failing like never before


Linux and Me

I was first formally introduced to Linux during my junior year in high school by a friend who had seen someone else run it. At this in my life, I considered myself to be a geek and computer lover, but in reality I knew very little about computers; my experience was limited to some Microsoft Windows XP, C++ and HTML, and building my own computer. I became interested in this "new" operating system, entranced by the idea of free and open source software and jealous of the high geek status granted to Linux gurus, for it seemed as though all the "cool" people ran Linux.

I borrowed some Mandriva CDs from my friend, used Partition Magic to resize my Windows NTFS partition, and installed Mandriva Linux. The experience was nowhere as delightful as I would have liked; my ATI Radeon graphics card failed to mesh properly with Xorg and instead of booting into a cool new glossy interface, my computer dropped to a shell, spat cryptic error messages to the screen, and then calmly prompted me for a login name. I spent the next few days shifting from my parent's computer to my own, trying to find a way to fix X and boot into something that I might be able to understand. I typed into the shell dozens of commands, scrounged from various forums and install guides, hoping that one of the seemingly random strings of characters would be my savior. But my attempts were futile, I had no idea what I was doing, and didn't even bother to try to understand what was going wrong. Eventually, I got so fed up with Mandriva that I gave up and went back to using XP.

I spent the next few month with Windows, sometimes scrolling through random threads in Linux forums and reading little tidbits about the operating system that had failed me, when I decided that perhaps it was time to give Linux another chance. At that time, Fedora and Ubuntu were the user-friendly distributions of choice, and so I spent a few days debating between the two. I ended up downloading Fedora simply because at the time, I thought Fedora Core was a much cooler name then Ubuntu. Maybe it was because the version of Fedora I was using had a newer kernel then the Mandriva CDs my friend lent me, but Fedora installed and booted without a hitch. I was cruising the web and ripping music almost immediately, and it didn't take long for me to discover the wonders of Beryl and the spinning desktop cube. It was hard not to fall in love with Fedora. It was faster and lighter then Windows XP, could do things that Windows wouldn't even be able to compete with for a few more years, and it improved my geek cred immensely.

Tagged as: , Continue reading

About Me

If you've ever gone to an event, like a first club meeting or first dorm dinner, where everyone is new and just starting to get to know each other, then you've probably had to do a lot of introductions. As an engineer, the efficiency (or rather of lack of efficiency) really bothers me. Why do I have to introduce myself to thirty different people in the space of one hour and make the same boring and useless small-talk every single time? Why couldn't the people organizing said event hand out placards we could wear around our necks? And then we could write our introduction on these signs, in a style similar to social networking sites like Facebook or Myspace.

"My name is first_name last_name. I am a year_in_school year and I am majoring in major_name. I am from home_town and I went to high_school_name. I like hobbies. etc.

Just think how much easier that would make our lives! While people tend be fairly complicated organisms, thus making it difficult to sum up their entire personality and background on one placard, the signs are not meant to completely describe a person, rather only to remove the need for useless introductions. Should someone find the persona described on a placard interesting, they can quickly and easily establish a conversation with that other person. The initial awkward introductions are avoided, allowing people to skip straight to the actual interesting conversations, and people that have nothing in common are not forced into awkward conversation in order to realize their dissimilarities.

Its such a beautiful solution to a non-existent problem, that I wonder why no one has ever tried to implement it before.