Team Murder No Brain No Headache.


Is This Just A Glitch?

I'm not sure if a spammer munged this into Fresh News somehow or if Freshmeat started including advertising in their feeds. I did a quick Bloglines subscription and didn't see anything that looked like advertising. Weird. Freshmeat would be one of the first feeds that I'd ditch if it included more crap than it already does.

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Time For A Little Nothing

I just finished reading part of Plato's Republic for the purposed of comparing it to Bridget Jones's Diary. Sometimes I really despise school. More often or not a professor following his personal tastes or the narrow confines of their masters work needs to be smacked. I'm not saying that people should not teach what they're intimately familiar with or that they should avoid safe subjects but the feeling that I'm part of some bad and half-witted sociological experiment haunts me. I'm not even sure what exact point I'm trying to make here other than being vaguely annoyed. I could probably rant about the proliferation of oral presentations in upper division English classes for twice as long but I'll spare all parties involved the oh-so original woes of undergraduate work.
Onto the somewhat more applicable:

The invariably excellent Groklaw has a great rebuttal to the Computer World article from a couple days ago about the potential disadvantages of using Firefox because it won't run ActiveX controls. I ground a similar axe a day or so back but the Groklaw piece gives a lot more context, real criticism, and less overuse of four letter words than I'm capable of. The real issue here is that you probably shouldn't be automatically executing code through your web browser. What makes that even more apparent is how closely the browser in question is tied into the actual operating system. I've seen virus through the browser infections that didn't require any escalated user privileges which gives the browser considerably more power than the local user. That is just plain 1995 bad. I suppose if you want seamless integration in an environment with a laughably bad security model you would have to allow random code to run. All of that said, I'm amazed that I'm constantly explaining why I'm running Linux while cleaning up spyware, worms, and viruses on Windows boxes at work.

Ars Technica took a gander at the MPAA's Parent File Scan software and thought it was pretty fucking stupid. Apparently, and I'm just reading and regurgitating here so apply the appropriate salt, the app just scans your hard drive for any media files and suggests deleting them. The MPAA claims, on their site which is all Flash and doesn't lend itself to direct linking, that it doesn't install any spyware at all. I'm going to set it up on one of the test XP boxes at work next week and see what I can see although I'm more interested in what sort of licensing is attached to the actual software than anything else. The MPAA seems particularly dense about technology so I can't imagine them hiding additional installs very well. In the unlikely event that I do actually find the time for this little project I'll post the results later on. You've gotta love the message they're delivering with a tool that wants to delete any digital media you have.

Detained looks amazing. No matter how much the big budget horror movies initially catch my attention there will always be a helluva lot more space reserved in my heart for the smaller projects. This one is fifteen minutes long and I'm probably going to spend more time than I'm comfortable with trying to see the damned thing. There is a trailer available from the site as well as press stuff but the actual film is being played at festivals and whatnot so it might be a while until those of us stuck in unfortunate places like Denver are able to see it. Creep is also rising on my to see list although it isn't clear when exactly it's set to release in the U.S. I'm kinda hoping that the relative fame of Franka Potente will speed this process up.

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Off The Rockpile

The process of cleaning these drawings up has been oddly absorbing. When I did stuff like this (albeit doing much more quality work than this) for a living it was the very height of tedium. I've already received one weird piece of email about the drawings. I'm assuming the person couldn't figure out how comments worked or something. The essential point is that I don't really care: they're crappy Sharpie drawings that I did years ago that kicked around the large pocket of my backpack for roughly three years. I'm glad I found them whether they're "web quality" (not my term) or not. So, uh, fuck off.

The word of caution about adopting Firefox from Computer World is a little bit strange. They seem to be worried that ActiveX controls won't be running on client machines. I seem to worry more about the opposite. The user is the boss at home and when you're connected to a network with hundreds of other computers that doesn't route around damage due to idiotic design you don't get what you want. OK, so the really weird part about the article is that Michael Gartenberg wrote something about Microsoft and didn't have to make a spit or swallow decision afterwards.

