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Someone was asking recently how to make choices amongst options for complex products they had little current experience with. I think this was @kensanata though I can't find the toot in question.

Specifically, the issue was making sense of a bunch of online reviews of dubious origin, reputation, expertise, and validity. In this case a piece of musical equipment if I recall.

I'd meant to reply at the time, my advice remains:

  • Find local domain experts you trust. A local band, music shop (if it exists), school, etc. Practitioners tend to be the most expert users.
  • Recognise the difference between expert/professional systems, and mass-market kit. Yes, the former is often expensive, but as a twist, the latter is often junk.
  • In some cases, practitioners may be cash-poor and looking to offload old kit cheap. Bonus.

One recommendation comes from my years in Linux advocacy, and the perrenial question, "what distro should I use?"

  • All the mainstream ones are more than sufficient. Generalising, major branding does have value.
  • There's a key differentiator that experts will be aware of, for Linux that's the package management system, effectively the core from which the rest of the system depends. Find your products core structure.
  • If you're going to rely on someone local for support, use what they use, recommend, and support. Your key differentiator here is has support, and what has support is what your local domain expert uses. Yes, this might mean you're using something oddball by global standards, but in your own universe it's blesssed.

Otherwise, finding an inexpensive-but-not-bottom-of-the-barrel option as your first experience is useful.

Borrow / lend / lease is a great way to get familiarity. As are hands-on educational / training / testing sessions. (There are reasons vendors often support these.)

If you don't have local experts, find discussions or trade publications, ignore tha ads, and see what the practitioners talk about in their own equipment. If you can find a "how I got started" discussion, look to that, as beginner and expert needs do differ. Early experiences are often a mix of nostalgia and frustration with equipment or tool limitations, so there's that going for you.

(Way back in the day I was looking through a tech magazine packed with Iomega adverts, though the technical credits lauded magneto-optical drives. The latter were spendy, but didn't suffer the click-of-death issues of the advertised crap. Pay attention to what's used, not what's shilled.)

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