...making Linux just a little more fun!

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The Linux Laundrette


Welcome to the Linux Laundrette. Make sure you remember to separate your whites and colours, and to take care to wash cottons at low temperatures.

Regular readers might recognise this as the "Not the Answer Gang" section that Mike occasionally published in the "Back Page" - in fact, most of this is material that Mike had collected. Well, since Ben has taken over as editor, we've decided to split this and The Wonderful World of Spam into their own articles, so that Ben can have free reign over his own Back Page. There's also a Not Linux section; I've added this as a supplement, as this material will be part of the Linux Laundrette in future issues, but there's too much to include in this month's edition.

"Making Linux More Fun" is more than just a motto; it's our guiding principle. If The Answer Gang can't make Linux fun for themselves, they won't have much success making it more fun for others. That's why off-topic posts aren't shot down in flames, as in other lists. The reason we collect comments here? Well, see for yourself: they're just damn funny.

So, when we say "send us your tips", feel free to count that as meaning "send us anything that made you laugh". We prefer Linux related items, but have a look through some of the older Back Pages to get any idea of whether or not something unrelated will get a chuckle. Mike's last Back Page is a great example, and gives pointers to several of the older Back Pages.

Those who read about the Alexis de Tocqueville Institute in last month's issue might be interested in reading this, and may be interested in reading about the real history of Linux.

Not Linux related, but with great nerd appeal, is the Monty Python Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers, and anyone who wants to show a new user how to find information might find this page useful, or if you're feeling nice, you could tell them to RTFM (which you can also view as a man page - type man man at the command-line if you don't know what a man page is).

The benefits of being in The Answer Gang

[Rob Tougher] Has anyone seen the latest author FAQ at LG.com? They're giving away t-shirts and caricatures to new authors. ;)

[Ben] Do you folks ever get the feeling that _we_ are the people responsible for most of the hits at the Linux Ghoulzette site???

[Thomas] So, umm, when do I get *my* free prize? What's that Ben? Oh, so you mean that I don't get *any* incentives whatsoever for helping out with LG? Pah, what a con....

[Jason] LG.net gives out free t-shirts. You simply go to one of the many custom t-shirt shops, tell them what you want on it, pay they money, and there you go! One free (as in speech) t-shirt!

Great minds...

[Thomas] This is uncanny, Ben. I too, disabled depmod -a for just that reason... I suppose great minds think alike. :)

[Jason] ...so do poor minds. :-)

[Ben] I wouldn't think so. The ratio of correct answers to wrong ones is very high; this is _why_ great minds (seem to) think alike. :)

[Jason] But poor minds *do* think alike. There is simply no other way to explain football. :-)

[Sluggo] Was it _Anna Karenena_ that said, "Happy families are all exactly alike. But sad families are sad each in a different way."

[Sluggo] Ssshhh, Ben, don't let them think we agree on anything.

[Ben] Oh yeah. Hate your guts, you capitalist lackey.


i don't have/use linux at present. i've always been (well for the last 5 years anyway) interested in linux and i'd rather use it instead of this microsoft stuff. i am a chef, so i can deal with the rhubarb if you need advice in return... what is a good system to use when one has little computer knowledge but is interested in linux rather than that other stuff. i have machine that works a treat, called a Toshiba Tecra. if this helps your answers at all. it's the crumble that really lifts the more humble rhubarb recipe. many thanks. arthur graves
[This hearkens back to the great rhubarb thread. - Mike.]

[Ben] [laugh] So the rhubarb comes back to haunt us. Never had rhubarb do that before: a greasy pizza eaten too late at night, yes; rhubarb, never.

[Rick] Ben, bubeleh, you don't know what you've been missing! Come out to the Bay Area post haste, and I'll treat you to some of my rhubarb pie. (Well, wait for summer, for rhubarb to be in season.)

[Thomas] I don't suppose you could put the recipie for it on your site, could you? I am a huge fan of rhubarb. Mmmm, rubarb crumble. Anyhow, happy Shrove Tuesday, all. I'm off to make pancakes aplenty now

[Rick] Enjoy them, Thomas. (What do you put on yours?)

