Sunday, September 8, 2013

Common Fate of Android Tablets, or a Quick 2013 Nexus 7 Review

I'm on my third Android tablet. Or fourth, but who's counting?

My first tablet was a Samsung Galaxy 5 bought in September 2012. This was mis-marketed as an MP3 player, which it did fine, but 5" was a great size for a handheld GPS device walking through cities, and fit easily into most pockets. It included an FM receiver, rear and front facing cameras, etc. I liked it. The big drawbacks were that it was too small for most reading or surfing activities, and it didn't have enough RAM to upgrade past Android 2.3.5. In December I managed to find the one place on Charles Ave where there was a drop-off between the sidewalk and the adjacent turf, stepped wrong, and fell, landing on my shoulder and on the Galaxy that had slipped out of my chest pocket. No Gorilla glass on this one.

I replaced it with a Nexus 10, decided that was too big, and replaced that immediately with a 2012 Nexus 7.

The Nexus 7 was overall fine, but the sound quality of the built-in speakers was terrible and produced insufficient volume to listen to podcasts or streaming radio from just a few feet away or with any background noise. The UI was sluggish. Touch a search area, and wait a few seconds before the keyboard appears. Type a key, and wait a few seconds before the character appears on the screen. No built-in FM receiver, but with TuneIn, this is not usually a big deal. Other than the speakers, the largest deficiency was the lack of a rear-facing camera.  Got QR Droid? You won't be using it on this thing. I also found 16 GB to be slightly restrictive, but of course there is AndFTP's sftp feature, and my home desktop runs an sftp server, so moving stuff back-and-forth was a breeze--a great improvement over plugging in the USB cable and hoping Linux decides to recognize the device. Anyhow, I get around 20Mb/s between my Nexus and desktop via 802.11 (and an Ethernet hop). The one time I had two droids downloading from the server concurrently I got 30Mb/s measured at the server. Not bad.

I liked the size of the Nexus 7: fairly easy to hand-carry, and I picked up a small messenger bag that can carry that and a few other things while I wander about listening to podcasts.

Friday I dropped my Nexus 7. Even though it was in a decent M-Edge cover, the screen cracked, and much of the screen no longer behaves as a touch screen. No Gorilla glass on this one, either.

So I picked up a 2013 Nexus 7. I have not had it long, but my initial impression is that Asus did a great job. The sound quality is okay, but importantly it can kick out enough volume to be easily heard from several feet away. The UI is more responsive than the older Nexus 7. The rear-facing camera is a great addition. 32 GB of flash memory is a big improvement over my past 16 GB--I won't have to juggle among movies on the device.

I'll probably write more about the 2013 Nexus 7 later.

Aside: the guy from the Office Depot (la oficina de la marihuana) really, really wanted to sell me a protection plan for the Nexus. He went so far as to tell me I'd probably want to replace the battery in a year or so. Despite my tendency to break things, I never buy protection plans, as they are usually pure profit for the seller.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Slightly Interesting Javascript Benchmark

I have an Asus CG5275 desktop, and decided to try out the Mandelbrot JavaScript benchmark at with the three browsers I use most, Chrome 29.0.1547.57, Firefox 23.0, and Opera 12.16. I expected Opera to be the slowest, and was not disappointed.

The mild surprise was that Firefox was almost four times as fast as Chrome. Here are my timings on the Asus with the above-mentioned URL and browsers:

Browser             Size    Time      Relative
Chrome 29.0.1547.57 500x500  9562 ms  3.86
Firefox 23.0        500x500  2478 ms  1
Opera 12.16         500x500 19464 ms  7.85

Opera took just about twice as long as Chrome, and Firefox was almost 4 times as fast as Chrome. This is on an Intel i5 at 3.2 GHz running Linux Mint 15, Mate, kernel 3.8.0-29-generic. It's a 4-core machine, which makes me curious about the almost 4x speedup of Firefox vs.. Chrome.

[ Note added about 15 minutes after original posting: Mate's System Monitor makes it appear that all three versions use just a single core. No real surprise--this is JavaScript, after all. ]

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Scrollbars a page at a time, not a huge jump at a time

I've been really annoyed by Rhythmbox scrollbar behavior of late: when I click in the "trough" of the scrollbar, instead of moving the view by about a page up or down, it moves a distance corresponding to the point in the trough clicked. This is pretty bad for large text areas, such as a large music library. I complained to the Rhythmbox folks and Jonathan Matthew replied that this is default gtk behavior. This struck me as odd since I haven't noticed it in other applications, however Jonathan was right.

