Getting Open Source help for schools (a comment as post) September 7, 2007Posted by NAyK in Article Watch, Blogging, Discussions-Conclusions-Hopes, Linux, Microsoft, Open Source, OpenOffice, Other Distros, PCLinuxOS, Piracy, Recommendation, Software, Windows, Working with Linux.
The following post is not written by me, but was a comment on a previous post about the real-life problems facing Open Source implementation in the fact of Microsoft loaded schools. This unusually large comment has a host of links that are geared to help individuals/institutions to grow in their awareness of Linux and MS. I’m posting this comment here as a post because I believe it could be helpful to more than me. The author of the comment goes by the name “Jose”. So thanks Jose, here’s your ‘comment’ as post.
(disclaimer: I don’t know anything more of Jose than this comment. So his views are his own, not mine. Similarly, I’ve not had a chance to test all his links, so even though I think I trust Jose, please click with caution).
By Jose, 7 September, 2007
If the schools asks for help, I am sure there are some fairly cheap offerings. LTSP is both practical (saves headaches managing it once you understand Linux) and cheap.
Nice story btw. Scouting (bringing problems like this one into the open) is very important in order to figure out what problems exist and how they might be tackled (word of mouth market research).
I think I understand you not wanting to impose your views on the school nor risk losing credibility in the process. If you have a good track record and can accept rejection, you may want to approach your supervisors with a plan for a pilot. You (with help maybe) can work on possible solutions off-line in order to make a presentation. Maybe you will also find a way, in the interest of student education and well-roundedness, to encourage students that may like Linux/FLOSS (w/parents’ help perhaps) to put initiatives forward. Do you want it or do the students want it? Reports show that Linux is growing, including for example, job offerings on Dice.com as a recent survey revealed. It seems a bad move for educational institutions to ignore Linux just on account of this momentum statistic (I’m not even considering all the other benefits of FLOSS to anyone, much less to an educational institution).
This is an educational institution to serve the students. It seems short-sighted not to offer a Linux option especially being free and with students willing to do their own research (after school club if nothing else).
There are sites dedicated to schools and linux. There are commercial and free Linux distros that focus on schools. There is a modest amount of FLOSS that is useful specifically to teachers and administrators.
Here is a very recent story dealing with libraries and Linux: http://www.linuxtoday.com/infrastructure/2007090700526OSPB
There are many sites for newbies.
How can you go wrong with a LiveCD? Have they tried PCLOS? Do they know that you can customize many LiveCD distros and then burn another LiveCD so as to have that exact setup matching your needs and preferences wherever whenever?
Can something like this, http://olpc.tv/2007/05/19/preview-60-minutes-about-olpc/ , be all that bad and scary? [OLPC may be a great advocacy tool, browse around olpc.tv for neat videos.]
Would you be a fanatic? an advocate? or just someone finding it very difficult to ignore a good thing whose “business case” just keeps getting better and better?
Microsoft has a long tradition of illegal (court of law) and unethical behavior, assaults on OPEN and FREE software, and on extremely aggressive lock-in techniques (a part of “embrace, extend, and extinguish”). Expect Microsoft licenses to only keep getting more draconian and more expensive. Expect Microsoft products to keep getting more disrespectful of the end users’ privacy (I think this is a big concern for most people). Vista phones home with a lot of personal detail (it’s part of the license too.. you sign away many rights).
And with the lawsuits and bad news mounting, what will the school do if, heaven’s forbid, Microsoft should go out of business? What is the backup plan? Will the kids have continuity and an ability to go further with whatever they might be building.
Has the school done a cost analysis just of licensing costs for the next ten years (Linux downtime is much lower and management is easier in many ways.. again, look at LTSP offerings)? Do these take Microsoft’s steady price increases into account and the requirements for hardware buys? How about all the many and powerful Linux software that costs $0. What would that cost for Windows over 10 years for all computers? Ouch! [Note, students may want to put up their own websites and such]
There are many success stories (even of grandma’s) which should help inspire confidence, but I think the key is a presentation/pilot program to show before everyone’s eyes that it can work. [And don’t forget that the kids needs and wants will trump most other concerns.]
Linux commercial support is growing fast. The communities are in abundance. In fact, you can probably find rather easily 20 websites with volunteers pushing Linux. Why so many people willing to help out for free? [And yes, it can be fun.]
