People Whose Asses I Need to Kick #3: Geek Flamewar Zealots

“My computer can beat up your computer.” What a load of horse hockey.

I’ve long been tired of the whole PC vs. Mac vs. Intel vs. AMD vs. RISC vs. Windows vs. UNIX vs. Linux rat race, and was finally motivated to sum my precise feelings yesterday when commenting on a friend’s computer plans:

Computers are tools, not religious icons or penis extensions. Pragmatism should be the first, best factor in picking the right hardware and software for your needs.

The reality of the matter is a dirty secret that, deep down inside, all computer geeks know and few want to admit: all hardware sucks and all software sucks.

How can they not? They are produced by human effort and design processes, which involve the fine art of — say it with me now — compromise. No design team has an unlimited budget, infinite time, mastery of all physical processes, or the ability to make up their own requirements. The history of computing is replete with the corpses of elegantly engineered designs that proved to be too costly to mass-produce or that failed to meet the real-world needs of the customers expected to buy them.

We live in a physical universe ruled by the Satrap of Entropy and his lieutenant Murphy. Instead of wasting a lot of time heating the atmosphere and murdering electrons with endless flamewars, people need to chill out and find the flavor of suckage they can live with.

So take a stand against computer zealots everywhere. The next time you see a wrinkled lip or furrowed brow being unshipped for the opening salvos of a rant, take pre-emptive action. The only answer to “My computer can beat up your computer” is, in the end, “My sledge hammer doesn’t give a shit.”