About

I’m Tom Ryder, a systems administrator and programmer living in New Zealand.

On this blog I post articles on systems administration and programming, particularly where it relates to my interests in Unix, GNU/Linux, shell scripting, C, Perl, Vim, Git, or whatever else takes my interest from a technical bent. A favorite topic is using command-line tools effectively and efficiently.

The best way to contact me is by email at tom@sanctum.geek.nz. PGP-signed or encrypted email is especially welcome; my key is here.

Just for the usual disclaimer, all of the content on this website amounts to my personal opinions, and in no way reflects those of my employers or customers, past or present.

Why “Arabesque”?

An arabesque is a form of artistic decoration commonly seen in architecture. It seems random at first glance, but a wider view of an arabesque shows it conforms to an overarching pattern. I think Unix and its descendents, and good programming in general, are very much like this; some of their eccentricities in detail make more sense when you consider each system and its history in context.

It’s also a nod to my favorite short story, The Silver Key by H.P. Lovecraft:

Certainly, I look forward impatiently to the sight of that great silver key, for in its cryptical arabesques there may stand symbolised all the aims and mysteries of a blindly impersonal cosmos.

Can I edit/repost/republish/translate your work?

Arabesque articles are distributed under an Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike (BY-NC-SA) Creative Commons license, so you can re-post the work on any not-for-profit website without asking me as long as you attribute me as the author, preferably in the form of a link back to the article.

If you do want to distribute anything for commercial purposes, please contact me first at tom@sanctum.geek.nz, and we’ll sort something out.

A few people since 2012 have translated some of my articles into other languages. This came as a pleasant surprise. I particularly welcome translations; if you write one, I’d love to know about it so I can link to it from the original article.

Do you accept advertisements?

No, and there are no plans to do so. Please don’t ask.

Do you accept guest posts?

Not on here, but I’m open to contributing to other publications. Email me.

Will you write about a particular question for me?

Sure, if you think I’d be able to answer it. If you read a few of my posts, you’ll see that I’m probably the wrong guy to ask about Emacs configuration, or Visual Studio C# development, but if you think your topic might pique my interest, email me.

Do you share your configuration files?

Yes. I write a fair bit about personal tool configurations, particularly editors and shells, so I’m always tinkering with my own stuff.

Weren’t there comments on here previously?

Yes, but I’ve removed them now, mostly because with web traffic now driven by social media and link aggregation websites, there isn’t much point maintaining my own comment section. It made the pages large and unwieldy anyway.

Where are you on GitHub?

I removed all my GitHub repositories in June 2016 in favour of self-hosting using cgit. All of the projects that were on GitHub are there.

Where are you on Twitter?

I used to be on Twitter because it seemed like technical people had to have one, but I never particularly liked it, or found it very useful. I closed my account in April 2016, having failed to come up with any good reason to stay.

How can I contribute?

Send me an email telling me what you liked about the blog, or how it helped you. It makes my day, and it gives me some idea of what’s useful to people and what isn’t.

If you really want to throw money at someone, I am a Free Software Foundation Associate Member (#11980). Please consider donating to this organization, or even better, joining as a member, and let me know you did. If you dislike the FSF, alternatives are the OpenBSD Foundation or Software in the Public Interest.