Team Murder No Brain No Headache.


Out Of Morbid Curiousity…

I can almost grasp why some folks might have problems with the proposed health care reforms President Obama has been working on. Politically, I'm as far left as is imaginable but that doesn't mean the chorus of stick stupid is going to get any slack from me especially when both motives and tactics are such a fucking train wreck.

If anyone who opposes any change to the way health care is currently handles in the United States has a little more than fumes left from brain cells, could you point me in the direction of a cogent and sane summary of the framework necessary to support such a contradictory policy salad or is this all just knee jerk channeling of Ed Anger because you're afraid you'll be taxed to death when the outcomes of major health care policy adjustments will more likely lead to black ink instead of red.


Drive Space Is Never Cheap When You’re Crazy

I was reminded again today how oblivious I am about drive space despite the fact that my smallest HD in any machine is 160 GB. Matt mentioned OS X optimization and in a post and linked Monolingual. It basically just disposes of unnecessary language packs for OS X which are numerous and space hungry. For me, this meant 19.3 GB of freed space.

This might be the old guy in me talking who can still remember 2 GB drives seeming like a universe of drive space but that guy would also be talking about a time before less expensive (I almost said 'cheap' but that never seems to the case in the United States) high speed access and the proliferation of bit torrent driven files that eat up huge amounts of space for files you're likely to forget about in the span of a week. Still, nearly twenty gigs of space isn't something I should be forgetting about. Ouch.


Working Reliably Is Not Often Sexy

I finally got sound working on the laptop (Lenovo Y530 for those of you who ride the cruel and unusual labyrinths of search engines and have no idea what this is about minus your search terms) which ended up being a rather painful exploration of the world of Pulse Audio and its connections to ALSA and gstreamer while running under the Gnome. I learned a little bit about how sound is routed in Gnome and that there are ten dozen different tactics you can take when you sound card is recognized by the kernel and ALSA but is apparently invisible to Pulse Audio and gstreamer. Another thing I learned is that I don't give enough of a shit about audio on mobile device to waste hours trying to get a pocketful of frameworks to not prison rape one another when the possibility of audio coming from more than one application at a time. I also dislike 28% CPU usage of one of my cores for something that isn't really doing much of anything at all.

I went the deprecated OSS route instead and now everything works. Sigh.


Riding On The Short Bus With All The Cool Kids

I wiped two machines yesterday. I've been experimentally running Ubuntu on the aforementioned two machines to see partially what all the fuss was about and for laziness/lack of a better option after deciding that Sabayon and, more importantly, what it was based on, my old pal Gentoo, was a nightmarish mess for my admittedly strange requirements. I need a combination of fairly cutting edge software without a lot of breakage. That used to be Gentoo but it really isn't anymore.

I've dragged my feet while hearing people praise Arch endlessly. In fact one of the reasons that it took me so long to take a real stab at using it is that I was so tired of seeing comments that proposed an Arch install as the solution to any problem. That insistence that Brand X is the panacea for all that ails you is quite possibly the most annoying form of 'advocacy' ever especially since it typically comes from people who read forum posts and don't actually use much of the software they're loudly cheering for. Grumble, grumble, grumble...

Relentless bitterness aside, I installed Arch on two different machines. One is a generic P4 Dell box that I had sitting around and the other was my fairly new Lenovo Ideapad Y530. The impetus was the announcement of a release on Distrowatch that mentioned some refinements to the installer and other goodies so it seemed like a good time to take another stab at getting it up and running. I'm actually having a pretty hard time remembering what exactly fouled up attempted installs in the past and it might have been little more than seeing another shiny object that distracted me before I could get the machine configured and doing most of what I need it to do. For all I know it could just be a generalized reaction to people yelling in comments about the superiority of the Arch model. Who cares? Given that admission of terrible installation memory, the install was pretty smooth and didn't cause the brain damage that it is often criticized for. I've done Stage 1 Gentoo installations which is a little like DIY dentistry so editing a well commented configuration file or two didn't seem inordinately terrible.

