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The 'Leet Text Filter Toys Of Linux

Date/Time Permalink: 06/10/12 03:08:32 pm
Category: ANSI art

Whenever I get the urge to blog about ASCII/ANSI/Unicode art, I start to think "Nahhh, that stuff's old hat and going out of style," only to be proven wrong again and again. ASCII art culture keeps coming back. Now we have smartphone texting and Twitter, with ASCII art popping up there. I keep seeing ASCII sigs on Facebook and Google+ (and MySpace danged near went crazy with it in its day). The most popular social linking site is now Reddit, which is the closest thing to a pure text mainstream website we have today, and they rediscover ASCII art every week. Go to Craigslist (another text-heavy site) and there's ASCII art stuff all over the place there. 4chan remains obsessed with ASCII art. Anybody around me keeps asking how to insert some Unicode doodad.

Oh, OK, I give up. Text toys are here to stay! Here's a fun little gallery of text art, filters, and text toys on Linux:

Figlet Figlet home page

Most of you've seen this before. It takes whatever text you type and renders it in an ASCII font. I found no package for Fedora, but got the tarball from the home site and nudged it in with a 'make' and 'make install', not being picky.

.
 ____                        _         ____      _       
|  _ \ ___ _ __   __ _ _   _(_)_ __   |  _ \ ___| |_ ___ 
| |_) / _ \ '_ \ / _` | | | | | '_ \  | |_) / _ \ __/ _ \
|  __/  __/ | | | (_| | |_| | | | | | |  __/  __/ ||  __/
|_|   \___|_| |_|\__, |\__,_|_|_| |_| |_|   \___|\__\___|
                 |___/                                   

The default.

Different font files are available with the "-f" option...

.
 , _                                , _          
/|/ \ _        _,       o          /|/ \ __|_  _ 
 |__/|/ /|/|  / | |  |  | /|/|      |__/|/ |  |/ 
 |   |_/ | |_/\/|/ \/|_/|/ | |_/    |   |_/|_/|_/
               (|                                

One thing you'll notice right away is that you don't seem to have all the fonts listed on the site. You can FTP whole packs of them here. Then drop the ".flf" files in /usr/local/share/figlet (assuming you've done everything the same way I have).

Now I have the good stuff:

.
d8888b. d88888b d888888b d88888b 
88  `8D 88'     `~~88~~' 88'     
88oodD' 88ooooo    88    88ooooo 
88~~~   88~~~~~    88    88~~~~~ 
88      88.        88    88.     
88      Y88888P    YP    Y88888P 

Cowsay Cowsay home page

Cowsay gets posted about all the time, just like Figlet. It's part of the standard text toys often installed on systems with things like BSD-games on them. Honestly, I forget how I got it on my fedora laptop. Maybe a wizard did it. Anyway: not many users twig to the concept that you can combine Figlet and Cowsay, but only if you use the "-n" option on cowsay so it doesn't wordwrap:

.
%> figlet -f doom "Moo" | cowsay -n
 ______________________ 
/ ___  ___             \
| |  \/  |             |
| | .  . | ___   ___   |
| | |\/| |/ _ \ / _ \  |
| | |  | | (_) | (_) | |
| \_|  |_/\___/ \___/  |
|                      |
\                      /
 ---------------------- 
        \   ^__^
         \  (oo)\_______
            (__)\       )\/\
                ||----w |
                ||     ||

Now, that's a more eloquent cow!

Boxes Boxes home page

Boxes is very much like cowsay; feed it text, get text in a picture back. It was born on my machine's Fedora install, possibly with the programming tools package. It's mainly for creating easy formatted code comments for programmers (in just about any language), but over the years contributors have added ASCII art doodads and now it's just another sassy text toy. Once again, you can pipe figlet and cowsay into boxes as well:

.
%> figlet -f doom "Moo" | cowsay -n | boxes -d peek -p a1b2

/*       _\|/_
         (o o)
 +----oOO-{_}-OOo---------------+
 |                              |
 |  ______________________      |
 | / ___  ___             \     |
 | | |  \/  |             |     |
 | | | .  . | ___   ___   |     |
 | | | |\/| |/ _ \ / _ \  |     |
 | | | |  | | (_) | (_) | |     |
 | | \_|  |_/\___/ \___/  |     |
 | |                      |     |
 | \                      /     |
 |  ----------------------      |
 |         \   ^__^             |
 |          \  (oo)\_______     |
 |             (__)\       )\/\ |
 |                 ||----w |    |
 |                 ||     ||    |
 |                              |
 |                              |
 +-----------------------------*/

