Pretentious, adj., the act of displaying pretense; pertaining to pretense.
Pretense, noun, a falsity; information presented for appearance sake, regardless of veracity
Fiction, noun, a work of pretense
So, what is it, exactly, that precludes a fiction author, nay a science fiction author, from being pretentious? I would counter that it is imperative that science fiction authors be pretentious. This is not to say that egoism must ooze from the pages (see Stephenson, Gibson). Play of words and creativity are key to the genre.
Sad to admit, my first real "windows crash" was experienced today. To be fair, it was the (mostly) fine product, Trillian, which crashed, but it crashed in such a way as to make the rest of the machine useless. This is precisely the kind of thing our customers throw at us, although usually not so neatly. "It's not stable!" "Well, can you give me an example of something that could be described as instability?" "No, it's just not stable!"
This is the problem with being a manufacturer of a platform, a vision, almost. We sell an operating system. We also sell an entire office suite. We sell photo cataloguing and inventorying and even editing software. We sell mice and keyboards. We even have our own line of video games and hardware. So when you say "windows crashes," you could mean a whole number of different things. You may be actually saying "some driver I am running for the WonkyFuss image capture board tanked and took the kernel out with it." I'd generally say that this is not really surprising. And we get it a lot. Additionally, you could say "well outlook is an abhorrent piece of software. I hate the editor, it's unstable or unintuitive, etc." I'd almost agree with you. But if I'm there to talk to you about Windows and Linux, outlook is not part of the equation. Neither is the driver. That's your vendor's issue. Most drivers these days, Unix, Linux, and Windows alike, run in kernel space. It's a necessary evil (see MSR project "Singularity" for how it might not be) of modern operating systems. Your driver tanks, and it could very well take your (our) kernel with it. Sorry about that.
I have seen Linux deployed successfully. America Online is a shining example of how to do it. At least in Global NetOps. Or whatever they call themselves these days. However, and without going into proprietary detail, they run their very own toolchain and distribution. You couldn't any more deploy an AS3/AS4 image in that space and expect it to work than you could image a random box with Windows and expect it to work. Linux is treated, in their case, as a substrate for an install that they grow on top of it. Many successful enterprises have a similar approach to deploying Windows. Get a substrate, say XP Pro, rip out the stuff you don't like (IE for example), and add stuff you want (your WonkyFuss capture board driver). Make an image, and push it out with MOM/SMS. Why is there this expectation that you, as a customer, would be deploying some fresh-off-our-cd install to every seat on your network, and hand tweaking each and every one of them? It's foolish. It's FUD. Us old wizened Solaris guys use Jumpstart to make sure our network looks like we want it to. Linux people use Kickstart and custom images. Microsoft people can use SMS and MOM. What exactly is the big deal here?
Envision, if you will, a product that we all agree has merit. Pass it around, neatly described in powerpoint presentations, and make some marketing and deployment objectives and milestones. Then put every team that worked on it in different rooms, across the country. Make sure they don't talk to eachother. Give them conflicting schedules, and make it difficult for them to communicate with one another. I described today, for a customer of ours, Unix as a "big ball of thorns." It's tough to handle. You don't know what to do with it, how to safely handle it, how to get to the point where it's less thorny, or you are better able to fit your fingers between those thorns. I feel like I've been put in this position with one of the projects (well, okay, two) at work. My wife (rightly) pointed out, after I described my frustrations with the pair, "gosh, that sounds like a job for project!" Ugh. At first I was disgusted. Project! But that's some pointy-hair cruftware that only incorribly pointy-haired people use! Worse, they use it to oppress the rest of us!
And then I guess I thought about it a little bit, and I realized that a Gantt chart would probably do the trick for helping me visualize the flow I need to attain on these ... sigh ... projects. A previous PHB had in fact used a Gantt chart on a project I was involved with, and I found it largely helpful, not oppressive. So, I bit the bullet, and went and installed it. I suppose it's a long road I'll have to traverse before I feel that I'm comfortable with it and gaining from it, rather than being frustrated with figuring the thing out (eg a net loss in productivity). I see it, I suppose, as evolutionary.
I should listen to my wife more often.
