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Hi, everyone. Leo Notenboom here for askleo.com. I have referred to myself as being “platform agnostic” a number of times over the years, and I want to talk a little bit about how I got here and what it really means.
As you may or may not know, I use all major different platforms. I’m currently staring at the camera sitting on top of my Mac; I have Windows machines; I have Linux servers; I even fired up a Chrome operating system for a Chromebook for the first time this morning to see what it was all about, and it looks pretty interesting.
So as you can imagine, I find all of these different platforms really interesting, and I enjoy playing with each of them for what it is they do for me. I hear regularly from people that I will call “platform zealots”: people who feel specifically that their platform, their favorite platform is the only platform that people should be using – period.
And that usually comes from either of two directions: Either they are so enamored with the platform that they don’t quite understand that the other platforms can do some of the same things, or they are so anti-some-other-platform, so as to let that cloud their judgment, again, about what that platform may or may not be useful for.
Usually the anti-platform scenario has to do as much with I’ll just say “policies and business practices and politics” as it does with technology, although there are definitely technology issues pro and con for every platform that there might be.
So what’s interesting about it is that each one of these zealots regardless of how they get there will tell you that other platforms suck (to put it bluntly). Other platforms can’t do whatever it is they enjoy doing on their platform. And I find that really, really interesting, because to me, it’s really clear. They don’t suck. They’re fine platforms.
All of them have really, really – all of them are really, really capable. They’re really, really good, and what’s really telling is that each of the major platforms: Microsoft Windows, Apple’s Mac OS, Linux, Google Chrome, even Windows 10 right now has a really, really passionate, happy user base.
There are people who are very, very happy with each of these platforms that they use every day. Now I realize that with Windows 10, it’s a good example of how things get muddy, because what people are most upset about is how it was delivered.
But in fact, Windows 10, a lot of people, once they get it installed, once they understand what it’s about, they’re very, very happy with it. And yet you’ll find tons and tons of people who will say, well no, Windows 10 sucks or Windows 8 sucks or Mac OS or Linux sucks, I can’t understand it.
You get the idea. There’s a lot of different opinions about each one, but those opinions while they feel absolute to the individual, in practice, they’re not. All of these platforms are good. All of these platforms have their pros and cons. What I find is that people tend to get mired in the details, that they will find themselves annoyed at what ultimately are little differences.
They can by annoying differences, don’t get me wrong, but they will be little differences in how a platform operates as compared to a platform they are more comfortable with. Now, what I stumble into all of the time when I switch from Windows to Mac is that the control and command keys are two different keys on the keyboard, but they’re used in roughly the same way.
So for example, on a PC, I might use Control C and Control V to do a copy/paste, whereas on my Mac I have to a remind a Command C and a Command V. That also brings up something else that’s really, really interesting, again to me, and that is that the fundamental concept we’re talking about here, they’re actually all the same across all of these platforms, be it files and folders or copy/paste or any number of different things.
They’re the same concepts; they’re exactly the same concepts. They’re just exposed in slightly different ways. So, how did I get here? How did I end up becoming someone who is so comfortable using all these different platforms? Part of is innate. I like to play with technology; it’s what I do; it’s what gets me out of bed in the morning.
As you might imagine, after working at Microsoft for as long as I did, I left there with a fair amount of Windows and MS-DOS and command line expertise, even using the Windows-based web services, IIS for a few things that I played with while I was there.
What’s ironic about my time at Microsoft is that the day I showed up, literally the very first day that I showed up at Microsoft, I was given my email account, and that email account happened to be on a Xenix server. Well Xenix is one of the predecessors, it’s an offshoot of Unix which is a predecessor to Linux .
So in reality, the very first thing I played with at Microsoft was a predecessor to Linux. Now, when I went to do Ask Leo! after leaving Microsoft, when I went to do Ask Leo! at around 2003, I elected to start using Linux for my web server for a couple of different reasons. One, it was cheaper. It didn’t have the same licensing issues that you do when end up purchasing Windows.
It’s also, in my opinion, it’s a little bit lighter weight; it’s a little bit more efficient at doing web services, but it was also, like I said, an opportunity for me to learn more about something else that other people were using as well, and I had a lot of support for that, and by support, I mean people that I was interacting with who were able to help me with getting on board using my Linux web servers.
So, today even, askleo.com is, in fact, running a Linux variant to serve up the web pages and hopefully the web page you’re looking at right now. In addition, I’ve been using Linux here at home. It’s a great way to extend the life of some older hardware.
My old desktop machine currently sits in the basement running Linux Mint. It has I think about 6 or 7 external hard disks attached to it and that’s what I’m using it for. It is connected on my local area network as a form network attached storage. It’s a great way to keep that machine productive for longer, because Linux generally can be configured to be less resource intensive, and I’m less concerned about some of the more modern, some of the requirements of the more modern versions of Windows.
So it’s a great way to reuse it, and if there’s something I want to play with in Linux, I’ve got that machine, I can go do that. The Mac came to me a different way. I’d not used a Mac for a long, long time. I mean years, I had never, ever touched a Mac, and I became aware of a feature in some video editing software that was available only on the Mac.
