Team Murder No Brain No Headache.


A Project Proposal For All Of My Masochistic Friends.

An idea occurred to me the other day that sounded fun but next to impossible when I initially mulled it over. I've been super excited about recent articles like this one from Smashing about building media sites using WordPress and other how-to-ish stuff like it that explores the topic in some depth and doesn't drop the subject with a bullet pointed list of features and hints at possible uses for the default features. That stuff gets linked and twittered endlessly, but at the end of the day, it isn't useful other than as device to hype a given CMS or an attempt to hitch your wagon to $stuff.

I had a different idea and, as always, to do anything remotely like this it would require more than just me driving and a fair amount of scheming on infrastructure, etc. Here's what I would like to do: A website (weblog variant would be fine for the sake of presentation) about doing real world projects in different CMS's. An errant thought occurred to me regarding doing this work for non-profits and organizations in need, but I think I'd like to keep the focus of this unimplemented and poorly considered idea on doing medium complexity website projects involving different CMS's, sharing what we learn along the way, and generally being truthful about how the process worked or didn't. This theoretically would include sharing code customization, plugins or external resources used, and the whole shebang. I realize this is beyond ambitious and staggers right into the realm of biting off more than a person or two could possibly or responsibly chew.

The killer for me about the traditional 'Make x CMS into z really cool and useful thing is that the process of adaptation is almost never covered in any depth by folks who present the aforementioned types of articles. I'd always stumble on them and wonder while reading through the write up why the folks playing with it made their decisions or how you might make slight changes to achieve something completely different while using most of the same steps. Why? I dunno, but I know this would require a fair amount of commitment from its participants and wouldn't be easy by any means.

Anyone interested? Let me know either in the comments or by sending me some mail goneaway at this domain here. If you've got a better or less sprawling idea or alternative I'd be interested in hearing about that as well. If something like this already exists I would love to help out.


Futzing With Themes

I'm messing with the look of the site for the first time in a couple of years. Brokeness will ensue I'm sure.


Came Out Feeling About Ten Pounds Lighter

How to optimize an application articles are usually deserving of the scrutiny they receive but this tip on making the Apple mail client faster really made quite a bit of difference for me. Mail actually feels responsive now and initially loads in a couple of seconds rather than the 20-30 second delay I've grown accustomed to.

Here is my net loss:

Before: 1 goneaway goneaway 110M Mar 2 04:30 /Users/goneaway/Library/Mail/Envelope Index

After: 1 goneaway goneaway 21M Mar 2 05:13 /Users/goneaway/Library/Mail/Envelope Index


A Less Babbling Aside About Mail

This is just a note to let everyone know that I've managed to completely destroy most of my mail. I've still got archives for the more creaky and dusty past but if you mailed me in the last five days or so it is pretty unlikely that I received it. Ironically, I answered a whole bunch of mail right before everything went loopy so I'm sure of your replies got sucked into the phantom zone. If you've got copies in sent mail please ship 'em out again. I'm not going to fuck with mail configuration for a long, long time. Unfortunately my new job is the antithesis of an environment where you can concentrate on a task for more than a couple of minutes. I've made a whole lot of mistakes recently. My apologies for wasting time that doesn't belong to me.


I Blame Barris

I did some upgrades and license buying so I'm going to post a few notes. I'll try to keep it simultaneously short and detailed as I feel like Team Murder has lapsed largely into the realm of installation and upgrade notes. I don't relish being the tedious fuck so:

Just upgraded WordPress to the newest release and it was absolutely painless. Since, according to the release notes, it's mainly a bug fixing release there isn't much to see here so far. If folks who read and comment here could keep an eye out for problems I'd appreciate it.

Akismet has improved dramatically. I had problems with the initial versions as they didn't actually display the contents of comments deigned spam beyond the first couple. When you walk away from weblogging for a couple days or a week this can lead to a fair amount of messing around just to make sure that you're not deleting legitimate comments. The new version lists all of the comments that are currently in the spam quarantine and also added buttons at both the top and bottom of the screen for deleting all and clearing legitimate comments from the stigma of spamhood. I think that adding this functionality also lends more credibility to the master list of suspected spammers. Sometimes when it is late and I don't feel like even brushing my teeth before sleep much less sorting through two dozen comments that are likely spam the comments held for moderation get sent back to the void from whence they came with a quick skim. Deleting, reloading, rinsing, and repeating doesn't work well when your brain is broken by fatigue and apathy. I've probably deleted a whole bunch of legitimate comments while using the earlier version of the plugin. That shouldn't happen now that the tool actually works the way it should instead of being almost as time consuming as sorting moderated comments manually.

