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Journal Journal: Bad DDR-RAM, bad motherboards, bad GeForce 4's.

I have in the past had a mid-range Red Hat 7.3 machine with these specs:

1.2 Ghz Duron, 256 MB SD-RAM, 40GB HDD...

You know the drill.

The motherboard was faulty, so I upgraded to a DDR-RAM capable board (an ASUS), got a 256MB memory chip, with a GeForce 4 and a Creative Vibra 128 to boot.

I planned to have a a partitioned Red Hat 9 install with a Win2k (for recording my band's demo), but only got as far as the Windows install.

First problem: network card was broken.

Then, the RAM was diagnosed as bad. MP3s skipped, things loaded slow. Yesterday, I picked up a new working chip (on warranty), and in the process, my GeForce stopped working all-together and had to be replaced (under warranty). Now, with a new GeForce and a 256 MB DDR chip, I take the box home and it runs sluggishly, with apps not installing (not enough memory).

More bad RAM.

I'll know what's wrong in the next few days (could it be the Motherboard From Hell?).

User Journal

Journal Journal: The Changing Nature of Work

I just finished my first draft for a report I had to write on the changing nature of work. The stuff is very broad and general, and in layman's terms but some of you may be interested and have a few points to add:

The Changing Nature of Work

What is work?

What exactly is work? What characteristics does an activity need to posses in order to qualify as work? The way we perceive work changes as much as the work we do. In some ways this perception is the symptom of a change in the way we work, in some ways it is the cause.

Ever since the days when we were largely hunter-gatherers, we have gradually created more sophisticated tools and resources for survival. Our jobs have gradually become more specialised. This higher degree of specialisation has given us more opportunity to pursue a career that interests us. We have built an economy in which we work, but work means more than earning a living. Work is about creating a lifestyle; it isn't just our day-job. When we make art in our spare time we are working. When we negotiate with car salesmen, we are also working. It is clear that there is no one simple definition of work.

Work and Play: The Great Separation Is Closing

Work has traditionally been hard to integrate with leisure time and time at home. This was particularly frustrating for intellectual work, because the worker would often have to be at an office just to produce intangible information, when there was no real physical need for it. This has changed.

With the advent of computing and networking at home and office, it has become more and more viable to do a lot of work remotely. By telecommuting, people can send "paperwork" to an office, send an invoice to a client and even hold conferences. Having less physical boundaries often translates into less time limitation, and ideally would allow for more efficient work.

Digital Information: The Machines Understand it Too!

Well, not quite, but it is interpretable to a degree. Humans are good at making complex judgements and simply recognising faces, but are not as good at many tasks done in the workplace such as searching and replacing a phrase in a document. These are the tasks we now have computers for. Before digital information of some sort became the usual authoring format for a document, we used typewriters, pens and paper. For the most part, these things are only readable by humans, and therefore we can't get as much help from machines.

Ever since the first mechanical number calculators, there have been machines that can do certain tasks better than us. Now as microchips are "smarter", and the data we send through them (software) has become better suited for a variety of tasks, we can finally reap the benefits in certain areas by processing the things we used to write, draw or graph on paper.

With standardisation and uniformity, we can take our intellectual work everywhere, and it will have less transport and interpretation requirements than hard copy did. Our work will be easier and more flexible, thus enabling it to be better integrated with leisure time.

Lifestyle Integration

Ideally, the work we do is something that interests us and is a part of our lives. If we are overly structured and regimented doing the things we like such as going for walks or watching films, we enjoy them less and they become more of a chore. Even a dream job has moments when the task at hand does not suit us at the time.

By having a better way of working, one where time and place is controlled primarily by us, not our employees and clients, we can enjoy it more and make it a bigger part of our life as a whole. This nature of work promotes more incentive and less burden, meaning we have fresher approaches to tasks, and do an overall better job. As time goes by and technology is better integrated with us, our day-jobs will become our livelihoods. ------------------------

That's all. I'll start writing more and commenting here on Slashdot as soon as I can find the time.

User Journal

Journal Journal: Music, Drugs, Religion

This is a fairly random journal entry which will rely on participation to become interesting.

I recently got a copy of Silverchair's Diorama. Now, I was apprehensive at first of course because of the way Silverchair's image has been tainted by their earlier success with 13 year old girls. It is somewhat uncool to like Silverchair. People, forget what you have heard. Forget what you think you know about this band. Listen to this album, you just may "get it". I think track 6, Tuna In The Brine is the best rock song I've heard in a loooong time. Anyone have anything to say?

