Team Murder No Brain No Headache.


National Whatever You Want, Stupid Week

I had the unfortunate experience today of witnessing a discussion between a user and one of my fellow desktop support types that reminded me why I need to have some patience enhancing drug prescribed post haste. The topic had to do with automatic/scheduled shutdowns of XP machines in what amounts to a public lab and the idea the user had was so horrible that it was almost funny. It did inspire me, though, to think that maybe for a week or so we should go forward with every dipshit plan that a user comes up. The clean up afterwards would be horrible but nearly worth it when pushy users were forced to deal with the consequences of ideas that they don't entirely understand in any sense excepting the "But that's what I want" way. This user wanted a scheduled shutdown and startup that didn't require any intervention and would simply shut the machines down presumably after a lab tech had issued some kind of verbal warning. The very first time that a user had their work nuked into the ether because the tech forgot to give that warning would be my reward. I could play stupid for a week. I really could.


Free In The Sense That You Need To Pay Someone Else To Give It To You

While I wholeheartedly support the argument in this article that government funded and obtained information should be accessible to the tax payers that funded it the comparison the author makes to the information available in the United States isn't correct. A couple years back I started working on a system that included the use of geographical coordinates in conjunction with zip codes and quickly found that it is nearly impossible as a private individual to get your filthy paws on any of this information collected within the last five years. I searched again on the USPS site and couldn't find the page this time around but the basic answer that I got to all of my inquiries was to purchase the database from a private company. Apparently you can get this information but only if you intend to sell it back to tax payers. That isn't free.

If anyone has different information or a source that I've overlooked I'd love to hear otherwise but I think that most people are stuck when it comes to obtaining collected data and statistics from their government and that is not unique to the United Kingdom.


It’s Late. Time For A Terrible Idea.

The keyboard was filthy so it seemed like a good idea to tear it apart and start cleaning at midnight. I really wish that Happy Hacking/PFU still sold replacement key as I managed to break one of the fragile little tabs in the process of removing more than eighty keys. I guess I'll wait another couple of years before I think about attempting this again. That very future-tific looking surface is just a paper towel. It looks very 2001. That is the sole consolation for several hours and a lot of effort essentially wasted.


Another Asshole Epiphany

Turkey was eaten. It was the fried kind although as the number of our friends with infants/toddlers increases so does my uneasiness about the proximity of a huge cauldron of bubbling peanut oil heated to fuck-up-your-volcano temperatures. The other side of it is that I'm not a huge fan of holidays in general. I suppose there is too much fucked up childhood and clinging tenaciously to anti-whatever punk rock stuff for me to ever truly enjoy the ritualization of traditional American holidays. I do enjoy the gatherings (dislike people but enjoy gatherings -- go figure) but the psychosis that erupts in nearly every city in a mere few hours from now has always soured me on the entire season. In short, I have issues this time of year that feel approximate to Seasonal Affective Disorder. It might be depression if I wasn't so angry all of the time. Can you deepen disorientation?

Um, something a wee bit relevant?:

Diggdot is an ultra-mega aggregator of all things Slashdot, Digg, and and wrapped up into a giant wad of previously aggregated content. How much mileage can you get out of a link? Although I'm being as snide as I can be with a stomach that five hours later still feels like it might explode I'll probably still check this site out fairly often. That is one thing and possibly the only thing that I can say in favor of Slashdot: at least the front page isn't just a stack of links divided by CSS bars.

TopologiLinux is a Windows-friendly port of Slackware that will run on your NTFS partitions without any changes to the table. This will come in real handy if you've ever had the urge to run the oldest and most uncompromising Linux distribution on top of your spyware and virus biodome existing Windows install. With the number and quality of live CDs out there it's kind of curious that projects like these are still underway. Is this something that anyone reading this might actually do? That's a real question and I'd love to know the reasons why as well.

You can also buy a Lance Armstrong branded laptop from HP and part of your purchase price will be donated to his foundation. Unlike the plague of silicon derived bracelets that have invaded everything you can actually use this for something. I do wish that more products like these would abstain from plastering a logo on the top of the machine or at least give buyers the option of getting one without the huge model name emblazoned on the top. There is always the chance, however slight it may be, that I am just a crank.


