Monday, August 09, 2004

What's in the Office 2003 Editions?: "$399 US" For Microsoft Office 2003 or I can just download Open Office from


for $0 and get all the great tools I need. Gee, that's a no brainer.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

D'ya know what's irritating? People who assume anything you might happen to be doing on a computer is by default playing. I get this a lot and I suppose it's because most of the people I know and work with aren't involved with computers professionally other than what they are required to be by their jobs. You know, reading interdepartmental e-mails, filling out reports and turnovers, etc. That sort of thing. Oh most of them have computers in their homes but for them it is, for all intents and purposes, a toy. They play games on it, get online and chat or look up stuff once in awhile but rarely use it for serious matters beyond perhaps some online banking. So to them, by default, when they see someone on a computer that person must be "playing". Now, I don't deny that I have a game or two installed on my computer and once in a great long while I might in fact be playing but as I've gotten older games are far, far less of interest to me than the big game of life in the real world. That's where you play for keeps. That's where scoring big equals real, tangible bounty from winning or real, tangible hunger for losing for that matter.

So, far more often than not, if I am on my laptop I am either studying something that I think will be of value to me professionally or to make my life better in general, taking care of financial matters or reading news (USA Today, Yahoo! News, etc.), e-mail or, writing a rant in my Blog! Other than perhaps the writing in my Blog bit I really don't consider any of these activities to fall into the realm of play. After all, when someone goes to their mailbox and gets the bills, junk mail and whatever else no one asks them if they are playing with their mail. If I were to sit at the table, drink my coffee and read a printed version of the newspaper or magazine I normally read online I doubt someone would ask if I were playing with my newspaper. And believe me there is nothing playful about paying bills.

To people with this mindset computers are toys and therefore anything anyone might be doing is playing which makes it perfectly acceptable to pester, distract and otherwise annoy them while they are doing it.

Well, now ya know what's what's irritating.

There, I got that off my chest. I feel better now. Whew! ;-)

Oh, BTW, it wasn't someone at work that set me off on this rant, this time at least...

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Firedfox - The Browsed.

Well, not everyone who has tried Firefox ends up being a fan as the person who created this site can surely attest. There's nothing wrong with that. It is, after all, as it should be. You're not going to please all of the people all of the time.

I am still very much enjoying FireFox and Thunderbird myself and have most recently been playing around with the things you can do with keywords, bookmarks and the %s feature. But, while I am a fan of The Mozilla Foundation and the principles of Open Source Development my primary concern is keeping the internet open to everyone regardless of their software (or hardware for that matter) preference. Microsoft has made some damn fine software which is both easy to use and accessible to almost anyone. But when any company captures more than 90% of a given market it has achieved, I don't care what arguments you make, monopoly status. When you own that much of the market you begin to want to make everyone else play by your rules, you begin to ignore standards set by organizations like the W3C and start setting standards of your own and those who don't play by your rules or standards are left out in the cold because you control the vast overwhelming majority of the market and you can decide what should and should not work. You start telling developers and vendors that if they don't cater to your platform and your platform only they don't get to play on your vast playing field. Eventually you begin to care less about customer service because the customer has few choices but to pay your high prices, put up with your lousy customer support and live with security vulnerabilities until you get around to doing something about it.

Now, people can and will argue all day long on UseNet newsgroups, in chatrooms and on Web Logs about whether or not Microsoft has in fact reached this level of apathy towards the customer but as someone who is old enough to remember the telephone monopoly or having dealt with local cable company monopolies I can tell you that you don't want one, single company to control 90% or more of the market for too long or it's just a matter of time that you'll be paying hundreds of dollars for the most basic of tools and still have to pay for telephone support when it doesn't work right. What? Did I hear someone say we're already there? Well, there you go...

Competition is a good thing. The more players there are in the market the more important it becomes to keep the end user happy by writing better code, fixing problems in a timely manner when they are discovered and supporting your product! So for this reason, and a few others I won't go into right now, I tend to like to support underdogs like Mozilla, Linux and other Open Source competitors because these little Davids keep the Goliath on it's toes so it doesn't forget that customers do have a choice. So even if you prefer Internet Explorer over Mozilla Firefox or Opera or whatever else is out there. Even if you're a fan of proprietary development tools like ActiveX and VBScript. You should still find competition refreshing because it keeps your favorite company from forgetting that if they don't take care of you then you can pick up and move to another neighborhood. If that 95% dominance of the web browser market drops to say 80% or 70% you can bet Microsoft will pull out all of the stops and start improving their product and developing some things that'll blow your socks off. After all, it was no accident that all of those Netscape users of the past abandoned it for IE 4.0 when it came along. IE won, partly because it was free and came bundled with Windows but it also beat Netscape because it was at the time a better browser. Netscape Communicator had become buggy, bloated and yes, expensive. Oh sure, you can't compete with free (well, maybe the price is figured in to the price tag of the OS) but maybe a $20 version can move where a $50 version can't? Maybe better prices for software in general would be a good thing. If musical performers who make millions of dollars can produce and sell CDs full of their latest recordings for about $16 why does a CD full of software like an HTML Editor or a Compiler have to cost $300? Is it any wonder piracy runs rampant with prices like that? Just like people can see paying $1 each for songs that they like instead of paying $16 for a CD that only has two or three good songs on it. People would probably be more likely to pay a fair price for just the tools they want and need than dropping a car payment for a bunch of junk they don't need. But that's just me I guess. What do I know? I'm just a guy that likes to tinker with computers in my spare time and write stuff in my Blog when it occurs to me.