somuchtosay.net
About
Blog
Internet
Movies & TV
Music
News
Photos
Travel

Top photo: No, I didn't steal this from work. It's from one of my old Beta SP tapes from college.
I originally wrote this back in 2000, as a bit of a rant against Microsoft, and put it on the site I had at the time. I think most of it still holds true.

Don't tell me where I want to go today.

I've been on the Web in one form or another since November 1996, I think. Started with using the access-via-email servers from home, and our limited connection at school, which eventually became a cable modem. Back when they were really new. One computer in the TV production room (where I did most of my web stuff) was running Win 3.1, and it still held its own. The other was a speedy P150 running 95.

Ok, time to get on topic. I got pulled in to working on our school's website in December 1996 or so, just before break. I think there were maybe 8 guys working on it, along with our teacher. We were using Netscape 3 (if even that version), and it was cutting edge. The fact that one of us wanted to use ActiveX and design for Internet Explorer was trivial. Partially because everyone used Netscape then, and also because we really outnumbered him. I think that's when I began to learn that Microsoft wasn't always turning out the best stuff.

Fast forward to July 1997. I'm choosing software for my new computer. I choose Corel Suite over MS Office. Back then, that was a rather unheard-of decision (but not as much as it is now...). A year later, said computer got really messed up. Shortly after I got it back from the factory, IE 3 completely stopped working. And that didn't really even bother me that much.

I'm getting off topic again. Here's the bottom line: why is everyone so set on the fact that Microsoft is the best way to go? Yes, it may be convenient to have your operating system, email client, word processor, spreadsheet, presentation software, Web browser, database, web server, email server, HTML editor, and kitchen sink all working together. But is that what is best? Obviously, as we've seen with a lot of the computer viruses that are spread via email, this interconnectivity leaves your computer vulnerable. You get a software environment that is easily duplicated, making it an easy attack. Not to mention the fact that the software really has its downsides. Have you seen how big IE is to download. Oh wait, you can't download it anymore, you download the installer then try to install over the Internet. Have fun if you're on a 28.8, or your connection dies or something like that. Yes, I know Netscape has gotten rather hefty in its latest releases as well, but NS 6 is going to be slimmer. I won't even start on the stuff that led to the DOJ case...

Here's another example. Say that you have one Internet connection, and you want to share it among several computers in your house (yes, this is possible). You can buy a really expensive router, and do it that way with hardware. Or, you can install routing software on your Windows system, buy a hub, and really drag down the performance of that computer, and spend a chunk of money on the software. Or, you can use Linux and do the software stuff for free. Not to mention the fact that you can run it on an old 486 if need be....don't even try to seriously run a current version of Windows on anything less than a Pentium 200.

More web technology stuff. You want to build a site with all kinds of cool database stuff. You could do this with Windows. To make it run well, you would need a rather expensive server, along with Windows NT (or whatever they're calling it these days). Then you would probably run IIS (not exactly the best one out there). You could also run iPlanet (formerly Netscape server), but you're probably still shelling out a lot of cash. To do the database stuff, probably MS SQL Server. Another nice chunk of cash. Then you need to learn to write Active Server Pages to tie it all together. Wait, does that work under iPlanet? I doubt it. Back to using IIS. Then there's the open-source way. Buy a server. You won't save much money there, because you still want some nice stuff. Get Linux: free to little money, if you buy the CD instead of downloading. Get mySQL or something similar: free. Learn PHP to tie it together: free (and probably easier to learn). Serve it all up with Apache (one of the most widely-known pieces of free software out there). And it should all run pretty well. I've seen it done.