Expressionism, Fanboys, Clacky Keys, etc.

October 21st, 2003  |  Published in Uncategorized

I haven’t had a lot to say lately. Here’s a rundown of some things o’ note, though:

  • Ed of ed.puddingbowl.org has found himself downsized. He’s under some no-badmouthing agreements, but it’s probably a healthy sign that he doesn’t seem to be spending his time thinking up bad things he could say. At least not when we chat. He’s keeping a running journal you can follow here, here, here, and here. That last entry has a rundown of Ed’s job qualifications: If you need a Unix admin or someone with a long list of other skills, please go give it a look. Ed’s not only good people, he’s a dab hand with the *nix.
  • Yes, I broke the “never link to the word ‘here'” rule in that last bullet. I apologize, I feel awful about it, I know I’ve soured the fruity-licious mouth-feel of hypertext. Please don’t make catty comments about “shoveling man under construction” logos being next.
  • Another Enterprise Unix Roundup that manages to be a little about something with personal resonance:
    “In the years we’ve covered Linux, we’ve come face to face numerous times with a sort of emotional resonance you don’t get from ‘Windows enthusiasts’ or the ‘Solaris community.’ Perhaps that’s the David and Goliath story coming to the top, with the traditional ‘everyone loves an underdog’ narrative finding itself recast in terms of operating systems. Perhaps it’s because Linux has created a lot of converts due to its ubiquity and growing ease of use, representing the cherished first love of many a dedicated Unix nerd. Whatever its cause, and no matter how much some observers poo-poo the Mao-like fervor of some Linux enthusiasts at full froth, that emotional resonance is there, and waiting to be either mined for profit or stumbled through like a mine field.”
    In some ways, that graf tracks back to my whole “Dune” thing, which tangentially touched on the contempt suits usually have for “fans,” whether they’re fans of books, movies, t.v. characters, or even operating systems. Suits hate fans because fans have a sense of passionate ownership that stands athwart copyright law or droit moral. Fans get their hearts broken and come back around with petitions demanding mass firings and bothering the mail room people because, damnit, they’ve been watching “Star Trek” for as long as they’ve been alive and it sucks that alien hotties in cat suits is what passes for innovation now. I was struck by all that yet again today as I sat watching “Revolution OS”, a documentary about the rise of open source software in general, and Linux in particular. There’s a lot of Eric Raymond in that movie, including yet another variation on his old “I’m on a mission of personal vengeance because someone at Microsoft once snubbed me” tale. I shouldn’t say “tale” because hell, maybe it’s happened two or three times. The main point I’d make is that Eric is good, if nothing else, at telling a story that resonates. His most famous work demonstrates his gift for generating narrative. In “Revolution OS,” he goes back to a well he’s drawn from before because it works: People will pay money and stand in line to see an arrogant institutional drone get his comeuppance. Anyhow, there it is. “Dune,” Linux, the state of the Star Trek franchise (sorry, if you ask this viewer, who’s been with it since sometime just after infancy), and Sun.
  • After a brief flirtation with the whisper-quiet Microsoft Natural keyboard, and a much longer sojourn with a vanilla Happy Hacker Keyboard, I finally opened enough boxes to find where I’d stuck the Keytronic I’d put aside a while back. If you used an IBM computer in the XT era, you might remember the way the keyboards were clackety and springy. Keytronic keyboards provide the wonderful sensation of keys that push back. When I’m typing with the Keytronic, it feels like every single letter is the very best letter I could have typed. I need to buy three or four more and put them up on a shelf in case of disaster.
  • The Jabber server has group chat now. If you get it in your head to direct your jabber client to our server, feel free to pop in on the PuddingTime! room and send me an invite (mph@puddingbowl.org).
  • It’s “German Expressionism” week. I got to see “The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari” tonight, and next week we’ll be doing “Nosferatu”. “Cabinet” was a real pleasure. Bits of it are all over the modern movie landscape, from “Identity” to every screwy cityscape Tim Burton has ever conceived.

And that’s about that.

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