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Salon on User Friendly 65

DoasFu was the first of many people to write us about the Salon article currently running concerning User Friendly, Illiad, the rise of the strip, and the new book. Warm fuzzies for all.
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Salon on User Friendly

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  • You raise a good point and I'm sure it's already happening as your other responders have pointed out.

    The difference between the posers and the genuine in any tribe is depth. As geek becomes chic, I'm sure the real geeks will still find ways to differentiate themselves from the poseurs, and it will probably be knowledge based, not something superficial. So scripts kiddies will eventually be exposed as superficial unless they take the time and effort to gain real depth.

    We just have to avoid looking arrogant to the masses in asserting ourselves as the real thing ... oops. Too late.

  • Well... I could say looks can be deceiving... ;) But no. He's actually a pretty decent guy, even though he's only 4'5" tall. His long curly red beard is nice, though.
  • Anyone with a moment to mess around on Yahoo! can find a few online lists of comic strips, but I'd like to add to the "funnier than UF" list Sluggy Freelance - www.sluggy.com. He manages to get in the occasional tech joke without harping on as UF does.

    At that, I actually kind of like UF, but I find it to be second-tier... funny sometimes, but not consistently or with enough variety.
  • User friendly - the flamethrower.
    Unfortunately, they probably can't get Yogurt to do the merchandising. I'll probably have to settle for an official User Friendly smurf gun.
  • Yeah its definatly niche humor, and I think its incredibly over-rated. But lots of /. readers compose that niche, let 'em enjoy it. But if the publisher is expecting to make a profit off that book, they're gonna be in for a surprise.
  • Posted by Nr9:

    who the fuck do you think you are?
  • "Mr. Adams says his artistic talent is pretty limited in several of his books"

    Yes, his artistic talent is limited. He is no Bill Watterson, which is why he has chosen such a simplistic style. If you look at the early Dilbert strips, you can see how poorly he started out, but he recognized his strengths and weaknesses came up better for it. Admittedly, taking stabs at Illiad's ability as an artist is only semi-relevant, when the issue is his unfunniness, but for me its just another reason to hate User Friendly.

    So you're not just an asshole, you're a prejudiced asshole

    Apparently this whole 'humor' thing is a stretch for you. I guess thats why you're such a 'UFie'

    Hey, if you don't like the strip, then don't fucking read it!

    It's too late for that. After its greatness was expounded upon in various geeky forums, I decided to check it out.

    The scars are still there, and I'm still bitter, and I'll complain all I damn well please. If I see a bad movie, I have a perfect right to complain about how bad it was. I have to confess though, I am partly at fault "Maybe it'll get better, maybe he just had a rocky start" but no, as I clicked through each horrific strip in the archive, the nightmare only grew, and by the time I had realized it was NEVER going to get better, I was irrevocably damaged.

    In conclusion, people need to be warned about how bad User Friendly is. Maybe they can avoid the pain so many have been subjected to.

  • Ok, I can see that most of the posters are not UFies.

    Here is some information you should know.

    1) Illiad is a he and looks like anyone else

    2) He isn't a computer geek, that is correct. Salon's listing of what he has done is correct. Some stuff there just isn't in the FAQ created.

    3) He gets all his content from people that have emailed in, and from the regulars of Undernet's #UserFriendly.. ALL of the story lines with Greg answering the tech support phone are real calls. Seven of them are mine.

    4) USerFriendly started out as a "side what the heck kind of thing" that's how it was when I started reading it in January '98. Since then it's popularity has run like wildfire. (Sorta like Dilbert when it fstarted)

    5) Animated UF.. Illiad and I have mentioned to each other 2 or 3 times about that, problem is: Time

    6) The book, well I don't have much to say there other than Illiad probably felt that his older stuff wasn't good enough to be published.. or maybe that the format it was in didn't work for print.

    7) To the "It won't last" coward poster: You base your statement on what? Or was it just the SOP flame bait post? Even Illiad didn't think it would last / take off like this.

    8) To the other that say it is unfunny. That is because the humor level of the comic is more than likely over your head.

    Ok, done for now.

  • >... That is because the humor level ... is over your head

    Uhhh, no. Really. I have gotten all the jokes, and haven't laughed once. You may say that I have no sense of humor or blahblahblah and that I shouldn't read it if I hate it so much. Well, it's sort of cathartic. Reading something that awful makes me appreciate the finer things in life.

    Jokes about Linux arent among those.
  • How many Microsoft and Quake jokes will it take for the general public to realize that User Friendly is not funny?

    The first week I read UF it was kinda funny, but then it wore thin.

    'Way to go Microsoft!'

    'Stef sucks in Quake!'

