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Fifth proofreading pass

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Kenneth John Odle 12 months ago
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      003/codex-003.tex

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003/codex-003.tex

@ -166,7 +166,7 @@ I went away to college in the fall of 1986. Personal computers were, as always,
We did have computers available to us, however. Our college owned two mainframe systems: a DEC-10 and a VAX 9000. As I remember, you had to go down to the basement of the science building to use them, where they had a room filled with VT100 terminals.
I wish for the life of me that I could remember this experience better. The ``computer room '' (nobody thought of it as a ``lab''—it would be many years before I heard that term applied to it) looked a lot like what one might think: a windowless basement room with concrete block walls, tile floors, fluorescent lights buzzing away like hornets overhead, and lots and lots of terminals.\footnote{There is a pdf of the VT100 manual available at \href{https://vt100.net/dec/ek-vt100-tm-002.pdf}{\texttt{https://vt100.net/dec/ek-vt100-tm-002.pdf}}. It makes for fascinating reading, assuming you are into that sort of thing.}
I wish for the life of me that I could remember this experience better. The ``computer room'' (nobody thought of it as a ``lab''—it would be many years before I heard that term applied to it) looked a lot like what one might think: a windowless basement room with concrete block walls, tile floors, fluorescent lights buzzing away like hornets overhead, and lots and lots of terminals.\footnote{There is a pdf of the VT100 manual available at \href{https://vt100.net/dec/ek-vt100-tm-002.pdf}{\texttt{https://vt100.net/dec/ek-vt100-tm-002.pdf}}. It makes for fascinating reading, assuming you are into that sort of thing.}
\begin{wrapfigure}[]{l}{0.34\textwidth}
\vspace{-8pt}
@ -176,9 +176,9 @@ I wish for the life of me that I could remember this experience better. The ``co
People didn't really know much about these two mainframe systems, although I remember hearing the few computer people who were around praising the VAX as being far superior to the DEC-10.\footnote{A bit of internet research confirms this—the VAX line of mainframes was intended as a replacement for the DEC line of mainframes.} Everything was from the command line. If you saved a file\footnote{I tried for a few weeks to type up some of my notes from class, but quickly realized that this was pointless, as I couldn't take the digital files with me.} and wanted to print it, you had to send it to the print queue, and then go to a different room in the building where the line printer was located.
At this point, it was possible that your printout would be ready. But it was also entirely possible that it wouldn't be ready. Everything was printed on unperforated continuous feed paper that was 15 inches wide.\footnote{See the Wikipedia entry on ``'continuous stationery'' to see what I'm talking about.} The problem was someone had to be there to tear off your printout after it was completed—the printers had no way of doing this automatically—figure out that it belonged to you, label it with your name, and set it on a shelf for you to pick up later.
At this point, it was possible that your printout would be ready. But it was also entirely possible that it wouldn't be ready. Everything was printed on unperforated continuous feed paper that was 15 inches wide.\footnote{See the Wikipedia entry on ``continuous stationery'' to see what I'm talking about.} The problem was someone had to be there to tear off your printout after it was completed—the printers had no way of doing this automatically—figure out that it belonged to you, label it with your name, and set it on a shelf for you to pick up later.
And if nobody was there, the printer just kept printing, and someone would have to separate potentially dozens of different print jobs. If your print job was small, the person responsible could miss it and it would end up stuck on the end of someone else's print job. If the printer ran out of paper and nobody was there to replace it, your file just went into the printer memory (or somewhere into the ether if the printer's memory was full) until the paper was refilled. Printing anything was a big investment of time and energy (not to mention hope) and I will gladly take the occasional printer jam over that experience any day.
And if nobody was there, the printer just kept printing, and someone would have to separate potentially dozens of different print jobs. If your print job was small, the person responsible could miss it and it would end up stuck on the end of someone else's print job. If the printer ran out of paper and nobody was there to replace it, your file just went into the printer memory (or somewhere into the ether if the printer's memory was full) until the paper was refilled. Printing anything was a big investment of time and energy (not to mention hope) and I will gladly take the occasional printer jam over that experience any day.
