I'm still recovering from dinner. At two in the morning. That's either really good or really bad. I'm going to stick with really good. We had deep fried turkey at a friend's place. I really wish I had some kind of digital camera because the frying kit was really an impressive piece of equipment especially after the first bird came out and there was a ring of peanut oil singes around it. Although the Mr. Wizard stuff was fascinating the turkey itself is pretty good stuff. I've not usually fan because it's invariably dry after spending tortuous hours in the dry heat of an oven but the fried bird is anything but dry. The moonshine still like appearance of the operation is a bonus although we didn't have a copy of Dueling Banjoes to play for the full effect.
The most interesting thing I've seen this week is right here. I've always wanted to hack up some kind of digital signature plugin for Moveable Type and someone has gone and done it. Paul's implementation actually concerns the identity of people leaving comments (whereas I was thinking more of an authentication scheme for people posting entries) and is pretty nice. It doesn't seem finished yet and doesn't actually do all that much other than parse some text but I'm glad that other people are thinking about this stuff. It basically hides the ugliness of plaintext signatures (all that ascii armored crap) from casual readers but makes the crap available for those who are actually concerned with it. It's a pretty realistic feature instead of the completely insane idea that I had. I guess that's the big difference between me and people who actually plug this stuff out. Well, that and I'm really sick of my dumbass hacks continually breaking MT.
I actually have Phoenix properly installed via apt-get via these soon to be official packages: deb http://people.debian.org/~eric/debian/i386 ./ This is good stuff and doesn't seem to crash nearly as much as the earlier unofficial packages. Since Mozilla has been all buggy and annoying I've been really giving more attention to the alternative browsers which are all based on the Gecko engine anyway. Phoenix is nice although they're going to need to change names really soon due to dumb motherfuckers mailing the folks at Phoenix.com asking where the r3a11y l33t web browser download link is. There's some issue of copyright there since the corporate Phoenix types actually deal in a browser of some sort. Bleh. Anyhow, if you've been wanting a real installation of the browser soon to be formerly known as Phoenix and are sick of that huge file sitting in your home directory...
The semester is rapidly coming to a close and white knuckles abound. I'm feeling more stressed out and disconnected than usual. The combination of full time work and full time school is nearly fatal. I came home after work today and just crashed for four hours or so and I still feel worn out. Maybe because it's three in the morning... I unexpectedly made quite a bit of headway on a paper so it's time to goof off for a little bit.
We had a power outage at work today which took out the entire network for close to an hour. The back up power came up but the servers came down anyway as a precaution since my department is more concerned with toying around with voice over IP than making sure the backup power is sufficient. Per usual the idiots are in charge and pushy as hell. I spent a lot of time today trying to unfux0r a crashed Western Digital hard drive that Win 2000 decided to eat alive. The partitions are still there but without labels and the table is unreadable. I hope no one was planning on graduating this semester because the machine in question belongs to some high up in the registar's office. Oops. It turns out that very little of the important stuff was stored locally so it isn't as disastrous as it could've been.
I noticed this commentary at the bottom of the page (no permalink or any of that fanciness) at Penguin Shell about the relative speed and bloat of modern distributions:
"Just for fun I installed red-hat 5.0 on a 486 dx2-66 with 16 MB of RAM and a 500Mb disk. It took all of 15 minutes including X windows. The system boots in just about 25 seconds and though the gui is a bit slow it seems pretty fast for a 486. The install took up all of 130 MB.
"Looking at current distros, this seems like what Linux should remain like. lean and mean. The current distributions go into gigabytes of disk space and tons of utilities that are not needed at all. After I installed red hat 7.3, it took me another day to weed out unnecessary programs and services. Even rh7.1 seems blazingly fast as compared to 7.3 and upwards. I want my Linux to be fast!"
I think it's interesting that Red Hat is the litmus for the state of Linux when there are so many projects focused on optimization (whether it's a placebo or not) and maximum configurability. I'm guessing (pessimistically of course) that this has a lot to do with what's visible on store shelves. Anyone who harbors illusions about doing full installations with X on a 486 is in for a dose of 2002 because although the kernel will run happily on everything short of bare metal and binder clips you really can't expect click and drool on that hardware. I know I harp on this subject way too often but people really do expect way too much out of Linux on ultra low end hardware. How many "reviews" or straight out complaints have I read from people trying to install one of the desktop geared distributions on whatever extra horror they've had moldering in their attic for the last eight years. Linux is a best effort endeavor not an outright flouting of time and space. Until we live in a magical world your hardware is going to dictate your performance no matter how badly you misinterpret the minimum requirements printed on the box.
Kdirstat is pretty cool. I've been using it to tarball directories I want to back up. Since it could give a shit less whether directories are local or remote the application really functions the right way and is more than a glorified Konqueror extension. Good job!
I added Apt-Get.org to the sidebar. It's a better version of the listing of unofficial apt sources that lives here and hasn't really been maintained. The part I really like about this site is the fact that all the sources are marked verified or not and there is some effort to give a little information on each one. We've needed this site for a long while and I'm glad someone has stepped up to the plate and done it.
It's scary because this comparison has already bugged me. I guess I need to stop fixating on the decaying remains of 80's hair metal. This is especially true since I haven't actually heard much of it. I just look at them funny pitchers...
Tired of all the usual ways that IE breaks stylesheets, refuses to render non-proprietary "standards" and what not but tired of all the security problems and EULAs? Try Boxplorer for all the mangled goodness that you've missed since sagely switching to Mozilla or one of its derivatives.
This only yields cool results if you visit a site with more than two colors (read: not here) in the layout and a couple of elements besides the usual top, side, and content layouts. I don't have much time today to play with it but I'm going to give a whirl with a Windows box when I get to work.
It seems like I've seen irregardless in print five or six times today. I'm no linguist but that is not a real word. Uh, actually WordNet says:
adv : (informal) regardless; a combination of irrespective and
regardless sometimes used humorously
but it still sounds like hillybilly double negative abuse to me.
