Tuesday, December 22, 2015

A New Feature

I know I don't post very often. I'm sorry if your the type that loves to hear what I have to say, but it takes longer than usual for me to refine a post than one would think. Some posts take several weeks of research and composting before they are ready to see the little screen in front of you, and more don't even get that far before I pluck them from the drafts page, deciding that they aren't Here and Now material.

So after saying that, I would like to announce a new feature of this blog. If you send me an email to this address with the subject being: "The Phantom Tollbooth," I will have Blogger send you an email every time I do post, with the post itself and a link to the blog.

On Responsibility

Have you ever heard the phrase, “With great power comes great responsibility.”?

It has a nice ring to it, even if it is as cliché as we know it is. We won’t speak to much about the phrase’s origins, but focus on more about what it means in relation to our own lives.

Disclaimer: For this post, we are focusing on only the definition of this word pertaining to this phrase!

What is responsibility anyway? The word itself is the compound form of the words Response and ability. It is a response to your own ability. If something needs to be done and you are asked to do it, you have the responsibility of doing it. However, all responsibilities, by definition, are optional, and of the thousands of responsibilities we encounter in our lives, only a fraction we fulfill. If we punish someone for not fulfilling a responsibility, it has failed to be a responsibility anymore. It is now a duty. 
I will use an example to explain it. Hypothetically speaking, I work at a bakery. Before I started working there I spoke to the owner who told me to read about how to bake bread, bagels, elephant ears; fry doughnuts, twists, etc. I didn’t have to do it, but it was a responsibility I decided to fulfill. When I came to work at the bakery, it was easier for the workers there to teach me how to do what I studied. The actual hands on baking. Within a few short months of working there I was proven a diligent worker, and was asked to manage the shop closing every Friday night so that my boss could go home and watch his favorite TV show. I accepted this as a duty to fulfill, and if I had failed after taking it up, I would easily have gotten into serious trouble, but because of me being successful, I was eventually given more duties to fulfill, and so on.

This example also illustrates one of my favorite parables in the Bible. It is found in Luke 12:41-48. In it, if you are not familiar with this passage off the top of your head, Jesus is speaking to the disciples about stewardship, and our duty to be good stewards of what he has given us. 
He speaks of a steward for a great lord. When the lord of the house goes away, he expects that the steward will keep the house functioning properly, giving each of the lower hands their portions of “meat in due season.” And “Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing.” he goes on to say, “…he will make him ruler over all that he hath.” 45: “But if that servant say in his heart, “My lord delayeth his coming,” and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink to be drunken; The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him…47: And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, nor did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. …”
He goes on to say that if a person didn’t know what was required of him and as a result didn’t do what was required of him, he is still guilty to some extent, but his punishment will be less severe.
The second half of verse 48 is what is really getting close to the axiom, “With great power comes great responsibility.”
“…For unto whomsoever much is given, much will be required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask more.”

So now it has become apparent our axiom, no matter how profound it may sound to some, is a truism. Any time you have responsibility, it already implies that you have power, or ability; in this case these two are synonymous, and vice versa. 
For me, I can play the organ. I have a responsibility to continue getting better at it, practicing and learning new pieces. Because I take lessons I also have a duty to practice regularly and in the way my teacher has instructed me. I do not always fulfill this duty, and the punishment is not severe, but it is mandated by my teacher to practice, so practice I must. 
So with great power comes great responsibility? Is great the keyword in all this? Is that what makes it different? It shouldn’t be. No matter who you are, or where you are, you have some ability to do things. Even if your current ability is to gain ability, then you are responsible for doing just that.
Do you have to do it? Of course not! If it is not your duty then no. If you are not accountable, then no, you don’t have to do it. But you will be the one missing out in the end if you don’t. 

I have to do one more thing here. It would be terribly easy to twist this post into something awful if I don’t say this, so I need to make a distinction.
To put it simply, all of us are capable of doing evil things. We do not, however have the responsibility to do those evil things because they are not desirable, or helpful to others. 
Here is a note: all responsibilities have one thing in common: they all benefit someone else besides yourself. Think about it for a second. Have you ever had a responsibility that only benefited yourself? You can’t think of one can you? However, if you can, please post a comment or send me an email. I’d love to hear form you.


Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The One About OSs

Amongst the computer nerds, programmers, networkers, consultants, and even geeks, there is always a divide between what operating system is superior. This has been dubbed by RationalWiki as "OS Wars." Many of the more technically inclined like to poke fun at some of the more misunderstood operating systems. This picture presents an analogy of the three most common operating systems.

What can we infer about the author of this infographic? Immediately a Mac user will infer that the author has never used Mac, or never used it extensively. Any casual viewer will infer that the author doesn’t like Mac in favor of Linux, and judging by the corresponding pictures of dog breeds, we can tell that his views of Mac are that it is a joke of an OS, just like the Yorky is a joke of a dog.

I think that I will start with Linux. I like Linux for the most part. I think that the claims the Linux community make about it’s stability are a load of garbage, having used several distros. Maybe it’s just my computer. The only version I liked, coincidentally to this situation, was Puppy Linux. Lightweight and fast! The only one that didn’t crash after a day’s use and no reboot. As hard as that is to believe for some Linux enthusiasts, it does crash. Especially Linux Mint, which I liked a great deal while using it, it just took a rather long time to get everything set up and running. But it crashed after my sister logged in on another user and any time I left it running for a few hours before resuming my session. That might not be the OS itself’s problem, only the distro, but until I can test it further, I will be comfortable using Mac.

The other silly part about the Linux is that even within the Linux Community there is a huge divide between which is the superior distribution. Those who use Kali Linux or ArchLinux might make fun of people that use Ubuntu or Mint. I believe a very wise man once said "For how can a house divided against itself remain standing?"

Windows on the other hand is the Lingua Franca of computing. Everyone should know how to use Windows, and nearly everyone does. People from the Mac camp curse at it because it’s so difficult to understand. They have to make the simplest jobs complex! People from the Linux camp scorn it. Windows? Seriously? Have fun crashing and catch a virus! But it is the most common desktop OS, so there are a lot of smart people that use it, and for good reason. The lion share of software is written specifically for Windows, and runs the smoothest on it as well. There is tons of free software written for Windows. Most people will be able to follow directions of how to do something on their computer when they’re not around, because the chances are that the person you’re talking to is a Windows user.

I grew up using Windows, way back when XP was a thing. I would still rather use XP over anything, quite frankly. Why? Because it was simple. I knew everything about how it worked, and it was easy to use. As far as I can remember, it never crashed once while I used it and MS Paint was awesome! But now I am very content with our next topic on the list: Mac OS X.

Mac has an interesting history, which I won’t discuss here, but perhaps in a future blog post. Mac is pretty. It is not useless. It does do cute tricks that I have seen done somewhat on Linux. It does work for years, a small malady will not knock it out and it can survive rough play. Mac is actually an Operating system that can take some pretty harsh things in stride. You can do anything on Mac that you can do in Linux, but in most cases the software is a lot nicer. Mac is a good operating system because it makes a lot of jobs simpler that are confusing in windows, like connecting a printer, for instance. I didn’t have to place the driver files manually where I could find them and change the path. It’s insanely easy to adjust screen brightness, which is important on a laptop. With every PC I’ve used, doing that has been more difficult than it needed to be. Mac just makes sense in so many ways. I chose Mac over any kind of PC because I wanted something that would give me fewer headaches than I knew I would get with either Windows or Linux. Ironically, the only headaches I have encountered are design flaws, not technical flaws, which are rampant in both Windows and Linux!

When it boils down to it, I I like to say that extremes are dangerous in almost any situation. Exceptions will be noted and discussed in a later post, but to say that one OS is superior to another is simply never going to be the case. The whole concept of “OS Wars” is so inflated and stupid for me to get caught up in, that I take the more stable (no pun intended) view that each OS has it’s own strengths and weaknesses. I would like to say that Mac is easier to use than Windows or Linux, but there are some parts about it that are difficult to deal with. I don’t use Linux on a day to day basis; I just don’t have the time right now to learn how to use it. I understand enough to get by, and what I learn for the Terminal in Mac, I can almost directly reapply it in Linux, since they use the same shell, but all the ins and outs of it I will have to discover later.

For now, I will use Mac for programming, writing, and the occasional necessity of video editing.

Please don’t judge any OS before at least trying it. I hope you don’t get me wrong about how I feel about Linux! I love the idea of a free and open source platform, and I’ll have to learn how to use it later when I start maintaining servers.  Until then, I will happily take the criticism of all those open minded people that use Linux, all the while using Mac, and occasionally Windows.