Thursday, October 16, 2003

Well, here goes the first entry. If a computer to you is simply something you use to accomplish a task, and really nothing more, you won't appreciate these ramblings. But if a computer to you, is something that gives you pleasure to use, then you might want to read on...

I've been using Linux for about 2 years, but only recently have I really gotten in to it. Why Linux? Well, basically I love software. I write software for a living (of the closed variety), and one of the most exciting things for me is to try out new software. I like to see what's being done by other developers. Well, in the M$ world, there's tons of software to try out, but you can't really use it unless you have $'s to spend. And while I love software, I'm basically cheap. Hey, I'm an engineer.

The other thing that has gotten me to seriously pursue open software and Linux is my experiences with Internet Explorer. You probably remember the history. The www was emerging and most of us were really clueless about what it was. A company called Netscape create a killer app called Netscape Communicator. And it allowed you to find all kinds of information on computers all over the world. Wow! This was so cool, even though most people didn't really know what to do with it (for the geeks out there, there was a lot of talk about the "network" becoming the computer). Well, in Redmond, all that was being said was, " the internet? It's nothing, really." While this was being said publicly, M$ was frantically developing Internet Explorer. It's a standard tactic by market leaders - down play anything the competition has that you don't, while you are trying to catch up (every wonder why market leaders always seem to need to catch up??? But that's another day).

OK, so then M$ introduces IE. And gives it away (because no one would have really bought it, compared to Netscape Communicator). But to their credit they continue to pound away at it until it becomes a reasonable browser. And, well, it's free. It's already on my PC, why would I want to buy Netscape Communicator? And in short order the tables turn and IE is the dominant browser. Then M$ thinks, "hey, why should the internet be an open arena, when M$ can own it?" So they introduce things like active x controls and other proprietary extensions. And incompetent web site developers around the world jump on board. Now, there are a bunch of web sites that require IE for them to work correctly... (never run into this? Well, in addition to developing software, I do the financial work at my company, including payroll direct deposits and 401k contributions - Hey, when there's only 2 people in the company... So, both of these sites require IE because the site developers had limited skills and not alot of insight).

WHAT!!! This makes no sense. The internet is supposed to be an open environment with a free exchange of information. People running Mac OS, unix, windows, whatever, can all point there browsers to a destination and get great information. But now M$ has polluted this. And what makes it worse, having conquered Netscape, there was no longer an incentive to put development effort in to IE. So it becomes a dinosaur.

Ok, this is getting a little long for a debut. How about I continue tomorrow?

If you learn nothing else from what get written here, know that God loves you. If you don't believe me, then pick up a bible sometime and read the gospel of John.

steve

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