Saturday, November 29, 2008

Google just "gets it"

I don't have a home laptop, so when I travel, I'm pretty much either without Internet connectivity unless I can borrow a computer. It's not that I'm a luddite or anything, I'm just a cheap bastard. So, when my sister gave me her hand-me-down PDA to replace my old Palm, I thought it was just neat that it had built in wi-fi. I could check my email anywhere, even in a hotel while traveling. Now that wi-fi is available in the iTouch and probably state-of-the art toasters these days, that doesn't sound like much, but it was new to me.

I originally got a Yahoo email account many years ago because it was difficult for me to check my ISP email while traveling. Their web-based interface was accessible anywhere. Then I got a Gmail account becuase it was the new and shiny thing and I wanted to give it a try. So I check both now and then.

Or at least, I tried to. On the PDA, Google's apps load up very well. There's a mobile version of the search page and of the mail application. At my ISPs webmail interface it doesn't work quite as seamlessly, there's a lot of scrolling up and down and linebreaks are a bit screwy, but hey, it works.

Then I went to Yahoo. Did I get a poorly-laid out, but functional, page? Nope. I got a "Sorry, but you can't use this browser with Yahoo Mail" message and nothing else. It wouldn't even let me in.

This week, I got to sit in on a web and telephone based conference with someone at Google about cloud computing. In it, they talk about all the different ways people are accessing the Internet and what they're doing with it. It's very clear that Google is a company that just "gets it" when it comes to next-generation computing applications.

Honestly, I think that most people don't need the mega-functionality of Microsoft Office. I started using Google Docs when I was job-hunting and needed access to my documents both at home and at work. It's incredibly easy to use and the ability to have immediate access to your documents from anywhere can be invaluable. It would probably be perfect for most home users and even small businesses. Come on, when was the last time you needed to use the Mail Merge function of Word or inserted a Table of Authorities?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Friday, November 21, 2008

Computer woes

Well, this is frustrating. My computer has just recently taken to spontaneously shutting down for no apparent reason. No warning or anything, just in the middle of whatever I'm doing ... pfffft. I'm reasonably sure it just needs the power supply replaced, which is about a $100-150 fix.

But it's just over 3 years old and I had been thinking about replacing it this January. Replacing the power supply is a good 10-20% of the cost of a new computer. The idea of being without a computer for a protracted period strikes fear into my heart, so it seems reasonable to replace it early.

I haven't bought a computer in three years, so I've fallen behind in what's good, what's not, and what former players in the market are a shadow of themselves. I'm thinking about either going with a mail-order configurator like Cyberpower, but I've also considered getting a premade system at Circuit City or Best Buy and dropping in a decent graphics card. I'm avoiding Dell. I think their quality has improved over what it once was, but I think they're overpriced. Does anyone have any suggestions as to a vendor or experiences they'd like to share?

And just to stave off the inevitable, no a Mac is not an option.

UPDATE: No boot for me! It looks like the turning-off-unexpectedly problem has turned into a wont-even-boot problem. Nuts. Thank goodness for work laptops you can take home. Posting may be light for the next couple of weeks. Fortunately, I don't think I lost any data. Since this is probably a power supply problem, it should all be intact on the hard drive. When I get a new computer, I'll get an external drive encloser and drop my old hard drive into that. That way I'll have all my old data and a backup drive, too!

Hey, if you do mostly desktop applications, word processing, email and the like, a Mac is probably a good choice. On the other hand, you can get a decent PC suitable for doing all those things for a third of the price. Wow, it looks like you can even get an ultra-portable from Dell for $350. Admittedly that's probably not good for much other than web browsing and email, but damn, you can spend more than that on a PDA.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Get thee to IlliniPundit

I was going to put up a link to Glock21's post about Prop 8, in which he is both more verbose and more eloquent than me when it comes to the issue. But it looks like he cross-posted it to IlliniPundit, where there is a surprisingly long comment thread. Unfortunately, the anti-marriage crowd is fairly vocal and self-righteous. So, I encourage everyone to visit and chime in with their $0.02. Just please be civil.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Why do conservatives hate history?

Via Pharyngula, I found this conservative nitwit complaining that the Left is being discriminatory because ... they're opposed to discrimination:

Do the Left not understand that the majority of Californians want to keep the definition of marriage as it has been since the beginning of time?

From the Only True Bible(TM), 1 Kings 11:

And [Solomon] had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart.

"Beginning of time" does not mean what you think it means, dumbass.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

My last thoughts on politics for a while

One, it's good for it to be over, finally.

Two, to the GOP: neener, neener, neener.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Peeking behind the curtain of "voter fraud"

Basically, what Ezra said:

All the evidence suggests that the actual threats to the "fabric of our democracy" come from disenfranchisement: Voter purges using programs with crude name-matching algorithms, insufficient voter machines in heavily populated urban centers, partisan challenges of individual voters when they attempt to vote. The literature leaves no doubt that huge numbers of legitimate voters lose the ability to weigh in on election day. By contrast, there's no empirical support for the idea that voter registration fraud is a significant factor in elections ("The only way Mickey Mouse could vote is if he shows up with a federally approved form of ID. And if they wanted to affect the election, they'd have to have multiple addresses and do it an incredible amount of times."). But by making noise about the rare instances of fraud rather than the constant instances of disenfranchisement, Republicans are able to frame the conversation around further restricting the ability to vote. The idea of expanding the franchise -- making it easier to vote and harder to be wrongfully purged -- is far from the conversation. And that's the point.