Thursday, April 17, 2008

Facebook as a news source

If you are a Facebook user, you definitely have to "appreciate" the fact that whatever happens on your profile qualifies as news and is treated as such.

Case in point, have you ever noticed the number of responses that occur when a relationship that was on Facebook ends? It can be rather overwhelming. Or when it's somebody's birthday, that's a sight to see. On my birthday for instance, I had over 70 people post on my wall for no other reason than to say the obvious.

I'm not saying that it is bad that Facebook is taking over the lives of millions of people throughout the world. But in the bigger picture it is getting to be more and more pathetic that this is how we gather news about our friends.

I'm sure everyone who reads this has "Facebook stalked" someone. We all do. We want to know if you're single, who your friends are, and what you say to other people. After all, Facebook is the all-knowing and all-powerful website on the Internet.

Nick triumphantly walked into our room after class today with a great idea. Someone who is a devout Christian or Liberal or Republican, etc. should change their profile to say they are Atheist or Communist. Or better yet, perhaps switch your gender preferences around. Give the experiment 48 hours or so to cycle through Facebook and gather your results. I bet you'll get some interesting posts on your wall.

My point is that Facebook is not and should not be the final tell all for everything that happens in someone's life. We survived forever without it; let's not let it become the sole source for everything news.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

King of the World more than just a sports book

Hand me a sports themed book and I'm sold. I love pretty much every sports book I have ever read and I was ecstatic when I was assigned to read King of the World by David Remnick, a book that chronicles the life of boxing god Muhammad Ali.

King of the World surely didn't disappoint. In fact, it far exceeded my expectations. As the saying goes, never judge a book by its cover. I went into the book expecting a history of Ali; instead I got so much more.

Sure, the book covers boxing history. It covers the heavyweights that came before Ali and the situations surrounding them. Floyd Patterson, Sonny Liston, it's all there. The first half of the book is more dedicated to them than it is to Ali.

Ali's prestigious career is covered as well. However, what I was impressed with was the amount of Ali's background that was provided.

Muhammad Ali was a person you either loved or hated. He had an extremely controversial attitude and his conversion to Islam was even more so. What I really enjoyed about the book was the depictions of Ali's relationships: first with Malcolm X and then with Elijah Muhammed.

I may have learned more about Islam from this book than any where else. Not only that, I got to enjoy reading about the early history of Cassius Clay (Ali's birth name) and his road to heavyweight supremacy.

I recommend this book to anyone looking for a fun and informative read.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The future of SpeakGood

Hello everyone!

If anyone has been keeping track, SpeakGood just crossed the 100 post mark last week. I'm proud to say that we've reached 100 posts because this blog is something that I value very much. Even writing four times a week, it still takes takes almost 6 months to end up at 100 posts.

With that said, I'm going to discuss the future of SpeakGood.

I'll be completely honest and say I'm not terribly happy with my writing as of late. It's just lacking something in my opinion. With that in mind I'm going to make a couple changes to how things are done around here.

For starters, I'm going to drop the amount of posts that I do a week. Four posts a week is tough, especially doing them back to back to back to back like I do. From now I'm I think I'm going to cut it down to two posts half a week apart.

It is my goal that reducing the amount of posts will allow me to put out some better, more interesting work. In addition, I will probably try to secure some other writers as well.

I'm done writing for this week. But, look for something to come out early next week. I'm excited about SpeakGood's new direction and I hope you are too.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

XP on low cost laptops will hurt Microsoft in long run

Fans of Windows XP got a boost this week as Microsoft announced that the elder statesmen of their operating systems will live on as a part of low cost ultra mobile PCs.

I've read some places that Asus expects to sell more of their popular EeePC's with XP than with the Linux operating system that they originally offered with. Obviously, customers will still have a choice between both models.

Keeping Windows XP around can only hurt Microsoft. Basically, they've proven to the world that Vista is too resource needy to compete in the low end market. Instead, they want to push their "old" software onto new hardware just to compete with cheap Linux based computers.

Furthermore, eventually consumers are going to realize that Linux offers as much, if not more, functionality than what XP does. XP itself is pretty basic, especially considering Microsoft will probably strip it down even more to meet the space demands that the small storage drives of these laptops require. And Linux's price of $0 fits the budget of almost everyone.

