Difference between revisions of "1579: Tech Loops"
(→Transcript: Every now and then I realize I'm maintaining a huge chain of technology solely for the purpose to support itsel)
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:(Note the Repository node leads to nowhere)
:(Note the Repository node leads to nowhere)
Revision as of 13:39, 21 September 2015
Title text: And when I think about it, a lot of "things I want to do" are just learning about and discussing new tools for tinkering with the chain.
| This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: Missing explanation for each of the items in the list. Also, title text|
If you can address this issue, please edit the page! Thanks.
The comic is about how much of the time one might spend on a computer as a geek tends to be in maintaining the system itself rather using it, up to the point where maintaining the system becomes the main goal. Often the operating system needs periodic updates, which might break some apps which in turn need to be updated; apps themselves might need to be updated, which can create all sort of incompatibilities which one then needs to spend time fixing.
Most people consider computers as tools to achieve something else—e.g. to surf the web, read news or balance their bank account—and they rather not have to maintain the OS or the computer if they can avoid it. However here Randall finds he's spending most of the time using his computer just for the sake of maintaining the OS or the hardware on said computer. It's tools for the sake of tooling, rather than tools as helpers to build something else.
A hardware equivalent would be RepRap Project: get a 3D printer and end up spending all the time printing 3D parts for itself instead of creating something else like toys or art.
An alternative interpretation is how a simple task can get maddeningly tricky because of the inherent complexity of the system. An example of this appears in 949: File Transfer, where the simple task of sending a file from one computer to another gets practically impossible despite having all kinds of "cloud" tools available, many of them designed to perform much more complex tasks with one simple click. In this view, the part of the comic labeled "things I actually want to use my computer for" could refer to simple actions like transferring a file and all the rest of the graph are unsuccessful tiring attempts to solve the problem by installing increasingly complex tools which end up not solving the simple problem properly. This is similar to a traditional joke which can be found on this link.
Here is a list of all the items explained individually:
- Tool: In this context, a tool is mostly any general purpose computer program. Typical tools are text editors and calendar applications. Randall is presumably spending all his time installing and maintaining tools but never using them for their intended purpose.
- Updater: An application designed to automatically download and install new versions of an already installed program. Referenced in 1197: All Adobe Updates. The time spent in updating an application can't be used to get productive work from the application.
- Repository: For programmers a repository is a database where programs are stored. All modifications of the programs are preserved for posterity, in the same way as the Wikipedia View history tab.
- Library: In this context, a Library (computing) is a part of a computer program which is developed separately, with the idea that the library will be used for more than one program and therefore saving effort, as the library has to be developed only once. Often, programs require specific versions of specific libraries that can or can not be available. A typical example of a library often required and not always available is Microsoft's Framework Class Library, more known as .NET Framework.
- VM: A Virtual machine is a computer program designed to emulate a complete computer. Probably a reference to 1305: Undocumented Feature, combined with the next item "Chat client".
- Chat client: an Online chat program, probably a reference to 1305: Undocumented Feature, combined with the previous item "VM".
- IRC for some reason: Internet Relay Chat.
- Custom settings: Some programs (and especially web sites) assume a fixed setup in the user's computer. Many web pages even state plainly that they are only intended to work in one single browser with some settings enabled. This is a nuisance for users, and it becames helplessly burdensome when the user must install several programs requiring different settings.
- Hardware workaround: Sometimes a problem can be solved by hardware changes. Removing TV tuner or telephone modem cards, changing an USB device from one port to another, opening and closing the CD tray, etc. are operations that, in many cases, have led to solving a problem; most of the time with no one knowing exactly why such an operation should or could have any effect in the computer's behavior.
- Awful hack from 2009: An example of an awful hack can be found in 1479: Troubleshooting. When an awful hacks is necessary, it is often because less awful alternatives do not exist; so awful hacks tend to remain useful for many years. An example can be the 256-caracter limit in the Windows path for a file, which has been inherited from MS-DOS and is still there up to Windows 10 .
- DLL needed by something: Acronym for Dynamic-link library. Although DLL is a term used by Microsoft Windows, all modern operating systems use dynamic libraries, each with its own name. A dynamic library is a part of a program which is not loaded when the program starts, but rather it's attached "dynamically" to the running process when it is needed. This has the advantage that the dynamic library is not loaded at all if it's not needed, and also several processes which need the same dynamic library can share the same copy in memory.
- Things I actually want to use my computer for:
- [A flow chart]
- → means supports (key)
- Things I actually want to use my computer for [isolated box with no links into or out of, by any of the following]
- DLL needed by something → ? [two exits to unknowns]
- Library (1) → Awful hack from 2009 →
- Awful hack from 2009 → IRC for some reason → Awful hack from 2009 → (Loop)
- Awful hack from 2009 → Library (2) → Library (3) → Repository
- Awful hack from 2009 → Library (4) → Library (5) → Custom Settings → Library (6) →
- Library (6) → Chat Client → Repository
- Library (6) → Hardware Workaround →
- Hardware Workaround → VM → Chat Client → Repository
- Hardware Workaround → Awful hack from 2009 → (Loop)
- Library (6) → Tool (1) → Updater →
- Updater → Repository
- Updater → Library (6) → (Loop)
- Updater → Tool (2) → VM → Chat Client → Repository
- (Note the Repository node leads to nowhere)
Every now and then I realize I'm maintaining a huge chain of technology solely for the purpose to support itseladd a comment! ⋅ add a topic (use sparingly)! ⋅ refresh comments!