SSL certificate. Mind the prefix of the sit1 interface and the remote endpoint of the IPv4 tunnel.

After rebooting the IPv6 router, ip6tables and radvd should be already up and running. After launching the script the tunnel should be configured without issuing any other command.

To check if the hosts had received an IPv6 Link-Global address you can use:

$ ifconfig -a

under any UNIX, Unix-like or Linux operating system or

> ipconfig /all

under Windows ( any version after Windows XP SP0 ).

Then you can test if the hosts can reach the IPv6 internet using ping6 under any UNIX, Unix-like or Linux operating system ( excluding Oracle Solaris ) or using ping under Windows or Solaris.

Bye

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Just a few words on both the shows. DieBuster ■■■ ■■■■■■■■■■■■■ ■■■■■■■■ ■■ ■■■■ to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Gainax, Gurren Lagann was released in 2007.

SPOILER FREE

Gurren Lagann is funny. Really. The soundtrack is cool even if the OSTs of GunBuster or EVA are on another level, but there are some tracks that are worth listening to them. The plot is… well, sorta same Gainax plot from “it’s all fun and games” that lead to “mankind is gonna die”. The plot is simple, not too complicated and, compared to other Gainax’s productions, funny. Really.

DieBuster ■■ ■ ■■■■ ■■■■ ■■■■■ ■■■ ■■■■ ■■■■ GunBuster ■■■ ■■■■■ ■■■■■ ■■■■■■■■■ ■■■■■■■■■■ ■■ ■■■■■■■■■ ■■ ■■■ Gainax ■■■■■■■ ■■■■■■■■ ■■ “Nadia: the secret of Fuzzy”■ ■■ ■■■■■■■ ■■■■■ ■■■ ■■ ■ ■■■ ■■■■ ■■■■■ ■■■■■ ■■ ■■■■■■

So probably the last three minutes ■■ ■■■■■■■■■ ■■■ ■■■ ■■■■ ■■■■ ■■ ■■■ ■■■■ ■■■■ ■■ ■■■■■ ■■■■■■■■■ ■■■■■■■■■■■ ■■■■ ■■■ ■■■■■■■ ■■■ ■■■■ ■■■ ■■■■ ■■■■■■■■■ ■■■■■ ■■■ ■■ ■■■■ ■■ ■■■■■■■■■■ ■■■■ ■■■■■■■■ in the last episode. And that’s it. Period.

Bye

* If you see a lot of ■, don’t worry. The article was actually written this way.

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Too little, too early…

posted by Viking
dic 14

Too little, too early is what people like me thought yesterday, reading news like this:

So, farewell, then F-22

I’m not gonna spend too many words on this project, because it is well known that the F-22 was designed during the Cold War era, introduced the concept of “air dominance” instead of the common “air supremacy”, had problems during both the development phase ( flight control issues ) and the operational phase ( oxygen flow regulation issues )…

But even after all that, I still think that less than 190 aircrafts are not enough and that the F-15C fleet is aging, even considering things like the AESA AN-APG63. It’s like upgrading a computer without changing the mainboard. You can do that for a while, maybe, but you can’t do that forever. Even the mighty B-52H will probably be phased out earlier than expect.

Anyway, farewell, then, F-22. A lot of novels, movies, fictions and games were “based” on a future with you, a future that is gonna last really less than expected.

Bye

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I’ve seen several animes during the last months and I wrote nothing for any of them, but being a fan of Hideaki Anno’s animes, particularly Nadia and EVA, means I cannot keep from spending at least some words about his works.

So yesterday I finally decided to watch トップをねらえ! ( Toppu o Nerae! ) [ Aim for the Top! GunBuster ].

I’m not gonna write something you can easily find in less than 30 seconds googling for “GunBuster” and keep in mind that I’m gonna talk about more or less deeply about the plot, so:

IF YOU DON’T LIKE TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS IN THE SHOW, STOP READING RIGHT NOW.

That said, lets talk about GunBuster using the point of view of an otaku who has seen both Nadia and EVA ( and possibly even the episodes of Kare Kano directed by Anno ).

