User group downturn?

Alex Esplin alex.esplin at
Tue Dec 4 00:31:25 MST 2012

On Mon, Dec 3, 2012 at 3:54 PM, Michael Torrie <torriem at> wrote:
> Could be.  I also had a hard time finding Windows admin help as well as
> Linux.
> As for Linux, I found that the only real experience BYU students seemed
> to have was what they were forced to do for classes.  Whether that be
> just programming in CS 240 or an IT class where they set up a LAMP
> server.  But very few of them did anything with Linux outside of class.
>  Even students who were experienced with Windows didn't seem to really
> have explored the OS at all.  Few knew what regedit was.

When I first started using Linux, in 2004, the only programming
experience I had was in CS 142 the previous semester. But I couldn't
get a bunch of stuff working on my laptop that I was trying to install
Linux on. Along the way I learned how to read (inasmuch as it's
possible) and edit Perl and Python scripts enough to get things to
work. About a billion Google searches and broken installs later I
discovered that the tinkering I had to do to get things to work was

Now that things work in Linux without quite as much tinkering, I get
the feeling that there are many fewer people who discover that
tinkering is fun.

Necessity is the mother of invention and all that.

But I think a little bit of it was some "constructive criticism" in
the form of a couple RTFM replies to lazy questions I asked early on
(both on this list and on the UUG), which I somehow managed to turn
into positive learning experiences, and having people that I looked up
to in a technological sense who were old-school hackers.

I get the sense that although Stack Overflow answers can provide that
constructive criticism, it's more filtered by anonymity, and even when
somebody says "RTM" to a lazy question, someone else will come along
and post an answer in the hopes of an easy reputation boost. I don't
think that gamification has been entirely good for "teaching a man to

I've never actually been to a PLUG meeting, and only a few UUG
meetings, but I still read the lists regularly and consider many of
you to have been good influences in starting me out on a hacking

Alex Esplin

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