xbiff Spam Bitmaps
In 1991, I was working for the
Free Software Foundation.
My workstation was running HP-UX 7.0 and I didn't like it very much.
In fact, I named the machine
nutrimat because I was reminded
of the drink dispenser in Douglas Adam's book
Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
in that the system seemed almost, but not quite, entirely unlike unix.
Since HP-UX was to BSD as Spam® was to
edible food, at some point I bought a can of Spam to put on top of
I don't know why, but this was a frequent subject of humor around the
office for a while, and somehow it occured to me to carry the idea further
by finding (or making) various spam icons for my X window desktop.
When I found out that you could replace the icons displayed by
xbiff, I just had to do it. I got so much mail, the damned
thing kept going off all the time. (I used to be fairly email
interrupt driven until I started getting
spammed senseless with unsolicited
I used to say that my top level was
I couldn't find any GIFs or other kinds of bitmaps on the internet which seemed like they would be usable for xbiff, so I broke down and drew my own, pixel by pixel (I just happened to have a model on top of my monitor to work from). I probably wasted half a day on them, then never got around to making different icons for other programs.
Lately of course, the spam theme in a mail notification program is all too appropriate. I don't think I'd call it a happy accident, though I do find it faintly amusing.
Incidentally, if you convert the spam bitmap to ascii using the
bmtoa program from the X11 distribution, the results look a
great deal like an ASCII terminal being viewed
through a keyhole.