Google, Privacy, and the Web

Google CEO Eric Schmidt went on CNBC the other day and mentioned some lines that seems to have upset a number of people. What a lot of people like to do is take a certain line out of context and run with it. Here’s an excerpt from that  interview.

You can probably take a guess which line gets quoted everywhere.

But, you see, what he says is basically true. As any hacker would know, privacy and security are illusionary constructs; they only exist as relative accessibility. There are so many places on the Internet that track your movement, preferences, and all that. Some use the data to design their pages better. Some use it to send you spam. Some use it to show more relevant advertisements. Some use it to enhance their own security.

What Schmidt tries to say is that everyone does it, some are required to do it. With great power comes great responsibility, and Schmidt himself is warning us that we ourselves have to be careful about what we do and who we trust.

And then the Internet population goes bonkers. Over the statement “If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.” Might just be me, isn’t that the same thing we’ve been told when we were all kids?

When did we “mature” to the point where we think it’s alright to misbehave and get away with it?

Illegal downloaders don’t like this because they don’t want anyone to know they’re *gasp* illegally downloading stuff, despite the multitude of free stuff that some of them champion.

Hackers don’t like this because it leaves behind footprints leading to their nefarious activities.

Anti-spam activists don’t like this because they don’t want recommendations for the latest carrot-shaped double phallus sex toy they were looking at. Well, not more than what their spam filters already get, anyway.

A lot of the people who don’t like it are doing bad things. I do bad things on the Internet, too, but this is where that judgment part comes in. “Judgment matters.”

When I’m going “shopping” on the Internet, I know the risks involved. I take certain measures to elevate my own privacy and security. I make a judgment call on whether it’s worth it or not. I think about what Google, or Microsoft, or Yahoo!, or the FBI, or the CIA, or certain media and technology industries does regarding privacy, and I act on my decision, whether it be to pursue it or not.

There isn’t any true privacy on the Internet. Some people go out into the world, the Internet, and expect anything they do to not be noticed. Without information gathering, there wouldn’t be a Google. There wouldn’t be Adsense, there wouldn’t be Gmail spam filters, there wouldn’t be Bing, there wouldn’t be Facebook, there wouldn’t be social computing.

But there will always be spam, there will always be bad advertisements, there will always be bad search results, there will always be malicious stalkers. The evil of the Internet will never go away, because there’s always corrupt companies ready to disregard all the rules.

But then there are the established that step into the spotlight to be known, the ones we hold to a higher standard. The ones that offer useful goods and services. The ones that try to make the world a better place by making things easier or more connected. They understand the risks and the responsibilities.

Now, do us Internet users understand our own risks and responsibilities, or do we just stick our head in the sand while we cry “PRIVACY!” like some mantra we only pretend to understand.

Idealism is never perfect, because we are humans. While its nice to not have to worry about someone abusing your personal data, it’s also nice to have my personal data being put to good use for my own benefit. Good companies shouldn’t be punished for misguided notions of responsibility.

Browser Wars: Part III

Mein Gott, things just get worse and worse.

In compliance with EU regulators, Microsoft proposed a browser ballot screen (pushed through Windows Update to XP, Vista, and Win7), allowing users to choose which browser they want to install. This is one of the closest things Windows has to a mainstream program chooser program (Google Pack is kinda’ close, but not quite the same thing). It’s not perfect, but Microsoft is definitely moving towards something that’s fair, maintainable, and easy to use.

Microsoft's Browser Ballot Proposal

Microsoft's Browser Ballot Proposal

The official document outlining this ballot can be found here (DOC file). Here are some highlights for you:

  • Windows Internet Explorer Bundling
    • OEMs have the right to turn on or off Internet Explorer and install their own browsers, without any retaliation from Microsoft or “special agreements” (i.e. money to favor IE).
    • Microsoft will still be able to update certain components of IE (e.g. security, Trident renderer), but IE (e.g. the browser frame, menus) will not get pushed.
  • The Ballot Screen
    • Pushed through Windows Update as a high-priority update for both WinXP and Vista.
    • Automatically included in Win7, if everyone can agree on time. Otherwise, through Windows Update. Every Windows after Win7 will have have it automatically included.
    • Takes the most recent versions of the top 10 browsers with more than 0.5% market share. That’s effectively IE8, Firefox 3, Safari 4, Chrome 2, and Opera 9.
    • Each browser shown horizontally will feature a small descriptive blurb, an install link, and an info link. Links go to vendors’ pages.
    • Microsoft will not allow download links of browsers that are bundled with things like toolbars and other piggybackware. Defunct browsers or Trident-dependent are also not supported (no lolifox, no Maxthon).
    • Microsoft won’t design it so that it’ll favor any one browser over another (applies to all vendors).
    • IT shops can still disable the ballot screen if they think it’s a pain in the ass.

