Team Murder No Brain No Headache.

28Feb/03Off

Those Flowers, They Know Everything

I may be cynical and completely addicted to generic desktop computing metaphorbut I really can't see glowing flowers surplanting it anytime in the near future. The actual function that this application proposes could be coded up in perl over a weekend and paired with a much less condescending interface. A vase full of flowers that are the litmus for how strong your relationships are? Give me a fucking break.

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28Feb/03Off

Relatively Painful

Ugh. I just looked at the error logs for the first time in way too many moons and realized that I used relative instead of absolute paths for almost all of the images linked to posts which are now archived and yielding a big, fat 404 error. I ain't so bright about this HTML stuff... that's more than a little embarrassing since I just had a very long and somewhat painful conversation on the light rail with a very squirrelly older guy about his academic ambition to "learn how to be a web designer." I wasn't quite sure what to say to him but now I know. Don't use relative paths, dude.

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27Feb/03Off

Comparisons That Break

I really wanted to like this critical response to the first version of the Lindows comparison chart used to feature compare its new offering with a few like offerings from other places and architectures. There are very few outside the annointed Apple user crowd who actually pay much attention to model names of computers. Get some pets or something. I don't want to seem like I'm defending Lindows in the slightest because I'm convinced in a childish sense that they are indeed the enemy. What really makes this opinion piece do more harm than good is the writer's unfamiliarity with (I'm taking a guess here from what he's written) how Linux distributions work. The comparison of software that comes with the machine is a little ridiculous:

And I haven?t mentioned software yet. If the Lindows Mobile PC comes with any besides the Lindows OS, it isn?t mentioned in the promo literature. Most of the applications that can be downloaded from the Click-N-Run Warehouse are inexpensive or even free, but the iBook comes bundled with a rich suite of applications preloaded, including:

Mac OS X, Mac OS 9, QuickTime, iCal, iChat, iMovie, iPhoto, iTunes, DVD Player, AppleWorks, Mac OS X Mail, Microsoft Internet Explorer, EarthLink (includes 30 days of free service), AOL, Quicken 2003 Deluxe, World Book 2003 Edition, Mac OS X Chess, Otto Matic, Deimos Rising, FAXstf, PixelNhance, and Acrobat Reader; Apple Hardware Test CD

The value of that software alone more than negates the $200 price difference.

Um, AOL included in a default install is "value added"? If that is indeed the case I have value added to my snail mail box several times a week. I'm not very convinced especially when any number of those applications is freely available for download on other platforms (the internally developed applications excepted of course) or simply aren't that useful -- the chess example kind of speaks for itself. He also has some weird hang up about the lack of modem in a three pound laptop which seems a little absurd. Since the Apple laptops are dependent on Firewire/USB for adding peripherals to their portables I fail to see a real downside here. Anyway, it was kind of funny at least before I gave it much thought.

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27Feb/03Off

Chasing The Wild Goose

I've been following a good deal of the discussion dealing with usability in the open source/free software world and although I respect many of the opinions voiced I still feel like much of the heated debate borders on pointless marking of territory. The most recent exchange between Mosfet, Havoc Pennington, and a new voice in the fray is centered around the idea of user accessible preferences and where they belong in the process of development.

If you read all three of those linked articles you'll probably end up with a headache. I feel like all three bring way too much specificity to what should be a very general topic. I'm a little worried that things like preference settings built into GUI applications are going to be stressed too much in development. In my own very humble opinion, preference settings should be nothing more than a frontend for a dotfile. Fragmenting the settings is a bad thing and I'm worried (I am, after all, a worrier by nature) that problematic design like this will start to creep into applications and user preferences stored in files that are not human editable. I guess that's what bothers me more than anything else -- the introduction of yet more "Do Not Edit Anything Below This Line" stanzas in configuration files that leave people stumped for any solution other than the pathetic search through menus methodology. I agree that people shouldn't need to pick up Lisp just to change a simple setting but obscuring the editability (I made that word up) to make the configuration more singing and dancing seems like a terrible step backwards. Maybe I'm chasing the wild goose here and not understanding the complexity of the issue entirely but it seems like compromise is becoming a precious commodity in the free software world.

