Helpful Stuff

Hermes Rocket (2018/09/24)

Hermes Rocket, 1952

Typewriters can be useful. Specifically: lightweight, portable typewriters such as the Hermes Rocket provide a convenient, reliable alternative to computers. Type and file.

They may also ship with unique baggage:

The man who owned this typewriter was a US Air Force officer and engineer, who was principal designer of the SR-71 spy plane engines. Threaded up around the platen of this machine when I received it was a seemingly blank sheet of paper that revealed, upon careful inspection with a bright desk lamp, the imprint of some official military correspondence.

Install Classic Keyboard on xx30 Series ThinkPads (2018/04/16)

Lenovo ThinkPad T430 with T420 keyboard

This guide will explain exactly how to replace your xx30’s keyboard with an xx20 Classic keyboard.

Read more here.

Additional information here.

Even more information here.

Dealing with webshit: Configuring Firefox (2018/03/23)

This is the bare minimum necessary to configure Firefox so that it behaves in a reasonable manner. This document was last updated on 27 January 2017 and was tested with a clean install of Firefox 57. Verify these steps each time Firefox is updated.

Read more here.

Connect to Plan 9 from a mobile device (2018/03/08)

Help, my phone is my only Internet access

This article describes how a mobile phone (in this case, an iPhone) may be used to quickly and easily access a Plan 9 computer. Note: The path to victory is littered with compromises of necessity that terminate in reasonable functionality. Your mileage may vary.

SSH client

Any SSH client will do.

For iOS, there exists an app called Prompt 2 by Panic, Inc., whose features are sufficient to the task. Prompt 2 may be configured for one-click connection to a remote server, including the ability to automatically run a command once the connection is established (see below).

Remote UNIX SSH server

The following platforms are recommended: OpenBSD, FreeBSD, Solaris, MacOS. Other UNIX-like systems may also be able to compile and run drawterm (see below).

Terminal multiplexer

A terminal multiplexer such as tmux(1) may be used to sustain a drawterm connection across numerous SSH sessions. For convenience, create a script to re-attach your session that may be executed by the SSH client:

tmux -u attach

drawterm -G

The 9front project has forked and updated Russ Cox’s original drawterm:

adding (among other things) support for a non-graphical, text-based command line mode:

drawterm -G -h $host -a $auth_server -u $user

The drawterm command is likewise suitable for being run from a script.


All the pieces in place, configure your SSH client to connect to the remote UNIX SSH server and re-attach to your tmux(1) session.

Prompt 2 running on an iPhone 7 Plus

Related: 9front, Plan 9

mother (2017/11/29)

Mother is an rc(1) script that provides a very similar experience to nedmail(1). Note: saved messages are copied manually to the mbox directory in mdir format (the default used by Erik Quanstro’s nupas and 9front’s upas). All other interactions between mother and mail messages occur via upasfs(4).

Read more here.

Related: 9front, Plan 9