Why there’s so much backlash against healthcare reform in the US

I don’t often blog about politics here, but I’ve noticed a lot of people from outside the US not understanding why there’s so much popular opposition to the healthcare reform bill that has been passed, citing that they have universal healthcare in their country, and it’s great, and it’s about time we entered the modern era, and sometimes socialism is good. So, I decided to post my views on it.

IMO, there’s legitimate reasons for not wanting this.

The first thing I have to say is, this isn’t socialism. Socialism is when the government provides the funding for healthcare for everyone. What this is, is government-mandated use of (commercial) health insurance.

We’re still paying the same people, and they’ll now be forced to provide coverage, but it’s still the same system as we’ve had before, essentially. Same corruption, same fighting people every step of the way on service, same systemic flaws that are designed to siphon money out of everyone in the system for insurance companies to profit on treatments instead of cures, or even unnecessary treatments. Almost every complaint that applies to our current system applies to the new system.

Now, there’s legitimate reasons for us to oppose real socialized medicine, too.

Our government has a very long history of failing miserably at its attempts at socialized medicine, Medicare (for the elderly) and Medicaid (for low income patients.) They’re running into massive deficits, with no signs of recovery, and the quality of service isn’t very good (partially due to that.) Of course, Medicaid is being expanded as part of this, with no signs of further income sources for it.

Myself, I’m undecided on it. Socialized medicine has worked for quite a few other countries, and corporate medicine is really quite terrible, but on the flipside, the US’s experiments in socialized medicine have been very, very miserable failures.

That’s all, I just thought I’d write something up to explain that.

Random rambling on user interfaces – part 1

In my last entry, I linked to a music video of Every OS Sucks by Three Dead Trolls in a Baggie.

It’s really true, every OS does suck – both under the hood and at the user interface level.

I don’t feel qualified enough to comment extensively on the internals of various OSes, as I’m no programmer, but as a user, I (and any other computer user) work with UIs every single day, and I feel qualified to comment on that. I’ve used various graphical UIs in day-to-day use, primarily Windows (almost every version from 3.1 to 7, and I even used 1.01 daily for fun at one time,) but also Mac OS System 7.1 and X 10.5, IIGS System 6.0.1, KDE 3, GNOME 2, RISC OS 4 and 6, and CDE 1.5. I’ve also supported users of varying skill levels on Windows XP. I, however, am not a UI researcher.

This will likely be a multi-part series, hence “part 1.” I’ll be commenting on my opinions of what’s bad and good in a wide range of UIs. I might be able to tie this all together in something resembling a description of a good UI, I might not. If none of this makes sense, or if I’m flat-out wrong about something, please let me know in the comments.

So, let’s get the first thing out of the way: what is a good UI? A good UI is one that makes it as easy as possible to complete your computing tasks. Nothing more, nothing less.

Why is it so hard to make a good UI, then? Several reasons. Continue reading “Random rambling on user interfaces – part 1”

Zombie OSes – OSes that aren’t dead, but they aren’t the most alive, either

I’m probably going to piss a few people off with this, but it’s something that’s been rattling around in my head for a while, and I wanted to get it posted somewhere. This might not even make much sense. 😉 Also, please note that I’m not knocking your favorite OS when I classify it as a zombie OS.

So, what is a zombie OS? A zombie OS is an OS that “should have” died, but has been kept alive and at least somewhat up to date by its community. Or, maybe it really did die, but its community has brought it back. (By “should have” died, I don’t mean that the OS deserved to die, just that the situation that it was in meant that it would have died if it weren’t for the community.) Either way, it’s now “undead,” if you will.

Most zombie OSes are now considered hobby OSes – OSes that most people play with for fun, and then reboot into a more mainstream OS (or switch to a more mainstream computer) for daily work. That said, there are often many die-hard users that use such an OS as their primary OS. At one time, most of these OSes were commercially sold, but their developer has abandoned the OS, or has gone out of business. That doesn’t mean that there’s not a new owner commercially selling it to the hobby market – in fact, in many cases, that is the case.

Why use a zombie OS? Quite a few reasons. For starters, nostalgia – you may have used the OS before, you liked it, so why not play around with it nowadays? That happens with a lot of dead OSes, too – OSes that have truly been abandoned, and the community around it exists solely to have fun with stuff they used years ago. Alternately, maybe you’ve always been using it, it fits your needs the best, or it has some features that you really like, so why stop now? Or, maybe you’re interested in using alternatives to the mainstream OSes, and as zombie OSes were usually well supported in their past, there’s usually more support available for them than for OSes that began as hobby OSes.

So, what is there to know about them? Continue reading “Zombie OSes – OSes that aren’t dead, but they aren’t the most alive, either”

HP t5325 thin client, RISC OS, and maybe combining the two. Or just running Linux on it. Either way.

If you follow this blog, you may remember that I’ve mentioned RISC OS, the OS used on ARM-based computers made by Acorn Computers. The OS has a very loyal following, and as an “outsider,” I found it (and the hardware, for that matter) interesting.

However, as Acorn pulled out of the personal computer market in 1998, the community has had trouble obtaining hardware since. Many users still use circa 1997 RiscPCs with 200 or 233 MHz StrongARM CPUs, which just don’t cut it today. While there were a few clones made after the fall of Acorn, most notably the Iyonix (with a 600 MHz XScale,) and the A9home (with a 400 MHz Samsung ARM9-based system on chip,) these machines are expensive for what they are, and the Iyonix is no longer in production. It’s proven to be difficult to make custom hardware specifically for this market, as the RISC OS community can’t afford custom chips designed for RISC OS machines, so they’re required to use embedded chips that provide suboptimal performance, and the low volume causes extremely high hardware prices to make up for development and tooling costs.

But, ARM is now pushing their architecture into the netbook and nettop spaces, countering Intel’s attempt to move into ARM’s traditional smartphone and embedded spaces. This means that there’s now PC-class ARM hardware. And, the best part is, someone else is paying for the development, and ARM wants the volume to be huge.

Not only that, but Castle Technology, the company that makes the Iyonix, has released their version of RISC OS under a shared source license, to RISC OS Open. This has allowed developers to take advantage of the new ARM platforms. Right now, there’s a port to the Beagle Board, although it’s arguably not well suited towards desktop applications, due to its lack of any form of ATA support, and poor 2D graphics capabilities – the OMAP3530 chip that it’s based on is essentially a cell phone chip. Also, it’s a developer board, so there’s no good case for it. But, there’s an ARM platform that’s low-cost, commercially available, and does offer SATA, good 2D graphics, and a case. Continue reading “HP t5325 thin client, RISC OS, and maybe combining the two. Or just running Linux on it. Either way.”