I know it’s an old joke, but…

Being the techie-geek, all the recent media hoo-hah about Google developing driverless cars is causing Mommie Dammit a bad case of gas. Seriously – cars that drive themselves, maybe. But cars that drive themselves that were designed by GOOGLE?!? Are you fuckin’ CRAZY?!!!

Show of hands… how many of you have used Google Maps?  OK, now how many of you used Google Maps to find the nearest Starbucks, and ended up at the Waste Processing Plant in Deer Point, Michigan? “Me! Me! Oooo! Me, Mommie Dammit! I did!” … Exactly. Now, how many of you are thrilled with the idea of Google selling your driving history to every marketing agency on the planet, and then the next time you input “Kansas City Public Library” ending up at the offices of some plastic surgeon who specializes in liposuction and boob-jobs? Since you now have no choice in the matter, Google already sells your Web browsing history and any personal data it gathers from your browser activity to the highest bidder – so why should we expect any different from this das bumsen Scheißalbtraum?

The whole episode reminds me of this particular little incident years ago… perhaps you remember it, too. And General Motors’ point is just as valid in this instance as it was then…

If Microsoft made cars

At a recent COMDEX, Bill Gates reportedly compared the computer industry with the auto industry and stated: “If GM had kept up with technology like the computer industry has, we would all be driving twenty-five dollar cars that got 1000 miles to the gallon.” In response to Bill’s comments, General Motors issued a press release stating: If GM had developed technology like Microsoft, we would all be driving cars with the following characteristics:

1. For no reason whatsoever your car would crash twice a day.
2. Every time they repainted the lines on the road you would have to buy a new car.
3. Occasionally your car would die on the freeway for no reason, and you would just accept this, restart and drive on.
4. Occasionally, executing a maneuver such as a left turn, would cause your car to shut down and refuse to restart, in which case you would have to reinstall the engine.
5. Only one person at a time could use the car, unless you bought “Car95” or “CarNT.” But then you would have to buy more seats.
6. Macintosh would make a car that was powered by the sun, reliable, five times as fast, and twice as easy to drive, but would only run on five per cent of the roads.
7. The oil, water temperature and alternator warning lights would be replaced by a single “general car default” warning light.
8. New seats would force everyone to have the same size butt.
9. The airbag system would say “Are you sure?” before going off.
10. Occasionally for no reason whatsoever, your car would lock you out and refuse to let you in until you simultaneously lifted the door handle, turned the key, and grab hold of the radio antenna.
11. GM would require all car buyers to also purchase a deluxe set of Rand McNally road maps (now a GM subsidiary), even though they neither need them nor want them. Attempting to delete this option would immediately cause the car’s performance to diminish by 50% or more. Moreover, GM would become a target for investigation by the Justice Department.
12. Everytime GM introduced a new model car buyers would have to learn how to drive all over again because none of the controls would operate in the same manner as the old car.
13. You’d press the “start” button to shut off the engine.

‘Nuff sed!

Ooops!

OK, so I’m a freakin’ genius.  When I first set up this blog I made the mistake of typing the full domain into the “name of post” box. EEEeeeeW! After the good folks in Word Press Support (thanks Chris!) explained how to “transfer” my blog to the correct one… yeah, well, that didn’t work so well. For some reason my links all went bye-bye.

Thankfully I caught this before I’d gotten too far, but it still means that – instead of a simple transfer – I’ve spent the past two days copying my posts into WRITER, double-checking the links, doing some editing I should have done before, and getting the categories reset.

Hint to other bloggists: Write your original posts, or copy them before you hit “publish”, into your favorite HTML-enabled word processing application. It will save you the headaches I’ve had the last couple of days, should anything go shmmmrrpfffft! with your blog. We don’t want to see your inspired work disappear, do we?

Bear with me, O’ my children. Mommie Dammit will have another spew post up here shortly. With all the crap flying around the intertubes lately, I’m having a little difficulty keeping it in some form of recognizable English.

Idiocy of I.T. – “Planned Obsolescence”

As some of you may know,  and most of you don’t,  Mommie Dammit was a licensed cosmetologist for 25 years until my back and legs informed me “we’re not doing this any more.” I then pursued my other mania – Information Technology. For the past 7 years I’ve been working in Technical Support at various levels for a couple of different companies – a degree in Network Administration isn’t as hot a commodity as one would think, unless you’re from India. But let’s not get Mommie Dammit started on the lies and hypocrisy that is the H1-B debacle – that’s a whole series of posts on its own. For now, suffice it to say that the Corporate Masters of the Rethuglican Party decided they didn’t want to pay an American worker what they were worth so they demanded a change in immigration rules – and they got it. Immediately thereafter, 6,000,000 American jobs got shipped to India, China, Pakistan, and Mexico.

Nope! This rant post isn’t about that. This is about the organized plot by certain Computer and Software manufacturers to regularly force you to take out second (or third) mortgages, or sell your children to a Pakistani sweatshop in order to purchase their latest gizmo. It’s called “planned obsolescence” and American corporations invented the concept. Our computer and software companies not only mastered the game, but took it to new and glorious heights.

