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Confessions of a SysAdmin 385

Mr.Fork writes "Scott Merrill from CrunchGear has a confession. He really, really hates computers. He writes: 'No, really, I hate them. I love the communications they facilitate, I love the conveniences they provide to my life, and I love the escapism they sometimes afford; but I actually hate the computers themselves. Computers are fragile, unintuitive things — a hodge-podge of brittle hardware and opaque, restrictive software.' Does his editorial speak to all of us in similar IT-related fields? Do we all silently hate the complexities and idiosyncrasies computers have, like error messages and UI designs that make no sense to the common user, which make our tech professions miserable?"
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Confessions of a SysAdmin

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 23, 2010 @05:33PM (#31961078)

    Which make our tech professions possible.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Rephrased: If there weren't problems to fix, there would be no jobs in fields to fix these things. If every user had an intuitive knowledge of everything the system does, there would be no jobs fixing them.
      • by hitmark ( 640295 )

        meaning one where left to handle the servers and the networks, rather then deal with tech support issue all day.

        problem is, a smooth running server room and network may be seen by pointy haired boss to save a bit on salaries...

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Which make our tech professions possible.

      Which still has no bearing on whether I like it. I'm with Mr Merrill on this one. Playing with computers sure was fun in the beginning. It's 2010 now, and I'm still dealing with retarded ideas or retarded implementations of otherwise good ideas. I'm not suggesting the computer should ever stop evolving, but as I look around, I see a lot of stuff that should just simply be "good enough", not in beta, not difficult to integrate, not a placeholder until the next
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mindstrm ( 20013 )

        At one point I would have been in the same camp as you guys - then I gained enlightenment and learned that the job of being a sysadmin was more than just playing around with computers. It's also about managing corporate expectations, resources, budgets, and all kinds of stuff.... and if you do it right, it's still just as fun as it used to be.

        If you've been doing sysadmin for 10 years and you are still fixing people's workstations then of course you hate it - you aren't moving up in the world - you're doi

    • by sznupi ( 719324 ) real motivation to improve things too much?

    • Especially when your ability to use them results in a decent paycheck?

      I would much rather have the people who hate computers just stay the hell away from them, while "me and mine" take advantage of their prejudice and earn a living.

  • Macs? (Score:2, Funny)

    by melikamp ( 631205 )

    a hodge-podge of brittle hardware and opaque, restrictive software

    Sounds like Steve Jobs can claim another victim.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Sounds like Steve Jobs can claim another victim.

      The real shame is that the poster will probably never experience the computing environment that is provided by the Macintosh. Wincrap spoils a lot of people's attitudes concerning computers and they don't try anything else.

    • Oh really? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Friday April 23, 2010 @05:44PM (#31961264)

      Computers are fragile, unintuitive things...a hodge-podge of brittle hardware
      Sounds like Steve Jobs can claim another victim.

      Sounds more to me like he's about to get another customer [].

      • Re:Oh really? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Mr. Flibble ( 12943 ) on Friday April 23, 2010 @06:10PM (#31961650) Homepage

        Computers are fragile, unintuitive things...a hodge-podge of brittle hardware
        Sounds like Steve Jobs can claim another victim.

        Sounds more to me like he's about to get another customer [].

        And that (the video you linked to) is why the iPad is doing better than us Techno-geeks expected. Indeed, it is why the iPhone and the iMac are doing well.

        Computers are mostly brittle - I had my main PC crash last night because of something to do with the graphics card - I still don't know what.

        But this little old lady in that video with the iPad? Brilliant. She can get to use it right away - she does not need to understand drivers, or compatibility or any of the other crap that we deal with on a regular basis. As long as it does email, web, IM and facebook, that is all most people would ever want.

        It is when we go beyond those basics that computers start to suck. Like my dealing with a pissy PBX, or a switch that I can't log into from some subnets...

        The ipad gets rid of most of those problems (to a very large degree). I remember an old man coming up to me years ago when I worked at Staples selling computers (that was an awful job, but it was a start). He grabbed the mouse, and immediately picked it up in the air, and began waving it about to try to get the cursor to move on the screen. We don't think of it like this, but just using the mouse is a different skill. Using the ipad generally involves using skills that we already have gained outside computing - as can be demonstrated by this lady's use of the ipad.

