My Formative Years at All-Boys Science Summer Camp / Integrated Life
I'm 51 years old and I advocate for the use of everyday tools such as Linux, Python, vim & git. I'm writing this to let you know that if you don't know \*nix, you're behind, as Unix has been an integral part of computing since 1970. I've made the journey from hand magic, Dungeons & Dragons, and comic books to teaching these tools and believe that life is interconnected and that we should make the most of our everyday skills.
Uncovering the Interconnectedness of Life Through Unix and Vim
By Michael Levin
Monday, June 13, 2022
Wow, it’s still only 6:45 AM. The early-bird really does catch the worm. Get a 7:00 AM livecast in. Go set it up so people know it’s coming…
Growing a backbone, I am. (in the voice of Yoda).
Joke: Two Pigeonholed Millennials Were Standing In An Elevator…
Life is one giant integrated thing—at least that’s my belief. How is everyone and everything not interconnected? I mean come on, how could anyone believe in the disjointed disunion of things anymore? But they do. Example case in point, hen I was standing on an elevator in Manhattan for one of marketing agency jobs, I forget which, I heard one of the flocking millennials say in a contemptuous tone to a co-millennial:
[Such-and-such person] views life as one big integrated thing with no separation between work and personal. Can you believe that?
“Yes! Yes, I can,” I thought silently to myself:
Who are these pishers to pigeon-hole a soul into you-are-this here but you-are-that there? Didn’t the failed Voldemort horcrux slice-and-dicing of the soul story from Harry Potter teach you anything?
Ugh, but I kept my mouth shut of course. I am not these pishers’ parents. If their mommies and daddies didn’t teach them to do what you love and love what you do then it is not up to me. What their parents should have taught them was that if you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life.
If for no other reason, don’t split yourself down the middle so that you don’t have to spend energy keeping your act up. Experiences from one area in life being able to connect to experiences from other areas in life is part of having realizations, knowing yourself and growth. Don’t deny yourself that with little firewalls in your being. But if you have, I guess You make your own bed, so sleep in it.
Speaking Of Beds And Things You Spend A Lot Of Time In:
What else is like a bed that once you “make” you have to sleep in?
- Text editors
These are seemingly small things that have a profound impact on your life. They are given too little thought.
You live in these things. You live in more than these things than anything else in life, and if you’re not a tech person like me you can probably replace the keyboards and text editors with whatever the tools of your trade are. You do have a trade, right? A craft you can feel good about having mastered? Something of value that you can trade for economic power without having to rely on handouts and the charity of others, right?
No? Well that’s a problem because it’s closely tied to self-image. And no I’m not saying:
A Man Is What A Man Does
But rather, we are of the material world and how you weave matter into the stuff of life matters.
You Should Weave Stuff Of The Material World Because We Are Material Beings
(…in the voice of Madonna)
Most of us drive, right? Or maybe you hope to some day. If nothing else, being a driver is an easy way to turn everyday skills attainable to anyone into economic product. Driving once was a privilege of the rich like books and literacy. But just like books and literacy, driving is now one of the great easily obtainable options of the “in-need”. Driving is just like literacy. You’re not born with it, but you have to work for it.
Like Dune’s Pain Box, Driving Is A Test Of Your Human-ness
The real modern pandemic of anxiety is the actual blocker to driving. You have to overcome crippling anxiety to drive. Like the gom jabbar test of the Bene Gesserit, the ability to learn to drive is what separates those who are fit to lead (real humans) from those who are not (lower animals). Losing control of yourself while driving is simply not an option and some people are unwilling or unable to overcome that. So just like how reading for pleasure opens doors for you in life by allowing you to run the vicarious experience of others in your head without the same risks they took in life to acquire those experiences, driving similarly helps evolve you into being human by giving you access to worlds previously unavailable.
Not reading for pleasure is another worrying sign. Pick a book and start reading for pleasure. I make some good recommendations in this video:
Be Alert For Dystopian Futures
- This Perfect Day by Ira Levin
- 1984 by George Orwell
- Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Join Me In Disbelief These Came From One Author
- A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge
- The Peace War by Vernor Vinge
- Rainbows End by Vernor Vinge
If you’re waiting for self-driving cars, you’re waiting for vicarious parents to step into your life and let you remain some sort of adult-child. Shame on you!
Not With A Bang But With Wimps
How can I communicate such depth of life-experience in one quick elevator pitch? That person you feel contemptuous of that views life as one big integrated thing is worlds-wiser than you, the upwardly mobile Manhattanite that T.S. Elliot addresses so succinctly in Hollow Men. Oh! Poets yes they can do a better job at expressing it than I. Let me be as humble as the narcissist I am accused of being.
I am an unpoetic dumbass.
I am 51 years old and greatly unaccomplished by the measures of the green-arrow yangs I covet. But so what? I do not have expectations on myself to be of the sort of greatest all-possible wizards that I covet. I am not them. I am not:
The Tools I Advocate:
- Linux, Python, vim & git
Credit Where Credit Is Due (The Real Heroes are The Tool Makers)
- Martin Richards, the inventor of BCPL who gave us our C-language world
- People will want to credit Dennis Ritchie, but no. It was Brit Martin Richards.
- While not technically a virtual machine, this was the first time the benefit of VMs were broadly applied
- Douglas McIlroy, the champion of interprocess communication / data piping
- Folks often want to credit Ken Thompson for the filesystem and data-piping innovations of Unix but he “absorbed” much from Douglas and Bell Labs folks like him.
- Fernando Corbato, the inventor of computer time-sharing and Multics
- It’s very tempting to credit Fernando with many of Unix’s innovations since Unix was copied from Multics, but Fernando mostly did the timesharing bit.
- Kennith Thompson, the adaptor of Bell Labs & Corbato brilliance into Unix
- Ken was very hard to recruit to Bell Labs then leaked intellectual property he did as work-for-hire. Maybe being hard to recruit should have been a warning sign, but you have to love it. Dystopian bullet dodged!
- Richard Mathew Stallman, the liberator of the world’s great CompSci ideas
- There could be no one better as the spiritual leader of the free software movement, no matter what anyone says. Find anyone else who could reverse engineer Unix and write the license for the person who comes along to write the kernel to use. RMS is the biggest, baddest badass of badasses.
- Vint Cerf & Tim Berners-Lee, the connectors & spreaders of ideas &
- VC wrote TCP/IP so bits can get to you and me…
- No matter how the dice are cast including big atomic blast.
- Linux Torvalds, liberator of the liberator of the world’s great CompSci ideas
- Sure Linus is a thief, but he’s a brilliant lovable thief whose thievery is second to none… except maybe treasure hunter Tommy Thompson. Now there’s a thief!
- Leo Geurts, Lambert Meertens, and Steven Pemberton, whichever really invented
the ABC programming language (Wikipedia is unclear)
- A, B, C, D, E, F, G…
- To whom the credit goes, should be?
- Guido van Rossum, liberator of concepts from in the ABC programming language
- ~1991 I received the ABC programming language on Fred Fish public domain disk… or was it a PAUG disk? Not sure. Either way, Tony Antonuccio to thank.
- Thanks to Philadelphia Amiga Users’ Group and also Ed Gee and Jerry Hedden.
- Butler Lampson and L. Peter Deutsch, who developed the line-editor qed that
led to ed, ex, vi & vim (credit where it’s due)
- We credit Bill Joy for vi and Bram Moolenarr for vim, but credit where it’s due. Actually ot sure what came from Lampson and what from Deutsh. I will research more.
- Bill Joy, turned ex text-editor into bogglingly cool full-screen vi editor
- More credit goes to Bill than most copy-cats because he also wrote the ex program on which vi is based. Oh and he did a whole re-write of Unix just like RMS did, only for the offical (non-GNU) version of Unix that became BSD.
- Bram Moolenaar, recognized Bill Joy’s brilliant work on vi and kept it alive as vim… developed in 1988… Fred Fish #591 in 1991
- Larry McVoy, created original distributed revision control system a git copied (Linus Torvalds) dvcs.
Clever Thieves Are Heroes Too
Am I putting down the clever thieves? NO! The world is run on clever thieves. Why?
- IMPLEMENTATION MATTERS
- NUANCE & SUBTLETY MATTER
- THE PERSONALITIES BEHIND THINGS MATTER
You know that expression “We all stand on the shoulders of giants”? Same thing. Another word for shoulders in this expression is stolen intellectual property. We all stand on the stolen intellectual property of others—some of it more stolen than others, but stolen nonetheless.
Linux is the implementation you all know you have today because of Linus being so vocal… such a git… and such a strong personality.
On Windows 11 under a Powershell with admin rights:
See? These are the brilliant wizards. And there are tons of others not credited here who are not part of the Unix/C-programming language lineage that swept through the world, forever changing it like a DNA-reprogramming RNA virus. Think I’m the first one to think so? Nope! Google:
Unix Haters Handbook
Credit where credit is due.
This is my sports. This is my music. This is my pastime.
