Team Murder No Brain No Headache.

30Apr/03Off

Birthday. Funeral. Whatev.

Just realized despite all the fuss with all of my machines being broken that I'm going to hit the one year of weblogging mark next year. I know what I'm supposed to call that but I'm not going to. What's even more funny is that one of the people that inspired me the most is giving thought to giving it up. Despite the sometimes overabundant self deprecation Uppity-Negro is a fine example of how a weblog can form a community around it even when a good share of the content is pointing out the good/bad/ugly in pop culture. This isn't to say that Aaron's stories about the Gulf War weren't heartbreaking because they were or that there wasn't some warblogger baiting or that real life stuff created weeks long gaps in posts over there already but I'm kinda hoping that it'll all pass and I'll go back to loading his site first when I open a browser from the top of my bookmarks list where it has been for nearly a year. If nothing else he's going to have to wait for a more poignant eulogy, right?

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29Apr/03Off

Switching Teams? Prolly Not But Still…

OK. So I feel a little better knowing what hosed up my entire machine (actually 2 of 'em) and realizing that a lot of other people are having similar or even worse problems. I guess libstdc++5 is the culprit. The sheer number of grave bugs attached to this pretty important library is both heartening and really disappointing. I'm sticking with testing for the moment and I'm thinking about taking a foray into other distributions temporarily. I've considered playing with Gentoo any number of times but their breakages are even more rfrequent. There's always Slackware but I'm kinda out to mess with new things not the primordial linux ooze that I climbed out of. That's no diss on Slack at all but it was the very first distribution I ever used and for all practical purposes not a whole lot has changed since then. Bless 'em for their steadfast dedication to stability and simplicity but I need toys damn it!

Of course, the manual plugging in of the offending library after the fact is also very tempting...

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29Apr/03Off

The Expanded Wildcard

Looks like charges have been pressed against Mike Hawash after many weeks of silence. You can grab the whole document (in PDF format) here. I've read through most of it now and I tend to agree with the opinion of people that actually know Mike that this is a very big stretch and "guilt by association" is the witch hunt du jour. The principal "evidence" (pg 36-37 are probably the most relevant) seems to be a phone number written on the back of a business card. The rest of it is from oh-so-helpful neighbors who thought Hawash had grown distant and stayed at home more than usual after the September 11th attacks. Gee, given the public sentiment towards Muslims during that time that should astonish no one. The helpful folks also said that he started attending mosque regularly at that time. I wonder if it had anything to do with his totally supportive neighbors that ratted him out to the feds for growing a beard...

I hope this doesn't play out the way I'm afraid it's going to. Think good thoughts...

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29Apr/03Off

Destroy! Destroy! Destroy!

I actually went to sleep for awhile and abandoned my disaster recovery plan for visions of sugarplums or whatever. I also converted all of my filesystems to ext3 just to prevent this tragedy from happening on more than one machine. That I had to destroy my primary workstation (and a few files) to figure this out isn't exactly comforting but it could've been a whole lot worse. I knew something was fishy and had time to back a few local files up to one of the servers before the bad thing happened. Still, I am tired, annoyed, and not ready to do anything else but fix broken things. Wait. That's how I normally feel. I guess everything is OK then. Carry on.

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29Apr/03Off

Ugh. Start. Over. Ugh.

Ooops. Blew out yet another Debian install but this time out of laziness rather than incompetence. Something is up with my old pal reiserfsprogs decided to eat up my main partition tree. I didn't feel like fixing it or figuring out if it could be fixed. I had a pretty recent backup so I just went with that. Annoying but not disastrous. I guess ReiserFS is even more experimental than I'd imagined. I'm back to good old reliable Ext3. Yeesh.

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28Apr/03Off

Tinker Toys In My Head

After the groggy stumble this morning I moseyed over to Advogato where I can read about the broken bodies and minds of others that are churning out code and feel better about my small efforts. I'm not a morning person at all. Before noon or so I feel like I've been drugged in my sleep and sometimes have to concentrate in order to avoid slurring words and walking into walls. That's why articles like this are comforting. It's incredibly difficult for me to get any work done in the day time. I always assume that it has something to do with the myriad of distractions close at hand and things to do that involve leaving the keyboard. I have a very long attention span but very little patience. Usually after a certain number of environmental problems happen I just give up. My workplace makes coding utterly impossible unless I squeeze a few minutes in while every one else is at lunch. It's maddening and I'm glad to see that more people feel this way because I wonder if I'm some kind of sociopath that values their deep thinking time more than whatever bullshit people feel compelled to babble at you whenever you haven't spoken for more than two minutes.

