Chromebooks outsold Macs worldwide in 2020, cutting into Windows market share – GeekWire

New numbers show 2020 was the first year that Chromebooks outsold Macs, posting impressive market share gains at the expense of Windows. Computers powered by Google’s Chrome OS have outsold Apple’

Source: Chromebooks outsold Macs worldwide in 2020, cutting into Windows market share – GeekWire

Just once, I want to see these graphs and sales figures omit corporate purchases from the data. I’m certain that Dell, HP, and Lenovo could provide numbers that show shipments to end users and, say, Best Buy and Target, vs bulk corporate orders. Then we’d see how people actually vote with their own personal dollars.

IDC, along with Gartner and others, have been doing this forever. The whole point of these articles is to cast aspersion on Apple’s influence in the computer market. As Microsoft-funded outfits (you can’t convince me otherwise), they’re never going to change.

Speaking of boosting the numbers with corporate purchases, the increase in Chromebook numbers in this graph is directly related to schools purchasing them for at-home use in remote “learning.” And they suuuuuck. Both of my sons have them, and they are just terrible, awful things to work with. You couldn’t pay me to believe that anyone would buy one for personal use. A person would buy a cheap iPad over a Chromebook, 100 times out of 100.

And don’t even get me started with the bat-crazy mish-mash of unrelated web sites my boys have to navigate to do “online” school. It’s a disaster. I mean, I know that the educational software world is way behind, but… dang. I really hope this area of the economy gets some serious investment, now that Covid has made everyone aware of just how bad it is.

After 25 years of seeing this lie about market share numbers, I wonder if it’s possible for me to run down someone inside the big 3 PC manufacturers who could provide a breakdown in their figures for personal vs. corporate or school use…

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‘My Wife Has Cancer’ Reddit Comment Spreads Virally, Prompts…

 

A screenshot of a months-old Reddit comment about the cost of cancer care spread across social media platforms.

Source: ‘My Wife Has Cancer’ Reddit Comment Spreads Virally, Prompts…

Whether the original post is true or not, most of us know someone who has been wracked with medical expenses. I, myself, have had around $15K of uncovered medical expenses in the past few years, not counting the out-of-pocket limits before “benefits” kick in. I can afford this, if only barely. However, the larger and inescapable truth in this country is that the vast majority of us are one cancer diagnosis away from total financial ruin.

I still think that the right way to fix the health care industry in a “capitalistic” system is to regulate the health insurance industry the same way we do car insurance. But the health insurance companies aren’t going to allow themselves to be pressured by the market, and will make sure that Congress does not change the status quo. They are quite content to let the current system continue its decline until it becomes impossible NOT to nationalize it. In my estimation, Big Insurance (like Anthem, Centene, United, and Humana) are all jockeying to get a bigger slice of the pie when the government finally steps in and makes them a department of the Executive branch.

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Ubiquiti and Networking Nirvana

For years, I’ve struggled with getting good networking at my house. We had our previous house custom built, and I had it wired thoroughly with CAT5 and RG-6. In my current house, there are coax drops in every room, but some are shorted, some I can’t trace, and some are shared among several outlets. It’s bizarre. There are a few RG11 ports and one RG45 — with a switch? — which I presume all go to the SBC box on the side of my house, to which I have no access.

When we first moved in, I upgraded to a monster Asus WiFi router in my office, which is in the basement. It was OK in the basement, and on the main floor, but spotty on the second floor, of course. Then it burned out. No problem, right? These days, there are lots of mesh WiFi systems on the market.

My next move was to get a Netgear Orbi. It worked, sort of. The problem was that it needed to be rebooted every few days. After months and months of this hassle, and one day where I had to reboot the stupid thing multiple times in a single day, I finally — literally — unplugged the unit in my office, and smashed it on the floor, to force myself to do something else.

I drove straight over to Best Buy, and bought a Linksys Velop, and… immediately regretted my life choices. Linksys’ setup application is even worse than Netgear’s. It’s a clown show of an IoT piece of junk. I fought through it, and finally got the system setup, and the speeds were decent. However, I found that every time I looked at the status on the app, the “middle” floor unit was offline, and needed to be rebooted. Then, one day, the whole system lost its mind, and needed to be re-setup from scratch. I continued to put up with these hassles, rebooting the one unit, and occasionally needing to reset a node.

This is where this story, and its followup, fits into this timeline.