One small stumble for me post-core install was the lack of a reminder that you need to add a regular user via adduser before being a huge idiot and configuring GDM as a daemon and then forgetting that you need to Ctrl-Alt-F1 in order to get a console login. I had a moment of panic when a couple of quick three finger salutes wouldn't kill GDM and let me create a normal user. There is a very good reason that most installation routines at least make you consider creating a normal user before dumping you into userland without an account you can actually login with. This is pretty minor as I figured out how to overcome my own sloppiness in a few minutes. I would suggest, though, for installations that force you to make active choices during the course of the install, that the installation fatigued be given a few necessary prods that pretty much every proper installer (and I can't even ding Gentoo here because that installation routine was entirely manual and completely unforgiving once you left the chroot) at least presents as an option before shooing you out of it.

Other than very minor issues that I've completely forgotten (I don't remember many issues that weren't solved by a combination of adding a daemon/module or adding my account to a group) both installations have been painless affairs. The only issue that I had at all with the laptop was making sure that networkmanager was running instead of the vanilla network and then wireless configuration was all but finished. I live in Gnome these days so that probably aids in the simplification of boring and basic functionality related configuration but it still felt pretty slick.

Pacman is exactly what I want a package manager to be. It's pretty fast (after the initial sync) and has much of the missing functionality that always made me loathe emerge. There are a bunch of GUI front ends for pacman but I'm sticking with the cli version if only because the arguments aren't ridiculous and convoluted and dealing with the bulk of clicking all over some bizarre interface doesn't seem like a better option.

I'm very happy with how things are working overall even if I feel a little bit like a crusty curmudgeon trying to 'connect with the kids'. Ick.

Filed under: General, New To Me No Comments

No, You’re Glacial, Pal!

It looks like Debian has finally caved (at least a little) and moved to a time-based release schedule. This is always a little weird because if you're really looking to run stable then the current version (presumably with some backports) is about as up to date as you need barring anything new and sexy you might need. Otherwise, the testing and unstable branches are always there with newer stuff. You take a slight stability hit there but if you're working on a server then new and flashy isn't what you need in any case.

The idea of Debian releases and the ensuing and tedious commentary about how slow they move along has always been confusing to me. The commentary obviously comes from folks who install from media and can't bring themselves to type: apt-get update after the initial installation. Do the installation, pick your branch, and keep using it until the hardware stops working. What more could you want? Apparently something to mark on your calendar? Regardless of the stupidity that drives user demand for it, hats off to the Debian team for committing to meet this goal.

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The Gun Didn’t Know I Was Loaded

It isn't often (enough) that I mention writing here that I'm happy with or agree with entirely but the Linux Magazine article about MSFT's potential contributions to the kernel is one of them. This might be a sign of me getting a bit older and more reluctant to shake hornet nests simply for the sake of watching the rage and confusion play itself out afterward but I'm becoming a huge fan of writing about FOSS that is more measured and, um, professional, I guess. The inverse is that I'm pretty fucking tired of reading poorly considered screeds that serve little purpose other than to cherry pick sources and textual evidence to further bolster an opinion that won't change or consider the third option (maybe neither option in a binary standoff is the best possible answer).

There are ninety different ways to spread out what I just said but I'm pretty happy leaving this as is. Sometimes extrapolation on the fairly obvious gives you, the person theoretically reading this, less credit than you are likely due.


If You’re Famous And Die You Should Take All Of Your Relatives With You.

Oscar decided to wake up at 5 a.m. this morning and I haven't slept since (it's currently 10 p.m.) so the really cutting and mean spirited thing I was going to write about the Playboy acquiring rights to Nabokov's unfinished last work but all of the thoughts I had on it earlier have since turned to some kind of brain mulch. Here's hoping that their decomposition will bring fruit during the course of the night and tomorrow I'll be able to tie my shoes without stopping to think about the sequence of events beforehand.

The Extremely Short Version
Nabokov request that The Original of Laura not be published. He stated it explicitly and the reason that his family decided to ignore his wishes boils down to a dream that his son had a dream in which the old man told him to hitch his wagon to a star or some bullshit like that which he decided was rationalization enough to publish the damned thing. I think the son being the only remaining heir to Nabokov's literary goodies might have more to do with it than some Macbeth-esque haunting but I'm sort of mean like that. The sad part is that I will more than likely purchase the December issue of Playboy just to read the excerpt. Stupid me.


Won’t Someone Please Consider The Fate Of The Trolls?

No matter what personal opinion you may hold about Miguel de Icaza (and it seems like most opinions actually spoken on are the product of laziness and ignorance), you have to admit that the man gets an extraordinary amount of shit done. MSFT relinquished possible patent control on the ECMA specifications that Mono builds on top of which have caused more than a few to soil undergarments about and made others who probably haven't used any other Linux distribution swear they were going to switch away from Ubuntu in response to the community attitude towards the hallucinatory demons of patent enforcement that were circling around their hands, brandishing pitchforks emblazoned with the grim visage of Microsoft Bob. This isn't the end of either side of the discussion or controversy but it does mean that most people can stop worrying about Tomboy rearing up on its hind legs, slapping the hockey mask, and terrorizing the fuck out of Crystal Lake. By the way, this is good news for all parties involved especially those who move across platforms continually and like to have the same application on all of them for specialized jobs.

Thanks again, Miguel for being determined and apparently infinitely patient.


T Virus Containment Problem In Marketing Section.

So, Heinz is supposedly* putting together a USB mini-microwave so you can heat up a lot of beans at your desk. Jesus. Beanzawave?!? Really?

Imaginary Heinz Marketing Conference Call

Drone A: We've come up with a brilliant plan to sell more beans to office workers?
Drone B: Really? Edgy new ad campaign? Deal with office building convenience stores.
Drone A: No. Fuck that! Think really big. Like huge but smaaaall at the same time.
Drone B: Does this have something to do with Wal-Mart?
Drone A: No! Shit. This is about a computer powered mini microwave that revolutionizes the way that people eat beans at work without ever leaving their desks.
Drone B: shoots Drone B. Turns gun on self.

Pure, unadulterated awesome! I'm sure a Nobel nomination will be forthcoming as soon as the ether wears off.

* I say supposedly because part of me is fairly certain that this will surface within the next few days as a viral campaign instead of the comedy gold marketing that it is now. Curses.


Writing Poorly Makes Me Feel Horribly Old

In another lifetime, when there was no child in the house and no earth shattering financial obligations threatening to annoy us with calls from wronged creditors, I wrote a lot. My recent posts have demonstrated that straying away from writing anything more substantive than Post-It notes for years at a time does not make attempts at resuming aforementioned practice seem much more than a contest against the inevitability of a vacuous middle age entirely removed from academia. I don't mention academics because I feel they're necessary in order to write well enough but because focus is much easier to attain when driven by the fear of humiliation and failure.

There may be an admission of mortality concealed in there somewhere -- the not so devastating resignation that comes with the realization that you're never going to do anything great or interesting to more than a handful of people that you already know. I'm trying to disprove the (my own) notion that this surrender to suckiness is inevitable yet still avoid editing like the curse on the drinking class that it is. Is the moral of the story to gleefully embrace mediocrity? Not really but I'm coming to terms with the idea that it beats an utter lack by a wide margin. 'Missing' fear and failure as a sincere motivator that produces the good stuff is another thing entirely that I'll avoid discussing for the sake of keeping up the whole dignity facade.