In other comedy disguised as news check out The Scottish Parliament's condemnation of weblogs as tools for pedophiles and don't forget to breathe after reading about their stunning capacity for misunderstanding technology (the RSS reader bit is my favorite part) and how communities (online or otherwise) function. It's a fucking laugh riot until you realize that they're talking about basing legislation on this kind of jackassery. No examples are cited, of course, because we can't hear the voices in their heads or the angels singing and couldn't possibly understand. Creepy in a way that we usually expect from the U.S. government.

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No Diplomacy Like No Diplomacy

Oh, if anyone is curious what the deal is with these drawings they were the leftovers from the second issue of a zine that I never finished. They were kicking around in my backpack for a couple of years and needed a whole lotta contrast adjustment loving to look as crappy as they do now. I'll probably scan them all in at some point. I've been looking around for some of the larger drawings I made for that same issue but no luck so far.

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Straight Out The Eight Bottle

Just got a functional scanner in a single piece today. Although I'm about ready to collapse I had to get it up and running before I could nap. In the name of the latter...

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Just Draw Some Windows On Then

It's hard to believe that it's already the weekend. I spent a little time earlier this evening catching up on some reading that I would have otherwise been the object of procrastination. I've been trying to keep tabs on how other folks are reacting to Google's endorsement of the 'rel="nofollow"' attribute as a way to fight the plague of comment spam. The reaction that I've seen hasn't been tremendously positive and has ranged from the expected cynicism to outright hostility and mockery. I'm not particularly optimistic either but I feel that way because one preventative measure against spammers is only a temporary kludge. Besides that, comment spam, which seems to be hitting wiki-based sites the hardest lately, doesn't cost the spammer anything and simply having an URL plastered all over a site that improperly protecting itself is essentially still a victory. I do appreciate Google being pro active about this since its own ranking system is what made comment spam such a hot commodity to begin with so I'm not going to insult them for their efforts.If nothing else it's a worthy bit of cooperation between the giant G and hackers/vendors. It does seem like the crap flooding has slowed down over the past six days or so with referrer spammers being the notable exception. I've never been fond of the idea of opening logs up anyway.

Another thing that I wish people would shut up about is the Centrino trademark change that people keep touting as Centrino support in Linux. It's already there and this announcement is about allowing the use of the Centrino logo on OEM Linux laptops. Yeesh. We're on 2.6.10 these days...

That photo at the top of the post is yet another building in my neighborhood that is being converted from one thing to another. I assume the outlines indicate where windows will eventually be placed but the weird red lines all over the outside of the building look pretty funny. I took another picture of the front of the building but it, unfortunately, didn't get the full effect.

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Today Is Not The Day

Yoon is back from New York, school is back in session with a reading load for three classes that exceeds all of my expectations and crushes all hope of doing anything other than school work this semester, and I'm just plain tired. I did get a new camera yesterday so you can just look at some cat ears while I try to get a little work done and then pass out cold.

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Another Unwise Use Of My Copious Leisure Time

Yoon is off doing touristy things with family in New York City and has been gone since Friday morning. Normally this would be the ideal time for some drunken hell raising but instead, because I am a gigantic geek, I've been doing some coding. I've basically abandoned an earlier project that just wasn't going anywhere so I'm a little more free to play around with whatever stupid idea pops into my head. I've been kind of obsessed with Kingdom of Loathing lately and messing with it has been pretty inspirational. I've wanted to do a living dead themed game of some sort for quite a while and looking at how KoL is laid out made me realize that it would be possible. I've hacked up a goodly chunk of code over the past few days which is somewhat stupid since a new semester starts in just a couple of days. It's nothing playable yet but once I have a bare skeleton of a game up I'll be emailing a few of you with accounts to try it out. I'm trying to set a deadline of summer for bare playability but that is, of course, subject to time constraints and the wax and wane of interest. The very bare core that I have now is a gooey hybrid of PHP and Python which I'm trying to keep as modular as possible for the sake of customization and potentially for allowing a plugin/module functionality to keep stale code fresh. I've never even tried game programming albeit web application as game programming and it is insanely fun. Unfortunately, the impetus is the usual stupid "well, how hard can it really be?" question so we'll see how much progress I actually make. I pondered hacking up a CMS to do a lot of the dirty work but decided against it because 1) I actually want to learn something and 2) grubbing around in huge amounts of other peoples' code is sometimes more time consuming than just taking a swat at it myself. I'm probably going to regret that decision. I have six or seven pages of ideas that just spilled out of my head when I started thinking about it. One of the things that I'd like to implement is a slightly less comical interface that I'm going to try to work up from some sketches. This is yet another potential death trap but I'm excited at the moment about it so maybe that will translate into follow through in the long term.