The feature is one that allows you to synchronize multiple videos taken of the same event in such a way it’s like you had multiple cameras going into the same mixing board, and you were doing all of the different things to do multiple camera angles on the same event, except that the different cameras could be cell phones or video cameras or even just plain audio recording.
In fact, many of the other videos that I do, I actually use that technique. I will be recording using a camera, the video, but then I will actually be recording the audio using a pocket voice recorder or audio recorder, and then I will synchronize those two streams in the software on my Mac.
So that feature caused me to want Final Cut Pro, the software that had it at the time, and that caused me to need a Mac so I got a MacBook laptop to play with to learn how to do that kind of thing, and since that worked for me and worked well for me, I then moved on and my desktop machine is a Mac Pro, a twelve core Mac Pro. I got that machine specifically so that I could do more video editing more quickly and run virtual machines.
I actually run Windows in virtual machines on my Mac Pro. Right now, in fact, there’s a Windows 10 machine sitting here in a window, and it’s a machine where I wrote the notes that I’m using to record this video. Now, again, a little bit of irony: in that while these are my first Macs, I never used a Macintosh until I experienced needing that Final Cut Pro, my very first computer, the very first computer I ever owned myself was an Apple II, so what goes around, comes around in a lot of different ways.
The bottom line for me is that computers, as powerful and as wonderful as they are, are just tools. Platforms are just the way you use a particular tool. Now, obviously I enjoy using all of these different platforms and all of these different tools to do all sorts of different things.
I understand getting passionate about tools, about the tools you enjoy using, but all too often, I see that passion getting in the way of opportunities and getting in the way of perhaps being more productive or just generally being happier, because that passion is excluding you from looking at other possibilities.
Now, of course, I really enjoy this stuff, and I get that perhaps I enjoy it more than most, but to me, it’s really awesome to see all of these different things at my finger tips, to be able to record and publish videos, to be able to write the articles that I do, to be able to connect with so many people that I am able to connect with across all of these different platforms, across all of these different technologies.
Who knows what tomorrow’s going to bring? I really don’t know, and I really, really am excited by the possibilities, but the possibilities aren’t restricted to a platform. Who knows what my desktop machine will be in five years. It may be something that hasn’t been invented yet. We just don’t know, and I’m open to that possibility, because I’m platform agnostic.
So, here’s my question for you: “What’s your philosophy on platforms?” Are you a platform zealot? Are you platform agnostic? Do you have a specific platform that you love? Do you have a specific platform that you cannot stand? Why? Do you have specific platform that you have, I’ll just say a moral opposition to and again, why?
I’d love to hear these different views, these different ideas as to how and why people arrive at the platforms and the decision and the feelings that they do when it comes to them.
As always, if you’re watching this anywhere but on askleo.com, here’s a link to this article. You’ll find it there. As always, I read all of the comments that are posted there. The comments are moderated to keep the trolls out, but other than that, disagree with me all you want. I love disagreement. I learn a lot from disagreement, but what I would really, really love to hear about are your experiences with different platforms and how they have and have not impacted your ability to get done what you need to get done.
So until next week, I’m Leo Notenboom for askleo.com. Remember, have fun, stay safe and don’t forget to back up. Take care.
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63 comments on “What It Means to be “Platform Agnostic””
I started with windows 3.1, and have drifted through the various windows since then. As soon as I found out I could sign on to a windows review team, I did so with Windows 10. It is almost the only one I use now. I have various machines with win 7, XP, and 8.1 because I help other people repair their computers, and I need to get into their version of windows and see if I can help them.
I’ve played around with Linux, but cannot seem to get my head wrapped around how to use it successfully. I’m an experimenter, I am willing to try a new program out, and if I butcher my OS, I go to my backup disk and reload. No problemo!
But still can’t figure out how to do that in Linux. Maybe some day they will print a book, “Linux for Dummies.” I need one.
Yes I also have been around since the days of the good old floppy disks. Linux is a diferrent flavor all together. Since you have keyboard skills since the black screen and using the command line to get around from way back when. Linux should come some what more easy to use. Although there are alot of different distributions out there. Linux Mint ,Ubuntu, my favorite was Fedora Core. I guess its all up to what you want to do with your linux computer. As for free well thats the awesome part being open source. There are many forums to join all related to which flavour you pick. Linux for dummies is also out there !! Leo I beleive also uses Linux server.
H#!/bin/bash echo Hello World
Yep. As mentioned in the video, Ask Leo! runs on Linux. (Centos, to be specific about the distribution. :-) )
I started in 1984 with one of the 1st IBM clone machines. It had 2 360 floppies, a 5mg Hard drove, 640gbs memory running at 4mbs, but it could be turboed to 8mbs. the OS was PCDOS 1.0 and had Lotus 123 & Satellite Systems Software (the original Word Perfect on 6 floppies, that I still have), complete with a 14″ amber monitor and a 9 pin dot matrix printer and it only cost $3500.00! My main machine today is an Intel NUC i5 with a 250gb SSD and 8gigs memory. I’ve had it for a little over a year now and NUC’s don’t come with an OS, so I put Linux on it. I’m presently running Linux Mint 18 Mate. I relegated my Win7 HP desktop to the garage where it resides with a 12 year old Sony VAIO pentium4 desktop that has 12 Linux distro’s on the 320mb HDD. Great fun for a 79 year old.
