The illusion of usefulness

One of the things that greatly interests me is understanding why people do the things they do. Why does someone pick up the second item on a shelf instead of the one in front? Why does someone believe what they're told without even thinking about questioning it? Why does someone choose Linux over Windows or OS X over Linux?

I've been a Linux user for around 10 years. I started with Gentoo, mostly since redhat kernel panic'd on boot and I didn't know how to fix it. I moved to Ubuntu when the beta came out and then I've been switching between a Linux laptop and a Mac Laptop since 10.3. I really liked the mac interface and the ability to pop open a terminal and do all my shell stuff. I find it a lot easier to maneuver and manipulate files from a command line. I also like the free nature of Linux and the ability to better customize it and not feel watched. Right now my main computer is a current generation 13" macbook air.  After all, I can do all this stuff way more efficiently with OS X than with Windows or Linux. At least that's what I tell myself.

Why exactly do I consider OS X more usable than Linux? Well, the operating system is nice and has some nice built in programs, but nothing that Linux doesn't have in one form or another. However, I see people who use OS X as having a different mindset. That the programmers have a different mindset. That they follow these specific guidelines set by Apple on creating applications. An operating system doesn't make a computer, the applications available makes the computer. So what applications do I look at and go 'I'd like to move back to Linux, but I can't because I'm missing..'?

Text Expander - Gives me the ability to create shortcuts that I type in which are then expanded. Honestly, this is one of those applications that I can see being awesome, but I don't have much use for it. You can run scripts with it, so I have a few snippets in place to insert my external or internal ip address. I also have some basic forms I can insert. Overall, it's a whole lot of 'I feel this can make me real extra productive!' and a lot less 'This actually makes me productive.'

OmniFocus - Awesome todo application. I looked at all the Linux GTD apps a couple years ago and nothing was usable. That space looks a little different these days, with cross-platform applications like Wunderlist. (Which I admit, even though I don't believe my todo list is that important I feel funny putting it on someone else's server).

It's interesting.  While I have all these apps, the only two that I can really think of that will keep me on a mac is Text Expander, which I don't really use, and Omnifocus, which I can also use on the iphone/ipad. That's the funny thing about perception. You feel like you need this specific platform in order to do work and that you won't get as much done without it. Then you take a step back and look at what you actually do and realize that you don't actually use it the way you thought you do. You end up keep something for the possibility of usefulness in the future and not the actual usefulness.

This brings me to my project of this year and my project of the next two weeks. I plan on using this blog mostly to help me get better at writing. That should mean a lot of posts, some boring some not. The second is setting up an Aspire TimelineX 1830t i3-330um laptop I have lying around. It's one of my favorite laptops. I'm going to have a series of posts about how I set it up using my current distro of choice, ArchLinux. I should also have a github setup to share my configuration files.  

The illusion of usefulness

One of the things that greatly interests me is understanding why people do the things they do. Why does someone pick up the second item on a shelf instead of the one in front? Why does someone believe what they're told without even thinking about questioning it? Why does someone choose Linux over Windows or OS X over Linux?

I've been a Linux user for around 10 years. I started with Gentoo, mostly since redhat kernel panic'd on boot and I didn't know how to fix it. I moved to Ubuntu when the beta came out and then I've been switching between a Linux laptop and a Mac Laptop since 10.3. I really liked the mac interface and the ability to pop open a terminal and do all my shell stuff. I find it a lot easier to maneuver and manipulate files from a command line. I also like the free nature of Linux and the ability to better customize it and not feel watched. Right now my main computer is a current generation 13" macbook air.  After all, I can do all this stuff way more efficiently with OS X than with Windows or Linux. At least that's what I tell myself.

Why exactly do I consider OS X more usable than Linux? Well, the operating system is nice and has some nice built in programs, but nothing that Linux doesn't have in one form or another. However, I see people who use OS X as having a different mindset. That the programmers have a different mindset. That they follow these specific guidelines set by Apple on creating applications. An operating system doesn't make a computer, the applications available makes the computer. So what applications do I look at and go 'I'd like to move back to Linux, but I can't because I'm missing..'?

Text Expander - Gives me the ability to create shortcuts that I type in which are then expanded. Honestly, this is one of those applications that I can see being awesome, but I don't have much use for it. You can run scripts with it, so I have a few snippets in place to insert my external or internal ip address. I also have some basic forms I can insert. Overall, it's a whole lot of 'I feel this can make me real extra productive!' and a lot less 'This actually makes me productive.'

OmniFocus - Awesome todo application. I looked at all the Linux GTD apps a couple years ago and nothing was usable. That space looks a little different these days, with cross-platform applications like Wunderlist. (Which I admit, even though I don't believe my todo list is that important I feel funny putting it on someone else's server).

It's interesting.  While I have all these apps, the only two that I can really think of that will keep me on a mac is Text Expander, which I don't really use, and Omnifocus, which I can also use on the iphone/ipad. That's the funny thing about perception. You feel like you need this specific platform in order to do work and that you won't get as much done without it. Then you take a step back and look at what you actually do and realize that you don't actually use it the way you thought you do. You end up keep something for the possibility of usefulness in the future and not the actual usefulness.

This brings me to my project of this year and my project of the next two weeks. I plan on using this blog mostly to help me get better at writing. That should mean a lot of posts, some boring some not. The second is setting up an Aspire TimelineX 1830t i3-330um laptop I have lying around. It's one of my favorite laptops. I'm going to have a series of posts about how I set it up using my current distro of choice, ArchLinux. I should also have a github setup to share my configuration files.