Say it plain: that many have died for this day.
Sing the names of the dead who brought us here,
who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges,

picked the cotton and the lettuce, built
brick by brick the glittering edifices
they would then keep clean and work inside of.
— Elizabeth Alexander, Praise Song for the Day


A quick survey in HTML error correction: this page mistakenly tries to close a <h1> with <h2>, and this is what happens:

  • h1 not closed (everything turns bold): Safari, Chrome, Opera, (E)Links, Hpricot.
  • h1 is closed (normal rendering): Firefox, IE, Lynx, w3m, Dillo, Tidy (warning, no error), Nokogiri.

The interesting thing to notice here is that the difference between the first and the second line essentially is the age of the software. Did HTML parsers become stricter “recently”?


00:03 <chris2> fix (<3)   -- eternal haskell love


So we learned how to fold a tetrahedron from A4 paper, and instead of studying for exams, we decided to make an stellated icosahedron by gluing 20 of them:


It also makes for a nice hat, if you remove some vertexes:


Cubes are possible as well, in fact all Platonic Solids with glue, and even without.

You can even “fold” in four dimensions.


But my HACTRN, swapping, running, gave no further sign of cunning
By this unknown phantom, which was in a thirty second sleep;
None of this I comprehended; to my TECO I descended,
And in terror I pretended that the bug had gone away —
I pretended that for good the mystery bug had gone away —
When my console gave a feep.
— The Great Quux, The HACTRN


There is an oldest file meme going on. Simply run

find ~ -print0 | xargs -0 stat -c '%y %n' | sort | less

And wait a bit. (Or longer. I have 583489 files.) And then tell something about your oldest files. Unfortunately some .tar are awefully broken and have mtime 0. Next up,

1985-08-15 ~/projects/docs/sicp/contrib/examples/chapter1.code

Wow, I didn’t know I had that. :) Other interesting stuff, not written by me:

1986-01-08 ~/projects/docs/rfcs/rfc971.txt.gz
1988-01-27 ~/src/its/klh10-2.0a/contrib/supdup/supdup.h
1988-02-05 ~/src/t3-repo/sources/comp/back_end/closure.t
1990-10-02 ~/Downloads/teco.doc
1991-01-10 ~/projects/docs/gz/mhbook/download/split/mh/old-edition2/babyl2mh
1992-04-06 ~/mess/2008/47/rc-1.7.1/match.c
1993-12-02 ~/projects/docs/tex/texbuch.tex
1994-06-03 ~/src/ruby-0.49/sample/math.rb
1995-05-26 ~/projects/docs/hakmem/pdp10/hbaker/pdp-10/Program.html

Now let’s find something I actually edited.

2000-10-07 ~/projects/addsp/makefile

I guess that’s one of the earliest programs I ever wrote in C: “Add spaces at beginning of line.” I wonder why I wrote that.

2000-10-29 ~/chris/projects/bl/bl.c

A very naive implementation of a curses-like library.

2000-11-05 ~/projects/lisp/verw1.el

Toying with elisp.

2000-12-30 ~/projects/htmldir/htmldir

“gawk script for generating html files on file lists”

2001-01-09 ~/projects/fortran/loan.f

No kidding.

2001-06-07 ~/projects/perl/IO_sockets/chat/

2001-07-25 ~/projects/tex/zeugnis/z2001.tex

Nontrivial \text{\TeX}.

2001-10-21 ~/projects/html/pp/files/fvwm2rc.tar.gz

From my first homepage.

2001-10-29 ~/projects/ruby/rfmt.rb
2001-10-29 ~/projects/ruby/pig.rb
2001-12-30 ~/projects/ruby/symnum.rb

Early Ruby scripts.

2002-01-04 ~/projects/ruby/rlisp/StringLexer.rb

I don’t think I for beyond parsing… ;)

2003-02-13 ~/projects/xmlblog/

Parts of my first blog.

