Friday, May 10, 2019

Microsoft is trying to force me to use Linux.

Microsoft is pushing a new suite of tools for Word.

Coming soon to a word processing app you probably already subscribe to is Microsoft's new Ideas plugin. This leap forward in the predictive text trend will endeavor to help you be less offensive. Worried you might be a little bit racist? A little gender confused? Not sure about the difference between disabled persons and persons who are disabled? Never fear, Microsoft will fix your language for you.

Using machine learning and AI, Microsoft's Ideas in Word will help writers be their least offensive, most milquetoast selves. Just like spell check and grammar check function, Ideas will make suggestions as to how to improve your text to be more inclusive. On the surface, this seems like a terrible idea, but when we dig further beneath the impulse, and the functionality of the program, it gets even worse. What's happening is that AI and machine learning are going to be the background of pretty much every application, learning from our behaviours not only how we'd like to format our PowerPoint presentations, but learning, across platforms, how best to construct language so that we say what we are wanted to say as opposed to what we really mean.

They plan to take Auto-corrupt to a whole new level by suggesting different word choices for controversial concepts like "his", "she will" and "ham sandwich."

Of course you have the option of turning those suggestions off, or ignoring them. For now.

But really, do I want to be writing stories on software that counts up every time I use a gender pronoun and keeps a record of it on a server somewhere? Indeed, keeps everything I write on a remote server somewhere if I have Autosave turned on.

Yes that's right kids, if you want to use Autosave with Word, then you have to have OneDrive turned on, and the Autosave sends everything to OneDrive.

Which I am assured is -tewtally- safe and secure, dewd. Nobody could EVER use the contents of your OneDrive to train AI software, just ferinstance. Right? Oh no wait, they can. Says so in the fine print.

So really, they're fucking well copying every damn thing I do and keeping it forever someplace I can't get at it. And then SELLING IT. For which privilege I pay a yearly fee.

Yes, they really are trying to force me off their platform onto something that doesn't constantly steal my private stuff and sell it. Linux with Open Office is useable, stable and FREE.

Keep going, Microsoft. Eventually you will make me switch.


paladin3001 said...

I think the newer suite is Libre Office. And you can use it on a Windows platform. Used it before I switched to using Linux and it works well enough for my needs. I had to go with Open Office (now Libre Office) because I couldn't afford to purchase Word or any other such office suite.

Reziac said...

Wanna explain to me how autosave-to-OneDrive works if you don't have an internet connection?? if there's a fallback to local storage, how come that's not an option, or better yet the default?

In part because of this nonsense (and more because the Win10 interface makes my eyes bleed) my everyday Windows boxen still run WinXP, and XP64. The next "new" machine (probably yet another frankenputer built from salvage) will run XP64. I have Win7 and Win10 boxen, but they're exiled to the land of cranky crap that can't be convinced to run on XP, which is very damn little of anything I care about.

And the lack of updates is a security non-issue. Malware authors are not coding geniuses, and they don't have access to Microsoft source code. So how do they discover security holes? A: They reverse-engineer the patches. No new patches, no new security holes.

Oh, browsers? Updated browsers compiled for XP.
(Just unzip and run, no need to install.)

As to linux (nattering for anyone who went Huh?), it's a minefield of potholes and speedbumps, with way too much stuff that still doesn't work and weird ways to fail, but after testing literally hundreds of distros (I've been trying to find a distro I could love, or at least live with, since 1998), I settled on PCLinuxOS as working best out of the box with the fewest cranks and issues. I use the KDE and Trinity desktops (in part because they're a reasonably seamless transition from WinXP, and I like the KDE apps), but other desktops are available, either officially or unofficially.

One reason for this choice was rolling updates... reinstalling is against my religion.

So far I mainly use the linux box for streaming video, but otherwise ... it's finally reached the point of everyday usefulness and stability. Trinity sometimes buggers up, but the KDE side has never crashed. I'm cured of dual booting as too failure-prone (GRUB is not entirely reliable, ask me about my adventures with Mint) so I use a hotswap bay and switch hard drives as needed. This also reduces the number of frankenputers required to explore alternate OSs.

