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Posts Tagged ‘Nerdly’

Open Source

I’ve always considered Microsoft to be the devil. And it truly is, I think.

Let me explain.

About a month ago, Monkeyface and I bought him a new NetBook with our income tax refund. Technically we were going to get me a new laptop, as the one I had had was quickly fading and we ended up giving it to one of his work colleagues, but I couldn’t find one that I was satisfied with for the money I was willing to pay.  Monkeyface and I came up with an even better plan: he would get a new Lenovo NetBook and I would inherit his mostly-new Dell 1501.  [How easy it is, sometimes, to sound like a total nerd.]  Anyway

Problems set in, and almost immediately, because I was running Windows. Don’t get me wrong, I hadn’t been having any problems wrong with my Vista install on my desktop and was actually a fan of some of the “pretty” features – the volume mixer, Aero, silly things like that. But! Living the life that I live, I have different expectations out of a computer than a lot of “normal” users

1) MUST be able to use Japanese IME [Input Method Editor?] in some form
2) MUST be able to play video.
3) MUST be able to edit video/pictures/whatever else I feel like messing with
4) Sims? Maybe?
5) Soft-sub support is a must

The final point doesn’t seem terribly important, and it never seemed that important before. Of course if I just downloaded the right program and had the right codecs installed it would be no problem. I wasn’t a novice in the slightest.  Fighting with programs, codecs, and video compression has been my life for the past two years; longer than that if you count my anime days.

The breaking point in Windows came when my laptop had a bug with the onboard video card drivers. It was a laptop, of course it was onboard, and thus replacing said video card was a null issue.   From my internet research, Windows blamed ATI, ATI blamed Windows… it all came down to the fact that my soft-subs weren’t going to render, ever, without serious computer crashes. I saw a BLUE SCREEN OF DEATH for the first time in five years over this driver.

So, Monkeyface says, let’s try the new Windows 7 beta. It looks like it’s going to be everything that Vista promised, and since Microsoft obviously dropped this issue in Vista, maybe they would quietly pick it up in Windows 7.

Two hours later, nothing. Ok, to be fair, the video lasted two minutes longer without freezing, but then BLUE SCREEN.  Making the most pitiful face I have ever made, I handed the Dell to Monkeyface with the tears of a last resort.  Ubuntu? he asked.  Yes please.

Built on the policy of Open Source or Free Software, Linux is a community-built entity based on the premise that people work better together, without any sort of limitation.  When programs are developed under Open Source they are required to be distributed for free, and openly, in order to further the community.  Richard Stallman, the creator of the philosophy behind Free Software, sums it up neatly: “Free software is a matter of liberty, not price. To understand the concept, you should think of ‘free’ as in ‘free speech’, not as in ‘free beer’[Wikipedia].  This is very, very similar to my general life philosophy, that just because you can make money off of something doesn’t necessarily mean you should, and that if you do, it should not be disproportionate.  Anyway, to continue:

My last encounter with Linux, in any of its myriad distributions, was when I was in middle school, almost ten years ago. Back then Linux was completely text based, no graphical interface at all.  Onii had decided that it was necessary for him to learn as he was aspiring to work in computers and we shared one at the time.  You had to type in a string of commands. For instance, all I ever did was chat on ICQ [way before AIM days].  A typical conversation went like this

/msg 20031194 hey what’s up?
20031194: nothing much, you?
/r [reply]: I MADE COOKIES!
19874108: hey!
/r they were delicious!
/msg 19874108: crap. That wasn’t supposed to go to you 😦

Comparatively, I’m in paradise right now.  My videos play seamlessly, my instant messaging program no longer crashes, and my favorite programs are available either painlessly from a respository or virtually through Wine. I’m in love.  My entire interface matches my background. A Photoshop-equivalent program came pre-installed. No more piracy.

And seriously, installing the Japanese IME on my own without help from Monkeyface has probably been the most accomplished I’ve felt in a very long time.

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I had always loved politics.  Childhood memories generally involved politics of some kind or another, either the delicate dance of diplomacy between my parents on days when my dad was Not Cute, to use my mother and my’s vernacular for describing behavior, or to listening to debates between my father and grandfather about the legality of Microsoft’s “monopoly” on the tech industry and at the naive age of ten feeling free to express my viewpoints even if they were instantaneously, albeit gently, corrected.  I was also raised in an intensely “patriotic” family, my veins bursting with blood that was not just red but also blue and white.  Grasping the supremacy of the Constitution to all laws easily, I soundly defeated the Loyalists as a Patriot in the Great Fifth Grade Debates of 1996.  American History was again imbued in my soul in eigth grade, followed by a general… review in my junior year of high school. But then! Then!

American Federal Government.

High school in Hernando did not give very many choices – once you ran through the minute gamut of “Honors” classes, you were drawn to believe that the only option available was to dual-enroll at the local community college.  There were no Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate programs, the “in” thing to do among my nerdly associates was to graduate with an AA before completing high school.  Since American Federal Government was a class required by the Florida school system to be endured, the choice was simple:  Summer Session C, 10-2 on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

The decision was made there, I suppose. I spent the next nine glorious weeks revelling; rolling here and there with the thrill of knowing that the United States was amazing, that there was nothing that could be greater than her. She was strong, she was fearless, and she was right.

Hah. Naivety, I knew thy name.

I polled my gifted class [all 14 of us] on what career path I should choose.  I can’t remember clearly what my other two options were, but they voted I become the President.  The following fall, I started taking classes in political science.

Oh political science. I used to love you too.

After a year’s worth of joyful class attendance, I decided to try my hand in the job market.  I couldn’t become president for another twenty years and some change, and I realized I’d have to feed myself in that interval. So I headed to the newspaper job listings, and uncovered one that seemed innocent enough. Poll people, on behalf of political candidates? Seemed like a dream job!

Not. So. Much.  This was the fall of 04, October to be precise.  Barely a month before one of the most contested elections in American History – Bush vs Gore Round 2. But that wasn’t even the issue.  They had me call people, tell them absolutely horrible things about the candidates who hadn’t employed us, scripts written by those that had. We asked leading questions, criticized answers, and at a lot of points said a lot of things that were abhorent to me as a human being, let alone an American Citizen. Citizen of all things Glorious and Just.

It was too much. I lasted a month and determined that mud-slinging was the dirtiest act a politician could involve himself in publicly.

Luckily, the following semester started the comparative politics portion of my education.  Domestic issues were immediately ignored in favor of comparison.  Probably helped that I then decided to minor in international relations.

But I digress. This post was supposed to be about how an All-American can be turned into a Japanophile, but I think we’ll cover that part in another post.  I suppose it should suffice that at least I got around to talking about my disillusionment.

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