I just noticed an old but still very relevant and helpful rsync tutorial over at Tux PPC of all places. I'm trying to get together a list of good Debian resources for PPC architecture. There are actually quite a few people who use it but not as much documentation specific to that chipset out there. I'd love to see an equivalent to Debian Help for non-x86 archs. I don't even know where to start with most of them. I've actually done a PPC install before which was nightmarish and hellish because I didn't really understand how the MBR equivalent works for PPC and ignored the installation guide. This is something I will never do again. Yaboot is your friend but will fuck you up quick if you don't pay attention. Actually I just noticed on the project page for Yaboot that Debian and Yellow Dog (sort of the Red Hat of the the PPC world) have correctly built versions of Yaboot in their distributions. Ouch. They recommend rebuilding from source which is probably kind of a shock if you're accustomed to the Mac OS. "Oh, you have to compile your bootloader before your machine will function correctly." It doesn't seem like the recipe for happy customers.
Somehow sextractor seemed like a more interesting package before I read the description. I was thinking of some unholy union of Leisure Suit Larry and Excitebike (gives me a headache just thinking about it) or something. Stupid oblivious scientists...
There's also some more GPL violation debate raging over Lindows and the weird ass misconceptions about Lindows article over at OS News. Man for a publically posted and continually referenced document, the GPL is not particularly well understood. Is Lindows in violation? Probably. Oh, and Eugenia is retiring from OS News to do other stuff. I don't agree with her most of the time but I certainly respect the energy she put into OS News. Hopefully this ruefully messed up Lindows story isn't indicative of the future direction of the site. I keep accidentally following links to the Lindows site and I've gotta wonder how much of the start up cash was spent buying out the assets of Chess King to clothe Michael Robertson. Wait. That's mean...
In between writing papers about my dead grandmother and the usual end of the semester nonsense I managed to add a little bit of functionality. This makes me the last person in the entire world to implement trackback on my site. I also added in that word count thing just for the hell of it. It's mainly for me as a reminder that I'm not writing for a class and expressing ideas in less than a thousand words is not only acceptable but more polite. Yeah, stuff.
There's a review of Xandros over at OS News that actually brought up a couple of really good points that hadn't occurred to me before. One, users transitioning over from Windows enviroments like to see feedback when they've launched an application (the symptom of this disease is clicking on things endlessly until fifteen instances of it explode onto the screen at once) which is something I agree with. Something the size of Open Office does take more than a couple of seconds (OK, five, I just timed it on my machine) to write something to the screen. Paired with the usual apprension about single as opposed to double clicking (which I think Xandros dispatches by default although once you get used to it clicking twice on things is really irritating) it can make the first introduction to a Linux desktop a little rought although simply eliminating the stupid icons on the desktop thing can solve that problem before it happens. Ditto for the attached application icon to the launch feedback. That's just annoying as the reviewer states that it probably will be to most users. Sometimes I take short vacations into Candyland (KDE) and I have all of those feedback/animation settings all the way off.
I am annoyed by the lack of boot messages.I like to see what's going on at boot time (which isn't very often) and hiding it behind things irritates like little else possibly could. Like my aborted attempt to install Lycoris I have no use for a distribution that doesn't allow me to troubleshoot my own woes. In the case of Lycoris, I know full well that my laptop sound card is a proprietary piece of shit that there are simply no drivers for. I can deal with that but the installer cannot and just stalls out instead of letting me know what's going on or even giving me the option of ignoring sound configuration altogether. I haven't worked on a Xandros box in front of me so I can't say anything in regards to their insistence on configuration wizards. Admittedly clicking a few buttons to configure some hardware or a service is kinda nice sometimes but what happens if you pass the wizard some options it can't handle? You end up trashing the install and putting Debian back on the box like god intended. Well, that's what I do but I imagine others blow the linux partitions out and go right back to Windows. Not much of a conversion factor there kids. This is an intended feature that will become a bug.
The direct comparison to Windows is probably fair in this case since Xandros models their desktop very closely to the Windows desktop. Usually this is an annoying method but apt in this case.
Chances are that you're not buying this for the enormous world of options that are available with Linux and open source, rather you're buying it because that daunting world has been trimmed down and edited for you. It's important to note that this is a distribution for Windows users and at this time it's only meant to be a desktop replacement option for a Windows desktop.
Like the nice man says...
Interesting discussion going on over at /. about this whole Anti-Leech software. I hardly need to say that this is pretty asinine but the site is a nice little hacking exercise. I've figured out how to bypass every single one of their toys and only needed to resort to using a text based browser once. Pretty sad that such hightly touted software is so easy to circumvent.
The big issue here is, of course, calling people who block ads thieves. This said I managed to get an ad-free version of their site in under a minute. On the upside at least the software seems to distinguish between text and graphical browsers so that blind folks aren't automatically blocked. That was my first concern and the only browser that freaks out is w3m and that is the w3-el for emacs. I like the fact that we're free to put words into their mouths. I'm wondering who exactly would be sincerely attracted to this piece of software. Adding this degree of complication to a site dependent on advertising seems a little ridiculous. Hmmm... My browser isn't compatible with this site, looks like I'll need to take the drastic step of Google-ing for something that is. Not very bright. Maybe we should mail the man responsible every couple of seconds and see if he doesn't get upset and creat some mail filters.
t's not possible to offer 100% protection for the content you want to display openly to everyone on the Internet. Thanks to our service you will however be able to stop most thieves and leechers. We estimate that our system can protect you in 98% of all cases and in the other 2% make it a lot harder for anyone to copy your content.
If you use our system you will not only protect your content. You will also get detailed stats over the amount of downloads, visitors and more depending on what service you use. All actions are also logged, so you can catch everyone trying to break through the defense.
Oh crap. I'm going to be totally busted, dude.
I tend to think of it as a metafilter of sorts for total assholes since obviously no browser I use is ever going to make it through. I simply don't do pop-ups and although making my agent field read Netscape 2.2 or something would be trivial as hell I'm going to use this to my own advantage. Presume that your precious content is too valuable to display in simple terms and you will find yourself on a lonely desert island populated with people trying to sell you viagra and spy cams by thrusting pictures of them in your face ever couple of seconds.
Meanwhile, back at the laboratory, I'm sure that at least ten different people have concocted a hack to circumvent this sort of shit. That is one the most postive outcomes of something being ./ed that I can think of.
If you haven't already done so go register your ass on the Debian Users World Domination Map because it is just too cool and likely to be misconstrued as just one more reason to distrust the cult-like activities of Debian users. I'm more surprised than I should be by the thick concentration of folks in Europe and how few I see in the United States.
Gnome2 is working again. Doesn't seem like there's an upstream solution right now but just plain working is good enough for me.
