Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Finding Simple Solutions To Complex Problems In An Insane World

Hey there,

The title of today's post probably doesn't sound all that impressive. And, to my way of thinking, it really shouldn't. Oddly enough, the only reason I'm writing this post is because I had a bastard of a time figuring out a problem today and drove myself nuts in the process. I'm still working on getting it perfect, so this is (SPOILER ALERT) going to be an opinion piece today. I've been in the biz since 1995 and here I was thinkin' all the new-fangled Operating Systems would have a simple command to do everything and anything with ;)

On my way to scripting myself out of a figurative paper bag, I ran across a few other solutions to my problem involving c structures in the proc filesystem that could get you the very information I was looking for, but I wasn't looking to re-invent the wheel, either. Generally, if something exists on your Unix or Linux system (at the lower levels) it's been implemented in a tool. Sometimes finding that tool can be a challenge. Sometimes it's easy. Sometimes, I'll fret for hours wondering why simple things sometimes seem so complicated. Then I wake up the next morning and realize what a tool I was being ;)

And I've always been hyper-aware of how more-and-more-ridiculous our society has become over the last few decades. I see my fair share of panic attacks and what look like suicides-in-the-making all around me. Back when I was a kid, you'd only see that sort of behaviour in unrepentant alcoholics and good hard-working folk who'd either gotten scammed out of (or somehow, otherwise, managed to lose) their entire life's savings.

It used to be that folks like Michael Milken would have to go out of their way to ruin many many other people's lives. Now it seems like it's happening every day in every way. Was that a millisecond delay in our "Virtual Meeting" with the Hong Kong, Helsinki and Bora Bora offices??? That's all it takes now. Just suck it up and watch a few commercials on TV. All those people are so thankful that they can work no matter where they are in the world. Even on vacation! Am I the only person who finds this sickening? If you have kids, try to get them interested in psychiatry or social work. By the time they grow up, it probably won't even be dangerous anymore. The people who live in middle-to-lower-class neighborhoods will probably be much more together than the corporate elite.

13 years or so ago, I was the proud owner of a DX-50 PC. It had a 512Mb hard drive, 4 Mb's of memory and a screaming processor that I could overclock to 66Mhz. Vroooom!!!!! Some online services still required you to pay a premium to download at 9600 and watching each individual line of a picture paint itself across my screen in slo-mo was captivating. Now I sometimes want to throw my monitor out the window because it takes my computer 2 minutes to boot up. That doesn't even make sense! For some reason, it seems, the monitor is the recipient of a large percentage of misdirected rage in this computer age. The funny thing is that it's usually the only part of your setup that isn't pissing you off. The keyboard usually deserves it ;)

Hopefully (although it's not too late), you got to check out the vi with a Windows Paperclip picture we put up a few days ago. I've always wanted to trounce that thing, or at least bend it in the wrong direction. No matter what you do, it keeps finding a way to reinsert itself back into your life, along with that frickin' dog. I'm having a coronary while he's wagging his tail and licking a book (???) Hopefully we won't see any of this nonsense from OpenOffice. I use that (and UltraEdit) exclusively now. And, even though I screw up majorly every once in a while, at least I don't have to deal with the sideways looks from those to "icons" that loom just a bit too large in our modern Pantheon.

But, as we come back around to the titular portion of this rant, there's always a relatively simple way to do anything. The trick is having the patience to find it. And, even more confusing, the trick to the trick to finding it is to retrain yourself to take stock of what's really necessary in life. You have to be able to see through all the advertising, hype, jargon and pressure and realize that your own (and I'm including myself in the world now ;) insecurity is really the only product that's being trading in the marketplace today. It's like "Keeping up with the Jones's," except now it's really important and you're competing with Jones's from all over the world. What will happen if you make a mistake, or miss a call, or go on vacation to someplace that doesn't have photon beam Internet capability? The answers: You'll feel like an idiot for a little while, you'll eventually call someone back and you'll finally be able to relax on that faraway vacation isle where every asshole and his brother can't reach out and grope you :)

Time is money. In an abstract sense, this is true. I've never worked anywhere they wouldn't pay me to. I can make nothing by exerting a lot less effort ;) Just remember this: When the global economy gets to the point that we can do business in real-time from any point on this earth to any other point on this earth, what will be the next big thing that we'll have to worry about falling behind on? Think about it. There has to be a point where we can go no further (or begin colonizing other planets in our solar system so we can setup remote offices that need to get in touch with us "RIGHT NOW!!!!").

When we reach that point; when we touch that apex, it's going to either be a huge load off of all of our shoulders or (and, my money's on this, since there's money to be made preying upon people's fears) we'll be on a slippery slope to our "global community"'s nadir.

In the meantime, if life seems to hard, consider that you might just be allowing yourself, or others, to be too hard on you. Take a deep breath, relax and come to realize that (if you can get to that place of peace) you're probably going to be the one guy out of 1000 that doesn't have a stress-related breakdown this year. A long time ago, people traded things other than money for services, at a much slower pace, and the fact that we're here now is proof that they didn't screw up all that badly. You see, there's an upside to not freaking out, too.

Simple :)


, Mike

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