Techno-Evangelism Failure

Seven Day. Nasty rain last evening; piddly rain this morning. Lower temperatures which I shall not criticize. I am ill inclined to embrace the heat of Alibam summer. 

Still in the mode of hawgin’ tabs and a rather odious one came to my attention yesterday [Link] entitled “A Window Into the Linux Desktop.” The title is at once a come-on and a nasty disappointment. It demonstrates at once the inherent independence of the Linux community and the stupidity that Linux advocates can exercise in promoting the OS.

The fellow that wrote this is patently a dinosaur of the DOS days of MegaHard, back when the only OS choices for a desk box were DOS and CPM (and whatever Amiga had.) His answer to the needs of a new convert to Linux is in essence a screen filling terminal. 

If that is what he wants, I do not gainsay his choice but I consider his offering this to potential adopters and “neubs” as evidence of mental defect. In both mine and the general experience the chief speed bump to such folk is not the GUI desktop but the command line. We are now into a second (third?) generation of Winders “users” (serfs?) and so the command line is as alien to them as thought is to a brick wall. Heck, I know Winders IT guys who use command line no more often than once a week and their achieved goal is usually that their users never use it. 

So offering potential adopters what amounts to nothing but an full screen command line is repellent and probably nauseating. Making people sick is not going to make then adopt the cause. 

There is a stubborn streak of insecurity in the Linux community that manifests itself in rabid evangelism of the OS. I succumb to it occasionally when my brain is engaged on real things but as soon as I can consider my actions the nonsense becomes recognized.

On a quantified basis of measurables there is no question that Linux is superior to Winders. Boot time, through put, internet utilization, … all show Linux superior to Winders. 

But people do not adopt an OS – at least among the Bogs – on rational grounds. They will only change when they are forced to or think the change their own. And evangelistic efforts are neither. 

A more effective path would be to recognize that people do not define their computer usage by the OS but by what they do. For nerds and many geeks, this is activity oriented; for bogs it is client oriented. So if one wants to espouse one OS over the other, one needs to demonstrate that it does activities or clients better. 

And let the user decide on his/her own adoption. It works for intelligent churches, why not for techno-religion?

I have said before that I still depend on Winders for one program. Linux has nothing to equal it. But for every other activity, I use Linux. Simply put the clients are equal or superior to those of Winders and my activity is improved thereby. 

We can’t expect Winders users to be this sentient and rational but we also can’t herd them like cats. 

Fallen Grace

Sometimes the good guys lose. Big time. Head tap and unmarked grave bad.

So I was a bit distressed when I saw a couple of articles [Link] [Link] about FireFox. One tries to soften the blow that Mozilla is ceasing to support FireFox for older CPUs, the other tries to justify why not only FireFox but all browsers but Chrome are worthy of survival. 

I can recall when FireFox, or much else, was naught. The internet was owned by MegaHard’s internet explorer with a market share of 0.98. Millions still use internet explorer and are unable to recognize that it was, and is, an odoriferous semi-solid blob of stercus deposited by a tertiary syphilitic pachyderm. In those days MegaHard had all the attitude of Der Fuehrer had the Allies failed. 

And then Mozilla laid low the maiden and rescued the dragon. 

And the world was made a better place. For one thing, its entropy was increased by the profusion of browsers that came forth in the wake of FireFox. Which is probably an irreversible thing. I doubt the internet marketplace has the directiveness to roll back that much entropy. 

If nothing else, the Yankee Government (and lots of furring governments for their citizens,) has seen to that. No, not by law, by practice. Despite much effort and incidentally, money wasted on hiring shill game IT contractors instead of educating their organic folk, many Yankee government site will not work with the modern incarnation of internet explorer or FireFox or Chrome. I know, becuase I have to use a really simple root kit browser to interface with the YG site to manage obligations. The only other sites I have to use this browser with are banking sites, which rather indicates just how customer friendly these sites are.

