Why I've been throwing Open Standards under the bus

Why I've been throwing Open Standards under the bus

Summary: Over the past year, I've been increasingly purchasing or endorsing the use of proprietary or closed solutions rather than "Open".


Over the past year, I've been increasingly purchasing and endorsing the use of proprietary or closed solutions rather than "Open".

My purchasing habits as it relates to Personal Technology in the last year or so have been completely at odds with my general ideology as to how I approach the use of technology in the Enterprise. It's as if I live two different lives or that I have some sort of odd form of Multiple Personality Disorder where at home I do things one way, but at work, I do them another.

It used to be that I tried to use the same tools at home and in my personal life that I used at work. But now that's all changing. The Open Source and Open Standards platforms that I've been advocating and been advising my customers so strongly to use for the last 15 years in the Enterprise have little or no relevance in my personal life, if at all.

And it's not like I'm pushing back at this -- I'm in full acceptance mode and have actually recommended others do exactly the same.

In the last year, I've purchased two iPads, a Macintosh, and two Kindles. I've even ordered over 400 Nespresso pods, which is the ultimate in super-proprietary coffee machines.

This may not sound like such a big deal until you realize that I am a big advocate of Open Source and Open Standards. In the Enterprise, I believe that these technologies are absolutely essential to building best of breed heterogeneous computing environments. But at home? Eh, not so much.

Now please don't misinterpret what I am saying. I have my powerful 16GB RAM dual Opteron quad core Ubuntu 11.04 workstation in which I do all my personal virtualization and OS testing for both Linux and Windows.

I also have several large VMWare and Hyper-V servers which I use to run virtual instances of Red Hat, Solaris, Windows and other Open Systems on. For my business use, that isn't going anywhere.

(And yes, I do consider Microsoft's Enterprise technology stack to be "Open" in the sense it is industry standard and easily extensible and easy to develop for. Not as open as Linux, but it's not a complete Walled Garden yet, nor do I ever expect it to be.)

I also have an an original Droid which I've rooted and like my colleague David Chernicoff on his NOOK, I run nightly builds of CyanogenMOD 7.

But now I actually prefer to use the Mac as my main computing device since I've been using it more and more for photography and video editing.

I'm actually strongly considering giving the Mini I'm using to my wife (who currently has a Windows 7 box that I have to maintain) and picking up the next-generation Mac Pro for myself when it is announced, because I just want to simplify my lifestyle.

And I've started recommending Macs to friends and family members who just want to make their lives easier.

The iPad has taken over considerably for my after-hours technology use. I've written at length how much I like the product, and quite frankly, I don't believe there is any viable alternative or true competition to the iPad at this time for tablet computing in terms of what might be palatable to the majority of end-users.

The first iteration of Android Honeycomb in my opinion is a total bust. I've outlined at length what I believe to be wrong with it. That being said, I'm bringing a 3.0-based Acer Iconia A500 with me on vacation this week to spend more time with it, and I plan to run 3.1 on it as soon as Acer provides me with updated software.

Still, I'm not hopeful that Google is going to be able to make effective changes to Honeycomb in order to secure a very large share of the tablet market.

Android Tablets might be great for geeks, and once you root the things you can do some very cool stuff with them, but this is not what your average consumer wants to do or even wants to jump through various technical hoops in order to maximize their experience with their tablet.

Ice Cream Sandwich may end up solving all of Android's problems at a future date, but I'm not living in the future, I'm living in the now. And so are most human beings that want to use technology. They just want the stuff to work.

If it makes anyone feel better, I don't think RIM is doing so hot either. While I like the QNX OS and PlayBook hardware, I've already had to send my evaluation device back for service due to dead pixels and right now there isn't a single app on that platform right I'd actually be willing to pay for.

HP's TouchPad? It's currently a no-show and doesn't appear to bring any unique value to the table whatsoever, even though its rapid application development environment for WebOS has a great deal of promise and utilizes a lot of Open Standards. Unfortunately, WebOS is well over 300,000 apps behind iOS, not to mention Android.

And this gets to the crux and underlying theme of this entire post -- as a consumer, is it worth giving up "Openness" for convenience, ease-of-use, lower maintenance and access to larger application ecosystems?

I'm going to have to sadly say yes.

In the words of Michael Palin in Monty Python's Meaning of Life, "I've got no option but to sell you all for scientific experiments."

At home, when I'm not on the clock, I want to be a consumer. I don't feel like playing system integrator in my spare time, which is increasingly diminished these days as more and more demands are placed on me, both professionally and personally. The Mac and the iPad at least allow me to pretend to be a consumer.

So what happens to me next? »

So what happens to me next?

Well, my Verizon Wireless contract is up in November. In fact, the company is willing to extend early upgrades to me now.

The problem is, there isn't a single Verizon Android device on the market I'm legitimately interested in buying, be it the Thunderbolt or the Droid Charge or anything else that's in their stable right now. So I've decided to wait until the holiday season before I make any firm commitment to a new contract and a new device.

If Verizon has a 4G, Dual Core LTE device that's ready for prime time on Android come the November timeframe, I'll probably strongly consider it. But if Apple has the iPhone 5, and it looks like a really nice device, I may say to heck with it and move completely over to the Apple side, even if the new iPhone doesn't have 4G capability.

It's not a decision I'm going to take lightly -- since I like having a mix of technologies in my stable, but now that I've had a taste of the Fruit with my iPad and my Mac, I may just decide to cut my losses with Android as my main (rather than testing) smartphone.

When I announced that I was buying two Kindles last week, my colleague Jason Hiner, TechRepublic's Editor in Chief jokingly Tweeted me that it was time for me to build a new Light Saber, and that I've come over to the Dark Side.

I asked him if I could get the Light Saber in white.

While I understand the joke, and while I've been one of the most stalwart critics of the Kindle due to its locked-in nature (you can't transfer your book library to the platform that can't run Kindle software, such as the NOOK, which uses an entirely different e-Book standard) I'm starting to come around on Kindle.

The issue of non-transferability is a bit disconcerting, especially if you consider the extreme long-term viability of Amazon as a company, but it's something I can live with, especially if Kindle eventually supports EPUB, at least for user-uploaded content. And the library lending issue with Overdrive has now been addressed by Amazon, so that's also a big plus.

But even if EPUB is never supported on Kindle, I can easily read PDFs and convert DRM-free EPUBs to MOBI files for the device using 3rd-party tools. It's not optimal, but it's something I can begrudgingly live with because the Kindle ecosystem is convenient and easy to use.

And aye, there's the rub. Convenient and easy to use frequently trumps "Open". Some people will go to great lengths and suffer a great deal of inconvenience in order to stay Open.

But I'm not one of those people anymore.

Have you too been throwing Open Standards and Open Systems under the bus as it relates to your personal technology choices? Talk Back and Let Me Know.

Topics: Microsoft, Apple, iPad, Mobility


Jason Perlow, Sr. Technology Editor at ZDNet, is a technologist with over two decades of experience integrating large heterogeneous multi-vendor computing environments in Fortune 500 companies. Jason is currently a Partner Technology Strategist with Microsoft Corp. His expressed views do not necessarily represent those of his employer.

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  • Jason says, "Get a Mac. They just work."

    Welcome back, Jason. I just thought I should get things going with that title. Besides, I thought you just needed the page hits. Ed has you beat 10 to 1 this year. Grin.
  • You don't need a new MacBook Pro for video work

    Have you considered purchasing a rumored new MacBook Air with the updated Sandy bridge CPU? Use the MBA with a secondary monitor for video editing work. With Apple going to 64 bit computing for their OS and pro Applications (the new Final Cut Pro has a rumored greatly reduced MSRP), speed or horsepower for video editing on a new MBA should be quite adequate.

    With the iPad 2 and a new MBA, one could have a very lightweight, mobile video editing platform for pictures and video.
    • Jason thinking of buying Mac Pro, not Mac Book Pro

      @kenosha7777: his consulting work might require that pricey and power equipment.
      • RE: Why I've been throwing Open Standards under the bus


        Or Jason might prefer a 17" screen. I thought about that possibility after I posted.
    • RE: Why I've been throwing Open Standards under the bus

      @kenosha7777 :Jason Perlow said "picking up the next-generation Mac Pro for myself" -- that's the Mac Pro tower not "You don't need a new MacBook Pro for video work" in your statement. BIG difference.
      • iMac Pro has a 27" monitor i7 2600S and AMD 6990M

        @sip01 : " Jason is definitely in the consumer market with this All-in-One model. I wonder if this model has a port for mSATA Pcie. The Z68 chipset was no mistake, I am shure he will have alot of things to tell us with his adventures from home."
        Rob T.
      • Your right, of course. My mistake. (Am I embarrassed! Grin)

        @sip01 and to @denisrs

        My mind misread Jason's blog computer preference for a Mac Pro and remembered his prior wish for a MacBook Pro before choosing his current Mac Mini.

        Still, any current "Sandy Bridge" equipped computer from Apple would be quite sufficient for video editing work. And, Jason would have the added benefit of mobility that a notebook would provide.
      • RE: Why I've been throwing Open Standards under the bus

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  • What about the Adam?

    Hey Jason, Notion Ink just sent out an email this week that they are having another round of Adam productions, just wondered what your thoughts were for this micro development?
    • RE: Why I've been throwing Open Standards under the bus

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  • Activate your force field, Jason.

    Those incomings from the open-ites are gonna hit any minute now!!!
    • RE: Why I've been throwing Open Standards under the bus

      @Userama Activate your RDF?
  • Judicious use of open source and open standards

    Open source and open standards are two different things. Judicious use of both is warranted. Quite frankly, I find no other CMS worth using other than SharePoint. However, I find no other password locker better than keepass.
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  • RE: Why I've been throwing Open Standards under the bus

    And it is that kind of attitude that keeps open platforms in the minority, thanks for doing your part to keep Linux off the desktop. Asshole.
    • RE: Why I've been throwing Open Standards under the bus


      Only Linux is holding back Linux. The Linux ecosystem just hasn't been able to compete yet with the MS or Apple ecosystems for the desktop. Ubuntu is the best consumer market example for Linux, but the lack of support, training, sales, and marketing put it at a disadvantage to MS or Apple. Sure Linux is free to use, but money only part of its value. If it makes life harder for the user, then it's value drops.

      I ran with Ubuntu for a while, and really liked it at first. I even installed it on my fiance's laptop when it crapped out do to all the HP bloat ware on it. However, she never felt comfortable doing any work on it, despite showing her the OSS alternatives to her normal Windows applications. Eventually I even got fed up with it as I increasingly ran into incompatibilities for games, hardware, and various applications. Yeah there were work-arounds, but unless I'm getting paid to deal with the work-arounds I'd rather just buy a system that works intuitively. Value and convenience are king in the consumer market.
      • &quot;Only Linux is holding back Linux.&quot;

        <p style="text-align: justify;"><a href="http://www.zdnet.com/tb/1-97952-1893296">@Caffeinated85</a> Yeah, what you said, only more so.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">Actually, it's not Linux holding Linux back as much as it is the "community," that infinitely-sharp multi-edged (and necessary!) foundation of Linux education. You can get most anything supported on IRC or a Wiki that is, if people will bother to answer your question beyond "<em>RTFM, n00b!</em>" (well, yes; I <em>have</em> read the documentation (Web page and/or man page [quaint!]; users shouldn't <em>have</em> to read and understand source code!)</p><p style="text-align: justify;">I've run a business that for over a decade provided migration, development and training services for SMEs; I've seen the good, the bad, and the gruesomely ugly. When it's good, it's superlative; there doesn't appear to be much of a middle ground. I've been using Ubuntu as long as there's <em>been</em> an "Ubuntu;" when I deal with Linux nowadays, the vast majority of my time is on openSUSE or Fedora. Why? Because they have actual businesses behind them (indirectly) that understand very well the benefits of Making Things Work better than oh, say, <a href="http://www.kanotix.com/">Kanotix</a>.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">But, like Jason, for the last 3-4 years now, whenever I've needed to just sit down and be productive immediately, I have my Macs. My iMac and MBP have VMWare Fusion on them, and thereby numerous Linuxes, XP, Windows 7, and FreeBSD. But the last three non-Apple laptops I've owned are on a shelf, forlorn. The only other computer I presently own is an even older bit of kit: I use a Power Computing PowerTower Pro 225 as my gateway/firewall system. Show me another 15-year-old PC that still does useful work <em>every day</em>.</p><p style="text-align: justify;">For you young'uns: the PowerTower was a Mac clone, back before Steve killed clones due to poor quality.</p>
        Jeff Dickey
    • RE: Why I've been throwing Open Standards under the bus


      "And it is that kind of attitude that keeps open platforms in the minority"

      The attitude will never change. Ever. Because it's the attitude of the vast majority of consumers. People want convenience, first and foremost.

      Sorry, but wishing the attitude will go away is 100% unrealistic.

      The better idea is to make the open platforms more convenient. Rooting a phone is inconvenient. Dealing with compatibility issues between platforms is an inconvenience. Not being able to access your favorite videos and music is an inconvenience.

      People who aren't interested in being tech experts will always take what they see as the easiest and most convenient path, and any technology, be it open or closed, has to account for that.
      • Agreed


        It's the old "Time vs money" discussion. Consumers value their free time far greater than the relatively insignificant amount of change they would save going with anything other than a well supported commercial OS and software. Most busineses, ditto. The cost of the commercial OS and productivity packages are simply insignificant next to the very real costs of the employee using that system.