Team Murder No Brain No Headache.

29Jan/07Off

Best Thing I’ve Seen So Far This Week

That doesn't really mean a whole lot since

a) the week just started
and
b) I don't get out (this includes the interweb) much these days
and
c) Apathy feels as inevitable as gravity lately

That garbage uttered please go have a look at Goodbye Microsoft which is not only a great URL but an embedded installer that will set up a dual boot system with Debian right along side the MSFT brand OS that you're required to run for whatever soul draining bullshit you're calling work these days. The screenshots are amazing and, if they are at all telling of the actual install experience, much more alluring than a live CD or something. I almost wish that I had a running Windows box just to give it a spin. I do have a neglected 2000 box at work that hasn't been on the winning side of the KVM switch in a while but that evil project is for another day when I have more than a handful of minutes in a day that isn't dedicated to feigning interest in the whining, crying, and teeth gnashing of end users. If you do take a test drive please let me know how it went and/or how it is going.

Filed under: General 4 Comments
19Jan/07Off

By The Way, I May Have Inadvertently And Permanently Dyed The Bathtub Orange

Every couple of years I get some crazy notion that I should try to make a go of one of the BSDs on the desktop (or, in this case, laptop) and it seems that this length of time is exactly long enough for me to completely forget what sent me scurrying back to Linux in a hurry. That feeling of 'almost' is upon me again as I've installed DesktopBSD on one of the less essential laptops and have found myself at a sort of stopping point. Because it's a laptop with built in wireless I've long since plumbed many of the dark depths of getting ndiswrapper to work with decidedly non-native drivers and actually made a pretty stable environment out of it over time. I struggled with this in the BSD environment for the better part of two days before eventually giving up and wishing that I hadn't bothered. The conversion of the Windows driver seemingly worked as did the loading of the resultant module into the kernel. The disappointing part came when I tried to actually use the wireless chip: hard freeze every single time that required a reboot, cursing, and pouring even more coffee. I bought Linuxant licenses for both of the old laptops so I always have an easy cheat if ndiswrapper is being too difficult but this wasn't an option with the BSD kernel.

After all of that headache inducing struggle and even more coffee I decided that I should at least mess around with installing some things through the ports system. That lasted for about an hour as every combination of things that I tried to install (except nano) failed miserably. Using a subset of BSD makes it impossible to determine whether the distribution or the ports system is the broken piece of shit to blame but it did give me a whole lot more respect for the Gentoo way of doing things which I've criticized endlessly in the past for being somewhat perilous. Compared to the errors that came from both make commands run in the directory and the portinstall utility, Gentoo is really easy and sensibly arranged. Jesus. For the sake of time, I'm going to slap a quick Debian install on it and forget that I can't deduct those lost hours from my income taxes.

Filed under: General No Comments
19Jan/07Off

Shit, Order Two Or More While You’re At It

I took a sick day today because I feel horrible. This day has not been terribly productive. I did notice the most essential product ever manufactured. It pains me to contemplate just how long I spent staring at that thing and wondering if it was some kind of elaborate practical joke. That said, I've experiencing some internal dissonance about whether or not any of the above is really intended as sarcasm.

14Jan/07Off

Beats A Large Blank Spot, I Guess

I'm beginning to wonder if I didn't fracture something in my wrist when I fell on the ice nearly two weeks ago because it is still bothering me enough to make me want to avoid typing when I'm not at work. The disorientation that I'm feeling is a little bit like the way I felt a couple of years ago when I started to exhibit RSI symptoms. I don't like this. I almost fired up an instant messenger application this afternoon reflexively until I realized how ridiculous the idea was.

>goneaway has quit due to a painful medical condition

We finally watched We Jam Econo tonight after the case sat around for the better part of a week. It's a documentary about The Minutemen a band that was pretty important to a whole lot of people and has largely escaped notice from the next batch of punk rock kids excepting the use of a piece of Corona as the theme music for Jackass which isn't exactly auspicious. The interviews that compose the majority of the film are actually pretty good for the most part which almost makes up for the fact that the live footage is somewhat crappy at best. The deleted scene when Thurston Moore talks about meeting Mike Watt for the first time is fucking hilarious and made even more worthwhile by the near slip into shit talking he nearly makes when talking about seeing Henry Rollins when Sonic Youth played in California. There is a second DVD in the package I bought with live footage but I was feeling a little saturated by the end to watch any of it. One thing that is pretty consistent throughout the entire movie is the sadness most people display when speaking about the death of D. Boon. One facet of the Minutemen that I was pretty oblivious to was the fact that they were so consciously and ferociously independent before that word became such a fashionable abstraction. The movie is worth watching even if you aren't familiar with the band as they posses an undeniable charm and quirkiness that I think transcends musical genres. I'm guessing that most rental places won't have it so check out the first link up at the top, drop twenty bucks, and pass it around.

In addition
Read Yoon's take on the same viewing over here. I hope skinny ties get their richly deserved burial preferably at sea.

