Is a Laptop a Hammer ?
I always perceived that my laptop is a special type of toolkit, in the same way that a tradesman has his toolbox of hammers and screwdrivers, I had a laptop with Windows and various pieces of software that are my tools. A TFTP server, notepad for manipulating text files, mail client, ftp client, and so on. Back in the 90’s this was the choice.
And Windows was enough
And for the first ten years of my career, Windows was enough. It seemed to have everything I needed. Previous to networking I had been a Windows and NetWare administrator, so I was comfortable with the tools and never expected or looked for more. Indeed, there were enough challenges in IT in the early nineties because there was no Internet.
As my network skills continued to grow, and I went on to learn more, I started to dabble in Linux, Perl, Apache and similar. This opened my eyes to a whole new world of tools. Tools that could be customised to my method of working, tools that I could craft to do things that I had not done before. New ways of working and thinking.
My key tool then became Linux and Perl (which led to NMIS (Network Management Information System) and a couple of years of dabbling as a network monitoring tool and then into other areas of network monitoring and management focussing on Linux. While I never became a master of Linux or Perl (to my regret), I have some handy skills that I use often (especially when designing). I have spent some time dabbling in web servers and building websites for fun and learned a lot along the way.
and to OS X
And now I have my MAC. Which has the all the tools of Linux, including Perl, and a whole raft of zenware that make my day more productive, and, in some tenuous way, more enjoyable. Anything that makes my day uplifting is well worthwhile.
I use quite specific pieces of software to do certain tasks – thus
- Firefox (but mostly for the addons such as del.icio.us, Foxy Proxy and HTTP Header
- Omni Outliner to collate thoughts into a coherent whole when researching
- Keynote for visually effective corporate presentations
- Omni Graffle – faster diagramming than Visio (export might get better in V5 ? )
- *nix tools for testing (dig etc)
- Safari – as a backup browser
- and so on
More recently I have moved to using Applescript and Perl to do some unusual things, Ivan Peplnejak blog IOS Hints and Tips has tips on using EEM to do quite unimaginable things to your IOS router.
After considering those tradesmen who make their own tools, I feel some affinity to them. While I have not exactly created a hammer from raw materials, I have taken an off the shelf tool and crafted it into a shape that I can use faster, and more effectively. It took me some time to develop my current level of ëmasteryí and I will continue to develop exertise.
I feel good about that, believing that my work has craft and skill is worthwhile thing.