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The Linux Laundrette

By Jimmy O'Regan

Christmas Greetings

[ This was sent to LG's admin list, so please read 'this month' for 'next month' etc. ]
I've been trying to think of ways to add something to next month's issue to mark that it's the December issue; the issue of the holiday season. I thought it might be nice to have a "Greeting Card" section (thoroughly off-topic, so it's Laundrette territory [1]) where we can leave each other the gift of a few kind words under the virtual tree.

One obvious problem is that it's embarassing to forget to mention someone, and thanking everyone around here for everything would probably take us all much longer than a month, but I think this can work if we try to grab some of the holiday spirit in advance.

I'll try to get the ball rolling; I'll just mention the people who've participated in this thread to excuse memory, lack of time, etc.

Ben: thank you for prodding some of my random thoughts into a form I could shape into an article, on so many occassions.

Heather: the CPU fan you tried to DCC me is hanging in my virtual stocking; the thought counts double for comedy.

Thomas: Thanks for inspiring my KGPG and Kile articles. (Now that I've offended you by naming you as inspiration for something KDE related, let me point out that I mean you inspired the idea of introducing the back end as well as front end :)

Mike: Thanks for keeping me in touch with stuff that happens in the real world. It's a big place, but I manage to not notice it a lot of the time.

Rick and Brian: Thanks for helping me to trick the readers into thinking I can write. The fools!

[1] I normally consider anything that comes from these lists to be fair game, but I'm going to make this an exception; if you like the idea of having this section, say so, and your thoughts will be added.

[ I'd also like to thank our readers (especially those who send feedback), translators (hi Marcin!) and... well, everybody, basically. 'Tis the Season. ]

As I Mature

[ My friend Mark sent this. I had to include it, after such a bout of sincerity. ]

Now lads as we know I HATE chain mail thus I deleted the chain mail piece fom the bottom of this email and instead I am sending this as a thought for the day.

I've learned that you cannot make someone love you. All you can do is stalk them and hope they panic and give in.

[ Not strictly true If it helps your defense in the inevitable trial, there's this chemical called phenylethylamine that's released when you fall in love. MDMA, the active ingredient of Ecstacy, has similar (though stronger) effects. If your solicitor doesn't know this, he/she can't get you off for diminished capacity. ]

I've learned that no matter how much I care, some people are just assholes.

[ Aw... you remembered :) ]

I've learned that it takes years to build up trust, and it only takes suspicion, not proof, to destroy it.

I've learned that you can get by on charm for about fifteen minutes. After that, you'd better have a big willy or huge boobs.

I've learned that you shouldn't compare yourself to others - they are more screwed up than you think.

[ Scientifically proven! ]

I've learned that you can keep vomiting long after you think you're finished.

[ Hey, I'm not the only one! ]

I've learned that we are responsible for what we do, unless we are celebrities.

I've learned that regardless of how hot and steamy a relationship is at first, the passion fades, and there had better be a lot of money to take its place!

I've learned that 99% of the time when something isn't working in your house, one of your kids did it

I've learned that the people you care most about in life are taken from you too soon and all the less important ones just never go away.


This feeds into the in-joke I mentioned last month: Giant squid are taking over the world

"A group of geeks aimed to find out whether running cheap vodka through a brita water filter would make it drinkable. They claim after several passes through the filter the cheap vodka surpassed the premium Ketel One in drinkability tests. I think they should have done the test 'double blind' although drinking Vladmir Vodka probably could make you go blind anyways... =)"


[Jimmy] 'format c:' vs. 'rm -rf' http://hohle.net/scrap_post.php?post=23&m=full

[Pete Jewell] The resulting discussion on /. was quite interesting too...


[ I had this last month, but it's worth having again. ]

[Sluggo] Found this link somewhere in the Gentoo forums. http://www.newsforge.com/article.pl?sid=04/10/30/1322227

The Debian quote is great: "Debian users take pride in the fact that their distribution is always several releases behind the latest version of the kernel, but makes up for that by being more difficult to install and use."

[Brad] Gentoo Ricers

When you get past how silly this is, you realize that it really isn't that complimentary to the average Linux user who doesn't give a damn about tweaking their machine to within an inch of the machine's life.

[Sluggo] Dvorak thinks Microsoft is preparing to release a Linux distribution, and that's why they went after the Lindows name so heavily last year.

Interview with Stuard Cohen, chief of the Open Systems Development Labs, the company that now employs Linus.

Sluggo also sent this: The Day the Democrats Lost the Election

A gift from Heather

[ From IRC, Nov 1. ]
<jimregan>      Grr.
<jimregan>      Damned CPU fan has dropped dead.
<editorgal>     :(
<editorgal>     vega did that a while back
<editorgal>     we fixed the fan but still haven't gotten around
 to the hd rearrangement jim said he wanted to do
<editorgal>     so afaik he's still running off knoppix
<editorgal>     it's funny
<editorgal>     brightest machine in the house and he's running
it basically diskless
<jimregan>      Heh.
<jimregan>      Tried doing that yesterday, but Knoppix doesn't
come with IrDA stuff
<editorgal>     I have spare pentium fans shall I dcc you one?
<jimregan>      Heh. Sure.
*       editorgal makes sure it's bz2'd into its little box
<editorgal>      DCC SEND from editorgal (file
<editorgal>     ;P
[ It turns out the fan was just clogged with dust. I really have to remember to dust my PC's innards more often. ]

Spam Jokes

Clinton -vs- Titanic

Similarities between the Titanic video and the Clinton grand jury testimony video:

Titanic: over 3 hours long Clinton: over 3 hours long

Titanic: The story of Jack and Rose, their forbidden love, a subsequent catastrophe Clinton: The story of Bill and Monica, their forbidden love, a subsequent catastrophe

Titanic: villain - White Star Line Clinton: villain - Ken Starr

Titanic: Jack is a starving artist Clinton: Bill is a B.S. artist

Titanic: In one part, Jack enjoys a good cigar Clinton: Ditto for Bill

Titanic: During ordeal, Rose's dress gets ruined Clinton: Ditto for Monica

Titanic: Jack teaches Rose to spit Clinton: Let's not go there

Titanic: Rose gets to keep her jewelry Clinton: Monica forced to return her gifts

Titanic: Behind the scenes, Leonardo DiCaprio is wildly popular Clinton: Behind the scenes, Bill has a 70% approval rating

Titanic: Jack surrenders to an icy death Clinton: Bill goes home to Hillary

A blonde got lost in her car in a snowstorm. She remembered what her dad had once told her. ''If you ever get stuck in a snowstorm, wait for a snow plow and follow it.'' Pretty soon a snow plow came by, and she started to follow it. She followed the plow for about 45 minutes.

Finally, the driver of the truck got out and asked her what she was doing. She explained that her dad had told her if she ever got stuck in the snow, to follow a plow. The driver nodded and said, ''Well, I'm done with the parking lot here at Wal-Mart, now you can follow me over to K-Mart.''

A road construction manager needed to hire someone to paint the yellow lines down the middle of a newly constructed road. A blonde, a brunette, and a redhead all get hired. They are each assigned a section of the road. The first day, the blonde paints 2 miles, the redhead 1.5, and the brunette only 1. On the second day, the blonde paints 1 mile, the brunette 2, and the redheaed 2.5. On the third day, the blonde only gets 1/4 of a mile done, the redheaed 3, and the brunette 3.5. The manager decides to talk to the blonde.

"You haven't been painting as much road as you did on the first day,'' the manager said. ''What's the problem?''

''I'd be painting more, but the bucket keeps getting farther and farther away!''

U.S. Election

Normally, I'd be the first to complain when I see Americocentrism [1]: the comment on a spelling change in Wikipedia, "Who the hell spells it 'centre'?" (um... the British, Irish, Australians, Canadians...); the comment in LG72: 'Note the silent "e" in writeable. The configuration file has it even though the ordinary word doesn't. The same applies to browseable below. Actually, Samba accepts it either way, but Samba's manpages use writeable.' (The smb.conf manpage once had 'writable: synonym for writeable for people who can't spell' -- Samba was created by an Australian).

That's just spelling: don't get me started on that MM/DD/YY thing, sports analogies, or calling football soccer. This list would normally include politics, but the U.S. elections were of great interest to most people, Americans and non-Americans alike, and lead to some great comedy in the wake of Bush's victory.

I will, however, concede on the "Leader of the Free World" title Americans give to their leader (to the annoyance of every other citizen of a democracy); even though the net result is the same, America's Constitution does not grant rights, it merely establishes that they exist, and so sets restrictions on the government; most others do grant rights. Ireland's contitution, for example, grants freedom of association, of the press, and guarantees a right to privacy, but includes loopholes so that these rights only exist until you might need to exercise them; Americans have an absolute right to remain silent when in police custody, but in Ireland that only comes into effect once you've given your name and address (so the police can harass you at will).

[1] Because I'm Irish: a) that means I'm not American (despite the assumptions of Irish-Americans :); and b) complaining is our national pass-time.

[ From Michael Moore's mailing list came "17 Reasons Not to Slit Your Wrists": here's 7 of the funniest. ]

1. It is against the law for George W. Bush to run for president again.

2. Bush's victory was the NARROWEST win for a sitting president since Woodrow Wilson in 1916.

3. The only age group in which the majority voted for Kerry was young adults (Kerry: 54%, Bush: 44%), proving once again that your parents are always wrong and you should never listen to them.

6. Michigan voted for Kerry! So did the entire Northeast, the birthplace of our democracy. So did 6 of the 8 Great Lakes States. And the whole West Coast! Plus Hawaii. Ok, that's a start. We've got most of the fresh water, all of Broadway, and Mt. St. Helens. We can dehydrate them or bury them in lava. And no more show tunes!

8. 88% of Bush's support came from white voters. In 50 years, America will no longer have a white majority. Hey, 50 years isn't such a long time! If you're ten years old and reading this, your golden years will be truly golden and you will be well cared for in your old age.

9. Gays, thanks to the ballot measures passed on Tuesday, cannot get married in 11 new states. Thank God. Just think of all those wedding gifts we won't have to buy now.

12. Admit it: We like the Bush twins and we don't want them to go away.

[ Slashdot comments : ]

* Oh Canada!

I guess I better learn the rest of that.

* Re:Oh Canada!

Are you sure you want to be a victim of America's foreign policy?

* How to Entertain Yourself until Thanksgiving

- Calculate your share of the National Deficit

- Take up assault weapon collecting as a hobby

- Figure out how to best invest your $300 annual Bush tax savings to cover the social security benefits you'll never get

- Become rich, then get all your income from mostly untaxed dividends and capital gains income

- Join the guard and train for a one year tour of duty in Iraq

- Move so that the selective service can't find you

- Take some gay people and a girlfriend (work with me here) to Vegas. Taunt them by getting married and divorced inside of 12 hours.

- Make a sign saying "The Government should stay out of our lives!" and go protest in front of an abortion clinic.

- Pick up bow and arrow making to capitalize on the new corporate tax incentives

- Do something illegal, get arrested, and excercise your right to trial before 4 years of Bush-appointed, Republican confirmed Supreme Court appointees uphold the Patriot Act's elimination of right to trial.

Disclaimer: The author accepts no responsibility for failure to detect any sarcasm present in the above post.

Notice of Revocation of Independence


Totally non-Linux, but I figure that the UK-based folks here should get a chuckle. As for us on this side of the pond, well, we knew it was all coming to an end; this last election was a strong indicator. "Not with a '!' but with a Windsor..." - something like that, right?

(penned somewhere in the U.K.)

Notice of Revocation of Independence

To the Citizens of the United States of America:

In the light of your recent failure to elect a reasonable president and thus to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective today.

Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths and other territories. Except Utah, which she does not fancy. Your new Prime Minister (Tony Blair for the 97.85% of you who have until now been unaware that there is a world outside your borders) will appoint a Minister for America without the need for further elections. Congress and the Senate will be disbanded. A questionnaire will be circulated next year to determine whether any of you noticed.

To aid to the transition to a British Crown Dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect:

* You should look up "revocation" in the Oxford English Dictionary. Then look up "aluminium". Check the pronunciation guide. You will be amazed at just how wrongly you have been pronouncing it. Generally, you should raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels. Look up "vocabulary".

In addition, using the same 27 words interspersed with filler noises such as "like" and "you know" is an unacceptable and ineffective form of communication. Look up "interspersed".

* There is no such thing as "US English". We will let Microsoft know on your behalf.

* You should learn to distinguish between English and Australian accents. It really isn't that hard.

* Hollywood will be required to occasionally cast English actors as the good guys.

* You will no longer be allowed to play American football. There is only one kind of football. What you refer to as "football" is not a very good game. The 2.15% of you who are aware that there is a world outside your borders may have noticed that no one else plays American football. Instead you should play proper football. Initially, it would be best if you played with the girls. It is a difficult game. Those of you brave enough will, in time, be allowed to play rugby (which is similar to American football, but does not involve stopping for a rest every 20 seconds or wearing full body armour like nancies).

* You should declare war on Quebec and France, using nuclear weapons if they give you any merde. The 97.85% of you who were not aware that there is a world outside your borders should count yourselves lucky. The Russians have never been the bad guys. (Merde is French for "sh*t".)

* All American cars are hereby banned. They are crap and it is for your own good. When we show you German Cars, you will understand what we mean.

* Please tell us who killed JFK. It's been driving us crazy.

Thank you for your co-operation.

Spell cheque

[Jimmy] Rick and Brian: Thanks for helping me to trick the readers into thinking I can write. The fools!

[Rick] Ewe kin thank my soft wear that I ewes two spell cheque. It makes any pros look good.

[Sluggo] Laundrette quote!! Laundrette quote!!

[Jimmy] You mean "Land Bette Quwait", right?

More yoga fun

[Ben] I just subscribed to Yoga Journal (one of those "get a free issue and we get to bother you for a while" deals), and got a "bonus": a pretty little PDF entitled "Yoga Remedies for Everyday Ailments". The first thing that caught my eye was the table of contents:
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Computer Vision Syndrome
Common Cold
Back Pain
Customer Service

WHOA! If they discovered relief for Customer Service, those ancient yogis were some smart cookies!

As to the cure for "Computer Vision Syndrome" (I know that some of you were just about to ask): become a Corpse. No, really; Savasana (the Corpse pose) is what's recommended. I think this is different from saying "f**k off and die", but it may just have been lost in the translation from the original Sanskrit...

In Search Of Open-Source Experts

[Jimmy] http://informationweek.linuxpipeline.com/52600065 Mentions Ballmer's email, and quotes Faber:

'One of the chief complaints of CIOs and CEOs is that they can't find enough qualified open-source programmers, says Faber Fedor, an open-source consultant with services firm Linux NJ.com Inc. "I don't think there are enough experienced people out there for the demand," he says. Yankee Group analyst Laura DiDio agrees. "There's a dearth of skilled Linux administrators, by comparison to the more-mature Windows, Unix, NetWare, and Macintosh environments," she says. And what happens when too much demand meets too little supply? "They can command a premium," DiDio says. "They get a 20% to 30% salary premium in the large metropolitan markets."'

[Sluggo] This is a joke, right? Or an attempt to push the market in a certain direction by stating what you hope for as if it were a fact? (As Ben Okopnik's father Stalin did so well.)

[Ben] Son, not father. You keep telling me I'm an old fart - you just don't know the extent of it.

[Sluggo] I only wish employers were begging for open-source developers and Linux administrators. Then I'd have a lot more choices for jobs. But most jobs still seem to require Windows skills, and I turn those down rather than putting the time and expense into training for them.

[Ben] It's not the skills - it's you. They see that geeky Pythoneer look, the bald head, and the leather jacket, and they run to lock and bar the doors and windows.

[Sluggo] I guess when I stick my tongue out and hiss, it doesn't help.

[Ben] [laugh] Yesterday, when we were assigned one posture each to teach, the woman that got Bujangasana, the Cobra, is now known as Sssswami Ssssuzy. And I got to learn just how vitally important humor is to me in a learning situation. Good stuff all around.

I got my least favorite posture, Paschimottanasana (seated forward bend, A.K.A. "intense stretch of the west [back]"), and discovered a way to at least not hate it. I also discovered that I'd been "hiding" my outside hamstrings when I was doing it. Man, you really learn when you teach... but I've known that for a long time.

Semantic President

[Jimmy] In my RDF article, I quoted Tim Berners-Lee: ``` The Semantic Web is an extension of the current web where information is given well-defined meaning, better enabling computers and people to work in cooperation. '''

I saw this today: http://leobard.twoday.net/stories/393733/

"The Semantic President is an extension of the current president in which speech is given well-defined meaning, better enabling presidents and people to work in cooperation."


[Thomas] Vagueness makes baby Jesus cry...

[Ben] ...and remember, every time you're imprecise in your communication, somewhere a homeless kitten gets run over by a Mack truck. And it'll all be your fault.

[Brian] That's not nearly as guilt inducing as running over the kitten with a home,

[Ben] I don't know that running them over with a home would be more painful than doing it with a Mack truck, but you're welcome to be creative and report the results.

[Brian] given not ten minutes ago to the five year old girl standing by the side of the road, spattered, red, and crying as she fumbles with her inhaler.

[Ben] I like it! I'm sure you'll soon be getting an email from Upstairs, thanking you for the idea; the new variation will be implemented ASAP, and beta testers are urged to apply to the appropriate agency.

[Brian] Now, that is guilt [1]. Personally, I blame my state of mind on the whole gang of Monty Python with special mention going to Cleese and Chapman:

Mrs. Conclusion (Chapman): Hullo, Mrs. Premise.

Mrs. Premise (Cleese): Hullo, Mrs. Conclusion.

Conclusion: Busy Day?

Premise: Busy? I just spent four hours burying the cat.

Conclusion: Four hours to bury a cat?

Premise: Yes - it wouldn't keep still.

[Ben] [snort] Must have been the one from Schroedinger's box again. I coulda told him.

[Brian] Happy Saturday.


[1] Fortunately, I have an electric monk to pray for my soul.

[Ben] Oooh, is that the bobble-head kind? I always wanted one of those; they work really well on a boat.

[Jason] "somewhere"? And what is the truck driver's name? By your own standards, that sentence probably dispatched at least two kittens.

[Ben] Not at all; I'm being 100% precise to the limit of available data. If I tried to fill in the empty spaces with invented crap, that would be less precise - and I don't like hearing kitty-squishing.

[Jason] However, if it makes you feel any better, they might not have been cute. Or perhaps they were. If we could observe them being run over, the possible states would collapse to one. (Curiosity may have killed Schrodinger's cat.)

[Ben] Schroedinger was WRONG. The cat in his box has a very definite state: pissed off. Those who have tried the experiment and opened the box afterwards have no doubts (they may have large medical bills, but no doubts.)

[Jason] Of course, since we're looking at them being run over by a Mack truck, this may bias the results slightly towards the "non-cute" side. We'll have to take that into account.

[Ben] [This image has been burned into your brain by the Guilt-Trippers Society of America. Have a nice day.]

Congratulations Ben

[Ben] Hey, folks -

Totally non-Linux, but wanted to share this with you all:

[ brand-new Yoga Teacher's certificate ]

[Thomas] ... to write that down, you had to bend over double and turn upside down, I'm sure. :)

[Jimmy] Well, Ben is the sort of guy who'd bend over backwards for his friends. (You all got that midi file, right?)

[Ben] http://okopnik.freeshell.org/img/kapotasana.jpg

No, that's not me. B.K.S. Iyengar - seen in the above pics at the age of 60 - is still doing all of the above, and far more complex postures as well, at the age of 80. It would probably take a nuke to kill the old man; I can't imagine any part of his body wearing out... If you want to see some really unbelievable postures as well as perfect alignment in all of them, stop by a book store and take a look at his "Light on Yoga". You'll swear the human body can't do that. Repeatedly.

[Thomas] Well done, Ben. :)

[Breen] Very cool (soy?) beans, Ben. Congrats!

[Ben] [chuckle] Thanks, Breen. I'll take the regular frijoles, though; I'd hate to start turning a soy-lent green...

[Jimmy] It'll be hanging in the Laundrette next issue too. Way to go! But... you know... you applied yourself to the task and succeeded, which sounds like the Ben I know, so wasn't that email superfluous? :)

[Ben] Awwww. I'm gonna blush now. :)

[Jason] Yeah, Ben, you expect us to be shocked or something? :-)

[Ben] Nah. If I got some electrodes, a Tesla generator, wired you up and cranked the handle, then I'd expect you to be shocked - and would be quite disappointed in you if you weren't. As it is, I just expect you to get into Adho Mukha Shvanasana using Dirgha and Ujjayi Pranayama, holding Bahaya Kumbhaka and applying Muladhara Bandha, Uddayana Bandha, and Jalandhara Bandha.

[Jimmy] Przepraszam? Nie rozumiem.

[ Zrozumię? ]

[Ben] Why not? Don't you understand plain English? Um, well, FSVO "plain". And "English" (somewhat akin to the English you used just above.)

[Jimmy] Heh. I could have said "Gáibh mo leithscéal. Ní thuigim", which will actually pass for English around here. (In a pub, after a few pints).

[Ben] It's not like I'm asking for the world or anything; I'm a man of simple desires.

[Jimmy] Yeah. A small continent or two, nothing greedy.

[Ben] Jeez, at least you understand. Why is everybody else having such a problem?

[Jimmy] So few continents... they think you're eyeing up their intended land masses, y'see. And get this - then they have the temerity to act offended when you say there'll be plenty of room to offer them a grave. Some people.


                       This is to certify that

                          Benjamin Okopnik

 has completed the 200-hour Discovery Yoga Teacher Training Program,
 and having met all requirements as set forth by the national Yoga
 Alliance is hereby designated and authorized to use the title

                       CERTIFIED YOGA TEACHER

					I set my signature on the
					Eighteenth day of November
					in the year Two Thousand Four

					Deva Parnell, Director,
					Discovery Yoga

"WOO and HOO", as a friend of mine is wont to say. I am more stoked than words can tell.


> Outstanding in your field, sirrah.  Congrats. 

[Ben] "I do not think that word means what you think it means." :) Intent of compliment accepted; thank you!

[Jay] [ looks in dictionary(.com) ]

Aw, schidt.

[Ben] Hey, pal, no worries. I knew what you meant. :) It's somewhat like the relatively common misuse of "fulsome": sounds grand and complimentary, but - whups!

[Breen] Or 'infamous'.

[Jay] Sorry, Ben. Yeah; not what I meant. :-}

[Jay] First your boat survives; now this. Who knew?

[Ben] I'm still waiting for fame, fortune, etc., but now it's gotta be just a matter of time. Surely the world will soon beat a path to my door... although the experience is likely to be rather wet and may require scuba gear.

