Friday, August 26, 2011

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Why have you switched to GNU/Linux?

A long time ago when I was using Windows I realized that many applications were trying to constrain me from doing certain tasks. I was unable to play a certain format or had to install applications that I did not want on my system. I started to think critically as to why I am using Windows and if there is some kind of alternative that I could use instead. Prior to this, I used Mac OS but I knew that both operating systems are proprietary and want to limit the end user. I got tired of being manipulated to use a particular application and having bloatware already pre-installed on my computer. After searching the Internet for alternatives to Mac OS and Windows I found this really cool operating system that is called GNU/Linux. I didn't know much about the OS but I gave it a shot. I played around with several distributions till I found one that fit my needs. When I started using Linux, which was more than a decade ago it was still relatively hard to use and it was mostly for hobbyists. However, it was the concept of open source that kept me intrigued. I loved the fact that no single company such as Microsoft or Apple had any of their applications installed on my computer. I had the power for the first time to modify my system as thoroughly as I wanted, from little tweaks to major changes that required know-how. Today, I am happy that I switched to Linux full time. My system is fast, reliable and very stable. Linux enables the end user to finally have a lot of power. Over the years I have seen Linux mature and evolve. It has developed from something basic and geeky to a full featured operating system that anyone can use. Today, the Linux operating system is ready for anyone who is searching for an alternative to expensive and proprietary software.

Everyone has a different story why they switched to Linux. I would like to hear your story and why you made the switch. Was it financial, political, technical or other? Are you using Linux on a Server, Desktop, Laptop, Netbook, Tablet or another device? Please leave your comments below and tell us why have you switched to GNU/Linux?

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Students! Don't get scammed for back to school computer shopping.

There are only a few more weeks left before students go back to school and technology companies are gearing up for one of the most busiest seasons of the year.

Even though having a laptop is not mandatory for college or university studies, students often justify the purchase by saying that they need it desperately for school. I have worked in several large computer stores that have back to school specials for students and let me tell you that its all about revenue and scamming the customers. These large computer stores want to extract as much money as possible from customers and are willing to go the distance in confusing students and their parents in order to make that extra profit. For example, I was told shamelessly straight to my face when buying a netbook that the company does not make a lot of money from the sale of a laptop and that I should purchase something else on top.

This is why all associates are forced to upsell and skew the truth. These people tell you that you need a CD created in order for your computer to have a backup. This extra service is only $60. For extra $100 they will setup your computer to be "ready to use". This is a major scam because anyone can do this setup by themselves with only a few clicks of the mouse when they boot up their system for the first time. My wife was once told that she can get a recovery disc created by them for only $100, as the laptop she was purchasing did not come with one. When she asked if she could do it herself, she was told that it wasn't possible, but that she can bring the laptop back later on and it can still be done. When she got home and booted the computer for the first time, it gave her an option to burn a recovery CD which was a breeze to make.

However, even if you do not buy into the "setup your computer" argument the associate will tell you that there are tons of viruses out there that will destroy your precious data and you will have to buy antivirus. But don't worry because its on special for just $80. Another tactic they like to use is to sell you extended warranty that is about $120 to $250. This enables you to bring the computer back to the place you bought it instead of shipping it to the manufacturer. Just a side note: Manufacturers have a great service and will replace your computer for free if its still in warranty and shipping is paid by them. I shipped several laptops back to various manufacturers and the service is very fast, professional and efficient.


After pressuring you to hand over hundreds of dollars for a laptop or a netbook, they try to sell you optical drives, mice, cases and many other peripherals. Many times I have overheard associates lying to customers about what they need just to sell the extra package so that they can get a bonus/commission or just to get their manager of their backs. Even though associates in these large stores try to be polite and smile to your face, they are scamming you for hundreds of dollars out of your hard earned money just because you are unaware about what you really need. And if that fails, many stores increase the price of the product and try to sell you the whole "better value" package, without having the option to buy the computer without those unnecessary "upgrades".

Another money waster is when students drag their parents to an Apple store and demand the latest computer hardware for their University studies. Apple computers are very expensive but all that students see is the nice shiny box and the cool factor. Being like everyone else is not cool and PCs are hundreds of dollars cheaper and do the same thing that most Apple laptops do. Save yourself or your parents some cash and get a PC laptop instead. Apple products will not increase your grades and will not make you any cooler either.

