Today has not been a good day so far. One of the truly unfortunate aspects of being a state employee and working for some bureaucratic nightmare not even Kafka could've properly summarized is that we lower echelon employees are seemingly blamed for work that piled up over holidays. I've sort of been harassed all day long about weird little details and things that needed to be rushed or double-assed because someone, presumably on the same holiday schedule my work place was on, had to wait for 24 hours. I'm not sure that paid days off are worth it when work is just fucking miserable for days following it. I hate even mentioning it but when it's only 1pm and I'm already exhausted something is very wrong.
The above is a simple reminder to those close to me (ahem, ahem) who tend to take expiration, or in this case 'buy by', dates a little too seriously. Right now it is May 29 by a couple of minutes. I hate summer and I love bread. Fucking climates...
I also fired up iTunes for the second time since I've owned this laptop. I've never been a fan so I decided that I should give it a fair(er) shake since I've put my money down and at least in part bought into the whole digital lifestyle shuck. Part of my distaste has to do with a general distaste for music players in the general sense. I don't like that each player has its way and all other ways must stand aside to make way for yet another crappily specific implementation of the playlist. iTunes still has some irritating habits that haven't changed since the very first time I used it in the grim 10.0 days when fucking everything was either broken, slow, or a combination of the two. One thing that drives me absolutely batshit and remarkably is one of the few holdovers from the general save me from my own potentially bad decisions design decisions that make what is intended as a consumer driven easy to use application an exercise in frustration that will drive me back to Linux full time pretty damn quickly. I converted a whole bunch of files from mp3 to aac to see what the fuss was about and was impressed at the smaller file size without any audible loss in sound quality. I'll chalk that in as a point in Apple's column for the moment. This is all happy, shiny, icon-bouncing-in-the-goddamned-dock-even-though-I-ordered- it-not-to-like-ever experience but the exercise in frustration and time flushed down the toilet like that shit is supplied in quantities approaching infinite comes when you start deleting the mp3s you converted from. This must be done item by item if you're stupid enough to try to do this through the iTunes interface (I did this a total of two times before the hysterical laughter I associate with minutes of my life I've wasted and am not getting back in tax refund dollars or any other way took hold) and how do you actually get the missing files which iTunes keeps around faithfully just in case you need a memento of those nonexistent files out of your playlist is also a line by line item that you can't circumvent by switching to the Finder (yeah, yeah, I'm sure that items can be blown out of the main playlist through a more sane route but tell me that after I've finished venting) and simply dumping what needs to be dumped. I've used amaroK extensively and although it comes with all the usual size associated with KDE the application seems more apt at doing your bidding than iTunes. I'm not exactly sure what my point really is here other than the typical struggling with the hostility of things engineered to be 'user friendly' towards actually getting things accomplished.
On the other hand, I've completely destroyed the included install of Apache without even trying. I'm going to mess with the config files a bit but it's kind of startling that it broke after being started twice. For some reason permissions were changed on one of the ssl modules and I'm out of patience ahead of time so I'll have to go looking for it tomorrow after Yoon and I celebrate being married for two years. I doubt I'll be in the mood for it and will instead be happy. That is okay with me.
If you can't tell that I'm a genius photographer from that shot above then just wait until I start posting all of the brilliant phone cam shots of the insides of my pocket.
I've been using the new machine pretty much exclusively for the past couple of weeks and my opinion of it hasn't changed significantly. It isn't the new love of my life as it is for so many others but I've gained some of the respect I lost for Apple during the miserable 10.0 days when shit was really #1 and I had to support most of it in painful, painful detail. I haven't used most of the commercial applications that the mother ship has released recently as about a third of the applications I'm using regularly is a ported version of the same things I used under Linux. I gave the whole ports thing a whirl but didn't have a very smooth time with. I'm going to blame Apple for this one as the CD that shipped with the MacBook was actually more along the lines of an OEM cd with a bunch of crappy trial versions of shit I'd never use and no X11. Since I don't need trial versions of crap I would trade the lot for the new version of X11 meaning that I'm probably going to track down a disk image from some warez site in order to get my hands on it. The idea of buying the OS CD for just that strikes me as a little absurd and short shifting folks who are ostensibly going to develop for your platform seems like a pretty stupid decision on their part. No one complains if they're missing the trial version of MSFT Office (I may well be wrong about this) but if you leave out tools promised to developers or advanced fuckers around and we tend to get a little pissed off.
