Tuesday, December 01, 2009

November Stats

It seems like I just did one of these posts a few days ago. I'm not sure what happened to the month of November (or much of the rest of 2009), but my computer insists that it is December 1st, so it must be. Huh.

Anyway, traffic was up closer to the long-term average with 319 visitors. The increased traffic seems to be the result of several factors. The primary one, of course, is that we posted more in November than in previous months. Posting a link on Facebook whenever I post something here seems to be driving a little extra traffic as well, probably combined with friends and family wondering what's up with the Frost Gypsy Caravan and our latest wanderings to New Hampshire. We'll see if that interest continues once the content returns to the more-typical political ranting. Another source of traffic has been this site's sudden and inexplicable popularity with the Next Blog button on the Blogger toolbar. Not complaining or anything, but it just seemed odd.

Windows is still the OS of choice with over 87% of visitors running something from Microsoft. Windows 7 has yet to really catch fire, most likely because upgrading from XP involves more pain than the average user is willing to endure (see Apple's current collection of rather clever ads). I would be surprised if Vista users don't transition rather quickly, but I would expect anyone running XP to keep running it until they buy a new PC. Mac and iPhone accounted for 8.5% of hits, Linux less than 1%, and Other accounting for the balance.

In November, Microsoft's Internet Explorer pulled ahead of Firefox. Or, more correctly, Firefox is being nibbled by Chrome with it's share dropping down to just over 38% while IE held steady at nearly 45%. Which makes a certain amount of sense. The kind of people that would take the effort to download and install Firefox are also the kind of people who would be just as likely to download and install Chrome. Meanwhile, the people who simply use whatever came installed on their PC continue to do just that. I do note that both IE and FF have been very successful in getting the vast majority of users on the latest major versions, which is for the better, in my humble opinion. Not that that will shut down the bad guys, but why make their job easier? Chrome and Mozilla 5.0 were tied at just over 5% each, Safari at a touch over 4%, and Other making up the rest.

While I'm at it, I haven't said much about choices of operating systems or browsers lately. One reason is that my mind has been occupied with other things for most of 2009, like finishing my college degree after diddling around at it for 27 years, jobs (mostly the lack thereof), and packing and moving all our worldly possessions twice in four months. The other reason is that I didn't think there was that much to say. I've always been an advocate of the Use What Works school of computer selection. When I first got into computers in the early 1980's, the only question that mattered was, "Will it run Lotus 1-2-3?" What CPU or OS the machine had was irrelevant because the only thing the machine was going to do was run Lotus until the grid lines were permanently burned into the monitor. While computers are expected to do much more now than they were way back then, the rule still applies: what you need the machine to do is the primary consideration. Who wrote the OS is irrelevant.

The reason I bring this up is that I've seen several instances of fanboy behavior on Facebook and Twitter lately. Not that fanboys are anything new; they have existed since the earliest days of computing. The difference I'm seeing is that ordinary people that really don't have the knowledge to back them up seem compelled to jump on the fanboy bandwagon and exhibit rather dick-ish behavior where everyone can see, gettin' all evangelistic about this OS or that browser being "better" or "more-secure" than some other OS or browser. It's very simple: what's "better" is whatever gets the job done with as little fuss for the user. Firefox is my default browser because for what I do on the internet, it works better than IE. I'm running Chrome right now to see if it in turn makes my life easier than Firefox. So far the answer is, "No, but it's close." Does that mean I hate Google and Microsoft is evil and anyone using Chrome or IE is a retard? Hardly.

As far as the more-secure argument, is there truth to the statement that Windows is inherently less-secure than OS-X or Linux? Absolutely. Microsoft made what I consider to be a couple huge blunders very early in Windows development (namely, the Registry and shared code between applications and the OS). These weren't considered show-stoppers at the time because there was no such thing as the internet (at least for anyone likely to be running a PC) and precious little in the way of networking. These blunders have not been corrected largely because Microsoft has always had backward compatibility as a primary goal, unlike Apple who has screwed over both its development community and users on a number of occasions. The payoff is that ditching the legacy stuff allows Apple to be quicker with innovations as well as correcting past practices that cause problems as the PC computing environment evolves. If Microsoft tried that, there would be crowds of angry geeks and Aunt Minnie's in the street demanding Bill Gate's head on a pike.

All of which is beside the point, because it stems from the wrong question. The right question to ask: Is Windows secure enough at this point to be used by an average person? I think the answer for both Vista and Win7 is, "Yes." WinXP was a disaster in this and every other regard when it was first released, but with some help from a geeky relative or neighbor kid, Aunt Minnie should have no problems with its current incarnation. The key is, as always, the person sitting at the keyboard. Almost all currently-active malware requires the participation of the user, and no OS is safe in that sense. (Well, that's not entirely true. I doubt anyone bothers to write malware for something truly obscure like BeOS, but if you give Aunt Minnie a machine running it, she'll probably write you out of her will.) The user has always been the weakest link in any discussion of network security, whether we are talking about the internet or the NSA. The only cure for that is constant education, not profanity-laced diatribes that anyone running [insert hated OS or browser here] deserves whatever evil happens to them.

I guess what I'm saying is to abide by Wheaton's Law: Don't be a dick. Life is just too short for juvenile crap, even if you happen to be a juvenile.

Well, I need to get some things done today, unlike yesterday which completely slipped by me.


GreatMatt said...

I do so love Wheaton's law.

Ric said...

Simple, yet elegant. It's hard to think of a situation it doesn't cover.