"For the great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie--deliberate, contrived and dishonest--but the myth--persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. Too often we hold fast to the clichés of our forebears. We subject all facts to a prefabricated set of interpretations. We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought."

- JFK Yale University graduating class speech (June 11, 1962

"It is the duty of everyman, so far as his ability allows, to detect and expose delusion and error"

- Thomas Paine

May the source be with you, but remember the KISS principle ;-)

(slightly skeptical) Open Source Software Educational Society

28 years of Softpanorama which was started in September of 1989 as a monthly floppy based bulletin for PC programmers

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Recent updates

Age quod agis ("Do well in whatever you do").

Latin proverbs - Wikiquote

This is a "slightly skeptical"  self-education oriented site that contains resources for university students and the independently minded IT folks, critical of mainstream fads. Most material is related to programming, especially scripting (shell, Perl, pipes, Unix tools) and Unix system administration. But there are also some pages devoted on neoliberalism, toxic managers, energy and some other more peripheral topics. The site is oriented on people and organization with limited resources  It might be useful as a self-education tool for those "over 50" IT folk who recently found themselves excluded and marginalized: "without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape." (Pope Francis on danger of neoliberalism). See Over 50 and unemployed

In the neoliberal society we now live you no longer can be purely technical specialist, you need to understand social context of your life  as well. Or you will be squeezed mercilessly. Students who are brainwashed by neoliberal propaganda have high chances to become debt slaves after graduation. Debt peonage is not a new normal and universities became basically real estate hoarders and debtor magnets for the banks.  Unless you learn the difference between education and indoctrination you have a chance to became " a debt slave" for banks. What used to be applauded as "the middle class" turns out to be simply an indebted working class.  

Replacement of classic university educational model with neoliberal model in the US universities has resulted in a very narrowly educated professionals who not only do not know, but also do not want to know anything  about the society and politics. Understanding the society and people is typically a weak point of many programmers and system administrators including myself, the part of personality profile that drove us to this specialty. But we can and should work diligently on eliminating this shortcoming, or many of us will pay dearly for this "social blindness".  It is important to be aware about dangers of the IT workplace such as psychopathic bosses (aka toxic managers) and health problems due to daily multi-hour sitting behind display. .As for psychopathic bosses, they have several varieties with micromanagers, bullies, narcissists and authoritarians managers. It is just a survival skill. You also need to survive a Bad Performance Review -- a standard corporate waterboarding procedure ;-). After all you are just a consumable resource, a unit of "human capital".  We should fight  "professional idiocy" - a term coined by a German philosopher to denote someone who may be intelligent and competent in his own profession, but limited to the point of idiocy in other areas important for working in corporate environment, and as a member of society.  Such individuals lack proportion, a broad education and a realistic outlook on life and dearly pay for that both in professional and personal lifes.  When this fault is amplified by narcissistic megalomania (as in "I am the greatest programmer; all others are schmucks who just don't get it") it is an invitation to disaster. 

While attending university has its value in itself, as a good university cultural environment can't be replicated elsewhere, for talented people independent study might save some money and can help to avoid excessive feeding of education sharks. In any case, lifelong self-education is important and should be a goal in itself. What gets people to the top is relentless self-education and practice of a particular skill. The minimum estimate for reaching "master" level of a given skill is estimated to be around 10,000 hours, the earlier you start the better. And taking into account complexity of Unix and Byzantium tendencies of mainstream programming languages, for programming and system administration 30,000 hours is a more reasonable estimate (one year is approximately 3000 working hours).

The main purpose of the "slightly skeptical" approach (which is a signature of the site) is to stimulate critical thinking about system administration and software development as professions. Skepticism is generally about questioning any preconceived attitudes, facts, or opinions/beliefs stated as facts, or doubt regarding claims that are taken for granted elsewhere. It also can be viewed as strong allergic reaction to  pseudoscience and "bullsh*t" of modern corporate owned MSMs (see propaganda)  and attention to blog, wikis, web forums and email lists and other "alternative" source of information.

This site tries to eschew the conventionally favored obfuscations about IT workplace and related propaganda (for example about "cloud computing" or IT outsourcing) and expose the theater of absurd which often both academic and, especially, corporate IT represents (sometimes in the form of humor; it's often the best medicine against conformism, stress, and overload.).

In any case this site represents the "resistance movement" against neoliberal trend toward atomizing workforce, squashing any human solidarity,   converting humans into tradable good on labor market and, finally shift to "disposable IT workers". Which means that along with mastering the technology, maintaining your personal health and financial health are of crucial importance, especially for older folk. Still this is an educational site, not a propaganda site, and unlike propaganda that manipulates people emotions and prejudges to impose propagandist's views, education primary goal is to help to understand the current technological and social situation and to develop the ability of critical thinking.

Understand what neoliberalism is about now should be a art of every programmer and system administrator education. Plato described the inability of a group of (ideological) prisoners chained in a cave to interpret reality based solely upon the play of shadows projected upon the stone wall in front of them. This is what the situation we face with neoliberal MSM which project distorted images on the wall of our cave.  All of us now live is "casino capitalism", and that's why recent college graduates are forced in bartending with $40K or more of student debts and programmer and sysadmins over 50 became "disposed". Neoliberalism is about atomization fo humans, converting each into tradable good on "labor market" and assigning market values to all human relations. Human beings become market actors and nothing more. Every human activity is seen as a market, and every entity (whether public or private, whether person, business, or state) is governed as a firm. Importantly neoliberalism tried to brainwash us into believing that even non-wealth generating spheres-such as learning, dating, or exercising should be viewed in market terms, that we should submits them to market metrics, and that they should be governed with market techniques and practices. Above all, it casts people as "goods" who must constantly maintain their "value" on the marketplace or face disposal. 

Internet is a tool that gave us vast new opportunities of information exchange while at the same time tremendous possibilities of degrading of quality of this exchange in all major areas -- social, cultural, political and technical as well as possibilities of 24 x 7 surveillance about all our actions, which we ourselves make easier by using cloud email providers and social sites such as Facebook. Internet now serves as a the main advertizing channel, producing waterfalls of textual and visual spam fueled by advertising fees. Also too much information if often as bad as too little. Information overload is a real problem and in this sense filtration of information became much more important. You can use this site as one of such filters as links it provides for each topic are carefully evaluated.

At the same time, it is important to understand that Internet is a giant snooping mechanism and such sites as Facebook are not so much social sites as intelligence collection sitesSnowden revelations proved that like in East Germany with its famous STASI everybody now has a dossier on him/her with a lot of meta-data and probably not only meta-data to trace each day of one's life to an hour or better. Governments no longer need informants to get private/compromising information about citizens. That greatly increases the value of understanding of computer security.

While this site started as a pure computer science knowledgebase (compiled using Perl scripts),  gradually the algorithms used were expanded into other areas, and now the fastest growing areas are Social (information about toxic managers) and Skeptics (information about neoliberalism).  For more information see About.

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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 Hater’s 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

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Last modified: September 12, 2017