A GNU/Linux version of Windows “alt codes”

One little feature on Windows that I’ve always liked is “alt codes” , where you hold down the Alt key and tap out a number and get a lovely little Unicode character appearing in your text. And it didn’t really make sense to me that the same thing wasn’t possible on my GNU/Linux laptop. Clearly I wasn’t looking hard enough however – a short visit to the local search engine turned up the following on Lord Matt’s blog:

Windows “Alt Codes” for Linux works like this.


Hold down Control and then Shift and press the “u” key. You should get an odd looking character that is waiting for input. Type the numeric code and press space. You can use more than just ASCII but can use hex values too!

That’s certainly much easier than hunting around in the Character Map ^_^

The joys of running your own server…

A bit over a month ago, the Slicehost VPS on which I ran this site (along with all my other services) decided to stop responding to requests. Pings were still going through but connections would just time out. Going into the web management interface, I discovered that something was causing the CPU to sit on 100% – not a particularly useful place for it to be. I tried using the AJAX web console to log in but that was also unresponsive, so a quick hard-restart and the server was back up and running.

A few days later, it happened again. By now I was starting to suspect that it was something in the SNAILBot scripts that was hanging (as the number of logged lines has increased, the page generation scripts have slowed to a crawl, with only the cache making things still viewable). So I hard-restarted the server again, and… nothing. Now nothing would even connect, which was rather a backwards step. Luckily the AJAX web console was working, so I went in and poked around, to discover that somehow, all the network configurations and scripts had disappeared. No /etc/conf.d/net, no /etc/init.d/net.eth0, no /etc/resolv.conf and so on. In addition, nearly all of the services were dead, though the startup scripts for those were still present.

So, I decided to take this unexpected downtime as an opportunity to migrate over to the new Linode server I now have, which I got for two reasons – I could get a more powerful VPS for less cost, and Rackspace is in the process of absorbing Slicehost into its cloud services, which cost-wise work out much more expensive for me. This migration was slowed a bit however by the fact that I became extremely busy for just over two weeks following the initial failure, mainly with me packing up from my three-month stay in Belgium.

And that, dear reader, is my excuse for my website, and all of my services (SNAILBot, my personal Git repositories etc.) being offline for the best part of a month. I still have some final things to set up and packages to install, but during the migration I moved all the configuration files into a Git repository to prevent any sort of loss happening again. I should also probably use Puppet or something for the actual setup of the server, but I decided to go with good old Bash scripts instead (mainly for the purpose of recording exactly what I go through to set it up). And hopefully this is it for the downtime, though properly mitigating it likely means me finding time to fix the SNAILBot page generation scripts…

Hello world!

Having complained to myself about Google Sites for a long time, I have finally made the move to WordPress, which offers several benefits:

  • I host the site myself, and  thus can do whatever I want with it.
  • It’s much nicer to use and much nicer to view.
  • Plugins! Lots of  plugins!


Anyway, I’ll be creating content here to match what I already had on the old site, and improve on many pages that should have been fixed up aeons ago. And then we shall see how often I update it ^_^