Eclectic

Language, computing, and other topics

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Why All Capitals?

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A news report in all upper case on the platen of a Model 15 Teletype

A Teletype Model 15 teleprinter
Attribution: John Nagle at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Q: Why do some users complete forms all in capital letters?

This is because early teleprinters and computer systems had no provision for lower case. Mixed case teleprinters came on the market in the 1930’s, but the standard US military teleprinter of World War II was the Teletype Model 15 (produced from 1928 to 1963) which only printed in upper case. This exposed an entire generation to official communications and reports typed in all upper case. This ‘official’ style was then duplicated by users of typewriters by engaging the Caps Lock toggle key.

Up through the 1970’s computers were not used for preparing business correspondence, plans, or reports. They were used for keeping inventory and financial records and sending bills. Lower case was not seen as necessary or even desirable. But business letters have always been typed in mixed case. The introduction of word processors did not change this. These differing traditions clashed with the introduction of e-mail. Users with a background in data entry wrote in all caps. Others with a background writing business letters saw thought this strange and called it shouting.

The use of all caps continues to lose favor now that the World War II generation is out of the workforce. In 2013 the US Navy changed its policy to allow the use of mixed case where technically possible. Where previous generations saw it as official and dignified, the current generation sees it as inept.

A version of this article was posted earlier as an answer on Stackexchange

Written by David Chappell

October 17th, 2021 at 8:37 am

Posted in computing

Updating Webmin’s Self-Signed Certificate

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When SSL is enable in Webmin it creates a self-signed certificate which is stored in the file /etc/webmin/miniserv.pem. I recently upgraded a server from Debian 7 to Debian 9 and discovered that Webmin would no longer start.

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Written by David Chappell

August 28th, 2019 at 10:50 am

Waiting to Bite: BIND and Invalid Zone Files

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It looks like Webmin lets you create DNS entries which BIND 9 does not like. When it sees one it refuses to load the whole zone and keeps what it has in RAM. This may go unnoticed for months until the server is rebooted. BIND then restarts with that zone completely empty!
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Written by David Chappell

January 14th, 2016 at 9:34 pm

Is open source telephony a serious option?

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I was recently asked whether anyone would every really consider replacing a tired old PBX with an open source system and whether we had any experience with Asterisk. Here is the answer I wrote, based on our experience here at Trinity College.
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Written by David Chappell

June 10th, 2008 at 3:56 pm