I wanted to design a game about Open Source and proprietary software for a long time. It was always difficult to get the theme to fit visually with the equipment. I think I finally hit on the right way to do it.

There is a new subgenre of game, which I'm calling "non-collectible collectible card games" or NC3s. Everyone starts with the same rudimentary deck. The game consists of building your deck during the game, by using cards from your hand to add a new card from the supply to your deck. Unlike Collectable Card Games, there are no booster packs-- once you buy the box, you own every card, and you're done spending real-world money.

Here's the idea I had for an NC3 game. You have a screen behind which to play cards that are in your proprietary control, to be resolved when the screen is lifted. Also, there is a central place to play cards collaboratively, with tokens to indicate who contributed them, so they can get credit.

You build projects on the table as chains of face-up cards that accumulate work points, reputation points, and money points.

If there are enough work points in a project, it gets a new software card.

If there are enough reputation points in a project, it can recruit a developer or a user from a variety of characters: Entrepreneur, Propeller Beanie, Community Manager, Benevolent Dictator For Life, Aunt Tillie, Iconoclast, Curmudgeon, Bastard Operator From Hell, etc. They have personality incompatibilities.

With enough money points you are tempted to buy a layer of Middle Management, Script Kiddie, Market Droid, Lawyer, Judge, or Legislatosaurus in your proprietary area. Each has various anti-competitive powers that are useful for things other than quality software. But if you do too much of that, then all the other players would combine their efforts against you.

There are also Lawsuit cards and Flame cards which you receive as penalties or attacks. They waste space in your hand and your projects, and react badly with various Person cards. :)

The game is over when the Person card deck is empty. If the common area has more Person cards than anyone's proprietary area, the player who made the largest contributions to earn reputation points is the winner. However, if one player has more Person cards behind his screen than any other screen or in the common area, he wins the Evil Empire victory.

I got permission from Eric Raymond to name it Cathedral and Bazaar, after his paper "The Cathedral and the Bazaar".

I would like to open this process to collaborative development, but a game needs a single vision of what kind of experience the design is intended to achieve. It is notoriously difficult to balance the available strategic choices in games of this type, so it's already hard enough to make it fun without the added challenge of making it educational as well. It must be fun, through gameplay and humor. That may come at the expense of realism, but I'll do what I can. If anyone makes a suggestion, and it doesn't break the gameplay, and it's true enough to engender laughter, it will probably get in.
The same thing has happened when I tried to upgrade to the latest version of Ubuntu (Gutsy Gibbon) as happened the last time Canonical released an upgrade (Feisty Fawn). The upgrade manager only freezes.

So I burned it to a CD and went through a reinstall process. It told me if I wanted to install on the master hard drive it would delete all my data. I installed it on the secondary hard drive, since it's blank and the master hard drive has been telling me lately that it's detecting errors and is about to die. Just as the upgrade to Feisty did, this has hosed my system, which now only starts up to a matt@ubuntu:~$ blinking prompt.

So I swapped the order of the hard drives on the IDE cable and changed the Master jumper to Slave jumper and vice versa. Now the screen only fills with endless repetitions of the word GRUB.

Will someone help me fix this?
I'm bringing this up on my personal blog rather than my blog about Lojban because its lessons are broadly applicable to things that a lot of you are interested in, so I'd like to get your feedback.

Do you like my new icon? I made it after [livejournal.com profile] camgusmis talked me into being the cat-herder for Lojban's language debugging committee. (Yeah, a speakable human language has a debugging committee, is that not neat?) I don't possess expertise in linguistics or logic. I do not intend to arbitrate disputes over language, discuss linguistic issues, or even possess voting rights in the debugging committee-- just keep it moving. The Lojban word for "captain" is "jatna", pronounced "zhat-nah", but "Shatner" is my mnemonic device. Scotty, Spock and McCoy are the ones who know how to do things; I just keep them from sitting on their butts.

The job of herding cats is what I do with the vast majority of my free time, so I feel uniquely qualified. I define "herding cats" as "coordinating any project whose workers are true volunteers, are not obligated by compensation". (I feel the phrase is inappropriate to refer to paid employees, no matter how catlike you think software engineers are. You are not a cat herder if you have the power to fire or penalize someone. But that's another matter.) Cats show up only when they want to and are motivated by friendship and/or personal fascination.

