A place to call $HOME.

An enthusiast living in Stafford, UK (originally from Dublin, Ireland).

16th July

Trying mosh as I tend to see ~vilmibm logged in using it -
this would be great for when I'm at conferences with a bunch
of SSH on the go and terrible connectivity: I could combine
it with tmux or screen on the other end and just resume one
session with all my stuff in it.

I'm trying it via a VNC st terminal tunnelled over SSH, so
perhaps this isn't the most fair measure.

14th July

Yesterday was blood-giving-day, so I wrote off most the
evening (it's tiring!) and we got some takeaway food. I was
sat next to two people with over 75 donation each, which is
humbling (I'm on 6 or 7). I have a plastic card, which is
one material level above my wife, but there's lots of
precious metal (coloured) cards to go, apparently.

It's been quiet on here for me, as I've been on the IRC
more. I'd like to keep updating my actual tilde pages
though. I've at least been contributing to the Friday
postcard with some regularity, and following the KSP
progress Jumblesale is making on our behalves.

7th July

Absolutely confirmed. Activity on IRC != activity on my web page.

Here's the progress on my real-life Swatch Internet Time clock:

Yes. It's just an 8. But actually it's all of the little bits
of the 7-segment display being lit up one after the other very
quickly to make that 8. Using a shift register this way will
let me add more LEDs / segments than the Arduino has pins
to drive natively.

I'll also need to keep some pins over for the real-time clock.
I've recently learned that computers aren't as good at counting
upwards as I'd previously thought, and using an interrupt handler
to increment the time will lead to massive clock skew.

3rd July

Since my activity on ~irc has gone up, my updates to my
~website have decreased.

Like the rest of planet Earth, I'm trialling Apple Music.
It's been great, not to get "fresh beats" from new artists,
but to find all the albums from the 90's and early 00's from
bands that I like that I haven't listened to yet. I can't
believe it, but I'm kind of tempted to carry on with it.

Still, three months' before I need to think about that.

UPDATE: Also it's so weird listening to Doolittle 25. It's
like some alternate world Pixies. Listening to the demos
from when they sound like they were getting on better is ...
sad, I guess?

30th June

It's warm today! I've knocked up an Arduino sketch with a
DS18S20 temperature sensor to keep an eye on the server room
with the broken air conditioning.

24th June

Yesterday I had to drive to the office at nearly midnight
because I remembered that I had left a massive lead-acid
battery on charge, with no charge controller. Images of
pulling up to a smouldering wreck filled my mind.

I got there, and the thing wasn't even *fully charged*,
nevermind exploded.

22nd June

"Dead sea make you float. One sip from the salty wine. Dead
sea make you choke."

Currently listening to Surfer Rosa get more and more
overdriven sounding as the massive lead acid battery
powering my valve amplifier dies. *Crunch*.

17th June

Tomorrow never comes, apparently.

Also tomorrow is my wedding anniversary. 12 years.

8th June

I often think of the place that my dad worked when I'm on my way
back from work. I work in a technology park, and he worked in an
industrial estate (though a nice one!).

I think technology parks were a bit posh for Dublin at that
time or maybe the nature of his work (service and supply of
medical and scientific equipment) meant it wasn't seen as
quite white-collar enough for the new business parks. Or,
I don't know, the rent was cheap or the company owned the
building. Either way, they're still there.

It's a little run down, but it has plenty of cared for green
areas. I wouldn't usually go in the day, given that I was
a child and so at school, but if he needed to pick things
up or do some overtime my dad would take me to the
industrial estate and into his office. This would be
at weekends.

Places of business are weird at weekends. If you take the
people away you notice the surroundings *much* more. I've
watched Halt and Catch Fire, and that pervasive 80's
business building language - that was there! Full height
blinds, lots of brown, carpet tiles throughout. Offices
for the sales guys. Cubicles and open-plan for the grunts.

Things were narrow and dark and there was never enough light.

