It is NOT the End of Analog TV in the US

16 February 2008

AfterDawn is incorrect, as are many others, to report “the end of analog TV”. In fact, only terrestrial (wireless) signals in the US are required to go digital. Cable TV delivery is unaffected by the new requirements, and providers such as Comcast show no intention of stopping analog cable transmission, until they gently force customers to more expensive digital plans and extra fees.

However, if you have recorded episodes of cable transmissions from a year ago, compare them to current transmissions of the same content and you’ll discover that cable companies are degrading (downsampling) the digital and HD signals provided to them as default by the content producers. Artifacts indicative of poor conversion are meant to induce customers to switch to more expensive digital cable plans. And in the case of HD, at least with Comcast (and just like phone companies like AT&T stripping default telephone ID components (Caller ID)), the HD content is blocked (downgraded) (even with digital cable) unless the customer chooses to fork over an additional monthly fee for the HD which the content producers provided in the first place.

Most poeple don’t realize that companies, like AT&T for instance, strip/block features like Caller ID that are already part the completely computerized phone service. They then resell this feature to the customer as though they created it out of extra effort, which they did not. This is what Comcast and others are doing with cable transmission, and for an extra fee, you may have what the content producers are already supplying at no extra charge.


KDE 4 & The White Screen Of Nothing

10 December 2007

Well, Windows offers the Blue Screen Of Death, so KDE attempting to out candy Apple or Microsoft wants to offer Linux users (and according to KDE execs Microsoft users will soon “benefit” as well) The White Screen Of Nothingness.

Putting KDE 4 Plasma through its paces strains its plasticity and reliability to the point of, well, Nothing. When Plasma becomes strained it simple dumps the beautiful candy, or figuratively hides itself under a white sheet. That’s right, your desktop suddenly becomes nothing but a sheet of white with no control except Control-Alt-Delete or the power button. No error message — not even a cryptic MS style error code.

Previous iterations of KDE 4 alpha-beta-gamma-release candidate have dumped in similar ways. The funny (ironic) part is, it seems to be the Candy Widgets that strain the interface the most.

As I’ve said before, I don’t have anything against a good looking desktop. My KDE 3.5 desktop is very pretty with this and that and that and the other thing. But, I, we, must be able to USE the desktop. Reading various KDE exec’s statements, one can see they have become covetous of Apple’s and Microsoft latest candy offerings (Vista and Leopard) without considering that those desktop environments are broken. They are broken because those entities wanted to shove candy quickly into users mouths instead of feeding them the healthy foods they needed — SOLID CORE FUNCTIONS.

Again, is KDE 4 a Release Candidate or even a first beta? NO!

KDE 4 “Release Candidate” is a rushed Alpha

10 December 2007

KDE “RC”… I don’t think so. Overzealous evangelists can complain about whiners all they want, but that doesn’t change the fact that KDE4 is still an ALPHA, NOT a beta, and certainly not a “Release Candidate” (are they going to “code freeze” the abundant non-functional and missing components?).

I use KDE in various distributions every day. I’m also required to deal with Ubuntu, Vista, and Leopard every day. KDE 4 is heading down the wrong road if the Plasma (read Aero) interface is going to become center stage over workability and functionality. Basic function calls don’t work. Basic desktop management and customization is either missing or non-functional. Interaction with X is fucked… for a “Release Candidate”. How can you have something in beta without the MAJORITY of the NEEDED interface components existing and functional in some semblance for TESTING.

KDE was different because it provided ready access to control(s). Control is seriously missing from KDE 4. It is too similar in non-functionality to Vista, Leopard, and even Gnome. I have nothing against a good looking desktop, but if it can’t or won’t provide control and functionality, it is no good and of no use. Again, if this is a “beta” “release candidate”, KDE should change the name to BKE – Broken Knome Enamel.

Somebody seems to be in a hurry to rush KDE into candyland. But too much sugar without vigilance on the part of coders to provide tools, stability, and control destroys the usefulness and rots the user base into stupidity.

Choosing an OS

17 November 2007

On ANY OS your going to have driver and other frustrations to work through. Having worked through issues on MS (including Vista (sheesh! what a misnomer)), Apple (including the latest “animal”), and Linux distros, I have concluded that for me the deciding factor is whether the system, and hence, Support, are PROPRIETARY.

