Diversifying your technology when you're a technologist

posted by Jeff | Friday, December 18, 2015, 12:00 PM | comments: 0

One of the things that really struck me about a tech conference I recently attended was the number of people, mostly software developers, who were very anxious to hang on to technology that isn't working. Specifically I'm talking about Windows Phone, which has become the outlier of phone operating systems in the US. One could argue that it's the best OS (I would), but an OS without widespread adoption is a disincentive to make stuff for it, even if it happens to use the same tools that you use for the web and desktop (as was the case for much of the target audience of the conference). Diana and I gave up on it when the announcement for new hardware finally came, and underwhelmed while not improving the software story. We really hung on longer than we should have, really.

In a more general sense, we as a family are actually pretty diverse in the technology we use. While my developer expertise is centered on Microsoft's platform, these days that involves so much open source that it's really the tooling at the core that's specific to their platform. Everything else really isn't platform specific anymore. Our computers are Macs, where we run Windows virtually as necessary, but not primarily. Our phones are now both Android, the pure flavor straight from Google. Simon has a 3-year-old iPad, Diana has the one that I just won for doing a survey, and I have an inexpensive Nexus 9. Our TV is mostly fed by an Amazon Fire TV. Our music comes from Amazon's service, but we back up to Microsoft's OneDrive and Amazon's S3. Even our cars have evolved, as we have no Toyotas for the first time in 20 years, with a Nissan Leaf and a Tesla Model S in the garage.

There's a place for brand loyalty and enthusiasm, sure, but I don't get the people who go for 100% buy-in. As a technologist, it seems like a particularly strange thing to engage in. There have been relentless Apple fanboys forever, and I remember knowing a few Microsoft types when I worked there as well (back when they really didn't make anything cool other than the Xbox). These days, there are fewer reasons that you need to have everything with the same logo, as interoperability has come a very long way. I still hate the app-ness going on, particularly with mobile devices, because each is their own micro-universe, but it's not like 2003 where you needed a Mac, and iPod and iTunes, top to bottom, to listen to music on the go.

We have unprecedented choice when it comes to most technology. There are a lot of areas where we still need to do better, but it's an exciting time.


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