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, ISC.org (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 DealExtreme.com.  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.

Odd mouse fix

Siju George noticed that his mouse would stop working in X, perhaps every hour.  Restarting X would fix it, but he didn’t have a clear cause.  Antonio Huete Jimenez suggested turning the sysctl ‘debug.psm.loglevel’ to 9 to at least see what messages cropped up, and that seemed to fix it.  I don’t think it’s a good long-term solution, but it’s worth mentioning in case this odd bug bites someone else.

Lazy Reading: old UNIX, new book, more NYCBSDCon

A general roundup of things, this week.

  • The 1978 Bell System Technical Journal, describing this new Unix thing.  (via)
  • The book Modern Perl is out, written by chromatic.  I link to it for two reasons: the first is that while the book is available for purchase, it’s also available as a free download, with the only condition that you must tell others about it.  The second reason – and the reason I’d mention this book anyway – is that chromatic writes on his site and for O’Reilly, and his articles are succinct and enjoyable.  The Web is a deluge of text, so any author that can hold your attention, with all the other sources to read, is worth following.
  • More NYCBSDCon 2010 stuff, from the comments on my previous post: Will Backman has partial audio recordings, and Jason Dixon’s adventure is online.  (thanks, Will and Lawrence)
  • This summary of the (BSD-ish) Tarsnap service made me smile.
  • Top 5 Best Practices for an Open Source Development Community.  (via)  I especially agree with items 2 and 3.
  • Oddly compelling.  (via everywhere)

Thanks, chneukirchen.org, for leading me to this.

pkg_radd: oddly successful with upgrades

The utility pkg_add has a -u option that tells it to upgrade any existing matched package with a given binary package.  Since pkg_radd passes options on to the underlying use of pkg_add, after automatically setting a remote repository for binary files, pkg_radd -u <packagename> tells pkg_add to automatically find and upgrade a package.

I never thought this would work.  However, I’m building a package on a system that has pkgsrc-2010Q1 packages installed, but a pkgsrc-2010Q3 /usr/pkgsrc.  Every time I’ve encountered an error because installed software was too low a version, pkg_radd -uv <package_name> has resulted in a quick upgrade.

I’m not recommending this as a new upgrade method; I’m noting how unexpectedly well this experiment is going.  It may be just blind luck, but this sure would be nice if it ‘just worked’.