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Descent Into Linux (Part Two)

JonKatz posted more than 15 years ago | from the Nowhere-To-Run dept.

News 280

Part Two of Two. (Interested in Part One?) Lots of people told me the truth about what Linux was like. But I still didn't get it. Linux has nothing to with software or technology. It's a test of the human spirit. I have a better feel for all those macho geeks who've been flaming me. If I survive this, I just might singe a few newbies myself. In part two, the road to Linux brings us a mangled computer, a slobbering dog, and takes us to CompUSA, the literal embodiment of Computer Hell.

I should have known it wouldn't be so easy, because one of the laws of technology is that it never is. There's rarely such a thing as getting a computer, turning it on, and having everything work right out of the box. It's never happened to me, not with any of my dozen-or-so computers, not even with my beloved Macs.

Still, I was excited. I cleared the dining room table and carefully opened the smaller box. My wife had warned that the delivery service had dropped the box on the porch. "Ooops," the driver had said, laughing, as the box tumbled off the dolly.

When I pulled the computer tower out of the box, its case came off right in my hands. The guts of the computer, rattling around inside, spilled out all over the floor - the modem, the motherboard, six or seven screws, and the ribbons I later learned should be attached to the hard drive. The metal shelf on which the hard drive was resting was bent by at least two inches. The outer case was so damaged it didn't fit over the computer. It looked like the drop on the porch wasn't the only one. Maybe the term Open Source was to be taken literally.

I'd rarely seen the insides of a computer before, and was mesmerized even as I watched the parts of my box scatter across the floor. My yellow lab Stanley scarfed up the motherboard and paraded around with it proudly for a minute or two, as if it were a downed duck or quail, until I pried it out of his slobbery mouth.

I could have just sent the whole thing back to IIS, I suppose, but it wasn't their fault, and I had come too far to wait another few weeks. I was edging towards obsession. I stuffed everything back into the box and drove to the nearest CompUSA. Only extreme desperation drove me there.

To me, CompUSA is computer Hell in its literal incarnation. Everything about the place is designed to insult, alienate or abandon customers. There are few salespeople, and they rarely know a thing about computers. Most try to duck the hapless, overwhelmed, increasingly frustrated customers who get shunted from pointless line to pointless line, and wind up begging total strangers for help. The chain isn't satisfied to make buying computers and equipment a brutal experience; playing for what you buy is just as hard. CompUSA works to ensure that there are always too few cashiers, and they're apparently required to be hostile and mono-syllabic. I'm happier buying a used car from the sleaziest dealer than buying a toner cartridge at CompUSA.

Until I went to one of the Fry's electronics stores during a trip to California, I didn't know that computer salespeople even could be helpful.

The service manager of the Tech Support department at this particular CompUSA store had always been happy to take tons of my money for my various Mac crises and repairs, but he took one look at the carnage I pulled out of the box and practically tossed me out of the store. "No way I'm touching that," he said.

"How come?" I thought PC's were supposed to be easier to repair than Macs. "It's got Linux on it," I offered hopefully.

He shrugged. "I don't know Linux. I don't want to work on it." I hadn't even told him about the dog slobber.

By now, the plastic front had come off as well, and the motherboard and modem were rattling at the bottom of the machine. People in the long line behind me were picking up screws as they bounced off the floor and handing them to me.

"Do you know any other place I could take it?" I asked.

"Nope," he said.

Discouraged, I thought I'd have to send my Linux box back even before I turned it on, but before I retreated, I remembered that I was out of computer paper. I stuffed the mess into a shopping cart and rolled it towards the paper aisle.

At which point, I spotted a CompUSA employee in a red shirt moving rapidly down one of the aisles, a middle-aged geek with a beard and glasses. (I don't know how, but I have some metaphysical chemistry with geeks. They know me; I know them.) Without even being asked, he came over to see what strange object I had in my cart. No one at CompUSA has ever been helpful when I asked, let alone when I didn't. I was amazed.

"What you got there?" he asked, fascinated, in the way any true geek would be at the sight of an exposed computer. I told him what had happened, and he shook his head. "They could fix this. I've seen this before. Shipping problems."

Looking around, he motioned me over to the farthest aisle where his boss couldn't see. In a minute, we were both down on the floor, where he had pulled the Pentium from its cardboard box and spread it and all its parts on the floor. He did know Linux. Soon, two or three geeks had gathered around, watching, kibbitzing, offering advice.

"Let's see," he said, "let me slip the board in'the modem goes here?" He picked up the screws and attached the monitor connection, then bent the casing with his hands, all the while looking around warily for his boss. It was a good board, he said, and good modem too. "He'd kill me if he was me doing this," he said. I said I understood; from what I'd seen at CompUSA, helping customers was probably a firing offense.

"You better have this looked at it," he said. "This is really a mess, but nothing much appears to be broken. And it's good stuff." The plastic on -off switch snapped off in my hands - "maybe a touch of Crazy Glue," he said. The housing for the hard drive needed to be straightened, he said.

I was stunned at the guy's helpfulness, and grateful. He slapped me on the back, and we shook hands. I nearly hugged him.

I put the more-or-less reassembled machine back into the box, and drove it to a small PC repair place. The tech there, a geek poster boy in Airwalks with the skin color of a fish, seemed happy to take it in; he'd clearly seen worse. He told he'd once gotten a motherboard a dog had actually chewed.

Oddly, none of this has discouraged me. I've been spending the last few months traveling around the country for a book, interviewing geeks. They live for crises like this, and I can hear their voices in my head: all problems are solvable, be confident and patient, figure it out, stick with it.

I e-mailed one of the most resourceful, Jesse Dailey, in Chicago and told him what happened. A young man of carefully chosen words who rarely expresses emotion, he was moved, deeply sympathetic. "It's a bit like having a sick pet in a way," he counseled. "Gotta keep your hopes up and keep praying for it."

So, I'm still descending the road to Linux, stalled a bit, humbled, bloody but unbowed. Still using Microsoft Word and my Mac. Waiting for my machine to get fixed, I've started on "Running Linux." I like it. It's clear from the preface that this is a book - and project - for me.

"We invite you to dive in, enjoy yourself, be the first on your block to know what it means to tweak your dot clocks and rdev your kernel image," write the authors.

Linux, they say, is something of a rebellion against the world of commercial software, although an unplanned and disorganized kind of insurrection.

"You must expect the unexpected," write Welsh and Kaufman. "You must always yield to the driving force behind free software: that being the desire - no, need - to develop and maintain the most succinct and powerful system anywhere. To put it in a nutshell: you must hack."

Linux, they say, is something of a rebellion against the world of commercial software, although an unplanned and disorganized kind of insurrection.

"You must expect the unexpected," write Welsh and Kaufman. "You must always yield to the driving force behind free software: that being the desire - no, need - to develop and maintain the most succinct and powerful system anywhere. To put it in a nutshell: you must hack."

So okay, I'm ready for the unexpected and ready -- past ready -- to hack.

Alex, the PC tech fixing the box, just called to say putting the Linux box back together again was possible. A tech from IIS had called him to help him run through the system. He said I needed a new case, a new on/off switch and some new screws. It would cost $173. But he thought the modem and board were fine. He thought it would work. I didn't ask about the dog slobber.

And oh, he asked, what was Linux like? He'd heard a lot about it.

I don't know, I said. I've never seen it.

you can e-mail me at

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Enjoying this, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2035124)

You've *got* to let someone proofread before you post. I think it's all well and good to have 'professionals' freelancing/moonlighting on Slashdot, but the informal medium is no excuse for not checking your work. Transposed letters, duplicated paragraphs -- gods, man! Ask *one* person to read it before you post it, and spare yourself the inevitable grief!

