Wednesday, July 19, 2006

I've been meaning to respond to Jaq's introductory post for a while, but technology keeps getting in the way. (Or, more accurately, my slavish devotion to my current job in technology, combined with recent fatherhood, which means that anything achieved outside of those two arenas has me doing a hurried victory lap.)

Anyway: I agree with almost all of it. I've said for years that I hate computers, I just love what you can do with them. There's the occasional fall into gadget fetishism, usually cured after two weeks with the gadget that triggers it. But, overall, computers are bastards. They don't work properly, they crash all the time, they are far far far too hard to use, they have inconsistent and confusing interfaces, and the software sucks.

But what you can do with them... yes yes yes yes yes yes.

The jargon thing - this is where I start disagreeing. The ludicrous product names and acronyms and version numbers, sure; if they trigger any pleasure in me at all, it's only in the part of my brain that would otherwise be persuading me to take up trainspotting, and so is gladly sat on. But the evolutionary jargon that documents the history and culture of computing, I find almost joyful to use.

Bootstrap, bubblesort, bitrot; daemons, dogfood, dongle; failover, feeping creaturism, finger; hash collision, handshake and most importantly of all: HACKER.

It is to computing what yeshivish is to Limmudei Torah. I long to be able to fluently combine them.
(As for Yiddish, I think there's a computing equivalent there too.)

As for the technology of our grandparents: it's funny you should mention, as I give my late grandfather much of the credit for introducing me to computers. The piece of technology I most strongly associate with him is the Apple ][ personal computer, and I would often end up playing with it when we went to visit on motzei shabbos when I was little.

Like most geeks over the age of twenty, my buttons are pushed more by old crusty gadgetry than the very newest. I find it more tempting to spend an hour with an Amiga emulator and classic games than the latest Mac. Geeks wallow in nostalgia just as much as, if not more than, everyone else. The difference is - if you'll pardon the pun - we take the time to get it out of our systems.

-- yoz

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