A Thousand Volts of Fuck You, Programmers!
The day began like any other; I circumnavigated the usual crashes and slow-downs in Windows city...I made it to Office 97 half an hour late. Clippie, my girl Friday, was trying to recover some documents from a case I'd been wrapping up the previous week. She handed me a letter as I walked passed, and a cursory scan revealed it to be a letter from my father. I was intrigued, and promptly opened the letter after sitting down at my desk. In short, he asked why I hadn't decided to find a job closer to his pad in Linuxville...he hated the dingy, tangled roads near my office.
Reaching into my desk, I produced a pen, clipboard, and paper. “Dear Dad,” I began.
At this point, Clippie burst into my office.
“IT LOOKS LIKE YOU'RE WRITING A LETTER!”, she exclaimed “SHALL I GET YOU SOME STATIONARY?”
Why had I not fired the useless bitch on day one was beyond me. “No, thanks” I replied.
“OKAAAAAAAY!!!!11” she exclaimed
“Easy there, cap'n Crunk”, I said
I opened the Office window, and began to write my letter. I told my father that what kept me here was the games. You could go to any number of Counter-Strike matches there, but the city only ever hosted teams from elsewhere. I promised him that if his city ever got game, I would move out of this hellhole post-haste. I signed the letter, and hoped it would make it to his inbox. That being done, I put my heels up on the desk. After a moment, I removed a hip flask from my trench coat, and “installed” alcohol 120%. The cheap hooch was a flaming river to my gullet (an entirely disconcerting image).
A number of years later, I was visiting my father. While he was at work, I decided to poke around, look for a prospective place to work, should I ever move here. I was feeling a little dry, and found myself at a WINEry. I talked to the cashier for a bit...and decried how I loved this place, this beautiful metropolis...but it had no GAMES, no WILD SIDE, no fun. And the guy whispers to me that this WINEry has made some good money this past year, and is looking to sponsor local players. I ask the guy if it'll work, an' he tells me that there are still a few hitches here and there, but the dealings go smooth on the whole. The guy passed me something called 'Beta', said it was on him. I went back to the pad, found it to be a little rough, but something about the sweet taste had me hooked.
This whole thing had me thinking about a long-open case file I had. One day, a little Roma woman – a gypsy – had come through my door with a little one in tow. The dame had said that her Mother, who had a fortune telling booth in a local park, had gone missing. She said this was a jolly old woman, who was very much in her right mind. I'd been looking for this happy medium ever since. Until now, I'd been perplexed...fortune tellers only say what you want to hear, which is not exactly how you make enemies. Now I saw the case in a new light: maybe Gran had seen the future, and the future was here, in Linuxville! I put on my Fedora, and hit the streets. I was on the case...
Kudos if you get all the terrible jokes and small references in there. I doubt many of you will, because one references a game I played on the Atari ST called “borrowed time”. It was a kickass text adventure (although it had optional pictures, which I always had on) in true Detective-story style. Good times...
Anyhow, I'm sure that the point of the above story has hit you over the head, but here it is straight-up: I'm trying to quit a destructive and expensive habit. No, the OTHER one: Windows.
You can scoff at this all you like, but the facts are the facts: Windows costs money (especially Windows 'arm-and-a leg' – errr, I'm sorry – 'Vista'!) where others are cheap, or even free. Apple sells OSX for as little as $40, I hear. Granted, they make money on (overpriced, oft-proprietary) hardware, and (overrated) Mp3 players and (DRM-shacled) Online music distribution services, but they're APPLE! Steve “messiah 2.0” Jobs could tell people that OSX is the third coming (he was, after all, here first), and set its MSRP at $APPLEION, even though that isn't even a number! But he doesn't, thank whatever God he believes fathered him*. My shots taken at Apple aside, I do have to give them props for resisting the urge to overprice for once. Linux, being free, gets far more credit, because no matter how 1337 you actually have to be to use it, you just saved as much as $200. That's the difference between a 7900GT and an 8800GTS! I don't care if Linux hasn't got DX10 like Vista will, because the GTS is still more powerful, and at the very least can be employed to perform SETI or Folding@home calculations with Unholy speed. At best, WINE (which I am getting to, I promise) will run a great many DirectX 9 games properly, and the 8800 series is going to be twice as fast. I know Gold may disagree, but I'll take more videocard power over another Windows license any day.
So yes, WINE. WINE is Not an Emulator, it is quite possibly the biggest threat to Microsoft which currently exists. Cue the Mac fanatics pointing out that Boot camp lets you run Windows on new Intel-powered macs. Cue me pointing out that such functionality is neither a threat to M$ (if you are so hard-up for Windows that you want to run it on a Mac, you won't just get rid of it and switch, I tell you that much!), nor is it all that economical (see Macs, overpriced hardware of). Wine is both, because it does not require Windows at all (at present, it helps to have some of the DLLs, and the font files are damn handy....but I have a feeling that work-arounds will show up for these dependencies), and works with not only PC hardware, but on OSX (linux core, essentially). The price is right, ladies and gentlemen. No one has any excuse NOT to try WINE. Not a power-user, don't want the fuss of Linux? It's called Ubuntu, and no matter how much Gold will try to tell me that User-friendly Linux is not possible, I'm entirely certain he hasn't used it. The truth of the matter is that Linux is only as scary as you want it to be these days. If you aren't sure, you can even get a little something called a livedisc, which loads the OS into RAM without installing a thing. For the not-technically-inclined among you, that means you don't have to make any permanent changes to your system to try Linux out. Download a .iso of Ubuntu (I'd suggest the alternative Kubuntu...same great user-friendliness, but with an interface widely considered to be superior), and burn yourself a disc already! If you don't know what a .iso file is, you can alternatively order a CD for free (you may need to pay for shipping, but then some places may have Ubuntu CDs lying around for free).