Rarely seen the inside??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2035125)

As one of Katz's seemingly few supporters here, I'm stunned to read that he's "rarely" seen the inside of a computer before. I had no idea that he was THAT computer ignorant. Apparently he's just a user who can write somewhat well. *sigh*

What you talking 'bout Willis? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2035126)

"I'd rarely seen the insides of a computer before" says Jon.

What are you doing on Slashdot Jon? Hey I'm not a hardware guy either. It's not that I'm not interested but the whole area changes so quickly and buying hardware to play with is expensive.

But you've rarely seen the insides of a computer? The neighbour's cat knows what the insides of a PC look like.

Hello? Earth to Jon.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2035127)

Jon...have you a *clue*?

The delivery guy said, "oops", when it fell off the dolly? The answer is, "hello, delivery co, you broke what you delivered. You're liable...."

And they *are*


what a dope (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2035128)

The more this guy writes, the more he supports my theory that there are just some people who should never own a computer.

When a box comes in like that, you immediately send it back. Let IIS and UPS sort it out.

If the thing was so damaged that the motherboard was not attached to the case and screws had come out and danced across the floor, it most certainly was IIS's fault. No amount of bouncing the box around by UPS trained monkeys is enough to cause that kind of trouble.

I know, but it's getting ridiculous! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2035129)

Jon talked about installing Linux 2 months ago... and in the 100s of lines of text he's submitted, I have yet to find any evidence that he's logged on yet! I know it's hard. I know it can be daunting for a newbie. But it's not THAT hard. And he bought a pre-assembled (and subsequently disassembled) computer with Linux ALREADY ON IT! And he's still not there. I guess it's a lot of bad luck, but I'm just amazed that a resourceful person couldn't get this task achieved in a couple of months...

I dunno, I was supporting Jon a while ago, but this is just getting out of hand. I'm all for helping newbies get started - I've done it several times, and I'm generally pretty patient. But I think I've decided to read any more of his articles... I'll grind my teeth down...

Red shirts take CompUSA by storm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2035130)

Are you sure the helpful gentleman was an actual employee? I've known a few people who, and I've been known to myself, go into CompUSA wearing a red shirt of roughly the same fabric and weight as their shirts, and spend a half-hour to an hour being genuinely helpful to customers. So far, I've never been escorted out of the building for this, but I have heard of it happening.

I have gotten to understand part of the various computer seller's problem, though; it's hard to design a computer system for someone who doesn't know what they want.

(Yes, CompUSA does have a few rare competent employees. However, from what I hear, if the employee is out on the floor, they tend to run them off ASAP. Competent employees can actually last a month or two, sometimes up to a year, and on rare occasion longer, if they work away from the customers.)

Flaiming Jon Katz (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2035131)

Allright all you ignorant fucks out there.
This has gone too far. Jon Katz is giving us the
publicity we need to topple over Microsoft and
gain general acceptance. With his help (and the help of many others) Linux will be viewed as a mainstream OS and not an 'alternative' one.

I'm sick of all you bashing Jon Katz' articles. He's a writer. He's writing. He's doing what he does, and there's nothing wrong with it. This is a story about his quest thus far in working with Linux, and if the content of the article isn't what you'd like it to be, print out a copy of it and shove it up your ass. Don't complain to him, don't put him down for it.

He's doing a Good Thing(tm). And maybe he should proofread his work before posting it, that's up to him.

The story is titled 'Descent into Linux' which is about his efforts in OBTAINING, and setting up of a Linux box.

I'm sick of you morons arguing semantics (sic?). If you don't like it, DON'T FUCKING READ IT.

- synthpunk

nicely made up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2035132)

Is this
a) written by Art Buchwald ?
b) the latest M$ PR gag ?
c) a test how many short stories JK can make up writing about how he NOT
touched Linux ?
d) for real ? (I dont believe it.)

:-) Joerg

CompUSA Blows (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2035133)

NEVER EVER go to CrapUSA unless you know *exactly* what you want. Even then, assumimng that have it on the shelf, it will cost $10 bucks more than anywhere else.

I went to a CrapUSA store in the Chicago suburbs to buy a game, and the cashier took a personal phone call at the register while he was attempting to ring up my purchase. He stopped to talk to his buddy on the phone, and was pissed when I got in his face to tell him that he wasn't finished with me.

I'm pissed at myself for not throwing a fit right then and there and causing a big scene...But there's always next time.


He's making it all up! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2035134)

Jon, you've fooled me 'till now. But your latest story is clearly fiction, or at least a "very creative rewriting" of whatever (if anything at all) happened. I wonder why I didn't notice before.

But anyway, you are good at it, keep it up, make sure your fictional self never gets to running Linux. It's much better that way.

A Mac will do that to you (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2035135)

I learned all my computer building skills from a Mac. Sure, you can't go out and buy a replacement motherboard but you sure can replace RAM, HDDs, Floppy disk drives, batteries, PCI cards, Nubus cards, Comm slot cards, etc....I always liked Apple's pullout motherboard.

"so sad" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2035136)

this katz guy is unbelievable

for what reason he thinks he belongs, i will never know. he's not just an idiot about computers, he's just an idiot.

No Subject Given (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2035137)

There seems to be a general lack of sense of humor. Katz' story reminds me of Dave Barry, although I wouldn't claim it is quite THAT funny. The point I expect he will eventually make is that Linux can be learned and used by a typical, GUI-preferring casual computer buff is he or she is willing to put some effort into it.

People who try to communicate with a vocabulary consisting of "moron", "idiot", "asshole", "you suck", etc. are generally ignored.

What audience is this possibly written for? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2035138)

This article belongs somewhere else, if anywhere at all. What audience is this guy Katz writing for? What is he telling us? Why is this article posted here?

Cliche after Cliche after Cliche. "road to linux" "geek" "blah blah blah" "advice from the net" "blah blah blah."

What does this guy want to do with a computer that his Mac won't do, but Linux will? I just don't get it.

Explain anyone?

Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2035139)

Maybe if Jon ever gets the balls, he can just install linux on his Mac. I run LinuxPPC, and I am so pleased with it! I never boot MacOS or BE anymore. PowerPCs rule the universe!... even if MacOS is a little cheesey.

BTW... I like reading Jon's articles. He tells a good story, and I do identify with his CompUSA tribulations. (I guess they train you to be assholes there, I dunno). I hope he sticks around, even after being scorched and cindered by socially inept geeks. (What? You don't know emacs yet?)

Anyway, you can't blame him for trying to be properly prepared. That's how you do things in the PC world - you read the books carefully, and then you run the software. In the Linux world, however, documentation is meant mostly as reference material than tutorials. The best way to learn Linux is just to jump right in, without the fear of screwing stuff up (messing up is part of the learning process. It's a good thing). Go ahead, Jon. Just jump right in. Grab your RedHat or Debian CD and run with it. The worst that'll happen is that you'll do something to mess it up to the point of having to reinstall. Big deal. That's what having a non-critical learning machine is all about. After blowing your system up and reinstalling once or twice, you'll have the skills neccessary to keep a system up for months on end without reboot. (An uptime of ~4 months for me, folks, which will change once kernel 2.2 is finallized. ; )

(For the record, I've reinstalled 95 / 98 like four times. The registry is the most horrid, nasty, convoluted piece of garbage known to man. It's actually much easier to keep a Linux system healthy for a long period of time than it is for a 95 / 98 system - once you have the basics down.)

Have Fun.

