Ten Tyranny

Just ran across this article [Link] on Lifehacker. Seems that Winders X updates will be mandatory. Not only that, they get pushed and installed when MegaHard wants. No delays, no deferments.

Suddenly Linux looks a WHOLE BUNCH better, doesn’t it?

Like the advantages of freedom over slavery? Or democracy over dictatorship?

La Brea Computer Pit

DIhydrogen oxide falleth. No constitutional. But I did remain abed for a extra bit of time and that was moderately enjoyable. Still I eventually had to rise and perform ablutions. Which are increasingly unpleasant and even painful as my existence stretches on.

I had been muddling what to write about this morning when I decided to check email a bit before commencing with the morning blot. The first epistle I opened was from Coursera and that was as far as I got. 

I have commented previously of my aversion for on-line courses. I am simply not a read or view videos on a small screen (lots of hyphens shoulda been there) type of guy. I have commented previously of an online credit card course I had to complete several years ago that was supposed to take two hours and took me two days and a bottle of acetaminophen. I have come to the conclusion that I am a lecture-blackboard-book type of learner.

But I do note, bemusedly, the rise of these massive (?) online courses and so I subscribe to email from Coursera and edX to survey the offerings. I have to admit that I find the completion rate as less than a third and usually less than a tenth to fulfill my own bias of dislike and distaste. I also used to hate video-conferences although I never quite succumbed to nasal mucus removal as a diversion during such.

But what centered my cognition this morning was the relatively large number of ‘computer’ courses that were offered. Evidently this is some sort of Ouroborus situation. But what occurred to me was the wisdom of actually studying computer stuff. 

I have used computers since 1967 when I first learned FORTRAN and have made digital messes ever since, culminating with a tenure as CIO of a Yankee Army lab, inflicting my antiquity and nerdiness on manifold geeks and a few other nerds. And a fair number of bogs. So I am well disqualified to argue that one needs be careful in spending too much effort studying computers.

First consider that computers are turning into appliances (e.g., slabs) and that IT folk are becoming over-supervised Maytag men (idiom, not sexism.) Yes the job still pays pretty well – not as well as real engineers who can weld and lay asphalt and design moon rockets – but pretty good and steadily declining. Most computer work is the new blue collar for the new majority with college degrees but no education, just training.

I have learned that there is a rule of economics that if something pays well and lots of people take it up as a career, the pay goes down and the working conditions turn to slime. I am assured by my economist colleagues – none are actually friends for obvious reasons – that this is nothing but simple supply and demand although they cannot elaborate convincingly. 

I have colleagues of the Pure X variety who declaim that we need more Pure X in IT. I counter, unappreciated, that we need fewer people blindly selecting IT as a career. I am almost NEVER appreciated. Evidently reality and racial/gender/ethnic goals are immiscible or explosive. 

I should like to tell what folks need to study. The best I can come up with is business or real STEM. Making stuff up, whether computers or literature, doesn’t pay well in the long term although it is fun to study. Some of the nicest, poor, bogs I know were college literature geeks/nerds. Yes, Virginia, some of us cannot sustain nerdery and the marketplace is the primary reason.

So study computers at your own risk. And don’t pay a lot of attention to college advisers. For obvious reasons. 

OS Analogs

Thor’s day. End of gym week. Podcast was an episode of “Linux Luddites” Not very good. In fact, barely distracting. So I got to thinking.

When you buy an airliner you have to buy the seats separately.Seems Boeing/Airbus don’t want to be in the furniture business.

Now suppose you go to a motorcar dealer to purchase a motorcar. And they show you nice looking (exterior) motorcars and talk about (sorta) the mechanical performance but the interior is void. And when you ask about this they tell you that you can go to an associated store and purchase a steering wheel and gauges but you’re on your own for seats and such.