Yes, after I posted, I got to thinking there must be a dummies book for Linux. Good old Google! I found several pdf help files, downloaded a fresh distribution and will start playing again with an “extra” computer. Life can be so enjoyable when you are in your mid eighties.
Life is enjoyable in your fifties, Bill! That’s why I have vintage bikes and stereo equipment as well. Nobody comes here to see blinky blue lights playing ABBA tho, so I have to meet the world on my bikes.
PS Only transportation I own.
I keep PCs to the smallest amount of time I can or I find my rear gets stiff in an office chair.
I’m also a romanian ” Old Man At 50″…..but it seems like the time and knowledges was passing beside me….until few years ago when I went to read for first time “Ask Leo!”….and today I proposed to backup my folder with “tricks and tips” about Windows 7, and finally to make a clean instalation of a Linux distro on my 10 yo Toshiba laptop.Now I have a Medion Akoya with Windows 10, good, fine, works, rulllz.
I am honored to read Leo…and like an agnostic said “God give us meet that beautiful world in which we all have idea what to do with our devices and tools”. Peace!
Hi Leo, Would you consider writing an article about Chromebooks please?
I’ve considered it some, but I tend to respond to audience demand and market share. By that I mean that I serve the most people by writing about what most people use or encounter. That’s not to say I don’t stray – I do – but that’s my rule of thumb. What I want to see w.r.t. Chromebooks is the impact of opening the Google Play Store to them – I could see that being very powerful, but I’m concerned about security ramifications.
I’m a mostly Windows user. It seems like there is always one application or something which compels me to to use it as my main platform. I’ve installed Linux Mint on several other people’s older computers to revitalize them when they got too sluggish running Windows. I’m also very happy with Windows 10. I find it a little better than Windows 7 & 8. As for the policy decisions, many of them make me strongly dislike the company. One feature in Windows 8 which I can’t in any way understand is their update policy. For example, last week I turned on my computer for work to use teaching a class. There was a message to the effect of, Your computer is going to restart in 4 minutes and 35 seconds, whether you like it or not, and there’s nothing you can do about it. I though, there is something to do about it, and I went in to updates and told Windows to download the updates only and let me decide when to install them. Unfortunately, that setting didn’t apply to the update it was trying to install, and my computer shut down anyway. I was able to work around this but doing something else for the 40 minutes it took to install the updates. There is probably a way to stall the shutdown, but not making it clear how to do it is just as bad as not having a way.
That got me to thinking: What if I was in the middle of making a presentation to an important client in a limited amount of time? I know other things can mess up a presentation, and as a friend who does presentations for a living taught me, you should always have a plan B, like a set of transparencies with a copy of your slides, but this still doesn’t excuse Microsoft. This problem must be affecting literally millions of users. They must have gotten thousands, if not millions, of complaints (if you count complaints on forums) yet still the problem persists. MS needs a team to analyze all of the complaints, including those which are scattered on forums on the web.
So I’m a kind of love the product, hate the producer kind of person when it comes to Microsoft. My next computer will probably be a Mac, mostly for music and video editing capabilities. I can keep my Windows PCs for what I need them for and probably have a less frustrating experience.
“There is probably a way to stall the shutdown.” – There is:
Thanks. But no thanks to Microsoft. All they had to do was put in a postpone button where you get to specify the restart time. They seem to have very little idea how people use their products.
Every application that requires a reboot-after-update gives me either (1) “press yes to reboot now, or no if you will reboot later”, or (2) a “postpone for X amount of time and ask again”.
I believe that only the Windows O/S itself has ever told me “rebooting in X minutes” without a postpone/cancel option. Extremely irritating when you’re running some long operation that will take more than X minutes to complete, and will need to be restarted from scratch if cancelled.
Now that I’ve changed my computer to download updates but let me choose when to install them, I just get a message to update when I log on to Windows. Changing that setting wasn’t enough to stop the scheduled reboot, but it stopped the reboot after that. That should be the default. Win 7 used to let me postpone it up to 4 hours, which would have been fine in my case, but wouldn’t work with a more than 4 hour unattended process.
I had that automatic restart problem with Win 95. Then I read a tip for Win 98 on changing the Update to download critical OS and other MS products updates, but let me decide when to install them. The default on that option is to install the updates when the computer is shut down. I have used this same method to control updates for XP, 7, 8, 8.1, and now 10.
I have seen this technique outlined multiple times on many tip sites over the years. It seems to get posted several times for each new version of Windows. It was covered quite extensively on how to stop the Upgrade To Windows 10 campaign.
I have never been able to find any option where you can schedule Windows update to run on shutdown.
I still use Windows 7, and, (as far as I can see), if you want to use fully automatic updates, you are obliged to choose a specific time, (e.g., 3:00am, which seems to be the default), and there is no other option available, (e.g., “On Shutdown”).
I have used Windows 8 and 10 briefly, and I haven’t needed to explore the available options for automatic updates, so, if anyone knows if there is an “Update on Shutdown” option in Windows 8 or 10, I would be very interested to hear about it.
