Who He Is and How He Came To Be!

Apologies to Bob Kane

"I was driving starships when your great-grandmother was still in diapers!"

- Captain Montgomery Scott, SD 46125.3

What I've Done

I became a computer hobbyist while in Junior High School in the late 1970s. I endured summer school to take a BASIC programming course: it used teletype terminals connected to the public schools' IBM mainframe via 300BPS acoustic modem.

(I hasten to point out that this was Lincoln, Nebraska. Before you pooh-pooh those of us in fly-over country, how many of you had thirteen channels of cable television in 1971? How many of you had computer programming courses offered by the public school in 1977? How many of you have functionally unlimited bandwidth today -- both mobile and via ISP? I do.)

In 1979, my father purchased his first business computer, an Ohio Scientific C8P-DF (1978).  From that moment on, I was both coding and using applications on a daily basis.  I was the only student in Middle School who turned in papers typed on a dot-matrix printer.  To this day, I can't forget the WP6502 word processor.

In 1984, I purchased my first personal computer, the venerable Commodore 64. I went on to PCs, then servers, then AS/400s, then IBM zSeries -- and pretty much everything in between.

All the while, I was on the bleeding edge of public data communications. I ran dial-up BBSs under DOS. I ran a FidoNet point. You'll probably be surprised at the date on which this domain was registered (at the time, I thought I was behind the curve). I can program in COBOL and Java -- though I don't pretend to be a programmer, though I've written approximately 1.21 giga-shell scripts.

Caldera Network Desktop
I was also on the bleeding edge of Linux.  I started using it while with AT&T: the Caldera Network Desktop distribution.  It had some amazing command-line utilities for administering both the NetWare Bindery and NDS -- networks I administered at the time.

It was also at the tail end of AT&T's ownership of UNIX SVR4, so having a UNIX-like front-end for NetWare seemed perfectly natural.  When it came to administering NDS, Linux won hands-down:  when you're dealing with 56K WAN links, GUI tools are a bad option.

More recently, I was an IT instructor at a community college for three years.  Somewhat surprisingly to me, I enjoyed it and would have continued were it not for health issues.

I'm now officially retired due to health concerns.  This hasn't stopped me from running a YouTube channel, Tales From SYL Ranch, as a hobby.  It's not in the Big Time, nor do I ever expect it to be -- but it keeps me sane.

Where I Think Things Are Going


Microsoft has decided to make Windows a service for which users pay an ongoing license fee.  This is utterly ludicrous.  It makes an opening for Linux on the desktop, and one that I hope is aggressively pursued.  Unfortunately, I doubt that it will be.


I'm currently running Linux Mint 18 (Xfce edition), moving to 19.1 as soon as it's released.

Ubuntu appears to have committed suicide.  By dropping their attempt at a phone OS, there's no longer anything distinctive about Ubuntu.

The Microsoft, Ubuntu, GNOME 3 programmers have officially lost their minds.  Touch interfaces are simply inappropriate for a desktop.
It's unfortunate that Ubuntu has made this mis-step at the same time as Microsoft, because it would have been poised to pick up users who can't use Windows 8 and above.

Ubuntu abandoned Unity, but the current interface is inconsistent and non-intuitive.  GNOME 3 is simply crap, even compared to Windows 8 and above.

That's why I'm on Linux Mint and will be staying there indefinitely.  All its variants offer a far more traditional desktop experience.


IBM has just purchased Red Hat (the leading Linux vendor) in order to acquire its virtualization and container services.

This is a Very Bad Thing for Red Hat users.  Since its inception, IBM's business model has been to lock customers into their products and charge them through the nose for it.  Furthermore, almost everything they've touched in recent decades has turned to dren.  There's no reason to expect that Red Hat will be any different.

If you're using Red Hat, Fedora, CentOS, or any Red Hat derivative, it's now time to change.  The only thing I can suggest is Ubuntu Server.

In other areas, Linux has taken the first battleground: the data center.  Linux is also the underpinning of Google App Engine.  Linux is by far the most popular distribution in Amazon Web Services.

Even servers are giving way to container-based applications.  This is a rather revolutionary method of offering applications and services in the cloud, in a highly-scalable fashion.

Windows Server has become a niche operating system.  Microsoft hasn't figured that out yet, but they will.

Soon, there will be no file servers -- only the cloud.

Beyond the PC

We now know that Google tracks every aspect of your life via Android.  There seems to be little users can do to stop it.  We need a viable competitor operating system, and we need it now.

LineageOS seems to be a very good way to go, but it's not for the average consumer.  It rips out some of the guts of the Android OS, thereby removing Google's tracking.  However, the cost is that Google services such as Play become inaccessible.  It is literally Android without Google, and without knowing what to install in place of Google services, the device is crippled.

LineageOS also only works with certain phones, and flashing the phone isn't for the faint of heart.  In truth, it should only be attempted by the most technically adept -- with the understanding that the procedure can brick the phone.

PCs are about to be completely irrelevant except for content creators, IT professionals, and hobbyists.  The current battleground is in handhelds and consumer electronics devices.  Android now battles Apple in the same way the PCs battled Apple -- but without Steve Jobs around, I don't see Apple lasting nearly as long nor coming out on top.

Beyond the Handheld

Within the next five years.

In only a few years, advances in 3D printing, quantuum computing and quantuum energy teleportation will revolutionize all aspects of life on planet Earth.  Indeed, these technologies have the potential to change what it means to be human.

Technologically, we will be wearing a supercomputer on our wrist, and our contact lenses will overlay information and computing applications inside our field of view.  Control will be through miniaturized motion-detection systems.

The world is about to become people waving their hands in the air, manipulating information, applications, and augmented reality that only they can see.

Beyond the Infinite

When 3D printing, quantuum computing and quantuum energy teleportation are fully realized, every aspect of life on Earth will change.  Hunger will disappear -- thus altering the socio-political landscape forever.  The human life expectancy may double.

Everything will change.

Within twenty years, we will have devices that we would not today recognize as a computer -- and that will be capable of storing an individual's consciousness.  You will have the option of a kind of immortality.

Whether it will be possible to extract your consciousness from your body is another matter, though recent advances in neuroscience make this less implausible than you might think.

My "Distinctions"

I have the distinction of being on both Richard M. Stallman's and Eric S. Raymond's ban lists.  Specifically, they both abruptly terminated email conversations by declaring that in future my email would be redirected to /dev/null.

In RMS' case, he took me to task for using the term "Linux" rather than "GNU/Linux" in an article aimed at non-technical readers.  While I agree with RMS that "GNU/Linux" is technically correct, I reserve the right to use "Linux" for short where it's appropriate.  Sue me.

As for ESR, we disagreed with regards to "intellectual property."  Specifically, "intellectual property" doesn't exist.

Ideas share none of the characteristics nor traits of property and it is a mistake to pretend otherwise.  All patent and copyright laws are state-sponsored attempts to limit the use of an idea -- or worse, a law of nature.

Sorry, but that's mind control, plain and simple.  I'll have none of it.

I also succeeded in angering a boyhood hero, David Gerrold, to the point where he de-friend-ed me on Facebook.  In that instance, Gerrold vehemently disagreed with my assertion that all taxation is theft.    Sorry, I'll have none of that, either.

For my next trick, I'll be piss off Bjo Trimble ...

Ohio Scientific C8P-DF (1978) Commodore 64 (1984) Kyocera DuraForce Pro (2017)
Kyocera DuraForce Pro