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Interview: Illiad Answers 74

We got a bunch of questions for Illiad (of User Friendly fame) Monday, let the Moderators (you know who you are) decide which of them were worthy, and sent the chosen ones off to the wilds of British Columbia. Here are Illiad's answers...

Q: (from rde) What is the capital of Burkina Faso, and why does it have so many vowels?

A: Ouagadougou, pronounced "ouagadougou." As for the number of vowels, evidently the government of Burkina Faso offered Pat Sajak bags of money.

Q: (from Simon Hibbs) When the Dust Puppy plays Quake, how _does_ it do that *wiggle* thing?......

A: I'm not entirely certain, although I've seen a substantially higher consumption of caffeine in the office just before the little guy gets into a gibfest.

Q: (from Manatee) Is Miranda as hot as I think she is?

A: Much hotter. She knows she attracts men, but her choice of wearing thongs "because panties make my thighs look big" was purely done for her own sense of aesthetics.

Q : (from Squeamish Ossifrage) Is the User Friendly Project For Humanity getting anywhere?

A: Yes and no. The infrastructure and enthusiasm is there, but now we need funding. I'm working on filling a trust account for UFPFH so that when we reach a decent dollar figure, we can cut the money loose and let UFPFH do what its meant to. Rest assured that it hasn't been forgotten, especially after Iambe, Shadowdragon and all of the participating UFies have put so much heart into it.

Q: (from Evangelion) How good are you at q3test? Can Dust Puppy kick your ass?

A: I'm a fairly good player. I don't play enough to get really superb at it, although I do have my moments. On other days I can really suck. Dust Puppy could hand me my ass in a game of Quake.

Q: (also from Evangelion) When you were lost in the deserts of Turkey, dying of thirst, did you, even once, wish you were back in Seattle in a bubblebath with Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates?

A: I am happy to say that my primal desires were satisfied by the few vultures that were convenient at the time.

Q: (from cemerson) Occasionally there's a stack of boxes labelled "BeOS 4.5" or something similar, often with the Dust Puppy sitting on top. What makes you decide what names to put on the boxes? Is it your favourite stuff, advertising/product placement, or what?

A: It's *never* been advertising or product placement -- companies can buy banner ads or a sponsorship if they want to get at the UFie eyeballs. The brands and labels I include are usually done on a whim, or if I really like a company or product. BeOS, for example, has my attention in a big way. So does VA Linux Systems and SGI.

Q: (from Mudhiker) As an amature artist/cartoonist, i'd like to know what tools you you sketch it out on a huge piece of paper (like some cartoonists do) and then scan it and shrink it down or just maybe have great mouse hands and do it with Gimp...?

A: I used to use Microfibre inking pens on high-opacity paper for many of the early strips, followed by some time on the scanner and some work in Photoshop. Now I use a Wacom Artz II digital tablet, and life is so much easier. I could never draw with a mouse. That would be kind of like trying to write serious code with copy con.

I use Photoshop and Illustrator, but I've been seriously consideing The GiMP under Linux and a variety of other apps under BeOS.

Q: (from i244) I extremely enjoy looking at your funny comic strip. In fact, it's what i have setup as my 'homepage' on my browser. I've gone through all the archives and have laughed my head off at some of the jokes. The only thing that strikes me as odd is that how come I havent seen 1 black, hispanic, asian, native american, etc. in the whole strip ever? What's up with that?

A: It's never really come up, although recently I've been working on a new character for the cartoon, a fairly bright and sarcastic oriental support technician. I live in Vancouver, B.C., which is heavily multicultural, and in fact I had the benefit of growing up in two distinctly different cultures. I suppose when it comes down to it, I never really see people as different races; they're all just "people" to me.

Q: (from Phule77) Does Geek Culture, especially with regards to the internet, represent progress in our civilization, creating a meaningful pocket for the brains and outcasts of our culture, or does it merely represent a burp in the cultural mainstream, likely to collapse once the govt. seize control of the net and we all...well, anyway, sorry, mustn't trail off. Thoughts?

