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LA Weekly: The Lonliness of Linux 329

Bad Juju writes " Part 1 of 3 on Linux from LA Weekly...semi-informed Linux-using journalist..citing cultural literacy as an excuse for using MS..not totally negative. We'll see how the next 2 articles come out. "
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LA Weekly: The Lonliness of Linux

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  • And over the past 4 years, I have had no company request anything BUT Word and Excel, and the few times files were sent in WP/Quattro they were re-requested in Word/Excel.

    Ever tried to send plain ASCII text or tab-separated spreadsheet?

  • All our data starts out as comma delimited data. We stopped sending files in that format 4 years ago - basically when everyone started requesting the Excel formated data.

    Comma-separatel list *is* supported by Excel. Directly. If they want some pre-processed graphics you can generate and attach it, or give them scripts that will generate that in their beloved Excel. But no, it was easier for you to say "yes, sir!" and contribute to this proprietary-fromats madness.
  • But if Judith Lewis will find a local LUG, she'll find out that Linux users have *better* ones.
    --
  • It's hard to type.
  • How hard is it to learn to type plain text? That's all that's required for most of the communication people do. Basic HTML is relatively easy, too, and suffices for most of the rest it.
  • I'm a MacOS/linuxppc user! ;)
    There's nothing _that_ obligatory about the W98/W95/Wforever interface. It always amazes and fascinates me how people put on blinders and make assumptions in very MS-centric ways: maybe it's just easier for me to see since I have never ever owned a Wintel PC! (or had one in the house, or done schoolwork on one, or worked with one in the workplace etc etc)
    People assume there has to be a taskbar. Why does there have to be a taskbar? To see what programs are open. Well, you could have a little tile or icon that popped out a list of running programs when clicked on (Mac system 8 and under), you could have a little application with lots of info about everything that is running for only when you really need serious process info (top, of course, the Unix version of this type of tool: also MacOSX has top, in a spiffy translation to GUI instead of ascii-art, but keeping all the organisation precisely the same!). Or you could have a scrolling wheel device that looks like those tacky web counters, and you roll it with the mouse or even use one of those scrollwheels (wee, MS tech, ohboy) to see what apps are available- click the app that comes up to raise it... or simply leave the whole thing to the person's memory, rather like a Mac user who never needs to check the apps menu because he or she remembers perfectly well what apps were launched, including ones with no open windows currently showing. That, too, is possible- something will always need to be memorized, even if it is 'duh, button in taskbar mean running proggy'.
    Now, this little rant was entirely and singlemindedly about process shortcut tools. Imagine all the other windows98 interface details and consider how other ways could exist to do those things. I _do_ hope people are not equating checkboxes and radio buttons with W98: everybody does those, they aren't specifically Windows at all. Some Windowsish features are actually detrimental- for instance, tab-panel interfaces are most often used to not have to think about interface but instead organize UI like you were shoving it into a drawer- tabpanel interfaces tend toward the really arbitrary and annoying, and there's no situation where you _have_ to take several unrelated interface objects and bung them into one UI container to hit the user with the ability to do half a dozen unrelated things under one dialog box. This is just poor design... but I'm beginning to cover other bases, so I'll shut up ;)
  • applix won't import Word 95 or Word 97 files. The last version that it will import or export (according to their web site) is Word 6.0.
  • If I wan't to write a word processing document, Applixware is fine. I have StarOffice and Wordperfect8 too.

    I can get by without Word - easily.

    I do have one problem with Linux though... There is more software available than I have time to run - and it irkes the heck out of me!

    Using Windows is like... pulling teeth with no anesthesia using rusty pliers.

    I go over to my friend's house every once in a while - he's heavily into games and runs Windows98.

    Here is the scenario:

    I arrive to find him working on his computer adding this new widget or that. Usually, he's adding a new cooling device for his CELERON. Big fans and heatsinks, WaterFall, temperature gauges, Voodoo cards etc... This takes him about 30 minutes.

    Next, comes loading the drivers and rebooting, downloading the latest drivers, loading them and rebooting again and again and again. Going into the BIOS to jimmy around with the settings. Half the time, the Windows OS is bluescreening and asking to be rebooted. This takes another hour and a half.

    Then, he has to figure out what is wrong with his network because it ain't working now. More rebooting and loading of drivers and rebooting.
    Then, he loads a new game he's downloaded. Something goes wrong. The DLL's get corrupted half the time and he has to reinstall Windows from his image file. This takes another 2 hours.

    By this time, I'm falling asleep so... he makes some coffee or expresso.

    This has been a day in the life of a Windows Gamer. YMMV

    With LINUX, I can download the source code (or binaries) to a zillion different programs. Compile and run with hardly ever a problem. I almost NEVER have to reboot - can't remember the last time I rebooted because of a crash. I can sit down and get to work doing what I want to do without having to FIX my computer on a daily basis. I can't put into words the increase in my piece of mind. I've been spoiled by Linux! I've been ruined! Woe is me... I have no patience for Windows anymore.
  • Continuing the story after the coffee episode...

    We begin playing a game after installing it and rebooting and downloading the latest patch and installing it and rebooting again.

    We get into the game and begin playing... everything is going fine - when all of a sudden. BANG! Blue screen or automatic reboot. Kule! I just love watching the BIOS information and hearing the beep. It makes my day.

    We try to play the game again... all is well until. WHIMPER~ Windows freezes. Reboot!

    In the game again. This time we play awhile then when we try to save where we are in case of a lockup - Windows locks up. FIZZLE. Damn!

    I can't stand that freakin OS Windows and can't wait till more games are available on Linux. The world will be a better place.

    Was I ranting? Who me? Naaaw - you've got to be kidding! I never do that. I do? Oh.
  • by cduffy ( 652 )
    What does that have to do with the original post?

    I love Linux, and have switched to it from NT because I find Linux far superior for developing real applications. I would REALLY like to hear the specific areas in which you found linux lacking. Email me if need be -- I'm willing to put my name behind my posts.
  • Ohhh, yeah. LyX, baby! :)

    And Emacs for coding.

    .
  • I can write a decent essay when I put my mind to it. Having everything spelled right... now, that I have trouble with.

    So I use LyX (which uses ispell as its spellchecker backend). I was able to become proficient w/ it in five minutes. Are the documents I make in LyX somehow worse than if I'd written them with a typewriter or in vim?
  • Indeed.

