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Hmmm…

The BBC reports on a New PC to encourage older users

A new computer aimed at people aged over 60 who are unfamiliar with PCs and the internet has been unveiled.

The simplified desktop – called SimplicITy – has just six buttons directing users to basic tasks such as e-mail and chat.

The computer comes pre-loaded with 17 video tutorials from television presenter Valerie Singleton.

The computer is built using Linux operating system, a free operating system that can be customised by users.

If people decide they no longer need the SimplicITy desktop, they can replace it with a standard Linux desktop.

The point a lot of people miss is that Linux can be simple to use for simple things, i.e. using a computer as an appliance, like a typewriter and telephone. As long as you aren’t interested in the newest games or most advanced multi-media applications, it is really straight forward. By using Linux, these people are avoiding a lot of the pitfalls that can be annoying and expensive, like computer viruses and trojans.

If we had wider availability of broadband in this country at a reasonable price, this would be a nice addition.

8 comments

1 Badtux { 11.11.09 at 10:28 pm }

There’s one thing, and one thing only, that drove me away from Linux on the home desktop: Multimedia plugins. It was a constant battle to be able to view popular web sites, because each new revision of the common multimedia plugins you’d have to go find somebody with Windows and copy the multimedia DLL’s out of his system onto yours. That’s because both Microsoft and Apple patent WMV and Quicktime (respectively) and release them only on Mac and Windows, meaning you can’t legally view that content on Linux.

Otherwise, KUbuntu 9.10 on my big server running the latest KDE kicks Windows 7’s butt big-time. It’s easier to use, faster, prettier, more configurable, more functional. I have a two-generations-back nVidia 3D video card, it was about upper middle class in their range at the time, not top of the line. I set a 3D benchmark going and then started grabbing wobbly windows and waving them around. 60fps. I started rotating my desktops around in a cube and wiggling it back and forth while the benchmark was still running. 60fps. Smooooooth. Meanwhile, Windows 7 halts and staggers like a drunk on skid row the night after the welfare checks arrive, and while granted my Linux box has a dual-core 2.4ghz processor, 8gb of memory, and 3TB of RAID5 storage (three 7200rpm SATA drives), I’m running Windows 7 on a laptop with 2.53mhz next-generation dual-core processor, 4GB of memory, and an nVidia chipset that’s almost as fast as my two-generations-back discrete nVidia card in the Linux server. And a 5400rpm 640GB hard 2 1/2″ drive isn’t *that* much slower than my software RAID system. Yet Windows 7 acts like a slug on this high-end laptop… pathetic. Just pathetic.

Unfortunately it’s the only game in town if you don’t have the chops to hack Linux to show multimedia websites and can’t afford the Apple Tax. Gosh, y’know, the believers in the Free Market Fairy would say that the free market would take care of this. Err… no. The problem is patents, patents are a government intervention in the free market. Yet the believers in the Free Market Fairy *never* propose doing away with patents. Which just goes to show that they don’t *really* believe in the Free Market Fairy, all they *really* believe in is their Lord and Savior, the Almighty Dollar.

– Badtux the Snarky Penguin

2 hipparchia { 11.11.09 at 10:50 pm }

of course they believe in the free market fairy, you just have your qualifiers mixed up. they believe that the market fairy should be free to favor them. free [market fairy] as opposed to [free market] fairy.

3 Bryan { 11.11.09 at 11:00 pm }

There is no doubt that multimedia is the weakness, and like you say, it is because the US patents software unlike the rest of world.

I’m more text oriented, so that difference is fairly irrelevant to me, and most of the graphic heavy web sites are just annoying.

My clients simply refuse to give up their security blanket, so I don’t have any choice if I want to continue working, even part-time, in the near future.

It has been bloatware since Win95 and has only gotten worse. There is no attempt to make it efficient, they just increase the hardware requirements.

4 Bryan { 11.11.09 at 11:09 pm }

We were posting at the same time, Hipparchia. Yes, it all comes down to punctuation.

5 Badtux { 11.12.09 at 10:41 am }

Windows 7 is actually more efficient than Vista was. But that’s what I call “damning with faint praise”, given how bloated Vista was.