In short, any and all excuses you have used in the past to avoid spooky, spooky Linux are now rendered NULL and VOID. Wine is the keystone, because it blows the very last one away: “I can't run Windows apps, especially games, in Linux”
Now you can...sort of. I have a brand-new FC5 (ok, so it's an out-of-date version, but the install is fresh) install on my main gaming rig, and things are...ok, they suck at the moment. Keep in mind that my dad (the resident Linux guru) has “better things to do”, and the only computer-related stuff I have talent at is assembly, and, um, BASIC. Even then, I'm pretty bad at the latter, Also, at the time of writing, I could not access the internet, so I couldn't find tutorials or patches if I wanted to. My Steam account connected properly under WINE earlier, but I didn't want to wait for a three-hour download then, my DVD burn of all the files necessary for just playing Half-Life 2 has a single corrupted file (1 out of 340!), and only my Dad can mount the NTFS partition where this shit is already installed. So I have no fucking clue if anything will actually work.
At this point, you are probably wondering why I believe this “WINE” thing to be any sort of threat to Microsoft at all. That's where you're wrong. Just because I'm having technical difficulties doesn't mean other people haven't overcome them, or that you would have them at all. Counter-Strike (source? I can't remember) is said to run better on WINE, even, than under Windows!. Ok, so that has nothing to do with the simplicity of getting it to run at all, but it has everything to do with making said process worth it. Now, I am impatient, and I have no grasp of Linux or WINE as of now. If I took one day to read and practice, I bet I would have far fewer problems than I do now. I already know I have made some mistakes in how I have tackled this situation, and when I can tell you how to avoid the pitfalls I fell into, I will post the juicy details right here on my blog! Imagine what a dedicated person with a little less haste, and a lot less ADHD could accomplish with WINE.
Still, you say, Microsoft is pushing Games For Windows, which will make PC gaming easier by far! Why would I want to go back to the days when you had to manually configure everything for a game to run? Why is WINE a threat to a smooth experience? I have already made my thoughts on GFW clear, so I will content myself by posting a condensed version here: if you think that getting a game to run should be the least of your worries when you buy it, you are the very reason that Console gaming exists. When I finally gain the ability to topple Striders with my RPG under Linux/Wine, it will be SO much sweeter than if I just slotted in the disc and it worked like that. Making a game work is a game unto itself when you are a PC player. Disagree if you like, but if you read QC, you may recall a certain conversation comparing unwrapping a CD to undoing a Girl's bra. The message I am sending is the same: the more trouble you had doing it, the more triumph you feel when you succeed.
So why do I say “Fuck you, programmers”, if I am so fond of things being difficult? I'm only fond of the difficulty once I've beaten it! Right now, I can't get dual-head running in FC5, and I'm stuck with regards to WINE gaming (I have installed several games, and not a one wants to function!). I am pissed as fuck, because one actually working would be nice. As in games, the difficulty of getting this stuff working is a precious balance. I have to feel like I'm getting somewhere, have to feel even just a little success now and then to make it worthwhile (I am proud to say that I got 5 or 6 seconds of glorious dual-screen functionality before I decided that I wanted to get EVERYTHING set up properly!)
A day later, and a Gentoo Linux LiveDVD has decided to lock up on me. This hardly bodes well for my adventures into the land of true power-users. I should try again, but I would never remember all the important options that my dad knows to check, but I don't understand the importance of. Eh, maybe I'll give it a shot anyhow.
I'm sorry if none of the above made all that much sense. It was essentially written in a state of extreme frustration between the hours of 1:00 and 4:00 this morning....well, yesterday morning, if you want to get technical.
I Cannot Decide Which Quote To Use!
I saw Clerks the other day. It was ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC. If you take Nihilism, Existentialism, and some EXTREMELY funny shit, and stir them all together....you get Clerks. I'd write a review, but reviews only work when you have something bad to say about it. Even if Clerks is not perfect (and you can, I'm sure, argue such a point), just go see it...
Right now, I am lamenting that I cannot play HL2: Episode 2, Portal, or TF2. This really bites. I'd ask Valve to hurry up and release already, but quality takes time, you know. Instead, I will ask that they please not push the release date back any more. I should revisit my thoughts on Episodic gaming for tomorrow's post...see how the truth of things compares to the original promises.
Drudgery draws ever closer. This REALLY bites!
Also: I am happy to announce that I am indeed writing more of my Serial. If life will permit, I should have something by the end of the holidays, perhaps before.