locked in a box

varsity air, being half-way to space, is obviously depriving our sys-admin of vital oxygen supplies.
i say this because we're all using firefox on kubuntu.
while they do the job that they were designed to do, so does your ass (unless you've got a colostomy bag), and some of the features of both resemble each other.
for example: the kubuntu colour scheme is very brown.
i'd say "baby brown" or even "purity veg brown."
but certain special things that firefox does, especially when combined with the kubuntu operating system, make it extra, super-number-one, hyper, anime-style-over-the-top crappy.
the equivalent "ass" comparison would be to spontanously start shitting out of your belly-button because you accidently changed the tv to the wrong channel.
annoying? yes!
uncomfortable? i'd say so.
messy? certainly!
unwanted side effect? most definitely (unless you're some sort of freak)!

what am i talking about specifically?
well... you know that F5 is the refresh key right???
(for those non "tech-savvy": F5 is, in fact, the refresh key)
and you know how web pages can get cached so you get yesterday's news when you want today's?
(for those non "tech-savvy": again, true... just believe everything i say from this point on... send all your money to me and you'll have a better life!)
now a normal pushing of F5 results in a refresh that calls the cached page again.
to refresh through the cache you need to push one of the following:
shift + F5 or
ctrl + F5 or
alt + F5.
now i never rember which combination it is and i come from the old school of computing where such long combinations as "ctrl" + "alt" + "del" + "swear at bluescreen" were commonplace.
so my solution to the problem: ctrl + alt + shift + F5.
kubuntu's answer to this unique and wonderful solution of pure elegance:
switch off the gui (graphical user interface to you... the "windows bit") and dump you into the DOS-like "konsole"
(stupid fragging kubuntu and its "k" names. was it designed by the kreators of mortal kombat?)

now while i grew up on DOS and feel very komfortable in it i do not want to try surf the web or check my mail in it.
(besides: ascii porn just isn't where its at)
the worst part about this invasive interaction: no konfirmation box!
no little window popping up saying "we're about to ram something unpleasant up there without using lube. are you sure you want to kontinue?"
they just go right ahead and shove you're lovely windows interface where the sun don't shine.
when people tell me that linux/unix is better because you have more power over things etc i think of this and am reminded that i don't mind the odd prompting and forward thinking of a good operating system.

now i see you're all a little konfounded.
"what about firefox?" i hear you wail with gnashing of teeth and klenching of sphincters.
how is firefox involved in this other than the katalyst for the "everything + F5" shortkut?
i'll tell you how:
firefox is stupid!
to prevent you accidently running multiple kopies that access the same profile and screw things up firefox writes a kouple of "lock" files.
if the lock files exist, then you kan't access that profile (including bookmarks and kache etc).
sounds like a good idea right?
when firefox krashes (or if you accidently dump yourself to the konsole and need to reboot) the lock files get left behind.
what does this mean? this means that next time you try to run firefox it tells you to go screw yourself and doesn't run.
back to the ass analogy: firefox has applied duct tape to the whole area, sealing off all access and blocking proper flow of execution.
now the problem is fixable if you know where to look and what to delete... but delete too much and you're losing the profile anyway.
why it doesn't just check if firefox is actually running (check what services are running) before telling you that "firefox is already running" i'll never know.
and i don't know why it doesn't pop up a helpful little window saying: "we think this profile is already in use, but if things fucked out and we're currently dicking you around then press the 'reset your stupid locks' button and firefox will be start to function again."
(so much for all your supposed unix/linux power and kontrol)

for the non tech-savvy lets have a more real-world analogy here:
you need to use the photocopier and you have your own photocopier in a special room in the photocopier building.
you go over to the building, find your photocopier room and begin photocopying.
(i don't know what you're photocopying... some important documents or your ass or something)
unbeknownst to you, the photocopy machine has locked you into this room while you're using it and the keys have been hung on the back of the door, amongst a whole set of other keys.
you accidently push the wrong button and the photocopier explodes, blowing your shoes off, and a man in military uniform appears.
let's call him colonel crash (*snigger* techie joke).
the colonel drags you out of the window and dumps you in the street outside (where everything is black and white and very sparse).
you replace your missing shoes, or re-boot (*sigh* terrible techie pun) and head back into the photocopier building to finish your work only to discover...

your door is still locked.
not only that, but all doors are locked now and every time you try to open one you hear a voice saying "this door is already open. to open this door you must close it first."
now there are a couple of solutions to your problem here:
1) climb in through the window, search through all the keys and find the right set of keys, unlock the door and walk out so that you can turn around and walk back in (only to get locked inside again).
2) knock down the building and replace it with a sleek office-block where you don't get locked into rooms and helpful people ask you if you want to be an idiot before hitting you in the face with a klub.


Blogger kleinbaas said...

Ctrl+Alt+F? switches you between Linux consoles. Linux usually initialises 6 of these at boot. The GUI usually runs in console 6, so pressing Ctrl+Alt+F6 should return you to your Kubuntu GUI.

The shortcuts can (and in this case should) be disabled, but experienced users scream bloody murder if they're disabled by default.

3:28 PM  
Blogger totalwaste said...

i think i just wet myself. but i can't check, 'cause i'm in the big office block, and that would require removing the neck-brace while my hands are tied behind my back.

4:49 PM  
Anonymous Spot said...

hehehe... silly user...
if you're seeing brown then its not sending you to the konsole... in fact, you're not even using kubuntu... its definitely ubuntu with its shitty color scheme and annoyingly dumb gnome interface... kubuntu is blue... so you should change your metaphor to "drowning in a beautiful crystal clear pool of shimmering water"
And linux doesn't say anything when you do things because it assumes you are intelligent and meant to do whatever you did... it doesn't baby you by asking no less than three fucking times "are you sure you want to install this program? The one we, the microsoft conglomerate, have not approved? really? I dunno, it might be dangerous. Pooooositive???"

And yea.... its definitely ctrl+f5 :-)

5:12 PM  
Blogger zenstar said...

kleinbaas: thanks for the explanation. next time it dumps me to the konsole i'll try that... i won't like it but i'll try it.
it also makes me log in to the konsol when it dumps me which makes me think that i've already lost firefox etc anyway *shrugs*

tw: as long as you don't get any in the keyboard its ok.

spot: i really don't give a flying fuck what it is. it was ubuntu last semester, it now boots up claiming that it is kubuntu but the gui keeps its crap-brown scheme.
to be 100% honest all the versions of linux and unix are shit brown inside no matter what colour they try blind the user with.

and an operating system that isn't tolerant of mistakes (ie: does possible important things without verification) is a waste of code.
unix and linux (all the fucking versions) can take a flying fuck at a flagpole for all i care. give me a solid, friendly, well tested os any day of the week (and by that i mean windows).
unstandardised crap is all you get on linux/unix because no-one's willing to pay for quality control (or should that be kontrol?)
oh, and i'll pretend you didn't make that "silly user" comment otherwise i'll have to point out all sorts of nastiness about linux that will have you and other frothers crying in anguish, begging for forgiveness.
for starters: try find the penny arcade strip about linux on xbox!

11:26 PM  
Anonymous Mr Angry said...

Dude, that was the most poetic ass metaphor I've ever read. Brilliant work!

11:33 AM  
Blogger d@vid said...

I always remember refresh being shift-F5 (in Firefox and IE) except I found out this morning (while doing some testing) that apparently it has changed to ctrl-f5

so I Googled for some confirmation (didn't actually find anything concerete, though), and found your blog post in the top ten results! weird :D

in my experience the lab admins don't install fully-featured/enabled/friendly versions of *nix software - from what I've heard there are some very friendly GUIs available for linux

blah blah blah open source testing community comments blah for coders not users blah the future etc blah - I think that sums up the current state of play

8:17 AM  
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6:32 PM  

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