More ‘Our’ And Less ‘Yours’

I'm guessing that I'm one of the few who finds the news that WordPress themes are also included in the GPL license that covers its original release. I originally switched (in a matter of hours) from Movable Type to WordPress because of the MP licensing flap. I don't like using tools that can be yanked out from underneath me. I'm sure someone is going to bring up my generalized ambivalence towards Mono here as a point of argument but they're two different animals: ambiguous threats to act on unnamed patents on a project that generally uses the more permissive FOSS licenses for its work and something that seemed an awful lot like a bait and switch at the time.

Again, all the folks who do the actual smashing of thumbs work on WP are to be thanked and congratulated for sticking with the license and checking with SFLC to clarify how the GPL impacts third party themes. Theme developers who are all pissed about 'fucking you over' should consider that staying true to the spirit of the GPL in the organization of promoted plug-ins and themes has less to do with you than 'us'.


This Suitcase Nuke Is Going To Get Me On The Local News

Very little of the exciting variety happened today so I'm forced by laziness, apathy, and the ridiculous notion management types have that actual work-related work be performed while at work to just dump some links. I'm also trying to get to bed earlier this week as my band is playing its second show this Friday and the holiday weekend doesn't foster a whole lot of extra sleeping opportunities especially when the loudest member of the household refuses to sleep later than 6 a.m. Bummer.

1. Illinois town is ditching those annoying cameras to catch red light runners. I think this is a good thing. Not because I think that arrogant sons of bitches have some deity granted right to drive like the slack jawed cromagnons that they're socially related to but because they don't do anything positive in terms of safety. I guess if you count higher incidences of traffic ticketing as safety because it provides a larger pool of funds to put more fucking pigs police on the streets then you might be a bigger fan of this idea than I am. It seems like the installation of cameras at dangerous intersections has become a panacea of sorts for removing them from public discussion. I don't understand why more haven't converted these installations into ways to gather information about how actual accidents happen and allowing engineers to fix faulty designs.

2. Rumors are brewing about Apple severing ties with Nvidia. This might be good as even the dedicated cards in the MBP laptops are kind of anemic. I'm hoping that they'll introduce a better choice or encourage an upstart to come up with something interesting or innovative rather than incremental 'more frames and fifteen fans' bumps in speed and memory. None of that will ever happen but it's sometimes nice to think about. Either way, maybe a rift would do something to shake Apple out of the complacency it has towards video performance. Well designed and implemented doesn't just mean the case.

3. While trying to clean up and de-cruft my WordPress install (like the one the makes the stuff you're reading || local) I found a draft that I wrote just before I quit my previous job. It's hard to recall how much I hated that environment and how hopeless it made me by the end of each day but reading that spilled cup of bile certainly helped. I'm not going to publish it because it was just angry/bitter ranting and I'm 100% positive Jonathan Livingston Fucking Seagull style these days. Also, I don't exaggerate. Ever.

That said, my cat snores really fucking loudly.


Things Half Done While Eating

Too busy to spend much time playing on the web today which is typical for the start of the work week but disheartening nonetheless. I've barely spent more than a few minutes in front of a (functioning) computer today but here are some things I noticed:

1. As much as I've tired of the ridiculous fear mongering over Mono being included in package sets (it's not a default install, okay?) and the resulting forum vomiting that has taken place since (this has also spread to and the like as well with a million different posts TinyURLing the rms opinion on the subject), I do enjoy it when people come up instructions on how to exorcise all of the imaginary bogeymen from your install rather than just spastically spamming the hell out of every Linux news site with unrelated comments on any given post. On the other side of the coin, you've got stuff like Mononono which just breaks the dependency tree in dpkg to make sure no demons get in. To be fair, it's a good implementation of a terrible idea. Good/bad work.

2. I had no idea that up until recently it was illegal to collect rainwater in Colorado. It becomes sort of comical when cast in terms of water rights and property ownership but I'm happy that it's been removed from law. The fact that 97% of precipitation was getting no where near streams and rivers is a study that should've been done long before people were concealing their water collection barrels but this is still a happier outcome for all parties involved.

