Student Aid: GNU/Linux users need not apply

Or: The U.S. Government’s curious definition of ‘Free

There is a website called Free Application for Federal Student Aid run by the U.S. Government which you have to use if you want to make an application for federal student financial aid.  But you have to run a proprietary operating system, either some version of windows or a version of Mac OSX, to access the site.  It is especially ironic because the compatible browser page says:

Your Web browser is not supported by our Web site. You must use a Compliant Web Browser – Standard* to view our site properly. We recommend you upgrade to the latest version of your browser according to your Operating System….

[….List of many browsers follows, none running on GNU/Linux.…]

*Compliant Web Browser – Standard
For the past few years, every major Web browser released has been built around a set of open standards designated by the World Wide Web Consortium, a non-profit organization charged with overseeing the continuing development of the Web. What this means is that one piece of code now looks the same on every modern browser, whether it be Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Opera, or others. The majority of our users are using these modern browsers, so we can present content which is optimized for them.

Here is the incompatible browser page and below the fold find a copyclip of what that page says today, January 06 2011:

Continue reading “Student Aid: GNU/Linux users need not apply”

Student Aid: GNU/Linux users need not apply

Coolness leaves Apple (iPhone is far behind edition)

Yet another of example of coolness leaving Apple. It is because closed source stuff won’t ever be as dynamic and as happening as open source free stuff. It just won’t happen. Bye-Bye, Apple.

Android phones outsell iPhone 2-to-1, says research firm
Google’s OS powers 44% of smartphones sold in U.S. last quarter; Apple’s iOS far behind
By Gregg Keizer
November 1, 2010

Computerworld – Android-powered smartphones outsold iPhones in the U.S. by almost 2-to-1 in the third quarter, a research firm said today.

Analysts explained the Android boom by pointing out the plethora of manufacturers that equip their smartphones with Google’s mobile operating system, and highlighting their availability on all the major U.S. carriers.

“We started to see Android take off in 2009 when Verizon added the [Motorola] Droid,” said Ross Rubin, the executive director of industry analysis for the NPD Group. “A big part of Android success is its carrier distribution. Once it got to the Verizon and Sprint customer bases, with their mature 3G networks, that’s when we started to see it take off.”

According to NPD’s surveys of U.S. retailers, Android phones accounted for 44% of all consumer smartphone sales in the third quarter, an increase of 11 percentage points over 2010’s second quarter. Meanwhile, Apple’s iOS, which powers the iPhone, was up one point to 23%.

Oh, and here’s the Android I’ve: Samsung Vibrant

Coolness leaves Apple (iPhone is far behind edition)

This is another one of those tipping point things

Back in December 2007 when I’d seen the first press releases about what was to be called a netbook, I knew that would be one of those way-cool things that would become very popular. And this is going to be one of those things, too. Now I have no way of knowing if this exact brand would be popular, but it is going to be something like this that becomes popular. It is the next must-have consumer appliance. The price point that it will end up selling at will be about $129 or so.  Oh, and it’s power draw is only about 10 watts when running.  Someone is going to figure how to make a nice supercomputer from these things, by hooking them together, and it will run at a price point that we can’t imagine right now.

Here it is:

This is another one of those tipping point things

Motorola may be slightly less dead…

iPhone is down and Google Android is way up…but this was expected, really.  (see my previous post, Coolness leaves Apple)

“A ‘monstrous’ jump in demand for Android-equipped smartphones has turned the market upside down, according to a retail pollster. Of the people who told ChangeWave Research in a mid-December survey that they planned to buy a smartphone in the next 90 days, 21% said they expected to purchase an Android phone. That number represented a 250% increase over the 6% that pegged Android as their mobile OS of choice when ChangeWave last queried consumers’ plans in September. ‘That change rivals anything that we’ve seen in the last three years of the smartphone market,’ said Paul Carton, ChangeWave’s director of research, adding that the sudden surge in consumer interest in Android had ‘roiled’ the market. ‘This is an indication that Android has finally caught consumer interest,’ added Carton, who cited the recent advertising campaign for the Motorola Droid smartphone as the reason why interest in Android has skyrocketed. Android’s leap translated into good news for Motorola and HTC, the most prominent makers of Google-powered handsets, with the former reaping most of the benefit. Motorola’s share of smartphone purchases in the next 90 days shot up from 1% in September to 13% in December. Carton tagged the company’s Droid as the reason. ‘[It’s] the first increase for Motorola we’ve seen in three years,’ Carton said.”