Scanner number two arrived earlier this week in a rattling package. Yep, the glass was broken in a million glimmering shards that do me absolutely no good. I'll just put the remains of that one (a Canon LiDE 30 that actually has a functioning driver) next to the fully operational yet completely useless one (a Canon LiDE 35 that doesn't have a functioning driver yet) until the Epson I ordered arrives. What a fiasco this particular project has been. I'm sure this one will be packed in explosives or something. The completely broken scanner was packaged in one piece of cardboard and a Tyvek envelope so I'm amazed that it actually arrived in a single piece.

I owe about a million people mail so I'm going to try to tackle that tonight as well. It's really the last night of vacation before I need to start pumping out paper after paper that I don't give two shits about. Generally, by the end of the semester, I feel like a lame huckster hustling for whatever grade duckets I can hustle up and living for the time in between when I can work on things that I care about or that actually have meaning for me. Guess I'll answer that mail now before I start channeling Bob Black


Commerce Buzzing Like Flies Around Your Beady Little Head

I've been reading some of the opinions about the new Apple stuff and I'm not entirely sure I even have an opinion worth writing down. But, given the fact that this is a weblog the point of confluence for the world's poorly focused mental making whoopie with the self, I'm going to mention a few things.

The Mini Mac is indeed a sexy little canister and I'm sure that it will provide a great deal of impetus for penny pinching looky loos to take the alternative platform plunge. I have the same problems with it, in the sense that I'm not thinking about rushing right out and buying one as opposed to the thinking that the platform, the company that develops it, and all of its users need banishment to the Phantom Zone to play minesweeper with General Zod until the shut the hell up drugs kick in, that I have with most Apple product and for a few other reasons. I won't pretend to understand the Apple master plan but it seems like trying to get people to switch to a dead end machine as far as upgrades or expandability go and depending on this example to give a favorable first impression. Needing a USB hub for anything beyond a keyboard and a mouse is only the beginning of the trouble. It's the toaster syndrome all over again. Still, I'm sure tons of people are going to hop on this deal and will be very content with their new school G4 cube until it starts to feel slow. Then the little canister is relegated to the back of a closet and a beige box that takes up more room but runs a helluva lot faster replaces it. That said, I'll never be happy with all-in-one solutions to problems so I'm probably reading this totally wrong but, seriously, two USB ports? Ah well, I'm the one who recently downgraded to an older video card because it worked better so I'm probably not the best litmus for what appeals to those with huge piles of expendable cash paired with a strong need for consumer validation.

I've been tinkering with Kingdom of Loathing lately. I didn't really start playing the game until I realized that as jokey as the whole thing is there is also an interesting game underneath it. One of the downsides to the omnipresent humor elements in the game is that it leads to a fair number of that doesn't work moments when I waste a whole lot of adventures (which are limited to 40 a day) trying to fuse together inventory items to make something I need. Nonetheless it really is a lot of fun and continually surprises me with new twists in how the game works. I'm looking forward to messing with Widelands when I have a little more time. On the eve of a new semester that is the same as saying never.


Donate To The Living Dead

I saw this ad displayed over at MeFi. At first glance I seriously thought it was an ad for a new zombie movie. That's all I'm going to say.


The Other Kind Of Free Software Freedom

I am a happy man at the moment. I received the old PCI video card I ordered last week today and my machine is crashless thus far. Despite my previous ranting, I bought a card with an Nvidia chipset but instead of spending way too much money on "performance" I don't need (lockups and crashes) I just bought a slightly better version of the card that was in my old machine. I would've just reused that card but the AGP x1 deal kinda bit me in the ass. What prompted this post more than anything was how absurdly relieved I felt when I could actually rely on my machine again. I'm so accustomed to rock solid stability that this nforce bugginess was a complete kick in the pants. Hats off to people that are stuck on or willingly bear with Win32 operating systems. I see those machines randomly eat shit and die on a daily basis. I think I'm getting too impatient for that sort of drama. Now I can happily burn a cd, compile stuff from portage, listen to music, and dork around with Eternal Lands simultaneously (which I'm doing right now) and have nothing go wrong. I can live with that.

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More Important Than Gossip Or Bile

I'm not sure how much overlap there really is between Uppity Negro and here these days as I've been more apolitical than ever here (but oddly enough thinking a lot more about the same topics much more in real life) but it is worth mentioning that Aaron's family is having a memorial/get together in honor of his memory on what would've been his 35th birthday. I really do wish I could make it but Chicago just isn't as geographically accessible as I would like it to be. For those who jet set, the announcement, details, and contact info is available over there. We really, really miss you Aaron.

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On Being Abrasive Because Of Latent Self Esteem Issues

Slow day today in every possible sense of that designation. Work was, as always, tedium broken by brief outbursts of frustration but it all seemed to move like it was made of lead and submerged in a hot tub full of Play Do. I think it's a little bit of post-holiday disorientation but I am not at all patient and my attention is not in the slightest bit focused. I dread that feeling more than almost anything: the feeling that time is whizzing by while you sit there all apathetic and disengaged because you've lost all of that time. It is cosmic navel contemplation but colored with directionless angst and tension over nothing. They write and I dump:

Spam Shirt is a great idea but ultimately a little rich for my blood as are most t-shirts with web presentation. I've seriously been thinking that more spam catch phrases and blatantly unappealing come ons ought to be assimilated into English. Some of the random concatenations by spam bots are at least as funny as Senfeld suspension of disbelief in the annoyingness of the publicly neurotic faux humor. Unfortunately there is no "watch fo' slangin'" on most spam filters so some cognitive dissonance is pretty much guaranteed. Spam Radio is also worth checking out. It's kind of like having Too Short read your inbox minus the bargain bin funk.

If this particular Om scoop is the truth I can only hope that it is so Six Apart can destroy it. OMG!!!! LOL!!! w00t!!11! XOxoxoxXOX. Currently Feeling: Turgid. I imagine this is some kind of next best thing to Blogger glomming onto given that blogging is now the new, improved 15 minute internet bubble.

A best of hardware 2004 list and a list of the best viruses to run on it when you're not spastically masturbating to the new Nvidia shiny-thing-that-might-as-well-be-a-fish-hook gee gaws. Hi. Hardware is fucking boring especially when its highest aspiration is to fuel this year's Wolfenstein.

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The Vengeful Gods Of The New Year Have Apparently Been Sated

OK, so the codex directions recommended in the forum thread seemed to work even after deleting cookies and restarting browsers and trying straight up Mozilla that didn't have any cookies before I loaded it up. It seems to be the fix although I'm pretty unclear about what might have caused it in the first place. Given how much pounding I give WordPress in the average day it is somewhat worrisome that it might happen again in the future.

I was also pummeled with comment spam after lowering my plug in defenses for roughly five minutes. Sheesh. Bob take note. I wish I could say that I've learned something in this situation that Windows 95 didn't teach me years ago.

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A Corrective Measure That Will Either Fix Everything Or Implode Like A Bad Science Fair Project Filled With Gasoline

The site may disappear a few times over the next hour or so. I'm trying to solve this WordPress nightmare that is apparently messing with other folks as well like Bob, for example. I'm going to try a clean reinstall after backing up everything on the server which given the embarrassingly slow adsl upstream might take a little longer than I'd anticipated. I will post results immediately after but that assumes that anything here will function. Into the black hoooooolllllllleeeeeee...


So Familiar

Argh. The first day of prying myself from bed in the cruel, cruel a.m. is...cold, cold as all get out. I have two weeks of busy work, meaning that I do technical support on a campus that was will be largely empty for most of that two weeks excepting the cranks, until the onslaught begins again. I also got spam from Herbie Hancock this morning which got through the filters and all. I don't blame him, really, Rock It is the ultimate career killer. And, you've got to appreciate the man personally mailing you to inform you of his preference in counterfeit watches.

