As for the smileys (emoticons) I avoid them. I recounted that in some infamous thread
(keyword: “shitty potty”). I try to write to the intelligent people and I assume they are able to understand the context of someone’s statements without the necessity of some disturbing and infantile interludes. I believe also in my skills to communicate the essence. It takes usually some time before the other people get accustomed to understanding me because I like to communicate on a few layers at the same time. (My post #8 used three layers.)
In my case all the “pre-conceived notions and opinions” made by people about other people fail. I am different – I am sorry. I can not change myself the same way as I can not change other people or the world. (It was not a strict statement – I can change myself but during the whole my life I have gone towards the more and more unique outlook and I do that still.)
I like very much your nostalgic memoirs. The machines from the past had souls. Most of the modern devices and programs do not have them.
My first machine was ZX81
. I used it for writing the programs. My first program displayed the black and white American flag using two nested loops. Then I bought ZX Spectrum
for my brother. He used it for playing games and I used it for writing programs. Sometimes I retyped programs from magazines – just as you – the published code was very often buggy and did not work at all so I improved it and learned a lot at the same time. My most developed program for ZX Spectrum was a computer version of a little-known even in my country card game named “ogór”.
Nothing has changed since those times. My brother still plays games and I still write programs.
My first PC was a second hand machine using Intel 80286
processor. I installed MS-DOS
4.01 on it and for a week I learned the commands using the command line only. Then I installed Norton Commander
. Some time later I started to download hundreds of freeware and shareware programs. I was able to download a dozen or more of different editors and I examined them one by one. I looked for a perfect editor. Finally I found Qedit
– it was very good and its successor – TSEPro – was perfect. I tried also a lot of clones of Norton Commander and finally I found Volkov Commander
which was much better than the original program. (I have always had an inclination to the non-commercial software.)
My first goal after starting a new program was always to find a method to exit from it. There were a lot of different ways: Ctrl+C, Ctrl+Z, Ctrl+Q, Ctrl+W, Q, Esc, etc. If nothing worked I could always use Ctrl+Alt+Del keyboard shortcut
and after the reboot throw away that shitty piece of the software. (I always say: “Do not start anything in your life that you can not stop”.)
Now things are simpler. Most computer users can use just one keyboard shortcut to close any program – Alt+F4. As it turns out that trick is too difficult to memorize for many people and they prefer rummaging among old papers seeking for the mouse on the desk in order to hit and click × in the upper right corner of the window. Such people must have lots of time. I wish them to live for 1000 years!
Since those times when I tested plenty of programs I have not been afraid when I have to start to work with a new program. I just run it for the first time and the same day I reach the level higher then an average user of that program will reach whenever. So when someone asks me which programs I know I reply: “All of them”.
Let us get back to the topic. To download the programs I had to go to the Polytechnic (Technical University). I downloaded them using different UNIX machines (HP-UX
ones). So I learned some basic UNIX commands.
In the meantime my DOS system evolved. I used a lot of tricky methods to write the batch programs
using poor DOS commands and tools. My most developed batch script was the installer of emTeX – popular DOS version of the great TeX
When MS Windows
3.0 appeared I installed it but my machine started always in the DOS mode. I considered MS Windows an overlay. I usually stayed in DOS because I did not like MS Windows programs such as Word. I preferred DOS version of WordPerfect
In those times I started to think of installing SLS Linux
but I considered my machine too weak. It was then PC with Intel 80386
processor but it did not have a CD-ROM drive and I did not want to download dozens of floppy disks
A few years later I built my PC based on Intel 80486
processor and I put a CD-ROM drive in it. I installed Red Hat Linux
4.2 on it. The next day I was very proud because I managed to compile successfully my own version of Linux kernel.
At the beginning I used Red Hat with AfterStep
but soon Window Maker
appeared and I switched to it. As a file manager I used Midnight Commander
from the beginning. In the meantime I tried GNOME and KDE but I could not stand the former one longer than a few days and the latter one longer than a few hours – they were sluggish and uncomfortable.
