National Coming Out Day…

…woudn’t be necessary if nobody stayed in the closet. Staying in the closet wouldn’t be necessary if people, on the whole, weren’t a bunch of judgmental monkeys. It gets more complicated, though, when one considers that staying in the closet means not confronting the fears and prejudices of others, which means that fear and prejudice tends to take firmer hold.

I thought about making a “national coming out day” post, but it’s kind of difficult to do that when one is already about as “out” as it’s possible to be without getting posterboard, Magic Marker, and glitter involved. So what does that leave to say?

Straight. Check. Though honestly, that’s a bug, not a feature.

Poly. Check. Three current partners, one potential new partner, and I still live alone. Clearly, I’m doing something wrong.

Kinky. Check. Just bought forty feet of lovely black rope the day before yesterday, which I may even have a chance to use soon.

Mad scientist. Check. One day, you will all revere me as your overlord. Unless you’re Steve “Monkey Boy” Ballmer, that is. He’ll be the first against the wall when the revolution comes and my army of unstoppable hunter-killer bots sweeps the globe.

Linux-basher. Check. Yeah, I know, I know, that’ll get you killed in some places, but… Gnome sucks. KDE sucks. The entire open-source community can’t create a decent user interface to save its collective ass. I’m sorry, but I just can’t live a lie. It needs to be said. Even if nobody else will say it.

And now, off to dinner with the surrealistically sexy feyscorruption.

86 thoughts on “National Coming Out Day…

  1. The entire open-source community can’t create a decent user interface to save its collective ass. I’m sorry, but I just can’t live a lie

    Neither, apparently, can anyone else.

    Windows XP plain sucks. Sure, it’s better than NT and Win98 and so on, but it’s still pretty pathetic.

    MacOS X? Even if we ignore all the underlying mess that Carbon makes and which is exposed to the user (eg remapping of Unix filenames into HFS style filenames, which are visible in iTunes) just try using it on a 42″ 1080p TV at 12 foot distance. The UI wasn’t designed for that and can’t easily be adjusted (at least I can’t find out how to, neither can MacOS advocates). So fonts are too small etc etc.

    If we go to “set top” devices… the FIOS DVR is worse than terrible. The TiVo UI is barely acceptable and has many irritations. The older Microsoft UltimateTV interface was better to use, but the product itself lacked some functionality. Or lets go simpler… DVD recorders. Philips really make theirs complicated. Or even a DVD player with slow klunky load times and obscure on-screen icons.

    There’s a reason I use command lines for most things 🙂

    • I think the challenge is that a user interface is trying to be intuitive AND straight-forward. A command line is very straight-forward, but horribly nonintuitive. Most other interfaces are “intuitive if you think a certain way” or else too complex to really manage either: I honestly cannot think of a way to take all the information in my Windows Control Panel and make it intuitive OR straight-forward to the average user.

      Certainly, though, I think GUI design is moving in the right direction. The main issue is that, unlike every other complex device out there, people expect computers to “just work”, with no real training. It’d be like expecting a graphing calculator to solve word problems, or driving a car with no experience – complex devices work with your skills, not as a replacement to them 🙂

      • I’m not it’s a “just work” problem (mostly they _do_) but a “work the way I want” problem. Definitely it is for me. For example Windows XP brings the current window with focus to the front. I don’t want that. I hate it. It makes my life harder. Fvwm1.22r from the early 90s allowed me to configure X like that, so why not XP? And there’s the next problem… allowing configuration increases complexity and more controls to be exposed to the user, reducing simplicity. Vicious circle.

        I work on the command line simply because it mostly does what I want. I’ve not used a modern X window manager for more than a few minutes at a time because of this.

        • *nods* For you, a command line works well. For a “main stream audience”, which is the WindowsXP target audience, it doesn’t “just work.” I’m starting to think that simply having access to multiple interfaces does help a bit, as with Windows still having a command line, but the current implementation does leave rather a lot to be desired. I want the ability to slide in to advanced mode and set those sorts of settings, without a normal user ever having to be aware that “focus to the front” is an option 🙂

  2. The entire open-source community can’t create a decent user interface to save its collective ass. I’m sorry, but I just can’t live a lie

    Neither, apparently, can anyone else.

    Windows XP plain sucks. Sure, it’s better than NT and Win98 and so on, but it’s still pretty pathetic.

    MacOS X? Even if we ignore all the underlying mess that Carbon makes and which is exposed to the user (eg remapping of Unix filenames into HFS style filenames, which are visible in iTunes) just try using it on a 42″ 1080p TV at 12 foot distance. The UI wasn’t designed for that and can’t easily be adjusted (at least I can’t find out how to, neither can MacOS advocates). So fonts are too small etc etc.

