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Kenneth John Odle 2 weeks ago
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      002/codex-002.tex

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002/codex-002.tex

@ -164,7 +164,7 @@ Anyway, I'm driving a laptop now that has 8 GB of memory in it. (And I've seriou
8\text{ \cancel{GB}} \times \frac{1,048,576 \text{ \cancel{kb}}}{1 \text{ \cancel{GB}}} \times \frac{1 \text{ Commodore 64}}{64 \text{ \cancel{kb}}} = 16,384 \text{ Commodore 64's}
\]
So the computer I'm on now has as much memory as 16,384 of the computer I had when I was 13 years old. If that doesn't seem like a lot to you, I paid \$175 for my current computer (used) in 2016, and paid \$200 (new) for a Commodore 64 in 1981. That's \$3,276,800 in 1981 dollars, which is the equivalent of \$8,651,869.50 in 2016 dollars. I didn't have three million dollars when I was thirteen, and I certainly don't have over eight million dollars now. Sadly.\footnote{Check out \href{https://www.in2013dollars.com/us/inflation/1981}{\texttt{https://www.in2013dollars.com/us/inflation/1981}} for the actual numbers.}
So the computer I'm on now has as much memory as 16,384 of the computer I had when I was 13 years old. If that doesn't seem like a lot to you, I paid \$175 for my current computer (used) in 2016, and paid \$200 (new) for a Commodore 64 in 1981. That's \$3,276,800 in 1981 dollars, which is the equivalent of \$8,651,869.50 in 2016 dollars, respectively. I didn't have three million dollars when I was thirteen, and I certainly don't have over eight million dollars now. Sadly.\footnote{Check out \href{https://www.in2013dollars.com/us/inflation/1981}{\texttt{https://www.in2013dollars.com/us/inflation/1981}} for the actual numbers.}
\medskip
@ -214,7 +214,7 @@ I can at last sleep soundly.
Let's get back to our story.
I purchased this computer from the back of a K-Mart, in much the same way the men in town went to the back of the video store to rent porn. I guess it's fair to say that I lusted after this computer (although a much different form of lust) so the comparison is apt.
I purchased this computer from the back of a K-Mart, in much the same way the men in the small town I grew up in went to the back of the video store to rent porn. I guess it's fair to say that I lusted after this computer (although a much different form of lust) so the comparison is apt.
\begin{wrapfigure}[]{h}{0.5\textwidth}
\vspace{-12pt}
@ -264,7 +264,7 @@ Still, it had computers in it, and that's what counts.
I don't know if I actually was able to take a computer class with Mr. Dick or not. I remember spending a lot of time in that room, but as a nerdy kid with a crap family and not much of a social life, it's only natural that I would have migrated here during my free time before school, after school, during lunch hour, or whenever I decided to skip class (which was often) or whenever I wasn't leading a meeting of the Millard Fillmore Fan Club.\footnote{See my other zine, \textit{just13} issue \#3 for more details} I remember that this room had a \textit{lot} of Trash-80s in it, with their dark silver metallic cases and black highlights, but it also had five or six CP/M machines in it, with their off-white cases and their neon green displays. (Does anybody remember CP/M? Does anybody remember laughter?\footnote{You may remember this from a Led Zeppelin song, but I always remember the version by \textit{Dread} Zeppelin. It's one of the few cases where I feel the cover is better than the original.}
Anyway, if I did take a computer class with Mr. Dick, it was a very pale experience compared to my seventh grade experience,\footnote{See the first issue of this zine.} because I don't remember it at all. No doubt there was a curriculum\footnote{Not a bad thing when well done, but years of teaching experience have proven to me that most curricula are largely designed to take any and all fun out of learning, to say nothing of teaching.} for the class, complete with quizzes, assignments, tests, and long lists of vocabulary to memorize. It would have been completely dreadful and I would have hated it, and would have naturally forced all remnants of it from my memory, so that I would have room for terrible memories of terrible jobs.
Anyway, if I did take a computer class with Mr. Dick, it was a very pale experience compared to my seventh grade experience,\footnote{See the first issue of this zine.} because I don't remember it at all. No doubt there was a curriculum\footnote{Not a bad thing when well done, but years of teaching experience have proven to me that most curricula are largely designed to take any and all fun out of learning, to say nothing of teaching.} for the class, complete with quizzes, assignments, tests, and long lists of vocabulary to memorize. It would have been completely dreadful and I would have hated it, and would have naturally forced all remnants of it from my memory, so that I would have room for lots of terrible memories from lots of terrible jobs.
