Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

22 Oct 2001, 10:37 a.m.

Usability, Wobegon, Segfault, Potter

Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2001 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.

Today in my life. An hour and a half of handball (making up absences) rather than just half an hour, a Russian test on which I probably got some type of B, a good history lecture about the Decembrists, a spurt of UNIX learning, more fruitless attempts to get NewsBruiser running on my OCF webspace (durn CGI wrapper), and a bit of studying and reading Good Omens sandwiched among constructive conversations with Leonard, Alexei, and my sister.

Tomorrow: a test and a comedy show! I referred to both of these in diary entries in the past week, in case you want to know more.

"Gay hero emerges from hijackings." A fella who graduated from my college and who happens -- happened, I should say -- to be gay helped avert the hijacking on Flight 93 on September eleventh. ("He didn't emerge. He died. His heroism survived," a friend nitpicks.) This reminds me of statues to Crispus Attucks.

Segfault sez: "If Shakespeare Wrote Error Messages" has jumped to #14 in the Top Stories of All Time! I'm glad. Up from #15. Yee-ha. Public approbation: terrific.

No false patriotism here. Fraudulency is still up, despite any alleged obligation of patriotism and support for our kind-of-elected leaders during "all of this."

Heavens, they're tasty! What is so "tasty and expeditious" about Prairie Home Companion's Powder Milk Biscuits? My private explanation: they're high in fiber and help "shy persons"; connect the dots. Incidentally, I scored 8 out of ten (would have been 9 if I had better motor skills) on the Lake Wobegon trivia quiz at the Prairie Home site.

Usability issue. Okay, I'm not sure whose fault this is. I think it's mine. Because there's sooooo much documentation out there for new *nix users, right? So it must be my fault that I have never, until today, read some useful, clear documentation on how to install software on a Unix system. I came across this, half-despairing, after about a year of trying and failing to find the answers in man pages, my O'Reilly Running Linux, and HOWTOs. This lecture finally told me, in plain and simple language, what the several steps are for making something useful out of some foo.tar.gz file. And, since that's the format for almost everything I've ever run into, argh that I lost a year of useful computing because .... well, because not only do I get no signals from my environment as to what to do, but even when I sought out directions, I couldn't understand them.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Taliban. Er, Azkaban. But seriously, folks, Goblet of Fire, the most recent Harry Potter novel, certainly alludes to terrorism, albeit magical.

I think I gave that book back to Dan, but maybe I could skim some passages again at a bookstore or something. The Harry Potter books really do get more thought-provoking and morally complex as the series progresses. I'm looking forward to seeing J.K. Rowling's next work.

Originally published by Sumana Harihareswara at