John Comeau, the Geek

A Thawte certificate means Trust! Hi, I'm John Comeau, welcome to my home page. I am a consultant in several technical disciplines including Linux system administration, data communications, electronic control of machinery, software, and networking including internet routing, and, lately, programming of portable devices such as the Blackberry, iPAQ, and PalmOS devices, and porting old Forth programs to more modern Java and Python technologies. You may visit my awards page to see my previous accomplishments, also some of my more interesting hacks that never got any awards for whatever reasons.

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To browse visit Here.
Are you seeing this page only from the Google cache? Is the site offline again? Not a problem. There are actually 3 copies of the site; in order of usability, they are:, my XEN site (check Netcraft uptime statistics);, my Virtuozzo site (Netcraft stats); and, thanks to SMJ and the fine folks at My free sites at and both seem to have gone kaputt. I am in the process of aliasing the 'www' host alias of all my domains to my Unixshell address; so, for example, will always point to my Xen server in Atlanta. The root domain will hopefully always point to a working site via a redirect from DomainDiscount24's service. lost out due to their failure to escalate support requests to clueful people in a timely manner.

I am a Thawte Web of Trust notary, and a Thawte reseller; I can secure your website, train your employees in the use of Public Key Cryptography, and notarize each of you, so that your company can get started immediately in secure communications via the internet. Notarizations are $10.00 each, and training is $1000 per day (as many hours as you wish, but if it goes much over 12 you'd better have lots of coffee available). Airfare and lodging (Marriott or better) will of course need to be provided also.

JC's Free Wireless Initiative

Not the jcomeau you're looking for? Check my links page for others!
I'm selfish. I want more free wireless AP's. So I'm willing to install them for free for businesses who make wireless internet freely available to their customers (it's OK to have a WEP key which you change as often as daily to make it difficult for non-customers to hijack your service). Make sure first that you are committed to making this available freely to your customers; if you decide, even 20 years or more down the road, to charge for it, you will owe me the installation fee at the regular rate. I will in some cases even pay for the hardware, especially if your town has a dearth of free APs and/or if you have a high-speed connection (at least DSL or cable). If you are willing to leave it powered up 24 hours, even if you close, and have tables and chairs outside for us late-night hackers to use, all the better.

Why would you want to do this? Why not charge, like Starbucks does with its T-Mobile service? One reason might be to take Starbucks' customers away from them! The Portfolio coffeehouse in Long Beach, CA definitely won a lot of my business away from Starbucks. Other companies, such as Schlotzsky's deli, have found it to be a working business model also. Bring people in with the free wireless, which has no incremental costs (assuming you already have internet access, or plan to get it anyway for your own use) after installation (which is free if you use me), and sell them your products: coffee, sandwiches, books, whatever.

Currently I've provided wireless routers to the library and The Patio Restaurant in Columbus, NM, my new "home town". I'm still open to donating more WRT54Gs to anyone who agrees with my rules.

As of February 2007, I'm back in the postFORTH saddle. I want a language that fits me, and though it's been interesting getting colorforth working, that ain't it. Check progress in src/postforth-3/. Knowing me, it will either come fast and furious or not at all.

I'm still doing some python hacking, very likely duplicating work done years ago by other people but learning in the process... see genome/ for one (already old) example. Further exploration of MIDI is being done in Currently it can dump a MIDI file, which you can then edit to add or change events, then undump the modified file to MIDI again. It will automatically use 'running status' whenever possible, which can eliminate a good chunk of wasted space from many files. More details in the lilypond.

While I am committed to open source, and make most of my work available freely (GPL), I am not opposed to accepting money from people who could use my technical services. I charge $100/hour, in 1/4 hour increments, for all jobs, except for my Free Wireless Initiative mentioned above. Email to set up an appointment. And don't ask for a fixed quote; if it's something easy, get someone else to do it. I charge by the hour only, one hour minimum if I can do the job from home, and one day minimum ($1000) if travel is involved. For much better rates, post your job to, where, if it looks interesting, I might do it for a hundredth of that amount.

I love to travel, and am always looking for cheaper ways to get from point A to point B. I'm starting to publish my findings at JC's World Transit. Also, please visit my eBay page for any items I might currently have for sale. One thing which I think would make a great gift for geek friends, and which I might be the first person to have accomplished, is the Human Genome DNA CDROM, a standard 700-MB CDROM which contains the full dataset. You need to compress it much better than you can with the standard programs such as zip or even bzip2 to get it to fit, and the algorithm explained at genome/ does just that. I've stopped listing it on eBay, but if you want one, paypal me $3.00 and I'll ship you one.

Related links:

my neighbor's papercrete workshop, which was held in spring of 2006
chris vansprouts page, an old-time hacker from my generation.
My resume, more or less up to date.

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