2018-11-28 Cosmic Voyage

I’ve signed up for an account on Cosmic Voyage. It’s basically a way to write a little Science-Fiction together with other people. The website reflects the Gopher mindset: it’s text based. You can visit it via Gopher, too.

If you don’t have a dedicated Gopher Client, I’ll suggest using the text browser lynx. As for dedicated gopher clients, I like VF-1 by @solderpunk. It requires Python. For iOS devices, I’ll suggest the Gopher Client by @crc. For Android devices, @ckeen suggests Pocket Gopher.

Anyway, back to Cosmic Voyage. It is run by @tomasino. In order to join, you don’t need much:

  1. a username (used internally on the system only)
  2. a first ship name (used in the story)
  3. a link or contents of a public ssh key for access

You get ssh access to a directory per ship where you can dump your little stories. Refer to the others, or don’t. Post a lot, or just a little.

The ssh access means I can just use emacs to write and rsync to backup.

My first transmission from the the ship Hoffnung, with only the faintest idea of a plot:

-+-+-+- Regular Report -+-+-+- C51.204 -+-+-+- Green       -+-+-+-
Dr. med. Herbert Wullschlegel reporting on the first scheduled
inspection. The passenger status in cryo sleep is nominal. We have had
no failures. My companion for this roun is Dr. astr.-phys. Eng.
Philomena Auerbach. We've spent the first two days reviewing the logs.
This is the third day and we have had a good time running the long
corridors of the ship. Philomena did go back to sector C in order to
inspect a minor hydro leak. Nothing unexpected. As for myself, I'm
taking advantage of the cryo break to eat some solid food. It helps
with the teeth reconstruction. I'm so happy that we managed to get the
newer cryo berths with the slow shaking to strengthen bones maintain
muscle tissue. With so many years spent in cryo, even the very slow
metabolism of space sleep changes the body. Sometimes I wonder what
ships built after us would offer. Hoffnung did not get the latest
Shrinivasan-Ramapattnam drive. We could not afford them. And with that
I'm going to close this cover leter for the full technical report. In
two days we're going back to sleep for another fifty years. Peace.
-+-+-+ End of Report -+-+-+ Signed HEWUSC -+-+-+ 

(Continued in 2018-11-30 Ship «Hoffnung».)

To me, and apparently to other people as well, this looks like an exciting, new way to experience Gopher, a return to the spirit of public access servers, shell servers. Much more limited than a virtual machine, or even a web host, but also something you can do right now, no matter your background.

@jynx seems to share my enthusiasm. See his Gopher post: So much cool stuff going on. @solderpunk is happy, too: So much cool stuff.

Even if you’re not too technically minded, you can join.

If you’re on a Mac, you should have everything you need.

  1. use Command+Space to search for Terminal
  2. generate a key using ssh-keygen (just accept all the defaults)
  3. your secret key is the file ~/.ssh/id_rsa
  4. your public key is the file ~/.ssh/id_rsa.pub
  5. send the id_rsa.pub file to Tomasino, together with your user name and your ship name (see Cosmic Voyage for his email)
  6. when Tomasino has set things up for you, connect using ssh and the user name you received, e.g. ssh alex@cosmic.voyage

If you’re on Windows, it’s a bit trickier.

  1. download the latest PuTTY (probably putty-64bit-0.70-installer.msi)
  2. use puttygen to generate a key (I don’t think you need to specify a passphrase)
  3. save private and public keys
  4. send the public key to Tomasino, together with your user name and your ship name (see Cosmic Voyage for his email)
  5. when Tomasino has set things up for you, start pageant (this will put an icon of a computer wearing a hat into the System tray)
  6. right click the icon and choose View Keys
  7. click the Add Keys button
  8. select the private key you created up above and open it
  9. start putty and connect to your username at cosmic.voyage, e.g. alex@cosmic.voyage

You can read more about key generation in chapter 8 of the documentation. You can read more about pageant in chapter 9 of the documentation.

If you’re on GNU/Linux, you should have everything you need. The instructions are the same as for the Mac except opening a terminal will vary on how things are set up on your machine.

  1. open a terminal
  2. generate a key using ssh-keygen (just accept all the defaults)
  3. your secret key is the file ~/.ssh/id_rsa
  4. your public key is the file ~/.ssh/id_rsa.pub
  5. send the id_rsa.pub file to Tomasino, together with your user name and your ship name (see Cosmic Voyage for his email)
  6. when Tomasino has set things up for you, connect using ssh and the user name you received, e.g. ssh alex@cosmic.voyage

I hope to hear from you, soon!

Here’s how you’d write a story. Here, my username is alex and my ship’s name is Mercury and I have already written my first story and I’m going to write my second story using the editor nano.

alex@cosmic:~$ cd ships
alex@cosmic:~/ships$ ls
Mercury
alex@cosmic:~/ships$ cd Mercury
alex@cosmic:~/ships/Mercury$ ls
001.txt
alex@cosmic:~/ships/Mercury$ nano 002.txt
alex@cosmic:~/ships/Mercury$ log

Other editors you can use are editor or vi. You can worry about them later. If you’re just beginning, nano will do.

The log command updates the top menus and lets other people know that your story is ready. Use man log to learn more about it. (man is the program that displays pages from the manual.)

Later, once you’ve realized that you don’t like nano or vi or any of the other editors, you can always edit the file locally and transfer it using scp which uses ssh in the background. And if you’re using PuTTY instead of ssh, then you transfer your file using pscp instead of scp.

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Comments

Thank you so much for posting this! I’ve just joined this evening, and I’m really enjoying writing Voortrekker, and looking forward to reading everyone else’s stories as well - saving that for tomorrow, since I’ll likely want something that’ll make me smile then.

I’ve lately been looking for something that’d help me recover the practice of writing fiction, and I believe I have now found it. And it’s really nice, too, to be on a host again that feels like it’s alive. So thanks again for talking about it - I’m really glad you did!

– Alexis 2018-11-29 04:23 UTC


Excellent! :)

– Alex Schroeder 2018-11-29 07:27 UTC


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