[Brian] The world did beat a path to your door. Four times this year. They're called "hurricanes", Ben. But at least you remembered the damp bits...


[Ben] Oh yeah... It must have been a "first try" kind of thing; they forgot the adulation and the heaps of cash. I'll just have to wait till next year and see if they get it right this time.

[Melanie] I am trying to understand the Linux World, and all of its characteristics.

[Jimmy] The word that best illustrates the problem here is 'world'; it best describes the magnitude of the problem. As it happens, I found my introduction to Unix today -- that is, "AIX for Customer Engineers: Quick Reference Card" (ZR23-6948-00, if anyone cares :), which my uncle gave me one day when he brought my brothers and me to his workplace to play multiplayer 'Doom' (I don't remember when this was, but I know it was before Doom 2). From that, I learned a few basic commands.

[Jason] Just out of curiousity, what does a "Customer Engineer" do? Do they design customers? 'cause I've got some killer ideas for a customer. :-)

[Jimmy] Heh. Customer Engineer == marketroid for 'user'.

[Jimmy] (This is the part where I slowly meander to "the point").

[Jason] Oh! "The point"! I've heard of that. It's kind of like a...no, more like a...I don't exactly know how to describe it. What was I talking about?

[Jimmy] Come to think of it, I don't think Irish has a word for 'the point' either :)

[Jason] Oh yes! How about those Red Sox?

[Jimmy] Y'know, I keep reading about them, but I don't get it. What was it that happened? Did they hire two of the Four Horsemen, or something?

[Jason] Just one. With Discworld's greatest milkman on their side, it was easy.

[Jimmy] That explains it. Good at delivering white items. Could have had a career in Columbia.

[ This, of course, refers to "Thief of Time" by Terry Pratchett ]


But that is not my point. Clearly, I have no point.
		-- Dave Barry

[Jimmy] I recommended Wikipedia as a source for articles about computing topics; hopefully this list will be useful as a reference card for you.

[Jason] Ditto on this. Wikipedia is full of useful stuff, and not just on computing-related topics.

<sniped Jimmy's impressive list>

[Jimmy] You sniped it? Jason, you know Ben and I have a... sideline, and we're always interested in extending the franchise.

[Ben] And he's starting so well, too! A list, how classic...

  As some day it may happen that a victim must be found,
       I've got a little list - I've got a little list
  Of society offenders who might well be underground,
       And who never would be missed - who never would be missed!
  There's the pestilential nuisances who write for autographs - 
  All people who have flabby hands and irritating laughs - 
  All children who are up in dates, and floor you with 'em flat - 
  All persons who in shaking hands, shake hands with you like that - 
  And all third persons who on spoiling tete-a-tetes insist - 
       They'd none of 'em be missed - they'd none of 'em be missed!

   -- Koko, the Lord High Executioner in W.S. Gilbert's "Mikado"

[Jason] Oh, really? Hmmm...that's in interesting offer. And yet, Given that nature of this...business, it refusal really an option?

[Jimmy] Y'know, it's not so much that we want to keep the nature of the ... subject of which we speak secret, more that I tend to get ahead of myself, assume too much, and we end up with stationary we can't use. Normally, this would lead to unpleasantness, but certain buttons have been pushed in my psyche, and the world is taking on a red hue (and it's not blood spatters either - I checked), so we can let it go this time.

[Jason] Or, can I walk away from the table anytime I want, just like Vetinari's offer in the excerpt of "Going Postal" that's available online? (Speaking of which, has anybody read that? Is it up to Pratchett standards?)

[Jimmy] I have, and yes, it is. It's a bit less dark than the past few books, but as funny as you would have come to expect. It reminded me a lot of 'The Truth'.

Twisted Update


I've been installing Gentoo applications at home since Sunday. Previously I'd done the basic installation (tarballs, kernel, configuration). Sunday I ran "emerge sync" (which updates the list of available builds), "emerge portage" (which updates the package manager) and "emerge system" (which updates all the base packages, of which there were only five or six since the 2004.2 release). But "emerge xorg-x11" run from Sunday night to Tuesday, and "emerge kde" started Tuesday night and is still running. (It's now Thursday morning.) To be sure, it's installing a lot of dependencies as well as those packages, including LDAP and Samba which I don't need. Still, it took only three nights on my two 1.5 GHz Pentium 4s at work, and it was finished by morning. (Actually, some of the nights it worked only three hours and was done.) What a difference a 450 MHz AMD K6-2 Duron makes. It's a third the speed, but still, it's been compiling continuously 24 hours for four days. I've taken two breaks to switch to my existing Debian for some Firefox websurfing, but that was just a couple hours each. Once KDE is on, I have some 35 other applications to install.

[Jimmy] Hee hee. I posted a broken version of this on IRC, but here's a working version. If you're familiar with Debian's vrms, you'll welcome vta (though obviously it should be in Ruby):


use warnings;
use strict;

while (<>)
    print "> $_";
    if (/java/i)
        print "\nSo much bloat, so little use\n\n";
    elsif (/kde/i)
        print "\nIf I wanted to get rid of my RAM, I'd take it out of the

I think I'll have a look for some actual quotes, and set them to be random :)

[Sluggo] I figure that will take me through the weekend.

It would be nice to get one of those Shuttles Saw a 64-bit AMD jobbie in a store with a silver reflective front, but it's like $800. (Thomas: note "like" used to mean "approximately".) It

[Jimmy] So you're not just using as punctuation? Phew, California hasn't taken another victim (though I can't say much, because in Ireland we use swear words as punctuation :)

[Sluggo] No, of course not. I'm trying to convince Thomas "like" has a bona fide legitimate meaning;

[Jimmy] Jeez Mike, you're in pedantic country here: '...convince Thomas /that that usage of/ "like"...'


