/Trackballs/ is a Marble Madness or Gyroscope clone. Gyroscope was the first C64 disk game I ever had. I was given it by someone but I don’t remember who now.. hmm. must download this tomorrow!


Approaches to a Linux PVR

She likes soaps, you like sci fi. She wants to watch East Enders but you want to watch Alias. Problem eh? This could be handy then.


KDE vs Gnome

Right, this is a completely personal observation. On my redhat 8 box here at work, KDE just kicks the ass off Gnome 2 for speed. I don’t use the file manager of either environment much, so this is simply and observation on how using Galeon, Gnome Multi-terminal, xchat and Kmail work. They just work faster!


System Administration Made Difficult

This site is a great source of useful information, despite what the title says!


Unix: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

While searching using a popular search engine for Bash help I found a few goodies:

  1. Unix: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly – short article on the short-comings of Unix, from a user-friendly perspective. While I agree that “info” is horrendous, the much more useful “pinfo” is much better. Instead of using arcane key combinations to navigate you can use your cursor keys to move about. Of course, in Gnome, you can (or used to be able to) view helpfiles through their help system. I’m sure the same exists in the KDE world. There is already a searchable database of commands. You access it through the “apropos” command, although I never use it so that might indicate how useful it is.
  2. Shell scripts in 20 pagesA guide to writing shell scripts for C/C++/Java and unix programmers which is a good summary of shell scripting when you’re already familiar with programming in other languages. Recommended!
Linux – Interview – Dennis R … – Interview – Dennis Ritchie

Edit on 2012-04-11 That link is long dead and even had problems as the “old” url the article redirected to disappeared too! I eventually found it here but I’ll reproduce it here too:

We’ve interviewed Dennis Ritchie, who really doesn’t need an introduction (hint: “C” and “Unix”). This interview is also available in Swedish.

How and when did you first come in contact with computers?

Dennis Ritchie: At some point when I was an undergraduate in college (about 1960) I went to some non-course talks about computers that intrigued me, and I signed up for the regular (introductory) one-term course. The first part was about analog computers, then a brief bit about punch-card equipment, then some about real digital computers, in which we prepared a program for the Univac I. I was an undergraduate Physics major, but began to intrigued more by both the theory and practice of computing. So in grad school my thesis work was fairly theoretical (hierarchies of recursive functions), but I also began to get more into the practical aspects. I was for three years one of the teaching assistants for successive versions of that same introductory course–which by that time had moved to the IBM 7094.

What do you consider your greatest achievement in the field of computing to be?

Dennis Ritchie: The single thing that I’m happiest about is that the notion of making the Unix system portable was mostly mine. C was already implemented on several quite different machines and OSs, Unix was already being distributed on the PDP-11, but the portability of the whole system was new.

Any new accomplishments in sight? What are your current project(s)?

Dennis Ritchie: There is no new grand thing to announce–I’ve been spending more time on history! Over the past several years, I’ve been more in a managerial role. The visible things that have come from the group have been the Plan 9 system and Inferno, but I hasten to say that the ideas and the work have come from colleagues. I was more a pay-check signer and giver of talks when others just wanted to work.

How much time do you spend programming nowadays?

Dennis Ritchie: Little programming as such. I fix things now and then, more often tweak HTML and make scripts to do things.

Could you please describe a typical work day at Bell Labs? What software do you use?

Dennis Ritchie: I tend to come in late unless there’s a meeting, but spend a fair amount of time tending to e-mail communication. My own environment (on PC hardware) actually runs Windows NT, but it is used mainly as a graphics terminal connected to a Plan 9 server, in a way approximately analogous to an X windows client. The connection at home is now via cable modem (until last summer ISDN), and Ethernet at the office. Any editing, software work, and mail is done in this exported Plan 9. For stuff like getting Excel and Word things, plus much WWW browsing, I revert to NT.

Do you have any predictions as to the future of C?

Dennis Ritchie: C is declining somewhat in usage compared to C++, and maybe Java, but perhaps even more compared to higher-level scripting languages. It’s still fairly strong for the basic system-type things.

What’s your opinion on microkernels vs. monolithic?

Dennis Ritchie: They’re not all that different when you actually use them. “Micro” kernels tend to be pretty large these days, and “monolithic” with loadable device drivers are taking up more of the advantages claimed for microkernels.

Do you agree with Rob Pike’s thoughts on the (ir)relevance of systems research? (

Dennis Ritchie: Pretty much, although Rob was stating his case in a deliberately provocative way. It’s true that compared with the scene when Unix started, today the ecological niches are fairly full, and fresh new OS ideas are harder to come by, or at least to propagate.