Also, don't make the same mistake I did and buy a Parallels license if you intend to use their software on Apple hardware. There is a beta version but they key you're given won't work with the pre-release so like everyone else who downloaded the trial version you have to generate new trial license keys on a monthly basis. I'm not sure exactly what I threw money down for other than a price break on the actual license which is appropriate as it does nothing under the assumption I'll eventually have a copy of something I don't have to continually mess with. That's usually why I buy software so I don't have to mess around with fifteen different tools to get the same result. I will not make this mistake again and will instead hoist the Jolly Roger and get cracked versions.

I just got some erectile disfunction spam from Bob Arctor. In the context of the novel (I can't. My thing disappeared) it's some great unintentional humor. Thank you random spam bot for that brief moment of respite from all the other crap I'm thinking about at the moment.


Unscheduled Downtime…

That reminds me: I need to actually do backups more often instead of miserably thinking that nearly four years of this crap has been flushed semi-permanently down the bit toilet. It wouldn't be the end of the world or anything but I hate it when things break for reasons that I don't understand. I guess that, in a nutshell, is why shared/virtual web hosting is always going to be painful.


An Organized System Of Chaos And Confusion

I'm puttering away with the zombie game which largely means cleaning up the test scripts that I used to make sure that everything was playing nicely with all of the other components. Much to the dismay of other folks who seem to need to disparage PHP in order to lavish more beta++ praise on the current flavor of the month, I'm actually pretty organized when working with PHP. Yes, I begin with a hojillion files that separate out each stage of form-script-form-etc before compressing them into functions contained in each actual PHP page but everything is tested a half dozen different ways before it becomes a function. Usually this means writing a couple of test functions that are required in order to run the test script. Granted, I'm not using some gigantic IDE or anything so I'm able to skip some of the more tedious steps that many go through when doing initial testing and I've been working off and on with this lump of code for over a year (I think) so I need to do a batch of comment reading and running test scripts before I really remember where exactly I left off. The combination of a rigid naming scheme and the strategic placement of comments makes this a whole lot painful than it could be.

It's weird because I read many of the Ruby versus Python versus Java offspring are infinitely better than PHP rants and other ugly my language can beat up your language arguments started by Tim Bray's eloquent rant against PHP and had nothing concrete to contribute to the distributed conversation. I'm manually refactoring all of my code and I enjoy the process of working out kinks and refining the clarity of this pile of crap I'm hacking on. Maybe there is some degree of masochism involved in my enjoyment of the power and flexibility of the language. I like the amount of thinking I need to do in order to make my own code better and the idea of an IDE ripping the steering wheel out of my hands is one that alarms more than comforts me.

Speaking of, has anyone seen any web games successfully implemented in either Python or Rails? I'm really curious because my tentative stabs in either direction were disappointing to say the very least. I really like both but haven't been able to get much done on the web side that didn't involve a ton of pain and tedium or considering the creation of my own damned framework.


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.


Problems Faced When Exploring Planet Fruity

I hacked on getting Symantec/Norton Anti Virus working on the OS X machines yesterday and it was an exercise in utter frustration for a couple of different reasons. One, the filesystem of OS X is a goddamned mess being splintered between userland names for directories that include spaces and camel-casing and the traditional Unix directory structure that is really, really quick and simple to navigate once you're accustomed to it. The eventual goal was to enable the client machines to grab definitions and other updates from a local server instead of the Symantec/Norton servers as they're usually ass slow and prone to dropping connections and the like. After checking all of the configuration files, which are spread out over the tree like fly shit, and editing them appropriately we're able to fetch the updates but can't get any further than that as NAV issues a typically cryptic error made worse by the alleged friendliness of OS X: NAV has encountered an error. Wonderful. I'm pretty sure that it has something to do with permissions since updates are indeed yanked into the tmp directory but the application dies before it can unpack them or before a log can be written. The lack of log is what makes me think that permissions might be an issue. The lack of log is also what keeps me from figuring out what is crashing the application. I spent roughly forty minutes dinking around with this with a handsome majority wasted searching around for folks who'd encountered the same problem as I was wallowing in. The problem with trying to find help is that most people set their Apple boxen up as single user environments so their instructions are often more careless with permissions than I can afford to be with machines intended for use in computer labs. What am I doing wrong here?

