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captain_aggravated

@captain_aggravated@sh.itjust.works

Linux gamer, retired aviator, profanity enthusiast

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captain_aggravated,
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Bismarck had a plan. Bismarck always had a plan

What are the craziest misconceptions you’ve heard about programming from people not familiar with it?

As someone who spends time programming, I of course find myself in conversations with people who aren’t as familiar with it. It doesn’t happen all the time, but these discussions can lead to people coming up with some pretty wild misconceptions about what programming is and what programmers do....

captain_aggravated,
@captain_aggravated@sh.itjust.works avatar

Like, I think I know what to google in order to start learning how.

captain_aggravated,
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Wow, even ruptured douche balloons are getting sick of Microsoft’s shit.

captain_aggravated,
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So, weird slightly related anecdote: My laptop I bought in 2014 came with a spinning rust hard drive, and I dual booted this machine Windows and Linux.

Since I can remember, (aka, Win 3.1) Windows always made a lot of noise with the hard drive. Start it loading something, like opening an application or something, and it would make this rapid, slightly random clicking noise with the hard drive access light just kinda spazzing out. On older, larger hard drives I remember it sounded like brewing coffee, like the bubble pump in a drip machine? Linux doesn’t make that same sound, I guess it doesn’t do a lot of frequent, scattered reads and writes to disk as Windows does?

Until I replaced the HDD with an SSD, I could tell which OS the laptop was running by listening to the hard drive.

captain_aggravated,
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Deeeeeeng de dunk!

captain_aggravated,
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Wasn’t the fans (mind you the last version of Windows that have touched any of my machines was 8.1) it was the hard disk. Every Windows machine I’ve ever used with a mechanical hard drive, from a 486 IBM PS/2 to my Dell Inspiron laptop always sounded like the hard disk had baseball cards in the spokes. Linux doesn’t make the same noise; it doesn’t sound as frantic. It’s like Windows has more papers to shuffle or something.

That almost immediately struck me when I started using Linux about ten years ago and no one else seems to know what I’m talking about.

captain_aggravated,
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No words. Just stand there still for a second, then just drop those boxes and remain standing there.

captain_aggravated,
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You remember poorly. I shall list “ways in which human society sucked in Babylon 5” until I am bored:

  • There’s plenty of poor, desperate people just…everywhere. There are entire sections of the station that are designated as gutters for poor people to lie in.
  • There are businessmen whose interests hold sway over as many lives as governments do, like the guy Geribaldi goes to work for.
  • More than once Dr. Franklin involves himself in some underground operation to help the poor or targeted because they have nowhere to go, I can think of a free clinic he ran and an underground railroad for telepaths on separate occasions.
  • The duly elected president of Earth is assassinated and his running mate installs himself as a fascist dictator, remaining in power for over three years.
  • The Psi Corps exists, which is simultaneously plotting against humanity at large while victimizing telepaths.
  • There’s that whole episode about a dockworker’s strike over pay and safety conditions, and a major plot point is there’s a law that allows the labor negotiator guy to order the military to violently break strikes "by any means necessary."
  • There are apparently several groups of racist terrorists just…wandering around.
  • There are wars just…all the time. Lots of the cast are members of the military and all but the very youngest are veterans of at least one shooting war. There’s that whole episode about all those marines that stay on the station for awhile, and they pretty much ALL die. What was that battle even about?
  • They still use CRTs for everything.
  • One of the biggest attractions on the station is a large casino.

And that’s just focusing on the humans, let alone the episode where an entire alien species is wiped out by a plague their conservative faction associates with “decadence” and insists on praying away, or the Centauri going all Israel on the Narn.

Babylon 5’s setting was nowhere near as utopic as Star Trek’s “We’ve cured all diseases, solved poverty, eradicated greed, created clean energy and discovered the female orgasm” setting, it’s only a little grimmer than this week’s actual headlines given the fact that in-universe ancient eldrich beings were having their regularly scheduled apocalypse.

That said, compared to anything made after 2002 Babylon 5’s tone is much more upbeat and hopeful. The characters rise to the challenge, they grow and get better, they do the right thing whenever they can. Ultimately it’s a show about trying to be a good person. That doesn’t seem to get made anymore; Battlestar Galactica ushered in the hearburn drama era that ultimately led to me cancelling my cable subscription.

captain_aggravated,
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If I seriously don’t feel up to cooking, like there’s no fucking way I’m turning on the stove? Cereal.

My “just throw it in a pan” meal? Seashell pasta + canned tomato soup. Apparently one fateful day before payday, my grandmother had two hungry kids to feed, and nothing in the house but those two ingredients. So my gramma invented Spaghettios from first principles and a family comfort food was born. A hot meal so simple you can make it without a working brain stem.

captain_aggravated,
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Boil pasta first, don’t salt the water, there’s plenty of salt in a can of tomato soup. Partially drain the pasta, you want some of the water left to dilute the canned soup, add soup, on an electric stove I turn the burner off at that point, there’s plenty of heat left in the system to bring the soup up to temperature, a couple grinds of black pepper, ladle into bowls and spoon into your choice of face hole.

I do recommend using the water the pasta was boiled in rather than fully draining the pasta, adding the soup and then adding more water. The starch dissolved in the water does good things to the texture of the soup.

captain_aggravated,
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I don’t think this function is linear.

I think it trends lower on the low end of the “technical ability” axis because it’s perfectly fine for grandma who just uses the internet, plays solitaire and occasionally emails, and who needs a family member to sysadmin their computer whether it’s Windows or Linux. You can usually drop Mint on their old computer to keep it running and even speed it up a bit after Windows stops supporting it, and save them from buying a PC for awhile.

