Cookin' Up a Filipino Box Spring Ogg
2000-10-03 16:27:55

Software Jihad
[It] was quite a trip, I went to the fractals at the end of time - and back.


Passed samizdat from hacker to hacker for the past eight years, the Lambda Expressway is a surreal tale in the spirit of The Phantom Tollbooth. Originally a series of cassette tape letters recorded on a basement 4-track mixer, it has spawned a MUD, a written edition, and at least one sequel. Now, thanks to the freedom-loving peoples of Ogg, you can hear it on your own computer.

About forever and a day ago, I asked for a CD of the Lambda Expressway, so's I could rip it.

Some kind soul pressed a CD from fresh lemons and shipped it in an envelope woven from his own hair. I was elated. I was drafting a speech proclaiming the praises of this generous benefactor and announcing the release of the e-lek-tron-ik verzhun of the lambda expressway.

I then got laid off and lost access to machines with modern facilities like CD-ROM drives, power management hardware, and little rubber feet.

But my new job gave me a fancy-pants black obelisk with rich corinthian leather. It has four on the floor, factory air, and antique hardwood floors. It can run for three days on a pint of guinness and it can de-vulcanize rubber.

When playing around with the woody release of Debian GNU/Linux, I stumbled across

                                         ___.   .__
   ____   ____   ____   ___  ____________\_ |__ |__| ______
  /  _ \ / ___\ / ___\  \  \/ /  _ \_  __ \ __ \|  |/  ___/
 (  <_> ) /_/  > /_/  >  \   (  <_> )  | \/ \_\ \  |\___ \
  \____/\___  /\___  /    \_/ \____/|__|  |___  /__/____  >
       /_____//_____/                         \/        \/

In the past, when one wanted to make compressed audio files, one had to use the "rm" utility, which compresses all files to length 0. Then along came Suzanne Vega, who managed to compress the lyrics to "Tom's Diner" to a series of doot-doot noises.

Hearing her over a music pirating medium known as "the radio", a Fraunhofferstoffelson, AG, GMBh engineer known as "Karlheinzfritzerikholger" realized that he could patent this method if he grandfathered it into the MPEG committee's audio layer three (in between either the lettuce and the pinto beans, or the transport and data link layers, depending on whether you're ANSI or ISO, respectively) standard.

So successful was this coup that Frinkenzooblehoffen, GuS, pHD now collects heavy royalties on most music distribution. Not to be outdone, the free software hacker gnomes began working on a freaky replacement that uses snakes and omniscient beings and all sorts of crazy futuristic ish.

Named "Ogg Vorbis", because you kind of oggle while you listen to the extremely vorbly sounds coming out of the speaker, it was given away to the world in the same spirit of universal siblingness and conscientious objection that brought you the coke commercials with all the baby boomers singing from the mountains about how thety'd like to buy the world a social security blanket.

And this brings us back to the Lambda Expressway! I called up Vasco da Gama last night and we talked at great length about ogg vorbis. He gave me the instructions for encoding the CD by finding the corresponding cypher wheels and entering them into the collossus machines in the hold of his trireme. What came out was joyous music.

Vasco shoved a banana into one of the paper tape readers, and it was fixed. Out came the vorbized edition of The Lambda Expressway. My mission was nearly complete!

Smuggling it home in a box full of Communist literature, I fired up my ASR-33 and uploaded the data to, my offshore merchant banking system.

Thus, those of you who want to oggle at the vorbized lambda expressway (a saga to make the one you are reading tremble with performance anxiety), kindly send the following HTTP request to by intelligent squirrel:


And before xwrits wrestles me to the ground and pins my arms behind my back, I'll tell you how you, YES YOU, can play ogg vorbis files:

Just download and install the free software!

Yes, folks, it's as easy as that. Or, if you're running Debian's woody (unstable) distribution, you can simply run the following as root:

apt-get install ogg123


apt-get install xmms-vorbis

and watch the juicy software install!

Over.  End of Story.  Go home now.

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