Side Note
I also had someone ask while I was fiddling why a college campus even needed malware/virus protection for the Apples. Man, when there really is a trojan more dangerous than proof of concept jaws are going to hit the floor. Don't forget that the legacy Mac OS had plenty of problems with viruses in the past although it seemed people who used them were a little less reticent and arrogant about taking protective measures to protect themselves as opposed to now when you talk about security stuff and people start babbling about fucking iPod accessories. Seriously, if it wasn't part of my job I could not spare a single fuck about PEBKAC problems like these.


What Module Is ‘Cancel Self Destruct’ In?

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

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

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


Hardware That Isn’t Ten Iterations Behind The Curve

The replacement PDA is finally here after months of random clashes with my el cheapo Zaurus and I really really like it. I bought a Palm TX (I'll spare you the logo-included pipe between the 't' and 'x' that PalmOne Palm seems to stubbornly use to pollute so many of their product names) and it is pretty damned close to the ideal machine for what it costs. The only complaint I have so far is the flimsiness of the tiny leather loincloth included in the package that is presumably intended as some kind of protective flap. Mine disintegrated on my second attempt to attach it. When forced to decide between the exclusion of an item like that or passing along a total piece of crap I really do wish that more people would opt for the negative as my experience with the crude little mud flap was more frustrating. I ordered one of the aluminum cases for it and until it arrives I'm stashing the little fucker in a sock. If I were a public relations drone for PalmOne Palm I would note that substitution with some degree of embarrassment.

Most of this stuff is probably old news to those with more disposable income than me but there were a couple of features that really impressed me. One, the widescreen-ness of the PDA inspires a little awe in me after dealing with the cramped confines of previous handhelds. The fact that you can orient the screen in either portrait or landscape format with a single button makes the screen size an asset instead of a feature you might learn to use at some point when you have time to read the manual instead of just looking at porn or speed dialing prank calls with a Bluetooth connection. As I said, these distinctions might be dusty for folks acquainted with more recent versions of the PalmOne Palm OS but they're new to me as is the graffiti area that you can dismiss and actually use the entire screen. It's good stuff although there is a noticeable lag with Graffiti2 that kind of annoyed me especially since I was really fast with the older version and I tend to double up characters under the assumption that the first strokes were missed. I read a few reviews before I kicked down the cash and the main complaint for most people seemed to be with the mail client. I had it working with two IMAP accounts in a couple of minutes so I'm not sure what issue others had with it. I would fucking love it if more mail applications shipped with the ability to import keys for signing and encryption but when it comes to commercial software I'm always mildly pleased when it works at all.

One thing that bothered me about setting up the new toy was setting up my laptop to synch with it. I learned far too much about udev and spent an equal amount of time directly editing files that told me they should not be directly edited to be happy about the experience. It works now but I had to do quite a bit of indirect tinkering to put it in working order. It sucks to be unable to chmod permissions on a file because it phases in and out of existence on the whim of hotplug. Those solutions always seem more broken to me than the problem they are supposed to remedy. Everything does work though and looking at that from the perspective of one who has installed Debian Potato manually only to find that his kernel didn't feature USB support I'm pleased as hell to accomplish that in a couple of hours and learn something along the way.