    When switching from Linux I just added a new (8GB) hard drive and kept my old data on the old one. Going through it recently, it struck me how much of one's life can end up on a little spinning disk.

    I don't really play MIDIs much anymore, though now that I've got a faster CPU I should be able to play 'em via software synth (there are a few such programs available for linux I understand to be pretty good). Anyhow, do keep the stuff around -- it's nice to be able to be sentimental once in a while.

    Something I've found, comparing the work on my new HD to the old one... the OS you use influnces who you are. I've stopped dabbling in graphics and play less games (if any at all). I have more programming projects and tend to reach completion on more of them. Although I have spreadsheet software, I now make no spreadsheets; Although I have graphical mailreaders, I use PINE. I'm more attentive to security issues, using SSH regularly.

    I care more about doing things right and less about simply making it work. Simply reloading the OS is not an option; Rebooting is not an option; These mean defeat, and I will not accept defeat. Nothing happens "just because"; If there is a problem, I WILL find it and fix it.

    Okay, enough rambling. Anyhow, I do encourage you to make the switch... but keep your old stuff 'round.
  • Perhaps many Unix folks are perfectionists somewhat; Good linux sysadmins (or hackers) will not accept anything wrong with their systems; They know what constitutes a good file format and are greatly disturbed by having to use bad ones -- I am, at least.

    Honestly -- I look at the Glade save files (in xml) and consider them beautiful. I can edit them without using the application they're generated in... it's a Good Thing. Hackers appreciate Good Things.

    Word's file format is a Bad Thing. I'll leave it at that; Other folks have explained why. I have no tolerance for such ugliness and the arrogance assumed by the use of an incompatible format.

    I'm lucky; I communicate w/ my co-workers by email, sending no documents in formats other than text... When I have to turn in nice-looking documents I write them up using LyX and print or send in PostScript documents.

    Of course, other folks may not be so lucky. They'll have to find their own way (perhaps through WordPerfect, Applix or WordViewer, a program I've seen on Freshmeat that converts Word docs to HTML) -- but as for me, my idealism won't allow me to use something so ugly and wrong.

    ---

    Does this make me a software hippie? Perhaps. The folks I work with don't think of me that way, though. I don't talk to them in terms of ideals but rather of practicality and prices. On slashdot, however, my ideals are a bit better accepted.
  • It IS disturbing.

    People should know how their car works. Not be able to fix it, neccesarily, but have a very basic idea of what does what. If they don't, they're liable to get BSsed out of a lot of cash when it breaks down.

    People should know how their blender works. If they don't, they're liable to hurt themselves.

    There should be no black boxes. Really, there shouldn't. Computers shouldn't be black boxes. Appliances shouldn't be black boxes. The policital system shouldn't be a big black box.

    Because I believe these things, have I lived a sheltered life? Do I consider myself superior? BECAUSE I BELIEVE IN THE EMPOWERMENT OF THE INDIVIDUAL THROUGH UNDERSTANDING OF THEIR ENVIRONMENT, AM I SOME SORT OF FREAK?

    Society should not become too complicated for an individual to understand. Once it has, things have gone terrably wrong and should be fixed.
  • This doesn't always work... I'm not sure if it's QuickSave or what, but I've seen docs where strings came up with absolutely no usable text.
  • Is it the X server crashing (or causing the kernel to crash -- as a privilidged app it can do that) or the linux kernel crashing soly in response to unprivilidged apps?

    If it's the second of the two, there are plenty of folks on linux-kernel who'd be interested in hearing the details of your problems.
  • I don't use Windows, but I have no problem with playing AOE or running Encarta under WINE. I don't play AOE or run Encarta (after switching from Windows I've really stopped playing games, though I've got several), but I could and have no moral problem with it.

    Anyhow, though, the OS one uses really can alter one's life. I've got a big rambling post somewhere else in this article about that... search the main page if you care.
  • It's a kernel issue, and so should be posted to linux-kernel.

    Remember, the kernel (and the drivers embedded in it) are the same for all distros. Red Hat or Debian or Joe Bob's Linux, makes no diff.

    Unless it's video drivers you're talking about. That's the X server's problem.
  • Look at what happened to the commercial unices when they forked.

    You find a bug using the kernel in Joe Bob's distro. You report it to linux-kernel. It gets fixed. Now not only you but the folks running Red Hat, Debian and Little Joey's Linux Distro get the benefits. This is supposed to be a bad thing?
  • Regarding the TCP/IP implementation, there's very good documentation behind this; It's better not only than that of NT but of almost all commercial unices.

    Regarding the video driver issue... I disagree that video drivers should be integrated with the kernel, even for a significant performance increase, in a server OS. Face it -- reliability is one helluva lot more important than graphics performance in a server or a developmennt platform.

    As for your problems w/ linux, I can only say that my experiences have been very different. After moving my low-end hardware from win32 (P5/133, P5/90, some old used 486's), I've been thrilled with the performance. Some of those 486s have been doing AppleTalk sharing faster than the PowerMac Workplace Servers previously given the job; My home machine was almost unusable when working on big software under VC++'s development environment and compiler; With Emacs/GCC, I'm still using that hardware -- and happy with it.

    Please detail your performance problems... unless you're talking about something like StarOffice. We all agree that that sucks (well, performance-wise, at least).
  • I'm a student at CSU Chico. They do have Windows-based development stations here, but the lion's share of work is done on Unix. Some folks in my assembly class use the Windows interface to our MIPS simulator because it looks prettier; I'm writing a nice GTK one to dispel that.

    Banning folks from using pico was really a good idea. I see folks using it and cringe; As it requires the user to do all the formatting themselves (and does things like word wrap by default that just mess up code), it really results is much less readable code (as compared to Emacs with its auto-tabbing and other programmer-friendly features). Re the reasons for not using Windows for development... well, just ask me by email; It's a bit much to put here.

    Anyhow, you're entirely right -- that guy just gave a completely unfounded position without any backing evidence, making him no more useful than any other piece of PR garbage.
  • Posted by F.A.N.G.:

    It isn't Word, either.
    The only legitimate use of Windows is to run Solitare.
  • Posted by Clueless Newbie:

    If someone sends me Word *.doc file I usually
    request it in text-only RTF format even though StarOffice does a pretty decent job of converting.

