Whats happening to coding horror?


I have been a big fan of Jeff Atwood’s coding horror for some time now, its been one of the best tech blogs on the internet that I have found due to its excellent range of subjects and usually impartial commentary on matters related to the computing world.


The last two articles however have seen a significant downturn in the quality and impartiality of articles, so much so that I feel like commenting here, and actually emailing Jeff (comments within articles are so many that one gets the impression that it would be a full time position to keep up with them all).

Firstly the article “Why Doesn’t Anyone Give a Crap About Freedom Zero?” starts alarm bells ringing with its use of capital letters within the title, but that could easily be ignored if the article content was justified, but its seemingly a poorly educated rant against one platform. The fact is that it could be any platform whatsoever, but instead Jeff Atwood decides to compare using Apple Macs to a dongle because of the supposedly closed nature of the iSoftware within.

Now to remain impartial myself is difficult as my platform of choice is OS X, but I have good experience of Linux (particularly Debian based distros) and Windows and a lot of software running on both, and all have problems with formats, closed software – even the open source software has its own file formats that are not easily exchangable.

Firstly, yes most Apple OS X software is not open source, but it doesn’t allow good interoperability with other systems and often provides many means of importing and exporting data within. For instance – iCal uses a standard calendar format for export, Address Book uses vCard, Pages supports the widely used (but horrible) doc format, Mail uses imap, even Xcode uses GCC and standard Unix components and standard languages such as C, C++ if you wish and scripting languages such as Ruby, Perl and Python.

If you look even further than this, the OS is based on Darwin, the webserver built into the system is Apache, the SMB filesharing uses Samba, printing uses CUPS, directory information uses LDAP… I could go on. Linux uses all of this of course, but its not as productive in every day use for every day users. Microsoft operating systems are far more closed.

On the Mac hardware you are free to run anything you wish, its not that closed, but its Apples choice to dictate what hardware that there systems should run on and its not that bad. If their hardware was bad I could see the argument but its as good as anything HP and Dell put out for consumers and professional applications (I am not so sure about the servers – HP servers are extremely good machines, I think they might have the edge at the moment).

In fact there is no tangible reason that Freedom Zero is any good, though in principle it sounds like a good ideal, its just not realistic in every situation. Its just a purple flamingo.

Next his article “What’s your Backup Strategy?” ends with “Shut up. I know things. You will listen to me. Do it anyway.”, an unusually arrogant statement often used by those without a good argument. Everyone knows a good backup strategy is needed for using computers as they are not perfect, so why write something so obtuse?

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