Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Dickie's Quickies

Hm, several things popped up in the news today. First of all, RIP Simon Wiesenthal.

Also in the BBC today is how they have determined through review of their CCTV tapes that the subway bombers made trial runs. This stands to reason. What this adds to their knowledge is questionable. Presumably, while law enforcement is guarding the subways, other cells will target other locations. Presumably, other cells also make trial runs, but not necessarily. Will this enable CCTV monitors to prevent another attack either on the subways or elsewhere? Why didn't it prevent the first one? It will be interesting to see if anything relevant comes of this new knowledge.

Back in the U.S., the FDA sent out an email last week announcing that their new acting director of Women's Health would be - wait for it - a veterinarian trained in animal husbandry. Three days later, another announcement was sent out saying that the acting director would be Theresa A. Toigo, who had been in charge of the FDA Office of Special Health Issues which works with patient advocates on issues such as cancer and AIDS. Sounds like the agency realized it was making a major political mistake and back tracked immediately. Perhaps the veterinarian was more favorable to the administration's views on emergency contraception which is what caused former director, Susan Wood, to step down. For the record, Wood has come out in favor of Toigo's appointment.

In an unrelated story, the Italians have produced a sex chair. Truly, a piece of furniture that's function is equaled, if not surpassed by it's beauty.

In software news, Opera has announced that their browser will now be offered free and without adware. Congrats! Now web surfers have another choice and that is a good thing.

I've been reading up on Microsoft's planned release of Office 12. This FAQ on CNET raises the same question with me as I have had since I read other bloggers talking about it: What's the hype all about? From the FAQ:

Office 12 is Office like you have never seen before.

Followed by this line later:

Office 12 users will immediately notice big changes to the look of Office programs, particularly Word, Excel and PowerPoint.

It seems to me that what's going on here is a new GUI. To my mind, that's nothing to get excited about. Admittedly, I'm more of a function over form utilitarian. As long as I can find my way around a program and it's not too clumsy, then I'm happy with it. Microsoft says it's addressing the fact that many features people asked for were already in the suite. This sounds like a training issue to me. The fact of the matter is that MS Office, indeed, office suites of any flavor, are mature products. They are chock full of capabilities and sans a truly new development (like a Power Point program, for instance), there is nothing new under the sun. One Note certainly didn't light a fire under most people. I suspect that this new GUI won't either, but I'm willing to be proved wrong. How many changes to "the look" of the product can take place before businesses get smart and stop updating as frequently? Of course, they could take the route of other mature products and just change the file formats in order to make them incompatible...

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