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How to be cool in six easy steps


1. Number One way to be computer-cool: change your system prompt. That would be the little line that appears every time you log in, like " 1%" where you can type system commands. No, that doesn't have to say Mine says "your wish is my command" I've seen friends with "life is beautiful" and "this too shall pass." What would you like to be greeted with every time you log in? 1%? Of course not. Change it.

Go to your current boring system prompt and type "pico .login"

A window of system parameters will appear -- you can and probably should ignore most of it.

Just go to the line that says: "set prompt="etc etc etc "

you can change everything within the quotes on that line to anything you want.

When you're done, hit ctrl-X (like sending an email) and save the changes by hitting Y

It will suggest a file name to write to, ".login", which is correct, so hit Enter.

Changes will take effect next time you log in.


2. Set up a signature file to attach itself to the ends of all your emails. If, like so many other cool computer people, you decide to include a quote (cute, funny, insightful... the possibilities are endless), change your signature quote every few months or so -- even the best quote gets old after awhile. Here's how:

At the system prompt, type "pico .signature"

A blank box will appear. Type whatever you want on your signature in this box.

After you have determined this is a good signature, type ctrl-X (like sending an email)

It will ask you if you want to save changes -- type Y for yes

It will suggest a file name to write to, in this case, ".signature", which is correct, so hit Enter.


3. Finger people online and change your own finger information. Everyone has an "finger profile" if you will, generated by the college computers. At a minimum, this profile contains your real name, username, home directory, when you last logged in to the MHC system, and where you logged in from. You can also write a plan and check out other people's plans, see step 4 below. Any other user can look up this info about you, and you can look it up about anyone else. You can also change your finger information -- name, home and office phone numbers, etc. Some people get quite creative.

To finger people:

type "f username", or "f name" though avoid common names such as "f sarah"... also, for long plans that go flying past when you try to read them, type "f username|more".

To change your finger information:

At the system prompt, type "chfn" (stands for Change Finger)

You can enter whatever you want for any of the fields...


4. Write a plan and check other people's plans. Regularly. To write a plan of your own:

At the system prompt, type "pico .plan"

Enter anything, ANYTHING, that your little heart desires in this blank box for the world to read.

Hit ctrl-X, then save the changes Y, and hit Enter to accept the file name as ".plan"

You can update your plan in the future by just doing the above steps. But the first time you set it up, you have to set the permissions so everyone can read it, so also do the following:

At the system prompt: "chmod 644 .plan"

Make sure not to include a space between the "." and "plan"! Problems will assuredly result...


5. Talk to people. You can easily determine if a friend is on the MHC system by fingering, and once you have located someone who is also online, you can set up a talk session and chat online with them, without having to download any of those pesky programs like AOL...

At the system prompt, type "talk username" where username is the friend's username.

A split window will appear, and the computer will attempt to contact the other person.

Wait until a connection is established and can start chatting with them, or until you give up on waiting for them to answer.

To exit back to the system prompt, type ctrl-C (cancel)


6. Write a webpage. It doesn't have to be anything big. You don't have to learn to hand-code in HTML, though there are certain advantages to hand-coding. But the important part is to just have a webpage. There is a large amount of material in the Webpage design section of the college tech help pages. Also check out the pages on learning to use Dreamweaver (a very good webpage design program available in the Dwight labs). Also, once you've created your webpage, register it so it appears in the official college listing of student webpages. Just go the system prompt and type: "register-homepage" and follow the instructions.