    It's a matter of principle.

  • Well, Slashdot continues to publish FUD like this, like it's newsworthy.

    Why is this FUD? It's just a Linux user's musings on the social aspects of using it in a Windows World. There's no intent to feed Fear, Uncertainty, or Doubt here; it raises the usual (important) issue of file formats, something that fits in the "Stuff That Matters" category for any Linuxer who has to deal with Word-ed junk.

    Slashdot continues to be visited mostly by Windows users...

    Oh? Where are your numbers?

    ...who get a very negative impression from so many articles like this one.

    Are we here to impress people? Screw them. Screw you.

    Who is being served here?

    /. readers. Nothing new with that.

    Feature stories about what people are acutally doing with Linux and other open technology in education, business and at home.

    Did you read the article? It was written by a writer for LA Weekly. She's in the writing business, or does that not count, since she doesn't pull in $100K? The article is Part One of three - the series is only one-third over, and you see fit to turn this thing into a gratuitous anti-/. rant that's as meaningful as the copy-and-paste antics of the recent pro-MS trollbots. Get a fsckin' grip!

    Move along. Let us know when you get your site up and running. Will it be called "Pissed Geek Troll" or something?

    --

  • >But if everyone I worked with spoke Chinese, I wouldn't piss and moan that they didn't understand my english.

    Even if it required that you spend hundreds of dollars (buying MS Office) to understand their "Chinese"? Even though they are capable of speaking English? Even though this "Chinese" changes every couple of years, each time requiring additional outlays of cash and time spent learning it?

    It's rather like sending all your vital letters postage due...
  • >Even the great plagarist

    Bell's Second Law of USENET*: Spelling and grammar flames almost invariably contain similar errors.

    It's "plagiarist."

    (Bell's First Law of USENET: No matter how farcical or satirical your message, someone out there will think you were serious.)

    * Obviously we're not on USENET, but the laws are much the same...
  • Personally, I hate the idea of sending someone text in a BINARY file. Especially since some of those blocks contain whatever just happened to be in a chunk of memory at the time (like passwords, the secret formula etc..). With a TEXT file, I know I needn't worry about that.

    Personally, I'm going to laugh in a couple of decades when businesses start realising those old documents they saved as Word97 are completely unreadable in WizBang2029 and they have to spend big bucks to convert and re-archive everything.

    Meanwhile, ASCII has allready been around for decades, and will probably still be in use in 2029. If not, it is at least well documented.

  • Innovation is creating "new things" that helps you get customers. It is always market-driven.

    That includes "creative imitation". It's how Microsoft wins - again & again... They give the herd what they want, even if it's not what they need.

    Sucks, huh? Deal with it. No monopoly can win forever on creative imitation...
  • Ascii is portable, So long as you only want to do US english (NO £ sign, dont you know) The 8 bit ISO charsets are much nicer, BTW does anyone know where I can get some nice ISO-8859-8 charsets?
    (Hebrew)

    --Zachary Kessin
  • I mean, using Windows and Word just to stay in touch with the ``culture''? This is sheer lunacy. First of all, Windows has no culture. It has no leading characters that would create a culture. There are guys like Ballmer and Gates, but they have the personalities of squid and next to no technical capabilities. Secondly, familiarity with the kludges of a poor quality operating system doesn't constitute cultural awareness. It's just a form of self-inflicted torture, i.e. masochism.

    In the UNIX and free software worlds there is a true culture. There are characters like Ken Thompson, Dennis Ritchie, Brian Kernighan, Alfred Aho, Chris Torek, Keith Bostic, Richard Stallman, Linus Torvalds, David Korn, Stephen Bourne, Alan Cox, Donald Knuth, Bill Joy, etc. I could drop a lot more, these are just names that pop into my head.

    As well, the long endurance of software in this culture leads to a true heritage, whereas the historical awareness of a typical Windows user doesn't extend beyond the previous releases of the software packages he or she is using. The legacy behind it all is just disgusting, anyway. MS-DOS, for instance, is just a bad memory for those who used it, and users of modern Windows feel little connection to that time, except for backward compatible kludges whose origin they are hardly aware of.

    Whereas people who used early UNIX versions like V6 have fond recollections and stories to tell to new generations of hackers. There is a greater awareness among UNIX users about where it all came from and how the pieces of the puzzle fit together.

    Also, I take exception to the remark that vi takes years to learn. That is just downright silly. I remember I was proficient in about a week to the level that I could do all the things in vi that a lesser editor is barely capable of. I wouldn't say that I'm exceptionally gifted in learning text editors, either. The ``years'' estimate for learning vi might apply to the mentally retarded, but not to the person of average intelligence.
  • Where is the standard which describes the Word format?

    For something to be a ``de jure'' standard, there has to be a document which describes it which is approved by ISO and its member bodies throughout the world.

    Then there are de-facto standards, like RFC's and so on. Things which are standardized either through an informal document which everyone agreees upon, or in the form of a sample open-source implementation. Some communication protocols would fall into the former category. Things like the X11 window system would be the latter.

    The Word document format isn't ANY kind of standard. It's simply whatever the latest version of Microsoft word reads and writes. It's a moving target that is in the sole control of one corporation. I don't know of any programs that are *completely* compatible with Word 97. They are based on reverse engineering, which is far less reliable than following a specification.

    A specification, even an ambiguous or informal one, is superior to reverse engineering. At least it gives you something to argue about. People can get together and hash out fixes to a specification and then update their respective implementations.
  • She got a point; that I may not like it, that would be another story. Before I got my hands on WP8 for Linux, it was a pain in the ass whenever one of my windoozer friends sent me a Word document. If they could at least save it in Word 2 or 6 format (or rtf for Christ's sake), I may open it with Applix Words. But no, they insisted (and still do) in sending me Word 97 files (@#$~@&^* ... some Klingon cursing ... _*&%@!) And when I think about it, it is sad that I had to make a huge download of WP using my 33B modem just so that I could open these stupid Word 97 files.

