Very insightful article. People flat out don’t like it if you change privacy settings on them, or add new ones with wide-open defaults. Doubly so if there is no direct benefit to the user. Something all of us web developers need to burn into our collective memory.
Much like the cobbler’s children having no shoes, the web developer’s blog has no posts.
As you can see, I’ve done a lot with it since last year. Maybe next year for its sweet 16.
When I first made the switch to Ubuntu over a year ago, I installed it on and older, smaller hard drive. Why? Two simple reasons: it was just a test to see if preferred it over Windows and it was the smallest drive that I had lying around not being used for anything else, so I didn’t have to spend time moving data around, reformatting drives, etc. I was aiming for convenience, not performance, and didn’t want to take up an entire afternoon or evening futzing around with it.
Suffice it to say, the fact that I’ve booted this machine into Windows only once in the past year has shown that this test was a runaway success. But now I have a problem. This older, smaller drive being used as my primary Linux partition is, well, old and small and now, nearly full. It’s a 150 GB Western Digital IDE drive that is either as old as the machine it’s in (a circa 2004 Dell) or from the year before. I probably paid waaay too much for it at the time, but it’s been reliable and I have no complaints apart from how it’s now old and slow. This machine has Maxtor, Western Digital and Seagate (with the original Windows partition) drives in it and all three have given me no trouble. The only problem with the machine is that it too is becoming old and slow, but hey, six years is an eternity as far as desktop hardware goes and it’s held up okay.
I started looking at new drives at Amazon and Newegg and it struck me how useless the online reviews are. Apart from the lower-ranked Seagates, everything is around a 4 out of 5 stars, more or less. Most of the reviews are 4 or 5 star ones stating that yes, the drive worked fine, no problems. The 1 or 2 star reviews are usually screeds about something or other, how it was DOA/RMA/died within a month and so forth. There’s always someone complaining that the transfer rates are too slow or such-and-such benchmarking program gives it only a 83%. Finally, there’s the frustrated loyal user who flips out and says that all the complaints that “
It’s like asking people about cell phone plans. Either you get someone who really, really loves his newest cell phone (but still seems to get a new one every six months) or someone who absolutely loathes his carrier – often a combination of the two. The average ends up being “meh.” It works, it probably costs too much per month, but in general, meh, it’s a phone. Meh, it’s a hard drive. You store stuff on it. It works, I guess.
This is rarely a good sign in the publishing industry: USA Today to Remake Itself to Stress Digital Operations
I give them credit that they’ve realized that a general-interest newspaper distributed mostly at airports, hotels (the only two places I’ve ever read it) and restaurants can no longer compete with free papers like the Metro that repackage much of the same content or sites like Google News that allow online readers to go directly to the source. I also give them credit for not engaging in finger-pointing and blaming the Internet for their problems while at the same time announcing that the Internet will be their industry’s savior… once the Internet is changed to fit the industry’s decaying business model. But this still seems like a pretty steep climb for USA Today.
The news today is that Google is ending Wave development and only committing to keeping the Wave site up until the end of the year. Was anyone surprised by this? I was skeptical of Google Wave from the beginning for the simple reason that if someone tells you that their hard to describe product will revolutionize everything, no, it’s not going to do that. It reminded me of the hype that preceded the introduction of the Segway. When you are told that an invention is so amazing that they will be rewriting laws and redesigning cities for it and the product turns out to be a Segway, you can’t help but be disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, the Segway is an amazing piece of technology, but it’s no wheelchair that can climb stairs or an ultra-efficient Stirling engine.
What would your reaction be if you were told a company was about to release a revolutionary robot personal assistant, something right out of science fiction and new home builders would be smart to scrap their traditional designs in exchange for ones that favor this innovative robot, and it turned out to be a Roomba? You can’t help but be disappointed.
That’s how it was for me with Google Wave. Wait, all the cheering and hype for this? First off, what the heck is it? It’s not email, it’s sort of like a Wiki but it seems a heck of a lot like a chat room. Is it a chat room? Is it one of those over-hyped “collaborative” things? Collaboration is great, but do we really need to be able to edit the same document all at the same time? The inability of Google to answer the simple question “what’s it for?” with a simple, straightforward answer ultimately doomed Wave to be another failed Google experiment.
I needed to do some mailserver reconfiguring tonight and found this Howto to be very useful. Of course, I have a goofy directory structure for virtual mail that still made it a bit of a chore, but not too badly.
I knew I switched sometime in June 2009, so I dug into some log files today and discovered that it was a year ago today that I switched to Ubuntu. w00t! I can’t say that I miss Windows at all. The only time I have had to boot into Windows on this machine was to diagnose exactly which piece of hardware was causing the machine to randomly hang by swapping each out one at a time. (it turned out to be the DVD-ROM, which had been misbehaving for a long time)
The switch itself was pretty seamless. I could access all of my NTFS drives, both internal and external ones, my mobile broadband USB modem worked immediately as did my Wacom tablet. Even my ancient scanner worked as soon as I plugged it in, the same which could not be said with XP or Vista. For that, the manufacturer wanted to sell me the updated drivers. Software-wise, I have everything a web developer/designer/automated QA engineer/whatevertheheckIam needs: GIMP, Inkscape, vi, Firefox. I could install MySQL and Apache without it seeming like some bastardized unholy union. w00t x2!
That isn’t to say that I’ve been completely Windows free the past year. My work laptop is a Mac with three guest instances of XP for QA purposes. Even then, I spend most of my time on that machine at the command prompt – the Selenium server is the one that gets to muck around with the fancy GUI and the VMs. My personal laptop is still 64-bit Vista partly for non-work QA purposes, partly as a games console, and partly just in case I get the full screening again by the TSA. I suspect a security checkpoint isn’t exactly the best place to preach the virtues of FOSS… I have resorted to using Wine when there’s a piece of software I’d like to use that lacks a Linux version (would it kill you to have one, Evernote?) but it’s rare that I cannot find a suitable alternative.
Has switching made me more productive with my various personal projects, one of the primary reasons for the switch? Er, um, well, y’see, it’s like this… not really. But that has less to do with OS and more to do with work & family and overall motivation for and interest in said projects. Do I find my day-to-day use of this machine less aggravating and more enjoyable? A thousand times yes, and that is reason enough in and of itself.
Yes, 14 years ago today I shamelessly swiped the name “webgurus” from the other web developers at TIAC and, uh, haven’t done that much “worthwhile” with it since, according to some people. (no, I will not sell it to you)