If the upgrade has been downloaded and set to install, a normal shutdown and start should cause the computer to be updated automatically.
I did exactly that when my machine told me it was shutting down. Unfortunately, that didn’t kick in until the next scheduled update. My question is, How can a company with some of the brightest programmers have so little intuition as to what people really want and need. That was the genius of Steve Jobs. He knew how users interacted with technology. Microsoft needs to hire technological psychologists who can determine how people interact with computers. That would either be people like Jobs who understood it instinctively, or researchers to determine those things. Unfortunately, I think they do the latter, but they need to listen more to the feedback. I remember reading a lot of criticism about some of the things people hated about Win 8 & 10 during the Beta testing, You’d think Microsoft designers would have paid attention.
My take is that the “average consumer” or individual is not truly the target market – large corporations and businesses are.
That’s an argument for Apple. They seem to put a lot of effort into the consumer market.
You planted the seed when I queried about my 5 gig limited data dilemma suggesting Mint. I did some searching and found PCLinuxOS and installed Full Monte 64 on an added drive. I liked it but this was very new territory and my data was not going to support it. The forum suggested the bare minimum Minime and build from there. My i52500K 8 ram 64 now has PClos on a 640 drive, Win 10 on the MS hijacked 1 tb former Win 7 which was cloned to another 500 gig drive just prior to the hijack (it is never online). After some months I now feel very comfortable with Linux which I just installed on my laptop after blowing Vista. Backup is very easy. You create an ISO with MyLiveGDK then burn a DVD with K3b. That is just how I moved my install from an 80 to the 640 drive. All your documents can be stored on USB drives but Linux can read and open files in the Windows drives so I can store there or add to Win documents. If my data won’t support Win 10 which I use little I can blow it too. Anyone can change if an 81er with but a dozen years of computer use can.
I cut my teeth on DOS and every so often I’ll still go to the command line and use one of the old DOS command. Under certain circumstances, it can be more efficient. (eg: sometimes I can’t delete a “system file” even though I really don’t need it — but it seems to work in DOS).
Anyway, I have a couple of Chromebooks and really use them a lot. They are ideal for checking email and web surfing. I’m writing this on a Chromebook (I prefer my Windows laptop for spreadsheets and word processing as I use my own favorite programs for that).
Leo — there seems to be very little commentary regarding Chromebooks, so I would welcome an article from you on it. So, I second the previous request!
Currently I’m awaiting the appearance of the Google Play Store on Chromebook – I think that’ll change the landscape dramatically.
FWIW, I think Win 7 is the best OS ever and, approaching 70, one I’ll try to keep using to the grave. Everything I need is there, and everything is well laid out.
Win 10 may be better in ways that escape me. I do know the square boxes all over the desktop are of no value to me. Fortunately, a little free program, Classic Shell, brings the Start menu back to Win 10, so my wife is a happy camper on her computer.
I was at a neighbor’s house trying to copy some photos from his MAC to my flash drive. He couldn’t make it happen. Nothing wrong with his computer or my flash drive; just operator incompetence. If he’d had a Windows machine, I — and a gazillion others — would have been able to help him. He knew nobody to call. Much as I tried on his computer, simple drag-and-drop wouldn’t work. And he paid twice as much for his computer, twice as much for the privilege of being confused by a simple process.
Uh oh, I’m starting to rant. Better stop before I start foaming at the mouth.
— Steve (whose first OS was DOS 6)
Excellent article Leo about computer platforms. I am definitely not a platform zealot. I am a retired chemistry teacher doing computer tech support on a part time basis. I started out with computers back in the early 80’s…in the days of IBM clone PCs and MSDOS. Over the years I have purchased/built several computers. About 15 years ago I ventured into the Apple world by purchasing and using a MacBook Pro laptop, an iMac, an IPad and more recently an iPhone. The main reason for doing this is that many of my clients were asking me to show them how to solve problems with an Apple device or show them how to do something with an Apple device. I quickly came to the conclusion that I had to own and play with these devices in order to meet these requests. On balance, there is very little difference between the Microsoft platform…Windows and the Apple platform…OSX or iOS. A computer is a computer. However, I will make two points in this regard…your comment about control C and control V versus command C and command V is different and is one that users of Apple platforms need to be aware of because it is so useful, and also, the opportunity to explore beneath the layers of the OS appears to be much easier with a PC. That may well be because Apple has decided to keep powerful commands not that easily accessible for the normal/average user. Keep up the good work with your writings on the website. Thanks, Richard
I started with Win 95, skipped 98, 2000 and ME, then embraced XP. From a business standpoint, I well understand Microsoft’s model of continually marketing later versions of Windows. Personally, though, I’m a fan of the old adage that “If it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it.” I may someday be forced to the version of the day, but for now XP works fine for me. In addition, to the best of my knowledge I’ve never heard anyone comment that XP sucks.
When XP first came out, I was very familiar with 98SE. My gripe with XP was that it hid all the important settings, etc.
I think I uttered ‘XP sucks’ more than once. :) Of course, I eventually learned, accepted, and liked that OS.
