Unix at 40

Unix is 40 years old today. It didn’t seem that long ago, but then again it seems like Unix has been around for a very long time. Now, take a look at this OS timeline here and you will see missed opportunities for Unix to get a foothold on the desktop computing in the early 1980’s. It’s too bad Unix could not take advantage of its opportunities before IBM and eventually Microsoft came along with their PC-DOS and Windows operating systems. Linux was born in 1991 when Finnish Linus Torvalds released an Unix-like kernel which subsequently turned into dozens of Linux distributions that we see today. Fast forward to now and the future, you see a world deeply entreched on the Windows. It’s still an uphill battle to get people to recognize that there is a third option to Windows and Apple operating systems. Unix and Linux in general have come a long way from its humble command-line beginnings to the current Gnome based GUIs.

1 thought on “Unix at 40

  1. I’ve had the new Kindle2 for a couple weeks now and wanted to try it out before saying anything. OK, so, I’ve tried it out. Here is my short reaction: everything I could not stand [hated] about Kindle 1 has been addressed and fixed in Kindle 2. Kindle 1 was a design disaster. Kindle 2 gets it right. Kindle 2 gets it so right you say to yourself, “What was Amazon thinking when they did Kindle 1?” And for those smugly thinking to themselves, “Glad I waited and did not buy Kindle 1.” Yup, you were right!

    Kindle 1 buttons were terrible. They were huge, they “clicked” because they were engaged to “click” by pressing the outside edge, down. The Kindle 2 uses much smaller buttons and you can only click them if you mean to, by clicking down on the inside edge. Thanks to Ryan Markel for explaining why it is that I like the new Kindle 2 buttons so much! Has something to do with toggle/pivot direction.

    Kindle 1 felt like a cheap piece of junk. Kindle 2 feels like you have yourself a substantial device in your hands. I know this is entirely a perception thing, but …it is a huge satisfying difference.

    Kindle 1 was like holding a weird block-like/brick-like thing in your hands, and you could never find a comfortable position to hold it without fear that you would press a button and either advance a page, go back a page, or worse yet, kick yourself out of what you were reading. Kindle 2 is easy to hold and use without fear of pressing a button.

    Kindle 1 was thick and bulky. Kindle 2 is sleek and trim.

    Kindle 1’s keyboard was just plain weirdly spaced out. Kindle 1 designers obviously thought, “Let’s make all the buttons on this thing as large as possible.” Kindle 2 designers said, “Wow, that was a mistake. Let’s make the buttons smaller so readers can use them more easily.”

    Kindle 1 used a goofy track wheel kind of thing and a weird “silver” progress bar system on the side. So, you had to scroll and click. Kindle 2 completely changed the interface to a little “joystick” which I did not think I’d like at first, but it is a breeze to use and gives you more functionality, more quickly. Big improvement, and no more goofy silvery stuff on the progress bar. No progress bar.

    Kindle 1 did not come with a USB cable, but did come with an external charger thing. Kindle 2 comes with a USB cable and charger put together in a nice combination. You pop the electrical plug off and, voila, you have the Kindle-to-computer USB port, pop the electrical plug back on and you can power it up from any wall socket, and there is only cable. The other end of the USB cable is a small connection, so you can’t use the more standard USB cables that you use with most other cameras, and digital device.

    Kindle 1’s design was just plain weird. It was kind of a rectangle from the front but a kind of wedge from the side. It was Picasso-esque in design and feel. The Kindle 2 reminds me of something Apple computer would do, design, present, package, and document. ’nuff said.

    Kindle 1 had its on/off and wireless buttons on the back of the device. Which would be fine assuming you didn’t use a cover. But since most people want to have something protecting their $400 device, this meant you would invariably manage to detach the cover from the Kindle 1, or literally the back cover of the Kindle 1 would come off. Horrible design flaws. Kindle 2 however has only one on/off button that you simply slide over for a few seconds, and power on. Slide over quickly to wake it up. Slide it over and hold it for four seconds to power down.

    Kindle 1’s cover. Disaster. Total and complete, disaster. It hooked into a plastic cover on the back and the cover would fall out at the slightest bump. So your cover would never stay on or attached while you were reading it. Kindle 2 has a wonderful locking cover system where you attach the cover (optional) into a locking clip. The cover does not come off, period.

    Kindle 1’s battery life was not the greatest. Wifi on Kindle 1 was find. Kindle 2 has better battery life, particularly after you a few good full charges, and it’s wireless is much better, taking advantage of 3G speeds where available.

    Frankly, for me, the jury is still out a bit on whether I enjoy reading more with the Kindle than with traditional books, but I do know this: I’m reading more now then I have previously. Why? Because the Kindle makes it easy to have, literally at your fingertips, hundreds and hundreds of options. For instance, during my trip yesterday I had a two hour flight to where I went, and a two hour flight back. Four hours. Plus waiting time at the airport. A total of around seven hours. All spent reading. I read a manuscript an author-friend of mine sent me for an endorsement, I read from the New Yorker magazine, I read from the Bible, the Book of Concord, Treasure Island, and several other papers and such that I have on the Kindle.

    I give the Kindle 2 a 8.5 out of 10 stars. I’m reserving 1.5 stars for future improvement. I find the Kindle reading experience to be extremely comfortable. No eye strain. You are not looking at a back lit screen. It is very much like reading a book, and that’s the nicest thing I can say about it.

    Oh, one more thing. I’m sorry PC-friends, but the differences between Kindle 1 and Kindle 2 can be best summarized by saying this. “Kindle 1 felt like it was designed by Microsoft. Kindle 2? Apple.” ’nuff said.

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