Team Murder No Brain No Headache.


Please Help Me Kind Sir

There will not be much going on here this weekend I don't think. I nearly destroyed the life work of a chemistry professor today because I trusted Windows 2000 or rather trusted it's error messages. This will never happen again. There is now a tarball of that poor fellas work sitting on the Alpha machine at work. Although it was nice to make a huge mistake which takes some of the wind of techie arrogance out of my sails it left me feeling really burned out, tired, and cranky. So, I'm out to get good and drunk, I think.

I also got crack rock 1 and crack rock 2 (which I finished once before but have never actually owned) earlier this week. I figured it was time to dust off the old PS and remember what initially got me interested in all this geek stuff in the first place. Blood Omen is still a really fun game and Final Fantasy 8 nearly destroyed me the first time around. You'd think by the time somone hit thirty they'd be able to handle a financial aid disbursement maturely. Well, I did buy them used...

So, I'm going to go decompress and then later post some drunken ranting that I'll roll my eyes at and delete in the morning. Feel free to IM me later tonight for sloppy typing and surliness.

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A Reasonable Compromise

The attempt to mandate the use of open source software by the government has not been a popular proposition for a good number of people. All sorts of nastiness about the subject has been floating around ever since the initial proposal was announced earlier this month. I thought it was a funny publicity stunt meant to coincide with LinuxWorld Expo and didn't take it particularly serious. Other people did and the usual amount of hair tearing and speculation about how developers were supposed to feed their ten starving children/pay for Aunt May's operation erupted. In essence, it was a colossal waste of time that pissed off a bunch of touchy proprietary software people. Everything pisses off the closed software bunch.

Leave it to Bruce Perens to put the whole thing in perspective. He thinks (as a lot of us not owned by Redmond do) that interoperability (which Microsoft is famous for spurning) is what needs to be required of government agencies. This is only fair. Government resources should be uniformly accessible and this should not be a matter of everyone just giving in to the demands of one very pushy company. This kind of accessibility needs to go beyond ease-of-use and just working across platforms. Consideration needs to be given to folks who use text-to-speech based software and other aids that allow people with disabilities use of government resources. Text kids, is not a ridiculous demand of agencies that run on tax dollars. Bruce Perens proposes this idea is a really simple way.

Perens says one of the key areas that must be protected revolves around software interoperability. Simply put, that means all software purchased by government agencies must use file formats and file-transfer methods that others can also use, free of charge. It's similar to the way e-mail works: Dozens of companies make competing programs for creating, sending and storing e-mail, but all of them rely on a common set of public protocols to transmit those messages.

Likewise, Perens says that any software purchased by the state should be based on similar open standards. That means no companies would be able to lock the state in as a customer by building technical roadblocks that keep competitors out. Companies providing software to the state could either use open standards that already exist for those parts of their wares or release the source code they use for those functions into the public domain.

He's not asking for an endorsed monopoly of free software but something that should just be the case anyway. This is simply a matter of common sense but I suspect that the folks with the PR budgets will quickly counter with all sorts of arguments about stifling innovation and socialism.

Sincere Choice (which I've had a link to for a while now) is something Bruce started to make a public case for this sort of adherence to non-proprietary standards. It started as a reaction to this (which is down right now) but is probably more important than FUD repellent.

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Cynical Bastard Makes Ellen Feiss Cry

I need to go to bed but I'm still digesting a huge dinner from an hour or so ago. It doesn't help that one of the folks I went to dinner with brought a five pound bag of espresso for me. Yikes. I tend to make it in the coffee pot and not the little stovetop espresso maker so the quantity versus quality thing is shot to hell. Might as well sweat the night away in a shaky panic attack.