What I am not qualified to do is design a constructed language. Just as in running a science fiction convention, my role is limited as follows:

1. Understand what tasks await doing, not necessarily knowing how to do them.
2. Assign tasks and track who is assigned to what.
3. Set deadlines and warn of their approach and arrival.
4. Keep current with everyone's contact info and preferred means of communication.
5. Talk to the volunteers a lot, asking for reports to check if they're active.
6. Seek replacements for the ones who went inactive or lost motivation.
7. Motivate active volunteers with vision, encouragement, small gifts, public thanks, or incentives tailored to their unique motivational drives.

And that, my friends, is herding cats. However, in the current traditional structure of a science fiction convention, there is a lot more that goes into being conchair, which is why I am not a conchair. It really is two totally unrelated jobs, which could be split. The second set of conchair responsibilities is:

8. Set the budget. ($$$)
9. Negotiate the hotel contract. ($$$)
10. Make long-term strategic decisions. What constituency to extract money from. What message to use to extract it from them. Where to best invest money to attract them. How to reduce the expenditure of money. ($$$)

"Oh, Matt, you can easily be conchair!" quoth he and she who have smoked crack and uttered a counterfactual statement.

The reverse side of that coin, to speak candidly, is that deeply savvy and wise decision-makers (tasks 8 through 10) do not always have sufficient personal availability to create and nurture a concom (tasks 1 through 7). Vital concom slots go empty, and we sort of coast along because we can't afford to have a leader who can create an active concom only to lead it right off a cliff. I am not speaking of any convention or any year in particular: it's fairly common.

In spite of being a cat herder, the reason I am not, have not been, and do not want to be conchair, is that I do not have opinions on 8 through 10 and money bores me. Paying attention to such matters would drain all interest out of me and make me want to GAFIAte. I would stab randomly in the dark at budgets, contracts and strategic decisions. I would be held responsible for the resulting failure, and I would be rightly blamed for having asked people to fail along with me. I will not, and constitutionally can not, evangelize anything that I don't believe in. When I mentioned this to Sal and Heather of Aegis Consulting, Sal remarked, "You don't like guessing, do you?" If I were to find out that those I trusted had staked my time and energy on a guess, I would be livid. So no, I can't evangelize guessing.

You may have noticed by now that my trust is of vital importance to me, and its dissappointment (to put it gently, I will not say "betrayal") is a recurring theme of this blog. I hear horror stories from [livejournal.com profile] avt_tor about conrunning politics in other regions, in which people actually compete to be in charge, and yet what an embarrassment of riches that must be. By contrast, in Michigan nobody wants to do anything. This is our harmonious blessing and lethargic curse. One issue with conventions in Michigan is that the number of people I trust enough to recruit as concom workers dwindles every year. You can't successfully build a concom if you say to people "Where have you been?" and "Have you gotten anything done?" as if to say "I don't have confidence in you." But it's true, I don't. As Head of Programming, there are two individuals to whom I say almost nothing but those things, every time I see them, because the success of my responsibility depends on it! I even tried adding someone to the "team" to shore up the task, and this third individual is doing nothing that I can see. (Don't worry, the vast majority of the programming team is completely present and it's going great overall.) Meanwhile I'm fielding inquiries about these tracks of the schedule and am helpless to do it myself since I know nothing about the topics. I feel I'm doing all I can as a cat herder, but at the end of the day, the cats are really in control.

I just keep reminding myself that the dysfunctionality is a necessary tradeoff for what I like so much about cat-herded groups.
I don't speak on behalf of Penguicon and I'm not claiming the views expressed here are representative of anyone else running it. That's as it should be. Penguicon is all about 1. Fun, 2. More Fun, and 3. Keep Fun First. It's not about ideology. But Penguicon has two incidental side benefits that get me excited and are very fun for me. One is spreading Free and Open Source Software to fans of science fiction, fantasy, games, anime, and comics, who aren't technically skilled. The other is to use the political and social visions of science fiction to interest some of those hackers who are not yet interested in Hacktivism. I want to get them excited about how the fight for “knowledge goods”-- not just code alone-- benefits hackers, how non-engineer users benefit hackers, and how damage to the knowledge ecology harms innovators first like canaries in a coal mine. Specifically, I want to get more hackers interested in contributing to software for non-engineer users, and keeping non-engineer users around with volunteer tech support.

