Category: Off-Topic

April Fools Day; disbelieve everything

Today’s the annual Bad Tech Joke, also known as April Fools Day.  I don’t do those here, cause I think of them like this.  This is your public service announcement to ignore most of what you read for the next 24 hours or so.

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A DragonFly laptop for me

I’m saving up for one of those Acer c720p Chromebooks that people seem to be enjoying.  If you have enjoyed the Digest for a long time and want to help, please do. Of course it’s to run DragonFly.

Thanks to the generosity of a bunch of people, I’ll get a C720 and an SSD too.  Thank you all very much, people I have never met but would like to shake the hands of.

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Congratulations, Matthew Dillon!

Matthew Dillon hasn’t committed anything to DragonFly in several days… cause he just got married!  Congratulations to the newly married couple.

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Still hiring

Just to remind people: I’m hiring a system administrator.

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Hiring a syadmin

I’m hiring a sysadmin at my workplace:

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Open source classes at RIT

Normally I’d save this for Lazy Reading, but I’m indirectly involved: the Rochester Institute of Technology now has a minor in Open Source and Free Culture.  Here’s the press release.  I taught one of the precursor classes, Humanitarian Free/Open Source Development (essentially open source development methods) last spring.  Steve Jacobs was my advisor years ago and Remy Decausemaker was my (best) student from the HFOSS class.  In any case, the courses are definitely worth it.  (via)

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Holiday shopping guide 2013

For those of you doing last-minute holiday shopping – like me: see previous years of gift links.  There’s also a number of comics lists, book lists, and game guides.  And of course, donations.

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I’m hiring

This has nothing really to do with DragonFly.  I’m hiring a report developer for work.  Here’s the Craigslist job posting.  I consider it very unlikely that there’s a local reader of this blog that also has the right skills, but what the heck.

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Wanted: a Mailman patch

One of the most-requested items for the DragonFly mailing list archives is reverse sorting by date.  Mailman, which is what’s being used now for archiving, doesn’t have a ‘native’ way to do that.  Has anyone seen a trick/patch to get that to happen?  I already patch Mailman to get the message date to show in listings.

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PRISM, privacy, and what you make yourself

If you’ve been reading the Digest for a while, you’ve seen me talk about the value of hosting or running your own services.  It’s not too much of a surprise in my case; if you are working on an open-source operating system, you want to run it.  It’s good to get the experience, and you can run programs the way you want, instead of picking from whatever vendors happen to sell you.

The PRISM disclosure, which I am going to assume everyone is familiar with at this point, is another facet.  Every time you use another company for your email, your entertainment, your software, and so on, their information on you can be accessed.    This isn’t a problem that can be fixed by going from one webmail provider to another.  You can shop around, but notice that the author in that link effectively throws his or her hands in the air and says, “there’s no way out” by the end of the article.  This is because corporations work as collecting agents for the government, even if they don’t plan to do so.

That sounds drastic, but there’s legal frameworks in every country for governments to require companies to give up data on any person, on request.  It happens.  I’ve seen it myself; I worked for Time Warner for several years, tracking down cable modem user information and handing it over as compelled by law.  I know the lawyers at TW Corporate didn’t like doing it, but they didn’t have a choice.  (I have some horrifying stories about what people would do to themselves and each other.)

Companies are increasingly working to create services to sell, not products to buy.  A service never stops being consumed, so it forms an ongoing revenue stream.  I’m not saying this is bad; I firmly believe that a financial incentive to be paid improves services.  However, as only a consumer, you can end up not owning what you use.  Other people have pointed this out, and I don’t want to sound like a frothing crazy person… but it is relevant, though not necessarily as catastrophic as some people pronounce.

What I’m working towards here is a reminder that you should run your own software, and running it on DragonFly is the best way.  (Or some other operating system, I guess.  If you have to.)  Instead of trying to figure out what the least-bad commercial option can be, run it yourself.  Good for privacy, good for learning.  I know that’s not an option for everyone; fighting with Sendmail (for instance) is not an activity that many people pick voluntarily.  But, if you’ve been thinking of setting up a replacement for Google Reader, or hosting your own mail, or own blog, etc… there’s never a better time than now.

