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The Toybox

people for the conservation of limited amounts of indignation


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t minus less than forty eight hours until the time of darkness and surgery
children of dune - leto 1
seperis
Bash scripting is evil and I will get this to loop and add html markup for each file in my directory for a linkable and accessible index page if I have to kill linux to do it.

Right, getting that out of the way.

Yesterday I had a fun ride with a guy who owns his own cab service and we spent most of the ride talking about computers, since he was one of Michael Dell's first fifty employees back in the day they bought chassis from IBM and it was weird. I had my laptop and was trying to connect to my server to do a quick update using my phone and we talked about pretty much everything.

He was also kind enough to wait until near the end of the ride to point out how rare it is for women to be interested in computers and offered to introduce me to one of the Dell engineers and how did I learn so much about them anyway? And why?

Things you cannot explain easily, because there's no context:

"Well, I started writing fanfic and the Trekiverse archive hadn't been updated in like, years and was still hand coded (not that I knew what coding was) and so I had to get a page from geocities or all my fic would be in fifty pieces spread over PTF and ASC and ASCEML and everyone else had a webpage so I went to geocities and hated the templates even though I used it and while coding in In the Space of Seven Days Part IV broke formatting and was huge and weird and I couldn't figure out why so I kept staring at it until I figured out what all those little symbols meant. Then I learned to use them.

"Diebin in X-Men offered me non-commercial space on her domain, but it used this thing called ftp? And when I logged in there were like, ten million folders and I couldn't get anywhere and I kept losing things and getting disconnected. So I kept staring at it until I figured out what FTP did, what those folders did, why it was structured like that, and what it all meant. Then I and a friend bought a domain together.

"So this fic archive hadn't been updated in six months and I asked to have it. And it used this thing called css? And wtf was that about? So....

"So Livejournal paid accounts had customized CSS and isilya did my main page but I wanted my flist page to match....

"Because I didn't know it and I wanted to. Because I get bored easily and I need distraction constantly. Because I want to generate my own indexes, rip my own DVDS, repair my own tech, enjoy the journey of creation as much as I enjoy the results of it. Because everyone says linux is ridiculously complex for the non-professsional and command line is too hard. Because the guy I used to think was the smartest guy in the world and knew everything there was to know about hardware and programming always laughed at my questions and it's been thirteen years and fuck that shit, I can breakdown and rebuild your system with a blindfold and without a manual.

"Because two of the women I most admire are both in fandom and run the two largest women-controlled open source projects in the world.

"Because when I was twenty-three years old, I bought an HP that broke and they sent it back to me working and not fixed and then my boyfriend took it and it stopped working altogether and I decided my hardware would never be touched by anyone but me. When I was twenty-four years old, I bought my first Dell and did a full breakdown by hand without visual reference because I didn't have my handbook and back then I couldn't find it online, so I had to figure out how to make it work again by memory. When I was twenty-seven, I bought my second Dell and when I was twenty-nine, I broke it down and rebuilt it into a new chassis with a new hard drive and new board. When I was thirty, I broke down my first laptop and I upgraded it myself.

"Because three months ago, I sat down with a pile of parts and started building a customized physical interface between IDE and SATA because slimline DVD players are evil and chained up three types before I realized even sheer will couldn't fit all that into my laptop. Also, I'm pretty sure it would have started on fire. Which isn't actually a negative, come to think.

"Because I want a touchscreen on my mini and I will figure out how to solder without damaging the board if it kills me.

"Because two months ago, I decided I wanted to build my own server, and I spent weeks reading everything there was on sockets and processor compatibility and chassis construction and power sources and fans.

"Because a month ago, I went to Frys and chose all my own parts and sat in the living room and assembled them all into something that works. I cannot even begin to explain the moment I flipped it on and the lights came on, the motherboard diagnostics ran, and I was still bleeding from chassis cuts and a broken fingernail but I didn't cry but it was a very close thing, because this was all mine, every component I assembled and tested and worried about and put together to create something new. I had to reinstall Ubuntu Server four times before I got it right, but I finally got it right.

"Because [profile] jarlsberg71 sold me a RAID array enclosure and card and said he didn't think I'd have any problem handling it. Because he and [personal profile] durandal don't mind when my knowledge gaps seem ridiculously elementary because no one would ever explain it to me and I learn by doing.

"Because I get no one is nearly as weird as I am about the joy of building stuff, but no one should ever be afraid to do their own repairs and build their own systems if they want to, and I thought maybe if I wrote up what I did, it might make them want to try, too.

"Because you'd be amazed how many women in fandom write their own programs, learn entire new programming languages, install and configure software better than any professional, and jury-rig their own systems as a matter of course. Because there wasn't anyone for us to ask, and no one to do it for us, so when we wanted an archiving program, a domain, a server, a place of our own for our fic, for our vids, for our meta, for our academic and professional work, we had to learn to do it ourselves."

This is what I said:

"You know, around."

Just in case I forgot to say this, thank you, fandom. I have no idea what I would have done for hobbies without you.

Posted at Dreamwidth: http://seperis.dreamwidth.org/55344.html. | You can reply here or there. | comment count unavailable comments

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"Because I get no one is nearly as weird as I am about the joy of building stuff, but no one should ever be afraid to do their own repairs and build their own systems if they want to, and I thought maybe if I wrote up what I did, it might make them want to try, too.

Thank you, I've wanted to learn this stuff, programming and building computers, myself for a while and I always made excuses, now I'm going to stop. I want to build my own laptop and install linux, cause I keep getting winsys32 errors and it's pissing me off and at least this way, if there's a fuck up, it'll be my fuck up and I can figure out how to fix it.

and I totally teared up when you talked about your server lighting up for the first time.

Edited at 2010-10-27 01:24 am (UTC)

I swear, it's not as difficult as it seems. It's definitely a learning process, but man, when you get something to work? You feel high.

When you do, journal about it? I'd love to read your experiences!

"Because you'd be amazed how many women in fandom write their own programs, learn entire new programming languages, install and configure software better than any professional, and jury-rig their own systems as a matter of course. Because there wasn't anyone for us to ask, and no one to do it for us, so when we wanted an archiving program, a domain, a server, a place of our own for our fic, for our vids, for our meta, for our academic and professional work, we had to learn to do it ourselves."

This. So much this.

Without the impetus of fandom, I'd never have taught myself Photoshop, HTML, scripting, ftp, and basic web protocols.

Without fellow fans helping me I'd never have broken down and rebuilt my own first computer. I'd never have realized that manuals can be found all over the place. I wouldn't have had the guts to rip out that first hard drive, install that first OS, play with command lines, and learn the guts and bolts of software and hardware and how to make them play nicely together.

In short, I'd probably still be working in HR, which I hated, instead of as a systems admin, which I adore.

Thank you, fandom.

(Also, my department is two women and two men, supporting 300+ users. Both of the men are more into graphic design, website administration, and project and department management. My female coworker and I are the hardware/server/back end admins. Which always amuses us all, as the stereotype turned upside-down)

Edited at 2010-10-27 01:30 am (UTC)

Yes!

Skills I learned, am in the process of learning, or greatly improved thanks to fandom, include, but are probably not limited to:

- Writing
- Drawing
- Video manipulation
- Audio recording
- Web programming (to some extent; I also did this for nonfandom personal projects, and now, for work, but putting together TV show episode guides and personal fic and art archives have been really valuable)
- Bass guitar playing (okay, this is pretty darn tangential... but the songs I like to practice are the ones which I came to love through other people's vids, and which I still associate strongly with particular characters. I play "Starlight" by Muse now because of a vid by spacedmonkey in 2006. Practicing *feels* fannish.)

... in other words... pretty much everything that I like to do.

Thank you, everybody.

Shell scripting is awesome and also, if you're very good at it, can do your entire job as a sysadmin for you while you fuck around on LJ and nap under the desk.

Um, not that I've done this is in the past or anything.

PS your reasons for getting into computers are better than mine - I just didn't want to do too many pure Math courses at University.

Hi, normally I lurk around (I've been trying to be more outspoken recently, but... it's hard). However this post really means something to me, so I thought I should shout out and say thank you!

I'm a third year computer science student who can't do half the stuff you can, but really, really wants to know how. I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you, and others like you, who kindled my interest in computers, and let me know that it wasn't a stupid dream to pursue. If it weren't for fandom I think I probably would have always been interested but I doubt I would have gathered up the courage to go ahead and try. So, thank you very, very much. Most especially for letting people like me know it can be done!

this is beautiful. thank you for saying it.

That is incredible.

Best wishes that your surgery goes swimmingly.

Hi, it's past one thirty in the morning and I have class in the morning so I won't embarrass either of us by trying for coherency, but -
I've been see-sawing about whether or not to take a comp sci course next semester because while 1) it sounds brilliant, 2) I am complete rubbish at computers. This post has convinced me to get off my ass and study every possible programming-related page I can find on wiki, or at least enough so I can understand what Python, which is apparently what they teach in the beginner's course, is all about. Idk, I thought it was a horror flick? Maybe that's Anaconda.
Already I have three pages of heavily underlined notes. Admittedly I wrote them left-handed, which means my letters are still badly formed and blocky. Hmmm.
Anyway. I had a point. That point was, thank you for convincing me to take that class and hey, if it doesn't turn out at least I tried, right? And if it does, maybe one day I too can build my own personal Atlantis. (What? Don't tell me you didn't think that when it lit up for you.)

You totally should have given the cab guy the long answer, just to see his face. ;-)

This is awesome and inspiring!

heee, yep, basically, yes.

of course, I am not that much obsessed as you are, or as some others, but five years ago, i would have never dreamed to learn so much about computers , and all things involved, if not for fandom.

makes me a bit wistful, how my life would have turned out, if fandom was existing for me back then, when I was fifteen.
Might have chosen a slightly different career choice.......

Lurker here (I really am trying to be better at commenting).

First, I wanted to say I hope your surgery goes well and you will be in my thoughts tomorrow. (I still can't understand how there are people who voluntarily have surgery they don't actually need. *shudders*)

Second, I came here for the fic and stayed for the awesome. I have wanted to learn more about computer hardware and software for some time but have been put off by just how much stuff there is and no way to tell what's relevant, what's obsolete and what's obsolete but still necessary to know to understand currently relevant stuff. *sigh* I have decide though that I am going to learn CCS and brush up on HTML even if it kills me so I can prettify my LJ/DW/AO3. Also I used to find HTML fun back in the day and I really miss that. Thank you so much for being so enthusiastic and making me remember how fun all this could be and that it really isn't the end of the world if I mess up. *hugs*

I am waiting for the result of df- k Ok? :D

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