Tuesday, February 18, 2014

That does not compute

Today let's consider some news in the wild, wacky world of personal (and impersonal) computing ...

If you hate Windows 8, you're not alone. If you are perfectly happy with Windows XP, you're also not alone -- and you're likely dreading the April end of support for that product. In between, of course, is the semi-XP-like Windows 7 -- only it has been scheduled to go away in October. It's noteworthy then that "Microsoft Extends Windows 7 Availability for Businesses."

(Windows 7 isn't a panacea for XP refugees. Why? Because you can't upgrade [change only the OS, leaving your data intact] when switching from XP to 7. You can only upgrade to 7 from (shudder) Windows Vista. Going from XP straight to 7 entails a clean install of 7, so you'll have to back up your files on other media, wipe your disk, install 7, and finally restore all your files.)

Tired of hassling with Windows? Frustrated that every other Windows release (ME, Vista, 8) is a turkey? Is a forced software upgrade pushing you (mutter, mutter) to buy a new PC?

Maybe it's time to consider a Chromebook. The Chromebook option is appealing if your computer time is mostly spent inside a browser anyway (especially if your browser of choice is Chrome) and doubly so if you're comfortable with cloud services (like Google Docs for word processing sans Word.) Or go hybrid: "Google taps VMware to bring Windows access to Chromebooks."

Think Linux
Fewer and fewer computers look like computers. We're increasingly in the Internet of Things (IoT) era, in which pretty much every gadget and doodad has an embedded, networked microprocessor. And unless you like booting every gadget and doodad in your house daily, you don't want them to be Windows-based. So be of good cheer: "Home appliance makers connect with open source 'Internet of things' project." In a nutshell, this is a framework designed to run over Linux, Android, iOS, and other popular platforms. (Yes, Windows, too. Not my fault.)

Of course, the minute gadgets get networked, they're sure to get hacked (mutter, mutter). See "Hackers Have Officially Hijacked a Refrigerator, Are Entire Houses Next?" (Why, you ask? Probably because the IoT is a softer target than PCs for anyone seeking to build a botnet.)

These consumer goods were responsible for sending out about 25% of the 750,000 malicious emails from hackers between Dec. 23, 2013, and Jan. 6, 2014.

Not that a new way is needed or welcome, but hacking smart fridges could also be a whole new way to sabotage diets.

Look closely :-)
Of course, the more non-traditional devices are networked, the more liberty I as an author have to hack them to cause (fictitious but credible) mischief. Maybe it's time to think about a sequel for Fools' Experiments.


Anonymous said...

As an Apple user who made the switch long ago, I have to say this is a recurring problem with the PC platform. But I find talking to diehard PC users is like talking with Redskins fans ... they don't see a problem. My Dad said some people liked to crank over their cars before the invention of keyed ignitions ... they got a sense of continued worth and felt needed.

Edward M. Lerner said...

People do get very invested in their OS (and mobile OS) choices ...

- Ed