        Hopefully, computers begin to suck less - like the ipad. (Just without the DRM BS behind the scenes).

        • How long before she gets an email from a Nigerian prince and falls for it?
          I'm not trying to be funny or cruel.

        • by ewe2 ( 47163 )

          Yeah it's wonderful. Until it breaks. And it will. For no reason at all.

        • by Da_Biz ( 267075 )

          You absolutely nailed it!

    • Re:Macs? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by mikael_j ( 106439 ) on Friday April 23, 2010 @05:47PM (#31961298)

      I know you were aiming for a "funny" mod but in my experience macs tend to be some of the most stable consumer computers (short of custom-built machines where the person who built it spent a lot of time researching the parts and then testing that everything worked satisfactory before beginning to actually use the machine). Compared to the average whitebox OEM Wintel machine (or even Dell, HP and similar desktops) I've had much less trouble with macs, sure there are still problems but when we bought 40+ Dell and Fujitsu-Siemens machines (various models) at work our helpdesk guys ended up having to return almost half of the machines in the first couple of months due to overheating issues, glitchy NICs and other stuff that should "just work". That's what you get when you consistently go with the cheapest possible parts (sometimes a few cents difference on a chip that costs ~$1 can make a big difference) and you're always hopping between different models and manufacturers to always get the lowest possible hardware cost.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by bjourne ( 1034822 )
        Your personal anecdotes are very impressing. Truly, why would anyone need studies or facts when we have stories like yours. Personally I haven't seen a mac break down but the two guys at work using them look gay.
  • by eln ( 21727 ) on Friday April 23, 2010 @05:33PM (#31961084)
    I love computers. I wouldn't have gotten into the field if I didn't love them. The ones I hate are the developers who write the shitty bug-ridden code that gets loaded onto computers that I have to support.
    • Ditto! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by khasim ( 1285 )

      From TFA

      I often wonder if plumbers reach a point in their career, after cleaning clogged drain after clogged drain, that they begin to hate plumbing. They hate pipes. They hate plumber's putty. They hate all the tricks they've learned over the years, and they hate the need to have to learn tricks. It's plumbing, for goodness sake: pipes fitting together and substances flowing through them. How complicated can it be?

      Well for one, copper pipe v3.5 is still backward compatible with copper pipe v2.1 and will be

      • Plumbers probably get sick of having to pull Ken's head out of the toilet for the 900th time though. Sure, you get paid for it, but sometimes you wish you'd rather never have to pull a plastic doll's body part out of a drain ever again and to spluh with the financial loss.

        • by BobMcD ( 601576 )

          Plumbers probably get sick of having to pull Ken's head out of the toilet for the 900th time though. Sure, you get paid for it, but sometimes you wish you'd rather never have to pull a plastic doll's body part out of a drain ever again and to spluh with the financial loss.

          True, but the end users are likely to understand why they are paying the plumber's bill.

          Not so much on the computer side of the house. "Yeah, I deleted that, but I had NO IDEA it would BREAK anything. Computers are CRAZY things..."

    • by SplashMyBandit ( 1543257 ) on Friday April 23, 2010 @05:43PM (#31961252)
      Yeah. The computer hardware is mostly fine. Mostly it's the software that sucks - and I say this speaking as a software developer. Some software sucks less than others though (we're sick of O/S and tools flamewars so please don't start). Some software still has crappy short-sighted design after twenty years, while in some is improving to the point its a joy to use and you don't have to think about it as much as you used to - mostly you get on with doing what you need to do instead of wrestling with drivers and patches etc. Which is the point of the exercise after all.

