In A Windowless Room

April 4, 2012 at 11:38 pm (Cool Tech, Internet tech, Rent Me) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Hey, bloggy-types and Internet trolls! I’m back again, making a bit of an effort to “feed” the blog. (And hoping to drive my traffic back up!) But in this installment, the content isn’t quite as poetic as the title might lead you to believe…

A recent post on e-week caught my eye. “Microsoft: 10 Fascinating Facts About Windows, Other Products”. I’ve got Fascinating Fact #11, kids. I am successfully and happily living my life without any of those products. Okay, without most of them. We’ll come back to that in a few paragraphs.

To begin – I’m not using Windows much any more. (My Windows machine is down, but when it runs, it’s running XP.) I’ve been on Linux almost exclusively (something like 99% of the time) for the past year or so, and very seldom do I run into an issue with it. I do have a couple apps that can only run on Windows, but – I’m getting along just fine, thanks. It’s surprising just how much work you can do on Ubuntu Linux, loaded on a second-hand Acer netbook. (Good-natured Bronx cheer, Mac and Windows adherents.)

As for Windows 8, (mentioned early in the e-week slideshow) I wonder how that new approach to the user interface will work out. People tend to resist change, even if it’s “good” change. The Redmond Rat Pack may have shot themselves in the foot here. I read a recent article to the effect that Windows may have one foot in the grave already, and if Win 8 goes over as well as Vista did, well – it’s not going to be pretty. Though – as a veteran Computer Tutor – it may mean more work for me. I can’t tell you how many thousands of dollars I have earned because Microsoft’s OS is such a P-O-S. Maybe I should send a “Thank You” card to Bill Gates.

Gaming – the X-Box is also featured in the slideshow… Since we are talking about my lifestyle here, bluntly, I have so little time to play games that an X-Box is about as much use to me as a skateboard is to a duck. I can just about manage a few games of Klondike before I fall asleep at night. Beyond that, gaming is an undiscovered country. A bit like me and any sports, to be frank. But I hear the X-Box is a well-regarded gaming system, though they do seem to die rather often and unexpectedly.

Bing – don’t get me started. Seriously? A search engine whose name is an acronym for “But It’s Not Google”? Nah. I’ve been Googling almost since there was a Google. So are 76% of the world’s Internet search engine users, as of Feb. 2012. Sorry, Bill. Nice try.

Zune. Yeah. (Trying not to laugh.) Another “me-too” product conceived in Apple’s shadow. I’ve had 3 or 4 MP3 players, none of them a Microsoft product. (No iPods, either. Overpriced, IMHO.) I’ve carelessly managed to kill all of them, sadly. There are times when I really miss them. Like when I am shopping during the holidays, and wherever I go, there seems to be some truly dreadful Christmas music playing on the store’s PA. “Pa-rum-pa-pum-pum” indeed. I’ll have to see if I can get a replacement before Hallowe’en this year…

Phones. Windows Mobile / Windows Phone? Not a chance this year. Or next. Currently, I don’t even have a smart phone. In fact, my phone couldn’t be any dumber, unless it was a rock. But in the future, given that there options such as the iPhone iOS, or the Linux-based Android, what do you suspect I would choose? Good guess.

Finally, we come to slide #10. Skype. Well, you got me, Microsoft. Guilty of being a Skype user. But only because I’ve been using Skype for personal and business calls since 2007. Microsoft bought Skype in 2011, mostly to keep it out of Google’s hands. Redmond only wins that one by default. And hey – Skype works fine on Linux! (I love this slide, below. Ballmer looks like some sort of gnomish version of a guy you might encounter in the waiting room of the oil-change place, getting fresh fluids poured into his Lexus. Big thumbs up there, Steve. Oh, and I will readily admit that I’m no beauty queen myself. In fact, I look increasingly like the comic book store guy on The Simpsons. Sigh. What ya gonna do, eh?)

