Team Murder No Brain No Headache.

31Dec/06Off

Keeping My Spot Reserved Way Behind The Curve

So, I finally crumbled and bought one. And when I say that I mean that I finally dropped the change to procure what has become ubiquitous technology for some of the most incompetent and technophobic people in the world. This seems even more appropriate given how soon the year will flip over and grant me even more relative obsolescence. I bought a refurbished 60 gig video iPod because I just can't stand the people on the bus anymore. I already have a 4GB player that I managed to get quite a bit of use out of but since then I bought this machine and realized that I'd converted most of my music to AAC which sort of ruled out transferring anything newly acquired to the old player. I was also looking forward to being able to actually watch video when in transit because a good majority of the time my bus is filled with morons and what better to drown out morons than stolen television?

After a week of use, despite continual blizzards keeping my work week minimal, I've really enjoyed using it and I am generally blown away by how well the thing is generally implemented. I'm still awaiting the arrival of my replacement ear buds which keeps my use outside of public transportation less frequent because the included bright white buds are 'mug me'-rific. They sound great but are just a little too obvious for the routes I walk daily especially with all of the kids being on Christmas vacation at the moment.

The most obvious realization that I've had since buying in is that iTunes is great as a player on the desktop but is godawful as a management front end for a player. The rage that many express when the application is casually mentioned in conversation now makes a whole lot of sense to me. There have been more WTF moments during the use of iTunes and my iPod in conjunction where I consider trying to migrate to something entirely different and cast off this family dysfunction albatross before something gets smashed out of pure frustration.

The synchronization options were the most obvious initial point of hand waving and shouting. I'm somewhat new to the idea of having a single application ruin my life and more accustomed to mounting players as external devices and simply copying the desired files to the desired location. That procedure isn't exactly convenient but doing that does exactly what you want and finishes with much less surprise than I've come to expect from the dynamic duo of i's. This may also explain why I'm fucking this up -- I haven't spent the time to script a replacement for the synchronization that iTunes offers which is probably the better approach for me. Anyway, the source of frustration is the binary option of either letting iTunes manage all media or manually managing media. This sounds like a decent option either way until you realize what iTunes actually does when it finds a difference between the two. It just clobbers all present content on the device and replaces it with the content in iTunes. This totally sucks and in order to get any sort of control over it you're either stuck with the consumer approach (disable auto-synch in iTunes and do more clicking of checkboxes than any one human should ever have to) or take the geek route (install Senuti or iPodDisk in order to dodge the stupidity bullet. I've pretty much decided just to give iTunes the fuck off order and manage things manually via the copy and delete manually route. This feels circular and although it was pretty easy to work around with a little bit of searching and a little more reading I can't imagine most people who are firmly in the 'computers work by magic' line of thought garner anything but anguish and hatred by the experience. Fortunately there are workarounds that don't involve me hacking up any horrible solution that would break my computer, my iPod, and the space-time continuum. There is some small relief in that.

I've also yet to come to an understanding of why my iPod blinks the continual 'Do not disconnect' message from when it is plugged in until it either manually ejected or goes to sleep from inactivity. This doesn't happen now that I've disconnected the player from the iTunes matrix and didn't before I did the software update but it's still pretty fucking annoying because it becomes apparently immediately that one machine is lying to me. Translated into emotional human language that could be interpreted as a request for smashing but I'm not sure which machine to blame at this point so the smashing debt remains unpaid. My money is on iTunes though.

I also fired up 'party shuffle' for the first time in iTunes and was a little astonished. The selection of music was mainly from Floor, Grief, The Melvins, and Explosions in the Sky. I don't know what kind of fucking parties the iTunes developers are having but apparently the 21 bpm, anguished vocals, and eight plus minutes song length is what they're looking for.

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25Dec/06Off

The Graphic And Little Else Has Changed

It's Christmas night and I have a toothache. This is the perfect time to make a new banner in under ten minutes. I've needed a slogan for a while. Hope the holiday has been less painful for you and if not I will dedicate one rotation of my grinding ache to empathizing with your situation.

On the present front I will soon own a drum set. Be happy that you are not our neighbors. Here's to spending a whole lot of time building up basic coordination or at least teaching myself not to hit hi-hats as hard as the other cymbals.

