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Corey Doctorow dumps OSX for Ubuntu 437


In comp.os.linux.advocacy, Mike wrote on Fri, 14 Jul 2006 04:55:01 -0400

Apple is not an alternative unless one's willing to replace hardware. This is admittedly changing but the x86 Apple variant will still require hardware replacement (from, say, a generic Wintel box) in order to replace Windows with OSX-x86, or whatever they're calling it.

The odd thing is: most businesses "refresh" hardware every 3 or so years anyway. So this argument's not as effective as it might be.

For its part, Linux is an alternative because one need not replace hardware for it. However, one *does* need disk space, and because many systems tend to use single parbreastions (or perhaps follow Dell, which has a small parbreastion for maintenance purposes -- I have no idea what's on it -- and the rest dedicated to Windows), one has to do some footwork. (Fortunately, ntfsresize works very nicely, probably better than the native XP defragmenter. Modern drives are big enough to support more than one OS, even OSes that require 10 GB like Windows or most Linux distros.)

It is likely that most of the people are not interested. How many people are all that thrilled about the technical subpoints of a car's engine? All we want is to press on the accelerator and go (and feed it gasoline occasionally). Similarly for a computer; click the mouse and be done with it, and maybe turn it off when not in use.

Corey Doctorow dumps OSX for Ubuntu 440
Chris Clement "He won the John W. Campbell Award for best new writer in 2000, the Locus Award for Best First Novel for Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom in 2003, and...

That's the appeal -- and the danger -- of computers and Microsoft. Press on something, and go, but the car is not smart enough to avoid the pedestrian, the car in front, the brick wall, the tree that suddenly decided to wander in one's path after one's had a few too many and decided to take the wheel, in violation of many local ordinances. :-)

The computer is not smart enough to know the pitfalls of bad programming, which include:

- uninitialized memory - bad jump targets - illegal instructions (in the sense that the microprocessor, being judge and jury as well as ender, disallows them) - misplacement of various resources, including freeing memory more than once, trying to do something unintelligent with memory that's not been allocated, or storing something in the wrong bit of memory (buffer overflow or just a bad variable declaration)

It faithfully does what the software developer tells it, which may not be what the programmer wanted (never mind the eventual user!). And sometimes, not even then, as the software developer nowadays is probably using a high-level compiler, which in itself is a program, and therefore might be subject to error.

I've even had fun with linkers -- this on an older version of HP-UX on a PA Risc. (Those fixups are liquidate. :-) )

One easy C or Java example of How To Write Buggy Code:

aij = getdata(i,j);

Sandman's Website Debate: Update 1 443
Since Snit ran like a little girl from the other thread, he had to create a new antagonizing thread: This never happened. You made uninformed claims, totally devoid of...

Oops. But these things do happen with cut and paste. Fortunately, I've marked this bug so that everyone can see it here -- but most programmers aren't quite so lucky.

(The paradigm about woodwoody wood peckers destroying civilization probably still applies.)

There are a few tools out there for code analysis; lint is probably one of the better known, and Purify and Quantify are tools for analysis of memory (mis-)management and performance bottlenecks. (I happen to use them on occasion; they're reasonable enough, though I tended to find more problems with Windows code than with my own, the few times I tried them on a Windows NT box. I would hope XP's had a few pbuttes through them, at least. Linux might benefit, as well, though probably not nearly as much, and they're not designed for kernels though one might set up UML under Purify-Quantify, or a freeware equivalent; the only one coming to mind is Electric Fence, though.)

And then there's the issue of running other people's code, either intentionally (ISPs, SETI project, distributed.net) or unintentionally (zombies, spampushers, a DDosNet).

How much should we trust our silicon servants?

As for "cool, honest, and effective" commercials -- what is a commercial? Depending on the company producing it, it's a hint that the person watching it is ignorant, which is a subtle insult, to an out-and-outright blatant lie. It may depend on one's sensitivity, and the ad companies are coming up against an increasingly sophisticated, jaded, and in some cases annoyed audience. There's also the nature of the media, which is mutating even as I sit here typing this post in; it's getting to the point that one might not even recognize The Big Four networks after awhile.

Sandman's Website Debate: Update 1 444
This never happened. You made uninformed claims, totally devoid of any form of suggestion or advice - since, well, you suck at web...

I'll admit, the last cool commercial that comes to mind here is Apple's 1984 offering, with the girl smashing a telescreen.

I've not really seen all that many good commercials since, though some of them can be funny, and others just flat-out strange. Web ads range from interesting to blah to stupid, which is par for the course; some of the Orbitz games are mildly entertaining, for example.

Corey Doctorow dumps OSX for Ubuntu 438
In comp.os.linux.advocacy, Mike wrote on Sun, 09 Jul 2006 22:03:34 -0400 Then one is enslaved by either the electric power company *or* the...
Corey Doctorow dumps OSX for Ubuntu 439
In comp.os.linux.advocacy, Mike wrote on Sun, 09 Jul 2006 04:40:11 -0400 snippage snippage Correct. All applications...

As for enslavement ... I'd have to study the issue. Part of it is in the mind, of course; happiness (or misery) generally comes from within. But part of it is not. Freedom, generally considered flip side of slavery, is a little weird as well; am I free to flap around like a bird or even jump off a building and catch a car, a la Superman? It's a toss-up there between becoming a corpse on the ground with a broken neck, or a splat underneath the car.

However, being housed a la Guantanimo Bay is not all that good an alternative, either. The best I can do here is to quote Benjamin Franklin:

They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.

and Thomas Jefferson:

The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.

and Thomas Paine:

Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me rest!

How much should we trust our government?

-- Windows Vista. Because it's time to refresh your hardware. Trust us.


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