    Can we say OLD?

    Not to mention that all the stupid-user jokes on UF are common urban myths in the IT position that can be read from one of many web pages.
  • You do realise that this is the EXACT same for Dilbert?

    I have seen SSDD there. Scott Adams has said the same thing in so many different ways that I can read a month and know how the next month will generally be.

  • I think "he" is a "she".

  • You're not thinking of Nitrozac?
    It's easy to confuse the two; all these geek cartoonists look the same.
  • How could he *possibly* be a non-techie? All of the little industry jokes and -- heck, all of the jokes period, revolve around tech. Except, possibly, for the ones where they just make fun of people calling tech-support. He's a techie in my book.


    "You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding."

  • Umm... wasn't ESR actually supposed to be Obi-Wan? I thought the Dust Puppy was Luke.

    Not like it matters.... the strip's still hilarious.

    b underscore geiger at hotmail dot com
  • Weird, wild stuff...

    I had no idea that Illiad was a "non-techie." That actually makes the strip funnier, I think.

    User Friendly is very funny, usually. I recently went through all of the 1998 archives just to re-read them, and get the ones I missed originally. (i have a cake job!!! Woohoo!)

    I'm glad the strip is finally getting more public notice, he deserves it.
  • ....you are feeling very sleepy. You will go to Amazon. You will buy the book...

    But honestly, I'm amazed its been only ad supported until now. Makes me realise how highly frequented the site must have been.

    Kudos to Frazier, I say...

    --Remove SPAM from my address to mail me
  • Isn't it amazing that UserFriendly was a 2-bit idea that turned into a really popular idea of our culture?

    More importantly, the net has brought about a time of change, where people can be what they want. If they try to and not do so correctly, it is a little forgiving but rejects the rejects. Slashdot, freshmeat, Userfriendly even webpagesthatsuck.com (we remember the days of that, don't we?) became authorities over time.

    But as the community keeps getting those wiz kids (no.. they aren't all kids, but wizards sounds funky), won't it cause the misled to think that the net is an alternative to school and a degree? Or at least create more misled?

  • So now we have User Friendly - The Book.

    How long before User Friendly - The Movie? That would sure beat South Park for me!
  • He is a he.
  • Dilbert and user friendly are similair only in the sense that they have something to do with technology, and that Illiad stole the boss' haircut. Scott Adams actually can actually draw, and has a sense of pacing. Illiad just namedrops alternative OS's and makes half-hearted stabs at microsoft and stupid users. Another post claimed that User Friendly was not painfully unfunny. I disagree. Verily, its unfunniness stabs at me from the depths of hell. Or possibly canada.
  • If it one is "misled to believe the net is an alternative to school and a degree" then I am misled -- and happily degree-free. It don't seem to be hurting me none. ;)

    In all seriousness, the Net is the best thing to have ever happened to the School of Hard Knocks, of which I am an enthusiastic alum. Schools and degrees aren't the only way -- and those who think so are the ones who are misled. (Heck, there are lots of teachers and professors who stand to lose out if they fail to convince everyone that their services are irreplacable.)

    Don't get me wrong: I'm not arguing one can do a global-search-n-replace on one's life, substituting the Net for schooling, and get the same result. One has to use the Net very differently than one uses a school to extract its educational benefit. But self-study, in all its glorious forms, including via the Net, is always an alternative to hiring someone else to teach you. And the acclaim and testamony of other learned people as to one's level of skill/knowledge/expertise will always be an alternative to a degree.

  • I've never read Nitrozac's stuff, but the problem with User Friendly is that it doesn't poke enough fun at Microsoft for my taste, and when it does, it's not incissive enough.

    Oh well.

  • That's cool, but it could only work in python. That's probably one of the clearest self printing programs I've ever seen (not that I've seen that many).
  • 8) To the other that say it is unfunny. That is because the humor level of the comic is more than likely over your head.

    Sorry, no. It's more like I have to lower my intelligence to appreciate the humour of the comic.

    Case in point: The recent NT bash/Gap parody. It's been done before. Better. And the subjects haven't been beaten to death.

    I found User Friendly funnier back a long time ago. I liked the SWAT assault on Microsoft. That was funny. The crud puppy was funny. Complaining about NT is not.

    I prefer Roomies (roomies.org) and PvP (www.mpog.com/pvp) for online comics. Penny-Arcade gets the tip of the hat too (www.penny-arcade.com).

    Oh, and Red Meat (www.redmeat.com) too :)
  • Scott Adams actually can actually draw...

    Funny, Mr. Adams says his artistic talent is pretty limited in several of his books. But I guess you know him better then he knows himself, since you're such an authority on cartooning.

    ...and has a sense of pacing.