I installed the newest version of the Mac OS on one of my machines at work today. I do very little work on the G4, though, so I won't have any real impression of it for at least a couple of days. It does indeed seem a little zippier than the initial version of 10 which doesn't say much really. I have a pretty fast box as far as Apple goes and 10 has always felt sluggish to me. Maybe it's because I'm accustomed to a very minimal desktop most of the time. I use the openbox window manager on my machine at home so I'm used to total speed and effeciency. The eyeblink between logging in and having a functional desktop is the correct speed for me. The only changes that I've noticed (the ones that effect me) are the spam filtering options in the mail app (which also seems a little quicker also meaning that it isn't fast but doesn't actually piss me off everytime I use it) and the way too pretty ichat application which makes too many noises for someone as twitchy as me. Sherlock 3 fails to interest or excite me. This isn't surprising either. I'm not a fan of the interface and to strap a bunch of corporate icons in the toolbar under the guise of "functionality" screams bloat and AOL and boy, I'll never use this horrible application again. Like I said, I used it for thirty minutes or so before I moved over to my GNU/Linux Imac and did some real work. OS X is getting better. I don't think it's a hundred and something bucks better but it doesn't feel like a raw beta any more. Oh, and the installation is absolutely brutal even with a stripped down custom install. I'm just not the target Apple customer. I am not a believer. Show me performance or code or real innovation and I'll be more enthusiastic. Beep beep beep beep.

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Shells For The People

Always wanted to learn the *nix shell but couldn't bring your game-addled ass to part with a bloated Windows partition? Had that ISO sitting on your machine for two months and just not getting around to burning a CD? Mom doesn't want you installing any evil hacker software on her machine? The wide world of free (as in beer) software is here to help you out. Apply for an account on a Slackware box by filling out the form here. This kicks ass on so many levels. I hope more people out there have some free cycles to spare for projects like this.

There's a similar project out there using FreeBSD that inspired the other and might appeal to you if you're interested in straight up Unix although Slack is the most Unix-like of all the distributions. Give it a shot.

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Some Folks Are Just Faster…

The CEO of Embedix/Lineo proposed a revision of the GNU General Public License that is simpler and more clear in meaning. The proposed document is pretty short and also very human readable. While this version is probably not a candidate to replace the current manifestation of the GPL it is a nice summary of a (necessarily) complicated software license.

I've griped quite a bit in the past about people on both sides of the free software fence misinterpreting this license. At the moment I'm more curious about Stallman's response than anything. I'll keep a close watch on this and post more in the future especially when there's been a little time for response/reaction from other folks. So much for the "GPL for Dummies" I mentioned a day or so ago.

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A Sorta Explanation…

A couple days ago Yoon bought a little toy for me from the Korean market. Yep. It's this little guy and he's called Holeman. I've been somewhat obsessed with figuring out exactly what he's supposed to be. The flash animations at the site above reference cell phones with the signal strength and mail icons. What this has to do with a faceless breakdancing little fella that sucks peoples' clothes up at random I couldn't tell you. From another toy site I find out that:

Holeman is a mascot made by LG Telecoms for the young people as a symbol of mobile phone. The image of the character is cheerful and vivid and it reflects the young people life, personality and character.

Holeman represents young people thinking, concept and determination. Also, it gives the young people unlimited creative possibilities..

He's a mobile phone mascot? For the concept of mobile phones? What does this have to do with stealing clothing? Jeez. MashiMaro seems sensible in comparison.

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A Little Birdie Told Me…

Since I'm ridiculously busy with the beginning of a new semester (in both the classes and tech support/admin areas) I haven't had much time lately to do much work here. Actually the last long-ish thing I wrote I ended up deleting ten minutes later because it was just so harsh, mean, and personal that I couldn't leave it up. It has to do with the recent rash of argument going on regarding copyright law and more specifically how the GNU General Public License fits into the picture. If you know me at all my position on the GPL is probably crystalline. I have grave doubts about the depth of understanding of others on both sides of the question. There may be a GPL for Dummies appearing here in the near future. It depends on how much Middle English I claw and tear my way through over this week. As long as the voice of Groundskeeper Willie doesn't invade my head again everything should be just fine.