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26Feb/03Off

Does Not Work Well With Others

Jesus. I'm really impressed by how deeply people are invested in their blogging. I'm equally unimpressed by how worried everyone is getting about Creative Commons licenses being included in Movable Type. Many have complained about the allegedly murky waters of the licensing options which is a hair's breadth from being complete and utter bullshit because most people don't really understand how normal copyright and fair use work to begin with. The Creative Commons licensing works great for me because it allows me to state explicitly what you could probably infer from what I post here. I think of the license as the opposite of a 'No Trespassing" sign with limitations attached. This is part of a connected network after all and as long as my pretty minimal conditions are met I could care less what is done with my words or images. I will grant that I am not plotting some future career as a tech journalist nor do I harbor any delusions about what is written here being important enough for me to protect with unfriendliness.

Interesting discussion going on here with the usual angry crowd of finger pointers pulling their Joe McCarthy in drag spectacles. Hit the thorazine, kids, these licenses are optional within and outside of Movable Type. Save the hysterics for RSS standards or whatever other hobby horse you're currently rocking. Thanks.

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26Feb/03Off

Technology Cannot Penetrate Their Beady Little Heads

Sigh. Operating systems are not going to be obsolete anytime soon and Roblimo is spreading it real thin on this topic. While I've often thought that a chip based (and therefore incredibly limited) operating system that is by nature read only would be a fine idea for huge deployments of limited purpose workstations. I work on a college campus so the idea that reimaging labs could be as easy as sending out an army of robot monkeys to change out some piece of hardware sounds oddly utopian. This works best in the sort of application where you need legions of identical machines outfitted for very simple uses and don't want crappy applications fux0ring up settings and whatnot all the time. There is some degree of security here at least from the viral sort of intruder since modifying the necessary parts of the operating system would be next to impossible. I'm trying to imagine a script kiddie writing a virus that would flash the bios of the host machine and I've gotta say that it's a pretty amusing picture. However I stop laughing when I think about patching those same machines. Doh.

Unfortunately this is the real world and ape does indeed kill ape. People want applications that aren't standard to the image and blah blah blah. This means installing libraries, dlls, or whatever and with an inaccessible system partition that ain't happening especially with the rigid way that most installation scripts are written. You either give the installer access to C: or you're shit out of luck. I'm thinking of the niche applications that specific academic departments request that aren't written for flexibility or with anything other than a standard home user configuration in mind. We actually separate the system, applications, and user writable space into different partitions so this is often problematic in the sense that I have to haul my lazy ass down to some office (uphill, both ways, in three feet of snow) to type in an administrator's password. The upside is that I'm not reimaging machines to get rid of Bonzi Buddy quite so much any more. Unfortunately with a hard image (not the BIOS OS that the NewsForge write up is hallucinating about) altering that partition is not an option meaning that a) you have to create a custom image for that person and flash the hardware (yeah right) or b) this shit ain't gonna work.

It's frustrating to see this stuff tossed around by sub-journalists who are differentiated from webloggers by a paycheck and never seem to get the proper degree of shit for not grasping the concepts that they write about. It's also funny because this unending bemoaning of locally installed applications really makes me want a swift and vicious return of dumb terminals and applications hosted on the server. I'm all for it but I doubt many of the Dilberts would be.

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25Feb/03Off

Bear Catches Fish

My mouse arm is hurting again which means that I've gotta take another break from spending massive amounts of time with hands poised over a keyboard. I probably should just stop right this minute but why actually work towards a solution to a problem when you can gleefully complain about it and make it worse all at the same time? Karma-licious. Sorta exaggerating since the short breaks and stretches really do help.

I've been messing around with Epiphany a little bit and I'm pretty impressed with it. It's kind of taking over the super lightweight yet functional for the basics web browser spot that Dillo used to occupy. I do not like the way that it handles bookmarks though. I do like the modular philosophy behind the way that it's assembled. The manifesto on the index page of their site is good reading. The only unfortunate part is their marriage to the Gnome DE which I can't stand. Actually, I hate desktop environments altogether. I'd like my windows managed and little else other than as many virtual desktops as my WM is willing to give me. Luckily it works fine under WindowMaker and the *box managers so I'm not complaining for any lack of function. It will make the browser useless for people who don't have the Gnome Control Center installed and want to do anything other than browse web sites. Mime types are not determined by the browser and the developers make it very apparent that is a conscious decision. After all the cheerleading for standards in the manifesto this seems pointlessly spiteful. I won't be using this on my laptop because although I value a lightweight web browser, I'm not willing to install an entire desktop environment just to use it. Seems a little contradictory, no?

