[TUHS] wizards test [was roff]

Larry McVoy lm at mcvoy.com
Tue Sep 17 12:34:52 AEST 2019

That was exactly the situation I had and I had a tough time so I wrote a
little paper about it.  Lemme see if I can find it.

Yep, found it.  It was when I was messing with roff -me.


I was apparently channeling creat(2) because it was too much work for 
me (or Ken) to add the trailing e.

I'm sort of impressed that I wrote that in 1985 because I got to undergrad
in 1980, I was an accounting major because my coach in high school was
my accounting teacher, you don't disappoint your coach so I did great at
accounting, got to college, no coach and accounting was *not* my thing,
wandered around for a year or so taking STEM classes, took some Art
History and declared that as a major, did that for 2 years (and got
really good at it, as in I have corrected errors in a textbook about
Greek pottery [1]) only to have my advisor tell me there are no jobs,
so I switched to computer science in 1984.  Going from nothing to being
a sys admin that had to do a full restore in a year or so is kinda neat.
But Unix was kinda neat and I was hooked, it's easy to get good when
you really like something (ask me about fly fishing :)

Doug, I still have the nroff/troff/tlb/eqn/pic (sadly no grap but I wrote
my own in pic later) printed out docs that I got from the UW-Madison
Computer Science department.  I used those to write that little memo.

[1] A little rant about art and how hard and how easy it can be.  You
guys know Picasso?  How about Piet Modrian?  Most people know both but
don't know that they know Piet.  They are very similar, Piet painted 
trees, here is one:


Yep, that's a tree.  WTF you say?  So all great artist start out doing the
simple stuff.  Picasso, if you go back far enough, did still lifes of a
bowl of fruit.  Piet did essentially photographs of trees.  But then they
get weird, they get more abstract.  And more abstract.  To the point that
you look at that link above and you go "how is that a tree?  That's not a

You need to see their work in chronological order.  You see the stuff
that looks like a photograph and then it is a little different, a little
different, and you get to the end and you go wow, that actually is a tree.
It makes no sense if you just look at one after it gets abstract, it 
makes total sense if you see it order.

I had the good fortune to see an exhibit at New Yorks MOMA of Picasso
in chronological order.  Holy moly did that snap him into focus.

So that's a very long way of saying that it was easy for me to be good
at Greek pottery because I already knew that if you put someones work
in chronological order it would make sense.  The correction I did 
that I'm proud of is to Janson's history of art (which is the benchmark
for art history), there was a Greek artist who did a series of pots
and Janson had two pots backwards, the earlier one was the later one.
Janson was dead but the book carried on and they took my fix.

On Mon, Sep 16, 2019 at 09:36:40PM -0400, Clem cole wrote:
> Btw.  This was some I used as a wizards test. 
> You have a working system next to a system that is still running so you have the console and its shell but had the rm -fr / done to it.  You have lost all of bin dev etc and lib by the time he hit ^C.   So you have some of /usr inc but much of /usr/bin is still there.    No compiler or assembler on the broken machine since that was in bin and lib.   
> It???s possible to fix it using the other system to help.  Just don???t turn the damaged system off ????
> Sent from my PDP-7 Running UNIX V0 expect things to be almost but not quite. 
> > On Sep 16, 2019, at 9:17 PM, Larry McVoy <lm at mcvoy.com> wrote:
> > 
> >> On Mon, Sep 16, 2019 at 09:11:17PM -0400, Arthur Krewat wrote:
> >>> On 9/16/2019 8:20 PM, Steve Johnson wrote:
> >>> One day I had been furiously editing a long program file for about an hour
> >>> and a half when I was called away to lunch, and, being hungry, didn't save
> >>> my file.?? When I got back to the terminal an hour later, I discovered two
> >>> things -- the system had crashed, and our cat had decided that the pile of
> >>> paper
> >>> on the floor made a great litter box.?? After a few choice words, I sighed
> >>> and picked up my highliter...
> >> 
> >> This should be engraved on a plaque somewhere. Only because I had almost the
> >> same thing happen to me, without the cat though. I had a printout of a
> >> "mail" program I had written on TOPS-10 at high school. I had to retype the
> >> entire thing after the file got corrupted.
> > 
> > I think we have all been there.  Something always goes wrong.  I wrote 
> > a paper about how to restore a Masscomp because I did rm -rf . in /.
> > I believe we had roots home as / because /usr was a different partition.
> > Clem, did Masscomp make roots home / or was that us?  Anyway, I did a
> > cd something
> > and somehow deleted the something and then did rm -rf .
> > Much fun was had, I was up all night putting things back together.
> > This was probably around 1984 or 1985, I was pretty green.

Larry McVoy            	     lm at mcvoy.com             http://www.mcvoy.com/lm 

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