(Follow all those links for some good information; consider it an early Lazy Reading post)


RSS reader recommendations

Google Reader, which is what I use to track as much BSD stuff as possible, is being retired as of July 1.  I need a new RSS reader – any recommendations?  Something that I can access from multiple places (i.e. online app) is best.

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Early morning distraction

Perhaps it’s not early morning where you are, but: if you go to Google’s 2013 Google I/O site, clicking on the I and O in particular patterns take you to various easter eggs.  (see after break for spoilers).


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Hey, NYC readers

This has nothing directly to do with DragonFly, other than this is a result from my trip to NYCBSDCon last year…  I know I have a few New York City readers.  I’m possibly making a short trip to NYC soon; any advice on where to stay/visit?

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An education in Python and maybe OLPC

This is mostly unrelated to DragonFly: I need to get more Python experience in the next few months, mostly around the OLPC project.  I’ve only messed with Python when needed to get an existing script running, etc.  Any Python users that can point me at a good learning resource?

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Lazy Reading for 2012/09/02

I hope you like your links eclectic this week.

  • DragonFly is a popular project name, but this is unrelated to DragonFly BSD.
  • Russian Tea HOWTO.  I know there’s at least a few vigorous tea-drinkers in DragonFly other than me.  The tl;dr version is “make a syrup and dilute”, but it’s more enjoyable to get into the paperphanalia of it all.
  • I don’t know what Xombrero is, but someone submitted patches for it to build on DragonFly.  What a nice thing to do!
  • A Generation Lost in the Bazaar, by Poul-Henning Kamp.  Even if you don’t agree with his cathedral vs. bazaar generalizations, this description sums up a problem well: “Sam Leffler’s graphics/libtiff is one of the 122 packages on the road to www/firefox, yet the resulting Firefox browser does not render TIFF images.”  (via)
  •, the site of John Walker, co-author of AutoCAD.  The site looks like something from the late 90s but is surprisingly modern.  The Unix Utilities section has some interesting programs.  I’d link to it directly, but it’s a framed page on the site.  (See what I meant about “90s”?)
  • Beyond lies the wub: a history of dubstep.  You may or may not be interested in the music, but I like these long-form articles coming from the Verge.
  • 150 Troma films for free on YouTube.  (via)  The most famous one isn’t free, but it’s there.
  • Oh my goodness, the “thagomizer” is a real thing.
  • Racing modified electric kid vehicles.  I had a coworker who put a wheelchair battery into his daughter’s Barbie car.  He said it doubled the speed and made it able to drive on two wheels.  (via)

Your unrelated link of the week:  Flux Machine.  Be patient; the images are animated to good effect.

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Lazy Reading for 2012/08/19

I think I’ve made it through my backlog of things to post.  For no apparent reason, I ended up with a whole bunch of ‘this vs. that’ links this week.

Your unrelated link of the week: Taipan!  I played this on the Apple ][ and loved it.  The buy-low-sell-high game is an old genre that hasn’t been used in newer games in the same fashion as roguelikes or sidescrollers.  The only recent equivalents I can think of are Drug Wars and maaaaybe Eve Online.

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Another book tip: Vim and Vi Tips

Seen on Ycombinator News, the Vim and Vi Tips e-book on Amazon is _free_ today, and possibly just today.  It’s a Kindle book, but there’s software Kindle readers from Amazon if you don’t have one.

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Lazy Reading for 2012/08/05

I seem to include a vi/vim tip every week.  It’s not on purpose, or at least it wasn’t until now.

Your unrelated link of the week: a thorough investigation of the history of the ‘long s’ character, via.  If that’s too cerebral for you, try this video of a man making turkeys gobble, which made me laugh and laugh.

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Lazy Reading for 2011/11/20

Hey, the date’s sorta palindromic!  Sorta.