Another thing that seriously bothers me about the design of this laptop and most others on the market now is the utter lack of protection that LCD screens have from keyboard impacts. I've already got some pretty serious scars on the LCD which I've never seen on my older and boxier laptops. The idea of spending an extra centimeter to prevent damage is apparently too detrimental to the marketing push of the ultra-thin laptop. The funny part is that my battered old Toshiba is not that much thicker than this beast and is only a pound or two heavier. It seems insane to me that carrying around a modern notebook in a padded bag intended for that purpose and still doing damage from regular walking around/riding the bus wear and tear is a pretty major design flaw. I'm resisting the urge to buy some crazy expensive and faux sexy bag designed specifically for the brand outlet of my new found and completely embarrassing consumerism.
The other complaint I have is how poorly virtual desktop support is implemented in the operating system. So far I am utterly ignorant about the internals of OS X and how all of its goofily named layers work together but virtual desktops despite the best efforts of more than a few developers really sucks. When I find myself acknowledging the fact that virtual desktops aren't going to be as gracefully integrated as they are in most Linux window managers and desktop environments while simultaneously wishing that at least they could function as well as most do in Windows you've got problems.
I'm ridiculously tired so please excuse the above average ratio of typographical errors and what-the-fucking-fuck style grammar. I'm still figuring this 'morning' stuff out.
I get so much spam that it's difficult for me to notice anything other than the most macro of all spam trends but lately the number of fake out of office mails along with the usual vacation messages and the like have caught my eye. So far this is the best of all the fake legit formats. I don't even have to adjust filters or anything. Instead, I just gleefully let them all go straight to the trash. Like I needed to know about either low cost mortgage opportunities or your two entire days out of your office. The bonus here is that all social faux pas can be partially absolved by spam filtering. Chalk in a small victory in efficiency or at least a reduction in annoyance to our new pals, the spammers. The downside is, of course, that they'll send you like 600 pieces of mail each time they're either in or out of the office.
I really hate giving any more Google juice than necessary to this article over at NewsForge about how developers apparently need to slap together releases quickly enough to pace their changes in CVS. If this was an article intended to do anything other than incur forgettable wrath and/or generate ad revenue it could be included in The Daily WTF as a hilarious piece of evidence that users don't have the slightest fucking clue about either the process of developing anything larger than a 'Hello world' or what constitutes a release or even a release candidate. The complaint reminds me more than anything of the frequent and wrong criticism of the slow Debian release cycle. When you arrange dates and spans of times in a way that serves your own interests, you can interpret the gaps between new CD images as many different ways as you have bias. But, if you're looking at the alleged problem from a non-clueless perspective you have to recognize that not only is the Debian of the non-stable tree a pretty quick moving target but also that all lines except the largely frozen stable tree are pretty fluid and tend to have frequent updates of both packages and new inclusions of packages.Despite the public relations nightmare that having a gazillion clueless fucks babbling incoherently about your project may be the cries of the great unwashed would be even louder and more pathetic if versions were routinely (some projects call these arrangements 'nightlies') ripped from repositories and let loose in the form of binaries before they'd been tested extensively.
So, advice to those who would complain about problems getting fixed in CVS first: either learn how to use CVS (as an aside, the instructions are usually made painfully clear) and grab the new versions of things or wait patiently, preferably with your mouth duct taped shut, until your distribution has packaged it. Alternately you could just use Fedora Core and deal with broken packages and non-releases making it into the main packaging tree.
Man. It has not been a particularly good year for the disappearance of weblogs that I've read practically since I started committing the sin of pride (once again I really really want the sarcasm tag implemented as soon as humanly possible) here which is bordering on four years sometime a little later this month. Burningbird is ceasing to be as Shelley seems to be fed up with the clutter and disorganization inherent to crossing weblog software platforms (I've done the same four or five times since the beginning) and handling too many sub-projects under the same umbrella. Luckily, as many noted in the comments attached to her announcement, Shelley is just too damned prolific and has too much to say in a genre (I have the distinct feeling that 'genre' is not the term I'm really looking for) that suffers from a genuine dearth of unique voices/perspectives to remain silent for too long. Still, the formal announcement means that there will at least be a gap between the 'final' post and the newest manifestation. That is simultaneously saddening and exciting.
I should probably mention that the dead tree version of Monster Island arrived the other day and despite the fact that I've already read the book from the aforementioned site I skipped the remainder of the cultural politics of James Bond book I was trudging my way through and started reading it pretty much immediately. That it is actually in print makes me pretty happy -- horror fiction written stylishly, as originally as it can be given the zombie fiction, and as far away from the typical fan fiction whipping of the dead horse style as possible. The great part is that if you let David Wellington know via email that you bought the book he will email you a PDF of stories that are peripheral to or extend the novel and/or the universe it is set in. I've read bits and pieces of it (received in the middle of a major computer shift so my focus was elsewhere) and most of it is interesting enough if you've read his other pieces of writing. I may give it a more thorough reading on my long bus ride to work tomorrow. Heads up...
