Team Murder No Brain No Headache.

2Mar/04Off

Waiting For The Pharmaceutical Hammer To Fall Gently On My Head

I just took a fistful of night time cold medicine and finished a paper so I'm going to spin my wheels in the undertow until the depressant cocktail starts doing its damned dirty work.

Sometimes the aggregator is a bad thing. I didn't realize that A Note To Myself had switched over to WordPress until I actually loaded the page. That's the problem with aggregators -- if you're not paying attention and let news items expire you might not ever find out these things. I was hoping for an explanation and found something better than that. It's good stuff for the most part -- human and funny which is definitely lacking from most weblogs that bend towards the tech angle. It takes definite talent in the telling to make domestic tales of ISPs that suck engaging reading and Bob generally does that a hell of a lot more often than I do.

PyStarter is an impressive idea. The idea is to simplify the process of Diving Into Python for folks stranded on the lonely isle of Windows where invisible beasts with huge fangs and claws stalk you night and day...uh, cold medicine... without the sometimes confusing ActivePython install. The introductory paragraph is priceless:

PyStarter is a language and IDE intended for learners of programming. Unnecessary overhead is removed to lower the barriers of entry. PyStarter is not trivializing programming, it tries to teach real programming without the hassle of real world tools.

The hassle of real world tools might be one of the more accurate statements I've heard in the past week.

I'm just now starting to see all the traffic from machines infected with this ick which makes me really want to reiterate the plea (Marie is, of course, exempted from this request because she knows what the fuck she's doing) that people who use Outlook and can't be bothered to patch their machines or take any kind of basic security precautions delete me from their address books. Really, if I know you then call me otherwise I start with the whitelisting again.

My poor English is the product of a Japanese fellow who admits that his English skills are lacking but still manages to write about things like having a new gas meter installed in his apartment in a measured and almost poetic way. Limited and sometimes fractured use of a second language can sometimes create that effect as well as distilling what might otherwise be mundane topics into interesting cross sections of how semantics differ in translation. Again, cold medicine, but I really enjoy reading these brief and to the point observations paired with photos just the same.

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2Mar/04Off

Just Because I Can’t Think/Type Doesn’t Mean I’m Stopping…

I'm still sick. I'm entering that third day stage where muscles get sore, occasional headrushes that give the world a psychedelic periphery, and the nose that will never run out of snot. Unfortunately I also have a grievous number of projects due as well as a stack of midterms to slog through in the next week or so. It's seriously gumming up any fun that I might have. That doesn't mean I can't look for cool things when I take a nose blowing break:

RubyX is a new source based Linux distribution that looks very, very cool and has some great ideas under the hood. I especially like that the roots of the distribution lay in the author needing a configurable way to build customized installs for a MMORG and kept on gathering steam. It also has a Ruby based init system and is designed to be comprehensible to users already comfortable with the more utilitarian distributions. Possibly the very best part about it is that it is something new that didn't need to burn any bridges behind it to get started. The author mentions liking/borrowing ideas from Debian, Gentoo, and other places. If I wasn't already in love with a new distro I'd start hacking on this one if only because it's designed to be hackable by being written in Ruby. I just noticed that OSNews mentioned this as well but as an aside to another release announcement. Go check out all the comments asking for screen shots and why we need another distribution out there to confuse Aunt Tillie when Y wonderful, one-size-fits-all distribution is already out there. Or not.

Somebody mentioned Soople to me at some point in the past and just today I noticed in a dusty, dilapidated bookmarks subfolder. It's a fine idea: don't compete with the monster in very stupid ways but instead harness its power into something that makes all of the abilities that Google already has into one interface. I'll definitely use it in the future because many of the features that I would use like searching only within a given domain are things I need to actually look for in order to use.

OK, so now typing is actually making me achey. This doesn't mean that I'm going to stop or that I even have the option to consider it but I'm just saying...

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1Mar/04Off

RTFC

ESR posted response to all of the response that the other steaming pile that quotes about two gazillion (slight exaggeration but at least a million billion) email replies he got and still doesn't really tackle the central problem although he makes a stab in its general direction. The problem with all this hemming and hawing over whether Grandma (or Aunt Tillie, as ESR puts it) will be able to set up her networked printer (resisting the urge to surround 'networked' in blink tags is not as easy as it used to be) is that no one with an itch to scratch gives a flying fuck about Aunt Tillie and care even less (if that's possible) about whether or not they make it easy for RedHat's freebie R&D project to wrap a click and drool around their functional software.

There's another facet to this as well. I want flexibility above all. Why? Because I might have some funky printer setup or something that won't rock with the standard defaults. I'm also the one who submits more bug reports than you'd ever want to be responsible for looking into and I submit patches whenever I feel like I can improve things. If you think that dumbing things down a couple of notches is the way to go then I will either fork you, roll my own, or find something else. Either way, what do you gain as a developer (I'm thinking about quality of software here not big fat paychecks) from losing me as a user and picking up a short bus full of Aunt Tillies? Worse yet, do we really need people who should be capable of submitting bug reports and patches putting on their sock puppet Aunt Tillie and annoying people trying to get real work done? Guess all that elbow rubbing with the pundits pays dividends of laziness. The recommendation in this case becomes FTFC: Read The Fine Changelog.

By the way, I'm not suggesting in any sense that a compromise between usability by end users and usability by people who want their choices laid out in front of them is impossible. I've seen it done and sometimes done pretty well but, yet again, you're trying to think like someone you're not. At some point people have really just got to start submitting bugs for things they'd like to see changed. No one is going to fill up a conference room full of men on the street and donuts and do a focus group. When people make things for you to use for free you have an obligation to share your problems with their gifts if you'd like to have them addressed.FOSS developers are not Mormons, they're not going to come knocking on your door to recruit you or to solicit your advice. There are far too many ways to get yourself involved in the process even if you're not pounding out code until three in the morning. Like a project? Ask one of the leads what you can do to help. Hell, maybe you can fish bug reports out the whiny, lazy bastards on #luser. Alternately, spend a couple of hours a week on the project's IRC channel -- put a nicer face on the terse and impatient world of development and maybe shoot the odd tranquilizer dart into huffy folks with entitlement issues.

All this is, of course, assuming that you haven't already shot the printer...

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