The main issue is that I haven't gotten WINE to work, and I have older, never-to-be-ported DOS and Win apps that I can't live without (including my fiction editor). I may eventually solve that with a virtual machine that runs all the time... or I may continue to breed frankenputers as pets. Not like you'd notice one more around here... main problem is finding a KVM that likes the big monitor.

If you want to explore the KDE app stable, you can install KDE for Windows, which can run a broad spectrum of KDE apps. Most work pretty well, tho they're not as stable as the versions that have been ported to Windows for real.

The Phantom said...

Thanks guys. I've been toying with Linux since the 1990s. I even got it running on Silicon Graphics Octanes one time.

What usually defeats me is A)video card drivers and B) printer integration. Lack of drivers for common hardware is the killer every time, and the CUPS printer thing is just ridiculous.

Last time I tried Ubuntu. It was fine for surfing the interwebz and running Open Office, until it was time to print. That's a problem that can't be ignored.

I run a Windows/MS Office office environment for 5 people, and have a bunch of Windows boxes at home. Sunk costs and time invested is quite large. And there's no way in the world the office is going Linux. They'd all quit first. Nobody uses Linux in an office setting.

Still, Microsoft is trying very hard to make me do the work to switch over.

paladin3001 said...

Been running Linux Mint 19 and using an HP printer. A few minor issues getting it working, mostly because my USB ports are starting to get quirky. Things have gotten better since I first dabbled with the OS back in the day.

Orvan Taurus said...

I agree that CUPS has issues, to put it mildly. I have a (very inexpensive, alright cheap) Pantum laser printer running with Linux Mint. The 'trick' to making it work is non-obvious. Pantum supplies drivers that do indeed work with CUPS. But while a user-install goes through the motions of asking for (root-access) password that doesn't matter. I had to go to an actual root terminal (sudo su will get one there) and install the drivers. THEN they worked.

Video card experiences vary. I know ESR had bad experience(s) with nVidia and now is very pointedly AMD-only. My experience is pretty much the opposite and I go with nVidia whenever I can afford to. No idea about Intel graphics, but if you're not do high-end video (gaming or game-like Virtual Worlds, editing perhaps) it likely doesn't matter that much.

Fortunately, these days almost every program (that isn't Microsoft or Apple branded...) is cross-platform and jumping OS, if you wish, isn't the hassle of learning a bunch of new programs AND the new OS.

The other issue you did not mention, is that audio generally just works, but PulseAudio can still induce some annoyance from time to time.

LAG said...

It's things like this latest from MS that make me smile when people tell me I'm stuck in the past. I assume that they mean they're jealous that I can repair my simple vehicle myself, my simple appliances myself, know how to use a rotary phone, remember simple courtesies, and, yeah, just use a word processor to write sentences I think up all by myself without the help of an AI.

R.C. said...

3 options:

1. MX Linux
2. Linux Mint
3. Zorin OS

There are others, of course. Ubuntu and Kubuntu and Xubuntu, plus Linux Lite for the lower-power machines. Netrunner if you have a high-end box and you want to be dazzled by eye-candy whenever possible. But for friendly Windows replacements that aren't as expensive as Macs, the above Desktop Linux variations are quite nice. My wife and kids switched to them without skipping a beat.

And, yes, we use Libre Office. In fact, we switched to Libre Office and/or its near-clone, Open Office a decade before we got away from Windows. We switched when Microsoft Office started abandoning conventional Menu Bars in favor of that obnoxious, cluttered, disorganized "ribbon interface," which has got to be this world's greatest living example of Fixing What Ain't Broke.

But I digress.

Switch to a Linux Distro. You'll be glad you did.

Learn to eavesdrop on DistroWatch's rankings of Linux Distro popularity from time-to-time. It helps you keep track of which distros are getting the best customer reviews for usability and bug-free stability. Switch to a flavor that has a reputation for a large and helpful "community" because if you have questions or problems, the folks in the community support forums will help you get back on track.

Nobody needs Windows any more. Nothing about it has been better than disappointing since Windows 7; and the reason Windows 7 wasn't disappointing was because everyone was so relieved to have all the Vista bugs fixed!

So. Join the choir of the Enlightened. We're not a monolith. We're a million unherdable cats choosing to customize our computers as we choose, using an OS and software that are FREE: Both "free as in speech, and free as in beer."