Installing Linux with Speakup Scheduled at CSUN

Chuck Hallenbeck chuckh at
Sun Nov 17 06:28:49 EST 2002

Hi Ed and Mike,

Ed, thanks for your thoughtful reply to Mike's complaint. The
argument Mike made is sadly all too familiar to me after a career
teaching students most of whom did not want to learn, but only
wanted to "get their tickets punched" for meeting the minimum

I struggled for years with how to respond to that problem.
Sometimes I tried to address the needs of the poorer students on
the theory that better students will get it anyway, no matter
what I do, and it is the poorer ones who need maximum attention.
So I tried to be 'user friendly'. What I found was that better
students were in fact not learning all that well, and everybody
gravitated toward the LCD (least common denominator). And
sometimes I just pushed for excellence which delighted the best
students and offended the followers. I often had folks come to my
office in some distress to ask, "Do we have to know all that
stuff?" That was so sad. One time a student spoke to me just
before class and said he had missed the last class session. He
wanted to know if I had said anything important.

Providing a user friendly OS that can be installed by a
disinterested novice entirely automatically is much like teaching
to the 'C' student. It spreads the word and gets everyone
started, but it also blocks the way forward for those who not
only want to know what is happening, but who will assimilate that
knowledge and build on it.

Mike's argument for a painless install geared to a naive beginner
is actually an elitest argument that deprives the beginner of
immediate and beneficial contact with his system. Not everyone
will go on to become an expert, but everyone will be invited to
do so, and many will accept the invitation.

Before the days of political correctness we never used the term
'user friendly'. I think we meant just about the same thing when
we boasted that something was designed to be 'idiot proof'.

Congratulations to Janina for pursuing the CSUN presentation. I
am not sure that live streaming is critical, but a good tape
recording converted to a digital format would be a wonderful
resource. Oh yes, and I would plug for the ogg/vorbis format too.


PS - I am really happy to be retired - it gives me a chance to
finally think about what I have been up to all this while.

On Sun, 17 Nov 2002, Ed Barnes wrote:

> Hi Mike, sounds like you are easily impressed and before you get the
> temptation to flame might I tell you that I nailed the install using
> speakup on first try, I have done it a few times since.

The Moon is Waxing Gibbous (94% of Full)
So visit me sometime at

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