I do really like the way the author explains visualization of problems in programming. It is both beautiful and true:

I wonder if it's because our job demands intense visualization and concentration. You have several thousand tokens strung together like tinkertoys, all suspended in your mind as you rotate it from different angles, modify a few struts and then prop open a delicately balanced section while you try some inserts ... or like a Rubix Cube, only you have to be able to roll-back a dozen rotations if this next spin doesn't solve the puzzle ... and then the phone rings, or your collegue thrusts a newspaper article at you, or there's a canvasser at the door or ... and it all comes flying apart. After the interruption, you spend the next next hour getting your mental model back to that point (so you've now lost half an hour) and find there's not enough time left to finish the concept because it takes (by several testimonies including my own) about 3 hours minimum to get any useful amount of work done.

Well done. The monk jokes start now.

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28Apr/03Off

Criticism Must Be Crushed To Prevent Brand Name Dilution!

Crap. I really did just want to go to bed but I had to go and read about this new domain name dispute that really is stretching the limits of what I'll believe that lawyers are capable of uttering with a straight face. The site in question is Savage Stupidity which the lawyers of right wing attack dog Michael Savage are claiming is "being confused" with his official site. What makes suits like this interesting/scary is that the association between two sites by that funky, funky semantic web is really what's being questioned here. The domain name in question has two dictionary words in it. There is nothing unique about the pairing of the two but in the context of Google the two are related. It doesn't help matters that the party suing represents someone insane. Either way, the premise is interesting and I'm curious how these kinds of frivolous dilution of trademark suits are going to play out.

Oh, and as well as the aforementioned site there's also Michael Savage Sucks which links a crazy amount of relevant material including a statement from the evil empire disclaiming any ideological alignment with the kook.

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27Apr/03Off

Yes. They Exist.

Since the number of incoming searches on "tps reports" has reached an alarming all time high I thought I should point more people in the right direction: TPS has got your reports and according to their own promo spiel they're really easy to generate. Just don't forget to use the new cover sheets.

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27Apr/03Off

Marshmallow And Burrs

I'm back from eating and drinking my way through most of the weekend with hardly any time spent in front of a warm glowing monitor and I'm thinking that this needs to happen more often. Either that or I need some WiFi in my life. You really haven't lived until you've attended a Peep themed barbeque. Mmmm S'Mores. There's something more than a little magical about pink gooshy marshmallow anything.

Yoon got me the pimpest coffee grinder in the world which sounds like a weird extragant accessory if you don't know me. I drink a lot of coffee from the time I get up in the morning until the minute I go to sleep.

Assuming that you're using some variant of the Mozilla browser empire you should really go take a look at this work of genius which takes full advantage of all the imbedded XUL functionality. It probably isn't the death knell of local applications but it's a pretty slick implementation nonetheless.

pnhtoolbar is also a very cool tool-ish toy that has the usual links to the usual W3C validators but also does some cool stuff like outlining elements in a page. Looks nifty and I'll post some more about it when I have time to log in as root to install it. It's cool enough to warrant that even though I'm loathe to log in to an X session as root.

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26Apr/03Off

Birfday

It's my 31st today so I'll be drinking beer and eating greasy foods today instead of working on my monitor tan. Woo. Back to the tedium and overreaction you've grown to expect tomorrow.

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25Apr/03Off

Don’t Mess With Him

He's the Boss so you'd damn well better listen

The Dixie Chicks have taken a big hit lately for exercising their basic right to express themselves. To me, they're terrific American artists expressing American values by using their American right to free speech. For them to be banished wholesale from radio stations, and even entire radio networks, for speaking out is un-American.

The pressure coming from the government and big business to enforce conformity of thought concerning the war and politics goes against everything that this country is about - namely freedom. Right now, we are supposedly fighting to create freedom in Iraq, at the same time that some are trying to intimidate and punish people for using that same freedom here at home.

I don't know what happens next, but I do want to add my voice to those who think that the Dixie Chicks are getting a raw deal, and an un-American one to boot. I send them my support.

And this a whole day after I revealed my shameful addiction to his Nebraska album. The same page that I grabbed this statement has an announcement that he's playing here in September. Damn. That's a couple hundred bucks I don't/won't have.

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25Apr/03Off

Not Ready But Interesting Nonetheless

For starters there is no package selection: you get everything with zero questions. For the intended audience I'm sure this is fine but it made me crazy instantaneously. The default installation (I feel funny calling it this because there is no other installation) really doesn't work out for the PII laptop. No usable browser outside of Mozilla which is way, way too large for my poor little laptop. I only need a single operating system running at a time, thanks. I wish I thought of Konqueror as a full fledged web browser but I really don't. The functionality is almost there for me but not quite. What I really wanted was Galeon for the full featured yet lightweight browsing experience. No dice. Unfortunate but understandable since the maintainers of this distribution weren't exactly shooting for the PII 366 market when they assembled this distribution.

One thing that did really bug me about the install was the question midway through about the location of the kernel. I've never been asked that by an installation script. I actually had to think about it for a while before I could remember the default location of the kernel. Debian makes me lazy. Anyhow I imagine that would be a sticking point for most people. I also segfaulted the installer once during the lilo install which is kind of a mess. I say mess because it's a mix of overly friendly and unclear. I mistakenly tried to add a lilo entry and didn't realize that it was unnecessary until it was too late. I hit return with a empty line and the installer blew up. That ain't good. The installer seems very unidirectional and doesn't seem to catch exceptions quite yet. I say yet because this is a very young project with just a few people hammering away on it. I'm completely impressed with the results thus far because there are plenty of commercial distributions with full time folks doing the hammering that are in a lot worse shape than College Linux.

There are also problems with the X configurator and USB mice (I know, I know) which seems to be problematic for more than a few distributions. After the initial reboot a USB mouse simply fails and you have to edit your configuration file by hand. Again, not a problem for me but I can imagine this would kill it for a user accustomed to their configurations that are set during the install sticking after the install. Their implementation of KDE looks pretty nice with the exception of enormous font sizes on the desktop and a profusion of shortcuts cluttering things up. The real disappointment came when I tried to use a window manager other than KDE. XFCE was just plain broken and didn't completely load. I was able to exit without the three finger salute but that was only after poking around a bit. Blackbox loaded but with the default menu full of applications that didn't exist and broken linkage to those that were part of the install. That was kind of the final straw for me. I popped in a Debian CD and blew out all the College Linux partitions.

I realize that this sounds really negative but I sincerely don't mean it that way. A two month old distribution with a completely scratch written installer should be much rougher than what I saw here. This project is only going to improve with time. There's a healthy amount of discussion in the user forums at the College Linux site and big things are in the works in the next release. I'll probably check it out again in a couple of months but I'm not ready to commit to anything but a "just see" install quite yet.

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24Apr/03Off

Yes, I Know There Isn’t A Real M To RT F Out Of

I religiously check Anil's sidebar of hep and happening links and he linked this story a couple of days back. It really makes me wonder why more people don't realize that Windows does indeed store your configuration files in one handy place. Because Windows is not the most robust operating system in the world I'm continually reimaging machines that only a single user or maybe two use. It's pretty simple to log that user into the domain a single time to create the profile directories (don't create a new folder or just copy the folder over -- bad news for reasons I don't exactly understand) and copy the contents of a users profile settings on over. Log them out and log them back. It's pretty simple. Without even complicating things tremendously, it would be trivial to store a perfect profile on a CD (or even a rewritable if you wanna get real fancy) and repeat that two minute process again and again.

The real reason I even address this is that the source of this quandry is a technical column. You should know that these files exist if not exactly where they're located. There probably aren't many *nix users unacquainted with their dotfiles and it's the same basic concept. I have a perfect .emacs file and I will not leave home without it. Most users find out about these files eventually and, to be fair, you do need to flag ls with -a in order to see them but Windows hides a lot of directories from users and you need to change an option in a fairly long list in order to make them visible (tools > folder options > view > show hidden files if I'm remembering it correctly). I have to wonder if most power users (ack, I recoil at my own use of this term) know these files exist or how to (re)use them. For most Word n' Outlook users it doesn't really matter, they have administrators to change the diapers and take out the trash but when you're allegedly an IT professional (again, I get my cringe on) you probably need to know these things because other people are taking your advice and there is no one what will help you. Check it out and even without the crazy, crazy world of roaming profiles you'll save yourself a lot of time and mockery from us troglodytes spelunking the dark and scary world of the command line.

