journal for 2002-09-12
I made an umbrella that looks like a watermelon. That’s my big accomplishment for the day. I did in on the GBA, which was cool, but there wasn’t enough light to tell just what all the colors were. Once I get the Afterburner, that should be taken care of. I made the rind a little too thick, and one of the seeds it caught on the fold lines of the umbrella, but it’s a good first try, and definitely better than the door pattern yin yang I made.
I need to figure out how to get the Able sisters to make a shirt from my pattern, so I can give it to animals.
I finally got to change Camofrog’s catch phrase, which is good both because I didn’t like “ten-hut” and because I really wanted to get him saying “comrade.” I need to make a Soviet shirt for him!
I’m feeling in need of a project, again. I think I’m going to try to do a few semi-major overhauls to Debug over the next few weeks, but that isn’t enough. I talked with Keith a little about learning Scoop Fu, but I’m not eager to learn MySQL, which means I need to wait for “Scoop for Postgres,” which might take a while. I’ll see if I can find someone who has a running Scoop site and wants an intern. I looked at some of the Scoop code, and I think I could come to understand it. I told Keith that I might enjoy overhauling the Scoop Admin Guide, but I’d need to become a competent admin, first!
I could probably get my thumb in the pie at yousucka, but I’m not interested so much in Yet Another General Forum. I’d like to find something more focused, and possibly CS-centered. I’m not sure there’s a good market for that—at least one that wouldn’t attract attacks and trolls.
Speaking of trolls, I’ve been in #kuro5hin a few times, lately. It is, to quote Eric, “a bubbling cesspool.” It’s just full of trolls and idiots. It’s almost hard to believe, but there are crapflooders on the k5 IRC channel. I guess that the crapflooders from the forum just naturally migrated as they found prosperity on the website. Blech. I asked my ISP, Speakeasy, to look at getting connected to USENET II. Maybe USENET II is actually worthwhile.
activeperl-l and idiots
I do most of my from-scratch coding at work in ActiveState ActivePerl, the semi-proprietary distribution of Perl for Win32. When (weeks ago) I couldn’t get weak references to work using their version of Scalar::Util, I joined the mailing list. Someone not only explained the problem (ActiveState’s module distribution was fscked) but also created a new compiled bundle and provided it to me. In light of that excellent help, I’ve been trying to be helpful on the activeperl list, but the questions are just so incredibly awful!
Someone, recently, wanted to know how to divide numbers. Someone else asked when ActivePerl would be updated to Perl 6. Today, someone posted a message with the subject, “Getting what you want out of a file.” Their question was pretty basic, and could’ve been answered by searching nearly any good source of Perl (or generic) information. I replied, giving them the answers and also noting that they could’ve performed self-service and saved everyone time. The reply:
I apologize if I offended you with my tone/post. No, wait, actually, I don't. Presumably you're a grown-up and can choose to read/not read whatever you like. Why don't you just auto-delete my posts in future and save yourself the hassle of being snitty?
This kind of garbage is becoming more and more common on technical mailing lists. People seem to think that free software comes with some kind of support contract. Even proprietary software, these days, comes with no support or guarantee. Given that the documentation on free software tends to be more comprehensive and voluminous than that on proprietary software, I’m amazed that people don’t bother looking at it before demanding that their betters do their work for them, for free.
As Russ Nelson (of qmail.org) has said, “As every sysadmin knows, there are stupid questions” but “my customers never, ever ask them.” These people don’t get that they’re asking for favors. They expect not only help, but service. In many ways, they’re more insidious and damaging to the usefulness of on-line communication services like mailing lists and USENET than spammers. The noise created by spammers is much easier to filter than that created by self-important idiots asking on-topic but already-answered questions.
I don’t know the source of this attitude of entitlement, but it’s frustrating. I guess it’s present in RL, too, but I suppose I’ve felt that my precious ivory tower of geekdom was resistant. Sigh.