Team Murder No Brain No Headache.


When Documentation Fails Coders Go Crazy

Damn it. I should've looked at Zope before I tried to reinvent the wheel. Sigh. The one stumbling block was the port number that Debian that is definitely not 80 or 8080 or any of the other ports that would make the slightest bit of sense. This of course is too trivial to mention in any of the included documentation even the Debian specific stuff so I got to spend a couple of hours thinking that I was losing my mind or functionally illiterate or both in paired gradients. I'm glad that feeling is over and it's unfortunate that I had to sweep Google a half dozen times before I found an offhanded mention of it on one of the Python mailing lists. Google's archives save my ass yet again...

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A Short Entry About Almost Nothing

We just got home from seeing The Eye which wasn't nearly as disturbing as some of the reviews I read hinted that it was going to be. It is nice to see a resurgence in horror movies despite the oh-so-totally familiar "I see dead people" theme abuse.

The show last night actually went very well in my opinion. I made the mistake of drinking a couple too many beers before we played and one friend of ours told us that we were way too loud but the reaction seemed positive. We probably are too loud but you cannot plug me into 100+ watts of handmade Soviet power and expect anything less.

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I Can Feel My Teeth In My Mouth And They Feel Like Loaners

I hate the waiting of show days. We're playing tonight and the weird count down in my head started when I woke up. It probably doesn't help that it's a week night show and the number of people expected to show up is minimal. It cannot be as bad as the show we played the day after Christmas though. Del Cielo is the other band we're playing with (the other "real" band -- meaning that they actually have the traditional bass, drums, and guitar setup) and I sorta know at least one person in that band from the last dose of house guests we had. Aside from that the waiting and going through the motions of a day at work drives me crazy. Yeah, so, fidget and watch the clock. I guess that isn't any different than the average day. It just reminds me that I've actually gotta do something with the Midcentury site at some point because that eyesore just isn't doing it for me.

We're supposed to record at some point next month with another friend who is currently all tied up and politely recording his roommate's band. That is just plain strange because I feel more obligated to be organized and get the hell out the way when people are doing favors for me especially when those favors rely on the expertise that's normally billable for a high dollar amount.

Have I mentioned how great cPickle is lately? Use it. Really. I love when things are literally 1000 times faster than their predecessors. That's the kind of progress I can really get behind.

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Sort Of Fun, Yet Oddly Work Related

I've been trying out JEdit both at work and at home just for laughs. I have to say that I'm pretty impressed with the configurability of the editor and how ridiculously easy it is to install plugins whether root or plain old user. There are a few issues performance wise being Java dependent and all that. I'm still sticking with good old emacs for 90% of the text editing tasks but, damn, this is pretty slick package and probably much more appealing to folks who actually code Java instead of people like me who tend to see it as more of a plague than anything else.

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But If You Want To Know How I Really Feel You’ll Have To Read The Comments

This is probably old news to more than a few but this is the first time I've seen anything about f*ckf*ck. It's one of those things that's really needed when "going postal" has glided soundlessly into the office vernacular. Check out the list of eight commands:

Increment the pointer.
Decrement the pointer.
Increment the byte at the pointer.
Decrement the byte at the pointer.
Output the byte at the pointer.
Input a byte and store it in the byte at the pointer.
Jump past the matching b**t if the byte at the pointer is zero.
Jump to the matching a**e.

I feel better already, ya know?

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Wedding Weekend Sticks And Burns

Summer is wedding season which no doubt delights all of the dress makers, cake bakers, and semi-alcoholic wedding photographers but kinda sucks when you're a guest at so many of them. This summer has not been nearly as dense as the last couple years and generally hasn't involved a whole lot of travelling or anything but still the knowledge that there always more in the future is unnerving. I'm actually thinking about/planning one a little less than a year from now so I pay more attention when I attend weddings if only to see what not to do. In many ways the groom is just sort of a nebulous part of the dark clad half of the wedding stage, a sort of best man plus plus. I'm crankier than average so of course I naturally conclude that most boy/men getting married really have no business getting married or doing anything much more complicated than simple food preparation and whatever extension of their frathouse job they somehow lucked into. Annyway, I spent a goodly chunk of yesterday thinking these thoughts and trying to dispel them with frequent trips to the bar for ice cold brain medicine. The little salmon nuggets wrapped in phyllo dough helped considerably.

I guess the part that really bothers me about weddings are the people like me. I lurk around being all resentful that I'm obligated to be present while wolfing down great quantities of food, beer, and the patience of those around me. I fear the wrath of karmic retribution when I'm in the same position watching the bored, hot, and generally tired of me being so god damned happy expressions of the people around me. I will probably pay for my pettiness and impatience.

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An Eclipse On The Horizon

Just read that someone is working on building a Python IDE into Eclipse and I'm pretty excited about it given that Kate is my primary coding tool right now. This isn't to say that Kate is weak by any means. I use it because it's a good blend of simple and functional but I'd love love love to have a nice integrated set of utilities that extended beyond the scope of a text editor. PyDev sounds like the perfect compromise although Eclipse is a little on the pudgy side of things especially for laptop coding. Built in debugger....nummy.

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Pretty Shiny Objects That Distract And Placate

For some reason I'm all about UI dorkiness today. I'm going to blame the type of coding that I'm doing right now which is ugly and not in the slightest bit user friendly at this particular juncture. So, eye candy seems tastier than usual today. I'll be all command line elitist again tomorrow I'm sure so fear not.

SmallDesk is a Debian based effort to ease the transition between Windows and Linux. Yup. Another one with no released files and a hasty retreat from Slackware where things are not so click and drool. I'm not sure how ideal Debian would be either but I'm interested in what will come out of this. Hopefully not another web site that hasn't been updated in a year and a lingering sense of disillusionment. The goal of finding cross platform software seems like a great idea but will cause many headaches for the maintainer.

Atmosphere is the Tron interface that the 3d folks have always dreamed of even if it isn't necessarily three dimensional. Three screens with the same content but navigable as macro, medium, and micro. What would we use it for? I have no idea but it sure is purty. It's all very nice but I don't see a clear break from the hierarchical directory/file interface until the visionaries come up with a system that doesn't cost a million billion dollars just to play with.

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I’ll Take The Red Pill In This Case

I really don't know what Boobah is supposed to represent or accomplish but it thoroughly confused and dismayed me for a good ten minutes and that is intended as a most sincere compliment. It's composed of a bunch of little interactive animations that you can't rightly call games. I assume that the intended audience is much younger than I am because the intrusive brightness of the whole thing really made me want to hiss and skulk to a darker corner of my cave. Oh damn, nevermind. I went to the root of the domain and discovered:

The Boohbahs, five magical atoms of power, light and fun travel in their Boohball around the world, from child to child. Fifteen countries are visited throughout the changing title sequence.

The Boohbahs represent the imaginative power and light which allows children to control the screen action by the use of the magic word Boohbah, and send presents into an imaginary Storyworld for the Storypeople - Grandmamma, Grandpappa, Mrs Lady, Mr Man, Brother and Sister, Auntie and Little Dog Fido to play with and make a story in partnership with them. We hear the children intervening in the screen action by the sound of their blowing and their use of the word Boohbah. This motivates the action and moves the story along. Only Little Dog Fido is not wholly in their control! Children are totally engaged and have a lot of fun guessing which Storyperson will appear and what will happen next.

They apparently share some publicity trolls with the Teletubbies. This explains a lot.

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Research Hindered By Pictures Of Cats And Smilies

Yet another person begins to see that weblogs are poisonous to Google. I don't mean to continually harp on this subject but really how many people that do a search are all that satisfied by a post on some weblog? Whether or not weblogs happen to contain all of the key criteria Google uses in pageranking is immaterial. The burial of relevant search results under seas of half baked commentary on whatever crosses the average webloggers miniscule attention span (I do not exclude myself from this categorization) is going to eventually threaten the relevance of Google itself. Yahoo self destructed by fux0ring its search results to rank paid advertisers higher. End result? No one uses the bad tool anymore.

On the upside I think that Google is far too committed to providing a pretty high level of quality and that eventually this poisoning will stop. I've actually considered adding the Googlebot to my robots.txt file but I'm actually not convinced that it's the right answer to the problem. Google needs to revise or die.

