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tags/Issue-001
Kenneth John Odle 11 months ago
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Chapter 3.
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\BOOKMARK [0][-]{chapter.1}{The Early Salad Days}{}% 1
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\BOOKMARK [1][-]{section.1.2}{Speaking of Watches, Timex Used to Make Home Computers}{chapter.1}% 3
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\contentsline {chapter}{\numberline {3}What Are All Those Files in the Linux Root?}{18}{chapter.3}%

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@ -129,13 +129,13 @@ Back on the shelf it went. I'm not going to spend money on something that is not
At this point, my only hope is that maybe my eyes will get so bad that I'll need bifocals all day, every day. When that happens, will this watch be on sale for so little money ever again? I highly doubt it.
\section{Speaking of Watches, Timex Used to make Home Computers}
\section{Speaking of Watches, Timex Used to Make Home Computers}
My earliest memory of a computer in somebody's home is of being in an aunt's apartment, where she had a Timex Sinclair hooked up to her television.
I don't remember much about it, actually, other than it was small and sleek and very modern-looking. I do remember that I was not allowed to touch it.\footnote{This aunt bought things not because she found them useful, but because other people didn't have them and she wanted to always have a status symbol to point to. I don't remember her actually doing anything \textit{useful} with this computer.}
This is where memory gets wonky, because I remember seeing this when I was about ten years old. But according to Wikipedia, the Timex Sinclair\footnotemark was released in 1982, when I would have been 14 years old. So it's entirely possible that my memory is losing track of \textit{when} things happened, or it's possible that this aunt had some other home computer that for whatever reason my brain thinks is a Timex Sinclair. Who knows? I certainly don't, and I'll probably never find out for sure.
This is where memory gets wonky, because I remember seeing this when I was about ten years old. But according to Wikipedia, the Timex Sinclair\footnotemark was released in 1982, when I would have been 13 or 14 years old. So it's entirely possible that my memory is losing track of \textit{when} things happened, or it's possible that this aunt had some other home computer that for whatever reason my brain thinks is a Timex Sinclair. Who knows? I certainly don't, and I'll probably never find out for sure.
\footnotetext{It was called the Timex Sinclair because this was a collaboration between the Timex Corporation and the Sinclair Corporation. I imagine Sinclair handled the R\&D and manufacturing and Timex handled the marketing. If so, Timex didn't \textit{technically} make a computer, but they wanted us to think that they did. Good enough for me.}
@ -168,11 +168,11 @@ Anyway, that Wednesday afternoon experience was a real game changer for me. It w
This was the golden age for my generation for computers. These days you can buy a computer magazine and it has a CD or DVD with programs for you to try out. (Although I haven't been in a bookstore since the pandemic started, so that may have changed.) In the early 80s, computer magazines had programs \textit{printed} in them, so if you wanted to try out a program, you had to very laboriously type it in, and then spend the rest of the evening debugging it before you actually got to spend the last 15 minutes before bedtime playing around with it.
Some of the TRS-80s did have disk drives. But these were 5.25" floppy drives, not the 3.5" floppies in the hard plastic case. (Heck, we even had a CP/M machine with an 8" floppy drive, if I remember correctly.) You had to load TRS-DOS from a TRS-DOS disk, and then swap it out for a disk that you were going to load a program from or save your work to. I actually remember thinking at one point that if you had a computer with six or eight of these drives stacked up, you would never have to swap out a floppy\footnote{The name of my next band.}. You could just start it up and go and never have to worry about it.
Some of the TRS-80s did have disk drives. But these were 5.25" floppy drives, not the 3.5" floppies in the hard plastic case. (Heck, we even had a CP/M machine with an 8" floppy drive, if I remember correctly.) You had to load TRS-DOS from a TRS-DOS disk, and then swap it out for a disk that you were going to load a program from or save your work to. I actually remember thinking at one point that if you had a computer with six or eight of these drives stacked up, you would never have to swap out a floppy\footnote{The name of my next band—Swapping Floppies.}. You could just start it up and go and never have to worry about it.
Needless to say, when I found out about hard disk drives, my mind was blown.
And yes, in the early days, computers did not have a hard disk drive. I am writing this on a fairly ancient Asus laptop with 8GB of RAM and an 3rd generation Intel i5 chip in it. I bought it used, and the minute I got it, I wiped the drive, and installed Ubuntu. That made it speedy, at least a lot faster than it was running Windows. But a while ago I decided to upgrade from Ubuntu 18.04 to Ubuntu 20.04, and I removed the hard drive and replaced it with a two terabyte\footnote{Did I \textit{need} 2 TB? No, I did not. But reader, I got an excellent deal on it.} SSD (solid state drive). This sucker \textit{moves}.
