rootwork v0.2

Disjointed ideas, text dumps, archives, and thoughts posted infrequently.

I have been frequenting a gas station a couple blocks from my house to get the occasional decaf coffee in the evenings when I've cut my caffeine stream off. They've snared me, the valued customer, with their rewards program. I've been chasing that “FREE” sixth coffee for a while now.

While waiting on the machine to dispense my tepid brown water, I like to examine my surroundings. I noticed that the machines they used were labeled Schaerer CoffeeArt C. I wanted to know more about how the machines operated so I searched for their user manual. If you're also curious, they have other documents here:

I mentioned this to an acquaintance as if it were the most regular thing in the world to do and they found it odd that I would be digging into how something so mundane worked. I don't know where I got this streak but I believe the curiosity for most things mechanical or electrical has been with me for as far back as I can remember.

It started with a rotary telephone and a mantle clock. The matriarch of the family would let me mess with the phone calling anyone and everyone, letting me roam wherever the numbers would take me at an age when I barely had any vocabulary to use. This was all much to the chagrin of the rest of the family.

Not too long after that I managed to disassemble a mantle clock (that I couldn't reassemble). I remember marveling at all the little parts and I arranged them into small cardboard boxes I had made from other boxes. I wanted to know what made it run.

I'll spare the stories but this seems to be the stereotypical “kid takes apart the toaster” or whatever story that so many of us have. Where does that curiosity come from and why does it cause us to break social norms in its pursuit? I can't say I know but I'm glad it's there.

There's plenty of posts out there describing professional burnout and open source burnout. This post covers both and neither at the same time. I don't intend to propose any solutions but instead to provide an undedited stream of consciousness relating my experience with both.

I've come to view burnout as a cyclical thing. I've spent somewhere around two decades in “real” tech jobs. Prior to that I spent my teenage years ripping apart every computer and electronic thing I could get my hands on. I have a lot of time behind a keyboard. When it became a career and not something I did for fun, burnout started to set in early on.

There was a time in my life where I was surrounded by stacks of machines at home. Eventually this became untenable. I spent so much time with the computers at work that I didn't want to even think about them when I got home. I developed an interest in other hobbies, especially those that let me escape electronic things.

Once in a while I would want to find some novelty or a sense of community and I would contribute to an open source project briefly. It would feel nice and I'd want to do it on a more regular basis but found myself unable to continue due to the stress of daily work. Occasionally I'd have a job that allowed me to contribute to open things but this was a rare opportunity and it was infrequently something I cared to contribute to.

These days I have so many things to do outside of my long hours of work that my free time is already condensed to maybe an hour or two per day. In that time it's quite difficult to find the energy to contribute. I still sneak some commits in here and there but they take quite a long time and some of my PRs can be left to wither.

I think this is probably OK. I've learned to move with the cycles in my life. Change seems to be the only constant anymore, especially in my professional life. There are always new things to work on, new challenges, and new technologies.

The private sector is tumultuous so there's sometimes new jobs. I go through cycles of being overwhelmed but generally able to work. The burn cycles. Fortunately when these hit, my professional output is not impacted but sadly my (already few) contributions are diminished. The open source projects I love and want to help keep moving.

I've also learned that code isn't the only way I can contribute. I can be supportive in PRs, forums, and chat. I can send along a little money when I have some to spare. I'll often do this when a particular piece of software makes my life easier. I can interact with the various communities as well. These things can help heal my burnout as well.

The burn isn't always directly work related. Sometimes work is where I feel the burn but it's come from outside sources. I've been fortunate to manage this cycle and understand that it happens once in a while. We've got to have the dark times to know when the good times are coming.

Today I went in for the first (of two) session for my first tattoo. I've held off for a couple decades on getting one for a litany of reasons. It's quite surreal to have one now. I'm also not one to half-ass anything so this covers my entire forearm.

I had a lot of nerves and emotions about sitting with someone for that long and trusting them to work on me. I happen to know this artist so things aligned for me. He was very kind and made the whole process a breeze.