[Thomas] Well, the tradition is for sugar (white or brown) with lemon. However, I managed to serve up something of a pancake "dinner", which had savoury pancakes (sausage, cheese, peppers), followed by the sweet variety (to which we not only had the sugar/lemon combination, but I also like various jams).

Quoting Thomas

Quoting Thomas Adam:


Well, that's easy for _you_ to say!


From: Faber Fedor 
Subject: [Lgang] testing

Did I pass?

[Thomas] <dpkg> No, Faber, you're not online any more.

[Jason] Nope: You forgot the "please ignore" bit in the subject line. :-)

[Ben] (Is this my month to pick on Jimmy, or what? :)

[Jimmy] I have been missing for six months; just collecting arrears :)

The letter R

[Ben] Let's not forget the southward migration of 'r's, either - whereas people in Boston go pahking theah cahs in the Hahvihd Yahd, Texans drink soder and pour earl into their engines...

- Excuse me, where is the library at?
- Here at Hahvahd, we never end a sentence with a preposition.
- OK, excuse me. Where is the library at, asshole?

That reminds me of my friend from Boston who lived in Seattle for a few years. He was questioned by somebody who wanted to trip him up on his dropped R's.

- Would you say, 'I parked the car in Harvard Square'?
- I parked the car in Harvard Square. What are you, retahted?

[Ben] A man, visiting Boston for the first time, is eager to try some of the famous local fish. He jumps into a taxi and tells the driver, "take me to a place where I can get scrod!" As they drive along, the driver keeps peering at him in the mirror; when asked for the reason, he replies "I been drivin' a hack fah twenny-five yeahs, and this is the fahst time I evah heahd anybody use the past plupehfect tense ah that!"

[Jason] Kewl, I'm "in". Do I get cool sunglasses like Ben? :)


[Ben] Yep. It's why my first cut at any possibly destructive operation will usually use "echo" instead of "rm" or "mv". I've come to recognize and embrace my inner klutz.


[Ben] By the way - Heather or Adam - do you guys need this stuff HTML-escaped, or do you do that yourselves?

[Thomas] Who's Adam, by the way?

[Ben] <blink> The result of a momentary brain-fart. Sorry. I meant "Thomas", of course.

[Thomas] No problem, Okopnik, I was just being a pedant.

[Ben] Oh - is _that_ the British spelling of "pain-in-the-ass"?

[Sluggo] Okey dokey, Okie.

[Readying my defenses...]


[Ben] (Move along, move along. Nothing witty to see here. That's being reserved for when it's unexpected and devastating.)

Ben and corruption

[Thomas] I know how John feels. I got roped into doing this all those years ago by typing in 'Lost Souls' into the (then) new AltaVista search engine.....

[Ben] ...and the only thing you could do after that, of course, is join us. Logical. However, most of us didn't really _lose_ ours; I got a very good price for mine, for example. Lots of people wonder how I could afford to take that 7-year cruise in the Caribbean...

[Thomas] Ah, so those reports of 'Blackbeard Ben' are true! Pirate ya vast, yarrr

Unwritten rule

[Bradley Chapman] P.S: If I've broken some unwritten rule, sorry in advance :(

[Thomas] I'd just finished writing it actually, it said:

Big red alarm button

[Ben Okopnik] <chuckle> Thanks for saying that, Joerg. That was my original prediction and the reason for pressing the Big Red Alarm Button, back when we were talking about leaving SSC's hosting. Our goal is preserve and improve the Linux Gazette, and keep bringing our usual monthly content to the folks who appreciate it that way.

[Jason Creighton] Doesn't anybody else think it looks *awfully* suspicious that Ben knew what was going to happen *before* it did? And what was he doing with a Big Red Alarm Button anyway?

[Ben] Just happened to be my turn holding it. We pass it around, you know; kinda like the "hot potato" game.

[Jason] I wouldn't be surprised if it turned out that this whole "CMS" thing was planed and executed by none other than....execuse me, there's someone at the door....IT'S YOU!!! NO, WAIT, I CAN EXPLA

[Ben] <virtuously> *I* have an alibi. I don't know if anyone else here had the foresight to buy one. Ooops, not exactly what I meant...

[Jason] You know, if your alibi is *true*, you can get it for free. Either you got ripped off, or....

A little too harsh?

