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Why am I typing this on a laptop running GNU/Linux, the free software operating system, not an Apple or Windows machine? And why are my phones and tablets running a privacy-enhanced offshoot of Android called Cyanogenmod, not Apple’s iOS or standard Android?
Because, first of all, I can get my work done fine. I can play games. I can surf endlessly. The platform alternatives have reached a stage where they’re capable of handling just about everything I need.
More important, I’ve moved to these alternative platforms because I’ve changed my mind about the politics of technology. I now believe it’s essential to embed my instincts and values, to a greater and greater extent, in the technology I use.
I keep hoping more hardware vendors will see the benefit of helping their customers free themselves of proprietary control.
From a piece by Dan Gillmor. It includes info on what tools he's using, where he finds resources, etc.
-=-=-=-=-=- Jayne Cravens Author, The LAST Virtual Volunteering Guidebook
I am a supporter of open source software, www.opensource.com have promoted me to their contributors club as I have written for them so often. However, the painful truth is that I could not pay the bills offering development services, software support and tuition if I limited myself to open source software as my customers call the tune.
I'm a user of OpenOffice - I dropped Microsoft several years ago. I haven't had any problem working with clients still using Microsoft - well, no problems regarding my office suite, anyway...
I've had this discussion with friends of mine, and for them, your solution is great. They, too, use the internet for email, surfing, entertainment, and writing short pieces.
However, there is an irony here that they miss.
I'm using Office 2007 and 2010. I own all my data. I can easily move data from Access to Excel, to Word. I can, with a few keystrokes, build a Table of Contents, list of footnotes, table of captions. I have programmed my keys to automatically open my list of passwords and website notes. This is very fast, on my computer. I don't have to have my input take round-trips to some central server in the sky. I know there are a few keyboard shortcuts in some browsers, but they don't seem to work very well, or it takes too long.
I played with Linux in the past. and found it useful for people who like to solve problems, much like my mom liked to buy crossword puzzles, but it was pretty useless as a productivity tool. I tried to write a program for a warehouse picking system, but had to go back to Excel. I used Word to write the user guide. The ability to easily (WYSIWYG) capture, edit, position and index screen shots I've not seen in any other non-Windows program. The abililty to micromanage styles and tables is not something I've seen in other programs. I am completely willing to be wrong on this - as I said, my experieince is limited and from a long time ago.
My MS Office application is about ten years old. During that time, I've learned a lot of advanced features, including how to use Visual Basic for Applications to move data around, and to allow Access to be a real relationship database for our little shop. Plus, I keep all the data on my machine.
I agree that the trend toward centralization is bad, but to me, the trend of keeping your data on someone else's server, and allowing them to come in and change your software (sometimes breaking it) without notice, is the worse part of centralization.
And I'm not convinced that open source is the solution, either. Open Solution means no accountability. How many of those developers are there with a hidden agenda, maybe paid by a third party? People have told me that if there was something hidden in the code, it would be discovered and exposed. By whom? I've talked to people who have had their material removed almost instantly. We no longer have the old DARPA system of peer-to-peer machines replicating messages instantly. The whole internet is centralized now, and any whistle-blower who exposed a high-level hidden code would be instantly cut off. I'm not saying that's ever happened, just as I'm not saying anyone ever did anything awful with the constant surveillance tools that are every where - but one would have to be very naive to assume that those kinds of abilities have never been exploited.
I'm going to resist as long as possible acquiring software productivity tools that require me to turn my computer into a really slow 1970s-style dumb ternminal. Who knows how long that will last?
I agree that centralization is bad, and it's leading to a world I don't like, but it seems like switching to LInus is just a feel-good solution that is not addressing the core problem, and weakens us in the meantime.
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