I’ve been a Windows user all along. I’m quite happy with the Win 10 Pro upgrade from Win 7 Pro, which left me with my desktop exactly the same as it had been. I’m still getting used to the different names for things and sometimes have to search around a bit. But it’s not that annoying. I have colleagues who are devoted Mac users who have encouraged me to switch. I have thought about it, but every time I had to get a new laptop (seems to have been about every 4 years, though I’m on 6 years with the present one), I’ve been in the middle of a big project. I couldn’t face the learning curve for a new OS when under time pressure to get things done. It would have been lovely if I had the time (and money!) to spend just playing around with different systems, but such was not the case. Call me a satisfied Windows user who’s not anti anything.
I’m not AGNOSTIC, I’ve just got 20 years of stuff and don’t need or care to change to next year’s model just because it has ‘bigger tailfins’.
By agnostic, if you imply I don’t use something because I actually tried it and wasn’t thrilled, lock me away.
There is a difference. I don’t have the money and time to deal with utter nonsense, unless I find it necessary.
Right now I have what was necessary to me, and I keep it up.
I paid for it as well. Always look a gift program in the mouth.
The tool you know how to use is always better than the one you don’t know how to use. Is it fair to say that most users are better off picking a single platform and learning to use it well rather than trying to master multiple platforms and picking the one that is best for the task at hand?
The related problem is one that software vendors seem to ignore: Changing the user interface instantly takes millions of experts and turns them into novices. If there are a billion Windows users out there, doing something that makes each user spend 5 minutes to figure out the change translates into more than 8 million hours of lost productivity. The idea that the new way is so much better than the old way is, too often, wishful thinking.
Which also ties in to Mark Jacobs’ comments: “We know better.” We know better than you that this update has to be installed RIGHT NOW. We know that changing a feature that has worked the same way for 30 years is better. I’m in no means singling out Microsoft. It seems that the bigger a software company gets, the more they are convinced of their own infallibility… (It’s even an attitude that Leo has endorsed. I cringe every time I read that Microsoft’s engineers know better, so we should all let Microsoft update our systems any way they see fit.)
Hi Leo, I started with a Commodore C64 and then moved to a Mac. The C64 actually had a OS called Geos that was similar to the Mac. Since then I now have a PC that I built running Windows 10 and Ubuntu and my favorite computer a MacBook Air. Like you I enjoy keeping up with other platforms but have always found the Mac to be the best in terms of it just works.
I am a dedicated Windows user for the 20 years that I have been using a computer, not so much because I love the platform, but for the simple reason that when I bought my first personal computer, everyone because I knew had a PC. I didn’t even know what a Mac was. Back then, I wasn’t even sure what I would do with a personal computer. I was in my mid forties then. People said that they paid their bills with theirs. I wondered why they just didn’t use their checkbook.
Then, my new workplace used a proprietary system coupled with the PC platform. I was totally lost, but I had no choice but to catch up, I stayed with Windows because that’s what I know (sort of). Like you, I view the computer as a tool. I poked my nose into both Linux and Mac, but ultimately decided that neither one was necessary. There was a Windows version of everything that I need to do. Learning a new system to do the things that I am already doing would be a poor use of my time at this stage of my life.
That’s why I use Windows. I have no great love of the platform. There have been many days that I cursed it to hell, but it has a huge advantage over the other two: it’s already here. For the most part I manage. I’m not sure that’s the kind of reason that you’re looking for, but I am a subscriber to your excellent information, so there you have it. my guess is that relatively few of your readers would respond like that, but a small percentage might be a fairly large number.
I dual boot Windows Vista and Linux Ubuntu-Mate. I switch Linux distros often, for fun. I maintain a few Windows 10 and 7 machines for family, and sometimes install Linux on old XP machines for people at the senior center.
The only OS I’ve been unsuccessful installing, is BSD, Berkeley Software Dist., which is similar to Linux. A few minutes ago, I looked up BSD, and found some info which is new to me, so I guess I’ll try again.
I think my point is that they can all be useful and enjoyable.
I am a young 75 yr.old who likes to tinker or experiment if you will.
my current computers are quad core PC i built with win 10, laptop with Suse linux, Chromebook, laptop with win xp ,2 more dell pc dual boot xp & linux also have had iphones now last two samsung galaxy 4 & 6 android which is much preferred over I os for me.
I suppose that makes me clearly agnostic.
My introduction to personal computers came around the mid-80s when the company I worked for started putting IBM PCs throughout the workplace. I saw PCs go from hard drive-less computers using 5.25 floppies and monochrome monitors to what they are today.
There were a sprinkling of zealots from “the other camp” throughout the workforce. Some were even harassing. It was these people who put something of a bad taste in my mouth for alternatives to PCs and Windows.
I have never owned a Mac. Knowing what I know about the Mac and the people at Apple, Macintoshes have got to be superb machines—maybe in at least some ways “better” than the alternatives—but not to a degree that would make me consider switching. There was a time when the Mac users I know asserted that Macs were impervious to hacking and such because they were inherently superior to anything else. Well, we know better now, don’t we?
I’m not an “agnostic” because I am a true believer in what I use. But never have I for a moment felt compelled to elevate my feelings to the level of a faith.
Computers are wonderful, useful machines—one of man’s greatest technological accomplishments. What I would really like to see is a completely unbiased and objective side-by-side comparison of Macs and PCs.
