Happy birthday, George Orwell.
It's hotter than a P-4 deck with a bad cooling fan out there, folks. For some obscure reason I managed to get a good nine hours of sleep last night (life returning to normal can do that to you), got up... checked out my job opportunities (which consisted of wardialing my address book of corporations) and leaving a bunch of voice mail messages, then picked up the shopping list to restock for the week to come. First stop was actually K-Mart to pick up that A/V switchbox on clearance for game systems. I'm tired of pulling everything out behind the entertainment center to switch in the DVD player or my PSX so I grabbed a five-unit passive switch to fix that. I'm going to hook it up later this afternoon. Anyway, next stop was Giant Eagle for a leisurely stroll and shopping trip. The store I've been frequenting has lots of good stuff, including a decently stocked organic foods section, a sushi bar (which I've yet to try, incidentally), and lots of loose teas and supplements, which I've been looking into lately. Of all things, they don't have a tea ball, though. No infusers anywhere to be found. Damned frustrating.
Dammit, Burn crashed again! Same kernel panic. qmail-local's hitting something in kernelspace that she doesn't like, and after a few such tickles she rolls over and dies. She's a few kernel revisions behind SOTA so I'm going to transfer over the latest kernel source, build her a new kernel, and reboot her to see if that fixes anything. I hope it's nothing terminal, like a bad cooling fan or something. Maybe while she's powered down for the reboot I'll crack her chassis and do some basic maintenance just to be safe.
Richard M. Stallman has posted a rebuttal to SCO's antics over at ZDnet. If you're not familiar with the other side of the issue this is a good piece to read through, it's very informative. As odd as this sounds, he makes a good point in here: The GNU OS (the tools, libraries, and supportware) and the Linux kernel are two different things. "GNU running Linux" and "GNU/Linux" make this perfectly clear. If you think I'm going to jump on the "GNU/foo" bandwagon, though, I'm not. Yes, he's made a good point. Yes, he's passionate about his beliefs. Yes, he's working to change the view that people have of GNU software and Linux.
I suppose that I can't fault him for harping that over and over, he really is trying to change things for the better. It might get annoying sometimes but sometimes the only way to change people's minds is to hammer the ideas into their skulls until they stick.
There's an interview at Wired with Mike and Matt Chapman, the creators of HomestarRunner. One of these days I'm going to have to take a look at that site.. fans will appreciate this interview with them.
I started watching the original Dune again. It's annoying in places, lots of explaining things (necessary because they shoehorned 530+ pages into a bit over two hours), the voice-overs piss me off if I pay attention to them, and some of the acting is just horrible. Dean Stockwell's gay porn mustache left me rolling on the floor in stitches. Sting as Feyd, on the other hand.. every cloud has a silver lining. Add to that a young Kyle MacLachlin and it's quite tolerable. On the whole, I have to admit that I prefer the Sci-Fi channel's version of the story because it isn't quite so squished. The visual effects are also better, but that's just my prejudice for the cutting edge. All the good samples have already been taken. The time compression of events was necessary, but too fake for my tastes.
I suppose I'll keep it around for a rainy day.
The ending sucks rocks, though.
Burn's acting up again. I built her a new kernel (v2.4.21) but I missed an option someplace, so when I tried to reboot her with it she choked and rebooted herself. I forgot the TSC option in the kernel, which her slightly-nonstandard CPU (Cyrix) apparently requires. This is after configuring her for the particular CPU she's got installed right now. Dammit. Maybe I'll collapse e-mail into the new server I build when I'm done working on Nancy, at least I know where I stand with that box (seeing as how it was given to me from work, where I'd worked on it for a good two years or so).
It's about time. Lou Reed now has a block on Hollywood's Rockwalk, where he's impressed his hands and written his signature in wet cement. Rock on.
United States senators are starting to demand estimates on how much it's going to cost to rebuild Iraq. Guys.. there's something that you're missing here. You bombed the hell out of the country... you blew up many buildings and killed thousands of people doing so.. you sent troops in there. Why in the hell are you going to rebuild that which you so carefully destroyed?? Make up your fucking minds. Build it or destroy it, but decide which you're going to do and stick with it. That money could be spent in the US, perhaps improving public education (gods know, it needs it) or maybe even actually paying all the cities you strongarmed into tightening their physical security, and had promised that you'd foot the bills. Like Pittsburgh, come to think of it.
The Palo Alto School District really screwed up.. they installed a wireless LAN in their high school, yet failed to secure any of the access points The end result? Anyone with a laptop and 802.11b card can associate with an AP, becoming a node on the network. Student records were completely unprotected: Read and write access was open on the servers where sensitive information was stored, such as grading records and psychological profiles of the students. From there it's not too much of a stretch to alter those files with a word processing application or text editor... Mary Frances Callan, superintendent of the school district was quoted as saying "I don't see this as such a huge news story."
All it would take is a single prankster to change her mind on that, I think.
There's a new bill trying to make its way through the US house judiciary, H.J.RES.56, which will amend the Constitution such that marriage in the US will consist only of a heterosexual couple. This constitutional amendment will further prevent any state or federal law from stating otherwise. I don't think that I have to mention why this gets under my skin... the ACLU has put together another fax page to contact your representatives, I strongly urge you to use this page, or better yet write a letter to them. There are a few things in this bill that could adversely impact heterosexual marriages as well, I'm going to leave it up to you, the reader, to check out the bill and see what they are... maybe some more people will look at the text of this if I do that.
Shortly after 0900 EST this morning, I was gently shaken awake. The southern contingent was finally on its way home. By the time I'd brought most of my brain back on line the land leviathan was all but packed and they were making one last sweep of the house for things they'd forgotten. We said our goodbyes and they pulled out shortly before 1000 EST. The one hitch was catching the spider that had staked out territory in the middle of the floor and dumping him outside. I don't mind spiders in my house but they're not supposed to scare the guests, that's not the deal. Anyway, that was taken care of in fairly short order.
The house is ours again. No more worrying about what Chelsea is going to get into next. No more tripping over the blankets sprawled on the floor. I have already brought all of my books out from their hiding places and put them back on the shelves. The dinner table isn't a meeting table anymore, and there is no longer a queue to get in the bathroom at any given time. It's quiet. It's peaceful. I can get back on track.
Bill Griffin of Censible Software has posted to the Commodore Homestead mailing list that he's getting rid of two cases of Commodore video cables, both 40 column and 80 column. He's put up a bunch of them on eBay as "Buy it now" auctions. The cables are going for $5.95us each plus shipping. I've tracked down the auctions, you can see all of them at this URL: http://cgi6.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewSellersOtherItems&include=0&userid=wd8izh&sort=3&rows=200&since=-1&rd=1.
