Odds and ends

True tech support story. We’ve got a deployed user who’s having problems with his PC. I’ve been convinced for about the past three months that the problem is user-inflicted. I still don’t have any hard evidence of that, but man, did I get some circumstantial evidence this week. He’s always talking about how computer proficient he is, and how great his Gateway and Winbook PCs are (never mind how awful the Winbooks fare up in every reliability rating I’ve seen, and Gateway… don’t get me started).
Well, we had to help him get CompuServe set up. So we asked him for his CompuServe user ID and password, among other things. He typed it all up and faxed it to us. Right under his username was this:

Password: * (thirteen of these)

This self-styled computer genius thinks his CompuServe password is 13 asterisks!

Now, don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with dedicating your life to knowing something else, like accounting, or music, or something like that. But don’t talk about how computer-savvy you are and question my computer competence if you think your CompuServe password is 13 asterisks!

Current events. I occasionally get e-mail about this or that. I think the most recent one I got was about public schools. I work hard to keep up on computers, of course, since that’s my career, and on issues directly related to Christianity, since that’s probably my biggest interest, and of course I’m comfortable talking music and baseball. But when it comes to things like gun control, or public education, or the death penalty… Yes, I have an opinion. No, it’s usually not strong enough that I’m going to make a big deal of it. No, I probably haven’t researched it enough to have anything compelling to say about it.

Do people want me to talk about this stuff? One of the things that annoys me the most is when I go to someone’s Weblog and all I find is links to a bunch of news stories and the author’s opinion of it, usually with lots of circular arguments. I’m quickly off looking for someone who’s a good storyteller or has content that interests me, preferably original stuff. So that’s where I naturally try to focus.

I’ve mulled over the idea of opening up a message board dedicated to issues, but I’m torn. The gun control debate that popped up here earlier this year really alienated some of my regulars. One quit talking to me altogether, I suspect because I wouldn’t agree with him. I hacked off one or two others when I wouldn’t continue it, but honestly, if the debate had been raging on someone else’s site, I wouldn’t have been reading it. So why participate in something I’m not interested in reading? And I’ve seen mailing lists totally degenerate over debates regarding questions that no one has any clear-cut answers to. People want everyone else on the list to agree with them, and when they don’t, it turns into a flame war, and the list dies.

Then again, if I were to open up such a board, there’s nothing saying I even have to read it. I can open it and people can talk if they want, and can leave when they want.

Any thoughts?

4 thoughts on “Odds and ends

  • June 16, 2001 at 5:57 am
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    Dave,

    I wouldn’t do it. You talked about original content. There are message boards found by the thousands out there. If you are not going to use it to enhance your site and the content within then why do it at all? Let people go somewhere else for their flame wars.

    Dave T.

  • June 16, 2001 at 1:55 pm
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    I agree with Dave T on this one. The signal-to-noise ratio at far too many interactive sites these days is getting bad. This site focuses mainly on computing and how to make things work. It also has its human side, with some personal and religious references. This is all good. What it DOESN’T have is infighting (and hey, calling Gatermann a crack monkey isn’t namecalling; it’s just a statement of fact 🙂 ). Even the best of us – when exposed to the cyber equivalent of a barroom brawl – are tempted to jump in. I would avoid the temptation, and let the rabble rouse somewhere else. Why mess with a good thing?

    This is YOUR place, though (especially now that you’re hosting it on one of your machines). It’s ultimately up to you whether or not you want it to be more broad-ranging.

  • June 16, 2001 at 5:02 pm
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    Hi Dave:

    I agree that a message board is not needed. However, since you are a good writer, it is always enjoyable reading your opinions on other topics that interest you – even if the interest is passing or not one of your top interests.

    Regardless of whether I agree or disagree, I enjoy reading intelligently articulated opinions and you definitely will not run me off! I therefore encourage you to write about other subjects in your post when ever it strikes your fancy.

    – Bruce

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