Random knowledge XV.

05 February 2007

Cosplay: Proving that when there is a will, there is a way to construct damn near anything.

When installing Perl modules by hand, be sure that you have lots of coffee handy. Not only can it take a bloody long time to compile everything, but running make test (and you'd better run make test to be sure you're not hosing your installed copy of Perl) can take an amazing amount of time.

Sure, you can automagickally install stuff from CPAN (perl -MCPAN -e shell) but if you need to go through a proxy server, you're screwed. You'd be better off, in this event, to install everything from CPAN on a machine that doesn't have to deal with a proxy server, copy the source tarballs over to the destination machine en masse, and compile everything by hand.

When performing an upgrade, always use the script utility to record everything you do and see on the system. It spawns another shell which dumps a copy of everything to a text file for later analysis. Keep in mind that it also records control characters, like moving the cursor around with the arrow keys and using the backspace key to fix typos, so the script can be difficult to interpret if you're not careful. This may be the only way you have of figuring out what went wrong.

You know you're getting old when you no longer remember the lyrics of your favourite band at the drop of a hat.

You can tell the new-school Whovians from the old-school Whovians by how many times they use the word "Fantastic!" in twenty-four hours.

The people who have the fanciest ergonomic workstations, from the soft-gel wrist pads to the mouse trays on a Z-spring are always the people who type with two or fewer fingers.

Just because a book is slim does not mean that it is not interesting or useful.

On a Linux machine, if you want to create an account but force the user to change their password the first time they log in, log into the machine as the root user and edit /etc/shadow (yes, this is risky!). Cursor down to the line containing their encrypted password entry and edit the third field of that line (it's a group of five digits, which mean the number of days since 1 January 1970 since the password's last been changed). Change this value to 0. This will prompt the user to change their password the next time they log in.

To successfully run the rpm2tgz utility (which converts Redhat-compatible RPM files into Slackware .tgz package files) on a Slackware machine, you need to install two things: The RPM and CPIO utilities (both of which you can get from the Slackware installation CDs or DVDS). rpm2tgz comes standard with the A package series. These are all necessary for conversion to be successful.

Nobody every notices when you're hacking away like mad, but the moment you take five minutes to check your e-mail while waiting for a compile to finish, half the management team will come in and yell at you for wasting time.