The Mac offers me access to most of the programs and/or tools that I need, and most importantly is *nix under the hood (unlike Windows). I can sit down and go immediately to the task or job I need to work on, without the various idiosyncrasies I’ve experienced in other *nix desktop environments.
The Mac was, for me at least, the very first environment where I did not have to worry about the OS or system. I could just sit down and work. Of course, controlling hardware and software makes that easier for Apple than just about anything else. Still, it’s a powerful feature that doesn’t appear on any box.
The problem? An underfunded school needed computers for the classroom. Budget? $0. Staff involved? Just one: Robert Litt, a sixth-grade teacher.
With the help of his local LUG, he got Linux up and running on his 18 donated machines. Suddenly, they were fast. They were clean. They worked well in the classroom. Robert was invigorated, as were his students. His principal saw how excited they all were, and decided to give Robert four hours of teaching leave per week to give him time to find more computers for a full lab for ASCEND. And so Robert became a “teacher on special assignment,” as he puts it.
Finding computers was less difficult than he originally anticipated. Most families and businesses have an old computer (or ten) sitting in storage. Robert began to call businesses and ask for donations of equipment they’d otherwise be sending for recycling. People were generally very receptive. Most people would rather their used computers do good than rot in a landfill or get shredded; they just don’t usually know how to get computers to where they are needed. “Underfunded schools are starving in the midst of plenty,” Robert explains. “Discarded computers are our nation’s most wasted educational resource.”
For old computers, specially old desktops, there’s nothing that comes close to Linux distros. They run on everything, they are fast, they are nimble on resources and they can give you a lot of simple free software for basically everything that you want to do.
I personally recommend and use Linux Mint. It’s not perfect but it’s a great OS, much easier to maintain than Windows and much, much safer too.
A 64bit processor with 64bit EFI,1 8 gigabytes of RAM, Pyhton, Matlab, calendarized tasks with UNIX scripts and Automator, an entire LaTeX suite, R, MS Office, redundant and automatic backups to different destinations, a carefully managed library of almost a thousand scientific papers in Papers2, shared folders and a endless bunch of other “gizmos” and automations and “power-tools” and the only way of finally getting some work done is going back to a black screen with green letters and a green blinking cursor.
- i can’t have a pure 64bit kernel & extensions because Apple won’t let me. Apparently somebody forgot to write “pro” after “Macbook” on my screen. And OS X is very picky when it comes to what’s written on the PC it runs. [↩]
“The beauty of the MagSafe connector was that Apple had found precisely the right balance between attachment and detachment. Strong enough to hold the connector in place, weak enough to detach if it gets yanked.
The MagSafe 2 connector fails that balance test. Badly. The magnet is too weak. It’s so weak, it keeps falling out. It falls out if you brush it. It falls out if you tip the laptop slightly. It falls out if you look at it funny. It’s a huge, huge pain.”
“After years of aspiring to improve software usability, I’ve come to the extremely humbling realization athat the single best thing most companies could do to improve usability is to stop changing the UI so often! Let it remain stable long enough for us to learn it and get good at it. There’s no UI better than one you already know, and no UI worse than one you thought you knew but now have to relearn.”
Just go and read the damn thing. In fact, if you’re developer, print it, frame it and stick it on your office room.
“I’ve been thinking a lot about the fundamental disconnect between the developers and the users. I think it comes down to: Software developers have a perverse habit of thinking of updates/new releases as a good thing.
It’s hard to convince a software developer otherwise: their salary depends on outputting a constant stream of updates, so of course they think updates are good.I used to believe it. Only after I heard from dozens of different users that the rapid release process had ruined Firefox did I finally get it through my thick skull: releasing an update is practically an act of aggression against your users. The developer perspective is ‘You guys are going to love this new update we’ve been working on!’ The user perspective is ‘Oh god here comes another update, is there any way I can postpone the agony for a few more days?’”
Also related with this previous post.
- Can i copy an entire post or would that be too rude? [↩]
“I’ve heard this story a lot in the last year.
