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Putorius... Curious?

A lot of the people I talk to are curious about the name I chose for this website. There is usually a 3 or 4 question barrage in quick succession. Below I will try to answer them all at once.

Let's go back... Waayyy back...

Back in the late 80’s, a time before the internet existed, there lived quite an extensive collection of Bulletin Board Systems (BBS). Since there was no common network for computers, you had to use a modem to call into a BBS. A BBS was basically a website with a phone number. These often times ran on computers like the Commodore 64Amiga 3000TRS-80, or an Apple II, and later on IBM clones. The person who operated said BBS was called a System Operator (SysOp) and often had a Co-SysOp (or Co-System Operator) to help with maintenance. These SysOps and CoSysOps generally used a “handle” (username) when posting on the boards. A handle was a name that you picked for yourself because you thought it was cool (Homeless Toaster), it stood for something in a cryptic way (K4KWW), or it described you or your personality or at least how you wanted to be perceived (Lord Zeus) by other BBS visitors.

I was one of those SysOps. I ran a board called “Altered Visions BBS” out of my bedroom in Philadelphia, PA. At first I was using my parents home phone line, which was constantly busy because either people were calling into my board, or I was calling out to another board. Thank god I had patient and supportive parents who quickly realized I needed my own phone line. That is when Altered Visions was born (circa 1987). My family did not have a lot of money, and I am sure they could have probably used the money they spent on my extra phone line for other things. But, my father saw my love for technology and supported it. I was a 12 year old class clown who didn’t take school seriously, but when I got home I sat and eagerly learned how to code in BASIC, modify the BBS code to make it do something I wanted, and also make things do something they were not designed to do.

So, that doesn’t explain why I called the website Putorius does it? No, it doesn’t, but it is important that I set the scene… Bare with me….

My Muse

There was a girl from the neighborhood that I was, let’s say, giddy over. She was a cute, golden haired maiden that was older than I was but always treated me kindly. She owned several ferrets and I would often hang out and play with the cute critters. I was amazed at their curiosity and ability to learn. We would make different puzzles for them out of boxes, toys, pipes or anything we had laying around. It was a glorious time now that I look back on it.

As I was contemplating building my first BBS, I knew I needed a handle. I didn’t want to use my real name, that’s what the “older” people did who used their BBS for serious stuff. Altered Visions was about fun, phreaking, funny ASCII art (no images back then), jokes, etc… I thought about my curiosity for how things worked and reminisced about the ferrets and their own endless curiosity. I decided on the name “The Weasel”.

An Era Long Gone

For the next decade or so I was known to a LOT of people as “The Weasel”. Most of these people I never met, and most I never knew their real name. It was a fun time of exploration, learning and problem solving.

The only remaining remnants of “The Weasel” and “Altered Visions BBS” now resides in the bblist at textfiles 215 listing. Sad, but I digress….

Fast forward 20+ years and I am still enthralled with everything tech. I work as a Linux Sysadmin and IT Project Manager, I annoy my lovely wife with smart home projects, and spend way too much time on the computer. It was about 2010 when I decided to create a personal blog. I didn’t really do it for others. I did it because I often found myself looking up the same information over and over. Sometimes as a Linux SysAdmin there are things you do daily and you will never forget. There are other times when you need to get one small thing done and you build out a command that is piped 6 times and you have no chance of remembering it. Or maybe you set up a service, write a script, whatever, and you need that knowledge 4 years later for another project. That was the purpose of this blog. As it turns out me writing things down on the internet helped others with their issues.

Win Win.

Wrap it Up

So, if you are still with me you must be annoyed. You still don’t know why I called the website Putorius.

Putorius is the latin name for the species of animals that the weasel belongs to. Basically, it is an homage to the old days and the curiosity that drives technology. The days of a young man’s curiosity that took him on a journey; a journey that looks like it has no end, like this damn post.

I hope you enjoy your time here. Sorry for being long winded, but I enjoyed the trip down memory lane. If you want to talk about the old days feel free to contact me, I am always willing to talk tech, 80’s or otherwise.