This wasn't the post I meant to write. I'll try again
tomorrow.  I miss my dad.

3rd June

I wanted to save this for posterity:

22:28 -!- Irssi: Join to #tildetown was synced in 4 secs
{@937} < insom> Awww yeah. I have beat time in my irssi!
{@940} < insom> if any future generations want to see how:

I switched timestamp formats in another window, which kind
of ruins the effect, but now I'm beat-native.

2nd June

It's June - that means that it's late enough for the
Christmas music to start! If I don't get my squirrels
singing Mariah Carey's "I Don't Want a Lot for Christmas"-
fix then I don't even.

28th May

I have been slightly burned on the blog thing. It's kind of
ironic, I was writing about tilde.town (and tilde.club) and
I couldn't make the words make sense, not the way that I
wanted them to, and I had a crisis.

It was getting me down, not updating my blog(s) or my
tilde and nothing good happens when the thing that you
started doing for fun starts to feel like work. I've
rescued that a little by blogging something that's almost
tilde in its own right at insom.me.uk (redacted text lols).

And I've also been thrilled to see that the (newly working)
recently updated list on the homepage has some pages that
I haven't read before and some pages that I have that have
been updated.

Long live ~

10th May

I got some new markers and drew what I think the tilde.town
server thinks that it looks like.

I'm burdened by the truth, I know it's a ghost of a machine,
a VM running in a cloud made up of thousands and thousands
of anonymous pizza-box servers.

I think it's a bit more 90's to have a server *look* like a
server: a full tower, blinking lights. A monolith.

6th May

Yikes. No tilde updates in almost a month and only one *in*
that previous month. Not good.

I've written a few thousand bloggish words in other places,
though, so it's not like my facility to write has dried up.

*And* I've been a "present" tildezen! I've hung out on IRC,
started a stoopid (but fun) project to bring Swatch Internet
Time to irssi and I've contributed to the tilde.town Patreon

I guess I fell into the trap that, well, I've fallen into
several times before when blogging (or writing, or sometimes
making things). I've allowed myself to be blocked by a
dependency which I think will be resolved soon, but then

In this case, having a new tool to manage a blog-like
web page thing with. You know. Writing that tool. In
a language I don't know yet.

Learning a new language to write a new tool in it, so
that I can update my FOMO-free side blog.


I realise that I've hit a point that, I guess, people of
all walks of life must hit. I'm very proficient at a
few things (Python, let's say) and I want to learn a
new thing, but I underestimate how *hard* it was for me
to *become* proficient in the last thing.

When I get stuck on the new thing (where I feel like an
idiot bumbling about), I often relapse into writing in
the old thing (that I know really well).

Younger people and outsiders might see this as a refusal
to learn or change, and if I didn't know myself better
I'd just say my skills were ossifying, but it's my
will power that's lacking, not my skill or ability.

It took me several attempts to learn C, after years of
programming BASIC. Even though I knew I'd hit the limits
of what I was likely to get out of BASIC, as soon as I
hit a road-block with C I'd switch back to BASIC and
the opportunity to learn was lost.

How old was I? 13.

You don't need to be old to get stuck in your ways. And I
think that means that you're never too old, or too young, to
just suck it up and try harder.

7th April

Great bank holiday weekend. Food, making stuff, fixing
things, time spent with my boys and packaged Jack up to fly
to Iceland.

I wrote a thing which was critical, in a hopefully
constructive way, about what other people have organised,
and I felt bad about it, but also that it was true so was
probably reasonable to say.

31st March

I've been quiet here, I know. But it's such an exciting time!
The electronics club (or insert other equally geeky sounding
name here) at work is a lot of fun, though everyone has
slowed down after now that we're hitting the hard (or just
boring) parts of our respective projects.

@knittage is getting back into her craft in a big way, too,
not just knitting but papercraft and sewing (with the eBay
and Hobbycraft purchases that go with them). I've been
drawing a little, and writing code in languages that I
don't use for work. It all feels very positive. Makey.