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23Dec/06Off

MySQL to PostgreSQL Comparison

Like many I'm sure I've always intended to give PostgreSql a more thorough trial than I have. Most of the urgh! factor after installing PG has come from not entirely understanding the jargon (which isn't entirely as bad as say Firebird which has all of the features you might want if you care to play function Minesweeper through the non-documentation) that comes along with a new DB. The postmaster thing has always bugged me for some reason if only because it rolls its own subprocesses and isn't clear when you've got it up and running what exactly is going on other than the spawning of seemingly infinite numbers of processes. The 'holy shit. with that many processes for a few simple DB connections there must be something terribly wrong' reaction always froze me in my tracks or rather inspired the semi-homicidal notion that I needed to kill all processes owned by the postgres user, uninstall this demon that I clearly didn't understand, and start over with the familiar.

In any case, this confusion makes this guide to PostgreSQl for MySQL users that much more necessary. The table of command line equivalents has almost convinced me that I need to crank up another copy to expand my admittedly myopic horizons a bit. The author also makes the point that learning PostgreSQL in addition to MySQL might not be a bad idea since Oracle threw some money at the MySQL problem which is summarized in the article:

The future of InnoDB in MySQL is questionable and Berkeley DB support has already been dropped. For these reasons, I believe it is prudent for any MySQL DBA to at least consider PostgreSQL as a safe harbor if Oracle brings down the hammer.

Regardless of the buy now, sue later tactics that Oracle is dirtying their hands with this is good stuff to know anyhow since it makes me feel a lot better about knowing that I'm supposed to be seeing that many processes and the command line suckiness (or terseness if you're nasty) is not simply a product of my imagination.

21Dec/06Off

Avoiding The Holiday Creativity Slump

One of the most disappointing things for me about vacations is that I really do default to doing a whole lot of nothing. Yes, there is the relaxation part but as someone who feels like they're wasting their life when something productive isn't either on the board or on the horizon I feel a little like an untied balloon, whizzing all over the place with no apparent goal or direction while I watch all of the things I swore I was going to accomplish during the break gather dust. When under the pressure of the work week with little time or energy to spare I'm less likely to freeze when confronted by a little time spend doing nothing but when that nothingness is sanctioned I freeze and spend huge amounts of time doing absolutely nothing and feeling like any relaxation that might be the result of this slack being offset by the guilt of being lazy.

My question to the void is this: How do you keep yourself on track or at least feeling like you don't need to accomplish things during vacations? Do you leave projects on the shelf or take some alternate action to balance play and work?

21Dec/06Off

Oh, So There Was This Huge Blizzard

I had a day off from work which I'm following up with another day off tomorrow because Old Man Winter got pissed and dumped two feet of snow on us. The bus trip home from Boulder to Denver took nearly three hours and that was after waiting around for a couple of hours for one to come by. Lucky us, we were one of the last state agencies to remain operational while watching eighteen inches of snow pile up outside the window. Denver, as a city, was basically closed today which worked out okay for me since the only time I've left the house was to dig down through three feet (including all the snow that was blown around) of snow. It was utterly useless since the street had not been plowed yet but at least it staves off the cabin fever for a while. No pictures because snow is really, really boring.

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21Dec/06Off

I Kind Of Like Them But I Am An Aesthetic Cripple

I'm a bigger fan of the new Adobe icons than most seemingly. The rub here is that I could really give a fuck less what the icons look like inasmuch as I care that I can recognize an icon in the dock. I keep mine tiny so the visibility of the Photoshop icon in the dock is kind of nice as opposed to the StuffIt icons which have a text label but are nearly invisible when scaled down.

I wasn't a huge fan of the old Abobe icons to begin with as they were just indistinguishable square blobs instead of the usual crappy round icons. Other people are less apathetic about the way things look and more cranky about the new implementation. I never thought of a feather being a more sensible navigation clue but that's me.

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19Dec/06Off

Celebrate The Fact That Nothing Ever Changes

Apparently. we, being internet users and inherently and infinitely connected to the source of all information, are the person of the year according some dead trees. Somehow this pronouncement about the revolution of a deeply interconnected (at least through social networks) populace seems about a decade too late or more if you count McLuhan's writings as a theoretical foundation for this sort of ass-ward rush of smoke blown via Time. A lot of also ride buses together.