Of Interest

Marie mentioned something in a comment that I thought was worth putting out front. It's a handy little registry file for Internet Exploder called IE-SPYAD that does a couple of quick and dirty hacks to put a lot of common pesty sites in the restricted zone (which I like to visualize as a howling void akin to the Phantom Zone) in a sort of host.deny file. In layman's terms - less spyware auto-installed and less annoying popups. You do have to do some additional tweaking (very minor it looks like) in addition but it looks to be a very straight forward process. Probably less simple than just downloading Mozilla but helpful nonetheless.

Dru pointed me at The Self Education Foundation after I made a snide comment about home schoolers being hillbillies that wanted to shield their young from learning about evolution and whatnot. This is a very cool project that spans some diverse territory. They dedicate some space (and funding) to prisoner education too which is pretty damn cool.

The coolest fucking people read my site.

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Anger Management…

There's an interesting discussion going on over at Advogato about how to deal with folks flaming your open source projects. I'm looking forward to checking back a little on to see who else contributes to the discussion. So, go forth and decompress.

I have to say that I really like the strategy of writing a really venomous reply and then deleting it. I end doing that here more often than I'd like to admit.

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Not Sure This Is The Smartest Idea Ever…

Caldera decided to go with calling themselves The Sco Group. Maybe it's just me but most folks who are accustomed to the idea of GNU/Linux being an entity separated from SCO Unix by more than a few degrees of misery. If you've ever worked with/around SCO my question will seem pretty obvious. I guess maybe the whole plan for world dominance hasn't been a smooth ride. TurboLinux has already changed hands and now this. Here's the part where I refuse to say that I told you so.

Update of sorts:

Open For Business doesn't think the name change is a particularly good idea either. Here's what OFB's Timothy Butler had to say about the switcheroo:

"The problem is Caldera is grabbing on to what they see as opportunities to use proprietary software to keep themselves afloat, while they ignore the real products their customers want. Spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a name change is wasteful at best," Butler noted. "Much like UnitedLinux, the name change does little in the way of offering customer value, and perhaps even confuses buyers wondering where the company is now heading."

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New Link In the Sidebar

I added the super fucking cool Linux Command to the links list. It's a very handy resource that covers common tasks on the command line in friendly tutorials. It's refreshing to see this take on the dreaded subject. I've always believed that if people weren't so automatically intimidated by the CLI that GNU/Linux would seem less like some scary return to the days of glass teletypes and more like the incredibly powerful and flexible beast that it really is. Nice work and the rant section is worth reading because the author's perspective is pretty even handed. No such luck here but I'm more than happy to link to people who are aren't so foul tempered and quick to lunge for the shiny candy-like "Destroy Rest of the World" button.

A kind of informative article about the ins and outs of actually tracking down spammers. The prognosis is not pleasant.

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This was just a mean spirited attack so I took it out until I've got the necessary time to construct a real argument. No one ever accused me of being level headed all the time.

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Well Said

Michael Burschik put it better than I've heard it put in a long while in this absolutely insane discussion over at OSNews. Bravo.

James Joyce was arrogant. "Ulysses" is not for your average reader. I expect he wrote the way he did because he thought it was the right way. He must have been fully aware of the fact that "Ulysses" would never be a best-seller. But he wrote the book the way he thought it should be, for himself and a few readers willing to take it on.

Linux software is written by people who are trying to get it right. They are doing it their way. Most of them are doing it for free. They are under no obligation whatsoever to make it easy for Joe Q. Public to use, and people should stop whining about that. The main target group of Linux developers is Linux developers. This is natural and it is their right.

If you don't like the way they do it, don't whine about it. Write it the way you think it should be done, or, if you lack the abilities to do so, pay someone to write it the way you want it.

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The Definition Works For Me

The silly warbloggers are all wound up (what else is new) over the use of chickenhawk as a term in the sense of:

A chickenhawk is a term often applied to public persons - generally male - who (1) tend to advocate, or are fervent supporters of those who advocate, military solutions to political problems, and who have personally (2) declined to take advantage of a significant opportunity to serve in uniform during wartime.

