This past weekend, a friend called me an enabler. Shock! Horror! Me, an enabler? Bah. Wait. Introspect. Reflect. Assess. Epiphany.
I am an enabler. He spat the word at me with derision and my reflex was to feel offended. Pausing on that word for a moment, I realized his snap judgment of my character was absolutely right. I encourage bad behavior all the time, especially in the people closest to me. However, I also condone good behavior, even in people whose presence makes my skin itch.
Here's why: Every person should be allowed to live their lives in the manner they choose, regardless of the wishes of others. As long as the activity or behavior doesn't interfere with the same allowance for others to do the same. This is something I believe down to the core of my being to be true. (Doesn't mean it's right, sane or feasible, but there it is.)
To that end, if someone I know is drinking themselves to death, I won't lecture at them to seek aid, but if they do, I'll support them through the process as I can. I just think we're all doing what we can to survive until the end. Whatever you path you choose is your own.
New approach? Hands off?
The gravity of Google's ultimate decision on this matter will not be felt until well after the choice is made and implemented. I further believe that it will impact the internet as a whole.
Here's some other links I came across regarding this subject:
From the U.S. Department of State
From ComputerWorld: Government
From PublicAddress.net <- Yeah, I don't know either, but Google said it was relevant. K?
Government mandate. Why the fuck not? If health insurance and automobile insurance can be required, why stop there?
Require all Amurikans to purchase only vehicles from Amurikan companies. Require every citizen of the United States to mortgage a home. Require every Amurikan to carry life insurance.
How the hell did we get to a point in our society where our government can force us to redirect our earnings to private organizations? I'm not a historian nor do I enjoy learning more about Amurikan history because the more I discover, the less faith I have in our government to help shape a better future for its citizenry unless they're a "corporate" citizen.
Wait! Which environments provide a GUI configuration for all of the tweakable desktop elements like title font, window border, button shape, size and/or placement?
I can think of 2 that allow such fine-grained control in a GUI:
I prefer Gnome for all its "bloat" and "size." Again: Why is this? On a modest system (Intel Celeron 2,2GHz, GeForce 8400 GS, single 21" display via DVI and 2GBs of RAM running the latest Arch Linux 64-bit version), I can enable the built-in compositing in Metacity without noticeable impact to my desktop performance. 3D performance drops dramatically, but I turn off the compositing if I really need 3D performance, like when playing games or playing games.
Gnome is very configurable, however. Like with other DE/WM combinations, you'll have to get "under the hood" and "get your hands dirty." This means that a few config files have to be tweaked, you WILL need a command prompt and the changes may not be permanent. It's Linux, not OS X or Windows.
I've modified the default icon theme, changed the background of the panel and other tweaks that make my desktop:
- Unique (Like every other alternative-OS-running-mofo's desktop. Is that ironic?)
- Personal (That's what PC meant originally, right? No reason it should mean anything else now.)
- Functional (By adding this myself, I can be more productive. Can be, but I'm not)
I like the customization freedom I have with Gnome. Is it as easy as in other DE/WM combinations? No, not really? Do I care? Nope. Not enough to remedy the situation.
I abhor using that word to describe that key and I'm too lazy to replace the keymap with a "penguin" or a "mudflap girl" or whatever else it could be. For now, it remains the "Windows", "Super" or even "Mod4" key.
One of the best uses of that key, however, is as a modifier for personal Keyboard shortcuts. Gnome doesn't clobber keyboard shortcuts that use these keys. Your DE/WM may vary.
For example, I've added some questionably convenient shortcuts for myself:
Arch Linux defines simplicity as 'without unnecessary additions, modifications, or complications', and provides a lightweight
UNIX-like base structure that allows an individual user to shape the system according to their own needs. In short; an elegant, minimalist approach.
What this means to me is that my ArchLinux installation will be radically different from another ArchLinux user's installation. This highlights the versatility of a Linux system. This is one of the key reasons I prefer Linux and specifically distributions that give me real freedom: the freedom to run the software I'd like to run. Nothing more, nothing less.
Another reason that I believe ArchLinux maintains the spirit of Linux is their adherence to Code Correctness over Convenience. This is the notion that upstream developers (those that actually write the software) should correct their code rather than the have the distribution apply patches (Gentoo, Ubuntu. That means you). If the distribution patches the code that you're writing, the experience you're having with your computer is going to be specific to that distribution. While this can be a benefit for many, I believe that by allowing upstream developers to maintain their software, anyone running ANY distribution of Linux can experience the same thing. This is one way that Linux can have a consistent look and feel.
I only claim to have experience with the distributions that I've run. I define "run" as: Used as my primary desktop distribution for a period consisting of greater than six months. This rules out distributions I tried but left for some reason. Ubuntu, Fedora, SuSE (and OpenSuSE) fall into this category. I have tried each of them, but I always fell back to Debian, Gentoo, or most recently, ArchLinux.
During that time, I have read the arguments (flamewars and not-so-flaming-wars) about which Operating System or distribution is "the best." I would argue that there is no such thing. There is what was best for you and your needs. Then, there's best for someone else's needs. I don't care if you run Mac OS X, Windows or Linux. If what you run helps you get what you want out of your computer, then stick with it.
I no longer evangelize about Linux with the same fervor that I once did. My passion has been tempered by experience. My only preaching now consists of sharing my firsthand experiences with free software and alternative operating systems.
In fact, I am going to delve into Ubuntu one more time, having downloaded the latest beta release of the distribution and installing the live image to my USB thumb drive. This will allow me to try it out with installing over my current installed base.
I am OS agnostic in the sense that I don't give a rat's ass what you run. If it works for you, wonderful. But don't try to convince me that it's the best.
I just need to get this off my chest. There are no such thing as "relevant ads." Ads by their very nature are irrelevant. Ads are intended to sell or inform you about a product or service that you didn't even know you needed.
If it was something you needed, you'd already know where to find it or necessity would drive you to locate it. Instead, marketers use advertising to leave you feeling like there's something missing in your life without the wares they're peddling.
I was just thinking today about how adding the term relevant doesn't really make the advertisement any more meaningful. It just means that marketers have targeted my likes and behaviours better than in the past. This is, in part, due to the advent of tracking cookies, referral links, adfarms and other web technologies used solely for marketing purposes.
I would recommend that we remove that particular phrase from the English lexicon. And stone to death any marketers that utter it.
Twitter has been growing exponentially since its launch in March of 2006. Twitter has even found its way into the news and reached new audiences. This is all well and good for Twitter, but my experience with the service was less than optimal.
A little history: I resisted the insistent pull of Twitter until 2007, arguing that I didn't have any need to let people know I was taking a shit or going to the adult video store. A close friend convinced me that it just wasn't like that and I should give it a try. So I relented and created an account.
I am a huge fan of XMPP and services that utilize that technology. Twitter had marvelous support for XMPP which meant I could receive and post tweets via my favorite instant messaging client. I could even track topics so that if anyone posted something related, I would see it.
A mere two months into enjoying Twitter (and I was enjoying the ego rush), and the XMPP interface began to suffer. Checking status updates were throttled, the track feature was disabled and updates didn't come through as they were posted. It was about this time that I started looking for other social status sites and discovered identi.ca.
Identi.ca launched in July of 2008 as an alternative to Twitter and other social status networks like Plurk and Jaiku. Some of the key differences: the code that drives the site, Laconica is open source under the GNU Affero General Public License; the Laconica servers are federated so that subscribers do not need to be on the same site; built-in support for tags and groups, a rapidly evolving platform based on user feedback and developer drive.
That's all well and good, but how is using identi.ca more enjoyable than Twitter? As I "dented" (a term I wish would go away) here, conversations happen where Twitter seems to be much more focused on marketing, both for the service itself and for the celebrities that have flocked to it.
Here is one example of just such a conversation:
Another feature that makes identi.ca a real joy is the group feature. Similar to the track feature of Twitter, groups allow users with similar interests to send notices to an entire group. Its implementation couldn't be any simpler. Preface a term with a ! and it posts to that group. If the group doesn't exist, you're given an option to create it. This can lead to abuse however when !someone !overuses !the !group option in a notice.
Identi.ca also supports hashtags. Begin a word with # and it becomes a hashtag, a term that can help identify the content of a notice. For example: How do I get my !n810 to make #free phone calls? In this context, !n810 will send the notice to everyone in that group and the notice itself gets tagged with 'free' and 'n810'. Group notifiers double as hashtags.
All of these features plus the geeky group at identi.ca make for a much more pleasant experience for me and lower the signal-to-noise ratio of my internet experience.
I recently posted a note on Facebook about my decision to leave Facebook again. That decision was made in an effort to reduce the signal-to-noise ratio of information I receive on the internet.
Along with that, I'd like to see the web become a more useful place for all of us. I see Google as trying to create a more useful and usable internet with the data they collect. In the past, I've been wary of Google's growth and seemingly far-reaching tendrils, but now I see it differently. There is SO much data on the internet that collecting and categorizing that data would be impossible for a single company regardless of manpower. Google is collecting data to provide a better user experience for all of us. If the data they are receiving is from business owners, internet marketers and people who click on ad banners, we'll see more of that in the future. I'd like to provide some different data to the machine.
I'd like to see the internet become the tool that enriches and enhances our lives, seamlessly, almost transparently. To ensure that it becomes the kind of internet I would like, I'm willing to give up my personal data to Google. It's all opt-in, free and gets better when feedback is provided to those writing the code. To have a truly personal web experience, the machine needs to know about you.
From this point forward, I'll be Feeding the Machine for my blog, using papabean at gmail . com for mail and instant messaging, Picasa for picture storage, etc. I will be utilizing as many of Google's services as I can and reporting about my experiences.