Team Murder No Brain No Headache.

29Feb/04Off

Another Bucket Of Lye Poured Into The Grave

Wow. I step away from a computer (sort of) for a day or two and all hell breaks loose. I'm talking, of course, about Fyodor suspending SCO's right to distribute the ur-useful nmap. This is not some half-finished Freshmeat project in perpetual alpha (nothing wrong with that, by the way) but a pretty important tool if you're at all interested in what your legion of winged monkeys networked workstations look like to the outside world. I use it pretty much daily. So, anyway, what's bothering me about the entire thing is that so many people are babbling like idiots about how it just isn't right. They're wrong.

I think what Fyodor is doing, more than anything else, is formally declaring what is already written into the GPL:

5. You are not required to accept this License, since you have not signed it. However, nothing else grants you permission to modify or distribute the Program or its derivative works. These actions are prohibited by law if you do not accept this License. Therefore, by modifying or distributing the Program (or any work based on the Program), you indicate your acceptance of this License to do so, and all its terms and conditions for copying, distributing or modifying the Program or works based on it.

that you are violation of the law if you disagree with the license but continue to distribute the software. I might be wrong here but I'm pretty sure that nmap is only available under the GPL. I'm putting words in peoples mouths here, but I really think the point of this exercise is to force SCO to admit (preferably in front of a judge) that they accept the GPL as a valid license in order to avoid violating it. The suit might be expensive but the last I heard RedHat had a big pile of cash set aside to protect FOSS developers. This could potentially ham string the whole suit with IBM.

But I am not a lawyer so I will say that and refer you to more legally inclined at GrokLaw for advice that isn't quite so idle.

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26Feb/04Off

The Luxury Of Being Taken Seriously When You’re Talking Mighty Loud And Saying Nothing

To begin with, I'm not at all a fan of ESR although I use a good chunk of the software that he's written. This rant though lauded by all of the usual suspects who love non-controversy for the sake of double digits in posted comments is ultimately pointless. When he curses the CUPS developers for "their" lousy frontend, he's barking entirely up the wrong tree.

My experience with Fedora is very limited but I've found in general that distributions that aim for the "duh" markets tend to heavily modify and package sources for their particular distro. Unfortunately, in the case of RedHat, many of these packages end up being broken because those additions publically available or not simply don't get the same pounding on that vanilla versions of the software get. The RedHat or any other distribution altered version of a piece of software usually has fuck all to do with upstream development even if the people who hack on the project include chunks of that code in their own release. The first time I ever used RedHat was also the last given the broken version of gcc that shipped with the box set.

I know that seems kind of pointless but that really is the point. I'm guessing that most of the experience that people have with CUPS isn't really with CUPS at all. If Eric clicked on his root menu to configure a printer, he was most likely using redhat-config-printer which isn't a CUPS thing at all but a lashing together of Magicfilter and the Foomatic software. It also sounds a whole lot like the KDE printer utility that I've seen other people freak out about. I've never used either of them, opting instead for the actual CUPS software that works very well and with very little fuss while simultaneously being able to use the Foomatic drivers. Try clicking here next time (Aunt Tilly, she can use a web browser and if Aunt Tilly has ever installed software before on a *nix system she probably knows that root is the default account for most system wide changes) and using the actual CUPS interface instead of pissing in the wind while pointed in the wrong direction. Yeesh. I don't expect people to know everything about setting up their own boxes but it would be nice if people who labor under the moniker of hacker actually figured out which piece of software they're so enraged about.

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25Feb/04Off

Translated And Partially Transcribed…

I've been far too busy for the last couple of days to really do much of anything in the virtual sense. I have this ragged sheet of paper with a bunch of scribbled URLs on it and some notes that don't make any sense and are not entirely legible. Here are my conclusions:

White House For Sale is a great site for researching exactly where all that campaign money is coming from and eventually who or what it will benefit. There's an interesting defense of Kerry going on there right now which is a nice contrast to the whooping and soiling of Depends going on in the right wing community now that they've figured out that politicians take money.

The site for the Dawn of the Dead remake has finally gone live and now actually has something on it other than the trailers. Believe it or not the production notes are actually worth reading and are pretty interesting. I'm still worried about it but at least it seems like the director's heart is in the right place. Annoyingly Flash based but parts of it do look pretty nice.