And yes, in the early days, computers did not have a hard disk drive. I am writing this on a fairly ancient Asus laptop with 8GB of RAM and a 3rd generation Intel i5 chip in it. I bought it used, and the minute I got it, I wiped the drive, and installed Ubuntu. That made it speedy, at least a lot faster than it was running Windows. But a while ago I decided to upgrade from Ubuntu 18.04 to Ubuntu 20.04, and I removed the hard drive and replaced it with a two terabyte\footnote{Did I \textit{need} 2 TB? No, I did not. But reader, I got an excellent deal on it.} SSD (solid state drive). This sucker \textit{moves}.
Twelve year old me's head probably would have exploded.
@ -182,11 +182,11 @@ I could go on and on here, but I'll try to keep it short. I can always come back
\section{Control…and an Opportunity}
What I like—not love (love is about aesthetics for me when it comes to computers)—is that I'm in control.
What I like—not love (when it comes to computers, love is about aesthetics for me)—is that I'm in control.
Partly, that's the nature of open-source computing. If you want to know how something works, you can look at the source code. If you don't understand the source code, you can research how the source code works. You can ask questions. (Thank you, StackExchange!) You can do some more research and then learn how to ask \textit{better} questions. There is always something to learn, and once you've learned everything there is to learn about a particular piece of software \footnote{Which is never really true. What I really mean is that when you've learned everything \textit{you} want to know about it.} you can fork it and start contributing to the project yourself.
Wondering how something in Windows works? So is everybody else. There is nothing more frustrating than googling a problem in Windoze, getting hundreds or thousands of results, and every result is just somebody else asking the same question.
Wondering how something in Windows works? So is everybody else. There is nothing more frustrating than googling a problem in Windoze, getting hundreds or thousands of results, and every result is just somebody else asking the same question and not getting an answer—just a million other voices saying ``I have the same problem. Please help.''
And yeah, you can write code and create applications for Windows, and you can solve a lot of problems that way, but you can never make Windows itself better. It is what it is, and if you don't like it, the feature that bugs you might be made better in the next release, or it might be made worse. It's a crap shoot, really.
@ -222,6 +222,8 @@ The command line, in short, makes you think. It makes you plan, it makes you thi
A GUI only makes you think about the next step. Surely all the steps after that will be obvious, \textit{n'est ce pas}? I've seen a lot of people ask questions online where they just want to be told which button to push. They are asking about how to cross the street when what they really want to do is get across town.
They are asking for \textit{information} when what they really need is \textit{knowledge}.
\section{The Unix Philosophy}
The Unix Philosophy was originated by Ken Thompson (one of the creators of Unix, upon which Linux is based) and basically says that each program should do one thing and do it well. (There is more to it than this; if you are interested, you can always google it.\footnote{Searching for something on the internet is \textit{always} an option these days, and so many people seem to be unable to do just that. Honestly, this is the kind of stuff that gets my underpants in a twist. \\ \tabto{1.9em}Question: ``Where can I find \textit{X}?'' Answer: The same place I would find it: At the other end of a google search. \\ \tabto{1.9em}Better question: ``Which is the \textbf{best} source for \textit{X}? Ah, \textit{now} we have the basis for a discussion.}
@ -261,7 +263,7 @@ Sure, there are always those oddball tasks that you have to do once a year or le
\item \textbf{Cutting meats} — If I am cutting meat from the bone, I'll use a boning knife, which has a slightly curved blade that narrows at the tip. Kept sharp, it will also do a great job of cutting up meat for stir-fries, or trimming the fat off the edges of pork chops.
\item \textbf{Peeling fruits and vegetables} — I don't use a knife for this, because a T-handle peeler is much more efficient, easier on the wrist, and safer.
\item \textbf{Cutting fruits and vegetables} — Most fruits and vegetables tend to be firm enough that any sharp knife will do. I have a long chef's knife with an 8" blade which is great when I'm chopping a lot of something. (I do wish I had one with a 10" blade, because that would be even more efficient.) I also have a small santoku knife with a thin blade which I prefer when I need to slice something into thin slices, such as cucumbers. It also does a great job of cutting meat into tiny pieces, especially if you put the meat in the freezer for 20-30 minutes first.
\item \textbf{Cutting cheese} — I have a knife with a 4" blade with holes in it. The idea is that holes prevent the cheese slices from sticking to the cheese. I had an expensive (\$15!) cheese knife that did an okay job; it also had a two-prong fork on the end to pick up the slice of cheese with. My current one has a shorter, thicker blade that does an excellent job. I paid \$4 for it at Menard's. It simply outperformed the more expensive knife.
\item \textbf{Cutting cheese} — I have a knife with a 4" blade with holes in it. The idea is that holes prevent the cheese slices from sticking to the cheese. I had an expensive (\$15!) cheese knife that did an okay job; it also had a two-prong fork on the end to pick up the slice of cheese with. My current one has a shorter, thicker blade that does an excellent job. I paid \$4 for it at Menard's. It simply outperformed the more expensive knife. Sometimes less \textit{is} actually more.