In fact, the YG site I visit most often says that one needs to use not only internet explorer but a version unavailable for years.

Of course, running Linux, the true Grail – at least for now – of operating systems, I can’t run internet explorer except in WINE and the YG is schizophrenic about my choice of OS. Ain’t democracy wonderful? But so long as I keep the browser simple, one step above the command line, the YG site performs as its designers intended.

And totally explodes with any of the mainstream browsers.

Hence another reason not to worry about a religious transformation to the one, true browser. Because that browser can either work with government and money sites, or it can work with all the rest. But not both so long as we maintain a free market system. (Sorta. But that ain’t my laxative target this blot.)

I am not too worried about FireFox going away. For one thing, there are lots of branches. I have three on this box: Ice Weasel; Cyberfox, and Pale Moon. No, they aren’t fully FireFox compatible, but for lots of things, like getting a version of FireFox that isn’t neutered by Mozilla, that’s good. 

And yes, I still use FireFox for some of my browsing. Why? Because it feels good. And it is reasonably trustworthy.

Those are two things that are wrong with Chrome and to a lesser extent, Chromium. They don’t feel quite right and they fail often and optimally inconveniently.  And I have a couple of branches, notably SlimJet, which is 10dB better in implementation than Chrome. 

And I have another half dozen or so browsers installed. Some are just for testing but most are there because the computer is a tool not an appliance and I may need to deal with some activity on the internet that needs the characteristics of a particular tool. Which is why I also have TOR. (And no, I’m not going to rant about that realty (land and building) agency that thinks that they are advertising themselves when they are really advertising TOR to ever computate person on the other side of a receiver.)

Heck, I know kids in schule who write their own browser as a coding project and keep using – and tweaking – it for years. Causes no end of migrane for information security noids. 

So no, I’m not going to worry about the code developers setting up a monopoly. For one thing, it wouldn’t be a monopoly of code developers, it would be a monopoly of free market capitalists who seem programmed to drive things to monopolies. But code developers can’t agree enough to only make the one true browser. And even if the Bogs were told there was only one, the Nerds and Geeks would know otherwise. 

But I am still saddened watching Mozilla wither away because it just can’t get things right. That’s not new. Read Greek Tragedies. The Great Hero has to die a hero’s death; he (usually) can’t change to not be a hero and survive as a not-hero. Being a Hero is a death sentence and Mozilla is a Hero. In some ways, more than Roger RamJet. 

Machine Meander

Five Day. And the monthly meeting of the Marshall County Linux SIG at the seat of the county. Which seems appropriate given the rump discussions that dominate the meeting. This morning was a lengthy discussion of strategies for installing new software on different distributions.

The operant word here is “new”. Unless you’re using a bleeding edge distribution version – like Debian testing – you are probably going to run into a bit of falling dominoes or even a trustability issue. So if you are running a Debian derivative, that’s you. 

The problem is mostly a mixture of latency and weirdness, hence a situation akin to Quantum Mechanics but without the canonical neatness. And thereby the need for strategy. If you’re hankering for a nifty new client then the chances are you are gonna find a bit of trouble. First, you are probably going to be confronted with a dependency that isn’t available for your distro yet and when you go to install it find it has similar dependencies. Hence the dominoes.

Or its been neatly packaged in a repository, usually a ppa, and your distro has a bit of stiff nose and won’t accept the repository’s credential. So the dependencies are available – maybe – but your package manager steadfastly denies you download. 

The most common strategy is the bide your time and wait for a kernel update. Then the veils will part and the newness stands revealed. Maybe. 

That’s a long introduction for the main mumble. I ran across an article [Link] this morning entitled “A Not-So-Fond Farewell to Windows Vista.” As the title indicates, it’s a bit of a natter about the stercus-like quality of Vister.