What is wrong with you? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2035140)

Jon Katz is giving us the publicity we need to topple over Microsoft

What are you talking about? Who wants to topple microsoft? Who wants moronic publicity?

I don't understand this relatively new opinion that slashdot is the town square for the revolution. And I don't understand this idea that we should encourage idiots to use linux. And I don't understand why the results of this encouragement are reported on slashdot. Nor why intelligent, technical readers would be interested.

I come here to find links to articles of interest. What does Jon Katz want to do with his computer and why is his drivel about butterfinger deliverymen described here on slashdot and most interestingly, why are you supporting this kind of crap?

He's a writer. He's writing. He's doing what he does

Brilliant-- let's post his writing on slashdot ???

Enjoying this, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2035141)

Yes, I agree. Your spelling was atrocious. Proofraeding is not that dificult.

Craking the case... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2035142)

On some of the first Macs (now refered to as Classic Macs), you actually had to break the case to open it. I remember the first time I upgraded the memory of one, you needed to use a special tool to 'crack' it properly, if you just pryed at it with a screw driver you would damaged the case.

These were definetely not user-serviciable (unless the user happened to be a hardware geek of course ;-)

No Subject Given (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2035143)

>Linux has nothing to with software or technology

This is the crux of the problem I have with Jon. He's not interested in Linux at all. He's interested in things that he things are somehow subversive. He's interested in Linux for political reasons.

And that's a damn stupid reason to be interested in a technology. And it's the reason he hasn't had any success. I got interested in Linux because I wanted to learn about the inner workings of UNIX and of computers. Like Jon, I had rarely seen the inside of a PC. Know what? I opened it up and there was nothing even remotely scary in there. (Okay, there were a couple of dust puppies, but everyone knows they're friendly.) I installed new hardware. I booted the CD and got the thing running Linux.

Why was I able to make a go of things where Jon wasn't? Because I understand that the core issue here is software and technology, not politics. I wanted to see what would happen. I wanted to make it work. I did and it's enormously satisfying. I wouldn't be nearly as pleased with my setup if I'd bought it from a dealer.

So here's a clue, Jon: Get a cheap old Windows machine. Boot it into DOS. Put the CD into the drive. Type D:\dosutils\autoboot.exe, and answer the questions that come up. It's that easy.

Better yet, stick with your Mac. You obviously don't need Linux, so why give yourself the headache?

-Joe Merlino

unreal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2035144)

Kind of moronic irony that the Linux community wants so much to be accepted but in actually is unwilling to accept anything (or anyone) themselves...

That dog thing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2035145)

Several conditions must've been true for that to happen:

  1. He must have a dog. (OK, this is believable)
  2. He must have a motherboard. (Oh, well)
  3. The motherboard must've been out of the case. (Only with a lot of fantasy am I able to figure out how this could happen, even with all the lose screws)
  4. The motherboard must've been at a location accessible to the dog. (On the floor perhaps? Would Jon, however ignorant he claims to be, do that? It could've be placed on the edge of a table, though.)
  5. And some conditions I've forgotten or never though of.

Is it really THAT bad? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2035146)

While this story was not 100% about Linux, or written by somebody who writes their own kernel drivers, does it really deservere the 'you suck', etc comments? A little tolerance to new users will make the transition from the crap of the wintel world to something better much easier.. but then, perhaps those that are doing the insulting know so little about linux themselves, or are so immature that they couldnt possibly help themselves, let alone an new user.

Amusing story, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2035147)

While I agree that the trials and tribulations of a PC newbie may be amusing, I don't think this story really has anything to do with its title "Descent into Linux". Are we now to believe that the average mac or windows user should be weary of trying linux because their computer may spontaneously combust? This should be titled "UPS Sucks Big Time" or "CompUSA Hires Idiots" and posted to a target audience that cares.

It's not that this article sucks. It's just that I can't figure out what it is doing here and what Jon thought we would get out of it? Where else is this story being posted? I can definately see how this could be used as low grade FUD if it fell into the wrong hands.

He's making it all up! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2035148)

Or at least a little writer's embellishment. Come on, picking up pieces off of the CompUSA floor. Ever heard of a cardboard box? Or maybe plastic bags? I might not have been an asshole like the guy who snubbed you, but I probably would have been laughing my ass off if this is indeed the way it happened.

Jon, take a deep breath, get some rest and try to start the day fresh tomorrow. Also, try looking at the glass as half full instead of half empty. Instead of falling to pieces over some loose cards (I still find it hard to believe that your whole computer was in shambles), look at it as an oppurtunity to sit down and get to know your computer. If you truly aspire to enter geekdom, then don't be afraid to get intimate with your computer. You'll also save yourself a little money as well.

what an IDIOT!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2035149)

I cant believe this guy. Its been two months and hes still complaining and bitching. No progress yet? what the hell is he doing. Can anyone in their right mind tell me what the hell this has to do with anything. Talking about ups breaking a computer??? and what the hell did they pack this computer in? Ive never heard of anything like this.

Do you all really think that when he does get it to run hes going to like it? hell probably give us some bullshit literary description about how it made him feel free and liberated....basically just shitting everything weve ever said right back at us just to fit into the crowd.

I think jon should focus on learning how to program a vcr before he trys to tackle something as complicated as a computer. Im just amazed how he ever came to write about computers in the first place.

Pot calls kettle black. Pictures at 11 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2035150)

for a typical Mac user, that would be a stretch of technical capacity
. . .

idiotic cultist statements . . . undying arrogance

thank you for providing such a helpful and convenient example of "idiotic cultist statements" and "undying arrogance".

let all slashdotters take this as a lesson: when you flame somebody for having the same flaws as you (albeit to a more moderate degree), you should always take great care to provide a good example in your own post. that way, there won't be any confusion.

as for the "test of the human spirit" thing, it's true that he hasn't gotten to that part yet with linux, but on the whole he's got a point: my own experience with linux has involved learning self-sufficiency and ingenuity the hard way. jon seems to be hitting that stage of things in a general way, even before first booting linux. fortunately, he's turning his pain into some very entertaining stories. katz is cool. he annoys me often enough that i don't feel guilty about liking him when he's good.

as for you, i can only hope that when you were learning this stuff, you were subjected to "help" from "old hands" who were as cocky, ignorant, mindless, mean-spirited, petty, and childish as you are.

that goes for the rest of the flamers, too. you're all a bunch of useless morons. your attitude would earn you a rewarding career in MS tech support, but in a free software environment it's not considered clever to be contemptible and pathetic.

explanation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2035151)

I just don't get it.

Explain anyone?

you don't "get it" because you're a loser.

hope this helps.

What's the Linux connection? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2035152)

I'm not sure I understand: what does this article have to do with Linux? Wouldn't the story be the same had he had Win95 on the machine?

Ever try "Refused/Damaged - Return to Sender"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2035153)

Doesn't matter. If you find damage once it's opened, you still contact the carrier and the place you bought it from. You don't go carting it all over town. Just because you signed for the package doesn't mean you've accepted it as is. Hell, for most stuff, UPS just dumps it on the porch, even if someone _is_ home.

