jueves, 29 de septiembre de 2011

Winds of Change...

Last week, my university approved the use of open source software officially and adopted Open Document Format (ODF) as its standard. The TV news even covered the decision!

Yesterday, two ex-students greeted me with the words "Professor, we need Linux!" and one of them offered to leave her laptop with me to get it fueled by Tux as soon as possible.

Today, another professor told me that he has been looking for vendors who offer PCs with Linux pre-installed in my country.

Slowly, more people will get the chance to try different tech-related options...with a bit of luck, they might even realize that their freedom has been restricted and a number of them may want to take it back...

That would be great! The more informed individuals are, the more difficult it will be for big companies to force their customers to accept poor deals "because that's how computers work."

viernes, 16 de septiembre de 2011

The Joke of Customer Privacy and Rights

According to this article, Microsoft is being sued because its smartphones with Windows 7 come with a very outstanding --and smart-- feature: they track you down!

What's the problem with that if Apple and Google do the same?

Well, apparently, the system designed by Microsoft asks you for your permission to "collect geographical data" (good!!) but it keeps tracking you even if you choose not to give it your consent. WOW! That's what I call innovative!

Now, this is not just about MS. My concern here is more about technology meddling with people's privacy and rights...and with people accepting it sheepishly or worse, ignoring about it totally. "Privacy is dead," apparently said Zuck from Facebook...

I'm not against a company's tracking or information-collecting practices...as far as customers agree to that. But how come they can still do it even after people have said "no"?

Is this the way we are headed? Are we at the mercy of companies? Is it that individuals have lost all their rights and now the only rights that count are those of the corporate entities?

Technology advances faster than our ethical vision does, it seems...

domingo, 11 de septiembre de 2011

Linux Is Dead...and My Students See Dead Linux!

Yesterday, I took my little netbook to my second Japanese class (the course started last week).

When I booted Mepis 11, I remembered that last course, one of my students had asked me "teacher, is that Linux?", so I wondered if one of my new students would ask me the same question...

But no, this time it didn't happen. Things were a bit different.

Some of my students grinned when they saw my system projected on the whiteboard. Evidently, they recognized it was not Microsoft's doing...

And then, came the question...

No, it wasn't "teacher, is that Linux?"

This time, the question was "teacher, what Linux distribution is that one?"

Right...Linux is dead. So dead that nowadays I seem to encounter more people who know about it. True, they are not counted by millions, but this shows that the hegemony of Windows is not as solid as it used to be.

This is something educational institutions should pay attention to. The era of "you need MS this and MS that to view this page" is reaching its end. Educational institutions should notice that more students, maybe a minority, don't play by MS standards. As with all minorities, their right must be respected.

jueves, 1 de septiembre de 2011

25,000 Children Are about to Learn Sugar!

Good news today! I read in the news that the Ministry of Education in my country is about to provide 25,000 laptops for several elementary schools in two years. These laptops are the XO-1 models by the project OLPC (One Laptop Per Child).

The news had written "Top Notch Technology" as a subtitle for the section that described Sugar, the OS of these computers. It also mentioned "fomenting critical thinking." Nice!

What does this mean? Simply put, that 25,000 kids are about to learn computing without Windows. Their first computing experience will be with Sugar, a Linux-based OS. Add that to all the kids who are nowadays using Android and what do you get? A new generation of kids for whom Redmond's OS is not necessarily THE Operating System.

Of course, I'm expecting Microsoft to retalitate...let's see how long it takes! :P