Spending a fair amount of time today being bewildered. We were warned that this is part of the process, and I would have to say that as soon as we started working on “patches” I was pretty much working in Betty Crocker mode–just following the instructions as best I could, having no idea half of the time what exactly I was doing. I was able to exchange patches with my partner, but I was not able to get my partner’s patch patched into the code we were altering.
Now having said that, I am making progress in communication, which is after all the point. Got my Wiki started; got my blog here connected to the POSSE planet. So I’m stylin’ in a manner of speaking. Basically I’m getting the communications end going, but not so much the packaging/code pipeline stuff. I understand the latter in abstract, but I’m not anything like close to feeling like I can manage the actual operations.
To make matters worse I had to leave POSSE early to get my kids home from school, so I’m now looking at new deliverables for this evening which all involve packaging. The only “non-coding” option seems to be to make a Fedora remix–again something which I understand in abstract, but which I lack depth of understanding to execute. So, I’m going to try to go as far as I can, following the instructions I have, and put this post up on the planet with the hope that some kind soul can offer me some answers to the following questions:
Okay, thanks to Gary in POSSE, I know understand that I don’t have to create the remix solo, but merely have to select one of the projects that I’d like to work on and write about it here. Easy enough. PHEW! See now my Open Source communications links are working. I hooked up with Gary on the Teachingopensource channel on IRC. WOOT!
So now my thought is to stick with the Fedora Remix so that I can see how the various elements of an operating system work together. I have no clear idea which elements are core/essential and which others might be considered optional. I have never thought of an OS in terms of components. I am in fact still wrapping my head around the day to day of working with software that is not based on magic, black boxes. I do not think this way about automobiles or just about anything else. Everywhere else in my life I pop the hood and apply common sense. I fix just about everything in my life from cars and motorcycles, to masonry (building & repointing brick & stone) and sewing (fixing shirts, making sails for my RC boats), I pride myself on being able to at least know how to fix just about everything. I never thought I’d ever consider this approach to computing. It’s been just too daunting. Too large a knowledge base to learn, too frustrating to just hack around in. I wrote HTML web pages for awhile and tried to maintain a concurrent database back end, but I loathed the work because I felt like I was working in an utter vacuum. When I was stuck, I was really stuck. I had no one to ask for help, or to answer my questions.
So this is different.
I still do not like the feeling of being stuck, but that is ameliorated somewhat by the less unpleasant feeling of going to ask for help. It is no small irony that I take comfort in the existence of the latter unpleasantness. Access to expertise, to help, makes me think–for the first time–that I could actually get into working with software “under the hood.”
It’s a weird feeling. It’s as if I’ve been told that I could talk to trees if I wanted to.