Lest you think my experience with the Velop is an aberration, a good friend of mine has worked for many, many hours with Linksys tech support on his system, and after getting sent several particular firmware versions to try, was recently sent an entirely new set of units.

I had an Aha! moment, and bought 2 pairs of TP Link Powerline adapters to run a “backhaul” line for each of the 2 remote WiFi access points. This seemed to work better. The main floor unit stopped going offline. I thought I was finally on easy street.

Then one day, the entire system lost its mind again. The Comcast service had “locked up” on my modem — again — but this seemed to cause the Velop to not only stop working, but lose its configuration. Given how the setup app basically doesn’t work unless it can “phone home,” I guess it scrammed itself because of this. Whatever the reason, I found this completely unacceptable. I had to get WiFi working again, but I could only pair one of the secondary units. The other just completely refused to work again.

So I ordered a Ubiquiti Dream Machine, and 2 of their NanoHD access points. I use a lot of their gear for networking and security cameras at our church, and it’s not without a learning curve specific to their way of working, but since I knew what I was getting into, and I could afford it, I figured this was my only option left. At this point, I am convinced that all consumer-grade mesh systems on the market are just rubbish. I wasn’t willing to try Amazon’s or Google’s, or whatever. I thought that my existing Powerline adapters would provide the wired connection for the wired-only AP’s to get to the router.

I got the thing all setup, but my speeds were lacking. I pay for gigabit, but I don’t worry much about getting the whole thing. I know that’s not realistic. However, I tried to play Battlefield again, after a long hiatus, and I kept lagging out. Like, every minute. I realized that my Comcast setup was just not working right. Turns out that I was only getting 200 Mbps, and even that was spotty. I spent several hours trying different things and talking to their tech support — twice — and finally got them to straighten it out.

Then I tried to get my son to play Battlefield with me, and he kept lagging out. So I started working on the inside part of the network. I saw that TP Link offers an application to look at their Powerline adapters, and it will report the bandwidth you’re actually getting. I saw that my “backhaul” connections were only getting 100-200 Mbps. In effect, these adaptors were doing exactly what I needed them to do with the Velop: they kept the systems talking just enough to keep them from dropping offline, but continued to use the “mesh” for the actual WiFi traffic. Anyway, I reconfigured the 2 pairs into a single, 4-node network, hoping that this would improve the situation, but it made no difference. In the same room, power line adapters will get near their advertised 2 Gbps, but once you put them across circuits in your house’s electrical panel, the bandwidth is cut by a factor of 10.

In the beginning, I had used a pair of ActionTec coax adaptors to extend my network over to my boys’ PC’s, when they were in the basement. However, the unit I had was capped at 100 Mbps. I wanted to try the new ones rated for gigabit, but was nervous that they would work only as well as the Powerline adaptors. But the Amazon reviews — which, I know, goes against everything I believe about Amazon and ratings systems in general — kept saying that power line adaptors weren’t all they were cracked up to be, and that these were the real deal, and I believed them. So I bit the bullet, fully prepared to send them back. After a lot of tracing and fiddling, I got them setup where they could reach my access points, and they worked… great! This was the final straw to making everything work. They don’t have an app to look at effective bandwidth, but testing from my son’s Playstation shows that he can get 800+ Mbps all the way out the door.

And I haven’t lagged since.

I find myself looking at my Ubiquiti dashboard, and reveling in WiFi nirvana. I can’t believe how much money I’ve spent getting to this point, but now that it’s working like I expect, and it hasn’t missed a beat for many days now, so it feels like it’s been worth it.

To their credit, another friend has Ubiquiti’s Amplifi mesh product, and he says it’s been flawless for him. I was tempted to try their “Alien” version, with multiple units in a mesh configuration, but that would have been even more expensive than what I’ve got now.

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The Pixar Story (2007)

Source: The Pixar Story (2007)

I just watched this documentary, and it was terrific, as a movie, and a biopic. A couple of things stuck out to me during the viewing. The first was how Steve Jobs funded Pixar, to the tune of $1M for 5 years. This wasn’t a lot of money for him. This wasn’t a lot of money to run a business on. The amount of money wasn’t interesting from either side. The process was the significant bit. In essence, this was venture capitalism in its infancy. Apparently, in 1990, this was novel.

This is the way the whole world works now. The entire empire of Amazon was built on burning VC money until they became the online titan they are now. For 20 years, they chewed through capital until they couldn’t be challenged. For Jobs and Pixar, it only took 5 years until they proved their “product” was great, via the massive success of Toy Story. One week after the release of the movie, they took the company public, in a reportedly wildly successful IPO, and Jobs cashed out.

That is genius.

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Reddit’s disrespectful design


An overview of Reddits seemingly counter-productive changes.

Source: Reddit’s disrespectful design

The author says, “I’ve stopped using Reddit mostly because I no longer wanted to support a site that has aggressively started to employ disrespectful design patterns.” Excuse me, but “started?” They’ve been going down this road for years. I’ve stopped using Reddit entirely, and have the site blocked on my network, so that I can’t inadvertently give them traffic by clicking through a search result, as they have obviously paid through the nose for placement these days! Just about everything I search on has at lease one Reddit link in the first page of results. For awhile, I would click through to the page, wait for the site to load it’s 100 MB of scripts, dismiss the popups, expand the answers, and see what Google had supposedly found, but I gradually realized there is never a good answer on the site. Technical discussions are not what people are doing on the site.

500 comments on the HackerNews discussion about this post, and these are the only comments about porn:

This exchange is utter nonsense. Reddit is filled with porn. Thousands and thousands of subs are dedicated to it. If you have an account, and allow NSFW content — and take note that most of the viral posts on the site are marked NSFW, encouraging you to do so, even if you don’t necessarily want to look at porn — all it takes is one search on the site, and you can instantly infer how much of it there is. Yes, a lot of it is come-ons for someone’s paid site, but there is a virtually limitless supply of free, high-quality porn to accommodate everyone’s tastes.

No one wants to admit this. I will. I’ve had a look around. It’s bewildering how much of it there is, and how specific it can be. I’ve brought it up many times in various HN discussions, and no one even wants to acknowledge it. The exchange above is a perfect example of just ducking the issue entirely. In fact, the exact inverse of what’s stated here is true: Reddit is a porn site, with some user-interest topics (like gaming, audiophile headsets, or mechanical keyboards) to keep you engaged between wanks. One of these days, I expect PornHub to take a note, and start forums on their site about whatever people want to talk about. Who knows? Maybe they already do. I’ve not “researched” that site.

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IT Project “Thermocline”

Source: https://brucefwebster.com/2008/04/15/the-wetware-crisis-the-themocline-of-truth

A thermocline is a distinct temperature barrier between a surface layer of warmer water and the colder, deeper water underneath. It can exist in both lakes and oceans. A thermocline can prevent dissolved oxygen from getting to the lower layer and vital nutrients from getting to the upper layer.

In many large or even medium-sized IT projects, there exists a thermocline of truth, a line drawn across the organizational chart that represents a barrier to accurate information regarding the project’s progress. Those below this level tend to know how well the project is actually going; those above it tend to have a more optimistic (if unrealistic) view.

This is all true, but the article assumes that everyone is acting rationally, in service to the stated goal(s) of the project, and that problems with the timeline are just honest mistakes. Unfortunately, in my 25 years, I’ve witnessed a nauseating amount of political infighting that sought to undermine projects in attempts to build and/or preserve personal power. This behavior employs the two things readily at-hand for ruining estimating: bad-faith technical decisions, and good, old-fashioned feet dragging. So the problem isn’t just people being wrong, there’s also a large component due to people actively sabotaging a project for their own purposes. 

I’ve spent most of my career in Fortune 250’s, but I’ve seen this happen in a couple of very small companies too. As someone with a personality that is honest to a fault, this has caused me a significant amount of distress in my career. More than once, I’ve been the lone voice in the wilderness crying about the forthcoming train wrecks, only to be ignored, and then ultimately blamed for the crash, because I was the only one that people could point to for having said anything about it at all.

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Leo Morris: News ‘philanthropy’ is a bad idea

Now, advertisers seek targeted audiences rather than broad coverage, and savvy consumers read online reviews of everything before making a purchase. People glimpse the news in their Facebook feeds and find amusements through social media forums. They complain bitterly on Twitter, then look around and wonder where the sense of community went.

Source: Leo Morris: News ‘philanthropy’ is a bad idea

The problem has been debated for about 20 years now. But I think history will look back and find one point he made to be the most-compelling problem: “the sense of community.” The internet has eliminated the “gatekeepers” or the “arbiters” or the “curators” of common knowledge. There was a guy who became famous for describing “the long tail,” and that people could find anything they wanted with the modern internet, and people could make money filling those desires, no matter how obscure or arcane. The internet has allowed each person to radicalize along intensely-individualized lines, and be virulently opposed to anyone who differs in any way. This is the problem. It’s just that Twitter found a way to capitalize on this virulence.

