Unix witticisms

George Michaelson ggm at algebras.org
Sat Oct 7 12:59:23 AEST 2017

My greatest hack of creation/origination was to combine EQN, TBL and
TROFF to make a phone directory with giant ellipsis around people
sharing offices and phone extensions, because the new PABX produced a
visually boring directory and I was asked to re-produce the handmade
version, after the typesetter who did it had retired. (this was a

I didn't get remotely close to his hand-set product, but I did ok. I
did wind up doing horrendous cheats which morally feel like a GOTO.
Probably, somebody wiser could have done it more honestly. I only had
to make one, nobody cared after we did that one but it was a thing of
beauty. You've made me very happy recalling it.

These tools were arcane, but damn, it was fun making them work.


On Fri, Oct 6, 2017 at 7:55 PM, George Michaelson <ggm at algebras.org> wrote:
> that may be what I am referring to. if you transpose horizontal and
> vertical, this may be a hack, to get around a mispositioning logic.
> -g
> On Fri, Oct 6, 2017 at 7:48 PM, Ron Natalie <ron at ronnatalie.com> wrote:
>> tbl was a real hack.    It wasn't so much designed for the troff CAT output as it was to drive nroff on a daisy wheel printer.      Oddly, decades after I thought everbody (including me as a last troff holdout) had abandoned it for more wisiwyg text formatters someone sends me a manual.    Tbl had a slight telltale glitch in that the vertical lines on the left and right side of the table almost always protruded one pixel too high.    "Did you use tbl|troff to generate this?" I asked.   Sure enough it was.

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