The Idea Dude

CONNECTING THE DOTS ONE AT A TIME

Monday, September 25, 2006

Returning to simplicity

A weekend of battling with Windows after a number of unfortunate events pertpetrated by an over-eager son gave me an interesting spin on the complexity of today's technology. Windows and it's associated applications has gotten incredibly large and complex, a sign of maturity and success. Exporting the Windows registry alone results in a file greater than 60MB. There was time when the whole Windows installation probably didn't take as much space.

There's another rule of thumb that says 90% of your users probably only use 10% of the features most of the time. But in a bid to be competitive and to generate upgrade revenue, we continue to load up our applications with tons of features and tweaks most of us will never need. Perhaps that is why there is such a surge towards Linux, because it is simple, fast and most of all understandable. Unix? understandable? that's what the world has become! It is probably fair to say that there are less chances of applications interfering with each other than in Windows. For example, who would have figured out the installing a set of tools on my son's Windows machine would result in the machine not being able to assign a drive letter to my USB storage device. Two seemingly unrelated things teamed up to cause a anomaly I'm sure has hundreds if not thousands of others gnashing their teeth in a similar way.

There's beauty in simplicity especially if it is inherent in the underlying architecture. Think fractals where the basic building blocks are mathematically clean yet the most complex of objects can be created which are beautiful in their final form. That unfortunately cannot be said about most of the software on my machine that combine maliciously to torment me probably because of something I did in a previous life. Incidently, the battle is starting to migrate to your web page where similarly widgets do battle with each other for space, bandwidth and CPU as noted by Mathew Ingram in his quest to find the ultimate widget.

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