I've pretty much decided that I hate the English. They get the tour. Fuckers. At least it's pretty obvious that SMiLE is actually going to come out at some point if Wilson doesn't decide to fuck around with it for another couple of decades.

Stani's Python Editor looks slick as snot but I'm not ready to hose up all of my wxPython dependent stuff for it quite yet. Unfortunately the whole shebang is also developed on a Win32 platform (remind me to send this guy a Knoppix CD at some point) so there isn't much stability for my platform of choice. Guess I'll stick with what I know assuming that I get any time to code anything in the next couple of months.

It's looking like the new MyDoom variant is going to actually cause a whole lot of damage. Well, at least a bunch of stuff I'm going to have to clean up until someone sues MSFT into using a security model that's based on something other than appeasement. As tired as I am of mopping up after stuff like this I still have to tip my hat to the use of "Your illegal file sharing..." as a subject line. Sigh. If the bug terminated on its own I might feel more sympathetic...

Rats bailing off the sinking ship...

I'm glad that Grey Tuesday happened because I've wanted to hear those mixes for quite a while now. I grabbed a copy in under ten minutes and I've given it several casual listens. For the constraints that the DJ placed on himself (only using Beatles samples, etc) the project is remarkably well done. I really hope that more rappers release vocal only mixes and spur more of this sort of informal collaboration in the future. I've been fascinated with this stuff since The Evolution Control Committee released that record of Public Enemy meets the Tijuana Brass.

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24Feb/04Off

testing myself to death

Here we go.....

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24Feb/04Off

More Like A Stove Pipe

Five hours of sleep or a little less later and I'm all but catatonic and certainly not up to grinding out any sludge faux-academia. I have a problem with falling back asleep after I've shut the alarm off so once I'm awake...well, you get the idea and if nothing else it might be an interesting argument against the idea that up and moving means anything like functional.

Anyhow, what I was thinking about through the glaze of no-sleep-ever is a comment that bad penny (huh, TypePad is down)left about the Big Black/Rapeman/Shellac titles and lines that I often rip for weblog entry titles. I started thinking about why exactly those things always float through my periphery when I'm at a loss for words of my own. It goes all the way back to junior high school and whatever shitty guitar I had at the time (because I fancied myself a bass player in those days) -- I remember trying to coax those impossible guitar tones out of whatever shitty rig I had at the time. Bands like Big Black, and a little later Rapeman, actually made me want to play guitar because they offered the possibility of something beyond which ever uber-shitty D.R.I clone band that I was in without wandering into the howling, soul free wasteland of AOR radio crap.

That said, I haven't ever really figured out how to make my guitar sound like that other than by cheating and tuning up a half step. I think this stems from a fear of electrocution that Steve Albini does not seem to suffer from.

Go look at Andy Lester's excellent Action Park now. That's what links are for: absolving yourself from the guilt of yammering pointlessly for a couple hundred words...

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22Feb/04Off

The Power Of Independent Trucking

Had a fit of worst ideas ever today and during the course of writing some incredibly lame products for a young adult literature class I decided to install Subversion locally before I have to deal with it for reals on a remote server. The weird thing about versioning systems is that they actually make you want to launch insane projects simply because you suddenly have a tiny universe of organization and order on your machine. I'm already thinking that this is a timesink of epic proportions.

By the way, if you're creating a resource about the impact of divorce on children, try to avoid naming HTML file anything even remotely resembling "divorce_ho.html." This also serves as a reminder to myself that I should not take gulps of carbonated beverage while pages are loading.

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21Feb/04Off

Improving The Wheel

Noticed that another browser entered portage the other day and I finally had a little time to check it out. Until very recently, the actual site for Kazehakase didn't contain much information but now it actually has some details about the browser in both Japanese and English which is very advantageous for those of us crippled by monolingual limitations. It uses the Gecko engine which makes it look very similar to Galeon at first glance. When you start digging into the menus and preferences Kazehakase starts looking like a distinct beast.

