Bend Over, Africa!

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As if Africa doesn’t face enough problems (massive population explosion, rampant AIDS, widespread poverty, endemic hunger, and ethnic rivalries blossoming into genocide, to name just a few), here comes the world’s richest company telling Africans the biggest barrier to their technological literacy is not cost, but training. That’s right, even though a Windows XP license will cost you a year’s salary, it’s easier to use! So spend that year’s salary! It’s more important you have a GUI installation wizard than you feed those kids!

You know, there are times that words fail to be able to adequately describe my feelings. But I can honestly say I am not surprised. Is it really surprising that Microsoft will ignore the well-being of a continent to protect their market share? It isn’t to me. But until recently I just thought Microsoft was an avaricious corporate behemoth cranking out inferior product and using their dominant position to quash competition. Now I realize they are that, but more importantly, they are bad for humanity.

Think about that. Microsoft is actively trying to get the poorest people on earth to part with what little money they have so that they may become indoctrinated into the Windows monoculture. They would rather see the least fortunate among us pay the equivalent of a year’s salary for an XP license than surrender a small bit of market share.

This is not just aggressive. This is not just monopolistic. This blatant disregard for the welfare and well-being of the least fortunate of your fellow human beings has another adjective to describe it. Evil.

Please think about that the next time you have a software choice to make.

Into Hurricane Alley

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Off to Florida for a week to help Mom with her new computer.

Back in June she gave me a chunk of money for my birthday, which I promptly spent buying her a new Mac Mini. She is currently using an x86 machine (PII 450) that she purchased back in 1999. It runs WindowsXP, no SP2, no updates since XP was installed. And knowing the guy that installed it, it might not even be a legit copy of XP.

Since Windows is too big a security risk for the average user to handle, a Mac running OSX is the way for her to go. She was here for my birthday, and we spent some time setting it up, playing with iPhoto, messing with Mail.app, exploring her .Mac membership benefits, and otherwise learning OSX. The Mini was ready to plug-in and go when she got home.

But she resists change. And so, I fly to Florida to spend another week of Mac boot camp. And deprogramming the “millions of people run Windows with no problems” platitude. My response? “Millions of people smoke cigarettes and live to a ripe old age. Why are you so glad I quit?”

She seems excited, though, which is good news. And I think when she realizes how little she was doing with Windows, and how there are far more resources on the Internet than e-mail from her children, she’ll be even more excited. One can hope …

Oh, and anyone want to buy a PII 450 desktop with CentOS pre-installed? It’s only been driven lightly by a little old lady. E-mail me if you’re interested.