You Will/Should Use X

Two questions – one answer.

– “I need a new machine. Should I be buying a new Windows machine or an Apple?

It’s hard to keep defending a company that keeps making stupid decisions such as trying to force Linux/Network engineers to run Windows…

I have seen these two this week. Very different questions – but pretty much the same answer.

There was a time in my life where computers were exciting and shiny, and brand X or model Y were things you would wear as a badge of pride.

There was a time in my life where a given OS choice was a group mentality thing. It was a “this is my team” “my team is better than your team” – the soap box, the fanboi.

Those days are long gone. Either through the accrued wisdom / grumpiness / cynicism of age, or through having it hammered out of me during the day-to-day work of what was once a passion for me. What you want is simple – something that is transparent to an end result in your eyes – second nature – familiar – the path of least resistance – a non choice.

Alas where I see it going on – particularly the YOU ARE WRONG IF YOU CHOSE OPTION B – it vexes me – so there is no “I am better now”. It vexes me greatly. It shows a lack of understanding, experience or – harsher – as that is of-course excusable – maturity.

Sure – there is still the admiration in scale, engineering, or novel…. but beyond that – whatever floats your boat.

Now here is the thing… it is a tool. It is a means to an end. It is a preference. A choice.

You may dive into your tool box and see two spanners the same size, and pick one over another – that is where I am with this. Value decision on a catalyst, a means to an end, that you will know, or feel will give you a better end result.

This being said – if you want to rapidly disenfranchise someone, de-motivate, alienate them… make them use that other spanner. Sure it might work… but tools like people – are different. Variety and choice is more than the spice of life – it is life itself.

This being said – there are two sides to every coin – and your viewpoint on top of that – there is no black and white (and thank [deity of choice] for that):

Apple or Mac?

Windows is ubiquitous – like it or not. For a company with a background of flaunting standards – it has become the standard desktop OS. With the widest level of compatibility with hardware and software – along with the most enterprise business tools. With a new release that is raising eyebrows in a better way than usual it is managing to buck the tide of unrest within the Social Age who have a habit of speaking up and getting what they ask for. However for me it is still a world of patching being a negative thing (as opposed to fixes and improvements) where confirmation is on success as opposed to failure. Before I head down the road of how wrong this is for me and “I chose Linux” (and made that move circa 2000 after a history of NT 3.51 & NT 4 administration) – this will do.

Apple have control over both the hardware and the software. That goes as far as design, sourcing, manufacture, quality control, and failure feedback. They carry the whole thing. It is in their interest to get it right. They are building software to run on closed systems with known and limited hardware chosen for the job. Throwing design at this they further abstract themselves from complexity – they don’t get in the way. Its fluffy, its graphically intensive, looks matter, compliance to code look and feel along with experience is everything. A choice for both creative and engineers alike. They pick up the tab for the whole design develop and sales chain… so you are going to pay more. I would choose Apple. Sure its a UNIX box. But its designed to be a standard experience across their platforms. Experience is KEY. You pay for this.

For those citing the whole “they have sold out since leaving 68k/ARM/RISC in favour of Intel” and the like. Really? When was the last time you did any coding that involved data registers and address registers? Nineteen Ninety when – if indeed you ever did any machine code? Things have moved on. In the same way that the incredible Cell processor in the PS3 (used greatly in super computing) was replaced with a pair of z80 based AMD’s in the PS4 … ease, accessibility, price to make, complexity… they all factor in decisions… and despite this it is the largest selling gaming platform “despite” of this. To approach from another direction – Betamax had better sound, to be fair it was probably a better solution – but it gained no ground. ‘Better’ is not quantitative but is subjective… you can metric the sh1t out of things… but often what matters is not measurable.

Everyone on Windows?

For a company that are reaching out to their workforce with “we have a talent retention issue – what are we doing wrong” – amongst other things – THIS.

It is completely understandable why you may want to standardize on OS for compliance, assurance, and support reasons. Sure they will have a terminal tool, email, browser – but they would be happier with a VM within that – thereby neutering your compliance and assurance. Mac users will not get that luxury, so they will need to fully transition. Productivity through familiarity will drop, and support load will rise. What is more, if these are high level engineers with access to systems – I believe the words “chimp with a rifle” comes to mind while they learn how to use their new tools.

Conclusion

Abstract the hardware. Abstract the software. Lets assume that your day to day involves a given skill set, there are a set of tools you use. What ones do you like using? Does that give you a tendency towards one platform or another? Do you want to be elbow deep in how things are working? Do you want a console like on and work? Do ethics play a role? Do you need to connect to other services? IT IS JUST A TOOL – and while the tool you use will have a spin on the outcome… it is not the end result. Don’t get hung up on that. In the great words of Southern Comfort … “whatever’s comfortable” … however it should not be an obstacle. Ever. No excuses…. and judge on results not tools. Period.

One Response to “You Will/Should Use X

  • Following up on this – and a discussion in the office… “Open Mindedness” … I guess it is as much about that as anything else.

    The “oh you use that” the lack of vision, acceptance, the ‘what I consider normal or you are wrong’.

    If you are offering services that can only be connected to by platform X – then maybe the issue is not platform Y – but your lack of planning, lack of flexibility.

    I wonder if that is indicative to to a wider issue with these people?

    It will be interesting – if a little depressing – to see how this pans out.

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