Read more... )


Sep. 1st, 2006 01:05 pm
I've been waiting for this a long time. AllPeers is a method of file transfer that lets you set up your own private network of peers with whom you can send and receive files of unlimited size. There's no more need to email a bulky file and wonder whether it's going to get through. Add friends and family members who also use AllPeers in the Firefox web browser, and decide what files you want them to be able to get from you. Click here if you have Firefox, to go to the download page for this extension.

Supposedly they're going to eventually open the source code. Also, supposedly this method is much faster than sending files through email or an instant message client, because it incorporates BitTorrent technology.

Just one neat example of a little trick you can do with this, is instantly share a screen shot with a peer who's online... such as a tech support scenario.

My username is MattArnold. Add me to your networks!
nemorathwald: (Matt 4)
Penguicon's tech guest of honor in 2007 will be Bruce Schneier, security guru. I was mentioning to Eric Raymond that I will be Head of Programming for Penguicon this year and looked forward to putting Bruce Schneier on panels about viruses, spyware and rootkits. Eric said something to the effect of not being interested in closed source software. I can't remember the exact sentence but it may have been referring to something to do with security programs that people use to protect their computers, such as McCaffrey, Symantec, Norton and so forth. Those are closed-source software.

Bad Windows security seems to affect Linux users too. We don't want to have to live in a world full of compromised botnets that are being used to send us spam.

Here now is the setup to my question.

The reason open source software can be trusted and closed source software can't is that someone can read the code of the open source software to ensure that it's free of spyware and other malware. A computer geek who reads the source code, compiles it, and installs the software can be assured that he knows what he's running.

Those of us to whom source code is unintelligible, and who don't know how to compile software from source code, use pre-compiled installer programs of open source software that we download from the internet. Someone in the open source community has presumably checked the source code of the program, but what about the particular copy of it that we are getting? What's to stop someone from distributing a precompiled installer of a popular open-source program, but altering it to include malware that will compromise the computer? Those who can't read source code would think we had the same program as everybody else.

Is this scenario likely or unlikely? Would it work? Is there anything set up to prevent it?
Thanks for alerting me to this, [livejournal.com profile] thefile! It's only a matter of time before [livejournal.com profile] cosette_valjean and I can explore the online virtual world of Second Life simultaneously, side by side. A version of the SL client program that can run on my Linux computer is under development-- long rumored of-- and has now been revealed. Linden Labs made a early and incomplete Alpha version of the software available for download and bug-testing.

I've downloaded it, and much to my surprise, the license says it contains source code. It also says that permission is given for anyone to modify and distribute it. That smells like Open Source Software to me, even though it's an Apache license which I'm not familiar with, rather than a GPL. If so, this is more incredible than I thought. Is this an act of self-destructive heroism on the part of Linden Labs?Read more... )

Can some of you tell me more about this license, or about running web services? Do you think LL is crazy like a fox? What are they up to? In any case, I'm thrilled that Linden Labs has made this move, and hope that they are rewarded.
Twenty years ago, my parents wrote programs for the Commodore 64 and submitted them to Ahoy magazine and COMPUTE!'s Gazette, which would print the code in its pages and send my parents about fifty bucks. I had almost forgotten about this in the time since then, but Mom just found their programs available for download on the web, complete with screenshots and full credit to them by name. "Elfred" was a Christmas game. There was also "Dots" and "Tree Tutor for Tots". The first one was a sci-fi action game named Devastator, programmed by my Dad. The site calls it "a quirky little game that is more notable for its historical significance as one of the earliest PC games distributed with a magazine."

My parents programmed free and open source software!
I'm copying my MP3 collection from my Windows computer to my Linux computer. I'd like to have it all in OGG Vorbis format. For a while I had a program on Windows that changed them from one to the other, but it was shareware and expired. I tried installing a free open source program on Linux to do this but it's one of those programs that doesn't appear in the Applications menu. So it's apparently intended for use from the command line.

Of course that would involve finding the executable in the filesystem first, I guess. In a command line interface you are walking through a subterranean network of perfectly dark tunnels. Instead of a flashlight or lantern, you are provided with an infinite supply of camera flashbulbs called the ls command. I prefer searching the filesystem through the graphical browser. I figure at least I can find the darn executable, then I can go into the shell and start up the program.

