Thursday, September 13, 2012

Day 102: Regrets Abound?

Hardly even a question now... I'm going to hate Thursdays more than any other day of the week. I have class from 11 in the morning till nearly 9 at night. It's going to be one heck of a day...

Part way through the summer I was offered the opportunity to take Metadata and Access. A course I was very disappointed to have missed out on due to some course sign-up shenanigans. But ever since I dropped Public Libraries in order to take up that offer, I've been wondering if maybe I'm just going to regret taking it. Metadata's a necessity for me, and the four-day weekend thing is going to be nice. But the headache-inducing Thursday alone may not be worth it. We'll see how this semester pans out.

My lesson today wasn't really library school related, despite having three classes. No, today's lesson was about building your own computer. See, a friend of mine back home helped me put together this brand new desktop for myself, and it's part of the reason my posting this week has fallen by the wayside.

I had originally wanted a hackintosh, that is to say, a self-made machine running Mac OSX. It's called a hackintosh because Mac OSX will not run on non-apple hardware, so to do it you need to hack the OS a bit. But ultimately, my friend and some of my online research convinced me that it's too finicky for me to try and have as my primary machine. So instead I've gone with a Windows/Linux dualboot system. It's just been so fun tinkering with it and making things work and smoothing out all the wrinkles that I hadn't put aside the time to write my posts for the week. Shame on me. But I've learned a lot about the workings of my computer, the ins and outs of the software and hardware... just as I had hoped I would.

But the biggest lesson of all has been about Maximizing versus Satisficing. It's something we talked about in class a bit last year, so not completely unrelated to library school. The basic idea is that when ever you're doing something or making a choice, you can be a maximizer or satisficer. Maximizers try to achieve some absolute objective ideal of "The Best" that doesn't really exist and isn't achievable. While Satisficers try to achieve their own subjective ideal of "Best for Them".

So bringing this thought to the computer I've built, today I was trying to finally make my decision about which distribution of Linux I should install. Now for those uninitiated into the bizarre world of online discussion, the best way to start a fight in a group Linux-minded people is to ask which distribution is "The Best". "Ubuntu!" goes the cry. "No, Debian!" shouts another. "No, OpenSUSE!" says another still. And the argument goes in circles as they debate about what file structure is most efficient or which one is too mainstream.

As someone who is very much a maximizer trying desperately to curb those inclinations, I have spent more time than I care to admit poking about and reading online trying to decide which distribution I should use. When finally, I realized...

Lesson 103: It doesn't actually matter which is "Best"; which one do I want

Which one is going to be easiest for me to use? Which will be the least hassle for me and what I want to do on the machine? Which am I going to have and find the most support in? These are the questions that are going to get me the best experience in the long run.

It reminds me of one of my nights at a pub while I was back in Ontario. I ordered a Rickard's White and one of the guys I was with was just absolutely appalled and started giving me a hard time because it's "such a bad beer". I just couldn't understand why my choice in beer was causing him such obvious offence. I wasn't forcing him to drink it. By ordering it I wasn't stamping it with the Veronica Seal of Approval and declaring it "The Best Beer to Have Ever Been Brewed By Mortal Hands". It's just that of the options given, it was what I most felt like drinking.

On the whole, I think I've been much too governed by that kind of thinking; that my every choice has to be the objective best and absolutely defensible one. Why shouldn't I just be happy and satisfied choosing what I want for myself? Maybe it'll turn out that there was a better, more perfect choice I could have made, but that shouldn't make me any less happy.

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