Not Ever Leaving The House

You would think that I'd been out socializing and carousing during this vacation but I've actually spent the majority of my time at home and parked in front of machines of one sort or another for most of the break. I decided to switch my laptop from Debian back to Gentoo since I'd managed to do two installs with the Gentoo Installer which is still very much experimental on two desktop machines. The installer has some bugginess that would suggest avoiding it in its current incarnation unless you know your way around the Gentoo system already. The pth ebuild included on the CD causes the installer to hang and after watching it happen on both of the other installs I decided to try a different tactic on my laptop. This had an effect exactly opposite from what I had intended: instead of saving time I ended up embarked on several reinstalls that took three times as long as either of the desktop installs did. Lesson learned: do not try to skip over KDE to save time if you want those packages later. The minimal compatibility libraries and whatnot really screwed up portage and eventually led to a completely fucked system. So, I did the full install of both KDE and Gnome because I really love applications from both DEs even if I use neither and just restarted the machine after the installer bombed out. After doing things the slightly less hard way you do need to configure X a bit if using a wheel mouse (ZAxisMapping, I hardly knew you) and make a few other tweaks here and there to get things into proper motion. Yes, it saved me some time but I've wrestled my way through several Gentoo installs which aren't really installs but more akin to following the instructions and learning firsthand what tedium really is. As maligned as the Gentoo non-install may be it really is worth going through at least once as the knowledge I gained during those painful hours has been really useful over the past couple of weeks. The installer is definitely a fantastic project even in the state it is in now but isn't ready for prime time quite yet. I'm excited about the possibilities of a less intimidated crop of users now that the hot rod cachet that haunted the rest of us in the past has diminished. The weird thing about Gentoo is that I know parts of it are horribly broken and often maddeningly so but using the framework is so damned much fun that I'm willing to put up with a whole lot. Compared with the often glacial pace of even the unstable branch of Debian it's a whole lot more engrossing and without the frustrations that dpkg messing with things often causes me.

One other bizarre thing that happened while I was finishing up this final install was the apparent destruction of all Mozilla/Gecko based browsers on the machine after installing Crossover Office and the usual host of plugins. I tried manually removing each of the plugins as part of a larger strategy to figure out exactly what was causing the mozilla-launcher to segfault each time I tried to launch one of the 'Zillas. Later I completely uninstalled Crossover and all of the browsers suddenly worked again. I ran the Cxoffice install script again and installed the same stuff as I had earlier and everything is mysteriously working again. I'd love to report a bug but it would make me look like an insane idiot. I'm happy with everything working. Maybe the next time I drag myself through an install I'll try to track down which application is truly at fault a little more precisely.

Wlassistant is my new best friend especially after wasting too much of my time fiddling with the somewhat broken network-admin tool that comes with Gnome. Wow. Profiles. Storing of keys instead of pasting them in from text files? That is sooooo this year, man. Wifi Radar is also a nice package but it is masked in Gentoo and uses PyGtk2 which I'm a little anxious about installing despite the fact that I haven't written anything substantial in Python for over a year. Still, it looks very similar in terms of functionality and doesn't limit itself to the most brain dead options that no one wants or needs like most Gnome applications.

It's also looking like the spammers are trying very hard to poison the Akismet database as I've had a few dozen spammy comments left today with links to things that are otherwise legitimate if irrelevant. There is something about the secret sauciness of Akismet that worries me. I'm guessing that this will be rectified in the future. Akismet is being developed by a group of people way too smart to depend on secrecy for the success of their service so my confidence is high no matter what the invisible man standing on my shoulder blade keeps shouting into my ear.

If you're not reading Russell Banks then you really should be. I hauled ass through The Sweet Hereafter and Affliction over the past week and I've been enthralled with his writing the entire time. It is difficult to write so simply and powerfully without sounding condescending but he pulls it off and probably without a supreme exertion to do so. He is also working on the script for a movie adaptation of On The Road and I imagine that transforming that into something coherent is going to be some challenging work. Those giant loops of paper that Kerouac used so famously? Around here we call those toilet paper.


New Crap To Replace The Old Crap

It's pretty obvious that I changed the theme of the site from that old and tedious stylesheet to the new and tedious theme. I had to do a fair amount of hacking on the theme to get it to work the way I wanted it to and I think I've found most of the obvious problems. If you're reading on a Windows or Macintosh machine could you let me know if there are any problems with the way you're rendering it? I haven't worked much with the new-ish theme structure in WordPress 1.5 so it's likely that I've made a couple of mistakes that won't show up when I look at it in Firefox.

Finally remembered where my brain was keeping Browser Cam, set up a trial account, and took a whole bunch of shots. Looks like, as Bad Penny was kind enough to point out, Team Murder is pretty broken in older Windows versions of Internet Explorer. Actually, CSS rendering is pretty broken in IE. I'm not sure that this is different from the last layout. Everything else (including the Macintosh version of IE 5.5) seems to work fine or at least degrade fairly gracefully. I can live with that.