3. Box-Look is a theme site for all of your favorite minimalist window managers of the *box variety and some pekwm stuff as well. I'm not living in Fluxbox nearly as often as I did in the past but it's still exciting to have all kinds of eye candy that doesn't weigh heavily on your processor to organized into a single place.


The End Isn’t Nigh

The weird pissing fight that this current Mono controversy has become had a reality check in the form of rms posting a cautionary note about dependence on Mono applications in case some sort of magic bullet patent is fished out of cold storage to fuck with Mono. This is a measured and sane warning from a person I respect tremendously but the response to it has been largely to read the first three lines and proclaim righteous victory over the oppressive forces of whoever is supposed to be a tool of the evil empire this month.

So, here are some things you should consider before shooting off your stupid mouth:

1. C#'s specification (the HIV to Mono's AIDS if you're batshit crazy) is recognized as an ECMA standard specification is is not in fact some kind of nutty language library neutron bomb created to rid the world of Linux.

2. The GNU project actually has their own version of this functionality called Portable.NET. Chances are given that C# is a specification and not a curse muttered by an Egyptian king before his death should some legal action be taken against Mono implementation that existing applications could be adapted to use the GNU runtime.

3. I have absolutely nothing to say about the Ubuntu forum controversies because I avoid both that distribution and its acolytes like the plague on common sense that they are.


Don’t Forget: Opera Unite HowTo’s

I still haven't had the spare brain cells to look too closely at the actual client level implementation of Opera Unite (as I'm seldom on either a Windows machine or my MBP with the exception of using it to play World of Warcraft long enough to really monkey with a technology that isn't crucial to either my work or my play) but I do intend to mess with it sometime after the next major project is close to buttoned up.

One of the places where I've found a huge amount of useful information is Opera Unite HowTo's which is assembled by someone interested in the technology and isn't tied directly to Opera so it's a pretty interesting take on what Unite is capable of.Despite being all but peed on by most FOSS advocates (and I include myself in this vast and shadowy generalization) Opera has managed to assemble an awesome community of users who come up with all sorts of cool ways to take advantage of the Opera toolbox. It's very heartening.


ISBNs In Exile

Summer is traditionally the season of reading if you're to believe the marketing hype. I'm with them on this as I too savor the feeling of cheap mass market paperback pages sticking to my fingers and reading while having the ravages of the scorching sun soothing by voracious insects biting me. Anyway, the summer often brings with it something vaguely interesting in publishing sphere and, in this case, it comes via The Smart Set's notes about the domestic reissue of Dan Fante's books in tandem with the publication of an anniversary edition of John Fante's Ask The Dust.

If you're not familiar with Dan Fante's stuff it's probably because most of it hasn't been published in the United States and here we only read shit that could feasibly transcribed from shows produced by the Lifetime network at least until the author has been dead for 25 years or more. The interesting question that prefaces (slick, no?) all of this is actually posed by Nick Mamatas in his piece: is the American readership really ready for either of the Fantes' jerks? I just ordered two of the reissues since I've only read Chump Change on loan from a friend with the sufficient loose income to buy trade paper imports. I'm looking forward to being able to potentially read these books more than once but I'm curious about how they'll be received since Dan Fante's subject matter immediately makes him a sure shelf mate with Charles Bukowski and Hubert Selby Jr. That probably isn't the best thing for an author hoping to be read as the usual suspects that shop that section are typically more interested in being seen with a book than the actual substance of the book. The problem here is whether you want book publishers getting all freaked out by previously inaccessible authors failing to suddenly bring in a gazillion dollars in book sales and whether or not (as Mamatas mentions in his article) the book chain stores are going to sell these books or not.

All that aside, it's good to finally have these books accessible in the United States and given a shot for inclusion in mainstream bookstores. Here's hoping that things work out for the best and hoping Dan remains productive no matter what the outcome.