Google led me to a Gentoo site where ebichu was having the same issue, and posted the solution. I can't thank him there since I don't have a password, but he or she deserves thanks. The fix is to add a line to /etc/gtk-3.0/settings.ini:

gtk-primary-button-warps-slider = false

So they apparently call this slider warping. Very user-hostile.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Mindspring's 14 Deadly Sins

Worth keeping in mind and adapting for just about any business. From Wikipedia, and credited to Mike McQuarry:

THE 14 DEADLY SINS OF MINDSPRING (or ways that we can be just like everybody else)
  1. Give lousy service--busy signals, disconnects, downtime, and ring no answers.
  2. Rely on outside vendors who let us down.
  3. Make internal procedures easy on us, even if it means negatively affecting or inconveniencing the customer.
  4. Joke about how dumb the customers are.
  5. Finger point at how other departments are not doing their jobs.
  6. Customers can't get immediate "live" help from sales or support.
  7. Poor coordination across departments.
  8. Show up at a demo, sales call, trade show, or meeting unprepared.
  9. Ignore the competition; they are far inferior to us.
  10. Miss deadlines that we commit to internally and externally.
  11. Make recruiting, hiring, and training a lower priority because we are too busy doing other tasks.
  12. Look for the next job assignment, instead of focusing on the current one.
  13. Office gossip, rumors, and politics.
  14. Rely on dissatisfied customers to be your service monitors.
I took the liberty of correcting the grammar in two places: 'jobs' in 5 was singular, and 9 contained a comma splice. Also, Wikipedia used a hyphen rather than a dash in 1; since it's unclear if this was Wikipedia's error or Mindspring's, I did not correct the Wikipedia page.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Texas? New York?

Lewis Black nails it. Link [ Note: the YouTube video has been deleted multiple times, so try the Vimeo one just above.

Deceased YouTube link replaced with one directly to the Daily Show, 2014-07-08.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Full-Disk Encryption, Linux Mint 15

Plaa's instructions for full-disk encryption at work fine for Linux Mint 15. This is for a new installation, or a new Mint partition. Do it.

For convenience, I have reproduced his instructions here:

(1) Boot your system using the Linux Mint 15 live CD or USB stick.
(2) Open a terminal and enter the following commands:

$ sudo apt-get remove ubiquity
$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install ubiquity
$ sudo ubiquity

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

We are Twitter's Twits, not their Customers

I've been disturbed by the invasive nature of many, many android apps. For example, here are the permissions requested by the Twitter app:

  • Why does Twitter need my location? They don't.
  • Why does Twitter need access to my accounts (note plural)? They don't. Why would I want to hand this over to them? That would be simply stupid.
  • Why would my contacts want me to hand their information over to Twitter? The naive ones may not to think to care, but most would likely prefer that I did not.
  • Why does Twitter need access to my Google service configuration? They don't. 
Clearly, we are not Twitter's customers, but rather Twitter's twits. Why use their app when you can simply log in to their service via browser?

Additionally, there are some ads that are simply blatant phishing attempts:

This is from the tunein app, which provides searches for radio stations and radio programs to stream. It's a nice service. It's ad-supported. The ad above, just above the highlighted Related tab, says I have one new message. So if I click that, where does it take me? Not to a message, or, rather, not to a message from anyone I could imagine listening to. It's a phishing ploy.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Monday, June 10, 2013

Classic CS1 Test Question Answer

Q:  What are the primary reasons for using procedures and functions?

A:  The primary reasons for using procedures and functions is for
instability.  A function is part of an expression and is used to
determine what the program must do.  A procedure is a statement in
itself and the great thing about it is that any variable declared
within a procedure can be referred to from anywhere in the program.

The date on the file I re-stumbled across this in is December 1996, though it could be older. I suspect this is an answer I received on a test, but it may have been something going around the Internet at the time.

Monday, June 3, 2013

UMBC Frogs, Over a Stream Near a Pond, 2013-05-11 17:30

This plays well in Firefox, but on my Linux system neither Opera nor Chrome can deal with it.