      Sounds like he doesn't hate computers nearly as much as the bad design of the software that runs on them.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by SeaFox ( 739806 )

        [blockquote]Yeah. The computer hardware is mostly fine. Mostly it's the software that sucks - and I say this speaking as a software developer. Some software sucks less than others though (we're sick of O/S and tools flamewars so please don't start). Some software still has crappy short-sighted design after twenty years...[/blockquote]

        I hate that this software is able to exist after so long because it's not forced out of he marketplace for being crappy. It seems the primary reason is purchasing decisions for

      • by Kaboom13 ( 235759 ) <> on Friday April 23, 2010 @07:08PM (#31962298)

        There's some bullshit in modern computer hardware design too though. Consider X86. It's inferior to man architectures, but it still exists because the install base for it is so huge it can't be stopped. BIOS seriously sucks, they are all different, love to use arcane terms, often vary wildly even in models form the same vendor in the same product line, and the process to upgrade them is often fraught with danger. Printers need drivers, that are generally platform specific, even on basic models. Hard drives can fail (and fail often) in ways that silently corrupt data with no indication to the user or the OS. ECC has existed for decades yet consumer machines never have it, leading to memory problems causing seemingly random, unrelated issues, that only an in depth low level memory analysis can solve ( requiring you to know the problem before you know the cause). Hardware RAID is often arcane, and a simple mistake can destroy your entire array. Manufacturers save pennies on parts like capacitors by using parts with ratings lower then the design required, resulting in expensive repairs. OEM's release equipment using draft or early revisions of specs that cause weird, hard to diagnose compatibility problems. SSD's could be the single largest performance increase for your average office user in 5-10 years, but they are severely limited because we do not have a good technology to interface with them, and shoehorn them into the tech used for mechanical drives for compatibility reasons. If you were to design the PC platform from scratch today, there's a lot of arcane, outdated cruft you could remove that's only there for backwards compatibility reasons.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by MBCook ( 132727 )

          So much of that is cost.

          • It was cheaper to keep using the same old BIOS than to switch, so we've waited WAY too long. It's finally happening through EFI, but it's going slow. OpenFirmware would have been nice. It's actually pretty amazing we've managed to tack stuff on to the BIOS for ~30 years.
          • Printer drivers exist because everyone has to be 'special'. They could all use PostScript which would suit the vast majority of users, but that would cost $$$ to Adobe. PCL seems to be very common now too, but agai
    • by abigor ( 540274 )

      That's your fault for being on the shit-receiving end. You should have gotten your comp sci degree and become a (proper, non-Web) developer. That way, you could have been on the shit-dispensing end, a much better place to be, trust me.

      • by eln ( 21727 )
        Probably, but I already spent a considerable amount of time doing (non-web) development earlier in my career. Didn't care for it. These days I do system architecture more than day to day operations, which isn't quite as aggravating.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by abigor ( 540274 )

          Well there you go then, you are in a shit-dispensing part of the food chain. Well done!

          If you think you have it bad, go and visit one of your admins some time or, even worse, someone in tech support *shudder*

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by DaMattster ( 977781 )
      Let's tack on to this: the closed source, crappy programs that we must put up with or be unemployed.
    • by VGR ( 467274 ) on Friday April 23, 2010 @06:15PM (#31961728)

      I am in hearty agreement. It's the software that's just awful awful awful. Notice every complaint in the article is actually a software complaint.

      And most disheartening of all is that we can't write better software, outside of the FOSS world. Just try to write good software. And I mean really good, intuitive software, with useful errors and help messages that actually tell a user what he can do about the problem. Software that behaves well and doesn't act like it owns the computer and doesn't step on all the other software. I've been trying to do it for twenty years, and it's clear no company is interested in paying for that kind of development. Welcome to the world of low-quality everything.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by xero314 ( 722674 )

        And most disheartening of all is that we can't write better software, outside of the FOSS world.

        As much as I agree with your sentiment, you are not going to find any better quality on average in the FOSS world. Which I have never understood because there is no excuse for it in the FOSS world where there are no deadlines and no PHBs.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        I am in hearty agreement. It's the software that's just awful awful awful. Notice every complaint in the article is actually a software complaint.

        I think you give way too much credit to hardware designers. When the hardware design is botched or just monumentally stupid its the driver writer that has to come up with some kind of hackneyed work-around to at least make the hardware somewhat workable. For example, a card that generates spurious interrupts - it just may not be possible to accurately determine which interrupts to discard and which ones to process without totally blowing performance. So what gets blamed when the card runs too slow? The

    • by xero314 ( 722674 )

      The ones I hate are the developers who write the shitty bug-ridden code that gets loaded onto computers that I have to support.

      As a Software Engineer I want to say that I agree with you, but your anger is slightly misdirected. There are shitty developers, no doubt, but you should really be angry about the stupid Executives that ultimately hire shitty developers, or out source to shitty developers, or, as is all to common, won't let the good developers actually do their job.

