Monday, January 28, 2008

Y Crimes

As a serious swimmer and frequent visitor to my local YMCA, I have seen all sorts of offenses committed against decency, public health and the Golden Rule. Here are a couple of cases-in-point.

  1. Nowadays, many people are concerned about contracting antibiotic-resistant staph, flesh-eating bacteria, athlete's foot, et al. from sweaty gym clothes, towels and exercise equipment. That's why they are spraying and wiping equipment in the weight room and surfaces in the locker room before and after they use them.

  2. Now, I'm not too squeamish about these things, but I was appalled to see one fellow, dripping with sweat after his workout, strip down and put his sweaty exercise clothes in the swimsuit drying centrifuge! I was coming in from the pool at the time. Needless to say, I did not spin-dry my suit.

  3. The signs on the wall at every public pool I've ever been in say that everyone should shower before swimming and all kids in diapers should wear plastic/ rubber/ waterproof pants when they use the pool. That way we can all pretend that we are not swimming in toilet water.

  4. Unfortunately, even if they have to walk through the showers to get to the pool, many people don't stop to shower before swimming. Even if they do, the shower often amounts to little more than a quick rinse. Few of us actually wash where it counts.

    My confidence in the condition of the water I swim in took another hit recently when I saw an old man in the locker room change out of his unremarkable swimsuit and climb into an adult diaper. My problem with this is not that the man is incontinent; it is that he is not taking precautions against "accidents" in the pool.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Ubuntu Update

A little more than a year ago, I migrated from Windows to Ubuntu. It began as an experiment to see how Ubuntu/Linux compared to Windows, to see if the sacrifices entailed in using Ubuntu were too much for a user like me, and to see how long I could hold out before I went home to Mother Microsoft.

I made the change at home and at work. But I've got access to Windows machines if and when I need one. And since virtually all my family, colleagues and clients use Windows machines, I frequently have my hands on and inside Windows machines.

Yet, when I have a choice; for Internet (email & web), for writing letters and documents, for doing spreadsheets, etc.; after a year, I choose Ubuntu every time.

Now, I don't feel compelled to justify myself or sell you on Ubuntu. Instead, I'll tell you what I don't like about Ubuntu:
  • Open Office is quirky. OO Word Processing fine for a letter, but I wouldn't want to use it to put together a long document with footnotes. I cannot do MS Office macros or VBScripting in Open Office, but I can and am doing text processing in Ubuntu using Perl and regular expressions.
  • There's no tax prep software for Linux/Ubuntu. I don't think the online versions work on Linux/Firefox (they don't say).
Note that these are not Ubunu problems per se; they are holes in the apps available to run on Ubuntu. And these "problems" are pretty minor, especially in light of the many benefits (all free) of using Ubuntu/Linux.