XP Armageddon

The 8th April, 2014 is two weeks away and pardon the cliché, and the days are counting down until the demise of Windows XP support.  This means Microsoft will no longer be releasing updates or patches for computers that run XP.  The logic is that XP users, including myself, are forced into upgrading or buying new computers.

I find it odd that no company, Apple or Google especially, is taking the opportunity to tempt XP users to their operating systems.  Unfortunately the many branches of Linux operating systems (distributions or distros) don’t have and never had a PR drive.  Even Microsoft does not seem to be pushing XP users to their new OS’s as strong as I thought they would and they probably should.  Similarly computer shops should take the opportunity to tempt potential customers in.

Let’s say you decide to buy a new computer. So what do you do with that old XP computer?  If you decide to keep it, you can try the less than scary world of Linux.  Trust me, it is not as scary as you think.  Possibly the scariest element of the Linux world is the many distros that inhabit it.  It is a great way to educate yourself as I will be.  Many distros allow you to try the product before you install it.  Most have an interface that is similar to Windows.  So don’t be too put off by the word Linux.  If you want a pointer, Linux Mint, an Irish based distro, is the most popular and is cited for its ease of use.

Linux Mint
(source DistroWatch)

Some shops in Ireland I notice had offered cash back deals on old computers.  You need to check yourself if what offers are still available and in what stores.  The EU has a Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE) recycling programme, which allows people bring their old electronic equipment WEEE outlets (normally shops that sell electronic equipment).  Another important option to be considered is charity.  You can donate that old computer to charities such as Camara with a small donation.  Your computer will be used to educate people in disadvantaged communities.

Reboot Reuse - Camara
(source Camara)

 As it states on the Camara website, ‘Each reused Camara Education computer is installed in a low income school and provides digital literacy skills to 21 students.’  Now there’s a thought.

 

Tech Wars

The days are counting down to Microsoft unplugging the support system for Microsoft XP (8th April, 2014). No longer will you be able to go to the Microsoft hospital to download updated drivers. That is a sad day.

The days are counting down to Microsoft unplugging the support system for Microsoft XP (8th April, 2014).  No longer will you be able to go to the Microsoft hospital to download updated drivers.  That is a sad day. 

The idea is that Microsoft wants the faithful Windows XP end-users to bury their old computers and buy Windows 8 machines.  As I still am an XP user that puts me and all XP users in a quandary.  Do I migrate to Windows 8 or not?  My poor laptop has seen better days.  Not only has it got the mental scars; blue screens of death or constant hanging, it has physical scars.  Some bits of it are, and I’m not joking when I say this, falling off.  Every so often the poor computer’s disk whines like it has a chesty terminal cough.  That’s ‘terminal’ as in about to die as opposed to computer terminal.  Okay, that was a bad joke.  Also, perhaps symbolically, it is about 8 years old.  That’s probably around 500 in human years. So, there is no point in me upgrading this poor computer, but should bite the bullet and buy a new one.  This feels like I’m writing my laptop’s obituary.  Strange, as I am currently writing this on it.  My laptop probably hates me for this.

The question still remains.  Do I buy a Windows 8 computer or not?

Image

There are not really that many alternatives to Windows. Sure there’s Apple and Google Chrome but I have issues with both.  Probably similar issues with Windows 8.  With each, it would be learning a new system.  I at least have the advantage that I’ve used Apple systems before.  All-in-all they’re not bad.  The cycloptic like mouse takes a bit of getting used to.  The keyboard I found strange.  Although in fairness, every new computer means a new keyboard.  Similarly with each operating system, each would have different programs all of which would mean you’d have to get used to them.  One Apple laptop I used didn’t have an octothorpe (#) probably one of the most important symbols in computing today.  Well, it is important on Twitter. 

I haven’t used Chrome Operating System before.  Google calls these ‘laptops’ ‘Chromebooks.’ It is a Linux based operating system designed to work primarily with web applications.  I want my computer to be more than a ‘web-application.’  Google encourages everything to be online.  I, on the other hand, like my files closer at hand.  It’s a bit like the book or ereader argument. I prefer the tangible things in life. Also, I don’t want to be constricted to using only Google products.  That said, if I use an Apple or Windows system, I would be constricted by their respective compatible programs.  A Chromebook would probably be fine for people who only use computers just to be online.  I don’t think this is the right computer for me.

I have used Windows 8 (inc. 8.1) but I have a problem with its design.  It’s trying to move everything to the ‘App world.’  Installing third party programs is very difficult.  These need to be installed on the desktop interface and some have compatibility issues.  This tells me that software companies still have to reconfigure their programs to be compatible with Windows 8 and its variants.  That said, software companies will eventually issue fixes for, or update their programs for Windows as Microsoft has the most users.  Windows 8 isn’t my favourite Windows system and it does take a lot of getting used to as Microsoft have designed it from scratch.  This means that what you were used to in different Windows systems, it may not be the same in Windows 8.  Several people I know have ‘downgraded’ to Windows 7.  Still, as Microsoft has the largest market and has the majority of hardware and software to choose from, it has to remain an option.