Yay. We use tools according to their introductory hype and abandon them when they are proved useless. Does this carry any deep meaning for anyone or is everyone just happy to be 'recognized' as force of annoyance to everyone who isn't us? I hope not. Hats off to Time for being comically at to the cashing in on the thrice or more reanimated horse of Web 2.0.

Don't trust me. Let the gushing speak for itself:

And for seizing the reins of the global media, for founding and framing the new digital democracy, for working for nothing and beating the pros at their own game, TIME's Person of the Year for 2006 is you.

18Dec/06Off

Better Because Even Though It Crashes It At Least Crashes Fast….

I finally finangled a copy of Photoshop CS3 to work on my machine and despite all of the "OMG it's a beta and will remove stray fingers" hype out there about its release at very least the fucker isn't pushing the outer limits of RAM use in Rosetta just to run a basic blur filter and reminding me why I hated computers much more fervently in 1994 than I do now. I've only begun to play with it and so far I've found the primary new feature to be that it actually runs at a decent speed. Rumor has it that you should not install the CS3 version of Adobe Bridge as it breaks other things or places a hovering neon bubble over your head that says 'Pirate' or something like that. There are already about a million cracks out for nearly every problem you might encounter so, gentlefolk, get your toes wet and rejoice that the sucking has reduced substantially.

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17Dec/06Off

The Canary Is Sort Of Dead

Anyone else noticed the recent and somewhat weird blacklist poisoning attempts from comment spam 'bots? I've seen 100-250 in the last week or so (odd because I've been posting next to nothing) that have a bunch of penis enlargement/russian brides text but link exclusively to Google or Amazon. I'm sure this is going to cause some complications for the folks who administer comment spam killers but it doesn't seem like a particularly effective tactic since most comments, either malignant or benign, aren't using URLs that include the big names. I imagine this won't be the case for a whole lot longer as the A-list webloggers are probably next in line for the carpeting and would be much easier to mess with than 800 pound dot coms.

17Dec/06Off

More Power To Me, I Guess

First of all, I bought one of the Faster Mac replacement batteries for the MBP and I'm pretty excited that I actually have battery power over the three hour mark. The old one was rapidly failing and had degenerated to a minimal 1:45 life span. Normally lapses of this sort aren't a huge annoyance don't bother me but given the battery display up top is incredibly distracting especially when the time remaining seems to decline day by day. The one thing that I was sure of when contemplating replacement was paying the Apple premium to buy it from the online store. I'm sure some purists are baying at the moon but, as has always been the case, they're dealing with different mental deficiencies than I am so it isn't even a minor point of consideration.

Linux is generally a little less savvy about battery charges so either the monitor lies outrageously (16 hours!! Wooo) or fails to detect that battery power is even being used. I somehow feel a little more responsible for keeping my battery properly maintained which I'm fairly sure is the beginning of an inclination further into anal retentive territory than I'm entirely comfortable with. Being able to avoid constantly fucking with the screen brightness controls is almost worth the price of admission alone. Still haven't properly calibrated this 'un because I actually use the machine constantly. That draining might be this nights final mission depending on whether I'm attacked by ninjas before bed, of course.

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13Dec/06Off

Mostly Talking To Myself Here

I started thinking and later writing about this knowing full well that most folks who land here via Google searches like 'fuck websense' will never see it. The post they're reading is four years old and has something like eighty comments attached to it. At one point I was going to take it down simply because some of the information is outdated but relented when I realized that there are a ton of kids trading workarounds through the comment section of that post. I'll skip being the dutiful janitor for that sake as it is the very least I can do.

What is most often misunderstood is why I loathe Websense so much. To be absolutely clear about my motivations for leaving that post up and for generally trying to work against filtering software whenever I can be lazy about it probably requires more explanation than is really appropriate for this space but I'll give it a miserably tired and weeknight shot: I don't begrudge any administrator setting limits on what their resources can be used for. Restricting use is the only sane way to keep your network from being bled dry and to keep your well padded fanny out of the court system. File sharing is increasingly treacherous for large networks and the organizations that support them.

