The Story so far
Once upon a time, a long time ago in a far away land, there was a young woman who took a course that required a few things to be done on the mainframe computer. Those who taught that course neglected to tell the students how to edit a program on the mainframe. Therefore, when the woman made even the smallest typo, the entire program had to be typed in again. Thus it was that the score starts:
Computer : 1
Woman : 0
She has been trying to even the score ever since. Though proof is difficult to come by, it is believed that the computer still retains the lead.
Details of Programmer
I have programmed in C, C++, Pascal, Fortran, Basic, Ada, lisp,a
functional language (forgotten which though), and a few other stray
languages. I've used a wide number of computer operating systems,
Ultrix, DOS, Windows, Macintosh, Coherent. I can do database,
wordprocessing and spreadsheets. The tools at work include Authorware,
Director, Photoshop, and a number of utilities useful for multimedia. I
am currently working on web pages; using HTML, Shockwave, Java and any
other interesting thing I can get my hands on.
Someday, I hope to be able to claim computer competence.
In the meantime, you may refer to me as the computer sourceress. Anyone who watches me work at a computer will quickly realise that this is an accurate description of someone who uses hand motions, mutters incantations sometimes threats, and has 'the glare' down. 'The glare' itself is one of the most important skills, you must be able to convince a computer by sheer willpower that if the program fails this time, there will be computer components on sale in the morning.
The standard hand signals are 'hurry up and boot up', 'get a move on and power down' and 'So help me, you crash one more time today and there won't be one chip left in your case!' The last can be varied with 'Boat anchor time!' and 'Do you really want to be reprogrammed with a large axe? It can be arranged!'
In the meantime, I have been known to tutor the unwary, and bemuse the uninitiated with jargon. One can usually get a glazed look from people visiting the Centre within 2 minutes. This may be why the boss tends not to bring people to talk to me any more.
When I started working at CIMM, the home computer was pretty much stable. It was a fast 386 with 8meg of RAM, standard video card, no sound card. Not long after starting CIMM, there was an 8-bit sound card added and a single speed CD-ROM drive. During this time, the first of the new games were bought (mostly collections of older stuff, World of Xeen and other things not actually reviewed in the game pages.) Memory was the next update, many things need just enough RAM that the 8 meg wasn't sufficient. That went up to 16 meg. Enter Xplora and Under a Killing Moon. These worked, sort of. So about a year after the first CD-ROM and sound card: there was a new video card (much better type), a 486 100mh motherboard, a 4x CDROM drive and a 16-bit sound card. This system has successfully run everything I ask it to. The hard drive could be larger, but I can live with it.
Paranoia, computer style. My computer works very reliably, especially when you consider how hard it works with the large multimedia things I tend to run. At this stage, I would hate to change any part of the configuration. Who knows what may cause it to stop working reliably?
In spite of the above, I have dared to introduce Windows 95 to the computer. The start was rough, but it seems to be willing to behave for the time being.
New update! As of Christmas of 1998, I got a new computer. This beastie is a new Pentium with heaps of drive space and Windows 98. There were the inevitable teething problems but it working just fine now and the speed improvement is noticable. Besides, there were just getting to be too many software packages out there that needed a faster computer.
Identification of woman's workspace
The difficult part of this procedure is finding the Centre for Interactive Multimedia. If you come in the back door (the one with the staff only sign) just wait. Eventually, the long-haired woman close to the door will acknowledge your existence, and that will be me.
Other identification signs: papers covering the workspace, and pictures on the wall behind the computer (fantasy and Escher).
You know you've reached geekdom
Or some approximation thereof when:
- A moment's glance at an object in a movie has you saying "Raytraced".
- The funniest line in a game is "I believe this room was never modelled or rendered, whatever that means."
- You start playing with the system resources of your computer.
- "What HTML editor do you use?" "vi"
- You know how to find, retrieve, and can understand the Jargon file.
- You have more than one valid email address.
- You check HTML files with a validator but not a spell checker.
Newsgroups and reflections thereof
Whatever do people do without usenet newsgroups...oh, yes, television. That box downstairs is the usual sort of entertainment. Newsgroups are collections of people ostensibly talking about some topic. Some newsgroups follow this definition better than others.
Common mistakes made about newsgroups
- Subject matter
- Posting a message off the correct topic is either considered annoying or boorish, depending on how off-topic it is and what tone the post uses.
- Many of the talk and alt groups have a certain style to the way their articles are written. Woe betide those who start posting in some groups without reading enough articles to get a feel for the style.
- Mistaking personas
- Many new to the net (frequently known as the newbies) make the vital mistake of taking the online persona as an actual representation of the person behind the keyboard. Sometimes the articles are a good representation of the person. But there is no guarantee that the 18 year old female that you've been flirting with isn't actually a 45 year old male. Or someone who is overbearing and obnoxious online isn't actually quiet and rather shy in person. Or a person who writes a lot of drivel on the web won't be fairly quiet if you meet them in person. Hmm, wonder what made me think of that last example...
Last update 25 Feb 1999.