While I'm on this tangent -- for some stupid reason I got a really nasty email from some little shit about selling Debian CDs. His rationale (which is really pushing the definition of that term) is that Debian is a free operating system. Luckily, the About page of the Debian site addresses this politely. As I've said a million times, more people (assuming that you've got 40 or so gigs of drive space to dedicate to storing ISOs) should be doing this. Really. I sell a lot of unstable sets. There are ten (eleven counting the necessary stable bootable CD) CDs. Do the math because I'm not going to do it for you. Free does not mean free like from your mom.
Has anyone else noticed that mainstream newspapers have become progressively more difficult to discern from the Onion since September 11? Maybe it was always that way and I was just too busy reading news about tech or something. It just seems to be spiralling downward more quickly than ever before but then, like I said, I'm pretty oblivious so it's probably just me.
Speaking of not so bright...
Man, if you ever want to piss me off (other than the innumerable ways that this is possible without trying) just barge into any discussion of software licenses shouting about how piracy is destroying the recording industry. Marie was talking about an article that explores issues like the GPL in a measured way that doesn't require the reader to be steeped in free software issues or have a particular opinion on them. It's a nice introduction to the topic and I'm glad she linked it because stuff like this coming from a relatively neutral position isn't as common as it should be. I tend to get fired up and unreasonable about the subject for a number of reasons. The main thorn in my side is the total lack of understanding that either side of the debate usually has about what the GPL (and often the LGPL) actually does. I know that asking people to read and understand anything before they loudly state an opinion about it is asking too much but damn...
Anyway, the point to this story if there indeed is one: twenty minutes later I visit Marie's site again to copy the URL and notice that there are already three comments attached to it. Huh. Yep, you guessed it. Three consecutive posts damning file trading piracy and linking the RIAA. I'm beginning to think that there is just a bot used in conjunction with Google that seeks out links to articles the RIAA finds "objectionable." There is no other way to account for the speed and predictability of response to posts on the subject. I know you're shaking your head right now and wondering what other completely paranoid conspiracy theories I've got up my sleeve but it happens a lot. I delete the stuff without replying to it since in every instance there are multiple posts from the same range of IPs based on a single link in a post. I might be wrong about the 'bot part though since most of the comments posted are too angry to be the work of a rational, coolheaded script.
I'm going to let this one go in hopes that I'm actually dragged screaming to a mental institution for paranoid hallucinations. I'd feel better if it just happened on my site.
As a tech support person I obsessively tell people to back their shit up and I do very little of it myself (other than scripts to CDr). To be fair, I can deal with losing stuff because the truly important things are tarballed and spread out all over the place. After this last kneejerk reinstall (the c library breakage that rendered both Mozilla-based browsers and the package management system inoperable making me think the entire system was hosed) I'm actually running a CDr backup of my home directory right now. I tried a couple of different tools and for some unholy reason there was odd synchronicity in the geek press because a couple of stories were posted today about one of them.
I've been fooling around with Mondo Rescue for a couple of days now trying to get it to work. It spits out errors about my grub configuration being in the wrong place (which it isn't) and dies before actually doing anything. I thought I was going crazy at first but then I noticed the note about Debian being the most problematic distribution. There's a fluffy overview at Newsforge that really tells you nothing that you can't find on the website if you're inclined to worship at the temple really lame news sites. After deleting my old lilo configuration files (remember to purge kids) I got it up and running. Unfortunately I don't really have 172 hours (if the early estimate was correct) to spend changing CDs. This becomes especially important when there is an animal loose in the house who savagely attacks the CD writer drawer when it ejects. I guess I could just back up a couple of directories and try to restore them on another box. Looks like it could work.
Why is this surprising to anyone who's used a laptop atop a lap for more than ten minutes. I put at least a sweater between me and the little furnace when I'm couching it.
I am incessant in my quest for new ways to procrastinate. Despite the fact that I have three papers (and some other incidentals) due in like two weeks I am undaunted and followed a link in from PC Linux Online to check out a new toy to pound on and break. This time around it's the CoffeeCup HTML Editor. They're advertising it as "free but not open source" so of course I'm curious what it is they need to hide behind binaries.
This isn't the first time that I've played with CoffeeCup software. Back in the dark days of Macintosh usage (which is coincidentally back in the dark days of design work and printing presses) I accidentally downloaded their HTML editor for that platform. In every case (giving testament to how bad my memory is at times or at least how many times I need to make the same mistake at 28.8 until I learn better) I cleansed my application from my hard drive in a matter of minutes because it was crippled in some way. This violates a very important principal of mine: I will never pay for "shareware" that I can't really try out. Face it, my only reasoning for blowing money on commercial software is if it can do something that no free piece of software can do. If I can't even try out the more advanced features what evidence do I have to base my decision on and why should I bother if I can't even fix problems myself? Yes, zealotry, I can deal with that.
I'm not incredibly impressed with the interface which seems to come from the MS school of adding button based toolbars everywhere by default. Of course you can always banish them from the views menu but, still, what a mess. I didn't bother with any of the wizards -- partially because they're always a little on the stupid side and also because if you can't produce an intelligible page of HTML at this point you're hurting. Open tag, close tag. It's not rough stuff but this editor is modeled after Front Page and assumes that you don't know what the hell you're doing. The other thing that draws immediate comparison to Front Page is the amount of "built by" stuffed in the HTML it generates. That and it's butt ugly even for a commercial Linux application.
I think most of the problems with this editor are explained by the copyright date which lists the latest year as 1999. It's old software that no one wanted to buy released as free in hopes to generate some kind of curiosity. In my case it worked despite the bad associations I have stowed away in the darker recesses of my memory. There are a million better editors for HTML than this some intended for that use and some just easily adapted. Unless you're really in need of an editor that produces WebTV tags (another sign of its age) or a conversation piece for the next LUG meeting. At least there is some degree of consistency in applications this company produces -- install, groan, and delete.
I stumbled upon this long and heated thread about Debian losing users to Gentoo while following up on the ten gazillion bug reports I have out there. Yes I do actually follow up/harass/annoy after filing bug reports. This has always struck me as being a pretty weird issue because, in my mind, they're two very different beasts. Gentoo is a neat new toy (and I mean toy in the occupying and absorbing sense not the crappy and breakable sense) and Debian is sort of an elder statesman. Usage depends a lot on what you're looking for.
Debian is (too) often criticized for shying too far away from the bleeding edge (which I'll disagree with after the recent serious breakages in unstable -- having the package management system disintegrate is more bleeding edge than I ever want to deal with) which I think has more to do with misunderstanding the structure of the distribution than actual fact. If you scroll down to the bottom of the page I've got a banner that plays off of this misconception. Pick your poison - there are people like me who pretty much stick with what is stock apt-get-able and there just as many folks packaging and using the new stuff as it comes out. There have been unofficial KDE 3 packages for nearly as long as they've been available in every other distribution. Making jokes about stale packages in stable if you don't understand policy is a little Dan Quayle at this point. Given the insane amount of documentation and community support that Debian has you'd think these misconceptions would be a little less widespread these days... I really think this post sums it up rather well.
A good portion of the thread I mentioned above actually concerns popular misconceptions about Gentoo and the advantages of compiling everything. The general consensus is that it's sort of a whiz bang, not-use-my-machine-for-3-days and yields very little performance gain in the end. This is all great and technical and makes the kids feel like they're doing something really l33t. It's also harmless because I really doubt that people are really pursuing a 3% performance gain especially on desktop machines.I do ridiculous things on my machine and it's all binary for i386. Right now with applications open on seven desktops I'm: load average: 0.06, 0.03, 0.01. That includes having MS Word open in wine and burning a CD from an ISO. Granted, I'm not a gamer so I'm not trying to push my hardware all the time but still with 97% of my resources free and an untouched swap partition I'm not sure that optimization of any kind as fun as it might be to tinker with would really benefit me in any way discernible outside of a benchmarking application.
Gentoo is something fun and new that doesn't hold itself to rigid debugging and seamless integration. Gentoo is perfect for people who wipe out an install every four or five months because they want to try something new. Debian tends to be a one install distribution if you're happy with it. Unstable can be a little rough at times but generally works just as well as commercial distributions with more new toys to beat on and break every day. I have nothing against this and I don't think that many of the developers posting on that endless thread do either. I'm all for case mods, overclocking, and any of the other endless diversions that keep people glued to their machines.
To be fair, you can't blame the distribution for its users. Gentoo has come very far, very fast (which also works to their advantage since they're not dealing with three or four different versions of every piece of software) and are also committed to being a non-commercial distribution. It's very good stuff philosophically and technically but, like most new and exciting things, the fans tend to be a little annoying. It's difficult to take a kid talking about his third Linux install ever (in the same month even) and how much faster it runs than anything else. The truth can be embarrassing and cause fits of -09 optimization in hopes of defeating the barons of fluff. But like I said, you can't blame the distribution for its users.
Some Debian servers were destroyed in a fire. If you're trying to update non-us or security and getting errors this is why. I've had a couple people email me to ask me what's up. The non-us machines are back up (at least as far as apt is concerned) and I'm not sure about the security machines. It's been a couple of days so I'm guessing those will be back in operation sooner than later.
Straw an RSS/RDF aggregator popped up in unstable today so I've been playing with it. I don't know how useful it really is since I've perpetually got a web browser with twenty open tabs open on the desktop but it's something to monkey with. It's the only reason to pay attention to those butt ugly orange xml buttons that the guy who also invented the internet is so wound up over. Self absorption and the interweb -- sheer genius.
Damn. Somehow I missed The Peon's Guide To Secure System Development. It was probably circulated in all the usual places during my last round of computer woes. Actually my computer woes lasted about four hours (and was indeed fixable but I was in need of a fresh install anyway) so I have no excuse. I'm busted on several instances of problematic behavior (using C for an example) and generally get this more than most cryptic pleas to program securely - with the exception of the continual harping on malloc calls which has indeed been pounded into my head.
Did I mention that this is funny as hell?:
You say you're a gifted programmer who can handle pointers like an artisan? Great. Tell that to the other 50,000 gifted programmers who write shit. Shit that can endanger businesses, careers, lives, etc. When the revolution comes, your kind will be the first against the wall. Use a high level language.
If you code, I suggest you read this even if it is just for the sheer wit of the writing. I learned something today. I shouldn't be coding.
Speaking of security or lack thereof: Kenneth Hunt is mirroring the bugtaq advisory about the numerous (legion?) of new vulnerabilities. The general fix is to disable all scripting in IE. I said Ha Ha.
If I was brave enough to fiddle with KDE3, k3b would be a welcome addition to the application pile. Although I'm pretty happy with CD Bake Oven I can see the need (for those who burn things other than ISOs) for a frontend like this. The IDE-SCSI problem is still there but this is a good step in making CD burning reasonably easy under Linux. I'm not above never dealing with the wacky world of cdrecord (at least interactively) again. Please ignore all previous snide commentary on user interface because I'm all about contradicting myself.
The dumb moves are happening pretty rapidly after the elections. I'm not surprised particulary. The Onion summed it up better than I could ever hope to and has become the very odd Bizarro world newspaper that professes to parody but actually comes closer to the truth than most. You know, they say people get the government they deserve, but I don't recall knife-raping any retarded nuns..
Pennsylvania state senate passed a bill requiring the recitation of the pledge of allegiance, the display of flags in the class room, and I'm guessing that extracting loyalty oaths out of eight year olds will be the next necessary step in beating terrorism in every place that it isn't. The CNN story informs us that not all of our personal freedoms are dead but they sure smell that way:
The measure would allow students to decline reciting the pledge and saluting the flag on the basis of religious conviction or personal belief, but school officials would have to notify their parents.
"All the bayonets in the Army cannot force the Negro into our homes, our schools, our churches and our places of recreation," Thurmond said then in one of his speeches.
Like I said, I'll be in the bunker. If you need me just look for the black flag.
Photoshop 5.5 under Wine. Hate to disappoint people but here is one original composition and one Enlightenment background open. I took the screenshot with that cheap imitation that everyone is all bothered by. Funny because Photoshop is the only piece of software several times more expensive than their hardware othen than Windows that people will still buy. Go figure.
