Wednesday, February 20, 2008


unix snob

I'm kind of a unix snob. I was already using it when Microsoft Windows and Macintosh were introduced. I was a hardware engineer and the garage tinkerer toys were on "Windows" while the serious tools were on unix RISC machines, so I never had an employer demand that I use the MSFT junk.

I had a gig where I generated Powerpoint slides for a few months. I picked a set of window decorations that looked like MS-Windows 95, and Applixware for the slides. The boss and the IT department didn't notice I wasn't using "Windows" until the Melissa worm came through and knocked down every computer in the office except mine.

I know their customers demand it, but I can't understand why a company that calls itself an IT expert consultancy would fool around with "Windows" for its own email and other critical systems. An auto mechanic would never depend on a $5 Chinese socket set from the flea market. That job takes professional quality tools. But here we have the company whose rooted box spammed me yesterday exposing a "Windows" email server on a routable address. They'll have a hard time cleaning the box up, and they'll put it back on the net to get rooted again. They think that's normal. It's the Chinese socket set of software and they're trying to run their business on it. Happens every day.

This week I helped a local peace activist graduate from Web-TV to Ubuntu GNU+X+Linux. Except she didn't need any help. The only thing that didn't "just work" was when she entered the wrong password for her dial-up service. Ubuntu didn't have an error indication; it just failed silently. (Which just reinforces my preference for KDE over GNOME. KPPP usually "just works" including error indications.) It's a good thing nobody'd told her "linux isn't ready for prime time."

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


This site best viewed in

Yesterday I set up an eight year old Dell box for a local peace activist. Any machine you care about has a name and a notebook. This one is ruby, and I googled Ruby Bridges. The second hit was a bio, and it said "This site best viewed with Microsoft Internet Explorer 4" at the bottom. Which wasn't true, the site works fine in Konqueror (therefore Apple Safari) and Seamonkey (therefore Mozilla Firefox).

Opening the page source, I see it was composed in Microsoft Front Page. I've only used Front Page once, years ago, and don't remember much about it. But I suspect it put that lie at the bottom of the page and its user didn't know to remove it.

Remember the "browser wars?" Microsoft tried to control how the World Wide Web would develop. It put features in its Explorer browser which were intentionally incompatible with all other browsers in the field. They were designed to force Web authors to choose whether to write for Explorer or for Netscape, Opera, and Mosaic. If they could get enough "only works with Explorer" pages in place, they would have taken control of web standards away from the Web Consortium and the Internet Engineering Task Force. The Justice Department alleged Microsoft's name for this strategy was "Embrace, extend, extinguish," but the corporate media were too timid to report it. You probably heard it was just "embrace and extend."

Every page that says "best viewed with Microsoft Internet Explorer" is a reminder of Microsoft's illegal monopolistic behavior.

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