      The problem consumers run into is that they would rather buy software that is buggy, but out sooner, than solid software that takes a lot longer to make. When

    • by frank_adrian314159 ( 469671 ) on Friday April 23, 2010 @07:01PM (#31962206) Homepage

      I love computers. I wouldn't have gotten into the field if I didn't love them.

      Yeah, so did I. But that was thirty years ago. I've seen the industry take so many wrong turns since then I'm alternately astonished, appalled, and amused now. That's why I'm a manager now... well, that and the money. I try all the time to get the guys who work for me to understand that, for most users, simpler = better.

      I get pissed off every time some stupid OS vendor (Microsoft, Apple, or Linux distro) changes its API for no apparent benefit to the customer or because some jack-off OS developer wants a new flavor of the day. I get saddened every time some poor user gets run into their individual brick walls because some crappy hardware vendor decided to save a nickel on a mobo component. So all of you wankers who are bitching about the "walled garden" model, all I can say is that you brought it on yourselves. You made your systems so crappy and hard to use that no one wants to deal with the crappiness anymore. They'll sacrifice their "freedoms" (which they didn't really want in the first place) for simplicity. And, in the end, you'll be the ones screwed, with no interesting APIs and nothing new and shiny to play with. And all because you couldn't see past your own need for complexity to keep you mentally entertained while you cranked out yet another for loop (and didn't develop the languages that had the for loops internalized so you could map functions onto collections without a bunch of hideous repetitive syntax, anyhow).

      I didn't understand this ten years ago when I told an industry luminary that I wanted to make things simpler for the programmer. He looked at me and said "Don't talk to me about programmers. I don't give a shit about how hard it is for the programmers. I want things simple for the users." He was so right.

      Of course, maybe I'm cranky because it's late on Friday and I have a cold. Yeah... that's it...

  • I've been a programmer/software engineer for mumbly-mumbly years now, and I hate computers too. Preaching to the choir.
    • I've been a programmer/software engineer for mumbly-mumbly years myself. I don't really hate computers at all. I still enjoy going home and plopping down in front of one; sometimes to play games, and other times to write out a fun project. However, I sometimes get tired of the same ole stuff at work, and I really hate when a family member wants me to fix their virus problem, but those aren't the fault of the computer. I imagine I'd be just as tired of any other profession after mumbly-mumbly years of do
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      So, I replied before actually reading TFA, but I went back to read it and - the guy's right. 100% correct. And I had an epiphany. The iPad is actually something cool, not a fanboy money-grabbing POS. Well, maybe it's that too. But, from my understanding, it is this one piece deal, not a bunch of wires connecting monitor, keyboard and mouse, not something you open up and install new shit in when the old shit runs 10 milliseconds slower now. Just "Here, this does cool stuff, and no, you can't really dick with

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by gad_zuki! ( 70830 )

        Do you really need XP? Is it such an improvement over 2000 or even NT4.0?

        I dislike this arbitrary line drawn in the sand. Its like you're my grandpa saying something like "and thats how we liked it." I would easily argue that the UAC, improved UI, and dozen or so needed features make Win7 a larger jump from XP than XP ever was from 2000.

        Where's all this XP love even coming from? Its a mess of an OS that got by on dumb luck and MS finally getting the second service pack right. Admin by default, fisher price

  • To be honest, they are "things", not people. Should we really consider loving "things"?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    at the scary devil monastery. []

  • Well... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Friday April 23, 2010 @05:39PM (#31961170) Journal

    I hate a lot of modern software (open source, closed source, whatever) because of the enormous, and often pointless complexities. I miss the joys of being a kid in front of my first 16k home computer, it was an adventure. I miss my first few years with *nix, when the operating system was populated with fine-tuned tools focused on accomplishing a single job and doing it well.

    It's true that software and hardware often seems more like a balancing act. You try to find an equilibrium where you don't need cron jobs to stop the daemon that spontaneously combusts, or where the Windows roaming profile will properly synchronize with the server copy and not barf in a dozen different ways, and hope beyond hope that the patches you're getting won't cause more problems than they solve.