What goes nearly without saying and opening the floodgates to any sort of legal liability really isn't the business that most large organizations are in. Hell, I can even sympathize with the deployment of software like Websense to some degree. It's an easier fix for limiting access to questionable content than most solutions and is very appealing to admins already overburdened with the usual work necessary to keep a bunch of outward facing boxes running and a bunch of users from whining any louder than they already do. In fewer words, I don't necessarily blame people for rolling out things like Websense when they're trying to make the best of limited resources (like people who have a clue, a breed nearly extinct in IT) and save themselves from lawsuits and being car-bombed by right wing Christian activists for allowing children access to blasphemous information not brought to them by Charlton Heston and the Hooah! bar. It is difficult to discount self-preservation as a viable motivating factor in the decision making process.

My problem with Websense is that it doesn't work as intended. Does it block access to sites? Of course, I am in and out of the blocked list as a 'sexual' site which is just incorrect. Should I be blocked because I show so much affinity for four letter words and refer to heads of corporations as 'pigfuckers'? Maybe but I don't think sexual has anything to do with it. The obvious problem here is that human eyes don't review things filtered by Websense even when complaints are filed. I tried communicating with Websense support more a few times four years ago about properly categorizing Team Murder as something offensive other than sexual with no reply, acknowledgment, or consideration otherwise. My case is trivial to say the very least but when you apply this same set of criteria to institutions, like public schools, that should facilitate research on topics like breast cancer or the the abolitionist movement before the Civil War you run into problems. Of course I generally have a problem with broad content filtering because it just doesn't work but I would generally be more accepting if Websense wasn't so clearly marketed towards education and the filtering was properly maintained. It isn't, so I'm not. All this was prompted by a number of new comments attached to the four year old post that seemed generally sympathetic but still thought that crippling research opportunities for the sake of 'the children' was a good idea.

11Dec/06Off

Stop By And Say Hi

An old friend just rolled out a new weblog devoted to all things printed matter called Print Fetish that already looks pretty content-rific for being less than 24 hours old. The inherent bias that comes from being fellow 475 Valencia alumni aside, if this follows the same progression that all things Sarah seem to it will be fantastically dandy in a very short period of time. Filed under 'Don't Forget' because I forget nearly everything these days.

10Dec/06Off

Enclosure Recommendations Anyone

I need some external drive advice. I'm not necessarily opposed to buying a package deal with a drive baked into the package but I've generally not had good luck with hard drive enclosures and spent more time trying to get them to recognize the drive encased in them one more time so I can extract a few crucial items than I have actually using the thing for more than a crossed fingers while knocking on wood backup of this laptop. I don't like doubting the media I'm using for backups. That actually causes more unease than I would endure without doing backups at all.

Here's what I'm thinking:

1. At least three hundred gigs of storage and that would be a pretty minimal configuration.
2. USB2 and Firewire connections would be nice as I will possibly migrate this drive between the two Apple machines and the ever increasing horde of Linux boxes. Firewire-only would end up being a colossal pain in the ass that would require buying even more shit which works against what I'm trying to avoid doing.

I can read specifications as well as the next guy who blows too much money on gadgets so what I'm looking for is recommendations from people who have either had terrible experiences with external devices or have found one that is magically delicious. Any words of advice?

9Dec/06Off

Signed In (Someone Else’s) Blood

Fuck. I was hypnotized by the sea of labels and annoying people at the grocery store and didn't realize what the hell I was throwing in the cart other than the fact that it was on sale and for cheap. I ended up with this:

Crap. If nothing else it is kind of tasty and is mostly composed of corn syrup instead of the ground up kittens and shrapnel I assumed that it would be made of. Go check out the Hooah! bar web site for loads of unintentional humor and the hilarious and somewhat homoerotic image of the guy in short shorts blazing down an aircraft carrier runway to the approving gestures of two other guys wearing too much gear. Add another mistake to my long list. Maybe with the aid of this slab of corn syrup COBRA will finally be brought to justice.

