There comes a point in every sysadmin’s (early) life when he learns about shell aliases: you can assign a special nickname or alias to any command, including ones with switches, pipes, redirections, operators, multilines– anything you could execute in the shell or in a script. It can save time when typing a commonly used but long or complicated command, so aliases come in handy, speeding up many sysadmin tasks.
NORAD has been tracking Santa on Christmas eve for generations. Google has recently taken a greater market share from NORAD (after once being on the same team). However, with all these fancy apps and sites and games and visuals, there has been a marked absence from the Santa tracking wars from the very beginning– something so simple and pure, perhaps nobody has really thought to do it. No longer; as of Christmas 2019, that void is now filled: live Santa tracking via teleprinter is now a yearly event.
Somewhere between the day I got my prized possessions of the Teletype Models 15 and 19 and the day my oldest boy became interested in Christmastime, I came up with the scheme to run a Santa Tracking broadcast via teleprinter. From that hatched the less ambitious yet no less creative idea to run a Halloween night story broadcast.
That being said, what story is more fitting for teleprinter news adaptation than the radio adaptation of The War of the Worlds by Orson Welles?
While at the 2019 Thanksgiving Point Mini Maker Faire, I happened to meet up with Beth Drees, who helps run the DIY Festival in Salt Lake City. Apparently this is a maker-faire-esque event that’s been going on for twelve years now, and I only just heard about it.
She invited me to bring my machines around to a few schools’ STEAM events (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) in conjunction with her organization, Craft Lake City, the events being sponsored by Google Fiber, apparently. Well, whaddaya know, Haddi- Man?
I began writing this in January, 2019 and have been so preoccupied with the comings and goings of existence that I rather forgot about it. So let’s finish it up and send it out to the vast pit of the internet and see what we bring up.
Having had a stupendous time at the Salt Lake City Mini Maker Faire earlier in 2018, I wasn’t about to let another one go by without me lugging my 100+ pound machines across the valley and let hundreds of people young and old enjoy the fascinating, almost neo-Victorian style of communication that has been all but forgotten by a world that would not exist without it as a part of its foundation (deep breath– that was a long sentence). I now hereby write about my escapades, both the near-catastrophic events leading up to the event, the good and bad during the event, and saying goodbye to the great machines for a time just afterward, complete with photographic evidence.
Early last year after having a bit of time dedicated to building some USB to TTY interfaces, writing scripts to turn teletypes into email/SMS/art terminals, and doing some minor restoration work on the machines themselves, I noticed that there was going to be a Mini Maker Faire in Salt Lake City again, and I thought to myself, I thought, “Self– these teletypes would probably be the coolest things there if you brought them.” The rest is history, and it’s written below complete with pictures of the exhibition, including the aftermath and a lot of… beforemath.