It’s Official: I’m Terminal

terminal_window

Vonstipatz is a little bit crazy. He’s into something dangerous.

Back in the mid-90s, when the Internet first reared its majestic head, few people really understood what it was, and what it was good for. I remember going to an early seminar on the World Wide Web; I think this was in 1994. One of the presenters made the statement that there were “approximately 30,000 web sites” in the world, a number that was growing at an exponential pace. The website http://www.howmanyarethere.org/ states that as of about 12 months ago the number was well over 600 million.

Today, in virtually any field you’re in, you had better know how to use a computer and the Internet. If your work is largely on the Web itself, you ought to know–at the very least–some basics about HTML to be able to effectively utilize a Content Management System such as WordPress. And if you want a really good job, the new lingua franca is CODE. To write code, the mysterious if/then digital hieroglyphics of strings, methods, arrays and objects, is said to be the new language of success. Or at least a way to avoid abject failure.

I got to know basic HTML well enough, with the help of a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) graphical editor such as Dreamweaver, to be able to build basic Websites. I even made a nice bit of change on the side building them–everybody knew they just HAD to have one, even if none of us were sure what they were good for. Um, e-commerce, anyone?

Point being, I got away from those salad days when Websites became more complicated with things like CSS (Cascading Style Sheets), Java, server-side scripts for processing forms, and so on. But now, having worked in social media for the last few years, and with the siren song of mobile changing the world, I’m finding I need to get up to speed again. Fast.

So, I’ve been cracking the books on HTML5, Responsive Web Design, platform-specific apps, Ruby, jQuery, Rails and more. Which has lead me to something I thought I’d never open up on my Mac, much less actually use. I’m talking about the Terminal, found in the Utilities folder under my Apps menu. It’s the rabbit hole to the Unix code that runs the Mac OS command line. It’s where you type in weird looking, cryptic instructions, hit return, and something happens. What that is, or should be, I’m not yet sure. This is a jungle filled with all sorts of wonderful medicinal plants, as well as poisonous toads and other strange creatures of the night.

So, I may be terminal, depending on how far in I get. But there’s a method to it all (if not a string or array): If I survive, maybe I can become a guide. To the next of you to follow me in.

I do fancy that dollar sign after my name, though.

(More to come).

Analog Antidote: The Mac Peashooter

mac-motorcycle

It’s March in Detroit. Cold, miserable March. Spring, in theory, just a week away. I need something to take my mind off the grinding gears of daily life–it’s bills, it’s malevolent aches, it’s constant disappointments, the rudeness of the common man.

I need something analog. And this is what I found, surfing mindlessly: a yet to-be-released single-cylinder line of British motorcycles called Mac. As elegant in a way as Apple’s Macs, but deliberately, earnestly analog to a fault. But therein lies the virtue.

With everything around us evolving digitally at a breakneck pace, I desperately need something I can actually break my neck on. Not that the Mac is any more dangerous than anything else with two wheels–and arguably less dangerous than vehicles with a single wheel. That’s the point. Just the idea that I could bomb about on one of these on the streets of the Motor City without a helmet (thank you so much for that Gov’nor Synder!) is a breath of fresh air in my black-mold-addled mid-March mind.

This cycle–The Pea Shooter–is one of four Mac models known as “thumpers” for their single-cylinder Buell motors. This one is a 492cc, 2-valve, push-rod 5-speed. The engine fires just once for every 720 degree rotation of its crankshaft: it has to be an explosive event to whip that shaft around twice before the next bang, doesn’t it? Makes me wax nostalgic for the mini bike I had when I was 13, a true thumper run by a one cylinder Briggs and Stratton lawnmower engine. That thing went like hell, and was an absolute blast to ride. I imagine this grown up version, designed by a batch of blokes from Worcester, UK, has got to be a scream. With names of its brethren being Spud, Ruby and Roarer, much is promised.

Interestingly, the talent behind these Macs is a chap named Ellis Pitt who hooked up with two other mates in Northumberland by the names of Mark Wells and Ian Wride (see http://www.xenophya.com/) who are obviously immersed in digital. You simply need the best digital tools to create a new category of analog goodness and wonder, I suppose. (As well as a frame builder out of Nebraska, USA that’s referred to on the Mac Website–huh?)

At any rate, I want one. I need the analog antidote to my March digital blues.

Go have a peek at their Website: http://mac-motorcycles.com There’s some very cool wallpaper there.