A Daily Diatribe by a Pompous Git

Who is that fat bastard? A Sturm's Eye View, Guaranteed Free of Harmful, or Potentially Harmful Chemicals -- but Watch Out for the Ideas! Some of them are Contagious! 

A journal of sorts to record Jonathan Sturm's (and others') thoughts and observations on things worth thinking about. Feedback welcome, but be aware that unless you prominently say you want your communication kept private, I may publish it.

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Monday 17 February 2003

Yesterday saw the transformation of the audio/visual corner of The Great Hall. It's a temporary arrangement using an old cabinet that SWMBO and Thomas moved from the cottage. Atop it is the Rotel receiver, CD player, Akai VCR, Pro-Ject turntable, the 200 MHz Pentium Acer and an Acorn monitor. This latter plays DVDs and MP3s, but lacks sufficient grunt for Div/X and will eventually be replaced with something gruntier. It's more than good enough for recording the vinyl records and that will commence after my next trip to Hobart. We need to cable it into the network and the nearest outlet, some 5 metres away and our longest Cat5 cable is in use. Not that the outlet works yet. 

After university starts, The Git expects he, or Thomas will be able to butter up a sysadmin there and borrow a Krone tool. Some three metres away from the outlet is the Intel router/hub so a cable long enough to reach that as a temporary fix will do. Eventually, I will remove the lowest outer sheet of steel from The House of Steel and rewire that area of the house with more Cat5. This is relatively trivial when using the flexible construction method we did. We were warned to put in plenty of Cat5. We did, but not enough it seems. Living in a house is different to expectation when looking at the drawings.

Another potential great change we discussed last week is the possibility of purchasing a small apartment in Hobart so that Thomas can live there during university. If we do that, then The Git can move his office into Thomas's larger room and the current office can become his bedroom when he comes to visit. The idea is SWMBO's and certainly one of her better ones. Right now, Thomas is cursing her. Last night he was visiting a friend, so The Git recorded the latest episode of Hornblower for him to watch today. SWMBO took the tape out of the machine and put it among the other tapes. None of us would have a clue which tape it is! There are many tapes.

Saturday, The Git went shopping with SWMBO and the first things he purchased were the only two light globes in the hardware store that fit our fancy light fittings. SWMBO removed them from the car and one of them "leaped out of my hands", so we still after twelve months in The House of Steel do not have any spare light globes. This is despite SWMBO travelling all the way to the city to get the one that blew after only a few hours use replaced by the lighting shop. She didn't get spares "because they are called 'long-life'"! There exists a great unfathomable gulf between the male and female mind.

Thought for the day:

My father used to play with my brother and me in the yard. Mother would come out and say, "You're tearing up the grass." 

"We're not raising grass," my dad would reply, "we're raising boys."

Harmon Killebrew

Current Listening:

Family -- Anyway


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Tuesday 18 February 2003

The Git was browsing around DOMAI as is his wont and during a picture download, the Internet connection time out leaving about 20% of the image displayed. After reconnecting, he hit the refresh button in IE and it redisplayed the same 20% of the image. Going back to the link to the picture and clicking that link produced exactly the same result. Piffle! Sure, going to another machine on the network worked, but really...

The Git is girding his loins to prepare himself for some of the things he will miss when using his Mac:

The Git had thought that the extensive rewrite of the Mac OS would have seen such glaring deficiencies rectified. But I guess that when you perceive everything Redmondish as evil, you become incapable of copying their good ideas. What a pity BeOS never bore fruit. <sigh>

-oOo-

War -- Maybe We Could Go Bowling Instead

by Fred Reed

 

Wars are seductive as women in the night. Past midnight in February of 1967 we stood, the platoon and I, on the flight line at El Toro Marine Air Station, gateway to Asia. On the tarmac big jets howled and moaned. The smell of burned jet fuel blew in the Pacific breeze. We felt the exhilaration of being part of something huge moving in the darkness, of going to the action, of leaving the mundane. The attraction of war verges on the lascivious. It gets into your blood.

