Until you have guests with an infant as part of their entourage you never realize exactly how dangerous your living environs are to those under two feet tall. Suddenly everything is covered with sharp corners and there are cesspools of filth where before there was only dust. I'm thinking of undertaking a redecoration of the house that involves copious amounts of rusty razor blades, broken glass, and exposed wires. We do, after all, live in the United States and subtlety here is apparently dead. Against or for is the Coke/Pepsi polarity these days and I am so totally against.
I cleaned out my mailbox pert near earlier today and I don't mean that in the good sense. I mean it in the oh shit, there go a couple hundred unanswered pieces of mail and surely some of it is from people that I haven't added to my address book sort of way. I have an excuse. Sort of. I switched all of my mail over to IMAP to intentionally avoid this sort of explosion of incompetence and look how much loss it's saved me already. Anyway, the main reason for this recurring disaster has a lot to do with fresh installs of Mozilla Thunderbird and the teaching curve that comes with the junk mail filtering baked into it. If you've ever set up Thunderbird with filtering you might remember that initially it picks next to everything out as spam and marks it as such. The problem for me is that I have a hard time differentiating between the various installs and how far along the junk mail learning really is. Dealing with mail on autopilot contributes to the problem as the delete mail marked junk and empty trash commands are ridiculously easy to whirl around like a wrecking ball filled with helium or something.
I'm never going to cure the bad synchronizations between various Linux installs because I mess around a fair amount. What would be really great is a way to conveniently import and export junk mail settings from one install to another to avoid the spastic clicking and subsequent deletion of mail I haven't answered much less read fully. Any clues?
Oh, and if you sent me mail recently that I haven't answered...
There is an attempt to justify the stupidity of the Windows installer in regards to the MBR and its insistence of overwriting it that is a pretty good stab at justification but doesn't really placate me. The toggle between a drinking bird install and an install by someone who has a clue what they're doing shouldn't be such a controversial thing. I mean, two or so questions in what is already an install on par with Gilgamesh for sheer tedium doesn't seem like an entirely out of line step especially if the expert install is more strictly defined as one that uses infrequently used options or the like. Granted, for most of us who are building dual boot machines grub makes this very easy and will happily boot anything that will boot that can be thrown at it. I wouldn't exactly classify grub as particularly user friendly or anything but at very least you can fuck around with a misconfiguration should one happen. The Windows option is a script that fixes the MBR which is weasel wording for putting the master boot record back in whatever state the installer thought it should be in. One of the big problems I have with this entire philosophy is that it places absolute control in the hands of an installer that isn't exactly renowned for its intelligence or options for accommodating variances in installation.
Another point raised in the comments is another sore point: well, if Windows recognized partitions that weren't valid NTFS partitions as valid partitions then how would we be able boot borked installs? Great question but it is also irksome. Why does a bootloader have to serve as a repair device? When its capabilities are overextended by presenting it with anything but a clean slate it fails as much more than a fuck up your already fucked up MBR tool. I think the same applies for automagically overwriting the master boot record as a corrective tool for botched MBRs. Wouldn't you rather correct a problem with the boot loader than install the entire mess over again and have to dig up those driver disks for the umpteenth time? If I had to deal with Windows in any real capacity (other than fixing broken installs by re-imaging them mainly) I might be more upset with this than I am. Of course a lot of the dual boot problems could be rectified by simply allowing administrative accounts to edit the configuration file for the bootloader. Shit, if you're messing with something like it you probably either know what you're doing or are faced with an either this works or I just start over situation. Again, MSFT really does cater towards the home user in every respect including the sanity of administration. Argh.
As noted by far too many, my site was indeed down for most of yesterday. I'd love to make up some wild story about the the man keeping me down or something but it had more to do with my own stupidity/laziness and general inability to follow through on mundane (read:boring) tasks that need doing despite their utter lack of rewarding results. I award myself a duh.
Finals are finished for what seems like the fiftieth time and after coming directly home from work hours early I just crashed for like six hours and feel remotely human for the first time in a couple of weeks. Rather than keeping a to do list as is my custom when confronted with a large number of things I want to write about I just made an enormous bookmark file that I now find filled with trash that is met with complete disinterest. That says something about weblogging and the power of distraction when doing distasteful work like studying for exams and writing papers. So:
The first isn't really a link to anything dull, tedious, and covered with more depth in a dozen other places. I finally bought a Playstation 2 after more than a year of sitting on my hands waiting for the price to drop somewhere in the vicinity of what I consider reasonable. In terms of dollars that is somewhere around a hundred bucks. That hasn't really happened yet despite all of the pre-PS3 hype in heavy circulation. Instead of waiting any longer I just worked the Amazon Mechanical Turk really hard for a month and a half until I had just about enough money to pay for it. Buying a game console that is pretty much worthless as anything other than a gaming machine seems more more palatable when you're only spending twenty dollars on it. This is also consistent with my tendency to stay well behind the curve in hardware as I'd rather have something less spectacular that I know is going to work. So, the tiny and somewhat cute black box sits in the living room in wait.The newer and smaller version of the console also has built in networking so that vast world of potty mouthed fourteen year olds is another distinct possibility for ongoing amusement and frustration. I still don't have a memory card for it and Final Fantasy X is on the way so I have a little time left before I begin aggressively erasing my brain. Speaking of which, any recommendations for PS2 rpg games that can be gotten on the cheap? I've been looking at Dark Cloud 2 as a possible next game if only because the latest entry in the Legacy of Kain series looks a little too much like the previous entry which was marred by the dullness of platform jumping and horrific camera angles. Both of those problems sometimes work together to make things next to impossible and eradicated any fandom for 3D games I might've had. Oh, yes I am very tired of looking at pictures of strip malls and album covers.
