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Immortality - MegaZone's Safety Valve — LiveJournal
The Ramblings of a Damaged Mind
Every once in a while you run into something that just surprises you and makes you happy. I just had once of those experiences.

I attended WPI, graduating in 1994. While I was there I wrote a column for the school paper called TFM - which a lot of people thought meant Thoughts From MegaZone, but it was really derived from RTFM, Read The Fucking Manual. It was all about the campus computing systems and how to use them, what was going on with them, etc. Remember, this was back before 'The Web' exploded (that just started in '94), and, even at a tech school like WPI, a lot of students didn't even use email. (And forget the faculty, some still had a department secretary print it out so they could read it - if they bothered. Some profs were starting to use it through.) So I was on a bit of a crusade to drag people into the modern age, while trying to be friendly about it.

One of my majors was Technical Writing, and my column was partly responsible for giving me my idea for my MQP (Major Qualifying Project, basically a Senior Project WPI requires for your major). I did a paper on network usage at WPI, the issues, etc. And, as part of that, I produced a new Help Guide, which was then used by the CCC (Campus Computing Center) for new students. The old intro guide, frankly, sucked. Even experienced users got confused by it. So I put something together that documented the basics - which, at the time, meant things like UNIX shell commands, Elm for email, emacs as an editor, etc. I also worked for the CCC Help Desk my last couple of years there, so I had some experience with what troubled users. My old guide is still on my website. (I'd actually forgotten it was there - my website is such an outdated wreck.)

OK, so, I graduated in 1994 and left all that behind. Windows slowly took over, and these days I'd bet most of the students at WPI never touch a UNIX shell or commands, and I know they stopped using my guide several years ago. Such is progress. Today I needed to remove a bunch of files from a server, but not specific files. It has been quite a while since I had to do that specific task and my regexp (regular expressions) skills were failing me, so I hit Google for a reminder. This was my search.

Note the first result - well, for me it was this page at WPI. Something about that page looked familiar... Hey! I wrote that! Well, kind of. It looks like it has been edited a bit over the years, and it was obviously HTMLified for the web, but that's content from my guide. A dead giveaway is that I try to drop 'Eris', 'Kallisti', and similar Discordian things into docs I write as a little joke. So you have things like "mkdir ~/Eris" and "rm - -kallisti" in the document. I poked around some more, and the emacs page is also from my work.

Heeeee! I'm all giddy and stuff. It is just keen to see something I did so long ago is still being used. :-)

Tags: , ,
Current Location: 42.33821N 71.59212W
I am: happy happy
Current Media: Cake: Prolonging the Magic - Mexico

z_gryphon From: z_gryphon Date: March 8th, 2007 03:08 am (UTC) (Direct Link)
Oh, man, I remember the old CCC guide. I got two copies of it, once when I went to Frontiers and once when I arrived a year later as a Real WPI Student. I blame it for my continuing aversion to documents formatted with LaTeX and its relatives. Just seeing that standard LaTeX font and layout makes something in my brain automatically assume that the content thus presented is going to be confusing as shit and probably wrong in a lot of places.
zonereyrie From: zonereyrie Date: March 8th, 2007 03:10 am (UTC) (Direct Link)
Yeah, I'm pretty sure I still have a copy too in my Pack Rat Maze of Boxes.
pdelahanty From: pdelahanty Date: March 8th, 2007 03:44 am (UTC) (Direct Link)
Speaking of WPI... If you search for "Bridge to the Future" in the iTunes store, you can find downloadable videos of the 1951 WPI recruitment film (and 1996 MST3K version). :)
z_gryphon From: z_gryphon Date: March 8th, 2007 03:52 am (UTC) (Direct Link)
"I like the smell of fresh wood chips and shavings."

"I puT thEm iN my UnDerWeAR!"
From: zeeke42 Date: March 8th, 2007 02:23 pm (UTC) (Direct Link)
Unix at WPI is alive and well, at least it was when I left in 2004. Pine is probably the most popular mail reader, or at least on the list. I don't know how UNIX-ful the other departments are, but a lot of the CS labs and projects are still UNIX based.
From: dirkcjelli Date: March 8th, 2007 04:20 pm (UTC) (Direct Link)
ditto. I'm still using Pine (right now, in fact).

It'll probably fade out in the next 10 years, as the old guard of unix admins etc. slowly retire or move.
zonereyrie From: zonereyrie Date: March 8th, 2007 08:58 pm (UTC) (Direct Link)
I never liked Pine - I was a die-hard Elm/Filter user and then, eventually, switched to Mutt/Procmail. I've heard Pine is less... cloying... than it was back then. To me it felt like Fisher-Price's "My First Email Client", always asking if I was sure and not letting me turn off all the 'helpful' menus, etc. I guess it has matured a bit in the past ~15 years. :-)
charmingmuse From: charmingmuse Date: March 9th, 2007 04:55 am (UTC) (Direct Link)
Don't make me dig out my "Go Engineers!" megaphone and pom-poms. Thankfully the cheers were never drilled into my brain as a child.
saimmyon From: saimmyon Date: March 12th, 2007 05:13 pm (UTC) (Direct Link)
I think TFM is how I started with UNIX (~92 at WPI). I forgot all about that. Thanks :)