I generally assumed that this was an additional play on words using the "less savory definition":

2. Vulgar Slang. A man who seeks out young boys as his sexual partners.

in the sense that most of the most vocal cheerleaders for making war with whoever is worse than Hitler this week are usually males far older than the draft age. Older males preying on young boys. Killing and being killed vicariously through younger men in the Armed Forces sounds about right. This is especially applicable when the 'hawk in question weaselled out himself. Hmmmm.

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Notice The Lame Little Icon?

Unfortunately I'm seeing an increasing amount of people coming in using IE. This means that your lameass corporate death browser fills up my error logs with it's incessant requests for favicon.ico. This is annoying. The lame little thing I slapped together in five minutes (most of this time spent converting the file type) in the Gimp. If you're as easily irritated as me then go here and learn how to make your own annoying little icon. Your error logs will thank you.

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Not Dead Only Sleeping…

Looks like the Monolinux kids have decided to give it another shot or at least leviramsey did. I really hope things take off again over there. It was disappointing to watch the whole thing fall apart so quickly after gathering so much momentum. What I missed the most during Monolinux's temporary dirtnap was the community that surrounds the site. It is genuinely friendly, welcoming, and remarkably troll-free. I really hope it continues in the same spirit. Yay.

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Nailing It/Them On The Head…

geneaology of it: Jake leaves a comment on Aaron's site which points at this article which is fucking brilliant.

highlights tape:

They call themselves ‘warbloggers’, a term just slightly more tuneful than ‘idiotarians’, the leaden, easy sobriquet pasted on those who read history and/or feel unsatisfied forming opinions solely from White House press briefings and CNN. It’s a featherweight word, warbloggers; it already drips with cliché (those last two syllables, oy).

I’ve been trying to think of a better term to collectively describe these angry men and women – these armchair warriors – something that would fit, something with an eye to the future. I think maybe I have it.

Cannon fodder.

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A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To School This Morning…

Yeah so I've had the killer toothache for the last couple of days and as a consequence have been on some pretty killer pain medication. I wake up pretty groggy in the morning so when I bumped into Ozzy Osbourne this morning I was pretty sure I was hallucinating until he said "Hi" and laughed at me for looking so confused and surprised.

He jokingly called me a thief when I told him that I recently downloaded a bunch of Black Sabbath MP3s. He also took my shit about those horrible ballads with Lita Ford with an admirable amount of grace. It's weird because I almost feel like he's playing a character on The Osbournes because he was neither slouching around in weighlifter pants or mumbling incoherently. In the epic length five minutes or so that I spoke with him he was articulate or at least annunciated his words and actually looked a lot more healthy in real life than on TV. I thanked him, wished Sharon luck with her therapy, and wandered off wondering if I would run into Lucky the Motherfucking Leprechaun next. Luckily someone told me that Ozzfest was in Denver today so the whole thing sort of made sense. It's nice to know that the painkillers aren't slowly driving you crazy every once in awhile.

I'm breaking a rule here and actually doing this at work/school/whatever this institution represents for me this second. It's my own rule because there's no one looking over my shoulder but I'm usually in a pretty strange headspace at work where I don't feel like I could write anything comprehensible to people. I'm using a computer lab machine which has multiple keys sticking and turns on caps lock all by itself so that feeling is more intense than usual.

Someone came in on a search for "when the world is going to end." Like I'm telling you guys...

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Debian Package Management

Linux Orbit has yet another useful article about package management under Debian. It's about the most straightforward explanation that you could ever hope for. It covers all the basic commands for apt and dpkg in a friendly tone that is welcome in a world of hostile Debian zealots. Since I probably fall into that category it's probably more productive to get your information on at Linux Orbit.

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More Unfun and Miserable SpamBots…

Marie left a comment about another email address harvesting bot called the Beijing Express E-mail Address Extractor. Follow the link above to her site to get the full scoop. You've gotta love the numerous references to "fresh and clean addresses." If you play around with the jargon long enough you'll forget that the entire world hates you. Oh, here's the post it's attached to in all of its archival ugliness. I've really gotta fix the way those pages look. Yuck.