And so we went. Young men always go. Always there is another war. Always there are reasons. In the past these were straightforward: lust, booty, excitement, empire, a way to escape the family yurt, sheer joyous combativeness, the king was bored. Not much has changed.

Long hours later we landed in the sweltering sauna of Danang with its gun emplacements and fwop-fwopping helo traffic and sun-baked Marines with slung rifles; 105s boomed in the distance. It was, in the vulgar but irreplaceable expression of the times, a mind-fuck. We weren't back on the block combing our hair for Sally Sue and facing a career at the NAPA outlet. We were real soldiers, who couldn't find Vietnam on a map, fighting VC who couldn't find Vietnam on a map. We didn't reflect on this. Marines fought. Somebody else decided who they fought.

Perspectives change. Later, for veterans who no longer had legs or eyes, who had lost their guts or become paras and quads, the splendor dimmed. I came home in a packed Medevac 141 with a guy slung above me sprouting tubes that led into bags. He died en route. Those who survived soon realized that in six months no one would care what they had gone through, yet they would spend the rest of their lives in the wheel chair. A colostomy bag, they found, was not a great conversation piece in a singles bar. For them, the war never went away.

Spend a year on a casualty ward. When the girlfriend of seventeen from Chattanooga finds that her Mikey is blind and doesn't precisely have a face, her expression is something to see. Or not to see. You can become disposed to ask: Is this war for anything? Or is it just a war?

Mostly they are just wars. Vietnam was just a war. We lost, and nothing happened. You might be surprised how many in the Disabled American Veterans quietly hate those who sent them.* Yes, I will get angry mail, from those fiercest of warriors, the 103rd Combat Virgins Division, grrr, bow-wow, woof, telling that that I am a commie and a coward and wear lace underwear. I'm impressed in advance.

Later, as a reporter, I spent a year between Saigon and Phnom Penh, leaving both cities with their evacuations. The Asia I saw in the complex warren off Truong Minh Ky was not the Asia of the GIs.** It was complex, variegated, enduring. I liked the Vietnamese. I still do. I am glad that we killed only a million of them.

This you must never say. Wars are better if you don't look too closely. Never, ever, think about what is actually happening.

The Americans believed, or said they believed, that we were battling the evil of communism to save the Vietnamese, who wouldn't even help. To this day former GIs hate the Viets for not being enthusiastic about the war, which in fact they weren't. They wanted the war to go away so they could grow rice.

The Right thunders and the Left squeaks over the motives of the war, each bleeding cataracts of virtue. I remember the succinct analysis of a Vietnamese girlfriend I lived with: "At night, VC steal our rice. In morning, Marines kill us for give rice VC."

They were ambivalent about having a half million gringos running around their country and blowing things up, such as themselves. The GIs never understood. They didn't know that when an artillery round killed a villager's wife, all the young men picked up rifles.

After the GIs left Saigon I returned to Southeast Asia as a reporter for Army Times. For a while I lived in a rooftop apartment on Jawaharlal Nehru Street in Phnom Penh with Steve Hedder, a young stringer for Time, and his Khmer wife Davi. With us were the twins, pretty, playful girls of sixteen perhaps who spoke reasonable English. They were the people with soft hands that Pol Pot would kill.

At night the smell of charcoal and flower trees drifted from neighboring roofs and people murmured in Khmer. Reporters--mostly stringers--lay on the roofs in a fog of gin and Nembutal and listened to the rockets whistle in from the swamps. When the KR took over, Steve and Davi got out. The twins didn't. I don't know how they died.

I will be told I have a bad attitude. You bet I do.

Years later I went back on a magazine assignment, and saw Toul Sleng.*** Once a high school in Phnom Penh, it was used by the KR as a place of torture. It had become a museum. On the walls were photos of those who died there. I couldn't remember the lone Caucasian's name, but I had seem him around town. A friend of mine who went back found the picture of his girlfriend.