[JimD] Please feel free to soften the comments if you feel it's appropriate. I don't want to sound harsh and I don't want to discourage him. However, I do want to see more focus and a better end product.

[James Roberts] Your repentance comes too late! Alas!

Farewell, cruel wor...l...d...d...'

/* splatting sound from 32 floors below */

No, don't hesitate to call it the way you see it. I can take it! I'm a masochist!

Anyway, it *was* a bit wet.

[Ben] What, on the pavement on the bottom? I _told_ you you'd catch a cold, but you insisted on jumping out of that window...

How TAG keeps discipline

[Ben] Welcome to TAG. If you get too annoying, we'll send our resident logicians, Guido and Luca, to your house to elucidate a few of the finer points. Guido even has a cousin who's a patella reattachment specialist, and will leave his card nailed where you're *guaranteed* not to miss it.

[Jay R Ashworth] Which floor does Luca live on?

[Ben] Da basement, o'course. He's a debased individual.

New protocols

[Sluggo] I didn't understand all the words in Ben's answer so I missed most of the joke, although I saw it had something to do with "ACK!" and "glug glug".

[Ben] "syn/syn-ack/ack" is the TCP handshake - what happens at the TCP level when two hosts initialize a session. The BTP (Beer Transfer Protocol) RFC would cover the handshake and the subsequent transfer; I was just getting the jump on it.

Rick's mail headers


X-Mas: Bah humbug.

Ben's career as a spy

[Sluggo] Presumably your rewrite has better ideas, more clarity, or more anecdotes, or you wouldn't have written it. And any articles that come from you have exemplary spelling/grammar anyway, so (A) they're safe to publish as-is, and (B) they don't make much work for Rick anyway (depending on his proofreading strategy).

[Ben] Why, thank you, Mike! Much appreciated. You'll have to call me a Dirty Commie just to balance that out.

[Sluggo] Oh, yeah, I forgot. I've been thinking about work too much. You're a f***ing communist and a fascist.

[Ben] Ahhh. I feel _much_ better now; the uncertainty was hard to stand... ya stinking burgeois exploiter of the working class.

[Sluggo] I bet you were a valuable member of the Soviet Writers' Guild. How many prizes did the apparatchiks award you, bandit?

[Ben] Just the usual luxurious country villa with plentiful livestock. Oh, sorry, that was the literal translation; it's actually "flea-infested dingy apartment" in English.

[Sluggo] To think, Russia produced writers like Pushkin, Tolstoy, Paternak and... Okopnik.

[Ben] Well, you know how it is. One simply _must_ take on students to perpetuate the fame, and I'm no exception.

[Sluggo] It all started with those dark sunglasses.... People with dark sunglasses have something to hide. Especially those that have shifty, beady eyes like you do. Plus we couldn't overlook your history of sneaking more than your share of pretzels from the Answer Gang snack jar. It didn't take long to figure out what you're hiding.

A leak in Ben's boat

[Ben] ... patching a leak that my dinghy has mysteriously developed,

[Sluggo] Not so mysteriously, heh heh....

[Ben] I should have known. Wherever there's leaking, hissing, and lots of air blowing, there you'll be...


[Ben] ... should you ever find yourself accidentally stoned - it could happen, you know! There you'll be, innocently walking down the street, and... -

[Sluggo] Hey, it does happen. Not full-fledged stoned, but if you run into an invisible cloud of pot residue, it can be pretty unpleasant if you're as sensitive to pot as I am. It gets me bloody irritated, that everybody else has to suffer so a few ppl can get stoned.

[Ben] Wow. There are people who would _pay_ to have your sensitivity. OTOH, you probably have it because you _don't_ do it, so it would be self-defeating.

[Sluggo] It gets me bloody irritated, that everybody else has to suffer so a few ppl can get stoned.

[Ben] "suffer"? Now you've got me curious, Mike. What happens to you when you get "caught" that way? Whatever it is, it sounds rather unusual; I'd never heard of anyone likening the effect of pot to suffering.

[Sluggo] It makes me want to sleep but I can't because these f***ing images in my head keep me awake. They're different than LSD images but I can't explain it in words. When it happens, all I can do is (im)patiently wait for it to wear off. It's worst when it happens in the evening and there's something important the next morning so you can't afford to lose the sleep.

