While working with another package, I stumbled across a relatively new program for Linux called DVDisaster. What it does, effectively, is add ECC information to DVD images so that if you have media errors at some later date, you can run it again and reconstruct the original image.
I’ve checked it out and run my own tests, and it seems to be a good deal for what it does. For right now, I’m using it to augment my present data backup policy: two copies burned on DVD and stored at different locations. It seems to me that it’s cheap protection against minor media dropouts.
I keep hearing people complain about the usability of Linux as it compares to the usability of Windows or MacOS. The common complaint is that computers should be easy – even windows users complain that computers should “just work”. In response to this, I am asking my own question – do you want your computer to be a toaster or a lathe?
Toasters are easy. They do one thing – heat up slices of bread that you stick into them when you push the button. All you have to do is decide how much to heat things up, load your bread, push the button and wait. Very simple, very easy, and very limited. You can’t do much with a toaster other than what its designers anticipated. Ease of use — 10, Flexibility — 1.
A modern metal cutting lathe is an entirely different matter. It takes a great deal of training to accomplish anything but the simplest tasks, and even simple work requires understanding the work, the machine, and the underlying process on a fairly deep level. It takes years to learn to use one well. Even after a great deal of training, some users are still far more capable than others. Ease of use — 1 Flexibility — 10.
Modern computers are diverging right now. One one end, products like Amazon’s Kindle, Apple’s IPad and Barnes and Noble’s Nook are heading in the direction of toasters. They’re simpler and easier to use. They are also locked down and limited. One the other end are netbooks, Google’s Android platform and other similar tools. These are unlocked, a bit more difficult to use, and endlessly flexible.
Underneath the skin, these are all “general purpose computers”. Some say that locking something like the IPad down as much as it is is a bad decision. I disagree. Today’s computing ecosystem has room for both lathes and toasters. I think it always will. There will always be a group of people who are more comfortable with single use devices for some jobs. There will always be others who find them too limited and/or confining. This is officially OK. There’s more than one way to be human.
I just finished taking a long time off from politics. It wasn’t a complete break, but it was fairly close. I did work for the Obama campaign a little bit, but that was really the exception that proved the rule…
This period coincided with a series of very large changes in my life. My health is better, I have moved into my own home, and I’m fixing it up. I’ve been spending more time outdoors, and studying Permaculture, water harvesting and organic gardening. Ive stepped far enough back to get some perspective and lose some of the anger and victim-conciousness. I think all these things are good.
I’m back to blogging. I made a bunch of changes to the back-end of this system, and put the blog on its own sub-domain. Watch this space for new developments