Here's the flip side though. Let's assume I \textit{didn't} have a computer class with Mr. Dick. In that case, what I have are very fond memories of a room that I should not have had access to but was welcome to. For a very narrow slice of the space-time continuum, there a place where I was welcomed and people were okay with me just wandering around and pushing buttons.\footnote{I have for a very long time wanted to write a science fiction story about an alien race who loves pushing buttons so much that they build devices that are essentially just buttons to push that do absolutely nothing. Imagine a PlayStation controller without the actual PlayStation.}
@ -272,13 +272,13 @@ Considering the huge problem that the modern tech industry faces with inclusivit
If Oprah were really interested in changing the world, instead of handing out cars to a few hundred members of her studio audience,\footnote{Watch it while it lasts: \href{https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pviYWzu0dzk}{\texttt{https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pviYWzu0dzk}}} she should be handing out Raspberry Pis and Arduinos to hundreds of thousands of poor kids. But her viewers understand cars, not Raspberry Pis and Arduinos, and Oprah does not do what is good for society, but what is good for her bottom line. (The real privilege in getting a free car from Oprah is that you are able to actually take time off from your job and your life and go to Chicago to attend a taping of her show. But nobody really thinks about \textit{that}.) \footnote{You want to know who does a lot of good for people, but doesn't make it all about herself? Dolly Parton, that's who. Dolly Parton is a saint. We truly don't deserve her.}
It saddens me that we are now at a price point where technology should be able to transform the lives of millions of people, and free them from the situation they are in now. I know a lot of people say that kids are so much more comfortable with technology now, but this really isn't a great thing. When I was a kid, you used technology to change your life. There wasn't a lot of technology, so it basically boiled down to learning how to use an extremely slow computer to do tasks you'd rather not do, using a VCR to record shows so that you could watch them at a later time, and duplicating cassettes and creating mix-tapes. As I grew into young adulthood and started teaching, I saw more and more how kids could use computers to do a lot of that. Mix-tapes were replaced by mix-CDs. You could manipulate technology to improve your life, and when you were done, you shut if off and called it a day.
It saddens me that we are now at a price point where technology should be able to transform the lives of millions of people, and free them from the situation they are in now. I know a lot of people say that kids are so much more comfortable with technology now, but this really isn't a great thing. When I was a kid, you used technology to change your life. There wasn't a lot of technology, so it basically boiled down to learning how to use an extremely slow computer to do tasks you'd rather not do, using a VCR to record shows so that you could watch them at a later time, and duplicating cassettes and creating mix-tapes. As I grew into young adulthood and started teaching, I saw kids doing exactly that.\footnote{Of course, these were the kids whose parents had the money to buy a computer and pay for access to the internet, neither of which were cheap in the early 90s.} Mix-tapes were replaced by mix-CDs. You could manipulate technology to improve your life, and when you were done, you shut if off and called it a day.
Now it's the other way around: technology manipulates you and you \textbf{can't} shut it off. Websites (I'm thinking of Amazon here, as they are the best at it, but plenty of other websites do this as well) now \textit{tell} you what you want to buy. You can buy things on subscription so that you don't have to think any more.\footnote{It can be devilishly tricky to actually unsubscribe from some of these things, to the point where it's easier just to absorb the expense (we can always get the kids vaccinated \textit{next} year) and just decide that this is how we live now.} Streaming services control what you watch or listen to. No longer can you just walk into a record store or a video store and get what you actually want. No longer will people experience the serendipity of walking into a store and finding a movie or album that becomes a huge part of their life. (I've discovered some of my favorite books that way. I truly believe certain objects can just call to you.\footnote{I know that kind of woo-woo, and I am not into a lot of woo-woo stuff. Maybe it's more just a matter of getting out of the house and walking around with our eyes open.})
Now it's the other way around: technology manipulates you and you \textbf{can't} shut it off. Websites (I'm thinking of Amazon here, as they are the best at it, but plenty of other websites do this as well) now \textit{tell} you what you want to buy. You can buy things on subscription so that you don't have to think any more.\footnote{It can be devilishly tricky to actually unsubscribe from some of these things, to the point where it's easier just to absorb the expense (we can always get the kids vaccinated \textit{next} year) and just decide that this is how we live now.} Streaming services control what you watch or listen to. No longer can you just walk into a record store or a video store and get what you actually want. No longer will people experience the serendipity of walking into a store and finding a movie or album that becomes a huge part of their life. (I've discovered some of my favorite books that way. I truly believe certain objects just call to you.\footnote{I know that kind of woo-woo, and I am not into a lot of woo-woo stuff. Maybe it's more just a matter of getting out of the house and walking around with our eyes open.})
People have become addicted to their phones in a way I'd never imagined possible. (If you are ahead of me at a red light, and the light turns green, but you don't go because you don't notice that the light is now green because you're looking at your phone, believe me—I \textit{will} let you know that the light is now green and you can proceed through the intersection. Believe me, you will \textit{know}.)
