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Computing vs. Marketing



2020 figosdev

Index



17th 1/2 and Market
Chapter 4: Computing vs. Marketing



Summary: "The important lesson here is that Windows is NOT a computer -- it is actually a horrible thing that people DO to a computer, and to themselves."

Imagine you go to a car dealership, and after buying a car, the dealer says "and when you run low on petrol, just bring it to a dealer and they'll sell you more!"



Fuel may not be the best metaphor for software, but it is worth noting that you buy it from a petrol station, not from the car manufacturer. You decide what brand of fuel to put in your car, and the idea of having to use specific brands for specific cars is more or less ridiculous. Even small planes tend to use the same fuel truck, regardless of who makes them.

"In this fiction created to sell software, you don't have a computer, you have a Windows computer or an Apple (Mac) computer."Computers were designed originally for tasks (numeric and data processing) followed by programs with rudimentary instructions, and eventually operating systems were created. While computers can do jobs without operating systems, software has become a consumer industry -- the makers of software would rather you think of your computer as being tied to the OS, or better yet think of it as the OS itself.

In this fiction created to sell software, you don't have a computer, you have a Windows computer or an Apple (Mac) computer. So what are Dell and Lenovo in this imaginary world? Types of Windows computers, also known as a "PC" -- and that is a PC? Its a computer that runs Windows!

As mentioned in the previous chapter, Microsoft has reinforced this illusion by making deals with manufacturers that made it difficult for them to offer choices in terms of what OS a computer came with.

Apple has simply tied their OS directly to their own hardware products. It's possible, though difficult -- to run Apple's operating system on a computer that Apple didn't sell. Its also possible to run a different OS on a computer that Apple sold. But these companies would prefer to tie your hardware to their software, as if they're the same thing.

It's true that your computer won't do much without an operating system. Since the 1960s, various institutions and companies have worked to create software platforms that allow the computer to handle more than one program -- even more than one user -- at the same time. While the modest computing power of early 8-bit consumer devices were put to better use running a single program at once, by the time IBM came out with the AT with enough RAM for more tasks, it was possible and increasingly desirable to manage more than one task simultaneously.

"If you detach the two cables going to that box, (or slide it out of the laptop) your computer will be OS-free. It won't have any files or operating system when you turn it on."It is helpful to disrupt this illusion of the OS as the computer. If you have a decent quality laptop, and it isn't one of the almost hermetically sealed aluminum capsules that Apple makes, you may find a panel on the back of your laptop (one some older models its even on the side) that allows you to remove the drive from your computer.

This is mostly a thought experiment, so don't feel the need to get out your screwdrivers unless you've done this before -- or have a laptop you don't care about. The danger to your laptop could be small, but we don't want to presume anything without other details.

After turning off and unplugging your computer, its possible to remove the drive. I had one very inexpensive laptop without a drive -- instead it had a small module that contained the equivalent of a USB stick on it which served as the drive. If you have a desktop, there is usually an entire side of the case you can remove -- the drive will probably be larger.

"Oftentimes, installing an operating system is nearly as simple as putting the right USB into the computer, turning it on and hitting enter several times."Laptops and desktops have a variety of components inside, but in a laptop and especially the desktop, the ones most relevant at the moment are typically in black or silver boxes, ranging from the size of your hand to the size of your palm. The box with the most wires is the power supply -- that's the most dangerous part of the computer, and you can figure out where it is very easily, because on the outside of the case is the power cable that goes to it. Usually its located near the top and towards the back, but sometimes it is placed on the bottom of the case.

Immediately on the other side of where you put DVDs into the computer, you'll find the optical drive. On desktops they are larger than hard drives, and on laptops they are typically larger than laptop hard drives.

A few models of laptop will make drive access difficult, but most are better than that. You usually don't need to remove the drive to change the OS -- normally you won't have to open the computer at all. But inside your computer is a little silver and/or black metal box, which holds all your files, software and the OS. Some desktops even have more than one.

If you detach the two cables going to that box, (or slide it out of the laptop) your computer will be OS-free. It won't have any files or operating system when you turn it on. You can erase everything on that little box and have no operating system (or files) when you put it back, and the computer will still be a computer. What happens then if you turn it on?

"The important lesson here is that Windows is NOT a computer -- it is actually a horrible thing that people DO to a computer, and to themselves."The first thing you'll notice is that it still puts something on the screen. Typically this will be the OEM logo -- Dell if you have a Dell, Lenovo if you have Lenovo, Acer if you have that, etc. This is not part of the OS, rather like the BASIC interpreter that starts when you switch on the C64, this logo is stored on a chip on the computer.

You should also be able to get to the BIOS settings. Technically it isn't called BIOS anymore, the new term is UEFI -- but lots of people still call it BIOS (for one because its only two syllables, and BI-OHS doesn't sound as stupid as YOOFEE).

The BIOS lets you configure certain hardware settings, including which device to look on first for an operating system. This is something they should teach in computer classes, and they do if you take a repair class. But this isn't just a repair task, it's a fairly basic computer skill. At any rate, the rule for BIOS settings is write down anything you change (ESPECIALLY what you changed it FROM -- what you change it to is slightly less important) and don't change BIOS settings you don't understand. That will help save you an expensive trip to a technician.

To get to these settings, you normally have to press a key on startup. These keys vary from machine to machine, but are usually one of the F1-F10 keys, with F1, F2 and F10 being popular -- or Ins or Del. Often it will say on the screen.

"All kinds of things that put Microsoft more in control of your computer than you are, are right there, on that little silver and/or black box inside your machine."If you press nothing, the computer will most likely proceed to look for an operating system on the hard drive. If you removed it, or erased the drive, now it will say something like "Operating System Not Found" and stop. This also may happen if your bootloader (on the hard drive) is not installed.

Oftentimes, installing an operating system is nearly as simple as putting the right USB into the computer, turning it on and hitting enter several times. Don't know what a bootloader is? Doesn't matter, one will be installed by default. Of course that depends on having the right USB stick and BIOS settings (you may well have the right BIOS settings already) and the right bootable USB stick is something you can learn to make yourself.

The important lesson here is that Windows is NOT a computer -- it is actually a horrible thing that people DO to a computer, and to themselves.

If you have Windows installed, it is ultimately going to run updates when Microsoft wants it to -- it is ultimately going to install what Microsoft wants. It will talk to Microsoft when they want it to. All kinds of things that put Microsoft more in control of your computer than you are, are right there, on that little silver and/or black box inside your machine. Don't throw that box away though, it can be put to much nicer purposes after it is erased.

Licence: Creative Commons CC0 1.0 (public domain)

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