While I was searching around to see what else I could find out that particular bot I found this little wonder. I love that the very first line of text displayed on the page is: Keep Losing Your ISP?. The actual extracting program is called Atomic Harvester III if you weren't alread creeped out enough. They refer to the actual mailer as Desktop Server 2000. Sorta makes me wish that a certain bunch of creepy folks in WA would sue the bejeezus out of them trademare infringement or something. Let the big bottom feeding fish eat the small bottom feeding fish.

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Nota Smart Agency…

The deputy director of the NSA said that the agency was going to drop all support for SE Linux. They are apparently listening to the paranoid luddites whose vision is full of terrorism any time a question of privacy or security is mentioned.

Here's a quote from the article I read:

NSA officials say their cyber security enhancements made for SE Linux have not only benefited the NSA, but because of the terms of the GPL have also strengthened the security architecture of computers used by malicious cyber terrorists around the world.

We'll just forget the fact that security is a two way street. "Dude, my grandmother just got hauled off to jail for launching a DoS attack against the Pentagon."

Then again, given No Such Agency's apparent inability to deal with the idea of cryptography research outside of it's compound, this temper tantrum should be less of a surprise than the existence of SE Linux. In the end, the free software community will probably do a better job anyway.

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Grinding Continual Pain…

Not much posting today because I'm doped up on a mutli-drug cocktail of painkillers just so I can sleep. What started as a slightly annoying toothache yesterday afternoon has blossomed into a firestorm of pulsing agony right here in my mouth. For the first time in over twenty four hours I can actually sit still. Everything is a littl e on the hazy side but at least I'm not continually stifling screams. Hadn't been to the emergency room in a couple of years. I didn't realized they made you walk through a metal detector and searched your bags. I'm not sure if this has always been the case. Last time I went to the emergency room it was via ambulance so they dispensed with some of the formalities to keep me from dying. Interesting.

This tooth will be extracted tomorrow I hope. The only thing that worries me is that it's more like a third of a tooth. They're probably going to have to dig around and do other horrible things I don't want to think about right now. Get ready for some Vicoden colored commentary over the next few days.

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Another Linux Check In

Time Magazine has a little article about the Wal-Mart linux boxen and distributions getting shelf space at the discount electronics giants. Chris Taylor gives high(er) marks to Lycoris and isn't quite so fond of Lindows.

I'm not very sympathetic to criticisms about resorting to "jargon" like the root directory especially when people are so accustomed to referring to the same as "c://" but I'm willing to let that one go. There is also the usual bunch of misrepresentations about who actually develops linux. Taylor attributes it to "five guys in a garage" or something. We are legion, Chris. The same goes for the "difficulty" in partitioning. Ever done any non-destructive partitioning in Windows for a non-MS product? Didn't think so.

In the end:

On the whole, Linux is still something of an acquired taste. You have to be wary of your peripherals (getting some older printers to work is quite a headache). And tech support can be hard to find in a Windows world. But what you get in return is a very fast, very cheap, crash-free system that can be installed on as many computers as you like. Pay attention to the penguin: he's going places.

Any press is good press right? Unless you're Michael Robertson...

Oh yeah, We Want Linux is a new group dedicated to getting display machines running linux into the chain stores. The most interesting question in their survey:

I would volunteer to help demonstrate a Linux computer in a computer store.

I said yes by the way.

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Some Paragraphs From an Editorial

From this story that the warbloggers are wetting themselves over.

The not very surprising introduction:
But another of the suggested NEA lesson plans — compiled together under the title "Remember September 11" and appearing on the teachers union health information network Web site — takes a decidedly blame-America approach, urging educators to "discuss historical instances of American intolerance," so that the American public avoids "repeating terrible mistakes."

Drumroll please:

The critics also have trouble with schools teaching about Islam, specifically when teachers describe it as a "peaceful religion." Instead, they say, schools should warn children that the root of the problem lies in Islamic teaching.

"There is no such thing as peaceful Islam," Mr. Lind said. "It says that followers should make war on those who believe that Christ is the Messiah."

