Monday, August 23, 2010

Music Set

System76 did return my email Monday afternoon. The email didn't get me any closer to solving my problem with a mic and headset, so I asked more questions. I will await further response.

I really have no idea to what extent System76 actually is a customer relations company. They may actually put some parts together for their product line up. My impression from their online pages is that the business would be classified primarily in the customer service bundle of business operations.

Certainly I'm pretty naive about all things computer. Part of having a Linux operating system is figuring out how to do stuff with the help of other users. I think that's a great thing, but can be intimidating. I looked over the System76 followers at Twitter and noticed there was only about one woman per page listed. I also noticed that over half the male followers have beards.

LinuxChix is an organization formed by women in the Linux community in 1999 with two guiding rules: Be polite. Be helpful. Surely sexism is a part of reason that LinuxChix is needed. But some of the problem is just that computers depend on computer science, something too few of us know anything about. Sometimes clear answers in jargon are mistaken for rudeness.

In most cases it seems that computers operating Linux are the obvious choice for educational settings. I'm in contact with some small organizations in Uganda and with some of the issues that have come up with computers running Windows, it would seem a good choice there too. I'm keen to become at least a little competent because I'm interested in education and service organization where Linux and open source software make a lot of sense.

System76 states that they want to serve the educational market. I think that's very smart and very much needed. That Linux can seem intimidating looms large as a hurdle to overcome for greater adoption in educational settings. Clearly school librarians and other IT specialists play a big role. But simply having more teachers choosing computers running Linux will make a big difference.

I want to be happy with my choice of computer. Right now I can't figure out why my mic or headset for Skype calls don't work. In order to provide support System76 needs to know what the computer is. All their documents say to click on the System76 Driver to find this information. When I did that I get a message that the System76 Driver is unsupported and instructs me to report the bug. In my email response the sales representative told me "that's normal." In his email there was nothing responsive to the issue that I can't get the mic or headset to work.

I bought a computer running Ubuntu because I believe in the significance of open source software. System76's aim to sell computers in the education market is something I'm aligned with; I want to see more teachers and students using Linux. The only possible reason my personal experience is the least bit interesting is how it relates to the broader adoption of open source software. It's a case of "if I can do it anyone can." The point is, I'm not interested in making System76 look bad, rather curious whether a company like System76 can make an average customer like me think Linux is a reasonable choice.

I'll give System76 one point for responding within a working day to my email. Since the response didn't address the problem, no more points. I feel like subtracting a half point for calling a system message to report a bug "normal," but I won't. So a 1 on a 1-5 customer satisfaction scale so far.

Looking around the various software on computer I turned my attention to music. I rarely listen to music on my computer, so I'm rather behind the times when it comes to all the stuff one can do with music. I did have iTunes installed on my old computer, so I wanted to try out the Rhythmbox music player installed. It's easy, even I can figure it out. I'm not so sure about the music store yet, mostly because I'm saving my pennies.

All that put music on my mind. I went up to my house and sat among my meager cassette and CD collection. I still like to make mix-tapes. Who will listen to mix tapes nowadays? The other day I had listened to an old mix tape a friend had made long ago and enjoyed it so much. So I looked up at my tapes and started pulling some down to listen to various cuts. The tapes are from a certain time in my life, something like 20 years ago. I had a blast listening.

I started out with "Carmelita" a song Warren Zevon wrote, but the rendition I played wasn't Zevon's but Dwight Yoakum on vocals and Flaco Jimenez playing accordion. The next song I played was Rodney Crowell singing John Hiatt's "She Loves the Jerk." A theme seemed to be emerging: Life is hard and love hurts. I'll list the songs I listened to at the end of this post. But before I do I'll go right to the last song I played before bed.

It was "Set" by Youssou N'Dour. I was blown away not having heard it for years. I opened the liner notes and read the English translation of the lyrics:
Set (Clean)

Have a clearmind
Be pure in your heart
Be sure in your actions
One day all the world's musicians will meet
Music has no frontiers

One day the Americans
Will find a new vision,
And the Russians too
Will see life in a different way
For there are too many weapons
And war is terrible

I have a vision of all Africa
Being united one day

Give me your hand
Give me one chance to know
What do you think,
For the future?

The young people are crying
Because the older ones are frightening them
That's what makes me sad
They are crying because
They have no hope
Gulp, I'm going to listen to my old tapes some more. Who knows maybe I'll even figure out how to put some of my old music on my computer.

Here's the song list:

Carmelita - Dwight Yoakam
She Loves the Jerk - Rodney Crowell
Holding Back the Tears - K.D. Lang
I Want Your Love - Chris Isaak
You - Maxi Priest
Belefonte - Joyce (Moreno)
I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry - Al Green
I Can't Get Next to You - Al Green
You've Got Me - Etta James
Got You On His Mind - The Subdudes
Set- Youssou N'Dour

Photo credit: Henryk Kotowski Creative Commons cc Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0

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