Once upon a time in a land far away ... I lent my little boy's Kettler tricycle to his pre-school for use in the drop in center they maintain in the gym - a place where parents can bring kids to play with other kids and a whole basketball court full of neat toys, mats, and climbables.
As you can see from the picture the Kettler is a pretty high end production - actually a marvel of German engineering with lots of features including:
- an easily adjustable telescoping frame that lets it grow with the user;
- a steering lock (locks handlebars into place) that works with a rear push bar (not in the picture) to turn it into a stroller;
- a brake that works on the two rear wheels; and,
- a clutch like feature that lets the front wheel spin freely if the pedals aren't moved -meaning the kid can pedal madly to get up to speed and then coast without taking his feet off the pedals.
In contrast the school's own tricycle is a piece of junk, it has no gears, no brakes, no air tires, an uncomfortable seat, and turns over on corners.
After watching kids, and their parents, play with both I've reached the unhappy conclusion that the piece of junk is the better fit for job. Here's why:
- the air tires and comfortable seat only count on longer trips - but the kids usually stay on the tricycle for only minutes at a time.
- the freewheeling feature makes it harder for kids to learn to pedal the thing -because the pedals don't move when mommy pushes them.
- everybody knows how the junk one works, nobody uses the brake on the Kettler.
- in an earlier incident I believe someone locked the front wheel steering and either the same or some other nitwit broke the weld holding the wheel assembly to the handlebars trying to force it to turn -something that must have taken some serious hammering given that the connection is welded.
- people don't understand the free wheeling feature. In fact, at one point recently I discovered someone had taken the front wheel out of the assembly and reversed it; presumably in some kind of well thought through attempt to "fix the problem."
- to telescope the frame you pull out a lock nut (held down by a large spring), turn it to unlock, and then move the main support bar in to shorten the frame or out to lengthen it, stopping when the holes align so the lock can snap into place. At the gym yesterday some kid was pedalling happily with the lock pin completely out -because some braindead idiot had "adjusted" the bar length a good four inches past the holes to create an obvious safety hazard.
So why discuss this in an IT blog? Because what happened to the Kettler here is precisely what happens when the typical Microsoft expert gets hold of Linux -it's a pearls and swine issue: they're not going to figure out what it really does, they're going to force it fit what they know and then complain bitterly when it fails to meet their expectations.