Archive for the ‘Macintosh’ Category


Sometimes I hate being right.

August 27, 2006



For your reading pleasure, Robert Scoble published a bit on why Linux is not ready for prime time: Fonts.  His article is an interesting read as he goes into the tremendous expense involved in creating decent fonts.  Who knew?  So why is it that every office application and browser defaults to Times Roman?  At least reading him and his comments prompted me to change the Firefox setting.  Is Verdana that much different than Arial?


I found Scoble’s tidbit from Brent Roos’s place and his Goodbye Ubuntu post.  Let’s talk about Roos before getting back to Scoble.  Apparently his computer had a hardware meltdown of some sort, and he blamed Ubuntu for this.  He then announces that he is going to be using XP from now on and then goes on to extol the virtues of Windows, while taking shots at Ubuntu. 


His complaints about Ubuntu are probably valid, outside of his claim that it burned up his motherboard.  It should be known that I am not a fan of this distro at all, and Roos totally illustrates why.  He pretty much equates Ubuntu with Linux, generalizing all problems with Ubuntu to Linux and then goes on to sing the praises of the Windows OS.  While Ubuntu has problems, Windows is NOT as pure as the driven snow! I left a comment for him which is still working its way through moderation.  I give him credit for drumming up traffic, tho!


Basically I made a comment that Ubuntu was NOT Linux any more than AOL was the internet.  I know, I’ve said it before.  Using Windows is fine, but going on about how wonderful it is was a bit much for me (and apparently others) to stomach.


Now back to Scoble, who discusses a bit about the major downfall of Linux being the fonts, of all things.  How many fonts does the average user use, anyway?  Scoble’s comments actually evolved from another blog by Tim Bray and his posts about his experiences when his laptop (a Mac) went down.  Tim decided to take another laptop he had lying around and install Ubuntu on it and use that until his Mac was fixed.  He actually writes a pretty interesting article on his experiences, and Ubuntu does not fair too badly in the final review.


The bottom line is that Roos, Bray and the earlier review by, is that each and every one of these folks used Ubuntu (or tried to) failed and went back to their old OS’s thinking that they had given Linux a fair try.  They’ve been there, done that.  Bray actually did give the fairest of all the reviews, giving high as well as low points.  Plus, the Mac OS is pretty solid and it should be for the price you pay for it.  Roos and Ourtweaks went back to Windows in apparent frustration.  But reading the comments on Scoble’s blog, as well as those on the Roos blog you would think Ubuntu = Linux.  That is the mistake I’ve seen coming down the pike and I don’t see it has helpful.  It is coming to pass exactly as I said it would.  New folks are going to buy the Ubuntu hype, try it, get frustrated, and bugger off of Linux and back to Windows for good. 


But now my curiosity is up about the font business.  Are the newer Linux distros that far behind Windows XP?  I’m going to try to remember to look when I get back to work on Monday and check it out.






Getting to Know the Penguin

June 23, 2006

My inner geek needs some room for expression, so I guess this is as good a place as any to spread my proverbial geek-wings in order to fly.


Linux has been around a very long time, over 10 year as far as I know I remember first seeing or hearing about Red Hat and seeing that adorable little penguin, Tux. 


Yes, I am a noob when it comes to Linux.  This is going to be more and more obvious as a reader follows my adventure and my story.  But I also represent a significant group of people who:

-know quite a bit about computers

-is self-taught

-is not a programmer and don't really want to become one.

– is interested in doing things better, easier and cheaper.

– is willing to do a bit of learning.

-is not happy with Windows.


I used to be a Mac person.  Why did I switch to the Wintel universe?  Because Apple was over pricing every single thing they sold.  A simple keyboard for the Mac cost over $100 in 1994, while a new PC keyboard could be had for less than $30.  Programs would cost twice as much, if you could even find them.  Getting online and doing stuff online was more difficult as the BBS systems I was dialing into were all PC based.  And the Mac user BBS's all wanted to charge various fees.  Otherwise, Macs were excellent machines.  I never had a crash, never got hung up and never had to reboot.  If I could be a universe unto myself, it would be great.  But I wanted to be connected.  Another option I tried was AOL, using one of those ubiquitous floppies they kept sending to everyone.  Again, this was expensive since they were charging by the minute back in those days.


When ISPs began sprouting up all over the place, those of us with Macs were being rapidly left behind.  Catching up meant buying more Apple stuff.  A new CD-ROM costs 3x more than the PC counterpart.  It was harder to add new stuff.  So, in 1996, I took the plunge with a new AST 486 with Win95 installed.  I was now part of the assimilated hive. 


Working with a PC means having to do a lot of upkeep and babysitting.  My wife enjoyed it but her level of knowledge of computers was severely limited.  So I had to keep the machine maintained for both of us.  Plus I was working where I had a computer lab with Apple II GSs, A couple of Apple Performas, a couple of Mac Power PCs and then 8 or so Compaqs running Win95.  Such was the nature of educational computer labs in the late 1990s. 


The PCs did give me fits much more often than the Macs, even if they were running the exact same programs.  I'd get a kid set up and would often end up moving him while waiting to reboot the system after it got hung up.  That's not to say the Macs never had problems.  Sometimes they did, but it was very rare.


Gradually, we moved the GSs out and more PCs in.  By 2000, PCs running Win 95 or 98 were ruling the world.  But this was not enough for Microsoft.  They wanted to have more.  Despite the profits they made on every single machine sold, they discovered that some people were bootlegging Windows and other Microsoft products.  So it began instituting draconian registration and anti-piracy measures which made it more difficult even to use their stuff, even by those who actually paid for it.


And then came the viruses, the worms and the malware.  These would bring systems to their knees, rendering machines almost useless.  Companies had entire networks brought down by these things.  Eventually, programs and patches would help salvage a machine, but in the early days and sometimes even today, the only way to restore a machine is to reinstall everything.  Which means going through the registration process again, and having Microsoft question you as to why you need this certain activation code number…AGAIN.


Okay, this is not very exciting.  Most readers have similar stories, I'm sure.  The purpose here is to document my journey into the world of Linux.  Some of you might be thinking tbe same and are looking for information.  Stay with me, and you might learn a thing or two.