Why Tech Communities are Falling Through


Note: This is a personal opinion piece. Feel free to take this with several grains of salt. Hell, take the whole cube while you’re at it.

I’ve been doing some thinking, and after having numerous conversations with some individuals who will remain un-named, I’ve come to the conclusion that some people are too wrapped-up around the computer system that they use, to the point where they could very well border-line on “fanboy,” and I feel that this is affecting the credibility of the tech community as a whole.

Example:

“John,” a PHP developer, switches his personal home computer from Windows to Linux, and he enjoys using Linux because of the advanced functionality that it provides to him.

Now, “Jim,” a long-time Windows user and Microsoft supporter, who has conversed with John for several years, criticizes John for his decision, stating that he is brainless and dim-witted because Linux is open-source, and that Windows is the only platform that matters.

John doesn’t care about using Windows, he’s comfortable on Linux and he gets more enjoyment out of his system than he did when he was running Windows, but Jim is unable to see that and continues to insult John for his choice.

What do you see wrong here? To me, I see this constant criticism as being petty, and shows that one is unable to look past their own needs. Just because you’re a supporter of one system doesn’t mean you have to hammer down on everyone else running a different system. Remember, we’re all just human beings sitting behind a computer screen. So what does it really matter what the person on the other side of the screen is running?

I’m not against any platform, I’m currently running Windows XP on two of my home computers, Ubuntu 7.10 on one notebook, and Mac OS X 10.5.1 on my MacBook Pro. They all serve their purpose, and at the end of the day isn’t that what really matters?

I believe that we should all try to contribute positively to the tech. community as a whole, enough of the “flame wars” and the un-necessary bashing.

Also, for the record, I never said that Windows sucks in my previous article. I stated reasons that I believe that Mac OS X may be a better choice for some people, and how overall it has a lower TCO when it comes to upgrading systems down the road. If you want to use Windows, Linux, BeOS, FreeBSD, Mac OS X, or hell even DOS, that’s up to you. It’s your choice. I’m not trying to force my choice on anyone, I merely posted my thoughts on the matter.

14 thoughts on “Why Tech Communities are Falling Through

  1. This has always been the universal problem, some people spent all of their time attacking an operating system, and defending their own choice, but in doing so, they never seem to actually do any creative or functional work with their time!

    Personally I make good money out of Microsoft operating systems. If I switched to Linux or MAC OS I would have zero income, so bottom line I spend my time learning and installing equipment that will generate an income for myself.

    The average home user cannot operate Windows correctly because they expect it to function like a TV remote control (and they have problems with that as well) so Linux will never be a choice at all for an average home PC, though the MAC fits right in there perfectly.

    I would like to buy an iMAC simply because I love the look of the equipment (and this is why the average punter is now flocking to the new Apple shops) but in using a MAC I find that for me the interface slows me down to such a degree I get frustrated! This of course is because I am used to Windows and in time I would get over that feeling!

    But the most interesting thing I did discover about the MAC was installing one for a client… I started it up, went through a wizard or two and that was pretty much that! My next step was to download various service packs (funny how MS gets slated for this yet it’s ok here) and there after I was sort of lost! Seems as though that’s it!!!! Using windows I would be getting the service packs down, getting an anti-virus down etc etc… so… I think anyone can see WHY the average user really would be better off with something like a MAC!

    Bottom line it’s a simple choice:

    1. What do you want to do with a computer
    2. What programs are available for your computer to do the tasks you want.
    3. Do you need Microsoft products? If so….
    4. What about help using your equipment? Who is there to help you?
    5. How much do you have to spend?

    I always tell people to ignore anyone who slates an operating system, and ask them “Are you happy with the purchase you made?” If the answer is “YES” then THAT IS ALL THAT MATTERS!

  2. Hey, John, you forgot to mention the part that John is a long time Windows user, passed himself off as a Windows enthusiast/ evangelist, then made friends under said pretences. Oh! You forgot the VERY best part! John was a Windows MVP because he passed himself off as a Windows Tester/ Enthusiast/ Evangelist to a bunch of Microsoft FRIENDS, then stabbed them in the back. How did you forget to mention that part, Kris?

    So to all you reading this, take that into account. “John” was part of a closely knit — for lack of a better word — family.

  3. Hey Jim, you forgot the part about John leaking NDA’d information from Microsoft beta programs and getting removed from said NDA beta.  *cough* Vista SP1 Alpha *cough*

  4. I think it is important to note that one can still be a part of a closely-knit family and use (or even evangalize) another OS…. so long as that closely-knit family is open-minded and doesn’t let such petty things get in the way.

    I know real families where members where zealots of different religions – but when it was family time, no one discussed these differences, because they don’t matter in the grand scheme of things for/within that family.

    So I guess it all depends on whether John’s closely-knit family was based on religion/fanboyism or on friendship and understanding… Which is it?