Wow. I'd nearly forgotten how ugly things can get on /. (excluding the usual troll factor of course) but then Linux Orbit had to go and link to this story. Hey, it's only up over the three thousand fucking comment mark (which is overload #20). So, what' the deal? The magic question of the hour is what keeps people using Windows. The general consensus: we'd like to blame the user interface but the sad truth is that we really use our computers for games. Whatever, kids, whatever. It all amounts to wanting to learn or being willing to learn or learning that incredible flexibility often means a slightly less click and drool environment. There was one comment about the Gimp that particularly annoyed me (which is in the overly broad category of things that really annoy me) because it's so fucking common. Besides the usual whining about every single menu selection not being tied to a single window (which seems incredibly stupid to me but I'm the command line bigot) this wonderful example of why linux is so picky about who it is friendly towards thought that it wasn't possible to draw a straight line. Never mind the fact that there are tons of free resources at your disposal instead of the $50 Use Photoshop To Make Really Shitty Photo Manips books you're pretty much required to buy unless of course you're interested in being a spastic 12 year old for the rest of your miserable, hunted by the Business Software Alliance for the rest of your days life. It really is unfortunate that this is the popular perception of Linux.
It's no one's fault in particular but probably has more to do with human nature than anything else and the evolution of the way that humans use tools. This means that we probably need another ice age or comet striking the ocean or somethingelse to clean up the horrible horrible thumbless atrocity that we've become. That and I need to lay off the caffeine.
One sparkling moment of brilliance in a mire of shit, laziness, and a generally non-geeky predisposition to run things out of the box:
Moral of the story: every OS has its hell. Maybe you like Windows, that's fine. But don't tout it as being a magical shiny place where nothing ever goes wrong, because it isn't.
I actually went to a show for the first time in months and only after being gently harassed and persuaded. Engine Down is an amazing band but I have that stupid elitist disease about going to see bands after they've gained some degree of success. I went to high school with a guy who had the worst case of this problematic behavior I've ever seen. Because we lived in the relative isolation of the extreme northern edge of New Hampshire the status quo of youth culture was something along the lines of consuming cheap beer, throwing up after drinking too much beer, and disconnecting the rear brakes of your truck on Friday night to milk the maximum amount of tire squealing when you accelerated. I guess that sounds pretty bleak and it probably was. This guy, Mike, was the self appointed king of all that was independent rock (keep in mind this is like 1989) because he had rigged some elaborate contraption in order to receive radio stations from Boston. This way he could hear about every band on the cusp of mainstream radion play and talk about them non-stop for a couple of weeks until their inevitable fall to plebian radio. Then he could disdainfully dismiss each one in turn as a sell out or whatever. It was a sad and pathetic practice especially when some of us found out about his radio equipment and he tried to lie about it.
I feel like this guy every time I don't feel like attending a show because I know it's going to be too crowded and there's going to be some asshole yelling "Freebird!" over and over again like it's some insanely original thing to yell at exhausted kids who just drove 1500 miles to play to a bunch of drunken backs. So, I went and it was indeed fun although 10 fucking dollars is more than my rigid punk rock standards can usually bear. If you're not familiar go check out the site (warning: heavy flash usage) and watch the incredibly bad video and grab an MP3 or two.
Speaking of childishness and stubborn refusal to deal with reality, there's a nice article over at O'Reilly about dealing with the quirks of IE5. Since MT is well known for breaking in IE this might be helpful to some folks. I've long since decided that working around that perpetually misrendering horror is time better spent on something productive but I did read the whole thing.
Speaking of massive fuckups, the unstable branch of Debian had a libstdc problem that was breaking both apt and Mozilla related applications. It's fixed and all this trouble was due to a single file being renamed. Ouch.
Rather than fucking around here, go watch Icarus of Pittsburgh which I'm a little obsessed with. Maybe it just creeps me out to hear fifty year old men use the word "daddy."
Ha. Another one of those bogus vulnerability comparisons is out and commented on at Newsforge. It's funny how people get all worked up over these things. I guess those are the same people who think that the world would be covered by rainbows and unicorns if there was some mass adoption of open source (and I do mean open source) by our benevolent corporate dictators. While this is all nice and minty thinking it doesn't matter one way or another really. Like any other company on the planet with "interests to protect" (or a monopoly or maintaining their position as the source of all evil) Microsoft is going to be pushy as hell in the public relations department to try to warp statistics to their benefit. Yes it will make the suits hesitant and want to see some pie charts before they consider adopting any non-MS technology. Does it matter? No.
Do we need to go over why this sort of evaluation is bogus again? Maybe. They generated these reports by CERT advisories. Guess which operating system is more forthcoming with advisories? Of course, even considering it this far is bullshit since the comparison makes absolutely no sense from the beginning. How is a distribution bundled with a gazillion applications fairly compared to an operating system? If you call Outlook alone into the equation then the answer is obvious.
All the same, who cares?
Ok. So, as Aaron reported, it seems Debian unstable is pretty broken. Once both apt and dselect broke I just reinstalled the whole mess which was fine since I destroyed my Windows partition a couple of weeks back and I'm fond of being able to print papers from home. Thus, no posting for the last couple of days since I've been scurrying around doing end of the semester things and reinstalling gigs of software and CD images. Just noticed that the unstable list at DistroWatch is totally empty. Ouch.
I've also been pretty distracted by The Distributed Proofreaders project. Go there, get an account, and help us wade through tons and tons of OCRed messiness in hopes of making more of the Gutenberg texts readable and accurate. I'm guessing that people fluent in languages other than English are in short supply since there are a couple of texts in French that aren't really going anywhere. Go check it out and pitch in a page a day. Granted, this is at least partially out of self interest since I'm pretty fond of the Gutenberg stuff and a lot of it is horribly mangled by scanning.
Oh, yeah, that sleeping stuff. I should do some of that.
Interesting. I was rejected by Blogsnob which is funny for a couple of reasons. One, I'd honestly forgotten that I'd ever signed up and obliterated the ugly little link button in one of my many forays into postnuke or xoops back when I fancied the need for a complicated and extremely fragile CMS. Anyhow, someone noticed that I didn't have the required ugly little button and reported me. This is totally fair and understandable. If I'd realized that I was still being listed by them I long since would've asked to be removed. Since this isn't about my bad memory I'll get to the point. I got a second piece of email that told me my site was rejected because it didn't fit the criteria. Being a pain in the ass I decided to check out what the criteria actually was. It turns out (from what I can guess) that I'm either a foul mouthed barbarian or not a personal site. Upon further investigation I found that only 112 out of 328 contained the word "fuck", 81 feature "shit", and I've restrained myself to using "motherfucker" in only 6 entries. I'm not real sure about the "personal" thing. I may need to add quizzes and more kitten pictures.