Would the school be doing its duty in not providing at least some support for the greatest educational tool of all time?
You own Linux, really. You help define Linux.. and there is so much that is new and free!
It may even work to seek out stories on Linus and others that would bring a human dimension to Linux. Tux is the penguin mascot. Top supercomputers (eg, from IBM) run Linux so Linux isn’t just cute. Shrek likes Linux, too: http://www.linuxjournal.com/article/9653 . Even the US military trusts Linux when they don’t trust Microsoft.
It’s also too easy to beat up on Vista (stories of Bad Vista abound). There are also horror stories of XBox360 problems.. which comes back to the point of how trustworthy is Microsoft and will they be around in 5, ten, or fifteen years? And what will their prices be like (can’t repeat this enough times).
And wow them with some Beryl/Compiz. Yes, this is Linux, too. [This should open eyes, of the faculty, but also students’ eyes.]
http://youtube.com/watch?v=T67kricXYRE sabayon is popular, too.
Bad Microsoft.. long rap sheet
Recent MS abuse of power and unethical behavior with OOXML. Last minute gold partners joined up on MS’s “request.”
Despite all this, OOXML failed to get accepted.
As for the Gates Foundation, I wrote this little bit up recently. I joke around, but it’s no joke that Microsoft gives to biomed research and MS software, both areas where he has significant private interests. The Foundation has made many contributions of MS software, so the Foundation subsidizes Microsoft [Bill’s left pocket pays his right one]. I mention this just in case (if it comes up) people put up with Microsoft because they think Gates is a nice person and that they are doing the right thing even if it is expensive. http://www.linuxtoday.com/news_story.php3?ltsn=2007-09-01-006-26-OP-CY-PB-0011
And if you get down, or if you simply want to show others that it’s not supposed to be a walk in the part to go through change, here is a review of Linux by someone. What is striking is how this person’s perceptions changed over just 5 months http://www.linuxtoday.com/infrastructure/2007080900326OPSW . He isn’t the only one, btw. If you give Linux a little bit of time, it really grows on you (it takes a while to undo the brainwashing of Windows and realize that there is such a thing as freedom and control and it can be easy and fun if you give it a little time). Many people that have not heard of Linux have no clue how extensive support is for Linux and for open source (we have a huge community).
A link to the GPL may also be useful (four freedoms etc).
Sorry, to put up so few links, but I still have to organize my files.
Finally, if you have doubts about whether or not you are doing a good thing presenting a FLOSS alternative, ask youself how much of a good thing it is for the kids for them to stay along the current path [I don’t mean to pressure you, only to help overcome doubts and guilt should you want to do something.]
Surfing with Windows Safari: and missing Firefox already June 12, 2007Posted by NAyK in Blogging, Confessions, First Impressions, Internet, Mac, Reviews, Software, Windows, Wordpress.
Call it being familiar with the familiar, but I just didn’t like the feel of the Safari browser. Now, I’m not a Firefox fan-boy. I really am not. I like Opera a lot, but it doesn’t open many of the sites I need. Firefox opens most of them, so I use it the most. IE7 obviously opens all, but come on!
Recommended only to people who want to simplify their browsing experience, not enhance it.
Installing Safari wasn’t that hard, perhaps it was too easy. Because once I went to the site, downloaded and UNCHECKED the default Apple software/update options which are really irritating, I waited for a long time for something to happen, and nothing did. Later I realised that it had already finished installing, but just failed to inform me.
Then, when I opened it, found that it did NOT ask me to import bookmarks as it promised. Nor could I figure out how to do it. Perhaps I lost out by not choosing a default install option during install, but already I was disappointed.
Safari’s default look was compact and cute, but a little too morbid (grey) in contrast to Firefox’ orange-y look (which is not thaaat great either, btw). Also, the default font made my webpages look heavier (for font rendition images see this link. But there some cute animation effects though (very Mac-ish, I’m told). It makes a funny (in a good way) addition to browsing for a (little!) while.
When I finally started using Safari, I found a few problems/discomforts. For instance, WordPress does not seem to support Safari for when you go to Code view, it messes up your new paragraph spaces. And even if you correct them, the post will be displayed without para spaces. (I had to correct this post in Firefox after typing it in Safari). Since that may not be Safari’s problem, I guess that’s not so important. I also had a tough time finding the homepage. I was shocked to discover that I had to enable the homepage icon (because I can’t image a browser without the ability to go to a homepage). Perhaps because this is beta, the designers probably felt that the crash report icon is more important than go to home page.
