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5 proprietary apps: An update

I knew that my last post was bound to inspire some criticism. However, I’m new enough at this that I haven’t yet adopted the jaded “everyone who disagrees is a troll, so I should just ignore them and move on” attitude. At least not yet, no promises for the future:)

Actually, some of you had some really good points, and I’d like to address those. I’m going to combine hear and there, because some of the arguments are related.

_I never defined “better”, better is subjective, and ultimately this is really just my opinion_

This is all absolutely correct. I think I missed the mark on conveying my original intention, which was this: There are a lot of lists out there exactly like mine, but in the opposite direction. I’ve never seen a “top 5 alternatives to open source software” before, and had been noticing an increase in the amount of closed-source-company bashing that takes place, with claims of “buggy”, “bloated”, etc, and then listing, as an alternative, open source applications which were just as bad. It felt like people had stopped looking at the software, and just at the license. Judging the book by it’s cover, if you will. I thought it would be fun to parodize the trend a little bit, while simultaneously getting to play the devil’s advocate and rise to the defense of what I genuinely believe to be quality software.

_OpenOffice isn’t written in Java. Do your homework, you moron._

Okay, nobody called me a moron. Though, still, I kind of felt like one. In my defense, though, it’s a pretty widely spread rumor. Yes, I should have done my homework. But all I can ask is, if it had been suggested to you that you download “OpenOffice, written in Java”, OO’s wikipedia page had a section on Java controversy, and there were links on the OO website to Java API, and you didn’t know it was written in C++… Would you have looked at the source code to verify that it was, in fact, written in Java? Think about it. And not just in a “If I say yes, then you’re wrong, so, yes” kind of way. Really, in your head, go through the paces. If you still say yes at the end of it, then, well, I fold. You’re better than I.

_”Better Than I” doesn’t mean anything if you still haven’t defined better._

Shut up. Troll.

_I’m a troll_

You’re a troll times 10.

_Comparing Windows and *nix is like comparing apples and headphones, and I didn’t really explain Windows over OS X_

First, Windows VS *nix. Several compelling arguments, here. Some of this was a failing on my part- By trying to suppress a rant (I _did_ believe I said I could write a whole other entry on this) I didn’t convey my point in all this properly. When I chose Windows over unix/linux, I neglected to mention that I meant for the desktop, for day-to-day-use. As pointed out in comments, Linux is a great environment for developers. I’ll agree with that- It’s a very developer-centric platform. I’d go so far as to say Linux is like a virtual playground for developers. Its uptime and stability also lend itself exceptionally well to running servers. However, there are several elements of the user experience where it doesn’t measure up to Windows. While Gentoo might have me a little biased, it really feels like hardware support in Linux is a crapshoot, where you can tilt the odds slightly in your favor with a few hours trolling user forums and recompiling the kernel. With Windows, you look for the “Windows” symbol on the box, and you install the drivers that came in the box. 3rd party software installation is also a trip- You can either only use software popular enough to be in that distro’s repository, or you can download and compile source code through some arcane commandline voodoo unknown to non-developers. With Windows? You download the setup file. You execute it, you click okay a lot. And at the end of it all, there are no library conflicts. You can double click it. With Windows, you can do a whole lot and never, ever have to see a command line again. My reasons for choosing Windows over OS X, as pointed out, were more or less arbitrary. I’ll say it again… Like the lists I set out to parody, this one WAS subjective. There are a lot of things to like about OS X, but I find the implementation of Finder genuinely painful. I don’t like having to hit 3 or 4 buttons in order to copy the screen to the clipboard. I can’t copy/paste with my pinky and forefinger, and neither double-finger-tapping the touchpad nor command-click pass for (or even remotely excuse the lack of) a right mouse button on the laptop. Which would be okay if I could install OS X on a dell or something, but, so far, that’s just not possible.

_Textpad is not, in fact, the Bee’s Knees._

Lies and misconceptions! Kidding. I really did claim that I was a Textpad zealout. I know I’m totally biased in the matter, and I also know that when it comes to a “Programmer’s Editor”, every programmer has a favorite, and we all think that ours is somehow empirically the best. Aside from the swath of features considered prerequisite for any good “Programmer’s Text Editor”(syntax highlighting, multiple document support, line numbering, what have you), The main reasons I find Textpad superior are it’s _slick_ multiple document interface, multiple file search-and-replace, and above all, that external tool support. There was a little confusion on this last one, so pardon the zealoutry while I elaborate. I’ll try not to go all mac-zealout “shepard the lost” on you. The external tool support isn’t JUST compiling/running java with one click. It’s that you can point Textpad to any executable on your system, and have Textpad open the currently open file with that external tool. So if you have gcc, you can compile in textpad. If you have python/ruby, you can run a python or a ruby script from textpad. Not to mention it captures the output as a seperate textfile for you. And best of all, you can save that “run open file with this program” thing to a shortcut. Ctrl+number. It’s an amazing contribution to workflow. Vim is great if you don’t have a mouse. JEdit is, actually, pretty slick, and I think I’m going to look into it a little more. But my top spot for text editor really has to go to Textpad, for interface, featureset, simplicity and power. If you don’t agree, I totally understand. Feel free to write your own list:P

-Alex

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Comments

Command line.

There is something in here that you touched on that I’d like to address further. There seems to be an underlying opinion in the FOSS community that gets under my skin and really should get under everyone elses. We’ve all had this arguement but I’ll illustrate it here for you *(with hyperbole).

FOSS evangilist: “Well windows doesn’t have a decent command line. Therefor, windows should be taken out back and beaten with a hose.”

Me/You/the internet: “well why do you need the command line?”

FOSS evangilist: “to correctly configure your machine.”

Me/You/the internet: “well you can do that with a GUI in Windows. and what about all the people who arn’t computer savey enough to be able to USE a command line?”

FOSS evangilist: “Well then they shouldn’t be using a computer. Because they really don’t understand it.”

Now, this last line is rarely ever explicitly stated, it’s usually heavily implied, or hidden under a snicker of “well then they can use RedHat and pay for support.”

I think, more then anything, this has been the attitude that has turned me off of FOSS alternatives on principle. The same attitude is freely available through OS X users and if you want that illustrated look at those insulting and irritating “I’m an elitist MAC, here make fun of the tubby bland guy.”

The whole situation is tragic because there are some really good things out there, and I would be in much better straights as a developer if I were to install a good Ubuntu distro.

–Andrew

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