July 23, 2003

On The Cover Of The Rolling Stone.

Filed under: Archives — mhoye @ 12:00 pm

Today real work was accomplished, and I feel a bit better. I worked
through lunch, volonteered over the course of the afternoon to pick up
the slack in some other jobs that needed doing, and am happier thereby.
My boss accidentally became my hero this morning when he tore a long,
thin strip off the side of the mismanagement group that’s ostensibly
responsible for the move, ’cause things started picking right up
afterwards. Bliss.

has written some good stuff about cruft,
the stuff that builds
in a system through a combination of bad design and bad
habits. MPT’s mostly concerned with the buildup of cruft in user
interfaces, but it really is a pervasive phenomenon, and when you’re
a poke-it-with-a-stick-until-it-works guy like me, it makes a lot of
things kind of hard to figure out.

There’s an old line that describes two kinds of fools, one who says “this
is old and therefore good” and one who says “this is new and therefore
better”. It applies to software, processes, widgets, whatever. I’ve
been poking around my Linux box lately, and I’ve apparently discovered
a new, hybridized strain of fool – the one that says “let’s keep both
of them. I want to have it both ways”.

Disk space is dirt cheap, sure, and it’s not like memory is all that
scarce a resource either, but my attention span sure is. So are the
number of seconds left in my life. I don’t know how big that number is,
precisely, but those seconds sure aren’t going to get cheaper as they
tick by.

Just to pick one example out of an expansive and colourful chapeau,
I have no idea why if gdm is really the “drop-in replacement” for
xdm that it’s billed to be, why xdm is still on my system at all. To
confuse me, possibly, when I’m trying to figure stuff out. Seriously:
just pick one and run with it, you losers. I wish there was a lot less
stuff like that in here; if this machine didn’t have eight different
ways of doing the same damn thing lurking in six different dimly-lit
corners, I bet would be a lot easier to figure out what (or perhaps
more precisely what the hell) is going on.

Believe you me, at my level of experience it feels like this happens all
the time. I’m going to apply to the National Research Council’s Special
Commission For The Figuring Out Of What The Hell Is Going On Here,
NRCSCFTFOOWTHIGOH as they’re commonly known, for some kind of grant.

Confidential to the gdm guys: I got a good hearty belly-laugh out of the
contrast between this
in the gdm manual, specifically the part that says “users should
never, ever have to use the command line to customize or troubleshoot
gdm”, and the actual process of figuring out how to make it acknowledge
the existence of a new window manager. Finding that, after winging the
entire process, made me giggle quietly to myself. I hate you.

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