Tweak Flop

Dear J-

I tend to go on a bit of a spree before heading out on trips, thinking that of course I’ll need something like that on the road: travel-size things and devices to make your life easier. Small wonder that the SkyMall gets so worn-out by the end of the month; your bored captive audience is looking for ideas, simple or strange as they may seem (look, it’s a dog crate that turns into an end table!). As I may have mentioned before I’m in the process of converting an eBay laptop to Arch Linux, which seems fairly straightforward for now. I’ll let you know how it’s going after I get further into it; the default installation leaves you without even X Windows, I think, so you end up with the command-line interface.

Along with that I’m looking forward to renewing my acquaintance with such stalwarts as pine or elm along with vi, the tool I used (along with Mosaic and the then-new Netscape Navigator) to build a small series of webpages. Don’t get me wrong; I’m still stupid enough that I’ll be finding and installing a graphical desktop environment, but I’ll probably follow the recommendations from the Arch fast’n’light awards, given the relatively obsolescent state of the laptop. I’m curious to see if I can still hop on USENET via trn or launch lynx to surf around via keyboard.

On the other hand it has been nearly twenty years since I regularly used them, and honestly, that represents twenty years of progress over where we were. It’s not as though the laptop is so completely crapppy as to be completely bogged down by simple GUIs either, so I’ll not be completely lost on the road. But of course I’ll be bringing along a phone or two with a modern, canned interface; as much as I despise having to tweak the tools I use, I seem to keep coming back to them having some entertainment value, at least as long as I can not be completely cut off from the Internet.



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