Actually, the biggest problem was that I found myself immediately missing Firefox extensions the most. Now I know the Mac is loaded with Extensions for Safari, I just couldn’t find any Windows ones. Thus, Windows Safari’s claim to be fasted web browser needs to be measured against an extended Firefox’s ability to handle multiple tasks, like blog-editing, calculating, video-downloading, and most importantly multiple GMail Account background checking. Plus, I couldn’t find a Showcase like feature to view multiple tabs, which was both surprising and disappointing. (IE7 even has it by default!)
Safari did have a few promising features. The increasing of the form field option was attractive, and the ability to send a quick screenshot.
Evidently, Firefox has become more of an application rather than just a ‘browser’. And so the ‘simple’ browsing of Windows Safari was actually a little too simple. I wanted more from my most used application on my computer, and Safari just could not fit the bill. To be fair, Safari is still in Beta, and the more it’s out on Windows, the more extensions it will get. But for now, I think I’ll stick to Firefox.
Summary: Very neat interface, especially in its compact use of space. Though heavy fonts and morbid default look may scare a few. The browser feels limited, lacks easy access to widgets or extensions and makes you wish you were using Firefox instead. Recommended only to people who want to simplify their browsing experience, not enhance it.
Yes, I read the original list here. And as most lists are, it included somethings it shouldn’t have, and missed somethings it shouldn’t have. So, anyway, here’s my list (and perhaps my exaggerated confessional!) based/built on the earlier list.
When you install Linux (10-1)
10) You will not lose all your athletic abilities, rather you will get quite good in speed-typing and could even qualify for the regionals.
09) Your reading literature will drastically change. No more People/Hello/Filmfare, only OSNews, Slashdot, Wired. As a result, you will know less about what’s happening to Anjelina Jolie’s adopted children from Africa/India and more about what’s happening to Linus Trovalds, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs!
08) Yes, you will eventually sell all your hardware because you are righteously angry that none of the workarounds to make them work on Linux are supported by the Free Software Foundation (FSF). But then as you go to buy the latest hardware you will see that you will STILL need some proprietary software/drivers/workarounds after all. But by then you will get off the ideological high-horse and install the new hardware with proprietary stuff anyway, because at least your wife is letting you upgrade your computer!
07) You will write more! Much more. Especially in blogs like this one, in the hope that you will spread the Linux love. And there will be plenty of encouragement because people will read the drivel you write! And no, you will not write “Bill Gates is the devil” nonsense, because it is stereotypical, passe and crass. Instead, you will adopt cool jingoism that shows how clever you are… like saying micro$oft, and instead of saying “let’s google it” you will now say, “let’s distrowatch it” Yeah! How cool are we!
06) You will do your best to convince the world that Linux is free, user-friendly and compatible. You will wax eloquent about open-source philosophy, free-speech and peace on earth. But as you continue in the Linux world, you will also get to know bitorrent technology, and will discover a new world of internet piracy that lets you download cool Windows-based programs for free! You will justify this by saying that micro$oft has enough money anyway, forgetting that some simple people like you are probably working on the software that you just ripped off!
05) When your multimedia codecs (etc) don’t work in Linux, you will rant against proprietary drivers and corporate law. Ultimately, though you will get the darn movie (file) to work on Linux and feel really proud of it! But you will also realise that you took 10 times longer to get stuff done than you would have if you had stuck to Windows (of course you will convince yourself that this is time well invested, things will improve, things will improve!!!)
04) Yes you will try-out a gazillion linux distributions, while you dis all Windows from 95 to Vista! Of course you will begin ranting against Windows in your brand new Linux. Then you will dual boot and do some work in windows and some in Linux. And oftentimes, when things don’t go too well… you will continue to rave about Linux and rant against Windows, in Windows!!!
03) You will get popular for a minute (not 15) and then geek out of this stratosphere. You will become The social misfit, That Linux-guy, and the person people will remember as “yes I knew him, but wish I didn’t”
02) while you become a champion of the poor and opensource community, arguing for cheaper software costs, your electricity bill will jump, your internet download bill will go up, and you will increase medication for eye-strain and headaches!
