shell accounts [was RE: strangest systems I've sent email from]

Mike Stein mhs.stein at
Fri Apr 22 14:40:54 CDT 2016

What *is it* with the thin skins around here?

I read someone just expressing his perspective, his "personal preference based on his style" as you put it; I didn't read any cavalier condescension, judgments, "dismissing or marginalizing" other folks' perspectives, or anything that justifies calling him a "jerk" as in J.W.'s post.

Do these things invariably have to elicit defensive ad hominem and straw man arguments? Aside from those, I find your post below as valid and interesting as the OP's and although I see some things differently I don't feel insulted or condescended to in the least. 

If I say that I personally don't see any point today in laboriously using Pine and my 8x40 display M100 (or Chuck's Kobo ;-) to read my email (even though I did actually use an M100 back in the 80's), does that really automatically imply that I think that anyone who does get a kick out of that sort of thing is an imbecile and that I'm smarter or better somehow than they are?


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Swift Griggs" <swiftgriggs at>
To: "General Discussion: On-Topic and Off-Topic Posts" <cctalk at>
Sent: Friday, April 22, 2016 1:47 PM
Subject: Re: shell accounts [was RE: strangest systems I've sent email from]

> On Thu, 21 Apr 2016, Tony Aiuto wrote:
>> Actually, I don't get this discussion at all.
> Okay, well you are entitled to your view, just like the rest of us, 
> obviously. However, a bit less caviler condescension might lubricate the 
> discussion more effectively.
>> I had a panix account years ago.  About the same time I ran a FULL suite
>> of servers in my basement, DNS, STMP, HTTP & mailman.
> I don't run a "full suite of servers".  I run an SGI Challenge S that runs 
> on minimal power (about 14-30W most of the time, thus sayeth my 
> Kill-a-watt meter).  It's the only system in my entire constellation of 
> systems that stays on all the time.  At my electricity rates, it costs me 
> about four to eight dollars a year.  So, it's not like it requires a full 
> rack of mainframes spinning the meter and burning a hole in my pocket.  
> It's likely _less_ than I'd pay to get decent hosted + managed version of 
> the same service.  I use free dyndns so I don't even pay a NIC. I guess I 
> could hook up an old AMD Geode board or use a RPI+ or something and lower 
> my costs a bit more.
>>  Then I realized that was just because I *could*, rather than I needed to
>> or because it served any interesting historical purpose.  I switched it
>> all to outsourced services and never looked back.
> I don't trust corporations.  Most of them are crooked as a dog's hind leg 
> and I have no doubt they'd do _anything_ with my data if it made them a 
> dollar (and that despite whatever they'd said or agreed to in the past).  
> I _know_ where *my* backups are and when they were last taken. I don't 
> have to depend that the low-paid foreigners working for some hosted 
> version of the service are actually rotating those tapes out of the silo 
> etc...  I've worked for these people all my life (dirty corporations) and 
> I know how the sausage is made, unfortunately.
>> The bottom line is that what i really care about is the beauty of old
>> hardware and the elegance of software that had to run in that limited
>> environment.
> Cool, but that's definitely just your personal preference based on your 
> own style, not some immutable logic which failed to make itself apparent 
> to me in the same epiphany you experienced.  If someone else gets a kick 
> out of running an old application, what is the harm in that? 
>>  The speed/cost/accuracy tradeoff is the essence of software engineering. 
> I respectfully disagree.  Creativity and problem solving are the essence 
> of all engineering, in my opinion.  The tradeoffs you mention are simple 
> considerations that factor into a constellation of variables leading to a 
> finished effort.
>> If I read information about it with Lynx rather than a modern browser, I
>> only penalize myself.
> Again, that's your style and your preference. I have vision problems. I 
> often read pages in elinks (I dislike lynx) for the purpose of having 
> strict control over the fonts without having to create CSS, faster load 
> times, exclusion of advertisements, availability over text-only 
> connections such as ssh or telnet for testing sites from alternate 
> locations, and finally so I can focus on the content to the exclusion of 
> any surrounding graphics. That's just a few of many reasons folks use text 
