Friday, July 29, 2011

Apple, PCs, Linux and the economy

Last month Matt Richman made a little calculation that went viral in certain geek circles.
Apple makes more money from the sale of one Mac than HP does from selling seven PCs.
AppleInsider illustrated Matt's conclusion:

Now I see a related story trending: Apple has more money than the US government! Granted, Obama appears to be facing unprecedented financial trouble, but still... Steve Jobs is loaded!
As Republicans and Democrats continue to work towards a compromise to the country’s debt ceiling crisis, the U.S. Treasury Department said on Thursday that Washington now has a total operating balance of only US$73.768-billion. Meanwhile, Apple currently boasts a cash reserve of US$75.876-billion, as of its most recent quarterly earnings report at the end of June.
See Financial Post / U.S. balance now less than Apple cash, SF Chronicle / Apple Now Has More Cash Than The U.S. Government (AAPL).

But hey, where is Linux in this? How much money did Linux save businesses and people? Is not having to spend any money or at least not as much money not a value? One estimate is 29 million Linux users. If each should have spent just 100 $ on operating systems it would total to almost 3 billion $. That's a quick, dirty and conservative estimate of how much has been saved by current installations. Linux has let people and businesses save money for two decades.

Another thing: Comparing stock performances of Apple, HP and Red Hat on Google Finance for the past year shows the Linux and OS X companies going up together, HP down alone.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Skype and Facebook woes, Google+ to the rescue

Twice did I nearly punch my keyboard in frustration recently: First Skype was bought up by Microsoft then Facebook deleted all photos uploaded from KDE Linux.

Evil, dumb or both?

Granted, Skype merely went from proprietary and closed to proprietary, closed and owned by the evil ones. I did consider looking for an open source, cross platform alternative and so did others. The Skype protocol was reverse engineered and there was some downtime issues shortly after. But I haven't cared enough about the issue yet.

And granted, the deleting of photos uploaded with a common KDE plugin used by some photography software (including my beloved Digikam) was temporary. Others were quick to complain. Imagine the uproar if it had been all photos uploaded by iPhoto that had been removed. But apparently, Facebook has people working for them that think stuff coming from this Linux-something is too suspicious and will actually hit the red button.

Add to the above that Facebook - with its history of privacy issues - are working with Skype to integrate their networks. We should all be panicking for alternatives and reverse engineered protocols. But then again...

Google: Not evil, not dumb

Google+ has something called Hangouts which is actually group video chatting. They are not open source but they have a history of being not evil and they are fully cross platform in being a cloud service. Their Picasa, neatly integrated in G+, beats Facebook's photo albums by any measure. So, Google+ is if not a full solution, then at least could be a great relief. And some badly needed competition.

Add to that this interview with Googles Open Source Boss, Chris di Bona: Besides creating Android, a major Linux success story, Chris tells:
"We have released something like 1,300 open source projects to the outside world in the last five years. That amounts to 24-25 million lines of code, using a variety of licenses. So basically whatever device or computer you use it most likely has some code from us in there, be it through our compiler or our application work. [Among the projects Google contribute to are] GCC. But also the Linux kernel and all the compiler tools, languages like Java, C++ and Python. Also we found that things like OpenSSL is super-important to us, also FFmpeg [...] We have Linux, a very very small amount of Windows, and a fair number of OS X machines. If you'd look at laptops it's maybe 70 percent Mac OS X and most of the rest is Linux, we are a huge customer of Apple. Engineering Desktops are overwhelmingly running on Linux. We have our own Ubuntu derivative called "Goobuntu" internally for that, integrating with our network"

Shouldn't the caption go "I can't wait for Google+ to let me spam everyone that blocked me on Facebook"? Which the creep will have no success with due to the Circles concept at G+ :-)
Now, if G+ will be "successful" or not? I predict a crowd of communication people and social media experts (people in need of getting head butted) giving Google+ bad reviews. Simply because Facebook was finally a service they could figure out using. Don't trust these pro spammers. Many people will join G+ because if you already use one or more Google services there really is little reason not to.

I already got the protest a couple of times that, since everyone's already on Facebook why should anyone create a G+ profile? Besides the arguments above, I'll throw out an example of how it adds to the services: I have a public album of my own wallpapers on Picasa (Google+ Pictures). These will not fit on Facebook in any way, because there pictures can be no larger than 600-and-something pixels on either side (can't even be full size of most wide screen monitors are at Flickr). And they don't need to be on Facebook because there are no people to tag in them - even if they had I still can tag in Picasa. That doesn't mean I'll head over and delete all my photos on Facebook though.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Don't drink the ice tea!

Admitted: Upgrading your Linux computer isn't just about going "cool, more free stuff!".

There's a green arrow on the little cogwheel symbol next to my clock these days. And it's really tempting to click it having enjoyed the ease of installing software updates. I bet many have almost stopped reading what the updates are about. Recently, I installed something called Iced Tea with the auto-updater. And that doesn't sound too bad, does it?
The update window in Danish.
Wrong. Iced Tea updates Java only, not the Java browser plugin. Meaning it's probably nice if you are a bleeding edge Java software developer or run security sensitive network Java applications. But if you, like me, just run Java occasionally inside a browser whenever a website initiates it you will find stuff not working.

Search for java from inside YaST and you will find the plugin isn't updated, only the actual java thingy is blue. The two must be the same versions for stuff to run smoothly.

To downgrade an accidentally installed upgrade click the package in question and go to the Versions tab. Put the dot in the previous version (ie java 1.9) and see if your stuff works now.
Each time any other software receives a notification of an update I now have to uncheck icedtea to avoid it corrupting my web banking etc. Slightly annoying.

Disclaimer: Issues like this may have to do with which repositories are added. And there may be magical tricks (in which I haven't been initiated) to perform that may eliminate your troubles.

Mac users does not have this kind of worries, do they? At least I didn't yet.

Update: Yes, there are threads about this issue at the site I should be contributing to in stead of writing this blog; well at least there is the thread Lost java after update.... Here the advise given is to (use YaST to) shift from the open source Java to the Sun Java. Could be a better advise, don't know. It also contains the gossip that the autoupdate is "broken".