Bought a Dell

I just bought my first Dell laptop.  I’m happy with most all of it.  The hardware is great.

The only “fine print” to watch out for is the list of stuff you’ll have to uninstall.  It might be quicker to just re-image the box.  The uninstall list:

  1. AOL
  2. Earthlink
  3. Banctec Service Agreement
  4. Google Desktop
  5. McAfee Security Center
  6. Internet Service Offers Launcher
  7. Yahoo Music Jukebox
  8. Roxio
  9. Cyberlink OutlookAddinSetup
  10. NetWaiting
  11. NetZeroInstallers
  12. QuickSet
  13. Corel Paint Shop Pro
  14. Corel Snapfire Plus
  15. Microsoft Works
  16. Dell Games

There are more things on there too….  If you’ve got vista, it’s nice though, because for each uninstall you click “Yes”, but then, in order to be secure, it also asks you “Cancel or Allow”?  I feel safer.

Democrats – the Worst of All Worlds

Last November, for the first time ever, I voted for all Democrats.  I’ve usually voted almost all Republican.  However, on this ballot, I felt that whatever tax increases the Democrats might pass would be better than the war in Iraq.  So I voted for them, in hopes that they would stand up to President Bush’s crazy plan.

Now, however, I realize I was completely wrong.  Not only are the allowing Bush to continue the war, but they’re throwing in an extra $20B in farm aid, social programs, and Federal hurricane relief! 

This is the worst of all worlds!  Because I didn’t vote Republican, we’ve got both a stubborn, silly war and increased taxes for ridiculous social programs.   I should have voted Republican.  I don’t agree with Bush, but at least he does what he says he will.  The democrats say that they’ll stand up to Bush and then they fall over like a bunch of dominoes.

I’m such an idiot.

Home Depot – Then vs Now

About 12 years ago, I bought my first house.  It was a fixer-upper of sorts, and I did all the fixing myself from paint to hardwood floors to new doors and adding a closet or two.  Nothing terribly major.  To do the work, I was at Home Depot a lot.  And I do mean ‘a lot’ – as I was on a first-name basis with several of the employees there :-)  It was a great store, and I liked it a lot.

With my recent home purchase, I’m back at Home Depot a lot.  About 3-4 times a week.  It’s still a good store.  It’s bigger.  It’s got more choices.  But, I find I don’t like it as much.  There are three things that aren’t as good as they used to be at the big HD.

Self Checkout
Am I the only one that loathes self-checkout?  At Home Depot, they basically don’t have anything else anymore.  They have one line for the folks getting lumber (which is usually very long), and they have 4 self-checkout counters.  These things are slow and I hate them.  As you wait in line you can see the confusion and frustration that others have too.  Is this really a good way to go? 

Long Lines
You’d think with all the checkout people freed up due to self-checkout, there would be more help available in the store.  But there isn’t.  It’s still hard to find anyone to help, and when you do, there is usually a line.  I was excited the other day when an employee actually approached me!  My excitement faded quickly when I learned she only wanted to offer me a 10% discount if I signed up for a Home Depot credit card. 

Too Big
I actually do find the store to be too big now. It seems the stuff I want is always at one side of the store, the checkout is at the other, and my car is parked back at the original side.  The store is larger than a football field; it’s just massive.  If they didn’t have such good product choice, I’d probably complain about that – but instead I’m complaining about this. Can’t win!

I’ve recently learned about Lowe’s – and I’m planning to try it (I know, I’m behind the times, it seems).  It’s farther from my house, but looks promising.

American Ignorance and Honor Killings

We’ve learned recently of “honor killings” that take place in some cultures.  It seems terrible – a defenseless woman is killed. CNN and other American news agencies report these as tragedies that we must somehow correct.  I am not outraged by the incident.  I am outraged by the gross arrogance of Americans to think that we know what is best for other cultures.  I know nothing of their culture.  I know nothing of why they might do this.  I can’t imagine a good reason for why anyone would do this – but they do it.  Maybe they are crazy.  Or maybe they are religious freaks.  Certainly, by western standards they are.  But – it is their lives – it is their culture – and that is what they do.

In classrooms here we teach “you must learn to accept other cultures”, but yet, we don’t do it!  We want to accept the tolerable parts of other cultures, but not accept the brutal parts.  Well, we can’t have it both ways.  Either we are tolerant and accepting, or we are not.  We cannot pick and choose when to accept.

How arrogant are we Americans to think that these people want to be saved by us anyway?  If they want to be saved, they must save themselves.  We are running around the world pimping Democracy in pretty much the same way that crusaders did.  We think our beliefs are better, and more fair.  Maybe they are, and maybe they are not, but who are we to decide?  Is pushing our politics really any different than pushing our religion?  I don’t think so.  We think its better, but its the people that decide, not us!  Culture and politics is something you must want for yourself; it cannot be given.

I’ll forever condemn my chances of a political career now by saying – let the Honor Killings continue.  There is nothing wrong with them unless the Iraqis decide there is something wrong with them.

Windows to Follow IE Lead

Microsoft announced that it is paying $6B for aQuantive Inc today.  Considering that it’s market cap was $2.8B yesterday, and that Microsoft is paying $6B for it, it’s clear that Microsoft wanted it pretty bad!

Microsoft said that they are “committed to earning a bigger slice of that market opportunity [online advertising]”.  Currently, Microsoft’s slice is pretty small in that industry.

We all know what happened to Internet Explorer between 2001 and 2006.  Nothing.  That was because without competition, Microsoft was unmotivated.  Firefox restored some of that competition, and IE8 is now in the works.

But with Vista just released after a grueling and painful 5 years of development, no operating system competition in sight, and Microsoft badly wanting to compete in a brand new market for them (online advertising), is there any hope of a significant, new operating system before 2012?

It’s not Microsoft’s fault.  It’s human nature.  Our nature is to always get bigger.  No matter how big you are, you want more.  And as you get huge, it becomes increasingly difficult to get bigger.  In order to get bigger, they need another multi-billion dollar opportunity.  Even though online advertising is completely foreign to Microsoft (Microsoft would disagree, I’m sure!), Microsoft wants this business, because it is one of the few that is big enough to be significant compared to Microsoft’s existing businesses.

It does make me think that users would have been better served if Microsoft had been split up many years ago.  Sure, the Operating System division of Microsoft would be smaller, but they’d be focused on building operating systems – and there would be no distractions into the online advertising space. 

New Windows Live Mail is Gorgeous

My colleagues at Hotmail Windows Live Mail released the new version of Hotmail this week.  It’s a pretty solid product as far as I can tell.  I am particularly impressed with its snappiness – much faster than the old Hotmail, and with a much more modern UI.

Top features:

  1. Search works!
  2. Preview pane (better than Gmail!)
  3. Generally speedy and quick (maybe not many users are on the new server farm yet?  get in while the going is good!)

My gripes with the product are few.  Primarily, the banner ad at the top-of-screen is excessively prominent, and most of the ads are animated and untargeted creating unnecessary clutter.  Also, it still inserts a promotional tagline at the bottom of your emails.  Both of these, however, are small gripes considering that the product is free.