See? Can you imagine such hate for a thing that a hater’s handbook is published… and is successful! Much of this was written for a time when proprietary operating systems were providing a sort of polish that free and open source software could not yet provide. In fact, it wasn’t even clear yet when this was published that Unix was free and open source. The only fact that was true was that Unix was a fact of life that wasn’t going away. There had to be acceptence whether you liked it or not, hahaha!
You Don’t Know *Nix
And that was 1994 when it was first published. It seems so recent for an operating system that was developed over thirty-years prior. The virus took 34-years to spread so effectively that cartoon-drawing Luddites felt so compelled as to speak out against it. If it was already too late by that time and Apple jumped on the bandwagon in 2007 (13 years later) and then Microsoft jumped on the *nix bandwagon in 2022 (an additional 15 years after Apple, 27 years after the Unix Haters Handbook and 51 years after the invention of Unix itself), can you imagine how far behind you are today?
Knowing *Nix Is Just Plain Literacy (I’m No Better Than You)
Yes, people. We’re talking literacy. Not computer literacy. Not technology literacy. Just plain literacy.
And no I am not a pathological narcissist trying to set myself apart and above from everyone else by seeing this and reading spirituality into the fact I was born the same year as Unix, 50 miles away and got sucked into the Unix-like Commodore Amiga gravity-well, also 50-miles away from me during the 1980s when I was at my most impressionable to such things… Amiga computer… Atari 2600… which was in my house in the 1970s.
But I do believe in providence. And I do believe in serendipity. And I do believe in happenstance messengers having the responsibility to deliver a message…
…while staying humble.
I am the baker of goods.
I am not the maker of baking goods. Those are the wizards I enumerated above.
I am not saying I am better than anyone else.
I am saying I am slow on the uptake and that it took me 40-years to get it through my think skill.
All Boys Overnight Science Camp Watonka at Lake Wallenpaupack
I was on a TRS-80 at Camp Watonka near lake Wallenpaupack, 50-miles from where I now currently live as a result of the pandemic of 2020. I rejected computer sciency type things when I was there the first time, in favor of hand magic, Dungeons & Dragons, SciFi, comic books and art, but have been forced to “come back home” (such as it were) from New York City at least for a little while.
Magic Is Real. Magic Is *Nix
I now see that:
- hand magic is Unix/Linux Terminal, opened fullscreen 24x7
- Dungeons & Dragons, SciFi & comics are Python, vim & git
- The thrill of performance is spontaneous mastery of the above tools
It took me a long time to realize this.
I am deeply flawed.
I wasted much of my youth on things that could have made me Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Michael Rubin 1000x over.
The Journey Is The Reward
But am I sorry? A little bit, sure. But we’re all human. Coveting heroes doesn’t make us pathological narcissists.
The ability control your life… doesn’t mean you’re a control freak.
It makes us ask ourselves why our life is the way it is.
What is it about us that makes us not those super-achieving people?
Is it circumstances beyond our control, or isn’t it actually really choice.
- I love magic.
- I love consuming fantasy media.
- I love creating visions of a world that could be.
- I love mastering the tools of the means of production… today’s magic.
- I think the best way to learn is to teach…
..and so, I teach.
I love to teach and I’ve got a mic.
I love to talk into the mic.
I’m mic lovin’
So let’s begin.
—Mike Levin, 2022
There we go. Done.
Smile to myself, knowing I’m going to be more effective today because of this.
to lxc/lxd being installed (container tech like docker, but the Linux standard)
to systemd Linux daemons (scheduling)
to data pipelining (python huey) to stay compatible with the new guy's work
Huey by the way is a data pipeline job queue thing that’s an alternative to Python celery. I’m not really that familiar with such stuff and need a pure Linux playground.
- usually means VMs
- but today means containers
- And today means Linux on Windows subsystem for Linux (WSL)
Solaris is a Unix variant better than most Unix & Linux… it’s Sun Microsystems who does everything better than everyone else, including disk formats. LXD uses Solaris’ disk format for containers.
Links From Today’s Video
- Douglass McIlroy who advocated piping and interprocess communcation
- LXC & LXD Containers more standard and better than Docker
- Containers are nothing new. They’re just the old Unix chroot command repackaged
- Sun Microsystems does everything better, including Solaris file system ZFS
- All Boys Science Camp was Formative in Just 1-Month of My 11 Year-old Life
And A Tweet For Today:
Unix invented 1970. Unix Hater’s Handbook 1991 (its viral nature exposed). Mac switches to Unix 2007, saves Mac computer. All Mobile based on Unix or Linux. 51 years later, Microsoft releases Linux subsystem. You’re behind if you don’t know *nix
If You Don’t Know *Nix