01) And after two years with Linux you will look back at a list like this, and say, “wow, it was worth it!” And continue your Linux journey!
This post is written as much out of a reaction, and as much out of a desire to gain greater control over my life. Over the past year (especially the past-half-year), I’ve been growingly obsessed about Linux. I have moved from curiosity, to attraction to addiction by spending every single bit of my free time with Linux. This has been further supplemented by this blog, which functions as a ‘feeder’ to this interest. I’ve seen this journalic space grow in size, (yes the blog-stats are addictive). And I’ve even seen a lot of success.
I have enjoyed my tryst with Linux, I have enjoyed the challenges… and I think I have finally graduated from newbie to noob
Being a (man) who revels in challenges, I have enjoyed my tryst with Linux, because I feel I have succeeded. I have used Linux primarily for over a month now, and though I have used Windows XP now and then, it has only been to access software that is currently available only in Windows (I don’t have a Mac) versions, mamely; InDesign, Dreamweaver and Photoshop. The rest of my work… mainly word-processing, browsing, listening to music, and even watching VCD/DVDs has been primarily on Linux. That, for a newbie like me, is a big achievement and I can safely declare… to myself… that I have graduated from newbie stage to become a noob (my definitions of the difference between noob/newbie are here).
I had told myself earlier that my first and foremost desire, for an operating system, was to use it. I have realised that of late my passion for Linux had become a thing in itself. My entertainment, my excitement, my challenges, mostly lie within Linux… and the rest of my life has been in danger of being neglected (not that I have neglected my other life too much yet, but the signs of the danger are already apparent). The biggest loser due to my newfound passion has been movies. I have loved watching movies… but off late I hardly watched movies, because my first preference is to sit infront of a computer and work on some Linux-related issue… and then WRITE about it.
I have realised that to maintain this wordpress linux related blog just feeds into my obsession of writing and wanting to be read… and see this blog-size increase. I don’t think this is a healthy sign for me, or for the blogging community. While I understand that my experiences with Linux contribute to the larger community, I know that I have become so immersed in this life, that my waking(and sometimes sleeping) thoughts have been about linux-related issues. And that is NOT healthy.
It’s not that I don’t have anything else to say. And I will be maintaining my other blogs. On movies (perhaps), but more importantly on my (official) work which I really do love.
Also, it’s not that I am washing my hands off Linux. I have already started helping some friends become attracted to Linux. Also I know I will be continuing to use Linux for most of my work. And even going to Linux forums when things go wrong.
But I know for sometime at least, I am only going to primarily USE Linux, and not WRITE about it. I thus announce my (temporary) voluntary retirement from Linux-related blogging.
I may check up on this site from time to time, and correct a few errors, or even add a few comments now and then. But I will not add a new post in the current future.
I don’t know when I will add a new post. But if and when I do return to write in this blog, I hope would have overcome some of my ‘demons’… and can return to this blogging site a stronger and more wholistic man with varied interests, and possibly something more substantial and meaningful to say.
Thanks for all of you who contributed to this site. See you later, in a better world.
…a persectival help/guide to choose between blogger.com, livejournal.com and wordpress.com
WordPress, Blogger (blogspot) and LiveJournal are all blog-services that are free, allow users to input text, and are community driven and thus have privacy features.
Having used all three blog-services, I must say that out of WordPress, Blogger and LiveJournal, WordPress is best suited for my needs. Now I know I’m saying this ‘in’ WordPress, and so it looks like I’m sucking up, but actually I’ve found that WordPress, primarily because of it’s categories is more user-friendly for writing.
But let me give a more detailed explanation.
Blogger.com was the first blog-service I used. It was free, it was associated with Google (a company that I respect), and it offered me html editing (a feature that I really enjoyed using). But when I started using it for writing, I found that I really needed to categorise my work. Meaning, even if my blog was about one major topic, let’s say Linux, I wanted categories, like distributions, helps, reviews etc. Plus I also wanted to highlight a key post, something that would be accessible for all viewers easily. The way I worked around these needs to was to extend the links on the side, making special links for the posts I wanted highlighted. I also tried talking about one category in a month, so that the entire month becomes one category! It wasn’t that I would have stopped blogging if I didn’t get categories, but definitely I knew I needed them. I enjoyed blogspot, but something was missing. I knew it. (latest update: unconfirmed reports suggest that blogger now has pages and categories).