We’re now at the end of the slideshow, and I’ll have to be done taking snarky pot-shots at Microsoft. Although, e-week didn’t mention Office Live (soon to be replaced by SkyDrive), the MS version of Google Docs. Or MSN. Or Hotmail. Maybe that’s because they are more or less invisible in the marketplace.

Nor did they mention Internet Explorer. Yet another “Billy-come-lately” product, and the stuff of which antitrust lawsuits were made. If IE didn’t come bundled with Windows, I kind of doubt it could hold its own in the browser marketplace. In fact, one startup recently took the audacious step of dropping all support for Internet Explorer. And it saved them over $100K, plus countless hours of development time. Pretty gutsy move, but one that I understand completely, as a webmaster. IE is a pain in the neck, because Microsoft insists on implementing Java, CSS, and HTML in their own special way, even though standards exist that they can follow. They simply choose not to. (Heh heh, you thought I was done being snotty, didn’t you? Okay, I’ll quit now. Rant over.)

Not sure what I’ll post next time. There’s a fair number of things rattling around in my old fat head. Come back soon, and see what fell out first. And don’t forget to comment below, if you are so moved. Thanks for reading!

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More wireless fun

June 1, 2008 at 10:02 pm (Cool Tech, Internet tech) (, , , , , )

It’s been a busy few weeks since my last post. The sound quit working on my Linux-powered laptop, so I figured it would be a good opportunity to try Ubuntu 8.04 in place of Mint. Well, to quote an Alka-Seltzer ad from my youth, “So I tried it. Didn’t like it.”

Linux Mint Screen ShotWent ahead and downloaded the latest version of Linux Mint and plonked it back on the hard drive. Happy days! Back to where we were, with sound and all. Not sure what happened to the noises. Perhaps it got tangled up when I installed Skype. Ah, well. I’m back to running Mint, a familiar distro, and I’m a happy litle geek, but still a Linux newbie.

It took some time to get the wireless card (D-Link G650) working again, too. Not sure what I was doing wrong, but somehow, through multiple makes, it’s working too!

So, I betook myself to the local pub, one McMenamin’s in East Vancouver (WA, not the one in BC). I had a very tasty Reuben, and actually got some work done, too. Amazing. I’m gonna have to do more of this mobile thing. The off-duty baristas from the Starbuck’s across the parking lot made the place a little noisy for a while, but they went off to karaoke or something, apparently.

It’s closing time, dear reader. Back home and to bed for me.

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Garden of geeky delights

May 11, 2008 at 1:08 pm (Cool Tech, Internet tech, Media) (, , , , , , )

Linksys WRT54G - the This is really just the coolest Sunday morning ever, here at Maison D’Lock. I set up my home wireless network last night with a Linksys WRT54G that I got on e-bay for $35 with shipping, and as I am typing on my Mint Linux / HP laptop, I am also streaming music from a custom channel on Pandora.com, and the laptop’s audio output is plugged into the entertainment system. Damn, this is cool. I can listen loud, and control the volume with the little buttons on the side of the laptop. Right now, live Pink Floyd is streaming effortlessly through the aether, to my laptop, and out the speakers across the room. David Gilmour is “Wishing I Was There“, and all is well with the world.

Naked EyesThe tune just before Floyd was “Always Something There To Remind Me“, by Naked Eyes, possibly one of my favorite songs ever. I turned it up to max and sang along like a drunken karaoke nitwit. Like I said, it’s a good Sunday morning. For a geek like me who loves the comfort of his couch.

Oh, wow. “Something” by The Beatles just came up on Pandora. If you’ve never heard any Beatles on some good speakers, you may want to. George Martin packed a lot of amazing production into their later music. I remember listening on some pretty chintzy radios way back when Beatles music was still current. I just heard some details I never heard 40 years ago.

Wow. Technology is great when it works right. Hope everyone else is having a Sunday as good as this!

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