Why I don't really care about 'Open' that much any more

Why I don't really care about 'Open' that much any more

Summary: Not a day goes by when someone doesn't email or post a TalkBack to complain about my personal use (and advocation of) of 'closed' hardware and software. iPhone. iPod. Windows Phone. iPad. Kindle. TomTom. Windows. Mac. iTunes. Audible.com. The list of closed systems that are supposedly 'verboten' to both use and mention seems endless.Wanna know something? I don't care.

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TOPICS: Hardware
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Not a day goes by when someone doesn't email or post a TalkBack to complain about my personal use (and advocation of) of 'closed' hardware and software. iPhone. iPod. Windows Phone. iPad. Kindle. TomTom. Windows. Mac. iTunes. Audible.com. The list of closed systems that are supposedly 'verboten' to both use and mention seems endless.

'You're recommending closed hardware/software! Wah! Wah! Wahhhhh! You should be advocating open standards! Wah, Wah! Wah!!!!!'

Wanna know something? I don't care.

That's right. I don't care that I'm using a closed product. Why? Because I bought that thing (product or service, whatever) to do a job, and as long as it does its job, I don't care about whether it's 'open' or 'closed' or anything. Before I buy something I do my research and understand what it can and can't do, only then do I pay my money and then I live with my choice. In my mind nothing beats making an informed purchase. It's what I try to encourage every reader of this blog to do.

Don't get me wrong, there was a time in my life when doing things like hacking hardware, unlocking features, making it do things that it wasn't designed to do was a big part of my life. But it was a part of my life when I had a lot more time on my hands. I've whiled away countless hours making things do stuff that that it wasn't meant to do. It was fun, and highly educational. But what I've found is that as I've become older (wiser?) I'm increasingly happy to just leave my stuff alone. I don't overclock PCs that much (OK, sometimes ...), I don't jailbreak my iOS devices (too much hassle, not much in the way of benefits, iOS pretty much offers everything I need), I don't load custom ROMs onto Android devices (again, too much hassle) and I don't bust the DRM on every piece of media I buy. It's just not worth the hassle.

I've come to a point where I'm happy to color within the lines. But I equally accept that just because I feel this way, doesn't mean you have to agree with me. If you want something that can be hacked or modified or whatever, then I suggest you do your research. Let others who are braver (or more foolish ...) go first and find out whether it's hackable or not, and only spend the money once you're sure it'll do what you want. And then don't rely on future updates to support the hack.

Remember, there are no guarantees.

Oh, and here is a point that I think is worth making. At no point in my life have I felt 'owed' the ability to hack anything. At no point did I feel that a manufacturer 'owed' me the ability to hack, overclock, jailbreak or modify something I've bought. I don't understand people who whine about manufacturers making something hard to hack. Manufacturers are in the business of selling to the mass market (or they are if they're sensible and want to make money), and in most cases easy an unlock feature doesn't exist to protect the 99% of idiots out there who'd use that feature to do something stupid and then whine at the manufacturers for making it possible to do stupid stuff in the first place. On top of that, the majority of users (vast majority) don't care about upgrading or jailbreaking or unlocking or overclocking. Most don't use half the features present in their hardware because they never bother reading the manual in the first place. The people who want these 'abilities' are a fringe market and it makes no sense for manufacturers to spend money implementing something that only a few people will every use.

Note: Maybe there's a wider market out there for unlocked hardware, along the lines of AMD's 'Black Edition' CPUs.

Another point worth making, this time about Android. I'm sick of hearing from fanboys about how 'open' the Android platform is, and how much love they are feeling from Google or HTC or whatever. I've got news for you ... Google doesn't care about you or your 'openness.' In fact, the only time Google is 'open' with Android is when dealing with OEMs and the carriers. When it comes to the end user, it's clear that Google doesn't care.

So, next time I talk bout 'closed' hardware and software and you feel the need to tell me that I should be advocating open standards, just remember, I don't care.

Topic: Hardware

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144 comments
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  • Wiser indeed, Adrian.

    But prepare for the barrage from the "open" zealots.
    Userama
    • "Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel"

      Following the same theme openness is the biggest delusion of a FOSS-nut.
      LBiege
      • RE: Why I don't really care about 'Open' that much any more

        @AKH:<br><br><i>there was a time in my life when doing things like hacking hardware, unlocking features, making it do things that it wasnt designed to do was a big part of my life</i><br><br>Yep, that part of your life ended once Apple paychecks started to get into your bank account. PC Doctor? HA HA, what a crock
        nomorebs
      • Dinking around with software is actually educational and fun.

        @LBiege ....It's a nice hobby, and if you enjoy it, knock yourself out. But those who regard the "open" philosophy more like a religion than a hobby are kinda off the deep end, IMHO.
        Userama
      • RE: Why I don't really care about 'Open' that much any more

        @nomorebs "Yep, that part of your life ended once Apple paychecks started to get into your bank account."

        Keep fucking that chicken.
        His_Shadow
    • Let me have a go

      For consumer devices it doesn't matter, but for corporates and governments it does.

      A do most of my work on Mac/iPhone and I'm perfectly happy. It's the applications that matter most to my productivity and I want solutions that are a pleasure to work with and "just work" (most of the time).

      However I also design enterprise systems. Utilising open standards has large development, deployment and maintenance savings which I'd be negligent if they were ignored.

      x64, Unix, Java EE provide the greatest competition and scalability available. SOAP, XML, SQL/JDBC, POSIX, HTML are all standards that have real meaning in this environment.
      Richard Flude
      • RE: Why I don't really care about 'Open' that much any more

        @Richard Flude
        I agree that standards are important, at any level of developement, but what does that have to do with "Open".
        HTML, XML, and SOAP are all specs have had a lot of community input in creating and updating them, but they are all under the aegis of controlling commitees.
        In fact, you could make a case that certain versions of IE and Netscape tried to "Open" the standard, and that is what led to the severe issues with interoperability that got them in such deep sh!t.
        As for the x64 spec, it was released by AMD, so I would call that a "Closed" specification, in the same way that I would have called Java a closed spec before it was released to the community by Sun/Oracle.
        VBJackson
      • RE: Why I don't really care about 'Open' that much any more

        I do most of my work on real computers running Windows 7. I also use my Windows Phone to receive all my email, keep up with my calendar (both personal & work), take notes, and listen to my music. The great thing about my setup, is that it all works seemlessly together. To downgrade to Macintosh, it would cost at least five thousand dollars, and yet I still would be missing funtionality.
        UNIX and Java are dead technologies that are coming to an end. XML & HTML are heading that way as well.
        jfreedle2@...
      • RE: Why I don't really care about 'Open' that much any more

        @bigjim01@?
        <i>I do most of my work on real computers running Windows 7. I also use my Windows Phone to receive all my email, keep up with my calendar (both personal & work), take notes, and listen to my music. The great thing about my setup, is that it all works seemlessly together. To downgrade to Macintosh, it would cost at least five thousand dollars, and yet I still would be missing functionality.</i>
        Translation: I am a dyed in the wool Windows fanboy, to use anything else is against my religion.

        Personally for me to <b>Downgrade</b> to windows it would cost $3,000 in software alone. That is, if I can find the same software on that OS. As for Windows phones, are you serious? Windows Phones are an abomination, who in their right mind would put a mouse pointer on a phone?
        Rick_K
    • RE: Why I don't really care about 'Open' that much any more

      AKH. You lost all respect from me. Nothing more need be said. It's one thing to chose not to advocate "open" things. That's obviously only practical. But to openly brag about it?

      Quit being a damn troll.
      ZazieLavender
      • RE: Why I don't really care about 'Open' that much any more

        @ZazieLavender He is a troll because he doesn't promote "open"? You must be one of those over the top "open" fanboys that think that the world should revolve around what you want. We do an industry show every year out in Silicon Valley and there is one of those nuts there every year that all the exhibitors seem to know. Everyone sees him coming and tries to hide. At no point did he say "open" was bad but apparently you feel that unless he is screaming from the roof top that "open" rules then his opinion doesn't matter. That's the definition of a small minded fanboy.
        non-biased
    • RE: Why I don't really care about 'Open' that much any more

      @Userama Thank you.

      AKH YOU ARE RIGHT!! People don't seem to get that Android is ONLY open for handset manufacturers, NOT the users (the phone owners).

      And even now there isn't openness for the OEMs, as Google holds off allowing anyone using the new versions while they strike deals and work closely with one OEM at a new Android version's launch time.
      lelandhendrix@...
    • RE: Why I don't really care about 'Open' that much any more

      @Userama

      I want to share this anecdote about open software from a VERY gifted developer. I have seen it time and time again. I have personally had projects stop dead in their tracks repeatedly because of this. This has shaped my opinion of FOSS to this day.

      Open does not mean a damn thing if you project is stalled for weeks or months at a time because you *only* use OSS software.

      ----------
      But anyway, just as a quick anecdote. In the last few months I have been
      able to repeatedly, accidentally drop MySQL to its knees with what I'd
      consider to be basic ( though highly dynamic ), clean, structurally sound
      database designs and not-that-fancy querying. Even taking a scalpel and
      microscope and patching every gap with highly designed indexes and
      directives to MySQL to use them on even an SQL level couldn't make it do
      what it should and perform even acceptably in certain cases.

      Popping the exact same tables, data, and SQL into an SQL Server 2008
      instance? Instantly, from the very first execution took operations that were
      taking 15-120 full seconds to execute down to < 5 MILLISECONDS. WITHOUT EVEN
      ADDING ONE MANUAL INDEX AT ALL. That knocked my socks off, and was how I
      would've expected any modern database system to perform with what I was
      doing before the MySQL struggle.

      Granted, there are some things MySQL does plenty well, but scattered all
      around the feature set are bugs and land mines waiting to go off in your
      application or development that may or may not affect you depending on what
      your application does. And you either need the luxury of an infinite amount
      of time to throw rocks and try to discover and pick off all of the triggers,
      or to hire a bomb expert last minute ( which I would bet money that most of
      the high-scale companies that went with MySQL end up doing, which is how it
      makes its money ) to come in and fix everything and divvy you the hacks and
      secrets at the rate of 8 million dollars per minute of "support".

      Up until I started developing an application that needed to support
      thousands of concurrent users with real, instajax performance I'd loved
      MySQL and never seen any reason to even check out other options. It was
      free, the IDEs worked well enough, and it seemed pretty popular. But when I
      did. And development came to a standstill... And I found myself doing more
      scavenger hunting, experimentation, and research than coding... just to make
      the software perform its sole function acceptably... everything changed.
      What a waste of my time.
      Duke E Love
  • Bravo Adrian

    You're dead on. The average consumer probably doesn't even know what "open standards" are.
    reklissrick
    • RE: Why I don't really care about 'Open' that much any more

      @reklissrick And does that mean they do not affect him? And how about his wallet?
      nicholas22
      • Ignorant consumers? Cui bono?

        <p style="text-align: justify; margin-bottom: 1em;"><a href="http://www.zdnet.com/tb/1-99158-1926965">@nicholas22</a> Good point. Since the trickle-down, flood-up voodoo economics of the 1980s, education in the US (and around the world) has been laid waste. What we now have are a couple of generations of people who have to be protected from themselves (at public expense) whilst making windfall profits for an ever-shrinking number of beneficiaries (private benefit).</p><p style="text-align: justify; margin-bottom: 1em;">'Open' makes perfect sense to and for a people with the intellectual and libertarian background and capabilities to sustain it, to enhance their knowledge of and thoughtful control over their lives. Without any meaningful control; without any respect for or desire of increased knowledge, 'open' is as useful and popular as a third leg on a set of coveralls.</p><p style="text-align: justify; margin-bottom: 1em;">People today go to great effort and expense to <em>avoid</em> thinking or learning; openness is just part of the collateral damage. And this from a man who built a business for more than a decade on making 'open' work for individuals and small businesses.</p>
        Jeff Dickey
      • RE: Why I don't really care about 'Open' that much any more

        @Jeff Dickey At what point did he say anything about "open" being bad? Is he required to be a cheerleader for "open" just because he is a blogger? I can related completely to what he was saying. I too used to tweak pretty much everything I could but as I have gotten older I find myself rarely doing it anymore and just want what will get the job done for me and that I like. Is there something wrong with this? Maybe it's not how you meant it but to read your post I take it you think unless you are an "open" fan you are not that intellectual? If that's true that's a very elitist attitude that is completely flawed.
        non-biased
  • Thanks for saying what a lot of us were thinking

    I also dont care for all the petty battles that are commonplace in the open source community. It is the reason nobody uses desktop linux and this is why Google is going to keep Android for themselves.
    otaddy
  • Feeling jaded today?

    Why is this about you?
    Suck it up, do some research, don't let ZDNet quotas force you to write silly fluff, and take extra time if you need it (days) but come up with a good original story and leave yourself out of it.

    Readers expect more of you than you are giving.
    Dietrich T. Schmitz, *~* Your Linux Advocate
    • it's a blog, he's free to include personal thoughts

      He is entitled to his opinions. And you are free to post yours!
      otaddy