    If we go to “set top” devices… the FIOS DVR is worse than terrible. The TiVo UI is barely acceptable and has many irritations. The older Microsoft UltimateTV interface was better to use, but the product itself lacked some functionality. Or lets go simpler… DVD recorders. Philips really make theirs complicated. Or even a DVD player with slow klunky load times and obscure on-screen icons.

    There’s a reason I use command lines for most things 🙂

  3. I really appreciate this post. It’s always nice to suddenly discover that there are others like you out there. I live someplace where you just can’t get away with openly admitting that sort of thing, but… I’m totally in agreement with you on Linux. I felt like I just wasn’t trying hard enough, but now I realize it was just how I was born.

    (*grin*)

  4. I really appreciate this post. It’s always nice to suddenly discover that there are others like you out there. I live someplace where you just can’t get away with openly admitting that sort of thing, but… I’m totally in agreement with you on Linux. I felt like I just wasn’t trying hard enough, but now I realize it was just how I was born.

    (*grin*)

  5. Linux-basher. Check. Yeah, I know, I know, that’ll get you killed in some places, but… Gnome sucks. KDE sucks. The entire open-source community can’t create a decent user interface to save its collective ass. I’m sorry, but I just can’t live a lie. It needs to be said. Even if nobody else will say it.

    w00t! You rock.

  6. Mad scientist. Check. One day, you will all revere me as your overlord. Unless you’re Steve “Monkey Boy” Ballmer, that is. He’ll be the first against the wall when the revolution comes and my army of unstoppable hunter-killer bots sweeps the globe.

    I make a mighty fine Igor, or so I’m told…

  7. Kinky. Check. Just bought forty feet of lovely black rope the day before yesterday, which I may even have a chance to use soon.

    I NEED some! Where do you buy yours?

  8. Linux-basher. Check. Yeah, I know, I know, that’ll get you killed in some places, but… Gnome sucks. KDE sucks. The entire open-source community can’t create a decent user interface to save its collective ass. I’m sorry, but I just can’t live a lie. It needs to be said. Even if nobody else will say it.

    w00t! You rock.

  9. Mad scientist. Check. One day, you will all revere me as your overlord. Unless you’re Steve “Monkey Boy” Ballmer, that is. He’ll be the first against the wall when the revolution comes and my army of unstoppable hunter-killer bots sweeps the globe.

    I make a mighty fine Igor, or so I’m told…

  10. Kinky. Check. Just bought forty feet of lovely black rope the day before yesterday, which I may even have a chance to use soon.

    I NEED some! Where do you buy yours?

  11. I think the challenge is that a user interface is trying to be intuitive AND straight-forward. A command line is very straight-forward, but horribly nonintuitive. Most other interfaces are “intuitive if you think a certain way” or else too complex to really manage either: I honestly cannot think of a way to take all the information in my Windows Control Panel and make it intuitive OR straight-forward to the average user.

    Certainly, though, I think GUI design is moving in the right direction. The main issue is that, unlike every other complex device out there, people expect computers to “just work”, with no real training. It’d be like expecting a graphing calculator to solve word problems, or driving a car with no experience – complex devices work with your skills, not as a replacement to them 🙂

  12. Linux-basher. Check. Yeah, I know, I know, that’ll get you killed in some places, but… Gnome sucks. KDE sucks. The entire open-source community can’t create a decent user interface to save its collective ass. I’m sorry, but I just can’t live a lie. It needs to be said. Even if nobody else will say it.

    Meh. GNOME and KDE aren’t Linux. 🙂

    Give me 50 xterms, a web browser, a chat client and 6 virtual desktops, and I’m fairly happy. I was happy with OLVWM, for goodness sakes.

    • Give me 50 xterms, a web browser, a chat client and 6 virtual desktops, and I’m fairly happy.

      When I really started getting serious about programming, as opposed to just knocking up Z80 assembly language on my TRS-80, I was using a DECsystem-20 and a CDC Cyber 950, via hard-wired serial terminals (Televideo 920c and DEC VT-120, mostly). Everything was done using a command line on an 80×24 green-screen display.

      Today, we have modern Linux systems with high-resolution, 3D accelerated graphics cards, so that we can open a dozen virtual terminals inside of windows all at once, and each one of those windows emulates…a DEC VT-100. Linux power users are truly the Amish of the computer world.

      • ROFL! Indeed! *cleans spilled coffee off desk*

        What’s even sadder are the kinds of things I power-use Linux for… such as computing a 32GB database of minimal instruction sequences for a particular task, or developing video games in assembly.