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23Apr/03Off

His Mother Is A Horse

I'm not going to bother to link the interview with the SCO CEO because I've already seen it posted on five different news sites. In fact, I'm really feeling like a link-free weblog is in my future. Regardless, I'm really amazed that Darl (also funny because if you've read As I Lay Dying the character named Darl is taken to a mental institution at the end of the novel) is shooting his mouth off so early in the game. I'm assuming (as it seems most folks are) that IBM is going to squish SCO into paste long before they can make any litigious overtures to either Red Hat or their business partner SuSE. The arrogance is clear and I feel very sorry (sorta) for the other three struggling distributors who were stupid enough to get into bed with them. This is my favorite piece of the interview

CRN: Some are worried that a court case might give Microsoft a legal precedent that could be used to deaccelerate adoption of Linux at customer sites. What do you say to that?

McBride: In our case, Linux comes from Unix and we own the Unix operating system. How this plays out with other code bases, I don't know.

Pathetic IP herders...

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23Apr/03Off

Sparkly, Magical Consumer Spending

OK. Embarrassing confession: I have an unreal number of Beach Boys MP3s. I am listening to "God Only Knows" as I type this. All of my punk points are trickling down the drain and I don't care. Many years back I bought the Beach Boys Sub Pop single with all the weird vocal only tracks. "Wouldn't It Be Nice" is the track with only vocals and I was completely floored by the complexity of its construction when the state of the art in studio recording equipment was something that can essentially be had for $100 at Radio Shack these days. I'm not particularly crazy about the songs with "Surf*" in the title but, damn, those are a lot of layers of vocals. The next episode of Embarrassing Musical Confessions will deal with Nebraska era Bruce Springsteen.

I think that things like this are one of the reasons that freely available copies of songs (albeit wanting in the fidelity department) are such a valuable resource for both evil, satanic record companies and people who are supposed to buy their product. The "Pet Sounds" boxed set is creeping into the periphery of my product scoping eye and a million-billion-zillion dollars says that I would not have considered this purchase in a record store. The only thing that prompted me to even think about it was an obscure and limited 7" single and a bunch of pirated songs. All of this has been said many times and much more eloquently. If I was unable to steal songs I doubt I'd ever buy a new record by a major label band. Listening to crappy copies of ripped songs is basically the only way to indulge in mainstream music without being stuck in the recursive hell of radio (which is slowly but surely being consolidated into one massive organ of destruction anyhow) playlists. Yeah, and it's probably time to get some work done...

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22Apr/03Off

Explication Of The Ass V. Hole In The Ground Problem

For some reason I'm still eligible for new versions of Codeweavers stuff so I grabbed the new version of CrossOver Office to see how well the upgrade would go. Being the paranoid freak that I am I keep an old copy of the software around just in case so I wasn't particularly afraid of mucking up the install. Luckily my fears were (as usual) unfounded and the upgrade was perfectly smooth. The configuration interface is a little slicker than the earlier versions and seemed more responsive without the usual array of windows that lapse into transparency for thirty seconds at a time. I don't see this particularly problematic because it is an emulator trying valiently to do its thing while I'm off on ten other virtual desktops doing mine. This version also promises to support Word XP so I might actually do that upgrade later tonight since I don't use any of the other Office applications. They also officially support Photoshop now which I thought was kinda funny since I've had version 6 installed and running forever. Looks like a good deal of the kinks are worked out at least for my configuration and relative skill level. I looked at a good number of the open support tickets and a huge number of them seem to be RedHat related.

Trusted Debian hits 1.0 and despite the usual gang of "why not just use OpenBSD, d00d?" naysayers I'm very impressed with the amount of thought that went into the architecture of this project. Not content to simply tell you that the kernel is appropriately patched they actually provide demonstrations of how their improvements work. Other platforms need to emulate this and I'm curious to see how much of this work is implemented into future Debian releases. What makes this more likely than not is the Trusted Debian folks have tried to make development easy if you're already familiar with the Debian packaging methodology. It seems consistent with the Debian way - powerful, cohesive, and probably not right for your grandmother. Bless us one and all.

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21Apr/03Off

Humble(r) Words

Interesting news from the CEOs-can-learn department: There's an apology from the CEO of Novell up over at LWN that really is a breath of fresh air when you have other industry bigwigs offhandedly referring to Linux as a cancer or worse.