Another time I returned to Vietnam, again on assignment. In Saigon the Continental Shelf was glassed in and air-conditioned, not necessarily an improvement. For two weeks I worked my way upcountry from Saigon to Vung Tau, Nha Trang, Hue, to Danang, near where I had been stationed. Marble Mountain had become a pleasant tourist stop with shops selling stone carvings.

Further north, Hanoi bustled with shops and the insane but invisibly ordered traffic of Asia. My pretty little governmentally-supplied guide asked whether I wanted to see the Ho Chi Minh museum. I said I'd rather have my teeth pulled. Oh, she said, apparently relieved, then let's just look at the city. We did. Nice place. I tried to remember what the war had been about.

As I say, it gets into you blood. For a couple of decades I worked as a military reporter. I liked the travel, the troops, the airplanes and ships. Eventually it wore thin. Over and over, in some place like remote Olancho province in Honduras, or Cuando Cubango in Angola, or this dusty clearing or that dusty clearing, the press would chopper out to be shown The Great Victory.

In the jungle would be three or four bedraggled bodies of teenagers fighting a shabby war for some dismal Marxist cause they couldn't spell, and a trove of captured weapons--couple of AKs, the stray M-16, maybe a FN/FAL or Galil. We were told it was progress. Some great cause was being served. Maybe it was. I got tired of seeing it.

Plus ça change, the more it doesn't.

-oOo-

The office has become much easier to tidy up now that the record collection has been moved to The Great Hall. Another two days should see most things in their rightful place...

Thought for the day:

Five enemies of peace inhabit with us--avarice, ambition, envy, anger, and pride; if these were to be banished, we should infallibly enjoy perpetual peace.

Petrarch

Current Listening:

John Williamson -- Waratah Street


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Wednesday 19 February 2003

Robert Morgan wrote:

After reading Fred Reed's piece it seems trivial to comment on your Mac complaints, but then it was your choice to run both stories next to each other this morning!

I think you need to try a Mac OS X machine, as it seems by and large that your complaints disappear. Perhaps your complaints come from earlier Mac OS days, in which case I can't address them as I purchased my first Mac primarily to run OS X.

At any rate, I wasn't aware that NTFS had a full blown journaling file system, something due to change with Longhorn. Since OS 10.2.2 journaling is available but not turned on by default, probably because it slows the machine down!

I agree with your criticisms of the use of keyboard shortcuts and action keys in general. I really hate the home/end behaviour, and going on six months after purchase still have trouble navigating around text by keyboard. However, much of the latest well-designed software (Safari, NetNewsWire) improves keyboard support with well thought out action keys.

The right mouse button works as expected, providing context menus. Sure, apple won't sell you a mouse with a right mouse button, but plug in a Microsoft red eye mouse and you're off. Otherwise you're stuck control clicking.

There are certainly enough differences between Mac OS and Windows that one will always be aware which OS one's using, and I'm certain that anyone so inclined can find arguments for and against each.

Vive la difference! I'll keep using both - it makes me a happier computer user!

Cheers - Robert

After reading Fred Reed, my own writing often seems trivial by comparison.

It's very refreshing to have someone write something encouraging about my desire for a Mac. To many, it's as though I have decided to become a Scientologist or Creationist!

First, I'm not about to give up on my all-time favourite word processor, or spreadsheet. MS Office I am assured breaks the holy Mac commandment regarding the Home and End keys -- a most sensible decision on the part of the Mac Office team. On the other hand, it seems their long tradition of not merely porting the Windows version of Office, but making it a definitely Macintosh product continues. The last Mac version of Word I used for any length of time -- 5.1 -- made the contemporaneous WinWord 2 anaemic by comparison.

Great news about the mouse. Presumably any of the USB mice will do the trick? That's another product where I remain a MS fan.

One thing that continues to annoy me about modern operating systems is the developers continue to blithely ignore creating a decent, modern filesystem. BeOS showed the possibilities, the ReiserFS developers have shown interest in developing another powerful FS. I imagine it's because filesystems are so unglamorous compared to GUIs and Wizards.

