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cogito ergo blogito
In lieu of anything from Penguin Pete today, click this link, if you dare, and prepare to read why "The Chinese Language is not Ready for the Desktop". And ponder, the horror, there's people out there who think just like me! Unless my Tyler Durden alter-ego got up and did it. I did just wake from a nap.
The best contender I have is "Seven Reasons Why Beef Is Not Ready For The Dinner Table", and even it lacks the same punch. So, Ubuntuforums user aysiu, thanks for doing my job today!
Y'know, normally for Christmas day I do a post with a bunch of links to online games and stuff. But this year, I figured that isn't nearly as much fun for readers. You know, like you didn't know where to find Flash games yourself? So this time I figure, let's dish up some original content, in the form of a few short rants about Ways Technology Ticked Me Off in 2010. Because there's no way that you could think of what Pete's going to say all by yourself. Nobody's that schizo.
People Who Complain About Weather When They Don't Have Weather
Online forums bring you in contact with people from all over the country. So you really get to appreciate how insulated and cut-off from the world some of the Southern states are in the winter, because you have to listen to them cry about their weather. And I'm not talking about actual mudslides or hurricanes, I'm talking about weather-complaining for the status value of pointing out that paradise is all you have to complain about. "It got to fifty-three in Florida last night, can you stand it, fiiiiiifty threeeeee! I had to put on a jacket! We got 0.5 centimeters of rain in Texas last night, the roads were awful!"
See, I'm in Iowa, and I'm here to tell you that the rule I've learned is that you don't even talk about your weather unless the weather made a serious attempt to kill you. As the tornado rips your house off the foundations and throws it at Nebraska like a sinner in the hands of a spited god, then you can thumb it out on your cell phone "Well, the weather's a tad brisk today!" Otherwise, please, just shut up, OK?
You want a weather story? We haven't even had anything like real weather this year, but here's a random event from last year's winter when we had, like, enough snow to bury the downtown skyscrapers: I'm sitting in shorts in the office at 3 AM and the window's open. It's like ten degrees out there, snow everywhere, driveway's been iced for so long that we gave up pouring ice melt and now when we come home, we just drive the car fast and charge the driveway and hope we can slide uphill into the garage. But there's more snow coming, and no matter how cold it gets, the humidity and air pressure when a storm front is pushing in makes you feel like you're in hell for about thirty minutes, so I have to open the window and let the cold arctic air blast on me just to keep breathing while I try to work.
Nice peaceful January night, whole house asleep except me and the ticking of my keyboard, and suddenly right outside the window something goes BLANG! BALALALALALALALA...!!! This goes on and on, a foot from my face, it's pitch black out there, it is the godawfulest loud noise ever, like I don't even know, is a Sherman tank going to crash through the wall, is the Terminator going to pop up in the window, what? I'm terrified out of my mind because of the suddenness and loudness of it and the adrenal is kicking in and my brain is screaming "fight!" but I can't see anything. It turns out to be an icicle that's about four feet long and as big around as my arm, which has picked this random moment to fall off the edge of the roof and lodge itself straight into the outdoor air conditioning unit, which is just below my window. With the fan running, trying to either chew the icicle down to size or break the fan, but the fan is winning this one.
There, that's just one moment of life where there's real weather. Right after this, it did one of those famous rain/sleet/snow mixes we get where it's basically unflavored 7-11 Slurpy falling out of the sky. You see me complaining about this? It has to dip below twenty degrees before I put on anything more than jeans and a Tshirt, that's how well-adjusted I am. And I know better than to grouse about that online, because some guy in Canada can shoot back, "Aw, yah big puss, you don't know what it's like to live where it's really cold!" and he's right - I don't.
Now a short one. Minecraft, I've blogged about it before, and here it is Christmas and I'm still playing the damned thing. I even quit for two weeks and came back, like falling off the wagon. I've had game addictions before, but this is the first time where it's gone beyond being fun any more and I just slump to the computer to feed the monkey. It's like having a job. I actually hear myself thinking things like, "I have got to finish the glass roof on my tree-farm right now, and then I can take a break."