Another Unwise Use Of My Copious Leisure Time

Yoon is off doing touristy things with family in New York City and has been gone since Friday morning. Normally this would be the ideal time for some drunken hell raising but instead, because I am a gigantic geek, I've been doing some coding. I've basically abandoned an earlier project that just wasn't going anywhere so I'm a little more free to play around with whatever stupid idea pops into my head. I've been kind of obsessed with Kingdom of Loathing lately and messing with it has been pretty inspirational. I've wanted to do a living dead themed game of some sort for quite a while and looking at how KoL is laid out made me realize that it would be possible. I've hacked up a goodly chunk of code over the past few days which is somewhat stupid since a new semester starts in just a couple of days. It's nothing playable yet but once I have a bare skeleton of a game up I'll be emailing a few of you with accounts to try it out. I'm trying to set a deadline of summer for bare playability but that is, of course, subject to time constraints and the wax and wane of interest. The very bare core that I have now is a gooey hybrid of PHP and Python which I'm trying to keep as modular as possible for the sake of customization and potentially for allowing a plugin/module functionality to keep stale code fresh. I've never even tried game programming albeit web application as game programming and it is insanely fun. Unfortunately, the impetus is the usual stupid "well, how hard can it really be?" question so we'll see how much progress I actually make. I pondered hacking up a CMS to do a lot of the dirty work but decided against it because 1) I actually want to learn something and 2) grubbing around in huge amounts of other peoples' code is sometimes more time consuming than just taking a swat at it myself. I'm probably going to regret that decision. I have six or seven pages of ideas that just spilled out of my head when I started thinking about it. One of the things that I'd like to implement is a slightly less comical interface that I'm going to try to work up from some sketches. This is yet another potential death trap but I'm excited at the moment about it so maybe that will translate into follow through in the long term.

Scanner number two arrived earlier this week in a rattling package. Yep, the glass was broken in a million glimmering shards that do me absolutely no good. I'll just put the remains of that one (a Canon LiDE 30 that actually has a functioning driver) next to the fully operational yet completely useless one (a Canon LiDE 35 that doesn't have a functioning driver yet) until the Epson I ordered arrives. What a fiasco this particular project has been. I'm sure this one will be packed in explosives or something. The completely broken scanner was packaged in one piece of cardboard and a Tyvek envelope so I'm amazed that it actually arrived in a single piece.

I owe about a million people mail so I'm going to try to tackle that tonight as well. It's really the last night of vacation before I need to start pumping out paper after paper that I don't give two shits about. Generally, by the end of the semester, I feel like a lame huckster hustling for whatever grade duckets I can hustle up and living for the time in between when I can work on things that I care about or that actually have meaning for me. Guess I'll answer that mail now before I start channeling Bob Black


Flaking, Hosting, Concealing

It's that magic time between working on actual assignments (or busy work in the vernacular) and exams so I'm basking in the groggy limbo and watching the 2004 Dawn of the Dead for the way-too-many-th time. Oddly enough, my freakishly fast new machine just doesn't have the draw of the couch and the movie monitor. I'm a little too far out of it to work on any of the extracurricular coding I've been postponing for the last few months. My work dynamic has changed dramatically to the point where I'm able to actually accomplish the 'study' portion of the erroneous 'work study' job title. I have supervisors now who are much more sympathetic with the demands of both work and school. They're new on the job and just getting acclimated to it themselves but I feel a much more definite delineation between what I should be doing and what I should do when school permits. The rub is, of course, that I'm still fucking exhausted.

On a somewhat relevant tangent, Wired has a story about the dangers of weblogging to employment that feels a little weirder to me than say a year or two ago. The immediate difference is the correction of my whois registry information for the first time since I started doing this. I'm not happy about that loss of anonymity but apparently I'm a potential terrorist if I don't expose my identity. One email of .gov origin was all it took to convince me that I didn't want to go to exotic prison camp island for identity obfuscation. While that really doesn't mean anything to anyone who isn't a spambot, some folks that I work with, etc. have learned of the existence of this place and while those folks are friendly and generally positive about what I do here, the traceable connections between one and the other isn't something I generally like to cultivate. Yes, tinfoil hat and all, but it just feels strange. If you can guess how many of those people are actually in the links you get a prize. Not a good prize, or even a tangible prize but I'll be in awe of your lack of real demands on your time powers of prognostication. I think something like that, a family tree of connection and influence, would be more interesting if actually dug up and done for one of the sketchy A-listers instead of one of the sketchy K-listers, you know?

