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Ease of use vs ease of learning

Investing a little time in learning to use good tools now can save you much more time in the future!

Subject: Re: Ease of Use vs Ease of Learning
Date: Wed, 26 Nov 1997 14:43:02 -0600
Message-ID: <>
Newsgroups: comp.os.linux.advocacy

[Edited by Tracy]

If you want "Easy to use out of the box, try Caldera 1.1 BASE (not lite).
It's pretty easy to deal with, but you will have to learn a few new
pictures - very MAC like.

With NT you get easy to use Office.  That's it.  I can create
applications that use ActiveX which is essentially pieces of Office.  If
I don't have office (I don't have it on my home machine), there isn't
much to build with.

With Linux, the initial GUI and window manager is like the tip of the
iceberg. There are over 20,000 companants in a full Linux distribution,
including about 8000 shell commands, several thousand C functions, a few
hundred "Widgets", and 200 languages to pull them all together.  Not bad
for under $60.

Will you use all of those toys.  Probably not.	You'll have some
favorites, and you'll have some likes bash and PERL that you will use
because everybody else does.  I've been programming for UNIX for almost
20 years and I still haven't mastered all of the languages and utilities.

Often, you'll have a problem you want to solve, like "how can I scan this
CGI pattern to break out the arguments.  You could do it in C, but a
search of the documentation shows that you could use PERL, AWK, LEX, or
SED to parse streams of text.  You can then look at the see also
references and see that there are routines in C called regex which
handles regular expressions.  You search the web and discover that lots
of people are getting pretty good results in PERL.

When you start studying PERL, it seems new and hard, but as you learn
things like regular expressions, packf, and associative memory arrays,
you can relate some of it to what you've learned in VB or Java, or you
just find that it's pretty neat.  You browse a few libraries of source
code and see that you can write what you want pretty quickly.

Once you have a little (very little) mastery, you start whip up a few
PERL scripts.  Or if your really lazy you browse the web searching for
"cgi and perl" and find yourself references to about 1200 free to use
PERL scripts.  You pull a few down, change a few names to protect the
innocent, and you suddenly have some quick and easy "forms" and

You can go shopping for PERL scripts, PYTHON scripts, TCL/TK scripts,
or scripts for just about anything you like.

If you write a neat script, you can even add it to the pool.

And when you're finished playing, you can always go back to that glitzy
word processor, spreadsheet, and graphing tool, but then you realise that
your spreadsheet can have it's values set by a shell script.  You realize
that you can change the value every few seconds if you like.

Before long, you have a shell script that can pull down quotes for you 20
favorite stocks, or parse them off of a feed using PERL, and plug the
numbers into your "animated spreadsheet".  Before long, you are using
tools that were originally used to monitor the flow of traffic on a
wide-area network, to monitor the cash-flow of your multibillion dollar

Just a visioning exercise.  Pull up the NT system monitor.  Pull up a few
statistics (Context Switches/second, system calls/second...) and watch
them scroll by.  Now, imagine those are summaries of all the orders
coming in from your sales force, and the value of products being shipped,
and the values of the receivables payments.  Imagine being able to watch
all of this and getting updates with the entry of each transaction, along
with averaging over a 1 hour period (you don't want to miss something
while you're in the bathroom do you?

Now imagine that your customers could be entering their orders via the WEB
and your could graph that activity, as well as the activity of each sales
representative.  When the boss calls, you know exactly, to the minute,
what the company is doing and where the bottlenecks are.
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