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Sunday, August 13, 2006

The Disposable Society

It is remarkable how much we throw away. Whether it's packaging for the products we buy, the weekly or semi-weekly newspaper that arrives at our door, the plethora of junk mail, or the technology we buy, the curse of disposable goods is unfathomable.

It's not so unfathomable if you take a drive towards Michigan, the endless line of trucks hauling Toronto's garbage is a legacy of waste and our disposible nature.

In many cases it's not the cost of the item that makes it disposible, it's the cost of the maintenance. How many of you have been dumbfounded by the cost of replacement cartridges for yout inkjet printer? The ink cartridges cost as much as the printers, if not more. The inkjet manufacturers don't want you to refill the cartridges because of sales, nozzle lifetimes, and/or degraded quality, but this would be the green thing to do would it not?

I recently retired a 10 year old inkjet for a new printer, the printer cost me $50, the ink will cost me $60 when I need to replentish it. Hmmm. The funny thing is I was after a $40 printer that had a ink replacement cost of $40, but it was sold out. We'll see how this goes but I want to stick with this printer for at least 5 years.

Sometimes it's the packaging for a product that creates a waste, all for the sake of presenting itself better to the consumer, that last silence bastion of marketing is discarded when the CD we bought for the anti-virus software is 10% of the entire package. Even the packaging around that kids toy is enough to make another toy out of.

When will this end?

We can even consider the groceries we buy and how they are packaged, I have recently started buying more selectively, smaller quanities in better packaging. I moved from throwing out 2-3 kitchen bags a week, to 1. ONE! FOR THE WHOLE HOUSE!

Admittedly there were other factors to the number of bags that went to the curb. I was living with a cat person. The newsprint-based kitty litter, and her manner of replacing and replentishing it, add 4-5 full kitchen-bags of waste to the mix. How is this better for the environment? Okay, the newpaper has a second use, but this is ridiculous!

I can keep a PC functional for a decade easy. I'm recycling a circa 1998 PC right now as a temporary replacement for a neighbour's PC that died due to faulty capacitors. It's not as fast but it'll do well for the moment. I'm reviving an even older PC for strict Internet (web) use too. Is this the answer? It is for now.

I have 2 more PCs to re-purpose. it's a tough sell, though one may end up an end table, that's still re-use and definately not land-fill.


Tuesday, August 08, 2006

I didn't say it was just, it is simply right.

"My view is that the gazillionaire monopolistic
Gates can afford to lose a bit for a little kid to get access
to a
computer. But then, [this is] just my view."

These are the words of someone I know. I consider them a friend and while I'm happy to do work for them, the reality is that my position on piracy - that I won't contribute to it - could cost me a connection or an opportunity to earn a living.

The view portrayed by the words "gazillionaire monopolistic Gates" fails to recognise those that built, shipped, and supported the various releases of Microsoft Windows. Mr. Gates was the coach, but the players are very much deserving. I was once a player, my friends are still players and as a developer myself I'm getting a little sick of this "poor me" excuse for theft.

Another friend of mine pointed out to the developer community that Windows has given a good number of us jobs. Perhaps we need to look around at the other manners in which this "billionaire brat" has made the world a better place. I've met the man and while he is many things, I don't see a need to call him names. His is BillG, Mr. Gates, and yes, Mr. Windows. he also a person who made very smart moved in a capitalist framework and his company is being held up as a big evil empire. There is absolutely nothing evil about Microsoft, just the occational idiot who works there, and we all know idiots that work anywhere.

Window was nothing more than a blip on the radar in 1989, Windows/x86 was the thing you ran if you wanted to run Microsoft Office. It was just taking hold in the business world and the release of Windows 3.x was the turning point. I started at Microsoft the day before it launched and stayed for nearly 7 years. I look back at the growth of Windows, the applications, and the demands people have put on what has become a very strong and reliable Operating System. As much as the Linux biggots will scream at me for suggesting Windows is a stable OS, it is when you have a reliable piece of hardware and good software, you're set.

Okay, that argument aside, let's try this. Any of you people that feel that pirating Windows, or any software, is justified... RUN LINUX. Just try to do what you want to do in Linux. It is doable, no question, you might need to learn a whole host of other methods and technical crap to get things done, but if you want "free" then try it. Go run Linux! If you're non-technical, you'll be back.

I acknowledge that Linux is getting better, stronger for the desktop, and is a very good choice for the server-side of computing. It is still not "ideal" for the end-user. The validity of Linux is not my argument here, the argument is that people want software and don't want to pay. If you used this logic on hardware it would be called theft. What are you teaching your children if you buy them a computer with stolen software on it?

As for this friend of mine, she's made her point and while I'm normally forgiving, as she's decided to ask for someone else's help, someone with less integrity and more willingness to help her break the law. I think this is the point at which I turn the other cheek and walk the other way. I wonder if she'll ever understand, I hope she does. As for my business relationship with her, that's done.

She is not the only person to say this. She is one of many people I know that are willfully pirating software, movies, and music for the simple reason of want. She wants to install Windows 2000 on her son's new computer, it has no OS. His loss is not the use of a computer, he has another. He's losing access to a system he can PLAY GAMES ON! Frankly if you can't afford the gas, don't buy the car!