Tuesday, March 07, 2006

What's in Your Toolbox?

Note: This entry appeared in my original blog, "Home|Work"

I'm going to take a small break from exploring the wonderful world of free software in order to address a related topic.

In my previous post, I talked about OpenOffice.org, one of the many pieces of free software available out on the Web. Since then I came across a discussion on Digg about the relative benefits of OpenOffice.org (OOo) vs MS Office. The general consensus was that OOo was a pretty good productivity suite, but that it lagged behind MS Office. The latter had features as yet unimplemented by OOo and if you needed those features then MS Office was the way to go. Despite being a strong believer in the Open Source Software movement, I have to say that I definitely agree with the last part of that statement. I've believed for a long time that you should get the best tool for the job. If you need the features that only MS offers, then by all means get it.

I'm a computer programmer. The computer on my desk is one that I built myself. I wanted to have the tools specifically designed for my needs. My friend Billy Wilson is an electrician. He was out doing some work for me recently and I saw his tool set. He has specialized tools that I would never have thought existed, let alone needed, and those were only the ones he brought into the house. My mom's husband, Steve Cotner, is the President of Corporate Intelligence Consultants. He's shown me some of the high tech gear that he has to sweep a room for bugs. I'm a technologist and this stuff intimidated me!

I guess what I'm trying to say is that if you are going to excel in whatever your craft is, it is worth getting the best tools available. Oh, sure, I could get by with a lesser computer (and did for many years), but I'm much more efficient with my current machine. Billy could get by with cheaper tools, but he gets his work done a lot faster with the ones he has. Steve got by for years without his advanced bug detector, but you can bet he enjoys having it available when he needs it. Who wants to just "get by"?

So, what tools do you use and which ones could use an upgrade?

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