The only other remarkable thing I remember about that early college experience is that everybody had to take a basic computer course. This was a single, university-wide, 100-level course that all freshmen had to take.
@ -244,12 +244,12 @@ So I decided to attempt this quest again, but instead of cooking hacks, I decide
\item \textbf{Use plastic bottles as mini-greenhouses} --- I've seen this so many times and its popularity seems to rely on the fact that people somehow think of greenhouses as magical boxes.\footnote{Clarke's Law applies to greenhouses, apparently.} The point of an actual greenhouse is to let light in. The watering is still up to you. So yeah, you can cut a bottle in half, fill the bottom with soil, plant your seeds, and throw the top on to keep moisture in until the seeds sprout, but it seems to me it would be easier to just plant the seeds in the bottom and make sure to keep them watered. There is nothing magical about a transparent top, and thus this isn't a hack, but a mere \textbf{gimmick}.\footnote{I suppose this is popular because people can then say ``hey, look at me, I'm recycling!'' but you aren't recycling, you're \textit{reusing}. And the end result is a dirty bottle that \textit{can't} be easily recycled.}
\item \textbf{Punch some holes in the cap of a gallon milk jug and use it as a watering can} --- This is definitely a \textbf{gimmick}. Why not just leave the cap off and pour water directly out of the jug the way you do milk? Is that not simpler? The \textit{real} hack is to drill a few small holes in the \textit{bottom} of the jug, fill it with water, and set it next to your plants. This is a great way to keep tomatoes and other large plants watered during a hot dry summer without constantly sprinkling them with water.
\item \textbf{Place a kitchen sponge in the bottom of a pot to soak up extra water and avoid root rot} --- The problem with this \textbf{gimmick} is that sponges absorb water and hold onto it until it evaporates (and not a lot of evaporation is going to happen if it's been buried). If you give your potted plant too much water, the ideal situation is to have something large---stones, for instance---that don't lock together that will keep the dirt in while letting the excess water out.\footnote{Or you could just learn how to water your plants properly. I admit to not being an expert at this (ADHD makes tasks like this interesting), but it seems better to err on underwatering, which is easily corrected, rather than overwatering, which is not.} A sponge will just hold all that extra water, making this \textbf{really bad advice} if you tend to overwater.
\item \textbf{Use wine corks with a toothpick as plant labels} --- This \textbf{gimmick} was described as a great way to recycle, but I don't know that our landfills are overflowing with wine corks. Corks are just oak bark, and will naturally, if slowly, break down in the soil or in a compost pile.\footnote{The assumption that there is an entire privileged class who has so many wine corks that they don't know what to do with them says a lot about the person spouting this ``advice''.} Just use some popsicle sticks and let the kids use the corks in their craft projects.
\item \textbf{Use wine corks with a toothpick as plant labels} --- This \textbf{gimmick} was described as a great way to recycle, but I don't know that our landfills are overflowing with wine corks. Corks are just oak bark, and will naturally, if slowly, break down in the soil or in a compost pile.\footnote{The assumption that there is an entire privileged class who has so many wine corks that they don't know what to do with them says a lot about the person spouting this ``advice'' and their intended audience.} Just use some popsicle sticks and let the kids use the corks in their craft projects.
\item \textbf{Use toilet roll cores as seedling pots} --- Most people just throw out the core from a roll of toilet paper, but this is a true \textbf{hack}, as it uses up something that you are just going to end up throwing in either the trash or the recycling anyway. And it will break down in your soil and add some organic matter, as well.
\item \textbf{Use seeds from store-bought vegetables (e.g., tomatoes and peppers) to start your own garden plants} --- This is just \textbf{bad advice}. Most supermarket vegetables are hybrids anyway, and won't come true from seed. Also, starting plants from seed is really hard work! If you're going to go through all that work, you might as well fork out for some high quality seeds.