  • “Bundled, Buried and Behind Closed Doors” – a video description of the physical parts of the Internet.  Remember when MAE-East or MAE-West would have a bad day and half the Internet felt it?  Really, half.  I don’t think I’m exaggerating. (via)
  • Google has a verbatim search mode now, for those of you who regret the loss of ‘+’ as a required search term designator.  (via and also sort of via)  There’s always alternatives.
  • The expr program is a real piece of crap.”  Laser-focused complaining about a small program that’s had 4 decades to improve, and hasn’t.
  • Mechanics for Pure Aesthetics”  The videos are interesting, and I’m linking to this because so much of what I post here and deal with is focused computer work.  Everything is a tool, with a purpose, and a result that you expect.  This idea of machinery or even software having a purpose other than result generation is underexplored.  There’s lots of tools to create art, but there’s little that is art itself.  Even with that general lack, we still get excited when the edge of some sort of aesthetic appeal nudges its way into the materials we use.  You could argue that Apple’s success (for instance) comes from being the one company that consistently thinks about what a product is, instead of what it does.
  • If you use fastcgi, you may need the patch that this blog post talks about.  Also, apache-mpm-prefork is the better choice for Apache on DragonFly.
  • DragonFly mug shot

Your random comic link of the day: Calamity of Challenge.  Also here.  And here.  If this artist’s way of drawing grabs you like it grabs me, he has pages and commissions for sale.

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Potential job available

A position opened up for a junior systems administrator at my workplace.  You have to be willing to live near Rochester, NY, administrate a mix of Windows and unixy machines, do desktop support, and network management.  (e.g. everything possible)  The work environment is neat, informal, and somewhat adverse.  I’ll have a job description soon, I hope.

Posted by     Categories: Goings-on, Off-Topic, UNIXish     3 Comments

Lazy Reading for 2011/05/08

Let’s see, what do I have now…

  • Did you know we just released DragonFly 2.1?  Neither did I.
  • The AppleCrate II (][?), a set of parallel Apple //e systems.  It makes me so happy.  I love to see how simple uncomplex the old Apple systems were, almost at the level of programmable logic controllers today.  I was struck by the fact that the Apple //e requires less than 5 volts, which means it could run off a USB port.  (via lots of places)
  • Removing the internet’s relics: a call to kill FTP now that it’s 40 years old.  There’s no easy alternative, though…
  • 20 years of Adobe Photoshop.  (via)  Obviously that’s not found on any BSD platform, but almost every raster-based image editor out there tries to emulate Photoshop in some way, on every platform.  It casts a long shadow.  Plus, I remember the Photoshop 2.0 loading screen, so now I feel old.
  • Is tech blogging becoming worse? i.e not really tech any more?  I’ve mumbled about this before, since this site is arguably a tech blog.  Sites tend to diversify and lose focus to grow their audience.  You can see the same pattern in the magazine market, back when there was a magazine market.  You don’t have to worry about the Digest – I’m targeting BSD users, so I’m totally not growing my audience!  (Joking, joking.  Readership is staying even to slightly up, over the last while.)

On a separate note that has nothing to do with DragonFly: if you live outside the United States and have a postcard handy, can you send it to “St. John Neumann School, 31 Empire Blvd.,  Rochester, NY 14609 USA”?  My daughters’ school is collecting international postcards this month as part of their geography lesson.  It doesn’t have to have anything specific, other than be interesting to 8-year-olds.


Posted by     Categories: Goings-on, Lazy Reading, Off-Topic     5 Comments

Lazy Reading: cheatsheet, disks, pkgsrc, more

Normally I hold this for Sunday, but I’ve got a good batch of links already.  Something here for everyone, this week.

  • A git cheatsheet, and another git cheatsheet.  I may have linked to the latter one before, as it looks vaguely familiar.  Anyway, bookmark.  (Thanks, luxh on EFNet #dragonflybsd)
  • What should you do about bad blocks on a disk?  Get a new disk.
  • If you ever wanted to port software, there’s a pkgsrc developer’s guide (thanks Francois Tigeot) that shows you how.
  • It’s NOT LINUX, for the billionth time.  It’s BSD UNIX (certified, even) under there!
  • Children of the Cron“.  An entertaining pun.  (via)
  • Nothing to do with BSD, or even computers, really: Gary Gorton, interviewed about the recent financial crisis, at a Fed bank website (!?).  Interesting because I like economic matters, and because it’s the first web page where I’ve ever seen pop-up links added usefully, as a sort of footnote that you don’t have to scroll.  (via)
  • Michael Lucas recently had a machine broken into.  Since everything on the machine is suspect, he’s using Netflow data to figure out when it happened, and how, which is not surprising given his most recent book.  He has two posts describing how he backtracks his way to the probable source.

2010 Home-made Holiday Geek Gift Guide

I did this last year and the year before, so why not make a habit of it?  I get no commissions; these are mostly places I’ve shopped or plan to shop.   It’s based on “This would be SO COOL to have”, and nothing else.