This is more or less a test to see if this new Dashboard widget I just grabbed a copy of is worth keeping around. Generally I find 'blogging accessories' kind of wasteful but this one largely stays out of the way and I'm a huge fan of that.
So, I got the new and tremendously expensive machine last night which involved Yoon running me to the local Fed Ex facility to pick it up and then trying to get through all of the all singing, all dancing initial configuration in order to actually use the machine.
My initial impressions: It's godawful fast regardless of whether you're using native applications or the emulated ones intended for the PPC series. In that sense, it's been a pleasure to use. It rips through most simple tasks as quickly as any of my Linux boxes do. I'm pretty pleased with that aspect of it.
The thing gets fucking hot. As many have complained about in various forums, etc, etc, the case is seriously an egg cooking wonder of science. I was ready to box it back up last night and return it but, lo and behold, when I rebooted it this morning the fans actually came on and the surface is not scorch your skin off hot this morning. Again, folks posting their experiences in help forums were pretty much correct: it starts cooling off after a couple of reboots. The only upside is this experience gave me a higher degree of empathy for folks who bought one the earlier versions and are roasting alive. Class action is the sponsored term for the day. not because I think people ought to be suing Apple dry but because Apple especially as the friend to the common men and his creative urges image they've spent their PR dollars cultivating needs to wake up about responding to legitimate complaints from the people who (often faithfully) spend their dollars on Apple stuff. So, mine is still pretty hot but doesn't seem to want to burn me alive or anything.
The screen also makes a lot of noise when running under battery power. This isn't as aggravating for me as it has been for some other people but I would eventually like for it to stop. I've been listening to old This American Life episodes all day so when I've got the plug yanked (trying to keep the battery from turning into a weakling) I don't hear a damned thing. It's pretty strange that it only happens on battery power but, whatever, I'll probably get more ambitious about fixing it when I'm somewhere quiet without access to convenient power and the oscillating whine starts to drive me crazy.
The keyboard sucks and it's taken me a long time to be able to type at any reasonable rate without turning on the Caps Lock key whenever I hit any key on the left side of the keyboard. I would complain about the arrangement of the control keys and such but that would only invite the wrath of the faithful. I'll probably just remap the keyboard at some point so that the control key is where God intended it instead of the totally useless caps lock key. In any case, it still feels like I'm typing on a touch pad or something but I adapted to the slightly strange layout pretty quickly.
Since I practically live in Emacs and OS X is in theory based on *nix, I thought finding a functional version of the GUI editor would be fairly easy and I wouldn't have to look at the ugliness that Emacs under Linux usually is (which I have to say: I don't really spend a whole lotta time just staring at it). Wow. What a colossal pain in the ass it was to find a working version and by working I mean the 'customize' menu doing something other than forking into a million different buffers and a functional ispell because I type pretty fast when provoked. The only version that completely fulfilled my expectations was the Carbon Emacs package which spit out a pretty complete install. Woo hoo. I was a little worried about being able to find all of the applications that I'm comfortable with. I still haven't found an FTP client that works exactly the way I would like it to but I'm not doing a whole lotta remote stuff this weekend anyhow so I'm willing to let that one go for a little while.
It has been a whole lot of fun to mess with an operating system I don't normally have occasion to mess with. I'm going to try to work entirely in the Mac OS for a week or so before I set up Boot Camp and make it a multi-boot machine just for the sake of learning as much as possible.
This story is so good that it needs to be bronzed:
Warren was dressed as a ninja when the torched the Town and Country bookstore.
If Google had any sense of humor whatsoever about the use of their name in anything but a bunch of perpetually broken beta releases, then this subtle work of ridiculous genius would be called GoogleHole or something.
Here's where I'm at, roughly:
apparently I would end up in the middle of the Indian Ocean. I suppose I'll put off digging that hole for the mean time.
After much forum reading, hemming and/or hawing, and contemplating imminent financial ruin I threw down my 2 grand today:
MBPRO 15/1.83 CTO
With the following configuration:
* Processor 0656459 1.83Ghz Intel Core Duo/VR128MB
* Memory 0656100 1GB 667 DDR2 2x512 SODIMM
* Hard Drive 0656105 120GB Serial ATA [email protected]
* Optical Drive 0656096 SuperDrive (DVDRW/CDRW)
* Modem 0656201 None
* Apple Software Solutions 0656200 None
* Keyboard/Mac OS Language 0656461 BkLit Keyboard/Mac OS
* Country Kit/AEX 0656102 Airport Extreme Card andBT
Estimated Shipped By:
MAY 11, 2006
Estimated Delivered By:
MAY 18, 2006
Needless to say if my machine is fucked up I will be the very first to return mine and sign up for the first class action that crosses my desktop. The only thing that really sealed the deal was the possibility of triple booting the machine into two operating systems I'm bound to support and one that I actually like working in. I'm not exactly a switcher. The educational discount certainly helps to justify the expense.