With each passing day, acceptance of change, and surges of ingenuity just about any Linux distribution will handle the same hardware that MS or Apple will “allow” you to handle, and then some, even if the hardware manufacturer doesn’t support Linux. Conversely, if your hardware manufacturers (or MS or Apple) don’t support Vista or Apple OS”X”, you will never, ever, EVER! get the equipment working due to proprietary lockout. Software & hardware choices and improvements for Linux expand HOURLY, exponentially, in every category.

MS is a locked (in the adaptable, exploration, and legal senses) Proprietary system. The same goes for Apple, AND Apple machines themselves are dictated, Proprietary, and hence, unnecessarily expensive (Apple IS MS with added hardware restrictions). MS business modeling is to make hardware dependent on MS, NOT on the User. MS and Apple are Closed Sources — closed for adaptability, closed for help and support (unless you have enough money, maybe), closed for rapid and backward compatible change, deployment, and growth. In the future they may even be Closed for Business, but Linux will still be going, defining the future yet providing backward compatibility for those of us unable to spend continuously on “disposable” and “Built for” hardware.

I bought an Agfa SnapScan e50 scanner some years ago (a few months before Agfa left the consumer market). I’ve used it and kept good care of it and it still works great. Agfa drivers never got past Windows 2000. The driver worked, for the most part, in XP, if it didn’t crash first. Linux and the OpenSource SANE scanner platform available for any Linux distro can pick up this scanner with no problem and offer scanning features (X-Sane) that the Proprietary programming never would or could. Why, because Linux Users wanted more, and they didn’t sit whining while kissing Proprietary arse and receiving nothing. They simply made it work and how they wanted. This same scenario is true for many hardware products for which vendors lip-locked with MS and Apple refuse to provide Linux and OpenSource Support (Kodak, Epson, ATI, Creative, etc…).

This is possible because Linux has been around for many, MANY years providing continuity for Users, and because of the nature of the OpenSource Support COMMUNITY, the Build COMMUNITY, and the User COMMUNITY. Desktop Environments (ie: KDE or Gnome) or Window Manager environments (ie: FluxBox) are faster, more flexible, and hence, more powerful than locked proprietary WindoZe or OSApple (the same company that thought all iPod owners should pay annually to have their batteries changed). Any intelligent person sampling recent Linux distros will discover immediately that there is no “Ease Of Use” gap. Different does not equate with difficult.

Total Networking for the Desktop — REAL, NON-proprietary, Open Standards based, talk-securely-to-any-machine-you-want-to-networking — is ONLY available in Linux. Linux was born of networking and is THEE networking OS. The majority of servers in the world run Linux.

Linux is now THEE choice for the fastest supercomputers in the world. The most advanced CG movie studios now use Linux and freely available OpenSource programs for all types of multimedia manipulation.

Linux distros are OPEN source, transparent, and allow you to customize the entire OS to YOUR needs. Help and Support for Linux is available 24 hours per day, EVERY day, in ANY language. Further, that support is provided free of charge by actual programmers, builders, and “[Users] Like You”. PEOPLE ready and Willing to help. People are providing answers based on pride in being correct. Linux developers are daily lambasted for mistakes, accept responsibility, and start work on solutions with Community review and input. Does MS or Apple listen to you?

Proprietary means subservience, conformity, and Dependence (on Steve Ballmer (look out for that chair!) and Steve Jobs (Is everyone wearing their black mock turtleneck?)). This is dependence on greed and megalomania at best. Linux and OpenSource means Independence, for YOU, YOUR systems, and the tasks YOU choose to perform with YOUR systems and YOUR hardware.

Everyone faces OS corruption at some point, although errors and crashes occur much more frequently with MS OS’s than Apple or Linux (respectively). If this happens in a Linux distro, you would find that repair and recover tools are much more flexible and useful. You would have seen how easy it is to place your /home directory/partition on any drive you want. You would have discovered that, save for drive failure, your data would still be there, safe and in tact, and readily available and accessible. You would have seen that if you did have to reinstall the OS your data is NOT part of the OS (it is YOURS after all) and that formatting and installing the OS need have no bearing on the accessibility or safety of YOUR data. You would have seen how easy it is to place your /usr, /opt, /etc… directory(ies) on any drive/partition you want, and you would have discovered that all your programs and settings were safe, secure, and available for any new or repair installation. You would already be up and running from where you left off.

Just as people finally realized they could do more without CompuServe or AOL, they are discovering they can do more without MS or Apple.

Don’t let your unfounded fears and others’ fear-mongering overrule your Intelligence.