However, you can access the media stream directly at

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Comcast and Verizon in Competition Again

I understand that Comcast and Verizon have opened restaurants across the street from one another, that their prices are identical, that each wait staff is apathetic, and, though each serves a full menu, every diner is forced to order everything. Also, prospective customers find menus in their junk mail and left at their homes daily.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

About that Rant

So at I ranted. How about something positive: XFCE.  I blew away MATE, LXDE, etc., on my office 32b LUBUNTU 12.10 system and replaced it with XFCE. Now I'm running 64b Xubuntu 13.04 at home (at boot it still thinks it's Lubuntu): uninstall Mate, uninstall LXDE, install Xubuntu, and do an in-place upgrade to 13.04.

LXDE was pretty solid, not annoying little bug after annoying little bug like Mate or Cinnamon. However, it was very primitive, and customization took effort, effort takes time, and I don't have much time for this stuff (so why am I writing this?).

XFCE also seems pretty solid, and customization is pretty straightforward. Often there is not a menu choice to make the change I want to make, but a little time in RTFM mode and things become straightforward. I'm going to stick with this for awhile.

In a sense being a Windows user is easier: the environment is terrible, Microsoft and other Windows application vendors bleed customers by 1000 cuts, but people put up with it because they don't know any better. Are the user environments any better on the Linux side? Maybe, maybe not. There has long been a strong "make it like windows" ethic among Linux developers, and Ubuntu has decided to make your desktop UI no better than a tablet. But at least there are choices, and XFCE and LXDE are sufficiently different from Gnome 3 and even from Mate that the choices are significant.

killall plymouth

[ The below was written spring 2012, but somehow never got posted. It still captures my sentiments, so I thought I'd post it now. I've abandoned Mint for now and am using Xubuntu. ]

Yet again I find myself debugging Linux Mint 13. There's a tool, plymouth, that is supposed to provide splash screens on boot--who the heck cares about that? Well, I care, since well after boot plymouthd is still running, holding RAM, and eating CPU.

Googling reveals that others have had problems

The whole Ubuntu OS family is annoyingly buggy, and yet people are wasting time with things like splash screens and other useless bells and whistles rather than just fixing the crappy software base
  • Last night I plugged in my Kindle, and Mate tells my I've plugged in a music player. WTF? I want it mounted as a thumb drive so I can use standard Unix tools.
  • Recently I've had to wrestle with cameras on Mint insisting on being opened with special, clumsy apps rather than just being mounted as thumb drives--which is effectively what they are. Even if I can get a file browser in there, it has crippled functionality. And what the hell is the path of the mount point? Nope, I either have to waste time figuring this useless crap out, use the crappy, logically useless, camera software, or just copy my pictures to a Windows machine, and then copy them to my real computer.
  • A friend used to have trouble with sound on Ubuntu. I just shrugged--computers have done sound for a couple decades. Now with my 64b Linux Mint 13 system, sound worked, then it stuttered continuously, and then it worked, and now it's completely dead. I don't have time to fritter away on this tripe.

Amusement in Advertising from Google

Web access seemed sluggish this morning, so I hopped over to to look at the results. They were okay:

However, this was with Firefox, and the ad suggested results would be faster with Chrome. Really? I have Chrome, and use it often. Here are my Chrome results:

Faster? My throughput with Chrome was just a little slower but the ping times suggest a lower RTT with Chrome, which could possibly suggest a faster scripting implementation. However, this was from two different servers, one reportedly in Frederick and the other in DC, and just one shot each. Perhaps a more detailed study is warranted, but not now.

Friday, May 17, 2013

HTTPS Everywhere Rule Set for

Many of the servers at  UMBC do not support HTTPS, but, the server(s) for user home pages, does. However, probably few people access it securely. For those using HTTPS Everywhere, I wrote an extension for HTTPS Everywhere:

<ruleset name="userpages-UMBC">
  <target host="" />

  <rule from="^http://userpages\.umbc\.edu/" to=""/>

I haven't figured out how to install this in my Chrome profile, but it works fine with Firefox HTTPS Everywhere. Tips would be appreciated.