That's right, we're just going to keep getting more and more meta. Leave out the cow, and we have a decent little ASCII banner for things like GameFAQ walkthroughs:

.
%> echo "Minecraft" | figlet -f gothic | boxes -d whirly
 .+"+.+"+.+"+.+"+.+"+.+"+.+"+.+"+.+"+.+"+.+"+.+"+.+"+.+"+.
(                                                         )
 )  /\\,/\\,                                   /\   ,    (
(  /| || ||   '                          _    ||   ||     )
 ) || || ||  \\ \\/\\  _-_   _-_ ,._-_  < \, =||= =||=   (
(  ||=|= ||  || || || || \\ ||    ||    /-||  ||   ||     )
 )~|| || ||  || || || ||/   ||    ||   (( ||  ||   ||    (
(  |, \\,\\, \\ \\ \\ \\,/  \\,/  \\,   \/\\  \\,  \\,    )
 )_-                                                     (
(                                                         )
 "+.+"+.+"+.+"+.+"+.+"+.+"+.+"+.+"+.+"+.+"+.+"+.+"+.+"+.+"

Yes, this banner could be commercial, with a few margaritas and the right company. But wait, there's more!

Text filters Filters home page

While this doesn't make ASCII art, it does have a variety of filters for text which output text in various funny accents. These are about impossible to find a Fedora package for, but I have an old copy I never even bothered to install (because I don't want my /bin/ file cluttered up for arcane programs that I'm only going to use once a blue moon). Instead, they're just in a directory that isn't normally added to my executable $PATH, and I call one by piping text into it.

"Linux rocks" turns to "l1nux r0ck5" with the "eleet" filter and so on.

This means that we can automatically spice up text before we pipe it to an ASCII font and give it to one of the animals in cowsay (check /usr/share/cowsay):

.
%> echo "Linux rocks" | ./code/text_filters/eleet | figlet -f slant | cowsay -n -f tux
 __________________________________________________________ 
/     _____                         ____       __   ______ \
|    / <  /___  __  ___  __   _____/ __ \_____/ /__/ ____/ |
|   / // / __ \/ / / / |/_/  / ___/ / / / ___/ //_/___ \   |
|  / // / / / / /_/ />  <   / /  / /_/ / /__/ ,< ____/ /   |
| /_//_/_/ /_/\__,_/_/|_|  /_/   \____/\___/_/|_/_____/    |
\                                                          /
 ---------------------------------------------------------- 
   \
    \
        .--.
       |o_o |
       |:_/ |
      //   \ \
     (|     | )
    /'\_   _/`\
    \___)=(___/

Emacs Artist Mode Artist Mode page at Emacs Wiki

So what if you want to draw ASCII art of your own? You can do that in Emacs, M-x artist-mode and if you're running XEmacs on a desktop, you can middle-click with the mouse to get a menu of operations and then draw with left-click just like a paint program, and exit with C-c C-c.

There's also AAlib and LibCaca for converting image files to text graphics, but that's kind of getting far away from the point here and those programs get blogged all the time anyway.

Anyway, my main point here was to point out the modular nature of these programs, how they can work together and combine to create new works that nobody ever thought of. There's new art forms buried in here yet waiting to be discovered.

Welcome back to the art of text, kiddies! Now go practice your tri-force.

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An HTML Chess Table

Date/Time Permalink: 11/18/07 05:40:00 am
Category: ANSI art

I'm up to my ears in paid work right now (Holiday rush coming soon!), and haven't time to blog, so here's an HTML chess table. The chess table source is here - right now you're just viewing an iframe. View source and copy-paste if you're setting up a chess game for the web.

It's Unicode art, but I have to post it in "ANSI art" because I was too short-sighted to name the category to cover all forms of character-based graphics. Wasn't that thick of me?