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Smack Forehead, Sigh, Move On

On a help call today I discover that the sole computer of a department chair (among other problems) is riddled with viruses with sobig being the very least of her problems. While this is not all that surprising what really bothered me is that two entire years of research work with no exterior backups resided on this machine. Do you think we're just fucking with you when we tell you to make backups? Really. Two years of research nestled in thousands of pages. Twenty minutes a week is all it takes. In the time you waste watching a sitcom you can prevent this tragedy as well as the unsympathetic glare of your friendly support person.

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A Kid That Squeals On Another Kid Is A Dead Kid

Sheesh. Apparently now you have to be careful what you read in public. A fella in Atlanta got a visit from the FBI for reading something that appeared subversive enough for a neighboring customer to call in the air strike. Nothing really came of it other than some intimidation and another over the top intrusion on a private citizen but what really bothers me is that someone felt inclined to turn him in for reading a printout of an editorial. Go ahead and draw whatever conclusions you like because I'll be in my secret bunker wearing a tinfoil hat over my other tinfoil hat.

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Bug And Tar Caps

Yoon bought the new Blur record a couple days back. I'm not at all interested in the music because it's basically uninteresting but the stencil art featured on a couple panels of the CD cover did catch my eye. I've always loved stencil work anyway which probably began with the stenciling of "George Bush is a Fussbudget" on the sidewalk in front of my apartment. San Franciso had a pretty enormous graffiti scene but the stencil stuff was often a lot more interesting to me because it wasn't a simple display of fat cap virtuosity and the tetrising together of a bunch of letters into an approximation of an anime movie logo. The stencils were often much more pointed with the text also subsumed by the images but as an auxiliary instead of a signature for bragging rights. I wish I'd taken pictures but, of course, I never take pictures. I don't even own a camera.

Anyhow, Banksy is the artist responsible for the Blur record artwork. His site has a buttload of photographs of his work up and there will probably soon be gallery photos since he's doing his first gallery show ever. The Guardian has an article/interview with him that is pretty good reading. It becomes immediately obvious that the anti-corporate (specifically the logoscape that most cities have become) stance he displays in his work is not grow in a vacuum. Good stuff:

Over the past couple of years the very brands he despises have approached him to do advertising campaigns for them. Is there work he would turn down on principle? "Yeah, I've turned down four Nike jobs now. Every new campaign they email me to ask me to do something about it. I haven't done any of those jobs. The list of jobs I haven't done now is so much bigger than the list of jobs I have done. It's like a reverse CV, kinda weird. Nike have offered me mad money for doing stuff." What's mad money? "A lot of money!" he says bashfully.

Why did he turn it down? "Because I don't need the money and I don't like children working their fingers to the bone for nothing. I like that Jeremy Hardy line: 'My 11-year-old daughter asked me for a pair of trainers the other day. I said, 'Well, you're 11, make 'em yourself.' I want to avoid that shit if at all possible."

If you're interested Stencil Revolution also hosts a whole bunch of image galleries for the lookers and helpful hints if you're ready to hit the streets yourself.

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Todays notTruism: Never directly learn a programming language when you can painstakingly extract it in bits and pieces from an extension or wrapper. Obfuscation and mediation are your friends. Follow this path and I can promise you great pain. Learn from my mistakes because I sure don't.

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Sit Down For A Minute

Taking a break from sweating, cursing, and coding. Three of a kind, I guess.

Yoon and I broke under the pressure of 100+ degrees a couple of nights ago and went to the movies. Because most of what's hitting the big screen this summer is utter shit we just saw 28 Days Later again. I suggest you do the same if you've already seen it. Voting with dollars aside, there were quite a few things that I didn't catch the first time around and other details that I thought were important and were insignificant.

I'm going to sort of agree with some of the criticisms that I've heard about the cinematography or lack thereof. While I love the harsh granularity of digital video I'm wondering if some parts would benefit from the rich creaminess of film. I keep thinking of the X Files and how effective the switches between film and video were. The same principal applies here only in reverse: the world is fucked so 90% of the movie should indeed be in grainy DV but... ooops, no spoilers here, kids. I've heard people say that they feel cheated because the movie wasn't on proper film. There are a million blockbusters playing right now that will give you all the chase scenes, explosions, and clumsy love interests you could ever want. Go watch a couple of those and try again. Sheesh.

