"For the great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie--deliberate, contrived and dishonest--but the myth--persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic. Too often we hold fast to the clichés of our forebears. We subject all facts to a prefabricated set of interpretations. We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought."

- JFK Yale University graduating class speech (June 11, 1962

"It is the duty of everyman, so far as his ability allows, to detect and expose delusion and error"

- Thomas Paine

May the source be with you, but remember the KISS principle ;-)

(slightly skeptical) Educational society promoting "Back to basics" movement against IT overcomplexity and  bastardization of classic Unix

32 years of Softpanorama educational society which was started in September of 1989 as a monthly floppy based bulletin for PC programmers and was dissolved in September 2021. Web site will exist till June 2024. From now on the content is static.  

Switchboard Enterprise Unix Administration "Back to basics" movement against overcomplexity in Unix system administration KISS principle and Fighting Software Overcomplexity Skeptic Quotations Over 50 and unemployed Casino Capitalism Neoliberal Propaganda: Journalism in the Service of the Powerful Few The Iron Law of Oligarchy

Two Party System as Polyarchy

Python for Perl programmers Unix Sysadmin Tips bash Tips and Tricks The tar pit of Red Hat overcomplexity Registering a server using Red Hat Subscription Manager (RHSM) RHEL vs Oracle Linux pricing Defensive programming Language Design and Programming Quotes Systemd invasion into Linux Server space Using -exec option with find
Cloud providers as intelligence collection hubs Facebook = Spyware Privacy is Dead – Get Over It Malware Top Vulnerabilities in Linux Environment Sudoer File Examples Midnight Commander Tips and Tricks Networking String Operations in Shell; Arithmetic Expressions in BASH   Usage of pipes with loops in shell
Programmers and sysadmins health issues COVID-19 fearmongering

Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test

Covid-19 vaccines

COVID-19 prevention

Deep State

Nineteen Eighty-Four


SARS-CoV-2 origins and a "bioengineered virus" hypothesis NeoMcCartyism

Neoliberal war on reality
Female Sociopaths Toxic Managers; Understanding Micromanagers and Control Freaks Computer and System Administration Humor

Recent updates

Age quod agis ("Do well in whatever you do").

Latin proverbs - Wikiquote

This site advocates skepticism  as an approach to study of both technical and social phenomena. The latter is generally about questioning any preconceived attitudes, facts, or opinions/beliefs stated as facts, and critical examination of claims that are taken for granted in corporate MSM. It also can be viewed as a strong allergic reaction to pseudoscience, "fake news" and "bullsh*t" of corporate owned MSMs (see propaganda), and the advocacy of  alternative media such as blogs, wikis, web forums and email lists as valuable sources of information.

The site contains resources for university students and the independently minded IT folks interested in self-education. Some pages also serve as useful references. It stresses the value of continuing education, which is actually a life long process of self-discovery. Under neoliberalism  the university education has become the way to separating "haves" and "have not" and indoctrinate students: the class fault lines in neoliberal society are increasingly along educational lines. The access to university education in the USA became more and more expensive as, along with their "class segregation" function, neoliberal universities now serve as a profit center for educational sharks.

Most material is related to programming, especially scripting (shell, Perl, pipes, Unix tools) and Unix system administration. But there are also some pages devoted on neoliberalism (aka Casino Capitalism), unemployment  (including Over 50 unemployment ) toxic managers (especially female sociopaths), Groupthink, energy and some other more peripheral topics. 

The site is mainly oriented on people and organizations with limited resources.  It might be useful as a self-education tool, including for  those "over 50" IT folk who recently found themselves excluded and marginalized: "without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape." (Pope Francis on the danger of neoliberalism).

This site tries to eschew the conventionally favored obfuscations about IT  (for example about "cloud computing" or IT outsourcing) and expose the theater of absurd which often both academic and, especially, corporate IT represents (sometimes in the form of humor; it's often the best medicine against conformism, stress, and overload.).  I think proliferation of Shadow IT  is a clear sign that "Something is rotten in the state of Denmark", all hype about DevOps notwithstanding.  For example, RHEL7 dramatically increased the complexity of the Linux operating system due to the introduction of systemd.  That also changes our opinion about how open source ecosystem really works (in no way this is a bazaar)  and who controls key elements of open source infrastructure. In a way, RHEL7 signify emergence of "open source aristocracy" interests of which are detached from interests of rank and file sysadmins and programmers, and which pushes for Windowization of Linux. In other words it confirms the Iron Law of Oligarchy, which clearly now is replayed on the open source arena.