    I think the reason, at least for me, is that there's little sense that I have control over how the systems work. Anything non-trivial involves so many separate processes, functions, modules and reliance on everything tying together that sometimes when I get something working, I'm more amazed than pleased.

    But that's the job. You control what you can and try to mitigate what you can't.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by justinb26 ( 1783508 )

      I agree with you on some points, but disagree on others.

      I agree that most of the problem is crappy software. It does, however, make me appreciate the truly good software even more.

      I agree that there is something to be said for understanding how everything works to a fine degree. However, I think that ability to mentally "chunk" systems you don't care about, and just think of them on a high level, is absolutely crucial to progress. I also think that kids today will find the same kind of joys writing XNA game

  • by BitwiseX ( 300405 ) on Friday April 23, 2010 @05:41PM (#31961202)
    I wish I had never turned a hobby into a profession. For the most part I enjoy what I do as a Sys Admin, but I used to come home from work and hop onto a mini programming project, or maybe i'll try some new software out.. switch from sendmail to postfix, just for the halibut.. stuff like that.

    Now I come home and I don't want to look at a computer or I just play some games. Kinda sad :(
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DaMattster ( 977781 )
      I wish I could mod this guy up. I did the same thing. I turned what was essentially a hobby into a profession. But, I always enjoyed working with open source more and finding creative, alternative solutions to proprietary and closed ones.
    • I to started out as a geeky young lad, playing around with gadgets and linux. then I did a few jobs here and there for cash as a teenager and got offered a job, and from there my experience grew till now i'm managing a team, leading development projects and am the main player in all technological matters within my section of the business. I'm not sure if it's because i satisfy my desire for playing with computer stuff while i'm at work and so don't feel compelled to do any of it at home, or if i'm burnt ou
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 23, 2010 @06:32PM (#31961870)

      Yeah, I'm full of regret too with my career choice of Ob-Gyn.

  • by buback ( 144189 ) on Friday April 23, 2010 @05:41PM (#31961208)

    Everything would work perfectly fine if we just got rid of all the damn users.

  • Toasters (Score:3, Insightful)

    by VoxMagis ( 1036530 ) on Friday April 23, 2010 @05:43PM (#31961242)

    Computers are the Toasters of the '00s'. Our users expect them to toast. If they don't toast, they call us.

    I spend my day doing many many different computer tasks. I help users, I do some light coding, I work on web pages, email servers, file servers, domain servers, track minor issues with printer drivers or email clients, and whatever else. I can really relate to the article.

    The issue is that a computer as an appliance isn't a reality in the everyday world, except to users. They want them to do exactly what they expect them to do, every time, without having a 'burnt part and an uncooked part'. For those of us that spend all day dealing with computers, we come to know that it doesn't work that way. Our problem is that we live in two different realities, and they are not yet compatible.

    Of course, once they really do work like a refrigerator or a toaster or a coffee maker, I'll be out of a job. Most days I'm not sure that's a bad thing.

    • Okay, now I want to take a PC and add a toaster so that it looks like a CD drive. If I get any burns in the process I'll send you the bill.
    • Ironically, before your '00s, back in the 80s, computers WERE appliances that did exactly what was expected of them. You turned them on, performed your task and got predictable results 100% of the time. In fact, they replaced typewriters as they were more efficient. Some of the systems in the '90s as well, but sadly other computer systems displaced those.

      It's amazed me, that a system based on a completely digital structure, has evolved into such a mess. We used to have an expression represented by the "

  • Absolutely not (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Nefarious Wheel ( 628136 ) on Friday April 23, 2010 @05:46PM (#31961280) Journal
    I love them because they feed me.
  • I Agree (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DaMattster ( 977781 ) on Friday April 23, 2010 @05:47PM (#31961296)
    By and large I hate computers when I have to work on them for a living. I am stuck having to use M$ software which has all of the joy of scrubbing a toilet. Being responsible for a Microsoft Windows Server can be akin to slashing my wrists. When I am home I love computing because I get to work on my open source operating systems which return the joy of computing back to the user. Instead of being forced to do things Microsoft's way, I am free to use my computer as I see fit with creative tools that let me see what goes on behind the scenes. I am free to do imaginative things with my computer which brings real joy. My intention is not to bash M$ but to show how openness can make something more fun and imaginative to use.
  • by JustNiz ( 692889 ) on Friday April 23, 2010 @05:49PM (#31961326)

    It seems this guy's issues are ultimately mostly Windows-specific rather than anything specific to computers in general. He even takes time out to say how good OSX and Linux's package management is compared to Windows, yet he clearly still uses Windows as his primary OS.