7Dec/06Off

Good Design, Fucking Terrible Design

I really like the design work on this combo conference room chair and desktop as it works well in every aspect from use (at least from the images) to storage. While this is dandy and clever what pisses me off is that the designer's web site is an atrocious and unreadable stack of poo done in Flash which makes it impossible to scale the text which might give us a bit more information about the designs. Even the images are scaled for what seems to be a target viewer looking at a 400X600 display. I guess folks holding on to their trusty WebTV consoles in a death grip while simultaneously being world class voracious aesthetes looking for new design concepts to waggle the remote at.

Unfortunately most of the rest of the world isn't or don't have Mister-fucking-Magoo oriented resolutions set on our, um, periscopes. It's unfortunate because I'd love to actually see some of the other work this designer has done but until I'm able to score some adaptive technology (peri-microscope?) I am not willing to squint until my eyes burst just to read some text even when it may contain additional information about something I'm admittedly very curious about.

7Dec/06Off

What I Didn’t Want To Do

So, I set up a blackhole for most of my domains today. The last couple of weeks have been about as bad as it gets in terms of spam and I'd rather lose some mail than spend hours sorting through crap and fixing broken mail accounts. If email were something to get excited about like a package I might feel like the false positives dug out of shitty shit mountain might actually be worth it. They aren't so if you're trying to get in touch then my name at this domain is the only way to do so. I'm at my upmost apathetic as well as lazy so I'm going to construct a few flimsy walls and hope that will let me sleep at the wheel for a few days. Over thirty thousand pieces of pretty image penny stock spam yesterday cured me of collecting unrouted mail. Granted, watching all of that mail come in was kind of funny (now deleting 29999 unread messages...click, beep, BANG!...) but I don't want to do it again unless I'm being paid an hourly wage to do so.

Warning, excuse, or whatever but most mail doesn't work for what seems like permanently. This does break a whole lot of place holder addresses strewn around this site and other places but I'm simply out of patience and lacking much leisure time at all much less time to sort through Turd Mountain to find another spastic posting by some fourteen year old in response to that old Websense post from before they were born. Problems with that? Yeah, me too...

Fucks Up And Sadly Admits It
I just realized that for most of today I was sending everything sent to any of my domains to the glue factory. I've now set up a forward for a select few addresses. I should really take more entire days off from dealing with email. Despite the fact that it was caused by an absent minded mistake that is regrettable I still did enjoy the utter lack of additional shit that I should eventually get around to dealing with. I suppose I feel that way about most social interaction.

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5Dec/06Off

Dawn Of The Pig

Best birthday present ever and I'm not talking about the sweatshirt...

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4Dec/06Off

Stupid Lesson Learned Today

After questioning why every network I joined seemed excruciatingly slow and doing a whole host of useless things like rebooting the machine and disabling necessary services I figured out that I'd done something particularly stupid: Don't make coconutWiFi an item that starts at login. Color me enlightened and a little less stupid. For some reason it didn't occur to me that the reason that coconutWiFi is so much better than the wireless tool included in OS X is that it scans pretty constantly. Sigh. Ideas are apparently bouncing right off my thick, thick skull.

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3Dec/06Off

Some Unwelcome Advice To Assholes

This a quick tip to all would-be hep parents:

1. Rush hour is a bad time to load all sixty thousand of your children into a bus while shouting at the bus driver because you can't bring all of their strollers and a filled kiddie pool on with you.
2. Another passenger on what is otherwise a pretty empty bus is reading and/or working on a laptop. You should probably not surround that person with all of your children while both of you ignore their behavior in order to make a few dozen phone calls.
3. When food begins flying out of the hands of your obnoxious spawn and into the laps of your fellow passengers they are going to get annoyed with you.
4. Sighing audibly while imaging yourself the victim of a world that just doesn't understand while your children kick other people in the back will not garner sympathy.
5. Others on the bus are not considering if but when they can shake the hell out of a baby and smash the heads of parents together in imitation of the Three Stooges.
6. People are glaring at you because they are simply too tired to dismember you with their bare hands.
7. There are other people on the planet. Some of us aren't fond of children.
8. The others don't owe you shit.
9. I am really, really fucking tired and more than a little sick. Here's hoping that your insistence on proximity to me will spread that love a little.

People have mentioned that I seemed a little nice lately. Here's to negating that.

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