I can't say the sensation was like anything I'd ever felt before. I wouldn't say it hurt but it was at times severely uncomfortable. The second session should be a little easier since I know what to expect now.

A brief but fun post from my ancient blog back on July 7th, 2007. I used to be a frequent user of dc but in recent years I've replaced it with galculator. Back then I used to try to stretch the limits of the command where possible. I discovered this obvious but useful feature in the process.

It was also around this time that I was running World of Warcraft on FreeBSD. Those were some wild days. Perhaps I'll post about some of that in the future as well.

Filed under General Tech

I frequently use dc for quick calculations, but it’s default scale is set to 0. This can be annoying if you’re dealing with lots of decimals.

The k parameter sets the scale and it’s as simple as typing nk, where in is the precision you desire. For example, to round results to 2 decimal places, you’d type 2k.

Technically the k parameter pops the top value off the stack and uses it as the precision, but placing a number in front of it sets that number to the top of the stack.

See the parameters section in man 1 dc for more details, there are some cool operators in there.

Back in 1997 I picked up a copy of the first Diablo game. I didn't get it on release and I'm not entirely sure how I learned about it because I wasn't heavily involved in any sort of gaming save for the occasional BBS door game or whatever shovelware I happened to come across. I also don't recall where I purchased it. It seems likely that it was from one of a handful of mom and pop software shops in the area.

I believe my copy still exists, save for maybe the CD. I think the box is still at my parents' house somewhere. I remember the instruction book that came with it fondly. I would carry it to school with me and read it repeatedly. I spent time sketching the various monsters that I saw in the book. I even used the names of the demons as my username in a few instances. I was enamored.

I think I only beat the game a single time. I often made it near the hell levels but never quite much further than that because my builds weren't the best. I quite enjoyed the loot slot machine and the dark atmosphere. I also remember the fright that the Butcher gave me (and countless other players, I'm sure). A couple of years later I discovered some character editors and really enjoyed making ridiculously overpowered characters just to see what was possible.

When Diablo II came out, I was quite excited. I heard about its release a little late because I wasn't in the country at the time. I was traveling abroad on an exchange program. I managed to acquire a copy probably 3 or so years after its release. The game was just as fun as its predecessor but the online component really hooked me. I fell into the community and that's where I learned about hardcore play.

I started rolling hardcore characters and interacting with the banana community from that now-defunct forum. I never made it to the top of the ladder or finished the game more than a couple of times but I built fond memories with the community and the loot flowed freely. I played like this on and off for several years, rediscovering the game and community each time. Occasionally I would tinker with mods like Median XL but I mostly played vanilla.

When Diablo III came out, I wasn't very excited. It looked a lot like World of Warcraft. WoW was another game I enjoyed but its overall appearance and theme wasn't suitable for the world of Sanctuary. I wanted a darker, grittier experience. I waited a while after its release and tried to play it on the PlayStation 4. I found it to be generally boring. It lacked some of the magic that the previous titles held and I couldn't put my finger on it. The one feature I loved was the inclusion of an auction house which I believe was eventually removed. It made trading a little more safe. I probably didn't spend more than a dozen hours in the game as it simply didn't grab me like the others. I did, however, appreciate an encounter with the Butcher once again.

At this point, I tried Torchlight on the recommendation of some friends but found it to be lacking the same dark gritty feeling and loot chase of the first two games. It was no better than D3 in my mind. I would occasionally revisit D2 during this time but never stuck with it for very long.

Then came Diablo Immortal which was released with heavy criticism. I didn't hear about its release announcement once again until sometime after it was already out. Perhaps a year or so after its release I picked it up and tried it out. I found that it still had the cartoony appearance of WoW, although darkened a little with lower contrast. The character models still could've easily have been lifted from Stormwind. I also found its various systems of currencies and materials to be very confusing. Combine that with the mobile game cash grab tactics and I was displeased. I played this game for a few hours and moved on (although more recently I have revisited it just to see if it had changed).