The fleeing rats in the tunnel still confuse me, though. I suppose the fleeing rats are a little easier to take than the magical flying taxi.

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My Foot In My Mouth Where It Belongs.

I'm playing around with a Mandrake install on my laptop for a number of different reasons. The biggest reason is that I'm working on a project that theoretically should be cross-platform and feeling the subtle pressure to do it the Debian way is fucking with me. The difficulty I had setting up a local only MySQL database was troubling. If you RTFM, follow it explicitly, fail miserably, repeat, rinse, and then tear all your hair out an application should work. This was not the case and I don't consider myself a newbie by any means. So I blew the whole thing off and installed another distribution. Fuck it. I'm kind of enjoying the alien environment and I have a functional database right after the install. urpmi has certainly come a long way since the last time I dipped my toe in its "not quite apt" waters.

Of course, ten minutes later I've fixed the problem with heavy handed Webmin abuse. I'd like my idiot crown in silver if possible, thanks.

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Mental Sneeze

Personally I'm pretty happy about the Mozilla Foundation and despite the semi-sad demise of the browser that at one time was the browser is probably a much more healthy arrangement than Mozilla being permanently attached to and sharing genetics with a browser on its way to the scrapyard. It really is too bad about the fifty developers laid off but I'm sure none of them were overly startled. I mean AOL did just sign up to grab its ankles and grit its teeth for seven long years of IE mediocrity. I'm willing to bet that Mozilla will outlive its former benvolent corporate prison guard and all involved will be a lot better off for it.

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Separated At Birth?

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This Chip On My Shoulder Was Not Fabricated By Intel

I guess the final word on the internet has been written by someone that assumes that the internet begins and ends with his/her web browser. Ah, the ahistorical revolutionaries with something to prove. Gotta love 'em or not.

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If you really want to irritate (not that this is a daunting task by any means) write a very useful Python module with incredibly annoying capitalization conventions. JuSTraNDOMLYcapITALize the name of the module and make sure to only allude to what the actual name of the module is vaguely in the documentation which is otherwise very well assembled and helpful. While I suppose this naming convention is syntactically correct it becomes really annoying to type over and over again when you want to invoke an instance. The module will remain nameless because I'm not trying to insult the developer but I am going to submit a wishlist bug.

It's still incredibly hot here. I'm watching The Matrix for like the ninetieth time in the past two weeks. As "against nature" as it may sound I really do hate seasons. Damn you Bay Area. You ruined me forever.

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The Tennis Cult Wants You

I've been playing around with the Reportlab Toolkit a little bit. This isn't to say that I'm actually doing anything productive with it since it's a language all by itself but interestingly enough assclown cranked out another nugget of brilliance concerning PDFs. Apparently they don't behave enough like web pages. Boo fucking hoo. Prefomatted printable text, OK? They aren't there to sell you anything.

I keep getting inordinate amounts of spam from International Tennis Ministry. They want me to come play tennis in China to christianize cannibals or something like that. Uh, no?

Mark Morford passed on this freakish abberration in the weekly mailing. Horrible as it may be I kinda want one.

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Why Reading Old Papers Is A Good Thing

How do I miss this stuff? I was reading through a rather old paper on Just-In-Time Retrieval Agents (which is really worth a gander even a couple years later) and discovered the thing that's really been missing from my life: the Remembrance Agent. Hell, there's even a Debian package so I get the pain free install. It suggests documents relevant to the one that you're working on and the indexing can parse all kinds of wacky stuff including LaTex documents. Apparently it *sorta* works in Win32 environs. This is really great stuff.

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Back In The Free World (Sorta)

The evil linguistics paper is finally finished. I think I'll stick to Chomsky's political stuff in the near future as his linguistics oriented writings are brush fire inducing dry. I imposed an internet exile on myself until I finished the thing which was easy enough to do: dust off the rusty old XP partition and fire it up. I actually ended up installing the PowerToys just to get more than one desktop. I have no idea how people get anything done in that claustrophobic environment. As often as people criticize Linux for being too difficult and not letting them just get work done I cannot imagine being stuck in that cramped little taskbar and a single desktop world day after day. I do have to say that the addition of virtual desktops is a pleasant addition although the four that you're allowed seems a little anemic given the fifteen or so I have using fluxbox. I'm a big fan of being able to flip through desktops with the mouse wheel as well. I'm sure there's some registry hack that I could ferret out but I just don't care enough. It is getting better but I still wouldn't trust those machines to get anything real accomplished.

