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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

@ -135,7 +135,9 @@ Boring, early life stuff when my world smelled like sweat and disinfectant and r
\section{The Joy of Commodore 64}
The first computer I ever owned (and thus could use whenever I wanted to, provided it did not annoy the adults in the house) was a Commodore-64. (And yes, my use of this machine seemed to bug adults no end, and I have no idea why. I guess the same adults who thought it was a waste of time playing video games simply thought that a computer is another, more expensive type of video game. The lesson I learned here is to try to get some knowledge before you jump to criticism.) The ``64'' stood for 64 kilobytes, which was the amount of memory it had. If you've never heard of a kilobyte before, and are wondering how many gigabytes that is, it's time for some math, and also introductory computer science.
The first computer I ever owned (and thus could use whenever I wanted to, provided it did not annoy the adults in the house) was a Commodore-64. (And yes, my use of this machine seemed to bug adults no end, and I have no idea why. I guess the same adults who thought it was a waste of time playing video games simply thought that a computer is another, more expensive type of video game. The lesson I learned here is to try to get some knowledge before you jump to criticism.)
The ``64'' stood for 64 kilobytes, which was the amount of memory it had. If you've never heard of a kilobyte before, and are wondering how many gigabytes that is, it's time for some math, and also introductory computer science.
Hold on. You've never heard of a \textit{kilobyte}? Wow, either we've really moved along, or I'm old, or both. Probably both. My knees hurt in the morning. Yeah, probably both.
@ -260,7 +262,7 @@ This was the mid 1980s, and my very small, very rural, very redneck-laden high s
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 crappy 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.}
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.
@ -272,19 +274,21 @@ If Oprah were really interested in changing the world, instead of handing out ca
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.
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 you 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. 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}.)
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.})
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.
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:
\bigskip
\medskip
\begin{center}
\href{https://kjodle.info/techincharge}{\texttt{https://kjodle.info/techincharge}}
\end{center}
\bigskip
\medskip
What strikes me most about some of the videos in the the playlist I've linked above is that the emphasis on using technology is always that it will free up our time to spend time improving ourselves and relaxing. But do any of us really have more spare time as a result of technology today? (I would like to think that as a species we are intelligent enough to do that, but the fact there there is a patch of plastic the size of Texas floating around in the middle of the Pacific Ocean tells me otherwise. "Out of sight, out of mind" is meant to be a warning, not permission to shift blame.)
@ -292,7 +296,7 @@ It's amazing how in many ways, we've far surpassed the technological capacities
It needn't be that way, however. If more of us had been able to experience what I experienced in that seventh grade computer class, perhaps our relationship to technology today would be different. Perhaps we would realize that, like the wheel or fire, technology is a tool to help us improve our lives, not to be led around by it. Of course, look at what we've done with both wheels and fire—we are destroying each other and ourselves as well with them. Perhaps we never should have climbed down out of the trees onto the grassy savanna.
I don't know. It seems that our philosophy, or at the very least, our ethics, surrounding technology and what we do with it always lags far behind the cutting edge of that technology. If there are other species in the universe that have managed to travel faster than the speed of light, certainly they \textit{must} have come to a philosophical decision about the role of technology in their daily lives.
I don't know. It seems that our philosophy, or at the very least, our ethics, surrounding technology and what we do with it always lags far behind the cutting edge of that technology. If there are other species in the universe that have managed to travel faster than the speed of light, certainly they \textit{must} have come to a philosophical decision about the role of technology in their daily lives.\footnote{Which explains why we only get visited by the butt probe aliens now. All the other aliens in the universe have given up on us.}
\chapter{A Scanner Clearly, or More Thoughts on Being an Archivist}
@ -487,15 +491,13 @@ And that's it. Just about anything you type often on the command line can be tur
\chapter{What Have I Installed?}
I've mentioned the Unix Principle before: each application should do one thing and do it really well. The advantage to this principle for end users is that you don't need to worry about installing (or even paying for) a huge app that does a million things when you only need it for doing one. The advantage for developers is that you don't \textit{need}\footnote{Although there will always be those people who get your app for free and then complain that it \textit{doesn't} do everything. Hey bub, Swiss army knives are two aisles over and come with a price tag.} to develop an app that does everything, so you can keep a laser-like focus on making an app that works really well.
The downside is that you are likely to install a lot of apps as a result. This is ordinarily not a problem, unless you are going to migrate to a new machine or are swapping out an HDD for an SSD, which is where I found myself in 2020 when Ubuntu 20.04 came out, and I decided to install a new SSD in my 2013 Asus laptop, replacing the 300 GB HDD it came with. Of course, I could simply clone the old HDD onto my new SSD and then swap them out and upgrade, but for reasons that are long, complicated, and very likely boring, I decided this would be as good a time as any to just start with a clean slate.
I've mentioned the Unix Principle before: each application should do one thing and do it really well. The advantage to this principle for end users is that you don't need to worry about installing (or even paying for) a huge app that does a million things when you only need it for doing one. The advantage for developers is that you don't \textit{need} to develop an app that does everything, so you can keep a laser-like focus on making an app that works really well. \footnote{Although there will always be those people who get your app for free and then complain that it \textit{doesn't} do everything. Hey bub, Swiss army knives are two aisles over and come with a price tag.}
Again, normally this is not an issue. But I have a Behringer C-1U microphone that I use for podcasting, and it only works on Ubuntu if I have a particular piece of software installed. For the life of me I could not remember what it was, but it was installed on this laptop, so it ought to be easy to find.