\item \textbf{Use ordinary table salt as fertilizer} --- This is just \textbf{really bad advice} because excess levels of salt can damage or even kill most plants. Maybe they were thinking of \textit{Epsom} salts, which can be used as a fertilizer when properly diluted, because it contains high quantities of magnesium. (Nope, they actually list that one further down the list.)
\item \textbf{Make homemade weed killer with vinegar, table salt, and dish soap} --- This one would actually probably work, because again, salt is really bad for plants, and vinegar will kill the leaves. But it won't kill the roots, which is I suppose why they are including salt. Also, in light of the previous ``hack'', is salt going to kill your plants or fertilize them? Leave the salt out and I'd be willing to call this a technique, but I'm not sure why weeds are even a problem, what with that thin layer of newspaper you put down all over the place. Again, this is just \textbf{bad advice}.
\item \textbf{Make fertilizer tea from your weeds to feed your plants} --- This \textbf{gimmick} is just silly: take the weeds that you've just pulled up, put them in a bucket and cover them with water, wait for a few hours, get rid of the weeds and then water your garden with this miraculous, nutrient rich water. For one thing, you're just not going to get that many nutrients out of freshly picked leaves in a few hours. This is more like putting some leafy greens in a water bath to perk them up. Second, you still have to get rid of the weeds. It would make more sense to just put the weeds in a compost pile, which is probably where this idea came from because compost tea is a real thing.\footnote{Although if you're going to go through all the trouble of making compost, you may as well just apply it to the soil and let your garden make its own compost tea every time it rains or you water it. Why are you going through extra steps?}
\item \textbf{Make fertilizer tea from your weeds to feed your plants} --- This \textbf{gimmick} is just silly: take the weeds that you've just pulled up, put them in a bucket and cover them with water, wait for a few hours, get rid of the weeds and then water your garden with this miraculous, nutrient rich water. For one thing, you're just not going to get that many nutrients out of freshly picked weeds in a few hours. This is more like putting some leafy greens in a water bath to perk them up. Second, you still have to get rid of the weeds. It would make more sense to just put the weeds in a compost pile, which is probably where this idea came from because compost tea is a real thing.\footnote{Although if you're going to go through all the trouble of making compost, you may as well just apply it to the soil and let your garden make its own compost tea every time it rains or you water it. Why are you going through extra steps?}
\item \textbf{Make holes to plant your seeds in by putting corks on the end of a garden fork} --- This is not a hack, it's not a gimmick, nor is it even just a ridiculously terrible idea, it's also \textbf{physically impossible}. Most garden forks have tines that almost as wide as a wine cork is, so there's no way you're going to be able to stick a cork on there.\footnote{It's notable that even though this ``hack'' was accompanied by a picture of a garden fork stuck in the ground, there was not a wine cork to be seen anywhere.} And even if you could, this would just become bad advice because 1) not all seeds should be planted the same width apart, and 2) how difficult is it to make a hole in your garden soil to drop a seed in there? If your soil is that hard, you've got bigger problems that all the wine corks in the world aren't going to solve. For what it's worth, here's the entire process, in all its ridiculous glory:
\begin{quote}
\textit{Sowing your seeds just got simpler! Rather than digging individual holes all along your garden bed, enlist the help of recycled materials to turn a garden rake into a makeshift sower. Just press an old wine cork onto each prong so that it's just just} (sic) \textit{ as long as you'd want your holes deep, then push the tool into the dirt. When you pull it back up, you'll be left with a row of holes ready for seeds.}\footnote{Yes, this comes from Bob Vila's website. I know that there used to be a Cult of Bob Vila who thought he could do nothing wrong, but I beg to differ. The byline on his website is ``Tried, True, Trustworthy Home Advice'', but this bit of advice has not been tried and is definitely not true, which makes me question just how trustworthy the rest of the advice on his website is.}
@ -743,7 +743,7 @@ That phrase---``write code''---covers a \textit{lot} of territory, because there
\footnotetext{A long time ago I was a contributor to a theme for WordPress and worked as a (volunteer) moderator on its forum. Somebody wrote a post to complain that something he had attempted was not working the way he wanted it to and could we please fix it because, as he said ``I'm sure it's just a coding thing'', to which my (internal) reply was ``Dude, if it's just a `coding thing' then \textit{you} figure it out''. His implication was that we basically have a magic button that does things instantly, and we just sit around the rest of the time drinking coffee. The coffee thing (or any caffeinated beverage, really) \textit{is} true, but the sitting around thing and the magic button thing are definitely \textit{not} true.}
So yes, there is a price, but if you decide to pay it, it has the additional benefit of making you more knowledgeable than you were before. Learning to code anything, even something as simple and straightforward as basic \texttt{html}, requires that you think logically and systematically about what you want to achieve and that you develop a systematic way of solving problems. Because, yes, nothing ever just works the first time you use it (if I had a dollar for every error message I've ever received while using LaTeX, I could probably afford to take a year off of work) and a \textit{systematic} method for diagnosing and solving problems is a lot more efficient than just guessing.
