Ilan is currently certified at Master level.

Name: Ilan Volow
Member since: 2001-02-05 10:57:55
Last Login: N/A

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My choice after I quit film school was either to be a script writer for porno flicks or a linux UI designer. And to tell you the truth, there's hardly any difference.


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Here I go to all the trouble to steel myself up to release Directory Free KDE and the flames that will almost surely beat down my inbox, and then Freshmeat censors me and doesn't post the project on their site. Oh, the irony!

<rant> Of course, if someone did the rough equivalent of what I did and did it for similar reasons and did with the Linux kernel, Freshmeat wouldn't have a problem posting it. If someone did something like that with Apache, Freshmeat would definately post it. But a version of a project that fixes UI problems that the original project didn't consider worth fixing? Oh no, that's completely different. User interaction is far less important than technical stuff like Apache and the Kernel, therefore we consider a version of something that fixes a UI problem the original authors didn't care to fix merely an unimportant patch that doesn't merit a place on our site. </rant>

I might as well think positively for a change and reflect on the good that has come out of this situation.

  • I am far more happier with myself as a person for my doing this. I can finally look myself in the mirror and respect myself.
  • I have finally put something out, saying to hell with the criticism and silly looks I'm going to get and comments about my lack of programming ability (that don't take into account the fact that I hate programming and I only perform the dreaded act because no one will fix the broken UI).
  • I have finally stood up to the Kernigheze. Maybe things didn't go as planned, but it's a start. Long wars are not quickly won.
  • I have written the first piece of documentation placed under the Pro-User Documentation License (PUDL).

Anyhow, I'll guess I'll see about resubmitting to Freshmeat as a fork of KDE while I think up some alternative way of publicizing the release.

2 Feb 2004 (updated 2 Feb 2004 at 11:09 UTC) »

One score and several hours ago, a hammer was thrown on a Superbowl evening to signal the coming freedom of all end-users.

Twenty years later, on a Superbowl even, so do I now throw my hammer for a similar purpose.

I'm through talking and ready to start fighting. Whatever else happens, whether complete success or dismal failure, I stand proudly, only regretting I did not make this stand five years ago.

Random Entry For No Good Reason

I finally got the gumption to start a new Linux Users Group at NC State, which I call NOSUL (North Carolina Organization of Students Using Linux). Unlike other LUG's, NOSUL will be unique in that it is a desktop oriented LUG focused specifically on end-user issues.

I put up fliers announcing the formation of the NOSUL around 7 or 8 buildings on campus. The fliers have the usual "this is who we are, e-mail us if you're interested." There are also posted the first seven rules of NOSUL, to give the reader some initial idea of the 'flavor' of the group.

first rule of nosul: nosul is not a unix group.

second rule of nosul: nosul is not a unix group.

third rule: no terminals or command lines at meetings. we do things graphically and desktopically.

fourth rule: vi, emacs, and shell scripts do not exist.

fifth rule: it is okay to be a beginner. rtfm (read the fine manual) is to be considered a four letter word. there are no stupid end users (just stupid programmers).

sixth rule: it is okay to run operating systems other than linux at meetings, both in the capacity of audience member and presenter.

seventh rule: it is okay, and in fact encouraged, to criticize unusable and badly designed open source software and any projects or companies that produce it.

I actually find working on this group to by quite theraputic. When I get angry about the way that FOSS folks have been treating Those Who Are Not Unix Geeks, I put up a few fliers around NCSU and start feeling better. I think I feel much better because unlike before, where I just sat and stewed and was too scared to do anything, I now feel that I am actually doing something to fight against the traditional FOSS people and what they stand for.

As a wise man once said, it's only when you've lost everything that you're free to do anything.

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything"--Alexander Hamilton.

Today, at NCSU, I stood.

Woz Day

Yesterday, the Woz event at NCSU happened. I finally got to meet Woz!!! He was really cool, and for someone who started the whole personal computer revolution, he was surprisingly keen on interacting with people, and also on the difficulties that most normal people have using their computers, too.

His speech was really good. I'll just leave it at that.

Later, at the party after his speech, he gave out to each person two two-dollar bills ripped from this tablet of two-dollar bills he had with him. The two two-dollar bills that everyone got were still stuck together along a perforated line. I had no idea how the hell he managed to get a hold of that stuff, but apparently it was real. He told some interesting stories about things he did with those bills, like folding two to look like one and then paying with it. And the trouble he got into as a result (like being interrogated by casino owners). Woz, while being a technical genius, is also a great storyteller.

I even got to show him one of the programs I'm writing. I figured that if the computer science department can show off their stuff, why the hell can't I show off mine? For the last several weeks I've been working on this piece of software that makes it easier for NCSU students to look over the course options for registering for courses. I already had the downloading and searching options written (in keeping with my "design the UI before you ever write the code" philosophy, I had done a lot of sketches of the UI beforehand). But the code for the UI hadn't yet been written. So on friday after I say "f*ck this, I'm never going to get this crap done with WxWindows" and fell back to gtk/glade. I spent from 6PM friday until 11AM saturday writing the UI and attaching it to the search code, with absolutely no sleep and way too much caffeine in my system. Sometimes I thought I should just give up and go to sleep. But I kept at it.

Anyhow, fast forward to 9PM at the after-speech party, I finally show my program to Woz just as he's about to leave. I had tested it a few times at the party, and it worked perfectly. I finally bring Woz (and the 6-8 other onlookers who followed him) to see my app in action. And it doesn't work! I was horrified. Here's the guy who invented the freaking personal computer, I show him my program, and the damn thing doesn't work! He was like "I know the feeling" and all cool about it, so I didn't feel that bad. But at the last minute, after twiddling with the search parameters, something kicked in and the window came up! Success. He thought the program was cool and shook my hand. That made my weekend. Incidentally, someone had told me that there was already a program called x-tracs that sort of did the same thing (which made me feel sheepish), but mine looked more refined (which made me feel less sheepish).

At 10PM saturday night, I finally get home, after not sleeping for around 32 hours.

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