    Where do you get this? Frankly, Dilbert's been a lot slower then UF lately, IMNSFHO.

    Verily, its unfunniness stabs at me from the depths of hell. Or possibly canada.

    So you're not just an asshole, you're a prejudiced asshole. Wonderful combination.

    FYI: The names of countries are CAPITALIZED.

    Another post claimed that User Friendly was not painfully unfunny. I disagree.

    Heads up, folks. Clue stick coming down! **WHAM!!** Hey, if you don't like the strip, then don't fucking read it! Ain't nobody forcing you to. Humor is highly subjective. Different people like different things. Personally, I find User Friendly funny as hell. Not quite as funny as you, but hey, you're not a popular comic strip.

    I wasn't going to reply to this guy's flamebait, but then I realized I haven't had a good flame in a while. It invigorates the spirit, it does.

    This flame was sponsored by Dust Puppy, Inc.(TM)
  • I met Illiad at Atlanta Linux Showcase a couple of weeks ago and personally found him to be quite cute. If you search for pictures from the showcase I'm sure you'll find one of him.

  • As one who rushed out and placed an advance order for the UF book, I was surprised when it arrived. I was expecting (having been conditioned by the various C&H / Bloom County compendiums that populate my bookshelves) for it to be a first-to-Nth collection of the strips chronologically.

    The single biggest and most confusing omission was the birth of Dust Puppy, [userfriendly.org] followed by DP's creating Erwin. Such central characters (since they're a bit obtuse for a casual reader) seem to need this germination to be included.

  • ...as geek culture goes mainstream.

    This comment left me a little unsettled. I wonder if it could really happen? Would we really want it to happen? Obviously, if it's going to happen, it'll happen whether or not we want it to. However, I find it rather unlikely.

    I fear that "going mainstream" might just amount to people doing everything they can to look like a geek, rather than actually be one. They'll install Redhat, Caldera, or Mandrake, run Enlightenment, and hang out in some #channel, being k00l d00ds. They'll wear Copyleft t-shirts, talk about what Linus or Raymond said lately, and use the Linux credit card. (Well, at least that'll bring more capital into the Community for furthering development!! ;)

    Yet as we all know, being a geek takes so much time and effort...and study. I have gained the impression that this amount of learning is just not something that non-geeks are interested in. People are more concerned with office gossip, the latest styles, or the sports page. They won't "have time" for debugging their code, compiling the latest library to support whatever, or making sure their box on the Net is patched up and "secure" (as secure as things can be ;)

    Whatever happens, it will be interesting to see. The Community will continue to affect mainstream culture...but just how much, and in what way, is a mystery to me.
  • by skelly ( 38870 )
    Congratulations to Illiad. Remember, just because he is not a techie (you would have found out if you had ever read anything on his website regularly, that does not mean he does not have good insight into the Open Source (OPEN SORES!) community.
  • Salon got it wrong (Illiad noted on his news page that there were a "few niggling points"). From the Userfriendly FAQ [userfriendly.org]:
    I've worked for game design companies, an internet service provider, and other nifty places. I've also had paying jobs as a writer, editor, art director, project manager, game designer and graphic artist. My principle background is in the creative industry, although I have always worked with computers.

    (last question in the list).


  • Heh. The only picture I saw from the show was of you and Thyla.

    Cute. :)
  • Hmmm. Some of UF just doesn't really get a chuckle from me, but some other stuff does. The recent NT server stability one was a funny jab at mindcraft.

    If you can read through the whole thing and not laugh at ANY of them, there's probably something wrong with you. I mean, I detest Peanuts and it can still make me laugh every now and then.

    And, it's not really suprising that customers at a bookstore wouldn't laugh at most of the jokes, it's insider humor.
  • >> Your post is more funny (as in ludicrous) than UF has ever been.

    Oh? And how other than stating .. umm, KNOWN facts about the strip and it's creator.

    >> A couple of weeks ago, I watched the patrons of Stacey's in Palo Alto finger through the UF book.
    >> Not one laugh. Not even a grin.

    Ok.. and that means what? I do that with dilbert, Garfield, Calvin and hobes and a slew of other books. I still like than but because I don't laugh while reading them not make them funny? Please, explain this to us and where you got your PHd in Psychology to know how people think.

    Of course I have realized something. I looked back and remebered ALL the other posts relating to UF when it wasn't as popular and maybe 1 person would say it wasn't funny.

    And remeber April 1st? The "threat of shutdown" joke? Even if it was an April Fools joke, I received over 900 emails of support on my "Support page" and no one said then it was unfunny.

