Dear friend,

 

Welcome to the Nov 07, 2009 issue of
CompuNerds.Net-News

 

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The goal of our CN.Net-News is to share information that we think you'll find helpful as you wrestle with that little monster on your desk, your computer. And we aim to present this information from a Christian worldview. So here goes!

The article at http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/project-management/?p=1024&tag=nl.e108 gives you several useful tips on how to plan a Windows 7 upgrade. Take a look!

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY
Why isn't there a button on your PC to turn up Intelligence? The one marked 'Brightness' doesn't work. - Gallagher


Click on Online PC Support for worldwide PC service - tell your friends!

TODAY'S TOPIC: WINDOWS VS. LINUX
As you may know, the Linux operating system is derived from Unix, the big difference being that Unix used to cost thousands of dollars but now many varieties of Linux are free. Unix (Linux) has been around for many decades and is a very solid, mature and reliable operating system. From the very start when Unix was developed on DEC PDP minicomputers with just 64 kilobytes of memory, Unix was a multi-user OS. In contrast, Microsoft Windows is a relative "newbie" operating system. When MS-DOS was introduced in the early 1980s I was appalled that it had no logins and passwords - I felt "naked" when using it! The first versions of Windows, from version 1.0 all the way through Windows 95, actually were not operating systems at all, they were merely "eye candy" overlays on top of MS-DOS. Windows 98 was Microsoft's first real operating system in its own right for consumers. So Windows has been a full-fledged operating system for only 11 years now.

In our last issue we mentioned our new AA 12-Step Rehabilitation Plan link from our Online PC Support page (see above). I've updated it so that it now provides a clearer description of how setting up administrator vs. regular user accounts differs between Windows XP on the one hand, and Vista or Win-7 on the other. It didn't occur to me that many people would be running XP from their admin account, because I'd been programming on mainframe computers ever since 24 years before XP was introduced, and thus I had been acutely aware of the need to keep admin and regular user functions separate. So as soon as XP came out, I immediately set up separate admin and regular user accounts. But even today lots of people use their admin account for day-to-day work, don't even use a password, and are blissfully unaware of the risks involved.

Well then, if Linux is so mature and reliable... and it's free, why aren't millions of people flocking to it? It's because for most of the past 35 years Unix/Linux has had a command line interface with strange-sounding programs like "awk" and "grep" that techie-types liked because it made them feel really smart and powerful knowing this obscure language to manipulate computers in amazing ways. Click to see full-size! In contrast, Windows ever since version 1.0 has emphasized a nice, friendly GUI ("Graphical User Interface," pronounced "gooey"), thus hiding all that complexity from the uninitiated user. Of course, I believe children, like our four-year-old grandson in the picture, should be trained how to use computers from an early age. He already knows his own login and password!

But as the saying goes, "Even with the slickest GUI, artificial intelligence is no match for genuine ignorance." That is, if Windows (or the MacIntosh OS, for that matter) makes a computer seem so simple that even a little child can use it, then the user can mess things up really bad quite easily and rapidly, and be blissfully unaware that anything wrong has happened. This is why we've developed our AA 12-Step Rehabilitation Plan, so that users can learn good computer usage habits that will keep their information safe.

Actually, millions of people have been flocking to Linux, often without even knowing it. The new Mac OS is really just Apple's version of Linux, customized for Apple's patented hardware. It has a nice, slick GUI that makes it seem easy to use. That's why other versions of Linux aren't catching on: very few of them are customized for most computer-monitor-printer-etc. combinations. The reason for this is because so many computer nerds have created so many different versions of Linux, patched together the necessary software drivers for their own hardware and maybe for a few other hardware combinations, but these small Linux producers simply don't have the market share to require the thousands of hardware manufacturers "out there" to develop drivers for each version of Linux, nor do the Linux producers have the resources to develop these drivers themselves.

But Microsoft's 90% market share makes it foolish for those thousands of hardware manufacturers not to develop software drivers for Windows. This, by the way, was probably the main reason why Vista got a bad reputation right from the start: Vista's underlying software architecture was an improvement over XP, but quite different from XP and thus required new drivers for monitors, printers, scanners, etc. However, many hardware manufacturers weren't quite ready with these new drivers when Vista was released, so people blamed Vista for it not working with their hardware.

I've used a few versions of Unix/Linux professionally over the years and have tried out a couple others just in the past few months. But I continually run up against these kind of problems: my sound system doesn't work under this Linux, or my wireless won't connect to the Internet under that Linux, or it doesn't recognize my USB flash drive, etc. And I'd rather get some "real work" done than spend hours or days searching the Internet for software drivers that would work with this flavor of Linux, only to find out that they don't exist. In contrast, after doing a clean install of Windows 7 on Tuesday afternoon last week (my old Vista OS was in Russian and the new Win-7 disk was in English, so I couldn't do a simple upgrade on top of Vista), by late that evening I was sending out hundreds of email messages and the next morning I continued getting my "real work" done.

But I've set aside about 20 Gigabytes of hard disk space for when a version of Linux appears on the horizon with all the neccessary drivers for my system: maybe it will be the upcoming Linux-based Google Chrome Operating System. Will Google have the needed market muscle to make those thousands of hardware manufacturers write drivers for their equipment? Will it include software that will let me run my old Windows programs until I find replacements for them in the Linux universe? I think they just might be able to pull it off. Let's wait and see how this plays out... it should be interesting!

Feel free to forward our CN.Net-News to a few friends (but don't spam!).

Yours truly,

Dr. Bob the CompuNerd

Dr. R.D. HoskEN
See the "nerd" in my name? (It helps if you're a little dyslexic!)
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