A: "Geek Culture" isn't going to vanish any time soon. In fact, it's abdundantly clear to me that geeks are about to move into a role that transcends a great many of the models that traditional business people have been clinging to for the past decade. There are already many examples of geeks changing the way that the business and finance communities perceive the world market, and this is really just the beginning. As far as the government seizing control of anything, I'd like to point out that above all else, Geeks love to communicate and share, and if we feel repressed we will find a way to get around that repression. So, to answer your primary question, no, our culture won't collapse. In fact, it will become "mainstream hip and trendy" to be a geek, and the fact of the matter is that if you're not a true geek, no amount of money is going to make you into one.

Q: (from dewyn) What constitutes "success beyond your wildest dreams" concerning User Friendly?

A: I'm not really materialistic but I sure would like to not worry about money ever again, and also be able to take care of the people I love and contribute to causes I consider important to me. So in that sense, making bags of money would help, especially if it's done without selling my ass to a traditional-thinking syndicate, the type that wants to own your butt for ten years and who take half of everything you make from the newspapers and then some.

On the flip side, I'd really like to see UF rise to the level of popularity which demands mainstream media attention. I see the strip as giving a voice to geeks, one of the most underappreciated and consistently persecuted sectors of society. Seeing the Dust Puppy on the cover of TIME magazine would make me grin, especially because then you know that Calvin Klein or some other outrageously pretentious fashion designer would take note and start up a "geek clothing line." You know, t-shirts and shorts. Wooo. That's new.

In a lot of ways UF has alreadly delivered the "big win" for me. I've met some really great people, made some wonderful friends, and helped bring together a community through the strength of humor. I never dreamed this would happen, so I guess you can say that I've already achieved something I didn't even think was possible.


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Interview: Illiad Answers

Comments Filter:
  • You get to use copy con?? I have to do all my serious coding with "echo"! Really sucks when writing those device drivers....


    Arcterex, waiting for 'had to magnatize the HD using the moon's orbit' comments...
  • How bout a one-armed gay person in a wheelchair? Now THAT would fit South Park.
  • That would be kind of like trying to write serious code with copy con.

    And what, exactly, is wrong with that? :)

    You would have to use DOS. That's very wrong.

  • Ah I see, thanks. Actually, I tried ^Z as well, and I might've meant to post that instead. Regardless, I've been in Linux too long. But it makes good when I get sick of being in Windows. (Console is good!). Anyways, I didn't know you had to hit enter after ^Z.
  • Hmm. I remember doing this ages ago, but now I can't get it working. When I hit ^D it just inserts it rather than stop.
  • by Phoenix ( 2762 )
    I would have to agree. In a society that truely does not care about what race a person is, would not have to worry about "keeping a balance". Like Illiad, I don't think of my friends as the "The asian guy", or "The latin girl", or whatever. They are all my friends and I simply don't think about what race they are.
  • Not to rag on Iliad too much, butOzy and Millie is done by someone who can actually ... draw. :o>

    Here's a representative sample, featuring Stephan the aardvark geek boy.


  • I'll never get used to not having hyperlinks. 802.jpg is the representative sample toon. has the rest of Ozy and Millie.

  • Uh, perhaps the affluence there has affected your vision. The only theatrical animated releases Disney has made under their name that haven't been from one of the two Disney Feature Animation studios have been "Duck Tales: Legend of the Lost Lamp" and "A Goofy Movie," which were done by their television division. There may indeed be a Disney TV Animation Canada, but they would be one of several contractors working on various TV series and direct-to-video releases.
  • Yeesh ! The British Properties (in West Vancouver) is the most affuent neighbourhood in North America.

    Also, 15 of the last 21 Disney animated flicks were made there.

    And so on... You US types have GOT to start learning about the rest of the planet...

