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Slashback: Fiction, Reprint, Browsing 53

Not that programmers or writers are ever a little bit competitive all by themselves, it seems that they have to be motivated with the carrot of fame (or some sort of perverse derivative) and prizes -- check the results of the two contests below and perhaps hone your ideas for next year's versions. Also, the dirt below on how to get Netscape quick (oxymoron?) and a new, old Neal Stephenson book (OK, that one was an oxymoron ...)

Play with directories to find the X-rated version. Remember the Interactive Fiction Contest mentioned here a while ago? Andrew Plotkin writes with some results: "After six weeks of judging, the results of this year's text adventure competition are in. The top three places go to "Kaged", "Metamorphoses", and "Being Andrew Plotkin". But personally I'd be happy to recommend any of the top ten entries.... and not just because my entry (which was not called "Being Andrew Plotkin"!) came in tenth. Heh. Many of the lower-down placers are worth a look, too -- this is one of the best competition rosters we've ever had."

And speaking of contests ... chongo writes: "The International Obfuscated C Code Contest, the oldest Internet based contest, is not ready to go on the cart as some may had feared. With the addition of Simon Cooper as the 4th IOCCC judge and my early vacation return the IOCCC is moving forward again.

We (the judges), have been processing a near record number of entries. We have now entered the final judging out of which the IOCCC winners will be selected. We apologize for the delay and would like to assure all the contestants and the spectators that the IOCCC 2000 winners will be announced prior to the end of the true millennium. :-) Watch the IOCCC news for further development.

P.S. The rumor that some judges are considering opening up the 2001 IOCCC to C++ programs is true."

(Or try the Perry-Casteneda Library at the really big U) Thanks to xFoz you can rest easy in the knowledge that "you won't have to spend big bucks to put that long lost out of print Neal Stephenson book under the tree this year. But you will have to wait for next year for your very own less than $500 a copy of "The Big U." Preorder now and save $2.60! Amazon has the listing here" mattdm points out that "You can pre-order from Barnes and Noble," as well.

Apparently, this is not Stephenson's favorite of his works. In fact, it's also the only one of his books that I didn't read compulsively with little more than breaks for micturation and nutrition, but it's hard to complain about having some more Neal Stephenson to read! (Thanks to my brother for turning me on to The Diamond Age, too.)

Straight up, no chaser LunarOne writes "I accidentally found the real direct link to downloading Netscape 6, without using their annoying little setup app. Thought I would contribute this since I hadn't seen the link anywhere here on /. I found it while downloading the Windows version of Netscape 6. I protect my Windoze box with BlackIce Defender and this firewall-ish program reported back to me the real download site. Anyways, I had low expectations of NS6 due to some negative comments I had heard here earlier. But, I gotta say I really like it. I have been downloading Mozilla builds regularly for a very long while, and still have high hopes for Mozilla. However, right now I'm enjoying Netscape 6, despite the included commercialisms previously condemned in this forum."

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Slashback: Fiction

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  • by dark_panda ( 177006 ) on Monday November 20, 2000 @03:04PM (#611194)
    ... C++ is obfuscated enough on its own. Furthering its obfustification is an exercise in futility.

    And I know, obfustification probably isn't a word.

  • I don't know if it is fame what drives people to participate on the Obfuscated C contest. I mean, who remembers the name of the winners?

    For me it is more the challenge of it all. I have never submitted an entry to the contest, but quite a few times I have started on that path, just for the fun of it....

    On the other hand, Open source hackers do get more recognition as well they should. Paul Vixie, Bill Joy, Henry Spencer, Vinton Cerf, Eric Raymond, Linus Torvald, Miguel de Icaza. Those names stick like glue to my memory cells...

  • Anyone know how to get rid of it?
  • I agree with Andrew Plotkin. There were quite a few strong entries in this years IF Comp. If you want some more info on the games before deciding which to play, take a look at rec.games.int-fiction, where there is a lot of review activity going on right now.

    You can also read many of the reviews [about.com] at interactfiction.about.com.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Bill Joy

    yeah, you know, solaris is a pretty famous piece of open-source software and all.