As usual, loneliness and lack of self confidence are two of the most important topics in Anno’s works and GunBuster’s not an exception, in fact the main character Noriko could be a good “prototype” of EVA’s Shinji. She believe she could never do what others ( especially Coach Ota ) ask her to do, she is hated by her schoolmates and other pilots because they think she has been choosen only because she is the only daughter of the admiral killed in the first battle with the aliens, she sometimes disobey orders and she also feel remorse for her partner’s death ( like Shinji in EVA during the Unit-03 activation incident, even if in a different way ) in the third episode.
By a certain point of view, the story of Noriko is the opposite of Shinji’s one. Shinji is a lonely guy with the need to open himself to the others that will, hopefully, end up living like a normal guy, while Noriko will end up being lonely because of the various WARP speed travels that will make her friends on Earth to grow old and possibly die while her relative time flows only for some months.

Jung could also be seen as the “prototype” of Asuka ( even if the shade of red of her hair is more similar to that of Miss Grandis in Nadia, but by the way… ). She is strong willed, German ( even if she pilot a soviet unit, but in 1988 Germany was still divided ), she believe of being the best machine pilot in the universe and is gealous of Noriko, at least at the beginning, while at the end she will become her partner with the GunBuster and will even try to go with her and Kazumi inside the black hole bomb near the the end of the last episode, that is equal to committing suicide and die with her friends.
In the end she will be alone anyway because of the time lapse between the moment the black hole bomb detonates and when Noriko and Kazumi will came back to the Earth.

Coach Ota is a character with some aspects that will be present in Nadia and EVA in the characters of Nemo and Gendo respectively. A part of his attitude emerges for example when he try to motivate Noriko to do her best or when he try to explain her, even in an hard way, what happens during real combat operations. Another part of his attitude could be seen at the beginning of the show, for instance when he’s looking at Noriko in difficulty during a duel ( a thing that remember me the first battle of the Unit-01 in EVA ) without doing anything.

GunBuster is one of the few examples of science-fiction serie, with FTL-capable space ships, that considers relativistic time dilatation effects. This is an element that has an heavy impact on the plot. Just mention the fact that in the fifth episode Noriko will graduate at 17 years while, on Earth, she actually is 27 and one of her best friend back in school, Kimiko, already has a daughter. In the last episode Kazumi that has been on Earth for about 10 years is now 30 while Noriko is about 18.

A lot of elements could be seen in the show that will find a place in the following series, from clothes to control rooms and including the end credits of the last episode ( scrolling horizontally rather than vertically, an idea Anno will “recycle” later in Evangelion – Death ). The last episode is purposely in b/w 4:3 letterbox format with only the very last scene in colours ( the real purpose is unknown, but any Anno fan knows he loves to make this sort of things and, the most important thing, the overall result is really good! ), with the last battle that is not “animated”. During the last battle only drawings are shown ( more or less like in the episode 26 of EVA ).

The original concept of GunBuster was to realize a 25 episodes-long serie as could be noticed by listening to the second soundtrack CD, which in fact contains a serie of audio-trailers created for the purpose.
Of course Gainax + Anno fans are accustomed to budget cuts ( EVA ), episodes’ number replanning ( Nadia ), change of ideas ( Kare Kano ) and similar thing, in fact, considering that the show’s anything but simple, some events and facts have little to no time to be exposed as they should be ( like “why those space monster are attacking humans?“, “why machines are piloted by young girls wearing a swimsuit?” and other questions of sort ).

Personally, I didn’t believe that a six episode anime would have impressed me that much. Anno did it again, less than with EVA but certainly more than with Nadia. The plot, the drawings and the excellent soundtrack really worked well. If there’s something that I don’t like of the show is the “super-robot” GunBuster: I’m not a big fan of that sort of anime, I prefers mecha like those from the Full Metal Panic universe than the various Mazinger or Jeeg, but considering the type of otaku Anno was at that time I can say I don’t care too much.

Before someone ask if there is an happy ending, I’ll answer in the same exact way I’m aswering this question during these days:
“Yes, there’s an happy ending, and is one of the saddest happy ending I’ve ever seen in my life“.

My advice’s to watch it, it’s worth spending three hours of your time. Really.

Bye

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ott 20

Short version:
the place is great and the admission is free: go visit it!