So yes, there is a price, but if you decide to pay it, it has the additional benefit of making you more knowledgeable than you were before. Learning to code anything, even something as simple and straightforward as basic \texttt{html}, requires that you think logically and systematically about what you want to achieve and that you develop a systematic way of solving problems. Because, yes, nothing ever just works the first time you use it (if I had a dollar for every error message I've ever received while using LaTeX, I could probably afford to take a year off from work) and a \textit{systematic} method for diagnosing and solving problems is a lot more efficient than just guessing.
\subsubsection{A side note:} An optional benefit if you learn to write some code is that you can---and should---learn a revision control system, which will keep track of your changes and let you go back to an earlier version if you \textit{really} screw something up, which you are bound to do at some point because really screwing something up is part of the learning process. I like and use \texttt{git}, which is included in the Ubuntu default repositories, but others such as \texttt{mercurial} and \texttt{bazaar} are also available. I like \texttt{git} because it's what I've worked with the longest and know fairly well, but that doesn't make it the best one; it's just the best one for me. They all have their advantages and disadvantages, and the point is not to find the perfect one,\footnote{The perfect one doesn't exist. The entire idea of perfection is one which has entered our culture through the door of religion, and it is an idea which we much abandon to regain our cultural sanity.} but to find one that will meet your needs. Once you do, you'll wonder how you ever got along without it.
@ -773,7 +773,7 @@ gsettings set org.nemo.desktop show-desktop-icons true
\item Enables the handling of the desktop by Nemo
\end{enumerate}
\noindent Removal is the opposite of installation:
\noindent{}Removal is the opposite of installation:
\begin{Verbatim}[frame=lines,xleftmargin=5mm, numbers=left, baselinestretch=1.2, breaklines=true]
xdg-mime default nautilus.desktop inode/directory application/x-gnome-saved-search
@ -789,7 +789,7 @@ sudo apt autoremove
\item Removes any dependencies used only by Nemo
\end{enumerate}
\noindent{} As it turns out, this method allows an extremely high degree of customization while knowing very minimal code. It is possible, of course, to type those instructions wrong and completely screw something up, so it's good to double-check what you enter into the terminal. The terminal is extremely literal---it doesn't make guesses about what it thinks you meant to do (which is one of the reasons I find working with Microsoft Office such a miserable experience most of the time), it just does whatever you tell it.
\noindent{}As it turns out, this method allows an extremely high degree of customization while knowing very minimal code. It is possible, of course, to type those instructions wrong and completely screw something up, so it's good to double-check what you enter into the terminal. The terminal is extremely literal---it doesn't make guesses about what it thinks you meant to do (which is one of the reasons I find working with Microsoft Office such a miserable experience most of the time), it just does whatever you tell it.