First, HTTPS Everywhere must be installed. Most people should install it anyway. The EFF is doing great things for the public, which is why I donate annually.

Second, the file must be installed "in the HTTPSEverywhereUserRules/ subdirectory in your Firefox profile directory" (see the EFF page). Then restart Firefox. On my Xubuntu system, this directory was
~/.mozilla/firefox/xxxxxxxx.default/HTTPSEverywhereUserRules. The penultimate part of that path will vary from system-to-system.

[ Originally omitted; added 2013-06-09 ]:
Third, the file name must match the domain name, in this case.

Get HTTPS Everywhere from the EFF here.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Screenshots in LXDE, Mate, etc.

LXDE does not have a native screen shot feature and imagemagick does a mediocre job of it under Mate (often capturing a region under the window being selected from), and only provides black rectangles under LXDE, so I needed something better. Google quickly led me to scrot,, which works well. Here's my script to capture regions on the screen:

#! /bin/sh
# Time-stamp: <2013-05-13 12:16:50 jdm>
# $1 is the directory in which to 
dump the screenshot. Empty 
indicates /tmp.

umask 077

if test -z $1 ; then
  cd /tmp
  cd $1

/usr/bin/scrot -s

The above works well, and is much less time-consuming than the menu-driven approach in Mate.

 This post replaces an older one.

Friday, May 10, 2013

How to Destroy the Internet

Hyperbole? Worth a look from Gizmodo:

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

LibreOffice Alternatives?

I've been growing increasingly frustrated with LibreOffice's brain-dead behavior regarding current working directory. 
  • When I save something, and then want to open something else, it starts over in my home directory rather than remembering the context I'm working in. If I just saved something in a directory, isn't it likely that the next thing I open will be nearby?
  • If in the midst of a save-as, if I decide to change the file type, e.g., CSV or XLS to ODS, suddenly it makes me start over from square one choosing the directory to save in.
Yes, this is only two things (okay, here's three: if I have a region selected in the spreadsheet, enter won't take me out of the area--it's necessary to move to the mouse or arrow keys). My impression is that their UI designers are idiots or simply don't care.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Caja 1.6.1 on Mate 1.6.0 Broken

Broken is a bit of an exaggeration, but Caja ignores locales.

I have LC_COLLATE set to C, but look at this directory listing in Caja 1.6.1:

Under ASCII ordering, 15 should appear first since '1' is before '2'. This is a bug. See also

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Locales and Sort Order

I've been annoyed by Linux behavior regarding sort order for a long while, but today hit my gag reflex when I was editing the wrong file because emacs sorted the directory listing incorrectly. I had changed to the local directory listing, hit down arrow and enter, and was puzzled when the file looked wrong. The file was fine, but it was the wrong file. Who was telling emacs to ignore dots in file name sort order? Annoying.

I need an intuitive sort order, and that is the one given by the ASCII collating sequence. It was interesting, because some applications were getting it right, and some were providing goofy results:
  • Dot should be before letter or digits.
  • Upper case should precede lower case. They should not be intermingled.
  • Digits should be treated as digits, not as numbers. E.g., 10 should appear before 5, since '1' appears before '5' in the collating sequence. The problem here is that someone is trying to predetermine how I name files or interpret file names.
The fix is easy. My /etc/default/locale was just one line. I added the second, logged out, and logged back in:


[  Added 2013-05-02:

  I've got a 64b Lubuntu 12.10/Mate 1.6.0 box that seems to sort files okay with this setting:


  However Caja 1.6.1 still doesn't sort file names correctly.


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

"The Bridge," "Bron/Broen"

A British friend turned me on to this as it was very popular when on BBC4. I watched the first four episodes of this Danish/Swedish crime drama on YouTube, and was hooked. Here's a link to Season 1, Episode 1, Part 1. See also the IMDB entry.

No telling when it'll be available in the US, so I ordered it on DVD from, and so now season one is on my Nexus 7 awaiting my next plane flight.

Meanwhile, it appears that FX is preparing a cheap knock-off. I don't call it cheap in that the the budget will be lower, but it appear to be simply a rip-off of the original story line. Typical Hollywood--no new ideas.