Parody is a wonderful thing. Those with delicate sensibilities or who love old-school comics might want to pass. This link is definitely not work-safe. I'm particularly partial to this one, myself. This one could get them sued, though. Or a rattlesnake put in their mailbox, come to think of it.
Earlier this evening the.Silicon.Dragon stopped by for a while. We havn't had the chance to see one another in a considerable period of time, at least a few months. He couldn't resist showing off his new toy, an Apple TiBook. Quite a sweet deck, I must admit. It's light as a feather for its size, weighing no more, I would guess, than my Newton, which I found surprising. I didn't do much with it, I just scrolled around a bit. The lack of double-tapping on the track pad bothered me a bit but you can probably turn that on through a configuration panel someplace. He had me sign his new GnuPG public key because the current one will automatically be revoked next month. We're going to have to get together some time this week.
For some reason tonight I decided to take it easy and not do much of anything. Emotionally I'm still pretty fried, I haven't really been sleeping well and dealing with the family's taken a lot out of me. My back's been sore for the past two weeks or so, lumbar 1-4 are acting up again. It's been years since those vertebrae healed, I don't know why they're complaining again, and the only thing I can think of is stress. I watched The Animatrix again. Still good. Still amusing. Still makes me think. I've come to the conclusion that Peter's Chung's piece, Matriculation, is his being weird for weird's sake once more. He's the David Lynch of animation, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Speaking of David Lynch, I also started watching his interpretation of Dune tonight. Visually, I rather like it so far. I also finally found out where Dune sampled the opening to one of their tracks from (they took their name from the book.. duh.) I can also see why so many people hated it. I'm going to suspend judgement until I watch it all the way through, though, there might be something in there that'll grab my attention.
Well, fuck me gently with a chainsaw.
Somewhen around 2200 EST last night, I was sitting with Dataline on the back porch enjoying the quiet when Robert threw the back door open, two shades shy of a panic. Chelsea had shoved a penny so far up her nose that it couldn't be extracted. Betty grabbed her and after a whirlwind gathering of pocket-stuff we piled into her car and floored it for the emergency room.
A bit of background on Chelsea: She's been getting treatment for asthma since birth. Treatment as in "multiple life-threatening attacks every year, let's keep them from happening" asthma. Treatment as in steroids (she's only five), inhaler, and nebuliser treatments every twelve hours.
That said, I don't think it's difficult to see why they were panicked. She could have gone into an attack at any time.
Jump forward about twenty minutes to the emergency room. I signed them in and after explaining to the admissions nurse the extent of Chelsea's asthma she was whisked away into the bowels of the ER. Dataline and I spent the next three hours waiting to hear what was going on. Any word at all. We found out that the ER was full to bursting with admissions, each in various states of trouble. This is, we were told, the worst summer for asthma in years. Asthma and the flu. Given the signs plastered all over the place stating that if you had any flu-like symptoms and difficulty breathing to head immediately to the triage center, this isn't surprising, though I think they refer more to possible cases of SARS than anything else..
There were some folks who'd been waiting to be treated for hours. One older gentleman was sitting there with what appeared to be a compound fracture, judging by the type and extent of bandaging of his arm, and had been there since 1600 EST. There was also the usual smattering of twisted ankles and fairly nasty looking impact traumas, and no shortage of moral support and worried-looking relatives.
Theories abound as to exactly why Chelsea did what she did. I'm not going to relate them, it's not my place. Suffice it to say that a head x-ray located the coin, standing on edge at the juncture of the nasal septum and the gateway to the sinus cavity. They iced her face down and applied some sort of compound to restrict the flood of blood to bring the swelling of her mucous membranes down. Once that was done, somehow the surgeon got the coin dislodged and out of her nose. She's fine. She's up and around and the relatives are no longer ready to blow up a first-world country to ensure her safety.
I'm now back at the lab feeling like someone's killed the power to the right hemisphere of my brain. It's 0135 EST and I'm brain-dead. 'night, folks.
It's now daylight and I'm waiting patiently for a phone call to come in. The job offer I'd receieved last week followed a decent telephone interview and the woman said that she'd call me today with their answer. I really hope that I get that job... I can't wait to find out one way or the other, so I know how things are going to be going soon. The southern contingent headed out not too long ago to go souvenir shopping around Pittsburgh while the rest of us are staying home. I'm not real wild about copying the videocassette made at the reunion for them, nor am I particular wild about city chicken for dinner, but I've found that it's easiest just to shut up and deal with whatever they do. As I keep telling them, what I want is irrelevant. They refuse to believe that. Yet that's exactly what they tell me.
It's easiest just to stay quiet. They value their patterns in life, just as I do mine. The fact that they're incompatible is a problem, but I've found that by avoiding them as much as possible there's a minimum of friction generated.
That's the major reason that I'm throwing everything I've got into finding a job, so I can pay off my bills and hopefully move the Lab. Once I no longer have to worry about not disrupting their lives, I'll be able to get on with my plans in life.
The southern contingent's still gone. Dataline and I just finished putting dinner together, it should be ready shortly before 1800 EST tonight. If all goes according to plan, and I hope that it does, they should be gone by tomorrow afternoon. Back to peace and quiet. Back to searching for a job. Back to eating what my body will tolerate. Back to normal life.
This is probably the coolest advertisement I've seen in a while. Flash 6 required for this version.
Reporters Without Borders has released its 2003 report on threats to free speech on the Net. Here's their take on the US. Predictably, it starts with 9/11 and the measures the US government has taken to limit the accessibility of information. They mention that mere hours after the planes crashed the FBI arrived at the offices of various nationwide ISPs and webmail providers with Carnivore/DCS-1000 in hand for installation, where it progressed from there. It is mentioned in this article that now a prosecutor can order the monitoring of someone's net.traffic for 48 hours at a time without requiring the permission of a judge. The US government's worry about strong crypto in the hands of private citizens is in here as well. The article's good reading, and there is also a PDF version available for download at the site.
It's probably over by now, but Mobilization Records is having a 24 hours Throbbing Gristle marathon, complete with webcast. Fans of TG in particular and industrial/experimental music in general should hit that link and see what they're up to.
I don't know whether to laugh or cry over this. Someone's selling sterling silver national security level chokers through a zShop at Amazon for $250us per set of five or $50us per choker.
No phone call about that job yet. Either there'll be a call tomorrow about it (probably while I'm out shopping) or there'll be nothing at all. Only time will tell.