Epiphany's main goal is to be integrated with the gnome desktop. We dont aim to make epiphany usable outside Gnome. If someone will like to use it anyway, it's just a plus. Ex: Making people happy that don't have control center installed is not a good reason to have mime configuration in epiphany itself.

So there you go... Interesting also that this application is aimed at non-technical users since the requirements seem to differ from that goal. It's a nice browser, though, so fuck all the politics especially desktop politics.

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24Feb/03Off

What Next? A Plural Buttoned Mouse?

Ack. I was just getting ready to go to bed when I saw that Think Secret had screenshots of the Safari browser with tabs. I'm sure this will be huge news to some people.

I'm wondering why they decided to bury it in a debugging menu especially when the public beta was half broken to begin with. I'm glad that Apple finally listened to public response to a public beta for a change. I guess that's one advantage that Apple has over other platforms with a cult-like following (I am including myself in this roster) -- they're able to do whatever the hell they want to with the operating system and hardware. Mac users get all bummed and ranty about unpopular changes but seldom move away from the platform. Ok. Sleep. Less news and more snooze.

Sorta Noteworthy
The member of Great White that perished in the fire actually had a weblog that ran on MT. Seemed like he was a pretty OK guy for being in some revisionist hair metal band that refused to die. Better to burn out than fade away, right?

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24Feb/03Off

The Beginning Of The End Of The American Attention Span

Somewhere along my travels tonight I found a site detailing the history of Pong which sounds really great and it is at least in terms of information but the number of times that you have to click a 'continue' or 'enter' button just to get to some text is grumble inducing. I'm still reading bits and pieces of the site since it isn't organized in any logical or navigable fashion.

They do catalog a fair number of ancient game consoles and even the full-on arcade version of Pong so at least there are some pretty pictures to look at while trying to figure out how to get to the story of the almighty Pong. My cell phone has more juice than most of these machines and I don't have a very nice cell phone. That's the real importance of sites like this -- to remind us that technology leaps forward in fast forward like bounds that make things like Pong seem quaint after thirty years (discounting of course the pre-console oscilloscope version) of rapid development. If nothing else go check out the photo and story of the oscilloscope version. I had the Atari version. Very flashback-to-childhood inducing.

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23Feb/03Off

We Had To Destroy That Village In Order To Save It

Reading this article all the way through without breaking into hysterical laughter and just plain hysterics is way beyond me. So, instead of trying to build a stable economy and limit environmental damage you just destroy the economy and the ecological benefits sorta trickle down? I'm tempted to follow Google's yellow brick road to find out who else is linking to this story and its variants and in what context but I think the hysterics would win out over the laughter. What findings like these will justify in the future is truly disturbing.

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23Feb/03Off

Blogger Conspiracy Theory

People are still all aflutter about the Blogger buy out and dreaming up all sorts of weird conspiracy theories about it. I can't figure out why they'd drop the cash on that sort of thing to begin with but Google has pretty solid credibility in my book. I can hardly believe some of the speculation about Blogger fueled weblogs suddenly gaining PageRank. Uh, I really doubt it despite the fact that weblogs are already eating up Google search results as it is. If there's one thing about search engines that's been discussed to death it's the ease of switching if one starts to suck. If Google breaks itself something new will happen. Google is just like Freddy Krueger -- it only has power if you give it power.

Now, as far as the overall effect on weblogging I'm not quite sure. Most of us probably played around with Blogger or Pitas or something before setting up our own servers. I did. I realized the limited nature of it sucked in all of two hours and I was happily on my way to setting up a hosted account immediately. Will a ton of people eventually leave the closed environment of Blogger for the freedom that comes with a little money and clue? I don't know. I imagine that the sudden awareness that there is indeed free space for potential weblogging will cause a surge initially but once the realization sets in that a Blogspot site is akin to voluntarily committing yourself to the bottom 10% I'm not so sure that many toe dippers will bother to continue. I have a snobbish inclination towards not bothering with Blogspot sites in the same way that I purposely avoid GeoCities pages. The quality/quantity ratio is so skewed that avoiding is often a pretty safe assumption. I just quickly scanned my bookmarks and there is not a single Blogspot site among them. Am I an outrageous snob or a good litmus for the general attitude towards free hosted sites?

The bad part about all of this is that the former head cheese of Pyra killed his weblog. Might be a non disclosure thing but now is exactly the time when we'd most like to hear about what's going on. I'm going to assume that something in the agreement necessitated some kind of radio silence. Actually I really liked his weblog and I'm sorry to see it replaced with a big fat 404 while all of his snotty little kids post continually and at length about high school and whatnot.