2004-05-28 ~/projects/nukumi/+releases/nukumi-0.2.tar.gz
2004-06-11 ~/projects/Arch/2004-projects/nukumi/nukumi--devo/nukumi--devo--0/patch-22/log

First serious blog, you can see I used GNU Arch back then.

The rest is history! ;)

(I’m sure I’d have even older files on some backup images somewhere… Especially I’d like to find my first ever homepage.)


Okay, you degenerates! Let’s see how much you really know about the history of Unix.

— try to do the quiz yourself first, spoilers follow —

I’m doing the quiz for 2 days now, and a few hundred Google queries and digging in old archives and tapes later, I found out about 66% (I already knew 15%). It is tough. Here are my answers. Questions marked with “?” are not yet answered, questions marked with ”*” I knew without looking.

Thanks to Lincoln Quirk, questions 4, 8, 9 and 10 could be answered.

Thanks to Eric Cooper, question 37 could be answered.

Huge thanks to George Rosamond, who sent in the official solution from ;login: Volume 9, Number 4 (September 1984), which was provided to him by Brian Redman!

If someone has additional sources, please mail me.

  1. The source code motel: your source code checks in, but it never checks out. What is it?

  2. Who wrote the first Unix screen editor?
    Official answer: Irons. (probably this).
    I assume this is the em editor, a predecessor to vi.*

  3. Using TSO is like kicking a [what?] down the beach?
    dead whale.

  4. What is the filename created by the original dsw(1)?
    dsw asks whether to delete each file in a directory.
    Lincoln Quirk says it is “core”. (awesome)

  5. Which edition of Unix first had pipes?
    V3 had the <, > syntax, V4 supported ^ and |.*

  6. What is -=O=-?
    The seperator of empire(6) login and actual game action.

  7. Which Stephen R. Bourne wrote the shell?
    Official answer: software|1138|regis

  8. Adam Buchsbaum’s original login was sjb. Who is sjb?
    Lincoln Quirk: *Sol Buchsbaum, his father, VP of Network Planning @ AT&T

  9. What was the original processor in the Teletype DMD-5620?
    Lincoln Quirk: *Bellmac 32000 (aka WE 32000)

  10. What was the telephone extension of the author of mpx(2)?
    Official answer: 7775
    Linkcoln Quirk: *The author seems to have been Rob Pike, can’t figure out the actual extension

  11. Which machine resulted in the naming of the “NUXI problem”?
    the IBM Series 1 minicomputer

  12. What customs threat is dangerous only when dropped from an airplane?
    Official answer: the Chess machine Belle

  13. Who wrote the Bourne shell?
    Stephen R. Bourne.

  14. What operator in the Mashey shell was replaced by “here documents”?
    pump … !

  15. What names appear on the title page of the 3.0 manual?
    Official answer: Dolotta, Petrucelli, Olsson
    1st ed: K. Thompson, D. M. Ritchie

  16. Sort the following into chronological order:a) PWB 1.2, b) V7, c) Whirlwind, e) System V, f) 4.2BSD, g) MERT.
    Official answer: c a g b e f

  17. The CRAY-2 will be so fast it [what?] in 6 seconds?
    Official answer: Infinite loops or P=NP
    I think “runs infinite loops”. But I saw “cooks a chicken” as well.

  18. How many lights are on the front panel of the original 11/70?
    Official answer: 52

  19. What does FUBAR mean?
    The Failed UniBus Address Register in a VAX.
    (Also fucked up beyond all recognition.)

  20. What does “joff” stand for?
    Official answer: jerq obscure feature finder
    joff was a debugger running on blits.