    Jes from Montreal
  • a. see subject. feel free to laugh. or not.
    b. a few years ago my young nephew said something about a black guy(nothing derogatory, used him as a temporary landmark or something like that). what a strange feeling when I discovered he meant a guy in a black shirt.

  • I am a WASP computer consultant in the MidWest US where I have been employed in the electronics field for over 15 years. I was recently at a site where all of the managers and day shift personnel were black, and the night shift people were white. This was the first time that I had encountered that distribution of ethnicities. It was an interesting experience to realize how this went against my own assumptions and stereotypes. Didn't realize that I had them. A learning experience for sure.

  • yep, UF kicks serious butt. I think it's time to re-read the whole series soon. btw, tehre's a similar strip at []. It's not quite as funny, but still great. dunno about Dilbert, I don't read it... isn't that a dead-tree one only?
  • UF could show Linux boxes crashing every
    day, and you would scream.

    Hey! My Linux system is less stable than my WinNT or Win95 system*. I want representation! I want Stef to have a day where he lords it all over those tech weenies because a runaway expect script steals all the CPU cycles from all their precious Lintel boxes, and his happy lil' Win95 keeps on chugging.

    *For real. No joke. Please don't waste BW telling me I'm a moron 'cause I can't configure Linux properly... yet. Walk a mile in my boots first.

  • Alberta beef and salmon kick ass too. :)
  • me too. my Compcrap box chugs win95 osr2 great, while linux was lots of work to configure and use. Fun and educational though. but alas...i missed Word and my (cough) 42k winmodem...
  • Anyway cool article :) Illiad kicks butt
    You can of course get ahold of him on IRC [he's gona kill me] on Undernet on the #UserFriendly channel.
    Illiad is like not into the herro worship thing...
    I rember he was saying something on channel about how people would walk up to him and say "Are you THE Illiad?" and it would make him nervous.

    This is good it keeps it from going to his head :)
    So treat him like you'd treat anyone else on IRC...
  • Hey, I *have* written serious code with "copy con" ... I also once wrote a pre-boot menu program in DEBUG, something like 3k of code when finished. The place I worked for wanted the source code... I hit "d" a few dozen times while piping it to a file.

    It was tres cool. Of course it didn't get used. They switched to Win-doze instead.
  • Dear Coward,

    Thanx for you most informative reply.
    I have taken your advice to heart and gone against
    a life long aversion to muds.
    I have an ROT running on my server now as well. (GrandDaddy of Diku muds).

    It is my hope that this will show you that I am not a total loser.

    Thank you for your support.

    p.s. I still think muds are a waste of time.
  • "Da. Am thinkink of carbonated borscht for lonk nights of coding."
    - Sean
  • by SeanNi ( 18947 )
    > AJ looks a little darker than the others on the banners on the main page.

    That's because all the characters are based on real-life people (or were when the comic started up). AJ is based on Illiad himself, who is in fact a slight bit darker-skinned than most.

    I don't know for sure, but I suspect that he has either some Asian or First Nation ancestry. Which is why I find this whole discussion funny as hell...
    - Sean
  • edlin and debug.

    The One True Combination!
    - Sean
  • How bout the legal age being 18 in Alberta?

    As well as there being NO PST (damn sales tax)

    With the exception of Ralph Klein, Pesto Manning and the rednecks, Alberta is where to be :-)

    Oh, then there's that pesky Calgary traffic (ugh)
  • by angelo ( 21182 )
    Funny, In my office there are:

    two black people, and one one hispanic origin.

    The rest of us folk are white. This in an office of 150 people.

    And they call Pittsburgh a melting pot.
  • by angelo ( 21182 )
    Turks and Arabs are Asian, not oriental. the term "oriental" refers to a thing from asia (the orient apparently) and an "asian" is a person from asia.
  • He even mentioned adding an 'oriental' technician. You do know thats a no-no right? Asian is the appropiate term. Not a good start in PC land.

    He he... actually oriental is not necessarily Asian, could be Arabic, Turkish, Kasakh, Kurdish, etc.

    I for one am happy if he doesn't go with that PC bullshit.

