Coffee and software philosophy.

Due to my old computer being old and having number of issues, I decided to take advantage of one of the many sales and pick up a new PC. It has Windows 10, on the grounds that I only expect Microsoft to accelerate its dirty tricks to get people to upgrade and I’d rather start with it than buy a PC with 7 or 8 and have to upgrade.

I am amazed at how many things this new OS gets wrong. You log in with your Microsoft ID. I haven’t heard what happens if you update your Microsoft ID then log onto a computer without Internet access, but I imagine it’s going to be fun. There are loads of completely random mobile-esque settings sprinkled through, that godawful ribbon from the latest Office suite has made it into the file browser now, there’s all the random tracking and reporting back, and to add insult to injury, the system loves to give you pop-ups to remind you to use its various features.

From where does this wrongness come from? From the foundations, the very core. Windows 10 is an incredibly annoying OS because it rejects the Unix Software Philosophy, which is, in short, you should get you work done with multiple small programs, each very simple and very specialized, strung together as you see fit.

To get the metaphor in here, Windows 10 is a Keurig. Specifically, it’s a Keurig 2.0, DRM and all. On one hand, stuff is simple. You just need to fill it with water, put in the pods (approved and sold by Keurig), hit the button, and you get coffee. Of course, if you want non-pod coffee, then you need to hack your coffeemaker.

Me? I have a coffee grinder, an electric kettle, and an AeroPress. I have three specialized machines which do one task (grind, heat water, steep something in hot water in a small chamber), and I string them together. And this gives me freedom. I can grind any kind of coffee bean, or use preground coffee if I want to. Heck, I could buy Keurig pods and empty them into my AeroPress if I had the notion to. I can tweak the water temperature and volume exactly, just by adding more or less water, or letting the water cool. And I can steep the coffee for as long as I want. And I can adjust all of these settings dynamically. I can note that I’m short on grounds, and opt for an ultra-fine grind with an extra-long steep to get more flavor out of less coffee, at the cost of a little more bitterness. I can switch from coffee to tea and still use my setup as-is. And if any component breaks or if I decide to replace it, then I can do that trivially. And best of all, I don’t need to worry about the mechanisms and connectors in the Keurig.

The more I deal with Windows 10, the more installing Linux and running Wine when necessary seems like a good idea.


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