  5. Warner: I’m inclined to believe that John’s relationships with these people were based on fanboyism at this point. I couldn’t agree more with what you have said.

  6. No, the relationships were not based on fanboyism.  They were true friendships that were torn apart by John’s newfound arrogance and desire to downtalk everything the “jims” did.  I’m sorry but it’s a two way street, if you’re gonna dish it you have to be willing to take it.

    Oh and Kris, you should know John rather well, you look at him in the mirror every morning.

  7. Gordan made a nice statement “Linux will never be a choice at all for an average home PC” that affirms what you said in your article and also shows just how much he knows about computers.  The mac, once you take away the pretty gui, has the exact some file structure as linux…and shares a lot of the same programs and codebase.  I have run a linux users group since 1997 in a small community in Northern Kentucky (where our cell phones are still the classic string and pop cans).  We have 165+ members of which about 90% of them are home users (and back in the day when we were the only Linux users group within about 300 miles, we had our membership break 500 people – now they simply go to closer-to-home groups).  We don’t have any rules that allow or disallow bashing on our web site, and yet nobody ever even tries.  With that said, I think a lot of the bashing that occurs online is partially the atmosphere of the web sites and its moderators. 

    Personally, I hope everyone keeps using Windows…I work in IT/IS and if everyone switched to Linux, I wouldn’t have a fun job, instead it would be filled with the same old stuff each day – creating users, backups, and monitoring the system.  I would surely miss applying broken patches for broken software, trying to place a lock on a house without walls, and trying to stay ahead of keeping hundreds of thousands of spyware and virus’s off the systems.

     Stop by and say hi at either of the links I provided….our atmostphere is always relaxed and fun….which is the way it is supposed to be!

  8. Jim: I’m not sure exactly how you define “arrogance”. “John” didn’t start bashing on Windows, Linux, or anything else, he simply made a switch to Linux and is still the same person sitting behind a computer screen as he was previously.

  9. One thing that your missing from this is that much of the software running on Linux was born out of the ideals of Richard M. Stallman, and there are many people out there that agree, partially or wholly, with him on those ideals. Those ideals being the ethicality of sharing information, particularly source code, and how that’s simply the right thing to do. Microsoft, by and large, violate this principle, and sometimes even go further than that, and so people that agree with Stallman will speak out against Microsoft.

    Linux and other such software do not put up enormous obstacles for people to learn from them, and allow people to share the information contained within them without such onerous terms as the ones applied by Microsoft when it shares its source code.

    It’s not quite religion, but think of it like cars. How would you feel if your hood was welded shut, and only the manufacturer could fix or modify your car? A lot of people have a lot of fun modifying their cars, and mechanics would be even more expensive than they already are.

  10. It’s very silly to say that we should all switch to Macs because you don’t have the same need for antivirus/misc. software with Macs that you do with Windows PCs. Windows is targeted the most because most of the people they want to target use Windows. If more people used Macs, then spammers and the like would devote more time to create shite for Macs, and you’d have the same problems over again. My sister uses a Mac, and I use Windows, and I can’t really tell the difference, user-wise. The navigation is a bit different, but still easy to figure out. *shrugs* I’m just used to Windows and I’mvery comfortable with it, so I’ll stick with it.

  11. supercheetah, regarding the car analogy, I don’t think that’s accurate. To follow that analogy, it’d be more like Microsoft provides an open hood for their engine, which can be used with any car. You can work on it as you like, but you can’t alter the parts themselves–though you can replace them with parts from other manufacturers. You can also buy it and have it serviced just about anywhere.

    OTOH, Linux is like a kit car, and you can order the car pre-built, order the parts and assemble it yourself, or even make the parts if you really want. In reality… not many people want to do that, but there are some. Service is an iffy affair unless you have one of the few pre-built models that offer a service contract.

    Then there’s Apple, who provide their car and their engine. You can run another engine if you like, but you can’t run their engine in any other car, and there’s a limited selection of parts for their engine. I won’t go into their engine’s limited ability to take advantage of 8 cylinders…. :P

  12. bluvg: Except that everyone these days is buying their kit car pre-made (e.g. the Ubuntu SUV), which defeats the entire purpose of having a kit car in the first place. Even I admit to this. I haven’t compiled anything on my own Linux machine or modified any source code on any projects beyond my own (my excuse being lack of time.)

    One could argue that a Windows car only allows a person the change the cosmetics of the car (e.g. the paint, fenders, mirrors, lights, etc.), but nothing under the hood.

    The car analogy, like most analogies, lead people off-track, and off-topics, and it’s obvious it’s happened here, which is what makes most analogies not very good.

    Anyway, the point of my post had little to do the car analogy or the flexibility of software (actually, they’re quite off-topic), and had more to do with the ethics behind software, source code, and information.

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