Thursday, 30 October 2008

Ideology and accepted wisdom

Just this last week or so I've been having ridiculous conversations about operating systems and RIA technologies.

I've had a concerted Linux attack, whereby I get a number of identical emails from Linux devotees decrying the lack of support for their chosen OS in a project we did.

I've had people saying how bad Vista is, and when I asked why, all they could do was quote other people. And I've seen some rabid Apple fanbois (love that word) talking up anything Apple they could think of, irrespective of their level of knowledge.

Then it struck me. This isn't informed opinion. It's a firmly-held ideological position based on a shared cultural/religious mindset (not technical). Linux geeks like being in a minority of more technically competetent people. Mac fanbois love it that they think they are cooler and more West Coast than sad Microsofties.

Ideology has a place in many areas - I just don't see it in technology. I am idealogically committed to access to cultural collections. But this blog is written on a Mac that dual-boots into Vista, and if I lean over here.....I can touch an Ubuntu machine.

No big deal. My cultural/religious sense of significance doesn't come from my choice of PC.

Monday, 13 October 2008

The need for magic

A while ago I was demonstrating Turning the Pages to Mervyn King, Governor of the Bank of England (he looked a bit chirpier then).

I showed off some of the features and, impressed, he asked "How do you do that?". I didn't want to go into specularity mapping, polygon vertices, web services and the like, so in an unguarded moment I said "Well Governor, it's mainly done using magic". Luckily he and his entourage laughed.

He then came back with "We in central banking generally don't hold with magic".

My company have built some software that creates such a convincing illusion that people are confident the book is real. If the governor could summon the same confidence now, that would be magic...

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Not as cold as all that

A while ago I was visiting a convent populated with only a few elderly Polish nuns. They had established the convent after the war, and their numbers had inevitably dwindled.

It was a freezing morning with a thick ground frost, and, in passing, I mentioned to one of the nuns how cold it was.

She paused before her reply, and looked me in the eye, eventually saying in a quiet, level voice "Not as cold as in the concentration camp".

I think of her nowadays when I watch the news.