Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Buying reality

You reality is your own perception. If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck then.. you know. But what if all you see are ducks. Do you think you'd know a chicken if it walked by?
There is a point to this. I make a living from computers (big surprise). And I work with a people out from colleges who are making their first career jobs and people whose businesses are starting to break out from the local market. They all need computers and they all want to use the best at the least possible cost. Recommendations are big thing for me and my clients (and lately, even my suppliers) bring in people they know who can use my expertise. I use my own office setup to demonstrate some of the uses you can get from using open source solutions and Linux in particular. The thing I am getting used to is the response, "You can do that with a computer?" or "It can work like that?"
Thats what bothers me. It used to be the whiz bang stuff that gets them, then the free but high quality stuff (Mozilla, Gimp). But now the stuff that draw theses responses are down right trivial.
I pointed out to a potential client that he could set up a print queue and log all print jobs and the information of each job. He looked at me and point out that wasn't everybody just printing directly to the printer. If everyone could see the printer, couldn't they just bypass the queue? I walked to the printer and turned off SMB-based sharing via the control panel. The printer disappered from the network but I demonstrated that I could still print via the queue. He was bowled over. Seems that he has a problem with his workers printing on the expensive color laser printer after hours. At first he would disconnect the printer at about 5 but stopped that after salespeople complained of not being able to get color brochures printed for clients after hours. The growth in his company was directly the result of his sales staff being able to come in at odd hours and do work, so he couldn't deny their request. The notion of a print queue and the ability to turn off access to the printer (selectively by network protocol) never crossed his mind.
Do you see that? The solution had little to do with open source or Linux or anything new for that matter. Print queues have been around for ages. But what surprised me more was that when I mentioned this to a younger co-worker, he said that compared to what he saw at college (local community college), the stuff at the office was downright revolutionary. The free-flow mess of network and services on Windows networks at college was a stark contrast to the controlled environment at the office where everything just worked or that if it failed something else was waiting to back that up.
Which brings me back to the ducks. One of the problems with computing right now is the dominance of Windows and MS. All people see are Windows. Their sheer ubiquity has blinded a lot of people. They simply don't know any other way. And it if means having to live with unoptimised working environments that often is not productive, so be it. A recent report said that Gartner research says that desktop Linux won't be taking off (I have issues with that but to a certain degree agree that Linux has problems on office desktops). Maybe the case with that is that people don't know better. Maybe it's time to look over and think, "Fried chicked sounds good."

No comments:

Post a Comment

Recently Popular