19 September 2008

PC vs. ...

Ever since I installed Service Pack 3 for Microsoft Windows XP a few weeks ago, my computer’s Wi-Fi connection has needed both a software and hardware restart to make or sustain a network connection. A restart each time I want to use the computer.* I thought I was prepared for this so-called update: I checked out the details, backed up my files, etc. Apparently, it was not enough. Nor am I the only person experiencing this kind of an issue—not that this makes me feel better.

Given the problems I have had with Windows in recent years, some of which I have written about here, and given the problems Microsoft is having with Vista, the replacement for XP, it might just be time to start thinking about other, non-Windows-based computer options. I moved away from Apple computers a lifetime ago. Early Macintosh computers were frustrating for someone like me, who liked to access the inner bits of a computer’s hardware and software: Macs locked users out from the underlying system even more then Microsoft did. (I had both Commodore and Coleco computers; playing with the computer’s programming was part of the fun.) Moreover, Macs were (and remain) significantly more expensive, another factor in every purchase along the line, especially in early adulthood.

New Macs are not like their much older siblings, and the new Apple operating system is built on a different code platform. And, of course, one can now run Windows on a Mac too, if need be. I have already moved as far away from Microsoft as I can while using Windows: I draw on as much open source software as I can, from Firefox and Thunderbird to OpenOffice.org to KeePass. If the quality of new Macs is anything like the quality of my amazing new iPhone, Windows-based PCs are doomed.

It is therefore all the more disturbing—and sad—that for Microsoft, the present problems it faces are apparently about television commercials instead of software quality. Even talking about the issues of PC vs. Mac (vs. Linux) as if it’s about the commercials misses the point. Which might be why Microsoft’s software—ubiquitous though it may be—is riddled with problems like the one I am presently faced with, problems seemingly without solutions.

For this consumer, the issue is not TV commercials. It’s about functionality, quality of experience, ease of use, and not being frustrated every time I turn on my computer, anxiously wondering what won’t work this time.

(*If you're a Microsoft person reading this, let me clarify: nothing else in the household or the computer set-up changed other than the installation of SP3. Other, non-Windows Wi-Fi devices continue to connect to my home network with no trouble, so no it's not a problem with the router. It's a problem with Windows XP SP3.)

13 September 2008

Job Hunting 101

I think the issue of how people apply for jobs is important enough that I'm cross-linking to this article from my other site: Jobs Top 5. I also want to call out other articles I have written on job-related issues, from 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003, and 2002.

And I am a big fan of Gina Trapani and her team at Lifehacker, which has posts tagged for job searches and careers, and sometimes provides good insights for both traditional and non-traditional approaches to job-hunting.