Randy's .plan file



Randy's .plan file is a journal I kept while a student at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, from 1992-1996.  I kept this journal on the university's computer network, in a location where it could be read by anybody-- a location, in fact, where it was likely to be found by people.  I was aware that people did read my .plan file and I always considered that when writing it.

Why do I call it a ".plan file"?  On the university's campus network, you could look up a user with the Unix "finger" command, say, to find their email address, or see if they've checked their email recently.  A user could add a special file called .plan that would be displayed whenever anybody else fingered them.  Most people used their .plan file to add their telephone number, mail address, or office hours to the usual finger information.  I, however, used it as a very large online journal.  This caused a lot of confusion when somebody fingered me without knowing about my plan file, because they got a lot more than they were expecting- sometimes so much so that it would crash their computer.

I have broken the .plan file into installments to make for easier browsing.  I have also added some brief comments and descriptions where appropriate.  Note that the dates inside the installments don't always agree with what I have them listed under.  These are errors in the original plan file.  They have not been and will not be corrected, because I consider that to be history revisionism.  This is also why you will see bad formatting, especially in some early installments.

I created my first .plan file installment in the fall of 1992.  This was done while I was taking the university's required computing course.  It was a course every new student had to take to become familiar with the campus network, how to log in, how to check email, etc.  For anybody that had used a computer before, it was a trivially easy course.  One assignment was to create a .plan file.  So, during that class period, I wrote the first installment of my .plan file - the script from Aliens (or as much of it as I could recall and type in that 1 hour).  That was more or less the entire content of my .plan file for my whole freshman year.  It wasn't until a year later that I started writing periodic installments.

I have decided to host the .plan file installments at my own site now.  They were previously (and continue to be) hosted by Greg Haverkamp at www.haverkamp.com/rpf.

Thanks for reading.  If you have any comments or questions, please email me at randall@randatola.com.