Getting longer and longer between posts. With good reason…I swear. Between January and May I found myself in the position to teach a course in Management Information Systems at Dominican University. Along with my normal IT duties here and elsewhere, this left no time to “contemplate my navel”, as they say in the philosophical disciplines. Happily, I have regained some “quiet time”, and can once again begin to focus on my geeky, dark arts.
My day gig has found me up to my neck in Macs, and has leant itself to developing an eerie comfort with these oddly religious relics. I’ve owned a Ti Powerbook or two for a couple of years now just ’cause they’re extremely cool and can run Linux, but I’ve most recently developed a true and deep appreciation for what Apple has accomplished with their development of OSX.
Used to be I hated Macs because I hated the old MacOS. It was user friendly. To a fault. It lacked the built-in “magic” necessary for my needs, and thus I had little patience for trying to understand how best to make it suit the needs of others. I have often jokingly stated that Microsoft’s only edge over Apple way back in the day was to have the marketing foresight to see value in adding an FTP and telnet client in the default OS installation. Two tools that one could not do without in the modern computing world. Realistically, though, Microsoft was late to this party too…realizing only after much time passed that, despite claims of providing modern comforts for users, they still fell well short in basic functionality compared to their UNIX brethren.
Now, I’m a pragmatist at heart…you should always choose the best tool for the job. My job has typically been systems and network administration, so my favorite tool is the Swiss Army Knife of the trade…Linux. This OS choice, however, is not for the faint at heart. It ain’t user friendly, and you won’t see people standing in line to apologize for that fact. In truth, the complexities of any *NIX operating system are a badge of honor for most of those who swear by them. Sure, we’ll all exclaim the merits of such systems, speaking as if you’re foolish for not having found them on your own, but in reality, we only want you to experience our tool set as a means to brag on our own skills and mastery in the taming of a wild beast. Before you launch your email clients with fiery messages of hate and scorn, realize that I say this with the full knowledge that great things have been born from Linux specifically, and *NIX in general. Primarily, Linux has brought greater awareness to the much larger movement known as Open Source. Open Source software, tools, and development are becoming common place. Any OS can make use of them…*NIX, Windows, and even…OSX.
To make a long post short (too late), OSX manages to bring the best of both worlds together in almost perfect harmony. OSX has all the GUI eye candy necessary to make it reasonably navigable by novice computer users, but has a BSD (another Open Source flavor of *NIX) subsystem at its heart…which is accessible and open to the type of extensibility power users require for meeting their needs. With the Developer’s Tools installed, one has access to all the utilities necessary to port and compile just about any Open Source application available. If one searches long enough, they find tools like Fink, where the bulk of the porting work has already been done by fine, dedicated developers hacking away on their own OSX machines.
Having recently heard reports left and right about engineers, administrators, and other typical *NIX user types making a swith to OSX, I can only imagine that this may pave the way to a new, ubiquitous model for computing. A model where power, flexibility, and scalability are always available, but never intimidating to the average user. What a brave new world.
Ciao for now.