Elitist Jerks Browser

This probably doesn't matter to you at all if you're not one of the legion of slack jawed, sleep deprived, gear perverts latched onto the massive teat of World of Warcraft but Opera and Elitist Jerks have put together a special edition of the browser all configured to make you wet your pants (if you're into Elitist Jerks at all) and maybe even use a browser that doesn't totally suck. Unfortunately, you'll need to use one of the more sucky operating systems in order to use it as it's only available for Windows and OS X. I'll probably take it for a test drive when I get home tonight as switching to the XP side of the KVM makes me twitchy.

Later that night:

I installed the Elitist Jerks browser on a Windows XP box at work and on my Apple laptop at home. It's Opera so that is a plus and also has a ton of categorized links to WoW related sites (although many of them are official forums) and preconfigured RSS feeds for an equal number of useful news sites. Obviously all of this would be much more helpful if you're running raids and playing the game with progression in mind. A year ago I would've found this ridiculously handy but now it just makes me wish I had more time to play.

Also, heads up to for bringing this somewhat amusing development to my often straying attention.

Filed under: General, New To Me No Comments

Some Things Not About Michael Jackson

Microsoft versus email marketers. No matter who wins we all lose. I like the idea of scripts not running in mail clients on a surfboard made of bleached human skulls and Internet Explorer. I have no love for the concept that HTML constructs may be replaced by word art or worse. Mail is for reading not fucking clicking around in but thanks for playing.

The Andy Rooney of the web has decided that password masking (you know, part of the form standard in HTML) is a bad thing. I guess he and his merry band of sycophants decided that making shoulder surfing even easier than the eyes-follow-fingers-on-keys method will really help old guys correctly type in their passwords. Brilliant, fucktard, brilliant. I also love how he summarizes the masking as an impairment to 'visual feedback' because login failed is only apparent to the clairvoyant. The kind of users he represents are the kind of users you don't want (also known as the type who use your lack of security to the fullest and then litigate with you over it) and he manages to third party condescend to them in effigy. Grrrr.

Lenovo making some pretty smart keyboard changes on future ThinkPads. The Escape key on my IdeaPad is microscopic and it is a key that I hit probably 200 times a day when I'm not accidentally jamming down F1 mistakenly. Now all we need to do is rid keyboards of the seldom used (other than many CAD programs) caps lock key and put the control back where god intended it to live. Being a pretty heavy Emacs user makes me wish that laptop keyboards would give me, as opposed to the shouters, a fucking break at some point. I hit the control key purposefully more often than you hit the caps lock key accidentally.

That is all. Take the rest of the night off and enjoy drinking yourself to sleep..

Filed under: General, New To Me 1 Comment

Because You’re The First Person In The World To Ever Think Of That, Kid

Since crying foul on the use of Mono in basic distribution installs is apparently the new cool thing to do: I encourage you to read the Mono project's licensing page wherein they explain that they've actually thought about software patents, possibly before you even personally invented Ubuntu to be cooler than all your friends, and have a pretty thorough explanation of what their exit strategy might be if the bloody shirt of software patents ever gets waved around.

Sound good? Gooood. Now you can go back to ranting about how KDE4 is causing people to turn into werewolves. Awesome.


More Libre, Less Gimme Gimme

I like it when freely available resources have a purpose other than simply providing free shit for people to overuse. Culturally Authentic Pictorial Lexicon is a great example of this. While it is a collection of Creative Commons licensed images, it also seeks to be culturally relevant for the purpose of language learning. This collection is driven by a real goal that intrinsically requires participation from folks all over the world. The site's creator has this to say on the front page:

As a language teacher and learner, I always seek to connect language, culture, and meaning. This site represents my interest to not only write about language learning, but provide concrete examples.

Our world rich in diversity, both linguistic and visual, and often the connection between word and image can be lost. As commercial globalization brings the world together through 'common products', we sometimes forget how our visual perception of the world affects our use of words and the meanings they convey.

It might not be immediately useful for many people in the United States but for linguistics and teachers of language looking for visual learning aids this will develop into a very valuable collection available for ready use. To me, that is really what it is all about.