There is a short interview with Robin Rowe of the film gimp project that's worth checking out. Because I am like that I downloaded the rpm and aliened it into a .deb. Although I know absolutely nothing about digital video other than I cannot afford the necessary apparatus I've been playing with it a little bit. I didn't realize that so many movies (albeit really shitty ones)have used film gimp extensively. Rowe also mentions that CMYK support (which should then filter into plain old gimp) is a feature they're considering starting work on. This is probably the best news for people like me who occasionally have to drum up some color separations or something. I would love to be able to use the gimp for all of my design work instead of just the simpler things. The lack of CMYK support has been a critical issue in the non-moving picture world since any design work destined for offset printing requires it for full color work. Let's hope.
There's a super-positive review of Lindows over at PC Tech Forums that everyone's been linking to. If you know me at all you know how I feel about Lindows (hate horrible hate) so I had to go check it out.
Lindows is currently officially in BETA status until the end of November when version 3.0 is released. As such when you boot into the login screen, the only user (at first) is root. To some this might be a problem, but to me it is not really an issue. I always logged into Windows-XP as "Rob" which was an alias for "Administrator", so I am used to having full control over the system and being able to install software as and when I felt like it which having to worry about permissions.
But I can see that if you are coming from another Linux distribution this might be an issue. If this is the case you need to add another user and use that. Really it's a non-issue.
This is disturbing because it clearly illustrates that most people do not understand what root means. It goes a lot further than being able to install software. I wonder if Rob/Administrator was capable of opening up important components of his operating system and edit them? I didn't think so. It is especially an issue for those who are unaccustomed to an operating system that is infinitely open ended in configuration. "What is this huge text file? I didn't write this and deleting it will save valuable space." No no no no. There is a very good reason that people who know what they are doing do not routinely use their root account. You'll just have to break/reinstall a few times (which might be business as usual coming from Windows) or have your box rooted before this becomes apparent.
Lastly, the only other issue I can think of is the fact you will have to deal with the snobbery of other Linux users who will feel that Lindows is "dumbed down" and not "hard-core" enough for them. You'll just have to ride this out until they come to their senses. Just remind them what Lindows actually is. A quick and easy to install Debian based Linux, with an easy application installer built in.
Argh. I give up.
It seems like I spend most of my workdays lately dealing with LDAP issues with Office XP which leaves me feeling more and more like some kind of demented Sisyphus all the time. Unfortunately we have not so bright users coupled with not so bright help desk operators who do stupid things like telling users that Office XP is available. I need to start telling people no when they ask for things they don't need. I'm pretty convinced that no one needs MS Office to begin with much less the bleeding edge version that most free software folks would consider alpha or maybe a raw beta. In defense of the monopolists, we have an LDAP server with a configuration that simply screams "I graduated with a C.S degree in '72. I don't need to learn new things. I have 1-800 numbers that I can call." It's frustrating to say the least but I'm a full time student with not much time to spare fighting with agents of the State of Colorado and their moldering, confusing, and hostile agendas. I just have to put bodies in bags.
I broke down and bought the Crossover Plugin for the hell of it. It's pretty slick although I had to jump through some hoops because of the glibc in unstable. It's a pretty simple workaround but I'm a little wary of quick fix kludges. It was nice to be able to watch the Daredevil trailers on my own machine but whether it was worth the price is questionable. I realize that Codeweavers is doing good work on wine (which I now have an atavistic fear of using from the command line) but the Plug-In thing is basically a wrapper. It does indeed work which is more than I can say for anything but the most rudimentary uses of wine. The ironic part is that now I'm all annoyed by how blinky and seizure inducing some web pages are. Guess they'll stay on my emacs with w3 list.
Kenneth Hunt wins the blue ribbon of obscurity for actually using lisp as a keyword for his Blogwise entry. I was curious who the single user of the keyword was and, of course, it figures that it would be a familiar name. Speaking of which, if you haven't checked out Linux Radio yet please give it a whirl. Kenneth does a short news summary that runs every hour and although I'm not entirely stoked on the folk music/harp+fife+tambourine genres that dominate I imagine this will get better over time as more people become aware of both the existence of free format radio and the fact that you can make music public domain. Hell, I think some bands should make a couple of otherwise copyright problematic songs free. Why not?
As a fan of film I find this sort of thing appalling. Juvenile humor.. I'm talking about the single comment attached here. Why would you go? Why? Why? Yes. Tired. I am going to shut off the babble faucet and go the hell to sleep.
Because sometimes comedic genius like this is buried in the comments of a story about an email client:
2.5 million B.C.: OOG the Open Source Caveman develops the axe and releases it under the GPL. The axe quickly gains popularity as a means of crushing moderators' heads.
100,000 B.C.: Man domesticates the AIBO.
10,000 B.C.: Civilization begins when early farmers first learn to cultivate hot grits.
3000 B.C.: Sumerians develop a primitive cuneiform perl script.
2920 B.C.: A legendary flood sweeps Slashdot, filling up a Borland / Inprise story with hundreds of offtopic posts.
1750 B.C.: Hammurabi, a Mesopotamian king, codifies the first EULA.
490 B.C.: Greek city-states unite to defeat the Persians. ESR triumphantly proclaims that the Greeks "get it".
399 B.C.: Socrates is convicted of impiety. Despite the efforts of freesocrates.com, he is forced to kill himself by drinking hemlock.
336 B.C.: Fat-Time Charlie becomes King of Macedonia and conquers Persia.
4 B.C.: Following the Star (as in hot young actress) of Bethelem, wise men travel from far away to troll for baby Jesus.
A.D. 476: The Roman Empire BSODs.
A.D. 610: The Glorious MEEPT!! founds Islam after receiving a revelation from God. Following his disappearance from Slashdot in 632, a succession dispute results in the emergence of two troll factions: the Pythonni and the Perliites.
A.D. 800: Charlemagne conquers nearly all of Germany, only to be acquired by andover.net.
A.D. 874: Linus the Red discovers Iceland.
A.D. 1000: The epic of the Beowulf Cluster is written down. It is the first English epic poem.