Pedantic country? Pah! Ever read comp.lang.c? :)

[Sluggo] that's why it's so popular. It softens things when you're not 100% sure about something, or when being too direct would be rude. "Heavy metal like sucks" is less harsh than "heavy metal sucks". It gets your opinion across but without insulting the guy too much.

[Thomas] But that's like so not true.

[Sluggo] That sentence is Valley Girl-speak, but more because of the "so" than the "like".

[Jimmy] Nah, he said 'so', not 'sooooo'.

[Sluggo] Perhaps you'd prefer "that's true, not".

[Pete] As in Reverse Polish Notation? ;-)

[Jason] Hmmm...I haven't heard it used this way. I've heard in used in the meaningless context "And he was, like, so mad.". I've heard in the "this is what this person said" context: "He was like, 'no way!' And I was like, 'yes way.'"

[Thomas] Dude!

[Jimmy] I thought it was "that's true <significant pause> NOT!", or did "Wayne's World" lie to me? :)

[Sluggo] Because he can treat it like a joke. In Ireland I think you use "would be" the same way. "Where would you be goin today?" "What would... just supposin..."?

[Thomas] I usually say: "Where are you going?" if it is a question in the future tense.

[Jimmy] The usual thing with the more rural types is "I do be hungry by 6 o'clock"; I would use the more correct "I'd usually be...", but "I would be..." is pretty common.

English lacks a satisfactory way of expressing the habitual, so we had to invent one -- we're creatures of habit :) It also lacks a second person plural, so we use 'ye'

[Sluggo] Actually, what English lacks is a second person singular. "You" is really the second person plural accusative. thee : thou :: ye : you

Although down in these here parts, we just say y'all, y'know.

[Sluggo] That's just so direct and Germanic. :) Oh wait, the Germanic way would be "Where go you?" But if you get really Gaelic-influenced English speakers from Ireland, they just seem to go out of their way to avoid certain simple constructs. E.g. I once asked a bartender girl in a pub, - Do you have pear cider? - I have. Why not just "yes"? But apparently Gaelic doesn't have words for "yes" or "no".

[Jimmy] The closest we have are "is ea"/"'sea" and "ní hea" -- "it is" and "it isn't". In general, a yes/no type answer depends on the question, because it's generally given as an abbreviation. For example, if I were to ask "An bhfuil tú i do chónaí i nDúrlas"

[Ben] And people talk about Perl being unreadable! Whew. On the other hand, trying to execute the above will probably decompile the Universe or something. That's the Irish for you, saving or wrecking civilization with equal gusto... :)

[Jimmy] No, no, no. It'll intoxicate the universe.

[ Take one Universe, put a bit of Irish in it. Works for me. ]

[Ben] [laugh]

"St. Patrick's: the one day of the year when the 2% of the world's population that's Irish gets the other 98% completely shitfaced."

[Jimmy] It seems that Irish is best used when drunk:

Most people never use it, except for the National Anthem. The National Anthem is rarely heard outside of nightclubs (at closing time), or sporting events.

You could also make the point that Irish makes heavy use of the few syllablic sounds that the drunk can pronounce ('feh', 'nya', 'ooh', 'oh', 'bah', 'sh', etc.) for a reason.

[Ben] I'm awed. That's what I call foresight: designing a language around a yet-to-be-invented national pastime - at least if I have the timeline right (and if the concept of "Irish" before alcohol make any sense whatsoever.) The Russians didn't do nearly as well, with all those plosives, fricatives, and "soft/hard signs" that can barely be managed (if at all) by non-native speakers when totally sober.

Latest report from OMON (the Russian "special missions"/drug enforcement police teams): Marijuana field located and destroyed to the last plant. Next, we're all going to fly to the Moon and defeat the evil Pokemon Army.

[Jimmy] ("Do you live in Thurles", though it literally means something like "Are you (habitually) in Thurles"), you would answer "Níl mé" ("I am not"), which is short for the full answer, "Níl mé i mo chónaí i nDúrlas"

There are no real swear words in Irish either. I think the closest is "baistúin" (bastard). After that, it's relatively mild terms like "idiot".

[Thomas] Because I like using "I have".

[Brian] M: You...do have some cheese, don't you?
W: Certainly, sir. It's a cheese shop, sir. We've got...
M: No no... don't tell me. I'm keen to guess.
W: Fair enough.
M: Wensleydale?
W: Yes, sir?
M: Ah, well, I'll have some of that!
W: Oh, I'm sorry sir, I thought you were referring to me, Mr. Wensleydale, that's my name.

Now I won't get any sleep at all tonight, Spam song running round my head, dead parrots (next best thing to (best thing next to?) an unconscious Jimmy Buffett) and no bloody cheese at all. All because Thomas likes using "I have". Note the approved use of the word like in the line quoted above. Like, gnarly, dude.

[Thomas] More confusingly, I often combine it with yes: "I have, yes". It's done for a reason. Answering a question with a simple yes or no, leaves no scope for other avenues of conversation. It can also be looked upon as a non-comittal response.

[ a few minutes later ]

[Sluggo] Erm, not Subject: Twisted. I was just reading Twisted mail before this.

[Breen] Something got twisted. . .

[Jimmy] Heh. See attachment.

MS patent Basic's 'IsNot' operator

[Jimmy] Link

I mean... sheesh.




if (NULL != NULL) permitPatent();
else {
printf("You're out of your b*****y mind!!!!\n");


[Petar] It seems that the whole web design is slipping on the side of the fixed fonts, which I find misfortunate (I believe you understand the explanation telling you about the new modern large monitors). Your arguments makes any further effort on my side largely futile -- basicly your position is based on the preponderance of users expressing favorable opinion of the current design of the gazette. I acquiesce to the majority.

