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Welcome to the personal website of Andrew Turnbull. This outpost features tons of stupefying and trivial things pertaining to various and diverse interests of mine. Chances are, if there's something I know about or like that doesn't much other representation on the 'net...there's a bit of it here.

The front page updates every week. And it is just a static page.


1 October 2018

[Bicycle remains]

Somewhere in London, Ontario.


24 September 2018

[Liquid Gay ad]

The 1950s were weird.


17 September 2018

This week's random local picture:

[Hot surface, hot surface, hot, hot, hot]

10 September 2018

Random pictures from Sarnia, Ontario:

[Imperial Theatre] [Kenwick Place] [Decrepit, abandoned Taco Bell]

3 September 2018

[Dominion store]

This building occupies part of a downtown block in the sleepy town of Lindsay, Ontario. It housed a Dominion supermarket in the 1970s. The space was reoccupied by a Maxi Drug store by the mid-1990s, and it's a dollar store today. Yet the building has basically stayed the same through all these changes, and it still looks like a supermarket.

Supermartifacts has been updated, with 5 additions to Dominion, 4 to A&P, 10 to Loblaws, and 1 to Steinberg. But that's not the only obsession I've addressed...

[Ontario die swaps]

The Ontario Project has been updated too, with dozens of new images and detailed coverage of the perplexing vendor swaps that have affected Ontario license plates (licence plates?) of the last two years. Enjoy!


27 August 2018

[HMCS Ojibwa]

Yes, this is a submarine. And it is on land.

[HMCS Ojibwa]

This is Her Majesty's Canadian Ship Ojibwa, a 1960s-era sub that's been laid up in Port Burwell, Ontario since 2012. This testament to the Cold War currently stands next to an empty field where a Museum of Naval History will be built...or would be built, if people in a village of 1000 had enough money to do such things.


20 August 2018

[Mr. Slim] [Mr. Pibb]

Separated at birth?

(For what it's worth, the picture on the left is part of an air conditioner.)


13 August 2018

P.S.: Now that I find myself having a little more of something called "free time" once again, I've given Supermartifacts a massive update. In case you're keeping score...

Enjoy!


[Shopping cart in the ravine]

There's a shopping cart in the ravine, the foam on the creek is like pop and ice cream.

[Field full of tires (not on fire, thankfully)]

A field full of tires that is always on fire, to light my way home.

—Barenaked Ladies, 1998


6 August 2018

Welcome to August. I'm in an end-of-term crunch yet again...and with it, my yearlong stint as a Canadian graduate student is almost at an end.

[Triumph TR3A frieze]

Lengthy updates will have to wait. In the meantime, however, entertain yourself with this on-campus sighting of a window frieze that inexplicably has a Triumph TR3A sculpted into it. It appears on the east face of UWO's Middlesex College, which was constructed in 1959.

"What's a Triumph TR3A," you ask? Well, it was a British car synonymous with wind-in-hair, bugs-in-teeth, mechanic-on-duty excitement. And yes, it was current in 1959!

[Triumph TR3A]

30 July 2018

Hello!

[London Pride] [London Pride] [London Pride] [London Pride] [London Pride] [London Pride]

Toto, I've a feeling we're not in West Virginia any more...


23 July 2018

[Western Education Library]

The spaceship has landed.

This cylindrical building is actually the home of the Education Library at the University of Western Ontario, nicely fulfilling Western's reputation for aesthetically dramatic librarial architecture.

[Western Education Library]

The library forms part of the Althouse College for Education, and the entire complex is a wonderful example of kitschy mid-century architecture. It hails from 1962, actually overlapping chonologically with some of the later gothic revival buildings that stand elsewhere on campus.


16 July 2018

[Falcon Travel sign]

This sign stands in front of a travel agency in London, Ontario. In case you're scratching your head trying to figure out why it seems familiar, here's a picture from Madison, Wisconsin that should cast things into focus:

[U.S. Mail logo]

Yes folks, the American eagle is now a Canadian falcon.

And since U.S. trademark law doesn't apply in Canada, there's scant the USPS can do about this.


9 July 2018

[London Mall corridor]

As you might have deduced from the brown brick and "rustic" faux timber framing in this corridor, there are some places where the 1970s never really ended.

[London Mall exterior]

This is the London Mall, one of a seemingly endless number of small and mostly-empty neighbourhood malls scattered around the cities of southern Ontario. This one is "anchored" by an Asian supermarket (originally an Oshawa Group Food City store 30 or 40 years ago) and the hulking carcass of a Sears Outlet store.

Whatever became of Food City? My understanding is that the chain's stores were rebranded first as IGA, then as Price Chopper, then as Fresh Co. in 2012 (if any lasted that long, that is). But there's a whole lot that I'm unsure about.

There's also a chain called Food City with a trade area in southwest Virginia, a stone's throw from my hometown. That has nothing to do with this.


2 July 2018

Note: The following is a piece that I wrote ten years ago, in 2008. While I don't know if I could muster up the energy to write it today with so many other smoldering fires of injustice to put out, I still think it's a satisfying commentary on several reprehensible aspects of the software industry:

  • The drive to emphasize and prioritize "reinvention" and "disruption" in software development instead of code refactoring and gradual changes dictated by usability research. (Windows 98 imposed mandatory Internet Explorer shell integration on users, when it could have been a transparent refinement of Windows 95 with stability improvements and driver updates.)
  • The drive to limit the ability of the user to customize software and adapt it to individual needs and preferences. (You couldn't remove IE from Windows 98, even though it was a redundant performance and disk space sink when users lacked an Internet connection or preferred Netscape.)
  • The drive to strong-arm and coerce users into adopting new, regressive versions of previously-existing software products while referring to them as "upgrades."

