Well, if you're one of the... one persons who reads my page, you've probably been asking yourself 'hey, why is this fellow such a pretentious boob?'. But it might also have crossed your mind that I haven't been updating in a good long while and you just might be mildly concerned that I'm dead, or have come down with Irish Potato Famine or something. Fear not, however, for I'm back and God Above, my life has been interesting for the past month or two.
Let's step backwards through time and see where things have happened, shall we? Excellent, excellent, I thought it was a good idea too.
First off, and one of the least 'interesting' in the Chinese Curse sense, I've managed to install Linux on my home computer. Why is this worthy of note, especially when I've proudly been a BeOS man for as long as this ramblings page has been up? Good question and I'll tell you, Bob.
I came up through some pretty strange home computer ranks over the years: I started off with the venerable PET, moved to the Commodore 64 (with GEOS, lest you think I wasn't an early adopter of the GUI), leaped from there to the Amiga (there will never be a machine I love more than my Amiga box, sworn and sealed. It was more than just a machine... it was innovation, creativity, love and community sealed into a great big bulky ugly case), vaulted to the Macintosh (which was the only real choice after the Amiga, and a choice that I'm glad that I made. While the Macintosh lacks the community of the Amiga -- and yes, go ahead and flame me over that if you will, but I will stand behind that statement to my dying breath -- it had a great deal more than any other platform available to me at the time. It also had the same general sense of innovation and fun as the Amiga.), slid to a dark time in my life (Windows, don't wanna talk about it) and finally, found BeOS, where I've been for the last year.
What, you ask, does this have to do with the price of RAM in Taiwan? Well, see m'friend... leaving the Macintosh world was a very hard thing to do, and originally I was going to be moving to Linux for my next personal computer's OS, but due to several unforeseen glitches, I discovered that my computer wouldn't run the Open Source Wonder. This didn't stop me from trying to get the OS running and for three friggin' years I tried everything to move away from Windows, until it was reveled to me that my chip had a bug in it and I'd have to spend more money than I had to actually use Linux (let's examine the irony in that statement for a moment... no, on second thought, let's not).
So I've wanted to be able to run Linux for years and I haven't been able to. Why did things change? You'll find out, in the fullness of time...
Second 'interesting' thing... wait, this isn't interesting, so much as a tragedy. Douglas Adams has passed away this weekend.
Given that I'm taking a motorcycle tour of nostalgia lane, did you think you'd get away from here without a retrospective of how Douglas Adams fit into my life? You did? Well you've got some nerve, buster. Siddown, shut up and listen because I'm pouring out my heart here.
My association with the esteemed Mr Adams began back in grade school, which for me was on-and-off a time of sheer, unmitigated Hell punctuated by moments of sheer bliss. I grew up in a small town and like many children who are somewhat 'different' (and by 'different', I mean 'not a mouth-breathing, baseball-playing moron who can recall his own name on command roughly fifty-percent of the time'), as the grades wore on I didn't have that many friends, largely because I tended to have a different outlook on life than most people in that school (and for different, see above). The big problem with being in a small school in a small town is that 'different' tends to be punished far more effectively than in a larger place, where you can easily slip through the cracks of society's conformity machine and carve out a little niche for yourself with others who are like-minded. So, I found myself reading. A lot. Ultimately, I found myself reading a book about which I'd heard much from popular media but which I hadn't ever had occasion to get my mitts on: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Gods, I was hooked at that point... Adams opened my eyes to a wider world where you could break away from the normalizing forces of society and just let yourself go loopy as a fruitbat on fermented peaches. I added more and more to the 'Adams' experience over the years... discovering that no, actually there WERE more books in the series... reading my way through them... falling in love with the Dirk Gently series (which, to face the wrath and flames of my fellow geeks, I honestly enjoyed more than the Hitchhiker trilogy of four in five books)... receiving as a present Last Chance to See... one Christmas (which still ranks as one of the top five most thoughtful and personal gifts that I've ever received. I've made reading LCtS just after Christmas an annual tradition that persists to this day. Have you read LCTS? If you haven't, good luck finding it... it's essentially Adam's look at a few endangered species and what's being done about them. It's very sadly humourous and is terribly relevant even today.). I had occasion to play Adams' two Infocom games, both of which infuriated me at first. I watched the TV version of HHGTTG (which, sadly, I don't watch much as I really feel that the actors took a lot away from the whole experience). I felt... very sad about Mostly Harmless (sad, because in the end it felt like Adams was thumbing his nose hard at the fans who were insisting that he write a sequel to Goodbye And Thanks For All The Fish. I wasn't one of them -- I'd hoped that he'd leave the series there, on a high-note. But once MH came out, I couldn't not read it, could I? And it undid everything in the series that I'd liked... it undid all the closure that we'd found. In a lot of ways, that book made the series slightly less magical for me, painful as it is to say at this point in my life). I never really got to listen to the HHGTTG radio play -- the only place around Windsor which carried it carried it when I had no money to speak of. I suppose I could just go to Napster and download it, but somehow that doesn't feel right... I suppose the next part isn't something I want to confess to, but since I'm baring my soul anyway, here goes: sometime in the last five years, Adams and I drifted apart. (Cue Rush's Nobody's Hero here). It was a fairly amicable breakup all told, more a slow finding of other interests, but somehow Adams became less and less a factor in my life and I rarely thought about his creations in that period. When I first heard of his death, I was in the middle of a terrible panic on other things, so I didn't respond to it emotionally at first -- but slowly, as my panic (DON'T PANIC, the best advice I've heard all day) subsided, I began to feel a terrible sense of loss... and guilt. I think it's time to become reacquainted with Mr Adams' legacy... don't you?
After that, anything else I put here is going to be a bit of a downer, isn't it? And rightly so. So go off and have a drink of tea for a while and think about the man who entertained us so often and so well... then come back and read on.
For the past little while, about a week or so, I've been out of the country. That's put a serious crimp in doing much -- and I hope to have more news for you as to why I've been gone soon. Hopefully next posting.
The next 'interesting' thing in my life is that my desktop computer's fan, which has always been a bit dodgy, finally gave out. I discovered this when the CPU overheated and shut down with a resounding 'ker-shutdown'. I've only just received a new case (and motherboard and RAM and other sundry bits of high-tech fun) through the kindness of a friend who donated to the 'argh, get him out of the stone-age fund' through the goodness of his own heart. My desktop computer is now only a 133 mHz (the reason for using that motherboard is not one that I feel like going into right now), but on the plus side, it's capable of running Linux (see, I told you I'd get to here). The downside is that BeOS has suddenly stopped working utterly -- and Be Inc itself is looking to be going downhill in a hand basket, despite a lot of hard work and some good plans that I was hoping would succeed. Thus, it's looking like I'm about to jump OSes yet again...
I've been using my laptop for a while to make up for lack of desktop machine -- it's not a bad little laptop, even if it's one of IBM's infamous 'lemon' models that they sold to schools like mine at a steep discount to get them out of their warehouses. It overheats badly, it's not built to take punishment like other ThinkPads are and I think it's fairly locked into its current hardware configuration. But hey, it's a computer, right? Ironically, the friend whom I was visiting just before heading down on my big, aforementioned trip, had his computer break just before we left, so I lent my laptop to him -- and fell back on another laptop I had, a PowerBook 5300cs (which I received from the extreme kindness of other friends who had a spare PowerBook to toss my way). I love netting on a Macintosh, but I certainly don't love netting on a slow Macintosh -- and I've grown far too used to good virtual desktops, which the pre OSX macs just don't have -- which sadly, my powerbook is. It is, I hasten to add, a wonderful Escape Velocity machine which is what I tended to use it for up to this point (Escape Velocity is the reason why I've never made a clean break from the Mac. On every platform in the past, I've had a favorite game or three, all of which I've managed to find 'fixes' for on later machines. But Escape Velocity, a game by Ambrosia Software, is utterly unique and I've been trying to emulate it on Windows for years to no avail. EV is a game that I want to be able to play when I'm seventy. It's simply got incredible charisma and fun-a-tude). So having to use a machine that paused to 'think' about everything I did really reduced my ability to update or do other Fun net things. Fortunately, now my Powerbook is back in her place of honour as a station where I can play the most funnest game in the entire universe -- though she does get lauds for *letting* me get online at all, which is surprising for an almost decade-old machine.
Finally, last month, I finished my college degree at St Clair College, which is the number one reason why I've been gone so long. There was much workage to be done, and I didn't do it in vain: I've managed to graduate with a 4.0 GPA (Yay! Gratuitous Back Patting! Yay!). I'm now ready to seek out honest employ.. and I hope to give you information on how that's gone in my next post...
Basically, I'm now more or less qualified to call myself a computer technician and jack of all trades, which feels a little bit funny, considering that just three years ago I was ready to start teaching English. I'm very glad that I went to school when I did, because soon the kiddies who go through this program are going to have to choose between Networking and Programming and never the twain shall meet. It's nice to know that I'm more well-rounded than they are -- I blame it on my junk-food diet.
And that brings me back to Doh (doh doh doh, doh... a deer... a female deer...). But let's not talk about Arkanoid right now; instead, thank you for your forbearance and I hope to kick things into full swing soon. I may (may) be about to make a change in my life that could easily disrupt things for me again, but let's all hope that I can work through that, hm (trust me, it's a good change, if it happens)?
Peace, love and skittles.
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