I've also been thinking about doing a small amount of hosting. That means a reseller account so I can't actually lay hands on the machine but I'd be able to take care of WordPress or whatever installs and keep things up and running. I'm thinking dirt cheap and with next to no support post-installation. If you're interested, drop me some mail. This is just an idea at this point that occurred to me because I've offered a couple people with smaller and less troublesome weblogs hosting here to take advantage of the ridiculous amount of space I have. Those are mainly people that I actually know in real life and I wouldn't charge for. Part of that is the uncertainty that comes with an exponentially increasing bandwidth usage. I doubt I'd ever get close to my limit but it's always a consideration. The break even point would only take a couple of people so it's always a possibility...


If You Can’t Beat ‘Em

For once I'm going to join in the listing thing as Bob did and join in the book meme. I live a life largely in books so this one is applicable for a change. The "What Am I" quizzes will soon follow no doubt.

Hardback or Paperback
To begin with, I'm currently in school as an English Literature major so I carry around a fair number of books on a daily basis. My lower back loves paperbacks. My favorite format for actually reading is the trade paperback. It's exactly the right size for handling as some of the smaller additions are pretty easy to drop.

Highlight or Underline
Highlighting is probably one of the most idiotic things people do in college. It's far too easy to highlight huge chunks of text that you're never going to read again. I've seen used textbooks with highlighting that looked like it was applied with a paintbrush. I underline and annotate.

Lewis or Tolkien
Tolkien is much more enjoyable reading.

E.B. White or A.A. Milne

T.S. Eliot or e.e. cummings
One is amusing on the first read and the other might be entirely full of shit. Cummings relies too often on clever.

Stephen King or Dean Koontz
As Koontz is one of the worst pop fiction writers I've ever tried to read I'm going to default to Stephen King. Although King definitely sticks to well trod devices and seldom surprises anyone the man can develop characters very well. That may be the single redeeming thing about many of his books. I've given some of his later books a whirl as brainless bus reading but the writer who could concoct characters that you cared about seems absent from the text.That might be an age thing both for King and I.

Barnes & Noble or Borders
If I'm going to get my hands dirty with the big boys I usually just opt for Amazon. I'm a complete non-believer in the necessity of little indie bookstores as they tend to pay their workers starvation wages.

Waldenbooks or B. Dalton
See above.

Fantasy or Science Fiction
Science fiction is usually a safer bet.

Horror or Suspense

Bookmark or Dogear
Both. The bookmark keeps the place and dogeared pages are the ones that I need to revisit. Reading a book after I've finished with it generally isn't worth it.

Hemingway or Faulkner
Both of them have their well known defects but how can you pit something like As I Lay Dying against A Movable Feast and expect a clear winner. I love both of those books dearly although I enjoy Faulkner on the whole more than old Ernie. I think it's criminal that most people have no further acquaintance with Faulkner than the often anthologized "A Rose for Emily." It really isn't his best work and doesn't really represent what he became capable of.

Fitzgerald or Steinbeck
Fitzgerald was a one hit wonder and even the hit wasn't that great. I recently re-read The Grapes of Wrath and it was much more engaging the second (or third?) time around.

John Irving or John Updike
I oh-so-totally don't care. Don Delillo.

Homer or Plato
Plato. The Republic is one my favorite books.

Geoffrey Chaucer or Edmund Spenser
By the time I finished reading Canterbury Tales not only was Middle English much less daunting but I began to get some of the humor in many of the tales. I think that the humor which is very hard to understand given the lingual and other complications with the text. Spenser is Spenser. I'm not a huge fan of Christian allegorical writing and I've been required to read a shit ton of it.

Pen or Pencil
Pencils are for Scantrons, drawing, and absolutely nothing else.

Looseleaf or Notebook
The idea of dealing with looseleaf paper terrifies me and always makes me think of those collision in a hallway scenes in movies where an entire novel or dissertation is scattered into chaos.

Alphabetize: By Author or By Title?
Neither. I don't alphabetize. Maybe when I have sufficient bookshelf space for all of the books but right now they're organized by the stack and stuff methodology.