During the gap between Diablo Immortal and Diablo IV, I played Path of Exile and Grim Dawn hoping that they would be the Diablo we never had. While both games proved to be fun in their own right, they weren't quite what I was looking for. PoE came closer to it than Grim Dawn but I just didn't manage to stick with either title.

Fast forward to today: Diablo IV recently came to Game Pass. I had loosely followed the Diablo IV release but didn't really care to play it because I was worried it would be another Diablo 3 or Immortal flop. Given that it was free for now, I figured I'd try it out. I'm glad I did because I am currently really enjoying this game.

At the time of writing my main character is only around level 23 or so and I haven't finished more than three of the main storyline quests. It's dark and gritty like the first two games. The loot drops feel really good and the fights aren't a slog most of the time. I'm playing with a controller on the Xbox but that's not been much of an impediment. It took me some time to learn a lot of the new things but there is so much to do in this game.

The icing on the cake for me was bumping into my old friend: the Butcher. I was in a dungeon and he arbitrarily spawned and scared me just as much as he did when I was a kid. After he beat me to death, I found myself grinning like an idiot. I was hooked. It has its own rough edges but I'll definitely be sinking more hours into Diablo 4. It feels almost like the game we should've had after Diablo 2.

Back in the early 2000s, I owned an NEC MobilePro 770 and managed to get NetBSD running on it. During that time, I posted the following page about it. This is the most recent iteration that the Wayback Machine was able to fetch. Note that several links are probably broken. I have made a few edits so that it fits this page better.

I hope to publish archives of my old sites and blogs again in the future. I have often considered including them on my personal webpage again but this would be a herculean undertaking.

NEC MobilePro 770

I recently ordered a MobilePro 770 in order to have a more compact mobile platform. Other items I looked at were the Toshiba Libretto 50C, and the MobilePro 780. While the Libretto has the F# keys, I went for the 770 for its processor. I'm not a big fan of x86 hardware. I also liked the idea of a touch screen vs. an eraser mouse. The 770 is faster than the Libretto 50C, clocking in at 131MHz. The 780 is just slightly faster than the 770, but I got 'stuck' with the 770. I plan to install NetBSD on the machine almost as soon as I get it.


Why did I decide to go off and buy one of these? Well, the “gee-whiz” factor does play a part, but I was looking for a mobile computing platform that wouldn't be a burden to have around. I don't need much, so I went by the following criteria:

Must run some form of BSD, would preferably not be x86 based, must have capabilities of a PIM (calendar/address book/todo list), ability to read ebooks, must be capable of Python or C development, should run X with vTWM, should handle a couple of small games (xboard, xothello, netris, robots), decent interface and display, network capabilities and removable storage are preferred.

With the exception of being able to use my USB flash drive, the 770 does everything I need it to. It has a 131MHz MIPS processor, its capable of running NetBSD, supports PCMCIA type II, and CF type II among other things. It appeared to be the best bargain too.

System Specifications

In its time, the 770 was a pretty high end machine. Its pretty slow compared to today's standards, but I really didn't need much of a machine. Any HPC/mobile platform worth recognition today generally cost in the upper thousands. I didn't have any need for that much processing power. Here is a general overview of the 770's specifications:

  • Processor: 131MHz MIPS
  • Memory: 24MB ROM, 32MB RAM
  • Expansion: Type II PC Card, CompactFlash
  • Display: 8.1-inch diagonal 640 x 240 color touch screen



Current Inventory

All I currently own is a MobilePro 770, an AC adaptor, serial cable, and vga monitor cable. I am using a FujiFilm 128M CF card for the NetBSD filesystem and storage, and a 3COM 3CCE589ET 10Mbps PCMCIA card for the NIC.

Laundry List

These are just a few things that I would like to get up and running on my 770. If you have any information as to how to achieve these things, please contact me!

  • Get the internal V.90 modem working
  • Get kern+base+etc+comp on 128M CF
  • X11 with vtwm (for xboard, xcalendar, mmosaic, etc..)
  • Get F# keys mapped to the top row of hotkeys (or install screen)
  • Install pkgsrc


05.22.04 I've put together a short installation HOWTO. Check the Resources section. I'm also still trying to find my camera, so there will be a slight delay on pictures. If you happen to go through the install, a manual install may be a better idea, as installation using the CF card is a bit slow.

05.22.04 As of 02:19CDT, I am up and running with NetBSDon my MobilePro 770. I am writing this post sitting beside my bed with the nice little HPC in my lap. I'm very excited. Tomorrow I will work up a full installation guide using sysinstall, then I will attempt a manual installation in the next few weeks. I will also have pictures up whenever I can manage to find the camera. My next missions are to get the modem working, get my fav. apps installed, get screen (or F# keys), and to get a bigger card to work from. Right now I'm running with just kern+base+etc on a 128M Fuji CF card. Enough of this, its bedtime!!!

05.21.04 I borrowed the CF reader/writer from work and bought a 128MB CF card that was on sale at Wal-Mart for $30 today. I'm going to try to get NetBSD installed today, and If I succeed, I'll get a bigger card. I've been able to read and write to it from my FreeBSD laptop “copper” and from the 770 itself, so all is well. I couldn't find the camera, but I promise I'll get pics up ASAP (even if I have to take pictures with my phone!).

05.18.04 Wow, that was quick! I got the 770 today sometime around 2pm. I'm logged into sdf using teraterm pocket, unfortunately it only supports telnet, but I'll just change my password later. I am accessing the internet via the built in modem and my tenex dailup account. I need to get a CF card and reader so I can get NetBSD up and running on this thing. Pictures and more info soon!

05.17.04 I just called, and the letter the sent me regarding my credit card was just a glitch in the system. I should be getting my 770 in the next couple of days. I'll post my progress here as I go. Hopefully I'll have a bit of an ad-hoc how-to install guide posted here by the time its all over.


  • NEC Support – Direct link to the 770 page, tons of documentation.
  • /hpcmips ports on – Official documentation for your MIPS HPC
  • port-hpcmips – NetBSD HPC MIPS mailing list
  • port-mips – NetBSD MIPS mailing list (not HPC specific)
  • CF Installation – “Creating a filesystem on a CF card”, invaluable document (and sort of hidden) from

$Id: 770.html,v 1.4 2004/10/03 23:47:29 hobbsc Exp $

Early in my time with computers, I relied heavily on vi because it was what was on the system and the manual told me to use it. I knew that pico was available when pine was installed but I found it to be more annoying to navigate than vi. Fast forward to when my tinkering became a job and I picked up vim.

I was seriously attached to that editor for a very long time, dragging dotfiles with me everywhere I went. Sometime in the middle 2000s I was introduced to the use of screen and eventually tmux. Combined with vim, those three tools felt very powerful.

I've waffled back and forth between physical and digital journals most of my adult life. While keeping a digital journal, I wanted something easily organized so I reached for vim-outliner. I found it to be pretty clunky and it was suggested that I try org-mode so I made the leap to emacs.

Emacs became my editor for all things not-code for many years. When it came to matters of code, I tended to go back to vim. If I strayed from it, typically I'd find myself using Sublime Text or Geany. Generally I liked my editors to be quite spartan. I never did care for IDEs short of my brief time with Bloodshed Dev C++ or Acme (if the latter can be said to be an IDE). I've even been known to disable things like syntax highlighting.

In the last couple of years, I've been searching for an org-mode replacement that was much lighter weight in order to support my personal journaling and note taking progress. I've seen the proliferation of Markdown and discovered the todo.txt format for laundry lists. It seemed like the perfect combo and I thought it might provide a way out of the kitchen sink that is emacs.

I started shifting my journaling to markdown files and I began to use the todo.txt format for my tasks. Somewhere during this process, I discovered Markor Notes for Android and fell in love with it. Plain text notes on the go and I can keep them synced with syncthing. I found this far less cumbersome than things like Joplin or Obsidian.

In recent years VSCode has become all the rage in my professional circles, especially due to its Copilot integration. In order to make my professional life a little easier, I started trying to adopt it myself. This could be its own post if I were to dive into all the details but to summarize that experience: I don't like it but I don't hate it. It's got a mess of features I don't need but it's relatively light and it stays out of my way.