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Dumping Microsoft Office for Thunderbird and OpenOffice

27 February 2007

This last month, I did what I never thought I would do. After much thought, in one fell swoop, I installed Thunderbird and transferred all of my email to that app. Then, I installed OpenOffice, and I uninstalled all of Microsoft Office. Some may say, “So What”. But please understand, our office and home has used Microsoft Office, Professional, and/or Enterprise since the apps were born separately years ago. I encouraged others to leave WordPerfect, WordStar, etc… and jump into the “better” and standardized interface and options of Word, Excel, etc… I pulled people away from egregious expense to use the “better” MS Project.

Office 2003 started to worry me, with price, and with Microsoft’s blatant history of syncretism — cheap to extravagant. Then Office 2007 came out. I simply was not prepared for the “Fluent” experience. If you don’t know what Fluent is, it’s the new “ribbon” toolbar “look and feel” that Microsoft wants you to adopt over the popular “standardized” toolbars and menubars that you’ve come to know and use for years. It IS completely different in layout, if not concept, from standardized toolbars that almost every program for Windows and Mac uses. Imagine some overpaid, touchy-feely Microsoft fuck-shuei marketing nut removing your standardized menubar, then taking your standardized toolbar buttons and, not just redesigning them, but rearranging them into tabs according to how they feel you should see things, and you’ll get the idea. Spending countless hours trying to figure out how and where to accomplish the most basic of tasks is what the new Fluent ribbon interface is all about. And Microsoft is patenting this stupidity and plans to license it to all idiots willing to dump standardization to go proprietary. This is highly hypocritical for the company that shouted standardization from the rooftops. But just as standardization for Internet Explorer (we’ve long-since dumped IE for Firefox) has come to mean Microsoft standards and not public or community standards, so Office 2007 has fully gone the proprietary, closed, shunning customer needs, create egregious Microsoft revenue route of standards. Microsoft has long-since become a closed system of wealthy “architects” (what a blatant misuse of language), designers, “experts”, overt wealth-protectors, and DRM industry masturbating security whores. They have totally lost focus.

I have found that Thunderbird is faster, more scalable, more flexible, and more stable than Microsoft Outlook. The Lightning calendar extension is much easier to use than the Outlook calendar. Thunderbird spam/junk email filtering is much more efficient and reliable than Outlook. OpenOffice can do anything that Microsoft Office can do and more, and its development and interface is all about improvement and standardization. Microsoft collaboration software is nothing to third party freeware. Microsoft OneNote is a joke (especially considering Microsoft thinks you might buy this separately for $89) considering that stickynote and stickynote collaboration apps have been around for quite some time, and the best are open source collaborative projects themselves and are available for free. There are even open source alternatives to Microsoft Project that surpass that app’s heyday. And all of these alternatives are available in Linux flavors, which you WILL be transitioning to in the future unless you choose ignorance and an empty wallet.

DRM & Licensing Services Bloat Windows Apps

18 February 2007

A few months ago I couldn’t have written this. But now, within a few months. software makers have jumped on the “content protection” bandwagon.

Believing they are protecting their software from… whatever, they are installing licensing programs into Window’s services. It started with the updated Creative driver I installed for Vista. Creative installs a service, “APLicensing.exe”, which runs constantly. OK, then I updated Corel Paint Shop Pro XI (11.11), and it installed a service, “PSIService.exe” (nTitles PSIService) from Protexis. Then I updated to Adobe Acrobat 8, and… it installed Macrovision’s “FPNLicensingService.exe”.

Now, if every software maker thinks that they’re going to install an unending service on my machine just so I can run their program, that’s BS. Even with the services set to “manual” the programs run constantly in memory, and you cannot run the associated software without them. As if the concept weren’t unacceptable to begin with, let me drive home the point.

APLicensing utilizes approximately 2MB in memory; PSIService consumes 4-6MB of memory; FPNLicensing 2.5-4MB of memory. That’s a peak working set of 12MB, in use constantly and unavailable for more important tasks (as if Windows and Windows apps weren’t bloated enough). Why are companies under the impression that it is OK to over consume users’ resources like this? How many other companies will decide that they need to have their own memory resident license protection service installed and running constantly? Should users’ start padding their memory requirements by 20% in order to allow for stupid unnecessary services? Should motherboard manufacturers start making extra memory slots just for DRM and license protection software requirements?

Linux is looking better all the time.

The Beginning

23 January 2007