> browsers.
>>  I reduce my bandwidth for some abstract notion of "purity".
> That's not at all what I'm thinking when I do it (regularly). 
>> Look at it this way.  Archeologists care about history, but they are smart
>> enough to realize they don't have to write their papers in charcoal on
>> cave walls.
> If they did write it on a cave wall they might have a prayer of someone 
> finding it 10,000 years from now.  They will likely store them on digital 
> media that will be worthless in less than 100 years if some corporate 
> dirtbag doesn't deign to store them on their $$$-only server.  If it's 
> "cloud" storage, then it'd go away as soon as they quit paying.  If it was 
> CDROM, Floppy, HDD etc..  it'll degrade.  So, to extend your analogy, 
> perhaps the Archaeologist should consider using a medium that might see 
> their work survive to be meaningful far into the future.  That might be a 
> MOdisc or it might be a clay tablet. One size does not fit all when humans 
> are involved since they all have different needs and preferences.  The 
> reason we know more about the Babylonians versus some much newer literate 
> cultures is that they wrote on stone (clay) tablets.  Laugh all you want 
> (privately, please) at the "luddites" but it worked for them, and 
> continues to do so.
>> Do not conflate the subject matter with the medium to talk about it. 
> Frankly, I find your advice condescending and bereft of merit. I disagree 
> that is was what we were doing in our discussion.
>> I love ancient hardware, and I will use the best tools I have available to
>> talk about it.
> "Best" != Newest.  I can ssh into my place from anywhere and read my mail 
> faster than using webmail (no contest, there are no graphics, and ssh keys 
> get me in hyper-fast). What's best for you isn't always going to best for 
> me or others and visa-versa.
>> Limiting myself to shell accounts and elm as a mail reader misses the
>> point.
> At best, it misses your point from your perspective.  You seem to be 
> completely dismissing and marginalizing folks who have some categorically 
> bulletproof reasoning to run older applications that you don't seem to 
> have considered at all.  One of those reasons is "some people think it's 
> fun" and that's totally valid, too.  Another (more common) reason is that 
> it's what they know.  My father-in-law built a reproduction of a clock 
> from the 1600's and he used an _ancient_ version of IBM CAD for DOS to 
> design various parts since that's what he knew best and he already had an 
> interface built between IBM CAD and his milling machine.  It turned out 
> wonderful and there wasn't any good reason why I should have stopped 
> marveling at the work he did to harangue him to "upgrade" to AutoCAD.  
> The _results_ matter far more than the tools, in my opinion.  The 
> preferences of the people using the tools, matters, too.
> There is also the fact that some folks *like* using tools that might 
> actually be slower or less effective. I do woodworking 100% with hand 
> tools. It's MUCH slower than using power tools and often the results are 
> almost always less precise and sloppier than what a C&C rig could give me. 
> I could care less. I do it because it relaxes me and focuses my mind.
>>  We *live* in 2016.  We talk about 1970.
> Which has little or no bearing on any of your assertions.  It's also 
> condescending which is counterproductive to moving a discussion toward a 
> meaningful destination.
>>  Using technology from 1990 is neither historically accurate, nor useful.
> I believe you are wrong, on both points, sir.  It's completely 
> historically accurate since they are the exact digital duplicates (or 
> originals) running in many cases on the exact hardware.  How is that 
> inaccurate in the slightest way besides the fact that it's not 1990 ?  
> Your second point that it's not useful leaves me stunned at the factual 
> bankruptcy of the statement.  Do you have any idea how much "legacy" tech 
> is still out there doing both trivial and critical jobs?  Things that you 
> depend on every day like power and water are most likely operated in large 
> part on "historical" applications.  I won't bother making a list, since I 
> doubt the list-server is going to accept a 100MB email.
> Did you know that George RR Martin writes all his books using a DOS 
> machine running Wordstar?  Do you think he'd have turned out better work 
> fighting the paper clip in MS Word ? Will you eschew his work since he 
> used a not "useful" application to create it ?
> -Swift

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