In a related vein, This is Massive has uploaded a number of episodes of "Water Rats," so I'll watch those eventually. They were broadcast in the US by MHz Networks, which I had access to briefly. Now that I know region codes are ineffectual, I might go ahead and purchase the DVDs.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Gravity-Powered Light

What a great idea. Some brits have built a light powered entirely by gravity. The goal is to replace kerosene lamps in Africa and India, and they initially looked at solar, but decided this was less expensive and more reliable. The target cost is $5 for third world end-users, and I suspect with some markup they could sell it elsewhere for emergency and niche use and fund their third world efforts. 

In addition to providing a modest light source, it can power other small devices and (slowly) charge batteries.

Here's a link to the developers' appeal for funding, which succeeded. It includes video.

Here is the NPR story, with text and audio. Or you can simply download the audio.

Friday, January 18, 2013

George H. W. Bush Resigns from NRA

From the New York Times, 1995:

Letter of Resignation Sent By Bush to Rifle Association Published: May 11, 1995 Following is the letter of resignation sent last week by former President George Bush to the National Rifle Association: May 3, 1995

Dear Mr. Washington,

I was outraged when, even in the wake of the Oklahoma City tragedy, Mr. Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of N.R.A., defended his attack on federal agents as "jack-booted thugs." To attack Secret Service agents or A.T.F. people or any government law enforcement people as "wearing Nazi bucket helmets and black storm trooper uniforms" wanting to "attack law abiding citizens" is a vicious slander on good people.

Al Whicher, who served on my [ United States Secret Service ] detail when I was Vice President and President, was killed in Oklahoma City. He was no Nazi. He was a kind man, a loving parent, a man dedicated to serving his country -- and serve it well he did.

In 1993, I attended the wake for A.T.F. agent Steve Willis, another dedicated officer who did his duty. I can assure you that this honorable man, killed by weird cultists, was no Nazi.

John Magaw, who used to head the U.S.S.S. and now heads A.T.F., is one of the most principled, decent men I have ever known. He would be the last to condone the kind of illegal behavior your ugly letter charges. The same is true for the F.B.I.'s able Director Louis Freeh. I appointed Mr. Freeh to the Federal Bench. His integrity and honor are beyond question.

Both John Magaw and Judge Freeh were in office when I was President. They both now serve in the current administration. They both have badges. Neither of them would ever give the government's "go ahead to harass, intimidate, even murder law abiding citizens." (Your words)

I am a gun owner and an avid hunter. Over the years I have agreed with most of N.R.A.'s objectives, particularly your educational and training efforts, and your fundamental stance in favor of owning guns.

However, your broadside against Federal agents deeply offends my own sense of decency and honor; and it offends my concept of service to country. It indirectly slanders a wide array of government law enforcement officials, who are out there, day and night, laying their lives on the line for all of us.

You have not repudiated Mr. LaPierre's unwarranted attack. Therefore, I resign as a Life Member of N.R.A., said resignation to be effective upon your receipt of this letter. Please remove my name from your membership list. Sincerely, [ signed ] George Bush

Thursday, January 10, 2013

French Quarter Dining, New Orleans

First, a word of caution. Many of these restaurants serve local beers, and several of these beers are good. The menus typically do not show the prices. My experience that $7.50 is the going rate for a craft beer in the French Quarter. Too high? The customer can decide when the information is available.

A second cautionary note: I've been here four days. I've mostly stayed away from Bourbon St. There are doubtless many fine establishments that I have not visited.

Highly Recommended

Cafe Beignet, 334-B Royal Street

Note: they also have a location on Bourbon St, which I never visited.

I ate breakfast here twice, and stopped in one afternoon for my obligatory beignet. Each breakfast I had the western omelette. This consists of a very good western omelette, grits, and two slices of french bread with butter. I had never before had grits, and they were fine, a good addition to the breakfast.

Cafe Pontalba, 546 Saint Peter Street

This is a great location, and I tend to be suspicious of restaurants with great locations. It's across the street from Jackson Square, diagonally across from el Cabildo.

It was pretty quiet when I went in, with a couple people at the bar and four police officers at one table. My waiter may have been the manager or owner; he reminded me greatly of Ed from E.Joseph and the Phantom Heart ( The food was good. I had the pasta jambalaya and enjoyed it. I had an Abita Amber, or three, which I had tried a couple nights before at the Chartres House Cafe. The waiter was attentive and friendly and I was happy there, and left happy. Stepping out of the restaurant and seeing Jackson Square, the Cabildo, the cathedral, and so forth is an experience not available in Baltimore, not by a long shot. Like I said, great location.