I awoke to the smell of kerosene. We have a home mostly overrun with books and papers, as well as expensive computing hardware. Not to mention firearms and ammunition. Lots of the latter. So waking up to this concerned me greatly. I went through the house, trying to find out what the problem was. What, in my small apartment, could possibly be leaking kerosene fumes? Solvents for the guns, of course. So, go through the house checking various toolboxes, finding the solvents. Check each of the bottles for a) familiarity of scent and b) whether they appear to be leaking. I guess I discovered this morning that I should be more careful with these solvents. I did find one that looked like it had been spilled. But the damage to the label on the bottle could just as easily have been caused by drips sustained while cleaning said guns. So I righted all the bottles, put them back in their places, and looked further. Seeing nothing really outstanding, I rushed off to work, as I had a meeting earlyish.
So I rush home, wondering whether my apartment is still there, or whether I didn't find the culprit and we won't be able to stay in the house until the vapors dissipate. Thankfully, the smell had cleared out. And was replaced with the smell of latex paint. See, our neighbors, down the hall, had lived there for fourteen years, before moving out last week. When they moved out, there was the putred smell of fourteen years of cigarette smoke, filling the hallway. It even made it difficult to stand in the doorway of our home, as the smell from the hall was overpowering, even in our apartment. The people renovating the apartment had seemed frustrated initially with the smell. I can't imagine how they tried to get rid of it. Apparently, they used kerosene or something similar this morning. I suppose that would do it. I can't imagine what the previous residents' lungs looked like. That's just amazing. Lessons learned: Smoking is bad. Probably could be a little more careful about guns and associated chemicals.
On the diet (as in what I eat, not as in I am dieting) front, I am dismayed at how difficult it actually is to eat healthily. You almost have to plan ahead for every meal, and take it with you. Breakfast on the road? Well, you could go to le mac do, but certainly that would just deposit itself in your colon in perpetuity. What, then, to drink? You have a choice: sugar or caffeine, or both. Okay, so meeting. These are a little better. When they feed you, it tends to be bagels and sodas, sometimes with fruits and juices. What about water? Or even seltzer water? Not likely. Post meeting team discussion? Sure, there's a restaurant up the road. There are salads, slathered with all kinds of creamy this, cheese that. Then to the entrée and it's all cheeseburgers, steaks, and more of the creamy cheesey stuff, and now add mashed potatoes. It's downright depressing. Being healthier, I'm told, is a lifestyle change. Not so much a diet (as in the latter term) change. I travel too much, I'm out of the office, out of the house, out of town, too darn much, to take healthy food with me everywhere. I don't have the patience to hit the treadmill for two hours to work off half a sausage mcmuffin with egg. Or the time, really. So, sad to admit, I probably had at least two caffeine intake routes this morning. That would explain the jitters and sweating. It's downright irritating that (here he goes again) in this society of frighteningly overbearing rules about pharmaceuticals, that I can't get away from one. That it's infused in everything from soap (soap!) to your beverage at lunch.
And lastly, I must spam some.
Garden State (Netflix) is really a terrific film. Sort of like a happier Donnie Darko. Has the same feel and rhythm to it, without the demonic bunnies and death. What's more interesting, is it's a film without a shitty soundtrack. Despite the horrible way in which it is presented on iTMS, it's genuinely listenable. And I don't even really like Coldplay or The Shins. Understand I generally live under a rock when it comes to pop culture and most of non-technical society at large when I say this, but I also find it amazing that there is already a cover of Such Great Heights (by Iron & Wine). I do love The Postal Service (well, okay, anything Gibbard does, really), and I understand they even have a somewhat cultish following. But really, didn't this come out like a year ago? It's a great song, but usually it takes longer than that for a cover to show up. Right? I suppose this bodes well for Mr. Gibbard.
I'm beginning to think that most skills can be categorized and quantified by the vocabulary required for said skill and the depth of that vocabulary. Since my own strengths tend more to linguistic skills, it may not be appropriate for me to tap some as-yet-unformed leaning towards music and/or visual arts. We'll see about that. Rumination.
edit: good god, I'm gonna throw myself in front of a bus if I hit ctl-alt-delete to log into my mac again. for fuck's sake.