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Ask Slashdot: Dealing With a Fear of Technological Change? 429

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the xterm-is-all-you-need dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Despite the fact that I am fairly young at twenty-four years old, people see me as rather 'old school.' I regularly use Lynx, IRC, Pine, have many consoles open, and am currently typing this on an older plain black laptop that has a matte 4:3 display and no chiclet keys. As the days progress, I am coming to the realization that the 'old school' computing world that I grew up in is slowly fading away and a new world of Windows 8, Web 3.0, tablets, smart televisions, and social networking is starting to become fairly common. If there is anything I have learned, it is that most humans have a desire to throw out the old and accept the new without any sort of hesitation. Like many Slashdot users (I am sure you know who you are), I do not accept the new as easily as I probably should. How have you learned to adapt and accept things that are new and different in the world of technology and computers? If not, what are some effective strategies to utilize to keep these kids off my lawn?"
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Ask Slashdot: Dealing With a Fear of Technological Change?

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  • Re:24 yo? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by verifine (685231) on Thursday May 16, 2013 @06:55PM (#43746253)

    I just spent 3 days at a HP-sponsored event. Can you say Windows? I happened to mention I use Emacs as my editor. Everything was fine up until then, using Linux is "geeky/cool," but for a couple of listeners, using Emacs equated with being ancient. Bizarre. I don't GAF (think about that) what people use to create files. The created file and what it does in the grand scheme of things has always seemed to me to be the more important aspect of it all, and if you like vi, yay for you. I've used Emacs since before many IT people today were born.

    People are mostly awed when they enter my office, get behind the "wall o-monitors" and see just how many xterm windows I'm running. More disturbing for them, since several are running tails, they move. My visitors are intimidated, though that is never my intent. I imagine them thinking, "How does he manage so much information at one time!!!"

    When command line is history, I hope to be history

  • Keep adapting... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by HockeyPuck (141947) on Thursday May 16, 2013 @06:58PM (#43746297)

    Me. I'm "old school", I manage, architect, support storage subsystems...

    Parallel SCSI ... done that...
    ESCON then FICON... yep.
    NFS/SMB... yep
    SSA (IBM's Serial Storage Architecture) yep.
    Tape... LTO is "new" compared to the stuff I've done.
    FibreChannel.. now FC over Ethernet... yep...
    Object Storage... yep
    Hadoop/MapR... here today...

    I still manage and architect storage environments for customers...

    I just adapted to what was coming... the requirements for my clients or employers didn't change. They wanted high performance, easy to manage, cheaper than the previous solution and most of all reliable..

    Just keep adapting, keep educating yourself on what is here today and what various vendors are working on... All this server virtualization that people are deploying now... nothing new... I did LPARs on mainframes in the 90s. Dumb terminals... The "cloud" today is nothing more than a 1000 cheap x86 servers with software running over them to enable you to dynamically configure VMs on the fly. I did that with OS/360 years ago on a Parallel Sysplex on the mainframe. Concepts are the same, implementation is different. Requirements haven't changed that much.

    Don't be afraid to evolve. Keeps you young, interesting and relevant. Plus you can apply all that you've learned to what's coming...

  • Re:24 yo? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tnk1 (899206) on Thursday May 16, 2013 @07:38PM (#43746721)

    I agree that if something is not broken, you don't need to fix it. Using terminals and lynx and other stuff is completely valid, although using a text browser is starting to have more and more limited applications once you start seeing more and more functionality where Javascript manipulates a bunch of icons to get functionality. I'd almost say that for anything you can still use lynx for reliably, you should probably just use curl or wget for.

    On the other hand, whether he likes to use older stuff or not, it is in his best interests to at least understand how some of the new-fangled stuff operates. Someday, people will stop supporting what he is using, and he'll need to know what the alternatives are and be able to use them.

    I remember being just fine with Microsoft Word 5.1a on my toaster Mac, and liking it much better than a lot of what Word turned into with later versions. Presumably, if I still had my toaster Mac and a printer, I could still use it today. The problem is that, eventually, the toaster Mac breaks, or they finally add a feature that 5.1a doesn't have, which you absolutely MUST have, and it's all over. You better hope that when that day comes around, you figure out how the dreaded "ribbon" works.

    Also, while a lot of this stuff is a fad, sometimes, the new stuff you can't think of a use for actually has a use that you just hadn't thought of. I wouldn't have bought my tablet unless there were things I could do with it usefully, and I've found even more useful things to do with it now that I have it.

    Don't get the new toys just to have new toys, but don't scorn new things just because they are new either. That's one way to find yourself in trouble and your skills suddenly obsolete.

  • by Above (100351) on Thursday May 16, 2013 @07:40PM (#43746739)

    It's obvious from your post that you suffer from a sort of bigotry that the technologies you have chosen are somehow better than other technologies because they are "old school", for your own definition of "old school". It will not serve your professional or social life well.