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The Night Before The Day That Most Of Us Go Back To Work

I have to say that I really enjoyed the Wired piece on Bittorrent developer Bram Cohen. It's nearly always interesting to see the journalist/observer's perspective (ie. distanced) from people who unwittingly change the face of internet traffic over a year or so. It really is an amazing piece of software includes one crucial bit that other p2p makers have neglected: most of us that have adsl connections really don't have much upstream pipe available.

All of that said, I really don't use it all that often. One of the problems that comes along with its widespread use is the hot (read: illegal) content becomes king and the legal stuff (other than new Fedora releases or whatever) isn't really being shared by enough people to take advantage of the speed of the protocol. People who are trading the hot stuff are also starting to get busted and network analyzers are starting to pick up BT as bad traffic with potential legal repercussions and block it. What would be ideal is an exchange between the legal users and the wares kiddies. The exchange that seems most ethical to me would be an exchange of bandwidth for redirection or encrypted transport or packet encapsulation -- wrappers of legal stuff around bad stuff so the legal stuff moves along while the illegal maintains a slightly lower profile. That isn't likely, the encapsulation part anyhow, put it would benefit everyone if the two disparate user elements used one another for some traction in either anonymity or bandwidth. Encryption has got to come into play at some point and it would be cool to see that sort of inclusion follow the same sort of spirit that guides Bittorrent.

I might be in the motherboard market in the near future so if anyone has any suggestions -- especially if it's rock stable, able to work with an AMD 3200, and doesn't have a lot of onboard crap -- please let me know in the comments or the usual way. I've got the X crashes about as minimal as they're going to get with the Nforce chipset but I'm really unhappy with it and the ASUS board in general. I keep losing IDE channels as well...

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Frustrating Lessons From The Past Couple Of Days

As I mentioned earlier, WordPress was broken (at least the login script was) when I tried to log in for the first time in a couple of days. I did what I usually do when I've tried fiddling with things a hundred different ways with no resolution: I take a shower and shave off my beard. I did both of the above and came up with a stupid solution that seems to be working at least temporarily: I used the login.php from a older version of WordPress. Problem solved with no further messing around. I consider that a temporary solution as I'm pretty sure that downgrading a single component of any CMS is a terrible, terrible idea.

I learned a few other things over the past couple of days which I'd really rather never learn again:

1. Making a USB Handspring Visor work with devfs (at least under Gentoo requires chmod the entries under /dev/usb/tts in order to use it as a regular user. I remembered it being kind of a pain in the ass the first time around but couldn't remember specifically what sucked about it. This is probably the least sucky thing I learned today.

2. Nvidia. Sigh. I love the fact that I have some crazy (for me) high end video card that walks old ladies across the street at the highest possible frames per second but, jesus, the binary driver thing really fucking sucks. I've generated a whole list of things that I shouldn't do and it includes switching desktops really fast under Fluxbox. I don't play games. I just want mediocre video performance without very simple operations crashing X. I'm using Vim to type this because something about emacs makes X crash. This is the last piece of anything with Nvidia's name on it that I ever buy. When you've forced me to use Vim over emacs then you've made an enemy for life. Fuck your frames per second, I'd much rather be able to reliably edit text. I will instead buy a cheap and reliable old video card (and definitely not one built into a mobo) that gets the simple stuff done well and doesn't make people in the FOSS community hack around their binary drivers like a bunch of fools. If the intellectual property in your drivers is too valuable to expose then you are a company too expensive to support with another cent of money.

3. Don't ever use the setup utility that comes with k3b. The issue of suid needs to go away and doing that to executables is just asking to be shot in the foot. It's funny because all of it (meaning cdrecord, cdrdao, etc) works out of the box unless you're foolish enough to heed the warnings that k3b spits out and go mucking with the suid bit. I realize that it's a sucky problem to deal with and that k3b is a brilliant piece of work other than that rather minor issue but stuff like (wizards that do more harm than good) infuriating to say the very least.

All of that said, other than the persistent crashes caused from the nvidia driver, I have a functional Gentoo box after a little over a day of downtime. I will never, ever mess with glibc again. Not on my machine, anyway.


Things Are Broken

Not quite sure what the deal is here but I'm only able to access the admin functions of WordPress with this browser that has an old cookie set. Strangely, all is well with an older WordPress install on the same server. I'm creating this post as a way of venting and to see if it will actually work. Condolences can be sent to /dev/null.

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