  21. What is “Blit” an acronym of?
    Official answer: nothing

  22. Who was rabbit!bimmler?
    Rob Pike
    Feb 1983 Rob Pike’s first prank as Bimmler

  23. Into how many pieces did Ken Thompson’s deer disintegrate?
    Official answer: 3

  24. What name is most common at USENIX conferences?
    Official answer: Joy or Pike

  25. What is the US patent number for the setuid bit?
    4,135,240: Protection of data file contents, inventor Dennis Ritchie

  26. What is the patent number that appears in Unix documentation?
    M-209 cipher machine, U. S. Patent Number 2,089,603
    /usr/doc/password: Password Security: A Case History

  27. Who satisified the patent office of the viability of the setuid bit patent?
    Official answer: faulkner
    Lincoln Quirk: This is a strong hint: (section 3)

  28. How many Unix systems existed when the Second Edition manual was printed?
    “The number of UNIX installations has grown to 10, with more expected.”* (I assume decimal numbers.)
    –The UNIX Programmer’s Manual, 2nd Edition, June, 1972.

  29. Which Bell Labs location is HL?
    Official answer: Short Hills

  30. Who mailed out the Sixth Edition tapes?
    Ken Thompson and Irma Biren

  31. Which university stole Unix by phone?
    Official answer: Waterloo

  32. Who received the first rubber chicken award?
    Official answer: Dennis Mumaugh

  33. Name a feature of C not in Kernighan and Ritchie.
    Official answer: enum, structure assignment, void
    (of course, void… sigh.)

  34. What company did cbosg!ccf work for?
    Official answer: Western Electric
    BTL Columbus

  35. What does Bnews do?
    Official answer: suck, gulp buckets
    B News was a Usenet news server developed at the University of California, Berkeley by Matt Glickman and Mark Horton as a replacement for A News.*

  36. Who said “SEX, DRUGS and UNIX”?
    Official answer: Michael Tilson
    Alex Morton

  37. What law firm distributed Empire?
    Eric Cooper: I’m pretty sure Peter Langston, author of Empire, went to work at the NYC law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell.

  38. What computer was requested by Ken Thompson, but refused by management?
    Official answer: PDP-10

  39. Who is the most obsessed private pilot in USENIX?
    Official answer: George Goble

  40. What operating system runs on the 3B-20D?

  41. Who wrote find(1)?
    Official answer: Dick Haight

  42. In what year did Bell Labs organization charts become proprietary?
    Official answer: 1983

  43. What is the Unix epoch in Cleveland?
    Official answer: 1969 Dec 31 19:00 (time zone)

  44. What language preceded C?
    Official answer: nb

  45. What language preceded B?
    Official answer: bon or fortran

  46. What letter is mispunched by bcd(6)?

  47. What terminal does the Blit emulate?
    Official answer: jerq
    dumb terminals

  48. What does “trb” stand for (it’s Andy Tannenbaum’s login)?
    “tribble” was his nickname.

  49. What do honey and allegra!honey have in common?allegra!honey is no what?
    Official answer: lady
    The login belongs to Peter Honeyman.

  50. What is the one-line description in vs.c?
    ”* Screw Works interface via DC-11”

  51. What is the TU10 tape boot for the PDP-11/70 starting at location 100000 (in octal)?
    Official answer: 012700 172526 010040 012740 060003 105710 012376 005007

  52. What company owns the trademark on Writer’s Workbench (TM) Software?
    Official answer: at&t communications (at least back then?)

  53. Who designed Belle?
    Official answer: Joseph Condon*

  54. Who coined the name “Unix”?
    In the 1970s the project was named Unics, and eventually could
    support two simultaneous users. Brian Kernighan invented this name
    as a contrast to Multics; the spelling was later changed to Unix.

  55. What manual page mentioned Urdu?
    “The “-”option suppresses the help from English and should be used
    if the document is written in, for example, Urdu.”

  56. What politician is mentioned in the Unix documentation?
    Official answer: Nixon

  57. What program was compat(1) written to support?
    Official answer: Zork/Adventure

  58. Who is mctesq?
    Official answer: Michael Toy Esquire
    “Dungeon consultant Mr. Mctesq” in aard.
    Something related to rogue.

