Reflections on life in marriage, microbiology, and meditation

Sunday, January 25, 2004

Last Wednesday Olga and I had our first experience of the Linux community, and we loved it. We found out Linux users in Groningen have set up a working group, especially for helping newbies like us (google for "Linux werkgroep Groningen"). They meet every third Wednesday of the month, so we were there, just to try our luck. To our amazement one guy spent the whole evening typing arcane commands into both of our machines in order to get our Internet connection going.
So it's true: you will find idealistic enthousiasts in the Linux community.
When we got back home, Olga's computer made the Internet connection straightaway, while mine did not. After a lot of fiddling -- by me -- it now works: this post is done from Linux, which has been running since yesterday morning.
We're having a lot of fun, as the message at startup predicts.

Sunday, January 18, 2004

Been trying to install Linux on my home computer: I still haven't got it running properly. No sound, wrong monitor parameters, and no access to the Internet.
Those modern operating systems share a treacherous property. Superficially, they look delightfully simple and intuitive, so that one is tempted into thinking that one is a programmer. As my daughter Olga says, they respond very well to bluff. But that is only the surface presented by the enormously complex contrivance underneath, and it only works as far as it works. When it doesn't, there's tons of gobbledygook to wade through. There's TCP/IP gobbledygook, sh gobbledygook, package managers, configuration programs; a needle in a haystack.

If any version of Windows had caused me so much trouble, I would have cursed Mr. Gates and tossed it out the window long ago. What then makes me put up with Linux? I guess it's ideas: Linux is supposed to be stable, secure, nearly bug-free and the gate to a glorious world of free, powerful software developed and maintained by a worldwide community of idealists, whereas Windows has an uncanny knack for collecting ugly stereotypes.

I live in reality through my representations of it, and sometimes I doubt their accuracy.

Thursday, January 08, 2004

Episodes of turmoil are a resource: looking back on one, one can see the things that led to it. In this case, quite simply, I had been on duty for two consecutive weeks while many others were away on vacation. And at home, everyone who was not down with flu was either giving Christmas concerts or rehearsing for them. Makes one tired, yes? And why-should-this-always-happen-to-me angry.
It's quite obvious why this happened to me: I neglected to shout things like "No! I can't manage!" at the right time.

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