Anyone else notice that weblogs.com eats shit consistently when pinged? 500 errors too...

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22Feb/03Off

I Like Short Songs

Ah, a solution to most of my robot needs was linked by Mark Pilgrim and can be found here. A good number of the listings also have links to where they've come from or at least which Frankenstein launched the monster in question. Marie, have you got your ears on?

This Photoshop treatment of our fearless leader is just so many shades of disturbing that I hardly know where to begin. Go take a look before the shit gets Farked out of existence.

That is all.

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22Feb/03Off

Troubleshooting Drudgery

Hoo boy. I just went through an incredibly ridiculous upgrade. I hosed my entire box the other day by doing the dreaded dist-upgrade which didn't render the machine useless but it was easier to just reinstall and restore the important stuff from a backup CD. Unfortunately the unstable branch of Debian is in a very sketchy transitional phase and messing with anything vaguely related to KDE related can make the bad thing happen. So, the bad thing happened and I solved the problem the lazy way since I've pretty much whittled the install down to a 45 minute process. The point and I swear that I'm getting to it is that getting from a base install to an unstable configuration that isn't too unstable is a much trickier process that it used to be. If you have none of the Gnome2 packages installed apt wants to to rip all things KDE related out if you try to install a single package with Gnome2 dependencies. Ack. This doesn't seem right to me but I'm not going to argue with the package management system that makes all others look like a joke.

So, how do you get from limbo to a relatively stable unstable system? The Gnome 2.2 back port for Woody is the best place to start. I added those sources and commented out all of the unstable sources. One dist-upgrade and twenty minutes (seems like their servers are getting slammed right now but I'm pretty patient) later I have a functional Gnome2 environment with only a few things missing. I go back to the sources list and comment out the back port sources and dist-upgrade under the testing branch. This only updates like two packages but when I uncomment the unstable sources and install the package that I wanted it just installs along with twenty or so other additional packages. Nervous? Oh yes but everything is back to normal or as close as I'm going to get without breaking things again.

I'm reading The Catcher in the Rye right now. Actually I started reading it this morning as something to do on the bus ride to work. I'd managed to avoid reading it all these years which is pretty stupid since I read very quickly and it isn't the most linguistically complex book in the world. Despite the fact that I kind of hate the protagonist I'm nearly finished with the book in two bus rides. I had a feeling that something about the book would annoy me if only because it's so popular with the teenage set which is a fair litmus for all things that annoy me but I felt like it was referenced too often to evade any longer. I give Yoon shit all the time because she's never seen The Wizard of Oz all the way through or This Is Spinal Tap and doesn't get the references in other things. I'm doing my part so I think I'll make her watch the Spinal Tap video sometime this weekend. I have the feeling that if I were to meet Holden Caulfield that we'd probably end up in a fistfight. Maybe not.

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22Feb/03Off

And It Does A Modern Dance

So, of course, as fate would have it a new toy with very broad application (snicker snicker) would have to launch this week and distract the hell out of me. Yes, I'm talking about Newsmonster. It's fucking huge and depends on java but it also integrates into the Mozilla sidebar which I had otherwise vanished to the Phantom Zone. Now I actually have a use for the sidebar which is where a friggin' new aggregator should be anyhow. It's convenient and incredibly useless all at the same time. Reactions have been pretty strong since it digs a couple layers of links deep to pull up and cache content. That is probably a bad thing especially for people like me who are cheap, broke, and barely limboing beneath the bandwidth limitation pole each month. The nice part is that I run it from the standalone client so the application only updates its feeds when I tell it to. In any case it is beta software in active development.

It's free for us Linux folk because we're special and because most of us dread even having a java virtual machine installed. I'm really digging the ability to open full pages of aggregated content into seperate tabs. Very very cool and worth your time to install...

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20Feb/03Off

Crappy Little Elves

I had two bottles of beer at band practice and I feel all tired and buzzed. I'm not sure how to interpret this change in physiology since four or five years ago I pretty much polished off between twelve and twenty four nightly. I'm going to assume this is a good thing although I really despise being so drowsy at 10pm. Just give me a comfy rocking chair and a nice blankie and I'll fall right to sleep....

