Team Murder No Brain No Headache.

28May/05Off

Efficiency

It's amazing how the time remaining before a big departure always slips the paradigm about twenty four hours before it's really time to leave. Suddenly you don't have a hojillion hours left but a single day that is disappearing (into space, of course) as we fritter away the moments reflecting on it. Time is wasted one way or another I guess.

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27May/05Off

A Slightly Better Business Plan Than Extinction

Although I haven't had a reason yet to try out the new version of Netscape I tend to agree, based on past experience, that Ars Technica has the right idea in suggesting that AOL just give up on forking the FF code and just make a visually branded version of Firefox instead of breaking the application in order to push the idea that they've somehow "improved" the code base. I wonder how much brand credibility the Netscape name really has left since Mozilla and its siblings have eclipsed Netscape and left them playing a desperate game of public relations catch up. At least with the use of extensions, they can leverage what credibility they have left by becoming a trusted source for the installation of extensions. I imagine that the only way NS is going to slide its slow lumber towards the tarpit of destiny is to try to springboard their own crap after every publicized FF vulnerability. Anyone buying this?

Afternote
I just noticed that the Macintosh I'm typing this up on has the 1.0 version of Firefox. Pity I can't do anything about that.

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26May/05Off

Dealing With The Jitters

I've spent the past week in that weird pre-travel state of being unable to concentrate on whatever is in front of me given the proximity of leaving the continent for the first time in my 33 years and the simple fact that there are still a whole lot of hours left here before we leave on that trip. It's some kind of mental inertia that is troubling. I've had plenty of thoughts that are possibly worth jotting down here but I feel like I'm in some weird limbo. Gah.

Lunar Linux announced a new ISO a few days ago. It seems like they've addressed a number of important problems like the incredibly complicated boot loader install and the rebuild of packages after the initial install in this version. I gave it a shot on my laptop about a year ago and was not sold on the older version although I liked a whole lot of the ideas behind it. They also did some major work on their build tools so creating ISOs for different architectures will be easier in the future. It's nice to see continued work on source based distributions especially with incredibly powerful machines becoming cheaper all the time. Installing entire distributions from source isn't as arduous as it used to be and despite all the smack talking it is really nice to decide how your software is compiled instead of working around it. Maybe a few months down the road I'll create a test box at work and give it a week or two trial run.

Monster Planet is publishing chapters now and the first two are already up for your perusal. I think I'm going to wait until there are a few more up to start reading it because I read pretty quickly and I'm always disappointed when I'm unable to finish things at my own reading rate. It is good to see that the third book is underway though and I look forward to reading a good chunk of it when I'm back from Korea.

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24May/05Off

Good Enough For Government Work

Just for laughs I installed the Netcraft Toolbar for Firefox and I'm actually pretty happy to finally be able to mess with and evaluate it. I'm about 87% convinced that it more good than evil although I might be a poor judge. I checked out the "most visited" section for Team Murder and found out that I'm only behind Halliburton by six places. How evil does that make me?

blah

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22May/05Off

Distraction Should Be Part Of The Scientific Method

A few things that have crossed my screen and mind today and distracted me from a pretty massive rewrite of a huge pile of nearly unworkable PHP from last year:

I've been using Mozilla instead of Firefox as, until late this afternoon, I couldn't figure out what was responsible for radically slowing it down especially when opening a new tab with either Control-T or by middle clicking a link. I messed around for far too long this past week trying to remedy the situation including a whole bunch of dead ends in various forums that all seemed to advocate the page loading recipe and little else. The weird part is that the tabs were stalling before they loaded any content at all and then doing their usual job of rendering pages speedily. Finally I decided to brave (read: grep) the dreaded xsession-errors file and figured out what was fucking the system, man. I'd installed Greasemonkey with the intent of messing around with it when I had a little more time and it was spitting out errors every single time I loaded a page. Although this solution doesn't make the slightest bit of sense to me, I uninstalled it and everything is back to normal. I can't imagine that Greasemonkey is solely at fault and there's probably a conflict between extensions that I'm not seeing but I'm happy with just working at the moment. It isn't a riveting story or anything but I figured I'd dangle it out here for the benefit of Googlers who might be experiencing the same inexplicable problem. It isn't a pretty or particularly smart fix but it worked for me.