\end{itemize}
I know that someone out there is itching to point out that tomatoes aren't potatoes and potatoes aren't carrots, \textit{ad infinitum}, and thus the Unix Principle doesn't apply. Well, there are a lot of different pdfs out there, as well, and if I'm skilled with a command line application (such as \verb|pdftk|) it doesn't really matter which pdf I'm dealing with. The job of a knife is to cut. If you keep the knife sharp\footnote{Sharpening a knife is a skill in and of itself. If you watch someone that's good at it, you'll realize that it's also an art form. You can get the skill with practice; you can learn the art with long experience. This is something else that you need to learn.} and \textit{learn how to use it properly}, you'll be a lot more efficient in the kitchen. Notice the emphasis on learning how to use a tool properly. You can learn a lot just by reading the manual. (Go to your terminal and type in \verb|man knife|.)
@ -359,7 +361,7 @@ To display the configuration of a particular module:
$ modprobe -c | grep module_name
\end{verbatim}
To list the dependancie of a module:
To list the dependencies of a module:
\begin{verbatim}
$ modprobe --show-depends module_name
@ -409,9 +411,9 @@ I suppose I should have been an archivist.
tips about pdftk. (What were these? from the man pages.)
\section{Is This Really a Hack? Or Is It Just a Tip?}
The word ``hacker'' has a lot of defitions, and if you just google it, you'll find a lot of scary ones on the websites of companies that want you to be scared of ``hackers'' and spend hundreds of dollars on their security products, some of which may actually protect you against actual threats, and some of which may provide protection against a threat which isn't actually real.
The word ``hacker'' has a lot of definitions, and if you just google it, you'll find a lot of scary ones on the websites of companies that want you to be scared of ``hackers'' and then spend hundreds of dollars on their security products, some of which may actually protect you against actual threats, and some of which may provide protection against a threat which isn't actually real.
(And yes, there are bad people out there who use their advanced technical knowledge to attain access to systems that they shouldn't have to obtain information they're not supposed to have. I'm not talking about those people, who technically should be called ``crackers'' a l\'{a} ``safe crackers''.)
(And yes, there are bad people out there who use their advanced technical knowledge to attain access to systems that they shouldn't have in order to obtain information they're not supposed to have. I'm not talking about those people, who technically should be called ``crackers'' a l\'{a} ``safe crackers''.)
Rather, I'm talking about the older meaning of the term ``hacker'' which is somebody who enjoys the intellectual challenge of pushing software (and often hardware) beyond what it is meant to do in order to achieve interesting and clever outcomes. In order to do so, of course, they have to know the systems they are working with fairly well. In fact, the definition of ``hack'' that I like best is ``an appropriate application of ingenuity.''\footnote{See \href{http://www.catb.org/~esr/jargon/html/meaning-of-hack.html}{http://www.catb.org/~esr/jargon/html/meaning-of-hack.html}.}
@ -431,14 +433,14 @@ So let's look at some things that have been called ``hacks'' but may or may not
\item \textbf{Freeze cheese to make it easier to grate} — I do this all the time, and it's a great technique. The trick is leave the cheese in the freezer for just the right amount of time. Not a hack.
\item \textbf{Refrigerate onions before chopping them so they don't make you cry} — Chilling the onions makes the volatile sulfur compounds in them less volatile, so this works, provided you chop fast. It's not a hack, but it is a good technique.
\item \textbf{Wear swim goggles while chopping onions so they don't make you cry} — I'll call this one a hack.
\item \textbf{Use parchment paper in place of muffin liners} — The purpose of parchment paper is to get between your food and whatever it's being cooked on or in. If you run out of muffin liners, you can just use squares of parchment paper. This is just using parchment paper for what it's meant to be used for, albeit in am atypical way because we have another product that we use in this instance. A great technique to use on a regular basis; a great tip if you've never heard of it before. But not a hack. (I actually think the corners sticking it up would make it easier to get the muffins out of the pan.)
\item \textbf{Use parchment paper in place of muffin liners} — The purpose of parchment paper is to get between your food and whatever it's being cooked on or in. If you run out of muffin liners, you can just use squares of parchment paper. This is just using parchment paper for what it's meant to be used for, albeit in an atypical way because we have another product that we use in this instance. A great technique to use on a regular basis; a great tip if you've never heard of it before. But not a hack. (I actually think the corners sticking it up would make it easier to get the muffins out of the pan.)
\item \textbf{Flavor your pasta water with a chicken stock cube} — Not a hack. Anyone who grew up eating instant ramen on a regular basis figured this one out by the time they hit double digits.
\item \textbf{Use a potato masher to break up ground meat} — While technically a potato masher is meant to be used on potatoes, its ultimate purpose is to mash big things into little things.\footnote{It's right there in the name!} This is like using a screwdriver to pry up a lid of paint. It's not a hack because it's so obvious.