I just got home about an hour ago. I needed to get out of the house so I forced events to give me an excuse: Robert is looking for a power cord for his Igloo electric cooler, specifically the car cigarette lighter-to-cooler power cord for the trip home tomorrow. I drove all over the area searching for one. If you name a department or sporting goods store out here, I tried it. A lot of places don't even have them, the few that do stock Coleman and not Igloo. Wal-Mart did have a couple of the model in question but didn't have the cables, only a household current-to-lighter socket power converter, not a cooler-to-lighter plug cable. While I was out and about I picked up a copy of Final Fantasy Origins for the PSX and the original theatrical version of Dune, just to see how Dino de Laurentiis and David Lynch did it. I'm curious. Anyway, in the end I didn't find what I was looking for, so I gave up around 2100 EST, shortly before the stores closed entirely, and headed back to the Lab.
The reunion's finally over. After all the cleaning, preparing, and cooking it's over, at long last. Much of yesterday morning was spent running around, packing stuff up and trying to figure out how to fit all of it into the land leviathan. This took longer than expected, which was no surprise. Once everything was packed away we piled into the van and started the long drive to the farm, where the reunion was to be held. They stuck me in the back with the little one, which drove me up a wall. Firstly, I can't understand her. She's only five, so her speech patterns have not resolved themselves into a coherent structure. Secondly, she has a strong accent, which makes her next to impossible to make out, even if I'm reading her lips. I have to have her grandmother/my aunt translate a lot of the time. Trying to hold a conversation with her isn't easy.
Once we got to the farm, however, things took a turn for the better. Yes, it was cold and windy, that wasn't such a bad thing. At least it wasn't in the middle of a thunderstorm or during a heat wave. Cousin Corey was there, so he was a small island of sanity in an ocean of oddity. We spent a lot of the time there shooting pool in the basement (kid's good - we were neck and neck until I called the 8-ball in the first pocket, got a two bumper ricochet, and sank the sucker in the third pocket.. instant forefit), talking about anime (he's a Dragonball-Z fan, which I'm not really into but I'm willing to listen), and messing around with their computer. It's a Compaq running Windows ME, which means that it isn't the most stable box on the planet, but at least it's usable. I gave him a DBZ tape and three CDs of anime music videos for his graduation-from-high-school gift.
Lots of food... lots of people... they loved the chili and the cookies, though they completely ignored the rice I'd made (because they love chili and rice). The vegetable platter went over big, as did the cold cuts and cheese assortment. Unfortunately, we brought lots of each so now the fridge is full of stuff that we'll never eat completely before it goes bad. We can freeze a lot of the vegetables but some just won't keep. I was also given two computers that I'm supposed to fix up for relatives.. they want them "updated". These systems are so old that they only have a 5.25 inch floppy drive between them. "Updating" them will, in all probability, consist of turning them into a pair of serial terminals. It'd be cheaper to buy new computers entirely.
Terry and Paul renewed their wedding vows after twenty years at the picnic. Robert was pressed into service (in my graduation gown) to officiate, I was on the camera crew for the event. In true fashion, the bouquet was a fistful of plasticware and the bride and groom were wisecracking back and forth the entire time. I felt like I was in an episode of Everybody Loves Raymond yesterday. At least it went off without a hitch. Unfortunately, the video camera is broken. The handgrip is the primary means of stabilising the unit on the shoulder of the user, and the button that (un)pauses the recording mechanism is attached to the handgrip. We discovered the damage mere minutes before the ceremony was supposed to begin, but a roll of duct tape attached the camera securely to my wrist. Upon closer inspection, the events are connected: The hand-strap is attached to the handgrip by a plastic post, which a small Phillips screw passes through and holds the two halves of the button-mount together. The post sheared through, releasing the strap and allowing the button-mount to separate. Dataline says that the camera is still under insurance so we're going to drive it to Sears to be worked on.
At least we got to go home with much less stuff than we brought with us. I don't remember what time we'd arrived but once we did they sat around and watched the tape. I drove out to Alexius' house last night and we hit Lissa's midsummer eve party, somewhere out east of Pittsburgh, I don't recall exactly where. The tales I've heard to the contrary, nothing... extreme... happened last night, at least up until I'd left with John and Lara (did I mention that I seem to run into them everywhere?), at which time I don't know because I wasn't there. I wound up sitting around talking metaphysica with 'lex, Dawnie, Robin, and Andrea v2.0, introducing John to 'lex, explaining to everyone exactly how I know John and Lara, and generally hanging out with folks I don't get to see much.
I couldn't interest anyone in the multiple trays of vegetables and cold cuts that I'd brought with me, unfortunately, which is why they're all upstairs in the fridge.
I got home somewhen around 0315 EST and dropped face-first into bed.
Everyone went to the zoo today, save myself. I opted to stay home and relax a bit. It's just me, the Children in the Lab, and my cat, with Coast to Coast AM playing on a Real Audio stream and several different e-mail clients open right now. The house is mine, at least for a few hours.
Oh, wow.. Snogpitch has pictures of his CommodoreOne setup on his website.
On 18 June 2003, it was announced that a 14-year old boy in Saint Louis, MO was admitted to a hospital for treatment for monkeypox. I don't know if he is the first, but he's the first I've heard of.
My Summercon 2003 pictures have been linked off of the Summercon homepage. Thanks, Mark!
Five year olds. Gaah.
We just got home from a last minute supply run. First, Dataline's been looking for a new power cell for her video camera for a few years now, one that doesn't cost an arm and a leg. I found compatible ones at a local store, in fact the one just down the road at the bottom of the hill. She drove us out to the one on the other side of the borough to look for it, even when I'd said that they weren't at that one. Not all stores in a chain have the same items in stock, or even in their inventories at all. Trying to convince her of this was a waste of energy; I think I burned out some neurons in the attempt.
Never listen to the people who've held what you're looking for, they don't know what they're talking about. Please take that as sarcasm.
Holy imploding Kibo - the Thelema-tech mailing list has had traffic for the first time in years!
Anyway, after that we drove out to Sam's Club, where if you can't find what you're looking for it probably isn't manufactured on this planet. There's some debate over exactly what we're supposed to take to the picnic tomorrow so they have decided to make up a few vegetable platters and a cheese assortment for people to nibble on until the grilled stuff is ready. I've finished the cookies, the chili's next. Unfortunately, and something I often forget, they don't move at the same speed I do. I move pretty rapidly, practically running if I'm on foot. They can't. They don't. Having to down-cycle so they can keep up gets to me after a while. I'm really not looking forward to tomorrow.
We'll find out for sure in a few weeks but until then I say that Dataline wins the prize: Iran is next.
Word just came down the wire on the Politech mailing list - senator Orrin Hatch's comments, captured on the hearing video recording, have been pulled from the Senate Judiciary's website but you can still see it at this URL: rtsp://video.webcastcenter.com/srs_g2/judiciary061703p.rm. Michele Fuortes (who found this link) says that the comments senator Hatch made start roughly 1 hours and 20 minutes into the recording. If anyone can mirror this please do so, I'd like to put up a copy. I've been playing around with trying to snarf the file and the closest I've gotten is this URL: http://184.108.40.206:80/srs_g2/judiciary061703p.rm.