    It is surprising to see people that do not know that there is such a thing as Word versions lower than 97. It is depressing when some of these people have just got their B.S. degree in Computer Science or M.I.S. Scary shit. Scary shit that these people still wonder why the receiver (even in Windooze) cannot a Word document they sent (which btw contained a LINKED Excel spreadsheet which wasn't sent in the mail.) I do not care that much about the general, untamed computer user. They don't need to know the dark secrets and digital mantras of computing, but, man, what about computer people (CS, MIS, ...)? That's where illiteracy really is. To them, Linux (or anything non-windooze, even something such as Mac or BeOS) will be too much for their mental capacity (and willigness to learn.) They have chosen to be computer users instead of computer professionals.

    This form of ignorance is wide spread at all levels of professional society. So Linux, at least for now, is only used (consistently) by those willing to learn. That's the key, willigness to learn. That, I think, will be the greatest asset of countries like Mexico. Thousands and thousands of students and professionals who would do anything to have a chance to work in a computer (even if it were running DOS 1.x :) They, I believe, will have the willigness to learn Linux which implies learning about the internals of computer far more than learning Windows.

    M$ did a good job in creating a massive illiterate population. That way, it ensured a consistent, uninterrupted cash flow to their pockets.
  • Please read the post. Go ahead, read it. Now:

    He was talking about people whose job it is to know about computers. Not a random appliance. Understand?

    Daniel

    (and btw: I certainly don't know how the internals of a blender, a TV, or a car work in detail and I couldn't fool with them, but I have a general clue about what's inside. I don't think TVs have hamsters. :-) )
  • Heh... with friends like those, who needs enemies?

    ^D
  • With friends like that, who needs enemies?

    I use Linux because it DOESN'T CRASH ON ME!

    IOW, it works, and does what it does very very well.

    Of course, I design and develop software for a living, and things like perl, sed, awk, grep, emacs, and others are the screwdrivers and pliers that get me through my day. While they've been ported to run in a DOS box under '95, they don't run as well. For some reason, they're real slow to boot (I think I know why).

    Unfortunately, my target debugger and compiler run under DOS/Windows, so I'm stuck dual booting. But, even with the hassles this causes, it's STILL FASTER for me to reboot into Linux, run a 1000 file grep, and reboot back into '95.

    Linux works. Windows doesn't. 'Nuff said.

  • In my experience, NT's TCP/IP stack is about the WORST implementation I've seen. Well, second worse, 95's takes the cake.

    The only time I've seen Linux crash is when I've been monkeying with the kernel, or various drivers, or had a hardware problem.
  • It was rather blatantly AND repulsively sexist. I don't know if you are the same AC or a different AC, though, but it was.

  • by Tet ( 2721 )
    vi in a dtterm on Solaris won't let you go past the end of a line to insert, and that's a problem (a strong hint to use dtpad?)

    Surely it's more of a hint to learn how to use "A" to append to the end of a line? Using cursor keys to go past the end of the line seems to me counterintuitive. Maybe that's just a hacker mentality, and it's perfectly logical to the general population. Not that I use cursor keys anyway. h, j, k and l work just fine without the need to remove your hands from the main part of the keyboard. Besides, they're the same keys as moria [csuchico.edu]/angband [phial.com] and they're even in the same layout as the cursor keys on a good old speccy [philosys.de].

  • I do all my documenting in vi. ASCII text is small, portable, able to be grepped, and doesn't ever ever ever contain macro viruses.

    MS is culture in the same way that WalMart is culture.


    --
    As long as each individual is facing the TV tube alone, formal freedom poses no threat to privilege.
  • I didn't ask, I just sort of did it (Set up a big ol' Big Brother monitoring system, paging, etc).
    Then I told my boss, we got a support contract, and now I'm Linux admin. :-)


    --
    As long as each individual is facing the TV tube alone, formal freedom poses no threat to privilege.
  • If most people use Windows who cares? Do I need to spend hours online just preaching"LINUX RULZ, WINDOZE DR00LZ"...NO. I just go on being happy with Linux. Not because it is not MS, But because the way it is. I like not crashing, I like a OS that is logical. I like knowing why it does something, and how it did it. I could care less if MS whent away...or if they ruled the earth..Why? Because my linux box and the other linux users like me will still go on.

    Alot of the "LinuxBigots" realy do give Linux a bad name. I see them in going into MS-OS(or MacOS) chat rooms, or MS-OS message boards and posting their AntiMS crap. Most non linux users view the Linux using group as HS hippys or something. Think about it...would you want 100's of MS users coming into your Linux message boards or chat rooms and ranting and raving about how we are all dumb for not using their OS of choice?
    We could all do alot more good for Linux coding or making better docs then we do when we try to convert "The MS using Sheep". Face it, if they realy like their OS then not much will make them switch. Just like not much would make me switch to MS. It dosnt to anyone any good if you sound like a nutcase MacHead or a bible pusher. I don't need it, i don't want it, so leave me the hell alone.

    Of course thats just my opinion...I could be wrong :)

    ______
    ya ya...my spelling sucks..so what
  • I use "strings" to extract the relevant content from word documents people send me. Then I reply with gzipped postscript. :-)

    ...richie
  • Check the W3C site--Microsoft is one of the authors of the XML format. They may not be leading the charge, but they're not being dragged "kicking and screaming" toward it at all. This doesn't necessarily mean it'll support it in a way which is easy for non-Microsoft programs to interpret, but let's be clear: Microsoft is doing this because they want to be "buzzword compliant." The actual demand for XML in the target market for Microsoft Office (primarily business offices with general secretarial needs and some basic statistical modeling in Excel) is nearly non-existent.

    It should also be noted that while Office 2000 should support XML, Microsoft has suggested that XML will not be its native file format. The "problem" of people using Word as the de facto file format for exchanging documents will still be around.

  • It's remarkable that an article that's a personal reflection from someone who likes Linux, has been using it a while and is buying a new computer to re-install it is attracting essentially nothing but flames. What was it? That she dared to write that people in the business world have to have Microsoft Office compatibility? Even worse, she admitted she's--gasp--acclimated to Word's keystroke commands.

    The horrors! The fact that she finds any value in being in sync with the majority of computer users negates anything else she might have to say, doesn't it? If it's not All Linux, All The Time, to hell with it. There's no hardship in using Linux if you're a real hacker.

    Right.

