I just grabbed this from glogo's blog cuz i liked it.
http://diyenlightenment.blogspot.com/20 ... osoft.html
Yesterday I was feeling a bit silly about putting a chat up on the blog, thinking, 1) I could have found something more entertaining if I had taken the time and 2) that probably I am the last person in the universe who does not know how to chat.
Today I am thinking, no, I am not the last. There are for sure others and basically this is just a chronicle of my experience. If you have looked at my profile you will see I am a middle-aged single living abroad. I was not weaned on operating systems, qbasic, wheel mice and flatscreen monitors. I grew up at a time when there *were* no personal computers. But I entered the workaday world just at a time when computers were starting to get smaller, lighter, more powerful and accessible for john and jane doe. The main drawback in my situation was a lack of finances. I moved around a lot, moved to berlin in 1989 from new york and have mostly just kind of kept my head above water all this time. So I have come to consider myself to be a kind of low-techy user. I started out with a 286. After that I bought a broken laptop (a 386) off a woman for 25 bucks and experimented with that. Then a friend gave me a 486 laptop and I used that thing until it busted. I don't know what happened to it exactly, it just gave up the ghost one day and I could not get it back working. Probably, had I known enough I could have, but I didn't so it ended up in the trash.
Anyway, that was a 49 megaherz processor with I think 180 meg hard drive and 4 megs of ram. And I went on the internet with that! I surfed even sites with images, I had wanted to install a kind of lynx for dos, as I recall, but I could never get that working. I just did not know enough (bobcat, that was what it was called) about computers generally to do it. So that was my learning machine. After that I don't remember what I had but basically my machines are always at least 1, perhaps even 2 or 3 architectural generations behind the current state of the art.
That has been an advantage for me, I have learned a lot from this situation.
What I have learned:
A) to tolerate a high level of stress and chaos, not to lose it when stuff doesn't work out the way you imagine it should,
B) not to just give up when things don't work from the outset, but to persevere and find a way,
C) that less is often more, not to be spoiled and want every new gismo, but find out what the old gismos have to offer, to tap unrealized resources.
D) not to get lost in the process but to be focussed on what I actually want,
E) to be goal-oriented, in other words, to know where I am going, not necessarily how I have to get there (a little like D),
F) to be able to let go -- when it won't work, no matter what I try, I just kick back, usually it wasn't that important or another way turns up later. Worst case scenario, I just do without for a while, sometimes even a long while. That tends to make you loosen up and toughen up at the same time, which can be an advantage.
Now I know, for instance, that the newest computers are not all that different from the one I have. They may be a little faster, have more computing power etc. but I can do just about everything I want to do with this box. I know for darn sure I can do a lot more with my old box than 80% of the people who have newer computers with the fastest processors and half a gig of ram-memory and use them to pick up their emails and print out a few christmas cards or write a letter now and again.
I knew a guy once. We were kind of friends. I like him, he is a really nice fellow, but he has no idea about anything technical. (I do not consider myself to be an expert at anything, except getting by in the world with next to nothing, btw.) So he calls me up one day. I think I had suggested to him, if he wanted to learn about computers I could set up a pentium II for him. I always had some extra boxes around back then. So he goes out to aldi and buys a brand new computer for about 1600 bucks, a laptop, and he called me up on the phone and said he wanted to learn how to use it. I don't know why I got pissed. I was probably jealous. I had my own business and it was not working out and I didn't have the money for the computer equipment I really needed, nor for the software or expertise I could have used to build up my company. So I just told him, "go take a class". In fact, I told him, "This is great, now you have a machine and don't even have any idea of what it can do. This is like a 12-year-old boy in a lear jet, driving it up and down the runway, but never taking off. The main thing is, it's all yours."
That was perhaps cynical, but I would bet almost anything, if I call him up today he is surfing on the internet with it, and that's it. If he is writing emails, I would be surprised. In fact I would be surprised if he uses it more than 2 or 3 times a week. There are a lot of computer users out there, when their win-os (microsoft operating system) stops working for some reason, they just go and buy a new machine. I don't know any of them personally, but I suspect very much they are out there. Well, my 90-year-old mother is one of these people, but she is to be forgiven for that, I suppose. The fact that she occasionally writes and sends off an email is rather astounding. I tried to set her up a user account on my linux-os (I was running Aurox at the time) but she just did not get the hang of it. The keyboard was too different from the american one. So she never used it.
So, I don't mean to seem proud of all this, but it is just an example of how fate has made me work for what I have. And this just my point about the difference between those who tend to use microsoft products exclusively and those who want to use and develop open source software.
I discovered, or I should say, I figured out how the two systems work. The one is the proprietary system, that is Bill Gates and Microsoft. Now I am not a bill-basher. I don't hate him but I do not care for microsoft products. I find that they use too many resources on my box. As I mentioned, while writing yesterday, I was transcoding a movie (with autoGK) and the system was so maxxed out that I could not even type in this blog. I was using a different XP, as I have 2 of them installed on my box at the moment (don't ask, it's too complicated, has to do with my constantly tearing things apart and putting them back together). So that partition was probably too full or something, or that system was not configured properly. The point is, I have never had much of a problem with the linux, open source counterpart.
The way to look at it is this. MS (microsoft) is proprietary, the -ix's (let us call the open source operating systems that) are non-proprietary or free, as in open source. What does it mean, open source? It means that the source code is open, can be read and altered by any programmer. The way the computers work is, we have a program written by someone and then that program has to be compiled into something the machine can read, that is called a binary or executable. What MS sells is executable software. It is already compiled and it is basically a black box. I guess there are people who can hack it, but it is usually just not something you can change in any significant way. I heard this, or perhaps I only imagined it to be this way: In the MS corporation there are a lot of little teams working on one project. Each team will be basically in the dark about what the other team is doing. Then there will be a team of people to put all these little pieces together and that becomes the final program. So it is like a pyramid with a lot of people at the base and the one guy at the top (in this case bg [bill gates]) who profits from it all.
Open source software is in a way the opposite. It is not proprietary (it is owned by no one) and there are hundreds and thousands of users who are improving on it everywhere and sharing with each other what they are doing all across the globe and the benefits of this system trickle down to the individual user. So it is like a giant project where everyone takes part. The base of the pyramid is upside down. The metaphor is not very strong, but that is how I envision it. It is actually not like a pyramid at all, but more like a social animal, like bees. (Hmm... that one does not work very well, either). Basically, what I am saying is, it is an open system with a kind of each one-teach one mentality, there is no heirarchy, there is only heritage and tradition, but these are being redefined every day. Secrets are kind of tabu. Everything is out in the open, the opener the better, and in the case of MS it is just the opposite, it is heirarchical, everyone is kept in the dark, the tradition is kept rock-solid and impenetrable. They are always looking for ways to lock things down better and the -ix's are always looking for ways to open things up more. Now I do not mean that the linux and open source people are not concerned with personal privacy or security issues, far from that. I just mean that anyone who has a mind to learn something about linux or open source software will have the problem of there being too many choices, too much information to choose from. Anyone who wants to learn about MS will probably have to pay something for that, as in cash money.
These are just the impressions I get about these two systems. I know only enough about computers and these two systems to know that I know very little. That is what you find out when you start learning about computers and technology at my age. You find out that you know very little and that the possibility of becoming a "computer expert" is rather limited. But I have learned enough to get around a bit and try out a few things, not to be afraid of jacking my whole system, because I know how to reload the software.
I have the feeling that there are many people, if they knew about open source, they would choose to go that route. But I feel that the attitude, the energy you need to get started with open source, the amount of time you have to invest and the level of frustration you have to put up with in the beginning of such a venture, puts most of them off, which is kind of too bad.
IMHO it is just what the world needs, to get away from this heirarchical way of thinking and get on the road to becoming independent as individuals. Open source is the future of the world. Heirarchy died with monarchy or if it didn't, it should have. Democracy, true democracy has never been tried, but the internet has opened up the whole world and now a model of democracy is possible, which was never before the case. So, again MO, open source is a revolution.
That's all for now...
posted by glogo at 8/23/2005 02:42:00 PM