Web Excursions 2021-11-30

The Origins of 'Horn OK Please,' India's Most Ubiquitous Phrase - Atlas Obscura

  • In 2015, the transportation department of Maharashtra, the state containing the city of Mumbai, attempted to diminish the noise pollution caused by the honking by outlawing a phrase found on the back of almost all Indian trucks: “Horn OK Please.”

  • The phrase itself, however, is intriguing for two reasons:

    1. it doesn’t seem to make grammatical sense,

    2. why would Indian trucks be encouraging drivers to honk their horns?

  • Indian drivers rarely use their side mirrors, and instead use horns to indicate when they are about to overtake a car.

    • Trucks, in particular, are often not even equipped with side mirrors in the first place.

    • As a result, the backs of trucks may be painted to urge drivers to use their horn as a signal to the truck driver when they are overtaking.

  • One theory suggests that the “OK” is meant to be separate from “Horn Please,”

    • and is intended to only appear to the eye when the driver is a safe distance away from the truck.

    • If the driver is too close, the theory goes, only “Horn Please” is visible.

  • Yet another theory behind “Horn OK Please” is derived from a tradition thought to date to World War II, when there were worldwide diesel shortages.

    • During this time, trucks in India would be filled with kerosene instead.

    • Though it may be apocryphal, some people say they recall that the backs of the trucks were painted, “Horn Please, On Kerosene,”

      • to warn drivers to keep their distance.

    • This reason is among the more plausible,

      • given that many Indian truck drivers continue to mix diesel with kerosene to save money on gas.

  • A more fanciful interpretation of the “OK” comes from the fact that the multinational Tata company used to have a near-monopoly on first Indian trucks to be manufactured.

    • Tata Motors, the automobile arm of the huge conglomerate, supposedly painted “OK” on the back of its trucks

    • as a subtle—and somewhat insidious—way of advertising the new “OK” detergent and bath soap from its Tata Oil Mills subsidiary.

  • Whatever the true reason may be for the phrase, it’s clear that “Horn OK Please” has embedded itself into the Indian cultural consciousness.

    • Beyond the handful of restaurants and food trucks around the world that use the words in their names, “Horn OK Please” has even found its way into Indian pop culture.

Hacker News


  • On foggy roads in north India, it is difficult to see vehicles on the road.

  • So lights were used to indicate the status of big vehicles like trucks.

    • Two lit bulbs on left and right corners (illuminating Horn Please) meant honk to get a pass.

    • And to indicate you can overtake, the driver could light one bulb in the middle (illuminating a OK) to indicate its ok to take over.

  • Eventually this system was scrapped but the tradition to paint "Horn OK please" remained.

Command Palettes: How Typing Commands Became the Norm Again | Hacker News


  • Something I've been noticing lately is the disappearance of the “power user”.

    • Someone who's not a programer,

    • but has learned lots of smart and efficient ways to getting their computer work done over the years.

    • Shortcuts (keyboard or otherwise), click-hold-cmd-tab-drop or similar patterns, tags/labels for deep file organization, etc.

  • It seems like there's now a much wider gap between the smartphone tap-only user and the Vim/Terminal ubergeek with almost nothing in between.


I'm not sure how related they are, but I noticed an inverse correlation with users have full access to their systems. As companies locked down systems, users had less opportunity to explore, learn, optimize (and also break or infect) their systems.


The article paints command palettes as a return to terminal inputs. However there are two massive differences. Firstly, the use of fuzzy search and natural language makes the commands discoverable. Secondly, there is a feedback mechanism that shows what the command will do before it's run. Together, these massively lower the learning curve.

Winamp Source Code Leak | Hacker News


Interestingly enough, there has been a community project https://getwacup.com/ dedicated to keeping the last Winamp version alive (last version from the original creators), and it really great to use.

It includes a skin that allows it to work on modern display resolutions. It's really interesting to see just how low-res screens were when it was in it's hey-day, given that they are nearly unusable on a 4k monitor.


Winamp 2 was generally preferred. If I recall correctly, it skipped version 4 not because v2 + v3 = v5 but because nobody would want to download a Winamp 4 skin. Not kidding.



What happened to Winamp 4? You're not imagining things. Yes, we skipped a version number for the following reasons: a) Winamp 5 combines the best aspects of Winamp 2 and Winamp 3 into one player. Hence Winamp 2 + Winamp 3 = Winamp 5! b) Who the hell wants to see a Winamp 4 Skin :P c) We think that a Fibonacci sequence for versioning might be pretty damn cool. d)We improved so much in Winamp 5 that we figured it warranted skipping a version. ;)

xmprt: I still don't understand. What's wrong with Winamp 4 skins? Is it because 4 skin sounds like foreskin?

lelandfe: You got it :)


For context, here's the new revamped(!) Winamp coming up soon: 


 It's just... the complete opposite of what Winamp was all about, and it's horrible and leaves a bad taste in your mouth.

tombert: Honest question, as someone who actually used Winamp back in ~2004: why would you want to use it now?


  • I used to have my whole library loaded up in one list and could search any part of it, including the path, using the "j" key to instantly play basically any song in it from the keyboard.

  • It was so good that I literally put an old desktop computer in the trunk of my car in 2000 (with eggshell foam bungee-corded around the hard drives for shock absorption) and

    • ran a long keyboard wire to the drivers seat and I could queue up any song at all while driving with one hand without taking eyes off the road or hands off the wheel.

    • When the computer booted, it loaded winamp with the full playlist and so the only user interaction was pressing the power button (mounted in my dash) and pressing 'j' to search and play.

kblev: Winamp has a media library feature, it can keep track of what you're listening to and builds playlists of your most listened and top rated tracks. Quite handy.


It's basically a perfect music player. Lightweight, fast, runs on every version of Windows 95+, great playlist manager, skins, and has extensive plugins which support any music file format.


Winamp has a plugin for Orchestra 80/85/90 files, which to the best of my knowledge, VLC does not. Wouldn't be surprised if this were the case for many 8-bit era music formats. The time period in which Winamp came to prominence was when there were still lots of people with a foot in the 90s (and 80s) without it necessarily being retro nostalgia.

Firefox Is the Only Alternative -

  • One can argue that Safari is an alternative to Chrome, given the popularity of Apple’s devices and the massive resources of the company.

    • from my perspective Apple is just another company that’s more focused on advancing their own agenda than the well-being of their users or open web standards.

    • I do give them a lot of credit for helping rid the world of Flash, though.

  • For me Firefox is the only alternative to a complete Chrome hegemony in the sense that:

    • it’s open-source in the real sense (a project that’s truly community-driven)

    • it has a great track record of fighting for its users and for a better Internet.

    • it’s home to the last major rendering engine, that’s not derived from WebKit (namely Gecko/Quantum)

    • it’s the only major browser that lobbies on behalf of regular users (people like you and me) when it comes to implementing new web standards.

      • Everyone should take a moment to visit this page,

      • detailing the position of Firefox’s developers on numerous specifications submitted to standards bodies like the IETF, W3C, and Ecma TC39.

      • You’ll notice that many of them are considered “harmful”.

Mozilla Specification Positions

  • This page tracks Mozilla's positions on open Web and Web-related specifications submitted to standards bodies like the IETF, W3C, and Ecma TC39.

    • Please remember, this isn't a commitment to implement or participate;

    • it's just what we think right now. See Firefox Platform Status to find out what we're implementing.

  • E.g., re File System Access [harmful]

    • This document defines a web platform API that lets websites gain write access to the local file system. It builds on File API, but adds lots of new functionality on top.

    • There's a subset of this API we're quite enthusiastic about (in particular providing a read/write API for files and directories as alternative storage endpoint),

      • but it is wrapped together with aspects for which we do not think meaningful end user consent is possible to obtain (in particular cross-site access to the end user's local file system).

      • Overall we consider this harmful therefore, but Mozilla could be supportive of parts, provided this were segmented better.

Inside Intel’s Secret Warehouse in Costa Rica - WSJ

  • it didn’t have a formal method for cataloging and storing older technology so engineers could test it for security flaws.

  • “We had to actually go on eBay and start looking for these platforms,”

  • Legacy technology can introduce cybersecurity weaknesses.

    • Tech makers constantly improve their products to take advantage of speed and power increases, but customers don’t always upgrade at the same pace.

    • This creates a long tail of old products that remain in widespread use, vulnerable to attacks.

  • Intel’s answer to this conundrum was to create a warehouse and laboratory in Costa Rica,

    • where the company already had a research-and-development lab,

    • to store the breadth of its technology and make the devices available for remote testing.

    • After planning began in mid-2018, the Long-Term Retention Lab was up and running in the second half of 2019.

  • The warehouse stores around 3,000 pieces of hardware and software, going back about a decade.

    • Intel plans to expand next year, nearly doubling the space to 27,000 square feet from 14,000,

    • allowing the facility to house 6,000 pieces of computer equipment.

  • Intel engineers can request a specific machine in a configuration of their choice.

    • It is then assembled by a technician and accessible through cloud services.

    • The lab runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week, typically with about 25 engineers working any given shift.

  • Access to the building is strictly controlled and approved by senior managers,

    • while surveillance cameras watch the equipment at all times.

    • Even its location is secret—Intel representatives declined to say where exactly it is.

  • At times, contributions came from engineers who had long since moved on to other projects or even left the company.

    • They helped assemble technical documentation and discussed what they knew about products from years ago

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