With the coming of Windows 8, changes will be inevitable for our fellow computer users who embrace the ways of Redmont. Where we have been used to hitting the Start button for years and have been closing the windows to our virtual world with the little cross, everything is about to change. Sure, the big square tiles on our desktop might be a blessing for those who are shortsighted or have the eye-hand coördination of a drunken elephant… but what about those who would like to keep things the same ?
I’m talking about the grandma’s, the uncle’s aunties and cousins for whome this kind of change would mean hours on the phone with the family geek to get things figured out.. I’m talking about your very sanity. Would it not be great to give these people a chance to continue on an OS that LOOKS like the one they used before, but has the benefits of being safe, secure and open source ?
Enter Zorin Linux. Its tagline “The gateway to Linux for Windows users” does tend to promise a solution to the very problem we face with our bloodlines standing on the precipice of the Metro interface. Zorin is a good looking, crisp and mature version of Linux with a slick but simple look and feel that, with some minor tweaks, could convice a novice user that he IS still in fact still using Windows 7 . Steering away from the Unity interface, this Debian based OS has the additional value that it has a “look changer”. This lets Zorin Linux act like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. As if asked the question “What is your name” Zorin can reply with “What do you want it to be”. This is because this pretty little functionality lets Zorin “Morph” from a Windows 7 , Xp, or even OSX “look-a-like” in a matter of seconds.
Zorin might be called “a shallow broad” because of its focus on looks, but underneath the ever changing shell lies a well polished Debian core with thoughtfully selected applications and a stable end result. For new Linux users who love the “old ways of XP” Zorin is a perfect alternative to Windows 8 and a great way to herd those stray friends and family members onto the planes of the penguins.
Zorin is available in free and premium editions over at Zorin-OS.com.
For about the 20th day in a row, maximum temperatures here in never-ever-sunny Belgium have once again risen above 33 degrees centigrade. We are having a full blown Sahara style heat-wave. Just great ! For those of you who know me : I do not like the cold. I have complained in length to the celestial thermostat to crank up the juice this winter.Yet somehow I fear that the big weatherman in the sky has yanked up the heat and broke of the knob.
And heat is a funny thing , its makes people and machines go totally insane. I’ll give you a short list of how its impacting my life these days.
2- Speaking of CPU’s : One of the major things that are suffering these days is technology. With hard disk spinning ever faster, Power supply’s spewing out more heat, more clock cycles and all that , your computer can really become a small source of warmth. Seriously : When I pump up my 3.2 gig machine in my small office (not the big one) it will be able to warm up this large amount of air quite significantly. Not enough to heat it , but enough to be felt. So imagines computers, servers, switches and routers MOANING under the heat these days. My Mac Mini (acting as a server) is too kind in constantly blowing its fan these days and even my macbook starts to “MOO” its cooling apparatus at points where it never used to do it. In overall : the raise of the ambient temperature by a few degrees is hell for machines.
And Finally : The Brain-fry ! Above some certain temperature the mind starts to bubble. I’ve double checked this with fellow cyber-citizens and it does appear to be a common phenomenon. At some point resolving complex processes , or troubleshooting easy problems becomes nearly impossible. As the mind swims in its on sweat , one cannot make heads or tails of the task ahead. So among IT people this results in loss of concentration ,trouble shooting skills and chasing the cute girls around the office in an effective way. I don’t even like coffee when its THIS hot ! An article I read even states that driving in a warm car has the same results as driving under influence of alcohol (loss of concentration , being more easily irritated and so on) quite amazing isn’t it !
But for some it is even worse. Prompted by exotic temperatures they venture into worlds unknown and actually start doing tasks they have never ever preformed before in their life. As did my father in law who suddenly started OPERATING the barbecue last saturday (where as he former and foremost roll had been to complain about and afterwards consume the food) I knew when dear old willy started flipping sausages .. The heat had gotten to all of us !
A lot of Chitchat.
As a slider ( somebody who moves swiftly between operating systems like Windows, Mac and Linux ) I am often confronted with the question : What tool do I use for what ? There are of course plenty of ‘switcher tips” out there to help people out who decide to jump from one OS to the other. These ‘switch-lists’ are composed of tables representing a certain application in one operating system , and its counterpart on the other side of the fence. For example : Microsoft Office on Windows has Open-office as its counterpart in Linux (and also in Mac OS). Some applications are called cross-platform , these are of course the ideal ones. An exactly identical version exists in all operating systems. For example : Firefox , or Thunderbird. All versions look and feel exactly the same no matter what OS you are on.
But sometimes you have to look for stuff that “looks” or “behaves just like” the original version in one operating system. Classic example here is the Switchers nightmare MSN Messenger. Unfortunately insanely popular among Windows Users here in Europe. But : Microsoft clings to this little peace of software like there is no tomorrow. Deliberately setting back the versions that are brought out on other operating systems (like for example on Mac OSx) and not disclosing any code to the open source community so their IM clients would be able to interact with MSN Messenger. The result is the entire thing has to be reverse engineered to make it work.
What about MSN ?
A question often asked is : What do I use instead of MSN on other systems. Now there are some viable alternatives out there, but the one most commonly found on both Mac and Linux systems is AMSN . This noble attempt at Msn messenger ‘approximation’ has been running strong for quite some years now. Their main concern was to be able to crack the hard nut of enabling cross platform msn audio and video-chat. A noble cause since Microsoft does shield that box of tricks very well to the outside world. Now the AMSN people said they cracked it. They had gotten in working. Onto the labs dear friends ! My first test ( video chat between my powerbook and my girlfriends Ibook) worked just fine .. behind the firewall. But once I tried to talk or send files to the outside world ? No go.. Amsn does not deal with NAT translation very well. ( Well , it can’t cope with it at all). Making matters worse : Amsn runs on the Mac like a rhinoceros on a valiumtrip. Slow and jerky to respond and not at all reliable. So i’m back to my ‘non video chat’ enabled alternative ADIUM. A great, highly customizable, well supported alternative. The downside ? No video-chat (file transfer works excellent) AND only available on Mac. As for a Linux alternative to MSN i’ve stuck with GAIM for being the better product.
Too bad actually , I mean , these guys over at msn have a quite good cross platform product and are able to crack a fantastic nut in getting video-chat to work .. But then they get stuck on this simple thing like Nat transgression. Perhaps its time for all these ‘alternative messenger clients” to start working together and produce one kick-ass open source Messenger alternative and overcome one of the final pitfalls for users switching to a non Microsoft OS.