\subsubsection{An old joke that describes how the terminal thinks}
@ -829,7 +829,7 @@ Anyway, because I couldn't figure out how to get this on SourceForge, I just dro
As I write this, the release of Ubuntu 24.04 is less than a year away. Unlike the release of Ubuntu 22.04, I am not in the least bit excited. And I will \textbf{not} be upgrading immediately, if at all. (Ubuntu 22.04 has ten years of security releases,\footnote{See \href{https://ubuntu.com/about/release-cycle}{\texttt{https://ubuntu.com/about/release-cycle}} for more information.} so I will be good for a while.)
I do have a spare machine that I can experiment with Ubuntu 24.04 on. The main problem is that I don't have a lot of time.\footnote{If I did, you'd be reading issue \#12 of this zine, rather than issue \#3.} So yeah, I can install Ubuntu 24.04 and \textit{ooh} and \textit{aah} over whatever is new and shiny (and I admit, ``new and shiny'' was a big part of the reason I was so eager to update to 22.04---I'm a human and our eyes are quite naturally drawn to ``new'' and ``shiny''). But I don't have the needed time to fully experiment with it and determine if it is suitable to my needs (which range from ``has to be perfect'' to ``can be just the right amount of shitty'') or if it's another disaster-in-waiting.
I do have a spare machine that I can experiment with Ubuntu 24.04 on. The main problem is that I don't have a lot of time.\footnote{If I did, you'd be reading issue \#12 of this zine, rather than issue \#3.} So yeah, I can install Ubuntu 24.04 and \textit{ooh} and \textit{aah} over whatever is new and shiny (and I admit, ``new and shiny'' was a big part of the reason I was so eager to update to 22.04---I'm a human and our eyes are quite naturally drawn to ``new and shiny''). But I don't have the needed time to fully experiment with it and determine if it is suitable to my needs (which range from ``has to be perfect'' to ``can be just the right amount of shitty'') or if it's another disaster-in-waiting.
And yeah, the emphasis in the promotional material will focus on the ``new'' and the ``shiny'' because, like I said, human beings are just naturally attracted to those things. But \textit{new} and \textit{shiny} don't always translate to \textit{useful} and \textit{functional}. That was certainly true of 22.04 out of the box.
@ -873,7 +873,7 @@ Every once in a while I run into a package that I want to use with LaTeX that is
\textit{Later} became \textit{today} when I wanted to use the \texttt{harmony} package to produce some music symbols but couldn't, because it wasn't installed on my system. It took some doing, but I finally figured it out. Here's what I did:
First, I downloaded the \texttt{harmony} packaged from \href{https://www.ctan.org/pkg/harmony}{\texttt{https://www.ctan.org \\ /pkg/harmony}} and unpacked the archive. That was easy enough.
First, I downloaded the \texttt{harmony} package from \href{https://www.ctan.org/pkg/harmony}{\texttt{https://www.ctan.org \\ /pkg/harmony}} and unpacked the archive. That was easy enough.
Next, I had to figure out where to put it. I ran this command:
@ -905,9 +905,9 @@ I then had to update the search path to make my system aware of the new package:
$ sudo mktexlsr
\end{verbatim}
This should have been the end of it, but the \texttt{harmony} packages requires a certain set of fonts to do its work. After a bit of searching, I found them at \href{https://ctan.org/tex-archive/fonts/musixtex-fonts}{\texttt{https://ctan.org/tex-archive/fonts/musixtex-fonts}}.
This should have been the end of it, but the \texttt{harmony} package requires a certain set of fonts to do its work. After a bit of searching, I found them at \href{https://ctan.org/tex-archive/fonts/musixtex-fonts}{\texttt{https://ctan.org/tex-archive/fonts/musixtex-fonts}}.
Fortunately, that package had a pdf document that described how to install the fonts. I started by copying the ``fonts'' folder over the \texttt{texmf} directory:
Fortunately, that package had a pdf document that described how to install the fonts. I started by copying the ``fonts'' folder over to the \texttt{texmf} directory:
\begin{verbatim}
$ cp fonts /usr/local/share/texmf

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