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Gazette Matters

Visible Changes

LG underwent a bunch of changes this month, some visible and some not. The most visible change is the spiffy yellow issues table on the Front Page and the Site Map page (formerly known as the Index of All Issues page). Another visible change is that several files have been renamed and symlinks removed: This has a few implications for readers:
  1. If you bookmarked the home page of your favorite mirror as lg_frontpage.html, you must change the bookmark to index.html or just use the site name: http://www.linuxgazette.net/.
  2. You can continue to bookmark the current issue as http://www.linuxgazette.com/current/ and it will update each month. This is also useful if you want to download the current issue to your palmtop each month.
  3. You can access the TWDT versions each month from a persistent URL: http://www.linuxgazette.com/current/TWDT.html or http://www.linuxgazette.com/current/TWDT.txt.gz.
  4. Windows users can stop complaining that symlinks don't unpack from tarballs on DOS filesystems, because there are no more symlinks! (Except one.)
  5. The Front Page is reformatted and somewhat less verbose. More on the way.
  6. If you have been downloading the FTP tarballs, you have a few obsolete files now. The disk space is minimal, but if you're obsessed with having a perfectly clean directory, delete it all and download lg-base.tar.gz and your favorite issues again. Downloading lg-base-new.tar.gz each month only updates and adds files, it doesn't delete obsolete files.
Remember, starting with issue 83, you can click the author's name at the top of any article and go to that person's Author page, which has links to all their articles in LG, their most current contact information, and sometimes a bit of random information and a picture too.

The mirrors took a bandwidth hit this month as the files were moving around, but the files have all settled down now. There will be another big shuffle sometime when we convert the 649 old GIFs to PNG/JPG, but that's such a big job I don't know when we'll be able to do it. Not just to convert the files -- that can take five minutes with ImageMagick's convert program, find and a small shell script -- but we also have to (1) decide whether image.png or image.jpg is smaller/looks better for each image, (2) change the IMG links in all the HTML files, (3) not use transparency, and (4) look at all the pages on various browsers. Any volunteers?

For next month, I want to refine the navigation links between articles and between the global pages.

There is one change which will affect only a couple mirror administrators. Next to the existing search links, there is a commented link the mirror site can replace with a link to their own search engine. The comment format has changed, and I noticed one misspelling in it ("ENDN" instead of "END"). So mirror administrators with local LG search engines will have to adjust their scripts. There may be further adjustment when the navigation links get refined.

Invisible Changes

The scripts I use to generate LG have been largely rewritten. Configuration information is now mostly in YAML (.yml) files. YAML is a text-readable data serialization format, inspired by XML but simpler, and automatically converted to native types (string, int, float, list, hash, boolean, null, date, etc). It's still in its early development stage (the language spec and types are just being finalized now), but the preliminary Python parser PyYAML works, and there are also parsers for Perl, Ruby and C. Here are a couple article entries for this issue, in data/issues/084.yml:
key:     arndt
author:  arndt
title:   Office Linux -- Feedback
key:     bradley
author:  bradley
title:   Adding Plugin Capabilities To Your Code
"key" is a unique (within the issue) identifier for the article. "author" is a link to their Author entry, which is a file in rfc822 (mail message) format. (I could use YAML for it, but rfc822 is really convenient for this particular object.) "title" is, um, I think you can guess what that is....

The article header/footer, TOC, Front Page, Site Map, etc, are generated from Cheetah templates. Cheetah is a free software project I've been a developer on for the past 1 1/2 years. It's a string template system for Python. Cheetah has been generating the LG Mirrors page for several months.

There's a shared "lg" module that reads all the configuration files into a data structure and pickles it out to a cache file for fast reading. (Or actually cPickles it, which is a thousand times faster.) Then the script "article" takes the article entry and author(s) entry and puts the header/footer in the HTML file in place, deleting the previous header/footer if present. The "authors" script is more complicated because it has to make each Author's page as well as the author index, TAG bios index, and previous/next links for each. It also searches through the articles data to generate the links to all the articles published by each author.

I'm close to having TWDT automated, which I'm very happy about. No more manually creating that d*%n thing manually and then having to edit three files (the original, TWDT.html and TWDT.txt.gz) when an article needs a correction. Soon I'll be able to change just the original and then run twdt and have it automatically regenerate those two files. Well, almost. Heather generates the TAG column lg_answer and TWDT.lg_answer.html simultaneously from her mailbox files, and she tells me 'twould be difficult to generate TWDT.lg_answer.html from lg_answer. So for TAG corrections I'll still have to edit three files. :(

Wacko Topic of the Month

Rick Moen

The moving correspondent writes; and having writ moves on. Nor all your piety nor wit shall lure it back to cancel half a line, nor all your tears wash out a word of it.


what does this mean?

Dan Wilder:

Time wounds all heels?

