Norman Wilson norman at oclsc.org
Wed Jan 13 16:37:56 AEST 2010

I don't know where the Groklaw posting came from,
but the info is garbled in two ways:

1.  It's not E_GREG, any more than it was ever E_NXIO
or E_IO or E_ACCES.  It's EGREG.

2.  The associated message is not and never was Greg
did it but It's all Greg's fault.

The Greg in question is indeed Greg Chesson; the saying
was part of the culture when I arrived in 1127 in 1984.
I knew the story once but have forgotten.

EGREG was put into the system initially half as a joke,
half as a spare error code for debugging kernel code.
Then, as I vaguely recall, Andrew Hume started using it
for real in his WORM-device driver, rather than inventing
a new code if he really needed it.  This is how software
grows and why it must be pruned, or even razed to the
ground, now and then.

The phrase It's all so-and-so's fault, and variations
on that theme, appeared now and then in other ways in
the culture.  My favourite was when Tom Duff augmented
the simple code (just a shell script, I think) that
sent printer-status warnings to the UNIX Room voice
synthesizer so that it didn't just say Please add paper,
it said Please add paper, dammit t d (if the current job
was td's).  Except that for a while, for reasons that
now escape me, it was deliberatly changed to say dammit
andrew (Hume) no matter who's stuff was printing.  It
took a week or two before Andrew noticed.

It was a kindergarten there, but a fun and productive one.
I don't miss living in northern New Jersey (which is why
I left the group in 1990) but I do miss the group as it
then was, and no longer is nor ever again shall be.

Norman Wilson
Toronto ON
(Actually typing this whilst sitting
somewhere northeast of Emeryville CA)
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