(And, work's been pretty good too - I'm back from a
conference, I learned some stuff, presented and the progress
here has been great.)

So: I'm sorry I'm not as around, tilde, but it's not for bad
reasons, it's for good ones.

22nd March

I just sat and binge read the last two months of Tools and
Toys. In there, with the amazing looking coffee machines and
shallow depth of field photos of leather wallets, are
several entries espousing a kind of minimalism.

I don't for one minute think there's an essential contradiction
there - T&T want you to buy the *best* of any class of item-
if you really want to own, say, a knife - you want it to be the
best one for your needs, last a long time, and not take up
cognitive space in your head.

Cheapy crap that always breaks or doesn't work doesn't bring
a sense of joy and - if you believe that stuff can make you
happy (and I do*) - it does a bad job.


I just ordered an hilariously cheap mill and lathe set from
China. At some point over the coming months I'll probably
get an FPGA development board. These poor-quality almost
disposable items let me indulge my butterfly mind. They let
me learn stuff - I'm not going to drop £1000 on a
"proper" mill, so my only realistic option is amassing cheap
stuff. I can sell it after, of course.

Outside of just saying "have less stuff", minimalists tend
to talk about the value of concentrating on fewer things.
You may think "if I didn't spend time reading Twitter, I'd
finally get that book written", but is a few lunch-times
spent noodling around with building an amplifier and then
getting bored and wandering off *bad*?

What if I'm laser focussed on just being distracted by all
of the amazingly cool possibilities for making stuff
that exist?

* I think favourite items of mine enable me to do things,
  and therefore bring me happiness. My camera, my bike, my
  very loud keyboard, my coffee maker(s) - they really do make
  me happy. Not happy in the same way that my family or
  friends, or new experiences do, and I don't just want *moar
  stuff* to fill some existential void, but not all stuff is
  bad stuff.

20th March


Editors note: I removed the page breaking fomo/fomo/fomo text from this entry. Time has passed and I've calmed down, but removing the entry felt wrong.

16th March

The Friday-the-13th / insom's birthday / mother's day event
is over, and I've a day before St. Patrick's day to catch my
breath. Moar semi-real holidays!

12th March

It's not on tilde, but it's pretty tilde, I posted some
stuff you should read (IMO) on the other place (one of
the other places).


5th March

The school's computer capacity had consisted of things that
local business gave us, and a spare room. Around the time
that things went bad, the Irish government had realised
that they should do *something* about computers, which
were pretty clearly going to be important for the future.

They set up a grant scheme, and my school was accepted,
but the person who managed the application and scheme
was chiefly a business studies teacher, and had no
interest in computer science.

These new machines sat largely unused for a long time:
they didn't receive the support from us computer-room
volunteers (there was no IT support staff, again, all we
got were a bunch of computers), and we didn't have
any interest* - all that the business studies teacher
wanted them to be used for was Microsoft Office-related
computer skills.

* I had *some* interest because they were Pentiums and
we were lucky to get one or two 386 machines at all
in *our* room.

It was like a little microcosm of the
free-and-open-and-understandable vs
closed-and-utility-computing battle.

Bias leads me to think that computer science people
conducted ourselves better than the business studies
ones, but really there were no winners in this,
especially not other students.

They had to choose between fast computers that regularly had
problems (because they were unmaintained) and were like
sealed boxes, or slow machines with a development
environment and a steep learning curve (Windows 3 or DOS or

This turf war between academic and business was costing
kids during their prime educational years access to
useful computing. And it sucked.

I finished school a little later, and as I understand it,
the business side of things was winning, bit by bit, as the
inevitable tide of efforts like the European Computer
Driving License crept into the curriculum.