Another option would be to have a Linux based computer.  Linux systems are like snowdrops, no one Linux laptop/computer is truly alike.  End-users may have the same systems – Mint, Puppy, SUSE, Manjaro, Ubuntu etc – but their operating systems would be totally different as each person tailors their system to what they want.  Linux users would suggest the fact you create your own system is the beauty of it.  The fact there are so many Linux operating systems (distros) alone sounds complicated.  Now that would mean a lot of getting used to but I would love it.  Eventually.  The good things about Linux are that its fast and free. Yes free. You don’t have to pay a penny for it. There are some systems that you can pay for but these would be geared towards companies. Also, unlike Windows’ systems its less susceptible to hackers and viruses. The problem with Linux distros is compatibility.  There are fewer programs to choose from than the other systems.  Also, and perhaps more importantly, compatible hardware is difficult to come by.  You may be able to get printer to work, but it uses every cartridge even to print black.  In Microsoft, you don’t have this problem, which leaves me in a quandary.

More Google Rants

A few weeks ago, I read more into Google’s Book Deal.  I still haven’t calmed down.  The company’s insistence of uploading all books of print online is tantamount to piracy.  Although a settlement has been granted in America, I would suggest that this settlement does not have the backing of the majority of struggling authors.  Google is invading an industry to which they know absolutely nothing about.  They are fast becoming the most despised company in the world should this digitizing of books prevail. 

Books are beautiful tangible assets that slip nicely in your hand and allow you to read for hours.  It is possible to read online, I know, but reading online for numerous hours for one is bad for your eyes.  I’m of the school that reading from books is easier than that from computers.  The majority of paperbacks are easy to carry, transportable and cheap unlike their mechanic counterpart, being the computer.  Yes, computers are getting smaller, but the tangibility of a book and its fresh smell give it something extra.  Plus when you bring a book with you on your holidays, you’re not forced to dismantle the book bag and load up the book. 

My problem with Google is not because of the above situation but with something a lot deeper than that as the company (spit) ventures to upload all books online.  You notice that when you download Flash to your PC, the terms and conditions asks if you want to include an optional Google Toolbar.  Fair enough, you think, unselect it and it won’t bother me again.  It is the individual’s prerogative.  So, where were Google when each author was negotiating a deal with an agent and publisher?  Should they not be doing knocking on each rightsholder’s door asking for permission?

Another situation arises.  An opportunity to download a piece of music arises that normally retails around €10, but you can get it for free on an illegal site.  What would the user choose? 

The Google Book Settlement will only serve more harm than good.  The 1990’s saw Napster being prosecuted for illegally pirating music, thus infringing copyright.  One difference between Google and Napster is that Napster isn’t bankrolled by millions of money like Google.  Anything that is digitized to the web is easily copied and shared amongst millions. 

Users will be free to copy, despite possible guarantees by Google that the writer’s works are secure from copyright infringement.  Should this deal go ahead, Google stands to win; small writers will lose on valuable income, as will the author’s agents, publishers and bookshops due to the potential piracy.  Yes, I know the author gets some recompense, but when one book manages to be copied, the damage has been done, the rightsholder’s book will be copied by unauthorized individual’s hoping to make a quick buck.  This is not about money, this scar is much deeper.  It is Napster and music all over again.  Therefore, it is crucial that books are not to be made as online brochures.

It is imperative that the literary world does not kowtow to Google’s demands as the Authors Guild of America and many publishers already have.  Google will ruin the literature world as Napster did to music.  If there is an alternative to this mess, and that books are to be digitized, the Google clause must be an opt-in, not an opt-out to force Google to negotiate with each rightsholder individually.

Seminar on the Google Book Settlement

Poetry Ireland are going to be holding a seminar about the Google Book Settlement and the possibilities of future publishing.

It is to advise authors on understanding the settlement and the implications of it.

The seminar will take place on Monday 20 July @ 11.00am in the Cheyne Theatre, Royal College of Surgeons, York St entrance, Dublin 2.

Introduction of Google Chrome

The world is goggle eyed with Google.  Talks of Twitter being googled and now Google is to launch a new operating system in ‘an attempt to re-think what operating systems should be’ and is due to be available to consumers in 2010. 

Why am I talking about an operating system on an Irish Media blog?  Well the power of Google has seen it be the top internet search engine, buy Youtube, and be dominant in any field it wants.  Hell, Google could open a typewriter factory, and people will start buying typewriters again.   

I like the fact that the system will be Open Source but it could threaten the lesser used OS’s such as Apple and Linux.  The Apple OS has long been the standard of computing for media (hence the link) be it design or film editing.  Google’s compatibility with software is yet to be questioned.  When Google puts itself into the OS market, will it break into Microsoft’s dominance, or could it also damage Linux, Apple, etc.