Victory means exit strategy, and it's important for the President to explain to us what the exit strategy is.    The Honorable Governor of Texas, George W. Bush

I hate quotations. Tell me what you know.    Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

It's a Wonderful World of Open Source Out There...Luser

While checking in this AM at Daily Kos I saw this WARNING- Major new Windows virus post. This may or may not be a latest hoax, I've been Googling around to see other news of this (which is probably a good way to get malware) but haven't found much yet.

Inevitable with any story like this comes the geek rain pouring down cats and dogs, why would anyone use 'win-duhs', anyway? Don't they get sick of chasing down every emergency security patch for every hole these sadists in Redmond leave in there just to drive us all crazy! Blah, blah, blah. (or , excuse me, in Millennialese thats yadda, yadda, yadda)

Now, I browse a lot. I used to get spyware, etc., and had to learn how to get rid of it. But since I began using XP pro and browse in power user profile, I've had zero problems. Perhaps the network with Charter cable helps with this, as I'm sure that the way they're trying to maximize their bandwith running three meg internet on the same cable with Digital TV with high definition channels and whatnot must entail some effort at keeping the malware stuff at bay.

I've thought about checking out Linux. I could partition my hard drive and run a dual-boot machine so I could use MS Office for work stuff and Flight Sim, and boot back to Linux for heavy memory stuff and running a Firefox browser. If I needed another hobby, which I don't. Still, my "carelessless" doesn't seem as bad as all this, taken from the above post's comments and fairly typical:

When you all are tired of trying to enumerate every possible variation of evil that can ruin your Microsoft (Broken) Windows(tm) computer maybe you will switch to Linux if you don't want to buy new hardware. Not only won't these kind of things happen, but your computer will actually work better because it won't be wasting resources running band-aid software (anti-virus, spy-ware detectors,...).

This was entitled, "Yawn". (apparently not so bored he couldn't help keying it in)

When I see stuff like this, I think "Volkswagen people" (after selling you this crap for so long, they own BMW's now). You know, the our weird engineering is so non-mainstream and way better myth, ironically brought to you by the manufacturers of the "people's car". The car that in the sixties needed a new exhaust system and brakes every second trip to Kmart for arctic gloves to keep your hands from freezing while you continually scraped the frost from the inside of the windshield. We leased a Jetta once. After two months I realized that the chronic charley horse in my right leg was due to the way the accelerator pedal makes you hold the top of your foot back. At six months one of the passenger access handles pulled off. Other interior elements came loose. Going near a parking lot was enough to chip the paint. My Focus, at $4,000 less and 50,000 miles farther, is far superior, though I have little love for the Ford Motor Company's disregard for customer service.

Somewhere, though, I tried to keep a semblance of an open mind as I went to Google and keyed "Linux problems". The first hit that seemed to want to make a comparative stab was called Cool Tech Zone. I got an article taking the devil's advocate's side and arguing the shortfalls of Linux, an attempt at fairness following up some previous article extolling its virtues.

They address the concern that any foray into tech world beyond the Add New Programs wizard will bring you into the land of the it's plenty clear to me, you luser, and I've only been into electronics for fifteen years or so crowd:

6. Unfriendly Gurus: If there is one thing that people hate, it's being condescended to. Unfortunately, this was a common occurrence on many Linux message boards and help resources. People saying things like "READ THE MANUAL, YOU MORON" usually doesn't send the positive message to the learner. While the idea is correct, the form of expression is not well thought out. If, on the other hand, someone had politely pointed out that the solution could be found in such and such a place, the new users might actually have looked. A response like this will only lead the user right back to Windows.

Well, that seems downright friendly, don't it? (Of course the "idea" example isn't entirely correct, as many times the MANUEL has been loosely translated from Mandarin or Hindustani.) We don't have to go far for an example of condescension, though. In fact, only back to the second paragraph of the same article:

Why do this article? Well, in the interest of being fair. Yes, it is easy to dismiss Windows users as whiners, and people who can't be bothered to learn about their machines, but life is not that simple, is it?

Well, there's a fucking welcome wagon to the world of Linux, eh? And this is them trying to be gracious.

And then there's Mac, the Betamax of home computing. Pre XP―with it's adoption of N/T's hardware abstraction―Macs had a huge reliability advantage. Your Mac doesn't crash, and my PC doesn't either (any more). PC performance levels are catching Mac, too. In fact, dual processor Dells out of the box are blowing away dual Macs as we speak, though that's $3,000 and up stuff. Interface? I'll take the Windows start menu in classic mode any day, especially with some mastery of keyboard shortcuts.

I might have gone that way in 1998. Surely there is a big advantage to Macs in that they are far less targeted by malicious folk than the ubiquitous Windows. Applephiles say this isn't the sole explanation for the security edge, but I don't trust that anything that's written can't be written around. More Macs, more Mac messers, and that goes for Linux "flavors", too.

I'm going to check out Firefox today, though, as there's a lot about Outlook that mystifies me, starting with having to select email addressees by their first names. So much of Office is incredibly arcane. You select a box in Contacts called Display as and you set "Smith, Ann and Bob". Then you go to New→Message→To: and you get a list starting with "Ann and Bob Smith". WTF? What if you don't remember Bob's wife's name? Why don't you just give me the regular contacts folder so I can decide which email for "Bob Smith" I want to use, instead of listing two "Ann and Bob Smith"s in the To: list with no indication which email address is which? If one contact has to be "bob at work" for the To: list to make sense, then what's the point of giving email1, email2 and email 3 options in the Contact form? There are a gazillion things like this in Windows that make you go, "huh?" And then there's that little Alzheimer's moment when your Office Professional 2003 program is missing a button that you could swear was there yesterday, but that's because yesterday your were at home on your Office XP Professional version. Why, why, why?

Still, Microsoft suffers a lot of slings and arrows largely because they try to follow the correct philosophy that for most of us these things are supposed to be appliances...a turn key operation. It's a foreign concept to all these cranky old mechanics of techie world that if we wanted to know more about our machines we would be, like, mechanics. We just want it to work, and if it doesn't, that's your fault.



At 10:30 AM, Blogger cloverz said...

I was wondering where that Jetta went so quickly...

At 12:18 AM, Blogger bob said...

I completely agree with your rhetoric. There is great angst over this whole Microsoft World, but I very much feel that the current XP is the "everymonde" of the comp world.

I've had the fine pleasure of living within the very geek world of computer science in an academic setting. That CompSci 302 course I took is the second most failed on campus - solely because they want to weed out unable want-to-be-game-programmers, and the like. Either way, my peers in that course were like the Saturday Night Live "Computer Guy". It was very "move, let me fix it"; to them, Mecca was Linux.

In that course, I was pretty intimidated and a lot put off. Then I set the curve on the first exam and thusly relations changed. Once I was part of that computer "in-group" (literally on par with Catholicism), I found that this whole Linux wave is very, very elitist.

Don't let me get you wrong, advance computer technicians like yourself could definitely benefit from Linux in many ways. Open source software allows outstanding functionality in every aspect that Microsoft is incapable. Yet, Microsoft make so much more sense for the masses. It gives a predefined, hierarchically structure that is easily learnable and systematically uniform throughout. I feel that to have a revolutionary movement towards the Linux operating system is much more elitist than practical.

Plus, the little hun would never get Linux - so f it.


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