I can’t really disagree with much of what’s said, mostly because I had given up on Winders by the time Vister came out, and I haven’t touched any of the later Winders versions since except to bash FD SCP’s boxes. Which has improved enormously since she ceased using Swedish Sewing Clients. 

I also can’t disagree with the authors slings and arrows mostly because I only use Winders these days to run one client and I do that on a box surrounded by a moat. 

I’ve outlined in past my progression: WFWG was all right; W2K was acceptable; WXP was endurable; but the thread was cut there. And picked up by Linux. 

So all the warts and cancers of W7 and beyond are things I deal with at arms reach and can always walk away from. Which is probably something the author can’t for reasons of money or addiction. So I try for sympathy.

It’s hard. I know these people are suffering but if they can’t or won’t help themselves? It’s a challenge. 

But at least MegaHard hasn’t gotten to the point of having armed thugs drag you away from your box.

I rather wish there was a moral here but I can’t really come up with one except a bit of sympathy. And a recognition that there is a lot of suffering in life and we make some of that for ourselves. With help from large organizations. 

The Angular Momentum of Peas

Seven Day. The end of week out. And it never has sufficient speed for me. There are times when I wished time had a speed of more than one second per second. Television is a wasteland, reminiscent of an abandoned coal mining town in West Virginia or a rust belt factory town in Michigan. 

During the week I listen to podcasts at gym to divert my attention from the drops forming and flowing on my forehead. They make the wasteland recede except for the overly LOUD educationalists and the screaming grunts of the weight bouncers. The former are adamantine and shrill sandpaper on a black board, which are as notably absent from the schules as is education. The latter are punctuated and bear the stench of modern body corruption.

But on week out the gym is effectively closed and I have to make do with home effort and since that means, at best, an outside constitutional when I can listen to podcasts, or in high winter and summer, both of which seem to be expanding, an inside spin on a stationary bicycle. There I mostly make do with reading. The current book is a survey of the metaphysical foundation of “modern” science. It’s a Dover book which tells us it is both good and dated which we knew since such topics are beyond the capabilities of the contemporary. 

I also read TIME magazine, mostly during meals when FD SCP reads a bosom ripper. I read TIME to balance out my RSS feeds with some exposure to the Boggerate as portrayed by slowly failing journalists of incestuous mutual admiration. No, not in the sexual sense, rather like contemporary celebrities who are great and wonderful because they are celebrities. These are journalists who are great and wonderful because they are journalists. One of the articles in the current issue – 10 April of this year – is an editorial about the robotization of jobs. Strangely, journalism is not mentioned but dentistry is. One has to wonder why?

The issue also had an article about podcasts. I fell on this like a chicken falling on a bug. But I discovered the bug was one of those that squirts hydroquinones out its fundament. Burning Horror! The article featured 36 podcasts. The number of any interest at all? ZERO. It also pointed at an article [Link] entitled “The 50 Best Podcasts Right Now.”

I have been reading TIME for years. I started back in graduate schule to get a sort of intelligence briefing about what was going on in the imaginary world beyond the walls of grad schule. AFter grad schule I kept reading for much the same reason. One useful thing was their movie reviews. If a movie got a rating of five (the maximum) or one (the minimum) I might go to see it. The rest, two through four, were discarded. The system worked because of the prejudices of the reviewers. 

The podcasts TIME recommends are worse. Of there list of fifty “BEST” podcasts, I found none that I would investigate further or even download for a test. There are a couple, from NPR, that I have listened to in past but dropped because their quality is too inconsistent. Most of what is on their list is the same sort of mind rubbish and rot that is on the television networks. 

So what’s a good podcast? I am not sure. It’s like art. If I like it, it’s good. If I don’t like it, it may be good. And I admit that much. But for TIME to offer nothing seems suspiciously like a temporal erosion (cancer?) of their movie reviews. (That I quit paying attention to when I married.)

