Beta Testers

by Jinryu

Zanshin’s in the works of starting his own 학완 up in SK, and that’s a truly interesting idea.  I mean, as a teacher, there’s only so much you can do because you always have your hands tied at least partially by the people running the show.  But what if you were running the show?  Then you wouldn’t be subject to tyranny– you could impose it.  Of course, the whole project is not without it’s hiccups.

When I first moved to NDG, I had huge plans for this place.  I still do, but the implementation of many of these projects reiterates one fact of life– the necessity of beta testing.  That is, if you believe in the idea of a final product, anyhow.  Humor me.

You could say that life never gets anywhere without taking risks, but now that I think of it perhaps beta testing is a better metaphor.  Taking a risk means what it means, but somewhere along the line there’s this idea that it’s possible to totally fail.  Beta testing on the other hand has subtle nuance– it implies that there is a product in mind, a goal if you will, and it’s not a question of win or lose– it’s a question of when will we have it right.  The beta testing involves risks, it involves ideas that might eventually be dropped, and it involves an exposure to public scrutiny, yes, but it is ultimately not just an overal idea that we want to here yay or nay about but a period in which we figure out how to yay as much as possible.  The final goal of betatesting, that is to say, a public exercise of the concept, is inevitable.  There are not so much failures as there are determinations of what doesn’t work and what works better.

I suppose it’s a matter of perspective, but what I’m saying is that going through things isn’t really as black and white as win or lose.

Because, let me tell you, there are a number of sectors ‘in life’ lately where I’ve scored big “FAIL” captions of the self-portraits in my mind, and it’s hard to get up at times unless I find a way to take another perspective.  If I were to look at something as an isolated failure, mutually exclusive of the rest of my life, for sure: it would be depressing. That would be a wall.  But if I can screw up, not intentionally mind you, and still learn or gain something from it, then no failure is in itself pointless– then, it’s just learning to treat it as it is: feedback, criticism– and that’s just beta testing.

The field is won in inches.

Said Terminator: “This is your home now.”

Things that we have beta tested with the goal of making our “apartment” a “home”:

  • we put in a rug in the bathroom (success)
  • plants in the backyard (fail)
  • rearrangement of dishes into above-sink cupboard and dishwasher (success)
  • original arrangement of sofas in living room (fail)
  • second arrangement of sofas in living room (success)
  • first attempts at Windows Media Center setup with Xbox (fail)
  • rewiring of home network (success)
  • 20th attempt at rewiring Windows Media Center with Xbox and Tversity (success)
  • revision of clean kitchen practices that leave everyone in the apartment happy (in progress)
  • revision of trash/recyclling duty schedule for roomies (in progress)
  • etc etc etc

That’s a really domestic example, and I realize that it doesn’t do much to explain my constant allusions to all the drama in my life right now, but there’s no end to where the idea applies.  You can guess how when you move in with new roomies you need to shake up the boat a bit here or there, and in the end, you settle on a system that works to serve the most people.  You try this, you try that, and then it’s decided that here’s how we’re going to do it.  At least, until v2.0.

I’ve said it before, and I’ve said it again– Montreal 2.0.  It referes to the second version of Montreal, post-SouthKorea, that involve changes not only due to perception but due to changes in lifestyle to accomodate or build upon those perceptions.

Or maybe I should just call it “Jinryu – Montreal 2.0 Edition.” Montreal 1.0 was basically the default OS I think.  Or maybe, more accurately, I should call it Montreal v.99, because it was in large part a constant revision and patchwork of a lifestyle and culture I had come to take in since around 1999, when I graduated from high school.

I’d hate to think of ex-girlfriends, former jobs and hobbies as expansion packs or something, but if did look at it, that is kind of what they are– you have the base, that is you, and then you add events in your life that change the applications of the OS.  They demand CPU power in different ways, they handle data in different ways.  They demand things like ergonomics and they present you with customizations, patches, small updates. I could probably put things into a list like a revision history or soemthing. I mean, when you learn about history, there are basically two ways of indexing things. One way is by the years, like this:

or, you could go by major events and then fit everything into periods, like the Stone Age, the Qing Dynasty, the Cold War, WindowsNT, NES, etc. 

That could be fun.  A tentative revision history of OSes I’ve had loaded:

LaSalle – Standard Edition (a.k.a L/SE)
This is basically what I was born using, and it involved my life basically centered around my immediate family and the secondary family (grandparents, uncles and aunts) living in the LaSalle area.  This is the OS that I was using up until the end of high school.  This OS was very school intensive.  This OS received extensive academic accolades in at the Elementary level, and community recognition in the Secondary level.  There were a number of addons during the secondary level, such as the Community Pack, which enabled non-LaSalle extracirricular activities, such as the high school band, and martial arts.  Although Highschool was very different from elementary school, the basic valueset was very similar and was just an adaptation of elementary.  This OS supported only minimum wage jobs, but was recognized for high family compatibility.  It also supported chess.

