[clug-talk] OT: MGBs, TANKS, AND BATMOBILES
grahamdk at telus.net
Mon Apr 17 23:11:27 PDT 2006
Juan Alberto Cirez wrote:
> Mitchell Brown wrote:
>> Thanks to hype0 for sending this to me. It made my day :)
>> MGBs, TANKS, AND BATMOBILES
>> Around the time that Jobs, Wozniak, Gates, and Allen were dreaming up
>> these unlikely schemes, I was a teenager living in Ames, Iowa. One of
>> my friends' dads had an old MGB sports car rusting away in his garage.
>> Sometimes he would actually manage to get it running and then he would
>> take us for a spin around the block, with a memorable look of wild
>> youthful exhiliration on his face; to his worried passengers, he was a
>> madman, stalling and backfiring around Ames, Iowa and eating the dust
>> of rusty Gremlins and Pintos, but in his own mind he was Dustin
>> Hoffman tooling across the Bay Bridge with the wind in his hair.
>> In retrospect, this was telling me two things about people's
>> relationship to technology. One was that romance and image go a long
>> way towards shaping their opinions. If you doubt it (and if you have a
>> lot of spare time on your hands) just ask anyone who owns a Macintosh
>> and who, on those grounds, imagines him- or herself to be a member of
>> an oppressed minority group.
>> The other, somewhat subtler point, was that interface is very
>> important. Sure, the MGB was a lousy car in almost every way that
>> counted: balky, unreliable, underpowered. /But it was fun to drive/.
>> It was responsive. Every pebble on the road was felt in the bones,
>> every nuance in the pavement transmitted instantly to the driver's
>> hands. He could listen to the engine and tell what was wrong with it.
>> The steering responded immediately to commands from his hands. To us
>> passengers it was a pointless exercise in going nowhere--about as
>> interesting as peering over someone's shoulder while he punches
>> numbers into a spreadsheet. But to the driver it was an /experience/.
>> For a short time he was extending his body and his senses into a
>> larger realm, and doing things that he couldn't do unassisted.
>> The analogy between cars and operating systems is not half bad, and so
>> let me run with it for a moment, as a way of giving an executive
>> summary of our situation today.
>> Imagine a crossroads where four competing auto dealerships are
>> situated. One of them (Microsoft) is much, much bigger than the
>> others. It started out years ago selling three-speed bicycles
>> (MS-DOS); these were not perfect, but they worked, and when they broke
>> you could easily fix them.
>> There was a competing bicycle dealership next door (Apple) that one
>> day began selling motorized vehicles--expensive but attractively
>> styled cars with their innards hermetically sealed, so that how they
>> worked was something of a mystery.
>> The big dealership responded by rushing a moped upgrade kit (the
>> original Windows) onto the market. This was a Rube Goldberg
>> contraption that, when bolted onto a three-speed bicycle, enabled it
>> to keep up, just barely, with Apple-cars. The users had to wear
>> goggles and were always picking bugs out of their teeth while Apple
>> owners sped along in hermetically sealed comfort, sneering out the
>> windows. But the Micro-mopeds were cheap, and easy to fix compared
>> with the Apple-cars, and their market share waxed.
>> Eventually the big dealership came out with a full-fledged car: a
>> colossal station wagon (Windows 95). It had all the aesthetic appeal
>> of a Soviet worker housing block, it leaked oil and blew gaskets, and
>> it was an enormous success. A little later, they also came out with a
>> hulking off-road vehicle intended for industrial users (Windows NT)
>> which was no more beautiful than the station wagon, and only a little
>> more reliable.
>> Since then there has been a lot of noise and shouting, but little has
>> changed. The smaller dealership continues to sell sleek Euro-styled
>> sedans and to spend a lot of money on advertising campaigns. They have
>> had GOING OUT OF BUSINESS! signs taped up in their windows for so long
>> that they have gotten all yellow and curly. The big one keeps making
>> bigger and bigger station wagons and ORVs.
>> On the other side of the road are two competitors that have come along
>> more recently.