That MegaHard’s Winders Operating System.

operating     adj 1: involved in a kind of operation; “the operating conditions of the oxidation pond”;     2: being in effect or operation; “de facto apartheid is still operational even in the `new’ African nations”- Leslie Marmon

System n. [L. systema, Gr. ?, fr. ? to place together; ]   1. An assemblage of objects arranged in regular  subordination, or after some distinct method, usually logical or scientific; a complete whole of objects related by some common law, principle, or end; a complete      exhibition of essential principles or facts, arranged in a rational dependence or connection; a regular union of principles or parts forming tne entire thing; as, a system of philosophy; a system of government; a system of divinity; a system of botany or chemistry; a military     system; the solar system.

is like that. You buy it,and install it, and you can’t do very much with it. It may not have an email client. It has a rather sorry browser. It lacks an office suite but you can buy that from an associated store for an exorbitant price. And anything else you want is pretty much not there. You are on your own.

DISCLAIMER: This is not a pitch for LINUX. It’s a bash of Winders and MegaHard. I don’t care if you keep using Winders. I don’t care if you switch to LINUX. I do care about why I use LINUX and NOT Winders.

Winders doesn’t have loads of software in repositories to download and install and use. Their model is find a store that sells that type of software, pay for, install it (maybe,) and use it. Maybe. But whatever you want you don’t have much choice. And that choice will cost.

Ergo, Winders isn’t a complete OS. It’s an airliner analog. Not a motorcar analog.

Suffer Winders users.

Coding is Power

Two day. Gym nicely vacant. Podcast episodes middling and unmemorable. Typical except for degree.

Jack Kerouac. “On the Road”. “Knowledge is Power”. Francis Bacon may have said it first but Kerouac was the one who taught it to public Amerika. Back in the ’50’s when the cool were beatniks. “The Wild Ones”. Stage setting for the hippies of the ’60’s.

Yesterday I ran across an article [Link] entitled “When the Heck Did Learning to Code Become Cool?”. The article is a bit thin. Vapid even. Everything prior to the ’90’s is irrelevant and nonexistent. But I can sorta answer the question.

When I went off to college in ’66, coding – called programming in those days – was cool. Post-Fonzie type cool. Astronaut cool. 

A bit of clarification: COBOL was NOT cool; FORTRAN was cool. And my nerd buddies and I could not wait to go learn FORTRAN. So we broke rules legally. We asked permission. And obtained it. And learned FORTRAN. And aced the course. And wrote great programs. Too many to list. All nerd programs. None of this GUI stercus. These were cool progams on either 5081 punch cards or reel-to-reel magnetic tape. We carried our programs under our arms, not in effeminate knapsacks. And we carried slide rules. No calculators then that weighed less than a hundred pounds.

And we were COOL. Because we could program. Even the Greeks knew we were cool. Not that we cared about them so they could still ignore us except when they had to step out of the way of a nerd carrying a tape reel. Or a briefcase full of notes.

Now I am not saying that was when coding started being cool. But it was already cool then.

Not in 1990.

1966.

Schmuck. 

Gravestone Computing

Two day. Mixed bag. The gym was sparsely populated but my indisposition has evolved into considerable discomfort when sitting and so I was a bit of a fidget bouncer. Also reduced schedule again today. 

The podcast, an episode of the Guardian’s Science Weekly, was about social bubbles, which were never adequately defined but evidently are not a film of liquid surrounding a bit of gas. They evidently have something to do with social media but that also was not to be defined, only the tyranny of privacy (and its abuses) variously decried in polarity. Which raises in turn the grey issue of cookies. Which I shall defer for some other time. 

But evidently one of the things merchants are doing with that harvested privacy data is figuring out what price an individual will pay for goods and charging accordingly. Apparently they haven’t figured out such complexities as the money value of time and such? 

On a related azimuth, [Link] I see that slablet sales were down 0.235 in first trimonth compared to last year. Only Megahard sales were up, which makes things even more dismal for corporate privacy harvesters.

Ain’t surprised. Been waiting for. 

Stop and think about it. Slablets are a very narrow ecological niche. They aren’t fashion accessories like slabones, and they aren’t tools like boxes. Yes, you can do some work on a slablet but it’s severely limited, rather like trying to build a house with plastic kids’ tools like those of SCP grandwhelp. So the primary replacement reason is breakage, not obsolescence or peer pressure. At least modaly.

I have a slablet. Use it once or twice a month when I will need some connectivity but not workability outside the castellum. Had it a couple of years. It’s a refurb so not new when I got it. Good enough. And that’s the watchword of slablets. 