Nerditry: Newegg, ThinkGeek, Leatherman Wave, (see 9-layer OSI model shirt).

Science: American Science and Surplus, Ward’s Scientific, Carolina, and United Nuclear

Creepy: Bone RoomSkulls Unlimited, or Skullduggery.


There are FreeBSD, NetBSD, and OpenBSD stores, where money goes back to the project.

Bookwise, Jeremy C. Reed publishes a number of BSDrelated books.  Buy his stuff through Amazon.  There’s also No Starch Press, which has a number of BSD publications.  (and LEGO, too?)  And of course O’Reilly, for a bunch of things.

Nice things to do:

The FreeBSD Foundation is having an end-of-year appeal for funds, so you can donate in someone’s name.    The NetBSD Foundation probably accepts donations, though I don’t have a specific page to link to for that.

Donations to the Itojun Service Award fund are also a good thing.

Everything else I could think of:

Further suggestions welcome, especially for European shoppers.  I’ve been slowly growing this list year-to-year, and I can always use more interesting and unique places.

Update: George Rosamond pointed at  There are some crazy cheap prices there.

Also, and I can’t believe I didn’t link to this before: Brando.  If you’re looking for something with a USB port, Brando has it.  Even if it’s a jeweled scorpion necklace… USB drive.

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Lazy reading: toeplitz, forking, curating, Nethack

I totally meant to post this yesterday.  Oops!

What of OpenSolaris?

You have probably seen reports declaring the demise of OpenSolaris by now, many taking a less than conservative approach in reporting the news one way or the other. So what do you make of the news? By all accounts, the source code (including future changes) for things such as ZFS will continue to be published under the CDDL. Will Oracle closing up development make it impossible for operating systems like FreeBSD to maintain ZFS without forking it? What do you think the ramifications will be for DragonFly’s HAMMER and DragonFly in general?

Posted by     Categories: DragonFly, Goings-on, Hammer, Off-Topic, UNIXish     6 Comments

Messylaneous: Reviews, packaging, installers, etc

Link catchup!

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That’s a lot of servers

An entertaining infographic, posted over the break cause it’s big:


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Lemme get the iPad rant out

I suspect most people who are interested in BSD or open source in general have the same reaction to the iPad: it’s pretty, it looks neat, and hey Apple wait what do you mean I can’t use it the way I want to?  I’ve managed to hold out for a few days on commenting about it, and the benefit is a bit less incoherence.

It’s relevant because it’s a BSD-based device without the normal freedoms you’d associate with it.  I’m going to just point at these three articles that do a good job of describing what rubs me the wrong way.

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Old games to spare?

(This is off-topic) The National Center for the History of Electronic Games has opened at a museum in my town.  They are looking for donations, so if you have old game equipment around that you want to see get a second life, contact them.

The collection there is already huge (15K games), and visitors get to play whatever games they have on display.   In my last visit, I played the arcade versions of Gauntlet, the standing and sitting versions of Star Wars, and Battlezone.  It was awesome in a way that may only be apparent to people born before 1985 or so.

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More Vim tricks

Another one of those links for my own benefit: Scripting Vim.  (via)

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Programming language history

For your weekend reading: A Brief, Incomplete, and Mostly Wrong History of Programming Languages. It’s far more clever than the source material suggests. (via)

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How to kill an open source project

Bring in money and then take it out again.  It’s conceivable that Impi Linux would have fizzled on its own, being one of a zillion Linux distributions out there, but becoming a commercial product seems to put different, and tougher, contstrictions on any open source project.

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Lazy Sunday Reading: chiptunes

Here’s an article on chiptunes.  (What’s that?.)  The writing is very exacting, but the page has been liberally sprinkled with video examples of the source material.  Read the dry text while being serenaded.  Highlights: comparisons of Metallica to a 1988 C64 game, and compilation of crack screens.   (via I lost track of it, sorry)

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“Paranoid Machines” talk in NYC

Off the beaten path: Jason Brown is giving a talk called “Paranoid Machines”.

