The Seventh Coming

It was with trepidation and anxiety that I pressed the Install button on the Windows 7 setup screen. It's futuristic blue hues and user-friendly language did nothing to assuage the mounting tension I felt as I remembered the last time I installed a new OS. I Vista-ed my computer last time (sort of like "bricked my computer" but worse). That was when I lost my faith in computing humanity. After suffering through the despotic ruler that was Windows Vista, the Seventh coming of Windows has arrived, and I have received it and it's legal license key.

To be specific, I have a Win7 Professional 64-bit OS running on my system, and now I want to talk to you about it.

I was impressed from the get-go. When I first logged in, I expected to put aside 3 hours of my valuable time to clear the OS of bloatware like Norton's ubiquitous deal with Satan 30-day trial and ebay web links. Instead, all I got was the Recycle Bin on the desktop. I did a double take. Did that really just happen? Did Microsoft really just provide me withe clean OS? Something horrible must have happened. It must be a virus. Or Something. This just felt awkward. Like if your parents actually did buy you a car for your birthday. What are you supposed to say? Thank you? Words can't contain the gratitude I felt a that moment.

After that, everything seemed sorta the same. Yes, yes, yes, the taskbar is different. But nothing like "OMG,OMG!!! THE TASKBAR IS THE BEST THING SINCE SLICED BREAD!!! IT WILL CHANGE THE WAY WE PUT TASKS IN OUR BARS!!!! YAAAAAAYYYYYYY!!" It's definitely a slick improvement, but it's nothing revolutionary. All the changes I've seen thus far from a user experience standpoint have been small things that make stuff easier to find and do. Which is great. But it hasn't wowed me in any big way yet.

A lot of people are saying that Windows 7 is like a big service pack to Vista. I would use a different analogy. I would say it is what Windows 98 was to Windows 95. From a user experience standpoint, nothing was all that different. The foundations of the desktop environment are still there. It's the stuff under the hood that made 98 a much more stable, and therefore longer lived, operating system. I haven't had enough time to get into the nitty gritty yet, but I'll let you know when I do. Maybe I'll host a launch party!

Smile moments: Powershell 2.0 included, speedy wake-up from standby, trippy backgrounds, small improvements to explorer interface, the library system.

Frown moments: Powershell was surprisingly slow, actually liked the vista look better, still not so speedy startup, not sure if homegroups will really take off, nobody came to my launch party.


Net Neutrality and the End of the World As We Know It

Net Neutrality is a buzzword these days. For those who live in huts (or use dial-up), Net Neutrality is the most recent left wing attempt at overhauling an established private infrastructure towards a more government-centric paradigm. That infrastructure would be the Interwebs.

The FCC is trying to pass legislation that will regulate ISPs and their bandwidth allocation. The FCC believes everybody has a right to the information superhighway (I haven't used that name since the 90's and it makes me feel old) and that ISPs have no right to restrict access to it. The timing is obviously tactical. Recently, many ISPs, and specifically Comcast, have been heavily criticized by the right wing for throttling bandwidth for customers engaging in frequent Peer to Peer transfers (like BitTorrent). The thought is that the people using the most p2p bandwidth are most likely using it for illegal purposes and therefore can be slowed down. This comes after an already controversial move by Comcast and others to "plant" illegal copies of movies just to track who was downloading (and almost always inadvertently) and uploading the movie. Now that the right wing is all up in arms against the ISP, the left has decided it to be the perfect time to stage their coup on the Interwebs.

I can go on and on about how wrong it is to socialism-ize (that is now a word) the Interwebs, but I hope I don't need to tell you that. I have a different point to make. All I have to say is: Be careful who you mess with.

The Interwebs is owned by the geeks. It is their realm, their kingdom, and their Dungeons & Dragons (4th edition) dungeon. They live in the Internet, and the Internet lives through them. With the World Wide Web spread out before their superhumanly speedy fingers, the Geek will always find a way to get what he wants in his own homeland. Be it a movie, a program, a game, or top-secret classified government documents, the Geek will find it, and he will get he wants without anybody knowing he was there. Like a ninja. Bespectacled and zit-ridden in RL (Real Life), the Geek becomes Superman at the keyboard. If you tell a Geek that your system is impossible to break into, he will reply "Give me five minutes". If you tell him that what he's doing is illegal, he'll tell you "I already won that flame war. It is illegal no longer". If you tell him his lvl85 paladin looks like a pansy....he will cry.

If the government really tried to take away the Interwebs from the Geeks, the Geeks would revolt. The revolution and cyber-uprising that will ensue when policies of artificial scarcity are enforced on the Interwebs would put the geeks in charge of the new digital economy. This is because no matter how much regulation the government tries to put on bandwidth, Geeks will find a way to circumvent the regulations. They always havem and they always will. This will just leave the layperson with an overpriced and slow broadband connection for no good reason.

This is all based on historical precedent. Every time the government (usually manifested in the RIAA) tried to regulate data flow, the geeks came out on top. Securing the mp3 format led to the P2P movement, proliferating mp3 saturation by many orders of magnitude. When Napster was shut down, the BitTorrent method of file sharing was created, effectively protecting everyone involved, and further growing the market for music and software pirating. Also, understand that the copyright breaking is not usually done for profit. It can be quite spiteful. When Electronic Arts released it's blockbuster PC gaming masterpiece, Spore, it used an archaic version of DRM (Digital Rights Management) that infuriated the gaming community. In a startling testament to the spitefulness of the geek community, Spore quickly broke records upon release as being the most pirated game in PC gaming history. And it wasn't even that good.

You see, Geeks can be pushed around in RL, but if you try to invade our digital kingdom, we quickly become vindictive and violent (and alliterative). If the government really tries to restrict bandwidth, there will be war. And we both know who will come out victorious.