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I Hope This Isn’t Skynet…

Unless you actually use Opera (I do! I do!) and leave the default settings in place (I'm lame, I'm lame) you may not have heard much about the whole Freedom page rumor-ocalypse. Luckily the announcement is supposed to come tomorrow so I can stop reading weird and paranoid speculation and momentarily wonder if the paranoid/insane are incorrect.

The text hidden in the page source is up to this now:

We start our little story with the invention of the modern day computer. Over the years, the computers grew in numbers, and the next natural step in the evolution was to connect them together. To share things. But as these little networks grew, some computers gained more power than the rest and called themselves servers. Today, millions of people are connected together in a great web ...

I imagine this means that the embedded server everyone has been frantically wishing into existence might actually happen. What this means in reality is that a lot of us are going to spend huge amounts of time fucking around with new builds of Opera tomorrow and then be bitterly disappointed that the new version of the client doesn't poop out unicorns

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At Last…A Plan

Mark your calendars, kids: MySQL has a release plan that doesn't look like soup and likely won't add totally broken (they call it alpha but hey) shit into stable releases. It's quite an innovation. All sarcasm aside, whew and good work.


Some Things Before I Pass Out At 9 PM On A Friday Night

I'm tired and no amount of this brutally strong press of Peets French Roast I just made is going to keep me vertical for very much longer so I'm just going to dump some links with minimal explication. I'm trusting that most of you can read.

1. Jo Shields eloquently and more calmly than the situation really calls for explains why Mono isn't going to be the undoing of FOSS by raining MSFT-dependence and a hail of lawyers down upon our heads. I admire people with this much patience and goodwill in them. When you're essentially dealing with a bunch of Ubuntards who got all bunched up on a couple different sites about the evil conspiracy to keep them down as users by including functional and quickly expanded software as part of the default set of packages included in the installation, one shouldn't feel obligated to explain your motivations to a bunch of lusers who blatantly accuse you of being a shadowy MSFT operative for making software using libraries that share functionality with MSFT product. It reminds me a little bit of what we called 'taste vegans': people who couldn't stand the idea of eating fake meat product because it simulated the taste of animal products. Whatever makes you feel better about your shallow understanding of the topic at hand I guess.

2. The generation of purposely corrupted Office documents for the purpose of extending assignment deadlines for profit is kind of amusing. I can't find much disdain for this service because it provides props for potentially hilarious dramas more or less. If you're not clever enough to do something really technologically advanced like twiddling system time before handing in the real assignment then you're sort of asking for it.

3. I guess that's really it. Now it is time for sleep. I hate you sleep.


Like Suddenly Seeing The Familiar World Through A Microscope

A real quick one here since I'm technically watching Oscar and there is only so long the cartoon about bugs will actually hold his attention but make sure to check out this incredibly detailed overview of how https works in a common situation -- checking out at Amazon and presented through the use of very commonly available tools. I learned a crapton as my general knowledge of secure transactions is pretty limited.

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Short Notes About Some Pretty Things

Well, two of them...

1. The Gentoo web site got an impressive makeover that adds a bunch of content from Packages and Planet Gentoo which is much nicer than the previous little paragraphs. I'm really hoping that Packages will eventually gain some of its old functionality back because it was one of the best package listing sites I've ever seen. In it's present state you cannot even search. Sigh.

2. Gimp FX Foundry is crazy awesome. I had no idea it existed until I read about it here via a tutorial but a half dozen "wow, holy shit"'s later I had a whole lot more scripting functionality going in the Gimp. I've always thought the installed base of effects was actually impressive given that they were just bundled in as part of the application but some of these scripts are amazing. As is nearly always the case, some Photoshop-esque functionality is the inspiration for a lot of the effects but then again how many years of darkroom and negative manipulation inspired the filters Adobe includes?


