> chmod exists, but mode doesn't ... this seems a bit inconsistent to me. Is
> there another way to read off the mod bits?

To directly access the mode bits, you can use the "mode" instance method of
the File::Stat class (instances of which are returned by File.stat and some
other functions), e.g.

    irb(main):001:0> File.stat("C:/ruby/bin/ruby.exe").mode
    33279

but is somewhat platform-dependent. In practice you'll want to use other,
more platform-independent, instance methods from File::Stat, e.g.

    irb(main):002:0> File.stat("C:/ruby/bin/ruby.exe").readable?
    true
    irb(main):002:0> File.stat("C:/ruby/bin/ruby.exe").writable?
    true
    irb(main):002:0> File.stat("C:/ruby/bin/ruby.exe").executable?
    true

.... and so on.

Hope this helps,

Lyle