I saw a story yet again about the tech worker shortage, and the backlash against H1-B visas. Reading the comments on Slashdot, I increasingly got the feeling the shortage is a mirage. The people are out there, but the matchups with job openings aren’t happening.
My experience may be anecdotal, but it mirrors this. Read more
Rick Broida wrote a fairly harsh piece on Cnet about why he’s ditching Microsoft Office. Our reasons differ, and while I agree with all of his reasons he may not agree with all of mine. That’s OK.
I stuck with Office 2003 because its user interface is familiar and makes sense. By using the program, you learn the keyboard shortcuts from the menu and can graduate from casual user to power user relatively quickly. That went away in Office 2007, so I never moved on. Office 2003 was the best version Microsoft ever made, but it loses security updates next month, so it’s the end of the road.
Fortunately, Libre Office has a traditional user interface and most of the same keyboard shortcuts. If you don’t use mail merge, it’s a capable replacement, and it’s free and actively maintained. It’s not as fast as Office 2003 was, but neither is anything Microsoft has made since.
Now, in corporate environments, with a recent version of Office and Sharepoint you can do some really nifty things, like automatically building Powerpoint presentations from Excel spreadsheets created by different people. You could probably approximate the same thing with other software, but what I saw a Sharepoint-literate colleague build this week with MS Office was very impressive.
But I don’t need that at home, and I don’t want to pay $100 per year for the rest of my life to use a program that I tolerate at best, so I’ll save my money and move to Libre Office.
One of my former supervisors now works for a security vendor. He told me the other day that someone asked him, “Does your company have anything so I don’t have to patch anymore?”
The answer, of course, is that there’s nothing that gets you out of ever having to patch anymore. To some degree you can mitigate, but there’s no longer any such thing as a completely friendly network. The reasoning that you’re behind a firewall doesn’t work anymore. On corporate networks, there’s always something hostile roaming around behind the firewall, and you have to protect against it. If you’re on a home network with just a computer and a router, your computer and router attack each other from time to time. That’s the hostile world we live in right now. Patching is one of the fundamental things you have to do to keep those attacks from being successful.
That said, there are things you can do to patch less. Read more
With the end-of-life of Office 2003 rapidly approaching, I’m having to look at alternatives. Even after five years, I find the Office ribbon demeaning and productivity-killing, so Microsoft’s newer products are out. With Libre Office, the price is right ($0), so I’m giving it a long look.
If you’re a charity still running Windows XP, hopefully you’re spooked about Microsoft pulling the plug on XP in April 2014. If you aren’t, get spooked, because you’ll be sitting on a major security vulnerability.
The question is what to do. You do have a few options.
I picked up a Celeron G1610 CPU last week and I’m using it to build a Linux box. Yeah, it’s a Celeron. But it performs like a 2011-vintage Core i3 or a 2010-vintage Core i5, consumes less power than either, and costs less than $50. It’s hard to go wrong with that. Read more
Both Libre Office and Open Office released new versions this week, and the changelog indicates a good amount of shared code between the two, at least in this go-round. The animosity between the two—Libre Office is a fork of Open Office, dating to before the time Oracle spun the project off to Apache—may thus be overstated. Read more
This week, Mark Shuttleworth closed the longstanding Ubuntu bug #1, which simply read, “Microsoft has majority market share.” Because Microsoft didn’t lose its market share lead to Ubuntu, or Red Hat, or some other conventional Linux distribution, some people, including John C. Dvorak, are interpreting this as some kind of surrender.
I don’t see it as surrender at all. Microsoft’s dominant position, which seemed invincible in 2004 when Shuttleworth opened that bug, is slipping away. They still dominate PCs, but PCs as we know it are a shrinking part of the overall computing landscape, and the growth is all happening elsewhere.
I have (or at least had) a reputation as a Microsoft hater. That’s a vast oversimplification. I’m not anti-Microsoft. I’m pro-competition. I’m also pro-Amiga, and I’ll go to my grave maintaining that the death of Amiga set the industry back 20 years. I have Windows and Linux boxes at home, my wife has (believe it or not) an Ipad, and at work I’m more comfortable administering Linux than Windows right now, which seems a bit strange, especially considering it’s a Red Hat derivative and I haven’t touched Red Hat in what seems like 400 years.
What Shuttleworth is acknowledging is that we have something other than a duopoly again, for the first time in more than 20 years, and the industry is innovating and interesting again. Read more
PC Magazine is advocating a bring your own laptop, with your own software approach to business. It likens it to mechanics who bring their own tools.
The trouble is that while mechanical tools in a toolbox operate autonomously and don’t interfere with one another, software residing on a computer does. Read more
CNN offered up some good tips on saving money on tech. But of course I want to analyze and comment on it myself. Anything else would be out of character. Here’s how I save money on tech.