Products versus Tasks

Some users eventually find themselves in a rut of closed minded computer usage. They start equating the programs with the task that they perform.

Instead of thinking of a program as a task, think of it as a product.

Every so often I will ask myself, "Why am I using this?" I think this is healthy. Does this program stand up to my principles and demands of quality? Sometimes it doesn't, but I'm so far removed from the program that I cannot make an unbiased decision.

Why am I using Fedora, for example. Well, on the laptop, Fedora gets 3.5 hours of battery life where Windows Vista gets 2 hours and Ubuntu gets 2.5 hours. That's a big deal to me. Furthermore, Fedora is the basis for Red Hat's products, which allows me to familiarize myself with the future of their development. Red Hat does a lot of work with Linux and their path will soon become everyone's path, due to the nature of their upstream development. I think that having skills in this sort of work is very valuable, especially with my chosen path of computer usage.

I did this long ago with most operating systems. When I had more time I tried many Linux distrs for fun, but also because their hardware support used to vary much more than they do (nowadays most hardware support is not only fairly widespread for all but the most obscure, but also pretty level among distros). I even gave a good hard look to Apple's website to consider buying their products. It's not that I never had the money to buy their machines. I did and I still do. But once I stripped away the emotional aspect of the OS and stopped thinking about it as a task, then I was able to more correctly and easily make a value judgement.

My comparisons between OS' are fairly in depth, especially by debates between Fedora and Ubuntu. They serve different purposes, certainly. The best way to debate between these OS' is to not debate their strengths, but to debate their weaknesses. If you are going to debate a program (especially something as important as an OS) it's better to debate the weaknesses of the platform, because those are what you will have to deal with in the long term.

Ubuntu: not always the best or most stable releases, few updates for new programs, often behind the curve, mediocre battery life, includes difficulties in making sweeping desktop changes

Fedora: requires more effort to get the desktop where I want it, doesn't have a one-stop-shop for restricted codecs like ubuntu-restricted-extras, sometimes more bloated than Ubuntu and doesn't boot as fast

First you acknowledge that the program is not attached to the task at hand. While I like Firefox, it does not equal Internet. While I use Rhythmbox everyday, it does not correspond with music.

Second, you begin to consider the program as a product. Sometimes I let the program try to convince me it is the best choice for the job. I watched all of the Apple commercials on their website and let their propaganda wash over me. But after the pleasent advertisements, it's best to focus on the weaknesses, because those are the things that will bother you most about the platform.

Then you should be able to make a judgment. Sometimes you simply strengthen your resolve to stay where you are. Othertimes you find yourself having to pick up your things and move.

Both are healthy experiences to have now and then, which is why questioning your programs is a good exercise to keep in mind.

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