Introducing Tech Talk. Think “Dear Abby” but instead of relationship advice the topic is technology. If you have any questions about software, hardware, internet, programming, web pages, blogs, video games, video consoles, cell phones, money saving technology, local tech resources, security, error messages, virus, spyware, or any other topic concerning technology that you would like answered write to Tech Talk. The questions and answers will be printed and available on “The Contemplation”.
Evergreen Country Shopper
Attention: Tech Talk
P.O. Box 408
417 9th Ave. W.
Ashland, WI 54806
People ask me, “Where do you get your information, why do you keep up with technology?” Readers should know my background. The last Washington DC position I held, before moving Ashland, was the Technical Lead for the Multmedia & Library Services, Foreign Service Institute, U.S. Department of State (FSI/EX/MLS). Before that it was Library of Congress PAO, and even a stint on K-Street for a total of 15 years on Capital Hill. I was there when Al Gore opened the internet to everyone, I was on “Good Morning America” demoing digital copies of the Dead Sea Scrolls. I received many awards for my computer development, programming and leadership.
Basically I am not just a geek, I am a uber-geek. No, I do not live in my Mom’s basement. No, I do not live and die by computers. But I must confess I used to come home from my job (on computers) and login to my home computer to play computer games or connect via web with other geeks until 3am. Being smart and a geek used to be a bad thing tantamount to social suicide. Now just about everyone has a computer, cell phone, gaming console and/or a geeky gadget. It is cool to be geeky and we tech heads are more or less socially accepted. Geeks have come out of the social closet, set trends and brought back “smart is sexy”.
When you work for a company or government agency everyone has basically the same computer, same software and tech support is technology centric. For the Department of State it is a Microsoft exclusive government agency. Which means tech support, software, operating systems all are Microsoft. It was shocking to see people’s faces, in meeting, when I mentioned anything other than a Microsoft Windows product for development. The dependency on Microsoft is scary and daunting. Everyone using the exact operating system, software, hardware and updates — which means that holes or security leaks are shared by everyone. This is why viruses are dangerous to most US Government agencies; hack one, you can hack ‘em all.
I am not anti-Microsoft, I just think it is irrelevant to which operating system one prefers. In my home I have Linux, Apple and Microsoft computers. But I am now a web-user. I am not stuck to any specific installed software and I work 90% online. No matter which computer I use I have access to my documents, spreadsheets, presentations, software and other programs. If you are familiar with past Tech Talk articles you have found that there isn’t anything you can’t do online — for free. So, basically what operating system you choose to use is less important than your browser. More and more people are moving away from the desktop to a cloud or online exclusive lifestyle.
In Europe it is now against the law for Microsoft to just install or default to Internet Explorer on any Microsoft Windows computer; Microsoft hashed it out late last year with European antitrust regulators who claimed Internet Explorer’s prominent place on the Windows desktop gives Microsoft an unfair advantage in the browser market. To fix the situation, Microsoft agreed to add a ballot screen and let the user choose which of the selected 12 browsers they would like to install and use; this ballot screen has been made active March 01, 2010.
The EU Microsoft Window users have been happy with the ballot box while Microsoft losing shares for their IE browser. Other browsers are reporting increase in use, especially Opera with 153% increase in downloads. Opera has numerous integrated security features, tab management, on-exit tab saving without reminder, session saver, flash & image ad-blockers. It is not limited to just your computer, Opera can be installed on web-enabled phones and those who have Wii are familiar with Opera.
The lobbying group European Committee for Interoperable Systems (ECIS) is urging the rest of the world to push Microsoft into offering the browser ballot screen. Until then here are the 12 browser options from the EU Microsoft browser ballot (random order) most are available for Mac and Linux.
- Microsoft Internet Explorer
- Mozilla Firefoxx
- Apple Safari
- Google Chrome
- FlashPeak Slim Browser
- Green Browser
- Avant Browser
Next time you think about installing or buying software, send out an email to Tech Talk (firstname.lastname@example.org). There is a lot of stuff on the internet and some of it isn’t safe and some free stuff might cost you your security. Before you download think of “Hill Street Blues” and Sergeant Esterhaus,”Hey, let’s be careful out there.”
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