  • I tried to sign up. no "hotmail" how lame, some people use that as there regular email. I'm sure you want to be able to spam people where they live though
    "Subtle mind control? Why do all these HTML buttons say 'Submit' ?"
  • for minoritys. They see white on the TV all the time, white white white. I bet there used to it now :)

    anyway, I know *I'm* not "turned off" by the strip, and I'm not white. there are only a few people who get upset about things like this, and we don't really need to worry about them.

    to whites, black US culture can seem strange, but white culture is not at all strange to blacks.
    "Subtle mind control? Why do all these HTML buttons say 'Submit' ?"
  • If illiad would include minorities it might backfire... Just remember this is a comic strip, and people see recism EVERYWHERE. He'd have to be real carefull.

    Just think if Peter wasn't a white guy. Funny accent, acts strange. Could be misinterperted very easily, as it was in the Phantom Menace

    He even mentioned adding an 'oriental' technician. You do know thats a no-no right? Asian is the appropiate term. Not a good start in PC land.

  • LOL! (Am Canadian, in Vancouver).

    That should've been moderated up. It's great.

    >>2) Those speed-limit signs that read "100". You zip along...until you realize that's km/hr, not mph. >6) All those damn Canadian quarters that keep ending up as change in US stores. Can't use 'em for anything unless you go up to Canada, and can't use 'em for much *in* Canada, either. >4) The taxes.
    5) The taxes.

    Missed a few. Make #8, 9, 10 as "The taxes" too.
  • What if the characters in User Friendly were all black? Every single one of them. Would anglo/white/light-skinned readers feel the same connection as they do now?

    Maybe they would, after reading the strip for a long time and getting to know the characters on an individual basis. But the initial impression would have to be "this isn't for me".

    Is that the impression that User Friendly wants to give to non-white readers? The author says no, and I believe him. Is that the impression that the strip in fact gives to some people? It appears so. Is informing the author of that fact somehow bad? I don't see how.
  • cat > /vmlinuz

    You had better get it right!
  • by Breace ( 33955 )
    He/she would have to be a black jew though.

  • by Breace ( 33955 )
    I dunno.

    South Park seems to be a good example to contradict that.

    Surely they'll be acused of racism but you'd have to be ignorant to that. There's always someone that complains.

    btw. Why is there no person in a wheelchair or with only one arm? Or a gay?

  • And what, exactly, is that?
  • Wow, a mention by THE Illiad *bows and scrapes* "I'm not worthy, I'm not worthy!" (he hates when I do this). Yes, he is just a normal person just like the rest of us. A bit busier than most.. just make sure to prod him about the llama's when you talk to him ;)

    As he said, the UFPFH is still alive, if not very active, registrations to be made with the NPO's etc takes a lot of time and work. I personally would like to thank all who offered their help to us with searching out the info and desgining the site and so on. We do still have all of the information we have recieved and once we are up and ready to go we will be contacting all of you.

  • Heh... been using Linux too long, huh? Me too. I had to write a small autoexec.bat using copy con (no vi, drag) and I had a good four or five ^Ds at the end before I got wise. Benjamin Geiger
  • I think Trey Parker and Matt Stone took a rather unique angle in terms of avoiding the PC issue with South Park... especially the movie. They set out from the get-go to offend people unilaterally. I think they've slandered every racial, ethnic, and religious group that's out there, and if they havent yet, have faith... they will. :)
  • I rember he was saying something on channel about how people would walk up to him and say "Are you THE Illiad?" and it would make him nervous.
    Not too surprising. Since he goes by "Illiad", I assume he's more than slightly familiar with the concept of hubris.

    Fear my wrath, please, fear my wrath?
  • "Aren't we stereotypically non-sociable types of people?"

    I think that is just with non-geeks. BBSes are the perfect example of how geeks are sociable, of how we are into communicating and sharing.

    Were stereotypically non-sociable in places like school, where we are a small minority, and others will often go to great lengths to remind us that we are non-sociable and a minority (ie. uncool).