A Corrective Measure That Will Either Fix Everything Or Implode Like A Bad Science Fair Project Filled With Gasoline

The site may disappear a few times over the next hour or so. I'm trying to solve this WordPress nightmare that is apparently messing with other folks as well like Bob, for example. I'm going to try a clean reinstall after backing up everything on the server which given the embarrassingly slow adsl upstream might take a little longer than I'd anticipated. I will post results immediately after but that assumes that anything here will function. Into the black hoooooolllllllleeeeeee...


Stunning Developments In Utter Tedium

I finally got my Visor working (read: capable of synchronization) last night. I had a little bit of trouble with the USBserial module with an earlier version of the kernel that I was using and a whole lot of trouble with the Gnome tools in conjunction with Evolution to the point where I started manually messing with nodes in /dev. That sucks and I'm not sure where exactly to place blame since I'm using the Gentoo ebuilds of both. I used a combination of the Pilot-link tools and J-Pilot to finally get things up and working. I'm seriously having misgivings about continuing to use Evolution as an everyday mail client since I don't use a good many of the features and I really don't like the 2.0 version of the client at all. I'm going to give Kmail another try since the last time I decided that I hated it was quite a while ago (uh, before KDE3 even) and I've been pretty pleased with the applications that KDE comes with even if I'm not the slightest bit interested in using the actual DE. I like going from paperweight to reading Crime and Punishment from the Visor on the bus but I'm still looking to squeeze a little more functionality out of the new toy.


As If By Magic…

I hate to be another to succumb to the post-election silence but I've been somewhat busy in addition to trying to deal with the idea that I live in a country that I have nothing in common with ideologically. As many have said with more clarity and more succinctly, it feels right now like the United States is a country without a future for the people who actually have to live and work in it. That's really all I have to say about it. It was easier to take when the object of our scorn was appointed as opposed to actually winning with a popular vote. I'm a big fan of the redistricting plan some have proposed which would mean leaving Colorado forever, of course.

I think I've found an adequate new host which offers about three times as much of the consumables as my current host. I'll probably try to get it all underway this weekend. One of the benefits of WordPress is that it's pretty easy to migrate between servers. I'm not saying that I've actually done this but other than some potential plugin breakage it looks pretty painless when compared to other weblogging software. I'm hoping for the best. It probably doesn't need to be said that while I might do some writing this weekend there won't be any posting. I'm going to try to keep both installs intact until the name resolution issues clear up. Soon the full text feeds will be operational again and other stuff that I've shut off or made unavailable will reappear.

Oh, and if you don't know about it yet WordPress now has a planet. I'm actually way more into this sort of aggregation than individual desktop aggregators.


Some Pre-Lunch Messing Around

Another thing I neglected to mention along with all of the other hacks and changes I've made to this site lately is that I also trimmed the feeds down. I looked at the logs and RSS was indeed the bastard when it came to soaking me in bandwidth expenditures. Rather than disabling them completely I just let WordPress summarize posts. This is probably a terrible idea since whatever point that I'm trying to make with a post is usually buried in 300 words of whatev. In any case, it's working at least for the moment. Aggregators, in general, are going to have to start behaving a lot more grown up before I'm allowing full text in feeds again.

I read through a pretty lengthy summary of XUL this morning that rekindled my interest in tinkering with it more. I did a little hacking in the past but that never amounted to much. I doubt my next stab will be any more productive but I'm twice as curious now. It really is a good article that should probably be hosted on the main Mozilla site since it's a lot more engaging than most of the documentation offered there. Not that documentation has any obligation to be entertaining but rolling it up in some advocacy can't hurt.

If you add more fuel to the password controversy fire then this post about passwords vs. passphrases might be worth your perusal. I didn't know that newer Windows boxes supported 128 character (including spaces and unicode characters) passphrases. I'd favor those that know better abandoning the platform altogether but I'm happy to know that there's a glimmer of hope for those trapped in the matrix.

I'm actually working (term used very loosely since I have no installer rights on this machine, no browser with tabs, and no virtual desktops) on a Windows XP box in a public lab and using IE for the first time in months. I've pretty much pruned all of the sites that load pop ups from the links. I had no idea. Please let me know if I'm linking to a site that bombs you with pop ups. Then install Firefox and save yourself from future grief. Oh, and get yourself a better shell for your desktop while you're at it. And eat your vegetables.


Thank You Tony, Mark, And MooKitty.

Damn. So, answering my call for convenience from the other day, via Wordlog, comes the plugin that I've been looking for: the Three Strikes plugin. It works like a spam blacklist and gives the space to open your comments back up if only to add the spammer details to your blacklist. It uses Kitten's Spam Words and a scoring system much like Spamassassin.I've only had it installed for something like 24 hours so I'm still seeing a fair amount of crap flooding but it's already a lot more tolerable than it has been for the last couple of weeks.

Speaking of the great comment toggle, my friend Tony mailed me a comment intended for my rant about the gbrowser snipe hunt. He said:

In all of your geekdom you missed the obvious... As did I.

#1 - Google doesn't need to "fix" any obvious problem in the browser market.
The original browser wars weren't about features, reliability, fit and
finish or anything else. It came down to branding and...

#2 - Distribution channel. Google has access to the single largest
distribution channel outside of Microsoft.

Is there a purpose? Is it commercially viable?

Fuck if I know... But I can tell you that my mom knows who Google is and she
and billions like her use their website daily.

The power and size of Google might get a significant portion of MSIE only
websites (SBC for example) back onto the path of W3C compliance.

I think he's completely spot on and the branding angle was one that had occurred to me but, as Tony said, I have a fair amount of geek shortsightedness to thank for not considering that point further. Jesus, the wild success of the Google Toolbar alone should've rung my clue phone. His point about Google steering more, ahem, web designers towards actual W3C compliance was something that hadn't dawned on me at all. This also makes a whole lot of sense since a united push towards W3C standards instead of new, new marquee tags has got to appeal to someone besides me despite my newfound adoration for the blink tag (my apologies to Bob).

I still have a fuckton of Gmail invites. Comment and you shall receive...


If Only I Could Silence People In Real Life When They Annoy Me

Unfortunately I had to turn comments off for a while. The bombardment, although completely useless to spammers because their comments will never be seen by a search engine or another person, was getting to be too much to clean up. The wonderful Stop Comments plugin allows for this to be done painlessly and very quickly. I'm probably going to hack together a more visually pleasing denial screen in the near future but for now I'm just going to leave the default in place and go have fun on Friday night. In the mean time if you've got an especially salient point to add to a post please email me with it and I'll paste it with a link to where ever it is that you call home.

Disturbing Auctions is very much worth your time. I'm not usually a fan of jokey meta sites but this one is actually pretty funny. It's the same guy that does Spamusment which I also think is hilarious. Others, being the fools that they are, are not.

I haven't found much worth sharing today. Most of the "news" that I've read today has been of the "why the fuck" variety. Maybe I'm just cranky.


Vidalinux: The Second Time Around.

I'm giving the new version of Vidalinux, a sort of more friendly version of Gentoo, another whirl on my laptop. The second beta is a vast improvement on what amounted to a time consuming, somewhat interesting, and ultimately fruitless attempt to install the first beta. The first version is lacking in PCMCIA support so I scrapped it very quickly. I assume that it would be possible to get the first version up and running with a fair amount of burning source packages to CD and whatnot but that seems kind of contrary to the intent of the distribution. It was a lot smoother this time around with the exception of having to install my own pppoe software in order to get networking up and running. Rp-pppoe is a pretty small package and would probably be a worthy inclusion given the huge amount of eyecandy-ish packages included.

All of that said, for the second beta I think they're doing an excellent job. Nearly all of the show stopper problems that I had with the first beta have been fixed and the installation while painfully long on a slower machine and ultimately unconfigurable during the install seems like it's shaping up quickly. I didn't see any obvious snags during the install that would matter to the average user. The lack of detailed information about what the installer is actually doing drove me crazy but that is a cranky personal preference and is probably beneficial for most folks.

Having a source based distribution (albeit one that was installed with a lot of precompiled packages) is making me a lot more conservative about what I install although the package included are a pretty solid start. I'm not crazy about the focus on Gnome but that has more to do with a general phobia of desktop environments more than anything else. It was a trivial 20 minute aside to get Fluxbox and Ion installed and configured for a lighter environment more suited for this tired old man of a machine. Emacs took a little longer but given the amount of use it gets was worth the install time. Apache and PHP are definitely going to be more painful but I'll set those up to install before bed. It's really nice just to have a functional system as a base to work from with a pretty minimal amount of time spent on the initial install. Gentoo proper really doesn't have an installer per se so it's difficult to just walk away from it and return to a working system. That, more than any of the other difficulties encountered installing on a machine as old as this laptop, is really what prevented me from making all of my computers Gentoo-based.