Windows 95 wasn’t really bloatware. I found it to be more efficient than Linux running a modern “X” window manager back in the day, you compared Windows 98 (the patched release w/full capabilities) against KDE 1.0, Windows was smaller and faster. For that matter, even when we get up to Windows XP, Windows was still smaller and less bloated than an equivalent KDE setup, the netbooks that originally shipped with Linux shipped a stripped down version of Linux mostly because of performance reasons (Windows couldn’t really tolerate those 1st-generation SSD’s used in the early netbooks). Then Windows Vista. Wow.

Of course, the Windows 95 GUI, which was later ripped out of Windows 95 and placed into the NT 4.0 kernel, is so primitive and crude technologically compared to KDE that it’s like comparing stone adze vs. a Cat D9 bulldozer. It requires applications to manage their own window widgets, for cryin’ out loud, and requires applications to move their own windows when they get move requests rather than having any concept of a window in and of itself to allow moving a window somewhere else without application intervention. And it doesn’t do save-behinds so you can’t do fast window switching and this is enforced by the fundamental design of the bloody thing — because applications, not a window manager, draw their windows, it’s simply impossible for the UI to do save-behinds. Thus why when an application freezes, you can’t $%@! get it out of the way in order to get to your desktop to click on another application. Also why most Windows applications take over the whole screen as if you were running a single-application DOS machine. Microsoft justified this originally as, “our approach is more efficient than the approach used by every other windowing GUI in existence.” But as the latest Ubuntu+KDE proves, that’s *not* true on modern hardware. Because the window manager can communicate directly with the “X” server which in turn communications directly with the graphics chip to do window moves and save-behinds and stuff, re-arranging your windows is *much* faster on Ubuntu, because it’s being done by hardware on the graphics card, not by applications tediously re-drawing their own windows… and the Windows UI, *by fundamental design*, simply can’t do this.

6 Bryan { 11.13.09 at 12:25 am }

Well, when you consider all of the additional code that applications programmers had to insert for no purpose other than screen management, and the fact that every application reacted slightly differently, perhaps it could be called “bloat-by-proxy-ware”. Even piece of software I used exploded in size and things that you could run off a diskette required hard drives to even start.

There are days when I pine for DOS 3.1 as something running in the background locks up for no known reason.

After the massive security update last month, MS has pushed two so far this month. Then there’s HP updating its stuff. I have no idea how I would cope without DSL. On dial-up I would still be waiting for Service Pack 3 to finish loading.

7 Badtux { 11.13.09 at 2:20 pm }

Windows XP runs fine on 512MB of RAM. Windows 7 barely runs on 512MB of RAM even if you turn off all effects in the various locations devoted to that (why the heck did Microsoft hide some of those settings in the ACCESSIBILITY control panel? ARGH!). In 1GB of RAM Windows 7 is a dog. In 2GB of RAM, Windows 7 *FINALLY* runs well. Of course, to be able to give Windows 7 2GB of RAM, I had to pump up my MacBook Pro to 8GB of RAM total (which currently costs $400!) if I wanted to run anything else alongside Windows 7, so add *that* to the cost of Windows 7…

One of the things Apple did right in iPhoneOS was to require all approved applications to use Apple’s UI toolkit. Every app looks the same, ever app has the same usability, and the apps are much smaller than if they hauled their own UI toolkits around. Of course, Apple’s iPhone OS is evil in other ways (no multitasking? WTF?), but that’s one of the things they did right.

Regarding Windows 7 security updates popping out like Octomom spawn, yeah, that’s hilarious! Windows 7 is supposed to be this super-secure OS or some sh*t like that? Yeah, pull the other flipper!

8 Bryan { 11.13.09 at 3:42 pm }

Wait until the bored hackers in the former Eastern Bloc really get up to speed on Win 7. Claiming to be secure is just a goad to them. They will be pushing each other for milestones in tearing down the defenses. They aren’t script-kiddies; they actually have to use assembler and raw C to get their knock-off hardware to run new software, that’s why two of the better Win anti-virus programs are from Slovakia and Russia. They know what their friends and school chums are up to.

The Mac has always kicked Win butt on consistency which makes it much easier to use because the experience is transferable from application to application. In an environment like that much of the “ease of use” annoyance disappears – it becomes easy because you only have to learn how to do something in one program, and that process works for others.

Inertia is all that MS has to protect its base, and it can’t help screwing that up.