>> One of them (Be, Inc.) is selling fully operational Batmobiles (the
>> BeOS). They are more beautiful and stylish even than the Euro-sedans,
>> better designed, more technologically advanced, and at least as
>> reliable as anything else on the market--and yet cheaper than the others.
>> With one exception, that is: Linux, which is right next door, and
>> which is not a business at all. It's a bunch of RVs, yurts, tepees,
>> and geodesic domes set up in a field and organized by consensus. The
>> people who live there are making tanks. These are not old-fashioned,
>> cast-iron Soviet tanks; these are more like the M1 tanks of the U.S.
>> Army, made of space-age materials and jammed with sophisticated
>> technology from one end to the other. But they are better than Army
>> tanks. They've been modified in such a way that they never, ever break
>> down, are light and maneuverable enough to use on ordinary streets,
>> and use no more fuel than a subcompact car. These tanks are being
>> cranked out, on the spot, at a terrific pace, and a vast number of
>> them are lined up along the edge of the road with keys in the
>> ignition. Anyone who wants can simply climb into one and drive it away
>> for free.
>> Customers come to this crossroads in throngs, day and night. Ninety
>> percent of them go straight to the biggest dealership and buy station
>> wagons or off-road vehicles. They do not even look at the other
>> Of the remaining ten percent, most go and buy a sleek Euro-sedan,
>> pausing only to turn up their noses at the philistines going to buy
>> the station wagons and ORVs. If they even notice the people on the
>> opposite side of the road, selling the cheaper, technically superior
>> vehicles, these customers deride them cranks and half-wits.
>> The Batmobile outlet sells a few vehicles to the occasional car nut
>> who wants a second vehicle to go with his station wagon, but seems to
>> accept, at least for now, that it's a fringe player.
>> The group giving away the free tanks only stays alive because it is
>> staffed by volunteers, who are lined up at the edge of the street with
>> bullhorns, trying to draw customers' attention to this incredible
>> situation. A typical conversation goes something like this:
>> Hacker with bullhorn: "Save your money! Accept one of our free tanks!
>> It is invulnerable, and can drive across rocks and swamps at ninety
>> miles an hour while getting a hundred miles to the gallon!"
>> Prospective station wagon buyer: "I know what you say is
>> true...but...er...I don't know how to maintain a tank!"
>> Bullhorn: "You don't know how to maintain a station wagon either!"
>> Buyer: "But this dealership has mechanics on staff. If something goes
>> wrong with my station wagon, I can take a day off work, bring it here,
>> and pay them to work on it while I sit in the waiting room for hours,
>> listening to elevator music."
>> Bullhorn: "But if you accept one of our free tanks we will send
>> volunteers to your house to fix it for free while you sleep!"
>> Buyer: "Stay away from my house, you freak!"
>> Bullhorn: "But..."
>> Buyer: "Can't you see that everyone is buying station wagons?"
> Here are my "dos centavos":
> I have been using Linux since 1993/1994. I have always used slackware
> (and only briefly used debian/Stormix while building their Firewall/VPN
> server). Although Linux has gotten easier to install and maintain, it
> does still requires a basic understanding of computers to make full
> use of it. Until Linux is 100% idiot-proof and supports as many devices
> as Windows does (right out of the box), it will be relegated to the
> "Gourmet" user...
> To paraphrase Friedrich W. Nietzsche: Every advance in human society is
> only made possible when and if the powerful elite deems it necessary, or
> convenient...(EVERY elevation of the type "man," has hitherto been the
> work of an aristocratic society and so it will always be...). Not until
> the business world (not just a few; but a concerned, unified effort) see
> the economic benefits(to themselves; not the consumer) of promoting
> Linux as a viable alternative (and Linux continues to mature into a
> true user-friendly OS) will it reach the critical mass it needs to
> "compete" against the StationWagon dealership...Not matter how cool it
> is to drive a tank on the freeway (or how nice it's to blow s**t up with it)
Nietzsche is old school and over rated ;-) . ... Now back to configing this Mr. Fusion power plant for my Hyperdrive M1 with XGL and wobbly windows....
Chaos, panic, & disorder - my work here is done.
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