Chaos Corner V02 N10 24Nov92 Thanks to all who have written asking what has happened to Ch

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Chaos Corner V02 N10 24Nov92 Thanks to all who have written asking what has happened to Chaos Corner... shall we just say that the past couple of months have been hmmmm "interesting" (you remember the old Chinese curse, right?). ------------------------------------------------------------ Correction of error on Address Resolver in N09 If you can still remember last issue, we managed to make an error in entering the name of the address resolver available on the Internet. The correct address is: ------------------------------------------------------------ Review/mention of pbm and sox Paul Joslin suggests we mention the two utilities "pbm" - the "swiss army knife" of Unix graphic utilities, and "sox" - a similar program but for audio files (pun not intended, but we'll let it stand). Of course, to find the latest version of these programs ... check with your local archie- server. If you think you don't have a archie server, ask us for the Internet Services List at chaos- ------------------------------------------------------------ On detecting VGA monitor type Joe Ahlgren has the following to say about how a program detects the type of monitor attached to the system on which it is running (PC): There is a shareware program called "VGAKIT" which scans for the videocard type, and provides low level services such as read and write pixel in 640x480x256 and higher video modes. There is a sophisticated bankswitch routine included, which can be used to write higher level graphics functions in a card- independent manner. Your inquirer can get a copy of VGAKIT50.ZIP from my BBS (703-241-7980) and many other sources, or contact the author directly (John Bridges, CompuServe 75300,2137) [From the Internet you would use the address (note the use of "." rather than "," in the Internet address)]. ------------------------------------------------------------ Accessing the Mac software archive at U. Mich Bob Blackmun had two comments on the item about accessing the Macintosh software archive at the University of Michigan. 1) the *very best way* to access this wonderful mac archive is via AFS; if you don't have AFS, you should! 2) I *did* experience some strange problems retrieving the directory (that arrives in about 14 sub-sections) via my mac e-mail 'client' (Eudora); the problems appear to be with the client rather than with the archive's mail-server. ------------------------------------------------------------ Any Lawyers out there? Joe Morris was pleased when I told him of the popularity of his cheete sheete ... and offers the following alternative (addition) to Dr. Chaos: Speaking of Dr. Chaos, there's a similarly breeze column you might want to read which covers the personal computer world...from the viewpoint of the *user*, in a *law office*. It's "Technology Update", which appears in _Law_Office_Practice_, a publication of the American Bar Association. The author is Burgess Allison, who is one of the engineers here at MITRE(!). You can get an idea of his attitude by noting that many of his internal memos here are signed "Surly Ol' Burge (SOB)". While it isn't as technical in nature as Dr. Chaos' column, it's a fun read with a healthy dose of cynicism about the stupidities of the desktop system vendors. ------------------------------------------------------------ PostScript program to plot Sierpinski's gasket Have you ever wanted to plot Sierpinski's gasket on your local laserprinter (we certainly wouldn't recommend that you unleash this on someone else's laser printer)? Sierpinski's gasket, by the way, is the fractal pattern built up out of successively smaller triangles, ...maybe we will use it as the cover for this year's hardcopy version of Chaos Corner ... in any case, we have a PostScript program that will print the gasket on a PostScript (tm)-capable printer. Let us know at if you would like a copy. ------------------------------------------------------------ PostScript printing of a Digital World Patrick Dockhorn in Karlsruhe, Germany has contributed to the public domain his C program to convert map files (MP1 format) from John Allisons "The World Digitized" package into EPSF 2.0 PostScript files. "The Digital World" data is evidently available from several servers (check with archie for "worldmap") and the format of the data is described in the header of the wmap2ps.c program. Note, the program is freeware (ask for it at chaos- but the data (if you find it valuable) is not ... but the shareware fee is $20 so it won't hurt you to repay someone for a lot of work. ------------------------------------------------------------ Keeping your Unix system intruder-free The program Tripwire provides a framework to allow Unix Sysadmins the ability to monitor changes to critical files and directories. The program was developed at Purdue University by Gene Kim as part of the COAST Project (directed by Gene Spafford). Copies of the program may be found at in the pub/spaf/COAST/Tripwire directory. ----------------------------------------------------------- Looking for more TrueType fonts to add you your collection? If you are looking for more TrueType fonts to add to your machine, look no further than ... in the directory with the path of pub/pc/win3/fonts/truetype you will find fonts with such names as GoodBadUgly, Barcode, Hebrew, Mapmaker, and many more. Microsoft loves this because it helps to make TrueType fonts more popular. ------------------------------------------------------------ Interested in the Windows API for Sockets? A lot of information about Microsoft products is available on CompuServe. For those