When: Sat, April 4, 7pm – 9pm
Where: 300 Nevins St, Brooklyn
Free. Organized by Machine Project, Los Angeles

Jason Brown’s talk will examine contemporary gnostic mythologies of technology and paranoia, focusing on Vannevar Bush as a self-embodied allegorical emblem of information perversity. Bush’s famed “memex” and the modern UFOs are both hypothetical machines—devices which use association and performativity to spin information out of noise. In modern techno-myths, this process is often represented as an alchemical self-destruction resulting in god-like power. Not coincidentally, all these issues are illustrated with disturbing density and prescience in the 1981 Disney film “Tron.”

This is just old-school enough to be interesting to some readers, and I like to think I find things you won’t see on Reddit or Slashdot. (via my second favorite magazine)

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Think before you buy

It might be time to stop buying Apple audio products, as the company is deliberately picking physical incompatibility to force upgrades.

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An aside: employment

I’ll mention this briefly, since it’s off-topic: I’m looking for a new job, and it should come as no surprise that I’d like to work with BSD systems.   (resume as PDF)

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Everyone blogs, sooner or later

Rob Pike, one of the people responsible for UNIX, among other things, has a photo blog.  (via)

Incidentally, his wife’s books are good, and wierd, and I read them long before I had any real idea who Rob Pike was, in a wierd bit of synchronicity.  Early computer science history would be a good topic for Jim Ottaviani to publish, come to think of it…  (also recommended)

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Art & Code, EuroBSDCon, projects

The FreeBSD Foundation is looking to give people money to work.   (pdf)  Specifically, they have USD $30K to give to people wanting to work on FreeBSD subsystems.   Fight global recession!

EuroBSDCon 2009 is being held September 18-19th in Cambridge, UK.  That’s a long way off, but they just opened their call for papers.

Art & Code is March 7th, at Carnegie Mellon.  “Programming for Artists” – it’s cheap, and the output should be interesting.  (via)

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<3 1234567890

The epoch time is going to reach 1234567890 near Valentine’s Day, as noticed by Hubert Feyrer.  The extreme nerdiness of that moment makes it that much more entertaining.

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Do you really have your data?

Reading this Textfiles article about keeping data in “the Internet cloud” and then this one about Google made me think: if the Internet went away, what data would you lose?

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There are no good old times

If you feel frustrated that big (>100G) solid state disk drives are still relatively expensive, well… It has been much worse.  (via)

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Computer history, sort of

Holiday distraction: Some not-completely-accurate educational literature about computers.  (via)

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Investment details

This is not really part of DragonFly, but it will be interesting for some people.  Matthew Dillon’s updated his personal investment notes to focus on the recent credit upheaval.

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10 years of textfiles is having its 10th anniversary.  Read up on Jason Scott’s history, which parallels the development of computer and the Internet for a lot of people (myself included), and then waste your afternoon browsing through all the data he has saved.  If I had encountered something like this at 14 on my local BBS, it would have been amazing.  For fun, look at the Hacking UNIX section, or perhaps Programming.  (via)

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Musical digression

On an entirely personal note, I was having a conversation with my coworkers today about the change in technology within my lifetime; when I was young, there was no world wide web, no digital music, no timeshifting of TV programs, etc. etc.  My workplace has an intern young enough to have never encountered these things.

Now, I noticed this musicmaking tutorial on Youtube.  In 1985, this would have been done in a room filled with electronics, probably hand-built, with cabling run all over the place.  Now, the software that accomplishes that, with a single computer, is expressly designed to simulate those old analog connections.  It’s very wierd, and probably meaningless to those under 30.

Also, yay dubstep.

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Supplied by Alexander Schrijver: the happiest dragonfly ever.

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Linkdump for 2008/09/17

Some random links for browsing that I’ve been holding onto:

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Why a BSD license?

I had a conversation with a coworker today about what phone to buy, and I thought about this: iPhones are pretty, but you don’t get to own your software or fully choose what to run.  This developer’s blog entry sums up all the things you can’t do with Apple’s App Store, and by doing so manages to describe the opposite of open source.  (via, I think)  The point I’m making: BSD licensing is more valuable than you think.

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Two links to make you think

One link to describe the pain of creating with software/the web, and one link that will make you want to keep doing it.

(Culled from other blog’s posts – sorry, lost original entries!)

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More roguelikes!

Another week, another @Play column talking about roguelikes. This time, it’s about Izuna, a Japanese ‘JCRPG’.