Now, this is where all the nitpicking comes in.

You Go To The Opera To See Drama and Hear People Scream At Each Other Sing Really Loudly

Microsoft gave people an inch (actually, much more than inch compared to other OSes), and Opera demands a mile. While generally happy with the unprecedented proposal, they still had complaints. They’re chief complaint?

IE’s logo against their’s.

For Pete’s sake, you saying that someone’s logo is too ubiquitous with the Internet? Maybe it’s because people are visual learners, don’t care about text, and look for something pretty. You have to admit, the IE logo isn’t too shabby, but if your logo (with name) doesn’t cut it, who’s fault is that? Companies spend millions of dollars into logos and brand images, equity that is very real on someone’s balance sheet.

The logo isn’t a business tactic. It’s actually part of the business.

And, I don’t know about you, but Opera’s red logo opera is rather striking compared to IE’s blue logo iexplore . Red has always been a stronger color. That said, IE’s is just plain prettier. If Opera’s logo isn’t cutting it, the onus is on Opera to revamp their logo, not IE. If you ask me, it could use something to make it look fuller.

“We’re not sure of logos. The blue ‘e’ has become so associated with the Internet in general, due to the bundling with Windows. We think using the blue ‘e’ might not be such a good idea.”

To me, it sounds more like,

“We’re not sure of logos. The blue ‘e’ looks more like a blue globe called the Earth in general, due to the bundling with the highly graphical Windows OS. Because it looks better than our red ‘O’, we think using the blue ‘e’ might make people choose the prettier option.”

Congratulations, you’ve discovered the core of the problem: stupid users distracted by shiny pretty things. Opera and the EU obviously don’t think people should become computer literate, they just want you to never choose Microsoft have a choice in what you run.

Chrome released, Mozilla frowns. Polls show Mozilla not in first place, Mozilla frowns. I’m hungry, Mozilla frowns.

Mozilla decides that Microsoft is still not doing enough. Or rather, they haven’t bothered to do any research or care about its users, potential and otherwise.

In the Mozilla VP’s blog, Harvey Anderson writes, “Not offering updates through Windows Update to an off-switched IE is a good start.  But most users won’t have IE turned off, even if they have other browsers as their default.”

So, is he saying that he’d rather have an unpatched Internet Explorer running around? I tend to enter my house through the garage door rather than the front door; it’s just easier considering my routine. If I forget to lock my front door, does that mean it should never get locked if my (non-existent in real life) housekeeper finds it unlocked? Or if the lock is broken?

I mean, I can just not have a door there. But if I want to use that door, I should be able to, yes?

In less metaphorical terms, hell yes I want Microsoft to update my IE. I barely ever use that browser. However, Windows Update aside, I do use it and don’t want to uninstall it: as a web developer, it’s important for me to have cross-browser compatibility. So I irregularly need to use IE, Firefox, Chrome, and Opera (Safari from my Mac) so that my visitors will have the best experience I can offer.

Blah blah blah, I’m a Mozilla Executive (in other words, a dinosaur), Hear Me Roar…

Anderson also goes on about tie-ins to Microsoft apps, which is more of a problem with developers (that are not necessarily Microsoft employees) using stupidass code than Windows itself. If he did the research instead of mindlessly typing on his computer, pretending to know about computers (I guess he’s just an executive, just like people in Microsoft), he’d know that the “default browser” thing has been working quite well for the past year or so. Way before his blog post or the ballot thing.

Anderson talks about OEM policy towards the ballot screen. If OEMs (which are basically have highly specialized IT shops, and the first-in-line) can easily disable IE8, and IT can easily disable the ballot screen, how can you not figure out that OEMs can disable the ballot screen if they want to? Group Policy, my dear.

Oh, that’s right. Firefox has crap Enterprise and IT support, so it should make sense that an executive who’s company refuses to publish easily deployable MSI packages of Firefox that can be installed across hundreds of company computers simultaneously doesn’t know shit about real world practices. Now that’s stupid.

He also complains about people downloading but not installing Firefox, which is why the ballot screen should automatically install it. INSTAFAIL. That’s a security disaster waiting to happen, and he doesn’t even realize that he hasn’t packaged Firefox to do that. I don’t think FrontMotion is exactly an arm of Mozilla (it’s a MS Certified Partner), and it’s not that hard to shape an MSI around an installer.

Maybe he doesn’t realize that some people install Firefox multiple times. A billion downloads should equate to a billion users, yes? What? File sharing? Updates? Reformats? Dual-booting? Auto-downloaders? I can’t hear you.

So what is this? Because they now have momentum, the underdogs now have license to be stupid? If you want in on the game, play the game.

Why The Hell Do You Write Such Long Posts

Because trying to be witty in every single sentence and creating thought-terminating memes, cliches, and other shorter but inaccurate devices is kinda’ stupid. Sorry, I’m a bit old-school.

Perhaps my English teachers would be proud. Or maybe they aren’t.

Windows 7 Versions and Ignorance

I was reading a post on ZDNet about Windows 7 annoyances, a post written by a blogger I generally respect as keeping in touch with computing technology. This time, however, I couldn’t stop but rage at his inability (I hesitate to use the word incompetence, but it gets close to it) to figure out the Windows 7 editions, as he complains about how they’re are too many editions. For Pete’s sake, has he not paid attention to anything that’s written?


Windows 7 Editions Breakdown

Most people will have only two editions to consider: Home Premium or Ultimate.

Home Premium has everything a typical consumer will want.

If you want to join your Win7 computer to your Windows Active Directory domain or have the ability to host a terminal services session (or if you even know what I’m talking about), you are not a “typical consumer.” You are a power user, essentially a pro computer user. So, get your butt over to the Professional line.



Businesses and professionals will really only have two editions to consider: Professional or Ultimate.

Professional has pretty much everything a typical business employee or professional needs to get his work done (and then some). It’s Home Premium + Pro Tools. The only people buying this are IT departments and people who already know what they’re looking for.



So what’s Ultimate? Ultimate =  Home Premium + Professional + Extra Stuff That 99% of People Don’t Use. Things like BitLocker, booting virtual hard disks, and BranchCaching. If you know what those things are and will want to use them, good for you. You’re not a typical user.


Upgrade From Vista

This one’s even easier, yet people still screwed it up. Even Microsoft screwed it up! ZDnet’s Ed Bott got it right with this simpler chart breakdown. And the simple guidelines that summarize it. Say it out loud with me.

If you have Vista Home Starter or Premium (the green box), you can upgrade to Windows 7 Home Premium (the green box).

If you have Vista Business (the blue box), you can upgrade to Windows 7 Professional (the blue box).

Everyone (green or blue), can upgrade to Windows 7 Ultimate (the black box). Why? Because black goes with everything. Duh.

Everyone else has to basically start all over and install Windows 7 from scratch. Considering most people are either XP holdouts or power users who hated Vista’s bloat (which I find quite understandable, on both counts), this is quite a good thing. See the breakdown above to see which one you should have (as opposed to the one you just want because it’s more expensive/is blue/is black/has shiny gadgets).

If you have a good computer, how about setting up a dual-boot so you can have your XP and Win7? If you have a bad computer, what the hell are you doing? If you want Win7, go buy a new computer that comes with it.


Editions That Don’t Matter

Windows 7 Starter: If you’re buying a crap PC, this is what you’re getting. Complain all you want about not having Media Centers and Remote Desktop. Your computer is honestly horrible enough that its better that you don’t have it. You’re a paper airplane trying to be a Boeing 747. Stop dreaming, grow up, and get a better PC.

Windows 7 Basic: If you live in the third-world (or in a place that’d rather pirate Windows than buy it), you get this. If you have enough money to get a rig that’ll run something better, you either have enough money buy a better Windows version or the know-how to download one.

Windows 7 Enterprise: For all intents and purposes, Enterprise = Ultimate, available only to those who’ve sold their souls to had special business ties with Microsoft. Meaning, you have an IT department that will do this for you, so that you don’t have to. Don’t have an IT department? Enterprise is not for you, then.


Caveats

There’s caveats in everything.

32-bit vs. 64-bit: Does your car run diesel or unleaded? If you don’t know, find someone who can find out. With that out of the way…

32-bit Editions vs. 64-bit Editions: If you’re switching from diesel to unleaded (or vice versa), your car’s engine needs a complete overhaul. Likewise, if you’re switching from 32-bit to 64-bit (or vice versa), your computer needs a complete overhaul; you’ll need to install Windows 7 from scratch.


Spoiled Brats

Nowadays, I’m thinking so many people are “spoiled” with intelligence and know-how that they lose touch with “lesser” people and concepts. Windows 7, health care reform, anime, the global financial meltdown, the personal finance, technology in general.

Home means Home. Professional means Professional (Pro). Ultimate means everything, including horse radish, vegetarian chili, and boisonberry wasabi salsa. I mean, if you like that sort of stuff…

There are no death panels. Read the damn bill. Insurance companies get kickbacks and treat you like crap. Shit hits the fan, and they scramble for good public relations. Medicare and Medicaid is government run, as is Congress’s and the U.S. military’s health care. What’s wrong with a public option, competition from the public sector? It’s like having private workers (real estate, restaurants) and government employees (transit, police, fire department, military).

The recession hits everyone badly, including anime production companies. Yet, some people will look at old anime and feel nostalgia, glossing over the bad stuff and calling it either camp (So Bad It’s Good) or indicative of a tight budget. And you say new anime production can’t have tight budgets or sloppy animation? Double standard. You’re acting like a bunch of spoiled ADHD nostalgiafags who demand instead of appreciate. You have a large choice of anime to watch; anime isn’t a right, it’s just a friggin’ show. Show me how an anime should be done, and I will guarantee you that everyone else will laugh at you and tell you how stupid your version is. You’re not a genius, you’re not a pundit. You’re an audience. If you don’t like it, exercise your actual rights and watch something else. Viewership ratings are your form of voting, ya’ know.

People are so willing to show off their (supposed) wealth by living above their means. This makes them use credit cards, in the bad way. They take out a second loan against their house. They buy luxury cars to show off to friends. They invest in risky stocks. They day trade. They pretend their smarter. They ignore bills. Screw you all for making the rest of us suffer. Go die in a fire.

People like the first blogger I mentioned have their head so high up in technology and “knowing” stuff that they don’t bother to learn things anymore. I’m betting Adrian Kingsley-Hughes knows more about technology than I do in general, but for God’s sake, he’s acting like a whining kid that complains that Microsoft’s falafels, eggrolls, and mini-chicken sandwich are making a mess of his ideal menu: the ultimate deluxe triple stacker cheeseburger. Maybe you can eat it all and enjoy all the extra condiments, but some people don’t like stupidass one-item menus that charge them for things they don’t want. Or need. Or can’t even use. Or can’t afford.

That’s the beginning of the slippery slope that ends with Mac fanatics and monopolies.


The Disconnect

I don’t know about you, but when I get disconnected from the Internet due to some outage on my ISP’s side, I feel that time somewhat stops, realizing how important web access is to me. My entire routine is suddenly frozen; no checking the news, no keeping in touch with friends, no mail, no feeds, no research, no YouTube, no Danbooru, no Pixiv, no outlet. Everything is stuck in this weird limbo, made worse if there’s a power outage or other longer-term loss of service. With some effort, can perform secondary tasks with old-fashioned offline technology (pen and paper, magazines, books), but it’s always in the hope of reestablishing connections.

I feel that disconnected feeling also happens in other areas. Mainly, the social aspects. I’m not sure what metaphorical DSL modem isn’t working in me, but whatever it is, it isn’t working nonetheless. As the days march on, I feel a fast growing disconnect from others. I’ve felt disconnected from my family for years now; no surprise there, seeing how I turned out. But I always had refuge in friends, even if that circle of friends slowly shrank to include online identities.

And then the disconnects came from there. Frozen in an awkward stagnation, I find myself merely watching as others walk through life, not necessarily going anywhere, not necessarily living life fully. I look where I’m standing, I look where they’re going, I look at the distance between me and them. And I sigh as they continue to take echoing steps that resonate in my silent, frozen world.

I’m not blind; I know what comprises the disconnect, just how I can diagnose what’s wrong with my Internet connection. Things of me that are too much; many, many things of me that are too little. Too serious, too law-abiding, too critical, too lenient, too strict, too computer savvy, too technical, too idealistic, too depressing, too focused, too spread out, too devious, too naive, too trusting, too untrustful. Not enough hobbies, not enough experience, not enough work, not high enough IQ, not high enough scores, not enough money, not enough time, not enough mainstream, not enough niche, not enough counterculture, not enough Japanese, not enough American, not enough Asian, not enough multiculturalism, not enough computing power, not enough bandwidth, not enough interest, not enough games, not enough books, not enough philosophy, not enough models.

I know I can’t be everything, so I shouldn’t try. Yet, I try anyway. Not because I want to actually be everything. Not because I can try to be everything.

It’s because I don’t have any choice in the matter. People walk their own lives; some are followers, some are leaders. Everyone has qualities of both. Some people are followers and leaders.

And then there’s me, who people claim is a leader, which I firmly deny. Why? I look where I am, and I look where they are, and I look where they’re going. I am not a leader. How do I know?

Because right now, everyone is walking into a different direction, all at the same time, their footsteps echoing painfully in this stark white, antiseptic reality. Welcome to the disconnect.

Sorry for boring people with stupid stories.
Sorry for being a stickler for proper spelling, grammar, and long, elaborate sentences bleeding with high-class eloquence and rhetoric.
Sorry for not knowing jack about Kamen Rider.
Sorry for not knowing more about guns.
Sorry for knowing so little about electronics and mechanics.
Sorry for having a useless-enough command of the Japanese language.
Sorry for not being otaku enough.
Sorry for not watching enough anime, or reading enough manga.
Sorry for not caring about Ragnarok Online.
Sorry for not being able to draw well at all.
Sorry for not making my writing both too dense and too ephemeral, at the same time.
Sorry for not watching the UC Gundam series.
Sorry for enjoying Final Fantasy XII.
Sorry for being too critical about music, artwork, and plot design.
Sorry for not getting into Touhou, and for thinking so badly of the fandom.
Sorry for not being as big as a Star Wars nut as I used to be, yet still more so than normal people, stuck in an uncomfortable position.
Sorry for hating the moeblob shows.
Sorry for being so hard-nosed on open piracy.
Sorry for not having a Nintendo DS, or the PS3.
Sorry for not having played Disgaea or Super Robot Wars.
Sorry for not having employment of any kind.
Sorry for not knowing the alcohol lingo.
Sorry for not caring much about the Beast’s Lair forums, EvoSpace, and T-M fandom in general.
Sorry for not holding Linux in high regard.
Sorry for not getting a lot of nice figurines that I would really, really like to have.
Sorry for reading Bleach.
Sorry for being relatively nice to Rainrir. And, for that matter, sorry for still being relatively mean to him, too.
Sorry for not caring about Visual Kei, Sound Horizon, and goth lolitas.
Sorry for not having a good enough computer to play Left4Dead or Call of Duty 4.
Sorry for not knowing anything about cars. Or Top Gear.
Sorry for making subtle hints and complex characters in a game that not even the GM could pick up on or figure out.
Sorry for not particularly caring about Pangya or Mabinogi.
Sorry for appreciating both the old and new MechWarrior games.
Sorry for not being around when most people need me.
Sorry for putting the BLgame project in development hell.
Sorry for messing up the whole MGLN game for everyone else.
Sorry for living in California, instead of Japan, Malaysia, or Seattle.
Sorry for not mixing well with ADHD-like behavior.
Sorry for not knowing enough about Asian history.

I’m just a sorry person in general. But, something to get used to.

I wonder how long it’ll be before the winds of change blow again, and I disappear into the white sandstorm of dust, regrets, and fleeting dreams. Never know when it comes.

Welcome to the disconnect.

Another Year Gone By

Tomorrow’s my birthday. It’s the day I can add another tick to my age, when filling out forms. It’s the day I get to put on false cheer and empty, forced smiles onto my face as I face the reality that yet another year of my life has just been wasted away. My levels of interest in things have waned as I grow increasingly apathetic, with my family not knowing what to even get me (not that the monetary value really matters). More birthday cards with “better luck next year” and “thing will get better” and other pithy sayings that end up discouraging me more than anything else.

For the past several years, I’ve never looked forward to my birthdays. Feelings of dread, of ineptitude, of just-barely failed expectations (it can be definitely worse than failing by a large margin), of monumental mishaps, and generally loss of enthusiasm. What will I set out to do this coming year, and how will I completely fail to attain it?

Long ago, I vowed I’d become more than just a normal layperson; a successful doctor, an established lawyer, and modest businessman, whatever. I’d do something that’d leave an impact on the world, for the better of it.

And yet, I’m not even close to being a overworked officer worker or a disgruntled McDonald’s employee. I’m a sad, pitiful, unemployed layabout. Funny how things work out.

Fullmetal Alchemist S2, Episode 1

Being a bit of a fan of the first series, I made the mistake of going into an anime with a “Yeah, this is going to be great” attitude, something I always tell myself to do. In retrospect, this would have been one of the better times to do it.

The first FMA episode seems to have a mixed audience going into it, making it that much harder. You have newcomers, who’ve heard of FMA before and want to see what it’s all about. You have the anime-only watchers, who are inclined to see the “real” story behind the anime. And we have the manga readers, who have a good idea where the plot should be heading.

FMA seems like its trying to cater to all of these audiences, and they might not be doing a great job of it because of that. Newcomers are treated to spoilers in the opening about Ed losing his arm and leg through alchemy, while Al lost his whole body. Yet, the opening doesn’t really show much to manga readers, and, compared to the more RAH-RAH energetic openings of the first run, it has a more serious, dramatic spin to it, rather than the sort of adventurous action/drama that it had before. It’s not a bad opening (I actually think it’s pretty decent), but I think it might have a better impact as a SECOND opening, after the whole FMA gets settled into the viewers’ systems.

In terms of the episode itself, it seems like it’s all over the place. Previous watchers are bored as random character introductions are done again and again. I don’t think my friend Kyokushi will be very happy about Roy Mustang’s new voice. It isn’t bad, per se, but it’s definitely “just different enough” to notice the dissimilarity. I’m glad that there’s still comedic sequences, but it seems almost a bit exaggerated and out-of-place, as if their trying to say, “Hey dumb viewers! Remember this gag from the first run?!” Yeah, we remember, please don’t grind it into our face. >_> There’s a good amount of action, and they probably do a better job of pulling off reveals (Al and Ed’s bodies) than stuff they did earlier. I give characterization a C+.

On the positive side, the animation is a little different, but easy on the eyes. Some of camera angles and choreography is a little overdone, though. Yes, I get to see the Crimson Alchemist’s cell in HIGH-DEFINITION, BUT I DON’T CARE ABOUT HIS STATIC-SCREEN CELL. I understand that production companies have a tight budget in such times, but some more simply drawn, close-angled shots with a more artistic nature might work better. Colors, though are good, vibrant when it needs to be, dark and foggy when you’re in the cold, cold streets of Central. Gives plenty of atmosphere. B+

The music. Music? Didn’t seem to stand out, but I guess it therefore wasn’t bad, either. Voice acting was decent enough, but nothing spectacular. I’m glad that Ed and Al sound pretty much the same as before (with acceptable aging differences), otherwise I would have a hard time getting over the change with Mustang. I give it a B-.

Plot and pacing-wise, as mentioned, it was a bit all over the place, and seemed more like a TV special than the start of a new series. As mentioned before, they seem to be hitting three very different groups at the same time. The first half is relatively spastic and disconnected. The second half, however, seems to gain momentum with the action, where it’s probably strongest. The fight with the Ice Alchemist kinda’ gets you excited about what else this guy can do with water in the middle of battle, and how Ed and Al can overcome his abilities. It saddens me, though that Mustang is presented more comically than dramatic during his action sequences, thereby somewhat ruining the “cool” factor that he has. B-.

Now that my opinion of the show is a bit more down, I can at least hope for things to get better. Rehashes and remakes aren’t really my thing (with the special exception of the Shana movie).

We’ll see what happens. As everyone who knows me already (or now) knows, I tend to be much more forgiving of anime than most people.

Posted in Anime. 2 Comments »

Endless Digital Waltz

The major software and computer companies always seem to be going at it, in some way or another. Maybe its just me, someone who’s been become fairly apathetic about the political process; in some way, I think I’ve become fairly apathetic about politics in the digital realm. Windows asserts smug dominance whilst its foundation is eroding. Mac blasts PC with baseless claims and smug elitism. Slashdot condemns everything but Linux and FOSS. Google continues to dominante, slips in certain places, gains in others.

Oh, why can’t we all just get along?

In any case, there are a few things that have been on my mind.

Google Chrome

Despite its initial success, Chrome is starting to lose some of its shine. The way I see the problem is that Google really isn’t trying to promote Chrome in any way. Being a beta product, it’s been noted there are still quite a few things that it can work on. Yes, they fixed some bug. Yes, they changed their EULA. And that’s about it.

Unfortunately for Google, not even commenting much on its new browser offering, let alone releasing more beta builds, is pretty much sentencing the software to obscurity. The browser market is very cutthroat; IE still dominates the market, Firefox is determined to keep its hard-earned user base, Safari… is just Safari, and Opera still struggles with desktop significance (though apparently it does well in the mobile market, and I guess the Wii as well).

My pitiful recommendation to Google? Keep it a hot topic. Have a blog where you keep us updated on what you’re working on, or highlighting upcoming features. Give us more builds of Chrome (it’s a beta, of course it’ll still have bugs and crashes).

In other words, don’t leave your user base hanging.

And fix things up so that I can view streaming video on Flash-heavy sites without it wanting my computer to explode. Venturing into Nico Nico Douga is always a trial with Chrome, even with such a simple action as scrolling the webpage whilst the video is loading.

Search – Google Desktop Search vs. Windows Desktop Search

Back in the day, I was a very avid fan of Google Desktop Search. The ability to harness the power of Google to search your own information was just incredible. Incredible enough that even Microsoft decided to release its own desktop engine, and have it embedded into Windows Vista (as simply Windows Search).

Unfortunately, I’ve had a love-hate relationship with GDS. The key to it for me was the quick aggregation of information whilst not utterly destroying my modest computer (a 2.00 GHz Intel P4 Northwood, 512MB DDR, Windows XP, 80GB HDD at 5400 RPM). While it doesn’t quite destroy it, GDS does interfere with normal day-to-day operations.

One of my greatest complaints about it was the fact that I couldn’t control the times when to index, and when not to. I’m all for automation, because the vast majority of users could benefit from it. I am most definitely a power user, though, so I have the know-how and drive to tweak my settings to best suit my needs. Microsoft is easily able to have a “Index Now” button ALONGSIDE the normal automated approach. Why can’t Google? A little more user empowerment for those who want to tinker, and nothing else changes for the non-technical users.

The other great complaint I had about it is the general slowing of performance that GDS had. For me, first and foremost, GDS is a digital search appliance. It must fulfill that function, and it must do it well. Performance is key to search. Yet, Google has this mind-boggling philosophy that GDS should be Widget Central. Oh, my, Lord. Aside from aggregation of multiple data sources, why should resource-using widgets become such a huge focus by Google? Not to be presumptuous, but let developers develop for it, while you (Google) work on improving the information platform itself.

For the time being, I’ve been using Windows Desktop Search, as the performance and indexing issues for GDS were just too aggravating. WDS does what it does: it searches and indexes, it tells me about its progress without trying to open a whole browser window, and it lets me retrieve information fast and easily. In some ways, I find it better (right-click context is better, better indexing controls, less intusiveness and lag). In some ways, not as good (no CTRL, CTRL combination to start a search like GDS, searches take a little longer), but it gets the job done without messing with my computer much. Which is exactly what I’m looking for.

Of course, after I say all this, I realize there’s a relatively new GDS version that focuses on performance.

I hate my timing.

Terramaria Woes

My Mac likes and doesn’t like me. Well, I guess it’s mainly Safari. And iPhoto. iTunes is a bit tsundere to me. But whatever.

I’m inclined to think that the horrid crashes I’ve been getting on the Mac has to do with the graphics card, which is this old 32MB AGP artifact. I do have a 64MB nVidia GeForce4 MX440 sitting in a closet that I’ve been meaning to swap in.

The thing that bothers me is that the crashes only happen whenever I’m using Safari. Not only am I using the most updated version of it, but I’m also exclusively reading text when I’m using it: Wikipedia, some simple webpages of mine, and some PBwikis that I add content to. I would be reading several blocks of text on the screen only to find I can’t scroll the page or move the mouse cursor. Bleh.

I’d love to install Firefox or Opera as a replacement, but that defeats the purpose of learning tips and tricks with Safari. Moo.

Also, according to arai, he owns the patent on saying “moo.” I guess I owe him ten bucks now… damn.

Victoria Comeback

I’ve been itching to reinstall Windows Vista again, because I’m at least open-minded enough to actually use it effectively. With more and more people forced to use it, though, it’s been kinda’ lonely. Yet, I’m still apprehensive about putting it back on my machine.

It’s not so much that I hate Vista or hate using it (I don’t). It’s just going to be a real pain in the rear creating a quad-boot rig. XP Professional, Server 2003, Solaris 10, and Vista.

Not fun, for completely different reasons.

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