    Judith Lewis should be commended, not flamed, for writing a funny article that encapsulates the dilemma most users are intimately familiar with when they're trying to use a computer platform that's outside the mainstream. This kind of reaction makes me question just how serious the Linux community is about "capturing the desktop"--people who think that gvim and LaTeX together can replace Microsoft Word for the average office worker, journalist or humanities academic don't really understand what those people do. Insulting them isn't going to lead to a greater understanding of Linux on their part--it's going to lead to a dismissal of it based less on technology than on the coldness of the users. It's probably not an exaggeration to say that for every one person turned onto Linux by Slashdot there's several more turned off by the apparent attitude.

    (And, just so flamers have the proper weapons loaded, I use gvim on a regular basis and prepare a quarterly newsletter in LaTeX. I am not "dissing" text editors by saying they're not word processors any more than I'm "dissing" my word processor of choice, Nota Bene [notabene.com], by not writing C++ in it.)

  • Agreed. From the looks of things, Word Perfect uses the same format it has since version 6.0, and it seems to work just fine, even exchanging files between Linux WP8 and Win-don't WP8. Word's constant format changes have to be just another way to suck up consumers' money. Either that, or just shoddy software engineering to begin with. I would put my money on the former.
  • I guess I'm the exception to your poll. Although I'm probably quite proficient with Word (using tons of wps over the years will do that to you), I haven't used it regularly in... 7 or 8 years. Nowadays, I'd say I open up word and do things in it about once every 2 or 3 months. I use WP/Unix more often, say once every 2 weeks or so. It's nice working within a Unix shop.

    (FWIW, while my fiancee's machine has word on it, it also has Linux and WP8 and she's been transitioning over to that and LaTeX.)
  • The problem with nroff is that it is difficult to find a good tutorial on using it. Anyone know of any?

    - Sam
  • About eight months ago I gave up on dual booting 95 and linux. I realized I don't need Word Processors at all, I don't need games, I don't need warez; I don't need any of that crap.

    I needed to learn linux, and it just wasn't going to happen if I kept booting into comfy, crash happy windows.
    It's painful to switch because unix was so alien to me, yet I saw an elegance and beauty in it's design that I just didn't see in windows.

    Now I can't stand to even look at windows, and I get along in Linux just fine. I write everything in emacs/html.

    When using windows I feel chained, hampered. Dead ends and barriers to use everywhere. Learning unix is definitely liberating.
  • The only things MS has innovated are those stinking macro viruses, corrupted binary mailbox files, and untranslatable file formats. Word is absolute trash. Outlook is even worse. The two combined are incredible to behold in action, sort of like Satan.

    Every day in my life is a new adventure in the cesspool of M$ software. Everything they make is pure, utter garbage.
  • "Demand the difference between their tuition and that of the nearest community college."
    Chances are that s/he_is_talking about the nearest community college.

  • Hebrew or Yiddish? Not a joke, I really don't know and am curious.

  • Does she have the same delivery guy as Jon Katz?
    If so, maybe they live close enough that she could give him writing lessons.


  • Windows 3.x maybe, but everybody knows Freecell is what keeps 95 around.

  • > Yeah, but you wouldn't let 'em drive without a license would you? So why should they use a computer without a clue?

    You don't need a license to use your feet, or a bicycle, so why should you need one to use a computer. They're tools, not weapons...;)
  • Or to paraphrase, "Considering that cars have been built to make people's lives easier, why should people *have* to learn how to drive them?"

    Almost all tools that increase one's ability to do something, or give one an entirely new ability, will require have some learning curve. "Universally intuitive user interfaces" are a myth.

    I'm not saying that all UI's are equal. You're right that a bash prompt is likely to be considerably less usable to a newbie than Windows Explorer. But some amount of training or experimentation is required to use either. Even using a mouse has a learning curve.

    I agree too that the typical Linux desktop is a bit too much for the typical user. Things are progressing rather nicely though. If/when we finally get a standard desktop environment with lots of nice apps, and no longer have to worry about a.out vs elf and libc5 vs glibc issues, then newbies might be able to start using Linux.

    Not being a newbie myself, I use Linux when I want to do something productive. I switch to NT when I want to play StarCraft.
  • This was about Microsoft Word and the self-
    fulfilling standard it has become for word
    processing. Self-fulfilling because of OEMs'
    bundling Microsoft Office with new PCs for so
    many years.

    This woman is an ignorant coward.

    As I see you read Alan Cox's great essay, I am
    sure you saw the part about having to gently
    remind "suits" about the way things are done in
    the free software community, and do likewise for
    AOLers about the Internet.

    It is the same thing that must be done in
    respect to information exchange in general.
    When people post PowerPoint presentations and
    Word documents to the Web, they need to be gently
    reminded that it is Not The Right Thing To Do.

    How long does it take to learn the needed
    features in a GUI based word processor,
    especially the modern gargantuan bloatware, to
    become marginally proficient with it? I would
    submit it takes far less time to learn some basic
    HTML, especially if all you are going to
    do is write a few paragraphs of text, like
    Judith's column.

    I do not think that the use of word processing
    software has elevated the quality of journalism
    or writing in general in any medium. If you are
    incapable of spell checking your documents sans
    the aid of word processor, do not write. Do not
    call yourself a writer, and do not have your trash
    published, especially on the Web; where so much
    trash exists already, thanks to the likes of
    Microsoft Word, Claris HomePage, Microsoft
    FrontPage, et al.
    ---------------------------------
    "The Internet interprets censorship as damage,

  • ...as far as word processors/spreadsheets/databases go.

    In Microsoft's Office 2000 Preview [microsoft.com] they concur. Notice how every page of that brochure touts Office 2000's Web integration and how documents created with it can easily be viewed with a Web browser.

    Ignorant sheeple have placidly accepted the numerous incompatible file formats when what they should have been doing is breaking down the doors of software vendors. "What do you mean I need a plugin/viewer to open this document?"

    Fuck that.

    Fuck Mac bigots and PC weenies.

    Fuck Steve Jobs and Bill Gates.

    And Judith? Fuck her. Fuck her and fuck her Word.doc bearing journalist friends. Their kind is dead, too.

    Anyone who takes issue with that should read the piece on Douglas Englebart [mercurycenter.com], a.k.a. The Man Who Invented The Mouse, that was mentioned on Slashdot a while back. He saw it all. Pervasively networked computers and hyperlinked documents. Information flowing and being shared, all for the good of humanity.