        I started my first serious C programming logging into a SparcStation 2 over the campus ISN network (9600 baud in the dorms, 19200 in some of the labs) on an 80×25 green screen. I also had a decent (for the time) PC with TurboPascal and TurboC… both of which I configured for green-on-black. 🙂

        I’ve upgraded from green screen to more dynamic color now, but still light-on-dark. (The other Amish look on disapprovingly… “Are those *buttons*?!?”)

        • You know, I hate to have to admit this, but I’ve actually set custom colors on my Mac terminal software so that it’s green-on-black by default. Only I take advantage of modern computing power by making the terminal windows very slightly translucent…

          The overall effect looks rather like your userpic, which, by the way, I like a lot.

  13. Linux-basher. Check. Yeah, I know, I know, that’ll get you killed in some places, but… Gnome sucks. KDE sucks. The entire open-source community can’t create a decent user interface to save its collective ass. I’m sorry, but I just can’t live a lie. It needs to be said. Even if nobody else will say it.

    Meh. GNOME and KDE aren’t Linux. 🙂

    Give me 50 xterms, a web browser, a chat client and 6 virtual desktops, and I’m fairly happy. I was happy with OLVWM, for goodness sakes.

  14. honestly i’d rather have multiple happy, healthy relationships than live with a partner. ideally the two coincide, but in my only experience they didn’t at all.

    • Ideally, I’d have multiple happy, healthy relationships with live-in partners who can cook. 🙂

      I get the point about a good long-distance relationship being better than a bad live-in relationship, but quite honestly, seeing my partners at most a couple times a month, if I’m lucky, kinda sucks.

  15. honestly i’d rather have multiple happy, healthy relationships than live with a partner. ideally the two coincide, but in my only experience they didn’t at all.

    • I generally tend to get along very well with my partners, so there’s not a lot of conflict. I’m pretty easygoing and don’t get riled up easily, so conflict is a rarity–which I think is a feature, not a bug. 🙂

  16. without getting posterboard, Magic Marker, and glitter involved.

    LOL.

    Anyway, I have four partners and I still live “alone”. Though “alone” is a relative state because there’s generally someone over to my house every night, and the nights there aren’t, I relish my alone time. And at the end it’s still my place, and for now I’m good with that. I’ve been married twice already.

    If I remember correctly, though, you have at least one LDR involved, so I imagine things are different for you.

  17. without getting posterboard, Magic Marker, and glitter involved.

    LOL.

    Anyway, I have four partners and I still live “alone”. Though “alone” is a relative state because there’s generally someone over to my house every night, and the nights there aren’t, I relish my alone time. And at the end it’s still my place, and for now I’m good with that. I’ve been married twice already.

    If I remember correctly, though, you have at least one LDR involved, so I imagine things are different for you.

  18. I’m not it’s a “just work” problem (mostly they _do_) but a “work the way I want” problem. Definitely it is for me. For example Windows XP brings the current window with focus to the front. I don’t want that. I hate it. It makes my life harder. Fvwm1.22r from the early 90s allowed me to configure X like that, so why not XP? And there’s the next problem… allowing configuration increases complexity and more controls to be exposed to the user, reducing simplicity. Vicious circle.

    I work on the command line simply because it mostly does what I want. I’ve not used a modern X window manager for more than a few minutes at a time because of this.

  19. Not overly surprisingly, the bullet that’s generating the most conversation is “linux-basher” 🙂

    So I’ll jump in, too.

    You’re right; KDE and Gnome are both crappy UI implementations. However, are they any worse than the rest of the selection? If you know of a UI that’s massively better than either of those (or WinXP, for that matter, for all that it’s not much different), do tell. I am generally disenchanted with the available OS’s, but there isn’t much else I can do, short of writing my own, now is there?

    • Not overly surprisingly, the bullet that’s generating the most conversation is “linux-basher” 🙂

      *tongue in cheek* That’s ‘cos it’s the only place where he’s insane 🙂

      Probably more to the point there’s little that can be said on the other points that hasn’t been said before; the man himself says he’s as “out” as can be. This pretty much only leaves one topic for discussion, and is _has_ been a discussion rather than flames.

    • I’m actually quite fond of the OS X user interface (certainly over either KDE or Gnome), despite its shortcomings. It is, in my experience, generally the best thought-out of the lot, with a great deal of attention paid to smoothing over the bits that matter.

