The semester is almost over and the best word to describe the atmosphere around here is hectic.
Still, I've been able to notice a few cases for personal analysis and meditation:
1. A colleague's computer got useless due to a virus:
Well, not the computer. The computer is still functioning perfectly...at least as long as he keeps using his Mandriva Live CD. What got useless was his XP system. Oh, yes, I can almost hear Windows fanbois saying that it is all my imagination and that it is because the user was "extremely unlucky" or "too stupid to run A/V or anti-malware software." This one is VERY careful about security updates and runs all kinds of anti-malware programs under the sun, so he must be one of those in the "unlucky" group. Anyway, this unlucky colleague called me and told me that thanks to Mandriva, he could get his job done. That is doubly important considering the university's present times.
The question here is why if he is using Mandriva without any problem, he still wants to use XP. Because it is better? Because it is an OS that lets you get your job done? I have my hypotheses. Anyway, if he wants to keep using Windows, I think he should install Vista/7. Oh, wait. That's not necessary because XP is still well supported by Microsoft until 2014, or not?
2. Another colleague's computer got infected and is on its way to HD formatting.
Wow! Another unlucky one! Well, this has less to do with luck and more to do with plain statistics if we consider that the campus and its surrounding photocopy shops are among the most dangerous places concerning USB safety. You can actually get a pretty nasty USB malware collection in a 10-minute-walk. It doesn't matter what A/V you are running or how updated you think it is, this is Virus Land. You could play Russian Roulette with your system after plugging your USB stick into any shop's PC here or you could try another approach. How about cleaning your USB using a Linux Live CD and a few clicks?
3. Another Toshiba laptop with Windows 7 Starter started acting up.
I don't know what's happening. As ironical as it sounds, it seems that Starter decides all of a sudden not to start. Is it Toshiba? Is it Starter? I actually don't care; I use Linux. Let those who use Starter care and fix their problems right at Microsoft's Headquarters, because unlike Linux users, these computer owners do have the solid support of Microsoft, right?
4. Three more students have told me they want to install Linux.
One of them said that he'd settle for Ubuntu Natty Narwhal because its desktop was amazing. While Unity does not sum up what I consider an amazing desktop experience, I must recognize that many others do love Unity. I am more from the old school, I'd say. Having a computer behave as a giant cellphone does not sound fun to me, call it Unity, Gnome 3, or KDE Netbook. Now, if this student likes something like that, good for him. It's his call.
5. A colleague experienced a moment of "File-Type Madness" while teaching in a workshop.
She had made her multimedia presentation with PowerPoint 2007 and unknowingly saved it as a .pptx file, the default format. However, when she tried to open it on one of the university's laptops, she learned something the hard way: compatibility was not one of Microsoft's top priorities when pushing their new format. She had to use instead her tiny netbook, which runs Mandriva, and could use the presentation, albeit not 100% compatible with Open Office.
You see? That's why standards are important. That also highlights the importance of using our software with a critical eye instead of trusting it blindly.