Also, Sascha Wilder (I think – lost the email, sorry!) pointed out that the ultimate roguelike may actually be Dwarf Fortress, a theory I have heard before. (links to go Rock Paper Shotgun, one of my favorite game sites.)

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Open systems

This Wired article on Android is worth reading.  Not because it’s directly related to DragonFly, but because it’s a open source platform.  If you’re interested in DragonFly, you must have at least a passing interest in open source software.

We’re all used to being able to install and configure (and break) our BSD systems the way we want, when we want, without having to seek permission or necessarily pay a fee to someone who isn’t the author of the software  we want.  This is not generally possible with phones, which, after all, are specialized computer systems.  Keep an eye on this.


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@Play: lost software

The @Play column at GameSetWatch has another article on roguelikes. This covers early roguelike software that has become lost; a strange concept in today’s world where everything is saved somewhere out there on the Internet. For an added bonus, the column has a link to a newspost from Moria’s original author, which includes this interesting quote:

I plan to download it and Angband and play them… Maybe something has been added that will surprise me! That would be nice… I never got to play Moria and be surprised…

Is that perhaps the worst part of game development? You always know how the story ends.

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Another linkdump!

  • has a complete version of the 5-part series, The Machine That Changed the World. This aired in 1992 and is both an excellent history of computing and also an interesting glimpse of the computing world before the World Wide Web steamrolled into the public eye. Part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, and part 5 are available. If you don’t have a Flash-enabled browser to watch them, part 5 has a link to a torrent of H.264 MP4 files that contain the same complete broadcase.
  • More old school nerditry: Dungeons & Dragons history, plus a rebuttal, all in far more depth than I thought possible.  (Via)
  • New school (rejectionist) nerditry: Ten ways to make an iPhone killer.
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Processors, visually

In my ongoing effort to stray farther off the beaten path than other nerdblogs, I bring you a link to this post at the Nonist: Objectified Circuitry.  Think of it this way: the computer you are sitting at right now has probably at least a million of each circuit type pictured in that article.

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A good sales idea

OpenBSD is, as usual, selling CDs of their 4.3 release. It appears that related-but-not-directly-linked goods like The Book of PF are being sold right along side.

The sight of a thick technical book with an included (and probably out of date) CD has been common for years; however, this reversal strikes me as a good idea. Selling a good book along with the operating system that will use it is worthwhile.

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Not necessarily about me, but I read an article about the continuous stress of blogging, in the New York Times.  Entertainingly, the article says:

Blogging has been lucrative for some, but those on the lower rungs of the business can earn as little as $10 a post, and in some cases are paid on a sliding bonus scale that rewards success with a demand for even more work.

$10 a post?  Given that I’ve been doing this for near-free (the Google Ads buy me a sandwich every now and then) for years, that seems like a lot.  Not much to live on, though.

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Everyone has an old favorite computer

Despite the logarithmic expansion of computers and drop in costs of the years, everyone looks back on their first computer systems with a sense of nostalgia.  This is why certain readers will find the Raymond Commodore Amiga store in Minneapolis interesting.  You should be able to gues their exclusive inventory from the store name.  It’s so old-school, the website is a ~username directory.  (via Boing Boing Gadgets)

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Who doesn’t like robots?

A diversion: Robots robots robots.

(Discovered, strangely, via an old BeOS mailing list)

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Youngest kernel hacker ever

Something I encountered today: a story of the earliest start on BSD, ever.

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Old ][ nostalgia

I had an Apple ][+ when I was younger, and Gamasutra has an article up all about pre-Mac Apples, exploiting my sense of nostalgia. (Via the howling void)

While we’re on the subject, there’s an online Apple ][gs emulator at  One of these days I’ll get around to scanning my original Castle Wolfenstein disk just to show how old-school I am…

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Modding by non-modders

An experiment in Barcelona, last year, took a number of people with no coding experience but plenty of graphic design experience whatever and got them to modify a version of the old game Breakout. The results were quite interesting. You’ll need Flash to see the video of the abstract results. (Via waxy)

Why do I mention this? Open source systems tend to assume users are either very experienced or totally inexperienced. Looking for people who don’t fit either of those categories is a much more useful goal, as it produces new methods and ways of looking at things.

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Movie about being evil…ish

This has nothing to do with BSD, really, but it’s a live-action film by one of my favorite cartoonists, and it’s excellent.