I have been informed that programs are found in the usr/bin directory, but all the executables there are named cryptically. As I go through clicking every one, nine tenths of them do nothing. Anyway, let me know any advice you might have, from any approach you desire.
Bruce Schneier has an article in WIRED Magazine which is a must-read for all computer users who care about keeping their computers free from spyware, malicious access cloaking programs, and other malware. He describes how anti-virus companies chose not to block Sony's malicious computer intrusion program on their infected music CDs. They considered it a "legitimate application" just because it was a criminal act by a corporation instead of by a criminal organization. How far will this collusion go? Can only open-source software save us from the collusion of these moneyed interests?

In fact, the next Microsoft Windows, "Vista," will have digital rights management technology built in that will make Microsoft the true owner of your computer. When you enter a command, the computer will go and ask its true masters for permission to obey you. You'll no longer really own content on your computer, you'll just be leasing it from the content providers. You know where this is going. They will control where, when, how many times, and in what form you use content, keep charging you for it again and again, and delete it from your own hard drive whenever they want. Microsoft and the music and movie industries will be in each other's back pockets to reduce the value of their products to you while simultaneously demanding more money from you for all the things you've been getting for free for decades.

Can I ask the open-source folks something? A lot of us out here in end-user-land want the computer to hold our hands and do most stuff invisibly for us while we manage our digital photos, music, games and other spokes on the digital hub. A computer is the hub of our non-computer lives. For us, it's a means, not an end. If we don't find it fun to write shell scripts, compile source code, and other hacking tasks on our own computer, does this mean we want software companies to own our computers and decide what we do with the spokes of our digital hub? If you have a servant, don't you want that servant to be autonomous to a certain degree? How much middle ground is there where they don't get to stomp on our right to our own computer, but we don't have to pay dearly in a difficultly level that makes the computing experience too costly for us? Is it fair to want that?
There are many programs and web applications that will syndicate your blog as a feed. Livejournal is one of them; you don't even have to set it up. It creates a special document in formats such as RSS or Atom. I'll bet a lot of you didn't even know your blog did that. It's great that you don't have to mess with it. Anyone who wants to subscribe to you can point a piece of software called a feed aggregator at your Livejournal, and their aggregator will go out and fetch your entries and deliver them automatically, instead of your readers having to check your blog to see if you updated it lately. Since the Firefox web browser implemented this as a "live bookmark" in the toolbar, that's become the main way I surf the web.

The situation is not so good for podcasting. A podcast is just an audio file that's distributed by a syndication feed so that it's downloaded onto your desktop or digital music player automatically; but so far I have found no software that will update the RSS or Atom document for me. So far I'm doing it by hand in Notepad text editor, but it's complicated.Read more... )
nemorathwald: (Matt 3)
For those who don't know, you can put a Live CD with Linux on it into your Windows or Mac computer and it'll become a Linux computer temporarily. It's like hypnotism. It's as if your computer is clucking like a chicken. Then you take the CD out, and your Windows or Mac wakes up, yawns, shrugs, and goes about its business as if nothing had happened. None of your data is touched. It only uses the CD, it doesn't use the hard drive at all. It's called a "Knoppix" Live CD. You want one, you need one, you can download it free or get one from me.

Wanna know a secret? {Whispers} I'm using a Live CD right now. On my Windows computer. Just a one-night stand with Linux on my precious main computer. Not on a cheap testbed lounging on a card table in my basement with its hardware jauntily exposed. I'm using Linux on the respectable one I come home to at the end of the day. I'm using a commitment-free Live CD right now, to type this, and when my casual recreational computing is spent, I can take the disk out, and throw it away, and my Windows computer will never know how I used its body while it was HYPNOTIZED. Does that turn you on? Yes it does. You want to ask for pictures. Right now my computer looks like this.

This is the genius user interface called Mezzo, on a flavor of Linux called SymphonyOS. Seriously, check out that slide show even if you think you already know what Linux looks like. This desktop environment is new and teh slick.Read more... )

I am now going to count to three and take the CD out. When I reboot, this computer will be Windows again, and will remember nothing of this. One... you're getting sleepy... Two... your eyes are getting heavy... Three...
I should have included this in my recent list of ways Linux is like theology. You can't criticize Linux because somebody somewhere made their own version of Linux yesterday morning before breakfast which is intended to not have that problem; and they think you're criticizing them. But when I mean Linux, I mean the mainstream. I mean the thousands and thousands of open-source OS devotees and all the things that they really do have in common. Yes, there's variety, but they really do have certain things overwhelmingly in common. So do people of faith, from the Ayatollah to a little old lady down the street. More about that in a moment.

