Stories by Tom Yager

  • Taking steps toward 64-bit processing

    A growing number of volume systems on the market today are incorporating the new 64-bit architectures from AMD and Intel. When you buy new hardware, you're part of the 64-bit revolution almost by default. But you still have a choice to make: Should you flip on those extra 32 bits by running 64-bit versions of your operating systems and applications?

  • AHEAD OF THE CURVE: Up with people?

    When Microsoft rolled out one client-focused feature after another at Professional Developers Conference 2005, I nodded and said, "Good on ya". I could have sneered because it's taken Redmond so long to notice that keyboards and mice don't drive themselves.

  • AHEAD OF THE CURVE: Vista versus Tiger

    Although consistent, Windows' user interface reflects a die-hard business philosophy: If one is enjoying one's work, then one must be goofing off on company time. Windows is flat, uninspiring, motionless, and utterly unlike actual life. And until about five years ago, the world was OK with that.

  • AHEAD OF THE CURVE: Is any account safe?

    American Express has judged that I am liable for a $US243 online purchase that I didn't make. Thus began an unwelcome lesson in convenience-centered authentication, the security of e-commerce, and the hot potato of accountability.

  • AHEAD OF THE CURVE: PC virtualisation on the move

    Thanks to the backward, "all software owns the entire system" design of the x86 CPU architecture, PC client and server virtualisation is one of the most challenging tasks facing system software developers. Even at their best, the benefits of x86 virtualisation solutions from VMware and Microsoft are limited to reliability, convenience and manageability. But virtualisation's promise as a pathway to consolidation and the way to turn aggregated compute cycles into a provisionable distributed resource remains just that. Don't blame VMware and Microsoft. There's only so much virtualisation one can do in software.

  • AHEAD OF THE CURVE: Is AMD serious?

    It's difficult to investigate unlawful activity when the potential victims refuse to testify for fear of retaliation. By AMD's telling, that's exactly what's happening in AMD versus Intel. Through back channels, system and component makers are pleading with AMD to lend them a hand as, again according to AMD, Intel squeezes more tightly than ever.

  • AHEAD OF THE CURVE: Mobile hip replacement

    I'm not as much of a gadget-hound as you'd expect. You can't sell me a mobile device unless it's one of two things: the ultimately converged mobile phone/PDA/messaging device or a pocket-size computer that keeps me in touch, at office speed, when I'm indoors.

  • AHEAD OF THE CURVE: The great PC rip and replace

    Were it not for AMD's reinvention of the x86 system, I wouldn't be surprised to find that most IT buyers have the location of Dell's "go to checkout" button programmed into their fingers. The lack of a need to do a gear-grinding platform shift, much less a retroactive rip and replace, is the core attraction of x86 systems. At its heart, a 32-bit Xeon is surprisingly comparable to a one-chip Pentium Pro.

  • AHEAD OF THE CURVE: Why your computer needs a supervisor

    With all the relatively heavy lifting an x86 can do, having two copies of Windows run side by side - or Windows and Linux, or Linux and Linux, or BSD and Windows, or what have you - seems like a natural extension of the design. I can run 200 processes on one Windows server. Why can't an x86 run 50 Linux processes and 150 Windows processes instead?

  • AHEAD OF THE CURVE: AMD and Apple are made for each other

    In separate launches just eight days apart, AMD and Apple sent up fireworks celebrating their new arrivals. AMD started shipping its dual-core Opteron and Athlon 64 X2 server and desktop processors on April 21. Apple began delivering OS X Tiger (10.4) on April 29, but I got my box on April 28, which means it shipped on April 27. So these things really happened six days apart. Uncanny coincidence, that.

  • AHEAD OF THE CURVE: Creating a 64-bit traffic jam

    In hardware vendor marketing materials, you won't find much more than buzzwords a-buzzin' over 64-bit technology. The lack of enthusiasm has buyers shrugging. Do we need 64 bits to run 32-bit operating systems and applications? Let's put it this way: Many commercial developers are prioritising 64-bit ports of their Windows and Mac OS X applications just below vacuuming out their power supplies.

  • AHEAD OF THE CURVE: Code, debug, distribute

    I've long thought that there should be a build step in Visual Studio or Eclipse called "distribute". After your code is validated, it burns itself to CD, writes its own manual, prints itself a four-colour box and drives itself to CompUSA. Or, if you prefer quality to volume, your software drops itself into the PowerPoint decks and briefcases of the intimidating consultants that serve America's top six commercial accounts.