If I didn't hate Lindows enough already, they've decided to launch their own web sanitization scheme which will probably be just as effective as any of the other filtering schemes. I tend to fall into the adult/sexually related category because of my footloose and fancy free use of the word "fuck." Um, on closer consideration, this might not be such a bad thing. Maybe it's just that their little Playmobil looking icon people wear ties that really bothers me. On the other hand, they just announced a $799 laptop. It doesn't look like something I'd bother paying almost eight hundred bucks for but I'm sure it's a great solution for the drooling and lobotomized. Clickety click. The chart at the bottom of the page comparing their laptop to a PDA is hilarious. Just keep grinding out the fluff...

Workspot is just a weird fucking idea. You buy service from them ($10/month) and you get access to a Redhat machine (desktop access mind you) through a web browser. It's stupid but I'm sure some folks will bite. Ten dollars a month is a little absurd but, hey!, you can use Kdevelop through the browser if you're a developer afraid of installing Linux on your own machine. Yep. That makes perfect sense and fits so well with the above that I can hardly believe it's remote access to an X server™. OK, so that's mean. I'm not sorry. Is that 2 gigs of drive space you'd use by actually doing a local install worth that much to you? I didn't think so. To be fair it looks like this company has actually contributed their fair share back to the community but that doesn't save this from being an essentially useless service.

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19Feb/03Off

I Didn’t Say It

The best thing I've read all day was over at OS News:

One of the most commonly cited reasons that the business world would stridently resist moving to any non-Windows platform is that of familiarity. Windows may be difficult to learn and frustrating to use (as some assert), but everyone in the business world is already familiar with it, and perhaps more importantly, familiar with the look and features of the commonly used Windows applications, like Office.

It's a source of ongoing contention, but many Linux-on-the-desktop advocates have chosen to respond to this issue by producing Windows-lookalike desktop themes and Office-lookalike applications. This provides an easy transition for corporate desktop users while opening them up to the wonderful world of Free Software. I think it's a perfectly reasonable step, but opponents warn that one of the reasons we all want to use alternative OSes is because we don't want our computers to look and act like Windows machines. Too much effort spent on making Linux work just like Windows takes away valuable effort from making it be better at being different.

I think it's an overblown issue. I've worked for many companies big and small, and it's clear to me that the majority of corporate computer users only have the slightest grasp of computer technology in the first place, and just barely know that you open the word processor by clicking on the big W icon. A company would benefit more my having a simpler standardized desktop that's managed centrally and give the user less ability to screw their machine up by downloading spyware-ridden doohickeys from the internet than it does by having a system that's familiar to the user. People can learn a new word processor or a new file management paradigm pretty easily, because most of them don't know the Windows one all that well anyway, and those that do are probably pretty clever. I won't get into an argument about the ROI of various platforms here, but I think that a little retraining won't kill anyone and can be justified with lower system management costs.

That being said, I think that there's very little chance that any alternative OS will make big inroads into the corporate desktop in the next few years. Corporations are conservative and can be short-sighted. They've made their commitment to Windows, and they'll stick with it.

Thank you!

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18Feb/03Off

Twenty Times A Day

Dear Potential Nigerian Investment Partner,

I'm sorry but I'll have to decline your generous offer. Although we could all use more money ,to paraphrase Sally Struthers, the generousity of your fellow countrymen has already overwhelmed me. I'm simply running out of places to conceal the mountains of illicit cash. While I sympathize with your overabundance of U.S dollars I am unable to accept any more of it at this time.

Thank you for your interest,

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17Feb/03Off

That And A Single Serving Bag Of Chips

Hey. Another opinion piece on what Linux needs for the desktop is all we need, right? This one seems more reasoned but still explores many of the same avenues. Ten million text editors installed by default bad, option to install ten million text editors good and that sort of thing. I'm beginning to develop an aversion to any thing that contains "desktop" and "linux" in the title. I'm probably not alone in this.

The wolf in this particular sheep's clothing is implementation. Although many distributions have a task oriented package selection for installation many (I'm thinking of Mandrake and RedHat here with a larger group of default applications that are installed with an option listing of all the packages within the groups) already I'm wondering what fulfilling this criteria will take. I've seen so many approaches -- the groups broken into types of applications, the default sets determined by type of installation, etc -- that I don't really see how this is going to work in practice. I guess we'll probably just continue with developers doing the best that they can and users making mockups of how they think the menuing system would work.