That usage has bled into my personal computing time. I now tend to use VSCode when working on coding or sysadmin projects at home and for taking stray notes. If I'm making short lists, I tend to lean on Xed (or MousePad if I happen to be using XFCE). For longer-form journal entries I gravitate back to a windowless emacs. It's just more comfortable, especially with writeroom-mode.

I use, and have used, a lot of different text editors for work and personal tasks. My life is full of text and I often reason through text. I learn well by reading. I've come to understand through this little journey that there are only a few features I actually need. As long as those are there, I can tolerate a lot of extras that I never use.

Many years ago I was severely burdened with work and organizational stress. There were other things going on in my head that complicated matters but I would work myself into exhaustion frequently. Instead of resting after that, I would commit myself to assisting various organizations that I belonged to with arbitrary tasks. Part of my healing process was to force myself to say no more frequently and to just do nothing once in a while.

These days I'm in a good place. The last phase of burnout has subsided and I'm not exactly thriving but I'm certainly moving forward steadily. I've learned to guard my personal time even when I feel guilty that I have it.

I've replaced the bulk of the time I spent on different organizations with time in the gym. Both traditional exercise and in the MMA gym. The drive here is that I can't help getting old but I might be able to avoid getting sick and old. Grappling and striking also gives me something to practice and get better at that's not my job. Competitions provide high water marks for my progress. The side effect of this is that I'm physically away from my family more frequently but I think our time together is of greater quality now because my mind is clearer and I can be present.

I've also cut back on my contract work that I do outside of my full time job. At one point in my life I wanted to freelance full time and I had a great run of it. The feast or famine cycle made me very uneasy, so when I gained a little success I went back to full time work. A major issue during that time was that I didn't reduce my contract hours and I was over working myself severely.

Much as I've replaced my organizational time with gym time, I have reclaimed a bunch of my contract time with “lazy” activities. These days I only do a couple of hours a week of contract work (unless a fun one off contract opportunity shows up). The time I was spending on side work before is spent enjoying family, two wheeled transportation, soccer, leisure programming/devops, walking, books, videos, video games, etc.

I feel like I have a better balance in life now. There was a lot more than just time to let go of but time was one of the major issues. Reclaiming my leisure time allowed me to decompress enough to work through the other hurdles. I see burnout as a cyclic thing (at least in my industry). By understanding that I can't do it all (and I can't make all the money) I can focus on doing/learning enough and spacing it out far enough that it's still enjoyable.

Dear reader, I hope you find the source of your troubles and manage to create your own balance.

Inspired by WeblogPoMo2024 (, I've decided to try to blog again. I'm four days late to the party but there's no time like the present.

Through the years, I've had many blogs and I almost always took them down after an arbitrary period of time. Typically this is because I've felt vain or exposed or I ran out of steam. I've realized that blogs that are simple outlets can be ephemeral and/or infrequently updated.

For some time now I've had a goal in the back of my mind to start re-publishing old posts from my old blogs as well as some of the older pages I've had on my websites. I have a great deal of archives and I think it's something I don't want to automate. Going over the posts manually and re-creating them might be a nice trip down memory lane. The advent of markdown and services like WriteFreely may make this a little easier.

I'm going to modify the WeblogPoMo2024 challenge a bit. I'm going to make an earnest effort for 14 days to post daily. This will help me build up a new series of posts and it will let me get the most out of my trial run of a subscription. If this doesn't work out, I might try another 14 days with a static site generator.

So far, I like I can export my posts and it feels a lot like projects such as Federated Wiki ( A clean combination of new web technologies, tried and true plain text, modern federation, and minimal UI. I believe this will set me up for success in this challenge.

Given that these posts are simply markdown, I can draft posts in Markor Notes on my phone wherever I happen to be. I can also work on them directly in my text editor before pasting them into the wonderful distraction-free UI that WriteFreely provides.

Looking forward to seeing how this progresses!