I used to be proud to say I worked (or had worked) for Mozilla, but a careful listener might detect a certain sheepish quality that has crept into my voice lately when I name-check my former employer. And this is why. Even on the opposite side of the world, it’s always the same story: ‘I used to love Firefox’, but ‘I switched to Chrome because my extensions stopped working’ or ‘I switched to chrome because Firefox kept asking me to restart’.
I’ve had this conversation with dozens of people across three continents. Not one person has had anything good to say about the rapid release process. Nearly 100% of my highly unscientific survey volunteered the information — unasked, unprompted — that the rapid release process had ruined Firefox for them.”
I still have to understand what’s these “features” that were supposed to get to the users faster. Hey Mozilla, Firefox’s features are the Extensions!!! I keep upgrading firefox, breaking compatibility, disabling extensions and i haven’t found a single “new feature” to talk about.
“Mozilla has announced it’s ceasing development on Thunderbird; one more version will be released, and it’ll be security updates from then on. ‘Most Thunderbird users seem happy with the basic email feature set. In parallel, we have seen the rising popularity of Web-based forms of communications representing email alternatives to a desktop solution. Given this, focusing on stability for Thunderbird and driving innovation through other offerings seems a natural choice.’”
Actually, although a bit sad for this “much dear friend”, this is good news!
I’ve been realizing that the most proclaimed and loved “quality” of open-source is simultaneously it’s worst enemy and the single major reason why, unfortunately, open-source software is usually not an option. I mean this referring solely at “end-user software”, not open-source libraries or small UNIX-style programs/packages.
The driving feature of open-source is it’s community passion and desire to program something new and exciting. Something that “scratches their itch”. So, as result open-source “new programs and projects” spring everywhere and for all things.
But a mature, robust software is not that very exciting. Simple bug correcting and security updates (the kind that Mozilla says that are the only ones they will be doing for thunderbird) is probably a PITA and dull as hell. I know i would probably hate it.
So, to keep developer momentum and joy, as soon as the program is mainly stable and stuff is just chugging along the way, some need comes along so that we just have to rewrite the entire stuff, or add a revolutionary new interface or just go in another completely absurd direction.
I’ve first experienced this when i changed to linux back in 2007/2008. Switched a lot, try a dozen distros and finally decided i was really comfortable with KDE. Highly polished, highly usable Graphic environment. I assume there was some fundamental need for something different/security/touch/sound/fireworks in the sky or diamonds on strawberry hills and “they” had to change do KDE4. which was utterly unusable back those days, and a complete departure from everything i liked about KDE3.
Switched to gnome after a lot of teeth grinding and adjusting, and when i was getting comfortable using and thought that a good “enterprise class” (stable, robust, simple and clean) product could probably be built on it, “they” had to build something different for security/usability/diamonds or the fireworks or whatever, and then came Gnome3 and/or Unity. And guess what, they’re still pretty much a mess…
I’ve been realizing that of all the open-source software that i use, eventually they all either die in “abandonment” when they are in the “good-enough”/robust phase and all that’s left is some boring maintenance and some loooooong development cycles; or they all got sent back to square one for a complete, utterly unusable, refit/redraw of the whole thing. There’s some exceptions off course but on the whole that ‘s been my general experience.
So unfortunately, i’ve been unconsciously changing (i’ve realized later) to paid software (or backed by some big corporation/foundation) because it allows me my “found something that does what i want, how i want, then i don’t ever change it and just keep using it as i want” behaviour. Which is also the behaviour of most people out there.
I don’t see how this can be fixed in a voluntary driven environment, so i’m kind of pleased that mozilla decided to took this step. The truth is that Thunderbird is already good enough for most, so instead of killing it by abandonment or just dropping the whole thing and starting over, they are just slowly keeping it updated and working for us folks that just want use it and never thinking about it.
I would love that it had some new features though (as a more Mac OS integration or a slightly simpler and slightly cleaner interface) but on the whole the entire thing is pretty much everything you could expect from a multi-platform, free mail client and it’s hard to find a reason to complain strongly about it.
