Controversy

We have never been shy about voicing our opinions or being controversial. While discussing some PR requirements recently with a potential agency, the question was asked about whether we would be willing to be controversial.

We are not necessarily controversial, just that we hold a view that is usually a little different from the mainstream views. It could be said that we bring the alternative to the mainstream.

But then, so did some world governments, bringing open source software into their work places, successfully or unsuccessfully in the last few years instead of Microsoft.

Someone recently suggested that we were anti-microsoft. I don’t think that is case. Microsoft has its place in a technology infrastructure. It is simply that its position is usually overrated or misplaced. As far as desktops for technically shy users are concerned, there is really no alternative but Microsoft Windows. I can hear the Mac users scream that Macs are also an alternative. Theoretically, yes but the fact is that they are too expensive for someone to dabble with it. This is precisely the reason that Microsoft Windows dominates the desktop market.

We support and use Linux. In fact, the majority of the desktops in the office run Linux (Ubuntu as it happens) but people who have a non-technical role use Windows. They could use Linux but Windows is better suited to their role.

This is not necessarily a cost-saving decision. Sure, we have saved thousands of pounds by sticking to Linux instead of using Windows but that is a co-incidence more than anything. In some ways, it is a testament to the skillset of the people who work at Kraya that they are comfortable with Linux. The mindset of Linux is in alignment with the mindset of a developer.

I used to develop in Windows and I often found myself fighting with Windows, whereas with Linux, it just fits. There are several reasons for this. One being that Linux forces you to understand what you (trying to ) do to a bit more depth instead of pretending its magically taken care of.

I am not, for one moment implying that developers who use or develop on the Windows platform is inferior or not as skilled. Simply that my experience was that the Windows platform made it easier to do things badly and more difficult to do things well.

Microsoft has done wonders in bringing technology to the masses and making it more accessible. However, there is still a massive barrier, even for people specifically in the technology sector to appreciate and use technologies which require a bit more experience or knowledge to use appropriately.

There are a couple of really good examples. PostgreSQL is a powerful outstanding database server that can easily compete with Microsoft SQL Server and Oracle. However, very few people know about it and even fewer use it.

MySQL on the other hand is also an open source database server but is much more widely used and accepted.

It surprises me when MySQL is used when PostgreSQL is, from a technical perspective better suited. MySQL is faster than PostgreSQL at the cost of poor transaction managment (at best). For any system where data integrity is even remotely important, PostgreSQL is a better choice. However, since there are better GUI tools for MySQL and since it is easier to get the hang of, it gets chosen.

This give technology and people in that sector a bad name. Every tool or software has its place, and should be used in an environment where its strengths are displayed, not its weaknesses. We have instances where we use multiple database servers within one project. PostgreSQL for all the data integrity sensitive areas and MySQL for the speed sensitive areas. Sometimes you want integrity and speed. In these cases, you have to make a choice based on which is more important or layer the databases to use the strengths of both.

Metaphorically speaking, MySQL is a hammer, and PostgreSQL is a sledgehammer. Would you use a sledgehammer to crack a nut, or a hammer to crack a slab of concrete?

Before someone jumps down my throat, I am not suggesting that PostgreSQL is better than MySQL or vice versa – just that they both have different goals, different strengths and weaknesses. They have spent a lot of effort to converge and strengthen their weaknesses but not matter the amount of convergence, their core goals are still different that they will never truly be able to remove their weaknesses without giving up some of their strengths as well. One tool cannot be both a hammer and a sledgehammer…

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