Team Murder No Brain No Headache.

24Feb/06Off

Stats From Two Years Before My Birth

One of the things that I love about roboticized log analysis tools... Guess I didn't post much that year. The lack of the web or any large scale computer network probably helped in keeping those numbers low.

Postscript To The Seemingly Helpful
I know about the Unix epoch. This was an attempt at humor. Take your meds and come back and see us again some time.

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20Feb/06Off

Bow Before Zod You Crappy Ass Beta

I downloaded the new version of the mostly ignored and largely forgotten Flock browser. The beta thing is obviously still in effect and the bookmarks (or 'starring' if you've new to the web and a bit of a simpleton) are a freakishly useful steaming pile of train wreck. The performance overall seems a lot snappier than the first couple versions I downloaded, fiddled with, and then deleted but I don't think this fella will stake any claims on my precious hard drive space either. That whole bookmarks thing is pretty inexcusable and especially since Flock actually has an 'import settings' song and dance the first time you fire it up. It may well have one the second time around as well but I already sent it to the Web 2.0 phantom zone where Zod will be its new master. I'm going to wait until they have an actual release to really dig in because the present pre-releases feel like the developers are fucking around and having fun. That is usually a good start. I just don't have that sort of along-for-the-ride patience when it comes to a web browser. Still no themes to speak of so it still looks like something Mandriva hacked up after a rough night in the red light district.

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20Feb/06Off

More For Your Entertainment Dollar

What is the funniest thing that I've read all day? This masterful post by Shelley Powers is easily the funniest thing I've read today if not during the past week. The strange part is that I feel a little less like the big dog should be defanged and/or put to sleep after reading this. Given enough eyes grown tired of reading the same self-serving shit over and over again the great unraveling will more than likely be internal (alternately, shallow) and in a fit of spontaneous rage. Hell, it's apparently well nigh in progress as we grumble and type.

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20Feb/06Off

The Curse Of Success

The memory hogging cache feature in Firefox has been in the back of my mind for the last couple of days simmering and making me wonder exactly what the future holds for Firefox and the current fascination for many folks with it. I've been using this browser since it was called Phoenix and ran out of a subdirectory of my home directory and did not get along with its older brother at all. That said, I find myself disabling an increasing number of things in about:config with each new release as it seems that the disturbing road Firefox is following is something akin to the really dumb decisions that Galeon developers made about the direction their browser was taking way back when. In the case of Galeon, as much as their chowder-headed-ness grieves me as I really loved that browser when it was still human configurable and would do exactly what I wanted it to, I am willing to give them a slight break as the entire Gnome desktop environment has shifted into cater exclusively to the day one user and no one else mode.

The thing that concerns me more than anything else is the perception that nascent adopters might have of Firefox when they have a couple of tabs open and the browser starts chewing through memory like a rabid badger and crashes. People who develop Firefox have recently voiced similar concerns about the possibilities that extensions might cause the same sort of negative opinion about the browser as they frequently cause instabilities and memory leaks of their own. The crucial difference here is that extensions are a separate piece of the browser and although they may be bundled with specific versions of Firefox (think of the allegedly user-friendly Linux distributions if you need a concrete example of this idea at work) they aren't an included part of the core application that is enabled by default in every single instance of the browser out there.

Making this setting default is a terrible fucking idea and every time that a user with a substandard amount of ram or some other constraint invisible to developers has a terrible experience with the browser that terribleness spreads outward in terms of expectations and the general public idea of how well the software functions. In that case, I would much rather see the slight increase in page load time than the browser crashing or, as far too often happens with Windows, the browser making the OS get freezy or crash. I know a little about the mysterious workings of browsers (again, I'm really wishing for the implementation of the sarcasm tag in HTML here) so I can simply disable "features" that cause instability or the rampant consumption of available memory. That really doesn't matter though since the interest of FF developers has more to do with new adopters looking for an alternative to the horrors of IE. Crashing doesn't give them much of an alternative. Using sketchy default configurations isn't wise especially since the rise in Firefox usage has a lot to do with people having good experiences with an alternative browser and the novelty of using a browser that isn't the default installed with their operating system. That lead is very fucking easy to lose. For me, it doesn't matter. If the current direction of the project continues to delve into territories of unreliability I'll just switch to something else but for many that simply means going back to the comfortable familiarity of IE. It would be a shame to see all of the advocacy efforts done on behalf to be wasted. IE7 is allegedly a much closer competitor. Take heed and don't fuck this up.