NOTE: I get these characters from this Unicode page. If you see question marks, boxes, or anything but chess pieces, go to that link. If you can't see the chess pieces there, either, there's something wrong with either your web browser settings or your font. If you can't see my chess pieces but you can see the pieces at the linked page, *I* have messed up, and I'd appreciate your dropping me a note in the comments to tell me about it.

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Running Demoscene Executables in DOSBox

Date/Time Permalink: 06/13/07 10:53:08 pm
Category: ANSI art

Where in blue, sunny Gehenom has Penguin Pete been???

Answer: Working my stubby little butt off, and in between for recreation time taking a nostalgic trip back to the era of 15 years ago, when sysops were sysops and warez doodz were warez doodz and small, furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were... well, you know.

This time I've been snarfing the archives of The BBS Archive, and if you thought Textfiles.com had ANSI art, you've seen nothing 'til you've seen this archive. Along with the usual browsing of ANSI art I've been doing, I have also been playing a few demos in DOSBox. I tried one on a hunch and it *worked*! In fact, almost every one from several groups I've tried has worked!

demoscene 1
Demos from ACID and BAD

demoscene 2
Demos from BAD and ACID

demoscene 3
Demos from ACID and Apocalyptic Visions

If you don't know what the demoscene was, the PC Demoscene FAQ is the place to go.

Here's how I do it: I have the latest DOSBox, and I create a directory called /DOS/ under my home. Best to keep all DOS files in one place on a Linux system. So, download the zip file, and unzip it into wherever under your /DOS/ folder you want it. Then start DOSBox and type:

mount c ~/DOS/

then:

c:

then:

cd .\FOLDER\

To get to whatever folder you put the unzipped files in...

Remember, DOS makes the slashes backwards, and 'ls' doesn't work, you have to say 'dir'! You can simply play any executable by typing '.\' then hitting 'tab' a few times so it cycles through all the possible '.EXE', '.COM' and whatnot.

Keep the following in mind:

You're playing demos coded by warez doodz living in the 80s (actually, the 90s, but they still worshiped heavy metal, so...), who never dreamed that their work would be running on DOSBox on Linux. Wherever possible, keep files together and preserve the naming scheme (yes, even the STUPID.ANS UPPERC~1.DOS FILE-N~1.EXE!) so that programs don't get lost looking for support files. Macho 14-year-old Amiga fans whacking out a demo in a four-hour deadline using only Assembly laugh at the idea of exception handling.

Even for all of that, the demos run astoundingly well! Methinks that DOSBox is becoming a better DOS than the original DOS!

ANSI sig

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libcaca - for your 1337 D3M0z

Date/Time Permalink: 03/05/07 09:42:48 am
Category: ANSI art

libcaca demos

Libcaca is one of those surprises you didn't know you had installed until you stumble on it. In my case, I found it was installed on both my Slackware 11.0 and grml 0.9.

Libcaca is the color text graphics library - viewing its demos will take you right back to the days of ANSI and VGA graphics. Except that it's got a modern edge to it - libcaca acknowledges its roots in aalib, the ASCII graphics library. Pictured here are the demos for plasma, metaballs, and fire. They have some active development still going on, including a couple of games and an image viewer. It also has a server and an animation player.

Yet another character graphics toy. But this is one of the more impressive out there. And be sure to visit the 'TOIlet' on the libcaca site - a while ago, Digg.com discovered Unicode block letters and went temporarily nuts. They'd lose their heads for good if somebody posted a libcaca sig in there.

a cacasig

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ANSI art: This is fun! Can I play?

Date/Time Permalink: 05/04/06 07:56:57 am
Category: ANSI art


Bob


Penguin Pete Banner


Wolfenstein


The Brain

Caught up in all the excitement, I have allowed the bug to bite me and gone and done some ANSI art of my own. These are my first attempts, and you can take their quality as either an appreciation of how hard this art form is, or a comment on my skills!

The "Penguin Pete's" banner is how I think I'd have things looking if I ran a BBS instead of a website. So if you want the BBS experience here, you'll have to view it full-size in a terminal running "w3m" and scroll it up very slowly...

The medium puts me in a mood of 80s/90s nostalgia, so I've tried to select a couple topics from that era. Clockwise from the Penguin Pete's banner: my attempt at Wolfenstein, "The Brain" as in "Pinky and", a Linux-pride piece, and Bob Dobbs of Subgenius fame.