Motorola may be slightly less dead…

Super-cool, Expensive netbook running…linux

This means something.  A uber-cool netbook aimed at the overcompensated.  At it runs SuSE Linux.  As covered at the New York Times:

Dell Laptop Aims to Impress Impression Makers

By Ashlee Vance

Your pay grade is just that high. It says, “I’m better than this clunky laptop docking station. I’m better than sticking a power cord into my computer. And I’m better than waiting for Windows to check my e-mail.

The software fires up the moment you open the laptop and connects right to a wireless network without Windows.

(Under the hood, it’s Linux running on top of an ARM chip on a mini-motherboard that provides this quick access feature. You’re basically talking about most of the components needed to run an iPhone being hitched to a large battery. So, the computer can run in instant-on mode for days.)

Some users Dell surveyed spent 70 percent of their time working in the instant-on mode. Microsoft is sure to take note of that figure. Windows has turned into a clunky cup holder.

[Oh, and note MSWindows won’t run on ARM chip architecture–there ain’t no plan b, Linux (R) is plan a…]

Super-cool, Expensive netbook running…linux

Netbook update

Back in early December 0f 2007 I had predicted that the netbooks had reached their Tipping Point.

This computer is the future, and it has arrived at the right place in the market at exactly the right time. That is being at the low end of the market, at the beginning of a long down turn, and also oozing “coolness”. It’s Tiffany at a Wal-Mart price.

The success of this device will inspire others, and once a company like Dell moves in, I think we can see the adoption of linux in a whole new class of devices starting very quickly. The large PC companies will not sit on the sidelines and let an upstart like ASUS have a new market to themselves. They will push in, rapidly. The price point and the diminutive specs of this unit make it rather unlikely that MSWindows will be the OS of choice for this new platform, unless MS radically changes their pricing structure, which is rather doubtful.

As noted over at Canalys 10 September 2009:

Netbooks reshape the PC Industry

H1 2009 research highlights

The PC industry is undergoing a more dramatic transformation than seen at any time in the last 15 years. The netbook category was invented as recently as 18 months ago by the likes of Asus and Acer and is the only PC segment enjoying growth this year. The impact of netbooks has been profound. It has forced Microsoft to fend off a threat from Linux by reducing its operating system prices and to continue promoting its aging XP brand. Netbooks have dramatically lowered industry price points, attracting new categories of consumer buyers….The market shares of PC vendors are changing rapidly on the back of their willingness to commit to the netbook category and their agility in chasing these new, substantial telco deals.

The one thing that I did not predict correctly is that MS would really change the price of Windows.  But in a sense, I am right about that too, because although they temporarily changed the price of Windows, it seems MS have back tracked from that also:

After publicly advertising the idea that Windows PCs are cheaper than Macs in its “Laptop Hunter” ads, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told an audience of financial analysts that the company’s attempts to cut prices of Windows to induce demand in emerging markets had failed over the previous year, and that the solution to the company’s woes will be to increase the price of computers.

“The theory was wrong,” Ballmer said, explaining that there wasn’t enough new demand to make up for the drop in profits. “You’ll see us address the theory. We’re going to readjust those prices north [using Windows 7].”

MS is in a lose-lose situation: lower the price of Windows, and they will hurt their profits dramatically, especially since it turns out that netbooks are the only PC sector that is growing–all the others are actually shrinking. Raise the price, and Linux will be the choice on netbooks.

Netbook update

Freedom is here; accept no substitutes

Of course there needs to be the obligatory post about Amazon deleting the stuff from the kindle that they didn’t like.  The bigger questions, that Amazon has not answered, are:

Do you want to buy something that can be monitored & controlled by some central entity?

Why did Amazon build that feature into the Kindle in the first place?

Do you trust them when they say we won’t do it again?

Who else can use the features in the Kindle to monitor what you are reading?

Just don’t buy a Kindle. My strong recommendation:  Buy a netbook that has GNU/linux (for less than the $299 the Kindle sells for), and download what you want. When you tire of reading you can play some chess* or travel through the solar system (and this is all using free software…)

Oh, and by the way 1984 is in the public domain in Australia and Russia, so take a look at these sites:

Here are some free fonts to use when reading your downloaded books:

And here are some free software packages with which to read your .pdf’s:

And here are 100 of the top book downloads from Project Gutenberg:

Continue reading “Freedom is here; accept no substitutes”

Freedom is here; accept no substitutes