So thanks Mozilla! And may Thundebird keep working along, silently and efficiently for a long, long time!
“The integration with the classic desktop though? Wow. It’s. Completely. Fucking. Insane.
The combination is jarring, confusing and ultimately unusable. I can’t even respect it as an interesting attempt, as it just simply doesn’t work. There’s no doubt in my mind that the Metro UI and apps should have been set off in a ‘mode’ – similar to how the Windows Media Center works. The fact that the Metro UI has been integrated in wholesale with the old-school WIMP interface is ridiculous, and more to the point, represents incredible cynicism on Microsoft’s part.
Make no mistake, this is Microsoft falling back on old-school monopolistic tactics to take on an upcoming challenger to their OS dominance. It’s like 1997 all over again, when Microsoft jammed Internet Explorer into Windows in places it didn’t really need to be in order to compete with Netscape. Remember when the entire *desktop* used to be an IE Window? Remember all the security and performance problems that came as a result? Remember U.S. vs. Microsoft? Why in the world do they think this tactic which failed so spectacularly before will work now? Are they psychotic?”
“Surprising revelation: While Mail only supports Exchange ActiveSync (EAS) accounts today, it will support ‘other protocols,’ including IMAP, in the future. I do not personally expect Mail to support POP3-type accounts, but I suppose anything is possible.”
Following RIMM footsteps and their tablet computer for enterprise users that didn’t had an email application, Microsoft releases an email application that doesn’t support the single most used email standard in the world.1
Where do they get these people?
- IMAP. I see POP as mainly legacy users or applications [↩]
“Here’s Windows 8. It’s totally different from everything you’ve used before, we’re sticking it down your throat either you want it or not, but please provide us with your feedback so that we can improve.
Do you think we’re great, wonderful or just Einstein/Tesla type of genius?”1
- This text was obviously imagined but if you look at the picture i dare you to think that this didn’t happened. [↩]
“I’ve been following Windows 8 closely over the past few months, spending a lot of time not only with the official releases but also with a number of leaked builds, and I’ve had the chance to install the operating system on a variety of hardware platforms, both old and new. However, since my primary working platform is a desktop system, this is where I’ve had the chance to spend the most time with Microsoft’s new operating system.
I’m now ready to sum up my Windows 8 experience with a single word: awful.
I could have chosen a number of other words — terrible, horrible, painful and execrable all spring to mind — but it doesn’t matter, the sentiment is the same.
And I don’t say this lightly. I want to like Windows 8. I really do. From a performance point of view, I’ve no complaints since it’s just as snappy and responsive as Windows 7, and will likely get a little better as drivers mature. Hardware support is also excellent; the platform able to handle effortlessly everything I threw at it.”
“Every time we buy a locked down product containing a non-replaceable battery with a finite cycle count, we’re voicing our opinion on how long our things should last. But is it an informed decision? When you buy something, how often do you really step back and ask how long it should last? If we want long-lasting products that retain their value, we have to support products that do so.
Today, we choose. If we choose the Retina display over the existing MacBook Pro, the next generation of Mac laptops will likely be less repairable still. When that happens, we won’t be able to blame Apple. We’ll have to blame ourselves.”
“”Now, put the mouse pointer in the left corner of the computer screen. Now click. No, don’t click on the icon. Wait you launched what? What’s on your screen? Ok, wait, try again, go all the way to the left. Now down. Now click. No, don’t move the mouse. AAARGGH…”
But what’s even more frustrating? There’s simply no reason for this stupidity.”
I mentally pictured exactly the same thing… I wholeheartedly agree with the rest of Russel’s post.
“Why did you turn the movie off, Daddy?”, Beatrix worriedly asks, as if she has done something wrong and is being punished by having her entertainment interrupted. She thinks that’s what I was doing by rushing for the remote.
“I didn’t turn it off, honey. This is just a commercial. I was turning the volume down because it was so loud. Shreck will come back on in a few minutes” I say.
