Visiting With the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come

I am trying to get back into the swing of reading some of my feeds every some most days. It is a lurch and go process, but we shall see. I have trouble getting in the mood to write when I feel so disconnected from everything and I need to get motivated about writing, like yesterday.

I think I may have failed at my job of influencing Mr. Rochester for the good when this morning he informed me that he did not know who Cory Doctorow or Lawrence Lessig were, though he admitted that Lessig sounded familiar. *sigh* I read part of Doctorow’s speech given recently, “How to Destroy the Book.” His description of Book People made my insides melt in that way they do when you realize that these words are about you in the most visceral way possible.

We are the people of the book. We love our books. We fill our houses with books. We treasure books we inherit from our parents, and we cherish the idea of passing those books on to our children. Indeed, how many of us started reading with a beloved book that belonged to one of our parents? We force worthy books on our friends, and we insist that they read them. We even feel a weird kinship for the people we see on buses or airplanes reading our books, the books that we claim. If anyone tries to take away our books—some oppressive government, some censor gone off the rails—we would defend them with everything that we have. We know our tribespeople when we visit their homes because every wall is lined with books. There are teetering piles of books beside the bed and on the floor; there are masses of swollen paperbacks in the bathroom. Our books are us. They are our outboard memory banks and they contain the moral, intellectual, and imaginative influences that make us the people we are today.

The whole speech is amazing and should be a rallying cry, especially given all the news lately surrounding monoliths and their inability to see the writing on their tombstones, in the way that Scrooge saw his tombstone and then had the opportunity to change.

The truth is the music industry, the publishing houses, companies who make proprietary software (or anything), and traditional phone companies are now looking at their graves and they face the same choice that Ebenezer faced: to continue to be miserly, unloved, and bitter or they can choose to open up, be generous, and realize that they have to give and let go to grow, live, and thrive.

–Jane, God bless us, every one!

I Broke Up With Windows

I have an Alienware laptop that I love. I mean I really love this laptop. Her name is Inara (not Vera, sorry, Jayne!) I think geeks feel about their computers the way some people feel about cars. Seriously, Mr. Rochester just built a computer, which we dubbed Nightcrawler (we have decided to go with an X-Men theme from now on), that I am fairly certain he would marry if we were not already legally joined.

I bought Inara about 4 years ago because I needed something small to take to conferences and she has served me very well. I was running Windows XP on my system. Somewhere in there, I had some issues and had to partition the hard drive and install a second instance of Windows. From then on, things went down hill. There was increasing slowness, the CMOS battery died on me, and bootup and shut down time was like pulling teeth.

Mr. R has been wanting me to try Linux and I have considered going open source but that was such a big step; I was not sure I was ready. I love technology, but I hate coding. HATE. IT. It requires more patience and rational thinking than I believe I possess. I just want someone else to build the guts and GUI and let me play with it and teach other people how to play. I know what I want, but I want someone else to build it.

This is the general reason why I have resisted Linux, but I kept hearing how fabulous Ubuntu was and really, my computer was in the throes – the I might throw it out the window throes.

I read this Tom’s Hardware article and took the plunge. I installed Ubuntu with a clean wipe. No partitions. No more Windows. No more pain. Mr. Rochester changed my CMOS battery (I think this bothered him more than me) and it was like I got a brand new computer.

Ubuntu has been a dream. Ubuntu comes with email, Open Office, Rythymbox, and a slew of other useful stuff. If I want more programs, I simply look at a list and click “Install” and it magically appears, for free. FREE. Need a program for screen shots with editing? Free. Need a compressor? Free. Need a flickr uploader? Click. Install. Need a program to convert all those pesky MP4 files from iTunes into a usable format? No problem. The Software Center makes installing plugins and getting other programs simple and does not require me mucking around in the /root and remembering what to type when, in what order.

The one thing I have not done yet is try to sinc my iPod shuffle with Rhythmbox. I have read articles on people’s various success with this. I only use it for podcasts and I figured if it did not work, I can use one of our other three computers for that.

Now I wonder what held me back. We will always have a PC with Windows in this house; we are gamers after all with triple the amount of computers and consoles as adults in the house, but I think my laptops will always run Linux from now on.

If you have hesitated to run a Linux machine, if you have a computer that needs to be freed from Windows, or if you simply can not afford the overpriced software on a Windows or Apple machine, I recommend taking the plunge. Install Ubuntu and never look back.

–Jane, all hail open source computing

To whom does this belong?

Last week something happened that did not make big news, but it should have.

Timothy Vernor, an eBay vendor, won a court case in the state of Washington against Autodesk, the makers of AutoCAD.

Verner was selling used versions, not copies, of AutoCAD in his eBay store. Autodesk contended that because software is licensed by users and not owned, that Vernor had no right to sell the software to a third party.

The court ruled against Autodesk, saying that by calling the purchase transaction a lease does not make it one. The court said that the purchase of software is a purchase and the owner, the buyer, has the right to resell the item.

This court ruling could have very far flung implications within the software market. Charging ridiculous amounts of money and using licensing agreements instead of transferring ownership are how the software industry makes money. If I actually own the software on my computer, I should be free to copy it for my personal use or sell the item once I am done with it.

The Rochester house is dealing with some software issues at the moment. Mr. R is building a computer and wants to run Windows 7 as the OS. Unfortunately, only the upgrade version of Windows 7 is sold at an educational discount. This means we can not get the drastically cheaper educational version and use it on a clean hardrive. Mr. R has determined that we will have to pay for a full version of Windows for our new PC. Frankly, I would love to just use Linux and be done with it, but then we would not have a gaming PC.

Because of some issues I have been having with my laptop, I am going to, soon and very soon, wipe it clean and install all open source software. Goodbye Windows. Goodbye IE. Goodbye Office. Farewell Windows Media player. Good riddance to you all.

–Jane, who owns this?