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Saturday, 04 October 2008 08:08

Quit smoking and other ways to keep healthy with Windows

Ah, Linux! Is there anything it does that can't also be done with Windows? Linux is a great Windows alternative, but with hundreds of millions more Windows users and thus a much larger potential user base, there’s no need to change entire operating systems to do simple stuff like surf the Internet, write documents and calculate taxes. And hey, Windows can ALSO help you to look after your health and well-being, including getting you off cigarettes and avoiding repetitive strain injury.
iTWire colleague and Linux advocate/expert/fan/ubergeek/guru David M Williams is this month writing a series of articles on Linux, with the theme being “I didn’t know you could do that in Linux”.

David’s latest article is called “Quit smoking and other ways to keep healthy with Linux”.

As a Windows user, I’ve been looking at some of his articles and I’ve realised that you can do the same things in Windows, the operating system you’re probably using right now. Of course, iTWire has a lot of Linux readers, too, seeing as we have three top-notch Linux writers, so maybe you’re not using Windows at all.

But with Windows having an overwhelmingly large market share, whenever David writes an article on the things you can do in Linux, I want to know if you can do those things in Windows too, so Windows users can benefit from the same tips and tricks.

One of David’s recent articles was on adding extra hard drives to your Linux computer, and after 5 pages and endless command line instructions, it turns out that yes, you can add more hard drives to Linux, and share your primary storage space across all those drives, rather than having different drive letters, as opposed to Windows which uses different drive letters and can’t consolidate several drives into one.

Hey, if that kind of thing floats your boat, you can read David’s article on that topic here.

But this article is looking at how to “Quit smoking and other ways to keep healthy with Windows”.

In David’s article, he tells us that the game AisleRiot Solitaire has 82 Solitaire variations within it, and one of those was so engaging and mind bending that it helped a friend of his to quit smoking, because they were spending all their free time playing this game, rather than going outside for a smoke.

So, the question is... is AisleRiot Solitaire also available for Windows? The answer turns out to be yes, and no.

The home page of the AisleRiot software is here, and you can see that there is a Windows version to download here.

You then realise that there’s a message saying a new server for hosting the Windows .exe download is needed, so the software which does otherwise work on Windows is not available to download.

Now, Linux people like to think themselves pretty smart, certainly smarter than Windows users. So, why can’t the maker of AisleRiot Solitaire find a download location?

After all, there’s CNET’s,, there’s RapidShare, MegaShare, and other similar sites, there’s good old BitTorrent, and then there’s a host of other clones that you’d think would all be happy to host a free Windows download on a free-of-charge basis.

But what if you want actual quit smoking software, instead of relying on a game which you might, or might not, be interested in playing?

Also, David discovered “another piece of quality free open source software which is genuinely useful and will keep you from repetitive strain injury (RSI) or aid you in recovering from it” – but as is often the case, there’s no need to change operating systems to use it. There’s a Windows version, too!

Please read on to page 2.

Ok, so you want Windows to help you quit smoking. We’ve discovered you can immerse yourself in a game and “trick” your brain into being so busy with a game in your free time that you “forget” about smoking.

But given that you’re reading about this “trick”, you probably won’t fall for it anymore, and so a simple game might not be enough to help you quit the cancer sticks.

You can download a Free Quit Smoking Hypnosis session here at the Windows Marketplace.

You can download “Stop Smoking - Break the Chains: A Free eBook 1.0” hosted over at for all versions of Windows.

There’s also Quit Counter - a free Windows utility to help quit cigarette smoking.

Finally, there’s Smoker’s Calc for Windows which helps you calculate how much you’ll save by quitting smoking, or how much money you’re wasting by continuing.

So, what about that RSI prevention software? It’s called “Workrave”, and as David explains, “the premise behind Workrave is that it will alert you to get your hands off the keyboard and your eyes off the monitor on a regular basis.”

David says that: “Such actions are very helpful for those who use their computers heavily because it can both prevent, and assist with recovery of, RSI as well as other general pains and ailments caused by long periods of computing particularly over the course of many years.”

You can read David’s story for a detailed explanation of how it works, or you can just go to the Workrave site where you can download a Linux version – and far more usefully for the hundreds of millions of Windows users out there – a Windows version, too. And it’s free!

So... just as you might not have known you could do this stuff in Linux, I’m sure plenty of people didn’t know you could do it in Windows either.

You can! And there’s no need to become some mega-Linux-brainiac to do it, either.

Why spend the time you’d waste learning Linux, and then leaning to configure it (or other mind-numbing, boring Linux stuff), when you can spend that time with your children, your partner, reading a book, going for a walk or doing something else?

Unless, of course, you really enjoy fiddling with alternate operating systems... but then in that case, you're probably already a Linux user.

But if not, remember... Life is short, why in heaven's name would you waste it on Linux, especially if you’re already happy using Windows and getting your computer work done?

Windows is a perfectly good OS, you’re already using it, so download some of these programs, and let your computer help you get healthier... today!


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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.



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