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Why Flock is no good. 3 November, 2008

Posted by aronzak in Cloud Computing, Linux, Social Networking, web, Windows.
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After selling out to the man and getting a wordpress and facebook account, I was reminded of Flock, a web browser focused on social networking. My conclustion is that it is no bloody good (NBG) after less than five minutes. Here’s why:

1. The flock website automatically prompts me to download a windows executable (.exe) unless I allow javascript. The installation instructions are for the windows one to. Linux users are just expected to know how to extract the program themselves and run it (and make their own links).

2. According to Wikipedia, Flock collects usage information, passed back to the company, but it is possible to turn this off during installation. I got no option, because I had no windows installer. I also couldn’t find any options in ‘preferences’. I don’t mind this, but as a matter of principle, the informed user should be able to choose.

3. The first thing after opening it up is you are confronted with buttons. Everywhere. It’s just like FF3, except that there are heaps of extra (useless?) buttons.

4. While the learning curve is high (for a browser), you get a constant stream of patently stupid notifications of the bleedingly obvious. Like, for example, if I didn’t notice that a big blue button turned orange after I clicked on it.

5. While it is good that many websites are supported, the browser is full of advertising, for the sites it supports, as well as some specifically. Stuck striaght into the main bar, in a place where it seems impossible to remove, is a bright orange link to digg.

Why is this elevated above an ordinary link? Who knows? There’s also a button to email a link to a friend. Just in case you weren’t on top of copy and paste.

As well as digg, there are plenty of links to the main Flock site. Also, the browser seems to choose to use Yahoo over Google as a default. This is annoying and counterintuitive to me given that the FF default is to use Google.

4. As well as the search bar, the web address bar by default incorporates searches from Yahoo. Great, you can’t even type a URL without it being passed to a third party. Clearly, this is a sensible default for idiots that cannot remember web addresses.

5. Flock guides you to their own extensions site, ignoring the main Mozilla addons site (many FF addons work). This is a good idea, except that there are 4 addons. Good one.

All of these annoyances are poorly justified by the features available. No, I haven’t subscribed to 26 social networking sites. While many of the features available are interesting, I didn’t find any particularly useful as essentially I don’t get control over them. And yes, I’d rather just rite up my blog posts in a browser window. That’s what google gears are for.

So, all in all, Flock undermines your privacy and irritates you for seemingly little benefit.

Lenovo joins the crowd in not offering Linux 11 August, 2008

Posted by aronzak in Cloud Computing, Linux, Netbooks, Vista, Windows.
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Lenovo has unveiled a new series, the Ideapas S series. With two optionsa available, the S9 and the S10, sporting a choice of XP or Linux, Australain and US consumers will get the choice of the 10 inch model only and XP only. Why? There’s absolutely no reasonable explanation. Unlike the others, like MSI that just delayed the Linux model (but of course they had enough parts for the XP model to launch on time) or Asus, making the Linux version of the 900 series more expensive than the XP model, Lenovo has made up no excuse as to why Linux models cannot be offered here. But the US? That’s steep. They offer SLED versions of the Thinkpad there and not here. So does Dell with Ubuntu, again not here. And so does HP, offering a SLED mininote there, but I haven’t seen one here (probably available at an online retailer). Same with the linux version of the Acer Aspire.

And yet we keep applauding each manufacturer that joins the fray and offers a nonexistant Linux computer. I don’t think that the Linux netbook market really exists. Yes, there are low cost devices that are aimed at poor people, and education. But they aren’t available for retail.  Then there are the ‘consumer’ Linux models. But they suck, pure and simple. They are usually small, low speced seven inch models, with tiny screens and keyboards. Reviewers always seem to point out the difficult to use touch pad (especially the cloudbook’s), fairly short battery life, etc…

So, if you want a good netbook, you’ll be wanting an 8.9-10 inch model. And you’ll have to pay more, and that means that it’s that much easier to slip in the cost of a MS license. Manufacturers use dodgy pricing and confusing configurations to mask the cost of the Windows operation system, and to make higher margins. And the Linux versions that everyone is raving about seem to dry up. And I’m getting sick of another hyped up product that I’ll never see in a shop, or never consider buying.