CKL's HotSheet
What Non-Aardvarks are Pondering

By Curtis C. Chen

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July 1, 2002

Computer Follies

Stuff Made Up

I've been doing some sysadmin work on my home Linux box, and it has struck me-- even more than usual-- how much of the way these things work is just stuff that somebody made up.

Why is the environment called a "shell"? Why is the editor called "vi"? Why are options specified with leading dashes? Why name the directory "usr" instead of "user"? Short answer: because someone did it that way once, and nobody else cared enough to supply an argument.

That's a little joke, there.

Anyway. It's great if you can memorize the syntax for the couple dozen Unix commands you use most often, and all the most common options, but it should be just as easy to look it up in a man page. Because there are better things to do with your brain power.

This is why we all need good documentation.

My Middle Finger is Digital

I saw Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones in digital projection back in May, and let me tell you, it sucked. I'm not talking about the movie here. I'm talking about the digital projection system. It sucked ass.

Sure, the projected image was rock-solid; none of the jittering often associated with film. And there were no scratches, hairs, dirt, or dust on the image. Colors were rich and consistent, blacks were deep, saturation was good.

But dammit, I could see the pixels.

It was like watching the movie on a huge HDTV.* Sure, it's a progressive-scan image, without flickering or visible scan lines. But I could see the individual pixels. They were most prominent, and most distracting, in scenes with little or no motion. Big fucking pixels. And this was a in a THX certified auditorium.

I shouldn't be seeing pixels when I go to a movie. The theatre should have a significantly better projection system than I do at home. I don't want to maintain a film projector. That's what I'm paying the theatre for. But if they're just going to show me the movie on a big TV, why shouldn't I just stay home, where I can watch my own TV, which even has user controls (pause, rewind, etc.)?

I don't want digital projection that's "just as good" or "almost as good" as traditional film projection. It's gotta be better. And honestly, it's not "almost as good" right now. Not even close. It sucks. It really sucks.

Here's the final irony: A few weeks later, I saw Y Tu Mamá También in a small, independent theatre. It was an old film print, and it still looked a hundred times better than the digital version of Episode II. I could see even the smallest details. I could see the textures of the actors' faces. I could read distant street signs in the backgrounds of city scenes.

And yeah, okay, it was a better movie, too.

* As many HDTV enthusiasts can attest, current digital cinema systems don't even have full HDTV resolution. Digital cinema is lower resolution than what's sitting on the showroom floor at Circuit City. How lame is that?

I'm Hired!

My job hunt has ended. Starting this month, I will be a Webmaster/Producer for PalmSource.

I'll tell you more about it later, but right now, I can tell you that I didn't get the job because of or any other online job searching. Those methods didn't even generate interviews for me. I believe Dick Bolles, author of What Color is Your Parachute?, when he says that using the Internet to look for a job has only a 1%-- that's one percent-- success rate.

Computers don't hire people; people hire people.




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