Simply put, Linux will continue to grow with or without Novell. The Open Source community is a model Novell endorses. It is the talents from the developers in this community that attracted us to Linux. We are not experts here, we need your help. We want to work in close cooperation with the Open Source community to further the growth of Linux.

There are also some good points raised in the comments attached so read those to. I'm impressed with the seriousness that Kris Magnusson responds to comments. It's ironic that the huge soul sucking corporations are playing nicer than the larger open projects. Go figure.

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21Apr/03Off

We’ll Just Go Over There And Liberate That Name

I've heard way too much about Mozilla's side of the Firebird argument and I'm really glad that someone picked up the ball and got a Firebird Database admin perspective directly from her. A lot of folks have been hastily defending Mozilla's stance (which is rude to say the least). It amounts to "we have more legal." The Firebird Database project has existed for quite a while now and just because Mozilla folks have the big guns of the AOL legal department behind them doesn't make this any less of a dick move. Go read the interview. I'm back to using Galeon full time now which might seem silly (and it is) but I'm just not feeling too positive about the Mozilla project right now.

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21Apr/03Off

Division By Zero Simplified

All I can think of when reading articles like this one written in that early nineties tone of holy-shit-we're rich internet bubble jubilation is the line of script kiddies waiting to own Estonia's entire economy.

The government kick-started the high-tech drive by setting up 500 public computer centers across the country. The centers are found in cities but also on tiny Baltic Sea islands and converted barns in desolate forests.

If any country can be said to be approaching the so-called "paperless society" paradigm, Estonia could be it.

I'm probably just excessively cautious but hey I'll be the first to admit that I'm a worrier and possibly a party pooper.

Just noticed a news snippet at Use Perl and followed through to The Perl Beginner's Site. It serves as a portal of sorts to Perl related tutorials and whatnot. There isn't much here that I don't already have bookmarked but it's nice to see all of these resources consolidated in one location. It's even better to see new sites of this sort popping up since many of the programming tutorial sites that are listed in your average search are completely outdated and depend on links to even more outdated and often dead sites.

Yodel your way to heaven and I'll be wearing earplugs and possibly screaming...

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20Apr/03Off

Relational File Systems?

This is interesting. XTend is a file management thing that provides a relationship between types of files. This is mainly manifested in a "save with" dialog which is a great idea. Unfortunately the demos are Win XP only so I won't actually get to play with it. There isn't an explanation of the "instant updating of outdated documents" feature but I do like seeing a button to make instant backups. The fact that no one ever ever backs up files in a Win environment is one of those things that makes my job super tedious. You'd think after enduring year after of blue screen after blue screen this simple thing would begin to sink in. Anyway, if you're down with the Borg OS you might wanna take a look. I'm a little nervous mentioning anything that provides a collaboration feature on this particular platform since that is usually Swahili for "a convenient back door that's insecure by default" but, hey, it's job security, right?

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20Apr/03Off

Sometimes Bare Metal Is The Most Elegant Solution

There is nothing quite like the joyful elation felt when you finish digging through a mountain of documentation and not only have an answer to your problem (as well as a couple solutions I didn't realize existed) but find a classic opinion piece like this one by Rob Pike on style:

A program is a sort of publication. It's meant to be read by the programmer, another programmer (perhaps yourself a few days, weeks or years later), and lastly a machine. The machine doesn't care how pretty the program is - if the program compiles, the machine's happy - but people do, and they should. Sometimes they care too much: pretty printers mechanically produce pretty output that accentuates irrelevant detail in the program, which is as sensible as putting all the prepositions in English text in bold font. Although many people think programs should look like the Algol-68 report (and some systems even require you to edit programs in that style), a clear program is not made any clearer by such presentation, and a bad program is only made laughable.

Typographic conventions consistently held are important to clear presentation, of course - indentation is probably the best known and most useful example - but when the ink obscures the intent, typography has taken over. So even if you stick with plain old typewriter\x{00AD}like output, be conscious of typographic silliness. Avoid decoration; for instance, keep comments brief and banner-free. Say what you want to say in the program, neatly and consistently. Then move on.

That is the best advice I've heard all week and it had to time travel from 1989 to get to me.