    Basically this guys problems are mostly self-inflicted, as he clearly knows about the alternatives yet still forces himself to keep going with the crappiest option.

    • Ok, march into your boss's office right now, demand you change the entire operations OS because you don't like it's package management. threaten to quit if he doesn't. be sure to time how long it takes him to burst into laughter at you.
  • by Locke2005 ( 849178 ) on Friday April 23, 2010 @05:51PM (#31961362)
    Computers know just how you feel about them... and they also hate being anthropomorphized!

    But seriously, it is scary how often my wife will complain to me "this doesn't work!" as she is clicking away on a web form, but when I go over and calmly click the submit button, it works perfectly. I honestly have no idea what she is doing wrong.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by BobMcD ( 601576 )

      I've noticed this, too. I can often just pop in and inquire about a problem and it goes away on its own.

      Even more scary, though - computers are getting lazy!

      If you're not watching the timer-bar click towards the right, the computer slacks off and doesn't finish. The moment you go back to watching it, it gets back to making progress on it. Triply-true on VMWare boxes.

  • Can't say I blame him. If I had to deal with Wintel all day I would hate computers too. Switch to *NIX, more control, more sense, more power!

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Merc248 ( 1026032 )

      Bah. I'm a Linux sysadmin, but it still sucks the life out of you to maintain them. Someone can still royally fuck up the infrastructure and make maintenance a living hell. But it is more of a joy to work with *nix systems than Windows systems, I'll give you that.

  • I seem to recall that way back when, the multics was designed to never be shut down. I guess one ran continuously for 14 years. More recently, I recall tandem, but do not know much about them, and i wonder if they are even still around. I have not hard of them this millenium.

    We are so proud of our computers, but they have been so shoddy forever. I suppose you could argue it is not a mature industry, but you really really want to use say the auto industry as your shining example for the future of compute

  • After reading all the above comments, Im kind of surprised that I am in the minority in that I do admin work, and dont hate computers really in any way.

    In my work life, its heavily sysadmin type of stuff. I dont hate any of our servers, or the software that runs on them. This is what happens when you make good choices.

    In my personal life, I have a house-wide LAN with a mix of linux and Windows machines, depending on the purpose of them.Some are mostly used for viewing DVD's, some are for work-related prio

    • After reading all the above comments, Im kind of surprised that I am in the minority in that I do admin work, and dont hate computers really in any way. In my work life, its heavily sysadmin type of stuff. I dont hate any of our servers, or the software that runs on them. This is what happens when you make good choices.

      I usually reserve my hate for the people who make bad choices for me (the sysadmin) against my protests. Of course, this gets expressed as hatred of specific POS machines they mandated because hatred of the people is less socially acceptable. For the most part, I love computers, and my work and free time revolve around them. My work often feels like free time, especially when I'm surfing /.

  • I love computers, but I hate the "opaque, restrictive software" that everyone, except for FOSS projects (for the most part), seems to make.
    But when you actually find that perfect software, it is a beautiful thing.

  • I spent almost 25 years analyzing and designing telephone and data networks and services. And never got comfortable talking on the telephone. Does that count?
  • ... So are lots of things like physics, higher level mathematics (and even lower level for much of the population).

    I agree much could be done to make computers more intuitive but this means offloading even control to tools that compile and make software that are many years (decades) away from being completed.

    There are many research projects that aim to make software more modifiable and easy to use for end users but they are not beyond the research stage.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Computers are great, the endless possibilities and beautiful complexity built into a simple box.

    At the same time I hate the things we do with them. All the brilliance just created so we can send pointless 140 character messages saying how we enjoyed our
    porkchops for dinner (with nice apple sauce too!).

