The One About Linux

My job interview went very well last night, and I think I will hear something soon. The pay is beyond my wildest dreams, doing something I want to do (and have been doing), anyway- bring Linux to the masses. Linus Torvalds has long been my favorite Finlandian (not sure that’s what they’re called, but doing it anyway because Sibelius), and the chance to give him the pleasure of furthering his life’s work pleases me. I started using Linux when I made friends with Luke in the middle of a Kinko’s in 1997. Seriously, we were both working on our own things at the computers there, struck up a friendship, and together with our friend Joe started a Linux server called Darkstar. My web site lived on Darkstar for years, and I will never forget learning Red Hat 5, Caldera, and Mandrake. It prepared me to be a Rock Star now, because I know how to do something that most people do not- sit down at any operating system in the world and make it work.

I am partial to Linux because I do most everything with the command line, but in terms of the graphical user interface (GUI), I am operating system agnostic. What I have learned over the years is that when you double-click the Firefox icon, Firefox comes up on anything. It’s just not worth it to argue, especially since we are going toward cloud computing and soon, I believe, operating systems will stem from web-based applications instead of storing data on your local computer. For instance, I have a 250 GB hard drive on my laptop, and I have used maybe a quarter of it for data. Everything I do is either a Google Doc or a blog entry. That way, if my computer gets hosed, I don’t have to do anything to it except reinstall linux. I need to stop doing that and get down into the details on how to troubleshoot, but I do that on OTHER people’s computers. On my own, just blow it away. I can hang.

Speaking of which, I formatted my computer this morning so that I could switch from Ubuntu to Fedora (the open source version of Red Hat) because the company I want to work for is using both Red Hat and CentOS. I haven’t been disappointed, mostly because the “disable touchpad while writing” feature actually works. The command line is a little different, but the applications are the same. I am still playing open source Quake as often as I have time. It calms my anger a lot to take out aggression on animated pictures of people, some of whom look like spiders, ghosts, aliens, etc. You can shoot a character and they go down, but if you shoot them a second time their guts explode everywhere. It’s very satisfying, because I don’t think I could shoot an actual person, but a picture of one is another thing entirely.

It’s like that scene in “Modern Family” where Claire disappears and her family has no idea that she’s actually at the gun range. Going to the gun range is fun for me, too, especially since the first time Volfe took me, I found an old Dell computer that somebody left there and literally lost my everloving mind shooting the shit out of it. A bullet for every user who’s asked if their computer has to be on for me to fix it…………. yes, that’s happened.

I have a ton of stories like that.

One time a user called and said that his computer wasn’t working and he’d accidentally plugged the power strip into itself instead of into the wall. It took me 35 minutes to figure out that one.

Another time a lady called me and said, “I heard that there’s a network outage on campus, and my monitor is blinking on and off. Are those two things related?” I shook my head and said, “ma’am, I hope not.”

The thing that really makes me want to play Quake and shoot people repeatedly is when people call me from the car on their way somewhere and need me to fix their what the fuck ever application. If you are not actually sitting at said computer, how am I supposed to help you? You’d think that people would know this, but they don’t.

With my family and friends, I generally create accounts so that they don’t have to explain to me what’s wrong. It’s just easier that way. I can see it faster than a non-technical person can explain it to me in words so non-standard that I have to scratch my head and try to figure out the question they MEANT to ask.

I am a voracious BOFH reader because he does all the things we WANT to do to you and CAN’T. Here is my favorite excerpt:

Another user rings.

“I need more space” he says

“Well, why not move to Texas?” I ask

“No, on my account, stupid.”

Stupid? Uh-Oh.

“I’m terribly sorry” I say, in a polite manner equal to that of Jimmy Stewart in a Weekend Family Matinee Feature “I didn’t quite catch that. What was it that you said?”

I smell the fear coming down the line at me, but it’s too late, he’s a goner and he knows it.

“Um, I said what I wanted was more space on my account, *please*”

“Sure, hang on.”

I hear him gasp his relief even though he’d covered the mouthpeice.

“There, you’ve got *plenty* of space now!”

“How much have I got?” he simps.

Now this *REALLY* *PISSES* *ME* *OFF*! Not only do they want me to give them extra space, they want to check it, then correct me if I don’t give them enough! They should be happy with what I give them *and that’s it*!

Back into Jimmy Stewart mode.

“Well, let’s see, you have 4 Meg available.”

“Wow! Eight Meg in total, thanks!” he says, pleased with his bargaining power.

“No” I interrupt, savouring this like a fine red at room temperature, with steak, extra rare, to follow; “4 Meg in total..”

“Huh? I’d used 4 Meg already, How could I have 4 Meg Available?”

I say nothing. It’ll come to him.

Copyright of Simon Travaglia

Reading Simon is a guilty pleasure- if you are in any way connected to an Internet Help Desk, don’t start reading this unless you’ve got some interrupted time. The first time I stumbled upon the archive, I didn’t move for eight hours, and I needed to go to bed like, yesterday o’clock.

On the whole, though, I enjoy working with users. There are just those difficult people just like the ones waiters want to strangle. No, I’m sorry I can’t log into your computer and help you while you’re at Target.

In this job, the students will be in a lab, so I won’t have to worry about that part of it. I will also be making videos for the students to watch, which will be great fun. I want to up the production values, and use a desktop recording tool so that the students can see what I’m doing in real time. It would also be neat to teach over the web with Hangouts, which is the best collaborative tool I’ve found for demos, sharing documents, etc. The best part is that it’s operating system agnostic, too. Hangouts comes in every flavor, including iPhone and Android.

Your Love is My Drug just came on Spotify. Time to shake my ass.


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