of you without CompuServe access, an alternative for some of the information is to ftp to and look in the vendor/microsoft directory for interesting information (for instance, the compuserve-libs directory). Another directory contains a Word for Windows document that describes the programming interface that has been worked out to allow multiple Windows applications to use the same TCP/IP stack. Dr. Chaos is eagerly awaiting software that actually USES the interface and TCP/IP stacks that IMPLEMENT the calls. ------------------------------------------------------------ Running multiple Unix sessions over one telephone line There is a server you can run on a Unix system that allows you to run a program on a Macintosh, or DOS, or Windows systems to run multiple Unix sessions at the same time. Rather than re-enter all the information, Dr. Chaos recommends that we just republish the information posted by Ted Richards: Unix Windows consists of two programs. One is a server that runs on a Unix system that you dial into, and the other is a front end that runs on your home computer. The combination lets you run up to seven separate shell sessions (on the Unix machine) with each session being displayed in a separate window on your home computer. The programs take care of multiplexing the separate communications streams through a single modem connection. There are at least four different front ends, all of which talk to the same Unix server. One is for the Mac, one is for the Amiga (neither of which I know anything about, but check your standard FTP sites), one is for Windows, and one for DOS. The Unix server supports many nice features, such as background downloads in a window while other things are being done in other windows, automatic resizing of windows, displaying of strings in the title bars of the windows, etc. The different front ends support these features to varying degrees. The Mac version was written by the person who wrote the Unix server, and so probably supports all of the features. UW-WIN is available as in pub/pc/win3/util on You need to run a server on the Unix machine, see in the same directory. As far as I know, it is the same server as used for the Mac, and presumably Atari versions. UW-WIN is the shareware Windows version (but only $15, I think). Unfortunately, it does not support file transfers. It displays each shell session in a separate Windows window. You can move and resize each window independently (but if you try to change the window width, it crashes - you can change the height OK). It runs quite well under WIN-OS2, with one exception (besides the window width change problem) - it hangs my entire WIN-OS2 session if I try to reinitialize the modem, but I also have similar (or worse) problems with other Windows comm programs that others have used without problems, so I may have some strange hardware or configuration problems. UW-PC is available on SIMTEL20 as UWPC201.ZIP in PD1:, or equivalently as in /pub/msdos/modem on This is the released DOS version (freeware). It is somewhat more complete than UW-WIN, but can only display one window at a time (a key switches between windows). It does supports file transfers in one window while you are doing other things in a different window. Again, you need the file. I think it's in the same directory. ------------------------------------------------------------ Need some clues for the Minesweeper game under Windows? If, before you click on any squares, you enter "xyzzy" then it is reported that the pixel in the upper left corner will change whenever you are over a "safe" square. Depending on your monitor, it may be hard enough to see that you can ignore the pixel until you get into one of those situations where you have to guess which square the mine is under -- Dr. Chaos claims an easier way to a high score is just to edit the high score that the game keeps in its INIfile. ------------------------------------------------------------ Want to have a REALLY big Windows Desktop? A utility called bigdesk allows you to create a desktop that is nine times the size of your screen. The icon for the program give a very reduced picture of the desktop, and clicking on a part of that view will shift the focus of the screen to the part that you clicked on. It's really nice to work with, very intuitive, and it reportedly even works with seamless Windows under OS/2! That particular utility happens to be mixed in with one or two other utilities in a ZIP file called '' .... you can either look for it using archie, or get it from (don't forget to used 'binary' when you transfer the file). ------------------------------------------------------------ Problems with transferring files from Puffin We have been using the 2.x version of QVTNET software on and it is clear that a number of you have been encountering problems when attempting to do file transfers ... it appears that that particular version gets confused about ftp portnumbers ... so Dr. Chaos has to restart it every once in a while when he notices that there have been problems. In the mail file that Dr. Chaos sends to new subscribers, he has started recommending that they get back issues from rather than because of exactly those stability issues. However, since a number of you still seem to be using puffin, you might be glad to know that over the Thanksgiving break, we will be switching to the newer version of QVTNET (version 3.03) in hopes of getting more stability. Wish us luck! ------------------------------------------------------------ Free software for AIX on RS/6000 that is already patched for AIX 3.x While Dr. Chaos assumes that you already know about the AIX 3.x software archived at, you may not know about the additional or more recently