The availability of advanced preferences:


that are accessible in other offshoot browsers like Mozilla Firefox and Galeon is definitely a plus. You can get pretty deep into the less obvious preferences pretty quickly. This also means that you can really, really break the entire application in a matter of seconds. This is offset by having a toggle in the menus between Beginner, Medium, and Expert UI interface which hides most of the more dangerous options unless you've cranked it up to Expert. This in itself is a pretty wise design decision that makes fine use of the unlimited universe of choice that seems to scare some folks off when thinking about Linux. I'm not sure how the other Gnome oriented browsers are handling stuff like this but this seems like a reasonable compromise especially for a 0.1.2 release.

There's a bunch of other stuff built in as well including mouse gestures and an RSS sidepane which can also be converted to a bookmarks pane or a list of open tabs. The RSS pane confused me at first because all of the entries in it are placeholders/examples that don't actually load anything when you start the browser up. Again, it's an early release so I'm sure that this will improve in future versions but it's still pretty slick now:


This another one to keep an eye if the initial versions are all telling of what the project has planned.

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19Feb/04Off

From Really Bad To Worst

I'm a little baffled why the Yahoo dumps Google story has drummed up so much attention. I even wandered over to Yahoo to see if the results looked any different and was not surprised to find that searches are still completely diluted by paid inclusions and even the front page takes ages to load because it's so loaded with advertising. I think the use of Google results was about the only thing Yahoo had going for it.

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18Feb/04Off

The Wages Of Calling People Dog Fuckers

I feel a deep need to link Dan Savage's Spreading Santorum so I will do so with no explanation because the site itself, once you're past the, um, frothy splash screen does a fine job of explaining the situation and defining the terms than I could ever hope to do. Link it up and do your part to spread the good news. For the linguists, you can trace the terminology back to its adoption and metamorphosis from a name uttered between clenched teeth (yes, I get it so quit giggling) into a joyful mockery of all that is clenched cheek-ish (again, no giggling) and full of smugness. The real question is when the Fark crowd will announce a Photoshop contest based on this theme.

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17Feb/04Off

A Matter Of Time

I unfortunately got my first piece of text message pr0n spam tonight. The irony of the ringtone set to vibrate was not lost on me. I'm assuming this will be the start of a deluge. Time to check out how many freebies I get a month and maybe just disable the shit altogether.

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16Feb/04Off

Pray That Next Time God Will Visit You With A Clue

There have been plenty of news items about the American Airlines pilot who was trying to recruit some fresh Christians right before take off but I hadn't really paid a whole lot of attention. You really have to love the fact that he seems completely oblivious that his entirely inappropriate exhortion to passengers to talk to each other about their faith (Christians only, mind you) after being inspired by a mission was a little unnerving to passengers. Religious epiphanies and airplanes are not something that most Americans (and our distinguished guests) are all that comfortable with these days. Then there's the whole airplane religious conversion thing to contend with. I'm a little amazed (not in the good sense) that he still has a job.

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16Feb/04Off

Looks Like We’re Going To Need Bigger Bottles Of Aspirin

Today my workload was non-existent. I typed up some documentation for my supervisor and sat around a whole lot. If you're at all familiar with the alternate reality of state run IT programs you'll realize in half a second that the request from above for documentation is generally an excellent sign that another wave of layoffs is coming and some clueless MBA is going to try their hand at making broken things work again. It isn't good but is almost meaningless to me since most of the people I work with have no clue how I do what I do and I'm a free gift from the state on work study funds. Regardless, I started thinking, for the second time in a short months span, that I might soon be reporting to an idiot instead of my current boss who is damn cool 98% of the time and generally knows what the hell he's doing. It made me think of some of the conversations that I've had over the past few months.

I am an editor junkie. I have nearly as many editors as I have tasks to do and all of them have a specific purpose. For any kind of writing, I use emacs but for scripting/programming stuff I pretty much use a different editor for every language and delineate some by what exactly I'm doing in that language. I'm just knowledgeable enough to be incredibly dangerous in too many languages and I need all the help I can get. In order to efficiently use the ten or fifteen editors that I consistently use (and I'm continually on the lookout for new ones the whole time) virtual desktops are a necessity. I answer the question of how many desktops I need by asking how many the window manager can handle. I have fourteen on my machine on home and twelve on the work box. So, one workspace for each editor and several for documentation in various forms, another for an email client and maybe an IRC client, another for a multi-tabbed web browser, and a handful of others for file managers and whatnot. This ordering is not random at all and is generally staggered so that whatever documentation or tool like IDLE isn't more than a desktop away. Anal retentive? Yes but what really brings this obsessive behavior to the surface is when someone claims that I use this sort of interface to "be cool and different." I had someone infer that a couple weeks ago as I was calmly flicking back and forth between desktops and editors. What kind of idiot do you have to be to say something like that when I'm obviously all caffeinated and getting things done at top speed? A manager, apparently, and not only that but the very manager who would replace my current supervisor if he were laid off. He tells me that he uses Word for everything because it improves his grammar via the autocheck spelling feature. I mentally shudder at the amount of arbitrary hyphenation that must find its way into the most simple piece of text.