Registry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2035154)

The journaled filesystem in NT makes up for the poor quality of the configuration database (registry). Although, NT still has some annoying concurrency quirks of it's own.

they want the rest of the world to join THEM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2035155)

Kind of moronic irony that the Linux community wants so much to be accepted but in actually is unwilling to accept anything (or anyone) themselves . . .

this is a brain-damaged flock of boneheads who have somehow attached themselves to free software, much like a tick on a dog. don't blame the dog for its ticks. these pinheads want everybody on earth to be just like they are, and for some bizarre reason they believe that this is not only reasonable and desirable, but also achieveable. they also mistakenly believe that they speak for the rest of us, for the ones who actually know and do cool stuff. well, they're wrong. we're secure enough in our own competence to have sympathy for people with other skills and other interests. for some of people, computers are tools, and for others, they're a way of life. for those of us way-of-lifers who have brains, computer-as-tool is just fine; in fact, when somebody uses our software as a tool without needing to grok the guts, that's a really nice thing. it shows that we're doing something right.

actually, these weenies should have more sympathy with the computer-as-tool crowd, because for the weenies, computers are nothing more than a tool to shore up their dangerously under-justified egos . . .

that having been said, let's bear in mind that it's not fair to tar the whole free software community with that brush, because the idiots are a minority. it's a vocal minority, but in practical terms it's an irrelevant one because it produces and contributes nothing.

I feel for you. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2035156)

linux is not something you "get or you don't".. i am sure the first time you installed you knew all the commands, all the ways the different distro's are configured, and how to make your printer, and scanner, and cd burner working. you know, all those things that makes a computer allegedly office-friendly? i know i didn't. i can probably speak for all of us here in saying "the first time we tried linux, we were at least a little lost", less the old-school unix guru's, with suspenders. whatever. just give him a chance, maybe one day, he'll be doing articles predominantly about linux related topics. yano?

functional illiteracy: the enormous human cost (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2035157)

if you could be bothered to read your own post, maybe you'll realize that you flamed yourself pretty badly. Pay close attention to the insults and self-righteous rhetoric. Then read your conclusion again. Oops.

unfortunately, you're totally incapable of justifying that bizarre little assertion.

as far as i can tell from your incoherent moaning, you seem to think it contradictory that i start by saying that flaming newbies is bad, and then conclude by criticizing people who do it.

learn to read. it's a useful skill, even for critters like you. you'll never be able to think, but reading will come in handy at the gas station for counting change and such.

Save your reciept. . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2035158)

Great article Jon, your comments about Comp USA and Fry's are right on.

The few times I've been to CompUSA I've also found the help to come from "fellow geeks"/customers as opposed to employees. (In the case of the guys who helped Jon, I'll categorize them as fellow geeks.) Try asking a CompUSA employee for a differential SCSI terminator and you will get a blank stare.

BTW Jon, I thought it was customary to mention which animal is on the front of an O'Reilly book :)


Surely this idiot needs to shut up already! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2035159)

So now it's Linux's fault that some computer got delivered damaged. You heard it folks! A broken computer case is analogous to Open Source.

Where do you guys get this stuff? Are so many readers here that overly-defensive...or is it just a lack of read comprehension skills?


A Mac will do that to you (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#2035160)

Umm... I have opened my PowerMac 7500/100 twice in order to install memory, and it essentially unfolded, without a single tool except my own two hands. Reminded me of those old PS/2 systems. What kind of Mac do you have?

-Mike Pelletier.

Katz, Geekdom, and Slashdot (1)

Mike Hicks (244) | more than 15 years ago | (#2035236)

Okay, Katz doesn't know a whole lot about computers.. So what? He's written tons of stuff about computers and the people that use them -- and managed to stay moderately accurate.

Every experience that he has here will let him understand more, and help him as a technology writer. I hope he'll manage to get a Linux box working, because then he'll finally be able to do something with his computer...

Maybe he'll find Perl to be fascinating, or find the multi-user paradigm to be nothing less than extremely useful. Maybe Gnome will tell him there's a better way. There are any number of things in Linux that he could one day wonder about and say, "How did I ever live without that?"

There was a day sometime in the past when each of us didn't know anything about computers. I hope everyone can try to remember back to that time, and decide to help Jon a little more. Please, guys, don't bicker. A lot of Slashdotters like reading his articles, even if some don't. If you don't want to read his stuff, don't make (too many) comments about it.


CompUSA (1)

Falrick (528) | more than 15 years ago | (#2035238)

The only time that I've ever seen the inside of CompUSA was when I was looking for an audio cable for my CD-ROM to sound card. I found one, but didn't buy it. They were asking $22.

Human Spirit my ass. (1)

DaBuzz (878) | more than 15 years ago | (#2035250)

Linux has nothing to with software or technology. It's a test of the human spirit.

It's just a friggin OPERATING SYSTEM. How much of a "test of the human spirit" is inserting a BOOTABLE Red Hat CD-ROM and turning on the damn machine? (Granted for a typical Mac user, that would be a stretch of technical capacity.)

It's idiotic cultist statements like that which contribute to the undying arrogance of this so called "community".

CD-Boot (1)

DaBuzz (878) | more than 15 years ago | (#2035251)

But how many typical Mac users have ever RE-INSTALLED their OS after they got their system? I can venture a guess of not very many at all.

Call me and I will help. ( also to the flamers ) (1)

Damon C. Richardson (913) | more than 15 years ago | (#2035253)

If its your dime I will stay on the phone and walk you through the install of redhat or slackware.

To the flamers:
Wow you guys suck. I have no idea why any of you think your so damn great. If Bill Gates him self wanted help with a linux issue we should help. Not do our best to belittle everyone that does not get it the first, second, third, or even the fourth time.
You guys almost make me ashamed to be a linux user.
This guy is not giving linux a bad rap. You are!!! My guess is that the flamers have bigger egos than real technical skills.

If anything these are issues that need to be addressed. Not a user problem. I would be fired if I said "Well it's not my code. The users are idiots." Instead of railing on him and filling his e-mail box with insults you should be e-mailing him offering help.

Linux is a operating system not a elite club of ego-maniac's.

Ever try "Refused/Damaged - Return to Sender"? (1)

Eccles (932) | more than 15 years ago | (#2035254)

>Yes, it is right to refuse a damaged package, but once a member of your house accepts it, it is yours.

I once got a computer back from repair, opened the box, and the CPU had fallen out.

I filed a complaint with UPS, and they paid for return and repair.

Fun Friday read (1)

mackga (990) | more than 15 years ago | (#2035256)

Well, since I got my boxes backed-up, and still haven't gotten the okay for the hardware for that trinux network monitor I want to set up - cool packgae BTW - this was just right for a Friday read. Funny, overall. Could be titled "How I fucked up a 2-car funeral".

What I like about Jon's postings is that they always provoke spirited responses; the other reason I read /. so often. So, keep writing, Jon, I'll read it all, and the entertaining responses you incite!

don't be dense (1)

demon (1039) | more than 15 years ago | (#2035257)

Aye, it's enough to make me wonder anyway. As many other people have said, no sane person would EVER accept an obviously-damaged product from a shipper! It shouldn't even be opened (any more than it already is on reciept of course - happens when things get dropped/squashed/etc), the carrier should immediately be told "This is damaged, return it NOW."

Great article (1)

Sanity (1431) | more than 15 years ago | (#2035260)

I think your experience with the geek at the computer shop illustrates perfectly (as I am sure you intended it to) the geek solidarity upon which the whole OpenSource movement is founded, Linux, of course, being its lynch-pin. I think some people, myself included, have a drive towards engeneering good, well designed, well ordered, things that we can be proud of. Those interested in this should check out "Zen and the art of Motorcycle Maintenance". Most of the software that drives todays computers was not written in this spirit, however Linux was - that is the fundimental difference between Linux and Windows.


Surely this idiot needs to shut up already! (1)

Kaz Kylheku (1484) | more than 15 years ago | (#2035262)

So now it's Linux's fault that some computer got delivered damaged. You heard it folks! A broken computer case is analogous to Open Source.