My good podcasts start with what I listen in gym:

One Day – CBC’s “The Best of Ideas”; it’s a bit bloody liberal but that’s a refreshing counterweight in Medieval Alibam;

Two Day – The Guardian “Science Podcast” and the BBC’s “Science Hour”. I used to listen to the NPR science snippets but they disappeared over the Solstice holidays for some reason. 

Three Day – The CBC’s “Quirks and Quarks”; this used to be number one in science podcasts but has lost ground to the Guardian “Science Weekly”

Four Day – The UK Ubuntu Podcast and the start of an episode of “Late Nite Linux” or “The Linux Action Show”

Five Day – The rest of that latter episode

In addition, we have the best American podcast, Garrison Keeler’s “The News from Lake WoeBeGone”, and the BBC’s “In Our Time”, arguably the best podcast period. The WIlliamsburg people used to have a good podcast but it became a long commercial for them and rotted. 

Two other comments: one thing the TIME people aren’t going to mention is that, in the main, Amerikans are stercus at podcasts. The Candanians and the Albions are much better. I can’t speak to anywhere else because I stick to podcasts in good English. In particular, the American news and entertainment media is abysmal when it comes to podcasts. Too many are built on personality first, last, and throughout and are treated as commercials for the media. Their learning value is negative, in the main. I haven’t sampled them all, obviously, but I have a confident standard deviation of zero.

The other thing is that the TIME people don’t know anything about podcasts either and they don’t care. Demonstration: in that article I mentioned? ZERO RSS links. People who like podcasts use podcast accumulators (TIME: whats that?) and that means RSS links. One more sign Amerikans don’t get podcasts very well.

Exceptions to the above: NPR and those podcast producers who do specialty podcasts like Jupiter Broadcasting. 

Other side of the EQUALS sign: don’t pay any attention to national branded media when you go looking for podcasts. 

 

Curmudgeonics

Six Day. No gyn. Or more properly, I did my exercise bit at home since the gym pulls its trick of being closed whenever it can. No wonder it is having money problems. The only place with fewer open hours than it is the Senior Center, which only exists for the purpose of making the town conscript parents look good.

The seniors know better.

Which brings me to an article [Link] that I ran across this week entitled “The smartphone is eventually going to die, and then things are going to get really crazy.”

The indication that the article is a load of stercus is its use of the term “smartphone’. So called “smartphones” aren’t. But it is indicative of how much journalists and advertisers prevaricate that they’ll call them such. And it is indicative of how brain handicapped most humans are these days that they accept the terminology.

There are basically two arguments in this article. The first is that the functional capability of the computer has been getting steadily smaller and in the near future it will be small enough to be surgically implanted. The second is that the cellular telephone will whither away.

The problem with the first is the fallacious contention that a cellular telephone has the functional capability of a real computer. Have you ever tried to write code on a cellular telephone? Or do real work on a slablet?

The actuality is that since some fraction of the human species does noting actually constructive and has too much leisure time. (Sturgeon’s Rule probably applies here.) As a result they have to be entertained and the so-called progression is really one of stripping away the stuff that people who do constructive things need to make the box smaller. First it was the progression from main frame to desk box, then desk box to lap box. and then lap box to slablet (hand box?) Slablets have moderate utility, available only when they are augmented with keyboard and mouse-equivalent. And an argument may be made that because cellular telephones may be used for worthwhile communications, they do have a limited tool function. We will remember that.

It is very easy to tell when a cellular telephone is used for important, constructive communication. The person using the device gets away from other people. 

One of the key components of the foretold miniaturization is artificial intelligent agents. I have to admit I tried one for a couple of days. That was how long it took me to figure out they are not useful in doing work. They are useful in being entertained. 

The problem is that these implantable devices will be dependent on something other than tactile input and eye blinks are even less robust than thumb tapping. The latter may work all right for tweets and the former for quadriplegics, but not for real work by working people. 