4th March

The first time that I realised the adults were just larger
versions of children was when I was at secondary school.
Maybe I was late to this because I had a reasonably balanced
child-hood and my parents were okay - I would have been
about 13 at the time. Probably like more than a few tilde
nerds, I was an early adopter of computers and the Internet,
back before it was assumed that not only could everyone
afford a computer (they couldn't) but that they would want
one (they didn't).

Because I was interested, I hung around the computer lab
at my school. This wasn't an official lab, it was about
a dozen cast-offs from local business, 8086-class machines
in the mid-nineties, and it was in what was more or less
spare space. Our school did not actually have a computer
class, or club, so these were treated more like a curiosity.
Every now and then a forward thinking maths teacher may
bring a class in and show them how computers could ...
compute, and that was about it.

There were a few regulars, like me, who just started showing
up at lunch time and weren't shushed away. We kept things
running (because the school certainly didn't have IT staff),
and encouraged more kids to use the room and learn some
Pascal or BASIC. School being what it was, older kids left,
newer kids progressed, and I found myself pseudo-running
this place. That's when I got caught between two factions.

[ moar tomorrow. or when I remember to update ~ ]

1st March

I've merged my protocol.club entries into this page. tilde.town
is the place that I'm spending most of my time, so having
one website to not update is better than having two (to
not update).

12th February

Every time I remember my tildes I feel like filling them with
one off, one line, posts just containing Pixies lyrics. There
is verisimilitude there - it's what 90's me would have done.

12th Feb 2015

I can hardly wait / 'til we go down / down to the well.

6th February

An ancient tome was pulled from the shelf, the dust blown off,
title reading:

  Aaron's Tilde Town Page

(Then pleurisy from the dust). *Cough*

30th Jan 2015

This post resonates so hard with me. There are lots of indicators of "good" or "bad" developers (ignore that absolutes may not be appropriate here, and let's call it an even mix of "pleasant to work with" and "makes the company money" and "writes maintainable code"), but I consider a strong dose of humility a strong indicator of a good developer.

If your first thought when hitting unexpected behaviour is "the library is wrong" and not "what have I done wrong", you probably are wrong, and now you're going to have to rule out the library (probably bigger than your own code) before you can set about fixing the actual problem.

I'm not a big quoter of the Bible, but

Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.

30th January

Standing desk: okay. Music in the office: okay. Standing desk &
music in the office: boogie time.

27th January

I'm making good friends with you, when you're shaking your
good frame.

27th Jan 2015

How much retro-computing is too much?

I've not seen a tilde powered by WordPress yet, but some people are using decidedly modern stacks to generate their static websites, and good for them.

There'll always be different levels of purity and (sadly) people who sneer at other people's lack of it - is publishing your tilde from Hugo not 90's enough? Even the vim and emacs installs that we have are (thankfully) really modern compared to the ones of the time. Once upon a time, editors didn't syntax hilight (and if they did, they didn't know what HTML was).

Good for anyone rediscovering a bit of their youth (and hello to people doing the web the hard way for the first time!) - I love hearing about people using vi from their cellphone on a plane, in a way we couldn't have dreamed of 20 years ago.

24th January

"If you look like you're going to enjoy anything, it says
'No, fuck off.'" -- Helen on Windows 8.1

We're having a great time. At least Jetpack Joyride.

My favourite part of watching her use it (Windows 8) was
having to use Group Policy Editor to disable the mandatory
Microsoft acount requirement. Madness.

I'm sure MS are getting flack (or have gotten, I'm pretty
far behind here), but basically it's not much different
from using Android without a Google account, or iOS
without an iCloud account.

21st Jan 2015

An unexpected throw-back to the 90's - life without Internet access.

Our broadband is down in the office, which makes all of the things that expect you'll always have at least some internet connectivity fail. (Internal development sites that rely on external DNS is a big one).

As I reckon a file-format is basically a protocol that stays still, and I had a tab open with the ASE palette format, I've written a small Python script to dump an ASE out as an HTML document.

Productive day!

