These awesome people circled me!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

The things I like (and hate) about Windows...

Ah, the good ol' days...
I've been using Windows since... Well, since I stopped using DOS. With the exception of using Apples and Macintoshes at school and at the Boys & Girls Club as a kid, Windows is pretty much all I've known. I've spent countless hours learning all of the tricks and shortcuts to making Windows what I wanted or needed it to do. I bought 3.11. I bought NT. I bought 2000. I bought XP (over and over). I bought 7. And I bought an upgrade to 7. The money I've spent...
Then there's the software, too. I mostly used freeware and shareware back in the day, but as time went on, there became a more defined line between free and paid programs as far as quality was concerned. I bought home inventory software, Windows customization software, and a suite of Audio/Video editing software. These purchases were all made in the last couple of years. I was beginning to notice a trend, and it was that my computer was becoming a shop-vac and it's hose was heading for my wallet. Something was going to happen- I was either going to put a stop to the trend or I'd end up getting so immersed in the ecosystem that my dependence on it would force more spending.
Cash Magnet?...
Then came the straw that broke the horse's back. It was the "You'd better not still be using XP or else it is going to set your house on fire" doomsday messages about Zero-day vulnerabilities. I had a netbook running XP that I was using for filesharing and a few other network tasks, and I had to start considering an operating system replacement for it? The thing only cost $200! Putting Windows 7 on it would have been the least expensive option, but it would have been a solid $75+ to make it happen. I wasn't having it. Time to consider something new...
I had tried Linux back in the 90's, and I could never really grasp it or appreciate the return on the time invested on making it function. It had left a pretty sour taste in my mouth, and kept me from following developments over the years in the world of the Penguin. But the Windows world was calling for my cash, so I decided to give Linux another try. I downloaded Ubuntu and installed it on the $200 Atom-powered netbook, fully expecting it to render it a brick with a command prompt.
But it didn't! It booted up, video worked, audio worked, webcam worked, internet worked... It all just worked! I had put a replacement operating system on the computer, and I hadn't spent a dime... Not only was I impressed, I was hooked!
I decided to install Ubuntu on my main PC that was currently running Windows 7 Ultimate. I set it up for dual-boot, so I could take some time to decide if I could say goodbye to Windows 7 as easily as I did to Windows XP. Each time I started up the PC, I'd do the things I always do, and see how many times I'd say to myself "if I were running Windows right now this would be easier/better.." The times were less frequent than I expected.
So, why do I like Windows? I guess there's two reasons. First, I've spent quite a bit of time setting things up just how I like them. And things run pretty smoothly. I don't get BSOD's or random reboots. For the most part, it just works. Secondly, there's compatibility. If there's a software title I want to try, there's a pretty safe assumption that it has a Windows version.
My new friend (not a couch bum...)
Okay, so why do I hate Windows then? One reason is actually the very same reason I like it. Windows has become such an operating system powerhouse that most software publishers won't take the time to make a version for a "lesser" OS. (Understandably so... It's all about the money) So, damn you MS! Damn you for making Windows so popular that I'm forced to use you in order to edit videos, because AVS doesn't make a Linux version...
There's all of these little threads hanging on to my Windows life that I'm trying to snip off. I've become immersed in the Google/Linux environment and realized that there's a whole other world out there that operates completely independent from the clutches of the Bill Gates Empire. I just wish that it wasn't so hard to say goodbye. It's like letting go of a lifelong friend because he decided to be a drug addict and now he just crashes on your couch and constantly begs for cash. That's exactly what it feels like...

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

No longer a need for removable media?

MicroSD Cards
There was a time where my "Geekiness" was measured
by the quantity of floppy disks I had. I can remember going
to computer shows, and 50% of the floor was people selling
floppies. Floppies, floppies, floppies. In order to have all of
the coolest games, all of the most secret programs that none
of your friends had heard of, you had to be the one with the
biggest pile of 1.44MB disks.
Time went on, floppies fizzled away. At one point, I decided
to copy the last 10 or so floppies to a CD-ROM disc and toss
the floppeis. Then, the CD-ROMs started to pile up. That actually
didn't last long. Burning CDs was too time consuming. I became less patient waiting for a burn than I used to be waiting for the message "INSERT DISK 3 OF 10"...
Eventually, I purchased an external USB hard drive. What little information I had on CD that wasn't available for download I copied over to the drive. The CD-ROMs were put away in a box, and were never seen again (With the exception of that one time I had to dig out the Windows XP recovery disk...) As of this year, I have about 10 Terabytes of hard drive space.
Also, there was my portable devices. Organizers, MiniDisc player, Ipaq, and quite a few smartphones. With each one, there was a media type to collect. My life wasn't complete without at least 32GB of MicroSD plugged into my phone.

Compact Discs
So, perhaps you've noticed all of this is in past-tense. What is the current state of what appears to be an unhealthy obsession with data hoarding?
To be honest, I'm not exactly sure what is more the driving factor. It could just be that I have decided to "grow up", to be a little more minimalistic, and reduce the amount of "stuff" I'm surrounded with. Or, perhaps I have embraced the "cloud" for all it has to offer. My PC hardly ever spins a drive other than the boot drive. My Nexus has no SD slot. My music and movies don't skip when someone stomps on the floor. Google Drive, Keep, Play Music, and Photos are now my go-to services for what I previously would have relied on a spinning platter for. Whatever the reason, I've come to the conclusion that I no longer have a need for removable media of any type.
What are your thoughts on removable media? Is it still needed? On the PC? For music/movies? On phones? And, if it is not needed any more, why? Is it because of the alternatives, or is it more of a lifestyle change?....