[Jimmy] Oh, come on. Don't give up so easily. You know the scene:

Salesman  Haggle properly. This isn't worth nineteen!
Brian     You just said it was worth twenty!
Salesman  Oh dear, oh dear. Come on, haggle.
Brian     Oh. All right, I'll give you ten.
Salesman  That's more like it. Ten?! Are you trying to insult me?! Me,
          with a poor dying grandmother, ten?!
Brian     All right, I'll give you eleven.
Salesman  Now  you're  getting  it.  Eleven!!?  Did I hear you right?!
          Eleven?! This cost me twelve, you wanna ruin me?!
Brian     Seventeen?
Salesman  No no no no, seventeen.
Brian     Eighteen!
Salesman  No, no, you go to fourteen now.
Brian     All right, I'll give you fourteen.
Salesman  Fourteen?! Are you joking?!
Brian     That's what you told me to say!

etc :)

[Thomas] Ten for that you must be mad...

[Jay] I'd like an argument, please.

[Jimmy] Aw, dammit Jay, you picked the wrong time. Normally I'd be happy to oblige, but I'm just in too good a mood. Sorry 'bout that.

[Kapil] I see no "absolute value" in that. But if you do then take the imaginary exponent of the argument and multiply by the absolute value----that's when things start to get complex. :-) Sorry. Couldn't prevent this convoluted pun from slipping out.

[Ben] The acme of pun acknowledgement (I hesitate to use the term "approbation"), according to Spider Robinson, is for everyone to hold their nose and flee screaming into the night. This isn't quite up to that level, but... whew. What a stinker. Well done, Kapil. :)

A point to consider, of course, is that DOS programs take arguments; Linux programs use options. :) [1]

[1] No, it's not true. But it would be awf'ly cute if it was.

Child's play

[Melanie] After working in this industry for nearly three days, I would like to request the idea, that understanding Linux requires a PhD.

[Ben] I'm not sure I understand what you're asking. You'd like to "request the idea"? Do you mean that you'd like to find out if the above statement is true? If so, the answer is a resounding "no". I've sat little kids in front of a computer running Linux and seen them dive right in and do what they wanted right away; ditto people who had only used Internet Explorer/0utlook/MSWord previously.

[Jimmy] Heh. I had an angry (well, more exasperated, truth be told) phone call from my son's mother yesterday because he went looking up even more stuff he wants for Christmas behind my back, and has been driving her nuts about it. I'll have to explain that once the email to Santa goes, that's it. My point is, he's 7 1/2 and did this without my help; he knows how to use the menus in a few different window managers, and he knows how to use the shell to launch commands. He has even found and used software I'd long forgotten about installing, and there are things he can do with, say, the Gimp that I can't replicate.

[Petar] If linuxgazette readers could vote for a redesign of the site, I would point you at Eric's site for a good example of what I would aspire to have.

[Ben] And I, for one, appreciate the input. The response that we've received with regard to the redesign has been strongly positive, and it's good to get at least one dissenting viewpoint; agreement from everyone usually prompts me to start looking for the tool marks in the plastic.

[Jimmy] Or bloodstains on the tools? :)

[ "Genius is always allowed some leeway, once the hammer has been pried from its hands and the blood has been cleaned up."
--Terry Pratchett, "Thief of Time". ]

[Ben] Oh, excellent point! Yeah, definitely. Total agreement, well...

   - "I'm sure we can all pull together, sir."
   - "Oh, I do hope not, I really do hope not. Pulling together is the aim of
     despotism and tyranny. Free men pull in all kinds of directions."
   -- Terry Pratchett, "The Truth"

Spam: Truth in advertising...

[Ben] From an email I received today (not spam, it's somebody with whom I've actually done business):

----- Forwarded message ----------------------------------------------

One Week Only - BOGO Savings at Savon and Osco!
(but if you DO miss out on that, at least take advantage of
no cost ground shipping within the US direct from us.)

What the HECK is a BOGO you ask?  Don't worry, I had no idea either!

BOGO is simply a Buy-One-Get-One (B.O.G.O.) discount from Savon or Osco.  

[ ... ]

----- Forwarded message ----------------------------------------------

Usually, manufacturers just send out the coupons and let you figure out the bogosity for yourself. I guess these folks decided to short-cut the process...

[Jay] My initial reaction was "hey, waitaminnit; aren't you the guy with the personal acronym finder?"... and then I re-read that a couple times.


[Ben] Yeah, that "Forwarded message" line can be hard to spot... :)

[Jay] The Bogon flux connection hadn't ever occurred to me, amusingly enough.

[Ben] For me, that "BOGO Savings" line was just perfect. I let the company know about it so they'd have $CLUE installed in the future, anyway.

The Shiznet

[Jimmy] I recommended Wikipedia as a source for articles about computing topics; hopefully this list will be useful as a reference card for you. It's a lot of reading, but for the most part, you should be able to get what you want from the first paragraph.

[Jay] Heckuva good list, Jimmy; not that I needed my watchlist to double.

WP is the shiznit, ain't it?

[Jimmy] Fo' shizzle, dizzle.

[Jay] I don't mean to offend anyone either, but I've been seeing more than usual of that sort of traffic lately on TAG (by which I mean responses which seem a bit overreactive); is it possible that our collective skins are thinning a bit too much lately?

[Ben] Jay, if you don't mean to offend anyone, then why poke at a spot that's likely to be sore and can't result in anything useful no matter how it resolves?

[Jimmy] A Polish coworker taught me how to pronounce 'zayebis' today. Tone of voice is your choice :)

(Let me just add another :) for emphasis).

[Ben] [FOTCL]

[Jimmy] :)[1]

[Ben] It was the surprise. You're not supposed to be that subtle, dammit. :)

[Jimmy] Subtle? Moi? I'm about as subtle as a .... really unsubtle thing.