This site is also against "bastardization" of Unix which demonstrates itself in adding layers of complexity that hide Unix API and replaces classic Unix utilities, as well as  subsystems like systemd that attempt to make Unix similar to Windows and betray the idea "everything is a file" that made Unix great.  Adding complex binary databases (for example binary system logs) is step toward OS/360 philosophy.  It promotes "back to basic" movement in computer science education, software development, and in system administration.

In the neoliberal society, we now live, good jobs are very scarce commodity, and you no longer can be a purely technical specialist, you need to understand the social context of your life as well. Or you will be taken for a ride, squeezed or even mercilessly pushed out of workforce. Students who are brainwashed by neoliberal propaganda (and neoliberal universities are doing just that via neoclassical economics courses) have higher chances to become debt slaves after graduation. In "for profit" education environment the debt peonage is now a "new normal" and universities became basically the real estate hoarders and debtor magnets for the banks.  Unless you learn the difference between education and indoctrination, you might miss the fact that what used to be "the lower middle class" of IT professionals turns out to be simply an indebted write collar working class, "disposable IT workers", mercilessly squeezed by outsourcing.

This site also strives to be a part of the "resistance movement" against the neoliberal trend toward atomizing workforce, squashing any human solidarity,   converting humans into tradable goods on "labor market". Which means that along with mastering the technology, maintaining your personal and financial health  understanding the social system in which you live (Neoliberalism aka  Casino Capitalism) is the necessary survival skill. The task which is actually very difficult because to live under neoliberalism and can't escape neoliberal brainwashing. Mush like was the case in the USSR with communist propaganda.  Plato's Allegory of the Cave describes this inability of a group of (ideological) prisoners chained in a cave to interpret reality based solely upon the play of shadows projected upon the stone wall in front of them.  Still, this is an educational site, not a propaganda site, and unlike propaganda that manipulates people emotions and prejudges to impose propagandist's views; education primary goal is to help to understand the reality of the current technological and/or social situation.  Personal critical thinking is also important and you need to take the views expressed here with a grain of salt.

Replacement of classic university educational model with neoliberal model in the US universities has resulted in a very narrowly educated professionals who not only do not know, but also do not want to know anything  about the society and politics. Understanding the society and people is typically a weak point of many programmers and system administrators including myself, the part of personality profile that drove us to this specialty. It often is amplified by narcissistic megalomania (as in "I am the greatest programmer; all others are schmucks who just don't get it"). But we can and should work diligently on eliminating this shortcoming, as many of us pay dearly for this "social blindness" (the term "professional idiocy" was coined by a German philosopher to denote someone who may be intelligent and competent in his own profession, but limited in social skills and as a member of society )   It is important to be aware about dangers of the IT workplace, such as psychopathic bosses (micromanagers, bullies, narcissists and authoritarians), as well as health problems due to daily multi-hour sitting behind the display or two and unhealthy diet. 

With its relentless squeezing of the workforce neoliberal corporation needs narcissists, micromanagers and sociopaths in management ranks and it looks like the process of displacement of "technical managers" with "bean counters" and Harvard MBA types was finished a while ago. Which leads to situations like Boeing 737 MAX fiasco.  In this environment you also need skills to survive a Bad Performance Review -- a standard waterboarding procedure in neoliberal corporation  ;-) After all, for neoliberal corporation you are just a consumable resource, a unit of "human capital". 

While attending university has its value in itself, as a good university cultural environment can't be replicated elsewhere, for talented people independent study might save some money and, thus, help to avoid excessive feeding of education sharks. In any case, lifelong self-education is important and should be a goal in itself. What gets people to the top is relentless self-education and practice of a particular skill. The minimum for reaching "master" level of a given skill is estimated to be around 10,000 hours, the earlier you start the better. And taking into account complexity of Unix/Linux (hello RHEL 7 with its systemd ;-) and Byzantium tendencies of mainstream programming languages (and those days you need to know several of them), for programming and system administration 30,000 hours is a more reasonable estimate (one year is approximately 3000 working hours).  Which means formula 4+6 (four years of college and 5-6 years on the job self-education ) to get to speed.

Internet is a tool that gave us vast new opportunities of information exchange while at the same time tremendous possibilities of degrading of quality of this exchange in all major areas -- social, cultural, political and technical.  Internet now serves as a the main advertizing channel, producing waterfalls of textual and visual spam fueled by advertising fees. Also too much information if often as bad as too little. Information overload is a real problem and in this sense filtration of information became much more important. You can use this site as one of such filters as links it provides for each topic are carefully evaluated.