    Of course... I could be wrong. I have been relatively 'cool' by my general age group for the last couple years (closet geek maybe?).

    Oh. and User Friendly rocks!
  • by ODiV ( 51631 )
    That site you posted is harsh. Bad on the eyes, and kind of annoying too. A good reason why geek shouldn't go mainstream. :)

    I guess the comic was alright though.

    (if you have anything to do with the site, um... sorry about the insults; Think of it as constructive critisism.)
  • by ODiV ( 51631 )
    That's wierd. You'd think it was "the orient" that people had problems with since that's all that really changed.

    a good from Europe = a european good
    a good from Asia = an asian good
    a good from America = an american good

    a good from the orient = an oriental good.


    As for this whole race thing... One of the UF crew could be half native american for all we know. AJ looks a little darker than the others on the banners on the main page. *shrug*
  • I think you want ^Z.

    Generic Man,
    Everyones favorite DOS support technician
  • the full command would be "copy con filename"

    It copies from the console (keyboard) into a file name. That's it. No editing (backspace works). To save the file you have to hit ctrl-z (the EOF control character).
  • Well, you gotta admit: If I'm going to be a masochist and use DOS, I might as well just go all the way and write all my code with copy con. For that matter, I might as well use edlin. (ahh, the fond memories of edlin)
  • i recall Pitr reading not only "Evil Geniuses for Dummies" (something like that) but also "Hooked on Slavonics", to get his accent configured propely.
  • Ooooo, let the holy wars commence =)
  • by MrEd ( 60684 )
    "Wilds of British Columbia" indeed! I'll have you know that Vancouver has the highest number of luxury cars per capita! Not that that's necessarily good... (Vancouver also must have -the worst- drivers)

    Besides, without the sense of humor fostered here in Canada, we'd never have User Friendly! And if Illiad doesn't look both ways (several times) before crossing the street, we might have to put up with some left-handed comic strips until he heals.

    -Tony Hilliard, Vancouver resident.

  • The best way to phrase it is we are non-traditional social. To most groups the majority of computer people seem unsocial but we do socialize heavily, in our own ways. Slashdot is a good example. BBSes were probably a better example if anything. Such 'impersonal' socialization seems unsocial to the average person who only defines socializing as talking with someone voice to voice.

    I guess in a since we are the non-traditional sociable techno-socialites.
  • Geeks love to communicate and share.

    Aren't we stereotypically non-sociable types of people? At least lacking in the social skills department. I guess we've decided to start using common terminology more than a lot of uber geek terms and acronyms.

  • Posted by Mike@ABC:

    I knew that I was really getting into the geek stuff when I read User Friendly and laughed, because I understood some obscure BeOS reference. The strip is a great barometer of this burgeoning "geek culture" that everyone is talking about, and the Dust Puppy is the greatest face you could ever put on that culture.

  • We US types do learn about the rest of the planet...just not Canada :-)

    Seriously, though, I agree that most Americans know very little about Canada. Probably 'cause you're not a pain in the ass like some other countries ;-) So, in the interest of educating our fellow Slashdotters, here is my decidedly inexpert guide to Canada (at least, as seen by a resident of Buffalo, New York):

    ---The Stradivarius Guide to Canada---

    Cool things about Canada:

    1) Their view of Niagara Falls rocks.
    2) The US dollar buys a lot in Canada.
    3) They have currency called loonies. Gotta love that :)
    4) The drinking age in Ontario is 19. See #2.
    5) Toronto has a bunch of cool stuff: the CN Tower, theaters, and Science Museum are among them.
    6) The letter 'Z' is pronounced "zed". cool.
    7) Canadian bacon :)

    Bad things about Canada:

    1) You never know what the heck the conversion rate is. The weather on this day in the year 2593 is more predictable :)
    2) Those speed-limit signs that read "100". You zip along...until you realize that's km/hr, not mph.
    3) It's even colder than in Buffalo.
    4) The taxes.
    5) The taxes.
    6) All those damn Canadian quarters that keep ending up as change in US stores. Can't use 'em for anything unless you go up to Canada, and can't use 'em for much *in* Canada, either.
    7) eh?
  • by JoeBuck ( 7947 )

    Sigh. If anyone points out that an organization that, in real life, would be filled with non-whites is being portrayed as all-white, people who are comfortable with pretending that these all-white artificial worlds are natural start screaming about the PC police. So the American TV is full of shows set in an all-white New York or an all-white LA, when in real life, whites are a minority in both cities. Makes you kind of wonder whether all of the other folks were carted away. Similar, Vancouver has a very large Asian population, mainly Chinese.

    Note that I'm not advocating artificial diversity (like those mixed-race gangs you see on TV sometimes -- any given gang is likely to be all people of the same race). But I think it would be hard to find a techically oriented company of any size on the west coast of the US or Canada that doesn't have anyone of Chinese or Indian ancestry.

    So in this sense, what's being pointed out is a kind of error in the presentation of the strip. UF could show Linux boxes crashing every day, and you would scream. The author could reply that it is possible for Linux boxes to crash, but you'd be correct to complain that that is very rare. I suppose he could then accuse you of being with the Linux PC police, but such an argument would be stupid.

    Similarly, it is possible that in the whole history of an ISP, no non-white person ever works there or even visits the company. It's just that this is so wildly unlikely in the real world as to be peculiar.

  • I am white. I just now looked down at my skin, and noticed that it is nowhere near the shade of white of a piece of paper. Actually, it's a pretty dark tan, because I am outside a lot.
    Does this mean that a cartoonist should have a full palette of "skin tones" to choose from? Starting at the pasty geek-white, and running all the way down to the very darkest black of some african tribes? No.
    I like Iliad's comment on how they're all just 'people'. I have mixed races in many of my classes, and I often forget about their races, too.
    I know some little black kids who, when asked to draw a picture of themselves, drew an outline of a person without coloring it in - just like white kids do, and just like cartoonists do.
    And what about Pitr? He does not strike me as a typical caucasian male. I could be wrong, but I always had the impression that he is Indian (as in from India). Maybe I'm wrong about that, but he seems to me to be a good example of diversity, while at the same time staying true to an accurate reflection of geeks.
  • I have read some Pitr lines aloud, to try and place that accent ("am thinkink about goink out for sushi") and it always came out sounding Indian, like Ben in "short circuit". I figured that fit, since there are a lot of Indians that talk like that at my friendly neighborhood computer shop. Oh well.
  • The Dilbert Zone []

    Not quite as hip as UF, but still covers the biting corporate stupidity quite nicely. More for lusers than geeks, IMHO, but funny either way.
  • Get real. Everybody knows that Real Hackers don't use copy con to write code. We don't need such sissy little steps. REAL Hackers use COPY CON PROGRAM.EXE
  • Seems to be in yoyo mode for the last few hours.

    I hope the slashdotting of the server stops when school gets back in session.

    Hey, if the "capitol of Burkina Faso" question made it into the list, what about all the other good, off topic questions? Could have had some outlandish answers. Maybe some of them will work their ways into future strips :-)

    Anyways, we love ya, Illiad. Keep up the good work.

    the AC
  • That would be kind of like trying to write serious code with copy con.

    And what, exactly, is wrong with that? :)
  • by nicklawler ( 62164 ) on Friday August 06, 1999 @05:32AM (#1761921) Homepage
    Q"The only thing that strikes me as odd is that how come I havent seen 1 black, hispanic, asian, native american, etc. in the whole strip ever? What's up with that?"

    -Must we always come back to political correctness. If the man doesn't feel like putting those characters in, he shouldn't and he shouldn't be pressured to! Diversity has to be a choice, not forced. Anyway, I would rather see it happen naturally rather than have some obligatory "token" character.

God help those who do not help themselves. -- Wilson Mizner