20th January


Now starting to feel tilde-debt. Isn't that the opposite of
what's supposed to happen? A place to do web things without
judgement. I've not even kept up with IRC. I don't remember
feeling guilty about my Inter-stuff in the 90's - though I
do remember having FOMO.

17th Jan 2015

Just saw someone's iPhone shatter, it's not a pretty sight.

One day I'll break device as carelessly as the people around me, but until then, I'll carry on feeling a bit smug.

17th January


14th January

If I'm going to stand all day, I may need to bring better
shoes. It does make be appreciate the blesséd relief
of a chair though.

13th Jan 2015

Despite the carpet and the insulation, it is still cold in the garage. Insulation is not magic foam.

H made granary bread today and it was amazing. We skipped dinner and just had cheese, paté and bread. Or, in other words, that's what we had for dinner, I suppose.

13th January

In some ways, a vaguely worded security threat is the
perfect thing to focus your mind: credible or not, if
someone told you that they had *already* found an exploit in
your code or your servers, what would pop to mind?

That server that you know about but don't patch because it's
critical and you can't get a maintenance window? That legacy
app that no-one maintains that you're fairly sure has some
SQL injection that just hasn't been found yet - simply
because it's so obscure and everything else is low hanging

I wonder if this is part of the rationale behind the PCI-DSS
requirements for regular scans - yes, they catch issues, but
also if you know a scan is coming and an audit will find a
problem you know about it, you're incentivised to fix it.

How many things do we all leave because we know the chances
of anyone finding out are so slim?

10th Jan 2015

I donated a bunch of books today, among them: The O'Reilly Sendmail Book (which is $60 to buy new! I got it for £1).

This is the most protocol.club-relevant one that I had issues letting go of because of the GitHub issue around hooking up all of the tildeverse with UUCP-over-SSH. I've not done UUCP before, but it feels like for old-school cred, using sendmail to do it is very appropriate.

Still, that's just hanging on to stuff with the vague idea that I'll use it some day. I'd gotten all of the sendmail out of my system (long-time qmail fan, now mostly using exim because of pragmatism) before this retrocomputing idea came up.

10th January

Those were some physically intensive days. I took a
break after the office move- today we laid carpet
in the garage and moved the entire contents out, and
back in again.

I may not know what a break is.

9th Jan 2015

Just realised I mentioned being pretentious and watching Andy Samberg in the same post.

8th Jan 2015

I watched an episode of Brooklyn Nine Nine last night (so good), one where the squad go to Captain Holt's house and try to impress Kevin. Nevermind if you don't know it. It's a slightly smarter take on the "working class slobs go to the middle-class scholars' house and don't fit in" trope.

It did make me think, though. I'm a bit of a snob, or at least I'm very aspirational, intellectually. Being more intellectual than my friends was part of my identity when I was growing up.

I am a reasonably smart person, I hold down a job that requires quite a bit of specialist knowledge, but this was more about having read the clever think-pieces and New Yorker articles and obscure or, at least, pretentious books. Using big words.

It's not like I don't enjoy the articles, I actually do, but there are definitely things that I have read and films that I have watched that I only have because of wanting to be able to quote them or to make reference to them, or because other pretentious peeps I know have. And that seems bad.

Something to watch for in 2015, I think.

7th January

It feels vaguely unethical to use the CCTV to watch the
people fitting out the upstairs office work, but it's
only because I'm too lazy to walk upstairs and not because
I'm checking up.

6th Jan 2015

Got called schizophrenic for the crime of having two tildes :-(

Day one of using my Android tablet as a second screen, more or less dedicated to IRC, was a success. Also: built a FreeBSD kernel. It's a nice process.

6th January

Early start! It's part one of the weird, prolonged office
re-fit thing today. My desk is pared down, just my Macbook,
headphones and my personal tablet as a tmux session so I can
keep an eye on IRC

5th Jan 2015

Operation 'Move the Office to One Side and then Back Again' has commenced.