Therefore, this back to school season do some serious research about what you need and don't need and do not be pressured into buying additional things that you might regret later or realize that it was a waste of your money. Majority of these businesses are making huge profits on the ignorance of many individuals about technology and computers.

A few good examples that you should think about might include: Do students really need the latest MacBook Pro for $2000 to type essays that can be done on a Netbook or a regular laptop? Do you need to pay additional $130 for Microsoft Office if LibreOffice is free to download and use? Do you need a firewall and Antivirus if you are smart about what files to open and follow some simple security rules? Or you can download AVG Free Anti-virus or Avast and many universities provide you with anti-virus for free while you are their student. Do you need additional warranty for $200 if shipping to a manufacturer is free and can be easily set up online? How long do you expect your laptop to last you? Do you really need to pay hundreds of dollars for an extended warranty if your netbook costs $350 and it is cheaper to buy a new one than keep fixing an old one in 3 years? Try to see through manipulative associates in big computer stores that try to scam you for hundreds of dollars and make you think that you need every one of the things they offer or your computer will blow up. Play it smart and use the money you save for your books or tuition instead because those things are not getting any cheaper....

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

XBMC: free media center for your computer

XBMC is a great media center application for your computer. It is free and open source software and licensed under GNU GPL. If you have a lot of pictures, videos, music you can all have easy access to them through XBMC media center. This application works for Windows, Linux and Mac OS. There are plenty of skins to choose from and the default one looks pretty amazing. You can add additional functionality through add ons and scripts. XBMC looks great on your computer or your living room TV and is a nice way to access your digital files. If you want additional information check out their website at XBMC. Definitely great software that people should have.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Top Documentary Films Online

Top Documentary Films is a great website that lets you browse through hundreds of videos and watch them online for free. The website has a great layout which is easy to navigate. There are many categories to choose from which range by subjects such as religion to environmentalism. The documentaries are very informative and thought provoking. If you are on the net and want to watch some educational videos then check out Top Documentary Films online.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Linux, Linux, everywhere!

Every year there are articles published about this being the "Year of Linux". I read many of them and I realized that there is no specific "Year of Linux". I also wrote my own article arguing that every year is the year of Linux and as the Linux market share grows, one day we will realize that Linux is everywhere.

Not long ago, I started to realize that Linux is already creeping up on me from all sides. People who have never heard of Linux were raving about it. They were showing me their latest gadgets and telling me how cool they were. After several months of random people going on about their gadgets I did realize that Linux is everywhere and it came upon us from an unusual source. If you haven't figured it out yet, I am talking about Android which is based on the Linux kernel. A lot of people purchasing their latest phones do not know what Linux is or that Android is based on the Linux kernel. However, they are definitely happy with their latest hardware and the many features Android has. Moreover, Android phones are selling in large quantities and are surpassing Blackberry and iPhone sales. This is amazing and the trend seems to be continuing with excellent and solid phones such as the Samsung Galaxy S2. The Galaxy S2 is a gorgeous phone and it is even better than the iPhone 4. Apple will definitely have to come up with many cool new features for the iPhone 5 to be able to compete with the Android Smartphones.

One great thing about Android is that it is not limited to cellphones only. Android is being used on netbooks and tablets which have become very popular in the last few years. Because many users who use Android on their cellphones are familiar with the operating system, they have no problems buying netbooks and tablets which run Android as well. The cellphone industry was a great way to introduce people to the Android OS and then place the software on other gadgets as well.

Walking through a Big Box computer store today you will notice how many devices are running Android as well as the massive push in advertising. This is really neat to see and I am surprised that Android is so popular among everyday users who are not tech savvy. These people are the majority of consumers and are snapping up cellphones, netbooks and tablets running Android in large numbers.

Linux is definitely everywhere and continues to grow into markets that were dominated by other operating systems before. The server market is already being dominated by Linux. Cell phones, netbooks and tablets are starting to be dominated by Android and the last frontier is the desktop in which it has limited reach so far. However, one day we might just see Linux slowly creep up on us on the desktop as well.