Limiting choice

One of the many criticisms I hear or Linux is that there's so much choice that one needs to have a ton of knowledge to even parse simple things, like which text editor to use.

What I find most useful for dealing with this initial wave of confusion is to hold everything to ridiculously high standards, or just picking something important to me and running with it.

When it came to picking the Linux distribution itself, I picked the one I knew the best, which was Ubuntu (I spent a year before actually using Ubuntu as a desktop just playing with the LiveCD, as a minor hobby). I moved to Fedora to learn about Red Hat and RHEL, and when I'd learned my piece I moved back to Ubuntu, where I found myself in shallow water. So, Debian Testing is my new home.

These are not very large and huge reasons, but they're reasons enough for me to say, okay, time to bunker down and make a new OS home. The main thing here is that I don't take my choice too seriously. What's the use of clamming up and saying, "Oh, but what if I choose wrong?" Who cares! The more trivial it is, the more fun it is to cross the options off, one by one.

But far and away the best way I've found to deal with choice is to limit it. sort of like that Who Wants To Be a Millionaire show, where they eliminate two of the incorrect answers to help the player. Just start crossing off options on your list like there's no tomorrow.

I've found that switching to OGG Vorbis is not only easier than I expected, but actually has allowed me to lighten my music load by eliminating choice. Now, I can only listen to music that I own on CD or can find online in either lossless or OGG format. Not only does this emphasize quality (I only keep my very favorite albums in disc format) but it also allows me to go exploring for things I never would have found while I was still using MP3.

The reasoning behind switching to OGG wasn't important. What really mattered was how it changed my choices, and even better, eliminated some that didn't really matter.

So how to approach a question, like, "Which text editor should I use?"

Well, I want something that can work in the terminal. I want something widespread and commonplace, so I can expect it on many computers. I want something that isn't too heavy or bloated, but works. I choice vi from this list. Though I will admit to using emacs from time to time, mostly for the glorious orgmode.

So, sure, we may not make the perfect choice, but the more we minimize it to something easy and simple, it's just a matter of using logic, eliminating options and not taking anything too seriously.

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