I've also switched to amaroK as my main music player. Xmms worked wonderfully for many years and didn't drag in all of the annoying dependencies that come along with KDE applications but it has been temperamental and crashy for the past couple of weeks. Again, I'm not sure why exactly it was crashing so often but every four songs was enough to force me to consider alternatives. I've never really taken to Zinf for some reason. I can't remember exactly what pissed me off about it but when trying it again I again felt like it required too much configuration for me just to replace Xmms. amaroK also takes a little bit of configuration but it bullies you with a wizard the first time you start it up. Those requirements drive me absolutely batshit but it is kind of good to be forced to get it out of the way instead of the usual routine of installing, starting the application, and then trying to figure out why it doesn't work. I might take Zinf for another test drive in the future because my assessment is based on earlier versions of it and isn't at all fair. amaroK seems pretty stable and includes the usual array of configurable options including built-in Audioscrobbler support which was much appreciated.

I'm kind of glad that people have generally given the Das Keyboard a thumbs down. It really doesn't seem to be worth the money in terms of functionality. I'd much rather spend that kind of money (and have) on one of the Happy Hacking Keyboard Pro which at least allows you to choose between black on charcoal grey stealth letters or no letters at all if you're really out to impress your co-workers. It does cost a few bucks more than Das Keyboard but it is a radically different keyboard and not a dye job with Windows keys and caps lock. I'd still like to try one of them out to see if the split levels of weighted key groups actually make a difference but I'm not enthusiastic to part with the necessary cash. I'd probably splurge on the HHKP first. I have one of the less expensive models from a couple years back. I do wish that they had the arrow keys that my keyboard does as they come in pretty handy for games and the like. I'm a little hung up on the pragmatic dollar, I guess.

There's an article about an artist's collective constructing writing spaces and the reactions of the people enclosed in them. Weblogging was apparently a common distraction. It's an interesting concept that I'd love to see applied to coffee houses or whatnot. I think of it in the same way as a sleeper car on a train. You rent the space to do your thing in although the sex/intravenous drug use potential might make spaces like that more effort than they're worth. The idea of being contained in one for a month makes me a little itchy though.

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21May/05Off

One Of The Better Ten Minute Increments I’ve Spent Today

If you're in the market for some engrossing weekend reading go check out Jono Bacon's first installment of "Getting Open". For some reason that I can't quite fathom I've always enjoyed reading about how people got involved with computing above and beyond video games although this is usually the inspiration that underlies it all. The reason that I'm bothering to recommend it is that Jono does a better job of telling the story of emerging geekdom than most of the published accounts that I've read. Unfortunately throughout the IntarWeb Bubble it seemed like every publisher had to drag out a title by either an alleged revolutionary thinker or someone who came up in the golden age of computing and had something novel to say about it so most folks seem to dismiss this sort of writing with nary a regret. That's too bad because Bacon brings up a lot of pretty fascinating stuff that you might otherwise read about in your average weblog post like his dad's ascent from someone pissed off about the way that big companies mistreated employees and disregarded safety issues to becoming the mayor of Northallerton. Jono disclaims the piece as an autobiographical attempt but it really is albeit using the common thread of computing to tie a number of funny and appealing scenes together. It's good stuff and you should probably read it. Later on I'll try to bully you into listening to music I like and reading more books or something. Could you grab me a soda while you're in there...

20May/05Off

Shit Is Undeniably Popular

Oh. The circle jerk has a VIP lounge. Wouldn't a Live Journal make more sense for this particular application. They, of course, have a weblog and promise a full site soon. What ever happened to those "Under Construction" GIF animations? Why aren't they selling Anil Dash bobble heads? Or Cafepress shirts that say "Will Swallow Shit for Trackbacks" or something cute like that. What are the official Greek letters for this fraternity anyhow?

I should probably take a long nap.

Update Sorta
Look if you're going to be easily offended by me making a little fun of people you want to be friends with then you probably shouldn't bother reading at all. Seriously, there is nothing more annoying than transient commenters who get all orally foamy at one snide post and don't seem to know poop about the objects of my mockery. This makes you worse than useless and also makes me delete your comments but not before saving a local copy to gleefully extract from.

SEEMS LIKE YOU HATE FAMOUT PEOPLE AND ARE QUITE THE HIPPOCRAT. MABYE YOU SHOULD CONCENTRATE OWN YOU'RE OWN WRITING.

Lord knows I could always use some more reliable advice.