Ah… A bunch of “newcomers” commenting here. :-)
I started using computers back in the early 1970’s, when all we had was a Teletype and a phone line to an HP mainframe computer half-way across the county. The first computer I got to actually touch was a TRS-80 Model I. And, like you, the first computer I bought was an Apple ][.
I’ve been using MS-DOS since “PC-DOS 1.0” on the IBM-PC. I’ve been using Unix-like systems since TRS-Xenix (Tandy’s version of Xenix, which I believe was from Microsoft at the time). We also had one of the original Macintosh computers at work. I programmed on a “Mac-XL” at one point.
My own computer is a Windows 8.1 laptop, but I use (and program on) several SCO Unix flavors, several Linux flavors, as well as a couple of FreeBSD systems. Except for my local Windows box, almost all of the systems are actually VMs, running either locally, or on one of my company’s servers.
Each platform has its strong points. Windows’ weak point (for me, anyway) used to be it’s very basic “command.com” command line interface. Microsoft has improved this over the years, and the current “cmd.exe” interface is almost up to par with what I need to do on Linux.
Leo, Your question brings to mind my high school days (late 60s) when we used to discuss motorcycles. Everyone had an unshakable opinion about the best and worst. In the midst of one of these discussions a guy said, “What are you arguing about? Whatever one you ride and get used to is the one you’ll like best.” That bit of wisdom was a real downer to a spirited conversation, but it’s a great analog to the computer platform question.
My first computers, in the early 90s, were hand-me-downs from other folks’ upgrades — they were, first an IBM (a 5150 I think, with two 5 1/4″ floppies to run it) and then Windows PCs, starting with 2.something. That’s what I learned on, got used to, and then bought when I was ready to take the plunge, so I’ve been using Windows almost since the beginning. If my first computers had been Macs, I’d probably be a Mac user now.
By all accounts, Windows 10 is a good OS, generally well reviewed (at least by those whose changeover has been smooth… and voluntary), but Microsoft has lost my trust in the way the rollout has been conducted. I consider it serious enough that I’ll keep my Win7 machine going as long as I can, but then decide between Linux and Mac. I suspect Mac will win out, mostly because of the similarities to Widows — I don’t want to start over from the beginning.
So, I’m neither a true believer nor a hater. I just want a machine that does what I want it to. I guess that qualifies me as agnostic.
I agree with you on working in different platforms. I like trying different ones, but stick to the ones that I’m use to using.
I use chrome as my browser because I don’t care for bing as my search engine.
I gave in and upgraded to windows 10 and like it just fine despite all the hype (now that the dreaded blue screen popping up everyday, went away. I don’t understand why that happened and how it corrected itself?)
I installed Linux mint on my laptop, because of the XP scare and like it fine but still have some programs that won’t run in windows 7 so I kept XP (on the laptop too) so I can use the older programs.
I don’t have anyway near your knowledge of computers but I like trying to learn how to use different platforms.
Thanks for your videos and keep them coming.
HI Jerry we could start another war on browsers I use chrome but my search engine is bing because I have found it more accurate in searches as google these days is more interested in the almighty dollar and the more you pay the more your website goes up the page ranking .
I use Chrome largely because of the ease with which one can create shortcuts and save images. I find interesting your comment about Google’s elevation of websites’ page rankings—I’ll have to try Bing for a while.
Google claims they don’t push ratings up on websites which pay them. I tend to believe that, because doing something like that could ruin their credibility and in turn kill their company. What the do is place s few ads at the top of the search, but those are marked as ads. As for the accuracy of search results, I’ve read that Bing’s results are very good and in some cases may be better than Google’s. I’m search engine agnostic :-)
“I use chrome as my browser because I don’t care for bing as my search engine.” – Afraid that doesn’t track – you can change search engines in other browsers.
I started with Apple II using a tape recorder as my data storage device when I typed in a program. . I moved along in the Apple world as it progressed and became a cutting edge elementary school tech teacher. Our first lab had shared printers, meaning I unplugged the printer between two computers as necessary and plugged it into the other computer to print. The Apple Zealots lost the war in our district and I was dumped into the Microsoft world where I remained for many years, even using Windows at home so that the transition to work would be seamless. I eventually switched back to Apple for my home use as files became easier to transfer between operating systems and as I found I could and sometimes did fix Windows problems in my sleep. I am now totally Apple–Mac Laptop Pro, iPad, and iPhone. It works nicely to have them all work together. When there is a program in the house that absolutely must have Windows, we use my husband’s Mac Desktop Pro with Parallels. My two take aways from an adult life of computers–no OS is published as bug free as it should be and a person’s favorite OS is usually the one they are most comfortable using and know the most about. Change is not always easy. I personally don’t like the newer Windows OS’s because I don’t know where to find things.
I use a mac because that’s what was on the desk at work when I started using computers. Now I have learned my way around, and requiring only one computer for myself, that’s what I am still using. The oldest one was a Mac SE I think, this cube-like machine with an about 9 inch built-in screen. But I always also had to use Windows computers to operate machines, and some command line software packages on unix servers via telnet I think, so I can use something else if necessary.