This is highly nifty. Someone hacked a mini-ITX system into an Atari 800 chassis. They guy started with a dead 800 and quite a bit of notebook-formfactor hardware, like a CD-RW drive and a super-small power supply. Unfortunately the embedded keyboard in the case won't work, and the one it was replaced with is nonfunctional. An Atari SIO (serial in/output) adapter was installed so that the system could interface directly to Atari peripherals and systems, so it could act as a storage server. I'm going to have to build one of those some day.. anyway, the casing was hinged and a cooling fan was mounted in the rear corner to keep the CPU and mainboard cool. Neatest of all, an old Atari cartridge was gutted and used to hold the mechanism of a small optical mouse. Atari Classics I and II were installed on the system, now running Windows 98.
Eeh.. it's cool enough that we can forgive him that, no? *grin*
Dammit. I just got home from LARP and Burn crashed. Kernel panic, yadda yadda yadda.. she's rebooting now. I guess the storm earlier caused problems. Thank the gods I'd had the foresight to format her disk partitions with ReiserFS, a journalled and fault-tolerant filesystem during her construction.
Dinner this evening was a long and complex affaid, featuring salisbury steak, made by Dataline. I'd never had salisbury steak before, and was quite impressed with it, even with gravy, which ordinarily I avoid. After dinner I changed my clothes for LARP and headed down to K-Mart to pick up that video camera power cell. The make and model are compatible, they were half off ($27us), I grabbed an unopened one and took off. On my way to Oakland the storm, which had hit while dinner was on the stove returned in full force. I found myself driving through six inches of water on the roadway on Washington Boulevard. I don't know if the storm sewers were backed up or if a water main broke or what, I only know that, on the whole, I would much preferred not having to do that. It rained harder.. then less so.. then more so... off and on the entire trip.
Shows how interesting life's been lately that I'm talking about driving in the rain, no?
Got to LARP late, managed to get involved in a side plot that was one part comedy, one part "Hey, let's fuck with the NPCs", and one part "Hey, I havn't used that in a long time". Had a blast, pure and simple. I needed that after this week.
Today's been a long one. There's a family reunion this weekend and we're not only getting ready for it but we're putting up folks from down south for the duration. Today was a whirlwind of cleaning, running the sweeper, making sure the caulking in the bathrooms cured properly, and last minute shopping. Thankfully the bathrooms are cleaned and usable by not-so-immediate family. Everything's been shuffled around and put away upstairs and the carpets are swept and as free of hair and cat fur as we can manage. Laundry is either put away or in its final cycle. I've finished baking a gross of chocolate chip cookies for the family reunion on Saturday afternoon. All the 'interesting' books have been collected and put away for a while. Around 1800 EST the family from down south arrived and they've already unloaded the land leviathan for the weekend. I'd say we're as ready as we'll ever be. I have no idea what tomorrow's going to bring; the farthese ahead I've planned is making the last of what we're supposed to bring to the reunion. They want my chili, what can I say?
It's going to be interesting.
And there's one more 'interesting' book on the shelves that I havn't found yet. This could be a problem.
Now that I've got a chance to actually check my e-mail, as well as do my daily news-cruise, we'll see what's happened in the world...
You've got to check this out... The Matrix Reloaded opened in Japan not too long ago. Calling all cosplayers! Calling all cosplayers! There are quite a few images attached to this forum entry page, and even a couple of movie files linked off of it. The first movie doesn't appear to be up anymore, the others still are as far as I and Leandra can tell. Check these out, folks... they're good images, and quite amusing.
And for the record, yes, I did go fully dressed to the premire of the movie. Complete with my "Matrix my ass, I've dressed this way for years" t-shirt, courtest of gothic.net.
I'm busily mirroring the graphics and movie files from those sites - I'll put them up if anyone wants them.
I'm too amused by this. Hypocracy never ceases to bring a smile to my face. I think this gentleman needs to think about what's sitting in his speech buffer and do a grep of his short-term memory for notable strings before he makes another public statement on this particular topic.
Song that best describes life right now: Iris - The Way I Live My Life
Researchers in Japan have gengineered coffee plants with 70% less caffeine in the beans. Blasphemy. "It is by the juice of the bean by which I set my mind in motion..." Decaffeinated coffee is like breaking the fingers of a safecracker.. it's like stealing the tape recorder or pad and pencil from a reporter..
More Matrix cosplayers, these in the Shibuya district. More shots of the crowd can be seen on this page. That one has some pretty odd stuff on it, like a few cut-and-paste pics. Here's a fanpage from an Agent Smith lookalike. Action shots are here. These look like they were taken from phonecams. Many of them probably were, come to think about it. This particular page features the re-enactment of the burly brawl (also known as "The Agent Smith and Neo Slash-a-thon"). I have to admire the lengths to which many of the Smiths went to hurl themselves as safely (I hope) as they could. My Japanese is so rusty I may as well not have learned it in the first place, but this appears to be a portal site for showings in Japan. Silicon Rose, what's up with this site? Mixed in with all of these is The Matrix Community website, home of the refugees from the Warner Brothers forums.
This is more accurate than you realise.
Remember the RAVE Act and how a lot of people were afraid that it could be misused because the wording was so vague? It has been. Also known as the Illicit Drug Anti-Proliferation Act of 2003, it was stalled on its own thanks to support from better than 20,000 signatures but was attached to the Amber Alert bill and snuck into law and was meant to make it easier to imprison the organisers of events (namely raves) held in any publically accessible location. Only two months after it was passed into law it was used by the DEA to shut down a fundraiser held by NORML and the Students for a Sensible Drug Policy. What's next? A party held in someone's house to celebrate (also covered by the RAVE Act)? A Libertarian rally? The Republican National Convention (all it takes is one phone call to the cops...)? There is a web-to-fax gateway handling a petition to have te RAVE Act repealed, please sign on and get this law flushed from the books before things get too far out of hand.
And while we're on the subject of 'out of hand' North Korea's nuclear weapons programme is proceeding rapidly, so much so that the US government is starting to worry. All concerned are being very, very careful in how they treat one another right now, fearing the creation of an explosive (no pun intended) situation. The advancement of this programme could further destabilise the Korean peninsula - if someone's got the capability to annihilate several hundred square miles of land in the blink of an eye, the people within the first few blast radii tend to get scared.. and scared people do irrational things sometimes.
