Mr. Centipede (mrcentipede) wrote,
Mr. Centipede

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Happy New Year, and such.

So I've discovered that my college is falling apart. The thing is, I don't think this really matters. The College of Santa Fe is on the verge of declaring exigency, which allows them to fired tenured professors. Thing is, I have been pretty unhappy with the program for a while, and while the lack of solid staffing isn't going to help, it's really not a deciding factor. With that in mind, I have to decide what my academic future holds.

Right now, I am planning on applying to Union Institute, and I am taking classes at the community college to hold off my student loans in the mean time.
The two classes I am currently taking are Chinese II, and American Politics (or something with a similar name). So far they are both pretty interesting, so I'm doing okay.

For Christmas, I received a new laptop. It's fast and new and shiny and has a remote control, but it is running Vista. Vista is worse then XP was when it first came out. I like XP now, but it took a few years for things to stop sucking horribly. Now I have to wait a few more years. Blech.

I have a theory that the User-Friendly-Linux movement, such as Ubuntu, is dominated by people who don't understand how regular folk use computers, but they have one thing going for them, they know that they don't understand.

Having run Ubuntu/Kubuntu for a few months on multiple systems1, I felt like I sort of got where it was coming from. I thought, "It's just not ready for Mom's sewing room" if you'll pardon the cliche. The thing is, a lot of the problems I was having, I now understand, are not entirely about Linux. They were about hardware. Linux, when run on a machine that is setup specifically for Linux by someone who knows what he or she is doing2, is a wonder to behold. It may not have the breadth of software that even Apple has at this point, but it works and has its own selling points going for it.

The problem is, as I see it, that a free operating system is going to attract people like me- people who end up cobbling together their computers from bits and pieces. I know at least a bit about computers beyond Myspace and WoW, at least I thought I did, but even the beginner's section of the Ubuntu forums is rife with incomprehensible arcana that scares the shit out of me. Ubuntu is trying to be friendly, but it just doesn't even know where to begin3.

Now that I've used Vista, I have a slightly modified opinion. Vista feels like it was also made by people who don't know how regular folk use computers, but they seem to think they are experts. One of the main visuals used in Vista TV commercials was the [Win]+Tab combo, a boffo waste of time that, as far as I can tell, performs exactly the same function as [Alt]+Tab only requires a hell of a lot more video memory. I have yet to encounter any one UI feature of Vista that is better then either XP, or not having that feature at all. This is a classroom example of planed obsolescence, as far as I can tell.

So far it seems like Linux requires a fairly large commitment of time in order to get working because it lack so much basic functionality when it's installed, while Vista requires a likewise time investment to tinker with and disable those features that interfere with basic functionality. Linux: get a network printer running through WINE? Vista: disable the stupid fingerprint reader verisign crap? Either way, Shoot me now. Needless to say, they do not play well together in a network.

In other news, Tutorial is going pretty well, all things considered. The kids have problems, but they seem to deal with them pretty well with minimum interference from the adults. It's pretty awesome. I still do not have internet at my apartment, though. It is complicated, but involves running cables overhead and drilling and such.

I am planning on holding a potluck social at some point soon. I think it will be good to have a meeting of my friends who know how to cook and my broke friends who spend all their money at restaurants4. I'm thinking it will be a Sunday, because that is when people are not working and have time to cook? I dunno.

1. Yeah, I know, this doesn't make me an expert, or anything.
2. Not me, yet.
3. I suspect this is because Ubuntu is a collaboration amongst many different projects with differing agendas. The Gnome people are not the same as the Debian people, who are connected to but different from the Ubuntu people, and then if you use KDE you've got some other people, etc. I may be way off base on this, though.
4. I have a mental image of Micheal eating canned chili every meal. Say it ain't so, Mike!
Tags: computers, school, update, work
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I think this is the only time I've seen reference markups in a blog entry that wasn't about science or politics. Way to be a super-nerd! And I mean's a quality I admire. Let me know about the potluck, I'll see if I can make time.

Using numerical footnotes is just a reflection of the fractured way my brain works. I suspect everyone will be doing it soon.

As for the potluck, it looks like it may end up being a Friday afternoon/night, but it is still very much in the planning phase.

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The whole rootlessness thing bothers me a lot, also. It seems like a half-assed compromise between Linux and Windows, which is, I suppose, probably accurate. At this point, since I am still new to Linux, I don't if it would be better to switch, or if I should get a better handle on Linux before I start contemplating alternative distros. I don't think I would recommend Ubuntu to someone in the position I was a year ago, when I started. I don't know what I would recommend.

One thing Ubuntu has going for it is the sheer volume of message board support. It may be arcane, or unhelpful, but it's slightly better then nothing.

I still really believe in the idea of Linux, but Vista will stay on my laptop for a while yet, I think. Mainly because of games and my general fear of Linux on laptops. Someday, though.
Win+Tab and Alt+Tab use the same amount of video memory.

It's one of the fundamental differences between XP and Vista, if you're using the Aero interface anyway. Everything is loaded into your 3D accelerator and manipulated by that instead of the CPU, it's great as long as you don't have your 3D accelerator integrated with other systems and using shared system memory.

Ubuntu on older hardware is usually pretty smooth. Only issues I had was locating a driver for the wireless cards I had around. Software is pretty robust if you set it up to pull from other software repositories so you can get things that are borderline legal in the US (Like MP3, MPEG2 playback).

Your network printer sucks :), or rather the company does if they don't provide linux support. Usually that's due to some rather complex processing of the documents on the PC side before it even goes to the printer so they can save on expensive components in it.

Your fingerprint reader problem is new to me. Do you have a fingerprint reader on your computer and want to disable it?

I like canned chili.
I stand corrected on the Aero issue, but I still think it is pretty pointless. You do make a good point. I realize that there are a lot of under the hood improvements to Vista that are worth applauding. My weaksauce way of acknowledging that was to add "UI" before my comments on the lack of functional improvements.

As for the hardware thing, I think you underscore my point pretty clearly. Ubuntu is pretty smooth for you because you know what you're doing. "Pull from software repositories"? Seriously! That phrase is gibberish to 90% of the people that Ubuntu is attempting to woo, while it is perfectly logical to 90% of the people who are already into Linux. Where is the 'Mom' factor in such a operating system? Can you get Mp3s to work? Certainly, but it's not intuitive. The same can be said (in my experience) with PDF files in a browser, streaming audio (if it's Real or WMA), iPods, older or less popular printers, networking with Windows or Mac1, NVidia drivers, and a ton of other things that escape me. Of course, there are entirely understandable reasons for all of these things, but it adds up to a huge wall of problems. So far, Ubuntu for the home user is for people who are into computers, not so much people who "just want it to work", which is the larger, more politically important sector of computer users, and will remain as such for the foreseeable future. Right?

Tutorial recently got a few old laptops donated. There are three different models, and each of them is going to have a number of issues that are totally different from the other two. I don't want to spend that much time getting them running. The idea makes me cringe.

Okay, so the printer sucks. It was one of the more expensive pieces of technology that Tutorial has ever purchased 2. It worked great without problem or repair for years, but now it sucks because we have Linux. We didn't even realize it sucked until now. So where does that leave us? I understand that there are reasons for all of these things, but that doesn't really do much to solve the problem, know what I mean?

The Verisign/Fingerprint reader thing is basically me being bothered by some proprietary software that came with the HP laptop. I don't know what it does, and I don't care. I'll figure it out eventually, but since I never actually asked for it on my laptop, I see it as being comparable to Malware.

1. I still haven't gotten this one to work, but the school's Macs have their own problems.
2. Oddly, I think the commercial vacuum cleaner was slightly more.
It really isn't so... I like to mix it up with noodles and rice, but I actually have been cooking quite a bit. Fish and rice and beans and malt-o-meal has been my major staples, but I still haven't completely run out of money so I have been eating out a bit from time to time. Lots of hot chocolate.
I know, I tease out of love. Rice and beans, along with a source of Vitamin C, can keep a human going for an astonishingly long time, from what I've been told.
I lived off vitamin D white milk for two months back in Ohio.

I changed my diet once I started feeling violently sick 24 hours a day, every day, for a week.

Vitamins fixed that. As did chocolate candy bars.
Surviving is a good starting place. Thriving is the goal. Dairy is expensive, at least compared to rice and beans. I haven't personally done any experimenting, but I've been told that the cheapest source of Vitamin C is pills, which I find kind of odd. Having said that, I do enjoy milk when it's available, but whenever I buy it, I don't end up drinking all of it before it goes bad, so I usually just buy soy-milk.