No. 37 Vol. 1Since 2018 A.D.Price: 0/0d


I've read too many Frequently Asked Questions online that were clearly never asked by anyone. So a more honest title is NAQs, or Never Asked Questions. Here are answers to questions no one has ever asked, but regardless, I felt like answering.

Q:/> What does Thran mean? Explain your name!

A:/> No. If I did what you wanted, that wouldn't be thran.

Q:/> Which editor do you use?

A:/> I use Vim, in Ex mode, with Caps Lock activated.

Q:/> How did you learn to program?

A:/> The CIA doesn't want you to know, but I was personally tutored by Terry A. Davis.

Q:/> What is the greatest album of all time?

A:/> I haven't listened to them all yet, but of those I have heard so far I can confidently proclaim that honour belongs only to Guided By Voices's Bee Thousand.

Q:/> Have you ever done anything illegal?

A:/> When using Windows 98, I was often informed that "This program has performed an illegal operation and will be shut down", so there's that.

Q:/> Why are your website designs so dated?

A:/> Don't be boring!

I'm not trying to have a "retro" theme; a lot of "nostalgia" is embarrassing and gets old fast. Rather these are simply elements of web design I've liked. I've built these websites to show that anything is possible. I think there should be more individuality on the web and self-ownership of one's own web space; this includes the style. So I used the resources available to me in the time I had and these are the styles I produced. They may resemble an older style and draw from it as an influence, but that's not the intent.

Q:/> How old are you?

A:/> I can't remember the collapse of the Soviet Union, but I can remember 9/11.

Q:/> What is your real name? Who are you? I demand to know!

A:/> Error reading device in drive A.

Abort, Retry, Fail?

Q:/> What were your favourite computers you owned in your past?

A:/> These were:

  • A white MacBook (Late 2009). 2.26 GHz Core 2 Duo. It ran Snow Leopard, which was an excellent release of Mac OSX.

  • iMac G3, Bondi Blue, 400MHz Power PC. I have a fondness for see-through plastic; this was the most see-through plastic on any single item I've ever owned. I still own this computer but it is currently a dud.

  • Thinkpad 600e. It was my first own computer. It give out quite a kick for the Pentium II 366MHz processor. It ran Windows 98 on a 6GB hard drive. I installed a 20GB and had to upgrade the BIOS before it was recognised.

  • Asus Eee PC 900. 900Mhz Celeron, 12GB storage, 1GB RAM. It was coloured black and had a 9" screen. I purchased this in 2008 one week before Asus launched the Eee 901, which boosted a 1.6Ghz Atom procesor at double the power. It was mostly used to browse random forums and visit Facebook and Bebo, which in 2009 had actual contributions from my friends.

  • Pinebook Pro. OS: Armbian. CPU: Rockchip ARM Dual Cortex-A72 + Quad Cortex-A53, 64-bit CPU. RAM: 4GB. Storage: 64GB eMMC. DE: Default Xfce4

  • Long ago, I had a Palm Zire 31 and a Palm Tungsten E. I preferred their take on a mobile OS much more than anything available today.

  • A PSP (model 2000) with custom firmware. It could play all kinds of emulated SNES games. Fairly cool.

Q:/> Why don't you include a comment section? Are you afraid of rebuke?

A:/> No. This website is built using Pelican, a static HTML blogging system. No code is executed by the server. What this means is that there is no means for the website to take your comments.

Notwithstanding that, I don't fritter in the face of debate. A suitable commenting or discussion system may be installed in the future.

Q:/> Why is your topic selection so scattered? Pick one thing and do it well!

A:/> I'm partial to the 'do one thing and do it well' rule because that is the Unix philosophy. The philosophy works well for small and well-defined software tools. Now, I don't consider myself a tool, software or otherwise.

Besides, though I am a programmer by trade, who says my opinions have to stop at programming? I'll apply curiosity where I please until I dry up my restless, inquisitive side.

Q:/> Why don't you just give in and join WordPress or Medium? Think of the reach!

A:/> Because I like owning things. I like owning my own blog template. I like owning my own words. I hate advertisements. I hate needless over-engineering.

I couldn't stay sane offering my effort and passion to the closed, corporate web. Hence, this site. Proudly independent for as long as I can support it.

Q:/> What is your proudest moment?

A:/> Proudest? I haven't given enough years to truly judge that. I'll instead share some moments that make me proud:


In 2009 I was one of the 502,672 people who helped ensure Rage Against the Machine was the U.K. Christmas Number 1, beating the X-Factor off the chart for the first time in a half-decade. I remember the MP3 download was priced at 29p on Amazon MP3. Perhaps we had a man on the inside?

It is an outstanding moment because it was the first time I noticed the power of spontaneous self-organisation. I was a small part of something I really wanted to happen. I enjoyed every moment of it.

The Pigeon

In 2017 I found a red-feathered pigeon with a bloodied wing. It couldn't fly. So I caught this pigeon and rescued it from being a cat's lunch. Over the period of a week, I applied antiseptic to the wound and fed it a steady diet of barley. It lived in the back room and sat watching as I played various PC games, as I did back then.

During its lodging with me, I discovered that in addition to cooing, pigeons can growl and purr too. Growls for when I invaded its personal space, purrs for when it found the barley every morning. After a week, I noticed the pigeon become more energetic and less tolerant of any handling. I knew it was time. The pigeon was released in our back garden, and after finding its bearnings, flapped up to the roof and took off, never to be seen again, but I am sure always grateful.

Online achievements

More recently, through 2020-2021 I designed this website's layout entirely afresh. I use the Pelican engine to build my pages, so I had to design and format the theme carefully to ensure it met the Pelican's standards.

A lot of people have used an article I wrote to learn what to expect from the PineTime. It also includes a setup guide. The article is here: Fine Times with the Pine Time. I am quite fond of this hackable smartwatch and was only too glad to say good things about it.

Then I had a go at building my own static website generator. This I used to build the WMW (Well Made Web) section of this website. I made the website builder reasonably generic so others may make use of it too. See the details at Thransoft.

I have a published solution to a cybersecurity challenge on RootMe. It was solved using good old C.