I also had a very enlightening conversation with another potential paper weight manager while I coached his team of winged monkeys through a department wide reimage of all the desktop machines. Boring W2K/XP administrivia follows so consider yourself warned: In order to properly create a new user profile under Windows to populate with old data you pretty much have to log in as that user and then later clobber all of the new boilerplate files with the old. This usually requires changing passwords so you can do this without dragging some poor user off their surprise coffee break to type the name of their dog into the logon screen. I prefer to just use the User Mangler to change it to something standard like "hello" or whatever, do what needs to be done, and set the password to expire on first login and prompt the user for a new one. If I worked somewhere where even the faintest notion of security was expressed I might go a step further and actually leave a voice mail with the new password instead of just sticking a note in the center of the monitor. Luckily no one else cares so I don't need to either. Anyway, this is pretty standard practice, do your stuff and click the pretty checkbox that requires the user to enter a new password. The managerial type in question doesn't understand this. Because the checkbox defaults to this behavior, he changes the user password each time he logs into their account and then proposes a standard series of passwords for each change. I start to explain how maddeningly stupid this is and then just walk away. He's been doing the same job for at least fifteen years.

I hung up a printout of the incredibly obvious exploitable IE code in my cubicle (just noticed that the Security Tracker folks wisely deleted the comment attached to mail -- check the bottom of the page for the explanation) and one of the programmers that sits near me asked me why I thought it was funny. "Um, isn't that a little obvious?" I asked and he, said with no trace of irony at all, "So what? No one will ever see that code anyway."

I guess all of this gloom and doom will either dissipate or turn into fear and panic soon enough. I'm still really excited (thanks James!) about trying to trick one of the new *nix admins ("How do you DIR in Unix?") into kill -9ing init on the Tru64 server. I suppose there is some give and take in this situation...

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15Feb/04Off

Fuck You. Thank You.

I've resisted the urge to write a disclaimer for this site for a very long time now. I generally think that anyone who reads more than the Google cache of anything here will figure out rapidly that I generally don't have a lot of patience and I'm completely not interested in helping you sell any of your crap, faux counter culture crap or elsewise, through spamming my comments. So, until I get the time to type a little document detailing the myriad of rights you do not have here, I'll just say that I delete comments mercilessly if they're connected with anything commercial.

By the way, if you're the person trying to bomb the shit out of the comments today, I've already talked to the support person at your ISP. He was really nice and actually sat there on the phone with me while he grepped through the logs. Unfortunately, it's Sunday so your termination will have to wait until tomorrow morning. Thank you David for all of the help and I'll communicate with your bosses about you digging in and helping me out as well as their policies on mentioning anything about it paired with the company name (I'd take it as a ringing endorsement unless you were trying to attract spammer scum) because it's a shame.

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12Feb/04Off

How To Tell When It’s Simply Time To Stop Trying To Be Nice

Why IRC is priceless:

goneaway: LastInLine: paste the config file (from /etc) in #flood
LastInLine: if this is supposed to be so gret why is it so hard to configure?!?!
goneaway: LastInLine:it is great and somewhat hard to configure.
goneaway: for what it does it's really kind of trivial to configure
LastInLine: what does it do?
goneaway: LastInLine: the question is why you're bitching about the difficulty of installing software when you're not sure what it actually does.
LastInLine: well soemone told me that is was cool
goneaway: oh, that clears things up considerably.
LastInLine: how do I get that flood thing working?
goneaway smashes his head into his keyboard until the evil spirits stop talking so loud and saying nothing.

I probably don't need to go any further here.

