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(slightly skeptical) Educational society promoting "Back to basics" movement against IT overcomplexity and  bastardization of classic Unix

Softpanorama Bulletin
Vol 17, No.01 (January, 2005)

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A Note on Information Overload

The quantity of information available on the WEB today presents a challenge to both individuals and society. The huge amount of information we face today, especially in computer science (information overload) can cause stress and anxiety. This stress (or information anxiety) is produced by the widening gap between the amount of information that is available and the amount of information that we can consume. This situation leads to a loss of productivity due to compulsive WEB browsing, constant lack of time, feeling of urgency, a pervasive fear that we are about to be overwhelmed by the very material we need to master in order to professionally function in this world. In addition you probably have been victimized by spammers and sometimes by people who can't resist passing on a joke, a quote, an inspirational story or photos from their weekend, etc.

Some authors believe that society has arrived at the point where information has become more a problem than a solution. Huge stream directed at no one in particular, in enormous volume and at high speeds. The current quantity of information not only has the potential for being psychologically unhealthy; it may also be inefficient, reversing positive effects of the WEB to the society. As a result of information overload, people can spend more time browsing the WEB that it is necessary to find a solution with the information already in hand. WEB does not solve the most important problem -- improving signal to noise ratio in the information flow. To certain extent it can be considered as a pollutant :-). High volume low signal to noise ration stream of information can lead to confusion, procrastination and decision-making difficulties. According to psychological research, human brains have retrieval limitations. In order to be able to recall information, it must be learned in a meaningful context. If the context is fuzzy like  the context of WEB browsing with rapidly changing flows of data, remembering becomes difficult. Therefore, incoming information flow information is no longer looks like a scarce resource, it is more and more an (expensive) time drain to be managed.

Information overload is a unique problem. Now information tends to be everywhere and we have problems even to remember where you put it, not what it is. The view that 'Knowledge is Power' is hard to eradicate when some of us regularly throwing out computer magazines that they've never opened. We probably need to  build special skills to handle information overload. The following list contains some possible approaches:

News in field of OSS software now create a substantial stream. Unlike the situation in 1996 or 1997 the amount of events, papers, speeches and interviews for the last quarter is simply enormous, but none of them are significant in the long run. Mandrake 6.0 distribution (based on Red Hat 6.0)  and corresponding distributions from other vendors like Caldera and SUSE  made substantial progress toward providing a low-cost desktop. They are simpler to install and are more both more secure (shadow passwords are available during the installation) and more user-friendly than previous versions of Linux. The gap between Windows desktop and Linux desktop in user-friendliness is much more narrow now than before, but it still exists. 

At last the number of educational resources on the Net for OSS software became fairly substantial and it provide at least theoretical opportunity to improve the level of CS education even in extremely cash-strapped circumstances. See links that I recently added to the collection on Fhe absence of highly qualified teachers can be now partially compensated for WEB materials. (See links section, and if it will not be enough there is comprehensive list of links compiled by [email protected] ).

Low-cost hardware is now really low cost. Quite adequate for CS education computer (refurbished model with Pentium 90, 100 or Pentium 120 CPU at least 1G harddrive and CD Rom) can now be bought for $100 in the USA and probably prices elsewhere are similar. Pentium 300 or 333 (Celeron-based) computer with 64M of RAM and 8G drive can be assembled for approximately $300.

During this quarter I have managed to improve several old sections (see Chronicle of Updates). Probably most noticeable are updates in Bookshelf. Almost all bookshelf pages were revised and updated, so it's now a completely new and much better resource for finding a decent book on several CS-related topics (See especially CD_bookshelf). Links to relevant Bookshelf  entries are now systematically used in the Directory section. Among revised pages I would like to mention  Algorithms, Compilers, C, Assembler, Security, Open Source. I hope that they became a little bit more useful now. Several new sections were created. The major new page was the Linux Certification. Other includes Information Overload, CD_bookshelf,  Compilers  and Reverse engineering links.