    Instead what we got was a bunch of money grubbing, near sighted bastards who have perpetuated bug ridden applications and unstable operating systems.

    15 years to accept a common file format for documents?!!!

    15 years to give your operating system memory protection and preemptive multi-tasking?!!!

    L O S E R S.

    These people have made billions off people's misery; by keeping them in the dark; by feeding and playing off their ignorance.

    No longer. The Internet is the "killer application". All "Independant Software Vendors", as they like to call themselves, will conform to it, or die. I cite as proof the fact that the maker of the world's number one application is trumpeting not the spell checker in the next version of its product, but its ability to integrate with the Web.

    So take your "Linux will suceed when it has a killer desktop application" and shove it up your ass. First of all, Linux is not the X Window System. Linux does not have an "easy to use desktop", and never will. Of course there will be mass confusion over this, because of companies like Red Hat and Corel. "Making Linux easier to use." "Linux for the everyman."

    No, you are piling crap on top of the X Window System; and by the way, if your crap does not compile, with minimal tweaking, on every other UNIX running X, it is a failure. Of course, you think people are too stupid to understand the distinction between X and Linux. Well, you are wrong. People are ignorant because you keep them that way.

    Why? So you can ensure your business's continued existance, of course. Breeding ignorance ensures they will be back for that upgrade, or will sign that service agreement.

    "Give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day..." ...you know the rest.

    Standardize your company/office/school/home/girl scout troop on HTML/XML/Java(well...not until Sun really opens it up) now. When Office 2000 come out, you will be hailed as a visionary; and hopefully people will think twice before assuming the necessity of "upgrading" to it.
    ---------------------------------
    "The Internet interprets censorship as damage,

  • ...and for a longer, equally profane response
    to your idiocy, see my other post [slashdot.org] on this topic.
    ---------------------------------
    "The Internet interprets censorship as damage,

  • The "Loneliness of Linux" column had nothing to do with Linux.

    Read it [laweekly.com].

    It is about some wench who cannot spell check
    her own documents, and whose friends all send her
    documents in some strange format which needs some
    strange program to decipher.

    Before you get your panties in a bunch about
    that, let me ask you this:

    Did Shakespeare need Microsoft Word?

    What about the framers of the U.S. Constitution?
    Feel free to make up your own questions, pursuing
    a similar line of investigation, children.
    ---------------------------------
    "The Internet interprets censorship as damage,
  • I am only making a point of that function because
    the writer of the column did.

    The issues are twofold:

    1. That she puts Linux in the title of the
      column, and the column has nothing to do with Linux.
      Nevertheless, and due to a general lack of
      reading comprehension, people will read the title,
      read the column, and come away thinking
      that it was about Linux; that is most evident by a
      good number of the responses here.
    2. That she resigned herself to the fact that a
      lot of people think exchanging documents saved in
      proprietary file formats is acceptable in 1999.

    I do not give a flying fuck what people use to
    author their documents or that people make
    spelling and grammatical errors. I do care about
    perpetuating idiocy via resignation to its
    assumed insurmountable dominance.
    ---------------------------------
    "The Internet interprets censorship as damage,

  • My post had nothing to do with Linux.

    Your post had nothing to do with Linux.

    The following profanity has everything to do
    with your lack of reading comprehension:

    Go fuck yourself.

    ---------------------------------
    "The Internet interprets censorship as damage,
  • ...that being anyone who thinks not being able to
    view a Microsoft Word document has anything to do
    with Linux.

    Or "the ability to run Microsoft Word" is a
    "feature most people need to get their work
    done".

    Or, for that matter, believes Linux might have
    something to do with a "katzian divine revolution";
    the thought of which makes me ill, even though
    I have no idea what such a thing might be.
    ---------------------------------
    "The Internet interprets censorship as damage,

  • Silly person.
    ---------------------------------
    "The Internet interprets censorship as damage,
  • GRRRRR@!#@ Anyone who dosen't wear wool jackets in the summertime is a PUSSY!@ Everyone knows that if something is convenient, then it isn't damn well worth doing. I mix shredded glass in with my corn flakes and DARE my mouth to bleed! I even spam sex messages in UNRELATED newsgroups!@ I don't use word processors, I write my own in asm every time I want to write something. I'm the baddest motha around, so you BETTER not try to mess with me. I'm so bad, I'm not even using the preview button.

  • But how do you WRITE PDF files from Linux? I've never looked into it, I know Adobe has an Acrobat Reader for Linux but does it have Acrobat too? Isn't Acrobat kind of expensive? Is there a PS to PDF converter I don't know about?
    Inquiring minds want to know :)
    .
  • A fiance who groks LaTeX ?!
    You lucky bastard!!!
    :)
  • Hehehe, she speaks!
    OK, now I KNOW she's cool!
    I agree with your assessment of StarOffice Judith... I found it perplexing that so many people recommended the beast. Not only is it a piece of bloatware that would make Bill Gates proud, it does a crappy job of translating all but the simplest of Office97 docs.
    But I also found your characterization of vi a bit misleading... years? I know you meant no harm by your exaggeration, but think how intimidating that is to someone who wants to try Unix ("it will take me years to learn to edit an ASCII file?").
    Oh yeah, I liked that sushi analogy too... damn I'm hungry now.
    Cheers,
    .
  • Oh... duh. Here it is! ps2pdf !
    /me slaps forehead
    .
  • On a 486/66 ? You must be kidding ! It brings a P100 to its knees. Oh, and the word filters suck quite badly - not that thats SD's fault.
  • personally, I like braiding things out of road-kill squirrels...

    I think that the poster was just trying to conjure up an image of generally mentally weak people. that's what it did to me, anyways. her article made me nauseated. hmm. let's not even mention StarOffice and just kinda whine. ok. good reason to use (what she admits to be) inferior technology. I sent her a polite but firm letter. I hope she takes them seriously and stops writing this crap.
  • personally, I thought she sounded rather ditzy -- and it wasn't just the way she mistreated her hardware. my computer's been knocked around quite a bit as well (but not down the stairs...) but I don't use the failure of my hardware to reflect on how I never use my better OS becasue I want to have "cultural literacy"

    I don't have a problem with people using MS Windows -- I do myself. it just annoys me when people spout random crap and act in a totally non-logical fashion -- and then try to justify it with whatever random reason they can come up with. maybe she's just been brainwashed by MS, but certainly someone has wrung whatever computer sense might have been in her originally out for her to jutiify using inferior technology with a need to fit in. that is /not/ a technical reason. that's a ditz reason, and it sounds like my sister the cheerleader or my guy friend who will probably never stop using a Mac simply because he used to like a girl who used one -- and he doesn't like it.

    People confuse me, I guess.
  • whatever he/she may have said, I actually didn't realize it was a woman writing (didn't check the byline) until after. I still came to the conclusion that she needed some help.

    stupidity is what really trancends gender
  • stupidity is what really transcends gender
  • well, if she needs the newest version of MS Word and she likes Linux so much, use StarOffice or something.

    stupidity is what really transcends gender
  • that's originally from some story about B'rer Fox and B'rer Rabbit... Fox was trying to get rabbit, and so he made a "tar-baby" so fox would grab it and not get him... fox grabbed and got VERY stuck...

    yes. random. :-)
  • .. and you'd have to admit that the windoze 98 interface IS pretty slick
  • It's entertaining, which is more than you can say for a lot of things. And it never pretends to be anything more than it is.


    The Rock says: Know your role.
  • WordPerfect 8 reads _and_ writes Word format
    files for all versions of Word, as I heard the amplified voices from the Corel booth at LinuxWorld say (over and over ...).

    In addition, Quattro Pro at least reads (probably writes, too, but I wasn't paying much attention) Excel files, and will be available under Linux Real Soon Now (2nd or 3rd quarter this year, from what I heard in the Corel Keynote address).

    No, I don't work for Corel. AFAIK, Applix's stuff probably can do all this, too.
  • No, no, no. Linux is the Sushi of the OS menu. Loved by some, disliked by others, but mostly people are stunned that you would actually eat something of that nature.

    You are intimidated, at first, by the otherness of it, but after your first bite, you are transported into delight, and wonder what you ever feared about it.
  • I've been noticing more and more of a trend away from Word format, and more and more documents published in HTML, so that they can easily be placed on the company Intranet and/or Internet.
  • You know, the really sad thing about that article (and what Tux was really crying about) is that someone could have made good use out of that 486/66 that the author so stupidly abused to the point of destruction, and that computer could have made someone's life better. That is the thing that made me think the author was a complete and utter idiot.
    I dunno, it sounded like she's a typical user -- and the box did last 6 years, after all. I suppose your idea of "proper use" is to keep the box tighly wrapped in several layers of plastic and safely unplugged? Let's face it, stuff happens -- hard drives blow guts, keyboards wear out, monitor screens get burnt. The box died. It wasn't her fault. Lighten up.

    P.S. -- The expression is "Hear, hear!"

    Zontar

    (somewhere in tenn.)

  • The real monopoly is not Windows 3.1/95/NT. The real monopoly Microsoft has is on MS Office.
    Despite the talk of thousands of applications for Windows, 90% people are prefectly happy with
    MS productivity applications (Office, Outlook, Project). There are millions of files files lying around. I don't what is going to be Linux standard office suite, Koffice/Achutung/Staroffice/Applix. Whatever it is, it has be able to read and port to MS formats. The moment it is done, Linux has a chance to move to desktop. Writing a filter to MS files is a complex undertaking. But it is absolutely necessary for Linux to get a foothold on the desktop. Until then Linux on the desktop is a pipedream.

    Ramana

  • I work in place where all the documents are MS Office docs, and I don't have a problem using StarOffice, wich is free for personal use.
    Did you try to change?
  • It seems that if Microsoft can offer WordPerfect keybindings for transitional users, Corel could return the favor.


    I tend to move people in my office toward WordPerfect when I can, just because it's the WP of choice among the administrators at the school I work at. Unfortunately, Linux-on-the-desktop here isn't too likely. Our primary app is a bloated, nasty thing that tries to "emulate" a Mac look-n-feel within windows. Consequently, my one-man war against Redmond is carried out on the applications side, with the exception of Access, which allows me a convenient back door to the school app's dbf files and spares me running 8 meg of app over a 10baseT net with 100 other clowns. Perl scripts are underway to cure that, too, but Access does what I need it to.


    I don't think the author of that piece was too out there. I also concentrate on Windows 95 from time to time because it helps when I provide support to people. They don't want to hear me crying about better alternatives, and neither do the IT managers here. They just want me to help them.


    In the mean time, I'm looking forward to seeing what Corel has to offer with the whole desktop Linux thing.



    ----------

  • I use linux now for everything. I've discovered that for a profession that is entirely engaged in text documents, linux is the answer.

    Now that legal research has switched to the internet, lawyers (and other info research oriented professions) need a computer that can stay on the internet all day, dowload hundreds of pages of text/html files, and never cough.

    I've lost hundreds of hours over the years do the same in a Windows environment. My system has crashed and burned baby!

    So when you say, 'use windows to be more productive.' I beg to differ. Who remembers to hit the save button every five minutes to ensure no information loss.

    In fact, in the legal setting those lost hours may not be billable (i.e., they are the fault of the attorney's negligence in using something defective).

    No, Linux has been a godsend for me. My uptime is permanent, My 56k modem connection pulls info at 10K/sec. (yes it's true 'insmod bsd_comp && insmod ppp_deflate).

    I work on legal issues for debian. Nothing could be better. When I share documents with my colleagues, I show them how they can edit documents in netscape's 'composer' and everyone can share no matter what wprocessor they use. Now the legal market is fully balkanized with users of wp-dos, Word9x, and WP6-8. There are a rediculous number of doc formatters.

    I say compose in plain text/html, edit in plain text/html. Post info to intranet server. Format in your wordprocessor.

    Needless to say. I never have Netscape composer crash on me. But for serious writing, I use PICO(TM).

    I'd use vi, but I never learned how to make it word wrap. emacs is the same way. Although now I write html in emacs.

    Give Joe Six pack the following linux configuration. xdm starts on boot, wmaker comes up. Big square icons for the following (wp, or staroffice, netscape, terminal). Tell them, in the black window type 'pon.'

    There you go. Browser, wordprocessor. ppp connection. What else is there for Joe Six pack. Joe's gonna love how much faster his internet connection is now.

