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Comment Softlanding Linux System (Score 1) 136

In 1991 I was an Atari ST user. I'd learned C, written some software to connect it to Usenet, and spent most of my time in a command line or MicroEMACS rather than in the graphical interface. At that point it was clear that Atari was headed for oblivion, and I jokingly told some of my friends that I was thinking about kicking it aside for something really crazy -- a PC running Minix, or maybe even that new Linux thing people were talking about.

The following year I used the U of M Gopher system to download SLS Linux (the very first distro) to a handful of floppies, and took them to a computer junk store across from the Minnesota Supercomputer Center. I told the proprietor that if he could bolt something together that would boot SLS, I'd buy it. I went home with a '386 with a 10MB hard drive, a keyboard, and a cheap monochrome monitor, and never looked back.

The big breakthrough was switching from Miniterm to a TCP/IP dialup connection made available by a friend at the university. I downloaded alpha kernel patches from and recompiled about once a week. I hovered over and Swapped in a '486 motherboard and I was on a roll. I wound up putting Linux on a spare Pentium at work for the mission-critical functions of file sharing between PCs and Macs and Friday afternoon Quake.

Now I run Linux on my wristwatch.

Comment Re:Cheers for Mint (Score 5, Interesting) 89

Linux has been a great platform for the elderly for years.

My mother, who also is in her 80s, bought a Toshiba Latitude in 2007. It came with Vista and not enough RAM to run anything other than Solitaire. I installed Ubuntu, which took about 15 minutes, and fixed the sound config, which took about two days, and she's been fine ever since.

But her version of Ubuntu is no longer supported, and rather than try to upgrade -- she lives 12 hours away, so it's not exactly convenient -- we bought her a self-updating Chromebook on Black Friday. So far, so good, although she's going to have to switch to an HTML5 solitaire game instead of AisleRiot, which has been her go-to for the last seven years.

I'm still running Ubuntu on my own laptop, but Cinnamon may lure me away. I need to upgrade, and I am not a fan of what Ubuntu has done to the UI.

Comment It's not the same (Score 4, Insightful) 290

I lived through 14 Minnesota winters, and after a similar period in the South, I can say they're really not similar.

Southern pines are spectacular, much taller than those typical in Minnesota, because they can grow for years without being beaten down by the weather. When once in a decade or so they get coated with ice, the result is chaos -- whole trees snapping five feet above ground, crashing through attics into living rooms, tearing down power lines along the way. It sounds like cannon fire echoing through the woods.

The problems of winter hitting the South are not limited to lack of equipment, preparation, or winter driving skills. Nature just isn't ready for it.

Comment Missing the real story (Score 1) 470

The real story, not in this report because the "market" has been artificially restricted to "desktop" visits to websites, is that total Windows usage (ALL versions) has tumbled to a minority position overall because of the rise of mobile/tablet devices. iOS and Android have rebalanced the personal computing world into a heterogenous environment where open standards are more important than corporate fiat. Fanbois call this fragmentation; I call it healthy.

Comment If you're not .... (Score 1) 308

If you're not investing your energy in your personal time in furtherance of your mastery of your craft, you're doomed. The world will swiftly leave you behind and it's nobody's fault but your own. The coding skills you have today are obsolescent in 18 months. It may be wise for your employer to invest in your continuing education and foolish to not do so, but it's not the employer's responsibility. It's yours. You made the choice to be in a line of work where very little is permanent.

If you're not comfortable with that, consider masonry.

Comment I'd shamefully abide if ... (Score 1) 353

I'd shamefully abide if I could figure out how to come anywhere NEAR the usage cap. What on earth are you doing? I consume a lot of streaming media -- Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, Xfinity, Youtube, Pandora -- on a Roku, two laptops, a couple of Android and iOS devices, and various family members rotate in and out with whatever toys they bring. I'm using about a quarter of my limit. Hitting the usage cap is probably nature's way of telling you to go outside and look at the real world.

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I cannot conceive that anybody will require multiplications at the rate of 40,000 or even 4,000 per hour ... -- F. H. Wales (1936)