Carnegie-Mellon recieved my job applications this weekend; I recieved a pair of "wet got 'em" letters in the mail today. The city of Pittsburgh also sent me a few job apps, which arrived at the same time. Things are starting to heat up, it looks like. Unfortunately, I got a phone call from the HR department at Duquesne today - I have to resubmit some paperwork because I accidentally messed up one of the job ID codes.
On top of that, as I'd gone out to get the mail this afternoon I decided to check up on the chicks that Dataline and I rescued yesterday. The nest was again out of the tree, both baby birds were dead. Either the rain and wind did it or the mother threw them out deliberately, either due to something she was privy to and we were not or the smell of us on the babies. Either way, a nest is gone now.
I don't know what to do. I'm inclined to leave them there as nature had intended. The ants will come soon and there won't be much left of the nest but the nest and a couple of bones. That's the way of things.
I just finished running the carpet cleaner in my grandfather's bedroom. I had to pull pretty much everything out of the room to expose enough carpet to justify such an act. His collection of radio-controlled cars takes up a lot of room, as does the dresser. The bedrooms in the house aren't all that large so anything that you do put in them (like a bed and a dresser) takes up a great deal of space, uncomfortably so. The powder room and hallway have the lion's share of his stuff right now. While I was at it I took the opportunity to take stuff off of the dresser and dust, as well as the lamp in one of the corners. The lamp's so old that the cellophane cover on the lampshade fell apart in my hands as I was dusting.. it just turned to shreds and littered the floor. I stripped it off and threw it out with the rest of the cruft that builds up over time.
Once that was accomplished I ran the sweeper to get as much dust and lint up as I could, which was quite a bit. I also cleared out the cobwebs that like to build up behind the doors and furniture so much.. not a pleasant job. Once that was out of the way I filled the tank on the rug shampooer and went to work. First of all, less than one hundred square feet of carpet can take up an entire tank of water, this I didn't realise. And I found out why - the water coming up was so thick I swear you could mistake it for syrup. I don't want to think about what that stuff could have been.. the carpet which was laying almost flat now has a nap. Scary thought. I disconnected the tank and hauled it down to the laundry room to dump it out... and the water that was evacuated was coal black in colour. I mean pitch black. If you crushed up activated charcoal and mixed it with water, that's what you'd have. It's the nastiest stuff I've ever seen, right up there with getting to sit in on hip replacement surgery. I had to flush the tank out with the hose in the stationary tub to get everything out, and then take it apart so I could rinse the accumulated lint away at the same time. Thankfully that chore's out of the way.
This little gem just came down the wire from the Novelty Lifeboat mailing list at Yahoo - the terrorist self-examination.
Remember that article about liquid nitrogen ice cream yesterday? Some guys in Brasil tried it out, and it seems to have worked very well. This site's a bit Slashdotted right now, so be patient. The images will all come up.
Earlier tonight Dataline and I got moving and fixed things up a bit more. I put my grandfather's stuff back in his room and did some last minute shopping before the relatives arrive sometime tomorrow night, she's doing laundry and picking up around the house. We're going to pull a marathon cleaning session tomorrow to get ready and that'll be that. If all goes according to plan I'll be able to start baking cookies for the reunion tomorrow afternoon. I hope none of my other plans get crushed by this (like a bit of unfinished business with Moai Tech that I'm finally in a position to complete) but things being things.. Eris will provide what She will.
The Canadian cabinet has decided to redefine marriage to permit same-sex couples to marry. This statute will take effect immediately in Ontario, and will hopefully be extended to the rest of the country. A recent poll of public opinion is strongly in favour of gay marriages being legalised. Way to go, folks.. make it happen. However, they are also making a proviso that religious groups are permitted to refuse to conduct a same-sex marriage ceremony in the name of religious freedom. How does that work?
Well, my plans for today are pretty well screwed. I was supposed to go out with a few folks to catch the Cowboy Bebop movie at the arts festival tonight but there's a family reunion coming up this weekend (won't they ever figure it out...?) so I've got to stay home and get the house ready for relatives coming in from out of state. The bath tub needs stripped and caulked, which is a multiple-hour job right there, and I've got to also clean the carpets in two bedrooms.. not run the sweeper, but clean them. Clearing the way to make that possible is going to kill the rest of today.
Sorry, Black Fang.
SCO's revoked IBM's software license, which allows them to maintain and distribute AIX, their own flavour of Unix. IBM, predictably, told them to go flush their buffers, stating that their license cannot be terminated and is perpetual. SCO is in the process of filing a legal injunction to force IBM to stop. In retaliation SCO's upped its damages to three billion US dollars. Oddly enough the suit says nothing about violation of copyright, only intellectual property. They're also blaming Linus Torvalds for not making sure that no copyrighted code has been incorporated into the Linux kernel. At least they are now talking about one of the things that they claim IBM has stolen: The read-copy update module used in multiprocessor machines to perform mutual exclusion locking.
Mutual exclusion locking in a nutshell is a situation when you have some resource foo and two or more things that need to access foo, Alice and Bob. If Alice has access to foo then Bob doesn't, and has to wait, and vice-versa. RCU is a system where any number of things can read foo at the same time and not crash into each other, but if one of them wants to alter foo then they have to lock everyone else out of foo, alter it, and then change all the references to foo to the new value without stepping on anything important. That's tricky enough when you've got one CPU in the system and different processes all working on some globally shared bit of data, downright maddening when you have, for example, four CPUs in a system running simultaneously.
This is turning into a huge pissing contest.
Linus Torvalds, original creator of the Linux kernel is taking a hiatus from Transmeta to work full-time on v2.6 of the kernel with the Open Source Development Lab. Given the mission of the OSDL, I have to wonder exactly what they'll have him implementing in the next series...
The World Health Organisation is declaring victory - the spread of SARS has been stopped dead. However, the victory is provisional in that it's up to China to keep SARS down for the count. Way to go, folks.
I thought today was going too smoothly.. woke up, it's nice inside, nice outside, the patter of rain against the rooftop.. then my grandfather lets me know that the windows of my car were all down. I don't think I have to go into exactly which curses and blasphemies I'd uttered when I found this out, you should be able to imagine them pretty easily. Suffice it to say that I've wiped the seats down and rolled them back up.
The old caulking's been stripped out of the bathroom. It still amazes me how silicone putty can not only fall apart but rot under certain conditions. That's some nasty stuff, let me tell you - I took a putty knife to it and it just fell to shreds of white goop. The thin layers of putty that wound up on the sides of the bathtub held up better than the stuff in the cracks, if you can believe that. It took a lot of scraping to get all of it off of the tub but once you get a big run of it lifted it just peels away, though it's messy. I'm letting the bathroom air-dry those places now so that most of the mildew will die off this afternoon. I'll probably flush everything out with ethyl alcohyl early tonight to make sure all the spores are washed away and to make sure that all the water's evaporated.