At the same time, it is important to understand that Internet is a giant snooping mechanism and such sites as Facebook are not so much social sites as intelligence collection sitesSnowden revelations proved that like in East Germany with its famous STASI  there is a dossier on any Internet user with a lot of meta-data and probably not only meta-data to trace each day of one's life to an hour or better. Governments no longer need informants to get private/compromising information about citizens. Advertisers, search engines and shopping sites like Amazon are pretty much enough. That greatly increases the value of understanding of computer security.

While this site started as a pure computer science knowledgebase (compiled using Perl scripts),  gradually the algorithms used were expanded into other areas which actually served as testing areas for some of concepts and scripts). Paradoxically now the fastest growing area is probably Social (information about toxic managers, communication, and bureaucracies). The close second is information about neoliberalism (with the introductory article, as such information remains rare on Internet) despite tremendous social importance of understanding what neoliberalism is about. 

The quality of pages vary widely. Generally the site develops as a living tree with pages on topic outside the set of current interests with time becoming stale and than obsolete. Still some of them contain historical information you can't find elsewhere and some of them can be viewed as a valuable historical documents.

Softpanorama Switchboard

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Vol 25, No.12 (December, 2013) Rational Fools vs. Efficient Crooks The efficient markets hypothesis : Political Skeptic Bulletin, 2013 : Unemployment Bulletin, 2010 :  Vol 23, No.10 (October, 2011) An observation about corporate security departments : Slightly Skeptical Euromaydan Chronicles, June 2014 : Greenspan legacy bulletin, 2008 : Vol 25, No.10 (October, 2013) Cryptolocker Trojan (Win32/Crilock.A) : Vol 25, No.08 (August, 2013) Cloud providers as intelligence collection hubs : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2010 : Inequality Bulletin, 2009 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2008 : Copyleft Problems Bulletin, 2004 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2011 : Energy Bulletin, 2010 : Malware Protection Bulletin, 2010 : Vol 26, No.1 (January, 2013) Object-Oriented Cult : Political Skeptic Bulletin, 2011 : Vol 23, No.11 (November, 2011) Softpanorama classification of sysadmin horror stories : Vol 25, No.05 (May, 2013) Corporate bullshit as a communication method  : Vol 25, No.06 (June, 2013) A Note on the Relationship of Brooks Law and Conway Law


Fifty glorious years (1950-2000): the triumph of the US computer engineering : Donald Knuth : TAoCP and its Influence of Computer Science : Richard Stallman : Linus Torvalds  : Larry Wall  : John K. Ousterhout : CTSS : Multix OS Unix History : Unix shell history : VI editor : History of pipes concept : Solaris : MS DOSProgramming Languages History : PL/1 : Simula 67 : C : History of GCC developmentScripting Languages : Perl history   : OS History : Mail : DNS : SSH : CPU Instruction Sets : SPARC systems 1987-2006 : Norton Commander : Norton Utilities : Norton Ghost : Frontpage history : Malware Defense History : GNU Screen : OSS early history

Classic books:

The Peter Principle : Parkinson Law : 1984 : The Mythical Man-MonthHow to Solve It by George Polya : The Art of Computer Programming : The Elements of Programming Style : The Unix Hater’s Handbook : The Jargon file : The True Believer : Programming Pearls : The Good Soldier Svejk : The Power Elite

Most popular humor pages:

Manifest of the Softpanorama IT Slacker Society : Ten Commandments of the IT Slackers Society : Computer Humor Collection : BSD Logo Story : The Cuckoo's Egg : IT Slang : C++ Humor : ARE YOU A BBS ADDICT? : The Perl Purity Test : Object oriented programmers of all nations : Financial Humor : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2008 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2010 : The Most Comprehensive Collection of Editor-related Humor : Programming Language Humor : Goldman Sachs related humor : Greenspan humor : C Humor : Scripting Humor : Real Programmers Humor : Web Humor : GPL-related Humor : OFM Humor : Politically Incorrect Humor : IDS Humor : "Linux Sucks" Humor : Russian Musical Humor : Best Russian Programmer Humor : Microsoft plans to buy Catholic Church : Richard Stallman Related Humor : Admin Humor : Perl-related Humor : Linus Torvalds Related humor : PseudoScience Related Humor : Networking Humor : Shell Humor : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2011 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2012 : Financial Humor Bulletin, 2013 : Java Humor : Software Engineering Humor : Sun Solaris Related Humor : Education Humor : IBM Humor : Assembler-related Humor : VIM Humor : Computer Viruses Humor : Bright tomorrow is rescheduled to a day after tomorrow : Classic Computer Humor

The Last but not Least Technology is dominated by two types of people: those who understand what they do not manage and those who manage what they do not understand ~Archibald Putt. Ph.D

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Last modified: September 08, 2021