Advertisements are everywhere, on every app, on every streaming service.\footnote{Include mindfulness meditation apps—see the back cover.} They are constantly telling you that you need this product or this service, and it has become very difficult to screen that out, so much so that even drunk purchasing is being a substantial part of the economy.\footnote{\href{https://www.finder.com/drunk-shopping}{\texttt{https://www.finder.com/drunk-shopping}}, \href{https://www.marketwatch.com/story/amazon-is-prime-territory-for-drunk-shoppers-2019-03-25}{\texttt{https://www.marketwatch.com/story/ \\ amazon-is-prime-territory-for-drunk-shoppers-2019-03-25}}, \href{https://www.techtimes.com/articles/240241/20190326/drunk-us-adults-spend-48-billion-shopping-online-and-amazon-is-so-happy-about-it.htm}{\texttt{https://www.techtim \\ es.com/articles/240241/20190326/drunk-us-adults-spend-48-billion-shopping-online-and-amazon-is-so-happy-about-it.htm}}.} Before, you had to leave your house to get manipulated into buying something, now you don't even have to leave the house. You can literally shop yourself out of house and home without ever leaving your house or your home.
Advertisements are everywhere, on every app, on every streaming service.\footnote{Include mindfulness meditation apps—see the back cover.} They are constantly telling you that you need this product or this service, and it has become very difficult to screen that out, so much so that even drunk purchasing is now a substantial part of the economy.\footnote{\href{https://www.finder.com/drunk-shopping}{\texttt{https://www.finder.com/drunk-shopping}}, \href{https://www.marketwatch.com/story/amazon-is-prime-territory-for-drunk-shoppers-2019-03-25}{\texttt{https://www.marketwatch.com/story/ \\ amazon-is-prime-territory-for-drunk-shoppers-2019-03-25}}, \href{https://www.techtimes.com/articles/240241/20190326/drunk-us-adults-spend-48-billion-shopping-online-and-amazon-is-so-happy-about-it.htm}{\texttt{https://www.techtim \\ es.com/articles/240241/20190326/drunk-us-adults-spend-48-billion-shopping-online-and-amazon-is-so-happy-about-it.htm}}.} Before, you had to leave your house to get manipulated into buying something, now you don't even have to leave the house. You can literally shop yourself out of house and home without ever leaving your house or your home.
What was promulgated as a potential servant, ever willing and able to come to our assistance, has now become our master. For more about this, I've created a YouTube playlist that you can watch here:
@ -551,10 +551,8 @@ and because I do, I get this output:
\begin{footnotesize}
\begin{verbatim}
ghostscript-x/jammy,now 9.55.0~dfsg1-0ubuntu5 amd64 [installe
d,automatic]
ghostscript/jammy,now 9.55.0~dfsg1-0ubuntu5 amd64 [installed,
automatic]
ghostscript-x/jammy,now 9.55.0~dfsg1-0ubuntu5 amd64 [installed,automatic]
ghostscript/jammy,now 9.55.0~dfsg1-0ubuntu5 amd64 [installed,automatic]
\end{verbatim}
\end{footnotesize}
@ -574,7 +572,7 @@ If you want something a bit more tabular, you can always run
$ dpkg-query -l | less
\end{verbatim}
You will get a nice, very \textit{wide} table that shows you a list of all installed packages, their version, their architecture (amd64 and whatnot), and a short description. Unfortunatley, the output is again huge. Outputting this to a text file again produced 2,971 lines.
You will get a nice, very \textit{wide} table that shows you a list of all installed packages, their version, their architecture (amd64 and whatnot), and a short description. Unfortunately, the output is again huge. Outputting this to a text file again produced 2,971 lines.