Chartres House Cafe, 601 Chartres St

Despite their web page, this restaurant is competent with a very good selection of local beers. I had dinner there twice. The first time I had their Taste of New Orleans. It had jambalaya, chicken andouille sausage gumbo, and crawfish etouffee. Very good. The waiter was excellent: he noticed right away when he made a beer suggestion (an IPA or wheat beer--yuck) and I immediately took something else, and then for my second beer he didn't make a suggestion. He was attentive, friendly, and did a great job. For reference, he was young, dark hair, thick dark mustache.

On my second visit, I got a different waiter, young and foppish, and I felt more like I was an obligation of his and less like he enjoyed his job. The beer I had was an English brown ale, the Southern Pecan from Lazy Magnolia Brewing Company in, get this, Kiln, MS. That beer was specifically the reason I went back: I wanted to try that beer; also I'd eaten at Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville the night before, and didn't want another crappy dinner.

And dinner was fine. But with this second waiter, after the first beer and the main course, no second beer, no desert, etc., I was ready to go. He'd satisfied his obligation, and so had I. I should say the the maitre d' recognized me when I appeared, and was very welcoming. 

Not Recommended

Tequila Blues Mexicajun Catina[sic], 1200 Decatur St

Okay, Mexicajun? I couldn't resist, and, besides, I needed lunch. However, had I walked another block or two SE, I would have been at the French market, and had no problem finding a better place. But maybe not something more interesting-sounding.

I had a shrimp meal with some green sauce on it. The side of grilled squash was good, but the shrimp was mediocre on first bite, and then many, many bites of mediocre sameness. Oh well. I've eaten at a Mexicajun restaurant.

Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville, 1104 Decatur St

I ate at the bar, and had a pair of slightly different frozen concoctions, neither of which was remotely special. The meal had started to cool by the time I got it, or maybe it didn't come out of the microwave hot. There was a singer/guitarist who was good. Sitting at the bar was possibly a mistake since my back was to him, and I would have enjoyed the show more had I seen it.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Buying MP3 Music: Amazon Cloud vs. Google Play

I just bought Tal Ben Ari's Sheelá on MP3 from Amazon. I've been buying most of my music lately from the Google Play Store, but strongly dislike the limited number of downloads they allow a purchaser. Purchasers do buy the MP3s, right? And, no, I don't care about any fine print since the e-mail receipt which Google sends clearly states that the track is purchased. Quote: You've purchased a track on Google Play. 

The reason I switched to Google from Amazon was that Amazon no longer supports Linux, and forces Linux customers to download songs one at a time. PITA for albums.

So I can purchase the MP3s from Amazon and then download them to my Android. I probably want them there anyhow, and, of course, backed up in the cloud. Then I can sftp them to my desktop machine. Amazon doesn't get in the way, and the Google bean counters don't get involved.

An issue that may have me reconsidering the above is that Google says they have Tal Ben Ari's Sheelá at 320 kb/s, whereas the Amazon MP3s vary from 203 kb/s to 230 kb/s.

Note to Android users: AndFTP is a wonderful app, allowing me to connect to my desktop at home and a server at work wirelessly.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Yet Another Annoying New Gmail "Feature"

In the past few days on a number of occasions I've been reading e-mail messages that ended abruptly. They ended at "[Message clipped]  View entire message." This adds steps to reading e-mail: noticing the truncation, clicking on it, and then closing the resulting new tab.

Not helpful. I still wish Google would hire someone with expertise in HCI, user interfaces, user experiences, etc., rather than stumbling along toward a higher entropy state. Their algorithms folks are great, but their UI folks truly suck.

Google on Windows

Thomas Bushnell at Google quoted by Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols in The truth about Goobuntu: Google's in-house desktop.

 Ubuntu Linux Googlers must ask to use Windows because Windows is harder because it has 'special' security problems so it requires high-level permission before someone can use it.” In addition, “Windows tools tend to be heavy and inflexible.”

Pretty much what everyone knows anyway, or at least anyone with experience outside the Microsoft ghetto.