Our coverage of Hewlett Packard and Microsoft's involvement in the coming National ID (which I'm going to start abbreviating NID) has gotten a fair amount of attention. Thanks, everyone! Many good comments have been offered, suggesting alternatives to Microsoft and HP products. That's an important step to take, for several reasons:
1] By not supporting these companies, they have fewer profits to plow into the R&D, advertising, and other pushing of their spying stuff onto us (letting them know why you won't buy their products -- with a polite letter, as Kirsten suggests -- is a very good idea too);
2] Your shopping will be consistent with your principles -- no supporting companies whose actions are stealing this country's liberty; and perhaps most important --
3] As the NID progresses, it will be increasingly important to have networks of individuals outside the system to do business with. This can take many forms, and I'm not going to address them now. Thinking now
of goods and services that you can offer, that will not feed into the NID enablers or their spy networks, is an excellent idea.
For example, it astonishes me how many individuals think that one "has to" buy a computer pre-assembled at a store like Best Buy or CompUSA. I've never done that; and after the very first computer I owned, I've always had my machines custom built. After a mom & pop type computer store gave me a "Linux compatible" machine that had a Winmodem (definitely not
Tux-friendly equipment), I stopped relying on retailers completely. I'm fortunate to have a highly trusted friend who's willing to build my machines for me, with my input. But it isn't that difficult ... and having machines without the Intel spychip inside, etc., will be increasingly important.
Readers with decent tech skills can see the entrepreneurial possibilities here, and doubtless several others that are related. For those who are new to the idea, check out PriceWatch
as just one example of a place where one can get great deals on all sorts of tech equipment.
For software, options are growing, even while certain companies try to increase and expand their strangleholds on our computers. Linux is perhaps the most mentioned alternative to Windows, but it still has a significant fear factor for many users. Knoppix
offers an excellent way of trying Linux without actually installing anything on one's machine -- just boot from the CD and give different programs a try. I know less about this one, but Ubuntu
is billed as "Linux for human beings". And Brad Spangler
posted a link to VectorLinux
that has me highly intrigued.
And there are operating system alternatives beyond Linux. Apple/Mac is a well-known one -- but I'll admit I don't know what their behind-the-curtain meddling might be like. Other alternatives I know of off the top of my head include BSD (several flavors -- like Linux, they're derived from Unix, but that's the extent of my knowledge) and Solaris. Do some searching on the web for "windows alternatives" or similar phrases, and you'll find a lot more. Yeah, it'll take some legwork, but isn't it worth it not to have a computer that tattles on you or restricts what you can do with your own files?
Other suggestions and ideas are welcome.