Microsoft, Apple, Intel, and Google are gods in this arena, and they work furiously to keep us convinced that we really, reeeaaaaaly, REALLY! need to have every single new brain-fart they come up with. Today I stumbled upon a perfect example. I’d been reading the news archives on InsideTech.com when I happened to find an article called “Business PC Age Highest in a Decade, 74 Percent Running Windows XP”.

The thrust of the article was that the vast majority of businesses skipped Windows Vista and kept their XP-based systems, referencing an earlier article in which Steve Balmer, CEO of Microsoft, said that Vista “was not well executed…” Well, no, Mr. Balmer – Vista was a bloated pile of crap that didn’t work, never has worked, and never will work so quit making excuses for it. You bragged about it’s “security” and then dared the Black Hat group to hack it. They did, in a matter of minutes, and walked away laughing. I used it for all of about 2 weeks – for which I am still in anger-management classes – and immediately restored my Windows machine to XP. I’ve been building computers since the days when you actually had to solder the mother board together, and I’d never seen a mess like Vista. WindowsME, with all its foibles and a memory leak you could drive cattle through, wasn’t as big of a cluster. Ah, but Balmer is positive that Windows 7 can save Microsoft’s ass bring us back into the fold. Nothing doing. I’ve seen it, and while it is a dramatic improvement over Vista, I’ll still keep my XP.

The reason we keep using XP is because IT WORKS. We already have it, and it does what we need it to do. Another reason we’re not buying Windows7 is money – as in “you want too damned much of it.” Windows7 follows the same business model as Vista – by the way, Windows7 IS Vista, minus a good deal of the bloat – and in order to get a version of it installed that will actually do all that a modern office requires you will have to go with the Ultimate edition, and that will cost you $319.00 per license. Given that the economy has been in free-fall for over 8 years, and most companies are seeing more red ink than black, there is no rational justification for that additional expense.

Now I will admit, XP is getting a little long in the tooth. Maybe there are circumstances in which companies and home users really do need to upgrade their operating system. But the question remains – why should we bankrupt ourselves to purchase Windows7?

Answer: We don’t have to. We all want an operating system that is reliable, secure, stable, and that runs our favorite programs without us having to perform microsurgery on the registry. We want something that is easy to install, that recognizes all our hardware and peripherals and has (or automatically goes and gets) the best drivers for it. We want something that offers us security – real security, not the illusion of it – without driving us postal with “Are you sure?” every time we left-click.

Guess what, children? You can have all that… and you can have it for free. No, I haven’t been hitting the Stoli, and yes – I said “free.” It’s called Linux.

Now before you get all paranoid, and start thinking you have to sink $50K into a Computer Science degree before you’re ready for Linux, let Mommie Dammit explain a few things… Yeah, if you’re a glutton for punishment and enjoy staring at your flat-screen for hours on end, speaking in tongues and chain-smoking, there are “flavors” of Linux out there that will let you live out your fantasies to the fullest. If you’re a real masochist check out Slackware. But if, like Mommie Dammit, you have better things to do with your time – like eat, sleep, bathe, feed the cat – I highly recommend you check out Ubuntu. While there are almost as many “flavors” of Linux as there are types of people who use it, I’ve found Ubuntu to be the easiest distribution to work with.

The installation process is extremely simple, I have yet to have any serious issues with hardware drivers, and it comes loaded for bear from the minute you log into your account. Ubuntu comes with the latest compatible version of Firefox, so you’re all set for safe, stable, b.s.-free Intertube snurfing. Also included is the latest compatible version of Libre Office, so you can tell Microsoft to take it’s uber-expensive, resource-hogging, security-holes-the-size-of-a-’56-Buick MS Office and stick it where the sun don’t shine. Ubuntu has been my mainstay on the desktop since I first installed it 6 years ago – desktop version, that is. I first tried their server version 3 years ago, and I’ll never touch another Windows server again. It’s that damned good!

“But what about my Windows games, files, etc…?” Keep ’em. You can set up a virtual Windows machine in minutes, or you can use the trusty old WINE (windows emulator), or you can set up a dual-boot system and keep your Windows machine separate and intact. Or – if you’re nuts, like Mommie Dammit – you can build your own computer, install multiple hard drives, and tinker with the setup until even the Pentagon can’t figure out what the hell you did. It all depends on how “geek” you is… and I get geekier by the minute.  As for your MS Office files, no worries. Libre Office will open, work with, and save to just about any viable format – and if you create a new document in Libre Office, and it needs to go to some poor sucker someone who still uses Microsoft, just click “save as” and select the appropriate version of MS format. When the pop-up “pops” telling you that some of the formatting may  change or not work, and do you want to keep the document in the .odt format, just click “keep current format” to save to the MS document type. I have yet to see any major screw ups, with the exception that the older, proprietary drawing tools weren’t compatible – and much of that has already been resolved.

So no, Mr. Balmer. We don’t need your flaming mess Windows7, nor do we need the gigantic hole it leaves in our wallet. We have better, less painful, more stable and secure options available to us… and they’re free.

11-10-11