Dustjacket: On or Off?
Take it off and pitch it in the trash.

Novella or Epic?
Usually epic although right now I'm reading Jane Eyre, Frankenstein, and a collection of H.P. Lovecraft stories.

John Grisham or Scott Turow?
Kill them all and let god sort 'em out.

J.K. Rowling or Lemony Snicket

Fiction or Non-fiction
Non-fiction about fiction? I'm a student so I read more critical articles from literary journals than I'm happy to admit. I tend to read fiction because I want to and non-fiction because I want to know about something.

Historical Biography or Historical Romance
Biography, by a huge margin. My plate is too damned full already and there needs to be some value in what I read.

A Few Pages per Sitting or Finish at Least a Chapter
I read really, really fast so usually between 30-50 pages in a sitting. I don't like being interrupted when a major event or revelation is happening in the story.

Short Story or Creative Non-fiction Essay
I'd usually default to the essay as short stories aren't my favorite. Essays usually provoke some kind of reader engagement while short stories are often convenient ways to waste twenty minutes.

"It was a dark and stormy night" or "Once upon a time"
Both would make me stop reading with equal rapidity.

Buy or borrow
Buy. People tend to get pissed off when you fold, spindle, and annotate their books. I like to keep the friends I have.

Book Reviews or Word of Mouth
I hate reading book reviews. I like talking to people about what they've read and knowing that if I do read what they recommend at least one person I know will be able to talk about it with me.


The Watchers Are The Ones That Need Closest Supervision

I'm going to be one of those people hanging out at the polls tomorrow. I won't be wearing a badge that affiliates me with any political party or organization but I'll be fucking watching you. I've seen far too many examples of people who say that their primary reason for their preference in voting is a fear of terrorism. Unfortunately this will be exhibited by a voting choice that chases ghosts and shadows invoked as a campaign effort instead of fighting the real terrorism that is going to go on outside polling places tomorrow. If you come to my neighborhood tomorrow with the intent of intimidating voters because they don't look like the sort of people who'll cast a vote for your monkey, because they didn't speak English as their first language, or because you feel some fucking entitlement that you have no right to, you're in for a surprise.

I'm your worst fucking nightmare because I'm not going to show up with axe handles, dogs, and firehoses. I'm going to ask you the same questions you're asking people exercising their right to vote which if memory serves correctly doesn't decrease or increase according to a party divide. You will become public record and I will make every possible attempt to associate your name, publicly, with interference in the democratic process. I've had enough. It is your right, regardless of which clown you happen to support or which evil you think is the least, to cast a vote. I'd rather spend the night in jail than let some domestic terrorist with the blessing of the appointed executive branch try to take that away from you.


No One Likes A Silent Fairy

I'm thinking out loud here because most of the things I'm thinking about regarding this site are probably better left for actual research into answering them instead of publicly bemoaning the lack of an easy answer. Part of me is hoping that someone will just chime in with some good suggestions and if you are a magical fairy bearing one of those suggestions please spit it out. No one likes a silent fairy.

Web hosting:
I'm thinking of changing hosts not because I'm at all displeased with the job that my current hosting company is doing but because I feel like I've kinda moved beyond what would be comfortable for either them or me and don't feel like. I'm sure I could weasel some kind of deal out of them but I'd rather plan ahead a little. To begin with, I'm sucking up an incredible amount of bandwidth which increases progressively and has been for the last five months or so. I initially thought it was from the switch between Movable Type and WordPress that was eating up the extra gigs but looking back through my logs for the past year or so disproves that theory.

Things I Need

1. Bandwidth. I'm eating up about 2.5 gigs a month and this is getting a little larger all the time. I've tried to economize with feeds and whatnot but it doesn't make a huge difference and I'm not actually sure how much more I'd need but I'd like to have between 5-9 gigs minimum. It's excessive and paranoid but I'd prefer not to have to think about this again for a few years. Actually never thinking about again would be best.

2. Support. I don't need technical support for the most part but it would be nice to have someone to review and install libraries on the remote machine when I need them as well as setting up Ruby if it isn't already there. What this means, really, is that I want enough support available to install the crap I need without actually being responsible for maintaining the server. That's where "I pay for this service" part comes in. I have enough computers to babysit already much less one that might be thousands of miles away.

3. Shell access. In the best of all possible worlds, I'd love to have some stupid GUI control panel in addition to SSH access. I'd also like it if you had to petition for shell access instead of having it by default.

4. LAMP. I need a Linux (possibly BSD) server with all of usual toppings. Not only do I distrust Windows based hosting packages but I'm completely unfamiliar with them -- for the same reason I don't speak Latin. This also relates to the next item. Python is pretty necessary as well.

5.Uptime. I'm not completely insane so I don't expect the eternally repeating 9. What I do want is a company that knows what's going on and communicates it whenever possible. This also means admins who pay attention and run their cron jobs at sane times and renice other processes when they're hogging up CPU time. I'd also like to know about kernel or Apache upgrades.

6. Company. They don't suck. This means that they're not running open relays or anything else spammer friendly.

7. Price. Less than ten bucks a month. I don't need more than a few POP3 accounts or any of that. It's basically a single user environment.

I'm sure that I'll think of at least a few more things later on but I'm very much open to suggestions and warnings.


Mismanaging Content Is Job One

I agree with most of what Jeffrey Veen says about open source CMS projects but a good many of the CMS (how in fuck do you make that acronym plural?) systems I've seen are not aimed at end users at least for installation and janitorial work. Most of them are bigger hammers than many really need given what they're used for. I do really like his idea of the progressively complex interface that expands as you need it. Usually installing something (especially in a hosted situation where you're not necessarily root) is one of the more daunting parts of content management systems for end user types. I think most software intended for weblogging fulfills many of his requirements because it was indeed intended for writers, editors, and, lest we forget, the poor fuckers we expect to read all of this crap. There may be a grey area here though that isn't filled by anything at the present. Part of the problem might be that classic split between ease of use and power but I think that smaller than IBM yet bigger than a weblog is still a nebulous void. WordPress is definitely getting there but it remains really geek friendly as well since developers are an inherent part of the equation. I'm hoping that geek friendly remains a dominant part of the plan but not everyone is happy with sheer flexibility and how hackable something is.

I'm not trying to rip Jeffrey's article apart because 1) it's well written and raises valid concerns and 2) because he isn't the first one to become exasperated with the choices available for management systems. I do think that problems like these that are flowing from an explosion of CMS/weblogging tools over the past few years is one that definitely needs to be addressed because you can't always bang what's available into the tool most appropriate for your use. That fucked up tug of war is exhausting for both developer and user especially when neither party has a particular obligation to the other. I hate to continually expect commercial enterprises spring from less all-singing, all-dancing open source projects but I think that's the most likely solution here. Not because they'll necessarily make a better product but because all this frustration can be directed towards someone instead of shouted out into the ether. I do like the idea of separating responsibility to the end user (making it easy to use and administer once it's up and running) and responsibility to the developer (making it a flexible and stable platform to develop on top of) from a single entity because it allows both sides of the conflict to work at addressing the parts of the problem they're most skilled with. I'm glad to see more of this type of symbiosis going on lately because it seems more productive for everyone than the nasty polar split between free/open and proprietary software that everyone expects.

I'm stopping there before I degenerate into naked boosterism. I feel like this has already been argued better and with more clarity elsewhere -- that deja vu/fuck you feeling that I find myself stuck with all too often. Comments are open. Hit me with some ideas and thoughts.


The Time Machine Of Boredom And Fear

If I haven't made this adundantly clearly in the past, despite my obsessive fixation on techofetishism and flagrant disregard for formatting, punctuation, and grammatical standards, I'm an English major. The internet, as the WWW is commonly referred to by Humanities types, and its direction of text away from the dead tree only distribution channel always elicits a mixed bag of reactions from fellow students and professors. I've recently heard one professor bemoaning the decline of academic publishing due to that pesky intarweb making texts accessible, capable of rapid revision and editing after review by peers and otherwise, and a whole slew of other generalizations about the influence of hypertext on the distribution of the written word. I guess that's where things intersect for me: the preoccupation with channels of distribution, specifically of information packaged as a marketable commodity, and how that might affect the livelihood or prestige of having that information (or equally often, research) transformed into commodity is often shared between the technologist and the literati. In other, probably more clear, words, it's another case of open/free and closed/proprietary information and by nature is as vehemently arguable as any topic on the planet. Depending on the day or the level of CRT burnout my eyes are currently experiencing, I might fall on either side of the argument but I love it when I find folks in the Humanities actively dealing with these issues in a constructive way.

Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities is a fabulous example of how this can play out. There are a collection of writings about teaching, researching, and studying Dickenson and Whitman using the Classroom Electric (forgive the term since it seems like this project, at least the MITHologies section, is frozen at 2001) called MITHologies that is really worth perusing despite their relative old age and limited scope of subject matter. The opinions in the essays are largely more mature in their lack of hysteria and a couple of them are conceptually kickass. I especially liked Jay Grossman's article about teaching Whitman's Civil War by the wide use of otherwise difficult to obtain or sanely navigate resources (the Library of Congress site is the example he uses) compiled into something useful and more linear for the sake of student sanity. He also mentions that many more forks of potential interest can be explored by allowing students to voluntarily explore divergences without simply relying on search terms shots in the dark or bibliographic information slapped into one of those damned 'Further Reading' lists.

Yeah, this is totally 1996 of me but my interest in the gee whiz technologies is in perpetual recession and I'm more actively interested (at least in the sense of things that I'd actually like to invest horrible hand dirtying labor into) in how to use all the crap that we already have. That's why I'm making this a 'Don't Forget' post -- because I'm going to try to find more actual instances of this sort of compromise between academia and the howling void that sometimes is the internet. So indulge my 1996-ness and help me out if you know of any projects (other than the blatantly obvious ones that everyone knows about) that fit this description or any that seem to argue either of the extremes.


Problems Faced When Traveling

There is a part of me that very much wants to write some incredibly verbose and detailed account of my last five days which were spent in San Francisco with Yoon and two of my oldest and dearest friends. That would be a wonderful thing for me to pull up six or so months from now but it wouldn't make terribly interesting reading for anyone else. I know that violates about two dozen of the most solemn weblogging edicts but I'm sure you know a hundred or so places to go if you need some cheese sandwich news or whatever.

I arrived in SF after our bitter break up six years ago with a lot of preconceptions about what was going to be waiting for me. I was about ninety percent wrong about most of it especially about people I'd known. They're still kooks. The Mission District has changed so much since I lived there (and I lived there for the better part of six years in the early 1990's) that many parts of it are almost unrecognizable. Food is a lot more expensive than I ever imagined that it would be and most of the places that were worth eating at are either gone or replaced with any number of new Thai or Indian-Pakistani restaurants. This isn't necessarily a bad thing per se but it was strange especially the proliferation of Indian-Pakistani restaurants given the antipathy between the two cultures. El Farolito is eternal, of course, so I wasn't disappointed in that regard. The absence of New Dawn (which I knew about since it closed a long time before I moved away) is always heartbreaking though not necessarily for the eating as much as the illegal smoking, haircuts, pictures of Sausalito drag queens from the 1950's, and the other experiences I've had hanging out there in the past. Hanging out in the past is kind of the theme here in case you're not reading any of these words.

The elation and disappointment inherent to seeking food in a city that you once tirelessly trawled that you're now a well educated tourist in is pretty self explanatory. I did, however, learn a few things about old friends. I have a lot of theories about how people change over time, more specifically related to punk rock and its associated sub genres and how people move from one to another over the course of time. I'd thought a little while Yoon and I walked around the Mission about the difference between people I know slowly growing and progressing continually and those who seem to switch suddenly, jarringly, and erratically. I'm definitely of the former group with little changes going on in my thinking and how I present myself happening over the course of time. Most people are able to recognize me after four or five years without trouble. Others veer crazily from one set of "beliefs" (sneer quotes because I have a hard time buying the six week conviction cycle) to another and align those changes directly with different modes of dress. I held on to that simplification because it was simpler than trying to pry my way into the beady little heads of a hundred or so fucked up punk rock kids while they wrestled with their twenties, their fucked up childhoods, and their disbelief in any sort of meaningful future. That era of human life is rich with stupid fucking mistakes made with full knowledge of possible consequences and whatnot. It was easier to worry about hair and clothes then. I think the fixation that many people my age or older have with both hair and clothes bothers me. This is near the bottom of a list of two or more million things that bother me so the proper grains of salt are applicable. The important thing that I learned here from old friends who are still painfully fashion conscious is that the two cycles between how you look and what you believe do actually move farther apart as you grow older. I overlooked that and feel stupid for it. It is painfully obvious in retrospect but I've never been accused of being overly empathetic with my fellow human beings.