That short description is pretty handy however when you're rooting around in the \texttt{bin} folder and wondering what things do, actually. If you want to find out what a particular package does, you can again pipe its name to \texttt{grep}:
@ -594,7 +592,7 @@ PostScript language and for PDF - X11 support
\end{verbatim}
\end{footnotesize}
I don't find this very useful however, because again, that is formatted in a far wider table than most terminal windows (I took out a lot of extra space, and still had to wrap things onto a second line), and honestly, if you want to know what an app does, it's probably easier to just look it up on the web.
I don't find this very useful however, because again, that is formatted in a far wider table than most terminal windows (I took out a lot of extra space, and still had to wrap things onto a second line), and honestly, if you want to know what an app does, it's probably easier to just look it up on the web. (Still, it's rather useful to know that one of these packages is for X11 support.)
\section{snap}
@ -610,12 +608,12 @@ This is again displayed in a pretty wide table, but it also gives you the Versio
If you use flatpak to install software, the command is similar to snap:
That's all I have. Sorry, but I have just haven't gotten around to using flatpaks. It's possible I never will.\footnote{The Candian comedy troupe The Kids in the Hall have a song called ``The Daves I know''. Look it up on YouTube, and when it gets to the part about Dave Capisano, the mechanic (``I hardly know him'') that's where I am with flatpak.}
\begin{verbatim}
$flatpak list
\end{verbatim}
That's all I have. Sorry, but I have just haven't gotten around to using flatpaks. It's possible I never will.\footnote{The Candian comedy troupe The Kids in the Hall have a song called ``The Daves I know''. Look it up on YouTube, and when it gets to the part about Dave Capisano, the mechanic (``I hardly know him'') that's where I am with flatpak.}
\section{The Real Issue}
The real problem with all of these approaches is that none of them do a very good job of telling what you actually want to know: which software packages did I \textit{deliberately} install? And that's because computers aren't smart. (They also aren't stupid. They just \textit{are}.) They only know what you tell them. They have no idea what you \textit{mean}.
@ -632,7 +630,7 @@ This means that instead of looking backward (i.e., "What did I install a year ag
The solution is simple: \textit{write it down}.
When I upgraded this computer, I also bought a new desk for it, and I threw a notebook in the drawer. Whenever install something, I make a note of it in the notebook. If I delete it a few days or months later, I add a note of when I deleted it and why. (That ``why'' is important. I may be able to remember the problem that particular piece of software solved, and may not remember the rat's nest of problems it went on to create for me.)
When I upgraded this computer, I also bought a new desk for it, and I threw a notebook in the drawer. Whenever I install something, I make a note of it in the notebook. If I delete it a few days or months later, I add a note of when I deleted it and why. (That ``why'' is important. I may be able to remember the problem that particular piece of software solved, and may not remember the rat's nest of problems it went on to create for me.)
\begin{center}
\includegraphics[scale=0.4]{notebook}
@ -640,7 +638,7 @@ When I upgraded this computer, I also bought a new desk for it, and I threw a no
\textit{\footnotesize{Of course I would select a black notebook and a black desk. \\ Let's use \textbf{all} the toner.}}
\end{center}
Sure, you could just keep a list on your computer (text files if you want to keep it simple, or you could \textit{<shudder>} use a spreadsheet as a database. But if your computer fails, then your list fails. Sometimes paper really is the best way to go.
Sure, you could just keep a list on your computer (text files if you want to keep it simple, or you could <\textit{shudder}> use a spreadsheet as a database. But if your computer fails, then your list fails. Sometimes paper really is the best way to go.
Of course, I've also just purchased a RocketNotebook and have been experimenting with that, and maybe storing my scribbles in the cloud is the way to go. We shall see.
@ -682,7 +680,7 @@ When I first thought about doing the second issue of this zine, I thought it wou
First, who am \textit{I} to decide if something is beginner, intermediate, or advanced level, especially when it comes to computers? I'm not an expert in all things computers, much less all things Linux. The most I can say is that ``Oh, yeah, this is one of the first things I learned how to do'' which \textit{implies} that it's a beginner level. But it might not be. It's just where \textit{I} started. Somebody else might start somewhere else, in a place that I didn't bother to get around to for years, and which I tend to think of as intermediate or advanced level. But to them, it's where they started, and so they'll also think of it as beginner level. LaTeX has been around for a long time, but it always seemed very advanced to me. As it turns out, it's not difficult to learn. (Although like most things, learning a thing and mastering a thing are very different activities.) Things can be difficult if you don't have the proper tools for them, but does that mean they're advanced?