Linux makes U smart

The whole ANSI-Art tour:
Can I play too?
Part 8
Part 7
Part 6
Part 5
Part 4
Part 3
Part 2
Part 1

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BBS ads: a tour of ASCII and ANSI art from the 80s and 90s - Part 8

Date/Time Permalink: 05/03/06 07:12:23 am
Category: ANSI art


BAD Medicine

Well, it's been a week of flashing ANSI renders from the BBS ads at textfiles.com. These are the last of the batch that I felt just *had* to be included. Click on any thumbnail to see the fullsize image.

As always, thank you all for your guidance and feedback. To make it perfectly clear, I am not affiliated with textfiles.com. I only viewed the public archive, twiddled with rendering the ANSI art, and once I got it right, decided to post shots of it. I do intend offering these renders to the textfiles site, as well, since they do have other ANSI art that's rendered in a similar fashion, but none of these were rendered.

Please send your ANSI/ASCII/BBS work to textfiles.com - that's the archive! Of course, I appreciate your sharing of any BBS-related artwork you have with me, as well. While I was not deep into the Bulletin Board world, I was hanging out on the fringes of it. I was still nearly a kid. I was too busy hacking graphics on a Macbox at the time. If somebody went over to the PCs and later announced that they'd downloaded a game from some board, I'd look up just long enough to nod, "Um, cool, maybe we'll play it later!" When I went to the PCs, it was either to code in BASIC or C (ooooh, the struggle of first learning C!) or in whatever-the-batch-system of the PC was, or occasionally to join the others in gaming, and this was how I was first introduced to the original Sim City, Rogue, Dungeons and Dragons (I spoiled the game for everybody after I showed them how one could dupe items in the vault.) and others I can barely remember ("Captain Comic?" The original Duke Nukem?). Dialing Bulletin Boards and fighting with the crackers was something for other people to do; I just stood by. NOTE: this was PRE-Windows, the PCs I had exposure to mostly ran DOS versions plus things like XTree-Pro/Gold and Quickmenu (the famous ugly shareware Operating System that nagged you to DEATH about registering it and required a hex editor to shut the annoying damn thing up so you could use it without going crazy...bad as it is to have Emporer Gates rule the world, it would have been worse had it been the idiot who wrote Quickmenu instead.) Of course, I had known Tandys and Commodores before the PCs and Macs, but that's early childhood and I would have had no modem access.

That's about all the reminiscences about that time I have... I have enjoyed hearing all of yours!


Dimented_Death


Britnet


Night Wings


Partner in Crime


PIM_BBS


Dead Mans Bluff


Virtual Hell


The Void: Marshal Law


The Morgue


Thirteenth Hour

Class exercise: What influences to the BBS art scene are self-evident from the artwork? Comic books. Heavy Metal music. Science Fiction. The Cyberpunk movement, though obviously an influence from William Gibson's novels just coming out at the time, was at the time helped along and partially evn shaped by the BBS culture. It was the beginning of the information age as far as the popular public was concerned, and nobody knew yet just where or how far we were going; we just knew that nothing would even again be as it was before.

I've been twiddling with doing my own, and may post some if I get it good enough, but as opposed to my other artwork, I don't think I'll stick much with pure ANSI art. It is a *hell* of a lot of work for little result, and the medium is kind of limiting. In the hours that it takes to draw a character-scene, I could have done a real-life image in Blender or POVray. In ANSI art, even if you're the best artist in the world, your finest work will still look about as good as a medium-quality comic book. I find myself typing in all these characters for only so long before I want to shift to doing my own C program to handle lots of details for me. Character graphics and C programs go well together.

The whole ANSI-Art tour:
Can I play too?
Part 8
Part 7
Part 6
Part 5
Part 4
Part 3
Part 2
Part 1

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BBS ads: a tour of ASCII and ANSI art from the 80s and 90s - Part 7

Date/Time Permalink: 04/30/06 03:38:22 pm
Category: ANSI art


Mourning After

A rainy Friday evening's entertainment may be had by downloading the BBS section tarball from textfiles.com. I found myself engrossed in the ASCII and ANSI art banners from these bulletin boards of yore. I decided to render some of them and make screenshots to post here, both in the interest of further preserving this bit of history, and to offer a highlight tour to those who lack the patience and resources to view them directly. Click on any thumbnail to see the fullsize image.