Yeah, so, really really tired but there are a few things lingering from the several seconds I spend today outside of weird, tense meetings and watching other people do work I could be doing in the guise of training:
Debian is set to release Etch in December and for all the grief that people give the project for their elastic release dates it looks like Debian is going to beat MSFT to the next release date. When I say "ha ha" I really mean "ha ha." Debian really has picked up a lot of steam over the past few years and has so dramatically improved (albeit at a glacial pace) both the installation (after the first failed attempt I had no troubles with it but others seemed to strenuously object to its dearth of E-Z-ness) and the whole package infrastructure that it's nearly impossible to think of the Woody release and the Sarge release as subsequent. Unfortunately, perception being what it is, Debian will still have its detractors, against proof and sensibility, until the project perfects an installer that not only installs on any given hardware unattended but also makes you feel better about all of those times you were picked last for kick-ball. Moral: don't pick on kids who can't play kick-ball or you will listen to the same over-used and under-researched criticisms of one of your favorite distributions until the end of time and/or the skynet-installer comes online.
You shouldn't be touching Paludis at the moment. Paludis will delete all your files, then delete everyone else's files, then rape your dog. Go away.
Now that is a statement of instability that I can fully support. The list of comparisons between Paludis and Portage also makes for some interesting reading. There are some features listed there like license filtering, support for larger overlays/more repositories, and security features which are the sort that excite people like me who have a completely polar love/hate relationship with Portage. The developer features also look pretty promising which will really be the test of whether the new kid can supplant the old boss because productive developers producing better packages will attract more users to use (read: test) the new infrastructure and put it into real use. I mean, jesus, people are running that Fedora crap in production environments so I guess the sky's the limit. The masochistic and twisted part of me wants to install this shit right now and start myself a chroot farm of broken and malfunctioning installs but the exhausted part of me that has to leave for work again in seven hours argues the case for late adoption.
About that late stuff....
I was seriously considering dropping the change on one of the higher end Macbook Pro machines but the number of people pissed off about its noisiness and inability to shed heat are really giving me second thoughts. I was thinking that because of the ability to dual boot (albeit a limited ability) both stupid operating systems I have to support but don't really give a rat's ass about that it would be an ideal compromise for a work laptop. A friend of mine bought one of the lower end machines and is stupid happy with it. I'd rather get the 'nicer' machine but apparently expanding the strangle hold on hardware into more accessible latitudes has not caused an explosion of smart engineering. It's too bad because with the state employee discount I could get one of the lesser Mb Pro for a reasonable dollar amount but I'm thinking about waiting and spending a little more money on a machine that doesn't double as a noisemaker and heat pad.
Anyone got advice to the contrary or about how not to get the Rev A crap who isn't drinking the Kool Aid? I assume we're supposed to be happy that the battery doesn't detonate like an atom bomb the first time it's fully charged or they don't bundle the laptops with extra logic boards as packing material.
The first day of the new job is over and I am six kinds of dead tired. Why? Because I had to work really hard or had my troubleshooting skills stretched beyond their limits? No. I spent most of a nine hour day hanging around a pretty busy call center watching a bunch of underpaid student workers do all of the work while I sat there without basic computer access much less access to network resources, the ticketing software, or even an email address. The upside is that I work with a great bunch of folks generally who are actually happy to have me there. The downside is, of course, that I'm working in a call center that doesn't actually do a whole lot. I mean, there is an incredible amount of process involved in creating tickets nearly all of which are closed immediately but the amount of troubleshooting is incredibly limited. As a former desktop person I was astounded to hear the other full time person tell a user having trouble with a PPPoE connection that they would need to drag their desktop machine all the way down to our office so that an entirely different group of folks could work on it. I'm not allowed to touch machines. That is hilarious and a little sad at the same time. I did make some of their desktop people pretty sad with my crazed tales of a standard desktop image, remote desktop access, and being able to do things like editing registry settings remotely. I'm not sure what the deal is exactly but 'limited' seems to be the operative term of description. Limited is also the key word for the amount of time I'll be able to stay at this job without losing my mind and/or all dirty handed desktop software exorcism ability.
I'm guessing that tomorrow will probably be better.