The great disconnect
…better, but not yet perfect.
Over the past few weeks, in the midst of all of everything else going on, I’ve heard the same theme brought up a few different ways. What it essentially comes down to is that many of us who spend a great deal of time working on, writing for, designing for, and heavily using unix-like systems don’t understand what the “average user” is doing with the computer.
I’ll admit that’s probably the case quite often. I know that my particular usage differs even from some of the linux guys I work with. One in particular is a KDE proponent. We’ve had a few friendly conversations where he’ll discuss how everything I use is designed to be some “hipster/elitist/mouse-hating/unusable” setup, and in turn I’ll ask him how the translucent animating point-and-click menus actually help him get anything done. Honestly, it’s all in good fun, and everything is said in jest. We’ve both agreed that our workflows differ greatly, and that’s why we use what we use.
There are jokes around the office, because when someone comes across something that is very sparse on hardware, they’ll joke that I’ll be using that as my new desktop tomorrow. Recently, having some fun with it, I took a router running an embedded OpenBSD, mounted the flash memory as writable, and created myself a user and some csh scripts on it. I had it sitting on my desk with the hostname changed to “joe’s desktop.”
As you’d expect, when someone comes across a project that requires a very light operating system, I’m the guy they come to. It blew my mind as one of my coworkers had an old server, and couldn’t boot it off of the CD-ROM because he only had 64-bit CDs that ran as live sessions, and was waiting for me to come in because I have a stack of them in my desk. I did poke fun about all of the 64-bit software he would need to run off of a live CD, which is nothing.
I do realize, though, that I’m not the average user. I am not looking for a newer shinier version of something that I already have if it works. I’m far more concerned with the efficiency of the system while I’m using it than how comfortable it is for a stranger to use. I have requirements, and they’re actually pretty demanding. I want the things that I need to use to work until the hardware fails. I don’t mind my test systems giving me issues, but I don’t want to boot up a system just to be told that I’ll need to reboot mid-project because Adobe Reader needs to update. I don’t want to continuously reach for my mouse. I want control. I’m picky, sure.
I may not be the average user, and I’m okay with that. I am disconnected from what is popular in technology. I am also disconnected from people who take self photos while making a “duckface.” I’m okay with this, and I have no plan to change what works for something that is modern and glittery.