I'm so glad I'm not dating. Maybe it's not the case for everyone, but for me I think being single would suck. I have absolutely no desire to get out and trawl the singles crowd for dates. Going out, spending money, pretending to have a good time with a bunch of jackasses just to get in good with a woman. Forget it. Walking on eggshells for the first few months not knowing what's acceptable and what's not, basically being someone who you aren't until you're comfortable enough to be yourself. At least, that's how it looks from the outside. I never want to have to deal with that crap again. It all seems so forced and awkward. I get to come home every night to someone who knows me better than anyone, and knows all my faults already. No surprises, no having to "show out" to make an impression, no having to feign interest in boring stories. So yeah I'm not going home in a drunken haze each night, sleeping with a different hot chick who I met at the club... but that sits just fine with me. I'd rather go home each night, work around the house - maybe pay some bills or watch a movie with the wife. Oh man... I'm old.
I went to Sams Club at lunch and bought eight pairs of shorts. That's right, eight pairs. Four of one variety, four of another. I don't get too fancy with my fashion - so let's just say I got four of the "jean" variety and four of the "cargo" variety, that's about as much differentiation as my mind makes. Why buy so many, you ask? Because they were a ridiculously made-in-Honduras-by-bleeding-fingered-children $10 a pair. And, I hate shopping. Seriously. For each leg-covering item of clothing I own, I memorize the one or two brands on God's earth that actually fit me. When I see that brand in my size, I buy out the store. That way, I have plenty to wear during summer laundry droughts - and I won't have to buy shorts again for at least a year.
Sharaun can't understand how I can go to one store, try on a pair of pants that fits, buy five of them and leave. Where's the fun in that? I mean, ideally I should spend time at tens of different stores, trying on something different in each one in search of the elusive magic pair. You can have that gig, I'm all about finding something that works and sticking with it. Then again, for years I thought my dad's work required him to wear a uniform consisting of a light blue shirt and dark blue pants. 'Round high school I discovered that he could actually wear anything he wanted to work - but he only had light blue shirts and dark blue pants. So while I'm all for the Fordization of my wardrobe, I don't really wanna be like a cartoon character and wear the same outfit every day of my life. No offense pops, you know I loves ya.
Nerds, I'm about to talk right to ya. Non-nerds, I'm sorry.
I finally kicked off "project freeware" on my home PC. I've decided I don't want to pirate software anymore. However, being as I'm not rich yet - I can't just go around paying for all the unpaid-for warez I've become dependant on. So what to do? For a long time, I thought the ideal situation would be to move entirely to Linux. However, after several failed attempts - I gave up on Linux. When I can't figure out how to set the screen resolution without going into X-Windows and doing some 1337 root magic, it's just not ready to be my main OS. Also, I decided a long time ago that I like Windows XP a lot. I like it so much I'd even be willing to pay for it. So, I decided I'd buy Windows XP and be legal there - but I still needed to address the applications.
Easy, I decided I'd run a legal OS, and use only freeware applications. At first I thought it'd be impossible - but I soon realized that there are some really robust and awesome, not to mention completely free, alternatives to nearly all the major applications I use. Turns out that I don't even care what program I'm using - as long as it gets the job done. Whatever brand loyalty I've developed with certain pieces of software is easily thrown out the window when I find a free alternative. So, I sat down and uninstalled everything I could find a freeware alternative to.
My keygen'd WinZip and WinRAR fell victim to ZipGenius. A patched version of Homesite was replaced by the freeware HTML editor 1stPage. A cracked copy of the NNTP newsreader Newsbin was replaced by the much better GrabIt. Keygen'd image viewer ACDSee was trumped by the just-as-good SlowView. And the shocker, the bootleg version of Adobe's excellent $600 Photoshop was replaced with the completely free and totally rad GIMP. I know, I didn't think I could ever get rid of Photoshop - but after downloading the GIMP2.0 and mucking around for 5min I was able to create just as good of a manipulated image as I could've done with PS. Oh, and Diskeeper and Magic File Renamer were replaced by a 7-line VB script and Rename Master, respectively.
Yes, there are still some apps that I just can't let go yet - mainly because I can't find a good enough freeware alternative to them. But, I was seriously surprised that after replacing everything I could - I was left with only three... apps that I couldn't or wouldn't find freeware alternatives to.
#1: Microsoft Office XP. Yes, I've got OpenOffice installed and it's simply amazing. It does everything MS Office can do, and has 100% compatibility with MS Office files. The only reason I haven't uninstalled MS Office and gone over to OpenOffice - MS Access. There is no comparable database application for OpenOffice. All my websites are designed with MS Access and use JetSQL - I have to have Access. Don't give me any crap about using MySQL under OpenOffice's datasource windows... I've tried that route and it just doesn't work as well as Access. Plus, I'd have to rewrite all my pages from the ground up. Cool thing is, we have a program through work where I can score Office XP Pro for $15. Ideally, I'd like to move away from MS Office and go to OpenOffice... but not until they get some Access-like functionality.
#2: Nero Burning ROM. There are some pretty sharp looking freeware burning apps out there, DeepBurner and CDBurnerXP Pro for example. However, neither of them work with my DVD burner - and neither have the integrated (S)VCD tools that Nero does. I know, I could do all the needed VCD work with other freeware apps and create an ISO for one of the above freeware apps, but having Nero do all the conversion and TOC setup for DVDs and VCDs is just so nice. I think, if one of the better freeware burning apps becomes compatible with my burner - I will go ahead and uninstall Nero. It's worth the couple of extra steps to create a DVD/VCD to have one less piece of pirated software on my machine. CDBurnerXP Pro looks the best to me - but until they support the Pioneer 104 DVD-R/W drive... I gotta have Nero.
#3: Norton Antivirus.... Number three really doesn't count, since there are some alternatives - I just haven't acted on one yet. I've seen AVG Free Edition, which boasts free downloadable reference-file updates, e-mail scanning, drive scanning, and automatic updating. I'm extremely tempted to try out AVG, but afraid that it won't be updated quickly enough or something - and I'll be infected with something nasty. However, all the feedback I've read says the program works great. People praise it for protecting their PCs for months with autoupdates and e-mail scanning. I think NAV will be the next major removal in my quest toward 100% freeware - and AVG will be its replacement. We also get McAffee free for home use through work - so I really have no excuse here.
#4: Norton Ghost. Here's a tough one. I use Ghost to make regular backups of my hard drive. I've searched, but it seems there are no freeware alternatives to Ghost. There are "cheapware" apps like Acronis True Image, which is supposed to be excellent and only costs $50 - but nothing completely free as far as I can tell.
So, the freeware conversions is nearly complete. I think I can go 100% legal on the PC in no time at all. Just to give full credit where credit is due, there are plenty of other freeware apps I use religiously that I didn't mention above because they weren't specifically replacing anything in the big conversion of Wednesday night. For audio ripping I use CDEx. For a little browser privacy I use IE Privacy Keeper. To block pop-ups I use the Google Toolbar. For spyware removal I use AdAware and Spybot. For text editing I use Editpad Lite. For FTP I use WSFTP LE. For batch image resizing I use PicSizer. I listen to all my mp3s in Winamp. For MSN chat encryption I use Simp Lite. I have a hardware firewall, but if I didn't I'd be using ZoneAlarm. And while it's not really a freeware/payware situation - I use the K-Lite alternatives to Quicktime and RealPlayer, since those two apps are so bloated and system-domination bent. I also use the excellent K-Lite Codec Pack to make sure I have all the relevant codecs required of an active computer nerd.
No more warez? I must be growing up. Dave out.