August 2005 Archives

Some days I think we need a return to the age where offices used mainframes and dumb terminals, which were a world removed from the early personal computers available for the home market.

I know firstly that this statement seems odd as I am not old enough to have worked in such an environment but also that I am a die-hard mac fan, the computer that was designed for all not an elite or buiness only market.

Basically my justification for this is not to ressurrect stone age technology or re-create the divide that the Mac and it's GUI helped shatter. What I want to prevent is the problem of the wannabe admin.

The attitude of "I can do this on my home machine, why can't I do it here?" really irks me. Yes this fault for this condition lies squarely at the feet of Microsoft for whom the difference between a home and office versions of it's OS is a couple of bytes on the install CD.

In the days of Unix/VMS et al it required someone with a fairly adept technical bent to want to explore beyond the skills of an ordinary application user. Nowadays Windows makes it too easy to do administrative level tasks so that users want the ability to control every aspect of the machine that in reality is not 'theirs' but instead 'the companies'.

Users then recoil when they are presented with a locked down environment - even though the reality is that when designed properly they can operate and do their everything their job requires within such a framework.

Again this everybody wants to be admin issue will never be solved until Microsoft (being the defacto OS supplier) starts to insist it's own staff must run with low rights (the eat your own dogfood approach). About the onlu area where they seem to be making progress in this regard is low rights IE (an in development feature of IE 7)

If users got used to having to type in their admin password to install software and make changes on their home machines (just as OS X does right now) I'm sure IT Admins world wide would breathe a sigh of relief.

For the past two months i've been spinning a disc that has been suprisingly unpopular with the other residents of my house.

It's Sufjan Steven's newie - the second in his project to document each state in the USA with an album.

Entitled Come on Feel the Illinoise - a more grandiose work than his acclaimed Seven Swans (a deeply personal folk/religious release)

Like much of the music I like, Illinoise takes a fair bit of patience to apprecieate. Mostly this is as a result of the slightly over the top arrangements that draw equal influence from school marching bands, Steve Reich and religion tinged american folk. In the same vein, the song titles are so long they probably count as verse. Steven plays a litany of different instruments and utilises over 30 session musicians - but produces and arranges the album solo.

What holds it all together is Sufjan's lovely voice and skill as a songwriter.

Many (including my flatmate) have had issue with the christian faith which is an everpresent aspect of Sufjan's music. Personally I'm a devout atheiest who would prefer to resurrect pagan viking pantheons than have any truck with Christianity. What makes the sufjan's faith not just bearable, but beautiful for me is the way it presented without preaching and with a tender openness, suggesting concepts that belie the truths and doubts about the nature of life and religion that are shared by all faiths and belief systems.

To some it seems a little like cheating to include a couple of tracks where it's only the title that has an obscure connection to the overarching theme of Illinois, whilst the actual song becomes a religious paen. However it's these tracks that anchor the listener and balance the tracks that are more obtuse

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