Dr. Nikolai Bezroukov



Groupthink : Two Party System as Polyarchy : Corruption of Regulators : Bureaucracies : Understanding Micromanagers and Control Freaks : Toxic Managers :   Harvard Mafia : Diplomatic Communication : Surviving a Bad Performance Review : Insufficient Retirement Funds as Immanent Problem of Neoliberal Regime : PseudoScience : Who Rules America : Neoliberalism  : The Iron Law of Oligarchy : Libertarian Philosophy


War and Peace : Skeptical Finance : John Kenneth Galbraith :Talleyrand : Oscar Wilde : Otto Von Bismarck : Keynes : George Carlin : Skeptics : Propaganda  : SE quotes : Language Design and Programming Quotes : Random IT-related quotesSomerset Maugham : Marcus Aurelius : Kurt Vonnegut : Eric Hoffer : Winston Churchill : Napoleon Bonaparte : Ambrose BierceBernard Shaw : Mark Twain Quotes


Vol 25, No.12 (December, 2013) Rational Fools vs. Efficient Crooks The efficient markets hypothesis : Political Skeptic Bulletin, 2013 : Unemployment Bulletin, 2010 :  Vol 23, No.10 (October, 2011) An observation about corporate security departments : Slightly Skeptical Euromaydan Chronicles, June 2014 : Greenspan legacy bulletin, 2008 : Vol 25, No.10 (October, 2013) Cryptolocker Trojan (Win32/Crilock.A) : Vol 25, No.08 (August, 2013) Cloud providers as intelligence collection hubs : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2010 : Inequality Bulletin, 2009 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2008 : Copyleft Problems Bulletin, 2004 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2011 : Energy Bulletin, 2010 : Malware Protection Bulletin, 2010 : Vol 26, No.1 (January, 2013) Object-Oriented Cult : Political Skeptic Bulletin, 2011 : Vol 23, No.11 (November, 2011) Softpanorama classification of sysadmin horror stories : Vol 25, No.05 (May, 2013) Corporate bullshit as a communication method  : Vol 25, No.06 (June, 2013) A Note on the Relationship of Brooks Law and Conway Law


Fifty glorious years (1950-2000): the triumph of the US computer engineering : Donald Knuth : TAoCP and its Influence of Computer Science : Richard Stallman : Linus Torvalds  : Larry Wall  : John K. Ousterhout : CTSS : Multix OS Unix History : Unix shell history : VI editor : History of pipes concept : Solaris : MS DOSProgramming Languages History : PL/1 : Simula 67 : C : History of GCC developmentScripting Languages : Perl history   : OS History : Mail : DNS : SSH : CPU Instruction Sets : SPARC systems 1987-2006 : Norton Commander : Norton Utilities : Norton Ghost : Frontpage history : Malware Defense History : GNU Screen : OSS early history

Classic books:

The Peter Principle : Parkinson Law : 1984 : The Mythical Man-MonthHow to Solve It by George Polya : The Art of Computer Programming : The Elements of Programming Style : The Unix Haterís Handbook : The Jargon file : The True Believer : Programming Pearls : The Good Soldier Svejk : The Power Elite

Most popular humor pages:

Manifest of the Softpanorama IT Slacker Society : Ten Commandments of the IT Slackers Society : Computer Humor Collection : BSD Logo Story : The Cuckoo's Egg : IT Slang : C++ Humor : ARE YOU A BBS ADDICT? : The Perl Purity Test : Object oriented programmers of all nations : Financial Humor : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2008 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2010 : The Most Comprehensive Collection of Editor-related Humor : Programming Language Humor : Goldman Sachs related humor : Greenspan humor : C Humor : Scripting Humor : Real Programmers Humor : Web Humor : GPL-related Humor : OFM Humor : Politically Incorrect Humor : IDS Humor : "Linux Sucks" Humor : Russian Musical Humor : Best Russian Programmer Humor : Microsoft plans to buy Catholic Church : Richard Stallman Related Humor : Admin Humor : Perl-related Humor : Linus Torvalds Related humor : PseudoScience Related Humor : Networking Humor : Shell Humor : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2011 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2012 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2013 : Java Humor : Software Engineering Humor : Sun Solaris Related Humor : Education Humor : IBM Humor : Assembler-related Humor : VIM Humor : Computer Viruses Humor : Bright tomorrow is rescheduled to a day after tomorrow : Classic Computer Humor

The Last but not Least Technology is dominated by two types of people: those who understand what they do not manage and those who manage what they do not understand ~Archibald Putt. Ph.D

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