Computing

Dear Macophobe Charlie Brooker

In response to Charlie Brooker's piece on Guardian Comments Free: Why I hate Macs ... Hey, I'm using a Mac and also use Linux on another machine, use Windows XP + Linux at work and have endured my fair share of woes with the various incarnations of fenestrated operating systems falling victim to viruses, spyware and persistent crashes. I also plugged in a three-button wheel mouse as I'd become accustomed to frequent right clicks in my Windows days. However, with a Mac mouse, you just control-click...

CSS Two Column Layout

If you view this site with Firefox or other browsers based on the Gecko 1.8+ engine, you'll see the body of articles neatly arranged into two free-flowing and self-balancing columns. This relies on the new CSS 3 column module , implemented in Gecko browsers as -moz-column before ratification by the W3C. Safari and Opera have introduced limited support for multiple columns and will implement stylesheet workarounds for these user agents as soon as possible. Although IE7 is doubtlessly an improvement over...

The One Laptop per Child Dream

Do children need game consoles, mp3-players, camera phones, bedroom TV sets with inbuilt DVD players? Probably not. Few cross-cultural comparisons would suggest such devices are of any educational benefit. Indeed they distract children from other forms of play and learning, bombard them with a never-ending blur of junk information and prepare them only for a world of instant gratification, in which corporate deities impart magical gifts. You will not learn how to program by playing moronic games on your...

Buying a Mac

For the last 15 months I've been using a second-hand laptop purchased on ebay for £200 with a 1.3 GHz Athlon processor, 256MB RAM and a 20GB hard drive. I first installed Mandriva Linux 10.0 and owing to persistent power management problems I later tried the Ubuntu/Debian-based Simply Mepis distribution. With a little tinkering I managed to get all the essential software packages and Wi-Fi connectivity up and running. Yes, Linux offers a plethora of office productivity, programming and Web development, ...

Where OpenOffice could do better

Some may argue that you cannot fault the quality or features of free software, so if MS Office still offers a few bells and whistles that are a tad more polished than their OOo counterparts, a potential user need simply decide if these refinements are worth £200+. Yet OOo Writer has emerged not only as the main competitor to MS Word, but as a serious challenge to the domination of one software giant, 40% of whose revenue stem from business's addiction to its ubiquitous Office Suite. In many respects OOo...

What is Open Source and why should you care?

Operating systems and productivity software are very much here with us to stay. The millions of person hours invested in the development of the powerful programmes many of us use every day will serve hundreds of millions of users for generations to come. Only five years ago a typical desktop system may have cost as much as £1000, so possibly investing £200 in software may have seemed, relatively speaking, a small price to pay for professionals relying on mission-critical applications. However, when...

Why are you using still using Microsoft Internet Explorer?

You may just be wondering why it matters. Microsoft have their operating systems on over 90% of the world's desktops and these just happen to ship with IE as the default browser. Not only that some sites use code specifically designed for Microsoft technologies like Active-X, so why not just take it easy and reap the benefits of interoperability that stem from the dominant browser? Why not just leave Firefox to the geeks and besides “If the guys at Mozilla want to compete they might consider...

Non-Web Formats

The Internet is a collection of interlinked documents distributed in open formats compatible with the greatest number of heterogeneous operating systems and devices. The World Wide Web's standard text markup language is HTML, which has undergone numerous revisions since the Internet's rapid expansion in the early 1990s. XML, in many ways a descendent of the more complex SGML, is the default standard for data exchange between diverse systems. Almost any kind of data can be marked up and...

Reclaiming Word

If you own a computer, you probably have some form of word processor. Whether you need to type a report at work or a letter at home or maybe just a short shopping list, chances are you think you need Word or rather Microsoft Word TM . How could we possibly manage without WordArt, ubiquitous in nursery schools and on church noticeboards worldwide? Don't messages look so dull if left in a dated serif font? Isn't it just wonderful that we can highlight text in bold and change its colour? And just in case...

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