Keep it simple – live a default life

One of the great advantages of open-source is that the code is open to all. Moreover, open-source developers just love to cater to your every need, allowing you to customize their software in ways that aren’t usually possible with commercial software.

Even though I love open-source through and through, I have chosen a different path. I live a default life.

For at least the last decade or so I have made it my practice to never customize a piece of software unless I find it so execrable that I must bend it to my will to get work done. Or I find an alternative, such as using Firefox instead of Internet Explorer.

I live a default life. Plain, yes. Ordinary, yes. But also simple. When I move to a new machine I don’t have to bring over oodles of customization files — I just go with the flow, holding my nose where others would leap at the opportunity to make the software just so.

I also prefer to let others do the work whenever possible. For example, that’s why I run my blog using the WordPress software not on a special site, but on wordpress.com. Let them do the heavy lifting, I have enough on my hands writing the blog. I don’t want to be the sysadmin too.

I was reminded of this just a few minutes ago, when I took a peek at Bob Sutor’s blog, and noticed his post, More site tweaking. Read it and I trust you will get my point.

I’m in a bit of a pickle here. I spent some time last week with the good folks from redmonk while they were in Stamford, CT, for an IBM analyst’s conference. I told them about a post I planned to write, one that might even subject them to ridicule, but they understood my point and said, “Bring it on.”

Here’s my problem. Bob and the monker’s both use WordPress, as do I. But they are each running it from their own servers. Bob is tweaking, while Steve O’Grady and the gang are changing their themes about every ten minutes.

I used to play with themes myself. It is an addiction. I was only saved from hours of playing with themes by stumbling into a theme that happened to have a great personal appeal, one so strong that I am locked into that theme for the forseeable future. See my post On Ferrara Cafe (who said software couldn’t be romantic?). By the way, James Governor of Redmonk said this was his favorite post of this blog. He even called it “Proustian,” high praise indeed.

While I would prefer to make Steve the butt of my humor, I found the response time so slow when I tried to review some of his posts from last summer that I was thrown into a state of melancholy, thinking I might have make Bob the subject of my post. Yet now I learn Bob is tweaking away.

I just labor away. I know I labor in obscurity, but I also do that labor with confidence that the good folks at WordPress know more than I want to ever know about running a site that can support tens of thousands of bloggers. Let them do the heavy lifting, I have a hard-enough time just writing posts.

I’m going to put that post on hold, and will wait until I have a suitable subject for my post.

Here’s a hint for those those who have followed this blog.

It’s about the notion of “The Future is Now” as it applies to a road trip. You should be able to write it yourself. Indeed, I’m hoping you do, so I can be spared the effort.

We shall see.

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3 Comments

  1. Posted December 6, 2006 at 14:54 | Permalink | Reply

    nice to hear you’re a lessconfig man. its a good way to live. lessconfig and lesscode- making development and maintenance easier..

    and i am still on MT- we’re in mid-cutover. thus Stephens’ theme roundabout.

    GREAT to meet you last week.

  2. Posted December 7, 2006 at 11:18 | Permalink | Reply

    Dave,

    Incidentally, I do not use a standard WordPress theme. The look of my site evolved from an old Blogger theme. When I decided to use WordPress, I heavily hacked the theme so that I could insert WordPress into my existing site rather than have that as the dominant software. I love WordPress, but if I were to start all over again I might go with drupal. At some point I’ll expand on this over in my blog.

    Bob Sutor

  3. Posted December 7, 2006 at 12:11 | Permalink | Reply

    Bob,

    Thanks.

    Drupal is a fabulous piece of software. I use it to power http://daveshields.net and http://opensourcevolunteers.net.

    Several IBMers in Cambridge wrote a series of articles about Drupal that can be found at our developerWorks site.

    The CTO of civicspacelabs.com, a company that supports a widely-used extension to Drupal, is Kieran Lal. He used to work for IBM, where he helped run the ExtremeBlue program for summer interns.

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