Luser attitudes

My intense dislike of lusers was rekindled this morning.

Recently, a request thread was started on the PCFormat/G3AR forums that requested some extra user profile fields — which I considered entirely reasonable.  So, I got into my usual routine of getting information, hearing user suggestions and so forth, when our luser decides to ask a question that I had, in fact, just answered.

This isn’t too bad in itself, but redundant questions like that don’t sit at all well with me.  I had already answered the question, and therefore viewed this as a time sink — and I don’t at all sit well with time sinks.  Time sinks take without giving back; they waste time that could have been spent on more interesting questions and more worthy querents.  This point of view may not be apparent to some, so let me explain a bit: to understand the world that experts on a particular field of expertise live in, think of their expertise as an abundant resource, but their time to response as a scarce one — and that therefore, the less of a time commitment you implicitly ask for, the more likely that you’ll get the answer you wanted.

So, I replied with a terse answer while thinking “stupid question…”, and hoping that the experience of getting what one deserved rather than what one needed would have taught our luser a lesson.  This consequently set off a tirade of whining, posted in one of the general chat threads and posted in Afrikaans; presumably, the luser thought that I wouldn’t notice it that way.  I did.  Hence this blog post in response.

Eric S. Raymond, in his essay “How To Ask Questions The Smart Way“, deals with how not to act like a luser in one section of said essay:

Odds are you’ll screw up a few times on hacker community forums — in ways detailed in this article, or similar. And you’ll be told exactly how you screwed up, possibly with colourful asides. In public.

When this happens, the worst thing you can do is whine about the experience, claim to have been verbally assaulted, demand apologies, scream, hold your breath, threaten lawsuits, complain to people’s employers, leave the toilet seat up, etc. Instead, here’s what you do:

Get over it. It’s normal. In fact, it’s healthy and appropriate.

Community standards do not maintain themselves: They’re maintained by people actively applying them, visibly, in public. Don’t whine that all criticism should have been conveyed via private e-mail: That’s not how it works. Nor is it useful to insist you’ve been personally insulted when someone comments that one of your claims was wrong, or that his views differ. Those are loser attitudes.

[…]

Remember: When that hacker tells you that you’ve screwed up, and (no matter how gruffly) tells you not to do it again, he’s acting out of concern for (1) you and (2) his community. It would be much easier for him to ignore you and filter you out of his life. If you can’t manage to be grateful, at least have a little dignity, don’t whine, and don’t expect to be treated like a fragile doll just because you’re a newcomer with a theatrically hypersensitive soul and delusions of entitlement.

One can immediately see why the aforementioned and aforelinked whining tirade does not help the luser at all.  The luser attitude demonstrated in this case of (1) wasting other people’s time and (2) whining because other people expressed dissatisfaction of it simply results in the luser losing all respect within the community, which does not help the luser case at all.  (We have long memories; it can take a while — years, even — for such blunders to be lived down.)  I’ve seen this all before on the various project mailing lists that I’ve sat on over the years.

You don’t want to be a luser, nor do you want to seem like one.  You want a winning attitude in order to be treated as an equal and welcomed into our culture — and we would really want to do this (so if you think of our attitude obnoxious, condescending or arrogant, please revisit your faulty assumptions).  The underlying issue at hand is that it’s extremely inefficient to try to help people who aren’t willing to help themselves.

Unfortunately, I can’t do much about lusers pestering me.  Hopefully, some will read this and realise what they need to change/fix to stop being one.

In Soviet Russia, asteroid plays YOU!

The nerd community had a bit of news earlier today: a meteor streaking across the skies of Russia.  Since everyone in Russia seems to have a dashcam (apparently it’s a car insurance requirement over there due to police/judicial corruption), we even got footage of it:

While the meteor didn’t cause any damage itself, the sonic blasts were significantly more destructive; current reports seem to indicate around 400 injured, mainly from broken/falling glass.  Not surprising: the sonic wave arrived ~30 seconds after the meteor passed over, and a lot of people would have been at various windows having a look at what had just happened (and in their defence, if I saw a massive flare like that, with a beautiful contrail in its wake, I’d be out there as well trying to get photos for this blog!).  It’s similar to tsunamis: most fatalities happen to people who chase the receding sea, unaware that the reason for the receding waters is that they’re about to un-recede in a rather spectacular and destructive way.

(You may want to turn your speakers/headclamps down for the sonic blast videos, unless you either enjoy extremely loud bangs or you’d like a crash course in Russian swear words…)

Of course, being Russia and therefore having Russian temperatues, blown-out windows are a serious problem in winter, so hopefully the emergency services there are more jacked up than ours.

The big question here is: is this related to the asteroid 2012 DA14?  For those of you living under a rock, it’s an asteroid with an estimated diameter of 50 meters, an estimated mass of 190,000 metric tons — and it will be passing approximately 27,000 kilometres from Earth’s surface in a few hours (19:25 UTC, 21:25 South African time).  Over on Bad Astronomy, Phil Plait seems to think that it’s totally unrelated:

For one thing, this occurred about 16 hours before DA14 passes. At 8 kilometers per second that’s nearly half a million kilometers away from DA14. That puts it on a totally different orbit.  For another, from the lighting, time of day, and videos showing the rising Sun, it looks like this was moving mostly east-to-west. I may be off, but that’s how it looks. DA14 is approaching Earth from the south, so any fragment of that rock would also appear to move south-to-north.

However, some folks over on Slashdot aren’t so sure:

Not necessarily. Imagine a basketball in front of you. That is the Earth. Now draw an imaginary line from your nose to the left side of the basketball. Your line is going east to west. Now draw another line to the right of the basketball. Your line is now going west to east. Same point of origin. Same basic direction of movement. Different perceived trajectory for those living on the basketball.

Information on the meteor is still rather sketchy, although we may get a better picture in the next few days — it appears that the meteor broke up in the atmosphere and may have rained down some chunks on the ground.  If true, and if and when those chunks are found, we may learn more.

For now, I’m going to have to end off with this image by EUMETSAT, showing the vapour trail:

Meteor vapour trail, 15th Feb 2013

UPDATE: 6000.co.za reminded me that something similar happened in Gauteng back in 2009.

Road closures for the Opening of Parliament

(Normal service has indeed resumed, in case you’re wondering.)

The City of Cape Town has published the road closures for the Opening of Parliament tomorrow.  You can click the link if you really want a detailed version, but if you’re anything like me and you just want a summary, here it is:

Stay well clear of anything going into the CBD between 16:00 and 21:00 tomorrow.

That is all.

Normal service shall resume shortly…

Yes, I’ve dropped off the grid.  We moved into our “final” new home on Friday, and our wonderful fixed line provider dropped the ball on moving our line and are now only scheduling the installation for the end of the week.  I’m still around though, just generally out of touch for the time being.

While we wait for normal service to resume (though I can’t promise whether or not that will be shortly), here’s a clip of some crazy longboarding down this stretch of Kloof Nek to keep you all entertained: