Another Reason to Drop Windows

FedEx was among many companies disastrously affected by last week’s global ransomware attack. It was completely stupid and unnecessary. The shutdown (a desperate attempt to halt the spread of the attack) caused big dispatch problems for drivers and tracking issues for customers. I did all my documentation on paper yesterday and the package scanner was useless.

A multi-billion dollar company still using WindowsXP (unsupported, even with security updates for most people, although some corporate customers have been able to extend support – for a big fat fee) and that doesn’t even have backups in place?!? There’s no excuse for that. Yesterday’s chaos was completely unnecessary.

Y’know I’m a Linux fanboy and would love to “convert” my company to Linux, but that’s obviously not going to happen. If FedEx is stupid enough to use a long-unsupported legacy Windows OS and not even back their stuff up, they’re sure as heck not gonna be smart enough to take the necessary steps to avoid another hack by switching to Linux or BSD. Maybe they’ll be smart enough to have backups in place, but my experience with the company has demonstrated some particularly foolhardy nonsense at the corporate level.

But the rest of us can learn a lesson from this! Most readers of this blog are just casual, “ordinary” desktop and laptop computer users (students, home users). WindowsXP was the best Windows OS ever! It’s only gotten worse since then, and that’s why a lot of people are still using it. The later versions of Windows got bloated and resource-hungry and kept interrupting users with notifications, updates (always in the middle of writing a term paper or something), and other stuff that demands the users’ immediate attention. A lot of the software that “comes with Windows” isn’t for the user at all, but for the OS! Just to keep it running and stable and reliable. That’s bloatware and hogs even more resources, slowing everything down.

If you’re one of those folks hanging onto WinXP because you have an old computer that still runs it fine, or the newer versions of Windows are confusing and even a little terrifying, take a lesson! Don’t be like FedEx. There are Linux distributions that even technophobes like me can use, that are fully updated and supported, free of bloatware (so it stays out of your way when writing that big ol’ term paper), and that cost nothing to get and install on your computer!

For newbies I really like Linux Lite. It’s made for novices just like Linux Mint and many other “newbie-friendly” Linux distributions, but it works very well on those older machines that ran WinXP so well! I could also recommend LXLE because it’s made for older hardware, but it is not designed for newcomers to Linux. Neither is AntiX (MX), or Salix, and neither are many of the other “lightweight” distros aimed at older computers. Linux Mint is great for novices, but it’s so heavy it doesn’t run well on those perfectly good but modest older computers.

E-Mail Management

Recently I switched my e-mail provider because my former one – and I don’t mind naming them: GMX.com – is being blocked by a growing number of ISPs as a major source of SPAM. It’s easy to believe that too, judging by the number of spam e-mails that polluted my inbox there. It’s as if someone turned off their spam filter or something. At least a dozen a day for the past couple of weeks, and it isn’t the first time that has happened.

I was already looking for a new service (not ready for my own domain yet) when I came across this article about e-mail privacy. It describes new rules that make everything in your inbox that is more than 6 months old “fair game” for examination by any government agency without a warrant! If you’re an IMAP user like I was, you enjoy the advantages of being able to access your old and new e-mail from any internet-connected device. My new service does not offer IMAP support, only the old POP3 protocol. But guess what? My e-mail program (Seamonkey or Thunderbird) gives me the choice of leaving the e-mail on the server or not, and I set it up to delete all mail from the server once I have downloaded it. Sorry, NSA, nothing to see here. Move along.

Privacy is one of the reasons I dumped Google’s gmail long ago. It’s one of the major reasons for getting myself off of Facebook, too. So why would I leave e-mail on an IMAP server where it can accumulate, forgotten but available on someone else’ server for government inspection? Maybe POP3 isn’t so bad after all, since it can be set up to delete incoming mail automatically as soon as it’s downloaded. Now all I need to remember to do, is delete sent messages regularly and empty the trash.

Stay tuned… I’ll be testing the latest version of an old favorite – Linux Mint Xfce (Rebecca) – in the coming weeks and posting about it here.