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Monday, 23 March 2015

GNU Sir Terry Pratchett

The internet is paying a truly beautiful tribute to Sir Terry Pratchett, simply by adding a hidden line of code to web addresses. I can practically hear the frowns forming. Let me explain, if I can, which I probably can't because it's technical and I'm only pretending I understand:

Terry Pratchett's 'Going Postal' centred heavily around the Discworld's clacks system, which was a means of speedily sending messages via semaphore towers. In the story the clacks was bought out by an unscrupulous consortium who cut back on investment leading to breakages, and even deaths of the linesmen who operated the towers. John Dearheart was the son of the creator of the clacks, and when he was murdered his father inserted a special hidden message with his name into the clack's code. This code would be continuously re-sent but never logged, secretly keeping his son's name alive in the 'overhead'. The message was referred to by the code GNU. The internet tribute, started by the Reddit community, adds a similar hidden message, or GNU, keeping Sir Terry Pratchett's name alive over the Earthly equivalent of the overhead: the internet.

Quirky Tales is now GNU, thanks in no small part to the fact that one person here at QTHQ is technically super competent, while the rest of us just nod in what we hope is a knowledgeable way.

For more information, and a far better explanation than I've managed, take a look at these pages:

GNU Terry Pratchett
Telegraph coverage

K.

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