Having lived with the security of NTFS since 1996, I have no wish to return to a filesystem that changes the contents of the original file before it finishes writing the amended version. I have never managed to lose data on an NTFS partition, though the same cannot be said about files I have entrusted to FAT. If writes are slower, they can't possibly be as slow as relearning periodic File, Save as to a different filename just in case, or having to revert to an earlier backup.

Regarding the anti-Mac sentiments that have come my way, it must be remembered that this machine will be joining, not displacing the five PCs at THoS. Now why does that remind me of the ex-friend that accused me of being anti-Intel because only two of those five machines have Intel CPUs? ;-)

-oOo-

One correspondent on the Mac question wrote about one of the links I sent:

"Sure, Windows got the job done, and the cornucopia of software was definitely worth exploring, but the user experience was monotonous. All function and no form."

That line, lifted from his page, is enough to sell me hook line and sinker on Win 2K. His reasons for using BeOS sound like they come from someone who likes to play with the shell rather than getting on with the job.

I may change my mind -- I'm giving my impression. I see lines like "feng shui" and "feeling". My computer is a computer -- I'm the human. My computer is a machine that sits there -- the more boring it is, the less I play with it and the more work I get done. If I want to play a game I play a game -- I don't want to play with the computer.

There speaks the apparently utilitarian. One of the commonest observed differences between Mac users and PC users The Git has made over the years is that PC users spend far more time futzing around with their machines than Mac users. As a long-time user of PCs, the first thing The Git does after an OS install is spend a half hour altering all sorts of system defaults so that the machine works somewhat the way he needs it to. The correspondent has assured The Git in the past that were he to spend even more time at this task, his machine could be even more functional. Mac users assure me that the Mac's defaults are more than good enough for most users.

While Mac (and Scott Hacker, the recent convert from BeOS) users often refer to their "feelings" when using a well-crafted OS, that doesn't mean they are less functional than the Wintel equivalent. The Git is reminded of when he played guitar these many long years past. A better term than "played" perhaps might have been "punished everyone within hearing distance". He owned a cheap, Japanese electric that almost seemed to defy being played. Almost, because Paul Wyld managed to make it sing. Yet when The Git was once handed a 1954 Gibson Les Paul to play, it seemed to almost play itself.

Form and function are not mutually exclusive properties, but complementary. It's as great a mistake to have form with insufficient function as it is to have function regardless of form. One merely has to live in a variety of houses to discover this. The Git has only to think of his utter loathing for renovating the cottage and compare it to the sheer delight he felt most days building The House of Steel. Both keep the rain off and the warmth in, but that's where the resemblance ends.

-oOo-

Today is the first of three orientation days at the university, so The Git will once again make this a short post and go prepare himself for the day. After enjoying some of the pretty young DOMAI girls of course.

Thought for the day:

To be surrounded by beautiful things has much influence upon the human creature; to make beautiful things has more.

Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Current Listening:

Paul Simon -- Graceland


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Thursday 20 February 2003

It's Thursday and as every conscientious user of MS software will tell you, that means it's time for this week's security patch. Today it's IE that needs patching again. If these were band-aids being applied to skin abrasions, the victim would have a problem struggling along under their weight. From Woody's Windows XP Newsletter:

When Microsoft releases a security patch, it releases a patch for all supported versions of Windows, right?

Wrong.

According to Microsoft's own Bulletin, this "critical" MS03-004 patch is limited to a very narrow slice of the Windows customer base pie:

If you're using Internet Explorer 5.01 and you want the patch, you must be running Windows 2000 Service Pack 3. You Windows 98/98 SE/ME/NT 4/2000 SP2 folks can all go pound sand. Since I unabashedly use (and recommend!) IE 5.01 on all machines other than those running Windows XP, this, uh, oversight has me seeing red.

If you're using Internet Explorer 5.5 and you want the patch, you must be running IE 5.5 Service Pack 2, and you must be running Windows 2000 SP3, NT 6 SP 6a, 98 SE or ME.

