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My Personal Tech Biases

The surest way to get into an argument might not be a discussion of religion or politics. No, the real heated debates, at least online, deal with those really important matters of bias:

  • Windows, Linux, or OS X?
  • iOS (iPhone / iPad) or Android and Chrome (or maybe Windows Mobile)?
  • XBox or PS3? (Sorry, Wii)
  • FireFox, Chrome, IE, Safari, or other? 
  • PHP, Perl, JavaScript, or ASP / .Net?
  • Objective-C, C#, or C++ with Qt?

You get the idea. If you really want to read arguments, read technology blogs. These are passionate people arguing vehemently over technologies that often come and go faster than an Italian national government. The lifespan of some fruit flies seems longer than the life of a cell phone generation.

My students have grown up with the same attachments to modern technologies that I have for fountain pens and mechanical pencils. (I love a good pen or pencil.) Getting a student to switch from Mac to Windows or from Windows to Mac can be nearly impossible. I've had one tell me she'd never work at a place with Apple systems. Talk about passion.

This attitude leads me to explore a basic question: what are my technology biases? Do those biases and expectations effect how I teach?

Here are three of the biases I recognize in myself:

Apple. It really is more about the experience than the hardware. I complained about the shift to Intel chips, but when things kept on working, I decided Apple (Steve) knows best what I need. My first Apple experiences were with an Apple IIe. How could I not love one of the companies that introduced me to computing? OS X is the Unix I used in college, with the option to ignore it. Also, I believe System 7.x and System 9.x (only minimally related to OS X) were the move innovative personal computer operating systems, setting the trajectory for today's GUI experiences. Perfect? No. But innovative.

Keyboards. Though I am an Apple fan, I prefer a command line when I want speed. I use Terminal (I switched to Bash before Apple did) and can't comprehend life without shell scripts. Automation is worth the initial effort. I use MySQL via Terminal -- not via some GUI thing. I am also a keyboard shortcut maven, even within OS X applications. I type "alternative characters" faster than I could ever insert them via a menu.

Pascal and BASIC. Yes, I still like the old "procedural" languages I learned in the 1970s and 80s. I'm willing to update those preferences to Delphi's Object Pascal and Microsoft's VisualBasic (through 6.x). For all their power, the C-family of languages never thrilled me. Don't even get me started on Apple's insistence that Objective-C is the be-all, end-all of languages. Apple should have maintained the Carbon frameworks and allowed some competitive language tools. Microsoft's C# is elegant; too bad nothing will pressure Apple to offer an alternative to ObjC.

I'm sure I have other biases and that those affect how I interact with technology. Do you have any tech biases?

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