The next day, I approached Taylor in one of the breaks carrying a printout of an essay by Eric S. Raymond entitled "How to become a Hacker". I was quite vexed, and wanted to consult him regarding it.
"Taylor," I said without saying hello, "what the hell does this Eric Raymond character want from me?".
"What did you find wrong with it?"
"Let's see: role playing games - you know I hate them."
"You don't need to like RPG's to be a hacker."
"Or Science Fiction. I prefer humourous writings and Realism."
"It won't make you any less of a computer geek."
"Here's another thing:", I said as I went over the document, "'Zen or Martial Arts'. You know the mere thought of hurting someone else freaks me out and that I hit like a girl.".
"Hit like a girl?", Taylor said, "Tell you what - here's my open hand. Hit it as hard as you can with your fist? Let's check your claim."
"Really," I said looking at his open hand?
"Yeah sure. I'm ready."
I backed up my right hand, and hit his fist as hard as I could. Taylor cried "ow", and rubbed his left hand with his right. Then he said out of quite a pain, "Hitting like a girl packs quite a punch."
"Oh, right… weight-training… among else. Are you alright?"
"I'll be OK.", he said as he released his left hand.
"Heh", I smiled, "So I'm a bit strong. So what? I still don't want to learn Martial Arts." I said. "And what kind of language is 'Python' . Who would name a language after a snake."
"Well, as far as I know Erisa, she'll probably teach you Perl instead."
"But Raymond says…"
"ESR (that's how we refer to Eric S. Raymond), is a very nice guy, but he has several faults. One of them is being a Pythoneer who bashes Perl quite irrationally. Erisa has learned Perl as the first of her so-called 'scripting languages', and she still prefers it to Python. She also told me that someone once told her that he'd rather teach people Perl at start, because it's a language they can express themselves in."
"Well, I remember most of the Java I learned in class last year", I said, "so I guess I'll be alright."
"Jenn, " he told me as he smiled, "It's not the same, but I'm sure you will.".
~~maybe have a step by step ubuntu instal and tweak for sudol~~ Erisa dropped by my house on Saturday. My brother answered the door, and was shocked, and a bit scared of the way she looked. After consulting me, I told him it was alright, and let her into my room.
Erisa brought the CDs of the Linux distribution (they were burned), and said I could keep them. "Before we start, let me start Windows and check for configuration and stuff," she said.
"Wow!" she said later, "65 Gigs free out of 80? You obviously don't make too much use of this machine. Well, that'll give us enough space for installing Linux."
"OK, ", she said, "now you sit at the computer and go through the installation, read the instructions and let me know what you think. I'll let you know what you should do next."
"OK, " I said, as we switched places.
Well, except for the part about re-partitioning which confused me a bit, everything was reasonably understood. Then Erisa instructed me to reboot the computer.
When it started, it displayed a nice graphical menu which said if I would like to start Linux or Windows. I chose Linux naturally. Then a large number of messages appeared (Erisa said even she didn't understand them all), and then I got the so-called "login" prompt, that asked me for a username.
"OK, " said Erisa, "we took note of your username and password, and of your root password. The root user can do anything, so it is considered a bad idea to use it all the time. When I started like you, I worked all the time as root, but you shouldn't duplicate my mistakes."
"Heh heh", I giggled. "OK, I'll just enter 'jennray' here, and 'schrodinger6590' here. OK?
After that, this thing called KDE loaded (, displaying a nice bootscreen. And afterwards, I saw the work screen.
"Wow!" I said, "this is beautiful.". And indeed it was: the icons were smooth and attractive, the windows had very nice decorations, it just invited people to play with it. I figured out the menu with the star was equivalent to Windows "Start" thingy, and started browsing the menus and starting applications.
"Hold it right there, girlfriend!" Erisa barked at me, "You ain't paying me to play with Linux on my time. Now let me show you a couple of things…"
~~again, tailor to ubuntu and have erisa explain gimp. have the assignment be to set up a drupal page
She showed me how to access the two control centers. (one for the desktop, and one for the entire system.) How to browse and manage files using the file-manager. (it had a cute Home icon), and explained about the kate text editor and why text editors in general are useful in UNIX. ("Linux belongs to a large family of operating systems, past and present, called UNIXes, which share a lot in common. So if you hear the term 'UNIX', don't freak out.")
She ended up with searching Google and the Web for some good resources for editing HTML. She bookmarked all of them in the web browser, and then said:
"Now, your homework for the next week is to prepare a homepage for yourself, after you've read everything I bookmarked you. (Possibly , along with reading it). Because you're such an uninteresting girl, you'll probably want to fill it with things you like, useless links, and raves about the Power Puff Girls. But I won't judge you. Just make sure it has a lot of content in it."
She smiled. A true smile, not sarcasm.
"Are you done insulting me?" I answered with my own smile.
"For now", and she grinned, "see you next weekend."
"Bye, I said! " and I paid her for her time.
She sure seemed to know her stuff, but had a strange way of conveying it to me.