So when everyone who has a use for one, or even a want, has one, they don’t replace till they have to. Need. Not want.

Market behavior follows. Saturation. Herd immunity. (Quick, tell Jenny McCartney,)

Selah. On to other pains.

Shattered Window

Mundane day. Not bad so far. Moderate weather if a bit high in air temperature for this time of year. Fear the Whirley Birley! Only a couple of weight bouncer bullies this morning and the podcast, an episode of the CBC’s “Best of Ideas”, was a ‘Radio is Dead’ thing along the lines of ‘Deity is Dead!’ Not particularly convincing or even memorable, in either case, but diverting from the ache and perspiration.

On which note, I see [Link] that MegaHard has announced that Winders X will be the last Winders. And, apparently, no, this is NOT the happy news that MegaHard has imploded and is going away. Rather they are plagiarizing – again! – from the FOSS community and re-normalizing Winders as a rolling release.

This is somewhere between amusing and horrifying. On the amusing end is that MegaHard has once more gone from its fascist pillorying of FOSS – read LINUX – to stealing their best ideas. The rolling release is a mixed bag. On the one hand it is notoriously fragile, mostly because most such distributions are more interested than cutting edge – which can, AND does , fail specularly, too often. This Makes rolling release NOT a good idea for neubs. My personal experience, with MANJARO, a derivative of ARCH, has been singularly positive – that is, non-negative in maths speak – in terms of the rolling release itself. I don’t like the SW client but it works and I can abide. 

On the other hand, the rolling release is a great thing for folks who live in the hinterland where broadband is more fairy tale than true crime. Having lots of smaller updates is preferable to a few BIG updates as evidenced by my repeated history of late of failed version upgrades. The number is now five when my upgrade from WHEEZY to JESSIE failed after download, in the middle of install, and left me with a sand box. That box is now running SolydK which may or may not still be a rolling release.

MegaHard, however, is a different can of worms from a Linux distro organization. The rolling release may seem to really give corporate IT shops hope of streamlining but if one considers all of MegaHard’s integration failures in the last few years they are probably going to find that too many of these bigger updates are going to break the corporate PC population necessitating a LOT of rollbacks and stoop labor. And those corporations – everyone? – are going to have to contend with developing a new replacement model for hardware. Back when the Winders version increment was the same (approximately) as obsolescence, replacing boxes was pretty simple in accountant-speak. Now it gets nasty when real need may have to be considered instead of a top down hand-me-down. 

This also seems to be yet another sign that MegaHard is abandoning the home and small business marketplaces. People who don’t have IT staff are going to view bigger updates and more likely dead boxes as increased reason to join the ranks of those who get an update/upgrade only when they buy a new box. Are they just abandoning their largest population market to Chrome? The World Wonders.

Think Chinese Curse. 

No Hackencruz

Saturn’s day. Higher air temperature than yesterday. Amazing collection of caravans in the park. Most of parking lot blocked off with orange cones so I had to hike in to the trail. The whole thing rather reminded me of the Berlin segment of the Indiana Jones Grail Quest movie. Even had what passes for book burning: smokers and peanut roasting devices. Not many goosesteppers in evidence but they are only early risers when they are practicing theo-fascism?

I noticed the face scroll was loaded with all sorts of grr brr about the Texas theo-fascism incident. Great polarity! The demodenialists were bemoaning the execution of thems while the reprodenialists were trumpeting the whupping of terrorists. Sometimes I think the only difference among religionists is their weapons of choice. Almost all of them seem to be engaged in ‘be us or be dead”. 

My struggles against the waywardness of upgrade seem to be on a smooth path. Everything is working well so far and I have had no problems installing the clients I need. Only problem is remembering names. Of clients, that is. My experiment with Debian itself is concluded for now. Too many burnt fingers. Not that I am satisfied with any distribution right now but that is a set of thoughts that seems worth exploring further.

Evidently we are in a news vacancy. Or I am not bending attention span that way. Not sure which yet. 

And I am definitely going o stay away from the park until tomorrow morning. Politicians are much more irritating than pollen.