Sunday, June 21, 2009

Chapter the Last of 'How Open Source Ruined My Life', or 'What am I gonna do with all these $%)(#^*% CDs?'

Back in the 90s I saw Larry Ellison on the TV talking about how much he hated the PC. He used those words: 'I hate the PC'. His problem with it: you have to go to the store and get software, then you go home and install it. It would be so much better if you could either download the code, or use a 'network computer', Larry's pet idea of the time.

Of course, around that time virtually everybody outside of industry and academia had dial-up modems, so even hearing a 10 second snippet of the Wu-Tang Clan required a good 10 or 20 minute wait. As for the Network Computer, that dog didn't hunt, although with the Cloud billowing up, the idea has some merit and may be coming back.

I didn't understand the software in physical form hate until I got a job where I was given an MSDN subscription. I got the job at a great time, b/c the new head of IT had just started, and he was spending money left and right, so anybody in sprinkler distance of the guy caught some of the overspray. Since I was a developer type, I got to have a nice double-monitor set-up, a monster desktop machine with a monster hard drive and monster fans that made noise like a monster jet, and an MSDN subscription. Like I said, I started during a really good window, as not long after that it was kind of like the Simpsons episode where Homer gets elected chief garbage man, and Springfield has the best sanitation service imaginable for the one week it takes Homer to piss away a year's budget. That episode featured the voice of Steve Martin as the original garbage man who Homer replaced.

I got right on the project of learning about Microsoft's 'ecosystem'. Specifically this meant the not-too-shabby language, C#, the nifty .NET framework, and in some cases the very shabby abomination that was VBScript. Oy vey. Every month, Microsoft sent me a nice packet in the mail of CDs, color coded to indicate were they O/S, Server software (e.g. SQL Server), or Development Tools. At first everything was lovely b/c there was some shiny new-ness, and I had plenty of drawer space, too.

Eventually I'd come to hate those fucking CDs, esp the 'MSDN library for June of 2003' or whatever. WTF was it, 1989? We don't have the internet for this kind of info? I had a nice CD folder that quickly filled up, so I had to tend to keeping that up to date like it was an extra job. Co-workers kept bugging me for freebies of MS software and I had to tell them to buzz off and get their own MSDN subscription, b/c I was a good MS citizen that way. I'm not gonna piss off Steve Ballmer by violating a license and have him make an example of me. Also, I'm not the fucking ice cream man of Microsoft software! I got shit to do!

Even worse, I started to experience a combination of the usual Microsoft rot and decay, accompanied by the MS geniuses' ADHD. 'Access databases like this. NO! Like this! Wait, here's how you really should! That previous version of .NET? What are you, one of those guys left on a Pacific Island who thinks WWII is still going on? Get with the program, Margaret.'

I grew weary of that quickly. I have always wanted to learn new things, but constantly learning new ways to do old and, let's face it, trivial things doesn't really get me jazzed. Wow, if I drag and drop this icon in my IDE I can READ data from the DATABASE? Holy fucking shit, don't tell the NSA about this or they'll shut you down for making this technology available to our enemies!

Additionally, since Homer dragged his feet on all efforts to get other developers suited up for MS greatness, including getting MSDN for them (as surely as I was buried in CDs and the telling ppl to leave me alone, in addition to other responsibilites, Homer was sucking on a fire-hose of tasks and complaints and general pleas to save the world by this time), I was stuck maintaining and modifying all this crap myself.

Being a not particularly negative (really!) type, I said fuck that, downloaded Eclipse for any Java Dev needs, started using Python for scripting (and virtually everything, actually - using Django after fucking with ASP.NET was like being allowed to use both of your arms to type after having to use only one), and let the MSDN subscription expire. And now everybody's happy, even Homer, b/c we never pester him to get us the software we'd need to do our job, if our job was to develop to the Microsoft ecosystem, which it absolutely, positively, is NOT. He and his crew are happy figuring out the ins and outs of Exchange Server from here to eternity.

So how did open source ruin my life in this case? Well, again, it set my bar of tolerance for MS's monkeyshines really low, possibly even lower than that of the EU. So my potential for making big bucks running around cleaning up the messes of .NET 'developers' who got too far outside of the corporate demo code comfort zone and made a godawful hash of things was DESTROYED! Curse you, RMS! Curse you, Linus! I weep for what could have been.

Actually, that's just some sunscreen that got in my eye. Never mind.

I'm gonna take a break from techy subjects now! That's enough! There is too much frivolity I've been neglecting.

1 comment:

joe positive said...

no, please keep posting about IT stuff. I need to remember why I left a paying career for a non-paying one.