If you're running IE 6, and you want the patch, and you don't want to install IE 6 Service Pack 1 (for reasons I've discussed in this newsletter before), you must be running Windows XP. That leaves all Windows 2000 users - not to mention Win 98/SE/ME and NT 4 users - up the ol' creek.

On the other hand, if you installed IE 6 Service Pack 1, and you want the patch, and you're running Windows XP, you have to install Windows XP Service Pack 1 - you can't stick with the original Windows XP. (The IE 6 SP 1 patch also works with Windows 2000 SP 2 and 3, NT 4 SP 6a, and SE/ME.)

I welcome you to compare and contrast these details with Microsoft's promises, as codified in "Windows Desktop Product Life Cycle Support and Availability Policies for Businesses".

If you read the above and still don't understand why The Git wants a different OS for my main workstation, then just accept that we have different priorities in life. If you run Windows machines and don't subscribe to WoodysWatch, or a similar services, you're living far more dangerously than The Git is willing to. Of course, some of you may have a sysadmin to do these things so you don't have to -- lucky buggers.

-oOo-

There's been even more MacFeedback on the contemplated MacMove. Rather than publish it all, here's one with some useful links:

Hi Git (or should that be Pompous??)!

I saw your bit in Tuesday's posting about Mac OS deficiencies, and thought I would try to dispel at least a couple of them. I am assuming from your comment about rewriting the OS that you are talking about OS X. If not, never mind. Also, I am using the latest version (10.2.4), so if you are not using Jaguar (10.2) then what I say may not be so for you.

Your points, with my comments intertwingled:

* No journaling file system. Gulp! That's a big one when you've been spoilt by NTFS for six years.

Starting with a Jaguar update, there is journalling support. It is not officially supported in the non-server version of OS X, and it does cause a performance drop when writing files. If you don't have a recent Mac, you probably don't want to enable it. If you do want to, see this page. It also has links to Apple papers about the journaling system.

* No navigating dialog boxes from the keyboard. Using the mouse is the only way allowed, except for hitting Return to activate the default button.

One of the updates to Jaguar has improved this capability. You can type the first few letters of the file, and the highlight will move down to the first matching entry. I will have to get home to see what happens if you are trying to move down folders. My first guess is that pressing the Enter key will move down the path, but I am not certain about that.

* No navigating menus from the keyboard. Again, using the mouse is the only way allowed.

Not true, but also not obvious how to set up, and not enabled by default. Open the System Preferences application and choose the Keyboard control. Click the "Full Keyboard Access" tab. From here, you can enable the keyboard control, and also define the keystrokes to active the Dock, Menu and other areas. Once they are activated, you can use arrow keys and the Enter key to navigate to your choice and execute it. See this page for an example of the Control Panel, and also a listing of common shortcut keys.

* No right mouse button for context menus. A big one this. Some would add the scroll-wheel, but The Git never got around to using it. He prefers the Page Up and page Down Keys.

Not true, not true, not true. Two ways to do this. One, plug in *any* 2 or 3 button (with or without scroll wheel) USB mouse that you have lying around. The right mouse button will automatically begin working (as will the scroll wheel, if available). Second, if you want to use the supplied Apple one-button mouse, hold the Control key and click. This (not as convenient, to me) method will trigger a Contextual menu, just like the right-click will.

* Home and End keys that don't refer to beginning and end of line, but the beginning and end of documents. Now that's really stupid!

There are shortcuts for start and end of line. I think it is Command-Arrow, but it might be Option-Arrow. The support for these is a bit spotty, and can be different in different apps, telling me that it is more of a convention than an OS standard.

* Highlighting a file in the Finder and hitting return doesn't launch the file, it puts you into edit filename mode. Do Mac users really rename their files more often than launching them?

OK, got me here. I think this is stupid too. But, once you select the file, you can do Command-O to Open the file. I know, not the point, and I agree with you here.

I hope that you give Mac OS X a fair chance. I really do think that Apple is doing (and has done) a good job with this OS to this point, and it is only going to improve as time goes on.

