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Andrei Dascalu
Andrei Dascalu

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Apple vs the world - the power of tinkering

I was shocked to discover quite recently that I've become an Apple user. For years I've been a Linux man (intermittently using a Mac, offered by my employer), while using an Android phone since the very first commercially available version. I've never appreciated Apple's universe and locked-in platform, though I did admire its seamless interconnectivity and how the ecosystem worked together.

Another thing I've admired about Apple (design aside - matter of taste) is that it is a giant which competes with other giants on a number of fronts. It competes with Google in the mobile OS market (and smart home), against a number of competitors (led by Samsung) in the mobile device category, against Microsoft on computer OS and against a multitude of desktop/laptop makers.

Its offer is quite interesting - an integrated ecosystem of devices that "just work" together, with simple operation that removes any entry overhead so that whether you're a creator (developer, musician, etc) or just consumer, you can get right down to what you're doing and forget anything else.

There was a time when I would appreciate the ability to tinker with my system. The endless customisation options of Linux to create that perfect desktop system that blends beauty and functionality (hello Enlightenment). The straightforward plugin development for Sublime Text. The ability to create interoperability with other devices (rooting and customizing Android devices) and so on.

Nowadays, my focus is on just doing the work. I tinker, but with the "outer" technologies that I learn on the job (Kubernetes, Golang, all sorts of frameworks and so on) and I like my local environment to be stable and just support that (preferably out of the box).

My old self would have never seriously considered Apple. My old self has become to appreciate the offer. But it's an evolution, I think.

Looking back, joining the "get to business" mindset would have deprived me of a lot of learning. Tinkering with Linux allowed me to learn (besides scripting) a lot about the inner workings of an OS. Creating plugins for Sublime allowed me to learn a lot about programming and what it means to parse code (as well as natural language and string processing). Tinkering with Android (and briefly creating my own flavour) allowed me to learn about ARM architecture and the composition of a mobile OS, drivers and so on.

Tinkering is great and I consider it to be a hallmark of the inquisitive mind. It's a great learning process that comes out of passion for technology and it also allows the discovery of your true interests. It sparks creativity.

But it's still just a phase (albeit an essential one). There's no shame in specialising, creating your recipes and algorithms and then applying them. That's what experience is ... as long as you down allow this to become a closed box. Or, if you do, do try to peek outside every now and then.

Discussion (1)

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Ben Sinclair

I've had to use Macs for work for a decade, and I still don't know how to get to my home directory in Finder, or to go up a level. My various Macs also crash a lot more than any of my other machines, in random unfathomable ways where you don't get any feedback and no resource online cares enough to help you.

I would never seriously consider Apple for my own personal devices.

I do think that a lot of the things they do turn out to be good for the industry - but I'm not naive enough to think that they have humanity's interests at heart!