“Did it break?”, she asks. It does sometimes happen at home that Flash or Silverlight implode, interrupt her show, and I have to fix it.
“No. It’s just a commercial.”
“What’s a commercial?”, she asks.
”It is like little shows where they tell you about other shows and toys and snacks.”, I explain.
“Well the TV people think you might like to know about this stuff.”
“This is boring! I want to watch Shreck.”
Actually she is absolutely right. TV (or the idiot box as it is colloquially known) is dying, senile and on it’s way out. And not a moment too soon.
The interesting part is why it is dying, it’s why i have flashblock and adblock extensions on my browser: Adverting and Marketing lack of self-moderation, respect and the search for a quick buck on the short term. Instead of a single ad that i would actually pay attention to, they put 20. And if no one clicks then they need to be more colourful or more noisier or animated. And you end up with this.
There is a perennial lack of moderation on our times. Moderation, Respect, Restraint. All of what is needed to truly build a self-sustainable environment; and by environment i mean the whole encompassing “sphere” of our “activity”, and this includes the human life, human society, the web, the advertising business, the TV.
We somehow behave as stupid as the virus that infects and kills everyone as soon as it can. And obviously runs out of hosts in a remote village in Africa wiping itself in the process. Fill the websites with so much ads that everyone installs an adblocker. Extend commercial breaks to 20 minutes or make one in every 10 minutes and nobody will watch TV anymore. Consume junk products in massive quantities until there is no more space to store them or stuff that works or anything that is not made in China for absolut bottom-prices.
We really need a philosophical change regarding our future. One that exalts some sort of moderation and reflection before “action”. One that simply includes respect for the “Other”, for if nothing else so that we can continue to maintain a relationship. One that includes a more restrained satisfying life instead of this voracious consumption of nothing.
” The problem with most piracy debates is that the only “cost” they discuss is money-dollars. So, the problem is framed somewhat like this:
“Buying the game from us costs money-dollars. Pirating it costs zero money-dollars. Therefore, most people will pirate the game if they have the choice and we must do everything we can to physically stop them.”
The familiar Money-dollar ($M) This is wrong because there are at least four currencies involved here, not just one (money-dollars).
I propose the following:
Can we somehow get the linked essay delivered to all the games, music and movies Executives?
“- Growl is not dead - Growl is alive and kicking – We are still actively working on shipping two future versions of Growl. Our understanding from press reports at this point is that Notification Center is only available to apps from the Mac App Store, which effectively locks out the entire class of applications that aren’t or can’t be in the store.”
Seems reasonable. I hope they won’t go away but if the Notifications API ever goes “public” for all applications, AppStore or not, Growl will find themselves between a rock and a hard place.
“But that’s not even the interesting part. The movie goes out to theaters, DVD, and high-definition cable TV – all on the same day. [...]
WIRED: Why did you decide to release Bubble in all formats at once?
SODERBERGH: Name any big-title movie that’s come out in the last four years. It has been available in all formats on the day of release. It’s called piracy. Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings, Ocean’s Eleven, and Ocean’s Twelve – I saw them on Canal Street on opening day. Simultaneous release is already here. We’re just trying to gain control over it.”
My God man, Sanity! When will this end?!
“Give us convenient content at a reasonable price, and we’ll buy it. Sell the stuff without DRM, for a few dollars. Make it available to everyone, worldwide, at the same time. Then take the massive, unending pile of money, forever.
Or keep doing what you’re doing, and enjoy your ceaseless war of attrition, ever-rising tide of negative public opinion, and eventual forced irrelevance. And get fucked.”
You should really the full article. Nothing that hasn’t been said endlessly but it’s a good summary of the subject. And the “piracy threshold” chart is also interesting as a tool for further business approaches to the subject.
The most strange think that i can’t understand is: if there are endless stories about how “easy and convenient and just” made people pay for their content, why is that some media executives never get to find it? Is the Internet Browser on their computers riddled with DRM to prevent them from ever reaching sane conclusions?