Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn

Justifying the New Royalty

Spreadsheets are not quite as scary as I thought. They're just .. data-laden, with very little interesting theory that I was missing out on. I still wish that GNUmeric had a nice Perl interface (maybe it does?) that feels like the Perl plug-ins people can write for GIMP, because although it's fast to do a lot of things using the GUI spreadsheet interface, doing anything complex is a major PITA. I think today's spreadsheets are a very half-baked idea -- anything slightly more complex and one would want to use a database, and much more complex, a programming language tied to that database (perl+postgres, anyone?). I feel sorry for people who master spreadsheets and use them for a living, because to do what they do, they have to have at least a spark of programmer nature to them, but it must always remain a lonely candle in a wide field. This fits into one of my general thoughts about computers -- they are not and never will be just another appliance. To paint them as such is to give up on the revolutionary power they give people -- programs should try to present their data as openly as possible for people to do what makes sense to them. A powerful user is not very different from a programmer -- empowered users should be able to write their own glue to toss their data around in ways that program developers don't explicitly plan for. If I can't decide to glue together any set of programs by rules I decide, then something is broken.

All this fits into the Unix mentality, but it is not exclusive to it, and more importantly, the unix commandline is only the beginning. There are probably ways to provide yet more power to users that would require non-API-compatible changes, and those are where systems research should be going.

Anyhow, apart from doing spreadsheet stuff for my Bioinformatics homework, I am now seriously starting to pack up my apartment in preparation to move. I'm learning to shed my inhibitions about throwing away books -- some books are simply outdated and not worth keeping (that nobody would want to buy or take either). The same part of me that prevents me from tossing books makes me horrified to see a pile of books in the trash, but I'm getting slightly less sentimental about such things. Likewise, I swore that the next time I was moving, I would be either buying a place here, or leaving the country. I guess that didn't happen as I thought. I can't afford to buy squat (apart from retirement stuff, I have less than $10k in the bank), rent increases are uncool, and I'm not quite ready to leave the country. .. I keep hoping to be swept off my feet by love with someone else who's up for adventure, and heading off on these things with her. .. Maybe I'll be waiting forever if I keep thinking this way though. .. There are some people I would date, but some of them are taken, others are uninterested, and others, I have come to conclude wouldn't be right for me. I don't feel inclined to meet someone new right now either. Meh. I'm also filling/sorting/reorganising my memory boxes. As the years go by, it's funny sometimes to look back and see who I was. I'd like to photo everything inside all 4 of them, and explain their significance.. sometime. SUPPLEMENTAL: The giant lidded/sealed/hard plastic containers that I buy my cat litter in are not horribly ecologically stupid as I thought after all (I've been saving them, as a hunch) -- they're awesome to pack things in (once washed out) for moving! Hurrah!

My accordion should arrive tomorrow. I am rather excited!

Oh, here's a rather funny/unfortunate pic from a recent KGB meeting.

For the curious, I've tossed together a program that lists all the images referenced in my BLOG as links. See here for a link. If any of the files up there really shouldn' be up there, I'll trust one of you to let me know so I can take it down.

Tags: tech

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