Tech musings from an Old Fart

That Community Spirit

When I started fooling around with Vivaldi, one of the things I noticed was the User Community. Like most newbies I had some set up issues, asked questions on the Forum and within a couple of days (or even hours) had the help I needed. It’s a great resource, and one of my favourite things about Vivaldi. It also seems to be unique: I’ve not found anything like it on any other browser I’ve tried (like Edge and Chrome, both Big Tech and their only communities appear to be restricted to qualified techies – which is definitely not me!) ; and Firefox (its community, similarly, appears a closed shop and in the form of a corporate blog that was, to all intents and purposes, focussed on advertising); and Opera – well, nothing (that I could find, anyway). So if you had a problem that could not be fixed via Help Text or those God-awful Chats that are everywhere nowadays, then you were kind of stuffed!

So keep it up, Vivaldi Community – you are brilliant.

Speaking of which….

On the subject of “communities”, why is it that Linux users are so precious? No offence, but from my past interactions (limited I admit) the average Linux fanboy seems to have an ego the size of Donald J. Trump’s. (Caveat: when I have posted Forum questions here relating to Linux the experience has been, well, Vivaldi – which is to say friendly and helpful and quick.) I’ve been toying with the idea of switching from Windows to Linux (probably Mint) for a while now, and have blogged about it here and posed questions on the Forum, but haven’t made my mind up yet. One of the main concerns I have is the feeling that, often, Linux users are “expected” – perhaps the wrong word – to have a level of technical competence that I will never have.

The number of posts I have seen in the Comments of Linux distro review videos on You Tube that are full of techie terminology that is, frankly, Martian to me, or disparaging to anybody who asks the most simple question, are beyond count. Call me old fashioned, but being talked down to in this way is a bit, well, bloody rude. The expectation seems to be that anyone thinking of switching to Linux should really spend time – weeks, months, who knows! – learning all this Terminal stuff, a bit of programming (to make the most of the customization options) and memorise a whole new dictionary or list of shortcuts, commands and what have you.

Well, no actually. That’s fine if you are a techie, young and well versed on what goes on under the hood of your laptop or other device running whichever one of the 6,000,000-odd available distros you have selected. But I remain convinced that the vast majority of end-users (especially those of a certain vintage, like me) have neither the time nor the inclination to do that. All we want is an operating system that can be easily and quickly installed, that has all the tools and programmes needed to allow us to launch the browser of our choice and surf the net at our convenience; send and receive mails; listen to music (either from a Library on our drive accessed via a simple File Manager, or via Spotify or similar, or an internet radio station of choice); do some work via a dedicated office suite featuring a word processor, spreadsheet tool and slideshow builder; and keep our pictures in proper order. And if, on installation, I have a problem with any of that I want to be able to get help without some numpty from Wisconsin or somewhere talking to me as if I’m the village idiot or something.

I thank you.

EU Mobile Phone Directive

I saw a piece somewhere the other day about some new legislation the EU has introduced (or is about to…) that aims to make it easier for mobile phone owners to maintain their handsets prolong their lives, and hence cut down on so-called e-waste (i.e. old and useless handsets thrown in the trash). The suggestion seems to be that it will force manufacturers in all markets to follow suit, since even for behemoths like Apple and Samsung producing two versions of the same model, one for Europe and one for everywhere else, is not cost effective or feasible. Which I guess is true enough.

I think this is a great idea. My daughter, my wife and I all suffered cracked screens in the recent past, and the repair costs were ludicrous. On my daughter’s it was actually cheaper to buy a new model (with a lower but still acceptable spec from a different manufacturer) than have the screen replaced. For my wife and I, since our damage was less, we opted instead for a protective screen fitting to seal the cracks, but even that cost, in total, a four figure sum. I have also noticed lately that my battery is running out much quicker, taking longer to fast charge and there seems to be some very faint image ghosting sometimes, so I suspect there is a more serious problem developing. But with a replaceable battery, like in the good old pre-iPhone days, the charging problem at least could be addressed by swapping batteries regularly to reduce wear and tear.