\item \textbf{Collect all your vegetable scraps in a freezer bag and use them to make stock} — Not a hack. Just frugality in action.
\item \textbf{Buy the biggest cutting board you can find} — While this is great advice, it's not a hack.
\end{enumerate}
So, 15 ``cooking hacks'' and only two of them are an actual hacks, and one of them is pretty questionable. I'm pretty much calling it a hack because I'm trying to be generous. The thing that strikes me is not so much that these aren't actually hacks, but the difference between a ``tip'' and a ``technique.'' Maybe I'm just tired, but it seems like it's a technique if you use it on a regular basis and a tip if you're in a jam and someone tells you about it. But that's an argument for another day in another zine.
So, 15 ``cooking hacks'' and only two of them are actual hacks, and one of them is pretty questionable. I'm pretty much calling it a hack because I'm trying to be generous. The thing that strikes me is not so much that these aren't actually hacks, but the difference between a ``tip'' and a ``technique.'' Maybe I'm just tired, but it seems like it's a technique if you use it on a regular basis and a tip if you're in a jam and someone tells you about it. But that's an argument for another day in another zine.
\section{What I Learned About \LaTeX\, While Creating This Issue}
@ -453,7 +455,7 @@ I'm still a relative newbie to LaTeX, so there's always something to learn. Here
\item You can use the \textbf{geometry} package to make a document have a paper size of half letter (i.e., 5.5 inches by 8.5 inches).
\item You can make your top margin larger by using \verb|\addtolength| \\ \verb|{\topmargin}{0.5in}| but there is not a similar parameter for the bottom margin. Instead, you need to make the text box shorter by using \verb|\addtolength{\textheight}{-1in}|.
\item Want to show inline code without executing it? Use \verb|verb| followed by two pipes. Place your code between the pipes. (I had to use two of those in \#7, because that code just went right off the edge of the page when I only used one.)
\item Need a little space between elements? Just insert \verb|\,| (that is, a backslash followed by a comma).
\item Need a little space between elements? Just insert \verb|\,| (that is, a backslash followed by a comma). (This is actually a non-breaking space, so use it judiciously.)
\item Footnotes reset back to the number one with each chapter. To prevent that, add \verb|\counterwithout{foootnote}{chapter}| to the preamble.
\end{enumerate}
@ -469,11 +471,11 @@ As for why I wanted to learn LaTeX in the first place—well, that's complicated
I knew in the back of my mind that there was this great typesetting thing specifically for math and scientific papers, but it took me a while to find it. (This was back in the days before the internet.) But I could recognize just about any paper typeset with it.
Is LaTeX the ideal thing to create zines with? Not necessarily. It does give the finished product a very polished look, and although I love the handmade look (i.e., ``clip and copy'') of a lot of zines, I don't have the talent (or the patience) required to pull that look off. The important thing for me is to be able to create something that is easy on the eyes. (And I've seen a lot of handmade zines that \textit{aren't} easy on the eyes.)
Is LaTeX the ideal thing to create zines with? Not necessarily. It does give the finished product a very polished look, and although I love the handmade look (i.e., ``clip and copy'') of a lot of zines, I don't have the talent (or the patience) required to pull that look off. The important thing for me is to be able to create something that is easy on the eyes. (And I've seen a lot of handmade zines that \textit{aren't} easy on the eyes. Like I said, this takes talent.)
I've created zines in the past, and I've previously used Adobe InDesign (back in my Macintosh days) and LibreOffice Writer (more recently). They are WYSIWYG\footnote{What You See Is What You Get} programs and it's fairly easy to get what you want (more or less).
(They can be a pain in other ways, however. InDesign used a lot of resources on the little Mac Mini I was using and crashes, while not frequent, were not unknown. LibreOffice has certain interface quirks that I just find frustrating, such as using sections to have different footers or headers. You can't have everything.)
(They can be a pain in other ways, however. InDesign used a lot of resources on the little Mac Mini I was using and crashes, while not frequent, were not uncommon. LibreOffice has certain interface quirks that I just find frustrating, such as using sections to have different footers or headers. You can't have everything.)
However, they aren't very amenable to version control, because they don't generate text files, but proprietary files. (I'm not sure about InDesign files, but .odt files are just a collection of \verb|.xml| files and a few others. Change the \verb|.odt| to \verb|.zip| to see them.) While you can track these files in with version control software such as \verb|git|, you can't see the differences between those files by running a simple \verb|git diff|. You have to download the files in question, make sure they have different names so they don't overwrite each other, and check for differences manually.\footnotemark
\footnotetext{As a result, to do version control, I used a version number in the file name and simply did a ``save as'' every time I opened the file for editing, incrementing the version number as I did so.}

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