Quick Roundup 255

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Ridpath Speaking in Dallas

Awhile back, I commented that, thanks to David Allen's time management methodology, I was keeping better track of interesting events down the road that I wasn't sure I'd have time for:

I now use [a tickler file] religiously. If I hear about an interesting lecture I may or may not be able to attend in the next month, I don't simply make a mental note, forget about it, and then, if I'm lucky, schlep away to see it when I notice my colleagues leaving for it. Now, I file the flyer or announcement printout (and any directions) in the tickler file folder for some time a few days before the event. By that time, I can make an informed decision about whether to toss the announcement or to add the lecture to my calendar.
Well, one such event I had in mind when I wrote that was this lecture by Dr. John Ridpath on October 13 in Dallas. I won't be able to go myself after all, but there's still room as of this posting for three more attendees.

So if you're going to be in DFW this weekend, take a look at the announcement and RSVP while there is still space! The link to do so is way down the page. Search "Limit:" (Yes, include the colon.) to get there at once.

About that UAW Strike...

Remember that United Auto Workers strike awhile back that lasted only a couple of days and ended with what sounded like a capitulation? It looks like the Software Nerd thought about the same thing I did when I read about it in the paper:
Here's another twist: A while back, Wagoner, GM's CEO, suggested that the government should pick up part of the tab. Ten years from now, if there isn't a National Health Service, and if the fund is falling short, it will be a 100,000 person union asking the government for help.
The Software Nerd sounds a little like he's being generous here! I'd replace that last "if" with a "when".

And for that matter, I wouldn't put it past many of the state governments that are currently enslaving their physician minorities to join that chorus when they find that they can't budget for the unlimited demand for "free" medical care, either.

Politicians are slippery, too.

The Undercurrent

The Software Nerd also posts on The Undercurrent, something else that bears mention here.
A comment on a previous post, spoke about "The Undercurrent". I thought I would re-post the comment as a stand-alone post. I admire their effort, and the quality of the writing, and also think NoumenalSelf's editing is great (not sure if he still edits). I've even made a small donation to the mag in the past. It's very easy to under-write (say) 250 copies. Check out what it costs. Of course, a lot of copies of such mags are "wasted", but there's always a few people who are perfect targets. The trick is to distribute in a way that maximizes the chances of reaching those few. To this end, I think their distribution strategy is well thought out.
He quotes the whole comment over on his blog, so take a look.

Objectivist Carnival on Atlas Shrugged

Yesterday was the 50th anniversary of the release of Ayn Rand's masterpiece, Atlas Shrugged. Today, Rational Jenn hosts a collection of posts that commemorate the event.

Nothing by me, though. The whole week has been blog as blog can for me, to play off an old phrase.

Uh Huh

comes up with the quote of the decade for the film industry and its patsy audience: "If you keep buying tickets to Crap, Crap II, and Crap III, you will only encourage them to make More Crap."

Ossified Grids

Galileo Blogs has some interesting thoughts on air traffic and power blackouts.

Cauthon Tries Ubuntu

Darren Cauthon gives Ubuntu Linux a mixed review:
The machine works faster and better on Ubuntu than I remember, even when it's new. The hardware-interrupt issue went away, so I can actually type blog posts like this again. Most of my non-programming computer time is spent online, so it’s like I have a new computer.

Now for the negatives. Things have gotten better since my last experiment with Linux over three years ago, but I still don’t see a real attempt to shield the user from the inner workings of the machine.
This experienced Linux user (who is hardly an expert on computers) sees not being "shielded" all the time as having some hidden advantages. For one thing, when something goes wrong, there are forums all over the place where you can easily go for help, and get it quickly, for free. (Often, someone else has asked some variant of your question, meaning that all you really have to do is Google.) For another, one gradually becomes more comfortable (and confident) in such situations after awhile.

