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Messing around with computers. November 26, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

A while ago I installed virtual box on my iMac and ran Windows 98, mostly to be able to play Civilization II. That worked up to a point, though I found Microsofts Close Combat a better game to play. Then recently encountering some problems with a site it struck me that it would be no harm to have either Linux or a more recent version of Windows installed.

So off to Ubuntu I went, first booting it up from a formatted usb and then installing it in Virtual Box. I’ve got to admit it’s a lovely OS, though I’d question the horror of installing applications when ones (my) grasp of command line interface languages is rudimentary at best.

Anyhow, next stop boot camp and when I’ve saved up some money I’m going to get Windows and install it on the Mac. Of course this means that it’s not possible to run the systems side by side, but I’m not that fussed, I’ve worked in joint PC and Mac environments for years, and frankly I’m interested in having access to PC game titles – Deus Ex most obviously.

But what is striking to me is how enjoyable this is. There’s no huge purpose, but it’s like a particularly knotty mathematical problem and there’s a sort of odd achievement in working out how to do x and y and z.

Any tips from those who are more familiar with this or these areas? And anyone install Windows using Boot Camp?


1. EWI - November 26, 2016

I’d go with Mac versions of the various titles first. Otherwise, you might want to consider the likes of Parallels (best offer is usually through OWC).


WorldbyStorm - November 26, 2016

That’s a fair point, but some titles just aren’t avaiable in Mac and may not be for years to come. I’m impatient that way 🙂


Aonrud ⚘ - November 26, 2016

Is it getting any better in terms of cross-platform availability for Mac? It used to be nothing had a Linux version, but since Steam started making SteamOS, which is some sort of Linux distribution, there are vastly more games available (including recent Deus Ex titles, it seems).


2. Aonrud ⚘ - November 26, 2016

It’s interesting you say Ubuntu needs knowledge of the command line. I thought one of its main aims was to avoid that, by using GUIs for things like software management, but I take it that it doesn’t entirely succeed.

One of the advantages of Linux when you first try it, I think, is that software repositories are used, so everything is available through a single, trusted source, which is a huge contrast to downloading executable files from all over the place like you do in Windows (not sure if Macs are similar? I’ve never used one because, well… Apple). That and there’s a lot to be said for a simple command to type in when compared with the spammy trials and all the nonsense commercial software out there for Windows.

Finally (!), it’s worth remembering the values of free software, which I think are a far more palatable approach to human technological endeavour than the sort of aggressive control of both Microsoft and Apple.

Proselytising links 🙂




WorldbyStorm - November 26, 2016

I’m not against command line, but… I don’t know enough to use it usefully. And frankly I’m lost when I read some of the walkthroughs. Also my knowledge of interactions at system level is thin – how does this relate to that, what happens here, etc, etc.

Yes, the more proselytising the better!


Aonrud ⚘ - November 26, 2016

I think the CLI has a bad reputation as being more fundamental or less user friendly, because we moved to a point-and-click paradigm, but it’s often a lot easier and quicker. It has a reputation for being more low-level or techy, but it can be just running ‘example’ by typing it in instead of going through a menu trying to find the icon for ‘example’.

I always think the attempts to obfuscate computers to make them ‘easier’ or more user friendly have had several counter-productive effects. Not to play generation stereotypes, but I think of my mother who was programming away happily with a green prompt in front of her in the 80s, but still has to call me when she forgets how to copy photos off her camera. The reason for that is there is no logic to the modern ‘user friendly’ system. What’s an application, a file, a directory, is all obscured. Think of that aberration the ‘Desktop’ in Windows: how is anyone meant to distinguish a programme from a file or a link, when they are all dumped in the ‘Desktop’, which itself is some sort of magical directory? I honestly think if people were just initially exposed to the hierarchical filesystem and it was clear that applications are binary files that you run, their understanding would have been far better.

Anyway… I’m officially getting ranty now 😉

Liked by 1 person

sonofstan - November 26, 2016

That’s bang on I think, but I’ve never consciously thought it through like that before. 20 years ago, I was modestly techy in that I knew how to use quite a of of music software to do stuff with. Today, I tried very quickly to do something simply with a piece of recording freeware, and it took forever, not to do the thing i needed – the process took all of 3 minutes – but working through the ‘user friendly’ menus to get there.

I work in a office with mostly guys my age, and two of us are ok -> good with technology and two are hopeless. I think it’s because the two of us who are OK started earlier and we undertand the logic that the ‘user friendly’ shit obscures whereas the ones who only understand it from the consumer side have to memorise a whole load of stages to using a function without understanding why it’s like that .


Aonrud ⚘ - November 26, 2016

I wonder if part of it is that we fixed on the idea that using a computer shouldn’t require learning, so it needed to be guessable at the expense of logical? There’s no other complex tool we treat like that. We expect to have to learn to drive rather than jump in a car and start pressing buttons (obviously there’s the major additional factor of safety there, but I think people also accept they have to learn how to use it).

Obviously we can point to the accessibility of technology now, but I’m not convinced that in the longer run people wouldn’t have been better off, or that the barrier was as big as the patronising approach taken by both major OS companies would suggest. (Windows XP’s use of “My Computer” and “My Documents” being one of the more condescending examples).

You can use a computer all day every day and not really gain more understanding of them, and I think that’s at least partly a consequence of purported user friendliness.


Tomboktu - November 26, 2016

I wonder if part of it is that we fixed on the idea that using a computer shouldn’t require learning

The European Commission in its (generally appalling) proposed European Pillar of Social Rights identifies the first principle as ‘Skills, education and lifelong learning’, and looks like it’s with you on this, and opens the explanation for why this should be in the ‘pillar’ with the following:

“Basic skills in language, literacy, numeracy and ICT, which are the first building blocks for learning, remain a challenge for a significant share of the population, from children to adults. …”

The four Rs instead of the traditional three? (though what word beginning with R can we use for ICT?)



WorldbyStorm - November 26, 2016

Those are fair points – I’d take a median position (no surprise there Is suppose) that it should be possible to do both but people should be trained to do both. I do agree that a familiarity with CLI should be the norm but I also get that in some instances clarity and usability for basic functions – wordprocessing, spreadsheets, internet, etc is no harm. Then the task of diving deeper into music apps, or design apps or what have you, would be less onerous.

BTW, I’ve no doubt that good understandings of CLI reap dividends in terms of ease of use and more importantly outcome.


Aonrud ⚘ - November 26, 2016

@tomboktu – reading, ‘riting, ‘rithmatic and ríomhairí? 🙂

@worldbystorm I should have said, I don’t mean to present it as CLI vs. GUI, but between supposed user-friendliness and consistency/clarity. For example, how often are people driven nuts by trying to position things in Word? If we had a what you see is what you mean rather than WYSIWYG approach, I think tasks like word-processing would have been far easier for people to learn.


WorldbyStorm - November 26, 2016

Love it, What you See is what You Mean. 100%. Word is so depressingly bad in some ways. I write in TextEdit, it’s just handier, more immediate and does exactly what it says on the tin.

Agree entirely. It’s the usual gap between what is sold as being the reality and the actual reality.


3. roddy - November 26, 2016

I’m totally lost!


Aonrud ⚘ - November 26, 2016

I’m busy arguing that you wouldn’t be if we’d got computers right 20 years ago, Roddy 🙂

Liked by 1 person

yourcousin - November 26, 2016

I’m with you Roddy. But I did play close combat over the years. I always enjoyed that game series.

Liked by 1 person

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