Good luck, Ken Scott

Let's be clear about this. The git's move to Mac has always been a push and pull situation. He feels pushed by Microsoft and pulled by Apple. The push from Microsoft took a Great Leap Forward with Windows XP and the pull from Apple took a similar Great Leap Forward with the release of OS X -- more specifically the latest release that fixes a number of widely agreed on shortcomings among the Mac cognoscenti. The letter above and a number of others have affirmed that the decision is the best under my circumstances and as always: YMMV! You are not The Git and The Git is not you.

Almost every one of my quibbles were not looking for an excuse to back out, but a request for help and that has been forthcoming. Again, it does not mean The Git is abandoning Windows and/or Linux. Just embracing another tool to add to his collection of handy things to have when things need to be done. That said, he does still have one outstanding issue to discuss and have hopes that it might be fixable now, or in the future.

First, a lot of the issues The Git has brought up have been excused by historical contingency and it's now too late to fix them. In a word, that's bullshit. When WinWord 2 was released, it had arcane keyboard shortcut keys for Select All, Cut, Copy and Paste. The Git is sure he wasn't the only one who howled loudly at Microsoft for this stupidity and sure enough, the very next version of Word had Ctrl-A, Ctrl-X, Ctrl-C and Ctrl-V conveniently accessible in the bottom left hand corner of the keyboard, just like the Mac equivalents. The sky didn't fall in. Those users who had adopted and internalised the strangely stupid combinations of Shift, Insert and numeric keypad 5 probably never noticed unless it was pointed out to them.

Similarly, the Mac could incorporate the speed keys that so many power Windows users rely on to keep up their efficiency. Adding the ability to pull down menus using Alt and the underlined letter in the menu and access the item through its underlined letter is painless to learn and very quick once your muscles have learned the combinations you use every day. Reaching for the mouse is a serious slowdown. Adding this capability should not detract one iota from the precious Macintosh experience, but only add the possibility of greater efficiency for a significant number of users who have to key in large amounts of text -- mainly writers and secretaries.

Some time after a Word training session, one of The Git's clients remarked: "Do you realise you have saved me twenty minutes a day?" She had stop watched her work before learning and using the keyboard shortcuts and after. My unrecalled rejoinder was something fatuous, for she stood very erect and said very firmly: "Don't you realise that's nearly two weeks a year?" Persuading her to make the shift to Mac would be a thankless task.

-oOo-

A pretty, young acquaintance wrote:

Hi Jonathan,

[work-related stuff deleted]

I'll probably see you soon.

BTW - I feel pretty special knowing the biggest pompous git in the world!

Michelle

And it's a privilege to know an intelligent, pretty, young girl like you Mich. But it's famousest, not biggest. Yes folks, The Pompous Git's girth is spreading far and wide it seems :-)

-oOo-

From Mark Zimmermann, a link to one of The Git's all-time favourite radio broadcasters, Garrison Keillor:

The Writer's Almanac(R), a daily program of poetry and history hosted by Garrison Keillor, can be heard each day on public radio stations throughout the country. Each day's program is about five minutes long--check your local radio listings for the station and time in your area. An entire year of almanac entries is available.

The Git went to download RealAudio so he could listen. While every time he has installed RealAudio in the past, he has regretted the mayhem it caused to his computer, the will to resist was low. Windows XP will be summarily removed and executed from this computer and replaced with Win2k once more very shortly. Unfortunately, or fortunately, Real's website was unusable from OffByOne, so it didn't happen. Maybe it's better to wait until he can use Safari.

Why, oh why, won't the ABC broadcast Prairie Home Companion once more? <sigh>

-oOo-

Then by sheer coincidence:

Hi,

My name is Ori Tend and I wanted to introduce you to a new site I've launched recently: www.FetchBook.Info. It's a free service, allowing you to easily compare prices of any book among 60 bookstores, and find a price which is 30% - 80% off the market list price (Here's a sample comparison, where you can see that it saves so much for any book).

I thought that this site may be interesting to you, so I've sent you this email. If you think it's appropriate, feel free to link to it (you can also add the book price comparison feature directly to your site). In addition, I'm striving to improve the site and make it better, so if you have any feedback about it, please feel free to send it!

