Living Mobile and My Follies in Computer Platform Knowledge

In the past 24hrs, I’ve been asked by two people questions that relate specifically to functionality and features of Windows 7 and Apple OSX laptops. The questions threw me for a loop in part because I was asked. But, the other part of the loop came because I’m nearing that point where my knowledge of whatever problems and opportunities lie in fixing issues related to getting the best use out of those "dekstop’ operating system platforms has pretty much gone dry. And I’m not the least caring that it is.

In terms of my computing history, I’ve had my hands in a ton of systems. OS2 to BeOS; every flavor of Windows, and just about every one of Apple’s OSes (pre and post OSX). One of the reasons for that is that my ventures in computing started with having to navigate Macs at school and PCs at home. I evolved a bit, and just allowed myself to learn as much as I could about different platforms and what worked and what didn’t.

I revisited living in that dual-platform world when I worked for the campus photographer at my college. He not only had a PC and a Mac, but he also software that worked on both, and that didn’t. I learned very quickly there that it didn’t matter if I had access to one platform or another when I needed to get something done – I needed to find the application that worked and keep it moving. And yes, sat in the midst of several "Macs are better at graphics than PCs" discussions. I could care less. I had an OS9 and OSX Mac alongside a Windows XP machine. If Photoshop worked, I could do my magic. Everything else didn’t matter (seriously).

Moving to mobile, it was very similar. Started with PalmOS, frequent traveler into Windows Mobile, with forays into Symbian, Blackberry, Epoc, Windows Mobile Smartphone, Maemo, and everything else. In 2006, my laptop went out on me, and I was down to just using a mobile phone (a Palm Treo) for everything. I had to make a decision to just go with the data formats and functions that worked for that mobile, but spoke everywhere else. It had to be light and quick, but it also had to work. Crazy, I know. But, its influenced the mess out of how I approached computing. To this day, its a Nokia Symbian mobile and an Apple iOS tablet that are my "owned" computers. If it doesn’t work between the both of them easily, I probably don’t care.

Its just been that evolution for a long time. So, to get those questions about performance and applications on those desktop platforms, I was kind of put on pause. I know that people still have those concerns, but I’m not Geek Squad – keeping a knowledge of what works for others just doesn’t figure into my way of computing. I was concerned enough about them to offer the kind of assistance I could, but neither of their use cases are things I run into anymore. It amazed me – and pointed very nicely to a potential folly of the approach I’ve taken with computing.

The folly is in my stance – make the data usable and the format, application, or platform its on doesn’t matter. I get it, people use what they use because it offers the best route for them getting life done. I’m doing the same. But, keeping in my head the knowledge of what works for you, to be your support or apps-analyst person – well, I just don’t qualify there anymore. If its your platform, you should become the subject-matter expert and teach me something (for a change).