Hmmm … Bill Kurtis isn’t being consistent

I just saw a new commercial in the “I’m Bill Kurtis, and I’m faster than …” ad campaign advertising the AT&T 3G internet dongle, this time with Andy Roddick.

The last one I saw, in which Bill Kurtis was in a boxing ring, I was convinced that his laptops were using Ubuntu because I saw what appeared to be a brown desktop that clearly seemed to be the Gnome desktop.

In the Andy Roddick commercial, the computers appear to be using MovieOS, it’s a greenish blueish background (somewhat reminiscent to the default background for Win98) with next to no distinguishing features.

I’m disappointed … short of the likely probability that it costs a production company less to have a few stock photoshopped MovieOS “desktops”, and that obviously it’s likely easier and cheaper to just “make a movie” (or an interactive one, so that it fits in with the script) than to make *any* OS do exactly what you want to do, the way you want to do it, exactly when you want to do it, it seems to me that the easiest thing to do when all you really want is a half second, generic screenshot is just ask the computer geeks in the back room to format a computer with Ubuntu or whatever else, and there aren’t any licensing fees.

Hmmm … unless the various backers of distros have these “commercial use” clauses in their distribution licenses that I haven’t bothered to look up.

Of course, this now reminds me of another conversation I had recently: It “started” in 2006 with the person I convinced to reformat my systems with Linux on the premise “that I just want something to believe in” — something that has bugged me over the past couple of years of being both too corny and not quite what I really meant — and that “ended” a few weeks ago with someone else covering all the basic linux topics, particularly the convoluted licenses making you cynically wonder whether or not you may use a given piece of software even for its intended purpose, concluding with me saying “I just want to use my computer” — which I realized is pretty much what I really meant to say in 2006.

Linux, the mainstream, and market penetration

Back in January, I related a story of a billboard I’d seen in October and how the software being advertised happened to be available for Windows, Mac, AND Linux.

Everyone who cares (that’s about, what, five of us) knows about “MovieOS” or “Hollywod OS” — computer sceenshots that are obviously custom shots that are in-house artwork. You know, either the animated PlaySkool shots showing people to click on the “GO” button regarding going to their store to spend lots of money on their wares, or, it’s a screenshot that “looks” like it’s a functional computer screen but doesn’t look like any computer desktop people are familiar with or any other computer desktop on the next show or movie you watch.

I’ve been noticing things on occasion in the mainstream media for a couple of years regarding computer screenshots: Not only is it not Windows or Mac, it’s not “MovieOS” either. What you see is a variant of the Gnome desktop, usually on Ubuntu (for those of you who have no clue what to look for, watch for two white lines on the screen, one on the top of the screen, and one on the bottom, and a light brown background to the rest of the screen.)

Listen up folks, here’s one of the moments that I think Mr. Shuttleworth’s little darling is doing some good.

In late 2007, there was a CBC Marketplace report on the various download speeds of the various high-speed internet suppliers across Canada. A closeup of the download progress window made it clear that each participant was downloading the Ubuntu CD of the day.

Just today on CNN I noticed in an ad for AT&T 3G USB key for highspeed mobile internet — this is the one with Bill Curtis in a boxing ring bragging about how fast he is — and the laptops appear to be running Ubuntu.

These are the two that come to mind. However, every couple of months, what do I see? An Ubuntu screen. I rather suspect that the reason for this trend as well as most instances of “MovieOS” is that it’s cheaper — including the cost of paying the computer technician in the back the time to reformat a computer, assuming that they didn’t just ask the guys in back to lend them their laptop, or of course asking the art department to make up something that looks nice — than paying any licensing fees to MS, Apple, or anyone else. Or, they didn’t get a sweet enough product placement deal from MS or Apple or whatever computer manufacturer in the advertising department’s rolodex.

I’d say that Linux — be it Linux in general, Ubuntu, any other distro, or the fact that there is a wide choice out there, in this case I don’t care — seems to be making some headway. Here’s one of the examples where I’ll concede the point that if people think Linux, they think Ubuntu, and that that’s OK.

Oooooops, I was wrong … (so what else is new?)

In a previous post, “I may just have that reason to get rid of Ubuntu …” I stated that the thing that killed Ubuntu for me was the difference in how OO.o on Ubuntu 8.04 and Fedora 9 deal with the “notes” function in a document. The versions of OO.o in question were — according to — 2.4.0 for Ubuntu 8.04 and 2.4.0 for Fedora 9. As of today’s date my F9 notebook has updated itself to 2.4.2, so to be fair I imagine that in the past year Hardy Heron has had some updates as well.

Today I stumble across this little gem from the website:

Improved Notes Feature in Writer

“In the past; notes in were just displayed as small yellow rectangles within the text. This was not very intuitive and user friendly. With version 3.0, got an advanced notes features which displays notes on the side of the document. This makes notes a lot easier to read. In addition, notes from different users are displayed in different colours together with the editing date and time.”


I went off on a holy rant, wondering why the heck Ubuntu has changed a few things more that it arguably needed to, when in fact … well, it apparently hadn’t: The annoying yellow dot was a function of OO.o to begin with. At that time. If anyone was changing things, it was Fedora backporting this function some time last fall, assuming that it wasn’t OO.o doing it, or adding a preview into the version that Fedora grabbed and included in F9 — in keeping with Fedora’s usual policy of not using custom patches not necessary to Fedora integration or backporting updates, instead opting for rapid changes, new releases, and submitting bug and improvement patches upstream instead.

Which is perhaps not saying much since at release time, both distros were using 2.4.0; rather, it only raises the question of why things are different between two nominally identical pieces of software, and perhaps lifts blame away from Ubuntu.

Oh well, I still don’t like Ubuntu. 🙂

In the meantime … I wonder how this is explained given that both distros apparently had the same version of OO.o at release time. I wonder if the feature was backported in Fedora. Or if it was backported by OO.o and Fedora simply passed on the change. Or … ?

And in the meantime as well, I wonder about the notes function in previous versions of the 2.x series of OO.o acting in “the new way” at least back to 2006 — again in the same post, second to last paragraph:

“The appearance of the notes in the margin is not a recent occurrence in OO.o, at least in the 2.0 series: back in August 2006 under CentOS 4.4 — OK, this is still the Red Hat family — I received a document with the notes visible in the margin (being a work contract I declined the document and asked that they resend the proper version, please.) I was using the standard OO.o 2.whatever downloaded and installed directly from (since the CentOS 4 series originally came wih OO.o 1.5.something series; I’d been using the OO.o 2.0 series for close to a year at that point under Windows before I’d made the switch to linux.)”