The Good The Bad And The Ugly

I don't get too stressed by people and organisations that piss me off, so this page won't turn into a rant. Instead, I'll name and shame them, and let you decide if they deserve it.

The Good

Here's a list of people and things that made the world a little better.

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Richard Stallman

Founder of the Free Software Foundation, and probably more importantly, a political activist demanding freedom (primarily within the field of computer science). Read his biography - its free, as in freedom, and its called Free as in Freedom.

Jakarta

Open source Java solution providers (I'd prefer them to be free as in freedom, rather than open, but never mind). I've used Tomcat, Struts and Lucene - all highly recommended. Part of The Apache Software Foundation.

Mozilla

Being open source developer is not just about having an open source license. Its also about creating an open product. Mozilla isn't just a browser, its a browser engine. Just as one type of car engine can be used by more than one type of car, Mozilla's engine (called Gecko) can be used in more than one browser. Today the browser hype is all about Firefox - the latest and greatest browser. I've got the choice of browsers, and I prefer Galeon, beacuse it has a superior user interface and uses the same Gecko engine.

Netscape

He who fights evil must surely be good. Netscape handed over its browser source code to the open source community. They did it to protect their web server business. If Microsoft won the browser wars, then they would be able to dominate and deviate the web's open standards. It was a harsh road to travel, but now, finally, the open source community has the best browser, and so open standards can continue to flourish on the net.

The Bad

In some ways, this list is harder than "The Good". Its too easy to say that someone is bad, when in fact they are merely "different".

Software Patents Holders

Software patents are such a bad idea. I'm not advocating software piracy, or preventing people owning and selling software. Copyright exists to prevent piracy, and allow computer programmers to own and sell their produce. Patents are about owning ideas. Here's just a few ideas that have already been patented. If you use them, then in theory, you must pay the owner of the idea, even if you coded everything yourself from scratch (and even if you were unaware of the patent). The FSF are against patents too. Copyright is good - patents are evil. Say No to Software Patents

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Window Media Player

I have nothing bad to say about the quality of the product - I'm sure it works beautifully. Its bad in the same way that a drug dealer outside a school is bad (despite the quality of the crack). Microsoft give away a free (as in beer) media player, and take away your freedom. You are coerced into creating wma files, turning you into a wma junkie. If you want to play your wma files, you will be paying Microsoft (the wma drug dealer) for the privilege. Lets be clear; mp3 is not a free format either, for every mp3 device that you buy, some of the cost goes to the mp3 format owners. However, the mp3 owners are not hanging outside the metaphorical school gates, they are giving people a choice (use mp3 / don't use mp3). They aren't pushers, they are more like a respectable "coffee shop" in Amsterdam. Don't be a mug, avoid wma - just say no!.

NTL - My Internet Service Provider

I used to subscribe to their cable TV package (to get Film Four). I then upgraded from analogue to digit paying an extra £2 a month, and getting many more channels into the bargain (most of which are rubbish). After one year, they DOUBLED the price WITHOUT NOTICE. They said it was a special offer for one year only (but I wasn't told this when I upgraded - I wouldn't have bothered otherwise). I immediately cancelled my subscription. I'm still using NTL's phone and internet service, but only because they are billing me incorrectly (Shhh - don't tell!). Their billing department is as useless as their technical support.

This web site is hosted on an ic24 broadband service. Its not the cheapest broadband you can get, but I'm happy with it. One excellent feature is its free static ip address - soething that NTL does not offer.

The Ugly

Windows File System

I honestly can't believe that Microsoft can get way selling so many copies of windows, when the file system is so very bad. What the hell is "C:/"? Its the next disk drive after the two floppy drives! End users shouldn't have to know about hard drives and their names. Adding an extra hard drive shouldn't look any different to the end user, but in Windows, a new drive letter appears D:/. That would be bad enough on its own, but it also changes the drive letter of your CD-ROM. EEEHHhHHHh!

CMD.EXE (aka command.exe)

Never heard of it? Well, its Microsoft's version of a shell. Unix has had excellent shells for years - the Bourne shell being the most famous, along with bash (Bourne Again SHell). Given the amount of time Microsoft have had to copy a good idea, its crazy that windows users are stuck with such an ugly runt of a shell.

The Windows Installer

The programmers know its crap, and I feel sorry for them. Imagine spending your working life working on such a piece of junk - unable to do anything about it. People say that windows is user friendly compared to GNU/Linux - Huh!?! To correctly set up a windows machine with all of the correct device drivers. It will take ages and your computer will be rebooted 10 times or more. Also, you have to sit there, feeding it each device driver disk in turn, clicking a button once every 5 minutes. With a typical GNU/Linux, all the mouse clicks are done at the beginning, the machine only reboots once, and you only have to feed it 2 cds (now 1 dvd). What's more, it takes a fraction of the time and you end up with more software (such as a complete office suite, and decent graphic package).

Netscape 4 and Older Browsers

In the days of Netscape 4 and I.E. 5, writing web sites was awful. The two browsers were incompatible, and each had their own set of bugs, but Netscape 4 drove me mad, so it goes on the Ugly list.