What do you think about the development of Linux and the BSD variants? Do you think they’ll eventually replace all the proprietary Unix systems?

Dennis Ritchie: As a general phenomenon, I think they’re great, but they suffer from much the same struggles and competition that the proprietary ones did and do. Sun and HP, SGI , IBM, Digital others all have (or had) variants of the same thing– so too do Linux and the BSDs. Their proprietors may have different motivations for producing the variants, of course. And of course each does have its own attractions. There is a kind of brand differentiation, and this is one of the reasons why portability is hard.

Any thoughts about the GNU project? How did you first learn about it?

Dennis Ritchie: I can’t remember when I first learned about it, but a long time ago. The True-GNU philosophy is more extreme than I care for, but it certainly laid a foundation for the current scene, as well as providing real software. The interesting thing is the way that free-software ideas have begun to influence major existing commercial players. At the same time, much of it seems to have to do with recreating things we or others had already done; it seems rather derivative intellectually; is there a dearth of really new ideas? But still, it’s a great satisfaction that so much of it has built on top of a basis we helped to establish.

Who are some of the people that you admire? (in the computer world or otherwise)

Dennis Ritchie: I’m not a person who particularly had heros when growing up. Obviously, the person who had most influence on my career was Ken Thompson. Unix was basically his, likewise C’s predecessor, likewise much of the basis of Plan 9 (though Rob Pike was the real force in getting it together). And in the meantime Ken created the first computer chess master and pretty much rewrote the book on chess endgames. He is quite a phenomenon.

Outside work, what do you enjoy doing?

Dennis Ritchie: It all sort of merges together. Much of it is computer-related (the WWW and all that). Other than that, reading actual paper, probably. I’ve done a reasonable amount of travelling, which I enjoyed, but not for too long at a time. I’m a home-body and get fatigued by it fairly soon, but enjoy thinking back on experiences when I’ve returned and then often wish I’d arranged a longer stay in the somewhat exotic place.

Any music, literature or movies you can recommend?

Dennis Ritchie: I listen to mostly-classical music, but mostly by radio– I’m not an audiophile. For books, I don’t read much fiction, but like travel essays and good pop-science: say Stephen Jay Gould or Kip Thorne. Also some humor–I am a great fan of S. J. Perelman. Right now I’m reading John McPhee’s “The Founding Fish.”


On Qmail:Valen had admitted to …

On Qmail:
Valen had admitted to having hacked QMail to support Oracle DB Backend while working for a prominent Irish company..
<Valen> Why do I get the shit jobs ? I think I preferred cleaning autopsy tables more than hacking qmail.


mcblue – very nice theme for M …

mcblue – very nice theme for Metacity.


How to loop over filenames wit …

How to loop over filenames with spaces – I knew this, but it had disappeared in the recesses of my brain.

> for f in `cat /pathtolist/mp3.txt` do cp "$f" /newdirectory done

You didn't say exactly how the file is organised, so I'm going to
guess one filename per line.  (Note that a filename is allowed
to contain the newline character; I'm just hoping that none of
your files do!)

Others have already pointed out that spaces can be tricky.  I'm
going to show you that there really is no problem.  Rather than
iterate using for, use while and read:

while read filename; do cp "$filename" /newdirectory; done < mp3.txt


Weather’s been bad for the past few days. No real opportunities for photography. Bah! At least I have 99% of my Christmas shopping done. Meanwhile, Mark has an entertaining piece on “The One Toy”.

Oh yes, If you’re over 20, buy RETRO, a (one off?) mag from games mag, Edge. It has great interviews with old Zzap64! staffers, bits on games of old (Elite anyone?) and other great stuff! If you’re under 20, you probably don’t know what I’m talking about. Hmm, scratch that, if you’re under 24 you probably don’t know what I’m talking about! Getting old ..

Edit in 2019: replaced dead links with links and copied content of the email from the first link.


Having just spent the last hal …

Having just spent the last half hour working in Word I’m not going to rant about Open Office. Word works better than Open Office from what I can see. It’s the small things.
Like when you have a bullet list and you tab indented text below the bullet. In Word, that text aligns with the text above. In Word, when you create a number list there’s plenty of whitespace around each number, not so in Open Office (by default, is that configurable, should I RTFM?)
And finally, I hate word processors of all types. Every time I go near one I end up spending half my time arranging bullet lists in some way, or maybe a number list doesn’t start at 1 for some arcane reason, or text in a paragraph looks like it’s slowly leaning in one direction..
Programming is a walk in the park compared to that. At least that’s got some logic, and I can usually explain what’s going on. Give me HTML and CSS any day.