If you use any operating system that doesn't start with a "Microsoft" and end with a "Windows" (and some kind of short letter or number designation), then you have utterly failed in your attempt to keep heathen software elements from besmirching the good name and reputation of your precious PC. And woe unto any who utter the forbidden name of a common Silicon Valley manufacturer of said "different" operating systems around these parts--you can trust me on this one. I learned the hard way.
But let it not be said that I wouldn't rise up to the challenge, see the error of my ways, and accept my restatement into PC-only territory with a bit of grace and/or slice of humble pie. I have even made a great sacrifice to prove my noble intentions:
I have come back to you now, as the great Gandalf would say, and I am ready to repeal anything positive I had ever erroneously suggested about non-Windows operating systems. Let this column be the Smoke Monster that forever keeps unwanted products off of my island PC.
As far as I'm concerned, Steve Jobs is the Man in Black; Apple and OSX are lost causes. Based on the platform alone, I can think of five excellent reasons why you should never, ever, ever consider letting any bit of the Apple experience ruin the software sanctity of your Windows system.
I'm often surprised by what people find popular in the world of freeware and open-source applications, let alone Web apps. It's tough to use the comments on Maximum PC's website as an official barometer, as they don't take page views, click-throughs, or raw downloads of whatever apps I/we recommend into account. Nevertheless, judging by the wrath, boundless joy, and heavy presence of spam-filter-nose-thumbing-signatures attached to the various weekly software articles, I can sometimes get a general vibe for what's appreciated... and what's not.
But I'm not about to dedicate the next 700 words or toward tooting my own horn--not unless there's an app for that. I do find it interesting, and a little bit funny, that a relatively innocuous application like last week's "Instant Elevator Music" received such an exuberant amount of interest via the blog comments. Of course, that's after weeks can go by with nothing but tumbleweeds greeting other applications that, honestly, I find much more useful.
It could be said that the ongoing battle between Adobe and Apple--the classic "friends turned enemies" grudge match--is like a giant digital version of an MMA fight. Or perhaps it's more appropriate to dub it a "boss battle."
Steve Jobs, Apple Overlord, has been tossing up jabs against the apparent disaster that is Adobe Flash for some time now, scattered across various quotes and interviews with the tech press. Various Adobe executive have stepped into the squared circle in an attempt to prove the sincerity (and usefulness) of Flash's existence, and it's been a relatively amusing, "you suck / no I don't / you suck / no I don't" back-and-forth.
That's nice and all, but whatever happened to... you know. Tested facts?
Can open-source overtake the iPhone? The iPad? Apple itself? That's the dominant position of Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation. But is that an idea that's based on reality? He's been trying to paint a connection between Sun and its Solaris OS--a "legacy" operating system to Linux, he suggests--and Apple's various devices. While it's all well and good to somehow consider that just because one mighty empire toppled, the next is just as likely to crack... that's just wrong. Apple has nothing to fear from the open-source world.
Frank Lloyd Wright built beautiful houses. He changed the way a lot of people thought about architecture and he was one of the most influential architects of the twentieth century. The Ennis-Brown house, which sits on a hillside overlooking Los Angeles was used in Blade Runner, Black Rain, and The House On Haunted Hill.
Frank Lloyd Wright is also credited with a rather odd quote: “I'm all in favor of keeping dangerous weapons out of the hands of fools. Let's start with typewriters.”
Depending on how you google it, you will find thousands of hits. I did not check them all, but 35 pages in, the quote is still credited to Frank Lloyd Wright.
Curiously, not a single one of those sites tells you when or where Frank Lloyd Wright said this.
You can't walk a mile on the Internet without stumbling across the same argument over and over: iPad or Chrome? Chrome or iPad? Apple, Google, and Microsoft walk into a room: there are two bats on the ground. Who comes out alive?
The answer, of course, is the proverbial letter D: none of the above. No matter how you slice and dice the various players in the netbook/laptop/tablet/whatever markets, the consumers are the ones that ultimately suffer from today's battles. In the case of Google and Apple, the loss is one of control. And I, myself, worry how this might represent the future of general or portable computing: A time when it's the manufacturer, not the user, who dictates every bit of how you interact with your system.
Oh, Cisco. What a tease you are! The company's been pumping up the general Internet crowd for a game-changing announcement, one that would--and I quote--"forever change the Internet." I was honestly hoping that said unveiled device would be like, a super-crazy consumer router that would... well. I'm not really sure what it would do. Gigabit speeds are more than sufficient for anyone's home networking needs right now (when I'm looking for this column on a terabit connection in five years, I'll have a hearty laugh.) And it's not like we have a new wireless draft on the way any time soon.
It would have been nice and revolutionary for Cisco to embrace--you guessed it--a more open-source platform for its hardware devices. One, it's what I write about and, two, we're kind of in a hardware lull, don't you think? When it comes to consumer routing and switching devices, there's only so much one can do. Aside from adding on new antennas, shifting antennas around in new ways, or adding more ports to the back of a device, what's really propelling router technology forward nowadays?
The software world has gotten this point pretty well by now. Sure, you can wrap additional elements of a larger business plan around an open-source offering. But even at its core, the concept of open-source isn't really designed around capitalistic ideals. If anything, it's more communistic in its focus: everybody shares an equal stake in a project, and anybody is free to assert their individual ownership in a piece of work by advancing it toward a new direction as they see fit.
But these... these are just the tools of the revolution, as Marx might have said. When it comes to actual content itself--the very bits and bytes of progress that open-source tools help create--the current crop of major content creators and distributors are behaving like dictators in an open world. And it's costing both them and us rather greatly. Instead of reaping the success of a community-driven groundswell for their assets, these companies would rather lay down the hammer and stifle all innovation in an attempt to control their futures to a "T."
Two recent examples from Lawrence Lessig and the band OK Go really hit home the biggest elements that are wrong with our current system of open information distribution on the ‘net. If it's not the owner of the content acting like an idiot, it's the system we've allowed to propagate that virtually criminalizes content sharers without a second thought.
Think about it for a second. Do you care if your programs are open-source? Do you care if companies whose services you frequent are built around open-source technology or not? Do you care whether their developers, in turn, support other open-source movements or not?
If you're not a decision-maker at a company when it comes to IT requirements or business operations, then no, open-source doesn't matter. If you're not a developer who has the knowledge--but more importantly, the time--to invest as much into an open-source project as you receive back from its functionality, then no, open-source doesn't matter either. If you're a typical computer user who wants programs that offer more than what you'd otherwise find in a vanilla Windows installation, then the concept of open-source really has no bearing on you.
Open-source matters as a concept. In its execution, however, a vast majority of enthusiasts, average folk, and neophytes could honestly care less. But why is that? Why aren't we all raising the flag with Linus Torvalds' head on it and parading through the aisles of our local electronics stores in support of the open-source movement?
It's been nearly a week since I last reported about Apple's reluctance to allow its users access to the Flash platform. Apple--and Steve Jobs himself--have reportedly claimed that the instability of Flash was the driving factor behind Apple's ripping of this app straight off of its mobile devices (including the brand-new iPad) in favor of an HTML5-based solution for interactive content.
Although Adobe seemed to be letting Jobs' alleged tirade against Flash earlier this week go unanswered, ‘twas not meant to be. Adobe CTO Kevin Lynch has since responded in the company's official "Executive Perspectives" blog. I'm not much of a betting man (nightmares of CES losses haunt me to this day), but perhaps you are: Just which way do you think Lynch points the finger of blame for Flash's absence on--quote unquote--"a recent magical device."