My Fedora 11 Adventures: Part VI    Posted:

Folks, I cannot take this any longer. I've had Fedora 11 installed on my computer for 5 days now. That is close enough to a week for me. There simply is not enough about Fedora right now to keep me using it. Perhaps the next release will be better for me. I honestly hope so.

To be perfectly honest, I enjoyed most of the Fedora experience these past few days. I was thoroughly impressed with the speed and memory usage in Fedora compared to Jaunty. When I mentioned that on Twitter the other day, one fellow asked if the two systems were running the exact same software. His train of thought seemed to be that you can't really compare two different distros for speed or memory usage unless they run the exact same software at the time of the sample.

My response to that is that it doesn't matter to me in this particular case. I was comparing the general performance of both distros using their "stock" configuration. You can customize a distro however you'd like, and, in the end, that's where you'll probably find the most performance gains in any system.

But performance out of the box is important to me. I'll just leave it at that.

As I write this, I'm creating an ISO of slackware-current (as of midnight MST) so I can see what KDE 4 is like on a real distribution. Heh. This oughta be fun. Anyway, I truly hope that the next release of Fedora will hold my attention for a bit longer.


Incompetent Secretaries    Posted:


This is an opinionated rant. If you're offended, that's your problem. Feel free to leave comments about your hurt feelings.


To the secretary/assistant: If you're reading this, I truly apologize for any offense you may take from my article. If you're new to the job, I'll apologize again--it's not always easy to hit the ground running. I'm just trying to understand the world a bit better than I did when I woke up this morning.

Several weeks ago, I received an email from the secretary/assistant of my Computer Information Technology department chairperson. This email contained a request for me, as a student graduating with a degree in CIT, to fill out a survey to gauge how well the program is functioning from my perspective.

Attached to said email was a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, formatted for Excel 2007. As an avid Linux user and open-source advocate, I am appalled when I encounter simple files that are not formatted in what could be considered the "lowest common denominator" format, especially when they come from my CIT department. So many other formats would have worked just fine: .doc, .xls, .rtf, .txt, and even the infamous PDF with editable form fields. Come on folks...

Anyway, it's not so revolting to me when other departments send out such abominations. But when the files come from a department which teaches and encourages the use of Linux and whatnot, there seems to be a problem. Several full-time CIT professors even refuse to use Windows and instead choose to use a Macintosh. Yeah, sure, our university requires that students have Microsoft Office for a lot of classes, and they still provide computer labs with the software if we're too poor (or opinionated, like me) to buy it ourselves.

After getting over my own self-righteousness about file formats, I decided to download the spreadsheet anyway. I opened it up in my trusty OpenOffice and filled in the appropriate details. When it came time to save the file with my responses, I opted for OpenOffice's default spreadsheet format: ODS. In my mind, I figured that this individual, the secretary/assistant to the department chairperson, must have access to something that can at least read ODS files.

Well, I mailed off the survey last night. This morning I received the following response from the department chairperson himself:

I dont know what program you used but it is not working with my computer.If you could save it in another program and send it to me again as soon as possible that would be great. Thanks so much

There's something to be said about a CIT department chairperson, the official representative of the program, who is unaware of the ODS format. There's no excuse for that. I like the department chairperson, so I won't rag on him much. Instead, I'll rag on his little helper. When I returned home from class today, I found this email in my inbox, from the secretary/assistant:

I have an hp computer and my windows programs are 2007. If you could change something on the file that would make it so i can read it that would be very helpful.

Wow. Seriously? Apparently it makes a difference in this person's mind that their computer is an "hp" (so is mine). And the "windows programs are 2007," eh... What an ambiguous statement. I sure hope this individual is not a CIT major, minor, or in any other way affiliated with technology.

My question to you is this: how often do you encounter individuals who are blatantly incompetent to be fulfilling the duties with which they have been tasked? I mean, shouldn't there be some reasonable expectation that a person working in a position, such as this secretary/assistant, have some (even rudimentary) working knowledge of the industry in which they are employed? Or am I simply expecting too much from my peers? Am I asking too much of this poor individual who is the target of today's rant?

If I am not alone in my frustration, please speak up. Please also let me know if I am just being cruel and unusual.

Oh, and if you're wondering, I am going to send the survey back in a format that is more portable... I'm not that mean, despite what you might think after reading this article.


Hear, hear!!    Posted:

I just read an interesting article on how to manage geeks, and I wholeheartedly endorse it.

A couple of my favorites:

  1. Include them in IT related decisions. Never make decisions without consulting geeks. Geeks usually know the technical side of the business better than the manager, so making a technical decision without consulting them is one of the biggest mistakes a leader can make.
  1. Remember that geeks are creative workers. Programming and system analysis are creative processes, not an industrial one. Geeks must constantly come up with solutions to new problems and rarely ever solve the same problem twice. Therefore they need leeway and flexibility. Strict dress codes and too much red tape kill all innovation. They also need creative workspace surroundings to avoid "death by cubicle."

Hah. Death by cubicle... that's great. Finally:

Geeks don't like dead weight. If you have any, get rid of it, and your team will be better off. Teams work best when everyone is pulling their weight.

Managers beware!


CIT-410: More on Camping    Posted:

I really, really, really don't want to go on that camping trip. It is completely useless and cannot be backed by any form of logic at all. I couldn't stand the thought of wasting so much time on the trip, so I decided to write an e-mail to my professor (who won't be going on the trip, mind you). I thought I would share this one too.


Thought you might be interested in this quote from


Also, I'm trying to get medical professionals to excuse me from the ridiculous excursion. I have a tendency to get pneumonia and bronchitis very easily, therefore I don't think it's wise for me to go. And if that doesn't work, my boss needs me for work since I'm one of only a couple core developers and we have deadlines. And if that doesn't work, I still don't see why we can't just use the nearly 30 hours we'd be out looking for our ice-age style fate actually working on the projects.

It just doesn't make any sense.

The syllabus doesn't specifically state that this plea for death is factored into the grade. Several people have asked you what the impact on our grade would be if we did not go camping. I would appreciate a direct, solid answer to that question if at all possible. I can only assume that it's as meaningless and useless as it appears and that my grade will not be reduced as a result of not going. Please let me know your thoughts.

Josh VanderLinden