  • Ok... writing a C program to read like a novel, with full character development, nice, sappy slot with lots of sub-plots; and make it interactive via netscape 6... whooo-doggie... why, that would be:

    probably pretty lame.

    BUT, you just never know...

  • Ouch! Flamebait? Damn, these moderators suck tonight. I would have modded you up & had a hard time deciding between "Insightful" and "Funny".

    In 1999, marijuana [smokedot.org] killed 0 Americans...
  • by www.sorehands.com ( 142825 ) on Monday November 20, 2000 @03:22PM (#611201) Homepage
    I have seen too much much of that --- Damn, I have fixed too much of that.

    I fixed code that was so bad, the programmer who wrote it apoligized in the comments. I'm sorry for this, but Dick wanted this right now, not right.

  • Some kind soul has OCR'd the Big U and put it up for download:

  • It's okay. (if you really can't wait, do what I did - check with your local library, and failing that, use the Interlibrary Loan System) Certainly it helps if you're familiar with Boston University, upon which the novel is loosely based. while I didn't attend BU, I did nearly run over a number of BU students while driving down Comm. Ave. like everyone else in Boston

    There are some parts that are a bit dated, there are little bits here and there that you'll notice in later novels (e.g. the name of the fake band in Cryptonomicon is the name of a computer used by role-players), and the ending is, as usual, not as good as the set up.

    But for the compulsive N.S. reader who even has the magazine articles and the Stephen Bury novels, it's worth it.
  • uhhhhh just open installer.ini it has a list of different ftps right there and i think the install shows what site its downloading from.
  • (Or try the Perry-Casteneda Library at the really big U)

    I guess that's the PCL [utexas.edu] at the University of Texas at Austin [utexas.edu].

    I spent way too much time there, though I seem to have spent most of my time in the UGL [utexas.edu] or in the Physics-Math Library [utexas.edu] rather than the PCL.

  • oh... my.

    I'm so saddend and offended... I think I'll run off somewhere to cry.

    yeah... right


  • It's great! Unexpectedly! After using the various Mozilla builds on Linux, and having the NS6 installer crash/hang/etc, I wasn't expecting much. But it's actually really fast. And themes available are not too shabby.

    And that guy's URL was perhaps too specific. All platforms are at ftp://ftpnscp.newaol.com/pub/ net scape6/english/6.0 [newaol.com]

    ... "newaol" ... hmmm ...

  • oh... yeah, I suppose it would be better to have a plot over a slot... although seems that some are in more of a need of a slot...

    but, really... I'd actually be damn impressed if someone could actually write a story with a C program hidden and well crafted into it. Perhaps everyone doesn't appreciate my (our) warped sense of humor - but every now and then, I'm actually half serious...

    Enough ranting... I've crap to do and dinner to cook

  • scratch that its config.ini not installer.ini forgot to look for myself.
  • I've had no luck getting it. I tried using the setup app twice and it died both times so I went and downloaded the complete gz file and when I tried to unzip it gunzip said the file was corrupted. :-(
  • Unfortunately, Netscape 6 is pretty terrible. Go for the latest Mozilla milestone instead.


  • by Silver A ( 13776 ) on Monday November 20, 2000 @04:01PM (#611212)
    ftp://ftpnscp.newaol.com/pub/netscape6/english/6.0 /unix/linux22/sea/

    netscape-i686-pc-linux-gnu-sea.tar.gz 29.06 MB 09.11.2000 13:03:00

    29 Megs!!! What's the other 20 MB for? Mozilla is only a 9MB download.

  • Netscape's always maintained a pretty quick FTP server. Try ftp://ftp13.netscape.com/pub /ne tscape6/english/6.0/ [netscape.com] for pretty quick downloads. ; Here [netscape.com] the Windows self-installer.
  • BSD is NOT open source. it doesn not meet the open-source license critera as designed by bruce perins.