We can’t get along any more, because we all presume ourselves the final authority on everything. So there’s very little room in the market for a journalistic publication that’s supposed to offer a wide swath of “important” stories. No one agrees on what those stories are, let alone why they’re important, and what they infer. The entire idea of a publication has been (almost) destroyed by the internet. Only a few bigs will remain. It has much less to do with how to monetize it as it has to do with people’s desire to consume it. I guess what I’m saying is that I think what people really wanted all along was Facebook, but the closest thing we had was the local paper. I mean, look at the orchids and onions in The Republic. It has always been a “compelling” reason to get it. Facebook is just that, times a million.

While linking my local paper, I see that there are twenty-seven trackers and ads on that page, and this is another thing to talk about in the future.

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Who Moved My Cheese

I started working at a company named Arvin in 1994. It no longer exists. In 2000, they had a “merger of equals” with a company named Meritor. They promised the Arvin shareholders that, in 2 years, the CEO of Arvin, Bill Hunt, would become the CEO of the combined ArvinMeritor. The execs split $50M in bonuses, $15M of which went to Hunt. As soon as the ink was dry, Meritor started liquidating Arvin’s divisions, and Arvin VP’s started pulling the rip cords on their golden parachutes. One year into the deal, the board pulled the $19M ripcord on Hunt’s golden parachute for him. In just another 2 years, all that was left of Arvin was the OEM exhaust division (Arvin’s largest), which they renamed EmCon, and then sold to a private equity firm. Then they changed their name back to Meritor, and probably had a drink and played golf.

Textbook corporate raidership. And the senior leadership of Arvin all “got theirs.”

From 2000 to 2003, there was a game of musical chairs played internally for who would be doing what in the “merged” company. I had been working in the engineering group, as a programmer and system admin. The project I was working on was determined to be redundant, and was canceled. (A very long story, which picks back up at the end, but one for another day.)

I quickly found a spot in the IT group, and moved over to doing systems administration proper. As things started to shake out, one of Meritor’s “brilliant” corporate leadership moves was to get everyone to read the book, Who Moved My Cheese. The Wikipedia page summarizes it well:

Who Moved My Cheese? An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life, published on September 8, 1998, is a motivational business fable. The text describes change in one’s work and life, and four typical reactions to those changes by two mice and two “Littlepeople”, during their hunt for cheese. A New York Times business bestseller upon release, Who Moved My Cheese? remained on the list for almost five years and spent over 200 weeks on Publishers Weekly’s hardcover nonfiction list. It has sold more than 26 million copies worldwide in 37 languages and remains one of the best-selling business books.

In a move that surprised not even myself, I was the first one in my group to be handed the communal copy by my boss. I knew that I could be difficult, so even I thought it was appropriate to start with me. What I should have seen coming, though, was that I was about to get the shaft, and thus, according to management’s plans, I needed it first.

In a few short months, I had setup and configured a Sun E10000 from scratch, by the book, with all the bells and whistles, configured 10 TB of EMC disk cabinets, setup a backup area network and a 384-tape silo and all the backups, and gotten several other mission-critical machines up and running. Just about the time it was all done and running like a sewing machine, with lots of housekeeping scripts setup to automate and groom the operation, I was told I would have to hand it all over to the Windows admin, and switch over to doing Windows administration.

Uh, wut?

Just prior to this, I was also told that I would be taken off the bonus plan, with nothing given in return. Still stinging from this, I was aghast and offended. I pulled a string, called in a favor, and got moved back to engineering. This was a mistake, from both ends.

I hung my decision on one thing: we had bought a $50,000 PC server to be the backbone of managing our 150-or-so Windows servers, then chickened out of spending the $250,000 it would have taken to buy the management software the machine was intended to run. Because of this, this massive machine was just sitting around collecting dust. In fact, we used it on several occasions to host the game servers on LAN party nights. Anyway, since it seemed like we needed this really huge, expensive piece of software to manage the Windows “farm,” the job seemed intimidating without it, so I didn’t want to do it.