You're calling Anal a bobblehead. I think other people would be upset by your "racism'.

I'm sure that others would be upset by my '"racism"' if a bobble head wasn't a toy commonly associated with celebrity status. Hats off for making the typo of the year and giving several moments of unnecessary reflection by enclosing racism in quotation marks albeit mismatched quotation marks.

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19May/05Off

The Google-opticon Strikes Again

I was doing some work on my somewhat b0rked laptop earlier today and only had Dillo to browse with when I caught Carthik's plea for help with Google inclusion.It is utterly baffling that such a valuable resource complimenting an increasingly popular and respected tool isn't being indexed. It would be better at least in the public relations sense to fucking index his site before he decides to merge it with Weblog Tools Collection out of pure despair. The whole thing is beyond frustrating and most of that frustration has to do with making the eternal mistake of assuming that Google is something more than a company. Don't ever forget that no matter how many cool new toys and geegaws they sling at you.

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17May/05Off

Three Years Later

I had some grandiose idea about making some over the top and embarrassing three year anniversary post. It didn't really work out that way. Marking these dates is usually just a reminder that it's easier to enjoy things like a weblog when you're simply doing them and not trying to wax deep and reflective on them. I'd rather spare us both the annoyance.

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16May/05Off

The Eddie Haskell of Unix

Just noticed this interesting chronology of the Apple/KDE troubles and it's worth a look if you're at all confused about where this all originated or, god help your sorry ass, you've wedged your head so far up your ass that you were actually cheering for Apple to edge the KDE folks out. I haven't paid much attention up until this point because after spending far too much time fixing broken Apples the gibbering is too deafening for those of us who don't drink the Kool-Aid. I care absolutely nothing about shiny interface and public relations dogma so I'm just passing this one along.

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15May/05Off

I Collect This Crap Together And Pretend That It Has Meaning

One of the things that perpetually fascinates me which is made even more common and stunning now that we own the house we live in is how flimsy things seem when you're unfamiliar with them. I assume that people have the same observations about the work I do in their offices deleting registry keys and regularly consulting Google the whole time I'm there. I finally finished installing our washing machine and dryer earlier on this afternoon and sorting through the parts beforehand was pretty alarming in some ways. The tube with a couple of cheap tension clamps doesn't seem like enough to really drain all the water out of the washer at that speed. I felt the same way about the glorified tinfoil I used to attach the vent of the dryer to the shoddily assembled vent that leads to the outside of the house. It does actually work but it still leaves me with the feeling that everything could fly apart if a large enough gust of wind hit the house.

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14May/05Off

Buying That For A Dollar

Techdirt has this morning's best story so far: the Attorney General of Missouri is suing some folks for selling worthless dot com shares. Damn. If only I'd thought of this. Even though the shares and options are worthless I wonder if anyone would be interested in buying the bitterness?

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13May/05Off

The Released Balloon Speaks

Home early after the final final and yet again I'm struck by the deflation that comes along with finishing stressful and taxing things. You'd think I'd be happy to be through for a couple of months but instead I'm fighting off phantom dread and lumbering towards something more adequate than the slivers of sleep I've been allowing myself the last couple of days/weeks. It feel less like cathartic and more like air escaping from a balloon. If you'll excuse me I have a room to putter around and some disgusting noises to make while doing it.

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12May/05Off

Stepping Around Extinction

My hopefully final interaction with the local telco is a wonderful reminder of exactly why I'm glad to pretend that they don't exist. Speakeasy does the miserable task of dealing with them now and I'm happy to chip in a couple extra bucks a month difference to 1) avoid the phone company tax for service I'm never going to use for anything but a carrier for DSL and 2) to switch the charge over to a provider who actually listens when you have a problem. When we moved I decided to just part ways with Earthlink for no reason other than the fact that they can't offer phone-less broadband and I'm tired of paying twenty extra dollars a month that doesn't return a single iota of value for the investment. People have cell phones and I think that eventually the market for the shared line plan is going to decline sharply. Christ. The local telco (which is a huge ass corporation most recently in the news for trying to acquire other semi-local megacorps) can't even compete with cellular plans so I have no idea how else they're going to stay firmly entrenched in anything but provided contracted backbone.They're sort of drifting into the same category of obsoleteness that newspapers inhabit.

