The IT World Posted by: Dale Franks
on Thursday, October 19, 2006
You know, in many ways, the IT world is like a like a big Geek High School. Instead of the jocks, nerds, stoners, and populars, there's the Windows, Mac and Linux people.
Yesterday, when I posted about my WWII project, a commenter replied to my invitation to check it out:
Well, I would. Except you’re using a version of Flash later than 7. No Linux support.
Heaven forbid that you’d use something cross platform.
That's just perfect. Translation: "I'm using a pure geek operating system that doesn't keep up with the latest popular technologies. Now, you have to use older technology to cater to me."
Well, I'm using the web animation package that has been the standard for the last 18 months. The fact that you've chosen to use a boutique operating system for geeks that is so rarely used on the desktop that no one is interested in supporting it does not place an obligation on me to pander to your choice.
Oh, and be careful. The link in the previous paragraph goes to a PDF file. God knows that some of you will be disgusted at the very thought of having a PDF file sully your browser with its presence, so, please, be warned.
I wrote an article on Linux for osOpinion back in 1999. Nothing that has happened since then has done much to change my mind.
C'mon, people. They're just computers. They're great tools, but they aren't religious icons or objects of holy veneration. They're just little boxes with electronic junk stuffed into them.
If you like Linux, then, hey, great. Knock yourself out. Are you a Mac guy? Well, beautiful, baby. But if those are the choices you make, then you really give up the right to bitch and moan because you can't find the right driver for your new hardware, or when you go to Best Buy, they don't have Medal of Honor available for anything but the PC. That's a burden you willingly took on when you picked up that copy of Red Hat. If you choose Linux or Mac, then you've chosen an operating system used by 3.5% and 3.8% of the user base, respectively.
So, I guess the question I have for the Linux guys is, why do you think I'm supposed to penalize the remaining 96% of the user base by using older, less capable technology, because you chose to use an operating system that has limited support? How does that become my problem?
There's only one standard that matters in the IT world: Are you delivering value to your customers? If the answer is yes, then carry on. If you see your primary mission as being an evangelist to customers for your favorite technology in order to convert them to it, however, then the answer to that question is probably no. Because you're probably putting your parochial concerns above the customer's needs.
What this commenter is, in effect, asking me to do is to penalize 96% of the "customer" base by using the less capable technology that he is limited to. Now, if he was paying me to do my little project, then he'd be perfectly right to object to my use of Flash 8. I'd do it in Flash 6 if that was what it took to make him happy.
Since he's not, well...I think you know what I'm trying to say.
So, I guess the question I have for the Linux guys is, why do you think I’m supposed to penalize the remaining 96% of the user base by using older, less capable technology, because you chose to use an operating system that has limited support? How does that become my problem?
(Chuckle) I suppose that it becomes your problem, only insofar as the pain you feel in losing that 4% of the population as users. Some don’t consider that to be an issue. (Shrug)
I saw a developer in my organization describe it this way; "I’m developing for the 90%." (He viewed it was a 90/10 split) "If I make the content of my site less impressive so as to be more compatible with less capable systems, I is to make that my viewership will be greater than the 10% that I would have picked up by remaining compatible...."
Or words to that effect... this was a few years ago, from memory....
Now, of course, that leaves open the whole question of letting Microsoft march where they will, at heir will, as opposed to a consortium trying to run the technical end of things. But frankly, as much as I’ve mistrusted Microsoft over the years, I’ve missed trusted more or less self appointed "standards committees" even more. A look at the various ’transitional’ phases on HTML will give a clue as to why. What utter nonsnese.
IN any event, I suspect that this is a holy war, that has less chance of developing an end game, then the one being fought by the jihadists.
I suppose that it becomes your problem, only insofar as the pain you feel in losing that 4% of the population as users. Some don’t consider that to be an issue.
I’m the geek in question, BTW.
It was a decision made by Adobe to skip release of a Linux version of flash for 8 and 8.5. AFAICT, they don’t support any Unix variations in 8 and 8.5, despite their marketing claims to the contrary.
The only way that I can place back-pressure on Adobe is to notify the developers who use later versions of Flash that they are ignoring a certain segment of their potential market. If that bothers those developers, then they can either use something else or complain to Adobe.
The fact that a portion of your potential viewers cannot see your presentation does not appear to be important to you. (Adobe has not released a new linux flash viewer since version 7.) Perhaps it is a resume pumping exercise or an experiment in developing with the latest Flash version or whatever.
It doesn’t appear to be presentation designed to allow the maximum number of people to view it. You’re the one trying to get a message out with your presentation, aren’t you?
Isn’t religious faith the whole point of those Mac commercials with the young cool hip guy who says "hi, I’m a Mac" and the nerd says "I’m a PC" and then the young guy verbally beats up on the nerd? It ain’t techincal savvy they’re counting on.
No insult Mark, but some folks don’t have an Internet connection, should Dale, Jon, and McQ publish a news lettre and idstirbute it door-to-door, also? I mean " You’re the one trying to get a message out with your presentation, aren’t you?" Using that logic how can they fail to appeal to the Netless?
Wow, there’s so little flaming in the comments for such a provocative post. EMACS is better than VI!!! There, that should help. ;)
Personally, I just don’t like Flash in the first place. From my content consumer point of view, it seems intrusive and unecessary, and has a huge footprint to boot. I’m sure Dale has a good reason to use this giant thing called Flash in order to display a few jpgs—excercising his skills for professional reasons, for example, would be an excellent reason—and hey, it’s your content, do whatever, none of us are doing anything better!
While fine for 32bit linux distributions, the Flash 9 Beta (nor any earlier version) does not support 64 bit linux users. The free flash player (which supoorts 64 bit OSes) plays version 4 files. There is a newer project (gnash) with support for some SWF 7 features.
And before limiting your linux audience based on your web logs, The User Agent Switcher Firefox Extension lets us disguise our Browsers as IE6 on XP, or any other choice we which to get by stale server checks.
For those who say run a 32 bit flashplayer with a 32 bit browser, Why should I use only half my CPU?
And remember, The search engines spiders ignore Flash as well. If you want your site indexed, it’s best to support the geek.
How about multi-booting? I don’t know squat about computers, but even I have more than one operating system on my computers. One reason is that some software isn’t comfortable on one or another OS. Mostly curiosity and interest in old things. I actually paid good money last year for DOS 6.22 and I have a couple of 5.25" drives. My wife gave away our HP 135 and I still mourn.
I wonder, if we’re not revealing something of human nature with all of this. It makes me mindful of nothing so much as the beta versus the H.F. battles of a few years ago. And, as with that, the battle’s already been fought and won... and lost. Or, perhaps, the castrated sheep meandering around after Gore lost in 2000, saying he’d actually WON.
Frankly with the kind of weekend I’ve had, I don’t have time to delve into it. But the comparison does give one food for thought.