Ops (my team, hi!) live for these kinds of 'everything with a plug' events, so we're wandering around with a boxes full of Cat5 and IEC power leads.

5th January

My right arm hurts in a way that feels posture related,
but that I can't track down. I think my desk and chair
are set up just the way that I left them, but something
is off.

4th January

I wrote a longer thing on protocol.club (edit: below) - but
I'm thinking of moving my stuff to tilde.town as the main
place. Dunno. It feels like being unfaithful to the first
tilde to take me in, but it's also quite a sleepy place, and
it has a mission - "protocols" - one that I'm interested in
and believe in, but don't write about. I write about feels.
tilde.town seems like more of a feels place.

4th Jan 2015

I've been able to close accounts, delete old things and look at (very) old web things without feeling so sad, recently. I've always had a problem with nostalgia. Without joking, I even had it when I was very young - I was 9 years old when I first remember it affecting my happiness: I very strongly didn't want to turn 10 and be in double digits, and longed for simpler times. (Yeah. I know.).

If I was going to answer the question "what's different now?" the easiest and shortest answer is "I'm happy". That's true, and that makes a massive difference, but it's not really a nuanced answer. I've been happy before and still obsessed with the past. I've spent a little time thinking about it and I think my nostalgia is two things:

The nuanced answer to why I deal better with nostalgia is that I'm more present in the moment. I'm enjoying things now, not having to revisit them later to finish enjoying them. I'm wasting less of my time on things that I don't care about and I'm letting less of life pass me by.

2nd January

It's impressively cold at work. That makes coming back
after the holidays just a *little* bit more unpleasant.

The coffee machine is making a weird noise, not like it's
broken, more like it's composing electronic music.

What the hell went on in here while we were all gone?

1st Jan 2015

I didn't mean to be a New Year cliché but I've spent today clearing out the garage and sorting my workbench, giving me a fresh start for the year.

1st January (2015!)

When you're trying to start a new habit, it's a marathon not
a race. Unless your habit is racing, in which case, carry on.

30th December.

tmux and screen are life-savers, but they make nosing around
with `w` and `who` less interesting.


Login: insom          			Name: 
Directory: /home/insom              	Shell: /bin/bash
On since Tue Dec 30 22:21 (UTC) on pts/157 from host86-132-5$
   4 seconds idle
No mail.
         _                __ _ _           _ 
   _ __ | | __ _ _ __    / _(_) | ___  ___| |
  | '_ \| |/ _` | '_ \  | |_| | |/ _ \/ __| |
 _| |_) | | (_| | | | | |  _| | |  __/\__ \_|
(_) .__/|_|\__,_|_| |_| |_| |_|_|\___||___(_)

30th Dec 2014

One door opens, another closes. I deleted my Tumblr, on account of returning to my HTML roots. It feels good, one fewer API to deal with so I can have complete backups, for one thing. (I can back a tilde up with tar which hasn't changed much in 40 years and is pretty embedded knowledge at this point.)

29th December.

While reading about Telex I came across this fact on Wikipedia:

> Before World War I, the Tropical Radiotelegraph Company
> (later known as Tropical Radio Telecommunications, or TRT)
> put radio telegraphs on ships for its owner, the United
> Fruit Company (UFC), to enable them to deliver bananas to
> the best-paying markets. Communications expanded to UFC's
> plantations, and were eventually provided to local
> governments. TRT eventually became the national carrier for
> many small Central American nations.

The reason that many small nations got telegraphy was so that they
could be more easily exploited by the large ones.

It's not even the most prominent example of technology being
advanced by companies trying to gain a small competitive edge:

> J. Lyons and Co., one of the UK's leading catering and
> food manufacturing companies in the first half of the 20th
> century, sent two of its senior managers, Oliver
> Standingford and Raymond Thompson, to the USA in 1947 to
> look at new business methods developed during the Second
> World War. During their visit they met Herman Goldstine, one
> of the original developers of ENIAC, the first
> general-purpose electronic computer (although it had no
> stored program). Standingford and Thompson saw the potential
> of computers to help solve the problem of administering a
> major business enterprise.