[Ben] Uh-huh. You keep letting that side of you slip through, and people are going to start suspecting, and you'll lose the advantage of perceived innocence. Then you'll have to resort to blue contact lenses and doing the wide-eyed blink thing, and... well, trust me, it just gets messy. And nobody buys it, either [injured look].

[Jimmy] Hey, I never pretended to be innocent. Alls I'm saying is I'm not innocent. Is that (in itself, not the attendants) a crime?

[Ben] I'm really interested in your answer, because I can't fathom what effect you could be looking for; if you were trying to annoy people, it would make sense, but it's mystifying otherwise. Sure, the deal with Tom came down to miscommunication - it happens - but since there was good will on both sides, there was no harm done.

[Jimmy] No, no, no. As Thomas noted, vagueness makes baby Jesus cry.

[Ben] It got handled. Tom clarified, the baby Jesus stopped crying, and no cute puppies or kittens got mercilessly mangled by large machinery.

[Jimmy] Any resemblance to persons or events is entirely possible. No animals or religious icons were harmed in the making of this email.

[Jason] Well, certainly not large machinery. I mean, they're kittens. You don't need something large. Right tool for the right job. I mean, you've heard the expression, "to a man with a hammer, every problem looks like a small, cute, fuzzy animal?"? :-)

[Ben] I find a cast-iron frying pan to be far more effective. Not only can you flatten the little bastards, but a little oil and a few spices, and you've got a start on a good meal. I mean, just look at the prices on all that Atkins stuff in the supermarket, consider the amount of protein running around on the streets, and you'll see the sense in what I'm saying...

[Ben] Now, I wouldn't know anything about "collective skins", ...

[Jimmy] You've obviously been going to the wrong sort of party. (Or not been going to the wrong sort of party, depending on your perspective).

[Ben] Yeah, I know. :((( It's been a remarkably party-free month, but I'll be making up for it in the coming days.

[Jimmy] And with your yoga instructor status, you can take 'getting twisted' to another level.

[Ben] Yeah, raising the Kundalini (is that what the kids call it these days?) could get pretty wild. I mean, if you get some cute babe excited about playing with a snake coiled around the base of the spine... dude, you KNOW the action is going to get serious. There's none of this "that was nice" and padding off to the kitchen for a glass of water; it's ALL about the neighbors calling the cops at 3 a.m. due to the unseemly loud noises, creative use of kitchen appliances, wildly messed-up hair, and "what the hell is my shoe doing on the chandelier???"

[Jimmy] "and how do I still have my foot in it???"

[Ben] ...but grousing about Open Source software without contributing anything to solve the problem (educated, pinpoint grousing counts for credit) has annoyed me personally from the very first time I saw it; that hasn't changed at all. As for anyone else, you'd have to ask them by name - I don't see any problem with people showing an edge to keep their valuable time from being wasted by unproductive engagements. That is, in fact, a highly valuable skill when coupled with a bit of discretion.

[Sluggo] We have a curmudgeonly reputation to uphold. :)

[Jimmy] Ah, tu parle managementaise?

[Jimmy] Whoops. What I meant, of course, was 'You've undertaken to diversify your linguistic assets to synergise [3] with the needs of the management sector?'

[Ben] Ah, I see you don't even need my Gibberish Generator; you've got it just right. Or just wrong, as the case may be.

[Jimmy] I'm sure that sentence could easily be twice as long and convey half as much. It's the difference between HR and CEO :)

[Ben] Sure. Protecting my time from the department heads who didn't give a shit about their employees is something I learned years ago; not learning it always puts you in the crossfire.

[Jimmy] [1] Spilled a packet of 'em earlier, they're clogging up my keyboard. [2]

[2] Who am I kidding? I'm in a :) kind of mood.

[3] "You had to admire the way perfectly innocent words were mugged, ravished, stripped of all true meaning and decency and then sent to walk the gutter for Reacher Gilt, although 'synergistically' had probably been a whore from the start."
-- Terry Pratchett, "Going Postal"

[Ben] What appears to be sloppy or meaningless use of words may well be a completely correct use of words to express sloppy or meaningless ideas.
-- Anon.

[Jimmy] At the risk of becoming repetitive, :)

[Breen] <slurp!>

[Ben] [grin] I often run with scissors. My quote file can be a scary, scary place.

[Ben] Say... is this one of those totally content-free but highly fun exchanges that happen in TAG? I do believe I recognize the signs...

[ Hey, completely sugar-free and non-fattening! ]

[Jimmy] Hey hey hey, it's one of those threads that happens to end up in the Laundrette, outside of editorial interference :-P

[ /me expects a little more editing than usual this month... ]

IE Broken

Musicmatch needs a version of IE installed that isn't broken. (It need
                              ^^                      ^^^^^^

[Ben] You've discovered the secret. Thanks for playing, and have a nice day. :)

[Jason] LOL. Thanks for that, Ben.

Jimmy's hand

[ Well, I mentioned this before... ]

[Jimmy] I have a week off every month,

[Sluggo] You're working now? How's your hand doing?

[Jimmy] I start my fifth week back tomorrow. I'm starting to get some feeling back in my finger, and the scar area is hurting less (I can shake hands without flinching) though extreme temperatures still set it off (as I found out yesterday, when I had to spend the day standing in front of a freezer :). I have 99% of the range of motion I used to, and I'm starting to shake off the tendancy to avoid using it. Better than I was told to expect, basically.


[BIO] Jimmy is a single father of one, who enjoys long walks... Oh, right.

Jimmy has been using computers from the tender age of seven, when his father inherited an Amstrad PCW8256. After a few brief flirtations with an Atari ST and numerous versions of DOS and Windows, Jimmy was introduced to Linux in 1998 and hasn't looked back.

In his spare time, Jimmy likes to play guitar and read: not at the same time, but the picks make handy bookmarks.

Copyright © 2004, Jimmy O'Regan. 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 109 of Linux Gazette, December 2004

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