The great Windows, Mac and Ubuntu shoot-out part 3

Linux shootout

Switch to Linux?

The Open Source Linux distributions are an alternative to Windows with a lot going for them.  What’s not to like about secure, totally free, and relatively well-written software?

Well, at least better written than Vista.

Proponents have been forecasting for years that Linux is poised for exponential growth. It hasn’t happened. Nevertheless, the fight isn’t over, Linux has evolved recently into a far more user-friendly operating system than I would have thought possible just a couple of years ago.

The latest version of the Ubuntu Linux distribution—9.04, aka Jaunty Jackalope—may have a silly name, but it’s an outstanding operating system. Trialists of the upcoming version 9.10 (Karmic Koala!) are waxing even more enthusiastically than they did over 9.04.

Unfortunately, there are chinks in the Linux armory. People who absolutely must have the latest computer games, those who’re hooked on Photoshop or Dreamweaver, and users of niche software written only for Windows or the Mac, are not going to have their boats floated by Ubuntu in the foreseeable future.

On the other hand, if you don’t really need bloated and over-priced Microsoft or Adobe software, Linux, particularly Ubuntu, and the open source software community have the programs and the tools to do just about anything. Continue reading “The great Windows, Mac and Ubuntu shoot-out part 3”

In defence of the realm

Once were warriorsDefence personnel cuts announced yesterday are no surprise. It’s just a pity that the $25 million saved can’t be put to use in restoring our defence forces to a modest level of credibility.

This is no criticism of our servicemen and women. As they’ve shown time and again over many years that they’re as good as it gets. The problem is that their numbers are pathetic and their major equipment disgracefully inadequate.

Why weren’t our politicians (on both sides of the house) as careful with our money when they opened the chequebook to the finance companies with a breathtakingly incompetent absence of no-brainer basic conditions which have cost Ewen Mee a couple of billion?

Remember when we had allies?

I do — I joined the Royal New Zealand Navy in 1958. Support vessels and coastal patrol craft aside, the RNZN fighting fleet comprised these actual warships:

  • 1 Dido class light cruiser plus 1 in reserve.
  • 4 Loch class frigates plus 2 in reserve and 2 Rothesay class building.
  • 2 minesweepers (used as corvettes) plus 2 in reserve.

We could hold our heads up in comparison with those allies committed to watching our backs. Since then it’s been downhill all the way. We now have:

  • 2 Anzac class frigates.

Much of the time, one of those frigates is in refit. One frigate versus one hunter-killer submarine—goodbye frigate.

We can spend up large on unemployment benefits (has all the work been done?), solo parent support (how many of those babies have only one parent?), and tummy-tuck operations, but we’re too far in hock to meet our real-world obligations. I wonder how our “allies” feel about that.

We can pay accident compensation to a prisoner who injures himself while escaping from prison but we can’t even meet a half of our promised foreign aid contribution of a paltry 0.7% of GDP.

Air inferiority

In the year I joined the navy my contemporaries in the air force were flying de Havilland Vampire jet fighters and English Electric Canberra fighter bombers. I don’t know how many were operational at that time but we owned or borrowed 63 Vampires and 31 Canberras.

Now we have no fixed wing combat aircraft.

Zero. Zilch. Nada.

We’re a maritime nation, seriously dependent on trade, shipping is our lifeline. We have no effective means of defending our shipping lanes, let alone keeping out tens of millions of Asian refugees who’ll be looking for a home when the major coastal cities of India, Bangladesh, and the South East Asian river deltas submerge and when the Himalayan snow loss results in the Ganges, the Mekong, the Yellow River and all the other great Asian life sustaining rivers drying up annually.

How enthusiastic will the Aussies and the Yanks be when we beg for help after we’ve spent decades—generations even—abusing their good will?

They may now be milking our milkers, but we started the milking.

Once were warriors indeed.

The death throes of democracy

Yes we can'tLess than three years ago hope spread around the world like wildfire. Barack Hussein Obama’s inspired oratory gave us a glimpse of a better way. Even here in New Zealand we had a double dose of optimism: new Prime Minister and all-round nice guy John Key promised change for the better, albeit without the soaring rhetoric.

For me—and for many who’ve heard it all before—the hope was tempered by doubt and cynicism. Nevertheless, the possibility of a sea-change was real and exciting.

Maybe this time…

The hope proved fleeting

There was a sea-change alright, yet another tsunami of missed opportunities to douse the flames of hope. In the USA, “Yes, we can” morphed into “maybe”, promises became aspirations. We’re almost back to business-as-usual. The dreams are on hold, the disappointment is acute.

What next? Sarah Palin?

Party-based democracy doesn’t work anymore. Continue reading “The death throes of democracy”

Quick drive removal

Setting up a drive for Quick Removal

In a previous post I explained the implications of disc write caching. There’s an easy way to reduce the likelihood of data loss when removing an external drive connection. You can ensure that its Removal Policy is set up for Quick Removal. Some drives are set up in this way by default in Windows 7, but you need to check. The procedure below is for Windows 7, but it’s very similar in Vista or XP.

  • Open Windows Explorer (keyboard shortcut: Windows Key+e).
  • Click on the Computer icon in the left panel if it’s not already selected.Windows Explorer in Windows 7
  • Scroll down to the drive in question and right-click on its icon. You’ll see something like this:

right click menu

  • Then click on Properties.
  • In the new window click on the Hardware tab.
  • Click on the name of the relevant drive. As in my example, it’s not always clear which one it is!
  • Drive Properties hardware tabClick on the line for the drive in question.
  • Click on the Properties button.
  • Click on the Policies tab.
  • You’ll see this:

Drive Properties

  • Click on the Change settings button.
  • You’ll see this:

Removal policy tab

  • Click on the ‘Policies’ tab as shown above.
  • Ensure that the Quick removal radio button is selected.
  • Click the OK button.

That’s it!

The great imponderables: will my phone cause an air crash?

Oh dearThe ether is absolutely sodden with electromagnetic radiation in myriad wavelengths. Am I to believe that the navigation system of a modern aircraft is so vulnerable that a text message from the social secretary is going to consign me (and not a few fellow travelers) to an early and fiery demise?

I must turn off my cellphone and my laptop at takeoff and landing. I’ve lost track of what I’m supposed to do with my cellphone after that – I play safe and leave it off anyway.

My question is: if I, or someone with an even shorter attention span than mine, should inadvertently forget to turn off one of these devices, what’s the worst case scenario?

  • Will the aircraft make an awful mess just beyond the end of the runway?
  • Will I just toast the air con system?
  • Even worse, will I end up in Paris, Texas instead of Paris – you know, the real one.
    No, not Paris Hilton.

This is a bit of a worry. Is my continued existence dependent upon 400 people on a 747 all remembering to turn off their cellphones?

We’re being conned, I fear.