A.D. 1095: Pope Bruce II calls for a crusade against the Turks when it is revealed they are violating the GPL. Later investigation reveals that Pope Bruce II had not yet contacted the Turks before calling for the crusade.
A.D. 1215: Bowing to pressure to open-source the British government, King John signs the Magna Carta, limiting the British monarchy's power. ESR triumphantly proclaims that the British monarchy "gets it".
A.D. 1348: The ILOVEYOU virus kills over half the population of Europe. (The other half was not using Outlook.)
A.D. 1420: Johann Gutenberg invents the printing press. He is immediately sued by monks claiming that the technology will promote the copying of hand-transcribed books, thus violating the church's intellectual property.
A.D. 1429: Natalie Portman of Arc gathers an army of Slashdot trolls to do battle with the moderators. She is eventually tried as a heretic and stoned (as in petrified).
A.D. 1478: The Catholic Church partners with doubleclick.net to launch the Spanish Inquisition.
A.D. 1492: Christopher Columbus arrives in what he believes to be "India", but which RMS informs him is actually "GNU/India".
A.D. 1508-12: Michaelengelo attempts to paint the Sistine Chapel ceiling with ASCII art, only to have his plan thwarted by the "Lameness Filter."
A.D. 1517: Martin Luther nails his 95 Theses to the church door and is promptly moderated down to (-1, Flamebait).
A.D. 1553: "Bloody" Mary ascends the throne of England and begins an infamous crusade against Protestants. ESR eats his words.
A.D. 1588: The "IF I EVER MEET YOU, I WILL KICK YOUR ASS" guy meets the Spanish Armada.
A.D. 1603: Tokugawa Ieyasu unites the feuding pancake-eating ninjas of Japan.
A.D. 1611: Mattel adds Galileo Galilei to its CyberPatrol block list for proposing that the Earth revolves around the sun.
A.D. 1688: In the so-called "Glorious Revolution", King James II is bloodlessly forced out of power and flees to France. ESR again triumphantly proclaims that the British monarchy "gets it".
A.D. 1692: Anti-GIF hysteria in the New World comes to a head in the infamous "Salem GIF Trials", in which 20 alleged GIFs are burned at the stake. Later investigation reveals that many of the supposed GIFs were actually PNGs.
A.D. 1769: James Watt patents the one-click steam engine.
A.D. 1776: Trolls, angered by CmdrTaco's passage of the Moderation Act, rebel. After a several-year flame war, the trolls succeed in seceding from Slashdot and forming the United Coalition of Trolls.
A.D. 1789: The French Revolution begins with a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack on the Bastille.
A.D. 1799: Attempts at discovering Egyptian hieroglyphs receive a major boost when Napoleon's troops discover the Rosetta stone. Sadly, the stone is quickly outlawed under the DMCA as an illegal means of circumventing encryption.
A.D. 1844: Samuel Morse invents Morse code. Cryptography export restrictions prevent the telegraph's use outside the U.S. and Canada.
A.D. 1853: United States Commodore Matthew C. Perry arrives in Japan and forces the xenophobic nation to open its doors to foreign trade. ESR triumphantly proclaims that Japan finally "gets it".
A.D. 1865: President Lincoln is 'bitchslapped.' The nation mourns.
A.D. 1901: Italian inventor Guglielmo Marcoli first demonstrates the radio. Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich immediately delivers to Marcoli a list of 335,435 suspected radio users.
A.D. 1911: Facing a break-up by the United States Supreme Court, Standard Oil Co. defends its "freedom to innovate" and proposes numerous rejected settlements. Slashbots mock the company as "Standa~1" and depict John D. Rockefeller as a member of the Borg.
A.D. 1929: V.A. Linux's stock drops over 200 dollars on "Black Tuesday", October 29th.
A.D. 1945: In the secret Manhattan Project, scientists working in Los Alamos, New Mexico, construct a nuclear bomb from Star Wars Legos.
A.D. 1948: Slashdot runs the infamous headline "DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN." Shamefaced, the site quickly retracts the story when numerous readers point out that it is not news for nerds, stuff that matters.
A.D. 1965: Jon Katz delivers his famous "I Have A Post-Hellmouth Dream" speech, which stated: "I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the geeks of former slaves and the geeks of former slave geeks will be able to sit down together at the table of geeks... I have a dream that my geek little geeks will one geek live in a nation where they will not be geeked by the geek of their geek but by the geek of their geek."
A.D. 1969: Neil Armstrong becomes the first man to set foot on the moon. His immortal words: "FIRST MOONWALK!!!"
A.D. 1970: Ohio National Guardsmen shoot four students at Kent State University for "Internet theft".
A.D. 1989: The United States invades Panama to capture renowned "hacker" Manual Noriega, who is suspected of writing the DeCSS utility.
A.D. 1990: West Germany and East Germany reunite after 45 years of separation. ESR triumphantly proclaims that Germany "gets it".
A.D. 1994: As years of apartheid rule finally end, Nelson Mandela is elected president of South Africa. ESR is sick, and sadly misses his chance to triumphantly proclaim that South Africa "gets it".
A.D. 1997: Slashdot reports that Scottish scientists have succeeded in cloning a female sheep named Dolly. Numerous readers complain that if they had wanted information on the latest sheep releases, they would have just gone to freshsheep.net
A.D. 1999: Miramax announces Don Knotts to play hacker Emmanuel Goldstein in upcoming movie "Takedown"
. Links added so I don't feel like a total asshole not as some form of translation. If this is completely incomprehensible you should probably be proud of yourself.
I explored some new realms of procrastination today and completely wiped out my crappy little laptop to try out a couple distributions. Since so much jaw flapping about ease of use/installation and interface has been tossed about over the past couple of months I thought I'd try an "easy" distribution (partially because I sell it) and the new Red Hat because everyone is all agape over the whole Blue Curve thing.
The Lycoris install was completely disastrous and never yielded a bootable machine. I have a relatively ancient Toshiba Tecra laptop (PII even) with the usual legion of proprietary hardware. I know my sound card won't work. This is more than the Lycoris installer can handle because it would just choke over and over again when sound failed. Wait. Back up because even before that the "detecting new hardware" section of boot failed. I yanked my somewhat exotic Xircom Cardbus ethernet card out while it was booting and that at least eliminated one sticking point. What infuriates me about the whole process is that if not for flipping terminals and run levels I would've never known what was actually going on. There's a slick XP looking boot screen that dumps a very vague list of happenings when you boot but there is no visible errors. I can just see some poor newbie patiently waiting forever for the new hardware detection to end. I couldn't fix it because I couldn't see what was going on even by changing terminals. This is pretty bad for Lycoris because I'm allegedly a command line bigot who should be able to create a bootable system with this distribution without even breaking a sweat. I failed. No way to make sound work and no way to tell the operating system to just ignore it and get on with more important things.
