Ramblings of a Professional Computer Geek

February 11, 2009

The “Microsoft Trained Brain Syndrome”

Filed under: Linux,Open Source,Windows — Padma @ 11:53 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

I ran across an article this morning, Linux Versus the Microsoft Trained Brain Syndrome.  I thought it made some very good points.

The problem is that people who have lived, worked, and played in a homogeneous Microsoft computing paradigm are lost and confused when they encounter a different paradigm. These people have only seen the flawed Microsoft ideology for how computing systems should work and so have a difficult time with more elegant systems based on Unix. They see the Linux system with its’ own paradigm and ideology and try to force it into the only paradigm they know, which is Microsoft’s. This will always cause the user problems.

For myself, the first computer I worked with, way back in the pre-MS 1970s, was an IBM mainframe, I think even older than the 360 series.  I wrote FORTRAN programs on it.  Later, the college got an IBM 360, with (gasp) time sharing teletype terminals.  No more card decks!  I taught myself BASIC on those.

Professionally, I started on Honeywell mainframes, which used card decks and then video terminals.  The terminals gradually got replaced by DOS-based systems running a vterm emulator, and then by Unix-based terminals, also running a vterm emulator.  Only when I was stationed in Italy in the mid-90s did I work primarily with Windows-based systems.  When I retired and returned to the States, my first jobs involved replacing the old mainframe software I used to work on with Unix-based distributed networks.  I then spent several years in a predominantly Windows-based environment, but gradually was able to transition to more-and-more Unix.  Today, in a new job, I spend most of my time ssh-ed into a variety of Unix and Linux servers, writing shell scripts, perl scripts, html pages, and other programs using vi/vim.

At home, I bought an Atari 400 back in the early 80s, and other Atari machines up through the 65XE.  While I was in Italy, my wife picked up a cheap 486 running Windows 3.1.  MS had made its inroad into my house.

For years, I was an MS apologist.  What they produced was inexpensive enough for the home market, and they provided standards for GUI use.  (Their own standards, but at least they were internally consistent.)  Besides, it was the type of system that pretty much anybody who used a computer had.  But I noticed things.  For Win 95, the standards changed.  Okay, 95 was a major GUI redesign.  But then they changed again for 98.  and for Me.  And for 2000.

I was also getting frustrated.  I’m a professional computer geek, for crying out loud!  I should be able to fix my problems.  But all I could do was click a button on the screen.  If that didn’t fix a problem, I could sit on the phone for hours with a Tech Support person, who would tell me to click that same button.  And when that didn’t work, tell me to try reinstalling Windows.

I started dabbling with Linux in 1998.  This was a paradigm I understood!  If clicking a button didn’t work as expected, I could check the data behind the scenes.  More importantly, I could even check the code that worked with the data!  In early 2003, I wiped my personal desktop clean, and installed only Linux.

My wife, though, still suffers from MTBS.  Both her laptop and her desktop run Windows (XP and Vista, respectively).  But she is slowly gaining the appreciation that Windows is not automatically “good”.  She never really liked XP, and Vista can make her want to tear her hair out.  But the “pain” of switching to Linux still outweaighs the “pain” of using Windows, for her.

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1 Comment »

  1. MTBS.. I like it! Among medical professionals this means Mild Traumatic Brain Syndrome.. the type of thing auto crashes, concussions, and other head injuries cause; it some how seems fitting.

    🙂

    Comment by travisn000 — February 16, 2009 @ 5:20 pm | Reply


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