    Now lets look, UF is becomming really popular and the creator was interviewed and that interview put ona site where millions of people will see it ina day. NOW UF is not funny, NOW people are picking it apart.. I think it is more that people can't stand something that started out such small and part time becoming so popular just by mainly word of mouth.

    No sense really in any kind of bashing anymore. If you think back really hard, and look. I almost bet you that people posting the unfunny posts now are the same people that supported UF all those other times.

    But feel free to continue, "Anonymous Cowards" really don't have much if they have to say something is bad and have to hide to say it.

    UF has a very strong following, if you don't like it fine.. the rest of us that do don't care what you think (mainly cuz your wrong).

    The Bastage of the Web

    P.S. Pitr is not russian, he is just speaking slavic. Please, get facts right BEFORE putting your foot in your mouth.
  • AAAAGGHHH!!!! Pictures are evil! But Thyla is gorgeous

    Anyway, check out Dibona.com. You'll find a lot of pictures there.

  • Actually, he didn't steal the hair.

    I've met the boss in real life, and he looks like that.

    And, the boss in UF is completely different from the boss in Dilbert. The UF boss is reasonably clued and started the ISP himself. The boss in Dilbert couldn't start his computer himself.

    I don't think much was borrowed there.
  • Some shitwad of an AC posts flamebait, gets his sorry ass moderated down, and promptly reposts his lame vitriol....

    What we NEED here is a filter to get ALL AC posts out of our view. Seems that 90% of all flamebait, trolls, and other such clutter comes from ACs, no there'd be no real loss.

    Also, how 'bout a filter to make users with low enough karma disappear from our viewscreens....

    (Too cowardly to back your post up with your karma level??? I don't want to see ya.... Post enough crap??? Ditto.)
  • I fear that "going mainstream" might just amount to people doing everything they can to look like a geek, rather than actually be one. They'll install Redhat, Caldera, or Mandrake, run Enlightenment, and hang out in some #channel, being k00l d00ds. They'll wear Copyleft t-shirts, talk about what Linus or Raymond said lately, and use the Linux credit card. (Well, at least that'll bring more capital into the Community for furthering development!! ;)

    This has already occured. Have you ever physically met a script kiddie? It's an enlightening experience. Somewhat terrifying too.

    Of course, once you realize they are, in fact, a script kiddie, you can proceed to "deprogram" them (beat them down mercilessly). :-)

    Yet as we all know, being a geek takes so much time and effort...and study. I have gained the impression that this amount of learning is just not something that non-geeks are interested in.

    It's worse than this. The kiddies I have met, mainly 18-year olds just entering college, know enough to be annoying, yet don't have the ability to learn, IMHO. Reminds me of a guy I met named "Chuck"..

    Chuck is/was a script kiddie. He knew just enough to impress those without knowledge (i.e. most of the people of the world), but not enough to actually accomplish anything. They were impressed by his ability to download warez from IRC (oooooooh!) and his ability to use a computer fairly well (double oooooh!). He's not actually bright enough to understand, well, network protocols, but he can figure out Back Orifice because it's not all THAT hard. It only took him 2 weeks to dope it out, and that was with help.

    Anyway, the point is that the person I described is real, I met him, I knew him well. I didn't like him or anything, but our common friends thought he was really smart. He was fairly bright, but not grade A material. His problem was that he had no desire to learn the fundamentals of any subject. He saw computing as a means to an end (ie. screwing with people).. He didn't program, because it didn't offer him instant gratification.

    That kid was a geek poser. Trying to fit a stereotype he knew nothing about the reality of. Pretty damn disturbing if you ask me.

  • Passion is what makes a geek. It's what drives the time, effort and study. How many of us stay up late at nights debugging code just because "you almost have it working!", and by 4am you get it to work. It feels great, except you have to be at work by 7am.

    No matter how someone tries to be a geek, if you don't have the passion, then you are not a geek. Last night I stayed up late because I had to understand "exactly" how the formula of Hue is created from RGB. Now half asleep (and my wife wanting to kill me) I solved the problem, and I'm thrilled. -- side note, I'm a network person trying to understand graphics :)

    Also, off topic: The article says Eric Raymond was Luke Skywalker, I thought he was Obe-Own(sp?), and the dust puppy was Luke.

    Steven Rostedt
  • As I browsed the After Y2K page, I saw a picture [geekculture.com] of what is supposed to be Illiad. Is that what Illiad is supposed to look like? What is the source picture Nitrozac for that drawing anyways?
  • I also haven't enjoyed the recent "true ping"/Lord of the Rings thing, but the strip from the other day [userfriendly.org] had me rolling! "Yellow elf is gonna need food badly" - heelarious...


Real computer scientists don't comment their code. The identifiers are so long they can't afford the disk space.