Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Could Chromebooks be the Worst Thing to Happen to the I.T. Industry?

A thought occurred to me tonight. Firstly, I do seem to be quite critical of Google. I don't really like the way that they operate. To the point that I'm now starting to look at my options around mail (it seems that's moving toward the way of Google+ as well). The blog will definitely be moving to Wordpress. My gmail account will probably stick around just because Google can't be beat on collaboration in documents.

But the Chromebooks have me gritting my teeth. After not going to a meeting tonight (but still participating via Google Docs) something occurred to me. That really annoying panic reaction of the tech's who contact me quite frequently is a symptom.

While I struggled along the learning curve for Linux in order to feel more empowered (it's true! I got into Linux, in part, because I was irritated at the idea that I had to do something illegal - pirating - in order to support software. The support, made that software more desirable. How many computer science students end up swapping pirated software just to pass their papers?), these tech's have no such... sense of control. Instead, they're wholly reliant on Google as a vendor.

Back at tech (polytechnic - for those not in NZ. It's like a university without the accreditation) I had this paper where you'd walk in and as you walked in you'd get a print out for all of the powerpoint slides that were going to be shown. Then the lecturer would proceed to show the slides, talk about them briefly and that was 3 hours of my life gone (I had a double period of it). It was the most difficult and boring paper to have to sit (and I still to this day don't really know what it was about - Business Context). Not because the subject matter was particularly difficult, but because it didn't allow you to use any skills. You couldn't take notes - the slides were too fast and besides which, you had them all in front of you anyway. It wasn't engaging - slides don't require audience participation. After failing the paper twice, I was ready to give up on business entirely (until I went to Christchurch, had to sit yet another business paper but found this one much more interesting and engaging and full of content that I found relatable).

So the Chromebook seems like this brilliant device. Google will take care of it. It'll be fine. But then you have a problem. Who do you call? Your techs... except that Google have so effectively locked anyone out of fixing anything for normal use (sure, you could go into developer mode and make a change but then, you've got the god awful scary boot screen). So your techs are now completely powerless. The only bits they have any sort of control over is the infrastructure - which nowadays, the client device dictates how it should be set up i.e. proxy servers on Android/iDevice devices.

Your techs can't solve problems... That's a biggy. You couldn't pay me enough to put myself in that position. The depression that would ensue simply wouldn't be worth it... That feeling of helplessness (it's bad enough with Flash) would send me into a spin.

It'd be like being a teacher and not being able to write my own lesson plans or an artist but never being able to do anything creative... I'd be damaged after a little while.

Oh - and something occurred to me last night. What I'm REALLY hating about the way that Google are marketing their products at the moment - as if you're somehow a dinosaur if you're not operating in Google's way. *Pfft* you're STILL using an old legacy printer rather than something that's enabled with CloudPrint™? What... you mean you want to do something other than use the Internet? That's so yesterday. You're so not cool if you want to keep using your old compose method. etc.

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