Aah.. the amazing things that come about when geeks are in a hurry. Liquid nitrogen ice cream.
Song that best describes life right now: Saint Etienne - Uri Geller Bent My Boyfriend
Shortly after sitting down to eat dinner this evening I heard Dataline calling my name from the front yard. Upon running out the front door (because this happens rarely) I discovered that she was trying to coax a pair of baby robins back into their nest. It's been raining pretty steadily all day today, and a gust of wind must have blown the nest out of the tree in the front yard. One was trying to climb back into the fallen nest, the other had landed some distance away and was busily attempting to learn to fly. We managed to corral them and boost them gently back into the nest before any ground-walking predators caught notice of them and then placed the nest back in a fork on the tree, the one which probably held the nest to begin with. I don't know how the mother bird is going to handle this - there's probably a bit of our scent on the chicks now. She might stop feeding them entirely and abandon the nest, or she might eject them from the nest. I don't know. I hope that she rears them until they're old enough to leave.
I finally got around to putting my Summercon 2003 pictures on line. If you see any glitches please let me know so I can fix them.
Senator Orrin Hatch, chairman of the US Senate Judiciary Committee is looking into ways of stopping file trading by damaging or destroying the computers used to do it. Yep, the senator's read one too many Shadowrun novels, I think. He stated on Tuesday that he's behind the development of technologies that will make this possible, nevermind the fact that this violates the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986, and probably a bunch of related federal statutes. Congress would have to put an exemption in place for such behaviour. If he pulls this off, I'd bet that he'd be surprised to find that people would develop countermeasures in short order, and knowing the Net these days retaliation would be forthcoming.
Greetings readers from usmc.mil! I hope you enjoyed the excuse files!
Music that best describes life right now: Danse Society - Heaven Is Waiting
The job hunt's started again. I'm still prowling around the local sites and sending out applications. I even applied for a few positions with the administration of the city of Pittsburgh today. Gods only know what'll come of that, but there's only one way to find out. You never know what'll happen, and I can't afford (literally and figuratively) to ignore any possible courses of action right now. Lyssa offered me crash space for a while in the event that I have to start looking out of state for employment. I hope that it doesn't come to that but if it's necessary to find a job that's what I'll do. I'm worried about having enough money to move out of state, I don't mind telling you. I've got friends trapped in California because they're making just enough to live there, but don't have any left over to save. A scary thought.
I'm not reading the news as much as I usually do today, I'm spending more time on the search. Before you ask, I've got a huge queue of letters printing right now, which takes up a lot of CPU time (gotta love Ghostscript for rendering text). Running a text editor doesn't slow things down overmuch.
Speaking of slowing things down, what the hell is going on out there? A recent poll shows that an amazing number of Americans don't know what's going on with the War On Terrorism(tm). One third of the public believes that US forces have found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. 22% say that Iraq conclusively used CBW (chemical/biological weapons). In both cases, nothing of this sort has been found in Iraq as yet. The amount of misinformation out there is simply staggering. The folks who conducted this poll and political analysts are chalking it up to the short average attention span of the public and the oversimplification of the threat on the part of the current government regeime. People are getting bits and pieces of information without any context or structure, so the misinterpretation of this information is an easy mistake to make. The news media isn't many any effort to present information in the manner it should, it's throwing sound bites out there which are being stuck into place in any old way... I wonder if it would be possible for a critical mass of some sort to be reached.. what would happen at that point is anyone's guess.
Success! I've just gotten a nibble on the job front, and someone's just sent a request for another copy of my resume. Hold your breath, folks..
Just a few hours ago I got off the phone with the woman interested in my resume... I took a few hours off to give my wrists a rest. She really liked what she saw and asked me about some of the places I've worked and what I've done on the job. I think this is going to be a good one.. she's passing my resume up the line to the next tier, I should know what's going on by next Monday. I can't wait to find out...
I've finally got a chance to breathe today. For a change I slept decently last night, in fact getting up late in the morning for a change. Having a few of the guys over for movie night was a lot of fun, we did the pizza-and-beer thing and watched Wicker Man and Freedom Downtime and spent most of the night laughing and talking. I suppose 'horror' is a relative term: In the interview with Christopher Lee on the DVD he remarked that Wicker Man was the scariest movie he'd ever been in. If you're not rooting for the folks on the island I suppose that it could be... everyone left shortly after 0000 EST last night, and after picking up around the basement a bit turned in to give my body a chance to rest. After basic maintenance this morning I signed my grandfather's Father's Day card (what a world in which we live when grandfathers get Father's Day cards, due to lack of fathers) and gave it to him. I love him dearly... he's 85 years old and still keeping busy and hanging in there. His eyes are bad, his hearing's poor, but he's still got a heart the size of all outdoors. Kocham ciebie, Dzi-Dzia.
Following that Dataline and I put together the grocery list for the week, taking into account the family reunion coming up this weekend (*sigh*) and the requests e-mailed in for stuff to make. I'm making a double-batch of chili (edible by humans) and my double-chocolate chip cookies for everyone. Gotta hand it to the Polish, we don't skip the food while we're planning. I have to remember to burn a few CD-ROMs for my cousin while I'm at it, I keep promising him some anime music videos because they live far enough out that a broadband link is impossible, hence, downloading videos isn't an option.
Anyway, I hit the supermarket to pick up stuff for dinner, this week, and the reunion. The lottery window was closed and didn't reopen in the time I was there, so I couldn't play my grandfather's lottery numbers. Yet another reason to not like that particular store, but at least I don't get lost in it. Per usual, the video department got in a handful of copies of The Animatrix the day after I'd ordered it from Amazon. Children of Dune is out on DVD now, too, in a two-disc set. I'm holding out for the special edition of that. I got everything put away, dinner's on the stove, and I'm catching up on stuff until then.
SCO's still at it. They're thinking of going after some more companies with the same charges of intellectual property theft that they're levelling against IBM. In particular, Redhat and SuSE, two major supporters of commercial Linux are coming into the crosshairs. What is described as "a major hardware vendor" (they didn't say) is also mentioned as a possible target for the lawsuit. They still havn't said what parts of the code are violating their licensing terms of SystemV.
SCO: Guys, get off your asses. Announce what and where the code is so we can look at it. I suspect you havn't done so because you're full of it. Your collective financial butt is in a grinder right now and this smells more and more like a quick way to fill your coffers.
