Over the weekend, Dave Winer posted a blog entry which suggested that it would be fine to pay off America's debts simply by printing money. I wouldn't normally bother responding to something like this, but Dave has a quite a bit of standing with some people, and it would worry me if no one bothered to counter what he's saying.
That's because what he's suggesting is a dangerous course, one which should only be used in the direst of emergencies, and which could potentially end up withe U.S. economy heading into Zimbabwe-style hyperinflation. More importantly, to me at least, it's a path that the British goverment is reported to be considering, too.
In response to my post about switching to Ubuntu Linux, Charles Arthur tweeted a question asking about my computing needs. It’s a good question, because – obviously – how you use your computer will often determine your platform of choice.
My needs are pretty diverse, but largely I’m a media monkey. Text is the most important medium I generat, which means that OpenOffice is probably my most-used application. But, like most journalists, bloggers and writers I also need to mess around with images, edit the occasional video and play with sound.
On the Mac, the applications I used for these tasks were:
Graphics: an ancient copy of Photoshop.
Video: iMovie, although I hated the “upgrade” to 08 with a passion.
Sound: Fission, and GarageBand for multitracking stuff.
Could I switch to Linux if, say, I was a professional video or audio editor? Probably not. For both of those tasks, specialist applications like Final Cut Pro mean that Linux isn’t really an option (no doubt someone will pop up now to contradict me!) But for what I do, all the tools I need are there. Some of them (like Kino) are actually better than what i had before. And, importantly, they’re free – in all the sense of the word.
You might have gathered from some of my more recent posts that I've switched platform. My main machine is now a Dell laptop, running Ubuntu 8.10.
I've been using Macs since 1986, and have owned one more or less continuously since 1989. Machines that have been through the mill of my day-to-day keyboard bashing include the Mac Plus, LC 475, PowerBook Duo, iBook and MacBook Pro. I've earned a living writing about Macs and attended more Macworld Expos than I can count.
But unless Apple has a change of direction and creates some very different machines, I think that I've probably bought my last one.
How many times are we going to have to go through this? Computerworld reports that "Windows lost nearly a full percentage point of market share for the second month in a row in December". Except, of course, it's not market share.
In fact, they're "reporting" (I don't think it actually justifies that label) the Net Applications survey of Internet use, which the company itself erroneously describes as "market share". It isn't. It doesn't indicate sales, only a particular kind of usage.
And that's something Net Applications acknowledges itself, in a roundabout way. As it notes on its page on "market share" at present, "the December holiday season strongly favored residential over business usage. This in turn increases the relative usage share of Mac, Firefox, Safari and other products that have relatively high residential usage."
That's the important word, here: usage. And usage doesn't tell you much about the number of machines being sold, or the installed base. So to draw out a headline which makes it sound like the sales of Windows machines are on the wane, as Computerworld does, is either hype or sloppy journalism.
UPDATE: TUAW gets on the same bandwagon, with the same dumb headline and opening line. Look, I know that an Apple blog is going to want to say that Mac market share is "almost 10%", but reporting this without the caveat that it's not really market share AND ignoring NetApplications own warning about Windows being under-reported is either consumate spin or stupidity. Are reporters no longer supposed to look at things like this critically?