Enter WordPress! I saw wordpress.com in action when another beginner blogger needed my help to edit his wordpress blog. When I saw his blog, I immediately wanted it. I must honestly admit that I was attracted by the blogstats! (It was so cool that it was part of the standard feature). But when I saw categories, I was floored!!! In fact, I thought it was a paid site because it offered so many things that I needed.
As soon as I helped him out (I had never seen/used WordPress before, but it was pretty simple to use). I went to my own computer, registered and to my utter amazement I saw the feature to import blogs! Earlier the only thing stopping me from changing would have been the fact that I would loose all my earlier work. But the attraction of categories especially was so high I was willing to sacrifice older posts, just to start blogging in a new (more organised) world. But with the import feature I was able to import all three of my blogger.com blogs without too much problem. The only thing that happened was that because blogger and WordPress use images differently, I had to correct the links of a few of my photographs. Since my blogs are primarily text based, I found that not so bad.
Another feature that I really liked in WordPress was the ability to make static pages. This solved my problem for standard pages that I want everyone to be able to access. So for instance, this site has “which linux?” is on a separate page; it is a helpful quick-access page.
Then again, I really like the akismet spam protection… that protects my blogs by default. In my blogger.com account, I received only about 5 spam messages… which is not so bad considering that my site is not that important, but at WordPress it has already blocked a few spam messages without me bothering too much. Nice.
I was also impressed by the WordPress’ dashboard that was more user-friendly (and more feature rich) than blogger’s dashboard. In fact, initially I preferred blogger’s dashboard because it was simpler… but I’ve come to love WordPress’ dashboards and features.
Finally, I was complete impressed that wordpress.com is built with WordPress software which is open-source… both free and free! Wow, now this is a great example of a quality open-source product that I would certainly love to be associated with!
After all this (and more), I was entirely sold out to WordPress.
As I continued using WordPress, one thing I really missed (from my blogger.com days) was the ability to edit my page (CSS and all). Editing my page was something I really enjoyed in blogger.com and wish I could have it in WordPress.
To WordPress’ credit, it was offered user-friendly template changes which are non-destructive… which mean that when I change a template, it preserves my previous link customization. For those who have used blogger.com know that when you change a template you lose all your changes. To workaround, you need to have a copy of your relevant changes in a text file, and paste accordingly. This is unnecessary in WordPress that allows you to experiment in its limited but nice template range.
Another thing I missed was the ability to post through email. Blogger.com offers a helpful feature, where you have a unique email address for each post, and then, you just need to email your uploads. WordPress sadly doesn’t have this… maybe later it will.
Yet another thing I missed in WordPress was the ability to search other blogs from within the top-bar of blogger.com. In WordPress, while the search feature in our blogs are quite helpful (and better suited than on the top-bar in blogger), still I miss the ability to browse other sites.
As time has gone by I’ve found that I’m also veering towards Community Blogging. For that the issue of private/user oriented blogs have come. I was told (through articles etc) that LiveJournal has good community oriented blogging support. Both blogger and wordpress offer users with varying rights (administrator, editor, user etc) so I was curious what addition did LiveJournal have to make community blogging better.
I registered and in comparison to both blogger and WordPress I found LiveJournal cluttered and effect-heavy. It reminded me of MySpace, Yahoo 360 etc. Not something that I wanted for my community driven site.
As it turns out, LiveJournal is actually very geared towards community blogging, with ‘friends’ links all over the place. It has cute icon driven editing sites, but from the looks of it, it’s got a pretty standard look. But the key thing that put me off… ADS! To add to their cluttered look, I had to deal with their advertising. I understand that these services, are services, but when it comes to ad-free to with-ads, I can’t even think of using LiveJournal that does such a tacky job with ad-placement. (latest update: recently, LiveJournal revamped it’s look and ad-placement and the site is looking neater. But if you hate ads (especially ones that you are not directly benefiting from), you will never like wherever they put them).
I also didn’t enjoy using LiveJournal and quickly abandoned my blog there and urged my “community” to shift to WordPress instead. We’re primarily text driven, so maybe WordPress is best for that.
