Previous Page
PCLinuxOS Magazine
Article List
Next Page

PCLinuxOS Family Member Spotlight: Bald Brick

by Bald Brick

I don't like talking about myself. I find it pretentious. Nevertheless:

I am seventy years old and live by myself in a small flat in a suburb of Helsingfors, a.k.a. Helsinki. (Our capital city has two official names: the original Swedish one, and the Finnish one that is used by the majority of my countrymen. Historically, Helsinki is a pidginization of the Swedish name for the surrounding countryside.)

This is where I live:

This is the view from my drawing room window:

And this is the view from my balcony:

My kitchen is all too small, but I do have a sauna. I sometimes miss the garden I used to have, but at least I'm close to two manifestations of water. The idea of living further from the sea is somewhat strange to me.

I also miss my cats and dogs, but my back is so bad that I couldn't possibly take a dog for long walks several times a day, and I have gradually developed an allergy that could kill me if I shared an apartment with a cat. Asthma is not something to wish for.

I went to the same school as Linus Torvalds, but thirty years before him, which actually means that it wasn't the same school: its name is still the same but after my time there, they have let in girls and simplified the curriculum.

That girls were let in is probably a good thing even (even if it's said that girls and boys don't mature at the same pace), but in my day, we could choose whether we wanted to concentrate on mathematics, classical languages or modern languages. Today the classical languages aren't an option any more, and this is simply shameful. I actually picked math, but the choice was mine.

Then, over fifty years ago I studied English and Nordic Philology at the university, but over time I became more and more active within the student theatre and ended up as a script editor and theatre director. I've also done some acting - and a bit of teaching at the Theatre Academy - apart from giving elocution classes at three universities. For the last 23 years before I retired, I was head of Radio Drama at the Swedish section of our national broadcasting company.

I have translated a couple of hundred plays from six languages, and one of my own plays won the Prix Italia some twenty years ago.

Since a very early age, my main hobby has been cooking, but I actually find most things in life interesting - except for athletics. (The reason I've never been interested in sports - with the exception of chess - is probably that I was a couple of years younger than most of my classmates, and consequently, never could compete.) Even if I went to the same school as Linus Torvalds, I've never met him. But I do like to brag about being his grandfather's IT teacher.

"You like computers, don't you?" asked one of my colleagues.

"Why, yes", said I.

So he informed me that he and I would be the instructors at a one-day computer seminar organized for one of our writers' unions. (We actually have three writers' unions: one for those that write in Finnish, one for those that write in Swedish, and one for playwrights regardless of language.)

And the oldest one of the writers that turned up was Ole Torvalds, who at the time - the mid eighties - was well known as a newspaper editor, a poet and a translator. A few years later, he would be better known as Linus Torvalds' paternal grandfather.

Now, my colleague and I mainly demonstrated word processors and desktop publishing programs, but my colleague also happened to mention the term "operating system" a couple of times.

"Excuse me", said one of the writers. "What's this operating system thing?"

So my colleague tried to explain it. After a couple of minutes the eyes of all the writers were a bit glazed over, and I had to step in:

"An operating system is the ghost in the machine."

"Ah", said the writers. "Of course."

Even if my father was the CEO of quite a large company, I don't have any money. I'm poor as a church mouse. When I finally got enough of broadcasting, I retired a few years earlier than what would have made economic sense. I suppose I reacted a bit like my nephew when he was five and got fed up with my sister.

He started packing all his toy cars.

Sister: "What on earth are you doing?"
Nephew: "I'm packing."
Sister: "But whatever for?"
Nephew: "I'm moving."
Sister: "Oh. May I ask you where? Or is it a secret?"
Nephew: "To Granny's of course."
Sister: "Of course. But she's at work at the library all day."
Nephew: "Oh?"

Sister: "She really is." Nephew (without hesitation): "I suppose it will have to be some orphanage then."

He didn't really move. When I got fed up with broadcasting, I did.

Of course, I'm handy with my hands. You give me the right tools and the right materials and I'll build you the Taj Mahal. Or something more modern. (But not modernistic.)

I was born during an air raid, during which they couldn't move my mother to an air raid shelter as she was ... sort of ... giving birth. I don't remember much of that though, even if my earliest memories are a bit earlier than those of most people. I was two when I had the most traumatic experience of my life, and I may write about that in my memoirs but not here.

And do you want me to explain why I started using PCLinuxOS?

I first installed Slackware Linux in 1994, when I could buy a set of CDs at a local book store. At that time downloading it would have taken a week. Shortly afterwards I switched to Red Hat - because Red Hat became available at the same store - and later I switched to Mandrake. Mandrake came with KDE, while the default in Red Hat was Gnome. And as Tex consistently had produced KDE RPMs that were better than the "official" Mandrake ones, I naturally tried out PCLinuxOS as soon as it became available.

But I wasn't hooked yet. My main operating system was OS/2 and that was all I needed.

Then my employer decided to standardize on Windows 95. I had actually found Windows 3.x almost useful - if you also installed PCTools for Windows or Norton Desktop for Windows. But Windows 95 as a company standard?

I told my bosses: this is an insult. I won't use it. And, believe it or not, even at work I managed to get a Linux computer instead, even if I wasn't allowed to connect it to the company's network because of security reasons. (How stupid can you get while remaining alive?)

That's when I got rid of all Microsoft products.

PCLinuxOS Family Member Spotlight is an exclusive, monthly column by smileeb, featuring PCLinuxOS forum members. This column will allow "the rest of us" to get to know our forum family members better, and will give those featured an opportunity to share their PCLinuxOS story with the rest of the world.

Previous Page              Top              Next Page
Copyright (c) 2013, The PCLinuxOS Magazine. All Rights Reserved.