Time for a core dump

Last Updated on September 30, 2010 by Dave Farquhar

I’ve been keeping a low profile lately. That’s for a lot of reasons. I’ve been doing mostly routine sysadmin work lately, which is mind-numbingly boring to write about, and possibly just a little bit less mind-numbingly boring to read about. While a numb mind might not necessarily be a bad thing, there are other reasons not to write about it.
During my college career, I felt like I had less of a private life than most of my classmates because of my weekly newspaper column. I wrote some pretty intensely personal stuff in there, and frankly, it seemed like a lot of the people I hung out with learned more about me from those columns than they did from hanging out with me. Plus, with my picture being attached, I’d get recognized when I went places. I remember many a Friday night, going to Rally’s for a hamburger and having people roll down their windows at stoplights and talk to me. That was pretty cool. But it also made me self-conscious. College towns have some seedy places, you know, and I worried sometimes about whether I’d be seen in the vicinity of some of those places and what people might think.

Looking back now, I should have wondered what they would be doing in the vicinity of those places and why it was OK for them to be nearby and not me. But that’s the difference between how I think now and how I thought when I was 20.

Plus, I know now a lot fewer people read that newspaper than its circulation and advertising departments wanted anyone to think. So I could have had a lot more fun in college and no one would have known.

I’m kidding, of course. And I’m going off on tangent after tangent here.

In the fall of 1999, I willingly gave up having a private life. The upside to that is that writing about things helps me to understand them a lot better. And sometimes I get stunningly brilliant advice. The downside? Well, not everyone knows how to handle being involved in a relationship with a writer. Things are going to come up in writing that you wish wouldn’t have. I know now that’s something you have to talk about, fairly early. Writing about past girlfriends didn’t in and of itself cost me those relationships but I can think of one case where it certainly didn’t help anything. The advice I got might have been able to save that relationship; now it’s going to improve some as-yet-to-be-determined relationship.

There’s another downside too. When you meet a girl and then she punches your name into a search engine, if you’re a guy like me who has four years’ worth of introspective revelations out on the Web, it kind of puts you at a disadvantage in the relationship. She knows a whole lot more about you than you do about her. It kind of throws off the getting-to-know-you process. I’d really rather not say how many times that’s happened in the past year. Maybe those relationships/prospective relationships were doomed anyway. I don’t have any way of knowing. One of them really hurt a lot and I really don’t want to go through it again.

So I’ve been trying to figure out for the past few weeks what to do about all this. Closing up shop isn’t an option. Writing strictly about the newest Linux trick I’ve discovered and nothing else isn’t an option. Writing blather about the same things everyone else is blathering about is a waste of time and worthless. Yes, I’ve been saying since March that much, if not all, of the SCO Unix code duplicated in Linux is probably BSD code that both of them ripped off at different points in time. And now it’s pretty much been proven that I was right. So what? How many hundreds of other people speculated the same thing? How could some of us be more right than others?

I’m going to write what I want, but I’m having a hard time deciding what I want to write. I know I have to learn how to hold something back. Dave Farquhar needs a private life again.

For a while, this may just turn into a log of Wikipedia entries I made that day. Yes, I’m back over there again, toiling in obscurity this time. For a while I was specializing in entries about 1980s home computing. For some reason when I get to thinking about that stuff I remember a lot, and I still have a pile of old books and magazines so I can check my facts. Plus a lot of those old texts are showing up online now. So now the Wikipedia has entries on things like the Coleco Adam and the Texas Instruments TI-99/4A. Hey, I find it interesting to go back and look at why these products were failures, OK? TI should have owned the market. It didn’t. Coleco should have owned the market, and they didn’t. Atari really should have owned the market and they crashed almost as hard as Worldcom. So how did a Canadian typewriter company end up owning the home computer market? And why is it that probably four people reading this know who on earth I’m talking about now, in 2003? Call me weird, but I think that’s interesting.

And baseball, well, Darrell Porter and Dick Howser didn’t have entries. They were good men who died way too young, long before they’d given everything they had to offer to this world. Roger Maris didn’t have an entry. There was more to Roger Maris than his 61 home runs.

The entries are chronicled here, if you’re interested in what I’ve been writing lately while I’ve been ignoring this place.

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4 thoughts on “Time for a core dump

  • August 25, 2003 at 5:48 am

    It was fun and suprising to read many of your entries. I went to Drew University for a time, loved the Cars, Owned an Atari XE and an Amiga 500 and didn’t realize Roger Maris was born where Bob Dylan grew up. This seems like a relaxing and probably theraputic pursuit that you’re good at and should continue. Don’t give up all the personal writing either, because it is thought provoking, and helpful to those having similiar struggles. Besides, it’s probably a good thing if anyone is scared off after reading your stuff; any thoughful person would know there’s more to you than what you write about; any mature and experienced person will know that being able to express yourself to an anonymous public is not the same as being intimate with one person (which is much more difficult)

  • August 25, 2003 at 8:13 pm


    Keep up the computer stuff at least, your writing has a real lightness to it (in a good way, probably more a flow issue) than your personal life. While interesting I feel a little like a peeping-tom, and sometimes I get the feeling its like a slow motion car accident.

    So, as a long time reader…

    – computers
    – religion
    – baseball


  • August 26, 2003 at 12:51 pm

    I agree with Dean and Jimbo. Keep writing, and don’t worry about anyone shallow enough to be scared off by your writing. I found you by searching for info on the Sotec laptop computers (wifey loves hers!) and stuck around for the Linux, religion, and baseball, and not in any particular order of preference. Keep writing!

  • August 27, 2003 at 12:05 am

    Ditto to all above. I dropped in for Linux, and stuck around for the life. It’s refreshing to get something more stimulating than the general run of web blather.

    Yeah, you’re going to meet women. Yeah, they’re going to read your thoughts here. It’s nothing they wouldn’t find out sooner or later, so if it’s a show stopper, get it up front. Hold out for someone who doesn’t expect a lasting relationship to consist of total, perfect agreement. My wife and I don’t totally agree, but we’ve mostly agreed for over 30yr.

    I’m sure you’ve been busy the last couple weeks, protecting your employer from the latest web nastiness. Welcome back–I appreciate your effort here.


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