Nope. It's pretty obvious that people in this country have a real solid grasp of Islam. I suggest dragging your children back to the tar paper shack and home schooling them. Oh wait. Rachel Lucas already said it:

This is why I will not birth any children until the day I can afford private school for them.

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Paying Attention Helps…

After a couple weeks of very confusing searches coming in I finally figured out what the deal is. Explanation is necessary I guess. During the whole Right Wing News fun n' games I recieved a lot of hate mail. It was particularly funny hate mail with typos (I'm being generous here given the towering intellects we're talking about) galore, a fixation on capital letters, and oh-so-totally-scary threats being the common denominator. I made the mistake of quoting a few of them without correcting any of the, uh, typos.

The searches that baffled were predominantly porn related. Although I've made fun of porn hounds in their own vernacular I didn't think I had enough "related content" to rank very high in yer average porn related Google search. Here's where the typos come in.

Jittery seekers of porn are just as clumsy on the keyboard as hormonally imbalanced rightwingers bent on vengeance against whatever imagined evil I've committed. I think it was for criticizing John Hawkins for sounding like a jerky kneed twelve year old. I could be wrong since I'm obviously a mental midget for prioritizing people before tax breaks. Oops. I also want to make it clear that I'm not calling people morons because of their inability to type, spell, or think - not directly anyway. That would be awfully elitist of me.

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Those Missing Web Fonts…

I wrote a little bit about this a couple of days back (like everyone else on the planet) but someone else actually stepped up to the challenge and mirrored the mscorefonts package at Source Forge. Awesome. They include detailed directions for all you RPM using yokels out there. If you didn't have them before (you'll know because many Moveable Type templates use these fonts and without them your shit looks icky) now would be the time before a pack of angry lawyers with their own beat poet-like interpretation descend on good old Source Forge.

Another thing: Ask your ISP to block RIAA addresses. Woo! Then there's always the question of pop up ads.

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Stuff Just Stuff, Man.

I had kind of a crazy (read drunken) weekend so very little happened here. I drank alot of water (read water filtered through coffee or mixed with caramel color and nutrasweet) and did a lot of reading. Sorta.

I went to the Denver edition of our drummer's wedding reception and hit the PBR a little harder than I should have. The bass player decided in his alcohol lobotomized state to give me a hearty shove from a barstool when I wasn't paying attention. Lucky me. I landed squarely on my elbow and had a completely numb left hand for part of today. That alone didn't freak me out until later when the numbness (which actually felt more like my hand was asleep) went away everywhere except for my third finger. I had a couple of horrible visions about nerve damage and whatnot. I got most of the feeling back in the finger later this evening. It's still weak (ie. I can't play guitar yet) but I'm a little less freaked out.

Of Some Practical Application
The always excellent Linux Orbit put up a mini how-to explaining the installation of zip drives in Linux. Peruse it here and then go hang out in the forums. Installing zip drives used to be all but impossible especially after you'd installed the operating system. I don't know what specifically made them so ornery but they were a fucking pain. Seeing the relatively small number of steps you need to take these days makes me feel like croaking out some "back in the day" story that will repel the few remaining brave souls who may've slogged through my sad story about drinking and falling down.

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Damn. That’s IDLE

via Defective Yeti sorta.

Following a link from a Warrant fan site that hasn't been updated since December of 1999 I found the Warrant chat room. Some of the users have been idle for over a year. Guess that sums up the state of foofy hair metal.

Did I mention I used to send in a couple of reports a week to Ghost Sites? I *heart* entropy and disuse.

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Millions Now Living Need To Die

KEY: *****
MSG: New Helpdesk call for your workgroup: Call #******: - user downloaded the interent and is unable to erase from hardrive. urgent. sheneeds disk pace immeiately.

KEY: ********
MSG: New Helpdesk call for your workgroup: Call #*****, Journalism: His G4 PowerBook will not boot normally Also case is cracked and battery falls out when moved.

KEY: ********
MSG: New Helpdesk call for your workgroup: Call #*****, Accounting: User says that the internet is broken. Needs this fixed asap.

Sometimes after a long day of not killing lusers you need to vent.

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