Any parents out there getting this? You ask your kid to tell you about school, and they'll go "We watched a video in so-and-so's class, and then we watched a movie in another class, and then we watched CNN's KidsNews in Current Events..." All day long, they watch videos. Every now and then, I'm asking "Do they still use books any more in school?" Oh, yeah, sometimes.
You know, it's wonderful we have instant digital video technology in the schools, far be it from me to be a Luddite and criticize that, but you education people do know that we get YouTube right here at home, right? You know your kids can get CNN StudentNews right here? We used to have to yell at the kids "Turn off that TV and do your homework!" and now TV is homework. You know, kids will watch the exact same videos on YouTube from home voluntarily, along with a parent there to explain things to them one on one and a shelf full of books to read or be read to, too. It's just hard for me to see kids going to school at taxpayer expense, to get less education than they get at home for free, and not start to wonder if something's wrong. Are they still called teachers anymore, or do they just have somebody to turn on the video player?
My search rankings may go up soon, because I just discovered from Google Webmaster Tools that they still like for you to submit a sitemap. Yes, no kidding! Fire up the Franklin stove and hitch up the horse and buggy, grampaw! Hey, should I change the site design back to the 1998 web-safe color palette with all the Jello shades of crappy green while I'm at it? I'd just like to know why we need sitemaps for the world's biggest search engine to find all the pages on my site, when wget doesn't need one to spider my site from the command line?
The difference between kids and grownups online is that grownups are in a hurry.
That's really the most fundamental nut of the matter right there. That's why there are so many arguments online. Because the Internet hides your age - or at least most forum nicks do - and you have a generation gap where really both parties would see eye to eye more, were it not for the temporal economy. Kids basically have days and days of time to waste, they're just begging to fill the hours. A 16-year-old during school vacations has the schedule of a potted plant. Too young to drive, too old to enjoy losing their brain in an all-day cartoon binge, too poor to afford better video games. With adults, it's a wonder you hear from them at all.
So I see some online question posted with one of those endlessly idle speculations posted by some tot on Slashdot, asking some vapid inanity like "I caught my sister using a dowsing rod. She said she can find phone lines with it. Is there really anything to this dowsing stuff?"
Now this is as pointless an opening to a discussion as when your toddler asks "Why don't trees fly?", but what the heck, you saw it and it only takes a minute to answer, right? So you post back, "Yeah, it's bunk. Nobody's ever proven that it does anything." For another adult, that answer is fine. But we're talking about a grounded 15-year-old in a town with a population of twelve. On a Saturday. He wants details, and he's just discovered coffee, so he's ready to go until at least four AM on Monday.
To you, it's social interaction. To him, it's a sport. In his head, Marv Albert is narrating his every move.
Citations? Examinations? Cross-examinations? Devil's advocate? Corollaries? Is there a white paper on this? Does OSHA have an MSDS on it? He heard in his Social Studies class that so and so and such and such, what about that? And by then you're just "No, no, yes, no, goddamnit just read the Wikipedia entry like anybody else!" What? You elitist! "Hey, you posted here asking the opinion of random strangers on the Internet; I am a random stranger on the Internet and that was my answer!" But no, they weren't looking for answers. They have to nail this thing down, dammit. It's making them bite the insides of their cheek and pick the scab over their blackhead, they're sketching on it so hard. The Wikipedia page doesn't really come out and say "This is bunk! Quit wasting your time!" because, duh, it's written by grounded 15-year-olds who think that it's more important to keep an open mind about any kind of fringe science on the off-chance that this is one time when a thousand years of established science will be wrong.