The downside is that you are likely to install a lot of apps as a result. This is ordinarily not a problem, unless you are going to migrate to a new machine or are swapping out an HDD for an SSD. This is where I found myself in 2020 when Ubuntu 20.04 came out, and I decided to install a new SSD in my 2013 Asus laptop, replacing the 300 GB HDD it came with. Of course, I could simply clone the old HDD onto my new SSD and then swap them out and upgrade, but for reasons that are long, complicated, and very likely boring, I decided this would be as good a time as any to just start with a clean slate.
For what it's worth, any software package you install that has a graphical user interface will appear in your applications menu. (On Ubuntu, it's the "Show Applications" button in the lower left corner of your main screen.) But a lot of apps don't have a GUI—they're meant to be used from the command line. There isn't a graphical way to see a list of those. So we're off to the command line.
Again, normally this is not an issue. But I have a Behringer C-1U microphone that I use for podcasting, and it only works on Ubuntu if I have a particular piece of software installed. For the life of me I could not remember what it was, but it was installed on this laptop, so it ought to have been easy to find.
\textbf{Note:} What I'm describing in this section applies to Ubuntu and it's derivatives, since that's what I use and and most familiar with. Other flavors of Linux will probably have similar ways of doing what I'm going to talk about here.
For what it's worth, any software package you install that has a graphical user interface will appear in your applications menu. (On Ubuntu, it's the "Show Applications" button in the lower left corner of your main screen.) But a lot of apps don't have a GUI—they're meant to be used from the command line. There isn't a graphical way to see a list of those. So we're off to the command line.\footnote{\textbf{Note:} What I'm describing in this section applies to Ubuntu and it's derivatives, since that's what I use and and most familiar with. Other flavors of Linux will probably have similar ways of doing what I'm going to talk about here.}
\section{apt}
@ -539,7 +541,7 @@ list is somewhat similar to dpkg-query --list in that it can display a list of p
This command is giving us a lot of output because it's showing \textit{everything} that was installed using the \texttt{apt} command. You might think that you haven't really installed that much stuff, but \texttt{sudo apt install} will sometimes install additional software needed to make the software you are actually interested in run. If you ever install something using \texttt{apt} and see a message like ``The following additional packages will be installed:'' those additional packages will appear when you use this command.
If you want to check to see whether a particular app is installed, you can pipe the output to grep and let it do the work. For example, let's see if I have ghostscript installed:
Remember those glob patterns? If you want to check to see whether a particular app is installed, you can pipe the output to grep and let it do the work. For example, let's see if I have ghostscript installed:
\begin{verbatim}
$ apt list --installed | grep ghostscript
@ -547,12 +549,14 @@ $ apt list --installed | grep ghostscript
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]
\end{verbatim}
\end{footnotesize}
\noindent \texttt{apt} also has a related command, called \texttt{apt-mark}:
@ -560,7 +564,7 @@ automatic]
$ apt-mark showmanual
\end{verbatim}
Even though I've chosen the ``showmanual'' option, it \textit{still} shows a lot of software packages that I \textit{techically} installed myself when I upgrade my system software.
But more about that in a bit.
\section{dpkg}
@ -606,17 +610,19 @@ 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}
\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 \textit{I} deliberately install?
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}.
In fact, I found a page on StackExchange\footnote{\href{https://askubuntu.com/questions/17823/how-to-list-all-installed-packages}{\texttt{https://askubuntu.com/questions/17823/how-to-list-all-installed-packages}}} that was first asked in December 2010 and was last modified in March 2022, has 24 answers, has been viewed 4.6 million times. There simply isn't a way (that I could find, at least) to figure this out easily.
In fact, I found a page on StackExchange\footnote{\href{https://askubuntu.com/questions/17823/how-to-list-all-installed-packages}{\texttt{https://askubuntu.com/questions/17823/how-to-list-all-installed-packages}}} that was first asked in December 2010 and was last modified in March 2022, has 24 answers, and has been viewed 4.6 million times. There simply isn't a way (that I could find, at least) to figure this out easily. Even something as straightforward as \texttt{\$apt-mark showmanual} still show s a lot of programs that I \textit{technically} installed myself, simply because I updated from 20.04 to 22.04 via the command line.
\medskip
\newpage
\noindent \textit{Meet my friend, Occam.}
\medskip
@ -682,8 +688,7 @@ Third, people may self-select out of things. Many years ago, I taught computer c
The class was extremely inexpensive, but it was rarely ever full, which made me wonder why more people didn't take this class. There are two answers here. First, this was the early 90s and a lot of people didn't even have computers at home, so what would be the point for them? (You don't need a car if you have no place to go.) Second, a lot of people were terribly intimidated by computers, because they thought you had to be really smart to use them. So they self-selected out of something they were perfectly capable of learning because they thought it was too advanced for them.\footnote{People are really afraid of making mistakes and looking stupid, but that's a by-product of our public education industrial complex. You can't learn \textit{anything} without making mistakes. In fact, people who are truly experts about things often point out that they learn as much or more from their mistakes than they do from their successes. But we have turned making mistakes into something to be ashamed of, rather than something which will help us learn and understand things. Fuck that attitude. Go forth and make mistakes. (Just not in the voting booth.)} Let's encourage people to self-select \textit{in}, rather than out, because once they get here they'll have a lot of fun. Let's not be gatekeepers.
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.}
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.)}
\chapter{Coda}

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