In those times I wrote a series of seven articles about LaTeX
– the document markup language and preparation system for TeX (66 pages in total). I published them in the issues 10–12/1999, 1–2/2000, and 4/2000 of LinuxPlus
(at present LINUX+
) – the best Polish-language Linux-oriented monthly magazine. The sixth part of the series has not been published so far. (Now I published these articles here
for the educational purposes only – they are written in Polish: do not download them unless you know Polish language.)
In 2000 I changed my job – I started to work as a leading editor in CHIP Special Linux
– a Linux-oriented Polish-language quarterly magazine (it was closed in 2005). During the ending phases of the work on the consecutive issues I worked on Mac OS
. From winter 2000 to spring 2005 the publishing house where I worked published 18 issues of that quarterly magazine – each consisting of 100 or 116 pages including the cover (before I started to work there the publisher had managed to publish merely 3 issues during two years).
In the same time I installed a new version of Red Hat and I was very disappointed with the boot procedures and the look-and-feel of the default desktop. So I tried Mandrake Linux
and it was horrible as well. I stated that the things started to go towards the wrong direction and in such a case there are just two Linux distributions which could meet my needs: Debian and Slackware. I tried Slackware Linux
7.0 as the first one and I was very glad so I stayed with it. I installed it on my machines at work and at home. My main tool was StarOffice
replaced soon by OpenOffice.org
. Some time ago I switched to LibreOffice
but I was more and more disappointed with its consecutive versions and when 18.104.22.168 appeared I came back to Apache OpenOffice.org. I referred to that in the thread Civilization totters
In CHIP Special Linux
5(53)/2002 (summer edition of July 2002) I described Slackware 8.0 in three articles covering the system description, its installation, and configuration (12 pages in total). In CHIP Special Linux
7(65)/2002 (autumn edition of October 2002) I published an interview with Patrick J. Volkerding
interviewed by one of my authors: Jarosław Świerczyński (Pat has that issue). Unfortunately I did not save the English-language version of the interview so I can not publish it now – I have just Polish-language translation
. (Use Xpdf or Adobe Reader to read it because PDF Viewer plugin for Firefox spoils some Polish diacritics.)
Nothing has changed since 2000. I still use Slackware Linux, Window Maker, Midnight Commander, and Apache OpenOffice.org.
I still improve the configuration of my system and programs. For many years I have made a few improvements a day – each day. As a result my machines use very sophisticated configuration based on the links that start the scripts which start the other scripts which start the programs etc. I am able to do different things very quickly thanks to the keyboard shortcuts I defined or learned. I wrote also a few useful programs. Fifteen instances of wminfo
(originally written by Robert Kling and developed by me since 2011 with the help of PTrenholme and ntubski) work all the time on my Window Maker desktop.
In the meantime I tested all important Linux distributions and some other systems comparing them to Slackware and I stated that my second choice would be Arch Linux and the third choice – FreeBSD.
I published my historical desktops in the famous thread This is my Slackware desktop...
I will publish there my current desktop soon.
Now I use a few Slackware Linux machines and I administer two other Linux Mint machines used by my father and by my girlfriend. All of them are the second hand IBM/Lenovo ThinkPads
from T and X series.
I mentioned that I prefer a non-commercial software. During my lifetime I have bought just two programs. The first one is “Collins English-Polish and Polish-English Dictionary”
by YDP (I use it with ydpdict
console overlay by Wojtek Kaniewski – I wrote some patches to his program and he included them). The other is “The New Kosciuszko Foundation Dictionary”
by Universitas (I use it with Wine and I have just started the cooperation with its editor in order to help improve the next edition of that dictionary).
As for the computing I taught it myself – I studied philosophy (my master’s thesis was on Wittgenstein’s Tractatus
) and then I worked for six years as an assistant in two colleges: in the University of Fine Arts and in the University in my home city.
Now you understand better the background of my post #8 and my any other post as well.