saydate and saytime: Hear for yourself

I’m going to lump saydate and saytime into one post, partly because they’re obvious cousins, but also because me showing them here doesn’t do a lick of good.


Both are primarily audio gimmicks, and as you can guess, one speaks the date through your speakers, and the other the time.

Unfortunately both are also somewhat out of date — saydate in particular is a decade old — and my luck with ancient audio programs is less than perfect.

I will give you a hint though: For the Debian version of saydate — which is hiding in the squeeze repos — you’ll want to install alsa-oss and start it like this:

aoss saydate -w

For saytime, you’ll need to make sure sox is installed, but I can’t guarantee that will work either, since my Arch version of sox didn’t like the options saytime was passing to it.

As a side note, saytime is apparently only in Russian, even if the flag options are available in English.

And other than that, all I can say is … you’ll have to hear them for yourself.

sar: One small part of a larger suite

I’ll go ahead and throw sar out here today, even though it might be more appropriate to save it for its parent suite, sysstat.

2014-04-16-6m47421-sar-01 2014-04-16-6m47421-sar-02

sar is a system analysis report, and in a nutshell, spits out statistics for a system either periodically, or as collected over a longer period of time.

By itself sar is only marginally useful, as you can see above, but it does share some interesting data.

And the ability to poll over some time means you can collect data through a rough patch, such as loading’s big fat backend. :roll:

There are a lot of options for sar, but if you’re not using the entire suite, it might not be able to tell you much.

If you want a few quickshot examples of how to use it, take a look at this page. Again, without the entire suite working, only some will work right.

I’ll probably revisit this when sysstat comes around. To be continued. ;)

sail: Ship-to-ship combat, in amazing detail

bsd-games continues to impress. Here’s sail, a historical ship combat simulator patterned after an Avalon Hill boardgame.


sail is impressive just for its level of detail, not to mention the fact that the first versions were coded for the PDP-11/70. :shock: Given that, and the fact that sail is intended as a multiplayer game, it’s a wonder how anyone ever played it.

sail shows ships numerically, with their bow to the front. As a ship turns, the stern rotates around it. Wind direction has a very strong effect on the speed and motion of a ship, and if you turn your ship straightaway into the wind, you might find yourself stalled … and a target.

Moving is done by letter and number combinations, all of which is dependent again on the wind and the height of your sails. You can charge forward three spaces and turn to port, for example, and that may be the entire turn for your ship.

Firing will depend on the angle, the profile of the ship (interestingly, hits down the length of a ship do more damage … the man page explains why), the distance and the shot you use.

And don’t forget grappling. And fouling. And boarding parties. And shot types, crew quality, weapon ranges and weather effects. And there are specialized scenarios, some of which step out of the buccaneer era, into World War II and beyond.

Overwhelmed yet? Don’t be. The man page is extraordinarily helpful, explaining not only the historical frame (1770s to the end of the Napoleonic era) but describes the ships, explains how they moved and fired, and how all those things translate into game terms.

I’m really very pleased to have found sail, in part because it approaches a level of intricacy that isn’t seen in most graphical games, let alone console ones. And because it fills in a small piece of computer history for me, in terms of what preceded the monolithic Pirates! of 1987.

Take your time and ease into sail. Don’t rush in and hope to sink something on the first try. Games like this deserve to be savored. :)

safecopy: If only I needed something safely copied

Oh, the S section. This is the part I’ve been dreading for almost a year, wondering exactly how long it would take to wade through this section of the list.

I have 114 titles in this part, though some of those are repeats and still more are of dubious usability. Might as well get started. This will bring us out of the spring, no doubt.

And first on the list is … safecopy.


Wouldn’t you know it? First program I get, I can’t really put to use. :’(

safecopy looks like a decent data recovery tool, and seems to have enough options to satisfy unusual arrangements.

Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, I’m fresh out of damaged CDs, sketchy hard drives and scratched floppies. Just my luck.

This is one I will keep in the back of my mind though. No doubt it will prove its worth in time. :)

Bonus: R is for released

As luck would have it, I reach a rather busy point in real life and find myself at the end of the R section.

Well, there’s naught to do but keep calm and carry on. Here, with the regular omissions, is what I have left of console applications starting with the letter R:

  • rainbowcrack: Password cracking is really only an occasional and oblique interest to me, and when it becomes necessary I make a point of enlisting something like Ophrack. If rainbowcrack is more to your liking (and it seems quite up-to-date), please feel free.
  • rarp: What few references I could find to rarp suggested it has been obsoleted, left out of the kernel since 2.3, and more or less forgotten. Even the home page appears to be dead. Wikipedia still talks about it though.
  • rc: This could be a lot of things. … :(
  • rdev: I can find man pages here and there on the Internet for this, but nothing in Arch/AUR, Debian, dpkg -S, pkgfile or even just a brute force DuckDuckGo search.
  • rdist: I believe this is in Debian, and I believe it mirrors file to multiple targets. I don’t have enough targets to play with this, probably.
  • readpst: Converts Outlook files to an mbox format. I don’t usually work with Outlook … much to my credit. :twisted:
  • redir: Redirects TCP connections. Sounds like a firewall tool. I’d better not.
  • regexplorer: Not the Microsoft one. This a regular expression explorer, and is Qt-based and therefore graphical. Also is about 10 years out of date.
  • remote: I can only wonder what this was supposed to be. :???:
  • renpy: Visual novel engine. I think this might be more like a scripting language than an application.
  • return: Returns from a procedure to the top-level command. This is not really functional as an application, I believe.
  • rid: I can’t seem to find any reference to this. I left myself a hint in “relative identifier,” but that doesn’t seem to help.
  • rinetd: Redirects TCP connections from one IP address and port to another. I don’t think I could really get this going on in my simple, single-connection machine. If you want to give it a go, I would recommend this page first.
  • routers: I have no idea what I was thinking by putting the word “routers” in my list. :oops:
  • rsnapshot: This appears to be designed for more complex systems than mine. incremental backups, hard links for saving space and cron integration for regular snapshots. Probably more than I would ever need. And things like this take a lot of time to set up, and time is in short supply right now. :(
  • rsrce: “Rsrce is an interactive, command-driven Macintosh resource editor. It aims at providing the functionality of the MacOS tool ‘resedit’ on Unix-like systems.” If you have a MacOS machine, then maybe this is something you might want to try.
  • rss-torrent: I think this has been renamed as “swarmtv.” The AUR version won’t build; the source code seems to be out of date with changes in curl. If you try, you’ll need to install cmake.
  • rsyncrypto: The guiding principle for rsyncrypto seems like a good idea: rsync is smart enough to conserve bandwidth by only transferring data that’s changed between files, but gnupg generally ruffles the arrangement such that transfers of encrypted files end up taking a lot of bandwidth anyway. rsyncrypto can handle encryption without losing rsync’s efficiency. So why didn’t I include it? I couldn’t get it to work. :oops:
  • rtorrent-extended: As far as I know, rtorrent-extended only ever existed as an AUR PKGBUILD that incorporated a lot of scattered patches for rtorrent. It’s fallen out of maintenance and doesn’t work any longer. rtorrent itself is fine, of course.
  • rwho: Remote who functions, and I believe this includes ruptime, rusers, and rwall. I don’t have a full-blown network and an array of users that might make this useful. Not in Arch, that I could find.

That’s it for now. I’ll start into the S section tomorrow. … :shock:

reflector: One more for Archers

In the interest of parity, and since there have been a lot of Debian-only posts in the past, here’s reflector — an Arch-only trick.


Mirror management is usually an easy-to-forget, one-time task when building a system, but it might be worth keeping reflector in mind.

I’ve used rankmirrors plenty of times, and if there’s no other available option, it does a fine job. But rankmirrors does expect you to do a little background work, and at times can be a bit time-consuming. All of which is easy to work around, of course.

reflector, in my humble opinion, has the added bonus of being able to filter mirrors by geographical area, which is great if you’re a world traveler and want to update between stopovers.

Or it might just be that some of the mirrors rankmirrors gave you are sluggish or remote, in which case reflector might have a few better ideas for you.

And of course, the best place to learn about reflector is on the one-and-only Arch wiki, which is only the best source for Linux information in the universe. Regardless of your distro. ;)

rubyripper: The options continue to multiply

I should apologize for the gap in communications for a few days this week. I was preoccupied with some personal events, and as luck would have it, I find I am also beset with computer issues. More on that later.

For now, rubyripper is next on the Master List.

2014-04-13-6m47421-rubyripper-01 2014-04-13-6m47421-rubyripper-02 2014-04-13-6m47421-rubyripper-03

We just saw ripit a week ago or so, and while it’s true that there’s only so much you can do with a console-based CD ripper utility, rubyripper seems quite competent.

True, it doesn’t seem to have as many low-level controls as ripit, but there are distinct audiences among computer users, and for some, a simpler, quicker interaction (notice I didn’t say “interface”) is better.

So much as you can see above, rubyripper has options to rip to flac, ogg or mp3, with command-line flag controls manually edited. Suffice to say, if you don’t know what the controls are for lame, you’ll probably just want to keep the defaults. ;)

One thing I like about rubyripper is the default rip location. Without any prompting, rubyripper dropped the resulting tracks into a folder called “vorbis,” which kept them from polluting my home directory. My OCPD thanks you, rubyripper.

abcde is my first-line pick for console CD ripping, but rubyripper has its charms. Following the theme I mentioned with ripit though, sometimes it’s not so much about the overarching program as the underlying support software.

A sad note: It seems the author has drifted away from the project, citing a lack of need to rip CDs any longer, since online services are quicker and easier. Much like I have said several times over, there doesn’t seem to be much call for CD conversion, and I don’t even know how many of my friends own CDs any longer. :(

It’s the circle of life.

One last bonus with rubyripper: Install ruby-gtk2 and get … a graphical interface!


I don’t see rubyripper in Debian, which is a bit of a shame. So … Arch :) Debian :( That could always change though. ;)