IBM is not about to roll over and die, they refused to honor the Friday the thirteenth deadline. Something that isn't really being reported about this, the suit was filed back in March against IBM, this isn't recent, relatively speaking. SCO is debating the merits of pulling IBM's license to the SysV code as well as pondering getting an injunction to halt the production and shipping of AIX, IBM's answer to Unix. For some reason IBM isn't talking about the measures it has in place to make sure that proprietary code doesn't make it into any open-source projects they've got going right now, and this could hurt their defense in court.
Just when you thought life had to make sense, Qinetiq of the United Kingdom comes along as makes you wonder. They're working on a suite of sensors that is installed in an airline seat to analyse the biosigns of passengers through their butts. No, I'm serious. The sensors watch how a sitter shifts his or her weight and from that data deduces whether they are asleep, fidgeting nervously, having a seizure.. of course there are anti-terrorist possibilities here, too. If someone's fidgeting they might be nervous about hijacking the plane in a few minutes. The idea's interesting, given the comparisons made with the strain gauges in automobile seats in place today, but still....
Note: The following is Not Work Safe.
And now my impression of paying my medical insurance premiums every month .
Crude? Yes. So is paying almost $600us every month when you don't have a job.
More about the SCO case: A Linux kernel developer opens fire. And this is the last I'll talk about it for a while, promise.
It's shortly after 1500 EST, I've just finished packing everything away after a long morning of drowsiness, wonder, and intermittent rain squalls. My next door neighbor usually organises the neighborhood garage sale every summer, and while we had little to put up for the curious to examine he did not, so much so that he asked for assistance. As far as I know he'd pulled his tables out last night and left them in our garage to save time today. I'd been unable to get back to sleep around 0730 EST so I got up, had breakfast, and headed outside to help him set stuff up. I must confess he now has me beaten in the amount of computer hardware he's got around the house - I donated most of mine to Goodwill, he hauled a great deal out to try to sell today. It didn't sell well. I'm inclined to think that my neighborhood just doesn't have enough geeks to hawk gear to. All told we spent a good six hours or so out there trying to get rid of stuff.
I wound up buying a pair of longboxes for 5.25 inch floppy disks off of him to replace the half-dozen smaller boxes holding Commodore and Atari disks. I still have the little ones, too.. I'm probably going to ditch them this week at Goodwill. Rick sold one or two systems if memory serves, and a lot of miscellaneous stuff, which is what's supposed to happen at any good garage sale, I guess. About every two hours or so it started to rain, or tried to at any rate. We'd scramble like ants to get plastic thrown over everything or push stuff into the garage, it'd rain for ten minutes or so and then stop, so we'd have to drag everything back out. Rinse. Repeat. The third time we got tired of moving stuff around and just left it in the garage. Alexius, Dawnie, and Taja stopped by around 1400 to look through the hardware. Unfortunately, there wasn't anything that they'd needed so the inventory didn't go down any.
'lex had the bandage off of his hand today. The laceration looks pretty nasty but at least the sutures are out and the edges are holding together. It should be completely healed by the end of the week by my estimation. He helped Rick and I load the remaining stuff into the back of Rick's van to drag back to the house not too long ago.
The US Department of Defense is planing to have moved their networks over to IPv6 by the year 2008. I guess they're going to be the ones that force everyone else into upgrading.. Japan wasn't able to do it, unfortunately. One thing I found odd was the claim that most commercial software is IPv6 compatible already. This is news.
I just finished mucking around with my home entertainment system. When I installed the RF converter so I could splice SAL into the co-ax feed from the VCR I made two errors in judgement, one necessary, one not. The necessary error was that I had to place a 300 ohm to 75 ohm converter between the co-ax and the RF converter box itself, and then a 300 ohm to 75 ohm converter on the output side of the RF converter. Or at least, I think those are the right values.. I'd recognise them if I had the contraption in hand at this moment. The other one was that I didn't disconnect the converter unit that the Sega Genesis uses, even though the Sega Genesis wasn't hooked up. The mass of devices all clumped together was allowing a lot of interference to leak into the signal and fuzzing the hell out of both the image and the sound. I crawled back there and disconnected the adapters not too long ago, only to find that I couldn't reattach the co-ax feed from the VCR... for whatever reason I just couldn't line the connectors up right to screw them in. I pulled. I pushed. I moved the TV. I sweated and swore a few times. I even cut a notch in the back of the entertainment center to lessen the pressure on the cable but it wound up being luck that let me reattach the cable. I'm not going to be doing that for a while.
Sendai posted a link to his review of Summercon this morning. I'm considered a hobbiest.. whee. And I think Sendai was the guy sitting right in front of me in the audience during the panel I was on at Summercon.
I'd like to answer Sendai's question, somewhat belatedly. I don't call myself a hacker; I strive to uphold the Hacker Ethic in my life. I learned something growing up: If you call yourself a hacker, you spend the majority of your time justifying yourself to people who call you on it and demand proof of what you say you are. I'd rather be hacking than postinglong diatribes on mailing lists to back myself up or defending myself in debates. I don't care to say, I do.
Today's kind of slow.. I'm still tired from yesterday but not falling over, thankfully. I've been hunting for a job today, and not finding too many in the greater Pittsburgh area. To be fair, I havn't finished making my rounds of the usual job sites yet, so we'll see how things go. I found a few openings at Duquesne University, but they're all for programmers in languagese that I don't know, and I'm not a database guy.. at least not yet. The search goes as well as it could right now. I'm thinking about making use of the spare time I have right now by learning Java v1.4 and Perl later on (I've just ordered a book on Perl, it should be here in a few days). If I'm going to be sitting at a computer for an indeterminant period of time until I land a job I may as well make some good use of it.
The sheer number of positions which require currently active 'secret' security clearances that can be found on Computerjobs is starting to make me wonder.
I just got home a few minutes ago. Earlier this afternoon Dataline sent me out to pick up dinner for the folks, which took the form of takeout from Long John Silvers. Wonderfully tasty fast food, but lethally bad for you.. everyone needs that sometimes. Afterward I got a call from 'lex - he'd rounded up a few people and they were going out to dinner. I wound up buying an appetizer that was much larger than I'd thought it would be, hot pepper rolls. Dinner twice in one night... I hate doing that. After that we headed back to Alexius' house to listen to 80's night on the radio and talk. Dawnie, 'lex, and I spent a couple of hours trying to figure out life and why we do some of the things we do. Around 0030 I headed back to the Lab to catch up on stuff before turning in for the night.
Sleep this morning was disturbed by a phone call at 0830 EST by an ex-coworker who needed tech support. Generally speaking, whenever a hard drive is making grinding noises, that's a bad sign. Yes, hard disk drives are available on the open market, and they're quite cheap right now. Leafing through the weekend paper will provide at least three stores locally that stock very large hard drives for a cheap price. Yes, there are companies out there that will recover your data if you really need it that badly (and havn't backed it up), provided that you pay. Calling me around 0800 tends to catch me in a mentally compromised state...