These tendencies were far less normalized in 1998 than they are today, and the release of Windows 98 was the first symptom of them brazen enough to truly anger me. I was hardly alone: Windows 98 was a major political issue in 1998, and it was the subject of an anti-trust case involving 18 states and the U.S. Department of Justice that Microsoft lost. Unfortunately, next to no sanctions were imposed because George W. Bush came to power and dropped the DOJ's pursual of the case...which is one of the many reasons I will never forgive the white theocrats of West Virginia for planting him in office.


I Still Hate Windows 98

[FoxTrot 6/29/98 and 7/1/98 - Jasondows 98]

FoxTrot copyright 1998 by Bill Amend. Clipped from the newspaper and saved for years afterwards by yours truly.

Nine months after IE 4.0, we've passed the tenth anniversary of yet another dubious software artifact in the realm of computers: Microsoft Windows 98.

Windows 98, at best, was a clumsy solution looking for a problem. Its purpose upon release was glaringly transparent: To integrate Internet Explorer with the OS to a practically-unremovable degree, thus letting Microsoft off the hook for demands that the browser be removable like any other bundled accessory. The motive was anti-competitive, pure and simple.

Upon initial release, Windows 98 offered nothing new. Apart from the welding of browser and OS, gratuitous animations and other distracting interface elements were the extent of real changes. USB and FAT32 support had been introduced earlier in Windows 95 OSR2. Its APIs were practically identical. Even its dubious "features" like Active Desktop and web integration were available to masochists foolish enough to ruin their Windows 95 systems with Internet Explorer 4.

I'd personally deem the advent of Windows 98 to be Microsoft's tipping point: Nearly every product release since then has been one step forward and multiple steps back in design, practicality, and execution. For all the attention that might be focused on Windows XP's or Vista's inconveniences and requirements nowadays, it's sufficient to say that much of the damage had already been done in Windows 98.

[Windows 98 is less than Windows 95]

Early on, I logically anticipated that Windows 95 would sustain its popularity long after Windows 98 would be dismissed as a fad. Yet, that scenario obviously didn't hold true. In spite of its obvious faults, Windows 98 caught on, and exceeded Windows 95's popularity in relatively short order. I personally witnessed numerous computer systems in schools and libraries that were clumsily "upgraded" from Windows 95 OSR2 to Windows 98 or even ME; with little but slower performance, extra bugs, and a distracting interface to show for the effort. And in the "Windows 95/98/98SE/ME" subforum of a support forum I visit from time to time, the Windows 98-centric discussions outnumber the 95 threads by an approximate ratio of ten to one.

Why? The explanation for Windows 98's enduring popularity at the expense of its superior predecessor plays out almost as dubiously as the OS itself.

Windows 95 was largely withdrawn from the consumer market at the moment Windows 98 was released. Furthermore, Windows 95's superior OSR2.x releases were never sold in the retail market to begin with, thus forcing non-OEM customers to resort to Windows 98 for features such as FAT32 support.

Perhaps even more suspiciously, vendors of USB devices discontinued writing Windows 95 OSR2-compatible drivers at large from the time Windows 98 was released. Exacerbating the situation, the USB standard soon began to predominate with appropriations for a dizzying variety of peripheral applications; even those where it had absolutely no advantage over OS-universal "legacy" ports such as in keyboards and printers.

Microsoft's "support" for Windows 95 was discontinued only three years after Windows 98 came out, in seemingly premature haste: By contrast, Windows 3.1 received support for nine years altogether, long after software development for it had naturally died off. As a result of this stipulation, Microsoft's new software titles (many of which had already started requiring Internet Explorer 4) ceased being compatible with Windows 95 at this point, and the firm stipulated for and seemingly bribed and forced other software vendors to do the same; even if just in word:

"Last spring I bought Adobe Photshop Elements 2, got home and read the box panel... OS requirements w98 and above. At the time, I was running w95. Called where I purchased the program and talked to the manager to advise I would be returning it. He assured me it would work.. because he was running with w95. He suggested the OS listing was all "Politics". Once MS no longer supported w95, they strongly encourage software companies to DROP w95 off there list for minimum OS requirements..... even if it WORKED with w95. Still does not explain why Netscape took it off (unless AOL decsion), but for the run of the mill software company... think there going to argued with MS."

- Dennis L. on the long-defunct SillyDog701 support forum, 2003

Since the APIs and architecture of Windows 95 OSR2 and Windows 98 were practically identical to each other, there was and remains to be little to no practical reason for any software compatible with one not to be compatible with the other as well. By reducing the desirability of Windows 95, however, Microsoft increased the penetration of Windows 98 and therefore Internet Explorer upon the marketplace. Many remaining Windows 95 users, seemingly orphaned from their software titles, began "upgrading" en masse at this time, and the bane of inexplicable "Windows 98/ME/NT4/2000/XP" system requirements for various programs prevailed for several years after that until Windows 98, ME, and NT 4.0 also found themselves on the chopping block.

If there was vocal resistance to Windows 98 on the part of Windows 95 users on a league similar to XP users' resistance to Vista today, perhaps things would have been different. There certainly was a bit of resistance...LitePC practically developed out of a desire to make Windows 98 perform like Windows 95, after all...but it often felt like the exception to the rule. But were most users ambivalent about the matter, or were they simply waiting for the U.S. Department of Justice to carry out the order for them?

Regardless of the specifics of that matter, I can count at least one person who still uses Windows 95 today. And when he upgrades, it will be to Linux, not Windows 98.


Feeling disoriented? Here's the site map that used to be on the front page.


All older posts have been split off to a quarterly archive page.






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