a rickety bridge of impossible crossing


I don't typically post entries to the Discovery Feed because I try to maintain the habit of writing every day, whether it's good or not, just to keep the momentum going; and sending everything I post to a feed like that would feel spammy.

In the old days, I used to reserve Sunday as a day I could rest and just post links to stuff I enjoy. I used those posts as a platform for shouting out my sponsors and would typically allow those entries to go to the discovery feed, just as a "hey, I'm here and I have a blog if you want to check it out" kind of message.

I haven't been doing Sunday links as much lately, because the overall amount of time and energy I have to write has been way down, so if inspiration strikes me on Sunday, I want to take advantage of it; but I still usually do shoutouts on Sundays anyway. This time I decided to let it go to the feed. I usually don't get much traction on posts, but sometimes it's nice to put out that extra sonar bloop to the world.

Well, this time the bloop was received loud and clear; someone posted the link to hacker news, where it somehow reached the front page. I've made posts in the past that I thought might be good enough to gain traction on a big website, but I didn't imagine my dream computer would be one of them, because (1) listening to people recount their dreams isn't something people typically find interesting, and (2) the title is kind of a bait-and-switch, which I thought might annoy people. But I figured only a handful of people would see it, mostly people I know who'd appreciate the joke. I guess this shows that I don't know crap about squat. It's kind of a rule of the internet that what we think people will like and what people actually like is a venn diagram with barely any overlap, but if we keep throwing darts, eventually one of them will hit the center; it's just never the one we expect.

I rarely get this amount of feedback on a post, so I thought I'd take this opportunity to address some questions and observations from the comment section:

chungy asks:

I wonder how much of it was dream and how much of it was fleshed out after the fact.

I wouldn't say I fleshed the dream out, everything I wrote is something that happened in the dream, but I definitely massaged some of the rough edges and made it more of a coherent narrative. I think people generally don't like listening to other peoples' dreams because people often over-emphasize little bizarre details that ultimately don't matter. They're cool to the person having the dream, because it's fun to experience the surreal, but there's no way to convey that feeling to someone else. I left out stuff about trying to put a disk in the 3½" disk drive, discovering that it didn't fit, realizing that it's actually an SD cart slot that only looks like a disk drive, trying to insert an SD card, realizing that it's not SD at all but some incompatible card format from 2011, ultimately giving up and trying the USB port, etc etc. It was all weird, but it would've just gotten in the way of the main narrative thrust.

isthisthingon99 writes:

I was struck by the sentence where a clearly talented coder (based on the website) said something like "I couldn't afford $450"

Perusing the website further exposed the tragedy. Some brilliant people can't live like the normies. They could learn, though, if they wanted to.

Thanks for the backhanded compliment! Unfortunately my areas of brilliance are in the service of making baroque CSS nightmares and little games that I give away for free; I'm not interested in coding things silicon valley billionaires typically fork over the big bucks for, because those tend to be scams and/or projects that contribute to the immiseration of humanity. However, if you have the means and the inclination to siphon off a little bit of that wealth to help alleviate a tragedy, learn how you can become a sponsor here.

rogual writes:

Hi, it's me, your dream psychologist. Linux represents business, homogeneity, AWS, Google, webscale. The H*R games represent the fun and wonder of the Internet in the early 2000s. We, as a civilization, are installing Linux and wiping out our H*R installation. You're conflicted about this. It feels like there should be a place for the H*R install too, but where will the money come from?

Interesting theory. I use windows at work, but it's definitely plausible the dream was an expression of the frustration I experience using linux at home, plus the despair of spending most of my time on the soul-crushing tedium of my obligations rather than fun things that I enjoy.

johnklos writes:

You can't get to a shell and dd when booted in a Linux installer?

Ah yeah, good point. If I dream about the lappy again tonight I'll try that

Tepix writes:

Funny! A 486 in 2011 was a bit... weird, however ;-)

I wish I had thought to open the computer up, because I would be curious to find out what was actually under the hood. Another detail I left out is that the bootup screen seemed to imply it was an MSDOS-like OS, but it was clearly a modern custom job based on FreeDOS or something. The computer was so light I wouldn't've been surprised if all that was inside was some sort of thin client, or a precursor to the raspberry pi (which would be released the following year.) That would explain why its graphics capabilities were so limited, even in TV mode.

BrotherBisquick writes:


This comment was flagged and hidden, so no reason to draw attention to it here. Nice job, HN community 👍️

I'd like to thank everyone who left really kind comments, such as theYipster:

Great jorb on this post. Have a trophy!


Loved the writing <3


This is lovely thank you for sharing!


This would work great in comic form too! Lovely little story

and torh:

Wow, this caught me by surprise. Love the little details.

And anyone else I missed, thank you all so much for the kind words! Making the front page of hacker news is a daunting proposition, but thanks to y'all, it made my day 🦝

#meta #correspondence