I imagine that in eventuality Vidalinux will have the same relationship with Gentoo as Libranet has to Debian. There are still some bugs and sticky spots that need to be smoothed out and I'm utterly unconvinced that Open Office is the right choice for a default and unconfigurable install (it was one of the first things that I uninstalled) but Vida is still way ahead of most Gentoo implementations that I've seen so far. Like anything else based on a more popular and well known distribution as long as they stay in sync with the Gentoo tree Vida could really pick up a lot of users over time. I'm not sure what the current Gentoo install is looking like since the last time I had to actually start from scratch was Christmas break of last year but the implementation of anaconda along with the hardware detection is already pretty far ahead of the actual Gentoo installation process. I'd much rather go through that lengthy and sometimes tedious process when I have the time and CPU cycles if only because I get the exact machine that I want without fighting with the package management system. The unfortunate part is that time doesn't always run on a Christmas break table so Vida will more than likely come in very handy if I actually break a desktop install.

If I find any other major problems in the next couple of days I might tack it onto the end of this. Until then I'm going to try to get a little shut eye.


The Janitorial Aria Of Mourning

I'm doing a little clean up on the site spurred by Kenneth Hunt asking me about something I posted about a while back. I couldn't find it via a simple search which is pretty embarrassing given the actual content of the post so I decided to start sorting through the unholy amount of crap I've compiled here over the past two years. Soon the categories will actually be worth something. After that maybe I'll work on IPv9 compliance.


Broken Feeds Work (Hopefully) Now

I ended up disabling the Staticize plugin because it wasn't working quite the way it was supposed to and breaking the feeds. People actually emailed me about it instead of my usual method of discovery, the "Oh shit this hasn't worked for two months" method. So, hat tips to all that told me the site was dropping the ball. We'll just have to see if future versions are a little more feed friendly.


Administrivia Of The Dullest Kind

I created this Unsubtle Hacks category which this was be the first post included in more for the separation of technical post it notes for my own later perusal from stuff that is more intended for eyes besides my own. The idea is that it can be excluded and that is a good thing.

I moved my home desktop machine to the 2.6 kernel finally. I'd procrastinated because:

a)I have a SB Live sound card and I'd heard vague rumblings about the support for the drivers that we know and love as emu10k1 being somewhat tricky.
b)I burn too many CDs to have much down time for the CD burner.
c)Same as above for getting PPPOE working for some folks. This was a user complaint that surfaced a couple of times in the Gentoo User forums but seemed due to RTFM problems than kernel related ones.

They're probably stupid reasons but they're mine so I'm sticking with them. Sound was not a problem. Unmute mixer and rock out. CD burner was also not a problem because for some reason the IDE-SCSI driver kicked in from the modules.autoload file for 2.4. I have no idea why this happened and I'm going to check into it a little more later tonight when I have some time. I'm assuming it's due to some configuration that I hacked up to get something else working but I'll have to see where the kernel is actually grabbing those autoload directives before I take the whole blame.This another procrastination enabler since I can wait to figure out how to get native IDE CD burning working. I also failed to compile in USB support but that was more forehead slapping and less wtf. The whole process took about an hour including two pretty skinny kernel compiles so it was a pretty painless transition. I've had worse transitions between versions of the 2.4 kernel.

I'll also be turning off comment moderation at some point. WordPress now has an arguable equivalent to MT-Blacklist. I'm not sure whether I like this more or less than MT-Blacklist since things are just moved into a moderation cue if they match your blacklist. In any case, I'd love to not think about the very few legitimate comments that I get and not discourage people from commenting in the first place. I'm going to try to dig into the code that handles suspicious domain names in the next couple of weeks and try to bang out a solution that works a little better for me. This is kind of hard to gauge since most spammers aren't using 'bots that know about WordPress and I'm sure it's going to get worse before it gets better. Time to stretch my limited grasp of PHP I guess...