Long version:
The Royal Air Force Museum of Colindale is one of the best aviation museum a person could visit. There are so many aircrafts that an enthusiast will spend an entire day to see everything.
The visit is enjoyable at all ages, in fact there are many interactive panels and monitors showing the history, the facts and trivia of every aircraft ( including quizzes I passed with an average of 9.7 / 10 per aircraft ).
The various halls, from the smaller one of the “aviation milestones” to the larger bombers’ one, all contain something unique that could be hardly seen in other places or museums around the World.
From hystorical aircrafts like the Sopwith Triplane or the Vickers Vimy, to the Supermarine Spitfire ( a total of four version are on display! ), the Hawker Hurricane and Typhoon, the Avro Lancaster, the English Electric Lightning and Camberra, the Blackburn Buccaneer, the Avro Vulcan and the latest Panavia Tornado and Eurofighter Typhoon ( the unique english DA2 “Black Typhoon” is on display ).
There are a lot of other aircrafts that served with the RAF but were not designed or build in the United Kingdom, like the Boeing B-17, the Consolidated B-24, the North American B-25 and P-51 and the McDonnell F-4 Phantom ( with the Rolls-Royce Spey engines, of course: what did you expect? ).
There is an entire hall dedicated to the Battle of Britain in which all the four bombers used by the german Luftwaffe, the Messerschmitt BF-110, the Junker JU-87 and JU-88 and the Heinkel HE-111 stand together. On the other side of this hall, it’s also possible to enter in a Short Sutherland flying boat.

During my visit at the beginning of October I had some small talks with a really nice attendant in the “aviation milestones” hall about the situation of the air forces and the navies in our respective countries. Needless to say we were both skeptical about the future.
Seeing how simple and yet how complicated were the aircraft of the past is something that always make people thinks.
The wreck of an ill-fated Avro Halifax, retrieved from the sea of Norway after many years under the water, stay in the bomber area, rembembering us what being a bomber’s crew meant during WWII.
Walking under the wing of the Avro Vulcan and standing under the bomb bay ( that now contains an LCD panel on which are showed some clips of the aircraft during the Cold War era ) is just great because really gives you the idea of how big the airplane really is and how advanced

The museum continuosly acquire new aircrafts. Always in the aviation milestones hall, there were two “brand new” ( well, sort of ) items: a WWII Gloster Meteor, that at the time of the visit was still undergoing re-assembly, and the mock-up of a Lockheed-Martin F-35A. The aforementioned attendant told me that there are about 20 aircrafts in storage they’re unable to show because of space issues.

So, in the end, if you’re an aviation enthusiast and you’re planning a trip to London, just add a day to visit the RAF museum at Colindale ( you can reach it via underground, is in zone 4 Link to Google Maps ) because… the place is great and the admission is free: go visit it!

Bye

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ott 3

Being a Microsoft Student Partner simply means I like most of Microsoft’s technologies and products because they work the way I expect them to work, my expectations based on a 17 years old experience with Microsoft’s products.

For instance, as far as other desktop OSs can arrive, nothing, in my opinion, beats Windows 7 nowadays.
MacOS X is a very good OS, but as long as it’ll run only on Apple hardware, I’ll never gonna use it.
GNU/Linux-based distros like Red Hat, Ubuntu, Fedora, OpenSUSE, Debian, etc. are today very good OSs, but there’s an overall lack of agreement between developers and, even worse, an incompatibility issue between licenses that lead to a “reinvention of wheel” time after time ( the Big example: ZFS and btrfs ).

So, while I usually like Microsoft products, sometimes I think that some little or big decisions have been made without thinking too much to a certain part of the users.

My first criticism was about Windows Phone 7, that is a really good mobile OS for the average user. But as long as I want to: sync my contacts with Outlook rather than Windows Live, join a domain, run native C++ applications and other things, Windows Phone 7 is not a choice for me. I’m still fine with Windows Mobile 6.x.