18Feb/06Off

Scary Cats Scaring Cats

I bought some insanely cheap cat food to feed to the cats that hang out in our back yard. I didn't realize until we brought the bag home that the product mascot cats kind of look like the scruffy cats that will eat its contents. The one on the right definitely looks like it would roll you for your wallet if you walked down our dark alley at night.

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17Feb/06Off

Elizabeth, I’m Coming To See You.

Whew. Looks like FrontPage is finally being relegated to the scrap heap which hopefully means a little less broken HTML in the future. Dreamweaver is still stinking the place up at least in its most typical usage but at least there is a bit of an introductory learning curve with it. Now what really needs to happen is for MSFT to release a critical patch for FrontPage that plays the theme from Sanford and Son while the splash screen is on screen.

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17Feb/06Off

Kids On Coffee

I've been awake since five o'clock this morning. Usually I give in to the sleepiness when I get home from work but this afternoon our new teeny tiny mp3 players arrived: from clowns in brown came a pink one for Yoon and, surprise, a black one for me. Yeah, I know, we could've been transported to a Candyland universe of bliss if only we'd squandered three times as much money for ipods (you wanna camel case it, feel free) but I feel a little less fucking stupid buying a similarly equipped piece of hardware that isn't this five minute's razor scooter or whatever. Until a few days ago the idea of buying an mp3 player was one that had never crossed my mind. Well, I guess I could stick with that story since Yoon provided both the impetus for the purchase and the cash necessary to actually complete it. I just supplied the "holy shit, that is really fucking expense" loudmouthism necessary to avoid buying an iAnything.

So, here are some questions that are still unanswered seven hours later:

1. How does one go about changing permissions on a USB mass storage device that both the Gentoo desktop and the Debian unstable laptop recognize as a SCSI device (/dev/sdx and the like) that has to be mounted as a vfat file system. I've explored nearly every legitimate option for tricking the fucker into providing sane ownership to a user that is not root and is not in the root group. Anybody got a clever idea that I've missed? It isn't all that important for me but I'd rather not have Yoon chasing around a moving target in udev and doing things as root in order to just add files to a device that has no other purpose other than to have files added to and subtracted from it periodically. I imagine that ejecting SCSI from the equation would probably simplify this somewhat but I'm starting to get tired as my interest in the subject wanes but still infused with enough cranky energy to verbally smack the shit out of anyone who is stick stupid enough to suggest that one of their beloved little widgets might've just worked. Useful answers will be rewarded with a sincere thank you and every else will be ig-ttacked in ways that I've already explained. Jesus, I feel like I'm channeling jwz or something. Maybe it has something to do with the comparatively soothing drip coffee maker deciding to take temporarily electronic dirt nap in the Land of wind and blinking lights and leaving me with no other form of liquid pacification other than the French press. It produces something closely related to liquid violence so, yeah, I should probably work on getting the other producer of black gold and/or Texas C (yeah, I know the W is from there but I believe that most of his cocaine abuse actually went down in DC) functional as soon as possible.

2. Is there a reason that cheap (read: included) ear buds are comically uneven? I really thought that there was something magically defective with the set that came with my teeny-tiny until I opened the pink one and discovered that those were of similar screwball proportions? Maybe I'm just too old to get it or something like the one pant leg rolled up crazy crazy crazy youth meme that I don't understand?

