Peter Backes

rtc@helen.plasma.xg8.de

Welcome to my home page!  If you like it, consider also to have a look at my blog.

The hardest thing is to go to sleep at night,
when there are so many urgent things needing to be done.

—Donald E. Knuth

About me

My name is Peter Backes, and I am a computer hacker.  Some people might also know me by my nom de guerre ‘Rattacresh,’—or its short form, ‘rtc,’ which is my login name.  It was inspired by the name of one of the protagonists from an old children’s TV series that I liked when I was young (and still do).  I share the character’s attitude of a lone space bounty hunter …  Sometimes, I use Rattacresh's logo, a modified version of the protagonist’s logo (but not to be confused with the entirely unrelated symbol used by the squatter movement, which has edges that touch the circle.)

I like writing computer programs, especially ones that parse and deal with obscure file formats.  One of my other hobbies is researching the history and philosophy of computing and hacking.  The first computer that I owned was an ATARI ST (in 1992) and I learned about UNIX and the Internet quite soon (at university; my father worked there).  Quickly, I started to appreciate the value of Free Software, since I used many GNU and BSD tools on my ATARI in an attempt to set up a UNIX-like system with MiNT as the kernel.  My life has been a better one ever since I got rid of the remaining proprietary software, especially for the GUI stuff.  Today, I prefer Fedora with XFCE as the desktop environment.

But I am also interested in general philosophy.  So if you like to discuss the the meaning of life with me, do not hesitate to do so!

Computer programs

Sample of the OCEANIA font OCEANIA (font), OCEANIA (documentation), OCEANIA (source code)
Hinted METATYPE1 font of the typeface designed by Phil Cordingly and Phil Watts for Ocean Girl, an Australian television series which I liked watching as a teenager.  Animation Works actually used a modified version of an early draft for their 1998 animated series The New Adventures Of Neri and its accompanying website!  (Sad that they set the animated series in a universe completely different from the original and traded its charm for Arielle-like cheesiness.)  Note that there is not much meta-ness in it and that it could be implemented in a much more elegant way.  I am also aware that it contains typographic beginner’s mistakes.
cvsclone
Clones CVS repositories over the cvspserver interface.  Works for anonymous access.
bintoiso
Extracts an ISO image out of a CDRWin .BIN dump.
card
Extracts files written by the CMS CARD dumper utility.
jpgsalv
JPEG salvager.  Extracts JPEG images from arbitrary files.  Since it takes the JPEG format’s syntactic structure into account, it works even where the more primitive tools fail.  (It cannot solve every case, though: If your picture consists of fragements spread across the file, there is no way for the tool to figure out how to handle that.)
mas
Expands .MAS into raw disk images.  Such MAS files are supplied on the Public Domain CD once sold by the ST Computer magazine for ATARI computers.  It may be that these were created by a program called DISKETTE MASTER, but I am not sure about it.
unmsa
Expands .MSA into raw disk images.  These are produced by the Magic Shadow Archiver.
rightly
filesystem timestamp converter.
satu, example table definition for RFC822
string analyzing table generator
ONS
Reads tokenized GFA BASIC version 3.x source files and converts them to human readable ASCII listings.
Screen shot of terminal after MATRIXC exitedMATRICKS
A set of programs written in QBASIC on a 90 MHz military computer while I served the army.  MATRIXC is a matrix code implementation; use q, a, w, s, e, d, c, p and the space key to change parameters.  MTXNAKE is a clone of the game snake in which you have to clean the Matrix from hostile nul bytes. Play with the cursor keys; the space key pauses.  It even keeps a high score list.  Finally, MTXT can fade messages in and out of the screen.  INVADRIX and TETRIX were supposed to be clones of space invader and tetris one day, but I did hardly start them before I left the military.  MTXT and MATRIXC work with FreeBASIC without changes.
CSVUTIL
A set of very basic file catalogueing utilities, based on CSV files.
autoupd
Automatically keeps an exported copy of a CVS module. Now can export to a remote machine over ssh!
mpcimg
Converts to and from MagiC PC harddisk image format.
mmtoyacc
Extracts syntax rules from metamath files and converts them to yacc format. Metamath is some kind of a modern version of Bertrand Russell’s groundbreaking Principia Mathematica

Computer graphics

Thumbnail of the diam outputdiam (MetaPost source), diam (result), diamond rendered using diam data
MetaPost program to compute diamond cuts and a rendered picture that used a diamond modelled with the resulting data.  The picture was generated with Blender and YafRay.
pump
One of my first experiments with modelling and rendering, imitating a picture done by Phil Watts.  It still looks pretty, I must say.

PGP Key

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sub   rsa3072 2017-10-29 [S] [expires: 2022-10-28]

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uid           Peter Backes <rtc@helen.plasma.xg8.de>
sub   cv25519 2017-10-28 [E]
sub   ed25519 2017-10-28 [S] [expires: 2022-10-27]

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