Rick Moen:

The correspondent
You seek alas is not here.
Endless others exist.

You step in the stream,
But the water has moved on.
Your penpal is gone.

Error messages
Unfold across the monitor.
Glist'ning like the snow.

Not The Answer Gang

From From: Mike Orr

(?) I'm writing a script for school and I'm having a bit of trouble. The problem is as follows: it must accept a from a user and display the squares of all the numbers starting from 1 to that number, as follows: 1 square = ___ 2 square =___

n square = ___

(!) [Iron] Did you have a Linux question? If so, you forgot to include it.
You didn't mention which programming language you're using, but it doesn't matter. We're unlikely to answer questions that can be discovered by simply reading a tutorial for that programming language.
See http://www.linuxgazette.net/tag/ask-the-gang.html for the kinds of questions we're willing to answer.

From: "Guy" <guy@gmnow.net>
See now... I answered a sendmail question! Smile
That tells you I do lurk, until I see a message I can answer!

From: Iron
Aww, somebody's trying to crack my Webware site. Sorry I don't have any files for you, buddy.
HTTP404: /favicon.ico
HTTP404: /_vti_bin/owssvr.dll?UL=1&ACT=4&BUILD=2614&STRMVER=4&;CAPREQ=0
HTTP404: /MSOffice/cltreq.asp?UL=1&ACT=4&BUILD=2614&STRMVER=4&;CAPREQ=0

From From: "Benjamin A. Okopnik" <fuzzybear@pocketmail.com>
On Tue, Jun 11, 2002 at 05:14:29PM +0200, denis k?llner wrote:

(?) Hi i've download your software (lcdproc) and buyed me a display,

(!) [Iron] I'm not sure who the "you" in "your software" would be, unless one of the Answer Gang wrote "lcdproc"...
i've connect the display to my LPT-Port how it is in your picture, but it doesn't work!!
Oh, of course we instantly recognize the exact problem! Thank you for such a precise description.

I need to know about Linux operating system- kernel. So can u please help me to find some informations about Linux kernel. can u ple. answer to the below questions ? need good details !!!

what is a Linux kernels?

(!) [Neil Youngman] That's the tasty bit inside the Linux shell.
what function do they perform?
If you crack a Linux shell you can eat the kernel. Also you can grow new Linux trees from it.
how important are they?
They are very important if you're stuck on a desert island and they are your only source of food.

P.S. We don't do your homework for you.

Ben Okopnik:

Oddly enough, that was one thing that the Russians _didn't_ claim for themselves... I guess they figured that inventing the radio, the light bulb, and the airplane was enough for anybody. :)


So how do the Russians claim those things? I thought Marconi was Italian. http://www.alpcom.it/hamradio/marconi.html


Uh-uh. Popov, not Marconi. http://www.russiajournal.com/is/columns/columns168-How-the-Russians-invented-the-radio.html

I learned that stuff in school; with a lot of Russians of the previous generation (mine was already too cynical), it was an article of faith.


When I was taking Russian in high school (1983), there were a few students who had travelled to Russia. One said he'd gotten into an argument with somebody over whether Pepsi was an American or a Russian invention.


<laugh> *That* one, I knew for myself. Pepsi's first plant in Russia was built in Moscow, about a kilometer away from where I was going to school. At least they started building it; I left Russia just before they finished it. But I'd have no problem believing your friend about having had the argument.

Neil Youngman:

These symbols are familiar to us Scandihoovians, and are used to signify "This word cannot be pronounced by Americans."

Ben Okopnik:

<laugh> And by us Russkis, too - in KOI8, those come out to be upper and lower case "soft signs". Personally, I think the above description should be replaced with yours... sorta:

Please make a new artical about Brazil because I am doing a report on it and please type it on Yahoo.com Please DO NOT send e-mails here

Heather Stern:

Oh my, another homework assignment. Please do not send emails showing that I'm trying to cheat, to an account I share with my folks. Besides then they'd realize I don't even know how to spell "article" much less think of a topic for one on my own.

Not that this has much to do with Linux of course.... but there are a lot of Linux users in Brazil; IIRC Conectiva is quite popular.

I don't think Yahoo has a mirror of Linux Gazette, but searching there for "Brazil" would net you a better chance of good information than visiting Linux Gazette would, anyway.


There's a Brazilian tattoo parlor across the street from my house that just opened up. It's very bright green.


Your question really boils down to: "We have one program (but we won't tell you which one) that leaves some files behind when it exits. Please tell us where the files are and how to delete them."

Every program is different. I have no idea what *that* program does, whatever it is. I can guess from the word "view" that it's a database application, but that's only a guess. Why don't you tell us?

Subject: Music break


Bizet, The Pearl Fishers (les pe^chers de perles), "Je crois entendre encore". Highly recommended.