Another really annoying thing was the lack of feedback during the install. You are presented with a Solitaire game and nothing else. I worked back and forth through all of the menus to see if there was some verbose option that I forgot to check but there was nothing. Just sit back and let the installer render your machine useless. Nope. Sorry. I don't believe in "easy installation." It doesn't exist and approximations only lead to grief later on when your XFreeConfig file gets fux0red and the graphical utility keeps overwriting your edits or something like that. I had a situation like that with a SuSE install that made me swear off of the one true administrative tool forever. While it does save a little effort in the short term it also makes you useless when disasters happen. Bah humbug.
Next on the chopping block was RedHat 8 which went a little better because I'm actually working in it right now. All the usual problems are still there with non-standard file structure that makes any software not blessed by the papal hand of the Shadowman die on make install. RPM still sucks but I have to say that the package management utilities have improved immensely since I had a stable RH machine (back in the 5.x days). However, I had the same problems as I always do with installing foreign software and getting an ADSL connection up and running. Although in the past (up to 7.2 anyway) I've always been able to install the tk version of Roaring Penguin but I ended up having to edit the install script only to have it fail to make several times. I ended up installing the non-GUI version which would be fine other than the fact that you have to run the script as root. I'd nearly forgotten about my old pal sudo.
I wasn't particularly impressed with the Blue Curve theme. It does look pretty good and I'm sure that when I drag this box into work someone will comment on the pretty desktop. Fonts look pretty good out of the box. I'm happy about that but the civil war stylee color scheme is just a little too "periwinkle" and "grey morning mist" for me. So, yeah, WindowMaker it is. On the upside, for all the attention paid to eye candy it does seem like very snappy and responsive default install. There isn't much of a performance drop between this and Debian although I'm really missing apt right now. I'd love to apt-get one of the *box managers and avoid all of this taskbar/icon weirdness. I'm really a fan of clean desktops (that switch with the mouse wheel by default) without a bunch of icons and shortcuts all over the place.
So, I'll probably keep the RH install for a while to play around with it more when I'm not passing out with fatigue. I'll have to see how it fares with our horribly misconfigured and stupidly laid out network at work before I can really judge it in terms of "ease." In any case it was a lot easier (and more transparent) than the routine Lycoris uses. By trying to hide the scary facts from users they're also destroying any hope of troubleshooting. I don't dig although people who I respect swear by it. Maybe to be fair I'll fire up one of the desktop PIIs we've got laying around (one of them basically serves as a stand for the catbox scooper) and give it another shot. The most important thing is that they're fucking up their targeted audience by making things trickier than they need to be. There's a reason that sea of text trickles down your screen before X starts up. Sometimes you do need to see the sparks and hear the clangs coming from the chassis of the machine. If the Windows model is what they were pursuing (and judging from their former name - Redmond Linux - I'd rate that a fair assessment) I think they're following a little too closely.
Another alternative for those who don't necessarily need a graphical interface (although that can be tweaked too) can always grab Xemacs (which I think makes more sense to people accustomed to the interface of MS applications than ntemacs) and use a buffer to browse whatever the hell you want to. I like to flip to buffers of perl with no identation (normal style for me and my little throwaway scripts anyway) that makes eyes glaze over at a glance. If you use w3m as the browser you'll also get rudimentary images as well as text. This probably isn't as stealthy as using lynx or one of the other text-only browsers but you can flip buffers so quickly that it probably doesn't matter.
Like I need to give people who read weblogs advice on how to slack at work, right?
Alright, alright I'll admit (now) that not every LiveJournal in the world looks like something Lisa Frank gakked up or is necessarily populated with spastic twelve years olds who favor the dreaded LOL rather than, you know, actual descriptive sentences. Anyhow, Hipstomp is the only "online diary" (oh how I shudder as I type those words even though they are insulated in quotation marks) I've ever read all the way through meaning I read the whole damn site which come to think of it I've never really done. It's funny and the little portrait of the author on the top banner actually looks like him. Bravo! Jesus, did I just really bookmark a Live Journal site?! Man, I'm getting soft in my old age.
Yoon and I finally got around to watching Spiderman tonight since it was rentable from the evil empire. Do not mention to the clerk that you are having a difficult time resisting the urge to tackle that life sized Spiderman on display. He seemed a little nervous. The old drunk me, of course, would wake up in jail the next morning but these days I'm a little more polite or at very least more concerned with my well being than urges to tackle inanimate objects. The movie was actually pretty good for a comic book movie and despite previews that really didn't entice me into the theater.
Another fine reason to lock Jakob Neilsen into a rocket and shoot him to the moon:
There are two main reasons for websites to recognize holidays and special events, and both reasons fall under the same general category: To respect users as human beings, rather than simply as "eyeballs" or a source of e-commerce transactions. Commemorating special events is a way for websites to connect to users and be seen as welcoming environments, rather than places focused solely on money grubbing.
There is a special place in hell reserved for this man. I envision crowds of three year olds screaming "No shit Sherlock!" at him for all of eternity. Oh, while horrible lizards nibble at his intestines of course. I could keep going...
Go give Aaron bunches of your money so he can get back in the broadband conga line and stop worrying about employment and food and get back to posting the good stuff that I so sorely miss reading. This is exacerbated by the wonderful Dru is going on vacation and the dearth of good reading might force me to do school work or coding or something like that.
Yeesh. I almost wrote forks but that would make the baby Jesus cry. I noticed a posting about it here . Although I'm not a Gentoo user I keep a close eye on what they're doing because the project is just that cool. With all the weirdness I've heard about full distribution upgrades (world-emerge in the vernacular I think) I'm glad the Gentoo folks are trying to hammer out some of the kinks. I'm totally blown away by how far and how fast Gentoo has developed in its relatively short lifespan. One of these days I will take a month long vacation, set up some real networking at home, and give all these idle machines something to do. Until then I'll keep watching and trying to lend support indirectly to the project.