      For example, I really like having an application’s menu bar at the physical top of the screen, rather than attached to the application’s parent window. It makes finding the menu bar effortless and fast under all circumstances, and also makes the overall experience of using the computer more document-centric rather than application-centric. I love how powerful, pervasive, and seamless drag-and-drop works in OS X; while it’s available to some extent on all the operating system user interfaces (and I realize it originated on Solaris), it’s everywhere in OS X, and the operating system implements some considerable behind-the-scenes horsepower in the API that lets applications make data available and translate data on the scrap for drag and drop.

      I’d like to see OS X get the “pinnable menus” you find in Solaris, and I absolutely love tearoff menus–I had third-party hacks that implemented these in everything from System 6 to OS 9, but haven’t found a good implementation in OS X yet.

      Shelly and I go back and forth on the Windows (and KDE/Gnome) “taskbar” concept. She loves that a minimized window collapses to the bottom of the screen and acts like a button; I don’t. The difference, I think, is one of workstyle. I will typically, on any given day, have a very large number of applications and windows open; as I type this right now, I have ten applications running on this notebook, and I don’t even want to try to count the number of documents I have open right now. When i minimize things in KDE or Windows, I end up with a taskbar that’s stacked, no exaggeration, three or four deep in tiny buttons that have shrunk to the point where they’re totally unreadable. I prefer the OS X approach–not because it sends minimized windows down to the Dock–I don’t much like that at all, and rarely use it–but rather because I can hold down the Option key on the keyboard when I click on a window, and all the windows save for the one I just clicked on will vanish. Clicking on an application’s icon in the Dock brings theem all back instantly; option-clicking doesn’t make the windows I don’t want to see minimize, it makes them go away until I need them again. I do this so effortlessly that I find myself control-clicking on my Windows box, expecting that it’ll zap all my unwanted windows away, and sadly, it doesn’t.

  20. Not overly surprisingly, the bullet that’s generating the most conversation is “linux-basher” 🙂

    So I’ll jump in, too.

    You’re right; KDE and Gnome are both crappy UI implementations. However, are they any worse than the rest of the selection? If you know of a UI that’s massively better than either of those (or WinXP, for that matter, for all that it’s not much different), do tell. I am generally disenchanted with the available OS’s, but there isn’t much else I can do, short of writing my own, now is there?

  21. Not overly surprisingly, the bullet that’s generating the most conversation is “linux-basher” 🙂

    *tongue in cheek* That’s ‘cos it’s the only place where he’s insane 🙂

    Probably more to the point there’s little that can be said on the other points that hasn’t been said before; the man himself says he’s as “out” as can be. This pretty much only leaves one topic for discussion, and is _has_ been a discussion rather than flames.

  22. *nods* For you, a command line works well. For a “main stream audience”, which is the WindowsXP target audience, it doesn’t “just work.” I’m starting to think that simply having access to multiple interfaces does help a bit, as with Windows still having a command line, but the current implementation does leave rather a lot to be desired. I want the ability to slide in to advanced mode and set those sorts of settings, without a normal user ever having to be aware that “focus to the front” is an option 🙂

  23. hi. I’m’a good friend of and he and I were talking the other day about Livejournal when he mentioned you, I mentioned I wasn’t friended to you, and he said I should be. (hello, run-on sentence, nice to meet you.)

    So I checked out your journal a bit and I think you’re a pretty interesting person. Wanna be friends?

  24. hi. I’m’a good friend of and he and I were talking the other day about Livejournal when he mentioned you, I mentioned I wasn’t friended to you, and he said I should be. (hello, run-on sentence, nice to meet you.)

    So I checked out your journal a bit and I think you’re a pretty interesting person. Wanna be friends?

  25. OT — but thanks

    Hi — I’ve just realised who you are. I wanted to say thanks for all your online essays. When I met my partner, and he told me he was in a poly relationship, I read them all to see if I thought I could handle it. I just kind of wish that his spouse, the only one of us who actually identifies as poly, had done. Anyway, they are very helpful.

  26. OT — but thanks

    Hi — I’ve just realised who you are. I wanted to say thanks for all your online essays. When I met my partner, and he told me he was in a poly relationship, I read them all to see if I thought I could handle it. I just kind of wish that his spouse, the only one of us who actually identifies as poly, had done. Anyway, they are very helpful.

  27. Likewise! Can I steal that line? I’ve been telling people for a while that I’m annoyed/disappointed in my own straightness, but this is a much cuter and geekier way of putting it.

  28. Got it at Home Depot, as a matter of fact! 🙂 Same exact rope they sell at Fairvilla, only cheaper. The Home Depot I went to only had it in black, but I’ve seen it in other colors at other stores.