This was precisely what the book was supposed to get me to see past. I should have recognized the opportunity for what it was, and made the best of it. I should have made those Windows servers my puppets. If they wouldn’t buy the management software, I should have written my own automation, like I did for the Sun machines. But, no, I didn’t want to be seen as working with Windows — yuck! — I was a Linux Man! I also didn’t get along well, personally, with my boss, and it seemed like I wasn’t getting any credit for the work I had already done with the Sun equipment. As per the graphic above, I felt exploited.

So I abandoned the group, and was soon put on a project which became a living nightmare. For 3 years, I worked for absolute narcissist who I watched lie to senior management to try to build an internal empire, and achieve his career goals, and who relentlessly ridiculed me for a perceived professional slight by someone form whom I had worked for previously.

I look back and wonder. If I had swallowed my pride, and made the Windows servers dance to my tune, where would I be today? If I hadn’t stayed a Linux Man, would I have learnt the world of Gentoo? Would I have wound up at AEI and DataCave? Would I have eventually worked my way into programming bliss with Rails? Would I have returned to writing engineering apps for engineers again? Maybe; maybe not. I love what I do these days, and hope to do it till I retire. So I guess it doesn’t matter how I got here.

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#GossipGirlHere #girlboss #mensuck

A TikToker’s recording of her male classmates joking about rape and saying that ‘silence is consent’ has viewers horrified.

Source: TikToker who’s the ‘only girl in tech class’ films male classmates joking that ‘silence is consent’ right in front of her

I’ll make a confession.

About 30 years ago now, I was walking through the ME labs at Purdue with a professor. If I’m frank, I didn’t care much for this professor. I didn’t think he was a good instructor. I only found out later why, when I was told by another professor that his field of expertise was different than what he was teaching, and he was bitter about the path his career had taken. I don’t say this to besmirch him; we all have career regrets, but it’s important in a moment.

As we walked by one experiment, running on a bench, I asked about it. In the process of giving me the context, he mentioned that it was a woman who was doing it. I made a comment about wondering if she were studying engineering to design better hair dryers. And, yes, it makes me cringe to this day. The professor — despite whatever job disappointments and career pressures he was under — just calmly said that she was one of the brightest people he’d ever worked with, and he looked forward to amazing things from her career.

In that moment, as they say, I was enlightened. Both about my attitude, and how to be an “ally.” Honestly, I was “going for the joke” more than I was being intentionally misogynistic, and I claim some small amount of pride, in today’s politically-charged society, that all it took was one measured response from an actual adult to recalibrate my boundaries.

The males in this classroom aren’t just ignorant, and they aren’t just joking. They’ve been making these sorts of comments on Reddit and 4chan for a long time, and their behavior has been reinforced through those moderation systems. Women don’t speak up about this sort of systemic, generalized misogyny because — if it doesn’t achieve social media virality as a shield — the blowback will be too much to handle. And even now, as the video has been marked private, I guess it was too much for her. That’s OK; that’s for her to decide. I understand it. I’m just glad she got this out there to begin with. We need more of this. A LOT more. As a society, we need to name and shame this behavior. It needs more sunlight and fresh air as disinfectants.

We also need adults in the room to say that this is not acceptable, but to do it in a non-confrontational way. This is vital, no matter how good it would feel to lose your mind about. Not because these comments aren’t worth yelling at someone over, but, rather, doing it in a measured way will avoid the very human, gut-level response of getting defensive when attacked, and shut down the person’s ability to hear that this is not acceptable.

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Cory Doctorow: Tech Monopolies and the Insufficient Necessity of Interoperability – Locus Online

The story of how this came to pass is tawdry and oft-told: it’s the tale of how switching competition law’s enforcement to focus on “consumer welfare” (low prices) destroyed labor markets, national resiliency, and the credibility of democratic institutions. It’s the story of how control over industries dwindled to a handful of powerful people who captured their regulators and got themselves deputized as arms of the government.

Source: Cory Doctorow: Tech Monopolies and the Insufficient Necessity of Interoperability – Locus Online

Bingo.

Public sentiment is more alive to the problems of monopoly than at any time in decades, but still most voters don’t see monopolism as a great evil. They may worry that all their beer comes from two companies or that the internet has turned into five giant websites filled with screenshots of text from the other four.

I love this take, and I’m glad to see it being repeated.

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Dead Startup Toys

Iconic startup disasters – now as collectible toys!

Source: Dead Startup Toys

You simply must press “F”, as it says at the bottom.

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