Also, how many of you Slashdotters are into progressive rock like Jethro Tull, King Crimson and the ever-critisized Emerson, Lake and Palmer? Discuss at will.

Another question. If you aren't worried about your boss (or mother) reading this, how many of you do/have done drugs? If so, what ones? Alot of the more colourful techies can have a reputation for using cannabis, thought I'd ask.

And another random question. Which of you is religious/spiritual in any way, shape or form? It would be interesting to know that whether the percentage of religious people in a community of, for the most part, more logical and/or intelligent people is higher than average.

Discuss. That's all.


Journal Journal: Thoughts on a quirk of evolution... 1

I enjoy speculating about the deeper things in life, like the definition of consciousness, why we are here, how we got here etcetera. In a few of these types of conversations I've had, Darwinism has been brought into question many times. There are alot of things we do, and features we possess that can't be explained by Darwin's theory, survival of the fittest.

One in particular that I have discussed with people is the keeping of pets. From a purely survival standpoint, pets can appear totally unnessecary, even a disadvantage (you have to feed pets, in addition to yourself). I have many times wondered how the fondness of pets ever crept into our genepool, why our pet-keeping ancestors had any advantage at all. Well, I have a bit of a theory about this...

Have you ever noticed that pets are somehow theraputic? How taking care of a horse, a cat, a dog (and to a lesser extent even fish and plants) can be psychologically rewarding/fulfilling? I have.

In a hunter-gatherer situation, psychological well-being and "togetherness" plays quite an important role in survival. It helps one focus, and be more functional. Now, seeing that keeping pets can make people more cool, calm and collected so-to-speak, I think that in the long run, they also make us more efficient hunter-gatherers.

I invite you to discuss this, it could get interesting. And to the moderators, don't be too free with the "off topic" moderation, I don't mind if the subject... evolves a little (no pun intended).

User Journal

Journal Journal: Web pages and future plans

I am just whipping up a quick homepage for my totally empty webspace, which will have journalesque stuff, contact details, my writings (not many now but will expand) and a link to my upcoming band's webpage.

I will post this stuff tommorow or the next day and try and get things happening. I will also finish and post my first Producing A Rock Demo On A Budget of $0 journal entry, which will be an on-going series, more details will be in the first part.

In other news, I recently got a remastered copy of Jethro Tull's earlyish album Aqualung. Very nice. If you like prog rock like ELP and King Crimson, you'll like Tull. It's more acoustic and folky, and easier to listen to, but still extremely interesting and rich. I'm going to get some newer stuff ASAP. -- That's all --

User Journal

Journal Journal: Red Eye Energy Drink 1

After reading Malda's essay on juice, I got to thinking about my love for beverages. I am definately an enthusiast. I drink alot of coffee, I like Dr Pepper, and have a strange preference for an unknown drink called the "Ovrid Mix" (but that's another story), and have recently taken up energy drinks.

I live in Australia, and have sampled most of the energy drinks on the shelves. I've spent some time with V, Red Bull, Black Stallion (too damn expensive), Lift Plus and a few others. I thought I would settle on V when a low-key looking product caught my eye in Woolworths one day... ahh.. yes... Red Eye.

There are a few flavours, my favourite being Red Eye Power. This drink is drastically cheaper than the others (a 500ml bottle being AUS$1.80 versus V at $2.60), tastes ten times better, and has all the necessary ingredients. Guarana, Ginkgo Biloba (whatever that is), Gotu Kola, Ginger, Grapeseed (??), Green Tea, the fantastic Ginseng and of course the Holy Grail of Psychoactives That Aren't Cannibanols, caffiene.

Why am I telling you this? Well, I don't really know. I just wanted to somehow pay my respects to Red Eye, and am wondering if any other Slashdotters have discovered it's joys. I really should stop typing now... things are going to get silly...

Journal Journal: Slashdot's Karma System Cont'd 1

Welcome back. If you don't know what this is about, read my previous journal entry entitled "The Simplistic Beauty of Slashdot's Karma System".

Why do people value karma?

There are three main reasons in my opinion why people like to have high karma, these reasons vary according to how the user is aquiring it (eg. whoring, joking, or writing good stuff). The boundaries for these reasons overlap, and are usually a blend of all three.

