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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I hate facebook

I have a short rant to end the day, brought on by my ever increasing tie-in between the web and my desktop (now KDE 4.3):

I hate facebook.

It's not that I hate it the way I hate Myspace, which I hate because it's so easy to make horribly annoying web pages. It's not even that I hate it the way I hate Microsoft, which I hate because their business engages in unethical practices.

I hate it because it's a walled garden. Not that I have a problem with walled gardens in principle, but it's just so inaccessible - which is exactly what the facebook owners want. If you can only get at facebook through the facebook interface, you have to see their adds, which makes them money, if you ever get sucked into them. (You now have to manually opt out of having your picture used in adds for your friends... its a new option for your profile in your security settings, if you don't believe me.)

Seriously, the whole facebook wall can be recreated with twitter, the photo albums with flickr, the private messages with gmail.... and all of it can be tied together in one place. Frankly, I suspect that's what Google's "Wave" will be.

If I could integrate my twitter account with my wall on facebook, that would be seriously useful - but why should I invest the energy to update my status twice? Why should I have to maintain my own web page AND the profile on facebook...

Yes, it's a minor rant, but I just wanted to put that out there. Facebook is a great idea and a leader of it's genre, but in the end, it's going to die if its community starts drifting towards equivalent services that are more easily integrated into the desktop. I can now update twitter using an applet on my desktop - but facebook still requires a login so that I can see their adds.

Anyhow, If you don't believe me about where this is all going, wait to see what Google Wave and Chrome do for you. I'm willing to bet desktop publishing will have a whole new meaning, and on-line communities will be a part of your computer experience even before you open your browser window.

For a taste of what's now on my desktop, check out the OpenDesktop, Remember the Milk and microblog ( or even Choqok) plasmoids.

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Sunday, December 2, 2007

New Laptop... with a refund?

Well, I took the plunge today. After struggling to get through grad school without a laptop for the past year, I've decided I can't take it anymore. The computer I use at work is an ancient IBM, which does an admirable job of running Ubuntu, but really just isn't up to the tasks I set it. So, with pending conferences, presentations, committee meetings and some serious programming likely in the next few months, I figured I've got shell out the money for a laptop. In fact, I've purchased a Vostro 1000 for $649 CDN... not too shabby, I think.

My plan A was to buy an Ubuntu laptop from Dell Canada, but after waiting for 8 months for that program to come north of the border, I've realized it's probably not going to happen in a time frame I'm comfortable with. It's only for a few select markets. So, I had to kick into plan B: I've bought the laptop, and I'm going to try to get an O/S refund from Dell.

It's not malicious or trying to get revenge - I just don't want to pay for software that I will be deleting straight away, once I turn on the laptop. I think it's wrong to bundle in an operating system, and force you to pay for it - so I'm going to try to get my money back.

This isn't a wild crusade - I have heard of people getting back money from Dell before, anywhere from $10 - $110, with no real regularity to what's received. Such as these links:

here, here, and here.

The internet is full of personal accounts of this working - so I think it's my turn to try. Besides, as a grad student, getting back $100 is worth about 10 hours of my time - I'm willing to give it a shot. Watch out Dell Service Reps... here I come.

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