  • (I'm a sysadmin as well) I think IT sucks as a whole because it is a scientific field that was thrown to the wolves of commercialism. The computer is a petri dish in which great things can happen; but everything must work together in its entirety. Commercial entities refuse to work together, standards are open to interpretation or manipulation and you get an absolute mess. I think Apple is really aiming to achieve this harmony (I will set aside the fact that it is completely self-serving for now) but the
  • by macfanboy ( 1796606 ) on Friday April 23, 2010 @06:21PM (#31961784)
    I see every type of computer there is at my job supporting large systems in NYC. Every computer I personally owned rebooted itself, blue-screened or froze, leading me on a quest for something better. My bad experiences with PCs led me to explore Solaris on a UltraSparc system, fresh from ebay. Sun makes a great OS and great machines, but not too consumer oriented, limiting software to pretty much open source titles for individual computing purposes. Many people dismiss apple for their high prices, but since I switched to the mac five years ago, I love the computer again. It just works, no problems, drag and drop installs and a very friendly user interface. With the OCZ Vertex solid state upgrade for the disk, the computer never makes me wait for anything. Bootup is 30 secs from button-press to desktop. Shutdown is 2 sec. Apps open instantly. Windows runs perfectly in bootcamp or Fusion (vmware). All in a 64-bit hardware and software system. What drives me crazy with computers is a long list, so here goes: - devices without a facility for firmware upgrade - manufactures that don't offer firmware updates for devices - Anyone that doesn't work/sell in the datacenter thinking they know anything about computers - DRM - non FOSS (GPL) licenses - People too stubborn to believe there is something better than the PC running Windows - people who don't realize they need to update the firmware in their GPS, cellphone, camera, picture frame, television, radio, mp3 player, car audio system, etc.
  • If well even in the open source you can hit developers weirdest ideas, agendas, and idiology, all is there, in the open,where everyone can see it, and probably commented around it if is weird or arbitrary. Is a system where you have all the tools to find how it works, how, and why. In closed source systems, in the other hand, you are a blind mouse in a cat's playground. If something don't work, or works in a weird way, you can only pray and hope for the best. That kind of stress don't help a lot to love com
  • Every time I told some luser not to put too much faith in computers, the response was almost always one of dismay and the usual comeback was always the same "how can someone in your field say that?", easy, I replied, as long as people expect far too much from these things and will not learn to plan for disasters I will have a job!

  • by rjamestaylor ( 117847 ) Works for Rackspace <> on Friday April 23, 2010 @06:35PM (#31961896) Journal

    So, ever since family and friends found out I could help with arcane errors and problems with their Apple ][+ computers (did I mention I'm old? That was back in the early 80s) I've been standing between computers and users and trying to reconcile both to each other.

    Eventually, this turned in to a great opportunity for me to help people with their use of current technology. Are computers and software packages irritating? You bet! But being in the middle position between the user and CPU has been something I've enjoyed for more than a decade.

    Sure, I've been a developer and struggled directly with computers on one hand and produced software that unintentionally frustrated users on the other. But it's standing in the gap between the technology and humanity that I find myself the most valuable.

    As long as computers and software suck there will be a need for people like me. And, as it turns out, people prefer to turn their problems over to other people -- not wizards, FAQs, etc. -- for assistance.

    The trick is not considering users as the problem but oneself as a key to the solution.

  • "Computer science is about computers as much as astronomy is about telescopes"
  • As he's obviously never had to repair a Saab. Probably hasn't worked on any car older than 1996, either.

    The 1994-89 Saab 900 requires you to take out about a dozen screws to drop the front shield and SEE the lower radiator hose. With great effort, you can now replace it. Replacing the alternator requires removing the front passenger tire and the inner fender, that thing that keeps crap from blowing into the engine compartment around the wheel. Replacing the serpentine belt requires this also. Let's not

  • Hate (Score:2, Insightful)

    I've been reading Slashdot since '98 and am finally posting something. Personally, I can understand his hatred. I'm 29 now, and at 3 I got my first computer. (Mac 128k) At around 6 I got my first IBM PC. (Packard Bell) At 11 I started volunteering with a program at my school rebuilding donated PCs. With no manuals, swapping cards and guessing jumper settings was always fun. At 13 I started my first BBS. Unfortunately, about 2 weeks later the internet came to my town, I was not pleased. At 16, for th

God helps them that themselves. -- Benjamin Franklin, "Poor Richard's Almanac"