    Things like IRC, console windows, and a plain black laptop can all be used to do quite cutting edge things. They are not old school the way most people would define the term. Browsing using lynx in a console when you have a perfectly good GUI and graphical web browser? That's just being a technological hipster, trying to show off to people that you're different. What you're doing isn't new either, back in the early 1990's I remember people complaining that X terminals were killing vt100 terminals, that the new squishing DEC keyboards were worse than IBM's mechanical ones, and that those new fangled web browsers were a total waste of resources, after all gopher and archie worked just fine.

    What you'll find is that people trust the opinion of those who have actually used different systems far more than those who have simply developed a prejudice against anything that isn't their supposedly superior choice. The systems engineers I respect the most can sit down and just get work done on a Windows, OS X, FreeBSD, or Linux box. The great ones can also work on a VMS box, or a System/360 box, and tell you what was cool about OS/2 and BeOS. They can work in a GUI, or at the command line. They can do basic editing in both vi and emacs. They understand the right tool for the job depends on the job and is not an absolute. Most importantly they will tell you the areas in which their favorite technology needs improvement , usually by pointing out areas in which tools they don't prefer surpass the ones they do prefer. They are open minded enough to understand other peoples situations, understand their use cases, and test the tools in ways that make their recommendations meaningful.

    The most important though is what others have pointed out. The technology industry is all about face paced change. I remember when pine did not exist. Seriously, if you wanted to be old school you need to ditch that new junk and use elm, or mh, or mailx. You're destined to be eternally grumpy if your reaction to every new technology is "the old thing works just fine", and you should get out of the industry right now. It's fine to chose to work on technologies you love, but it's not fine to think other technologies and the people who use them are beneath you. It's bigotry. It's nearly the same as looking down on people because of their race or religion. It's arbitrary, capricious, rude, and uninformed.

  • Re:24 yo? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by lennier (44736) on Thursday May 16, 2013 @08:05PM (#43746957) Homepage

    Using terminals and lynx and other stuff is completely valid

    And don't forget that in the Microsoft enterprise-backend administration world (which appears to be following a tech trajectory diametrically opposed to the shiny-flashy-broken all-Surface-no-substance Windows 8 world), there is a very strong trend back toward the console, via Powershell.

    Things go round and round and round again, but even on Windows, the command line endures and conquers.

    By the way, Powershell does some things much, much better than any current command shell on Linux. When are we going to get a bash-alike that is based on piping arbitrary objects? (And Powershell objects are pretty neat, they're not just raw .NET objects - they're dynamically reconfigureable-at-runtime things much more in the old Smalltalk spirit than anything that came after C++). Ruby would probably do it, if someone could add piping support to it and hack up the libraries to make it interface with all the various incompatble object OS and object systems under the Linux/X hood.

  • by Ghaoth (1196241) on Thursday May 16, 2013 @08:22PM (#43747143)
    I'm 64 years old (shock horror!) I began with vacuum tubes, discrete transistors, etc. I learned UNIX on an IBM1130 and went through many incarnations of many OS's. I now use Linux and reluctantly Scumsoft Windows (in a VM) have Android phones and tablets. Don't stop learning and evolving. If you can't beat them with code, beat them with experience but never give up.
  • Re:24 yo? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by grcumb (781340) on Thursday May 16, 2013 @11:29PM (#43748291) Homepage Journal

    I'm going to guess he's going to look back on his life and realize that he was dumb to think he'd seen it all at age 24. He talks as though the Third Age of Middle Earth is ending

    In some important ways, it is. The process isn't complete, but there is a fundamental change happening, and it will discomfit some of us.

    The days of 'Homesteading the Noosphere [catb.org]' (as ESR put it), are coming to a close. Scale, network topologies, business models and legal encroachment on the principles of individual online freedom are all conspiring to make the technological world we live in substantially more constrained than it's been since the internet became part of our lives.

    The land rush is over, the cowboys are gone (either buried or rich) and the homesteaders are being bought out by the speculators and tycoons. Community-based governance is under siege by national and international interests.

    And this is being reflected in the tech world. The craftsman's approach to software (always greater in repute than in reality) is decidedly more difficult to practice as a trade than it was. Toolkits are giving way to frameworks and apps replace applications. Backyard-mechanic roadsters and dirt-track races are swallowed up by Nascar - VCs get us excited by the prospect of building only big enough to sell out to someone bigger.

    The physical networks themselves are being taken back by the telcos and proffered to governments for surveillance in exchange for ever more egregious rent-seeking behaviour. What we used to call sharing is now piracy. The word 'copyright' now means 'don't copy at all, ever.'

    And in the midst of it all, we're grateful to lockin-vendors who make Free software difficult, if not impossible, to use. We rent what we used to own. Even our identities are no longer our own.

    I grieve to say it, but unless there's a sudden and immense resurgence of the DIY spirit, especially in peer networking and distributed data, we're going to fall back into the bad old days of the dumb terminal and the smart network. And that network's smarts will not exist for our benefit.

    I'm pushing 50 now, and do I fear change? Not really. I just regret the lost freedom, the creative anarchy of the '90s, the ability to hack something cool and new, the chance to achieve things never before possible. It's not gone yet. We could still turn things around. But every day we don't brings us a day closer to the day when we can't any longer.

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