Being confronted with the inner workings of a machine when something goes wrong is like having a long suit in a game of hearts or spades. This can intimidate an inexperienced player and there is potential for disaster, but an experienced player will see that a long suit can become, in effect, a short suit if needed and if played correctly.

Being "shielded" isn't always a good thing.

Having said that, Cauthon is right that Linux remains beyond the skill and confidence level of most computer users. For it to gain greater market share, it will have to become still a little easier for novices to use. Fortunately, its design philosophy will continue to make the inner workings better accessible to those who want to tweak or experiment with them than Microsoft does.


Whoever runs the Empire State Building apparently has decided to make up for the fact that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wasn't permitted to gloat at the site of the Islamic Atrocities of 2001 -- formerly known as the World Trade Center -- after all:
New York's iconic Empire State Building is to be lit up green from Friday in honor of the Muslim holiday of Eid, the biggest festival in the Muslim calendar marking the end of Ramadan, officials said.

"This is the first time that the Empire State Building will be illuminated for Eid, and the lighting will become an annual event in the same tradition of the yearly lightings for Christmas and Hannukah," according to a statement. [links dropped]
This is appeasement to the basest practitioners of Islam and an insult to the memories of all who died in what had been the only two taller buildings in New York -- until Moslems decided to destroy them six years ago.

I love the Empire State Building. I'm glad I don't live in New York so I'd have to see it like this every day. This is truly disgusting.

-- CAV


: Corrected some typos.


Galileo Blogs said...

Since the Empire State Building is arguably the most likely next target in Manhattan, it reminds me of a weakling who cowers down in supplication in front of a bully in the hope that he will find him too pathetic to stomp on again.

Such a craven act will not assuage the bully we face. It will only encourage him to strike harder the next time. The green light of Eid is the green light that says "Go" to the terrorists.

I share your disgust, and your love of the Empire State Building.

Gus Van Horn said...

"[I]t reminds me of a weakling who cowers down in supplication in front of a bully in the hope that he will find him too pathetic to stomp on again."

Perfectly put.

Darren said...

Hello, Gus. I read your comments and I agree that there are benefits to knowing some deeper details into how your computer is working. I have a question related to this: Do you think Linux is ever going to reach the point where it can be a viable alternative to Windows or Apple?

It seems to me that the desires and expectations of the average computer user and the Linux designers and programmers are too far apart to bring together. Like you say, the design philosophy behind Linux guarantees that the inner workings of the machine will be accessible. And I think I'm safe in assuming that most computer users will never even try to operate any part of their computer through a command-line, even if help is within their reach. I think until the developer of some Linux distro draws a line in the sand and says "No command line necessary," Linux's place is never going to change.

And if you don't mind me asking, what version of Linux do you use or prefer? Just curious.

Gus Van Horn said...


In answer to your first question, this has already happened, in a manner of speaking. With its introduction of OS X, MacIntosh basically slipped a slick GUI onto a BSD base. BSD, like Linux, is a form of Unix. I haven't used it much myself, but when I did, I found that I could call up an X-terminal, so I did, and happily started typing in familiar Unix commands.

But some of us cannot afford a Mac (and hate vendor lock-in anyway), so I use Linux on a computer I slapped together from a video gamer's cast-off machine and a few parts of my older one.

My favorite distribution is SuSE, which comes with a HUGE array of software, has a large user community, and a pretty decent administration tool. I don't necessarily want to "hide" all the time, but having YaST take care of most of the system tweaking is very convenient.


Jim May said...

You don't need a Mac for BSD; there's FreeBSD, NetBSD and a few others.

www.distrowatch.com is a good place to start looking.

I just turned my old dual Athlon into a dual-boot machine, with a view to going all Linux on machines with full Net access.

Gus Van Horn said...

Oh, I'm aware of that, Jim. Darren was asking about whether there was a Unix-like OS that had a GUI interface that wouldn't scare the bejeezus out of the average user.

On that score, I forgot one: Linspire, formerly known as Lindows. Of course, I heard it runs everything as root, so I wouldn't recommend it.