Tuesday, February 24, 2009

An update on my previous post

In my previous post, I had talked about laptop manufacturers not offering a choice between Windows and Linux operating systems, atleast in India. It turns out that I am somewhat wrong. Asus and HCL offer a choice between Windows and Linux OS on their "ultraportable" series of laptops. These are also termed as "Netbooks" aimed at people who want to use the laptop for surfing the internet, light editing type works and light multimedia. The main reason, though, for offering Linux is not about giving a choice, but cost reduction and resource utilisation, as the processors in these netbooks are pared-down versions of the Core2Duo.

But I still maintain my protest, as the mainstream manufacturers do not give the option to those who are more heavy users as compared to the netbook customers.
An update on my previous postSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Monopolistic practices (and cartelisation??)

Over the years that I spent at IIT, I have begun to like Linux a lot. Although I am not particular about a distro, I prefer having Fedora or Ubuntu loaded on my PC. And over time, my liking towards Linux has grown along with the fact that I began disliking Windows. There were several reasons for me to starting liking Linux. One of them is that it was free and the freedom to use Linux the way I wanted it. Also, Windows had a hundred conditions that needed to be satisfied before I could use it and continue using it. To top it off, Microsoft never offered free upgrade to later versions. Only free updates and patches for the installed version were offered. And once a new version was out, Microsoft slowly reduced and eventually stopped support and updates for the previous version. This forces many customers to either upgrade to the new version by again paying for it or remain vulnerable to various shortcomings of the installed version. Linux being available freely means that one can upgrade to the new version without incurring any costs at all.

When I wanted to buy a laptop, I decided that I would not have Windows with it. I wanted a machine that would have only Linux on it, preferably a distro of my choice. However, to my utter dismay, when I looked around in the market, none of the laptop companies were offering a choice between Windows and Linux operating systems. Neither did they offer a laptop without an operating system. I was forced to buy a laptop with Windows loaded on it. What's more, the laptop manufacturer doesn't provide a Windows CD/DVD but loads the recovery system on a partition of the hard-drive that can only be accessed by the recovery software, there by eating into existing disc space.

My laptop has since then become defunct due to a hardware failure. But, I was thinking about this issue for very long. Why don't the laptop manufacturers offer us a choice? Why are we forced to buy Windows? Of course, there are open source supporters, like IBM-Lenovo supports Fedora/Red Hat, HP supports open SuSE but where do they put their preaching into practice? Their laptops too come pre-loaded with Windows OS. Isn't this some sort of cartelisation between Microsoft and the laptop manufacturers? Sure, the manufacturers can order Linux distros at very cheap rates and distribute them on DVDs instead of trying to restrict the Windows OS to a single machine by loading it on the machine's hard drive. Why hasn't any government taken action against the laptop manufacturers? In other sectors, this kind of bundling (without offering a choice, when available) has been frowned upon by the regulators. Will there ever be action against such caterlisation? Microsoft being a dominant force in the OS market, will try to exert its influence over the laptop makers. But isn't it the duty of the regulators to see that others too have a fair chance? And with options being available, the regulator should ensure that customers get the choice of operating systems. Why should we ever be forced to take stuff from Microsoft?
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Monday, February 02, 2009

On the lighter side

The mobile phone rings. It displays a number that is not familiar to me. I am riding my bicycle to the department. I am on the upclimb near the convocation hall. A little irritated, I pick up the phone. I do that always, as I feel that it could be an important or emergency call.

Caller: "Hello sir, I am Priya* calling from XYZ bank."
This is my credit card company. I get a bit more irritated. Some of it stemming from the fact that I am still riding uphill.
Me: "Yes?"
Caller: "Sir, we are offering you a pre-approved loan of Rs 88,000/- at a special interest rate."
Me(the irritation is increasing): "No madam, I am not interested."
Caller: "But sir, you could use this money for whatever purpose you want. And this is a limited period offer. We are offering you a special interest rate because of your good credit history. The interest rates will be revised next month and you may not get this special rate."
Me (frustration creeping in): "But madam I do not need the money right now. Whenever I need it, I shall take it at whatever interest rates are offered to me."
Caller: "OK sir, whenever you need a loan, please call me on my cell phone. Please note down my number."
Me: "Go ahead." And I pretend to jot her number.
Caller: "Thank you sir, and have a nice day."

I proceed to my department, happy that I could fend off the caller, without offending her. This is necessary as she is doing nothing else but her job.

About a year ago, such calls were common and I used to receive such calls at least once every month. And then, somewhere in mid-2008, the financial markets crashed. Everybody was running helter-skelter, trying to hang on to what ever liquidity they had. Loans became dearer and credit was drying up. And then, one day I realised that the calls from the credit card company too had stopped. It was a blessing in disguise for me. The crash in the financial market had relieved me from the tension of fending off callers for loans. It has brought some peace to me by taking those calls off my back.

What I regret now is, why did I not actually jot down the numbers of the females who had called me up. The least I could have done is called them up and cheered them during this financial downturn. And probably go out on a date with one of them and then pay the bill using the same credit card on which she had once offered a loan. Next, I could ask her for a loan to clear off the expenses incurred on her and ask her for very special interest rates. Well, a lot more could have happened, if I had jotted down those numbers. Just imagination at work.

*The name is imaginary.
On the lighter sideSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend