Tuesday, October 19, 2010

You Have Already Got Your Mind Made Up

The problem with ideology is, if you've got an ideology, you've already got your mind made up. You know all the answers and that makes evidence irrelevant and arguments a waste of time. You tend to govern by assertion and attacks.
Life is rife with debates arguing over Ideologies, the phenomenon is known on the Internet as flaming/flame wars. Everything from politics and religion, right down to your choice in soft drink. Anywhere where people can communicate you are bound to find a thread along the lines of X is Better Than Y And If You Don't Agree You are Wrong. I am not here to try and persuade anyone one way or another but I thought I would start a series with a few of my thoughts and opinions on some famous flame baits within the development community.

To start off we have to start with what I consider the most notorious and in my personal opinion pointless flame bait:

PC v Mac
First off I think the debate is wrong from the start for the following reasons:
  1. It is usually poorly defined what this means, in most modern contexts it usually refers to the choice of Microsoft Windows or Apple's MacOS. Although in recent years it appears to have shifted (along with the Apple business model) to Apple's Offering (iPod, iPhone, Mac) vs Every other equivalent or perceived equivalent (aka The iPod Killer).
  2. It also doesn't take into account alternative operating systems such as Distributions based around Free/Open Source Software (F/OSS) such as Debian or any of its derivatives.
A few years ago this debate held a little more weight in my mind because the debate would usually center around the choice of hardware. PC generally being touted as IBM PC Compatible/x86/Wintel and Mac being one of Motorola, and later Apple-IBM-Motorola's Brain Child. However with Apple's transition to Intel and the official support of Boot Camp  the point became moot in my mind.

Therefore the real debate circles around Software and usability of said Software. In my personal opinion I have found Microsoft Windows to meet my needs much better than OSX. I have always felt that Apple's software tends to hide too much from the user or make assumptions about how the user should interact with said software.

For example the concept of Right-Clicking to bring up a context menu (or left click if you are a lefty) is still treated as a second class citizen on OSX, delegated to a Secondary click non-standard option with even Apple's latest mouse.

Another example is XCode, while I admit the last time I used XCode as a development environment I was back in College running on OS 10.5 on a dog slow second generation Intel Mac Mini (or at home using my even slower G4 MDD), I remember that it was nothing to write home about. Specifically the lack of good refactoring abilities, such as those available in NetBeans, Eclipse, and Visual Studio. Refactoring is something we as developers do everyday, and anything that can help automate the process should be done. Sure one could argue search and replace, but why introduce a human element into it? This is a process that has obviously been solved and automated by others, why not do the same?

All of the above being said and taken into consideration, I understand that some people see these as non-issues, and are willing to live with that. I completely understand that, after all I've owned my fair share of Mac's and still do. What it really boils down to is usability by the end user, if you as a user can be productive on a Mac then use a Mac. I myself find that I am much more productive on a Microsoft Windows based computer, and therefore use one.

However there is something about the Mac Mentality that prevents most Mac users from coming to the above conclusion. While I am sure an entire magazine could be written on the subject that is a subject for another day.

Sufficed to say You have already got your mind made up.

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