I swear to God, I am never answering another question on the Internet as long as I live. Even if it's just asking the day of the week. "It's Saturday!" "Ah ah ah, you didn't ask what time zone I'm in; I caught you being nationalist! And what if I'm Jewish, you're not anti-Semitic, are you? So what day is it on the Israeli lunar calendar? Besides, can you really stand behind Plato's allegorical cave and assert that you know what day of the week it really is? What if the calender is a vast right-wing conspiracy?"
Or here, I'll just start posting this in response:
Because you know anybody that bored has dishes in the sink at the moment. Especially the Foul Bachelor Frogs out there. And it's the perfect motivator! You wouldn't let down Batman, would you?
Let me explain the concept of geek rage to you.
The title of this post is the #1 question that sets my teeth on edge. That's from people. From a computer, the question that drives my fists through the screen is "Are you sure?" and its variants. Variants include "Ubuntu will shut down in 60 seconds." No, I clicked the button NOW so shut-down time is NOW. But from a human, "Why would you want to do that?" is really the question you should not ask me should you ever find yourself engaging me while I happen to be brandishing a weapon with the safety off, because I'm likely to just react on pure reflex without even knowing what I'm doing.
Like, for example, when I upgraded Ubuntu to Karmic Koala (or was it Kangaroo?), it suddenly removed Dillo. It removed Xscreensaver too, because fark you, but I could get Xscreensaver back after I upgraded. Why did it do this? I don't even know, but I know the reason will turn out to be stupid.
Everybody's reasons but mine are stupid. But I never question other people's reasons. Other people always question mine.
I go to install Dillo, and whoops, it's not in the package search. Period, no Dillo, no explanation, just fark you. I search for "ubuntu dillo" and sure enough pull up multiple explanations. this one says it's because of license issues and this one says it was because of stalled development, and so on.
A question I was aaaaaaalways asked back when I ran Slackware was "What's your problem with package managers?" Even good, smart people like Caitlyn Martin ask this. The tone of voice is always like that of a Dickens street urchin asking Scrooge why he doesn't like Christmas. Well, this is the problem with package managers. Using a package manager forces you to rely on other people to make your decisions for you. I don't like that. Not because I'm an anal-retentive control freak, but because other people can't possibly guess my motives and get it right all the time. There's a reason why the waiter in the restaurant asks you what he'll be serving you.
Now, I would hop on IRC, Ubuntuforums, Reddit, Launchpad, and so on and start shaking it out of people what the hell's going on with Dillo, but I know from experience that help is only for other people. Whenever I have a question, suddenly the whole wide world is one big bunch of Gumbys.
GUMBYS: "Why would you want to run an old, outdated, feature-poor piece of crap like Dillo?"
Now can I have my Dillo?
GUMBYS: "Why don't you use Lynx?"
Ah, good one! I do use Lynx sometimes, too, but it's too feature-poor. It doesn't display images. And navigating in it, especially to fill in forms, is a pain. Basically I use Lynx either for scripting or for the rare time when I'm in a mood to non-interactively read gobs and gobs of text on some site like TVTropes or Textfiles.
Now can I have my Dillo?
Now can I have my Dillo?
GUMBYS: "Well, you have Firefox, Konqueror, Seamonkey, and Lynx installed. How many web browsers do you need?"
Millions and millions and millions.
Now can I have my Dillo?
GUMBYS: "Well, why don't you just quit bitching and install it from source?"
Ah ha! Ah HAHAHAHAHA! Ah! That's it, I give up, I'm building my own rocket and I'm going to find a new planet to settle where I never have to deal with you people again. Install from source??? On Ubuntu??? You're kidding me??? Source??? Ubuntu??? Do you have any idea what you're proposing?