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11Feb/04Off

The Part Where I Wax All Sympathetic For Those Who Feel Harassed By The Man

I should know better than to even read opinions of technical matters espoused by people who will admit they're either not interested or not bright enough to really to understand the matters at hand like it's some magical get out of jail free card that excuses ignorance and/or obsolescence. I kinda thought about rebutting bit of complete jackassery from someone whose writing and sense of humor I otherwise respect but it's fucking pointless. I can't make users care about anything. I usually just have to clean up after them. That little guy with the broom and dust pan following the elephant in the opening sequence of Fracture Fairy Tales, that guy is me and he's a little sick of you as well.

I think my rebuttal will be saving a user the annoying conversation the next time I see something like WebShots or one of Gator's many satanic minions installed on their machine via the convenient IE installation mechanism. I'll just spare both parties the headache and report their department directly to the government for HIPAA or FERPA violations. I'd hate to bother anyone personally at least especially when they're busy watching the pretty pictures giving away confidential information (handily entered into web forms with IE.) Just think of all the time I'll have for wearing a cape and smelling like french fries or whatever it is that people think I do.

Um, if I need to point out directly that most of this was intended humorously and without any real malice towards Karl then... naw, fuck it, get it or don't.

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11Feb/04Off

How Many 180 Degree Turns Do You Need To Make Before You’re Totally Lost

I've been noticing a lot of vocal advocacy for Slackware lately and probably by extension Arch. At this point nothing really surprises me in the fickle world of distribution sluts and Slack has long been a favorite of minimalists who grow tired of elaborate package management schemes that don't really work, etcetera. but the new push seems to be from desktop/UserLand users who've burned out on one flashy facade after another.

Unfortunately, it's one of those things that will inevitably turn ugly (as has been the case for Debian and Gentoo in the more recent past when it picks up the patina of l33tness (for what will probably be the twentieth time given the nearly vampiric lifespan of Slack) and slow adoption by other users. The upside, of course, is that it doesn't really matter since Slackware has outlived and will probably continue to outlive other distributions and will simply stumble back to a warm incubator for another ten years if the fickle wave of "Salckware is teh best!!!11" passes over it again.

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11Feb/04Off

Absolute Power Lobotomizes Absolutely

Despite the attempts to belittle nearly everyone else (which comes across a bit like an attempted mustache -- the rewards are entirely imagined and the more polite in the peanut gallery are snickering in your face instead of behind your back) most of what actually makes it through the Kuro5hin crapmill is, uh, crap and more like the comments attached to Slashdot stories with less l33t-spell and an allegedly critical peer community. Shit stinks but it stinks a bit less here now join me for cocktails... Anyway, bitter and mean spirited digression (like I had some laser focused topic in mind here, right?) aside, the recent story about the icky parts of C had some good points. These were mainly in the actual gripes and although they were based on a poor understanding of the design philosophy of C are still pretty valid.

I've been guilty in the past for over using C for stupid administrivia and other completely inappropriate things. I should never do this and have learned my lesson the hard way by clobbering things that were crucial to the system I was working on continuing to function. The basic gist of it is that when it comes to a language as low level and unforgiving as C I really don't know what the hell I'm doing and since I'm never doing anything even close to system level or critical to anything other than my sense of self importance I shouldn't even think of C. I respectfully regard it as a slightly less gnarly and more portable variant of assembly and keep my fingers clear of its ravenous jaws as often as possible.

In a previous life where time grew on trees I though perl was the answer to everything and it probably is but I don't like to rewrite huge blocks of code or duplicate effort. This aversion is as much from the honest admission that most people who are writing code intended for public release are probably doing a much better job than I'll ever be capable of as it from a terminal case of the lazies or some kind of entitlement issue.Even the most ardent perl fan is going to admit that reusing code (especially kludge code written on the fly to get a job done right then) written in perl is sticky business even after a short span of say a couple of months. Again, it's a very, powerful tool that can be whomped into doing just about anything especially with the universe of modules available to do just about anything you could think of. Unfortunately I don't do enough of it to stay on top of my own code and I end up reinventing the wheel (and poorly) again and again when I use perl. So, I use Python because it forces me to do things in an organized way and tends to be reusable a million years after the fact. I feel any snobbery towards the industrial strength power of perl but I don't feel compelled to lose fingers and/or hours to feel macho.

Superficially, this contradicts my love of CLI utilities but not really. Most people don't need to use command line stuff on a daily basis which is great since remembering the right flags to use for cdrecord probably isn't at the top of most sane to-do lists especially in UserLand BUT (and this but really needs some over the top, monster truck rally announcer's voice effect layered on it) while the front end fluff is great for just burning a CD when you need to do it quickly or the horrible self doubt and paranoia that comes from doing anything with dd from the command line (I take my hands away from the keyboard and REALLY think about what I'm doing before I hit enter)it is also incredibly crippling when you make some huge change in your system (likely for some stupid game that you'll try once and forget) that breaks that front end some folks would rather reinstall the whole OS from the distribution CDs than read the man pages for a couple of CLI applications. Understanding that powerful and cryptic utilities are a terrible idea most of the time is great for people new to, uncomfortable with, or terribly lazy but equally ridiculous is the length that many will go to avoid dirtying their hands. I think a compromise between the two is probably a healthy place for most people even those who wrestle code on occasion.

I know enough C to get myself in trouble or, more pragmatically, enough to make uncooperative things compile eventually or to make some quick and dirty changes if absolutely necessary but I don't grab the nuclear torch whenever I need to open a can of tuna fish. I have vaporized the precious parts of my hard drive and had what should have been trivial processes run amuck like a frat boy on black market viagra but eventually figured out that I hardly know what I'm doing most of the time. I guess standing on the pile of skulls and ashes gives me a little more perspective on the matter or maybe I'm completely wishy-washy but I don't see much point in condemning the language used to create most of the useful software I use on a daily basis because I don't explicitly get it. I suppose C becomes a wailing wall of sorts for less experienced programmers with limited exposure to the full spectrum of available languages out there when C's admittedly horrible string handling capabilities make creating x a thousand times more difficult than it should be. Maybe it really boils down to people needing to understand the actual layout of the languages they profess to know beyond a hello world and choosing the appropriate tool instead of noisily banging heads against walls that are built that way for a reason and ultimately don't give two shits what grade you get on your midterm exam. Luckily I started all of this with a completely cranky rant about a bunch of people I don't even know...

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10Feb/04Off

Wow. It Works.

My favorite warning from a compiler (for this week, at least) is this one seen while compiling the excellent Kate editor that comes baked in to KDE:

katecodefoldinghelpers.cpp:656:2: warning: #warning "FIXME: why does this seem to work?"

You've gotta love the honesty of the folks banging away on that code.

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10Feb/04Off

Stupid Name, Great Software, Better Logo…

I finally bowed to peer pressure today and installed Mozilla Firefox or at least the Gentoo ebuild for it. I'm happy to report that I notice absolutely no difference. I haven't seen any of the problems that I've seen in the past with the location bar refusing to take focus until the application was minimized and then maximized again but I might just be imagining that. Nothing breaks (including the old extensions I had installed) and all of the same speediness is there. So far I'd call this a pretty clear success. The only thing that I noticed was the reappearance of all those "you're about to submit..." dialogs that you usually see on the first run but all of the passwords are still there as is my browser history. It works for me.

That probably shouldn't surprise anyone since Phoenix/Firebird/blah has been extraordinarily high quality through all of its beta-ness. That's the important thing to remember: it's not even a 1.0 release yet. Oh, that and people need to stop thinking about the name so much. Save all of the fuss for your matchbook business school marketing class where at least one person will pretend to care in hopes of drumming up participation points.

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9Feb/04Off

School Of Hard Locks

I've suffered a couple hard locks of my desktop machine over the past couple of days. The most recent one was during a compile of a newer version of gcc which was alarming to say the very least. The only thing that I can find in common was running a sticky gkrellm2 monitor on the desktop. I'm still running on a patched 2.4.22 kernel so this might be the final shove that solves the ass versus gravity dilemma. I half-heartedly tried the SysReq key "solution" but got nothing for my efforts other than, you know, more angry.

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9Feb/04Off

My Love Affair With Shiny Objects Lugged Back To The Nest

OK. So, this is a cheap shot but, in my defense, MacSlash went there first: Rob Enderle has a column in eWeek oohing and aaahing over the Ferrari branded Acer laptop because it has a coat of red paint, makes a vrrrroooom noise when you start it up, and a Ferrari logo affixed to the outside of the case. If you've ever wondered what the spastic hamsters running the habitrail in his mind sound like, this is probably an excellent example. The MS gravy train must be even more profitable than all of us have imagined in our basement bomb shelters with double layers of tinfoil wrapped around our craniums because nearly $2k for a WAV of a car starting is, um, stupid.

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8Feb/04Off

What We’re Really Going To Need Is Bigger Stuff To Put All Of Our Stuff In

Um, so I was thinking earlier about talking a little bit about Documancer and how despite its semi-dorky name I'm pretty fond of how it works. See, rather than just bumbling though /usr/share/doc with an HTML browser you actually add things (referred to as 'books' for the sake of simplicity, I guess) to the list and if you so desire index the text of these thing whether they be info, man, python documentation, or simple old HTML. I hate to say that indexing your newly chosen books is a simple process because I had to kill about 15 out of control Python processes on attempt number one and then figure out why exactly Documancer claimed (don't you just picture George Hamilton as the voice of Documancer? Me too) that another process was gumming up the works. It turned out to be wget zombied out and taking up the port. I have no idea why Documancer was trying to grab files from the web. I'm assuming that it checks for more recent info and man files but I can't say for certain because it croaked. The second time around I was a little more cautious and only indexed one book at a time which indeed worked. I added the wxPython documentation to the bookshelf which necessitated copying zip files to my home directory, creating subdirectories so the untarred indexes didn't clobber each other, and some more singing and dancing. In the end, it was a colossal pain in the ass just to create searchable text but I like it enough to suffer through a little bit of trial and error. The searching is pretty speedy and although the highlighting is the color of a physical highlighter (the writing instrument that I loathe like no other) it works well enough.

Anyway, what I actually started thinking about while ruminating over yet another Goneaway-downloads-some-broken-software-and-relates-tale -of-woe-in-grim-detail post was the wedding related event we have planned for next Saturday. Next weekend is when we go out and do the wedding registry. My friend Jose gave me warnings about the process of doing the registry and terrified me with his tales of Incredible Hulk-like rage after too much time spent looking at bedding. I guess males just don't care as much about thread count as our better halves would like to think we do. The thing that worries me more than any of the other aspects of this epic voyage into the consumer-centric maw of the bridal-industrial complex is what we're actually going to do with all of this stuff. The sheer number of books in this apartment precludes any sane storage and I'm a little worried that we're going to end up building makeshift furniture and things for the cat to climb on out of waffles irons, bagel guillotines, and blender attachments. Maybe we can put one of those aluminum rental sheds on the registry as well and annex the back yard (around the dog poop, of course) with all our new crap. Yes, you're entirely right, I am insane to worry about things like this...

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8Feb/04Off

Idle Hands Fix Trivial Problems

It's amazing how often you can find a solution to a non-essential problem when you're just messing around and killing time you don't really have. I've been thinking a little bit about how much I despise buying plastic CD sleeves to package the linux CDs that I sell. For the most part I don't think anyone expects to have an installation set kicking around for more than a couple of months. With that in mind, wrapping a handful of CD-Rs in a bunch of plastic seems incredibly wasteful in both the financial and ecological sense. It isn't something that causes me to lose sleep or anything but I've always held it as an eventuality in the back of my mind.

Origami wasn't exactly what I was thinking but Thomas Hull, who studies the mathematics of origami, came up with a pretty elegant solution that uses standard letter size sheets of paper. I'll have to practice this a little bit if only because creasing a sheet of paper in fifths isn't something that I ordinarily have to think about.

Another solution for the fan of the lazy and automated is Paper CD Case which takes some input from you in an HTML form and spits out a PDF that includes lines for folding. It's a much cooler option for mix CD traders since it will actually store your list and make it available to other people as well as tack mailing addresses directly on the case. There's also a publicly accessible database of mixes that other people have submitted. This is probably the more sane option but I like the idea of making a case from scratch on the fly. Next thing you know I'll be traipsing out into the desert with only a loincloth and a survival knife. No. That will never, ever happen. The kitten would miss me too much.

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7Feb/04Off

Big Brother Six Feet Under

I don't even remember where I heard about this but Big Brother the infamous skateboarding magazine that offended nearly everyone while simultaneously raising the bar for quality of writing in crappy skateboarding magazines many degrees higher.