Help me or I really will spend another thousand words pussy footing around the fact that I just hate consumer electronics. Maybe I'll just stick with the blink tags for all of you who don't know about turning that shit off with the browser.blink_allowed option available to every man, woman, or child fit enough to set its boolean value to something less offensive through the power and the majesty of about:config. I might just Arthur Fonzarelli my head until something bad falls out and/or I become tired or at least less conscious despite all of the damned coffee and its intrinsic wall staring. Anyone who can guess all of the 1980's punk rock references embedded in the murk above needs to get a fucking life and me a Pepsi on their way out.

Prior to the Post-Script
The Gunning-Fog index for this shit is 13.9. If you've ever needed a real concrete reason to ignore this scale and others like it, well, merry christmas.

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16Feb/06Off

What Module Is ‘Cancel Self Destruct’ In?

Ugh. I've been away from using Python for far too long. I wrote a little script this morning to chmod files in directories based on their file extensions (I know, I know) and couldn't figure out why:

die("Hey, you're not the owner of this file")

was erroring out even though I purposefully excluded the semi-colons I've become so accustomed to ending every statement with. My namespace has been poisoned. Yikes. I guess I'd better carefully check the permissions of the files I'm running this script on to make sure I have not inadvertantly PHP'd my whole home directory. After this zombie game is finished I need to stop and possibly have the memory that stores PHP syntax forcibly removed.

13Feb/06Off

The Post Publishing Problem Explained If Not Solved

Hey. Someone has finally put together an explanation about the forever seeming delay between pushing the magic publish button in WordPress and having the page load again and it comes as kind of relief although it also affirms my own suspicions. Apparently Pingomatic is causing some of the delays. I'm a little too lazy to care about manually futzing with ping sites, the use of a tabbed browser means that I switch to other things or another desktop and do other necessary crap while waiting for Pingomatic to shed its temporary narcolepsy. I'll probably wait until the patch mentioned in the comments of the above post makes it into a release as I post infrequently at best and am easily distracted by adjacent tabs or a rampaging cat so that short wait isn't a sticking point for me. If you're one of those alpha-weblogger assholes there are good instructions for disabling the Pingomatic script and what you might replace that entry with. I'm curious how long this one will take to post...

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11Feb/06Off

Debian Planet In Limbo

I just noticed that Debian Planet has more or less ceased to exist due to a flaky and unresponsive hosting company. My use of Debian has fallen off over the past couple of years with periodic renewals when Gentoo breaks a little too much for my tastes so I haven't been reading Debian sites as frequently as I used to. If you've got a novel idea for helping them track down missing data or have an assload of money that needs to be disposed of I would get in touch via the place holder page that is up at the present. While DP wasn't exactly as crucial as some of the help-oriented sites it was a very convenient aggregation of Debian news that didn't stray too far into territories that would only interest developers. I'm sad to see it gone and really hope that their former host gets together and makes their data available to them.

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9Feb/06Off

One-Two-Fuck-You

Nothing interesting to report here but there are a few petty annoyances that have stacked up over the past couple of days that I thought I might write a little about and clear my thought processes for really important things like video games and reading David Moody's Autumn novels instead.

Kottke got all cranky about an article written about the atrocious design/style of various very popular and otherwise useful websites. I basically agree with Andy Rutledge's assessment (apart from the quibbling over terminology that seems the true root of the objections mentioned by the sensitive purveyor above) of the sites he's talking about and his idea that many things succeed despite bad design instead of that utilitarian-as-aesthetic laziness being an essential ingredient. Google is ugly but no one actually looks at the presentation. I can't remember the last time I actually loaded Google.com directly into a browser as I use the baked in search box in Firefox to go directly to results. I miss the seasonal logos but, again, I see that as more of an unexpected bonus than essential content that I'm missing out on.

