Reality

I think it was in a Steven Covey book where I read the statement that reality, for us as human beings, is usually distorted through personal biases with which we view the world.

My 12″ Powerbook G4 running OS X has been humming along for 18 days, without so much as a hiccup. I’ve changed locations several times, switched back and forth from Airport to Ethernet networking, changed network settings, carried it to several jiu-jitsu training sessions for DVD referencing, open it and closed it more times than I can remember — and through it all, it has been rock solid.

Staring at that 18 day uptime figure, I am reminded of the days of Mac OS 9. At the time, I thought it was the best operating system in the world, and argued that to anyone who would listen. And I bought Mac OS 9-based laptops for our newly employed software engineers.

I distinctly recall coming to work one morning, and seeing my former colleague Alfred sitting there with a closed Powerbook in front of him. “Matt, I’m ready to throw this thing through the window. I can’t bear to spend another 10 minutes watching those startup icons march across the screen. How can you call any operating system that crashes daily, requires continuous ‘rebuilding of the desktop’, trashing prefs, reinstalling the system, stops processing completely when you click a menu, requires restarting at the slightest change, and hangs when the network goes down a great operating system?”

Alfred was used to the world of Linux and Solaris — where stability was measured in months or years, not hours. But in spite of that, I just couldn’t understand how he didn’t see the light. (And, hadn’t he tried Conflict Catcher yet?)

Well, now that I’m immersed in the world of Mac OS X — i.e. the world of Unix-based operating systems — I totally understand him, and am amazed how I could have ever been such a champion of OS 9. I think it was that I loved the theory of OS 9 so much that I overlooked the day to day realities of it. “Sure, I’m constantly rebuilding the desktop, but it’s such a great concept! It’ll get better. Just wait for 9.8!”

That whole experience reminds me of an old country song, “Rose Colored Glasses.”

In a similar vein, I’ve recently been arguing with my system admin buddy Niall about routers. Niall is a “hate Microsoft and the Establishment, Go Open Source!” kinda guy that would love for Linux to run his entire life (He wants a car radio running Linux.) Anyway, he plans to setup a Linux box running the Linux-based Smoothwall firewall as our company’s DSL router. I’m no expert on such matters, but I as I stare at my tiny little 3com home DSL box that I was able to setup and configure in about five minutes, and has never required a bit of maintenance, I just have to wonder whether a Linux-based router — even if it’s technically possible — is a better long-term solution than an off-the-shelf 200 Euro router appliance?

Is my friend’s view of Linux-based… everything… distorted in a way similar to my pre-OSX view of operating systems? Is he wearing Penguin shaped glasses?

Agree? Disagree? What do you think?

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