The Letter of Demise is available for your scrutiny. In essence, they weren't making Larry Flynt enough money. I don't have squat to say about the state of skating because 1. I haven't touched a board in over a year and 2. I just don't care. It is sad to see BB go under after 12 shameful years of scaring suburban mothers and inspiring depravity in the youth. So long and thank you.

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6Feb/04Off

I Told You To Read The How-To Just To Hurt Your Feelings. I Also Poisoned Your Birthday Pony And, By The Way, The Easter Bunny Is A Fictional Character.

I'm a huge fan of continuously repeating myself. I also love reading more of the same. No amount of mediocrity, laziness, or distance from reality can dull my interest.

Linux isn't, wasn't, and probably never will be a friendly enough working environment. This isn't for lack of trying but because the tool of measurement is just plain wrong. If you don't respect the good parts of *nix that remain intact as core design principals for Linux it will never make you happy.

All of that sounds really harsh as if I'm trying to rip the reviewer above a new rant orifice but that really isn't my intent. I just have to wonder (out loud apparently) what magical land of self-deception, talking animals, and marmalade skies is the point of origin for this recurring rash of "I'd use Linux if it worked like something else and everyone was nice to me no matter how demanding and rude I am to them" would-be-user feedback. Save yourself and us the headaches and don't go wandering into the woods where bears might eat you and the documentation included with the default install might be reference. It's really better for all parties involved.

A related aside: bursting into an IRC channel and flooding the channel with the continual pasting of the same question over and over again is not the right way to get help. Sometimes we just don't know the answer. I've watched the same behavior exhibited by people I know when they're playing with p2p software for the first time -- for whatever reason, they're unable to grab the file that they want so they start sending hostile messages through the application to the person on the other end. Entitlement issues, I guess, but it's incredibly fucking tedious.

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4Feb/04Off

Beats Nothing…

If you're one of those fuckers who designs all of your sites for IE and does so without apology, MOZie might be a boon to both of us. It allows you to imbed Mozilla's Gecko engine into an IE iframe so you can see how the other half lives and how mangled your site looks to a standards compliant browser. You can make sure that at least some of your site works with my browser and I don't hate your lazy ass. This assumes, probably erroneously, that most non-IE using folks would want anything to do with your powered by Flash chuckle hut but, hey, this is my fucking olive branch, right?

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4Feb/04Off

I Hate It When The Obvious Needs Emphatic Restatement

Although I'd file this quotation in the Duh file I'm finding a increasing number of users at work who have heard about spyware, get their paranoia on (despite the fact that they're already neck deep in the crap), and download something, uh, substandard. Anyway, this one comes from a C|Net news item (which I just realized is also posted over at OS News) and contains this delicious paragraph:

"My first advice, if you get spam advertising a piece of software: You should really think twice before downloading that program," the CDT's Schwartz said.

Wonderful. I needed that kind of belly laugh before heading off to bed.

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4Feb/04Off

To Finishing School With All Of You…

I just finished slogging through large chunks of Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography which is actually much better reading than I'm admitting and I arrive here to find an example of why his ideas about responsibility and the politeness he observed and admired in Native Americans needs to be delivered en masse by osmosis or by simply driving these concepts into thick skulls until they stick or the target dies one or the other. Slashdot is again trying to prove that it is a "community" that survives by eating other communities. I'm not going to link to the site that's been slammed first by Google and then by Slashdot.

The irony, of course, is that the Slashdot story is about the destruction of an academic web server by massive linkage (by clicking on the Google logo you were taken to a results page where our victim was listed near the top) and being the freshly lobotomized 800 pound gorilla that /.is, linked the same fucking page. Heh, heh, snicker, snicker. It never ceases to irk me (and therefore I never cease to rant incoherently) that a site with actual financial backing and paid memberships is still whomping the crap out of hobbyist or otherwise underpowered servers, without warning, this many years later. Given that Slashdot is a commercial endeavor these days I'd almost like to see some people try to file for damages because these days a Slashdotting, especially when they know the site being linked from the front page is running on limited resources, with no warning can quickly rack up astronomical bandwidth bills and cause other less obvious problems for the person responsible and although IANAL seems malicious enough to me to warrant something that will get the editors to contemplate squashing the little guy all the time and every time. If common courtesy were more common there would be a whole lot of this sort of action necessary. I won't call it a prediction but neither would I be terribly surprised.

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