To install from source on Ubuntu, I'm going to have to have a compiler, linker, parser, libraries, and a command line that can sleep through the night without wetting itself on Ubuntu. You know what's going to happen when I try to do that? I'm going to have some dependency issue that requires some arcane library hosted only on a server on the dark side of the moon maintained by a sysadmin whose last installed distro was Caldera but he's since switched to Plan Nine From Bell Labs and when I show up frantically barking for my .lib.so file, he's going to look up from his daily Sunday anacrostic puzzle, set down his mug of yak kefir, and in a voice somewhat like that of the caterpillar in Alice and Wonderland, blow his hookah smoke in my face and ask me "Whhhyyyyy woooouulld yoooouuu waaaaaaaaaaant tooooo dooooo thaaaaaaaat?"
Because you can bet your ass they won't be in the package repositories.
It's like this every time I ask a tech-related question on the Internet. I almost wish I was being worked over by the Spanish Inquisition instead. Oh, for a nice, relaxing interrogation under thumbscrews right now.
(And this is the part where Slaskware, Gentoo, Linux-From-Scratch, and other wrench-monkey distros win the rounds that Ubuntu and company loses: They are built with the assumption that you're going to be compiling from source a lot, so they give you the full toolbox right from the start.)
Now can I have my Dillo?
GUMBYS: "Oh, wait, I think you could solve this with a GreaseMoneky script, you could force Slashdot to load in plain text..."
Look, if I have to write a script, I might as well write my own web browser while I'm at it, now mightn't I? And there's other sites that have this problem sometimes too.
GUMBYS: "Is it really that crucial? I'm on Internet Explorer 5.5 and the only site I go to is Zombo.com. Everything works fine for me! What's your problem?"
My problem is that I'm a freelance writer, it's my career, I've been doing it for going on a decade now. And when you write for the web, the instant you sit down to write an article, you must become The Smartest Person In The World Who Knows Everything (TM). On deadline. So my very career - yay, verily, my very sustenance - depends upon my being able to immediately find out every fact about everything. Because you'd better believe you'll get fact-checked by 10,000 neckbreads with Cheeto fingers out there, each of whom will take an entire leisurely day to post a 500-word comment illustrating every way in which J00 R TEH SUXOR. Seriously, in the information age, Generation Y is indulged in becoming a nonsentient sponge who can't even be bothered to text with both thumbs any more, but a writer is required to have nothing less than the omniscience of Yahweh himself on his (Yahweh's) best day.
I give up. I don't want my Dillo. You convinced me. I'll think of something else.
You know, just once I'd like people to explain something to me for a change. Why do you want to ask "Why would you want to do that?" ? What's it to you? What do you get out of it if you win "Why would you want to do that?" ? Do you get a trophy cup for convincing other people that their needs were crazy? Are you hoping I'm this dumb asshole who's never heard of Greasemonkey? Are you just trying to get rid of me? Why do people always complain about "RTFM" as an answer, when that's a really good answer, and it will help 99% of the people out there with their problem, but all of the people who complain about "RTFM" are the same ones who go "Why would you want to do that?" over and over again and think it's funny?
This is a good time to ask this, because Ubuntu just announced that it's ditching the X Windows display server in favor of Wayland. And at the same time ditching Gnome in favor of Unity. And this decision is being made by people who think like Eleven is Louder, who simply trumpet things like "X11 is unmaintainable. It's also quite large." (- compared to what?) and then compares it to Windows: "it's not quite as advanced as Quartz or Windows' GUI layer." - Bzzzzt! Wrong answer! That's all I've been hearing since the day I installed my first tar.gz is "We gotta turn Linux into I-Cant-Believe-Its-Not-Windows(TM)! WindowsWindowsWindows!" and the people saying that have been nothing but wrong every single time.
So, at some point in the future (I'll be back to say I told you so) I'm anticipate that I'll be hearing a lot of wailing and grief-driven rending of garments over not having X11 and Gnome any more when 99% of everything in Ubuntu is coded to the X11/Gnome world. And suddenly the rest of you will get a sip of the cider I've been pounding for years.
The countdown has begun.
On a side note... This just happens to be post #666! Just in time for Halloween.