The weird part is that his entire rant (as he terms it here in an apology for sorts which is odd since the magazine is more at fault for their editorial choices than he is for what he posts to his weblog) is an offhanded compliment to the many very popular eyesores that people subject themselves to by choice and that bad simple design is a better error than the endlessly convoluted and nearly baroque bad design you commonly see on worthless portfolio sites (possibly the GeoCities 'home page' of this decade). Part of me is always going to feel that the term 'design' will never overcome the dilution and endless stretching like taffy that it got in the early 1990's by every dipshit in the world with a pirated copy of Pagemaker who worked as a print designer by slopping ovals around text and gouging innocent eyes with the overuse of gradients. I'll grant that as a former printer who had to actually make this brand of brokenness run through a printing press I have an entirely jaundiced eye that doesn't take kindly to high-horseplay and will personally travel to fatten the lip of anyone who preaches the design gospel and knows nothing about trapping or registration marks or not using six point serif text knocked out a band of solid black or doesn't know that a metallic color without white space around it is going to look like brown or grey no matter how much of your trust fund and color theory you throw at it. I'm glad that people full of terribly ideas of how things should function are drinking the simplicity KoolAid these days because, at very least, the things they're responsible for will have a gut level of functionality. I'm a broken person that requires insulin injections simply to get accumulated sugar out of my blood before it kills me. I'm willing to do that in order to continue to live but when it comes to a web site... I can say that in addition to things like 'suckass' because I'm not selling you anything much less the illusion that I am some kind of professional that you should give your money to for my compiled lists of links and whatnot.

I've also been attempting to field some rather strange criticisms of my old band Midcentury via our MySpace page. There are still some songs up there and blah blah blah. The smack talking had to do with our CD and my allegedly elitist methodology for its distribution. The strange part here is that the CD was never an official release or anything; it has no packaging and isn't manufactured. I made copies of it to give away at shows to anyone who asked. We never played outside of Denver and only played a double handful of shows in any case. All of the songs are licensed under a Creative Commons license so you can rip mp3s of those songs and do whatever the fuck you want with them other than something that involves money changing hands. I obviously still have the songs so if you're all weird and obsessive about bands that no one else on the planet cares about leave a comment attached here and I will gladly send you a CDR for the cost of postage. Yeesh. Is that shiny, happy, and inclusive enough? Maybe I could burn a hug and/or support group on an additional CD or do you think you could just get over the idea that a group of people who sometimes play musical instruments don't think about past formations a year after they've ceased to be?

6Feb/06Off

Damned Stubborness

I'm still pretty preoccupied with the idea that maybe one of the available Palm clients doesn't totally suck and that instead that its my fault for attempting stupid things like posting entries and using categories. Most pieces of software treat me like Dr. Frankenstein when I take this approach and its beginning to make me suspect that many of these malformed aberrations from the island of broken toys the bowels of shareware hell are intended more as stabs at buzzword compliance than real applications that, gasp , someone might actually use with the intent to write something that is longer than a single sentence and actually uses elements of HTML that aren't anchor tags. I'm writing this on my Palm right now but this is unlikely to become a habit or anything.

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6Feb/06Off

Test Post (Because I Like To Suffer)

Trying a new client and I'm not optimistic. This one is also shareware. Sigh. Prove me wrong and win a prize.

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5Feb/06Off

Good News For Horrible Monsters

The best news I've heard all weekend is that David Wellington has a new serial novel in progress called Thirteen Bullets. This time the plot revolves around vampires instead of the living dead but given the quality of Wellington's other work I'll start reading it as soon as this exam business is finished.

One of the other serial novels, Monster Island, will soon be committed to the dead tree format which is also fabulous news as it was my favorite of the Monster series. It's available for pre-order from the usual suspects but I will probably have to wait as in the past a swarm of pre-orders became available in a short period of time and nearly emptied out my feeble bank account. I am really glad that these books are actually seeing print as many really terrible zombie books are already out there. We could use more quality in a genre over run by hacks and fan-fiction-nistas.

3Feb/06Off

Not My War, Man

I feel like I've emerged from a Birthday Party-esque fever nightmare swamp devised by my old pal influenza and although I'm still on the sniffly/whiny side of things the feeling of almost normal is so nice in contrast that I feel supercharged when feeling 'just sick.' It is nice to able to just think again without horrific visions and paranoia creeping in on all sides. It gets awful crowded in here. Today I feel normal enough to nearly laugh coffee through my nose after reading that War of the Wenuses is available for download in PalmReader format. Yup. That alone is total relief.

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