The article suggested that these kinds of development are likely to come within the next two years as the legislation is rolled out and I have to say I can’t wait. Pricing could be quite interesting, though….Apple, Samsung and the rest are guaranteed to treat us all to a nice price hike to pay their R&D costs.

And talking of mobiles….

I do sometimes think that there is just way too much stuff possible these days. I remember back when I had a brick of a Nokia, my first in 2000, I believe a 3310. It did all I needed: which is to say make calls, send and receive sms, and play Snake. A full charge on the (replaceable) battery could last a week. The only problem I had was in Mexico because the network I needed wasn’t supported, so for a month away from home I had to rely on the office phone and, at weekends, expensive hotel phones to stay in touch with home. But I loved it. I went up through the range via the slimline 6310 up to I think the N74 with its full QWERTY keyboard and crappy camera, via a couple of sliders, and they were all great. Then My Beloved bought me a first generation iPhone for my birthday (I wanted an iPod but there was a special deal available for the phone) and I’ve been locked into smartphones ever since.

Well, it was overwhelming. Just so much there, so many things I could do, so many things called icons to look at and press instead of clicky buttons! I loaded up my iTunes Library (all I had really wanted in the first place) so I had my music on the move, but apart from that – calls and sms. Oh, and photos, the camera was ok. Didn’t need the rest. Years went by, I changed to Samsung – mostly because I didn’t want to lock myself into the Apple universe as Apple’s devices seemed to be ludicrously expensive – and have since remained there, in Samsung/Android. And the amount of things I could do if I wanted to, now! WhatsApp, of course (I draw the line at Messenger as I can’t see the difference between the apps and I had WhatsApp first), a couple of browsers to do stuff on the internet, full sets of Google and Microsoft tools (Maps, Office, all those things), multiple games, shopping apps, mobile banking (sorry, not interested, don’t trust it – but I seem to be in the minority!), photos and music libraries, Spotify, various radio stations…. Stop! I’m getting a headache!

I hanker after my old Nokia, probably one of the sliders. Simple to use, tough, long battery life and does all I need to do. Sorry, a bit of a Luddite moment…..

Oh, and a final thought: if the computing power of the original generation of smartphones exceeded that used on NASA’s Apollo Moon missions (as is widely stated), then how far would the current grunt get us – Proxima Centauri? The Horsehead Nebula??

Thoughts, anyone?

Join the Conversation

  1. Great to see you being featured and love the post though its a bit too tech for me 🙂

  2. I agree with what you said. We need Linux to be easier if we want people to use it. I wonder how much of it is due to the difference of support that Linux experiences compared with proprietary software like Mac and Windows. It might be partly due to the average person that develops Linux’s source code may have forgotten what it is like to be a non-technical person. Thanks for pointing it out.

  3. Used Ubuntu many years ago when oh so much younger, found it passable to use but a bit of learning curve with the things like terminal and trying to process other terms the os used into pc format to help grasp what to do. Going from Amiga to PC was not so much of a curve as Amiga was ahead in using workbench and icons. still think ms stole a lot from Amiga. Anyway thought might try linux again depending on whats required to do with setup. Wonder if can still do dual boot now…

  4. Linux, yes it can seem to be a snobby tech land. Picking the right distro to start is key.

    I started with Mint, tried Ubuntu, then Manjaro. I liked Manjaro though I had limited knowledge using Linux. It was about medium level Linux, but had a friend that helped me through. Tried the different DE (Desktop Environments) and settled on KDE. But, Arch flavour Linux is more of a bleeding edge tech using rolling releases, so it kept breaking more than I liked, if not because of my own shortcomings.

    Then, I was introduced to MXLinux, which has great support. It’s not bleeding edge like Arch Linux, but my Desktop Support days are behind me and I’m beyond wanting to fix stuff regularly when it goes sidewards. The main reason I ditched Windows for early Mac X and since Steve is not at the helm…it wasn’t the same. Innovation was getting replaced with BS fanfare, not really innovative. The plug pulled headed once they try to say that the iPad was a laptop killer. Sorry guys, now you really lost me.

    Recommending you try mxLinux. It’s stable, they have a few DE’s but I still like how KDE works with making it my own.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.