  59. What was ubl?
    Official answer: Rogue or “Under Bell Labs”

  60. Who bought the first commercial Unix license?
    Official answer: RAND

  61. Who bought the first Unix license?
    Official answer: Columbia

  62. Who signed the Sixth Edition licenses?
    Official answer: Dick Shahpazian

  63. What color is the front console on the PDP-11/45 (exactly)?
    Official answer: puce

  64. How many different meanings does Unix assign to ‘.’?
    Official answer: lots|many|countless|myriad|thousands

    • current directory
    • end of input in ed, mail…
    • marker for hidden files
    • single character not newline in regexs
  65. Who said, “Smooth rotation butters no parsnips”?
    John W. Tukey

  66. What was the original name for cd(1)?

  67. Which was the first edition of the manual to be typeset?
    Official answer: 4

  68. Which was the first edition of Unix to have standard error/diagnostic output?
    Official answer: 5

  69. Who ran the first Unix Support Group?
    Official answer: Joseph F. Maranzano
    Berk Tague

  70. Whose Ph.D. thesis concerned Unix paging?
    Özalp BabaoğluÖzalp_Babaoğlu

  71. Who (other than the obvious) designed the original Unix file system?
    Official answer: Rudd Canaday

  72. Who wrote the PWB shell?
    John Mashey

  73. Who invented uucp?
    UUCP was originally written at AT&T Bell Laboratories, by Mike Lesk,
    and early versions of UUCP are sometimes referred to as System V

  74. Who thought of PWB?
    The Programmer’s Workbench was started in 1974 by Evan Ivie and Rudd
    Canaday to provide tools for teams of programmers to manage their
    source code and collaborate on projects with other team members.

  75. What does grep stand for?
    g/re/p from (s)ed*

  76. What hardware device does “dsw” refer to?
    Official answer: console 7
    Possibly the PDP front panel, this would reflect that dsw(1) initially required entering the inode number of a file there to delete it. (“delete from switches”)

  77. What was the old name of the “sys” directory?
    Official answer: ken

  78. What was the old name of the “dev” directory?
    Official answer: dmr

  79. Who has written many random number generators, but never one that worked?
    Official answer: Ken Thompson
    WARNING The author of this routine has been writing random-number generators for many years and has never been known to write one that worked.

  80. Where was the first Unix system outside 127?
    Official answer: patent

  81. What was the first Unix network?
    Official answer: spider

  82. What was the original syntax for ls -l|pr -h ?
    ls -l >"pr -h">*

  83. Why is there a comment in the shell source “/* Must not be a register variable */”?
    Official answer: registers/longjump

  84. What is it you’re not expected to understand?
    Official answer: 6|5&process
    broken stack frame switching*


2. Direct your deeds to a worthy goal, but do not ask if they will achieve the goal; let them be models and examples rather than means to an end.
— Leo Szilard

My undergraduate experience convinced me that I was not smart enough
to be a physicist, and that computers were quite neat. My graduate
school experience convinced me that I was not smart enough to be an
expert in the theory of algorithms and also that I liked procedural
languages better than functional ones.
Dennis M. Ritchie

The coachman, he hit me for my hook
And he asked me my name.
I give it to him right away,
Then I hung my head in shame.
Lo and behold! Lo and behold!
Lookin’ for my lo and behold,
Get me outa here, my dear man!
— Bob Dylan, Lo And Behold!


Wir fürchten nicht, ja nicht
Den Donner der Parolen
Wir fürchten nicht, ja nicht
Die grüne Polizei
Den Karl Liebknecht, den haben wir verloren
Die Rosa Luxemburg fiel durch Mörderhand
Den Karl Liebknecht, den haben wir verloren
Die Rosa Luxemburg fiel durch Mörderhand
— Bertolt Brecht, Auf, Auf Zum Kampf


Some mathematicians are birds, others are frogs. Birds fly high in the
air and survey broad vistas of mathematics out to the far
horizon. They delight in concepts that unify our thinking and bring
together diverse problems from different parts of the landscape. Frogs
live in the mud below and see only the flowers that grow nearby. They
delight in the details of particular objects, and they solve problems
one at a time.




And, yeah, I’m in love with an android, but so what?
Stranger things have happened,
stranger things have been loved.
— Say Hi To Your Mom, Yeah, I’m In Love With An Android

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