Perhaps LiveJournal and other blog-services are better suited for more video-music-picture sharing sites… and for that aspect I’m not sure whether WordPress matches up or not.
Summary: I return to my initial statement. Of the three popular blog-services I’ve used, I’ve found WordPress by far the best to suit my needs. It is organised, simple/user-friendly, growing in features… AND open source. There’s not much more that I need. And yet, I talked to a friend of mine who is still using Blogger, and wondered if he would shift. He said he wouldn’t because it would take too much work, but also that wordpress is good for serious blogging. Now that could be a compliment or a curse for wordpress, but at least it suggests that people will still choose what they feel most comfortable with rather than what is necessarily the best or better solution out there.
(latest update: For blogservice ratings, see this site: http://blog-services-review.toptenreviews.com/)
I guess in a WordPress blog, you might probably expect a pro-WordPress review. However, I just read a post of someone leaving WordPress and moving to Blogspot. The main reasons seem to be the ability to edit CSS (layout) and the ability to have Adsense (the Google-based ad programme). This Adsense thing is really important to some people but WordPress doesn’t allow it. Another reason the author gives is that WordPress is a closed community, ie. ties you to WordPress blogs. While I know that is not true, because google recognises WordPress blogs, I still find myself going to other WordPress blogs more. So I guess some of his criticism is founded. The post is found here: http://dirkgently.wordpress.com/2007/05/10/im-leaving-wordpresscom/
For other opinions see: This post which is more studied (research oriented) and very informative, people might find this more useful: http://www.techsoup.org/learningcenter/webbuilding/page5516.cfm And this post http://www.bloggingchannel.com/free-blogging-site.html has a simpler pro-WordPress studied explanation.
Using ‘Deepest Sender’ instead of ‘Windows Live Writer’ January 2, 2007Posted by NAyK in Blogging, First Impressions, Software, Windows, Wordpress.
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Obviously this “Deepest Sender” Firefox add-on is not as feature rich as Windows Live Writer, but neither is Windows Live Writer that great in functionality anyway. Thus, “Deepest Sender” add-on is a viable low-resource intensive alternative for blog-editing. Of course we need to be connected to the internet, but there’s no need to enter the wordpress site to do it. This add-on has a neat interface (side-bar or external). Plus, most importanly, all my wordpress blogs were recognised without a hitch. I guess this extension should work in Linux too, though I haven’t tested it out there yet (in response to this comment).
“Deepest Sender” even allows me to use multiple category tagging (which I haven’t even seen in Windows Live Writer).
Thus, “Deepest Sender” is more than capable as a basic external blog writer.
Selling out to Windows Live Writer? (oh the shame!) December 12, 2006Posted by NAyK in Blogging, Software, Windows, Wordpress.
So I have just tried using Windows Live Writer as an external editor for WordPress. It hasn’t been all smooth, but it has been better than some others I have tried; ecto and w.bloggar–they both have refused to connect to WordPress somehow.
Anyway, this is partly an experiment to see if this kind of thing works. I like the functionality of an external blog editor… though the idea of using a MS application for a pro-Linux site is sure grating, and I’m filled with guilt! (Of course I am also currently using (for the past week or so) Windows XP to talk about Linux… and that is perhaps most ironic (and terrible). But it highlights the schizophrenic nature of my work-environment at the moment!)
Is there an open-source editor somewhere, that will work for WordPress?
Still… rather than give in to my pangs of guilt, I’ll continue to experiment with this external editor and keep a look out for something that is ‘better’ in more ways than one.
Is there an open-source editor somewhere, that will work for wordpress? I couldn’t find it, but would be interested if it offers decent functionality.
Swapping service providers: An explanation November 7, 2006Posted by NAyK in Blogging, Linux, Wordpress.
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Already, if you’re coming to this site after visiting it’s blogspot predecessor, you’ll notice that this is so much better. WordPress offers so many features, especially categories!!! I moved to wordpress for categories alone. But there are many more things to look out for… statistics, static pages, calendars etc.
If you have done some ‘blogging’ of your own, you will also agree that wordpress offers a much more powerful interface. Of course there are certain things that I could do in blogspot that I haven’t been able to do here, but somehow the gains are more than the losses. For a more detailed review, see this post.
I do sincerely regret any inconvenience this move may have caused you, but I’m sure that this site will be more fun to read; and more enjoyable for me to update.