The Gentoo Installer Project has always interested me because after the first install the traditional process seems eternal and all of those stupid mistakes you've made in past installs come back to haunt you yet again. I've always been curious about what an end user is likely to encounter as the screen shots that I've seen haven't been terribly helpful thus far. I found this review of the installer much more helpful in that regard. I like the clarity that most of the screen shots have and the fact that it still has a text based install underneath all of the eyecandy for remote installs and whatnot. The partitioning utility is likely to be a big hit with those unwilling to use the more traditional tools. I'm going to do a reinstall of Gentoo on my main desktop machine over the Christmas break due to the Apache/MySQL breakage that I've bitched about in earlier posts so I might just give this installer a whirl for that. At very least it's something new that isn't staring at an ncurses interface for all of eternity.
I also bookmarked the which is more funny than useful. The assault of additions of words that are related to text messaging is not surprising but I was a little puzzled by how many people think that concatenating two words is like the height of humor. As always some of them are well thought out and pretty amusing but the bulk are just unrelated words mashed together. This would be more interesting if there was some kind of tagging system to avoid the phone speak and wordmashing. I imagine that even this limbo for bad terminology is a huge step for a company that creates dictionaries and this is probably the more literate version of shoot the thing and win a thing desirable to your demographic advertising on other sites. We like our entertainment cheap.
Speaking of those ads, LowEndMac has a worthwhile article on one man's quest to get a free Mini Mac and is pretty helpful if you wanted to try to work one of these scams to get some goodies. His total cost was actually a fraction of the asking price in both time and dollar expenditure so it basically worked out even if you factor in the spam and telemarketer calls he endured afterwards.
Uh, so Burt Reynolds Appreciation Day would be a fairly routine event at any big university but in the seminary setting it has even weirder overtones.
So, I'm more than a little behind in answering mail. Unfortunately it is that magical, magical time that ends the semester and begins that gauntlet run of final exams. Tired would be one description but that isn't adequate because what I'm feeling is more akin to being burned out on everything. A co-worker was fiddling with a video game today that had all of these weird ambient bird chirping noises and I thought for a moment that I might have to smash his computer as simply unplugging or turning the volume knob to the appropriate setting for sanity wouldn't have been enough to express my true feeling. When you feel like you're a bit rabid and the balanced enough sound (so as not to be so treble laden that it would provoke violence from anyone over the age of nine) of birds makes you stare holes through the backs of heads it is far past time to go home and take a nap.
I also decided today that appending 'and all' to the end of a sentence to suggest inclusiveness is the redneck ellipsis. The person in question is apparently from Wyoming. As mentioned above, during our five minute conversation the 'a' (lowercase to make the obvious distinction between 'and all' and the atom bomb) bomb dropped at least twenty five times and I couldn't help but think that we might need to send this guy back to Wyoming in a bag. With duct tape covering his mouth. Just in case.
The nap is sounding like a better idea all the time.
I had another asshole-ish realization today while randomly listening to bands I hadn't heard before on MySpace. Well, actually calling a sequencer, a drum machine and a smart ass kid a band is kind of a misnomer. Atom and His Package is only funny once and even then that is a bit of stretch. Again, I may stretching badly weathered punk rock-isms to a molecular level of thinness but I've always had this hard core belief that bands were at least in part about collaboration and the dynamics of interaction. The somewhat ironic part of this is that I'm advocating the supremacy of analog instrumentation but I still think of vinyl (especially of the 7" variety) as gumball machine prizes for kids with turntables that cost more money than all of my guitars and amplification put together. Well, I do like Aphex Twin so you can call me a hypocrite if you'd like. That doesn't mean I'll listen or anything but feel free to give it your best shot. No list of links for the obvious reasons...
I also noticed today after a rare visit to the always interesting Daring Fireball that there is actually a new version of Fontographer. Nothing could have eased the production of so many kerning ignorant grunge fonts as our old pal Fontographer. The announcement is here but the funniest part about the whole thing comes in the system requirements section of the announcement: if you're running this software on Windows you might have trouble with anything post-98/NT (including 2000, Me, and XP) which is pretty damned funny. I really wonder if this is one of those crappy conflicts between the registry and ini files that the installer uses. Either way it certainly makes the requirements list a whole funnier than it could be.
Oh the wonders you will see if you participate in the confirm artist name series of HITs at Mechanical Turk. Actually there have been no other type available lately which is a relief after wasting so much time looking at distorted pictures of strip malls and the sides of delivery trucks. This is what it's all about, really: