Tuesday, December 25, 2012

 

Language Distortion and Other Problems


The term "naked PC" is used by Microsoft Corporation to refer to a personal computer that is sold without any operating system preinstalled on the hard disk. The term was coined for its dramatic value and as a means for creating the impression that it is evil to sell computers without operating systems because they might be used for so-called software piracy (i.e., copying or using software in violation of its license).

This is due to the fact that the word naked implies both that something is missing and that it is inappropriate and/or immoral.

Microsoft's Bad Influence

Windows keys on almost all keyboards
Why would a non-Microsoft user want a keyboard with 2 windows keys?

The Bad Word-Association Game

Don't play the bad word assocation game. Remember when decribing a program to use a general abtract term (as shown on the left), not the name of a particular software package and especially not the name of a proprietary software product. A FOSS solution is mentioned for each example at the end of the line:

Software Presentation -> PowerPoint (Kpresenter)
Word Processor           -> Word (Abiword)
Spreadsheet                 -> Excel (Kspread, sc)
Internet Browser         -> Internet Explorer (Firefox, Lynx)

Limited Awareness

The limited awareness problem is fairly severe in North American schools and branches of government. To put things plainly we now have an entire generation of computer users who are unaware of alternatives to Microsoft products and thus only use Microsoft products. This is a regression of the knowledge level of the average computer user. We have a lack of conceptional learning and this is funnelling money away from people and giving it to a handful of proprietary software companies.

Another important idea is the realization that all software, no matter how complex, is written by someone. Some programmer or programmers had to sit down and write the source code and compile it. Any dedicated programmer who is unhappy with the software on the market can create a decent alternative to any proprietary program and this is starting to happen more often.

Many times programmers have said to me that they find existing programs to be bloated. One amusing example is to compare the size of IBM's VM/370 operating system for mainframes to current PC operating systems. A fully loaded VM/370 is about 126 megabytes in size. A recent Microsoft version of Windows requires an entire DVD and at least 16 gigabytes of hard drive space. At the other end of the scale Tiny Core Linux requires 128 megabytes of hard drive space (about the same as VM/370).

People realize that our current situation is bad. Many people intuitively know that dealing with a smaller independent company gives them better service and greater flexibility. There are small computer shops in my city that sell used computers and even new computers without an operating system. One guy even extols the virtues of PC-BSD.

All the problems that I've mentioned are all being dealt with one way or another. Where things have really become worse is in the mass media. CTV is a private Canadian broadcast television network that has become a mouth-piece for Microsoft. CTV has a part of the show called Web Mania which invariably talks about the latest Microsoft operating systems, and _never_ mentions alternatives. Microsoft doesn't need CTV beaking off about Windows 8, it really doesn't.


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