    I'm a lawyer, trust me ;?
  • At real technical institutions, (i.e., the UC system, CalTech, MIT), unix is the development tool.

    Windows is not taught. I'm not a programmer so I can't really say why exactly, but all the students I know who learn CS learn it in linux, because it is a unix one can afford.

    If you think, gcc, gdb, emacs, vi, etc. are tinker toys, then you are a tinker toy.`

    My girlfriend's cs classes at uc davis even banned them from using PICO (why?) because they wanted them to learn real editors (i.e., vi/emacs). So there.

    Buddy, you're a commercial, a T-Shirt; your a 30-second sound byte.
  • This fragment of a sentence explains it all:
    "An operating system is a culture, with ways of doing and seeing and expressing things peculiar to its members..."

    Stephen King once said that he is the "Big Mac and shake" of literature. I guess that makes M$ the Big Mac and shake of software. So, what's Linux?

    I like to think of it as spicy, Moroccan vegetable stew (and no, I don't mean ratatouille) with cous cous.

    Anyway, I like my private, M$-free culture better than the brain-dead culture my employer forces upon me.
  • I'm in definite agreement on that one.

    A majority of the public doesn't even know what kind of computer they have, let alone how to operate it. They couldn't use Linux if they tried, because they can't even learn to use the power switch.

    It is woeful ignorance and its perpetuation that keeps M$ in business.
  • Yeah, but you wouldn't let 'em drive without a license would you? So why should they use a computer without a clue?

    Sure, they can do less damage with a computer, at least physical damage to other people, but I would think that everyone would want to understand at least how to get their work done on a computer in the most efficient manner.

    We haven't seen productivity gains from computerization because of lusers who don't know how to use their hardware and OS (whatever it is).

    EG, I've been given boringly repetitive work that was estimated at four hours and done it in 20 minutes, because I did the first two entries, saw there was a pattern and wrote a little script to do the rest. If Joe Blow luser ever learns to do that.... Well, I'll leave that up to your imagination.
  • Now seems a good point to comment that OpenDoc is still out there, not-quite-yet-dead.

    IIRC, IBM & Apple were going to OpenSource the APIs. But I may be wrong.

    -- Cerebus
  • Indeed, i have to agree with you there.
    i'd almost say that linux is toro to be too specific.
    (fatty tuna)
    great now i'm hungry.
  • Your gvim suggestion is excellent. The latest version is 5.3. Get more info. [vim.org]

    I only use Word for official reports. Everything else is done in VIM.

    Feel the power of VIM.

    ~afniv
    "Man könnte froh sein, wenn die Luft so rein wäre wie das Bier"
    "We could be happy if the air was as pure as the beer"
  • I've done some projects in Visual Basic for Applications/Word, but other than programming in it I don't have an in-depth knowledge of the thing. All the documents I create for myself or others are in plain text or HTML, and nobody has ever told me I can't continue using them.

    I have five actively-used computers. Two run Linux exclusively, one runs NT, one runs dual boot W95/Linux, and the other runs MacOS. Computers are so cheap nowadays that there's no reason not to have a system devoted to Windows if you deal with people who insist you use it :-(.

    D

    ----
  • There's even - of all things! - a Smooth Jazz song title:

    Did I save? [amazon.com]

    Curiously enough, this tune has no words. Bouncy and cheerful, which doesn't quite describe my mood when Word crashes on me.

    D



    ----
  • I use HTML myself - but since I use emacs HTML mode and auto-fill mode, I don't have to press enter after 80 characters, either.

    I've never lost a single byte in over 20 years of using Emacs and Emacs clones (Epsilon, MicroEMACS, joe) on a daily basis to do editing. Word's record is many fewer characters typed, disasterously more bytes lost.

    D

    ----
  • Judith Lewis strikes me as a fine and intelligent woman, but I think she's missed the mark on the cultural aspects of computing.

    My soul rebels against the idea that if you are an American, you must eat at McDonald's, watch trash TV shows, and use Microsoft Windows. To me, if you do those things, you are supporting mediocrity and low quality; you are giving your money - which is another way of saying your votes and support - to institutions that quite deliberately produce bad products.

    You see, the excuse producers of terrible things give is that it's what the customer wants; customers want lousy hamburgers and cardboard chicken nuggets, so that's what they get; customers want Windows, in all its glitzy, crashy glory, so that's what they get.

    If you don't want a computer that crashes all the time, that loses your work, that drops it on the floor so you never see it again, you want something other than Windows.

    In a word, you want Linux.

    And, incidentally, not only can StarOffice for Windows read and write Office 97 files, it can even put that little squiggly line under the misspelled words you like so much. Add the KDE desktop environment, and you have something that looks a lot like Windows, is as easy to use as Windows, but - as a nice bonus - is fast and reliable. Give it a shot. http://www.stardivision.com/ and http://www.kde.org/ give details.

    David H Dennis
    Marina del Rey, California
    david@amazing.com
    (310) 827-7153

    ------------------------------------------------ ------------------------------------

    PS to Judith [not for publication]: My sympathies. Your article has been slashdotted. If nobody's pointed you to it yet, read
    http://www.slashdot.org/articles/99/03/05/075823 3.shtml and see what all the fuss is about.

    Best
    D

    ----
  • I recommended StarOffice to her in my letter to the Weekly mainly because she likes the squiggles when spelling errors come up in Word. But she's right; it is frustratingly bloated, but any modern computer should be able to handle it just fine. I would think, anyway.

    I just got a demo of Applixware, and it certainly is a lot faster and less bloated than StarOffice; maybe I'll send them some money for the full version.

    Now, if someone, somewhere, would only do something about our hideous fonts, I'd be happy.

    D

    ----
  • I think the guy is right.. For the average user (he is above average) the reason not to stick with Linux is exactly Word..

    Computers have received their name from the word Compute, but nowadays they are mostly used by curly women in small cubicles for writing useless reports...

    Unfortunately guys like us/you (I'm just learning ;-) are not the majority...

    The only difference between him and me, is that he does not know what Star Office is.. :)
  • s/guy/girl/

    Ipologize.. But I barely made it out of the tree this morning -- too much bananas last night..

    the monkey

Statistics are no substitute for judgement. -- Henry Clay

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