  29. Give me 50 xterms, a web browser, a chat client and 6 virtual desktops, and I’m fairly happy.

    When I really started getting serious about programming, as opposed to just knocking up Z80 assembly language on my TRS-80, I was using a DECsystem-20 and a CDC Cyber 950, via hard-wired serial terminals (Televideo 920c and DEC VT-120, mostly). Everything was done using a command line on an 80×24 green-screen display.

    Today, we have modern Linux systems with high-resolution, 3D accelerated graphics cards, so that we can open a dozen virtual terminals inside of windows all at once, and each one of those windows emulates…a DEC VT-100. Linux power users are truly the Amish of the computer world.

  30. Ideally, I’d have multiple happy, healthy relationships with live-in partners who can cook. 🙂

    I get the point about a good long-distance relationship being better than a bad live-in relationship, but quite honestly, seeing my partners at most a couple times a month, if I’m lucky, kinda sucks.

  31. I generally tend to get along very well with my partners, so there’s not a lot of conflict. I’m pretty easygoing and don’t get riled up easily, so conflict is a rarity–which I think is a feature, not a bug. 🙂

  32. I’m actually quite fond of the OS X user interface (certainly over either KDE or Gnome), despite its shortcomings. It is, in my experience, generally the best thought-out of the lot, with a great deal of attention paid to smoothing over the bits that matter.

    For example, I really like having an application’s menu bar at the physical top of the screen, rather than attached to the application’s parent window. It makes finding the menu bar effortless and fast under all circumstances, and also makes the overall experience of using the computer more document-centric rather than application-centric. I love how powerful, pervasive, and seamless drag-and-drop works in OS X; while it’s available to some extent on all the operating system user interfaces (and I realize it originated on Solaris), it’s everywhere in OS X, and the operating system implements some considerable behind-the-scenes horsepower in the API that lets applications make data available and translate data on the scrap for drag and drop.

    I’d like to see OS X get the “pinnable menus” you find in Solaris, and I absolutely love tearoff menus–I had third-party hacks that implemented these in everything from System 6 to OS 9, but haven’t found a good implementation in OS X yet.

    Shelly and I go back and forth on the Windows (and KDE/Gnome) “taskbar” concept. She loves that a minimized window collapses to the bottom of the screen and acts like a button; I don’t. The difference, I think, is one of workstyle. I will typically, on any given day, have a very large number of applications and windows open; as I type this right now, I have ten applications running on this notebook, and I don’t even want to try to count the number of documents I have open right now. When i minimize things in KDE or Windows, I end up with a taskbar that’s stacked, no exaggeration, three or four deep in tiny buttons that have shrunk to the point where they’re totally unreadable. I prefer the OS X approach–not because it sends minimized windows down to the Dock–I don’t much like that at all, and rarely use it–but rather because I can hold down the Option key on the keyboard when I click on a window, and all the windows save for the one I just clicked on will vanish. Clicking on an application’s icon in the Dock brings theem all back instantly; option-clicking doesn’t make the windows I don’t want to see minimize, it makes them go away until I need them again. I do this so effortlessly that I find myself control-clicking on my Windows box, expecting that it’ll zap all my unwanted windows away, and sadly, it doesn’t.

  33. ROFL! Indeed! *cleans spilled coffee off desk*

    What’s even sadder are the kinds of things I power-use Linux for… such as computing a 32GB database of minimal instruction sequences for a particular task, or developing video games in assembly.

    I started my first serious C programming logging into a SparcStation 2 over the campus ISN network (9600 baud in the dorms, 19200 in some of the labs) on an 80×25 green screen. I also had a decent (for the time) PC with TurboPascal and TurboC… both of which I configured for green-on-black. 🙂

    I’ve upgraded from green screen to more dynamic color now, but still light-on-dark. (The other Amish look on disapprovingly… “Are those *buttons*?!?”)

  34. that’s a good idea; but I don’t know how to estimate. She’s 5’8″ or so, under 150lbs and has huge tracts of land (happy dance!).

    I did a simple harness — using your instructions, no less — but didn’t have much left over with the short rope I have. I want to make her a mummy from shins to shoulders. What do you suggest?

  35. You know, I hate to have to admit this, but I’ve actually set custom colors on my Mac terminal software so that it’s green-on-black by default. Only I take advantage of modern computing power by making the terminal windows very slightly translucent…

    The overall effect looks rather like your userpic, which, by the way, I like a lot.

  36. Not likely very soon, dammit.

    Actually, I’ve considered moving to Chicago, and if/when things go pear-shaped with the company I’m with down here, I’ll be there in a heartbeat.

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