The windbag has written so much about software that he has admittedly never *seen*, not to mention never *used*, it simply *boggles* the mind!

What is next? A book? I can just see it: _Avoiding Linux_, 900 pages of rant with (badly scratched) CD-ROM.

*SIGH* (1)

jd (1658) | more than 15 years ago | (#2035266)

The guy is having trouble with his computer. He compliments us computer geeks for being FRIENDLY, and gets a flamethrower shoved in his face for his efforts.

Ummm, hello??? I know I have the damnest time taking a compliment, but even I have never waged World War III over being told that REAL computer people can be kind, considerate and helpful!

You don't know much about writers (1)

marcus (1916) | more than 15 years ago | (#2035268)

>So far Jon's writing in his spare time

There's no such thing for a writer. They'll do almost anything, any way, to expand their audience.

They're kinda like hackers only they write in a "natural" human language rather than code. Just as you or I will get a thrill from making a few deft tweaks to the code to get a performance boost or to squash a bug, "writers" love to have people read their stuff. So they write some more. Even when folks give bad reviews, flame and scorch them for their poor work, they know that someone read their stuff and get a thrill.

Unfortunately, he doesn't seem to be very good at presenting his work. I mean really, if wrote code the way that he writes English, I'd never have gotten anything to compile!

Computer fell off more than just Katz's porch? (1)

Brian Ristuccia (2238) | more than 15 years ago | (#2035271)

Sometimes, passing the UPS depot on the way to school I'll see UPS trucks moving with the rear door open. On more than one occasion I've seen boxes on the ground near the depot's driveway or dragging behind trucks. If this isn't bad enough, I'm sure you've all seen the episode of the 20/20 news show where Barbara Walters, the show's anchorperson, makes all kinds of funny faces while she watches UPS employees stomp open packages at christmas time in order to steal stuff.

To all those who argue Katz's computer was ill-assembled, remember that a trip off the back of a UPS truck at 35mph would destroy even the original IBM AT steel case. Who knows how many flights of stairs, loading docks or trucks the computer fell off before the delivery person dropped it off Katz's porch.

Is Jon Katz just an MS troll? (1)

GreenPickles (2275) | more than 15 years ago | (#2035272)

Do you pay attention to the world around you! Jeeze this world up until recently was and is dominated by Microsoft! The most easily accessable stuff anywhere is by Microsoft. Don't flame Katz for being a Microsoft user, hell I bet you were at one point in your life. Also he's trying to get out of using proprietary software by switching to linux. So use a little sympathy.

Don't give up yet! (1)

backtick (2376) | more than 15 years ago | (#2035273)

So, this seems to be turning into a terrible situation. Just remember, until you start installing Linux, it ain't Linux's fault :-)

I feel for you Jon. I've just had to perform major surgery on 2 of my Linux machines after one of them experienced a serious thrombosis of the CPU, and the other quickly offered to give some spare parts for a transplant. *sniff* That little guy is so noble...

compu-guts (1)

tgd (2822) | more than 15 years ago | (#2035279)

I have a Linux system that handles my voicemail, firewalling, and home automation at home that's running in worse shape than it sounds your computer arrived in. Motherboard and powersupply sitting on a shelf, no case. Harddrive on its back next to it, piece of paper keeping things from shorting and a floppy drive taped to the top of it. Couldn't find the connectors for the serial ports so the modem shucked its case and is hardwired to the serial port through a ribbon cable.

Looks sort of like something out of that movie Pi.


UPS/FedEX (1)

cbj (3130) | more than 15 years ago | (#2035284)

I find that things which are sent via regular ground delivery, when they are big like computers, are heavily handled. Things sent via next day or 2nd day air are almost always in perfect condition. This costs too much with 60lb monitors of course. Lesson of the day for those that don't know, inspect packages delivered to you before signing for them. Most geeks love to get a deal and they don't take crap from delivery companies.
Katz, isn't there a LUG (Linux User Group) somewhere near you? You really need the help.

Not descent... (1)

richieb (3277) | more than 15 years ago | (#2035286)


You're climbing up to Linux, not descending. Descent would be if you had to go to Win98... :-)


UPS not at fault? Give me a break. (1)

Lamont (3347) | more than 15 years ago | (#2035287)

No amount of bouncing the box around by UPS trained monkeys is enough to cause that kind of trouble.

Wrong. You have obviously never seen UPS in action, because if you had, you would not make such a silly statement. I used to do customer service for a computer reseller, and if you'd seen some of the f'd up stuff UPS has done to our shipments, you'd agree with me.

My guess is the bad handling by UPS snapped the standoffs that hold the MoBo right off the case.

A Mac will do that to you - Troll (1)

Lamont (3347) | more than 15 years ago | (#2035288)

I once had to take out memory from a Mac. It took me half an hour.

Then you must be one slow ass installer. Since
you don't bother to say what Mac it was, I'll
just assume you didn't know what the F you were doing.

I've installed memory in just about every Mac model every made, and I can not recall a single instance where I had to remove the processor to install memory.

As for removing "internal structures", so what? Like you've never had to do that on a PC? I know I have....

Hypocrisy (1)

Lamont (3347) | more than 15 years ago | (#2035289)

It's idiotic cultist statements like that which contribute to the undying arrogance of this so called "community".

You mean like your needless slam against Mac users?

Katz improving (1)

warmcat (3545) | more than 15 years ago | (#2035291)

This is the first Katz article where I read every paragraph without skipping. Maybe having a beginning flowing towards an end was the missing ingredient.

Nothing to do with Linux (1)

dew (3680) | more than 15 years ago | (#2035292)

It's okay writing, but the worst part about the story is that he somehow equates "The Linux Experience" with receiving a broken computer from UPS -- he seems to think that this is all part of the esoteric Linux community; but could this very thing not have happened to, say, a Gateway with Win98 preinstalled? Really, this has nothing to do with Linux. Please don't equate bad UPS shipping with OpenSource...

BTW, always ship ocmputers FedEx: UPS is well-known for their "computer abuse" -- they've knocked a few screws loose from my computer, too...
David E. Weekly (dew)

Jeez, can't you people show a little sympathy? (1)

James McP (3700) | more than 15 years ago | (#2035293)

C'mon folks, you're doing what linux geeks world wide are accused of: seeing someone having trouble and then poking fun because they don't know what's wrong. Let's show a little class.

So far Jon's writing in his spare time, on a project he's undertaken at readers' (Re: us) requests that's turned into a fiasco he's funding out of his own pocket. Wouldn't you want to rant and rave about the grief you suffered before you even got to start the real job?

He's an admitted Mac guy and you're surprised when he's not familiar with the inside of his PC. I've seen MCSE's who couldn't figure out how to put a harddrive in a PC. You don't HAVE to know hardware to know software. (But you're right, it does help.)

Next, he takes it to CompUSA. Why? So he can run Linux RIGHT NOW! Anybody willing to spend that kind of cash (and knows their spending it) deserves a little support so he doesn't bail. And yeah, $173 to replace a case is a bit steep, but I figure $85 for the case, $25-$35/hr for the tech and about 3 hours of time to move and test each piece of hardware; testing being the time consuming part.

Now, let's play nice with Jon in the future and maybe we can prevent a blurb in his final article stating "The linux community mocked and ridiculed my every effort and should be treated as raving lunatics."

are you kidding? (1)

Lurking Grue (3963) | more than 15 years ago | (#2035294)

Great story, but what's up with this statement?

> Until I went to one of the Fry's electronics stores during a trip to California, I didn't know that computer salespeople even could be helpful.

When shopping at either store, I assume that I am on my own. When I'm at CompUSA I can actually purchase things. (And return them if necessary.) At Fry's, they have the hardest time completing a transaction.