I hope you liked my site, if not -- sorry for the trouble. 

Thanks, Ori

-oOo-

The Git has yet to hear about the go-ahead on Movable Type from his web-host: Factory55. University starts next week (O-week) which will undoubtedly make posting a little fraught. One of the virtues of MT is that The Git will be able to post direct from campus. The Git has been led to believe O-week consists of mainly hanging out with pretty young girls and drinking free beer supplied by the various clubs that hope to gain his membership. Eat your heart out :-)

Thought for the day:

I never see what has been done; I only see what remains to be done.

Marie Curie

Current Listening:

Kevin Coyne -- Bursting Bubbles


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Friday 21 February 2003

One of the issues over the last few days that has irked many is Scott Hacker's criticism of modern filesystems. Most seem to think that because of historical contingency and "we are used to it" that the hierarchical computer file systems "don't need fixing". If that were so, one wonders why Microsoft created the filesystem within a filesystem that is Outlook. And what a botched idea that is!

Consider, when you use Google, you don't need a filesystem to find what you are looking for. If you prefer, they have one, but you can do freeform text searches. But as anyone can tell you, freeform searches through databases is usually a last resort. It's quicker if you can search on defined fields, particularly fields you have defined for yourself. 

Back in the bad old days, The Git remembers Mackerels crowing about having long (32 character) filenames when DOS users were restricted to eight characters and an extension. Consider the following:

d:\jonathan\writing\letters\aunts\jane\1992\lett0001

That looks like a 43 character filename to me. It's expressed slightly funny, but that's mainly a programmatic issue. The fact is that filesystems are already a flat file database. You just don't get to see the field names. What if we broke that up into fields?:

A filesystem that has user-created field names doesn't need folders. It doesn't even need filenames as such since the combination of values in the various fields, including a time and date stamp, would uniquely identify each document. If you have ever used Outlook extensively, you will already appreciate such things as being able to set flags with an optional reminder and the flexible views, albeit restricted to one folder at a time. If you think it's not a proper filesystem, just try dragging some Word documents into one of those mail folders.

Many of the documents The Git creates pose a problem. A photograph of Aunt Jane might well "belong" in a folder called "Family". Equally, it might "belong" in folders called "Nude Erotica" and "Gardening Naturally", not to mention "Potential Assassins of the Prime Miniature". The use of shortcuts (aliases) is a workaround for a shortcoming, not a proper solution to a genuine problem. Blinkers off folks. Just because we are using computers doesn't mean we should be structuring our information based on what was necessary when a bunch of acid-dropping university students at Berkley invented Unix.

Instead of folders (or as well as), you would create views of data based on file attributes, created on the fly if necessary. Views could be saved to avoid the necessity of recreating commonly used ones, or modified, or discarded as necessary. The location of the file would become increasingly less relevant. Maybe an "intelligent" agent could move files around -- more frequently accessed files residing on the local hard disk and moving less frequently accessed ones onto backup media, or across the network. "Oh, you want to see Aunt Jane beating John Howard to death with her naked breasts. Please insert DVD labelled 29 February 2003."

Which would you rather have? An intelligent file system, or more transparent windows, transition effects, and popup "help" balloons that annoy more than they inform.

"What's needed is a naming system intended to reflect just the structure inherent in the information, whatever that structure might be, rather than restructuring the information to fit the naming system" -- Hans Reiser, developer of the ReiserFS.

Thought for the day:

Dragons will wander about the waste places, 
and the phoenix will soar from her nest of fire into the air. 
We shall lay our hands upon the Basilisk, 
and see the jewel in the toad's head. 
Champing his gilded oats, the hippogriff will stand in our stalls, 
and over our heads will float the bluebird, 
singing of beautiful and impossible things, 
of things that are lovely and that never happened, 
of things that are not and that should be.

Oscar Wilde

Current Listening:

Eric Clapton -- Behind the Sun


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© Jonathan Sturm 2003