For some time I was really glad to work on macs, when some colleagues’ win machines hung themselves up daily in the middle of some important work. These days are gone. I still enjoy not having to be so paranoid about viruses. I also love the concept of bootable backups, that I can boot a computer from an external hard drive, or even put that hard drive physically inside and it works. Not sure if an image backup is quite the same. And yes, I do like design, of computers and of documents, beautiful fonts and layouts. Document design is probably my favorite aspect of the mac world, apart from just knowing how to use them.
I can relate very much to the idea of being platform agnostic, but for that I’d need to learn much more. At least I’m trying to be as independent as possible of platforms and programs, based on too many experiences with changes in programs that make files unusable. For writing I started using use plain text wherever possible, for formatting I use markdown. There are some beautiful plain text / markdown apps out there, and I am sure there are also some for windows. Many programs I use work the same on mac and win, so it often does not matter at all.
I really like the askleo site and find it very useful, thanks for making it!
I’m agnostic, but not when it comes to computer platforms. It’s not about “I hate that OS because i’m not used to it”, it’s more about who is behind it.
Apple became everything Steve Jobs claimed to hate about IBM, and more. Now the biggest company in the world, the way they do business disgust me and I would never ever give them a penny. Their overpriced and overhyped devices and accessories. Their dumbed-down software (especially mobile devices), so they could say their products are “easier to use”. The truth is Apple makes things easier by making almost all decisions for you, through very restrictive software, which in many cases benefits Apple. They force their users to become very dependant on their software, unless you are a more savvy user willing to spend the time finding a way around it.
Windows is not perfect and has many faults but overall it has been extremely flexible for a commercial OS. I’m a bit disappointed though, since Windows 8. I think they made a big mistake with the dual interface, but that is just my opinion.
I have friends who I help sometimes, that use Macs but they always need to run Windows virtual machines. What is the point of that?
In your case, because of what you do, you need to know your way among different systems, but most Mac users are just regular users and they want their shinny Mac, but then they realise they can’t live without Windows. At least I know I’ll never need a Mac OS virtual machine.
Linux I believe is the future for me. Open source, very powerful, no restrictions…
In the past I used a few different distributions but I thought they still needed to improve to become the first choice against Windows.
I started using personal computers in 1979. I started with Windows because my employer purchased them. I have used almost every version of Windows and currently have one computer with Windows t Pro which I will upgrade to Windows 10, a new desktop with WIN 10 and a laptop with WIN 10. I have my own business now and I have never used an Apple computer because they cost a good deal more, some of my business programs only work in Windows,, some of the business programs are written to interface only with certain Windows programs such as Outlook and Word and I have never had time to learn the Apple OS (nor am I willing to spend the dollars to purchase an Apple computer in order to learn).
I would love to have time to explore the various operating systems but much of my time is spent keeping up with the constantly changing tax laws so I can keep my clients out of trouble. Maybe when I retire I will have the time to explore.
My first computer was an Apple II+. It still worked the last time I turned it on (many years ago). Once I made the shift to Microsoft, I have never considered a Mac. The primary reason was that I was an income tax preparer and the software I used did not run on Macs. I have experimented some with Linux on an old computer, but have now made the transition to Windows 10 on my primary machines. I have no reason to change – and probably will not.
Like Leo I use the 3 major platforms and honestly I enjoy them all. I started with an Amstrad computer back in the 70’s then a BBC and then a IBM XT running windows 2.1. I cut me teeth in programming using dos 2. and I must admit I still use Dos quite a bit especially for creating automated batch files. I am writing this on my IMac 27 because I love the big screen and clarity. I have a linux box which is fun to play with and an Asus ET2300 all in one with touch scree which is fantastic for the graphic work I do. BTW Leo if you think there are zealots out there on the platform side you should see the desktop publishing industry. I apparently am on the “dark side” as I use Corel Draw I have been using it since it first came out and have never used Photoshop so I cannot comment on what it does but if I had a dollar for every time I was told I should be using it I’d be a millionaire. But I digress the reason I use my windows 10 pc for desktop publishing is that it is a touch screen that can lay flat and basically become a 23″ tablet and using a pen for drawing is so much easier than using a mouse. As you say it’s all a case of “Horses for Courses” I’m still learning to use the Mac to its fullest capabilities and it’s fun the only thing I don’t like is the control c to copy v the cmd c finger wise I prefer the windows solution as little finger and forefinger is much easier (for me anyway) than index and and middle finger. but I have fixed that by reprogramming my keyboard.
I still miss OS/2.
I’ve used DOS since v6, Windows since 3.1 (I skipped ME, 2000 and tried 8 but went back to 7, and I also tried 10 but went back to 7, because I didn’t want to lose WMC, (“Windows Media Center”), which is the only way available to me to watch and record live TV).
I know all about the problematic and complicated licensing issues with OS/2, but I still wish so much that IBM had been able to find a way to make OS/2 open-source, even if they weren’t prepared to continue supporting it.
I still think that the OS/2 WPS, (“Workplace Shell”), is the best GUI I have ever used.
