Fish fish fish fish fish fish fishy fishy wishy fishy wishy fish!

And now for something completely different... an update!

Increasing problems with Opera for BeOS (which is not the same as the Opera that you Linux mavens and Windows zombies are using, just for the record, as we're at an earlier release candidate) have driven me to finally abandon Blogger for the much saner and easier method of updating straight in HTML and FTPing my materials up to my page. Inefficient, you say? Requires extra effort you say? Less elegant than a blog, you say?

Yeah, but y'know, what the hell?

One thing which I haven't waxed eloquent (or Eloquent-Lite) enough on has been my operating system of choice. Despite the various problems that I've had while using it (mostly related to its rather limited Javascript support and non-existent Java support), BeOS has kept me in its clutches ever since I installed it one fateful March day (beware the Apps of March!). What, exactly, is it that draws me to this crazy, kooky OS that has the same basic user base size as the Irving Gould fan-club?

First and foremost... it's elegant. Let's face it, Windows is about as elegant as your Fat Aunt Helga in a tutu trying to Riverdance. Love it or hate it, Windows has been built large and built on the same basic premise as a clown car. You pack a lot into a little space and if that reduces efficiency, well the audience doesn't notice it until the clowns come spilling out of the doors at which point you realise just how much there is to go wrong with this setup. Okay, that stretched the metaphor to the breaking point, but that illustrates my point! Windows is like that metaphor and I just stretched it and... and... oh all right, I'll give it up. But I won't give up on BeOS (what a segue, eh?)! It is a much smaller, neater OS that glides where Windows stomps. Operation is generally smooth and simple, and I can boot from cold to Be in just under thirty seconds (and it takes that long because I've added a good many apps to my User startup script).

Be also reminds me of Perl. In Perl, there are a hundred different ways that you can tackle a problem and you're allowed to tackle it any way you wish. With BeOS, I've often found that if one way of doing things doesn't work for me, I can just work up another. Since the system's well-integrated with its bash shell (unlike Windows and its DOS-based Advanced CLI Substitute), Be allows for script-oriented solutions for the times when I'm feeling Geeky enough to use them! For instance, I alternate between using the UNIX tool cron and a GUI-based scheduling program, depending upon which one works best for my current situation. And though Be isn't 100% POSIX compliant, it's close enough that I can generally add well-written UNIX tools (like cweave and ctangle) to my toolkit of apps.

Plus, BeOS is just so well integrated with itself. Windows' FIND function has been replaced by Queries. Queries allow you to write system searches based upon simple name-based attributes, or search specific document attributes, or even construct complex formula-based questions; whatever floats your boat. If you add a new filetype (based upon the MIME file-typing standard, yay!) then you will have all of that file-type's attributes available to be queried. Thus, if I want to find a specific email within my mail folder, I can select a type of email and attributes of Subject, To, From, Subject line, etc. It's possible to use a filter-less email client and to be perfectly happy doing so, filtering all of your mail via queries. In fact, a query filter has some hidden bonuses: the chiefest of which is that since it's not being sorted to different directories, all of your mail will be able to fit several 'filters' at once. You can have a filter that screens together all of your friends; but if they're part of a writing mailing list you belong to as well, you can also have them show up in that capacity too, based upon the 'From' line.

Another wonderful integration aspect is that the aforementioned mail system is based around one directory. No matter what client you use, all of your mail will always be in this one directory (or sub-directories, if you filter with a mail-program). That means that you can switch from one client to another and it's virtually seamless because your new mail program knows precisely where to look for your mail. No proprietary formats. No silly conversion programs. Just sweet, sweet email. Newsgroups should work the same way, but as I read them on my provider's server, I haven't tested this.

There's no registry. There's no registry bloat. The only registry-alike is a register of MIME-types that keeps track of apps (without bugging you) for use in the right-click contextual menu. Directories are updated in real-time. And so on and so forth.

But most of all, I like BeOS for the small-town feel to it. It reminds me a lot of how that used to appeal with the Amiga. It was the small little community of users who supported one another and didn't let anyone fall to the dogs if they needed help. Sure, in both cases, we wondered if the supporting companies were doing right by their OSes, but during the scary times we did manage to hold ourselves together with support, guidance and user-built apps. I'm hoping to heck that Be Inc pulls off its plan to stay alive and afloat in this seascape of Windows dreadnought and Linux Destroyers and at the same time fearing for my favorite OS's survival. But there's a thrill every time Be gains more of a toe-hold on life. When Mozilla came out in a usable (albeit buggy and incomplete) form, I was elated. When BeOS support for Neverwinter Nights was announced, I cheered. When the Black and White fund was created, I applauded. In bits and pieces, BeOS is being bootstrapped up to the level of other OSes. It's a slower process and yet somehow much more satisfying. When was the last time you had to fear for your favorite OS's survival and pray that each clarion sounding was not its death-knell? This sort of elation isn't for everyone... I'm not even sure it's entirely for me... but for the moment, as long as there's more good news than bad, I'm going to be hanging onto my hopes with both hands.

Peace. And no matter what OS you use, love. I'm not an OS snob... I admit I might have been at one time, but diversity is the spice of life. I regularly use Mac OS (fun OS, even if it's missing some things that I need, like a CLI), Windows (it has its place in the universe, even if it's not my favorite), Linux (over shell, but still, that counts), and so on. Just like your right to swing your fist ends where the other person's nose begins, reasonable advocacy ends where another person's right to enjoy their favorite OS exists. I will stand behind my statements that Windows is bloated and slow. I will not, however, say that anyone's wrong for loading it onto their PC so that they can play System Shock 2. That's just wrong. There is a place for Windows. I may not care for that place, but it does exist.

In short, if you plan to write me, go right ahead. I love to hear from people who read my works. But if you write to me about how "BeOS sux", expect to get back a looong email checked with aspell, correcting your grammar, word-choice and otherwise missing the point of your little advocacy project.

Peace and joy, friends.

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