If your tools don't work for you, get better tools

Many tools are synonymous with their respective professions. Workers in those professions often take pride in the tools they use, making sure they can handle every task. And they make damn sure not to misuse those tools in ways which might damage or break them.

No matter what tools you use, be sure to keep them in order Photo: PxHere

Hairdressers don’t use their scissors to open a bag of pasta or make a cardboard cutout; they have other scissors for that. Carpenters don’t use the same tools for yard work. Chefs have different knives for different things because a sharp and thin carving knife would quickly dull or even break if used to cut hard vegetables. Meanwhile, software developers often use the same computer for everything, including work, entertainment, learning, private activities, or online shopping.

Without a clear distinction between a tool we need for our work and a personal electronic device, it can become hard to reason about the necessity of various features and the price we are willing to pay for them. For some, that’s an excuse to go over the top with specs they’ll never utilise and write it off as a business expense. Others take the more rational “I’m spending $$$ on it anyway; if I just spend $ more on a better GPU, I’ll get to play all my favourite games at 144 fps” approach. And then there are those who buy whatever computer fits their personal needs, then try to do all their work on it.

Is 200 MB of RAM too much for a chat app?

We’ve all seen memes of Chrome eating RAM and rants about Electron-based apps using more than 100 MB of RAM for (seemingly) trivial tasks. If you think those are relatable, here’s my advice: get a better computer or STFU. Yes, Electron apps aren’t exactly efficient with hardware resources, especially compared to what some of us grew up with - 256 MB was plenty to run even the most advanced 3D games in the era of Windows 95, and now you’re telling me I need all that just to run a text editor?

Even most cheap entry-level computers nowadays come with 8 GB of RAM. That’s more than enough for basic personal use, even if Chrome eats half of it. But if you think you can keep all your personal and work stuff running at the same time with just 8 GB of RAM, you’re going to have a bad time.

Get the right tools

Twenty minutes spent stressing over a slow computer each day for a year adds up to 80 hours of your time. Depending on your hourly rate, that could be enough for a whole new workstation or at least enough for a significant upgrade of the components slowing you the most. Don’t complain about bloaty software slowing down your work if your tools aren’t up to the task in the first place.