I assumed that's what happens to everybody and they for some inexplicable reason liked it, but then I talked with my roommate who was a pothead and he said that never happened to him. He said it prob'ly doesn't agree with my metabolism and that there are three common reactions to pot, something like calmness, paranoia, and I forget the third. I guess I have the second or third.

[Heather] Ugh. Sounds dreadful. I must have the 4th reaction then, because other than smell like pot (a small I find vaguely unpleasant, like bad ciger smoke only... grassier?) I get no reaction. Sat one time in a haze filled room and only wanted one slice of pizza. The cat was stoned. I wasn't.

[Kapil H Paranjape] All this discussion leeds me to suspect that TAG has gone to pot. Or perhaps to weed...oops, I meant seed.

[Ben] Hey, these are rather high-level matters we're discussing. I mean, I figure where there's smoke, there's fire... we'll hold a joint inquiry into it and send the report back up the pipe.

Thomas in seclusion

[Thomas] Just to let you know that over the next two weeks, I am not going to be responding to any e-mails on TAG or Lgang.

[Jason] Yeah, right.

[Ben] Tisk, tisk, Jason. To paraphrase Mark Twain, "Never tease a man with a monkey on his back. Sell him a quarter, instead."


[Ben] *Ugh*. You do realize, of course, that the success of a pun is in the 'Oy' of the beholder...

[Sluggo] Oi?

[Ben] Don't believe I've ever listened to the stuff. But I have heard many an "oy".

[Sluggo] I thought that was ahoy. Actually, the "oy" of "oy vey" is completely different from the "oi" in:

(Did anybody notice the Rick Moenism in that last example?)

[Ben] "Oi, there 'e goes! 'eave 'arf a brick at 'im!"

[Kapil Hari Paranjape] Which is different from "Oye" as in Hindi. As in "Oye, raaste se hat ja". (Hey! Get off the road). In other words, much ruder/chummier.

Or "Aiyaiyo" as in Tamil. As in "Aiyaiyo, sapaada illey". (Alas! There is no food). In other words an expression of despair.

God is real, unless declared integer.

d000dZ!!! Hou d0 u hAcK????

[Ben] i wnAt 2lrn h0w 2 hak. cAN u tech m3 h0w eyE cn crAkc mi hi sChL cumpTr?

(*Then* I bet I could get girls.)

[Jimmy] Yeah. They'll come for the haxxoring, they'll stay for the help with their homework.

What's a "bogomips"?

[T.R.] Uh, what's a bogomips and what's it's relationship to a regular mips?

[Ben] Well, T.R. - a "bogomip" is actually a term of Deep Hackery, known to all True Geeks but never discussed outside the circle of The Cabal (There Is No Cabal.) Only the first part of it is publically known and somewhat understood - anything described by the term is highly bogus.

[T.R.] Also, a friend told me that running Linux is illegal. Is that true?

[Ben] That's actually a *very* good example of a bogomip!

Ben vs. Nature

[Ben] Well. That was... interesting, in the Chinese sense.

When last I spoke to Heather, she asked me how long the final processing would take now that I had the Mailbag, etc.; I foolishly replied: "Oh, no more than a couple of hours at most!"

Murphy heard me.

Almost immediately thereafter, St. Augustine got slammed by an unexpected front carrying winds of up to (estimated) 70mph. Almost every boat in the anchorage dragged; one went under the Bridge of Lyons, breaking its mast. My boat held, despite one of the anchors letting go (it turned out to have a 60 lb. or so fish trap tangled up in it; the bottom here has more crap on it than any place I've ever been.)

[Jimmy] Wow, Ben. You make a natural disaster sound like most people's holiday postcards.

[Ben] I spent an uneasy hour or more cutting tangled lines (my boat is more important than a damn piece of rope) and getting my anchors weighed and reset - the main hook held fine, and I've just put out two more for the night.

[Jimmy] = "Bit of trouble at the airport".

[Ben] I'm wet, exhausted, muddy from head to foot, and smiling happily because I've handled this challenge successfully despite its extra weirdness and difficulty.

[Jimmy] = "All in all, having a great time".