So the whole claim that computers are gonna only live in people’s heads is probably a bunch of swamp gas derived from one too many advertising business luncheon. It may be accurate for those who do nothing constructive but they have to be abided anyway to keep the gene pool robust. 

Since the introduction of slablets, the number of desk and lap boxes has declined. Until a couple of years ago when it stabilized. That number will go down some more, largely because many of those boxes are relics in profit greedy businesses. But they will still be the means by which constructive things are done. So they won’t go away.

There is a possibility, small, that “smartphones” may go away. Lots of folks who do and have no use for texting or anything but audio conversation are reverting to talk only cellular telephones. They may actually be the enduring instrument. 

But the cutting edge of future surgery is probably more for those who don’t than those who do. 

Ex Unum, Pluribus

Sometimes the greatest of delusions get collapsed into reality. 

A few moments ago I was reading my eMail – a note from Full Circle – that announced this article [Link] entitled “Growing Ubuntu for Cloud and IoT, rather than Phone and convergence”

The article is a bit of an apologea from Mark Shuttleworth and can be mostly captured by a quote:

“I’m writing to let you know that we will end our investment in Unity8, the phone and convergence shell. We will shift our default Ubuntu desktop back to GNOME for Ubuntu 18.04 LTS.”

What he doesn’t really talk about is the reality that intruded. But that’s OK. 

Convergence in this instance is the idea that one can have the same OS and desktop interface on all devices regardless of size. It’s not unique to Shuttleworth and Ubuntu. MegaHard is also afflicted with the delusion. Happily, Shuttleworth has demonstrated his intelligence and rationality are greater than MegaHard’s. For that I give him kudos.

Now I want to elaborate. 

First of all, I have never liked the idea of convergence. The reason for this can be captured in another name: Per Bak; and a book he wrote “The Way Nature Works.” It’s an outreach book on complexity and emergence. That latter is why I don’t care for convergence; it denies that size matters, that beyond a certain size the nature of the beast changes: Emergence. 

The idea of convergence, that the same OS and desktop interface worked on anything from a cellular telephone to a workstation, is flawed. In simplest terms, the operations and tasks I want to do on a cellular telephone are different from the operations and tasks I want to do on a work station and that means – directly – that I need different OS characteristics and different desktop interface functionality.

In language that I have blathered on incessantly, a cellular telephone is appliance-like while a work station is tool-like. I ain’t gonna use LaTeX to write equations on the former and I ain’t gonna place phone calls on the latter. 

It’s an alluring idea, what one might call a MacGyverism, but it fails. MacGyver and Alton Brown aside, the multi-purpose tool fails to be effective at some point. One I get beyond the urgency of an emergency make-do, a Swiss army knife fails at some degree of complication and difficulty.

Second of all, I need to natter a bit about Ubuntu. Like a lot of neubs, I early on used Ubuntu (in different flavors) as my Linux distribution of choice. Nowadays, I only use Ubuntu (in one of its flavors) for those boxes whose UEFI implementation won’t let even an unlocked secure boot work with anything that doesn’t have a strong certificate. In my case, that’s an el cheapo HP lapbox that I paid $100 for, burned off the W8 install, and because of the whacko SSDD in it, have Kubuntu installed on because it’s either Ubuntu or Fedora for the certification. Which is OK because the hardware implementation is so shoddy and flimsy that I only use it when I need a lightweight throwaway box.

But it’s still a good distro for neubs, mostly because of the richness of the community. Despite Shuttleworth trying very hard in his berserker rage to kill that community off. Neubs need lots of references and hand holding and the Ubuntu community does that. Kudos.

But I want something different. For one thing, I don’t like Unity. It’s the Winders Ate interface of the Linux world. Along with Gnome 3, which is way better. But both are more suited to touch screens than keyboards and mouses. 

But the real reason I don’t use Ubuntu by choice is that it will only do upgrades – any more – live via internet and living out here in boondockia, doing a version upgrade is a 50-50 random sample of getting to do a clean install after the upgrade fails catastrophically.