I do reject the idea that projects that seem like more of the same are wasted efforts. How many times must this horse be flogged? There will never be the one true application that everyone claims they want. Trimmed down? Oh, it's minimal and will never compete with x Windows equivalent. Full featured? It's bloated and takes forever to load on my P90. Either option is going to upset one group or the other and, god forbid, offend the sensibilities of the folks actually coding the thing. The author names three text editors that he consider duplicates and each of them are different and one of them I really like -- the Kate editor. I despise the other two but I love Kate because it's a nice and quick programming environment built on the triple pane concept that I so adore. You can switch syntax highlighting on the fly. It's a good little tool for that set of tasks. Would I replace emacs with it? Hell no. I don't use a programming editor for anything but code twiddling and mainly quick and dirty fixes that don't require/aren't worth messing with emacs in order to accomplish this.

The really cynical part of me just wishes that more of these folks would catch the switch bug and get the hell out of the way especially when they start waving around LSB's recommendation of RPM as the package standard like it means anything. Buy fancy stuff, click your single mouse button like an all seeing eye of lickable, huggable, go-nowhere, do-nothing, pay-homage-to-Steve-Jobs-then-pay out-the-nose usability where options are hidden and all of the zombified cheerleaders all think to the beat of the same goddamn different drummer and leave me out of it.

Speaking of Mac stuff, I lost the email address of the person who asked me about the hacked up version of Escape Velocity. Yes, that was me. No, I do not have a copy. I'm not even sure who would at this point. That was like nine years ago and I haven't owned a Macintosh for nearly five years. I'm sorry. At this point I'm fucking amazed that a) anyone still cares b) anyone is able to connect me with that. Good but stunningly unessential detective work, kids. I think newer versions of the game address many of the issues I was trying to correct although they missed the boat with the "Aaaaar" sound effects when you're chased by pirates. My hacked version of Marathon was just too crashy to release into the ecosystem but it also contained profanity and crude humor. Please email me again sometime and I'll try not to be a total idiot with my mail client this time.

I'd nearly forgotten how much fun that title attribute of the anchor tag is. Eventually I'll just resort to subliminals...

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17Feb/03Off

Why You Should Ban My IP Address…


Ugh. I even gave myself credit. Ack.

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17Feb/03Off

So, The Pipe Won

You've probably already seen this video of a crab being sucked into a very small crack. Granted the difference between the inside and outside of the pipe is 2700psi to 0psi but it's still difficult to watch without wincing. I've watched it ten or so times now and I still make involuntary noises when the crab gets sucked into that tiny gap. 3mm. Damn.

Another mouthful of coffee expelled... thanks, man.

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17Feb/03Off

Fear Of Smell

I resisted temptation today. Ricochet is available in Denver and it's cheaper than DSL. I've been poking around to see how people have fared using it with Linux and although it seems possible I haven't read many glowing recommendations. I'm also a little reluctant to undo all of the DSL stuff if Ricochet goes down in flames again six months from now. I actually have a land line just for DSL that has never had a telephone connected to it. I'd love to pay ten less bucks a month, have wireless access on the laptop, and get rid of the POTS line all in one massive bird killing. Of course I probably shouldn't even think about this until I buy the next laptop but it's still very tempting. Any good, bad, or ugly stories to share? Heard any good or bad?

For further evidence that "web designer" or the even more ridiculous "information architect" is still a job title to be sneered at you need look no further than this gem. When someone who is supposed to know what the hell they're talking about finds fault with the inability of Javascript to access your hard drive it really is time to exterminate web designers and not HTML. Asshat. We don't really need to address the shortcomings of Java as a web platform do we? Besides the obvious speed issue are people going to start plastering their sites with "Best Viewed With Virtual Machine x"? Yeah, I know he's talking about web applications but still... oh wait, those are Enterprise Content Management solutions now. Sorry. Sort of. In any case when you're addressing (no matter how feeble the attempt) these kinds of questions there is really a point of complexity where you need to start thinking about applications that do actually sit on the machine. Allowing web based anything hard drive access is such a bad fucking idea that the mention of it should be penalized with a public flogging or something. Local clients with local permissions, the way God™ intended...

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16Feb/03Off

Ace Bandage Anyone?

I finished two longer fictional things for a class and my arm is above and beyond aching. I probably need to take a break from the keyboard and mouse torture device for a couple of days before something breaks permanently. Mmmmm breakage.

