Thursday, January 31, 2008

The user nature when looking at Linux

"Here we are, born to be kings, were the center of the universe........" How competitive we users are, always striving to have the best and slay all others as inferior. "I felt a disturbance in the force......" The carnage caused by opinions sharpened as weapons of persuasion or dissuasion. If we take a good look at ourselves, we can parallel our computer use with our politics or our religion. We are passionate and committed once we have made up our minds. The only problem is that we have been manipulated into believing our firm stand is necessary. Does changing your user reality make you feel insecure? Come on, it is not that serious a deal and the boundaries are fuzzy anyway. Marketing is used to create all sorts of urban legends and consequences. What will happen to you if you choose this way over that way is normal in focusing your attention and channeling you to pursue a certain product. It's about what is said and what is not. I never heard of Linux, it is not popular or successful so it can't be good, it is no good because I can't run brand x software on it, it doesn't have any good games, it's crap because it doesn't run on the hardware I have. Even worse than Linux naysayers are the fanboys. They are brutal. Let's see, Ugh discovers rock is good tool but when Gork wants to see it, or has a better tool, Ugh hits Gork with rock and discovers a new weapon. Well, if you as a computer user understand the common basic elements, you will have no trouble transversing the fuzzy boundaries and your opinions and loyalties remain intact.
1. There is no legal contract tying you to one product or another, just habit and preference.
2. The GUI or graphical user interface on Linux, MS Windows or Mac PC's have enough standardized and common elements on them that you can learn to use any of them with little effort. Which one isn't point and click with a mouse? OR can't be adjusted to your habits and preferences?
3. If you can produce a document in a certain format, it doesn't matter which program you use if it does the job. Some think MS Office is the "required standard", the same for "Photoshop". If you need it, you need it, but if you don't you can do it or close to it for less. No need to "borrow a copy" just to have it in case you actually use it. What is wrong with doing it for less anyway?
4. Familiarity with a software application is good but doesn't prevent you from learning or using other programs that do the same things. You have the ability to use more than 10% of your brain at any one time. Learning curves are not that steep in most applications because the apps must fit into the GUI's framework, which all have familiar elements.
5. New computing solutions are being developed even as we speak. All our temporary infatuations, habits and preferences will be changed with the next upgrade. The technology is still growing and changing, hopefully improving.

While I can get all worked up over the advantages and disadvantages of Linux, MS PC's or Mac's, I see that most of what a user wants is an attractive user interface and programs that get the job done. Each platform in their own right can do that. You as individual users have to weigh your wants and needs. If you run a business the stakes are a little higher of course. But the world is becoming more diversified and much of the world is choosing Linux because it can't afford the economics or the legal entanglements of MS or Mac's. Needs are being met by Linux and Open Source software and computer users are no longer a closed or captured market.
As a techie I have to be knowledgeable somewhat of Linux, MS PC's and Macs as I do get the chance to use them all and help many different kinds of users to do stuff on their systems. I also know that most folk aren't that mobile and only deal with a subset of my acquired experience. It is near impossible to be an expert on everything so I try to have good "mouse side manner". And I recommend trying Linux because I like it. Linux is good for "break glass" and rescue situations, for general everyday use and for feeling like I'm still part of that computer revolution.

No comments: