Chris' Rant- by Chris Wenham

Holy War!

Can you continue your petty bickering? I find it most intriguing.
- Data, Star Trek - The Next Generation.

In a way, operating systems are like cults. People don't use them, they follow them, just because they like the OS and want something to crusade for. One of the primary activities of these cults is to bash the 'other OS'.

What may start out as petty bickering can actually blossom into intelligent, witty debate, or it can collapse into name calling. But y'know, whenever I've got into one, I've found it to be just plain fun. Man cannot thrive on tree-hugging alone, we need a bit of conflict, a cheerful punch on the other guy's nose, so have a good bash! This is a great way to let off steam, and y'know what else? It's educational too.

Yeah, lets feel good for a change. No I don't want to hear about layoffs at IBM or yet another windows gadget, I wanna feel good. I wanna shout about how great my system is and all the cool things it does. What I also wanna do is say how crappy the other guys is. Heh heh! Yeah go on, throw your best punch, I can take it. Y'know what, I'm just gonna load up a new web page, UUDecode these alt.binaries groups, start an FTP transfer, print a document, format a floppy, and do my bi-monthly hard disk defrag in the background while you wait for your computer to finish swapping so you can type your feeble "Oh yeah! Well you just wait!" type reply in IRC. Oops, Connection Reset by Peer. Haw haw! Maybe next time, buddy. Thbbbbbbbt!

It's a 'Tastes Great/Less Filling' shouting match for the 90's that's a few steps higher on the intellectual ladder.

Learn something from it

Didn't I say it was educational? It is, it really is. Look, when you've got a face to protect you're going to make sure your facts are up to date and correct, and guess what, so's the other guy. Once you get started you'll have your nose in the manuals, the magazines, the books. You're being driven by the animal instinct to get the better on your rival, and it is soooooo satisfying when you win.

You end up finding out more about your side as well as the other guy's side, and vice versa. Some guy points out that his gizmo has the plonk feature, and you pleasantly discover that your gizmo has the plonk feature AND the whoopsie feature. Mwah-hah! Gotcha! Nyah-nee-nah-nee-nyah-hah! And of course you go back to work with a couple of extra features at your disposal that you never knew were there before.

If you play the game smart you may learn more than just interesting facts about the products you use, you may also learn how to change yourself for the better. We're all human, so no matter how hard we try not to we're bound to make mistakes. A classic human flaw is the inability to take criticism, and having cold water splashed in your face is one way to correct that flaw. Learn how to admit that you're wrong, because in the long run you'll be a much stronger person. You'll also serve as a role model to others who see your strength and seek to emulate it. Imitation is the highest form of flattery after all.

Moderation, Moderation, Moderation.

But take it easy, wontcha? Some people I've seen aren't advocates, they're 'Freds'.

Lemme tell you about Fred. Fred is my pet dog, a cross-breed/mongrel/mutt type woof. He's getting old now and his eyesight is really bad, not to mention his hearing. What Fred does, which is really funny to watch, is what I call 'clockwork woofing'.

He starts barking, and as he does so he starts to slowly trot down the hill wagging his tail furiously. Wag-woof-wag-walk-wag-woof -bark-wag-walk-woof-wag on and on and on down the hill, his body swinging to-and-fro as his tail seems to wag him instead. He looks like a clockwork toy, slowly winding down. Eventually he gives up and meekly trots back to the house.

Now I compare this to some operating system 'advocates'. They march through the newsgroups or IRC channels or wherever, chugging along barking "OS/2 Sucks! Win Rools!" and gradually winding down as they run out of steam. Chug-flame-shout-FUD-chug- woof-wag-bash-chug on and on and on. This isn't debate, this isn't argument or advocacy, it's clockwork woofing! Bah, ignore them, don't even reply and give them the satisfaction of being woofed back at. They just want acknowledgement and recognition from who they foolishly consider to be their 'peers'. They go away eventually when they get no response.

Don't become a rabid fanatic either, they're no fun at all. Not everyone wants to know about what does or doesn't suck, or even cares that they could be working better.

Take it to where it belongs

Starting a holy war right where people are quietly trying to get information is not very polite. If something smells as if it's brewing, invite the interested parties to a separate newsgroup or channel or whatever. In the right kind of arena you can cultivate all the good things that go with debate - learning, unwinding, having fun, feeling good etc. etc.

Feel Good

That's really the point of it you see, to feel good. We feel good when we feel that our platform is secure and has a future. Well it does! You won't feel good if you let the other guy get to you though, so don't! Don't let him get to you. Remember that the battleground is even, each OS has its fair share of advantages and disadvantages. You chose yours because the advantages were important enough and the disadvantages unimportant enough.

If you find that you can't carry on and still feel good about it, then get out! You don't have to be another soldier in the army of advocacy if you don't want to, you can go back to your work and relax and feel good in other ways.

So let's get going boys and girls! Arm the cannons! Raise the bayonets! Windoze Sucks! OS/2 Rools! CHEEAAARRRRGGGGEEEE!!!!

End of rant.

If you are still in the mood for Chris Wenham's ranting, then check out his home page.

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