[Ben] (Murphy, I don't *give a shit* if you're listening.) The LG will be published tonight.

[Jimmy] = "Wish you were here".

Again, wow. You are *rock*.

[Ben] Thanks, Jimmy! I hope I get to keep my swimming ability, though... :)

[Jimmy] Well, I'd have said granite, but I guess you can be pumice :)


[Jay] I'm going to go climb back into my hole now; please disregard all earlier traffic.

[Ben] Be sure to record the self-flagellation severity and times; we'll weigh it against your sins, and let you know when it's sufficient.

[ 0.25 seconds later ]

...OK, that's enough. Hope that taught you a lesson, young man. :)

Virtual Beer

[Jay] I'm really not an asshole.

[Rick] No, but you do owe everyone virtual beer. ;->

Oh, what the heck; I'll personally spring for a round on the virtual credit card, for everyone. Enjoy!

[Ben] Why, Rick! How virtually generous of you! You have my virtual thanks.

[Rick] Be gentle with those virtual chandeliers, though.

[Ben] "Innkeeper! I'll have what the man on the chandelier is having!"

No Slack

[Jay] I never get cut any slack when *I* use stupid tools, or use tools stupidly; why should they?

[Rick] That's our boy! (Jay has gotten in touch with the BoFH within.)

Not So Serious...

[Ben] The easier way to do all that, instead of typing out those horrendous names

[Thomas] ...is to proabably goto and use:


[Ben] Err... and exactly how would you use that, given the need to process the actual URL in two different ways?

[Thomas] One of these days, things'll click into place and people will learn not to take me so seriously....

Keyboard Wearout

[Jay] Mine is called psg -- I'm even lazier than you.

[Ben] Hey, that's a 50% reduction in typing - nothing to sneeze at. If you consider the amount of wear you've saved, you could probably buy yourself a new keyboard every 50, 60 years out of the differential...

[Jay] And note that if you do the greps in the oposite order, you move fewer bytes.

[Ben] Yeah, well... my "grep" wasn't doing much but sitting around anyway. I figured I'd make it earn its salary. Although that _is_ another 50% saving on electrons... how much is a fusion power plant going for these days, anyway?

Best of Slashdot

(How To Avoid Viruses At Windows Install Time?)

[Spoticus]: If you play a Microsoft CD...
backwards, you can hear satanic messages. But even worse, if you play it forward, it installs their software!

[hughk]: and play an *BSD CD forwards
...and you find it full of daemons!!!!

(Gates Comdex Keynote Shows Plans, Matrix Spoof - screenshots)

[Frymaster] gates is smith! did you see the market share that guy had by the end of the series?

[T-Kir] Longhorn would have to be the Matrix code, constraining humanity and the problem is choice: which MS don't want people to have.

Plus, the Matrix is due for a critical crash, hmm the parrallels are endless...

[Nailer]: And starring the Tablet PC...
As Switch. One of the Nebuchadnezzar crew that got killed really early on the first movie and was promptly forgotten about forever.

Neo: What is the Matrix?
Morpheus: Unfortunately no one can be told what the Matrix is.
Neo: Why?
Morpheus: My tablet PC just crashed.

[greenskyx] I can't wait...
For the part where Agent Linux burns Bills eyes out and then he finally can see all the Linux everywhere...

(429,000 Do-Not-Call Complaints)

[Enigma_Man] A good friend of mine (who may read this) got a call from a marketer that went something like this:

TM: Hello, I'm from $phonecompany, and I'm calling to see if you want to switch your service
FR: I don't have a phone here.
TM: Oh, I'm sorry *hangs up*

I still laugh very hard about that one.

(Cut-Rate Windows 'XP Starter Edition' in Thailand)

[Gatton] At least they're prepared...
With about 95% of the country being Buddhist at least they're already familiar with the concept of suffering

This edition of "The Linux Laundrette" has been brought to you by Sluggo, Jimmy, the weird and wonderful cast of the hit mailing list "The Answer Gang", and the letter R.


Copyright © 2004, . Released under the Open Publication license unless otherwise noted in the body of the article. Linux Gazette is not produced, sponsored, or endorsed by its prior host, SSC, Inc.

Published in Issue 104 of Linux Gazette, July 2004

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