Reason 1: The "Game" Factor

Many posters see the karma system as an RPG, where the role they play is themselves. The attraction of this role is that they can make their particular "character" appear cool/smart (see Reason 2). Why not just play a much more gameish online RPG or MUD you ask? Because with that, although you could argue that in some ways, you play yourself, you play it in the form of a noble farmer, or feared hunter or something. With the Karma Game, you play yourself, ie. an eccentric, free-thinking, politically minded technologist (or more simply, a geek). For the first time you have found a World in one of your computer games where your real character is just as cool as any D&Desque type. Racking up karma by various means can be a cool game with a very real appeal to it. This reality enhances the insecure roleplayer's feeling or respect, which brings me to Reason 2...

Reason 2: The Eliteness Factor

As many of you know, Slashdot is a forum with most people being very intelligent. I haven't seen any statistics (which would most likely be silly ones anyway), although the discussions tell me that the average Slashdot user is much cleverer than the average human being. Since /. is such an intellectual forum, the insecure, the immature, and the just plain silly will feel more elite if they have high karma. It is human nature to feel some good feelings when your post gets modded up, especially if it was for the right reasons, but that doesn't mean you posted it in order to feel like an 31337 h4x0r. You posted it because you want to have a discussion with fellow technically minded people, have some fun, and hopefully walk away a little bit smarter. That is what /. is for, and a good majority of participants make /. the best place to do it (on or offline). The wannabes however, just want to feel like one of the real techies, and try oh so hard to do it. The karma system is an easy way for them to cheat and recieve their much needed dose of artificial reassurance and security.

Reason 3: A "Louder" Voice

When you have good karma, you get a bonus point, when you get modded up, your post obviosly becomes "louder". This is pretty much the only reason that the true /. contributors and valued posters care about, and it's the only one of these three reasons the moderation system was actually design for. Sadly, this isn't the only reason lots of the posters have for wanting karma, and alot of the Good Guys Of Slashdot don't really care too much about their karma.

Anyways, moderation works, and for the most part very well. In my eyes, the stuff I read on Slashdot (my threshold is zero) is good stuff, and always interesting. Karma is only a small part of the moderation system, and should not be so overrated. It is merely a way of trying to keep the forum interesting (not troll infested), and also gives good posters a couple of perks on the side. Just relax (karma) whores, and try and post good stuff that you would want to read. Chances are that will get modded up more than your formulated score-posts anyway.

Drive carefully...

Journal Journal: The Simplistic Beauty Of Slashdot's Karma System 1

I was just reading some posts concerning Slashdot's karma/moderation system, and I got to thinking...

A large ammount of the comments, and a larger still ammount of journal entries here are discussions about how the karma system works, and not related to tech news in any way shape or form. Slashdot is more and more becoming a great tech site with a constant background discussion of psychology.

People criticise post mods as if they are the system's problem, where it is clear to me that all their criticisms are actually that of human nature. The "following the leader" philosophy being used in theories as to why there are so many +5 posts when compared to +3's, and the way a comment can stay at +1 (or wherever it started off) for over 24 hours and then suddenly be modded up/down many times, is a human psychology issue. Same with trolls, running "jokes" and anonymity.

Perhaps the most interesting of these phenomena is "karma-whoring", whereby an individual waits for a new story, glosses over the contents, and tries to submit a comment that will attract positive mods, the earlier in the discussion, the better. Karma-whoring sounds very negative, but is it really that bad? If a post is modded up, then it's modded up, for no other reason than someone wanting it to be. That's the way the system was designed, and it was only a matter of social evolution that a good portion of posts would start to be designed for the purpose of aquiring karma.

The best way to up your karma is no doubt to post interesting stuff, where everyone can learn, and have an good discussion. However, the most efficient way is to post funny comments. I do this alot. I am in real life a joker, and in my Slashdot posts this becomes apparent. It is to some extent karma-whoring, but then it's my nature, and makes a discussion more rewarding to read.

What I'm trying to say is that it's the good old fashioned karma whores that make Slashdot such an entertaining read, and grab people, meaning that the insightful stuff will also recieve more attention.

In my next journal entry, I may present some theories (or maybe just loaded rhetorical questions) about why people even value karma. Stay tuned!


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Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurence of the improbable. - H. L. Mencken