The Times Journal & Russell County News
Wednesday, Jul. 23, 2014 — RUSSELL SPRINGS & JAMESTOWN, KENTUCKY — russellcounty.net
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Tales from the Dorkside
In April 9 Issue
By Jeff Smith, Columnist

Windows is the worst part of being a computer repair technician. It truly is. People of all walks of life are starting to use computers, and while part of me thinks that this is fairly awesome, there are some people who just really aren't up to the task of using Windows with the proper mind frame. When an ad pops up telling them that they have viral or spyware infections, they believe it. Then they click the popup and proceed to willingly download something harmful to their computer. The average user has not learned to take flashy internet ads with a grain of salt. Especially the ads with the Microsoft trademarked security shield. Those are usually the worst. It's just a picture folks. That's all it is. It is as easy for spyware makers to copy that shield and use it in their scary little ads as it is for someone to copy your Facebook picture and pretend that they are you. Yeah, sure it is trademarked and it is illegal to use it, but it is also illegal to create spyware programs in the first place. A little copyright infringement isn't going to stop them from doing whatever it takes to make you believe their baloney.

And Windows itself is so full of security holes that it is practically crying out to be infected. Most users who bring their machines to me to be disinfected don't even know how they got infected in the first place!

It happens so quickly, and sometimes so silently that your computer is sitting there humming along spitting out spam emails to anyone and everyone, and you don't even have the slightest clue, or else they leave it for an hour and come back and find that something has locked it down to where it won't even open programs anymore.

I was explaining this to someone the other day, and she, incredulous at my opinion, asked what was she really supposed to do about it, because "Without Windows, it's just a box that sits there."

So I'm gonna break it down for you like I did for her. Windows is but one of many different operating systems. And it isn't even the best one. Far from it. Its buggy, it is insecure, and the only thing, THE ONLY THING that it has going for it, is that it is the most popular of the bunch. It isn't the most popular because it is the best, it is the most popular because it was one of the first ones that was easy enough for Mr. Joe Average to use day in and day out. But although it may have gained this title by being first, that isn't the same thing as saying it is the best. There are other operating systems out there that do a great job, are easy to install, easy to use, and are as secure as Fort Knox to viruses, spyware, and hackers.

While Microsoft was busy becoming the behemoth that it currently is, other operating systems arrived that manage to do all the same things, but without the insecurities that make using Windows such a pain. And while almost everyone is aware of the Apple alternatives, they are also acutely aware that Apple wastes no time in draining your wallet.

So what other choice is there? Well, there's quite a few actually. Linux, my personal favorite, has over 500 different version, with Ubuntu Linux leading the herd as far as usability and new user support.

Surely one of those will meet your needs without leaving a hole open for all of the digital vermin that roam the net. Don't like Linux? What about BSD? Thats the operating system that Macintosh is based off of. Unlike Apple's version, BSD is free. Leave it to Steve Jobs to take something freely available and charge an arm and a leg for it. There's also Solaris, Beos... Even AmigaOS is set to make a comeback.

Perhaps you aren't up for learning something new... that's fine. Stick with Windows. I or someone else will be there to clean it off and save your files when (not if) it gets eaten alive by viruses and spyware. In fact an entire industry has sprung up to try to cover for Microsoft's faulty programming skills. Linux, BeOS, BSD and Solaris don't need antivirus software, unlike Windows, they were written with security in mind from the beginning, rather than having it applied slapdash like an afterthought by Norton and McAfee. These other operating systems are not inherently insecure like Windows is. But if you wanna keep on like you have been, be my guest. Surf the web jumping at shadows, run your virus scans and hope and pray that your data hasn't been compromised. Keep it up for as long as it takes for you to realize that Windows is every bit as horrible as I have said. But don't ever forget for a moment that you have alternatives.

Free, secure, stable alternatives that will run better ON THE HARDWARE THAT YOU HAVE NOW than Microsoft Windows.

Your computer wouldn't be "a box that just sits there" if Windows didn't exist. It would be, perhaps for the first time since you bought it, dependable.

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The Times Journal is a weekly newspaper issued on Thursdays. It was first published on October 13, 1949, by Andrew J. and Terry Norfleet.
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Russell County News is a weekly newspaper issued on Saturdays, and is mailed free to every address in Russell County, Ky. It was first published on February 1, 1913.
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