Not Exactly A Review…

The developer of NewzJournal was nice enough to ask me to take a look at his Windows feed reader in the comments attached to a post from years ago. The requirements specifically state Windows Vista as a requirement for installation (I think due to .Net requirements) but given the fact that I think Vista is completely unneccessary for anything I went ahead and installed it on my work XP machine. The environment is pretty bare since I think of the Windows box as a pretty wrapper around gpedit, services.msc, regedit, and mstsc and don't actually use it for much other than a couple of work applications that I scarcely touch unless they're broken. Now that I've painted myself into a corner with disclaimers, here's what I thought.

NewzJournal is really, really basic for a feed reader. You won't find a lot of extra stuff other than subscribe, delete, and a couple of preferences you can monkey with. Interface wise, the reading panel really needs to be turned on by default. If I need to double click something to see it in a feed reader I've spent nearly as much effort as I would opening a new tab in a browser. When you do enable the third pane then NJ starts to look more like an application. Adding subscriptions is also pretty straightforward: you plug in a URL, it does its discovery song and dance, and you save it under x name. That works very well. There is also an import/export function for OPML. I had nothing to import since I tend to do that manually when setting up a new reader but I did export a copy of the OPML for the five or so feeds I'd subscribed to and successfully imported them into Liferea with no isssues. Another strangely missing feature is the ubiquitous 'update all' button that most readers usually place within easy reach. The only way that I was able to find to update subscribed feeds was via a right click context menu -- there isn't a menu entry to handle either individual feeds or the entire list of feeds. I'm not sure if that is a showstopper for many people but it would make me hesitate before pulling in a huge list of feeds. Again, at that point, I'm probably better off using a browser than a reader. I also noticed that the application seemed pretty unresponsive at times as was the case when trying to add a subscription from the button on the upper left side of the main window. After three attempts I just moved over to the drop down menus and did it that way. This might also be related somehow to the mysterious Vista requirement and versions of the .Net libraries but I didn't get that far.

The good:

It's free

It does feed discovery pretty well and without too much craziness. It only failed to find a feed for the Gentoo website out of the ten or twelve that I tried to pull in.

It's a pretty reasonable and simple feed reader once you configure some sane settings through the application preferences.

It handles the import and export of OPML well. I'm not a Windows developer so I dunno if this has more to do with existing libraries than stupid coding tricks so bear that in mind.

The not so good:

Not only Windows-only but Vista only. Regardless of whether or not it will actually run is immaterial.

Intermittantly unresponsive UI that doesn't give feedback when parts of it aren't working.

Frustrating update controls. Updating all of your feeds in a oneshot isn't an option.

Here's a screenshot. It's pretty basic:


Turn Your Web Content Into Vaguely Creepy Newsletters

I should probably start by saying that I think the ideas behind Zine Pal are totally fucking cool. This is of course less appealing to me than it would be for folks who do weblogs that are more like a personal zine or age a little better that the things I typically spend words on. At worst this is a great way to offline archive things in a more visually appealing way. Go play with it.

I created a PDF version of this website but I did it with the mail URL which only yielded something like the last five posts. I imagine it would've fared better with a feed where more posts are considered current.

Filed under: New To Me No Comments

Hard Drive Enclosure Recommendations?

Yet another drive enclosure piddled out this morning making Time Machine throw a bunch of errors and making me feel like the data on my MBP is somehow irreplaceable. This marks something like the third enclosure I've blown through since the Leopard upgrade.

Things I need:

capacity for drives up to/above 1 TB

controllable fans are always nice so I don't have to listen to the ever revving sounds of cheap components grinding away while I'm trying to think.

USB2/Firewire. either works but both are nice

A fairly standard power cable so when Bug inevitably chews through it I can replace it without buying a model specific cable. I can't begin to estimate how many MagSafe adapters I've purchased in the past couple of years thanks to Sir Gnaws-A-Lot.

Things I don't need:

Any of that one touch crap because it's nearly useless

Pretty lights.

Raid capability. I'd buy a Drobo if I thought it was worth the expenditure.

Any clues would be appreciated.