I'm usually uncomfortable with the idea of vacations. This is mainly because I'm not financially stable in any sense and the strain on finances usually outweighs the benefits of the trip or at least quickly cancels them out once I return. This trip was not only necessary but I'm feeling better about being back now that I'm back. There's a lot more tangled up in this ball of wax but it's largely stuff that I need to think about a little more before I go shooting off my mouth.


Two Things That Annoy

Two things that I'm thinking about:

1. It would be great if Netflix provided a 35 character text field next to movies in your cue. Two of us share one account and I hear about a lot of things third hand, write them down on the back of a fast food receipt, and then forget all about why I wanted to see that film after a couple of weeks. I can't imagine that it would be too costly in terms of database abuse since the Netflix site seems to do a gazillion db calls every page load anyway. I'd also love improvements in the recommendation system. We've rated something like 600 movies and get almost no recommendations in a given category. Something about that says that it should've stayed in development a wee bit longer.

2. The next time someone refers to RMS and anyone who has similar beliefs as a communist I'm going to bludgeon them to death with a hard drive in a sock. Seriously, they don't require MBAs to take a single political science class at Matchbook Business College? What makes this even more offensive is that Stallman is such a freak about semantics and that is such a central part of the problems that many have with him.

Those are two things. Now I will go see loud music and drink cheap swill.


Temporary Sort-Of-Annoying Zones

I'm sure everyone with a weblog that spans more than a year or so is baked far enough into Google to have the ancient post that still picks up comments. Mine is here and was about being blocked as a sexually oriented site by Websense. Incidentally if you Google 'fuck websense' that post is the first result. Anyway, what's interesting is that that post has taken on a life entirely apart from its original purpose which was to allow me to vent some spleen about the inherent problems with filtering 'bots. I had more objections to being labelled a sexually oriented site than actually being blacklisted for being a potty mouth. Luckily the kids and by kids I mean folks who go to school in places where Websense is used in an out of the box configuration don't arbitrarily read anything and that aspect has been largely ignored. The comments attached to the post are where things get interesting.

I've only deleted one comment attached to it because it was so blatantly stupid and abrasive that I couldn't just leave it there. So there is a fair amount of grade school humor and non-pejorative use of words like 'fag' but after people started floating in on searches like 'fuck websense' I just had to sit back and see what happened without trying to steer the direction that comments took. There were actually a fair amount of helpful exchanges between people and an equal number of 3l33tists berating the others for coming here instead of Googling a better answer. The comment someone left today is a perfect example of this and is so full of posturing that it completely cracked me up. The Websense ban has since been lifted on this site at least as far as I'm aware of so it would be easy to just delete the post now especially after two years of sitting there accumulating cruft but I can't bring myself to do it unless I could somehow preserve the comments apart from the actual post. The sort of pseudo-TAZ that results from throwing your hands up in the air and relinquishing control is more interesting to me than ninety percent of anything that I've written here. It makes me want to spout some nonsense about the subculture of youth making use of our forgotten spaces and adapting them within the original framework to their own uses but I'm just not feeling the fruity sociological vibe tonight. Thinking about this means that I should probably just go to sleep and possibly delete this entry tomorrow.


I’ve Had Better Ideas

While I was messing around with various content management systems a really terrible and fiendish idea gripped me. Why not import the data from a full fledged news or community site (assuming this is a site that uses a fairly standards compliant system to begin with so the exported data isn't trash to begin with) into a lump and every x number of days attempt to import that data plus the stuff generated in the interim into a new management system.

My worst case scenario invocation of this would involve a hat full of systems picked from Open Source CMS or the Open Source Content Management Matrix and a team of suckers admins would have to frantically attempt to recreate the old site in the new framework. It would be a little like Trading Spaces but minus the witty designer types and any sort of reward at the end of the day. Imagine the agonized pile of geeks scurrying around trying vainly to get partially documented hooks to function the way they're supposed to. Imagine the agony of defeat and the thrill of abandonment like a SourceForge project entombed forever in the sticky amber of Development Status: 1- Planning.