Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Wordy Wednesday


One of the Greek linux bloggers mentioned the Unix Hater's Handbook the other day, and that it's available to download online, so of course I had to have a look. So far I've read the first few chapters. It is written in a humourous style, and some of it is rather dated. But the chapters do have titles such as "Unix. The World's First Computer Virus" and "Welcome, New User! Like Russian Roulette with Six Bullets Loaded". These guys really hate Unix.

They make the usual complaints - for example the fact that the delete command (rm) actually deletes files, even if you ask it to delete all of your files. Em, guys? this command is supposed to, em, delete things. Instead they think it should be far more complicated, so that it can try and second guess the user and protect you from yourself.

Sounds familiar? Yep, one of the authors worked for Microsoft. The people who brought us Windows, one of the least user friendly and most annoying systems ever. What's really funny is that a lot of this computer stuff is really quite simple, but Windows makes it really complicated, then designs an interface with 20 million menu options, 100 million annoying messages that pop up when you actually try and do anything, and then markets this as simple and easy to use.

Nowadays on Unix and linux people who don't want to risk destroying their entire filesystem with 8 keystrokes* have got graphical tools that are almost annoying as the Windows ones, so problem solved.

Naturally I was wondering about a Windows Hater's Handbook. But aside from the fact that the author of such a book might get sued to Kingdom Come, it'd have more volumes than the Encyclopaedia Britannica. It's also too easy a target.

Still, they reckon the Windows Tax is about £100 per computer - I'd be willing to pay Bill Gates £150 a machine NOT to put Windows on it...

*It's not that easy anyway - you have to be running as the Super User to really mess things up, and people won't usually be doing that.

Body Clock

You may (or may not) have noticed that I wasn't around last week. I was on the other side of the Atlantic. The highlight of my week was trying out some Canadian cuisine.

I hadn't realised that there was such a thing as Canadian cuisine, but they do have a national dish, and amazingly it doesn't seem to contain Maple Syrup. It's called Poutine. The locals rave about this, so I had to go and try it at an establishment that is apparently famous for it's poutine. It was a fast food trailer. I started to wonder why, if it was so great, none of the nice restaurants had it on the menu. I didn't have to wonder for very long. Poutine is made with fries, lumps of cheese curd, and gravy. Like the donner kebab and the deep fried Mars Bar, the idea isn't to provide a balanced, nourishing meal, but it's rather a competition to make unhealthy and revolting menus that don't actually taste that bad. In the case of poutine, I really can't see what the fuss is about - it tasted pretty bland to me. Experts can tell how fresh the curds are by listening to the squeaking noise they make when you chew them.

I had it a couple of hours before getting onto a plane. Perhaps I should have warned the pilot about the extra weight, but we did still make it across the Atlantic.

Since I've been back, I've not been getting hungry at dinner time. Either my body is still in the wrong timezone, it's still digesting that poutine...


Jean Knee said...


my usual place

Jean Knee said...

You're probably right about that poutine still digesting. it looked pretty dense.

Jean Knee said...

and yes, I totally agree, windows sux

Brian o vretanos said...

Blimey, that was fast!

Jean Knee said...

I was out shopping (gag)

I wasn't stalking you


for a different kind of girl said...

I don't even know how you pronounce poutine, but if the first syllable sounds the same way as that dish looks, I marvel at you trying it!

Brian o vretanos said...


It's pronounced "poo-teen", with the stress on the "teen", or "poo-tin".

Bee said...

Brian, we all know you went to Tahiti. Stop trying to hide it.

Hee hee poo-teen.

Also, I have Vista and I love it so what do have to say about that? Are you calling me dumb?

Tracy Rambles On And On said...

That putine sounds gross.
I've never understood why countries are proud of some of their dishes.
For example, I watched a Bizzare Foods With Andrew Zimmern show where he was either in Iceland or Alaska (I can't remember but I do know it was a cold place) and there was a town known for it's "delicacy" of serving spoiled shark meat. He even went to one farm that makes the stuff and the place had a barn filled with sharks, hanging from the rafters, that stayed there for months spoiling before it was ready to eat.
He said it had the strongest taste of amonia. For some reason that just doesn't appeal to me.

Tracy Rambles On And On said...

And Brian Dear, I am extremely hurt that you and I were on the same continent and you didn't pop down for a visit to Rambling Acres.
It would only have been a six hour trip for you to pop in and say hello.
OF course, I hate the "pop-in" so I would have probably thrown rocks at you before I would have let you in.
But still, you could have come for a visit.

Chris Wood said...

Poutine does look shitty. Sorry you had to insult the old tum like that!

Bee said...

I came by to tell you that it was “Odd day” because it’s 5/7/09 but then I remembered that time you ridiculed me and how you would have been all “No you silly duck it not 0-9 it’s 2-0-0-9” so I decided not to.

Brian o vretanos said...


I don't think Windows users are dumb - it's Microsoft that make that assumption.


If I'd known it was only 6 hours, obviously I'd have been there in my spare time. Which would have meant that I got there at around midnight, so I suspect your stones would have missed me.


It tastes a bit better than it looks.


That was a nice thought. Thankyou. Of course, here it's 7/5/09.

Dan said...

So, I'm about to buy a new computer, what should I get ?

Brian o vretanos said...


That's easy - a Dell Inspiron 530 Ubuntu.

Have a look on Dell's website. It's around $370, and it has 2GB of memory and 300+GB hard drive.

The system comes with all sorts of software, such as Microsoft compatible office suite, all free.

And of course I'm more than happy to provide tech support and advice...

Bee said...

I have a Dell laptop 1721 and it rocks.

Dan said...

Which one?

Brian o vretanos said...

Personally, I'd go for:

But Bee wouldn't agree, because (a) It doesn't come with Vista, and (b) It's not red.