Posted by: A Nonny Mouse on Mar 3, 2010
"Mac is for pussies that want their computers to just plug in and work.
Windows is for people that want to curse out their computers on a regular basis.
Linux is for people that want to make their computers their lifemates." ~Unknown tech support
Way back when I was just a lowly undergrad learning about 1's and 0's, I remember reading a tech article about how everybody would be a programmer by 2010. They would have to, technology was getting more and more complex and the end user would have to keep up or be left behind. It put a little quail of fear deep in my stomach. Was my chosen field about to become obsolete? Did I once again manage to find something uber cool right on the tail-end of it's ride? Actually I had, but it wasn't the end I was expecting. I graduated from the University of Minnesota with a newly minted Bachelor of Science in Business in Management of Information Systems in June of 2001. Yes, that's right, a year after the dot com bust. In the intervening years I've avidly watched for the dreaded obsolescence. Thankfully, I work for the Federal Government where obsolescence is unheard of. Still, I look around wondering where all the regular user programmers are and what happened to them. My answer? Apple killed them dead.
Now before all you Apple fangirls start sharpening your pitchforks, here me out. Apple makes a beautiful product. It's simple, it's easy, it just works. There is very little worry about virii, malware, all of the things that Windows users have to worry about and Linux users send to the Windows users to get them to switch. It's a great product for those that can't be hassled to learn about the piece of technology that is slowly encroaching on every aspect their life. The problem with that, is there is a larger and larger population that suddenly can't even figure out how to install a piece of software if it doesn't come from an app store.
Don't get me wrong, Apple is incredibly savvy and brilliant. They managed to do what government have been trying to do for eons. Make their users completely dependent on them and happy about it. There are few iPhone users that could tell me what version of the OS they're using or if an app from the store could work on it. Hell, most of them are happy that Apple vets every single program for them. Seriously, when Apple said they were going to crack down on "racy and sexy apps" in their store, nevermind that true NC-17 applications are banned from the App Store and we're talking Sports Illustrated level sexy, every one cheered. I was like "um...really, you have no problem with Apple saying how, when and what type of programs fully functioning adults have access to and pay money for."
Think I'm being a bit overdramatic? When I was looking into new netbooks, I finally settled on the Acer Aspire One D250, which came dual booted with Google's Android OS and XP home. While digging around to see if Android was worth my time, most reviews complained about the lack of an app store. They said that the lack of an app store was keeping the Google OS from reaching prime time. Excuse me, what? The app store... not the fact that Android was obviously a direct port from it's mobile phone brother with no modifications at all? Not the fact that while fast, had almost no usability because of the fact that the GUI (Graphical User Interface, the part makes any OS so gorgeous) was so hard to navigate around without a number pad as to be useless? Or that fact that if you weren't connected to the Internet, you couldn't open any applications because of the fact that they were all Internet based. No, the reason it wasn't going to go prime time was a lack of an app store.
There was a glimmer, a short but bright spark back in the early 00's. Back before the iPod took over the world and Apple emerged from obscurity. Back in the day of Windows 98SE, Napster, Winamp, Lime Wire and others. When hard drives were 120G and no one thought they'd ever need more than that amount of space. When users were first discovering the wilds of the Internet and realizing that they weren't limited to the programs their computer came with when they bought it. Even my sister, who's not the most technological advanced, was downloading and installing programs on her machine. She was finding all sorts programs that would do what she needed and wanted much better than more bloated programs that came with Windows. People were starting to wake up, learn their machines and what they could do and what they couldn't. In short, they were owning their machines.
Then came the iPod. A gloriously simple piece of tech that just worked. Suddenly people didn't need to own their tech, they didn't need to know what OS they were running or what version. How much RAM was needed to run a program. Instead, people demanded that their technology just work. That they just plug it in and the computer will do the rest. Regardless of whether the computer is the problem or not. Now when I'm asked to fix a computer, I get questions like "my computer doesn't hook to the Internet, I brought it to you, can you fix it?" Or "can you install my printer, I tried but it asked all these questions I didn't know how to answer." When I ask my sister what she's running she comes back with "How the hell should I know?" To which I just stare at her and ask her how she figures I'm going to be able to help her fix it if she doesn't know what it is she's working on.
Technology that people had to understand suddenly became disdainful. Something to be poo poo'ed instead of understood, and tech support suddenly became evil overbearing whiners when they ask simple questions or demand that people take responsibility for their own machines. If a product doesn't have an app store it can't be at all decent. If it doesn't work, take it to the genius bar instead of trying to figure it out. Sue a manufacturer or a software company for products that have bugs in them. Force companies to give refunds when there are very simple fixes if the consumer just did a little looking. This is a new and very different world from the world that the random tech article proposed. Technology is everywhere, and it might be the age of the Geek, but the divide between geek and n00b is getting larger every day.
Isn't this how just about every robots take over the world movie starts?
written by Pearce, March 03, 2010