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About Deimos

I sit listening to a jazz program on public radio, wondering what will catch someone else's ear--I'm glad to hear that the piano in a scratchy recording is in tune!

Given that I live out of the mainstream, accessing the Net via DOS/Unix/lynx and am comfortable with white text on black background for all the Net working that I do from my home computer, I'm exploring the possibilities I can see and will find out from the effects how well it's working.

I decided to become computer literate in 1990, reading Russ Walter's Secret Guide to Computers, taking workshops at the local community college, subscribing to a computer magazine and joining a PC user's group. It was a lot of fun to spend free time in the computer lab, learning from the tutor there who ran his own BBS. It's fun to learn from people who give direct answers about the way computers and networks work. It's even more fun to learn from doing--having support nearby to explain why the computer is working the way it does! Little did I dream that the learning situation I was entering would become so entrancing!

Every day now, I enjoy working and playing on the Internet even when I get lost.

I'm listening to a NPR jazz show as I write this--it's a change from the classical music I grew up listening to and playing. Although I don't practice the piano much these days there are times when I practice enough daily to enjoy playing.

These days I spend hours at the keyboard every day. My goal is to install and run linux so that I no longer use a computer that relies on Microsoft programming. To balance daily hours of sitting at the keyboard, I cycle almost daily year round--sometimes stressful when it's snowing or raining or very windy. I've been cycling year round for 5 years now.

I'm sorting through winter projects for 1998. It's time to catch up on deferred maintenance on the house, and I want to read more books from my TRQ (To Read Queue: from Fidonet's SF echo.)

Once I've edited this webpage to suit my tastes, I will start maintaining it and move from enjoying webpage design and programming to thoughts of how I make my current skills and interests a bit more productive.


felix the cat animation: 28K

I *heart animations!

DOS/Unix/lynx for browsing and chatting 3/27/98

DOS is Microsoft Disk Operating System.
Unix is the OS (operating system) that my ISP (dialup Internet Service provider) uses on its server.
lynx is a text-based web-browser. I use lynx to surf the web, to chat, and to access web services like hotmail or free web-page servers.



What are the advantages using DOS/Unix/lynx for browsing?
My computer has been up and running continuously since 12/15/97. Since I'm often home and I often use the computer without regard for time of day, it's more convenient for me to leave it on. Power glitches cause it to reboot. Occasionally I do something stupid and I've frozen it. In normal use when I'm not testing things or pushing the limits of programs, things work as they're supposed to. There are times when my computer has been operating continuously for more than 60 days. (I never used Windows95 GUI (Graphical User Interface) during those long periods!)

On my computer I have mail and text archives of information that I've found interesting or have scanned for later perusal, as well as many freeware and shareware programs for DOS and Windows that can be downloaded from sites on the Net. The disadvantage of running DOS on my home computer is that it does not multi-task programs. I have to exit or 'shell' from one program if I want to "maintain my place" in an ongoing activity. I normally 'shell' from Telemate communications program to view or to process files after downloading. (I compress most textfiles after scanning them.) However, Telemate communications program lets me have a terminal window, an "edit window", a "view window" and a "DOS" window open at one time (although only one will be "active". I use Telemate features to copy/append text from the terminal window and/or "backscroll buffer" to savefiles for later reference. It is so easy to keep adding to my store of URLs pointing to resources on the Net.



Because I have a shell account with my ISP, I have access to quite a variety of Unix programs. The ones that I use every day are pine (mail program for writing/viewing emails) 'mail' (same idea, but *much more streamlined so it's quicker for scanning emails), editors for creating and changing files (I use vim and sed), and 'screen', a Unix program that keeps my place if I get "NO CARRIER". It saves a *lot of frustration to know that I can login again and run "screen -r" and recover my place in the process that I was running. I also use file compression/archiving programs--gzip and zip.

I like Unix because I can run processes in the background easily and using 'screen', I can create 2 "virtual terminals" and have 2 or more "windows" going at the same time. The weakness with this way of working is that when there is a lot of heavy-duty processing happening at my ISP, things can slow to a crawl. Over time I'm getting to enjoy more of the capabilities of the Unix approach of using powerful tools with little interface.

My goal during 1998 is to install and start running linux, a freeware Unix clone, on my home computer. An alternative would be Free-BSD, another flavor of Unix. It's time that I got back into programming again.