There are a lot of people telling me Linux is ready for everyone to use as a desktop system. But when I describe the experience I end up having which is not ready for the non-expert, and complain that the situation has been misrepresented, some other open-source OS advocates will stand up and say "hey, where are you getting that? Nobody's saying that. I never said that. I never heard any Linux supporter tell you that. Nobody said it was ready for you."

Well here's a link to another one.

Read more... )Similarly, a secularist can't criticize faith without immediately being pounced on by religious progressives who made up a new-and-improved religion yesterday before breakfast and now consider it normal. "Hold on," they say, "who said god was authoritarian, or faith and reason aren't compatible? What? When? Huh? What? Nobody said that." Um, how about this: how about almost everybody ever. That's like inventing a new operating system yesterday before breakfast that nobody heard of, and isn't compatible with Debian or RedHat or anything, and makes you start over from scratch.

"I came up with a totally new mental practice and I'm calling it faith. So, don't criticize the mental practices referred to by Christian Supremacists and Iranian clerics as faith! That word is off-limits, or else I couldn't have my own faith! Just oppose their mean and irrational actions!" Where do you think actions come from? Beliefs. If beliefs can't be criticized and weighed and judged, you're fighting the symptoms instead of the disease.

Imagine that I am -- metaphorically -- in armed combat with the Family Research Council or somebody like that. I will never hassle you about your religion or even mention it to you until you run up and pull my weapon out of my hands. If you do that, you know what? If you stand between me and the theocrats, fuck your precious faith. Fuck it in and around the ass region and that vicinity. Do religious progressives have any idea what price they're asking us to pay? Whatever benefit is gained from progressive religion isn't worth leaving unopposed the problems that mainstream religions tend to have in common. That would be a horrific cost. We're playing with grown-ups and the stakes are higher than the games you're playing. When I say "faith" I mean the awful mental sleight of hand and self-delusion that is actually practiced every day by the six billion people who never heard of the progressive religion you made up yesterday. I complain about the shit I have to put up with. If you're not going to help fight that fight, so that you can go on smoking your spiritual weed, at least stop trying to disarm us of the most important weapon: I raise my hand and say "excuse me abortion clinic bombers and terrorists and legislators, faith is make believe."
nemorathwald: (Matt 4)
What can you tell me about Mezzo, the new desktop environment for a Debian-based flavor of Linux called Symphony OS? This looks exciting and I can't wait to play around and experiment with it. I don't like downloading a program in Linux and then wondering where it went. Any interface that actually puts my programs where I can find the start icon after I install them will have me for a faithful user. Here's hoping it does so. I'm currently running Ubuntu, so I wonder if this desktop environment be downloaded to run on any other Linux than Symphony. Also, would a new desktop environment be restricted to running only programs developed specifically for it?

Mezzo is based on the Laws of Interface Design. Instead of a start menu, the four categories (computer settings, programs, documents, trash) are assigned a corner of the screen and accessed by ramming the mouse into a corner and clicking. When dragging/resizing application windows, the edges of the screen are solid so you can't lose them out of view. The desktop-as-folder is done away with. Technically there are no "icons" in the sense of something that can be moved like a piece of paper on a desk surface-- only buttons with icon pictures and captions. Other than the MacOSX-dock-like area, the desktop normally is covered only in nine slots for widgets just like the ones in Konfabulator. This is how it looks when you have some application windows un-minimized. (You can still put a background image behind the widgets, if I understand correctly.) Clicking a corner of the screen auto-minimizes all windows into the dock and covers the screen (except the dock) in that interface. There are no drop-down nested menus or scrolling in the file browser or the screens the corners bring up; instead, the view of the list zooms out until it fits. Drop-downs and scroll bars only appear in applications, since they've been pre-programmed that way.