There’s a bump up for folks who are making the switch on their own because they’re not used to the ecosystem and might have hardware they like that is poorly supported in Linux; I remember my own early days trying to make the machine I already had work and having to install stuff from Git, now that I choose hardware for Linux compatibility that decreases.

There’s a valley in the middle where “This is fine, it works satisfactorily.”

Then at the high end of technical ability you have people who have opinions about systemd.

captain_aggravated,
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The equivalent Windows question would be “How do I move C:\Users to a different drive from C:\Program_Files?”

captain_aggravated,
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Last year I ripped my whole DVD collection.

Blu-Rays were more of a pain because of the format itself; Handbrake itself wouldn’t do the job, I had to use MakeMKV to get a huge mkv file then wash it through Handbrake to compress it to an mp4. Not a single one failed.

Movies on DVD, out of ~300 discs, I had a total of 6 fail because the discs are somehow damaged, most were visibly scratched and wouldn’t play back in a normal DVD player either.

TV shows on DVD, out of ~150 discs, ~40 of them partially or totally failed, many had visible disc rot. And there was definitely a pattern that boils down to “cheaper discs tended to fail.” Older discs from earlier in the format’s life proved more reliable, I think because, for example, my copy of Friends was purchased in the mid-2000s relatively early in the “TV shows on DVD for binge watching” era, some 60 discs in total, no failures. Smaller runs of shows that not a lot of people bought that were kind of plunked out on DVD for the nine people that bought them like Kolchak: The Night Stalker or The Greatest American Hero? 50% failure rate. An interesting one is my copy of Stargate SG-1. I own some seasons from an earlier pressing that came in individual standard plastic cases in a cardboard box, you know what I mean? Those were reliable, only one disc failed because of scratches caused by mishandling. I own some seasons from a later re-release in those slimmer 5-discs-in-a-cardboard-foldy-thing, and more than half of those are unplayable due to disc rot.

Meanwhile I have CDs made in the 80’s that still play just fine.

captain_aggravated,
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You want to make some money? Start manufacturing microfiche readers. There was a brief time in the 20th century where microfilm and microfiche was all the rage for archiving and even publishing technical documents, and now there’s a lot of data people need for various reasons and no device to retrieve it on because they all got put in a room in the back of a library and got kicked in when someone backed into the room carrying a heavy box.

captain_aggravated,
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Here I thought that was because nearly no one uses them anymore. The large volume of folks who didn’t coddle their DVDs are Netflix subscribers now, the few people who do still bother to buy movies or games on disc are the folks who care about them, and thus don’t leave them on the TV stand to get scratched.

captain_aggravated,
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sauce plz?

captain_aggravated,
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If money was no object I’d move a lot of other people out of my current state and I’d stay here. Geography and climate are fine for me, but there’s too many fucking Republicans. Money no object, every last one would be relocated to a holding urn in low orbit of Venus.

captain_aggravated,
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The three-prong layout was certainly an idea someone had. Having an analog stick on a console controller was innovative at the time, but the implementation of putting it on its own grip so you had to choose between it and the D-pad didn’t go so well. There were games that used the D-pad, but most titles published for the system were the newfangled 3D games that were best played with the newfangled analog stick, so in practice most players held the right-hand 2/3rds of their controllers. There were a lot of games where having occasional access to the D pad would have been nice; imagine Majora’s Mask with the transformation masks and ocarina bound permanently to the D-pad so you wouldn’t have to keep menuing to replace C-button items, especially late in the game.

Sony very quickly studied what was right and what was wrong with Nintendo’s approach and they created the Dualshock, which was almost entirely perfect.

captain_aggravated,
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How many shooters were there for the platform? There was Goldeneye, Doom64, and…?

Sure they made it work, but…adding the analog stick to the controller was pure innovation at the time, sure. But the vision for implementation was so fundamentally flawed that a bodge job from Sony bolting two analog sticks to their existing controller was 90 times better.

captain_aggravated,
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I used to on physical keyboards. I would turn autocorrect on my LG Ally off because it was in the way more than anything else.

Onscreen keyboards exist because god is dead and satan is in charge.

captain_aggravated,
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You know what the problem is? it’s that Youtube and more broadly speaking Google have completely squandered the benefit of the doubt.

All the shit about demonetizing channels for breaking ever shifting rules they haven’t published…no. If Youtube treated content creators well, I might consider it, but they don’t so I don’t.

captain_aggravated,
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Absolutely. Github is a TERRIBLE way to publish software or computer files, in much the same way that oatmeal is a terrible bedroom lubricant.

captain_aggravated,
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Same thing that’s wrong with oatmeal: Nothing, that’s just not what it’s for.

Github and tools like it are designed for codebase versioning. It’s a great tool for developers who have a need to collaborate with others and manage releases/branches. But, it’s really not great for distributing executable apps to end users because it’s not for that. You shouldn’t tell end users to clone a git repo and type make install, because that’s not normally how people manage software.

If possible, the app should be packaged and in a software repository/app store typical of the platform. Chocalatey on Windows (Microsoft has their own Windows Store, but fuck that), Brew on MacOS…if we’re talking about an end-user application for Linux, I’d recommend Flatpak because it’s become the de facto one to rule them all; if you really must host something on your own website right next to a windows .exe I will say go with appimage.

You can get hosting for distributing end user apps, Github has a service called Github Pages for this purpose, for example. But especially in the Linux world, too many creators of little things like to just point you at their git repo and only accept user feedback in the form of pull requests.

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