I'm confused as to how Fry's can be considered helpful under any circumstance.

I'm enjoying this (1)

mikemcc (4795) | more than 15 years ago | (#2035303)

Thanks for writing, Jon.
I'm enjoying your comical adventures.

F**k Fry's! I shop over the Web. (1)

David R. Miller (4879) | more than 15 years ago | (#2035304)

I try never to shop at Fry's. Selection is lousy and they sell broken stuff that has been returned who knows how many times as new.

There is no way that they check the motherboards, cards, software, etc. that they place back on the shelves with those blue and white stickers showing the return date.

Shopping the Web gives infinite selection, often comparable or better price (even with shipping) and BETTER customer service. I built my wife's current computer entirely with mail order components, and it's a screaming machine!

It's really cool to be married to a woman who appreciates raw computer power.

nice story (1)

datazone (5048) | more than 15 years ago | (#2035309)

Nice story, but what did it have to do with linux?

Look, i have nothing against folks trying to learn something new, but you got to be able to call a cat: "a cat", and a dog: "a dog". I have grown up not taking crap from no one, nor allowing someone to string me along. No matter how much you may want to see this guy install linux, or here his long "story" about installing it (without actually doing anything) this may not actually be the place for it. You can say what you want, but scroll back up to the top of this page, and see what it says in the title. "Slashdot: News for Nerds. Stuff that matters." If his last three or four articles were shortened into one, and then there was actually a part about linux in it, then it would fit, but all i see so far is a ploy by someone to become a part of the "hip" crowd. Linux is an OS, nothing more nothing less. There are many ways you can use linux, the most common way is as a tool to get a specific job done. However, the so called "linux community" is mostly made up of people who uses linux as an all in one swiss army knife. You cannot become a member of this club, because there is no sign up fees or registration forms, you can't ask to join, or tell folks that you are a member. You will know that you belong when you can contribute something back to the community and/or to others. This can be in simple things as helping others learn linux, writing software, donating your money or time to different projects or just being nice to others and providing accurate information about linux. You don't even need to use linux to be a part of the "linux community."

My only advice for you is this:
If you want to install linux, do it for the right reasons, not because you feel pressured to do it. Because you will resent the entire experience and it will leave you feeling hurt and resentful. And i suggect that if you do write another article, please focus on the title of your topic, else you will be fooling your readers into expecting something that you are not providing. And this is considered to be the worst form of writing. So, heed my advice.

CompUSA (1)

Vertigo1 (5415) | more than 15 years ago | (#2035311)

Oh MY God.. SOmeone else who wondered why they were charging $22 for a CDROM Audio cable.. I went across the street to Computer City (before the buyout) and bought one for $4. This was the exact same part smae manufacturer and brand name. CompUSA Sucks.

A Mac will do that to you - Troll (1)

ewhac (5844) | more than 15 years ago | (#2035314)


Ever tried to upgrade the memory in a Quadra 800? If you're never done that box before, it will take half an hour. And if you escape without bloodying your hands, you're lucky.


A Mac will do that to you - Troll (1)

Jeffrey Baker (6191) | more than 15 years ago | (#2035317)


I guess that you have not worked on the imac yet, then. The two memory slots are above and below the processor module. To access one of them, you must physically remove the CPU.

whoa (1)

pompom (6302) | more than 15 years ago | (#2035319)

i had few problems here and there setting up my first linux machine but nothing like this. just so you know, there is not reason in the world why linux would cause the fronT of your case to break off or screws to come loose.

perhaps in your next tedious monologue you can *actually* discuss linux instead of the faults compUSA, UPS, or case design.

good luck.


mmmmmmmmm.....fry's................ (1)

tim pickering (6930) | more than 15 years ago | (#2035320)

i've experienced three different fry's stores: palo alto, san jose, and phoenix AZ. the PA and SJ stores lived up to almost every bit of frys' bad rep about their customer service being sadistic at best (my friend made the mistake of trying to pay with an out-of-state check and the PA store. BIG mistake!). at the one in phoenix, OTOH, i've had the best customer service that i've had at any computer or electronics shop anywhere. i've actually had meaningful conversations about linux with staff people at the phoenix store! even so, i always go in to any store like that assuming i'm completely on my own. the pessimist is, after all, the least likely to be disappointed.


The *least* you could do is learn some HTML, Katz. (1)

thinker (7404) | more than 15 years ago | (#2035325)

I shall ignore the second part of your story because it is absurd. As other posters have noted, you should have examined the package before accepting it; the shipping company is liable for damages that occured in transit.

In the first part of your story you mentioned the flames over the unintended characters most of us see when you post stories you composed with MS Word. You do not need to "learn Linux" in order to remedy that. You only need to learn basic HTML and compose your posts using it. There are numerous 10 minute HTML tutorials on the Web to which you can turn. Download BBEdit Lite 4.1 [] an excellent freeware (i.e. gratis, but no source code provided) editor for the Mac; use it instead of MS Word.

You are on the Web. The Web came about precisely because of the myriad of incompatible document formats and the difficulty in retrieving them that Tim Berners-Lee found at CERN. If you are unwilling to learn even the slightest bit about the tools of this environment, then go back to the print world and take the rest of the clueless, sycophantic journalists with you.

How can you be so damn ignorant? no...wait I already have the answers:

  1. As you have admitted, you have been a Mac user for 10 years;
  2. You are a writer/journalist.

'Nuff said.

P.S. If you have a Mac, then why the bloody !@#$ are you not installing LinuxPPC [] ?!!

Enough is enough. (1)

juuri (7678) | more than 15 years ago | (#2035328)

Okay Jon. Enough is most certainly enough. Not only has the quality of your "articles" become
even lower than before but now what little content they had appropriate for slashdot has completely vanished.

In case you haven't noticed slashdot (for better or worse) is aimed at the technically savvy. Not at the average consumer who needs someone to assemble a pc for them and can't even smash return 20 or 30 times and get redhat installed. Slashdot isn't for you. It *ISN'T* for everyone. If it was for everyone it would end up getting so amazingly watered down we would be left with something even worse than ZDNET.

So Jon, please cease your innane ramblings. They do not belong here. When you have something new to tell me about new G3 or alpha chips or you can contribute something cool about the new HTML->potscript engine you wrote last night then you can come back and annoy us again. Until then please stick to reading the TECH section on CNN and posting your drivel to the masses who don't know any better.

Because we do know better.

Your Trip into Linux (1)

Accipiter (8228) | more than 15 years ago | (#2035332)

Okay, I have to say something here. Let me start by stating that you are a splendid writer. However, the first sign of your impending trouble was the nonchalant "Oops" from the delivery guy. You should have immediately started bitching. OOPS? What the hell do you mean OOPS? That's a Computer there my friend, OOPS isn't allowed!

Secondly, If you were not familiar with the inside of a PC, (Don't take this as an insult) What are you doing installing Linux? Granted, eventually Linux will have a spiffy install that autodetects your hardware (some do now) but it Helps to know what hardware you have, and what it looks like! Any legacy card will have Jumpers to set IRQ's and such, and it's kinda important to know. My advice, just grab some sort of technical manual on how computers are built and scan it. It should help you. Then when you are confident, Tackle Linux. I'm all for it!

Turn off the flamethrower, smokey (1)

Cid Highwind (9258) | more than 15 years ago | (#2035336)

Jon has gone out of his way to point out that most linux geeks are extremely helpful, and you roast him for it! What sort of thanks is that? Back off. If we (as a /. community) don't cool it, his next article will appear on MSNBC under the headline "Why Linux Users are Like Religious Zealots and Not to be Taken Seriously". Alienating new users will assure that linux stays on the fringes of the computer world FOREVER.