Second, these words are highly contextual. What does ``beginner'' even mean? Someone who's just sat down to a computer for the first time in their life? Or someone who's been working on computers since they were ten years old, but are just now beginning to learn LaTeX? These words are easier to define in other areas, such as sports or music, where you have to learn to skate before you can play hockey, and you have to learn scales and chords before you can play music. Computers are the great levelers of walls and fences, provided, of course, that you have access to one.
Second, these words are highly contextual. What does ``beginner'' even mean? Someone who's just sat down to a computer for the first time in their life? Or someone who's been working on computers since they were ten years old, but are just now beginning to learn LaTeX? These words are easier to define in other areas, such as sports or music, where you have to learn to skate before you can play hockey, and you have to learn scales and chords before you can play music.\footnote{Although I am not an expert in either of these things, and maybe it is possible to learn hockey and music without learning how to skate or learning scales and chords first. To each his own.} Computers are the great levelers of walls and fences, provided, of course, that you have access to one.
Third, people may self-select out of things. Many years ago, I taught computer classes at my local community education center.\footnote{One of the things I learned is that is a right way and a wrong way to teach people how to use computers. I should write about that sometime.} It was a tremendous amount of fun, both for me and my students, who came from all walks of life.\footnote{A bit of a clichè that, I know. But I can't think of a better phrase.} They were \textit{occassionally} intimidated by certain things, but for the most part, they were eager to learn as much as they could.
@ -690,6 +688,8 @@ The class was extremely inexpensive, but it was rarely ever full, which made me
Fourth, it implies that there is a hierarchy, which I hate. There are many ways in. Because math is so strongly allied to computer science, we tend to view learning about computers as hierarchical as well.\footnote{I think this is one of the reasons that most people aren't good at math and don't like math. Sure, you need to know \textit{some} algebra to do geometry, but you don't need to be an algebra expert. If you really like geometry, and are encouraged to apply yourself to it, you'll eventually learn all the algebra you need. The same is true of trigonometry and even calculus. You don't need to become an expert in those earlier forms of math; you only have to become good enough at them to move on to the next step. People who write math curricula should take note, but they won't.} But that just isn't the case. I started learning how to write BASIC when I was in sixth grade because that's all that was available to us. But basic BASIC is no different than basic Fortran, or basic Cobol, really. The only difference is that BASIC is fairly limited in scope, which was, sadly, all that was deemed appropriate for kids. It's like giving kids little fake plastic tools when they really want to build something. Put the kids in a sandbox with real tools and turn them loose: let them experiment with them and figure out how they work. But we never do that.\footnote{This is, coincidentally, the same sort of thinking that doesn't like sex education, despite the many studies that have shown, conclusively and repeatedly, that when kids have access to high-quality, non-biased sex education, the rates of teen pregnancy and teen STDs decrease, often dramatically. (It's silly. A little learning can help you know what to do, but it can also help you know what \textit{not} to do. Sure, some people need to burn their hand to learn that the stove is hot, but the vast majority of us can learn just by watching them howl in pain from a burned hand. Pictures are worth a thousand words. Moving pictures are worth a million words.)}
I don't want to be a gate-keeper. I want to be a gate-opener. In fact, I want to be a crusher of gates. There is no single path. You have to find your own path. Find your mentors, and carve your own trail. This isn't about ego. Knowledge is not pie. There's plenty for everybody.
\chapter{Coda}
\section{What I Learned About \LaTeX{} While Creating This Issue}
@ -846,7 +846,7 @@ If you need a \texttt{.gif} file instead,\footnote{dude, wtf?} just add the \tex
$ dvipng file.dvi --gif
\end{verbatim}
I'm not going to forget about the first method, though. This could be handy if I wanted to create something (such as a business card) that is a standard size that I want to repeat, or if I want to print on a smaller, non-typical format that LaTeX doesn't have a built-in page size for. I have a few ideas where I might use this; I'll try them out and report back in a later issue.
I'm not going to forget about the first method, though. This could be handy if I wanted to create something (such as a business card) that is a standard size that I want to repeat, or if I want to print on a smaller, non-typical format that LaTeX doesn't have a built-in page size for. I have a few ideas where I might use this; I'll try them out and report back in a later issue.\footnote{Probably, but no guarantee. Other people have a train of thought; I have a Roomba of thought. I may bump into a chair leg at some point and go off in a completely different direction and forget I ever said this.}
The obvious advantage here is that it's possible to create a document where every page has a different size. You can use the \verb|\parbox{}| environment to more precisely control where text and images are placed on the page.

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