Old Reliable

may 14, 2007

Lets talk about a guy named Bob. Bob is your normal, average driver. He has an old car. He knows where all the buttons are and he knows what each one does. He knows how to operate this thing pretty well. Under the hood, he can even do some fixing. But, the fixing is very limited and Bob can't do all that he should be able to. Plus, in order to make his car run more efficient, he has to pay for a lot of third party parts.  The car doesn't run that well though. Years back, its top speed dropped to 25mph. And since he got the car a long time ago, it would just stop running at random times -- even when he was driving at top speed on a freeway. The alarm system on the car is broke and the doors don't lock. A few times, his car has been stolen and used in random crimes.  Bob did by a third party part to try to secure his system, but the criminals still continue to break in.  The manufacture of his car continues to have him call them and read them his VIN number, just to make sure that he is the owner of his own car. But, Bob is comfortable with his new car. Why would Bob need a new car anyways? There's one that is shiny, slick, and has buttons so candy-like you could lick them. This car is the car that all the cool people drive, made of a slick aluminum exterior and has a hood logo that shines white. Everyone stops to look at this car, it can do everything. Inside is a slick MP3 player with direct internet access to buy music. There's a DVD player and a digital movie player. The car can go 200mph and has two engines. The car never dies and runs for thousands of miles without having to restart. It also has a security system that is state-of-the-art and doors that lock. Service for the car is luxurious. The only thing with the slick car is that the engine is locked down, it will run forever, but a customer is not allowed to touch it -- that is fine though, since drivers of the slick car are not going to want to do that anyways. There's another car, not so shiny, it is actually a truck. It can do everything the slick car can do, but in a more rough fashion. But, this truck can do more than the slick car. You can get under hood and do whatever you like. You can take the engine out and take it all apart. You can change whatever you want in the whole car -- as long as you know what you're doing. The buttons in the truck are familiar, yet a bit different. They are very practical, but you can replace them with fancier buttons if you want. This truck is a workhorse and has a huge community around it, ready to help you out with any questions you have. The community is fanatical. There are some drawbacks though. With the truck, there are thousands of different models built using approximately the same parts. There are also two distinct types of models out there. The stable ones that you can drive for years and years without having to worry about parts. The other one is the unstable one in which you have to swap out all the parts of the truck every year since parts are not supported for more than a year. This truck is for the true automobile enthusiast. It runs hard and it runs reliable. There's no stopping this truck. This truck also goes 200mph and has as many engines in it as you want.  And the truck is very secure, its alarm system is sublime. But, why would Bob want a new car anyways? He's comfortable with his old car. He can live with driving only 25mph. He doesn't want to relearn where all the buttons are in the new cars, that is too much work for him. So, Bob will live with what he has, even though there is something new and better out there.  Bob will still continue to live in fear as criminals steal his car for other uses.  Bob will stil drive only 25mph as the new cars whiz by home.  Sure, Bob could upgrade his car and get all new shiny stuff for it.  But, then it is only a veneer for the old car, inside is the same old broken engine. Yes, this posting is not about cars. It is my way of venting my frustration at all the people in my Introduction to Unix class who continue to use Windows religiously because it is comfortable.  Complacency is saddening.