Linux is very resource friendly and is extremely functional out of the box. Many specialized distros have emerged to fit the needs of people who use laptops like the EeePC. Mark my words, once people see that it can be functional they will be willing to switch.

Until Microsoft acknowledges Vista as a flop (which will probably never happen) they will continue to lose ground to Linux and other alternative operating systems. Once they release Windows 7, I may have to eat my words, but until then the new computer fad will be to switch to Linux.

Microsoft's domination of the computer industry is on weak legs to say the least.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Why the Tigers slow start is not alarming

The Detroit Tigers were supposed to be the best. They were supposed to score thousands of runs. They were supposed to be unbeatable.

They are currently 0-6.

Granted the six losses are pretty ugly. Losing three to the Royals is disgraceful at best, but the White Sox are competitive.

They're playing like the Tigers that lost 119 games just a handful of years ago.

Fear not Tigers fans. It's only a rough patch. The wonderful thing about baseball is that it will all work itself out.

Take last year for example. The Tigers exploded onto the scene in the first half of the year just to falter in the second half. This year it's going to be the opposite.

By the second half of the year we should get relievers Fernando Rodney and Joel Zumaya back. Voila, the relief pitching is shored up.

As the weather gets warmer the bats will warm up. Problem solved.

I'll be honest. This first week has been rough. But I'm not worried.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Major tech companies out of touch with consumers

It is unfortunate how often the consumer gets the short end of the stick with technology companies. For example, Apple restricting the iPhone to AT&T's network only. Or companies that provide no Linux support whatsoever.

Add another to the list: Creative screws over smart customer who fixes terrible Vista drivers.

Apparently, it is okay that Creative disables advertised functions in their own sound cards. Heck, they even acknowledge that it's their right:

"If we choose to develop and provide host-based processing features with certain sound cards and not others, that is a business decision that only we have the right to make." -Phil O'Shaughnessy, Creative VP of Corporate Communications
From what I'm reading these functions should have been working in Vista even before Daniel_K started writing his own driver packages. What he was doing was simply providing the functions that they sound cards should have had out of the box.

Creative is claiming that he was taking money for unlocking functions that shouldn't have been unlocked. Daniel_K claims he was taking the donations to buy more hardware so he could write more drivers. Personally, I believe him.

The major problem with Creative and other large technology companies is that they think they have a right to do whatever they want and totally forget about the consumer. Creative wants you to buy a cheap sound card with limited features and then make you upgrade and spend more of your hard earned cash later.

That's just wrong. Good job Daniel_K, keep it up. I wish I was savvy enough to understand how to do stuff like you do.

On the other hand, Creative better learn that they're alienating their consumer base. If there's one awesome thing about the Internet, it is that it takes almost no time for a mini-uprising to happen. I can guarantee that I'm not the only frustrated blogger today.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Web standards and browsers

I'm a freelance web designer in my spare time so I was ecstatic that one of the assignments for my Computer Science class was to create a Web site. In a matter of hours I had the general layout and a day or so later the site was what I would call finished.

Well, or at least I thought it was.

I tested it in several different browsers. And by several different browsers I mean a ton. Firefox, Opera, Flock, Internet Explorer 7, Internet Explorer 8 Beta, Maxthon, Safari, and even Swiftweasel. Frankly, the site looked terrific in all of them.

Unfortunately, I still had to consider Internet Explorer 6. For some odd reason GVSU has chosen to not upgrade the lab computers to IE7.

IE6 simply tears the site apart. PNG transparency support is flawed, and for some reason I cannot seem to get the site to center itself.

The Internet is the exact same no matter which computer you access it from. On modern hardware there should be no reason for web designers to have to code around browsers. It is ridiculous how much grief designers go through trying to get pages to look the same across browsers and platforms.

Thankfully today's newest browsers are about the same. Microsoft finally decide to wise up and fix Internet Explorer.

What makes no sense is that GVSU has not upgraded to IE7. And I believe the main reason is because of the BlackBoard software that the campus uses. We should get with the program and upgrade -- BlackBoard's terribly coded software should not stop us.