Buckaroo Banzai vs. Search & Replace
Back when I was as old as my students are now, I daydreamed about being a better-looking Buckaroo Banzai: rock star, brain surgeon, and all-around hero. These days, I daydream about search and replace. I’ve spent almost twenty hours that I really don’t have trying to get the new slides for the Software Carpentry course to format properly. Even with help from a couple of very smart people, there are still weird formatting glitches on Firefox, and they still look like crap on Internet Explorer. I’d really, really like to do a global search and replace on CSS—and when I say “global”, I mean it literally. I’d like to replace every shred of CSS on the planet with something that works and makes sense and doesn’t suck this much life force out of the people trying to use it.
I wouldn’t stop there, though. No, no, no, I wouldn’t stop there. [TODO: link to an MP3 of a mad scientist laughing maniacally.] My students have now spent more than a week figuring out how to work around Django’s handling of unauthenticated users—search and replace. Ssetting up to webcast Software Carpentry lectures between Toronto and Edmonton is proving much harder than expected (our options seem to be riding a dinosaur, spending money that we don’t have, or using a low-res system with no guarantees of service quality). If I could have one superpower, just one, I’d replace ‘em all with something—anything—that just plain worked.
Two and a half weeks until we start trying to teach scientists how to use computers more effectively. I feel distinctly unqualified for the task right now; here’s hoping the next 18 days leave me feeling qualified…
But on the bright side, I have lunches like this to look forward to almost every day.