View at Yooootube – embedding it gets mangled by this blog software.

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Microcontroller suggestions

A off-topic item: Jonas Sundström suggested a PIC32 microcontroller for anyone looking to get into hardware hacking. Robert ‘r3tex’ Luciani followed up with a suggestion for ‘baby steps‘.  Or, as Matthew Dillon wrote: start very small.

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Angband, Nethack, MOOs, and other text

GameSetWatch has a very in-depth article talking about Angband and Nethack, two classic roguelike games. It’s well worth a read if you are familiar with the genre.

Along the same lines, Julian Dibbell’s book “My Tiny Life” is now available. It describes his time playing in LambdaMOO , and is based in part on his Village Voice article, “A Rape In Cyberspace“.

For those readers too young to know these games, roguelike games are single-player dungeon exploration games like Diablo, and MOO/MUDs a type of MMORPG. The mechanisms are remarkably similar, but the graphics were all terminal based. Keep in mind you can still try these games right now.

While we are on the topic: It Is Pitch Dark.

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Weekend crazy links

For your entertainment: (some of these require Flash; all are off-topic)

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Make money by driving away customers

This AP news story seen in several places describes how the BSA has been vigorously obtaining money in and out of court for pirated software, and it appears to be procuring more money than the actual value of the pirated software.  … Another good reason to use open source, which the article touches on, by the end.

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Computer design evolution in pictures

(Warning: another visual timewaster)  Seen at SrslyCool: Apple computer design parts one and two, Nintendo devices through the years, iPod evolution, various computer case mods, and of course knockoffs.

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Programming languages, then and now

Some entertainment: This article at American Scientist talks about programming language choice and the arguments that have come up over the years. The bibliography at the end of this 5-page essay is worth special attention, because of the links to early documents describing these battles over languages and choices nobody thinks of these days, like PL/I or Cobol.

Some specific links to articles cited:

All the citations are worth investigating – take some time to read them.

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Many eyes make for positive pressure

This Associated Press story about a teacher assigning Wikipedia article writing as a project for students notes that “Knowing their work was headed for the Web …  helped students reach higher”.  I’d draw a parallel to open source, since knowing your code (or perhaps your news blog…) will be viewed by multiple people encourages harder work.  (Via)

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Digital history

Here’s some lazy reading for a Friday: “The Digital Revolution“, a history of digital technology, which not surprisingly is mostly about computer history.  There’s some interesting mentions of World War 2-era computer technology there. (via)

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The Lost Format Preservation Society

The Lost Format Preservation Society documents the different data storage formats that have existed in recent times. Scroll to the right, as they cover a lot.  Depending on your age, you will be surprised by the number of analog recording formats that have vanished in the past 10 years. (via)

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Computer design, back when

Some nostalgia for those who have been computing for a long time: a chronological picture index of various Apple models.  (Via Underwire)Yes, I know there were other computers in the 80’s, but they weren’t fun to look at, with some exceptions.

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Down on Agile

While not DragonFly specific, I think this Worse Than Failure article about what’s wrong with Agile development is interesting for its main point: strategy is not a replacement for skill.

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Nerdcore rap about using UNIX

Nerdcore rap, specifically about kill -9.  (Warning: Youtube video; contains strong language.)

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ICC in Mexico

the 15th International Conference on Computing (also known as CIC 2006) is coming to Mexico City, Mexico, in November, and they’re looking for proposal papers.

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Worthier cause

FreeBSD committer Ruslan Ermilov’s wife has cancer, and he needs money for treatment.  Please help.

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Legal rights

Not directly DragonFly related, but still good to know of: One of Apple’s lawsuits was tossed.  The right to post early details about consumer products is not that important, but the ability of the press to report truthful details without ‘revenge‘ is important.

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Hardware advice wanted

Because of recent circumstances, I’m looking for at least 1 ‘new’ laptop. Is there anyone using DragonFly on a laptop? (Other than those mentioned here.)

Along the same lines, has anyone put together a server recently with a focus on low power usage?

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Hosting suggestions welcome

This worked great when I was looking for a laptop, so I’ll solicit opinions again:

If I wanted to move to someplace that wasn’t the end of my cable modem, where could I look? A perfect solution would be someplace where I could put a small rackmounted server in, and run DragonFly.

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