I have discussed the Four Ts before so I will not reiterate today. By far the hardest of the four to teach is Thoughts, partly because it is close to one of those things that can only be learned, and partly because the teacher has an obligation not toimpose their acanonicals on their students. Nonetheless, occasionally professors would take time amidst a hectic (redundant?) lecture to offer tidbits of what transpires in the mind of a member of the discipline. I can recall one of my professors in graduate shul saying one spring day, “Physicists transcend correlation.”
This was his variation, for the discipline, of the old saw “correlation does not equal causation”, an his message was that what physicists do is to get down to causation. Cause and effect is, quite simply, one of the root things of science. It is also one of the things that certain disciplines do very poorly, operations research tends to be one of these, assuming correlation is causation and never asking questions aout actuality or whether the causation is uni- or bi-directional.
Anyway, this weekend I transcended correlation. The FireFox repository I subscribe to pushed out the new FireFox 5 and all of a sudden I didn’t have an executing browser any more. Try as I might, my FireFox would try to load and fail. Coincident with this I ran across an article [Link] in the Register about how Mozilla targets the individual user and MegaHard targets the organization. I found myself agreeing with the article but in an orthogonal azimuth to the tenor of poor abused organizations. I fear I, and probably Mozilla, have a Heinleinist attitude here. That is, stupidity is its own evolutionary reward. Winess Hillary Clinton and the Yankee government state department. Those who will not think for themselves abandon their humanity and accept slavery.
The transcendance of correlation is that by accepting a software client as a dependency we make ourselves captives, hence the title of this blot. To illustrate, back when I was working for Yankee government, I had to travel rather more than I liked or made sense, and some of the travel I had to do was to conferences. These conferences were often l=held in large, semi-isolated conference hotels. From the standpoint of a conference they were good, a comfortable hotel with good meeting facilities, and you could fly to the city they were in and take a shuttlebus to and from the hotel so you didn;t have to worry with a rental car. The problem was that while the cost of staying at the hotel was withing your daily limits, the cost of eating at the hotel was not – and you had nowhere else to go to eat. So you had to pay more for food than you could get reimbursed. And did I say that the food was overpriced. Supply and Demand.
Anyway, we called this Food Captivity. Because you were a captive of the hotel and either ate their overpriced food or starved.
Client Captivity is something similar. Because you become the cpative of a software client you have to maintain their standards for your computer and OS. The best example of this I can think of is MegaHard Office. Each of its components has a captivity factor: EXCEL has lots of feature- Visual asic, e.g. – that set it apart from other spreadsheets and if you use one of those features you just about have to use Windows. Similar situations exist with POWERPOINT and WORD although these captivities tend to be social and organizational rather than feature oriented even though both have too many such.
As I have commented previously, the more competent the user, the more likely they are to have this situation occur that there is at least one client they depend on that binds them to a set of hardware and software. Only the Zen User transcends his and routinely finds a way to get beyond the cloying slavery of clients.
When FireFox failed this weekend Isoon amassed a litany of notes of things that I depended on that browser for. Not all are browser functions, such as reminders. And yes, I could do the same with a calendar program but ReminderFox does it better. Despite all my efforts to wean myself off of EXCEL and SCIENTIFIC WORD and SIGMAPLOT and …., I found myself confronting a dependence on a client that was supposed to work regardless. FireFox after all is the browser jewel in the diadem of Linux, and it failed.
Anyway, long story made short, I am now running IceCat. It does enough of what I need until Mozilla fixes the FireFox problem and I – maybe – go back to FireFox. But as Goethe said. “that which does not kill us, makes us stronger” or maybe smarter?
The first step to freedom is recognizing what chains you are wearing.