Top 20 Replies by Programmers

This made me laugh as it is so true. I had to share. It doesn’t seem to matter how good a developer you are and how rigorously you follow testing process etc, we are all still people and when things don’t go as you would expect them, we start to come out with the excuses.

I have used the majority of replies on this list myself in my career as a software developer.

There is also a good web site that generates developer excuses. There are some really good ones on here.

Top 20 Replied by Programmers
Top 20 Replied by Programmers

Elementary OS the Stylish Minimalist Linux Distribution

In a previous article I talked about whether a Linux desktop was ready to become a mainstream OS on a desktop computer for everyday, non techie users, like my Dad or Wife. In that article, I concluded that, Yes, Linux is now at the point where it is becoming a viable option. Linux has been the mainstay on servers for many years now, and powers a large proportion of the internet, but it has never really caught on with standard desktop computing. This has changed though with tablet computing as Linux sits underneath the Android operating system.

In the article I stated that Linux Mint was a very good transitional Linux distribution because it looks and acts very similar to Windows, so this would make a users migration to Linux a lot smoother. There are still a number of hurdles to overcome for the user like giving up any Microsoft specific applications like Office in favour of LibreOffice, and general hardware device compatibility, which driver wise, lags behind Windows.

In the comments for the other article, a reader suggested checking out Elementary OS. Elementary is another Linux distribution based off of Ubuntu, that has been designed to be very easy to use. The user interface as you will see in a bit is gorgeous. Also this distribution is very lightweight in that it doesn’t come with hundreds of installed applications like Linux Mint does. This makes it more like a base install of Windows, where you just get the operating system and a collection of small apps and utilities. I find this quite appealing as I don’t like clutter.

Elementary OS - Install
Elementary OS – Install

So lets take a look at this OS. You download the ISO file image from Elementary OS website. Again I am installing it under Windows 8, using Virtual Box. As this distribution is based on Ubuntu, it has a very familiar installer which is very easy to use. The whole process took about 15 minutes. Once the installation had completed I was at the Login Screen ready to sign in and start using the OS.

Free Software Movement Explained by Richard Stallman

I came across a great video by the Richard Stallman, who is the founder of the Free Software movement and the GNU Public License. There is general a misconception that Free Software means that software is free of charge, but this is not necessarily the case.

In this 16 minute video, Richard explains what free software is and what it means philosophically. He also discusses the Creative Commons Licenses and how they can apply to the Free Software movement. Well worth a watch.


Can a Linux Desktop Ever Become Mainstream?

Professionally and at home, I have been a dedicated Windows user since I can remember. Windows 3.1 was my first foray into the Windows world. I have never really had any need to use anything else. When I used to work in the games industry all of our development was done under Windows, even if we were targeting other platforms like the Playstation platform, Gamecube, Wii etc.

Every now and again, I take a little dip into the Linux world just to see how it is coming along. One thing that has always interested me is if a Linux Desktop can ever compete in the mainstream against Windows and OSX. By this, I mean would it ever become a feasible operating system to use for non developer hacker types. Or to put it another way, could my Wife or Dad ever use Linux as a general all purpose operating system?

Transition from Windows to Linux
Transition from Windows to Linux

Every-time I take a look, the answer I come too is, No. It is just too hard to use for the lay person. For someone like my Dad or Wife, expecting them to do any kind of configuration from the command line isn’t really appropriate, and the GUI’s of Linux past have been pretty grim. Hackers love them, but not the average guy / girl on the street.

I recently took another look to see how Linux was progressing, because fundamentally, I love the idea of it. A Free, and Open operating system that is not tied to any one particular company. First of all I tried Ubuntu with their new Unity interface. After about 30 minutes use of this new GUI I was left thoroughly underwhelmed. Why, because it doesn’t feel like Windows. Don’t flame me just yet, let me explain. In my opinion, to get an experienced or novice windows user to switch to Linux, then they need a certain level of familiarity to make the transition easier and Unity just didn’t provide it. Sure it has it’s own identity and you can’t knock it for this, but the whole experience felt clunky and incomplete. Next up was Linux Mint 16 with their Cinnamon interface.

UK Government Picks Open Document Format

There has been a lot of talk recently about the UK Government making a recommendation to switch the format of all government documents to an open format, in-particular ODF 1.1 / 1.2 (Open Document Format) for editable documents and PDF/A and PDF 1.7 for non editable documents.

Microsoft Office vs Open Office
Microsoft Office vs Open Office

The main reason for this is that the UK Government wants there to be different options for people editing documents, and they have a preference for browser based editing tools, like Google Docs, Office 365. They also still want to support desktop productivity packages like Microsoft Office, Open Office, Libre Office etc. Currently Microsoft has the monopoly with Office. Pretty much everyone uses it. The downside is that Office is very expensive to license, and in an age of austerity with governments having to make cost reductions, it seems waste-full to spend so much on software licenses, especially when it is public money

If you were to have asked me 7 years ago, when I last tried Open Office, if it was any good, I would have said No. I tried it and really didn’t get on with it. But over the last few months I have tried it again, and you know what? I think it is excellent. I now use it exclusively. I am even writing this article in Open Office.

Blast from the Past. Interview in Amiga Power

I was looking for something in my garage the other day, and I came across an old magazine from 1994 that I was interviewed in, 20 years ago! The magazine was Amiga Power. This is a computer magazine by Future Publishing for the now defunct Amiga 500/1200 Personal Computer.

Amiga Power Magazine
Amiga Power Magazine

I started my programming career developing computer games with my school friend Chris Rundell. After lots of trying, we eventually got signed to a small independent publisher called GKS Design. Our first game was an isometric shoot-em-up / adventure called Dark Mission, that was heavily influenced by the film Aliens. I did all the coding and Chris did all the artwork, animation etc.

The Day we Fight Back Against Mass Surveillance

The Day we Fight Back Against Mass Surveillance.
The Day we Fight Back Against Mass Surveillance.

Click the image above to join in!

From their website :


In January 2012 we defeated the SOPA and PIPA censorship legislation with the largest Internet protest in history. Today we face another critical threat, one that again undermines the Internet and the notion that any of us live in a genuinely free society: mass surveillance.

In celebration of the win against SOPA and PIPA two years ago, and in memory of one of its leaders, Aaron Swartz, we are planning a day of protest against mass surveillance, to take placethis February 11th.

Together we will push back against powers that seek to observe, collect, and analyze our every digital action. Together, we will make it clear that such behavior is not compatible with democratic governance. Together, if we persist, we will win this fight.