Hoo boy...hey, try this: (1)

MuyJuan (9379) | more than 15 years ago | (#2035338)

It's really easy. Take any old machine. Yeah, even your old 486 that you don't even bother to boot anymore. Now, here's the key: ACTUALLY INSTALL LINUX FROM THE CDROM. Got problems? NOW'S the time to go read all those manuals. Nothing from those will stick unless it's relevant to what you are doing. I like your writing, despite lack of proof-reading (and I'm pretty anal about that kind of thing), but installing Linux is one of those things you just have to hurl yourself into. No amount of preparation (even a couple of prior installs) will guarantee that you won't run into problems on your current install. I have heard of people who don't know squat about hardware or software getting everything to work the first time. Then, there's me, armed with somewhat better than a vague understanding, faced with an apparently endless series of problems. What the hell...if you don't run into any problems, then you don't learn much, do you?

Pre-Larval Linux user ... (1)

Zathras (9441) | more than 15 years ago | (#2035339)

Zathras was once confined to the larval stages of using Linux.
Now, Zathras has emerged from the cocoon of adverse hardware problems, software floggings, and verbal abuse. Linux has become a very good friend to Zathras. Linux has introduced Zathras to many new friends. Must be persistent, patient, and willing to hack. Linux is not hard to use. It's just different. This is good.

Oh yeah, almost forgot ... Zathras too went to CompUsa once, very sad ...

Zathras only go to Mom&Pop-Computers or Computers-R-Us now. Much nicer folks there. They understand Zathras.

Please, get this @!$#% off the news page... (1)

cholko (10212) | more than 15 years ago | (#2035342)

This isn't news. Hell, maybe it is to the those unfamiliar with JK. Maybe it will cause some Amway maggots to get him into the trade.

If he wanted us to think he's a gullible idiot then he succeeded.

Get a spell checker, get a grammar checker, and get off the news board.

Really, sorry about the language.. but this is the least newsworthy item I have seen yet...

(maybe its a script for the next Porkys movie?)
Hey You! Off My Planet!

He earned it (1)

Theseus (10302) | more than 15 years ago | (#2035346)

>He's a writer. He's writing. He's doing what he >does, and there's nothing
>wrong with it

On the contrary. He's just writing about his own hardware problems rather and putting a Linux headline on it. This doesn't do anything to benefit Linux, Katz's readers, or anything but his own ego.

If this article is meant to entertain, it has a long way to go. If it's meant to inform, it has even further to go. Katz seems to like to see his work in print, but just because someone published it and many people read it, doesn't make him a good writer. Writing, like Linux, requires discipline. (That's why I have problems with both- but you don't see me posting Linux articles, do you?) This article hasn't been proofread, let alone purified by the crucible of revision.

Once he understands his subject, perhaps by actually installing and running Linux, he can probably write an entertaining and informative retrospective. Until then, he should be taking notes, not posting.

Save your reciept. . . . (1)

shift-Q (10674) | more than 15 years ago | (#2035347)

And request a reuimbursement from ups.

Not to nit, but new pc cases generally have new power switches preinstalled!

Great article Jon, your comments about Comp USA and Fry's are right on.

Is Jon Katz just an MS troll? (1)

K. (10774) | more than 15 years ago | (#2035348)

Let's examine the evidence:
Server: Microsoft-IIS/4.0

His home computer:
A Macintosh, which he seems to use only to
run MS Word.

His Linux story - Several months on, he's still finding any excuse to avoid running it.

Could someone in his locality make a housecall and install Linux for him? Anally? From floppies? With a sledgehammer? Please?


Hmm. (1)

GtHS (11041) | more than 15 years ago | (#2035352)

Not to crunch the snails in your garden, But I am starting to find your Douglas Rushkoff with a screwdriver commentaries a trifle annoying. I suppose if I wanted I could post thousand word essays on "Zen and the art of unscrewing a case and putting it back together", but I don't.

Why not? Because it would be kinda dull.

However, I will refrain from being too unkind, unlike the typical elitist fanboy Gnazi dork-pretending-to-be-geek who will soon fill this forum with their holier-than-thou flames. "It's only a bloody operating system, not a religion!". Blind zealotry will do as much to kill off the Linux cause as any Microsoft FUD pogrom.

It is a bit complicated, and frustrating! But fortunately, it eventually starts clicking into place. Not everybody started hacking on C64s at the age of 6. Those that did can't really understand why some people would find computers so frustrating at times, just to accomplish basic tasks, as opposed to finishing off that flying cow theme for Enlightenment.


-- GtHS.

whoa (1)

cswiii (11061) | more than 15 years ago | (#2035353)

...I thought the point of the article was supposed to be his "descent into linux"...?

CompUSA (1)

Jess (11386) | more than 15 years ago | (#2035354)

I shop at CompUSA. But I know what I want when I go there and I know how much it should cost. The CompUSA prices are higher than mail order but for small ticket items (<$100) are typically the same price as mail order + s&h.

At least the sales people do not harass me like those at other stores (i.e. Circuit City, where I now refuse to shop).

I agree (1)

rdsmith (11517) | more than 15 years ago | (#2035355)

All of those people that are posting those It ain't that hard messages have never really dealt with normal users (yes, I know that there are exceptions). I hate to burst anyones bubble, but, yes, it IS that hard! Joe Average_User has NEVER opened his box. He (or she) is intimidated with the idea of having to do something that is out of the ordinary.

Face it, Jon (and those like him) are NOT like us! They don't recompile the kernel on a daily basis just because it can be done! Jon is making an honest effort to become a Linux USER. And if Linux is to take over the world (or the 40% of the desktop market that Linus wants to see), the Linux community is going to need Linux USERS, and that means that we do need Jon. Oh, and if you don't like what Jon has to say... then don't read his postings.

Give the guy a break! (1)

Plagued by Penguins (11693) | more than 15 years ago | (#2035356)

I could competently admin Irix for years, had programmed about a squintillion lines of basic (sad but true - everyone learns somewhere), C, Fortrash, C++, Java, ... written web sites, blah blah blah... All before I'd ever seriously seen the inside of a computer.

Being happy with software and OS's (ie. Linux) has NOTHING to do with hardware. If Jon gets freaked by scary trashed hardware then I'm all with him. There is NO NEED to know what bizzaro decades old SCSI controllers look like in order to have a clue.

The first time I installed an OS I was freaked 'cos I was dealing with hardware - I mean cylinders, heads, sync frequencies, ... what sort of baroque crap is that for this day and age anyway? But you get used to it and then forget it and get on with the real task - writing programs.

Anyway, Jon didn't write a Linux article, but it's still funny :)

The first day of any new job... (1)

Poe (12710) | more than 15 years ago | (#2035357)

I open the case of the computer they give me. If I get yelled at I quit. (the coolest instance of this was when I opened a sun enterprise 10,000 and nobody blinked.)

"We" (1)

JHoyt (13040) | more than 15 years ago | (#2035358)

I find it interesting that most of the flames that are posted are posted from the point of view "we", which I assume means all /. readers.

I can say that I personally have really enjoyed this series of articles, and much of what he says about Linux is right on target. (i. e. Linux, besides being technically superior to many other OSes, is really about freedom)

You can flame if you like, but please do it from the viewpoint "I" instead of "we", because your flames insult the intelligence of the entire /. community.