This article about the vulnerability in Windows XP has already seen its fair share of linkage (I noticed that Kenneth Hunt has it linked up as I'm writing this) and rightfully so. The problem here is that physical access to a machine pretty much guarantees vulnerability. A secure BIOS password can do wonders here as well as setting the boot order to attempt the hard drive first. This is no excuse for the vulnerability and, as is noted in the article, previous versions of this same piece of recovery software haven't exhibited this flaw but at the same time you really do need to take a couple fundamental steps towards physically securing important machines. I would insert some snide comment about trusting important machines to operating systems that are designed from the beginning for multiple users but then I'd be an elitist asshole, right?

Oh dear. Is this going to be the new GeoCities filling the web with even more LOL's and smiley icons? I'm really curious about this and I'm sure that heads are exploding all over weblogland right now and frantic keystroking is happening about this very topic right this second. I'll let the talk show host webloggers handle the running commentary. If you need me I'll be in my (server) room. I do have to say that it's going to improve QoS for people who use the Blogspot servers which is a good thing since I've read (probably) literally thousands of words of grousing about the servers there being down.

Note to Warbloggers Who Will Not Go Away: Uh, sorry kids but if you're going to attack a country for violations against an organization's rules then you really should procure the approval of said organization for aforementioned attack otherwise the bleeding liberal left will call you asshats. Asshats.

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15Feb/03Off

Pointless? Oh God Yes…

I've been floating away from working much on this and away from networked computers in general. There haven't been many posts coming from me lately because I simply have not been around. I did install Movable Type in its newest incarnation but I walked away after doing the necessary rebuilds. I feel like I'm in placeholder mode and when I do post its more for the purpose of keeping the front page from consuming itself than really feeling like it. I feel like I'm moving from boring to just plain tedious. Of course I'm not going to make some grandiose and pretentious announcement about "retiring" from weblogging or anything because even the most "famous" of webloggers really has to face the fact that weblogs are completely disposable. They're just not that important even within the context of the web. Sure Google loves us to death but that has more to do with structure and the circle jerk-y nature of weblogging than some more focused sites. I almost feel guilty when I realize how many people arrive here on the premise of finding real information to use for a real situation. It's discouraging and I'd almost say damaging to the usefulness of things like Google for actually getting questions answered and finding things relevant to their queries. I have to wonder if the question of the much bandied around semantic web is being answered in the negative by weblogs especially since so few of us really generate anything new or useful in the process. Blah. Maybe it's just the beginning of the semester blahs and I should shut the hell up.

Speaking of a gigantic waste of time...

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13Feb/03Off

New New New Math

Hello. I hate writing fiction. I just finished a ten page short story and I feel like I could sleep for a couple of days. Dialogue escapes me and everything seems so forced and stilted that I don't even want to read back over any of it. I have another to start work on immediately afterwards. My brain is broken so if you see the tape ape around please tell him that I need my ~/consciousness from a couple of days ago restored. Thanks.

There's an interesting though stilted towards mega-companies article discussing the differences between open/free and proprietary licenses over at the O'Reilly camp. It's worth reading but I'm not sure how helpful it would really be to Joe SixPack Coder who's working on his first batch of code over the 5000 line mark. Comparing what we're hammering out between hangovers on the weekend and what Oracle or Real Networks is doing with armies of coders seems a little fantastic for my tastes. That said, take it for entertainment value since it is well written.

Jesus. I really hope this list, as well as the site that houses it, is a joke. The gazillion tables that infest it are certainly funny but I think this chuckle fest is unintentional.

I've been plagued with Christian trolls lately. There are way more comments that I've deleted because they were
a)all caps
b)pointlessly hostile and did not remotely address the comment it was attached to
c)because God told me to
d)Satan told me to
e) Repent! The End is Nigh!
but a few remain because they're somewhat funny or have valid points buried in all of the Jeebus babble. I'm not going to bother with some longwinded statement about how this is my dominion and blah blah blah but deleting comments is fucking trivial and takes a matter of seconds. Don't waste the keystrokes because I don't care enough to argue.

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12Feb/03Off

Sometimes All Singing All Dancing Is Kinda Fun

Sigh. I was just looking at the big list of goodies from the past seven days and completely awed by the number of KDE packages that are flooding into Debian unstable. I don't even use KDE as a desktop environment but there are a good many applications I love that depend on various chunks of its formidable codebase. There are 245 new packages available right now. Most of them are KDE 3. I am a sad kid because I know that pushing the shiny candy-like button labelled "apt-get dist-upgrade" is bad fucking news. Sigh. Gimme. Gimme Gimme. Oh, there's a long discussion of this pain over at Debian Planet if you're so inclined. Actually if you're not inclined I'm very much surprised you read this far you freaky masochist!