Reportedly, in his OSCON keynote Paul Graham said "People don't switch to open source because they want to hack the code. People switch to Firefox because its better. Microsoft can't pay people enough to build something better than the people who are building it out of love." What's incongruous is that so many in tech have denied the existence of the type of FLOSS developer who is competing for my usage. The Firefox kind, whose attitude is "We're here to increase open source market share and save the world from Trusted Computing domination. We're here to compete and win. So we design for easy entry for n00bs instead of just driving them off with RTFM." I thought I had recently been told that Linux was only intended for power users and TUX Magazine is engaging in false advertising by claiming it was ready for the desktop. I thought I had been told that open source programmers write software only for themselves and none of them are driven by socially-conscious free-culture hippie egalitarianism. Then why are Symphony and Mezzo being created at all? The site names their mission "the easiest to use Linux experience there is." That doesn't say "power user" to me. Are shoemaker elves doing that? No, the Firefox kind of open source programmer is doing that. That's what gives me some hope for desktop-focused open source operating systems to be viable within the next decade. They are tantalizing me with promises...

P.S. As you can see from the concept images, it appears that Jason Spisak (or someone) badly needs a proofreader. Since I can do graphics, maybe I could do that for the open source community if I knew who to talk to about it.
I am pleased to report that hope pings eternal in the Linux-for-humans breast.

The problem with installing an application from CD to the laptop was a defect on the disk. My frustration was before I found the package manager, or to borrow a phrase I once heard [livejournal.com profile] netmouse use, "the Magical Man that Gets Things Done." The Ubuntu folks on the IRC channel assure me that new users are not expected to compile source code or hack scripts every time they want to install applications. It is not normal and accepted anymore and they do not want me to just get used to it. Tux Racer is not a flagship desktop-user product and should not be taken as representative of the effort to compete with Windows or Mac. Also, R's laptop has connectivity problems because it has buggy ethernet hardware and there is something idiosyncratic with the way the Gateway Solo 5300 talks to wireless cards. Linux can't detect what isn't there.

Read more... )Ubuntu does not suffer from the design philosophy that turns the entire computing experience into guessing a series of what amount to cryptic passwords. There do exist builds of Linux that are ready to replace Windows or Mac-- if you're lucky with hardware compatibility and go directly to the Ubuntu-specific community when you need help.

Emboldened by these successes, I am prepared to venture into unsafe territory and begin to learn more ambitious things.Read more... )
OK, here are the redeeming facts as near as I can ascertain them:

Read more... )

The problem with Linux adoption by newbies might not actually be Linux. It is surprisingly forgiving. You just wouldn't know that from the help you get. The GUIs change, so the people helping you have no way to know how to play in the shallow end of the swimming pool. They grew up using the command line so that's what you get. So the non-Linux user will inevitably have a "you've got to be kidding me" moment. They will not tolerate very many of those, and rightly so. The upshot of this is that I am going to turn in a feature request in Bugzilla. The feature would be for the install process to end in asking you if you want a little guided tour of the basic, fundamental computing tasks.

For instance, one of the first things the newly installed Ubuntu should describe to someone who requests the tour should be Synaptic Package Manager. Not apt-get. Wait until they are happily using Synaptic to download and install programs, and then tell them how much cooler it is to use apt-get from the command line. But have paper towels on hand to clean the Pepsi that they snort from their nose laughing at you.
nemorathwald: (Matt 4)
I can't get any sleep thinking about it so I might as well express it. At least I don't have to go to work tomorrow.

I had a huge epiphany today about Linux. I sat there and said "what the hell am I even doing this for?" Remind me again (I asked myself), what is the benefit in this, to me? When is the last time Windows crashed? I can't remember. What do I want to run on Linux that I can't run on Windows? I have Firefox, Open Office and The Gimp on Windows. This week I've been using free, open source desktop publishing, video and audio editing software on Windows and it's been a wonderful experience. Not to mention the countless free and open source web services. My support for free and open source software is as high as ever.

Except I no longer want to run Linux. What finally broke me on it was not the problems. All operating systems have problems. It was the horror of the solution. It was presented as normal, accepted, and even a positive. That was when I realized: "The promised land is never going to come. I am already here. This is it and I don't like it. This is normality. This would be happening if I bought a new computer with Ubuntu preinstalled and bought a year's worth of tech support. I cannot get around using the command line interface."

I am only lazy in a good way, the way that keeps you from chopping down a tree with a herring. It occurred to me, why should I learn command line? What do I gain? I thought I was getting a free operating system, but there are financial costs and there are work costs. From my perspective the cost to benefit ratio makes no sense! I would spend a lot of unpleasant time learning something I don't find interesting, in order to accomplish... well... I honestly have no idea. I have to take people's word for it what vague and nebulous benefits there are to this command line. I haven't needed it since DOS, and DOS is not something I want to go back to. Ever.

As those who know me are aware, I react very strongly to disillusionment. I should not have said in the comments to my last entry that Linux "broke" the computer. The most exquisite tool is just as good as broken when I apply it to the wrong problem. When I have a step down from my happy and content Windows experience, rather than a step up, then from a very context-dependent point of view it's kind of like I broke my experience. Linux doesn't "work" in the sense of not needing you to hold its hand. You know? The earth, the sun, my hearbeat, Palm OS, Firefox, these work. When your heartbeat needs you to "hold it's hand" with a pacemaker, it's broken. When your heart keeps asking you to tell it to beat with a command line interface you could sort of say it's working, in that you're not dead, but it seems your standards have shifted weirdly. "You know how important it is to be in the driver's seat of your hardware; we can't have autonomous heartbeats because you never know when you might need to hide your presence from the supernatural hearing of ninjas." I don't want to lose CD autoplay, or associating file types with actions, or lists of clickable options. I don't want to lose prompts and actions attached to every point in the interface, from which I can learn what to do next.

Well, it didn't take long to realize what had been motivating me in the first place-- rhetoric. All the coolest people were, and still are, in open source software. What I was gaining (in my mind) was solidarity with an idealistic social movement. Viva la teçhnōliberáčion. I don't want anticompetitive corporations to own the whole world with intellectual property, which in the future will be just about the only kind of property there is. Justice, freedom, monopoly-busting, equality, democracy, global brotherhood, access for the little guy-- it might as well have been goddamn control of the goddamn means of goddamn production, if you can believe that. Anything but what I could actually do with a tool! How embarrasing. Oh well. Lesson learned, and not for the first time. Now I have to make sure not to be a fool and have to learn it again.
nemorathwald: (I'm losin' it)
I've put the CD for Tux Racer into the drive of the laptop. Double-clicking the CD brings up this screen. I have clicked a variety of these icons, such as INSTALL and Setup.exe and nothing happened. What am I supposed to do?

Also, I used apt-get to install a music composition program called Rosegarden. It's not in the Applications menu. This has had no noticeable effect on the computer as far as I can tell. Where am I supposed to look to open this program?
Victory! Dan DeSloover from Monroe Linux User Group has gotten [livejournal.com profile] cosette_valjean's laptop to work with the network. Ironically, I recently installed Ubuntu on it to fix the difficulty we had with getting WinXP to network. I am typing this on Linux. Awesome!
"There are over 8 billion web pages. Most of them suck." --Outfoxed

[livejournal.com profile] brendand noticed in my last post that I applied tags to it. Tags are important. Google succeeded because they realized you can't hierarchically categorize the web like Yahoo tried to do. Unfortunately Google is getting inundated with people cheating its page-rank system. The web will soon depend on metadata, which usually takes the form of descriptive keyword tags. But the only people who can possibly apply them to 8 billion webpages is... everybody.

Who here does social bookmarking? Post here with your bookmark page so I can browse it. Mine is at http://del.icio.us/Matt_Arnold. del.icio.us is a service that lets you apply keyword tags to your favorite sites the way that Flickr has tags for pictures. You can browse the most popular bookmarks on the internet from day to day.

You can even set up the popular list as a drop-down menu from your bookmark toolbar in Firefox. (What? You're still using Explorer? No wonder your computer is infested with spyware/adware/viruses. Get Firefox! It is a thing of beauty.) Just like the web changed from something you browse into something you you search, now feeds are changing it to streams of delivered headlines that you subscribe to. Firefox has a feed-reader built-in: on a page that offers a feed, just click the orange button on the lower right corner of the browser to subscribe.

Another form of social websurfing is the Firefox extension Outfoxed. You get a new button on your interface that will let you rate a web domain as good, bad or dangerous. Your browser will access the reports of your friends who have the extension, so that a global network of votes and comments emerges.

September 2017

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