General Systems Theory – Nine Requirements

Proton Bletchley is responsible for General Systems Theory at Unit One. Here are his Nine Requirements for working effectively with Systems.

1. Persona

Life can be distracting. A person who has a mind divided between, say, surfing in Australia and general systems theory will accomplish little, because they will be bouncing between dreams of waves and boxes of GST content. At Unit One, work is divided between several different personas. While Brock heads off to virtually surf at Bondi Beach, Proton Bletchley is responsible for GST. His last name comes from the secret WW2 centre where Alan Turing worked, and developed much of the foundation for computer science. His first name comes from Earnest Rutherford, who named protons in 1920.


Proton Bletchley is Unit One’s resident expert in General Systems Theory. He is also an environmentalist, which helps him focus his thoughts.

2. Wardrobe

If one goes to the trouble to develop a persona, the very least one can do is to clothe that persona in something relevant. Proton uses corn blue workwear. This in part is because his environmental focus is on water.

Workwear is useful because people who work with General Systems Theory also have to function in many different places in the real world. A typical example, might involve the collection of environmental data using Arduinos with SD cards. Devices may have to be made in a workshop, then transported to a site where they would be used as data loggers.

Of course there are GST theorists, sitting around producing virtual thoughts while puffing away on their virtual pipes, can reduce their clothing budgets considerably, by purchasing only virtual clothing.

Workwear feels appropriate when working with General Systems Theory. While Proton has only a blue outfit, other workers may wear green, black or red – depending on their moods.

3. Computer

Computing is an integral part of General Systems Theory. At one level this means supercomputing. Meteorologists and other -ists who want data in real time, need fast computers.

The fastest computer in the world is arguably D-wave’s quantum computer in Burnaby, just a few blocks from where our good friends Roy Sinn and Sue Innes live. See:

So, there is no point in Proton having anything big. It will never be big or fast enough. He is opting for the exact opposite – minimal computing. Proton remembers seeing his first ad for an EEEbook, and thought “I want that!” He was referring to the computer, not the girl!

Asus EEE PC 701 was launched in Japan in January 2008. (Photo: Asus)

By June 2008, Asus had probably realized that many of its customers were women and offended by its previous ad. With the launch of the Asus EEE PC 900, it replaced its beach girl user with one referred to as “The Housewife”.

“The Housewife” was used to promote the new and improved Asus EEE PC 900 in June 2008. (Photo: Asus)

Today’s (2016) ads for Asus have not changed much, although the computers are larger and more powerful.

Asus EeeBook X205TA (Photo: possibly

Sam Rutherford, in Laptop Mag concludes, “The Asus EeeBook X205TA offers excellent battery life, a solid display and strong everyday computing that puts it a notch above other budget laptops.”

4. Operating System

Proton prefers Linux. Because of Proton’s connections with New Westminster, the original answer was Mandrake. Mandrake the Magician takes his name from Leon Mandrake, the stage name of New Westminster resident Leon Giglio. Leon Mandrake had been performing for more than ten years before Lee Falk “invented” the comic strip character. However, in 2004, MandrakeSoft lost a court case to Hearst Corporation, and was forced to change the name of its Linux distribution.

New Westminster’s very own Leon Mandrake with Princess Narda (Photo: Yes, well looks like Romaine down at the bottom …citing sources can be difficult at the best of times)

Fast forward to 2016. Mandrake has morphed into Mageia. Version 5.1 was announced 2016-12-02.

Proton has considered using other Linux distributions, including Linux Mint and elementary OS (which has a unique and simple design). If Proton wasn’t so prejudiced, I’m sure that he would be wanting to experiment with elementary OS.

5. Browser

In keeping with the open source philosophy of Linux, Firefox is an open-source web browser. There are many other open source browsers, including Chromium and Opera. However, Proton is concerned about the close bindings between Chromium and Google. Opera has started to require users to log on every twelve hours, so they can profit from advertisements. As an alternative to Firefox, Midori is a lightweight, fast and open-source (free) browser.

6. Email address

One of the main challenges of employing so many personas, is the habit of having only a single personal email address. Proton disagrees with this philosophy, and is considering having an additional email address just for the Proton Bletchley persona. The advantage is that one can keep all of the material related to that persona in a single place.

7. Office software

Open source office software provides many of the features and functions provided by Microsoft Office. LibreOffice is a fork of OpenOffice consisting of a suite of programs packaged in a single install. Components of the LibreOffice suite are:

  • Writer: word processor.
  • Calc: spreadsheet editor.
  • Impress: presentation editor.
  • Draw: graphical editor.
  • Math: mathematical formulae editor.
  • Base: database program.

Project planning software has always been something of a problem. LibrePlan, for example, states that it is open source, but that only applies to a limited suite of software. Anything really useful is excluded from the open source version, and has to be purchased. At the moment, Proton’s favored open source project software is Open Project.

8. Simulation software

There is a close connection between general systems theory and computer simulation. While Insight Maker is not open source, it is free and available, although Proton notes disturbingly, that it has not been updated for over a year. The last bimonthly newsletter was posted in August 2015. His fear is that someday it will simply disappear.

While some simulation programs are general, others are made for specific purposes. This topic will be covered again in another post.

9. Library

Books and articles are needed for inspiration. Ideally, they also have to be available for scrutiny at any time. It is becoming more and more important to use ebooks, which compress the space of even the largest library into less than a litre.

Update: 2022-01-26 13:00

This is historical content written and published in 2016. There is little point in updating this post, except to add how some things have changed, while others have remained the same.

  1. Persona: From the number of weblog posts being written, a person might suspect that Proton had retired, rather than Brock.
  2. Wardrobe: It is difficult to acquire cornflower blue workwear. Brock did manage to get some red workwear about 2017, but even these are difficult to get hold of. He is now using grey work trousers. Arduinos are no longer being used. These have been replaced by Raspberry Pi Picos, starting in late 2021.
  3. Computers: Asus computers are still in use, but Brock’s latest laptop is now a VivoBook, with a 14″ screen, Ryzen 3 processor, 8 GB of RAM, and 512 GB SSD. Trish is still content with her ZenBook UX305C. At some point, but only at her request, it will be upgraded. Other computers include an Asus VivoMini VC65, an Asus PN-50, an Asus AiO Pro.
  4. Operating system: Linux Mint is in use. Brock still dreams of using Mageia, with version 8 the latest incarnation. The latest experimentation in the household has been with Linux Endeveaur. However, it was not performing adequately to replace Linux Mint. Mageia
  5. Browser: Firefox is still the main browser in use. Brave has been installed.
  6. Email Address: Currently, the McLellans have a domain at that serves their needs in terms of email addresses and websites.
  7. Office software: no changes.
  8. Simulation software: no changes
  9. Library: A Calibre library stores household ebooks. People in the household then use their personal Kobo ebook readers to read books. We have ordered two new Kobo Libra H20 models, as replacements for our current Glo HD models, purchased in 2016-.

Update: 2022-12-24 23:00

Our general policy is for Trish and Brock to use the same equipment. Thus on 2022-08-30, we purchased 2 x Asus Zenfone 9 (A12202) hand-held devices, then in 2022-10-20 we purchased 2 x Acer Swift 3 14″ (SF314-43) laptops. Both sets of machines use USB-C ports for charging.

Soon after the previous update, the 2 x Kobo Libra H2O e-readers arrived. They supplement, rather than replace the Glo HD models. All of the Kobos use USB-micro ports for charging. Any future e-readers will have to use USB-C ports.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *