Dolos ; Techne

[Dolos]: (anc. greek) Trick, trickery, guile, art of thinking out of the box

[Techne]: (anc. greek) Applied knowledge, craft, as opposed to episteme, pure knowledge of crafts/systems

Our job in technology (hint hint) is to make stuff. But as systems get more complex and our tools… evolve, we get closer to being dolos masters than technicians.

BBEdit just turned 20. It’s changed with the times, adapting to new possibilities and giving me new options and functionality, shedding irrelevant parts and struts to keep lean and efficient. From the day I started earning a living writing stuff (code, courses, and other misc items) to this day, it remained with me, and I fire it up quicker than any other application. If I had any statistic software running, I bet it’d say I spend more time in it than even Finder. Getting used to its way of doing things means becoming proficient in the techne of using it, but mostly, I use it for dolos matters.

On the other side of the ring, Xcode, in its 4th iteration, works more and more and more against me. Using it becomes a dolos process of achieving techne. Most of the scripts and techniques I build over time to optimize my time efficiently gets broken with even the next minor revision of the only way to build mac and iOS application software. Yes, I’ve tried alternative IDEs too, but can’t get them to work as I’d like them to.

To give credit where it’s due, then, thank you so much BBEdit, and happy birthday! I plodded through my professional life knowing that in one way or another you would be able to help me do what I want to do, despite the odds. If I had anything negative to say about you, it would be that you spoiled me for other pieces of software. I kind of expect every single one of the professional tools I use to be as proficient as you are, and I have to say it’s not very charitable.

I am fully aware that a bad craftsman will blame their tools. It’s even a saying around these parts. The thing is, for what I do we don’t have a choice anymore. It’s Xcode or nothing (and the latest version, at that) for packaging applications to be deployed, the latest version requiring the latest version of the OS, and I can’t say I’m impressed by either.

I had to switch to RAID drives for 10.7 to be any kind of fluid, and even then I feel like it’s getting worse. I’m looking for SSD drive big enough to hold everything I need and that ain’t easy, or cheap. Xcode takes a full minute to start up, with 4 2Ghz processors and 8 gigs of RAM. Switching between applications sometimes take up to ten seconds while everything swaps in and out of RAM. And of course, packaging a normally sized application gives me time to make a cup of coffee.

At the same time, I guess I shouldn’t be complaining. Even big companies and the people who would outbid me with customers end up needing my dolos-type of knowledge… Which means that as long as all these tools will be in that frustrating state, I’m going to be well occupied, and incidentally well fed.

And I hope the same applies to you, BBEdit! I’m willing to bet I’ll still be working with you in ten years!


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