We have enterprise computing because Lyons wanted to run their
cake operation more efficiently.

28th Dec 2014

Nerd stuff.

SSH key:

ssh-rsa AAAAB3NzaC1yc2EAAAADAQABAAABAQCxD+5BcjKPKyemu7yaC5aGh7sD

GPG key (also keybase):

Version: GnuPG v1


26th Dec 2014

No entry for yesterday, might have been busy. I had a great day with my family, and I missed my dad. My entire life experience has been changed by my dad dying, and maybe by not being able to ask him things, so I'm figuring them out on my own.

J is a teenager now, and obsessive about things in the way that I used to be (when I had the time to be), but he's a balanced and good kid. I'm learning that the way your kids love you (and you love them) changes as they grow up. Not better or worse, but different. And that's when I find myself wondering how Dad felt when this happened with me.

And knowing that this is a natural and inevitable thing (the kids growing up) can make me to saccharine with D (which is also something I think my dad felt with me). This will be why people spoil the 'baby' in their families.

24th Dec 2014

Very excite. Inappropriate music on the office speakers, with the bass up because almost no staff are in. Festive. IRC at Christmas brings back weird memories (so does having a teenager who's taken advantage of the holidays to give up on day-light).

23rd Dec 2014

I was inspired by ~imt to GPG sign my posts, but thought that something even more inseparable from the content than a .asc file was possible, so now you can do:

play:~ aaron$ curl -s http://protocol.club/~insom/ | gpg --verify
gpg: Signature made Tue 23 Dec 2014 13:20:48 GMT using RSA key ID 3B8F78F8
gpg: Good signature from "Aaron Brady "
gpg:                 aka "Aaron Brady "
gpg:                 aka "keybase.io/insom "

All I did was wrap the HTML for the post in a "-->" and "<!--" before using gpg --clearsign and pasted the result into a comment in my HTML. View the source to see what I mean.

22nd Dec 2014

I lost some time today on a comment ~gewt made on IRC, about running 4.3BSD for his tilde.

Timezones being what they are, I didn't ask about it until later, but had a bit of a Google. This fits in with other recent BSD-y things, like reading up on the history of 386BSD - because of Dr. Dobb's closing, and running FreeBSD in a VM - because of systemd.

(Not that I hate systemd, I was just curious because some people are leaving Linux as an ecosystem altogether because systemd is almost inevitable if you run a popular distribution or GNOME).

IRC sprang to life as the Americas woke up and retrocomputing was discussed. I remembered having my old Ultrix workstation (MIPS, not VAX) which was hideously old even by the time that I had it. I spent a bunch of time bringing up GCC on it because the compiler that it shipped with caused me so many problems.

I get enthused by retrocomputing not just to recapture my youth (I'm only 31, too soon for a midlife crisis?), but also to remember how much everything used to suck: Driver floppies. MSCDEX.EXE. MOUSE.EXE. Ball mice. Enormous seek times from tiny hard-drives. Headaches from CRTs. BNC ethernet and hubs.

I'm not a monster, I long for simpler times, too. Modern computing has so much that sucks about it, those things are easy to find. It's huge, it uses lots of RAM, nobody knows how to deal with leap seconds, HTML pages are bigger than Turbo Pascal was, and the sheer size of what you need to understand.

A modern computer is a device that no one person can really understand; even if you had access to the datasheets and proprietary knowledge that would be required. But it basically, kind of, works.

For millions and millions of people, every day, they can turn on their computer or their phone and use it to communicate with people and enrich their lives. Most people will never have to find a driver disk, and the arcana that I learned just to get a computer to do anything is now just the realm of system administrators.