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Changing times, busy times and why Google will save Usenet.

I can’t believe its been almost a month since my last post, suffice to say I am almost through one of the busiest periods of my life and have battled that mammoth of tasks – The house move.  The problems were compounded by the fact that my new home is a considerable distance from my last and for those that know me will agree that I’m not the most organized of beasts when it comes to dealing with multi-faceted tasks.

Its funny, the hardest things in relation to the move were the easy little things which you put low on the priorities and end up forgetting about.

Talking of priorities, those in the tech world for me have changed, or should I say, diversified greatly over the years.  Have I gone back to using Microsoft products? No, but my reasons for avoiding them are rather different now to when I first started advocating Linux in a public forum around 2008.  At the time Microsoft was the “big player” over much tech, whilst people were still cursing about Vista, they were not prepared it seemed, to move in droves to Linux.  Linux has seen gains over the years (and I am talking about desktop Linux here), however it doesn’t matter what figures you wish to attribute to desktop Linux, its not managed to take a sizable bite out of Windows, at least in the hearts and minds of the mainstream consumer.

Linux however has succeeded by way of form factors diversifying.  Be it Android phones or tablets there is a big shift with the mainstream consumer in terms of what devices they want and here Linux has excelled.

In 2008 my decision remove my Microsoft dependency was for reasons of the control they had on the desktop, the practices alleged against them and the dubious tactics some of their advocates used to promote the products.  I also wholeheartedly agree with the ethos of FOSS which was another contributory factor.  Today, my feelings about FOSS have not changed, there are caveats to my opinions of FOSS (especially in gaming) but I’ve covered that before in other articles.

Today I avoid Microsoft not because I feel the need to make a stand against its behaviour, its because I don’t need them.  I support Microsoft being a “choice” in the market as I support user freedom, but as for what Microsoft can offer me (regardless of its past) there is nothing.

There was one time where I could take delight in a Microsoft failure, seeing the “mighty giant” fail had a sense of justice to it.  Now? Microsoft is having to compete for its business rather than merely throwing money at it.  And what do we see when Microsoft tries to innovate? – Not much in my view; or certainly nothing I am interested in. 

I think people forget that Microsoft is a business and any actions from it are as a result of the people working there, not “Microsoft” itself which is merely a name.  Maybe the future Microsoft will be a more friendly company?  – It matters not, if we remove the desktop from the equation, its competing in a marketplace it can no longer dictate to.

A few years ago I was installing many Linux installations, today (forgetting that I’ve moved) I’m making less.  Is this because desktop Linux cannot compete with Windows? No, its because when I talk to my “average user” friends, they have tablets and smartphones, their desktop machine is years old and gathering dust in the corner of the room.

I’ve now had over 3 months exclusively on a Chromebook and find that with writing my novel (and getting other tasks done) I don’t actually need a desktop system either.  Will I go back to a traditional desktop? Probably, since my usage of the Chromebook was mainly due to wanting to be productive whilst travelling.

Google will save Usenet!

Yes, you read that correctly.  Usenet – home of those who think they are experts (and in a few cases they are) is the remit of the tech minded – or so it used to be.  Now the tech minded is either gone or engaged in flame wars about the most pointless off topic posts you can possibly imagine.   For some of these people its a way of life, they have no other status or identity in the world wide web (who as a rule wouldn’t put up with their nonsense) so they return year after year, arguing with the same people, trapped in a sort of abusive causality loop.

Many of these “experts” have an issue with Google Groups (a portal if you will for people to post to Usenet) believing that Google Groups encourages trolling and flaming? yet seemingly oblivious to the plethora of “official” ways you can post to Usenet and achieve the very same goals.  I would argue that Google Groups is the one thing that can save Usenet where you have a generation of people locked into petty battles with very little “new blood” entering.  How many users of the net even know what Usenet is?  Google Groups takes a little of the mystery away by merely giving users a “portal” which many would probably not even know that they were posting to Usenet.  And this is what Usenet needs if its discussion groups are to keep going – new users.  How many users do you know who are interested in Usenet? Would they go out and get themselves a provider and then trawl the various groups looking for discussion?  Or would it be more reasonable to suggest people would be attracted to today’s forums, maybe offered on a web site they were visiting.

So next time someone suggests that Google Groups is bad for Usenet, consider what I propose.  Or maybe you consider that the current generation with constant flaming/abuse is something that will encourage new users in enough numbers to keep it a viable place?  The only reason that Usenet still has companies in business offering access is because of the piracy in the binaries that runs rampant.

Anyway, enough food for thought.

Take care all.  See you hopefully in another post within the next few days.

Thanks for reading.

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Online tech writer, novelist/author of sci-fi literature and co-host of the TechBytes Show! I believe in multi-culturalism & diversity. Luton Town FC supporter.

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about.me

Tim Wilson

Tim Wilson

Writer/Novelist of many facets both in the world of technology and fantasy/sci-fi. Co-host of the TechBytes audiocast and writer for both OpenBytes and Goblin's Domain. Supporter of free and open source software.

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