    But the BSD License, version 2.0, does meet Eric S. Raymond's Open Source Definition [opensource.org] (the Debian free software guidelines [debian.org] are nearly identical) as well as being a non-copyle ft GPL-compatible free software license [gnu.org] according to Richard M. "Goat ScanDisker" Stallman

    (Yes, the name of the god of the Eloi [pineight.com] is Butcher [preciousmoments.com].)
  • I really dont understand why netscape (and IE for that matter) require an annoying setup app to be able to download the product. It would save the heck out of bandwidth if they made the download links avalible to the public. A company with 100 workstations that need browser upgrades could just as easily download one copy of the browser, and keep it on the lan, thats 99 less downloads of a huge file.
  • It's okay. (if you really can't wait, do what I did - check with your local library, and failing that, use the Interlibrary Loan System)

    The book is worth a couple of hundred $US even in semi-crappy condition. You really think a library copy would have lasted more than a couple of weeks before getting pinched? I have a copy of the original and until I sell it, I won't be letting it out of the house. ;)

    BTW, shameless plug: anyone who wants to make a reasonable offer... kmorris at-sign cs period mun period ca. You know the substitutions.

  • micturition
    not micturation

    Im beginning to think they do it as a joke...
  • At first I had trouble getting the linux version
    to download from behind a firewall. I poked around and found the sea version and the install miraculously worked fine.

    Also the windows version would always crap out
    during the install. (missing sdinst.dll) I
    tried it a couple of days later and it just
    started working. That's windows.
  • But the obfustification of C++ is not so apparent. It's more sublimna..sublimina..subliminabable..
  • If I could program worth a crap, I'd take you up on this.

  • No, the crapping out was Windows; the 'started working' was sheer miracle.
  • The only reason i can think of for doing this is versioning. If they fuck up in the 6.000 version, they can slip 6.001 in real quick and nobody really notices. As long as the help app gets the current app... it's all good.. =)

    just a thought..

  • I found The Big U in .txt format on Gnutella (or was it alt.binaries.ebooks?) Poke around and you may be able to find it yourself... the_big_u.txt
  • actually I just preordered it, and am now going to read the one linked to above--I figure that at least I have bought it, or whatever---anyway, must go feed my Neal Stephenson addiction now
  • Holy leaping sheepshit. When I opened my bookstore in 1994, I had three copies of "Big U" that I had bought from some Notre Dame students. It had the yellow infinite-regression-and-college-boobs cover and I sold them for 30% off cover.

    There ain't no loathing like self-loathing.

  • thanks for indemnifying and encouraging theft from one of slashdot's favorite authors.

    Um, the author said he wasn't particularly proud of that book and it's been out of print for quite a while. People who have read it weren't terribly impressed. It is not being printed again.

    Yes, I know I'm responding to a troll, but if people continue to think that the distribution of out of print stuff that will most likely never be sold again is some sort of evil then we will lose a big, though rather unpopular, chunk of our culture.

  • My only guess is that the PCL is the largest library at the biggest university in the USA.
  • I live in the Seattle area and had no trouble whatsoever getting a copy of The Big U through the I.L.L. system. I know that there's one around here, I know there's one at Brown University in Rhode Island (if I hadn't moved when I did I would have arranged to check out that copy), and I'm sure that if you look a bit, you'll find one no problem.

    It'll kill you to look?
  • Advertising my boy, advertising....., nothing more, nothing less
  • by guran ( 98325 ) on Monday November 20, 2000 @10:38PM (#611231)
    I can actually see one good reason.
    The first .exe checks your local settings, OS version and directories, determines what plugins you have and so on. Then it goes after what ever must be updated, saving you from downloading more bloat than "neccesary"

    In a perfect world, there would also be a "download the whole setup" option for those of us who know our settings. (This is targeted at AOLers after all) There would also be no suspicion of what the 500K install reports back...
    In a perfect world, on the other hand, a lot of things would be better.

  • Geepers, don't you people ever use FTP?!?!?!

    When ever I upgrade, I just ftp to ftpx.netscape.com, replacing "x" with a single digit, non-zero number.

  • But it is being printed again, which is why it's in the article. Mind you, I don't mind this redistribution myself, although they should probably take it down now, or at least when the reprint comes out.
  • Past winners Larry Wall and David Korn spring to mind, but more for their achievements in other fields.
  • obfustification is not a word, but obfuscation is:

    obfuscation is a noun

    In a conversation with an OED editor, we learned that obfuscate in its various forms have been used as far back as 1577, but fell into disuse around 1900. The editor told us that their had been an increase of the use of the word in the early 1990's ... and traced part of the increase back to the IOCCC [isthe.com]. :-)

  • "Neal Stephenson's Animal House"
    I read a copy, it's really not terribly good, I'm surprised Stephenson is allowing it to be reprinted as it's not a patch on any of his later works from Zodiac onwards.

    Hacker: A criminal who breaks into computer systems
  • .. C++ is obfuscated enough on its own.

    I think it would be a good idea. C++ code can be very contorted and brutally obscure by it own, but usually it is so by ''accident'' (you disagree? what? Ok, that's what I thought). I would love to see what happens if the language falls in the hands of true artists.

    I stopped using C++ because it was so full of rules and philosophy. I allways ended up feeling guilty (poor li'll me :) ). It really felt like the philosophy was not helping me - it was just making my life misarable. I think an Obfuscated C++ contest would be a good oportunity to approach the language with a clear mind, and maybe really unleash the power beneath.


  • What drives people to enter the IOCCC [ioccc.org]?

    From the conversations that I have had with IOCCC winners [ioccc.org], I would say about 1/2 of what drives them recognition. More than a few IOCCC winners tell is that they put the fact that they won on the resume and/or web site.

    I was told by one winner that they won a promotion within their company and beat out a number of other candidates in part because their local newspaper had run a story about their ``winning a programming contest''. And, ``I swear I am not making this up'': their promotion gave them a significant new role in the company QA department. This winner credits a clueless newspaper reporter as well as a pointy-haired management selection committee for not understanding the IOCCC.

    Winners have the choice to remain anonymous. Very few entries even request this option. The only anonymous winner was back in 1984. When asked by people doing stories on the IOCCC, we tell them that this person as somewhat well known for a number of things, not the least is in regards to their early work with C and Un*x. To this day they remain steadfast in their desire to remain anonymous.

    I'd say about 1/3 are driven by the technical challenge. Some winners have reported that they worked off-and-on on their entry for several years. In one case a winning entry became part of their Ph.D. thesis! Given the complexity of some of the winners, I can certainly understand this motivation.

    Of the remaining 1/6, one is collecting multiple wins; to try be the person who as won the most number of times. Another less common motivation is in finding new ways to abuse the IOCCC rules.

    My favorite IOCCC abuse so far was done by:

    Spinellis's 1988 entry [ioccc.org]:

    #include </dev/tty>


  • The book is worth a couple of hundred $US even in semi-crappy condition. You really think a library copy would have lasted more than a couple of weeks before getting pinched? I have a copy of the original and until I sell it, I won't be letting it out of the house. ;)

    I got The Big U through inter-library loan with no problem. Since I thought that Stephenson wasn't going to let it be reprinted, I went to the trouble of photocopying it. Now I'll be able to soothe my conscience and buy a copy. Quite nice.

    "That fat, dumb, and bald guy sure plays a mean hardball."

  • This is the same one as the above link,
    but on a much more reliable connection.

    If you need a LaTeX, PostScript, or plain-text
    look at his web page
  • Well, the MySQL thread has nearly closed and you still haven't provided any evidence. Maybe you owe the ideut an apology?
  • OK, I stand corrected. However, I still find it suprising. Usually something worth that much isn't going to stay put once sufficiently sticky fingers pass over it.

    At least I don't have to look; as I said, I have a copy, though I'm looking to sell it.


  • >The first .exe checks your local settings, OS version and directories, [ ... ]

    Cool - I'd never thought about that, figuring the installer would be "smart" enough to figure out where stuff would go, but for the plugins that may already exist on the system, it actually makes sense. Thanx for the clue.

  • Actually, it's very easy to get a copy via interlibrary loan. I've done it several times. It'll be even easier when the reprint comes out. :)


  • Well, Stephenson agrees with you, which is why he didn't want it reprinted for so long. But he probably also got sick of seeing people paying $600 for it. And, there's lots of demand.
    Personally, I think it's a great book. *shrug*


  • You might want to try the mozilla nightlies. They're much much better than the NS6 release.


"The only way I can lose this election is if I'm caught in bed with a dead girl or a live boy." -- Louisiana governor Edwin Edwards