Thursday, June 07, 2007

The Problem With Paradigms

I've worked with a lot of different software tools and operating systems in my time. I started with the Apple II (that just turned 30 years old - OUCH!) and AppleBasic then moved on to typesetting software, various green (and yellow) screen applications, MacPaint, HyperCard, SuperCard, FileMaker, BBEdit, Lasso, Oracle Forms & Reports, ColdFusion, ASP, JSP, Dreamweaver, GoLive, RealBasic, Servoy, Windows 3.0, Macintosh, Linux, Mac OS X, Vista, etc.

Each time I've tried a new tool, I've had a challenge in that each new tool has it's strengths and weaknesses. And, depending on how much time I spent in the previous environment, the new environment invariably "sucked" at something.

Well, at least it sucked from my perspective. It was only different the way that I viewed the new/different/changed/enhanced functionality - as compared with what I was used to - in other words, my paradigm.

Whether or not the feature/bug/way of doing things actually sucked - is open for debate. All I know is that from my perspective, at the time (usually the first time I try to do something and it's not obvious - or not obvious to me) - it does really suck.

Over time, I usually have found a way - usually by reading the manual (there were no online "forums" at that time), looking online for examples/code and finally by just trying stuff until it worked.

Those were the "old days." The days before "open source" and "free" software. The days where RTFM (Read The Fu**king Manual) was the default.

Ah, how times have changed.

Some people who have grown up in Internet time have a whole different paradigm as to what software is, how it "should" work and the fact that everything (especially their pet feature) "should be" included at no charge.

While I can understand their sentiment; I have spent many, many, many extremely frustrating hours figuring something out that over time (and blood, sweat and tears) became obvious once I understood the software better.

To me, that's part of the fun of learning - and once I've mastered that task/feature/bug I have an intimate knowledge on how the software works. For others, it's just a reason to bitch.

I found this post that my wife, Brenda, posted on a forum just today. I think it sums up the problem with paradigms:

"I would like SOMEONE out there to fix my mini van. It does not look or act anything like a Dodge Viper. I USED to drive a Dodge Viper (before I had children) and I switched to my Dodge minivan because it was a better tool for my current life/job -- but it does NOT run nearly as fast, nor does it look as COOL as my previous tool. Also, I do want to keep the roominess of my minivan and the ability to haul around 50+ children at the same time (plus soccer balls and dance clothes) - but it should be sleek looking and have a 400HP engine. I do not want to pay for any upgrades and it MUST BE FIXED NOW by someone.

I would also like to point out that it should be open source. Its ridiculous that I have to pay for a car in this day and age. Its all about corporate greed and those damn Americans. (Forget about my greed, hey, I NEED to keep MY money)."

DAMN! You go, girl! [sorry, that was oldBob 8.0]

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