punkwalrus (punkwalrus) wrote,

Computers are like people

When I was a wee programmer, in a "Computers for Kids" course I took in 4th Grade summer "enrichment" school, one of the first things they taught us was that "Computers are not like people... they don't have feelings like we do."


I used the British word for "what a lot of crap" because I have been working with computers now for ages, and I think they have mood swings, act temperamental, have tantrums, and when not treated right, they can be generally bitchy and irritating. Every computer is different, which is why us geeks name them. You have to have a name so you know how to yell at it. If computers worked great all the time, or even most of the time, names would be reduced to addresses. But they always break down. So you don't go, "The machine at IP is acting funny," you go, "Arizona is has gone down," or "Beetlejuice has a bad hard drive," or "I don't know what's wrong with Maria..."

Right now, "Mink" is having issues. As I was typing this, I think I have reduced the problem down to the old CD-RW drive, which is old, and was in a kid's room for a while. Which sucks because while I have another CD-ROM I could use, the CASE this stupid system is in was designed by people who should be forced to sit in a corner and eat cold gruel the rest of their lives so they would never be allowed to build anything again. They have these proprietary "slidy-clippy" things so that instead of something normal like, "Put in drive, screw it in place," it has "remove cheap plastic face, get clips, clip on drive, slide in drive caddy, put face back on case." Now this would be okay if the clips stayed on, which they don't since they stay on by tension only, and they have an annoying tendency to fall off the drive while sliding it into the caddy. Then the plastic face is also cheap, and many of the tabs that hold it on tend to break off when you pull it off and put it back on. So now I have tape holding it in place. (I stopped typing this for a while to do this, and it went okay. The Red Hat 7.1 disks are installing nicely and a lot faster).

Although one of my biggest beefs is that all OS's (Microsoft, Linux, or BSD) have a "time remaining" bar that is, if anything, totally false. My pal Nate called them "BFLs" or "Big [Farking] Liars." In fact, I am watching this bar start from "It will take 5 minutes to install this OS," and is now at 18 minutes to install 5 minutes later. Experience tells me "about an hour, depending on CD drive speed." Now it says 22 minutes. At this rate, logarithmically, it will reach infinity by the end of the day.

Some of you probably are asking why I call my machine "Mink." Mink is the name of the lead character in the Japanese manga (comic) "Dragon Half." She's half dragon, half human. Most of my machines are named after anime characters. They used to be named after characters in "Alice in Wonderland," but I quickly ran out of names. Anime has sort of slid to all animated characters, so now the names are a mix. My working systems in this house are:

Alice, Gryphon, and Jabberwok came from "Alice in Wonderland." Belldandy, Keiichi, and Megumi came from the manga/anime "Ah, My Goddess." Kiki and Osana came from "Kiki's Delivery Service." Then there's Mink from "Dragon Half," Lilo from Disney's "Lilo and Stitch," and finally Mononoke and Totoro, from two of Miyazaki's films (who also did "Kiki's Delivery Service.") The names sort of come to me, and I have this superstition that the name comes from the chip/motherboard combo. Split them (or if they blow up and die), and the machine has to be renamed. That's why some characters from the movies are are missing (like Urd and Skuld, and most of the Alice in Wonderland names like Walrus, Carpenter, Dodo, Tweedledee, Tweedledum, etc...). Don't ask me why, it's just the rule.

"Mink," by the way, also came from the fact that it was a gift (originally a loan) from my friend Brad, a great dragon lover (who also hosts this server). Mink will now be the new main Linux server in the house, but it's taken forever to get this set up. Parts came from Keiichi, Osana, and some freebies I got from friends. Keiichi was a great server. He was a P2/400, but Mink is an Athalon 800, twice as fast, plus she has a better video, onboard sound, and more memory (384mb compared to Keiichi's 128).

Part of the reason stuff shifts around is I am always getting freebies. Most I get to swap out the hardware, but then I store spare parts in systems to make a new one. That's why I have so many now. Only a few of them are on, because I don't want to blow a fuse or have a $2000 electric bill. In my office, Totoro is my main box, Mink will be the new file/DNS server, and Mononoke was the printer server, but she's probably going to be replaced with Osana. Mononoke was the default Win95 box because my printer (and scanner) only had drivers for Windows 95, so it was only turned on when I needed to print or scan something, but to save power, I think I will now put my new (Christine's old) printer on Totoro. I am sure this is as fascinating to my viewers as watching wax harden, but this blog is for posterity for myself as well. Someday I will read this and go, "Awwww... back when printers weren't part of the scanner. How quaint."

Red Hat 7.1 is down to "6:07" to install, which is probably 15 minutes in real life. I wanted RH 8.0, but like I mentioned in another entry, some dude at work borrowed them and never gave them back. I should really stop whining and burn a new set.

This entry was originally posted at http://www.punkwalrus.com/blog/archives/00000016.html
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