And I have statistical significance of that.

Add in that there’s a 0.33 chance that an LTS install will rot away after 18 months of a 24 month interval between upgrades. Another chance for a clean install.

But I dislike the demise of the Ubuntu cellular telephone. Unity would be OK on it and it would give me a nice alternative to Android or Apple OS. So I shall sit about.

Meantime, I can hope this redirection of Ubuntu may make it not just a distro for neubs but also a distro for all of us. 

Self-Education?

Five Day. End of Gym Week. Mixed Feelings. Glad to be rid of the drive, both motorcar and psychological. Finished listening to an episode of “Destination Linux,” a new (to me) podcast I have been sampling. Sadly, may be the last. Definitely an inferior product. Content C; Presentation F. If this is a destination, how do I change direction?

Not that it didn’t give me some thoughts and that’s why it’s in the “maybe” bin. But I had to sort them out from a rather Red Neck level of presentation, very shave-once-a-week gimmie cap Bog EXTRO type of thing. But I need to clarify a bit.

While I listen to podcasts at gym to divert my attention from the fundamentally abysmal boredom of exercise, I expect the podcast to be educational and (hopefully) a bit amusing. This one failed on the latter. In fact it was painful and grating. Sort of like those Jock harassment monologues Nerds had to endure in High School before they went on to college and the Jocks went to the trade schule. 

What is uncertain is the educational aspect. I can’t say I learned any facts but since the presentation engendered (how’s that for a nice Chaucerian word?) some cogitation the decision is in abeyance. Definitely, “Waiting Is.”

This is closest to the question of gaming on Linux. Not of much interest. I am quite content for my modest gaming requirements, mostly as head clearing breaks of the sort that used to distance me from other supervisors and managers who thought employee breaks were evil and cancerous. So I am ambivalent to the whole thing of pornographic gaming. 

That comment needs of explanation since all sorts of alarums just sounded in the cranium. Consulting the dictionary,

Pornography Por*nog”ra*phy, n. [Gr. ? a harlot + -graphy.]      3. obscene pictures, writings, drawings, motion pictures, videos, or the like intended primarily to cause sexual arousal and having little or no artistic merit; also, the content of such materials.

makes things clear(?) These games are a form of arousal. Heavy duty chemicals that politicians want to ban and usually fail only because someone points out doing so will kill them. (And other people, but that’s irrelevant to politicians.)

In a similar aspect, I am negatively ambivalent about “Convergence,” the Linux equivalent of Kurzweil’s Singularity which is itself a sort of techno-geek Rapture. The argument is simple. I like chicklet keys on my RPN calculator (and RPN over Algebraic is part of the argument,) and not on my keyboard where I prefer Cherry Blue switches. And I detest touch screens. 

This brings me to the pinnacle of all this Linux stuff. Simply put I don’t much care about The-Year-Of-The-Linux-Desktop. It’s rot and nonsense. Back when I was a neub (and still am skills-wise,) I thought I should advocate for it. But then I realized it was nothing but a mixture of insecurity (did I really make the right decision to switch to Linux?) and greed (keep the neubs’ boxes humming – for a large fee.) 

But after observing and noting that almost all Bogs want to submit to being mind dominated by large corporations so they only have to consume and feel – but not, never, ever, if possible, think – I realized that Great-Uncle George’s advice held true.

“If you lead a horse to water, you have two choices: leave him alone or drown the SOB. And if you drown him you have to do something with the body otherwise the Revenooers come after you for littering or pollution or animal cruelty or some such Yankee legal stercus.”

Despite being a JP, GU George was rather untrusting of the constabulary.

Anyway, I have had my year of the Linux desktop for several years now, and if someone asks I will share with them, but I ain’t into racial cleansing or chattel slavery. Mostly because it’s too much trouble. 

Now I gotta go do something constructive.