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Mac OS X: It’s All About Communication

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Washington Apple Pi Journal, reprint information

Once upon a time, people had the strange idea that computers were for “computing,” that is, they were supposed to be used for taking big numbers and turning them into even bigger numbers, or much smaller numbers, or otherwise slicing and dicing numbers. Boring stuff.

In reality, we know that computers are communications tools. You can use them to write a note, a book, an E-mail message; visit a Web site; play music or create your own music; answer your phone or make a phone call, or send a fax; learn about paintings or “paint” your own, or countless other forms of communication. Combined with automatic spell checkers and grammar checkers, a computer can also improve your communications skills.

Here is an epic example of modern, Mac OS X-assisted communications, taken verbatim from the Pi’s computer forums on the TCS:

Actually . . .after I wrote the preceding post I ssh'ed home to the fileserver, then ssh'ed to the web server, curl'ed the SM binary, gnutar'ed it, mv'ed it to the right place, edited httpd.conf, restarted apache, logged out of the web server (back to the fileserver), lynx'ed to the webserver and was able to log into SM via lynx so it looked like it worked.

The fact that it is possible to write such a sentence, and have other living, breathing humans understand it, is a tribute to how far computers have come in the last thirty years. Slowly, subtly, our computers have managed to teach us how to write such sentences, and teach others how to read them.

If you find the sentence a bit cryptic, here is a faintly English translation:

“Actually, after I wrote the preceding message, I used an encrypted telecommunications link from work to reach my home file server, and again used an encrypted link to talk to my home Web server, then used a command-line file transfer tool to tell my home Web server to reach across the Internet and grab the installation bundle for SquirrelMail, a program package for hosting Web mail services. Still working remotely, I then de-archived and decompressed SquirrelMail, moved it to where it needs to be, edited the configuration file for the Mac’s Apache Web server, restarted the Apache Web server, logged out of the Web server and onto my home file server, and used the text-based Web browser to log into the Web server and read some mail via SquirrelMail.”

SquirrelMail’s motto, by the way, is “Webmail for nuts.”


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