Guru Heaven


Dream Phase


Soft Cell


Legends in KAOS


Aces High Mirage


Atlantis Power


TDS

Some of the art from the ANSI section was quite tricky to render. I used Linux's "screen" program in a console, or tetraview, or occasionally EMACS! Several times I had to size it to exactly 80 characters wide or the picture wouldn't display correctly. It was a puzzle figuring out the correct character encoding to use - who knows what dialect of characters the host's computer spoke? Best results so far have been with an old vga font I stumbled upon. I have to use something that looks like it kind of makes sense and hope for the best. In the case of the long banners, I had to render them a screenful at a time and paste them together end to end in the image. The result may well be the first time these long banner works have been seen whole on a single screen - perhaps even by the artists?

Hope you've all enjoyed this little tour. This is less than 10% of the banner ads in the archive, but these represent a good cross-sampling, with a bias towards work that IMHO especially deserved rendering.

The whole ANSI-Art tour:
Can I play too?
Part 8
Part 7
Part 6
Part 5
Part 4
Part 3
Part 2
Part 1

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BBS ads: a tour of ASCII and ANSI art from the 80s and 90s - Part 6

Date/Time Permalink: 04/30/06 03:02:39 pm
Category: ANSI art


Dust n Bones

A rainy Friday evening's entertainment may be had by downloading the BBS section tarball from textfiles.com. I found myself engrossed in the ASCII and ANSI art banners from these bulletin boards of yore. I decided to render some of them and make screenshots to post here, both in the interest of further preserving this bit of history, and to offer a highlight tour to those who lack the patience and resources to view them directly. Click on any thumbnail to see the fullsize image.


Warez Depot


Boiler Room


Rave Nation


Undercity


Undercity Ad


Chaotic Hysteria


Undercity 2


Wild Palms


Real Men Only

The story of the end of the bulletin board culture is told by many of the files on textfiles.com: The BBS's broke apart, their owners grew up and graduated college and moved on, or they got arrested. What with the seeming terabytes of pirated commercial software flying around then, small wonder about the arrests. The artists, however, were above it all. They *produced*, while others around them merely hoarded. The artist's signatures are appended to the work in odd places, occasionally with their own mini-ad within the ad. You recognize the same names from board to board once in a while. There is even a hint that some of them might have been paid for their work, if they were very good. Still others were just one-shot deals obviously done by the board sysop; while ASCII/ANSI art is accessible to anyone with a keyboard, a few characters tell the glaring difference between the amatuer and the pro.

The whole ANSI-Art tour:
Can I play too?
Part 8
Part 7
Part 6
Part 5
Part 4
Part 3
Part 2
Part 1

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BBS ads: a tour of ASCII and ANSI art from the 80s and 90s - Part 5

Date/Time Permalink: 04/29/06 03:28:41 pm
Category: ANSI art


Pyramid Ad

A rainy Friday evening's entertainment may be had by downloading the BBS section tarball from textfiles.com. I found myself engrossed in the ASCII and ANSI art banners from these bulletin boards of yore. I decided to render some of them and make screenshots to post here, both in the interest of further preserving this bit of history, and to offer a highlight tour to those who lack the patience and resources to view them directly. Click on any thumbnail to see the fullsize image.


TGN BBS


Ace of Spades


Living Hell


Data Storm


Freedom


Candy Shoppe


SMC


TRS-80


Kockens


Metal Church


Swedish BBS List


Elitendo

All cultures, countries, and walks of life are represented. Techniques are on display that are a lost art in this age: ANSI control codes, the usage of bricktext, the economical sparing of too many characters so as to minimize precious bandwidth while conveying the desired message and/or image. Time is most cruel of all to technology: nearly every machine these boards ran on is considered an antique a mere 20 years later. You read these sysops bragging about their 28.8 connections, one-Gigabyte of storage, and TRS-80s and wonder, "Did they honestly think it would never get any better?"

The whole ANSI-Art tour:
Can I play too?
Part 8
Part 7
Part 6
Part 5
Part 4
Part 3
Part 2
Part 1

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