[Novalug] Starting up Tech Sessions (was "Other newbie topics....")
pereira at speakeasy.net
Wed Jan 2 21:50:03 EST 2008
I'd be interested, but for me the most useful would be something
slightly different than what I've seen discussed so far.
Here's a purely personal perspective. I've picked up useful things
from formal get-togethers, install-fests and such, but by far more
useful for me is, almost always, one-on-one input from a real guru
who pinpoints what the problem is, and then suggests a way to fix
Before I ask help I usually try to figure it out for myself, through
the HOWTOs, the man pages, and googling. For the simpler problems this
can work (by definition: if I don't solve it this way it clearly
isn't simple enough for me). It's a time-consuming way, but I think
I should not ask a question until I've at least learned enough about
the problem to understand guru-ese.
Then, the most edifying aspect of getting expert help in solving
the problem is to see how it's done. In contrast, unsatisfying to me
is learning all the ins and outs of a specific package. Courses on
'how to work with Microsoft Office' are of this type. You learn
the package, but most of it you don't need, you never use, and you
(or at least I) forget immediately. Where such course are useful
is that you can address the things that you need, through questions
that are open-ended and possibly even vague. You can't do this
through the 'help', and even less through the irritating paperclip
assistant: they see your words, but don't understand what you want.
An expert will listen, interpret your words, and come up with a
better way to make things happen the right way.
I have lots of things I'd like to fix on my machine, but since it's
a big, heavy box that's also more or less inaccessible, I'd like
to keep it sitting there, not take it with me to some room.
Instead, I'd like to ssh into the box, and then address the
various problems with help from a guru, electronically, at a distance.
I'm right there, but the machine is not.
Let me illustrate with a few ongoing examples:
A trivial one: I do: xpdf foo.pdf. I read the .pdf file,
and get out of it. I get an error message:
"Warning: Attempt to remove nonexistent passive grab"
I have tried, and failed, to figure out how to get rid of the
message, since it doesn't do anything useful.
A less trivial one: when I click on a URL in an email, the
URL opens up in "Dillo". This is fine, except that my Dillo doesn't
do lots of things that web pages ask for. I have not been able
to figure out how to call up the URL in another web page.
It should be simple to follow the trace, of the call to Dillo,
then to Dillo's bin, etc., but I get lost. A guru wouldn't.
An actual one. One of my boxes was used as a server, for a few web pages
with very little traffic. It ran RedHat 9, and Apache 1.3 or below.
Back then I had figured out how to specify virtual hosts, and this
worked fine. Now, after replacing RedHat with Ubuntu Server, I have
Apache2. The old Apache has all its directions in a single file,
but the new version has them split up in a few different directories,
one pointing to the other. This is probably more logical, but I have
no idea where to put the virtual host directives. If left to my own
devices I'd do it the old way, in a single large file, but I'd like
to do it the right way, as intended.
A simple example, just one virtual host in the right file in the
right directory, and I could do all the others. Another cry for a guru.
But, I'm not in the computer business, and I don't want to learn all
the ins and outs about Apache and servers and all. For me, it's enough
just to get by (with an honest D, or a gentleman's C perhaps): I prefer
to reserve the A-effort for things I really need.
So, for me, a full course on something or other might be largely
wasted, whereas occasional, individual, specific help is invaluable.
For others it may well be the opposite. Those infinitely curious
about what goes on inside their computers, people with good
memories of terse commands, and future professionals there may be
nothing better than a systematic introduction into a specific package.
But for me it's vast overkill: I'd much rather dial in to my computer,
solve one or a few problems, roam around some more while someone
knowledgeable pierces through the fog for me, and then go home and
do something else.
I take this opportunity to thank all the people on the list who have
listened to my (and other's) questions, and offered thoughtful help.
Your efforts make this mailing list worthwhile.
Shawn Wells wrote:
> greg pryzby wrote:
>> -----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE-----
>> Hash: SHA1
>> And there u go... I was hoping a vendor would step up
>> (Being the only non-SanFran employee for a company of less than 30, we
>> don't have space)
> I've put the request out to my management, we'll know soon if there can
> be a commitment. Several of us have been dying for a way to give back
> to the community.
> For those that would be interested, I have the following request: send
> an EMail saying that you're interested to the list. I'm expecting a
> "how many people...?" question and I'd like to be able to answer it with
> some accuracy. We have a couple different training rooms, all equipped
> with machines. Need to make sure that the rooms have enough space,
> machines, etc.
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> Novalug at calypso.tux.org
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