Breen Mullins:

I'm fond of "Au fond du temple saint" from the same opera, myself.

-- Breen, without quite the high notes to sing that baritone line.

World of Spam

Subject: The Punk Kittens Have A Song For You! *LOL*

Punk Rock Kittens *NEW* LOL!!


I didn't make up this stuff about punk kittens, honest!

I can just see Heather editing TAG with punk kittens wandering around the room....


Let's see, we have BlueCat, and GreyCat and robotfindskitten and.... Anyway, it'd never work. Crystal won't put up with other cats in the house.
Subject: Customized Warez CD's
Content-Type: text/html; charset="iso-8859-1"
Content-Transfer-Encoding: base64

[Looks like a Klez worm to me. -Iron.]

Howdy from South Texas! Let's partner together and make some money. Click the link to learn more.
A few people have posted their attempts to lead the Nigeria Scammers on a wild goose chase.
Hi, I couldn't help but notice your web site has portions a little "under construction" -- I was wondering if you'd like some help getting the graphics, navigation, and higher end java features together? Features you might want to include are:
If you want to jump-start your site's success (and I mean really BLAST it into orbit!) then this could very well be the most important message you will ever receive.
I have just received this amazing web based email and you have just gotta check this out. It blows hotmail, yahoo and all other web based email away. Basically it's email with graphics, really snazzy like customising your phone but much better. If you go to XXXXX you can see what I mean. The graphics look great fun and they cost no more than what you pay for mobile ringtones and graphics. You can reserve your name right now by simply pre registering an account.

*  The Hacker Profile

*  Common Hacking Tools - The Hacker's Toolkit

*  Top 10 Ways to Secure Against Attack

*  Seven Questions to Test Your Security

We are looking for anti-virus and anti-hacker software.

Faber Fedor:

And what, pray tell, is "anti-hacker software"?

Jay Ashworth:

Software that makes hackers run away and not want to work on the box. You know: Windows.
Most people find it incredible to believe they could actually write their own ebook in as little as 7 Days... But people just like you do it all the time... because they know the secrets to getting their own ebook into their computer and out on the web where people can buy it as quickly as possible.

What you should expect from this mini-course...

Today we'll give you the single, *most powerful* element in the ebook writing process...

Then we'll send you 3 more emails (one every 2 days) where we cover:

Email 1 - Creating an Idea and Writing your eBook quickly

Email 2 - Publishing Your eBook so *everyone* can read it

Email 3 - Selling Your eBook and making money!

So you see Answerguy we have a lot of ground to cover... let's get started!

Excuse the intrusion, somehow your email made its way into my database. I in no way wish to offend or be a bother to anone. If you would be so kind as to reply with remove in the subject line, your email address will be deleted from my files,
Dear Sir/Madam, I am a Private Investigator based in Europe. A group of Government Officials from an African Country contacted me with a Proposal. I am to Make contact with you and state their offer, if your Interest is Genuine, you will be contacted for your Account details to which will be transferred the sum of $33,600, (Minus the Interest, handling and tax clearance charges, which Will be offset by Us & Deducted from the transferred sum) to a nominated Bank account in the Cayman Islands. I don't think I need to spell out the importance of Secrecy in this Matter considering the amount involved.
[The interesting thing about this scam is not the measly amount they're offering ($33,000 instead of $33,000,000 -- as the message just before this offered), but the fact that it comes with a text attachment containing 1230 e-mail addresses, several being Linux Gazette authors and other famous Linux personalities. Oops, I think their harvesting software made a mistake. Did they run it in reverse? The funniest address is "billsux@microsloth.com"; I bet he's just waiting to invest. Here's an excerpt: -Iron.]
Heather Stern <star@starshine.org>
Michael Conry <michael.conry@softhome.net>
Shane Collinge <shane_collinge@yahoo.com>
Matteo Dell'Omodarme <matt@martine2.difi.unipi.it>
Paul Evans <pevans@catholic.org>
Mark Nielsen <info@gnujobs.com>
Ben Okopnik <ben-fuzzybear@yahoo.com>
Doc Searls <doc@ssc.com>
Contact Us <info@osdn.com>
ShadowDragon <brian.smithSPAM@SUXshadoweb.net>
ASCIIMan <jsaNOSPAMboe@artifexREMOVETHIS.org>
email us <weblocal@linux-mandrake.com>
click here <tony@eastmont.net>
Ben Okopnik <fuzzybear@pocketmail.com>
announce@en.tldp.org <announce-subscribe@en.tldp.org.NOSPAM>

Happy Linuxing!

Mike ("Iron") Orr
Editor, Linux Gazette, gazette@linuxgazette.net

Copyright © 2002, . Copying license http://www.linuxgazette.net/copying.html
Published in Issue 84 of Linux Gazette, November 2002

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