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19Apr/03Off

Hacking Tedium Exposed

Again I should be writing papers and technically I am on another desktop but I needed to get the hell away from it for a moment so I don't completely lose my mind. It's actually raining off and on right now which is great for the ridiculous drought conditions Colorado's been under but doesn't do wonders for keeping me on task or even away from nap time. Rainy days are great for sleeping but terrible in the way of productivity. I'm feeling gelatinous. Not good for the pending end of the semester blow out.

There's a Wired article about watching the query display board at Google which is equally interesting for its portrayal of the workers at Google being overwhelmed into obliviousness by the sheer hugeness of their operation as it is for the reporter's interest and analysis. I can't imagine as just the little tidbits that trickle into my logs are strange and funny enough. Some of them worry me but other than an IP address those people might as well be generated by some bot instead of perverts or researchers or bored teenagers randomly typing strings of four letter words into a search box. I read the article twice.

I've been playing around a little with PfaEdit. It's a tool for creating and editing (mainly what I've been playing with) postscript font files. It isn't exactly on the power/automation scale of say Fontographer or FontLab but it's powerful and flexible enough for my tinkering. I also dug up this really good explanation of TrueType hinting along the way. I'm not a typographer at all (I don't care if they're inch marks or not) but font construction is just complicated and difficult enough to make me wonder how it works. That criteria for my interest is eventually going to lead to a nervous breakdown. I am glad that the fontmania that fueled disasters like Raygun is less visible if not over. Kind of like Desktop Publishing as a term that means anything other than "I have a copy of x expensive application..."

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18Apr/03Off

This Comedy Unintentional

Startling examples of incompetence abound. I am slightly amused. This is from the Debian CD list:

Hello at Debian

I'm new to Debian, having used Mandrake happily for years. I just tried
using jigdo, followed all the instructions on the Debian site and would
it download - would it not.

If anything is going to put new users off using Debian it is surely your
reluctance to make ANYTHING simple. I mean, with all the other distros
you just download the ISOs and that's it. I don't know what it is with
the Debian crowd but this simple process has been substituted with:

1. Download (useless) jigdo (Windows)
2. Chase-up several mirror addresses
3. Run batch script
4. Try to work-out whether you should be entering /debian/ or
/debian-non-US/
5. Second-guess what's required at each step
6. Wait for template file to load
7. Throw-up arms in exasperation when it refuses to download the files

Even before I managed to download anything Debian has surpassed its own
reputation for being a time-waster designed only for uber-geek
hobbyists. For anyone who values their time this distro is a complete
non-starter.

The tears are still streaming down my cheeks in sympathy for someone who a) acknowledges that Debian isn't the most friendly distribution to install in the world but b) doesn't realize that there are still plenty of places to download ready for your burner ISOs after allegedly RTFM. Nope. We're not ready for you.

Some really bad spam editing:

Lottery company
amsterdam

Claim: You've won a foreign lottery
Status: False.
Examples: [Collected on the Internet, 2003]

De Lotto Netherlands
41132, NL-1007 DB AMSTERDAM
www.delottonetherlands.net

FROM: THE DESK OF THE PROMOTIONS MANAGER,
INTERNATIONAL PROMOTIONS/PRIZE AWARD DEPARTMENT,
AB96532 AND BATCH NO: 57/1088/IBA.

RE: AWARD NOTIFICATION,

We are pleased to inform you of the announcement today, 17rd April, 2003, of winners of the DE LOTTO NETHERLANDS SWEEPSTAKES LOTTERY / INTERNATIONAL PROGRAMS held on 29TH may 2003 as part of our end of year bonanza.

Note the clever inclusion of the warning about the falseness of this spam and be truly amazed at the laziness and stupidity of spammers. You really have to wonder how anyone imagines that they'll persuade anyone to part with cash with this sort of sloppiness. I've also seen many badly spelled headers in spam lately but my favorite was the Universy Dioploma To-Day!...

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17Apr/03Off

Prominent Medical Journal Claims Human Exposure To Lead Might Be Dangerous.

So, the medical community is finally getting around to finding results to prove what housing activists have been saying since I can remember: 'Safe' lead levels still damage children's IQ. No, really? So all that correlating evidence relating violence and low IQs and housing projects still full of lead pipes and paint weren't enough. Well, kids, the New England Medical Journal has spoken and now maybe just maybe tentative steps might be taken to stop poisoning poor people. Unless of course Halliburton or the other unofficial branches of government have some financial stake in this decision.