I started off on Windows XP and reluctantly graduated to Win 7 after much pestering from a friend. I found that platform met all my needs and was comfortable with it and resisted upgrading to Win 8 or 8.1
Then along came Win 10 and I didn’t appreciate the forced introduction. Now that I have upgraded, I am more than happy with Win 10. So much so that I have since purchased a new All in one PC with 10 installed as the upgraded Laptop was showing signs of age.
I guess I am one of those who don’t like change but once there I am okay.
Perhaps therefore, I could be converted from a platform zealot to an agnostic. I guess if finances permitted I would try a Mac as well.
“My” first computer was an IBM 1401. Well, I didn’t own it, but I used to go into the (IBM) office and fool around with it on Sunday afternoons. The things I learned did wonders for my career.
When Commodore introduced a computer with a real keyboard, I was one of the first buyers.
Today I bought my first SSD. a Samsung EVO 750 250GB. Installed it as the only drive in my home-made desktop, and installed the evaluation version of Windows 10 Enterprise, and Linux Mint 18 64 Cinnamon as a dual-boot. Both work very quickly! I’m determined to avoid Classic Shell this time, so I can see the raw experience of Windows 10.
Apples are too expensive for me.
“What’s my philosophy on platforms?” That’s an easy answer: the same as yours, Leo! I have only worked in Windows (and before that MSDOS, and even before that I learned on a TRS-80!) but I often wish I had the time, space, and money to have several computers, all different :) …maybe someday!
I’m nearly sixty, and my FIRST computer was an IBM XT with an amazingly HD expansion (from 5 to 10 MB! :-) ).
I’m forced to be nearly agnostic.
My big office laptop (“The Eunuch Truck”) OS is a Windows, but due to Company policies, I cannot install programs (apart the portables ones) that I need for my second work (I’m also a math writer: GeoGebra, LibreOffice, ToDoList, FreePlane, Sigil, and so on).
Being my second work incomes veeeery low, my second laptop is as cheap and as smaller as possible: I bought it from my son, and is a 4GBHD Asus EEE (“The Plum”).
Going forward on the cheap track, I load on it a Linux Trisquel light (I think it is the cheaper thing understanding the word “GUI” :-)), and all my second work documents are on a bunch of USB keys (Leo, don’t ask about backups… they were a nightmare, until I bought a port expander).
So, I’m nearly forced to be agnostic: I have access to only one laptop at times, and the files must be compatibles; Never need to work with a Mac (and think I’ll never need), so I would say “nearly”, and not completely.
I enjoy your newsletters I think I have paid I am not sure how is there a yearly fee I recently changed my credit number and would you let me know how to contribute. I have 3 machines running win 7 8,1 & 10 is there a way to stop syncing between these machines
my wife has a ipad we are both in our 80″s
The Ask Leo! Newsletters are free. If you’d like to contribute, the preferred method is to buy one (or more) of Leo’s books so you get something in exchange for your contribution. https://store.askleo.com/
Although, if you prefer, you can Buy Leo a Latte.
There is no fee for the Ask Leo! site or newsletter – it’s all free. If you really want to throw money at me, I recommend you purchase one of my books – that way you get some more value out of the transaction. :-)
I don’t know what you mean by “syncing between these machines” – what’s being synced?
I am comfortable with both Windows and Mac. I probably lean more towards the Mac OS just because in my experience, I have had fewer issues with it than Windows. What I do like about Windows machines is that they are cheaper and tend to be compatible with more software than my Mac.
Platform “agnostic”? Platform “neutral”? Maybe “platform non-committal”? Or perhaps “platform open-minded”? I find the term “platform agnostic” a bit odd. Agnostics say they don’t know and neither does anyone else. What is it that we don’t know about platforms? Maybe I’m quibbling over semantics.
Would the atheists not believe in operating systems?
Or maybe not in computers or the movement of electrons that we believers call electricity?
In Tron, atheist programs didn’t believe in users :-)
I’m kind of a Windows “Fanboy”; not a Windows “Zealot”. And I’m not yet a fan of W10. But the distinction I’d like to make is that what can influence what myself or others are drawn to is the ability to do the stuff we each want; and to get help when we are having trouble figuring out how to do something. So perhaps the best operating platform for a person is still not right for them if they don’t have access to others who use that platform enough to help you out of a jamb.
Take Mac for example. I really don’t like it. but my dad got a Mac many years ago. when he has problems, I’m one of the people he turns to for help. So I struggle to fix his problems. usually it’s a mix of my understanding how Windows does something; followed by web searches; followed by calls to a friend who is big on using Macs. My friend is always my last choice. Why? because I don’t want to be such a pain, always asking him for help. So i try to limit it to when I am truly stuck. If my dad didn’t have someone like me to help him, what would he do?
So my point is that I recommend figuring out what your go to techie friends know, then limit your choices to those.
I use Win 7; I set it up the way I like it. It does what I want it to do. I guess I’m just lazy at this point. I don’t want to put the effort out to learn a new OS or versions unless I have to. I’ve had some experience with Linux and Mac and have had negative experiences but could overcome these if I wanted to. I used to be more interested in trying different OS. I agree with your point.
If learning a new OS is what’s holding you back from upgrading, you can install the free ClassicShell which makes Windows 8 & 10 look like and behave almost identically to Windows 7 for most people’s purposes.