Filed under: General 1 Comment
6Jan/07Off

Add Another To The List

I'm posting this as a separate entry because I didn't want it to be buried in the zillion comments attached to the Fuck Websense post, wanted it to be attached to the newer post about the same topic, and because I think Rob is doing good work for the benefit of anyone who actually wants to use a network connection as something more than a modernized AOL.

Here is his comment in full with URLs to follow:

Fuck Websense. Websense is not just a kid or teenager problem. They use this shit software everywhere. I cannot do shit at my job, email, yeah right, game reviews, as if, political discussions, not likely. But I screw the fucks over. I have many many domains and a nice little piece of software that lets me surf anywhere . Of course they find it now and a again but that is no big deal I just switch out the domain name on my proxy site to one of my others and boom no problem surfing once again. As I said before fuck websense and the assholes that put that shit on networks! Website is posted above, who knows how long it will be working but enjoying while you can. Maybe if I get a big enough response then I'll come up with a way to get emails and then when websense blocks the site and I make a new one I can just do a mass email and let everyone know the URL. Yes I am an adult and hate fucking websense just as much as any 15 year old in high school!

His tool to avoid evil is currently located here but will probably change over time as the dicks in control ferret out the connected domains. Thanks Rob!

5Jan/07Off

The Jackbooted Simplification Thugs

The best thing that I've read today is Rafe Colburn's post about the workflow shattering reduction in options that MSFT is passing off as interface innovation. I agree with his assessment completely. If you're dealing with any of the bloated monster applications that roll too many features in then you don't want to make those features accessible from a single interface. Unless you've invented something entirely new with a feature (riiiight) then people are going to be looking for that feature according to patterns they've already establishing from using the same idea in other apps.

I hadn't ever thought about this in terms of damaging the workflow of an application as I tend to get too hung up on the idea of jackbooted simplification thugs crashing my party to take options away from me. Seems like a much smarter way of looking at the same problem.

Filed under: General No Comments
5Jan/07Off

Scandal And Idle

Haven't had a whole lot to say lately at least via keyboard as I took a pretty bad fall on the post-blizzard ice pack and managed to make my left wrist little more than a swollen source of pain that wouldn't bend in the ways that I wanted it to. The recuperation is most of the way complete now as I can actually use the shift key in conjunction with number keys (I won't even mention how using Emacs was next to impossible for a few days) and feeling less crippled. It is snowing again today so I'm home from work and in the mood to do something other than cradle my wounded paw and mess around with images in the Photoshop beta.

I've been following the conflict between Garrett Murray, the xPad developer, and Brian Ball, of MacZOT fame/infamy pretty closely and it has been continuously interesting. What should probably be said here is that I don't have any particular love for the xPad application. I own a license for it, obtained through MacZOT in one of those train wreck mystery zots that I was stupid enough to purchase, but I've only opened it a couple of times for reasons that should be pretty obvious to those who've been around Team Murder for a while; I'm a completely insane kook about text editors and most of them fill me with the rage the first second I try to use them. This is because I'm completely nuts but others seem to really love xPad. I'm willing to concede to that gestalt opinion because I obviously cannot be trusted.

What I feel like I've learned from all of this is that shareware is odd territory and that contracts between small fries is a sure fire path to disaster. People have said in various comments about this issue that the Mac community that actually uses non-commercial applications is a tiny and close knit community. I'm not sure if this is the case in those exact terms but I know a whole bunch of opinions about both Garrett and the business practices of MacZOT have been set in stone.

I think what complicates this more than anything else is the actual personal connection to their software that shareware developers feel and the fact that they've usually invested much more in their work than your average commercial application developer. I don't mean that in quantifiable units like man hours (yeah, I know) or marketing dollars spent or whatever but more in hazy areas like the anal retentive perfectionism that comes from working on a project a little larger than what is really possible given limited time/resources to devote to that particular project. When you've basically bet the farm on what is essentially a losing bet against the software industry (or music cabal or the freemasons or whatever your favorite shadowy conspiracy organization that keeps us all down might be) I guess that entitles you to feel a little cheated when the world isn't as enthusiastic about the fruit of your labors as you are.

I think this also reasonably allows the dev in question to be a little more upset when loopholes in the contract he is under are exploited by the party in the contract with more available resources. The funny part is that more damage has done to MacZOT than anyone else by this sketchiness. Garrett took back his stuff, considered that people were still interested in the application outside of the magical land of scandal, and freed both the application itself and the source code. Brian Ball, in contrast, though he just fucked up on a contractual obligation looks like a disorganized schmuck at best and like a backstabbing snake in the grass if you're feeling empathetically betrayed by his actions. The continued sales of applications licenses after breaking the contract is what is unforgivable to me. That said, I won't be buying any more MacZOTs because I don't believe that the business is set up to benefit anyone other than MacZOT no matter how much the PR fluff would argue otherwise.