Tom Clegg / FAQ /  Computer Science and University

Doubly revised low acid edition.

Are you the same Tom Clegg who...

Teaches at Selkirk College? Keeps the computers alive at KICS, KCR, and various other places, mostly starting with K? Shares a phone line with a cat? Yes.

Directs movies? No.

Empowers leaders to climb the height of their dreams? No.

I need a web site. Can you design one for me?

Probably not. Look at this one. You call that "design"?

If you don't design web sites, then what do you do?

I make web sites do something. I make computer networks. I write software for people with unusual needs. I explain things. I help people make good decisions about technology.

You came up first on Google. How can I do that?

Mention your subject at the top of the page. Continue to mention the subject throughout the page. You've probably already done that, if your page really does have a subject.

If your web site is the authority on a particular subject, then search engines will do their best to put you at the top of the list when someone searches for that subject. After all, that's what makes search engines useful.

Go to and give it your web site address. Wait a couple of months.

Why do you have such a plain web site?

I didn't want to bother testing it with eight different browsers.

I figured you would already know what a fancy web site looks like.

What is the internet?

It's an advertising medium. People prefer it to TV because new technology is so exciting. Coincidentally, it also has other uses: publishing information, sharing computer resources, communicating with people in faraway lands, etc.

It's just a bunch of computers, software, and network cables. And all kinds of people with conflicting interests. The only thing they all have in common is that they want it to work.

What is UNIX?

It's the best known design for a general purpose operating system.

Which operating system should I use?

Use Red Hat Linux if you want lots of company. Lots of people will have the same questions and problems as you; it will be easy to find those people on the internet. Of course, whether you find any useful answers is an entirely different matter.

I use FreeBSD.

Use FreeBSD if you want better performance and stability. It's got less baggage than Linux.

Use OpenBSD if you need more security than everyone else.

I understand NetBSD also runs on unusual hardware. That's neat.

The main thing is to use something that you can trade in for something else later without wasting all the time you spent learning it. Translation: don't use Windows GQ or whatever they call it this week.

Which UNIX software should I avoid?

Avoid BIND. Djbdns is far easier to use, and does a better job.

Avoid sendmail. Fiddling with "configuration files" like /etc/mail/ is worse than editing C source code! (see excerpt) Qmail is smaller, faster, more reliable, more secure, more stable, easier to use, and easier to customize.

Avoid Netscape if possible. Yes, it sucks in UNIX too. Opera works. Even Konqueror works.

I have 5 years to kill. Is there a UNIX tool I can learn in that time?


Oh. Never mind. Which HTML editor do you use?


What HTML editor should I use?

Any text editor. WYSIWYG takes the fun out of it.

Most HTML editors produce horrible HTML anyway. Even if it's not just plain wrong, it's always ugly.

But I'm not a programmer. Am I capable of learning HTML?

HTML is a great way to start programming!

Start with text. If you want your page to say "Hello," type "Hello."

If you want to insert a paragraph break, type <P>.

If you want to show some words in bold text, put <B> on the left and </B> on the right: <B>like this</B>

If your page is called "Chicken," and you want the word "Chicken" to appear in your title bar, bookmarks, and history lists, put this at the top of the page: <TITLE>Chicken</TITLE>

If you want to use the < character, type &lt; - if you want to use the & character, type &amp;.

It doesn't get much more complicated than that. Find a web page with a good design. Click "view source." Make your own page. Repeat.

Learn about graphic design, publishing, and user interfaces.

OK, never mind that...

Your Name Here

web designer

Which email address should I use: or

You can't use either of them. They're mine.

Oh, I see. It doesn't matter which one you send stuff to; either way, your message will go to my mailbox. If you send something to both addresses, I'll get two copies. Don't bother; if one copy isn't enough, I'll write back and ask you to send another.

Oops! I sent a message to both addresses. Are you angry now?


Unless you were threatening to sue me, or something like that.

Why ""?

We're just pretending to be organized.

Why ""?

Tuvalu wanted $4000 per year for

How do you feel about spam?

If you send me some, I'll complain to your ISP. If I'm busy that day, or if your ISP is on your side, I'll just block your IP address. I'll also put your product or web site name in my list of words which never appear in legitimate mail. Sometimes that takes up to 15 seconds; don't make me go to all that trouble.

If you're a robot, and you're compiling a mailing list by searching web sites for email links, please add to your list. Future messages from you will be ignored. Please don't send anything except spam to that address.

Don't buy herbalife products, or anything else which is promoted by spam.

This virus will destroy your hard drive! It is the most dangerous virus ever!!

Please don't send me any of those viruses that claim to be virus warnings. Viruses don't work on my computer anyway, so I wouldn't care even if the warnings were real.

(If you're worried about viruses, you should use a virus filter on your mail server. If your mail server doesn't have a virus filter, you can move your domain name to the KICS server, which does.)

Why do you charge so much?

It discourages you from asking me to do work.

Why don't you charge even more?

That would be greedy.

That reminds me: why do you hate Microsoft?

I don't hate the company any more than I hate other corporations. There's not much point in hating imaginary entities, even if the government does call them "people."

Microsoft products are frustrating to use. They're not even designed to work as well as possible. They're designed primarily to make people send their money to Microsoft. Duh...

I don't like TV shows either. They're not designed to entertain or educate me. They're designed primarily to make me stay in front of the TV long enough to watch some commercials. The commercials make me feel like a psychology experiment.

I don't have Microsoft Windows (even though it's easy to use).

I don't have a TV (even though they're easy to use).

I don't mind that free software is less popular. It still works better.

What do you like about Microsoft?

They have created a huge market for fast computer hardware. As a result, fast computer hardware is cheap.

You really don't have a TV? Are you a hermit?

Whoa! One question at a time, please.

You didn't answer my question. Can I submit a FAQ?

You got this far, and you still think you're reading a FAQ? or