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16Apr/03Off

Nosferatu Man

Edging rapidly towards a bedtime before today flips over into tomorrow. Kind of scary but it's the cumulative burn that hits me once a week. I've never been fond of the eight hour sleep standard. Let me burn the candle at both ends all week and then catch up on one night. Stupid but effective for keeping your productivity high if a little bleary and incoherent.

Coder Log has a really great article about ripping DVDs with dvd::rip that you should go check out if the topic interests you. I'm a software dork not a movie dork so I'm not as thrilled as I should be. Still, it's a very thorough tutorial and deserves mucho respect for being cogent enough to pique my interest which right now would require nothing less than bombs exploding in my backyard.

Bill Clinton both barrels:

Former US President Bill Clinton blasted US foreign policy adopted in the wake of the September 11 attacks, arguing the United States cannot kill, jail or occupy all of its adversaries. "Our paradigm now seems to be: something terrible happened to us on September 11, and that gives us the right to interpret all future events in a way that everyone else in the world must agree with us," said Clinton, who spoke at a seminar of governance organized by Conference Board.

"And if they don't, they can go straight to hell."

Very well said.

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16Apr/03Off

It’s Just A Name. Grow Up.

Man, it's really hard to believe that this Phoenix/Firebird/Mozilla debate is even going on. How many times do you really need to piss someone off with a common naming scheme especially when the other project named Firebird is up, running, and using the name for quite some time now. Yeesh. Admit that you're wrong using the name and move the fuck on. It's not that hard. Really. It isn't and although you're going to eat some crow for saying that:

After months of discussion and further months of legal investigation, we're finally comfortable moving forward with new names.

Go here for big stupid news story that will cost you in cold, hard soul to drudge through. PC Linux Online is also in and reporting.

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16Apr/03Off

AOL Using Friends…

who do not email me that often. Now would be the perfect time to remind me that you exist since I'm filtering on the entire domain with white listed execeptions. If you've mailed me in the last thirty days about something that doesn't relate to penis size (at least increasing it) or hot wet teens (that you are not the parent of) then you're probably all right. The percentage of AOL spam is way way way too high for me to allow at this point. Hotmail is next so, uh, be aware if you're one of those people.

Oh, yeah, and given that my email account is the sensitive type: if you could avoid using obvious porn terminology in the subject line (this goes for all caps stuff too) or "true story" in the same this would really help both of us out. Thanks.

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16Apr/03Off

Smashing My Head Against The Wall In Sympathy (and Empathy)

I'm guilty again of not only reading but linking OS News. The reason that I avoid this is that I really think that site is more troll shelter than anything else. I've been around operating system/software related sites before there was a w3 (this is more an indication of age than any sort of credibility) and I've had my ass scorched off for asking stupid and irrelevant/off topic questions on both *net and IRC but at least I learned something or was pointed in the right direction. Usually this is not the case with new sites. The flaming is both pointless and clueless.

Anyway, the Total Computer Newbies Meet Debian series is just so damn well written and comes from a person who is so well meaning and patient that I can't help recommending even if I cannot by any stretch of the imagination recommend reading the comments.

She asked how to make an entry. I told her I didn't know as I had never used the program. I guessed if she either clicked or double-clicked on one of the account entries, she would probably be able to enter dollar amounts. She clicked and the fields appeared. She then wanted to know if there was a manual of instruction for GnuCash. (I kid you not. This newbie wanted to RTFM!) Now previous to this, roughly three days before, I had seen GnuCash documentation listed in Synaptic, one of the Debian package managers. I had installed GnuCash, along with the manual, on one of my own machines, running Unstable, to see what the documentation was like. I already knew that at that time, in Unstable, if you clicked on the help file, GnuCash would promptly shutdown and close, without ever having shown the help files. I told Diane this and asked her if she remembered what I had told her about Unstable? Luckily she remembered. I told her it was just a guess, but I bet she could instead find the manual somewhere on the Internet.
She said:

'OK, I was going to ask you that anyway. How do I find things on the Internet?'

I'm going to admit this point that I would run away screaming probably unless the person was over the age of sixty or something (somehow I have infinite patience and benevolence which Yoon can at least partially attest to with older folks) and given myself a voluntary time out. In any case, you really have to give this person credit for following all the way through with this experiment. I'll be looking out for future installments (this is the second in the series) and I hope that the users stick with it. By that I mean both free software and learning new and potentially frustrating things for the sake of learning. I admire both sides of this equation for their patience and rampant curiousity.

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