Since lynx is a text-based browser, it shows the information on the screen really quickly. It loads quickly, so I can easily check out information online; it takes about a second to fire up lynx showing my bookmark file. I can load the webpages I create into it and 'call' vim to edit them from lynx, and when I finish the edits, I am viewing the edited page in lynx. It gives quick feedback on changes that I've made. However I don't have colors. Or pictures. I have speedy access to text information instead.

When I use the library computer which runs Netscape to access the web, I get *really annoyed at the clutter of ads at the various services that I use. My plain vanilla interface lets me retrieve and use information quickly and easily.

My home computer P100 3/27/98

Pentium100 Mhz CPU, 16Mb parity RAM
Connor 540M HD
Princeton Ultra 17" monitor
Supra faxmodem 33.6K (upgrade from 28.8K)

Programs I use every day
Telemate communications
6M RAMdrive for temporary files
vim 4.2 editor (Vern Buerg) file viewer
dvp 3.0l graphics viewer

I leave my computer running 24/7 except for thunderstorms and power glitches. I've had to reboot a few times when I edited too big a file using vim (it has "infinite" undo which does weird memory things.)

Last boot was because my telecommunications program froze. Usually it goes for more than a month before requiring reboot because of a frozen keyboard.

Computers! 1/5/98

There are times when I don't know what I'd do without one. I don't know how people can manage without email and the Net.

Save early, save often, make redundant backups.
I learned that from The Frozen Keyboard by Boris Beizer. Software engineering and development and testing has improved a lot since he wrote the book, but it's funny and charming.

rtfm: (old Unix saying)
Use online help. Take time to read it.
Do you know what your favorite keywords are?

Learning 1/11/98

When I started finding duplicate books as I was looking through my stacks, I realized once again that my memory was different. In September and October of 1996 I was grieving that my ST and LT memory weren't connected as they used to be and that my ST memory was very unreliable. I often couldn't recall recent events. Even when it mattered.

In November 96, I realized that my strategy had to be to accelerate my learning process. Before my concussions I'd relied on my memory as a crutch. It was time to start figuring things out and to be open what is available now.

About that time I found that reading NLP newsgroup was helpful and I started to look at NLP websites. They have been an inspiration to me. I've always wondered how to start using that other 90% of the brain that people keep saying that we don't use!

These days I use computer tools to track my interests. I gather and collate information about them. I add to my lynx-bookmarks file and to my savefiles every day. I use the search feature of my telecomm program to locate details for various keywords. I usually find what I'm looking for because if there is important information, I add it to more than one savefile.

When I am learning a new program, I make cheat-sheets and track my questions by writing them down in a spiral notebook. Now if only I could keep track of my notebooks! Logbooks are wonderful!

ST: Short term
11/96: 2 years 1 month post-bonk #2

Favorite Links -- Services I use every day 1/7/98 Quick, reliable multi-search engine
DejaNews: great archive of usenet messages/posts (despammed:)
MGH Neuro chat: a bright, funny, intense community

Music! 1/6/98

My grand piano sits in the front room, lonely. I haven't touched the keyboard in 2 months--didn't play Christmas Carols this year. I have to hook up a woodstove and fire it up before the room is comfortable to play for more than a few minutes. I last tuned it 2 years ago.

Favorite Composers for piano music.

  • Beethoven
    • opus 111
    • Tempest
    • La Chas (31 #3)
    • Appassionata
    • Rage over a lost Penny op. 127
    • Concerto #3
    • Symphonies 3 5 7 and 9 in transcriptions
    • op 110
    • Eroica variations
    • Diabelli variations
  • Chopin
    • Scherzo in Bb minor
    • Funeral march from Sonata
    • Etudes
    • Preludes
  • Bach
    • Inventions
    • little fugues
    • Italian Concerto
  • Debussy
    • Claire de Lune
    • children's Corner
    • Arabesque
    • Reverie
  • Schumann
    • Kriesleriana
    • Fantasiestucke
    • Fankingschwas aus Vien
  • Schubert
    • Sonata in Bb
  • Mendelsohn
    • Variations Serieux
  • Jacques Ibert
    • Le Petit An Blanc
    • Giddy Girl
  • Bartok
    • Mikrokosmos
    • concerto #3
  • Louis Gottschalk
    • The Banjo

Piano 1/5/98

I started taking lessons with Mrs. Wright at age 7. My parents moved when I was 12 and I had a college student for a teacher for a while, and then a concert pianist/musical director of a museum. During my high school years I played for hours, often into the early hours since my parents house had a music room that was set apart from the rest of the house. That was when I'd work on Beethoven Sonatas--the Waldstein, the Tempest, the Pastorale.

