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Me and IT

Posted 08-08-2008 at 08:20 AM by brianL

What better time to start a blog than after a sleepless night? It shuts down the rational left hemisphere, and gives the creative right hemisphere full rein. That's my excuse, anyway. I think blogs should be about anything and everything of interest to the blogger. And this one will be. Naturally, I'll start with:

Me and IT
I'm a late starter. Before 2002, I didn't own a computer, knew next to nothing about them, and didn't care about them. I was 57, unemployed, and jobs in engineering were almost extinct. So I enrolled for some free IT courses with Learndirect: using a computer, the internet, word-processing, spreadsheets, and databases. You could stay at their centres as long as you wanted, using their computers. I'd finish my course work and then surf the web, gradually finding my interest growing. I became fascinated by programming: all the different languages. I started reading magazines and books. I was bitten. Why didn't I get into this years, decades, ago?
I bought my first computer, a cheap, reconditioned one running Windows ME (yuk!) in 2003. Got a book - optimistically titled "Teach Yourself C++ In 24 Hours" - and in the back was a CD-ROM, and on that CD were two compilers: Dev-C++, and DJGPP. But DJGPP is more than just a compiler, it was my introduction to the whole GNU toolchain. A pile of zip files, think I installed almost everything. Next I installed Cygwin. Read bits here and there about this other operating system - uh, Linux? Read about dual-booting - dangerous, they said. Late 2004, bought Linux Format magazine. There was a couple of CDs stuck on it, on the insert it said: "milestone release of one of the original linux distros" and "Slackware" "version 10". Never heard of it. In the magazine were brief installation instructions. A nanoseconds hesitation - shall I? Yeah! Resized Windows with a Knoppix CD (off another magazine), and dived in. I think it was more good luck than good management, but everything went OK. Shortly after, Linux Format and W.H.Smiths began putting out special editions of the mag with a linux distro and a full guide to installation and running. Off went Slackware, on went Mandriva 2005 LE. Off went Mandriva, on went Fedora Core 5. Off went Fedora, on went Debian "Sarge". Back on went Slackware. Distrohoppophilia - the first outbreak. January, 2006, joined LQ.
Decided to get another, better, computer. Bought an OEM Windows XP Pro. to put on it, abandoned GNU/Linux for a while. But, once bitten always bitten. Distrohoppophilia - the 2nd outbreak!!! An orgy of CD burning, installation, and deletion! Slackware 11, Zenwalk, Ubuntu, Debian, Slackware 11, Vector, Fedora, OpenSuse, Slackware 11, Ubuntu, Slackware 11, Slackware 11...Slackware 12....12.1. Got rid of XP about 2 weeks ago - no regrets. Now Slackware 12.1 shares with Debian testing, and there's room for one more. Could it be Arch? I think that combination would give a good contrast.

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