Being Mentally Prepared for a Switch: Questions for a New Adventure

25 October, 2020
5 min read

Switching to a new computing platform is a great challenge, particularly when you think of new ways of accomplishing things. This post is going to look at how one has to be mentally prepared for any switch, whether on a desktop or mobile platform.

If something works for you, there is o reason why you have to ditch it for another one, especially if this involves some production work. This is the old wisdom contained in the phrase, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

However, there comes a time in life when you feel that owing to a new working environment, a change in social, economic or even professional circumstances makes you change your general outlook of the world. This is when it will make you realise the need to switch not only the clothes you wear, the house you live in or those whom you hang out with, but even the devices that you use.

While the above scenario may sound like a seismic shift, yet it involves one’s readiness to embrace change.

Thus, change can either be forced on us, or we need to be mentally prepared for it. As we are not talking in general terms about this change, we are particularly interested in how one approaches the subject of switching from one application or operating system to another, be it on the desktop or mobile platform.

What is a popular platform? It is difficult to say. However, “popularity” often refers to widespread use of a given piece of software: it could be a platform such as Windows, an application such as MS Word or even a mobile device such as Android.

Using one of these popular platforms has got certain advantages that come with it:

  • Help is easy to get. Simply run into a problem when using Word, by going to Google Search, with your problem is likely to yield a solution.
  • General assumptions about a user will often include you in the process. Have you ever noticed how in a conference room, whenever documents are to be exchanged, the assumption made will be that everyone has got MS Word on their computer? So you are most likely to run into no difficulties exchanging data with strangers once they know you have a computer. They assume:
    • That you have Windows running on your laptop; and
    • That you have MS Word on it.
  • These assumptions will also translate into procurement decisions by companies, schools and other organisations. This means that whenever an application is developed, the developers will assume that a typical customer would be on this popular platform.

Unpopular Platforms

Just as in life there are popular platforms (based on the number of users), there are other platforms that are less common. Thus, “unpopularity” does not imply inferior properties, bad or defective.

But is it true that there are unporpular platforms? Some people find comfort in using a platform that is widely being used. But what is important to bear in mind is that the way we use our computers is not the same.

Communities are formed around common interests against those of the rest of the world.

So the million-dollar question is: who is your community? This is important because your productivity may be boosted when you rightfully identify your community, small as it is.

This will put you into the right frame of mind for any switch you might be contemplating.

So a switch to a new application or operating system should be premised on how comfortable you see yourself using it. A popular platform may fall out of favour with the way you organise your work. Perhaps some updates broke your important applications?

Important questions for switching

Let us consider someone switching from Windows to Linux: he or she might want to be assured of his or her productivity gain on the new platform.

Some of the questions he or she might have include:

  1. Is it user-friendly in terms of its desktop layout? Controls? Filesystem?
  2. Where can I get help when I run into difficulties? Are there people around me who use it? Are there groups on the Internet I can be part of that help me use this new platform?
  3. How accessible is it? Accessibility in terms of installing the operating system itself, using the applications and screen-reading and magnification.
  4. How do I carry out simple functions I had been used to such as:
    • Word-processing;
    • Multimedia;
    • File management;
    • Web browsing;
    • Spreadsheets use?

Questions like these ones are not restricted to just switching operating systems, but even

Switching fromMoving to
MS OfficeLibreOffice
Windows Media PlayerVLC
JAWS For WindowsNVDA
AndroidiOS
WindowsLinux or Mac OS X
WhatsappTelegram

Trying out First

From the above, one can see that one has to be assured of his or her wisdom in switching. While you can read a lot around a topic, and think that you are more than prepared, you may be shocked that in practice, you are far from competence in the new platform.

The best thing to do is whenever it is practicable, you should try out a destination platform. For devices, you can try out in the shop or from a friend’s.

Otherwise, for applications, downloading the program onto your computer, and run it in a sandboxed environment or a virtual machine may be the trick.

We will be covering running applications in sandboxes and virtual machines in future posts.

Conclusion

Plunging into a new environment, after you’d been used to another one may be challenging. Yet it may be the best decision you could make. This isn’t an act of bravery as such, but one based on your own career goals. However, it takes more than just a wish to do so, but mental preparedness.

On this site, I will start posting some tutorials that can help you switch to the Linux world, ranging from setting it up for accessibility to software management. All these will be posted under the Tutorials section of the site.

The closing thought of this post is: If you are not yet ready, wait until you are. Do not just make a switch for the sake of appearing being cool, but because you see the need for the change. Until next time, have a good time and thanks for reading!