Oh. I just realized that the Fluxbox site has a themes page with a couple that I haven't seen before. At some point I'll start hacking together a few more of my own. I never distributed them because they're written specifically for my machine which assumes that it's a Debian box and that you have all sixty zillion of those Dafont typefaces installed. I guess it doesn't really matter since I've never really been able to use anyone else's themes straight out of the tarball anyway. Stupid high standards...

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Sidetracked And Slowed Down

Ugh. I'm unfortunately stuck in a Windows environment (long story) for the time being. For some reason Crossover Office decided to betray me and mysteriously ate nearly 500 words of a paper that is due on Monday. I don't seem to have this problem under XP but it's still frustrating to be locked into using this semi-retarded operating system especially since I haven't booted into it in somethig like five months and that was just to print something out. Ugh. I'm going to get crazy with the keyboard in hopes that my slightly drunken ass can finish this up and I can back to the world of real operating systems. Funny because I'm typing this up in emacs...

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Hoist The Jolly Roger. It Is After All Friday.

Nothing could be more infuriating at this point than clear and cool assessments of the SCO/IBM lawsuit. People should know by now (and I more than many) that bird flipping, curse invoking, and ranting paranoia are the standard terms we use when speaking of the suit. Damn you, Tom Yager for your coherency and coolheadedness.

Oh, yeah, the whole Sun thing in relation to SCO. I don't care. Why? Because Sun is so fucking irrelevant to anything that I care about that it might as well relocate to the Sun. I'm sure that many jackass public statments will be made in the near future to completely poison my zen-like indifference to those "free and clear" hardware pimps.

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For Glory (Or Something)

I've been trying to revisit sites/projects that excited me a month or so back. It's sad that my bookmarks are so dense and overloaded that I can't really check things out on a regular basis unless I know there's going to be something new to read. I actually have a /tmp directory embedded in my bookmarks. Pathetic.

Anyhow, I dropped by the Slackware Live CD site for the first time since it was announced. The fella who constructs the CD was nice enought to make his scripts available and provide instructions for using them. The bootable CD seems to be this year's vanity project so everyone should take a stab at it. If not vanity...

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It’s Difficult When Both Sides Are Noxious

So maybe this isn't as funny as I initially thought when someone emailed me about it but you've gotta love the script kiddie cottage industries even if they basically amount to extortion. The gist is that some cracker is threatening to (and has) DDoS porn sites if they don't pay him off. The number of physical threats mentioned in the article is a little unnerving but there is one little tiny penlight of reason mixed in with all the ugliness:

"Jay Jay," from the porn site affiliate program, said Deepsy backed off after Jay Jay complained about struggling to pay the rent on his apartment and support his two kids.

I'm sure a lot more about this is going to come out in the next few weeks and I'm actually really curious who this kid is. As obnoxious as his deeds might be I'm also more than a little worried about him given the pr0n industries Mafia-like relationship to this here internet thing we've got going.

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Another Shred Of Evidence

It's no secret that I'm completely paranoid and tend to lie to people when they ask for my phone number or something. I also exhibit other stunningly inexplicable tendencies but I don't think I'm quite down with the tinfoil hat crowd. I'm not at all interested in UFOs or hollow earth theories but I'm uneasy when people who don't need to know know too much about me. Needless to say I'm tantalized by the Ultramagnetic project.

What makes this one more interesting than straight up encrypted IM protocols and proxies is that Ultramagnetic actually uses both libgcrypt and anonymous routing via Hacktivismo's Six/Four protocol. Unfortunately they ran into licensing conflicts between the Hacktivismo license (which I'll admit that I didn't make it all the way through) and the GPL so there are currently no downloads available. The next release is supposed to be coming next week so I guess I'll wait and see.

In the meantime, go check out the hilarious screenshot featuring the magical "Fuck you, I Won't Do What You Tell Me!!!" button.

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