Lessons in college didn't go well.

I continued to play regularly at various pianos that were around the college area that I lived in--many not in very good shape. When I was about 24 I decided to learn how to tune pianos since the ones that I was playing on always seemed to be out of tune. I took a workshop at the nearby University and started going to meetings of the Piano Technician's Guild, and later attended a school for tuning and rebuilding keyboard instruments and after getting a certificate, spent about 15 years being self-employed as a piano tuner-technician.

These days I sometimes check into the piano newsgroup.

I have a 85 note Steinway B built in 1893 that I got at an auction in a fit of excitement, and I spent quite a few hours refinishing and reconditioning it. I still have to put the case back together and I have been really pleased that it's held up so well over a few years when I was playing a lot... and playing hard.

Since fall of 1994 I found it hard to play because of a shoulder separation and because it was an order of difficulty harder to learn the pieces that I wanted to. The front room is heated by the sun, since I don't have the woodstove hooked up to the chimney right now. It can be too cold to comfortably play during the winter months.

My goal is to hang new hammers on the piano and to voice it. I'll have to recondition the action again, no doubt. One of these days I will put the case back together.

In the meantime I listen to Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz on NPR and perk up when I hear Beethoven and Mozart piano concerti. I keep my fingers in shape chatting at MGH Neuro chatrooms and writing emails and HTML.

linux 3/25/98

linux is a free 32bit Unix-like operating system.

There are several very active newsgroups devoted to solving the problems that linux users have. It is not an "intuitive" commercial product. It is in open development, not a proprietary operating system like MS Windows95. The source code for Linux comes in the CDROM distributions, so that you can see how the operating system does its magic... if you can read C, that is. (C is a programming language.)

3-25-98 I got a copy of _Linux Unleashed_ and have been scanning the 1000+ pages. I'm glad that it has a good index. Next step is to get RedHat 5.0 Linux distribution.

One of the newsgroups that I enjoy reading is alt.hackers. People write about the neat hacks that they've done. It's a newsgroup devoted to creativity in applying tools to situations in ways that *hadn't been obvious. Some of the more interesting posts have been from people who use linux OS.

Cycling and Re-cycling 3/27/98
(I *heart tag sales)

I use almost daily during the winter:

Schwinn 12speed with 27" alloy wheels stainless steel spokes, rack over rear wheel with stem-mounted shifters.
(WD-40 is messy but keeps things from rusting/corroding.)

spare 12-speed
Zebra with 26" alloy wheels

    clunkers: when I plan to leave my bike for hours
  • Raleigh? 10speed from tagsale,white (has generator light on it)
  • Peugeot 10speed

I aim at cycling every day even when weather makes it unpleasant. The daily habit makes it much easier to get out and enjoy whatever the wind, temps, or precipitation happen to be. My errand commutes are either 16-18mi round trip or 24-30mi round trip. Once a week I aim at doing 40 or 50mi loop to my favorite used bookstore. This past week with 5 days of rain/drizzle, I only got in about 42miles. Usually I average 100+ miles a week during January and February, and 140-150 during the "cycling season" (April to October).

Reading? books? Who's got time? 3/25/98

OK, I've got a lot of books I want to read... starting with Vernor Vinge's True Names. This novella provided the inspiration for creating a Deimos website.

1/5/98 in the middle of reading Brainrose by Nancy Kress. February--was reading Learning Perl and Mastering Regular Expressions. and mysteries... 3/25/98 never finished Brainrose, now reading Anne Perry's Weighed in the Balance. And I'm in the first reading of Linux Unleashed, mainly to get a sense of how to install it and what I need to know before I can connect to the Net with it the way I do with DOS programs now.

career? good idea! 1/5/98

I'm still wondering what I will be when I grow up.

Animated gifs are soooo K00L 1/5/98

You can always plug "animation gif" into a search engine! Other kinds of animations are neat too, including the ancient vt100 animations. They use vt100 terminal emulation so the speed of the animation depends on the speed of your modem. You can fine some of these animations with a search for "vt100 animation". (Telemate, my telecommunications program, has vt102 terminal emulation.)


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