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11Feb/03Off

Mediocrity And Evolution And Pho! Oh My.

I had bad pho for the first time tonight. Actually, it was just mediocre but I can't say that I've ever had boring pho before tonight. Before Yoon and I left we were talking about which of the two usual places we should go to tonight. I said that it didn't matter because both were good. I think I put some kind of hoodoo on the place where we decided to eat. Even after applying liberal amounts of the kickin' chicken and hoison sauce it just didn't hit the paralysis by comfort button that a bowl of broth and noodles bigger than your head usually does. I'm not going to say a damn thing about the other place. One cursed pho place is more than enough for me.

Hey, have you checked out Omniglot yet? I bookmarked it a long time ago (probably after memepool mentioned it or something) into a temporary folder of bookmarks and promptly forgot all about it. If you're at all interested in linguistics and the general study of languages, this is a great place to start. It has enough resources locally to satisfy a hobbyist like me but has a gazillion links to more specific and/or difficult sites as well. I really like the audio files for pronunciation help and the general friendliness of the site. It's always apparent when projects are born of love and continual learning about a subject and those invariably are the most interesting sites my "bookmark and blackout" approach to delving further is an embarrassing exception.

I've actually been thinking a lot about English as an evolving language and how tones are becoming more expressive than actual words. You can't help but notice that people use multiple instances of the same word in a single sentence and all of them convey a different meaning depending on how they're said. I realize that this is beginning to sound like a reactionary rant about the decline of the English language but I really don't feel that way. The dependence on audible cues for meaning concerns me but only in reference to the future of the written language. I'm not even going to begin to speculate about the future of the language but I'm glad to see that something about the language is evolving even if it possibly endangers the form I love most (written) for the one I love least (conversation, horrible horrible conversation) and makes me wonder (note: this is not speculation) if the written language will evolve in terms of punctuation corresponding with the expanded usage of a smaller vocabulary. Any guesses?

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10Feb/03Off

When Bait Is Swallowed

Damn it. I'm taking the bait again and linking (and ranting about) yet another average joe trying to install Linux which is made worse by the fact that he's picked Lindows as the distribution to try. I guess those all those marketing dollars sold at least one copy, eh? So, rather than blow 500 hundred+ words of hot air that no one is ever going to read: a list.

Reasons You Should Not Consider Using Linux

1. The main purpose for your computer is gaming. Duh. Don't even think it. Just don't. Linux is light years behind and the real rub is that we don't care. Console machines are great and having your operating system dictated by amusements is, well, lame, dude.

2. You want a cheap version of Windows to run Windows applications on top of. Again, a resounding 'Duh' is all I can really come up with. It's never going to make you happy no matter how much of Michael Robertson's fancy magic Kool-Aid you drink. While much of the core functionality is already there (and often exceeds its Win counterpart) you're never going to have bleeding edge applications the month they come out. Give up and pay the man his $400 if interface differences terrify you that much.

3. If you think of the command line as some kind of terrifying thing only to be used under the close supervision of a tech support person you should also skip it. It wasn't long ago that access to the shell (and decent utilities) were non existant on the desktop machine. DOS doesn't count. Have you ever fucking used DOS?

4. If you think that Linux will be a bandaid solution to all of your computing problems. In the case that these problems are myriad and usually involve a misconfiguration of an otherwise functioning application, I'd personally recommend that you just stick with the telephone and typewriter combination.

Ok. So, it's a short list but you get the point. I'm as tired of writing about this topic as you are of reading it which assumes that someone reads this...

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10Feb/03Off

I’m Fucking Boring

I haven't had much to say for the past few days. I think it's the "oh shit, I need to write and read and do little damn else" panic that comes along with a fresh semester. It hasn't been a conscious thing but more of a giant, involuntary shoulder shrug whenever I think about doing something here. I'm not going all droopy and start talking about my artistic needs but at the same time I don't like dropping off the face of the earth for no particular reason either. This is exacerbated by people I haven't heard from (completely my fault) in ten years popping back into my life. They're still cool. Go figure. I've been kind of introspective and that would make for really boring (more so than usual) reading. No mid life crisis here but kinda dealing with the fact that not everyone turned into any asshole immediatley after high school. Go figure. I'm not a people person.

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