I've been away from my blog, and many other things, for a while because of some other obligations. (You don't want to know!) Today, I have a chance to take a breath and press fingers to the keys. Yay! How wonderful to start the day with an inspiring little article that will make sense to some of you and possibly confuse others. "What the days of gonzo IT taught us," by Paul Venezia is a beautiful expression of what excites me about computing. I had limited access to computers in the early 80s. Everything I learned at that point was by doing. Throughout my career that do-it-yourself concept never really left. It honest has rarely occurred to me to call someone to solve a technical problem. My general philosophy has been that if I made the mess (which I usually did) then I need to understand things well enough to fix the mess and not do that again.
I remember in the early days of Windows that I had to do things in the
config.sys, autoexec.bat, and various .ini files to get a system onto
the Internet. Knowledge of those files was also pretty key to keeping a
system healthy. Later on, as those configuration files
mutated into the registry and Windows became more aloof I found
GNU/Linux and the open source world. Most people do not understand why I
take such pride and pleasure from doing things myself. It's true that
there are other areas of my life that not having a good pattern for
getting other people to do things is a problem. (Plumbing springs to
mind. I'm a complete klutz with plumbing and when I need help I pretty
much grab it at random.) However, in the area of computing I really
enjoy understanding how things work and knowing little ways to automate
and self-manage. I LOVE that part of technology. I know that many consider technology a necessary evil that they are required to do to get through the day. I am thrilled when I figure out a way to use freely available tools to do something that once required fancy equipment, expensive software or deep expertise
Consider for a moment what you can do with a free application like Audacity. On my laptop I can engineer things that once required a full studio and years of practice. Likewise, I'm able to do things with Cinelerra that were only available to Hollywood. When I was a kid I used to dream of working with old radio shows, special effects and other things. I could never afford to do these things with film and old-style tape. Yet a digital video camera, a digital audio recorder and a little open-source software and I can indulge my interests and build skills that come in handy sometimes.
Knowing things that are under the hood and demanding access under the hood get you labeled as a troublemaker and a geek. It's true! But the fundamental knowledge about how technology works that comes from those experiences has given my better problem-solving skills than people I deal with on the tech support line! Don't lose your curiosity! If you feel you've been too far away from that for too long, then take a look at all of the stuff that has happened while you were distracted. There are a lot of useful tools that will add to your productivity and get your technical brain back in shape... and you'll be helping to keep that side of technology from dying.