Anyway, the final bill arrived today and I went to their website to toss my last little bit of money into the fire. Unfortunately because my account was canceled, albeit with a balance, I could no longer make online payments. I guess this is acceptable in one sense since each credit card transaction costs x dollars and all of that but what is completely unacceptable is I could still log in to the system and get to the point of submitting a payment until I was given any indication that it wasn't going to go through. It took a semi-painful phone call to find that out as well as an escalation to a second tier support person to get a straight answer. Eventually I was able to make my two dollar and some odd cents payment via their web site instead of writing a two dollar check and snail mailing it but the idea is just absurdly bothersome and antiquated. Goodbye foul phone company.

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12May/05Off

Refurbished OS


Yeah I know it's not actually a refurbished operating system but given the sticker price of operating systems and subsequent upgrades these days it is a thought to bear in mind.

12May/05Off

A Return From Siberia

I'm technically back from the land the sleestacks and have real live internet at the house now. If I wasn't smack dab in the middle of finals week this would be cause for celebration. Instead it is a huge distraction rather than any kind of help. I made the mistake of doing a WordPress upgrade while writing my senior paper yesterday. The fault was mine as far as I can tell but I didn't figure out the whys until after I'd already restored my entire home directory with a back up copy. Note to future self: make sure that all CSS is world readable for upgrades in the future. Being offline for a couple of weeks gave me a new appreciation for all of the tools I'm accustomed to having when trying to get things finished. I'm tired and close to incoherence after spending far too many hours in front of a word processor than a text editor but I'm back nonetheless.

Update:
For some damned reason I'm generating SQL errors (the non-fatal kind luckily) when I use the array of post/preview plugins. Didn't notice that yesterday but will fix today. Argh! Upgrade! Argh!

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5May/05Off

My Aggregator Runneth Over

I've finally got a little down time between house stuff (which I haven't been totally involved in since we managed to get the last of our stuff piled into it) and paper finishing/preparing for finals. The lack of internet access at home has made me acutely aware that I need to print copies of everything lest I figure out that I don't have the things I need at two in the morning. With any luck I should be up and running again next Tuesday but the week interval makes me really restless and impatient with the world of printed out stuff and dict clients that don't work. At this point I'm a little afraid to even log into Bloglines for fear of being overwhelmed by all of the cool shit that I've missed in slightly over a week. The first step, friends, is admitting that you have a problem. The second step is to realize that when you pull the plug you can't pull it halfway. I have been doing a lot more dead tree reading although that is much less consoling than it sounds.

I've seen a fair amount of folks writing about or at least linking to the Google Web Accelerator. Prefetching isn't exactly the new new but it hasn't been widely implemented at least in a way visible to end user types until recently. Some folks are not fans for good reason. They did do some things right apparently (and I have no way to test this theory since no machine I use can run the software) by ignoring https requests and not being an adware clogged piece of shit that I have to pry kicking and screaming out of some professor's registry. Is it just one tentacle of an oncoming Google leviathan? I dunno but having someone else taking care of your caching needs seems sketchy to me. Like others I get nervous when anything wants to manage my network connections. I'm sure that someone will find a good reason for this not to exist but I can't see much objectionable about it since IE gives information away left and right as is. At some point in the future I'd like to set up a Windows box with the application and listen to its traffic. I'm sure someone will beat me to the punch here but I'm still pretty curious what the traffic would look like.

Ars Technica also has a history of the GUI available for your edification. It's going to be old news for many people but anyone who wants to credit Englebart for his contributions is good people in my book. The screenshots are also pretty amusing. I can't recall the last time I saw an OS/2 screenie much less Acorn. Their conclusion is that what the future holds for the GUI is the strapping on of features instead of dramatic shifts in the environment.

This sort of stuff is what makes me want to strangle people. If you hardwire something that looks malicious into your software I would call that broken software. Portscanning an entire network every time a piece of software is run is simply unforgivable. The interaction with any sanely configured network is not going to be pretty. Schemes like make the 'license on the server' clowning look delicious in comparison.

I'm a little suspicious of this bizarro world anti-GPL lawsuit as a slush-funded feeler for companies that would stand to profit from the legal undercutting of the GPL and by sending a lone gunman into court it also spares them the embarrassment of committing their entire company to litigation instead of, uh, making stuff. Barring that it could be just another asshat looking to hedge off the forces of inevitability for another year or two. Groklaw has better goods than I do as is to be expected.

I'm going to go see a clown about a cheeseburger.

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