Sunday, 23 September 2007


I've finished working my way through the first exercise book for my course - took just over a month. Not bad going! Of course, there are things that haven't stuck very well - I particularly found cascading style sheets difficult to understand (mainly because the effect was very subtle) and forms and tables are also a bit fuzzy, but overall I think I did OK.
I'm going to go back and work through the exercises again just to reinforce everything I've learned. I've also started making a couple of example web pages to get some more practice, and as I mentioned previously I've taken to hand-coding the hyperlinks on this blog.
I'm really eager to do well on this course so I can start looking for a job in web design (probably as an HTML programmer). This course is, of course, only the step 1 course - there are three further step, and the guideline salary goes up a LOT as you progress through the steps. I am now confident I'm going to be able to go all the way up to step 4 - I've already got a load of books about JavaScript, Java, PHP and MySQL so I'll need to have a read of those once I'm a bit more confident with my HTML skills.
One thing I think sounds very interesting is Ajax (short for Asynchronous JavaScript and XML). It's often used to create web-based applications and is very likely to become increasingly common as these kinds of things become more popular. I think I'd really enjoy working on something like that - as a Linux user I know that you can't always get the applications you'd like for your operating system of choice, but web-based applications allow you to bypass these limitations.
I already use Goowy from time to time and I think things like this are the wave of the future - as long as you have a compatible browser, they allow you to use whatever operating system you like. In fact, Linux has a serious advantage here over Microsoft Windows - as it has a much smaller memory footprint and runs faster, your computer will perform much better using the same applications.
As much as I'd love to see Linux become more popular than Windows on the basis of the desktop, or applications, or the other features I love so much, I think this is how Linux will eventually overturn Microsoft's dominance of the desktop operating systems market. Ultimately, the man in the street doesn't care that much about operating systems, he cares about the applications he's used to. At present, many of these are Microsoft products due to consumer apathy - things like Outlook, Word etc. As people move towards using more than one computer, more and more people are interested in using web-based applications - there are many people who grew up with web-based mail services such as Hotmail and have NEVER used an e-mail client (I do, namely Mozilla Thunderbird, but that's mainly because I like the GUI and it works well with my Googlemail account - I like being able to access my e-mail at work or on my PDA or phone if I want to) and applications like Google Docs are also becoming popular. Once these kind of products become dominant, I think Microsoft's stranglehold on the desktop OS is all but over - if people can get the same applications in Linux, but achieve better performance using the same hardware, and using an OS which is free (in the free as in beer sense), then demand for Linux will increase and OEMs will start preinstalling Linux more and more.
In my humble opinion, Vista (I don't know about OS X Leopard, having never used a Mac and having absolutely NO intention of ever doing so, unless I was given one or won it, in which case the first thing I'd do is install Kubuntu) is the last gasp of the "big" OS. The future will be dominated by smaller, more streamlined OS's such as Linux (but not exclusively, I'm sure that the likes of OpenSolaris, FreeBSD etc will also have a higher profile than they do at present).
Don't get me wrong - I think it's likely that Microsoft will be around for a long time to come, but to me Vista marks the beginning of the decline. Unless they streamline their next OS a lot compared to Vista, they are likely to face decreasing market share over the next decade or so.
If you disagree, please feel free to add your comment - but keep it nice and polite! I've tried to avoid rampant OS advocacy so please also refrain from this. And anyone who says "Get a Mac" will suffer my wrath!

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