But MetroUI caught my attention when I first tried the developers’ preview of Windows 8 some days ago.
The concept behind MetroUI is the “unification of the user experience”, a marketing expression used instead of “users are getting more and more lazy and they don’t want to bother about what’s under the hood” ( meaning they don’t care what they’re using: a mobile phone, a desktop computer, an ATM or a washing machine ).
Many people think touchscreens were one of the biggest revolution in the late ’00s market. Probably they’re the same people whose jaw drops on the floor when I tell them my first experience with a touchscreen was in 1994, in a ship command bridge on a green phosphor CRT monitor used to manage the course ( Yeah, I actually steered a 200 yards-long ship ). By the way, they’re right if considering only the consumer market.
The idea of unifying the UI between “handy” devices ( mobile phones and tablets ) is hardly new and, most important thing, it works. After all, they’re similar and they’re expected to work in a similar way.
But, in my opinion, if the differences between a mobile phone and a tablet are like the differences between a car and a van, those between a tablet and a PC are more like those between a GA aircraft and an airliner.
They’re not similar, they’re not expected to be used in the same way. I don’t expect to find a manifold pressure gauge in the cockpit of a Boeing 737 ( or an ATR-42 or an Airbus A380 ) in the same way I don’t expect to find a FMS console in a Cessna 172 ( or in a Piper PA28 ).

Saying that I don’t like MetroUI would be wrong. I just think that MetroUI has no reason to be the default UI on a desktop OS. I also think that standard utilities should remain non-Metro applications. I find unacceptable that the remote desktop connection client is available only as a MetroUI application on a desktop machine, as I find wrong not giving the user the option to actually kill the application, even by some abstruse key combination, I don’t care, and not just suspending it.
For seventeen years I closed an application in Windows by clicking on the top left ( top right starting with Windows 95 ) corner button of the application window, or by pressing Alt + F4. In MetroUI I can’t quit application like this. I find it a bit ( well more than just a bit ) disappointing.

In the end, considering that there’s a lot of research behind the dvelopment of an operating system ( and Microsoft really care about what users think, or wouldn’t have released Windows 8 Developer Preview publicly ), what I’m starting to think is that average users are beginning to be afraid ( I could have used the word “tired”, but I didn’t ) of the keyboard as well as, following Windows 95, users started to be afraid of the command line.

What I’d really like, as a power user, as an enthusiast and as an experienced user, is a choice. As there are six versions of Windows 7, I’d like the Professional and Enterprise versions of Windows 8 use explorer as the default UI instead of MetroUI.
We will wait for the beta versions to see what will appens.

Bye

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Last night I wanted to try something new on Mirage, my Sun Ultra 5. After changing the configuration of the SCSI disks, moving some drives between the two channels of the controller ( and changing the correspondingly devaliases in the NVRAM with several nvunalias / nvalias commands ), I thought about installing NetBSD-current ( currently 5.99.55 ).

This wiki list a serie of commands that would compile and install NetBSD-current assuming that a release of NetBSD is already running. So because I already had a NetBSD 5.1 running on Mirage, I thought of following the “short way”… only to find out that fetching the sources via anoncvs took nearly 4 hours. I’m not blaming anoncvs, because trying to fetch the tarball and extracting all the files took nearly 2 hours two days later.

Now, the most “interesting” thing is that the build script, before compiling the kernel and the userland, need to compile the compiler, because NetBSD 5.99 need GCC 4.5 compiled for the target architecture ( in this case, sparc64 ).
I was just thinking to stay with 5.1 ( losing some opportunity offered by current, like some ZFS support etc. ), when I tought about doing some test on a VM in VirtualBox. During the installation process I choose to get the sets ( a bunch of tgz files ) from http rather than from the CD. Looking at the options for the http install, I tought of doing something “nasty”:

using the 5.1 installer to install 5.99.

It’s longer to explain than actually doing it, but this is possible because on the nyftp http mirror ( http://nyftp.netbsd.org/ ) inside the pub/NetBSD-daily/HEAD/ directory are stored the last five build of NetBSD-current. Inside each directory ( named after the date and time of build ), there are the directories for each architecture, containing the binary sets ( the bunch of tgz files ) that will be used from the installer.
So, after changing the options in the installer accordingly to what is needed, the installation can start and will end with only two minor problems.

The first one is that it’s not possible to set the root password, the second is that the rc_configured variable in /etc/rc.conf will not be changed by the setup program, resulting in a single user boot after reboot, with the root filesystem mounted in read-only.
But these are problems that even a NetBSD newbie know how to solve ( If someone is interested in something like NetBSD-current, then a basic knowledge of vi and of the standard UNIX commands, like mount or passwd is take for granted ).

Mirage is now running NetBSD-current with a LVM volume ( not as powerful as ZFS but require a lower overhead ) in the Sun StorEdge FlexiPack 599, and has been configured as a NFS ( Nightmare Network File System ) Server.

Bye

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