Montreal v.99 – a.k.a. HE Edition (Higher Education Edition)
This was a major paradigm shift because L/SE had been in use for almost two decades. The M.99 comes into usage with college, and moves on to university.  This OS had a much more complex neural net, soaking up more specialized knowledge in fields such as literature, philosophy, urban studies and visual arts.  It wasn’t nearly as music friendly as L/SE, because the band module wasn’t standard in M.99.  It was replaced to some degree with mostly topical music interactions, including Alena’s musical talents, some concerts, and some time spent pianoing.  That loss of the band module was a huge change though.  There was one thing that took up the lost space though, and that was artial arts.  That which started off as a sideline community project in L/SE was now it’s own module.  The MAC (Martial Arts Club) module would be a major defining part of M.99.  M.99 itself was probably the most complex of all OSes used to date, because there were a lot of different modules added and minor additions.  In fact, the addition of so many modules is probably what lead to the overbearing problem with M.99– it was too complex, it was too patched, and it needed an overhaul.  Relationships, family life, school, hobbies, work, and goals were all pulling the OS’s evolution in different directions, and the lack of support for any one domain made M.99 an increasingly ressource hogged OS, jacking all trades but failing to master anything.

SK 1.0  (SK 1 / South Korea 1.0)
This was a transitory OS, and although it is labelled as SK1, it was in fact still an adapted form of M.99.  When first employed upon landing in SK, SK1 was defined by strong ties to Montreal in the form of family and Chamchikimbap.  There was also a strong tie to North American culture through  a strong dependance on expatriates’ contributions.  SK1 was defined by poor food compatibilty, and just poor compatibility in general, due to the shift from M.99 to SK1 without attention to the actual geographic and cultural nuances.

SK 2.0 (SK2 / South Korea 2.0)
SK2 came into use after the breakup with Chamchikimbap.  A full system format was performed and for a while, it looked like all motivation to develop a new OS was gone– it was going to be the end of the line for Jinryu.  At this point, with major help from Zanshin and native South Koreans, SK2 began beta testing and eventually came into full swing.  SK2’s most major updates included Korean Langugage support, and, while SK1 was developed as a modified M.99, SK2 really was developed in almost completely in South Korea.  This meant native support for cultural packs.  With SK localization, the system was completely rebased for Asia and that made it possible to branch out additionally to Taiwan, Japan and Hong Kong, and with the SK2’s native development, compatibility with those other regions was much increased compared to with SK1.  SK2.0 also developed management and delegation algorithms, as well as the ‘teaching module.’

SK Gold Edition
SK Gold was pretty much the ‘final version’ the SK series of OSes.  The main difference between SK2 and SK Gold were that SK Gold was developed to be not just a means of staying alive in Korea, but living.  With the language support developed in SK2, SK Gold reintegrated the expatriate community from the bottom up.  It had further developed modules for 짐질팡 and 노래팡.  It also had almost flawless support for local foods, and even at the time of it’s uninstalling, had very few conflicts with any newly devloping modules.  SK Gold’s purpose was to take all the mistakes of SK1, and all revolutionary changes of SK2, and make it into not just an improoved “Office Edition” but into a complete, scalable OS that could add modules without conflict.  Above all, SK Gold introduced Internatinal Support, and shifted it’s communications protocols.  The new protocols were greatly simplified and had smaller packets, leading to more efficient pairings.  Above all, SK Gold was the first OS to effectively balance work and fun.

Montreal 2.0
Similarly to SK2’s evolution from SK1, Mtl2 has at best trace similarities to M.99.  It actually took a fair amount of it’s native support and paradigms from L/SE, but very little from M.99 except from the documentation.  Most of the algorithms are from SK Gold.

I could go into details, but, in fact, whatever you read here is the “latest” from the development of 2.0.  I’ve been running Montreal 2.0 for almost a year now and though building it up from scratch, adapting a new job module especially, was a lot of work, it’s coming along, I’m really happy with the direction and momentum of the project… we’re doing minor fixes, so actually, we’re probably a v2.4 or something, but…  well, you know, ever since Kingston left, I’ve just been coming up with ideas for 3.0.  It’s a far way off, but still.

I know that I mention her a lot, but there’s a reason for that.

She, like 의림, 림, 새완, DC, Tyrone, Alex, and Trevor were first time ‘beta testers.’  They’re the people who I didn’t know before the OSes were developed, and so, unlike friends and family, whenever I was using a different OS, they could judge the system based on it’s merits and demerits prima facie instead of based on history.

They could let me start from scratch.  Everytime you meet someone new, someone who you have absolutely no history with, it’s another chance.

I’ve said it before, I’ve said it again– how many times do we get the chance to start all over?  Some people think it never happens… but I think it can.