updated packages at such less well-known sites as (look in pub/rs6000) and also (across the pond) at (University of Berne). These archives take a lot of work to maintain, so if you find something useful or that saves you some time, spend just a little bit of that time to drop a note to Marin Schuetz ( or David Joyner ( ... it means so much to know that someone is out there (especially when your boss asks why you spend so much time doing this stuff, instead of your REAL job). ------------------------------------------------------------ It's now officially available - C-Kermit 5A C-Kermit 5A is now available for Unix, VMS, OS/2, Amiga, Atari, and others. Lots of new features ... Dr. Chaos thinks that it basically brings C-Kermit up to approximately the same feature set as PC-Kermit. (It even works on OpenVMS running on the DEC Alpha chip.) If you don't want to mess with compiling it yourself (some do, some don't), the Unix binaries for many systems are available from in the kermit/binary directory -- look for file names of the form wermit. (e.g. [This has now been changed to ckuker.]. The OS/2 version can be found in the same place, with a name of ckoker32.exe for the 32-bit version requiring OS/2 2.0, and ckoker16.exe for the 16-bit version that will run on all releases of OS/2. Dr. Chaos did point out to me that it might be a good idea just to mention that kermit is the nearly "universal" terminal emulator / file transfer package because (1) the price is right and (2) it has implementations for almost every type of computer (see(1)). ------------------------------------------------------------ Interesting X-Windows packages updated or recently available Generally speaking, the packages mentioned below are available on in the contrib directory. xtpanel xtpanel provides a quick and easy way of producing a panel containing interactive objects such as buttons, sliders, and text fields, either from the command line or from an xtpanel script file. Each panel object maintains a string representation of its value. When the object is modified it updates its value and it can also perform an action such as printing its value or calling a system command. Object scan make use of the values of other objects in constructing their actions, and they can set the values of other objects as the result of an action. The result is an interactive X windows program, without the need for conventional programming. Xloadimage version 3.03 containing the following fixes/enhancements: * JFIF-style JPEG images are now supported. * Color PCX files are now supported. * -zoom now works with 24-bit images. * -rotate now works on all systems at all multiples of 90 degrees. * A bug in root window handling for DEC and NCD servers has been fixed. * A bug in -normalize has been fixed. * Several bugs in -smooth have been fixed. * Several bugs in -merge have been fixed. * The man page now gives correct information on slide shows. xfishtank has lots or pretty fish swim around on the background of your screen (it's not just a screensaver -- there are bubbles and swimming fish all the time -- a total of 29!). A Motif-based ftp client named nxftp -- look for it on in the pub/ncsu_motif directory under the file name of nxftp.1.0.tar.Z. Last but not least is the Pie Window Manager. PieWM is built around the fact that menus are much easier to use if they appear as "pies" that pop-up around the cursor rather than dropping down -- each item corresponds to a large slice shaped target area and the farther you move the cursor, the larger target you have to hit. Several study papers are referenced. All features of tvtwm are supported. Get it from the machine in the pub directory stored as the file piewm.tar.Z. ------------------------------------------------------------ From the Bookshelf We recently completed reading _The Fifth Discipline_ (The Art and Practice of The Learning Organization) by Peter M. Senge -- highly recommended. A two-page summary of the book was written by Dr. Chaos, he liked it so much (if anyone would like to fund the lecture series...). Another book you might find likeable is: _The Best of The Journal of Irreproducible Results_ edited by Dr. George H. Scherr (it covers issues from 1955 to 1983). As a part of another project, we have been looking for sources of cartoon-type line art having to do with computers. Dr. Chaos finds it amazing that search as he might, he cannot find any such books on the topic in the USA but managed to find many such books in Germany (many of the pictures are good enough that it's not necessary to translate the caption). Any speculations about what that says about German sense of humor (or sense of the absurd) as opposed to Americans? ------------------------------------------------------------ Needed: Single (inexpensive) console for multiple servers Does anyone have a solution for the problem of how to have a single ascii console (say, a VT-100) shared between a bunch of servers (say, RS/6000s) so that the single console can be used for sysadmin tasks on all the servers? We have seen a configuration from BlackBox, that almost allows such a configuration ... except that it is too smart and "interprets" some of the VT-100 control codes which means that it is impossible to run SMIT (the system management tool) through that interface. Anyone know of another vendor/solution? ------------------------------------------------------------ Product of the month IBM ThinkPad 700C Looks like a wonderful laptop; 486, 10.5 inch active matrix COLOR display; reasonable sized disk. Now, if it only cost half as much... To subscribe ... drop a note to chaos- Dr. Chaos (I have a Master's Degree .... )


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