Josh Hoyt

CompUSA (1)

Augie De Blieck Jr. (13716) | more than 15 years ago | (#2035361)

And that's probably why I only browse at CompUSA. I've never really needed tech support there. When I need that, I go to the Internet these days and make up my own mind. It's worked so far.

Actually, come to think of it, I bought my computer at CompUSA almost three years ago. The salesman was friendly, but very used car dealer-like. Thankfully, I had done my homework ahead of time, and this time around I'm ordering one off the 'net from Gateway or Dell or Micron.

Anyway, I wonder which CompUSA Jon went to. . . I'm in Northern NJ, and I'm familiar with three of them in the area.

-Augie, done rambling now

Reality check (1)

Raindog (13847) | more than 15 years ago | (#2035362)

Common people, give Katz a break....all of us had to be new to this at some point, and some of us did not even come from a *nix background.....I'm a modertly accomplished geek in Windows (if possible), OS/2....Be and the like, and still found learning Linux rough (still learning it, but I'm over the hump)....Jon is simply talking about the, he hasn't gotten to Linux yet....hes just talking about the drive there. Katz is writting about technical stuff, hes providing perspective, something alot of people evidnetally need to keep in mind. Try remembering the first time you started really screwing around with a system.
As for some of the other things people are pestering him about....mind you that he didn't send the system back cause he wanted to play with it ASAP.....not because he was stupid...a sentiment I can easily understand. Linux needs non-technical people using it in order for it to get enough software to be viable in the long term. Free software is great, but there is currently a huge application gap that needs to be filled. Having a user base allows for commerical development, which will fill some of this (mind you, I prefer good old fashion free OSS software, but the choice of having multiple applications to choose from cannot be a bad thing, I'm sick of having to boot into NT just to do something for which there in not a Linux equivelent) for the proofreading, there are as usually so many error littering this site that I am surprised that this is even an issue....its just another excuse to flame Katz. I f you dont like this, fine, dont read it....but some of us are enjoying a different perspective.

I don't care what you guys say, I'm enjoying this. (1)

Weasel Boy (13855) | more than 15 years ago | (#2035363)

Like I said.

To Mr. "You have trouble with Macs, you must be a moron": I've had Macs arrive HDOA (Half-Dead On Arrival) before. I had an LCII whose HD was terminally frotzed, and my 7200's serial ports were toast out of the box. Hey, it happens.

Equal time: My PC's first NEC monitor died in under 3 weeks, too.

Troubleshooting (1)

Weasel Boy (13855) | more than 15 years ago | (#2035364)

I apologize for misquoting you. I still don't think he deserved a flame, even if it was only on "warm".

Yes, I did the logical thing and made the vendor give me a working product. In each case I spent hours troubleshooting before I was convinced that it was really a HW problem - and which piece was faulty. Repair shops are notoriously unwilling to take my word for what is wrong. They usually first try to blame it on my software.

I'm also not afraid to open boxes up; I trust I can put them back together without making things worse. I don't consider myself an expert, just fearless. Okay, I've made a dual-boot MacOS/Linux system that required counting up HD cylinders; maybe I am an expert.

My point is, many people lack that basic cavalier attitude regarding electronics. I don't hold that against them; I don't do cars - or MS-DOS.

That's me. I had time on my side, and I have confidence in my expertise. I can't say what I would have done if I were working under a deadline. In Jon's case, unless I were planning to use Linux long-term, I'd probably have leased the machine for a month.

CompUSA Blows (1)

ethereal (13958) | more than 15 years ago | (#2035366)

No kidding. The Computer City I used to go to had some fairly intelligent folks to talk to. The only good part of their assimilation was that they had a great clearance sale for a week or so.

Surely this guy must be joking (2)

vaidhy (14207) | more than 15 years ago | (#2035370)

The whole thing remainds me of Three men in a boat, laughing all the time. It makes a nice comic article.

A Mac will do that to you - Troll (1)

blk&tan (14277) | more than 15 years ago | (#2035372)

PB 520 are the worst. It took me 3 hours to get a damn internal modem in the thing. By far on of the most inaccessible designs, expecially if you have big hands.

WTF? (1)

Your own stupidity (14554) | more than 15 years ago | (#2035379)

Your (and your wife) are presumably adults who ought to know that, if UPS (pronounced "oops") or any other shipper shows up with a package that looks damage, you should either refuse delivery outright, or immediately report damage once the package is opened, as the shipper is responsible for the package up to the point where you accept delivery for it. I really don't care what happens in the rest of the story; you just shot your own credibility, and I actually thought you had some to this point. Any computer ignorance you might have pales in comparison to this.

I feel for you. (1)

Bastid (15074) | more than 15 years ago | (#2035382)

They say linux is something you either get or you dont. In your case, Im thinking you dont.

Thats ok.

I do however like your stories. They are entertaining. Reminds me of the comical stories in the back of hunting or fishing magazines.

are you kidding? (1)

Newbie1 (15281) | more than 15 years ago | (#2035386)

I always thought Fry's slogan was:
"We hire underpaid, underqualified, limited English proficiency employees and pass the savings on to you..."

Enjoying this, but... Shut the hell up! (1)

Quenidon (15282) | more than 15 years ago | (#2035387)

I don't think I'll ever understand you I've-never-seen-the-outdoors--gee-maybe-I-should-w ipe-off-my-monitor-today jerk offs who think to criticize absolutely everything everyone else does. Shut up you geeks. Talk about intraverts. Get some human friends and learn how to interact with the rest of us. But most of all, quit your constant bickering at folks from outside our community. The linux community is awaiting acceptance of the rest of the world with open arms. If you can't help that's fine but quit hurting the effort.

Good article Jon. Sorry about the annoying people.

Ever try "Refused/Damaged - Return to Sender"? (1)

hink (89192) | more than 15 years ago | (#2035398)

I try to be a reasonable person, but if an UPS or other delivery person DROPPED a computer package in front of me and/or it looked damaged, I WOULD NEVER ACCEPT IT!!! EVER. Even if I had waited months to get it. Even if I was writing an article for money, let alone fame.
Tell him/her to get out a return form, and reach for the phone to call your vendor. Once you accept a package, you enter return hell if you need to send it back. Your vendor should have been able to fix this quickly or refund your money.
I'm sorry, but the damage and lengths you went to to fix this sound like a BAD movie. I will find it difficult to bother to read anymore of this "series" if the author is this out of touch with how to deal with a simple situation like a damaged shipment.
By the way, I understand you might have been thinking that the Linux way is to overcome, to fix, and to adapt. But another part of Linux, let alone common sense dictates that you should get what you pay for. Maybe more than you paid for, but NEVER any less.

NEC (1)

DJK (106039) | more than 15 years ago | (#2035399)

> My PC's first NEC monitor died in under 3 weeks, too.

NEC sucks. They may look good for reviewers, but then they fall apart. In under 3 mo. my new NEC monitor was basically shot: lines on the screen, funny noises, etc. I had to pay shipping to send it back, and then they sent a *refurbished* one! Great. I got some other dope's that was sent back and 'fixed'. Some poor person will get my old one when they 'fix' it, too... Anyway, not more than another 3 mo., the same thing started to happen to this one. I tried to get a *new*, good monitor out of them (because I had never really gotten a new, trouble-free monitor for my purchase price). They didn't yield. They only covered shipping so I could send *another* monitor back and recieve *another* refurbished one. There are a few minor problems with this one, too (like the OSD being fuzzy sometimes), but nothing that makes me want to deal with the damn tech 'support' at NEC again.
BTW, the CTX monitor I had before the NEC lasted quite a few years, so it wasn't my computer or vid. card sending out some weird signal to fry it.
I will never buy NEC again.
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