This might be a case of "you should get used to getting up early," but right now I'm too tired to care much.
Cool! Wizzywig's has just been mentioned at Megatokyo as a partner in stuff-distribution! I've been there, they've got an incredible store in Ann Arbor.. definitely worth going to if you'll be in the vicinity of the University of Michigan.
Here is yet another article about the monkeypox outbreak in the US; I'm bringing it up only because there are a few new facts that caught my attention. Vaccination plans are in the development state at present, just in case. There are now 54 reported cases in the US, spread across Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois, and New Jersey; no one's died yet. They're saying that people shouldn't release infected animals into the wild because that will give the disease a chance to become permanantly entrenched in the US; as I'd mentioned a few days ago, monkeypox is not native to this part of the world.
This is interesting... The Matrix Reloaded has been banned in Egypt due to it's religious content, in particular the themes of the nature of existence and the creation of the Universe. These topics are the province of religion only, they say, and discussing them might lead to "crises".
I always thought that talking about stuff like that was a good way of kicking ideas around and figuring things out. I see that a lot of people don't think that's good idea. Thinking about the nature of the Universe can cause problems.. it can cause doubt.. it might cause a search for answers...
Whatever was I thinking?
It hasn't been a boring day, let me tell you.. I headed out today to have lunch with Dracus, an old friend of mine who moved out of Pennsylvania a few years ago. He's back for a while, though not for the best of reasons: An old friend of his from college died recently and he's in town for both the funeral and the friends of his friend. I don't envy him right now. I've been there before, with an old high-school buddy of mine, and the situation in general sucks. Dracus is holding up, but I don't know about his friends... I hope they're going to be okay. After lunch at Kassab's we wandered around the South Hills and the south side in general, poking our heads into many a store and seeing what there was to see. I highly recommend the mazah platter at Kassab's, it's a good appetizer plate if there's more than one, and the falafel is pretty good, too. Anyway, we didn't find too much on the south side though some of stores really have grown into themselves. We wandered around for the better part of the day, talking and searching.
When I first got down there I found a parking space on a side street right off the bat, something that's never happened before. A guy wandered over and asked me if I could jumpstart his car... after some fumbling with the cables, because I don't do it very often, I managed to get the other guy's car started. My good deed done for the day. Then I drove around for another half hour, searching for parking. I eventually got lucky and snuck in behind a bank, then hiked a few blocks to Kassab's.. then hiked to an ATM because they don't do charge cards, only cash. Then walked back to Kassab's. I guess I got my road work in today.
Just before I got to Kassab's (the timeline is messed up here, and you'll see why in a few sentences) the heavens opened and the deluge began. Visibility was reduced to a minimum, which was less than fun whether you were in a vehicle or on foot. The rain let up after an hour or so and the weather cooperated... until I dropped Dracus off. By the time I'd gotten to Washington Boulevard the storm started again in earnest, and in the distance I was watching lightning strikes. The rain kicked up badly enough that I was navigating by the tail lights of the truck in front of me, and it stayed that way until I got to the supermarket, whereupon I picked up stuff for my grandfather so he could finish making dinner (better (very) late than never). By the time I'd dashed from my car to the front of the store I was soaked to the skin, but the rain had all but abated by the time I'd gotten out.
Now, on the news, all you see are news reports of tornadoes that had hit this afternoon.. Greentree was hit pretty badly, and points north (like Westmoreland and Indiana) are feeling the effects of a few tornadoes this day. I was in Greentree today... drove around there for a good hour or so. One of the reported tornadoes touched down in the Allegheny River and was working its way upstream. Dataline works down that-a-way.. I was in spitting distance of the Allegheny today, too. A funnel cloud was said to be running parallel to route 28.. which I take driving back to the Lab.
I'm scared. Today was the closest I've been to a tornado in a long time, the one that was running along route 28. I never wanted to go through that again.. I didn't even realise that there were tornadoes making their rounds out here today. Not once. Thank the gods, no one around here was hurt. The streets were pretty flooded while I was out and about, but I expect that's abated a bit.
I've finally succumbed to the meme..
This odd article was mentioned on the WPLUG mailing list this evening: Linux users don't want Linux, they want Unix on the Intel platform. Apparently, pushing Intel hardware to its limits is what drives so many people to use Linux on their systems. Sun isn't looking to provide Solaris for the x86, it already does.. I know for a fact that Solaris 8 has been released for the Intel platform, because I have a copy of it; I coded on it for a while on a spare machine back in 2000 and 2001. There are more Unices out there that run on the x86 core, though - there's SCO Unix, FreeBSD, NetBSD, and OpenBSD, and those are just off the top of my head.
I've found the first Summercon 2003 picture archive at this site. I think it's blk-majik's but I don't know for certain yet.
Song that best describes life right now: The Quickening by Sean Dockery
I can't see this lasting very long.. someone figured out how to electrify an Xbox controller to provide tactile feedback to the player. By attaching one of the tazer gun kits from Information Unlimited and replacing the vibrator's armature with it inside the controller instead of feeling the controller vibrate in your hands, it delivers an electrical charge to the skin of your palms. Two small conductive electrodes protrude from the casing of the controller and deliver the charge.
I can't think of a better way of breaking oneself of playing those games.
And now it's time for Stuffie Theatre.
I've had about enough... for a while I've been trying to make it to the local pagan meetup, which is supposed to happen once every month in my area. Twice I've been there.. and twice there has been no one else around. If there are 58 people in Pittsburgh registered I'd really like to meet them... gods only know where they might be. I just got home a few minutes ago, and I'm a little miffed. I've just taken myself off the roster for Pittsburgh.
I'm jacked into Kabuki right now via wireless link and logged into Leandra as I write this entry. Somehow I managed to get her to synchronise with the WAP in the Lab, I'm not quite sure how. I had the usual trouble with her not connecting to the DHCP server, with the associated "network unavailable" error messages in her system logs. The moment I switched her over from DHCP to a hardwired address she linked right up. Either the DHCP server in the Lab isn't working (dammit) or there's something screwy with how the drivers send and recieve broadcasts (which are necessary for DHCP). It's the most plausible explanation I've encountered yet. As long as I hardcode things she has no trouble with it... I should have her grep the forums at the PCMCIA drivers' Sourceforge site to see if anyone else has run into this.
While I was sitting at the cafe' tonight waiting for the meetup that didn't happen I was reading the local citypaper.. they'll be showing the Cowboy Bebop movie at a theatre downtown during the Pittsburgh Arts Festival. Neat.
And speaking of neat, here's a review on Slashdot of Special Edition Using Staroffice 6.0. I've got SO6 on Leandra (and soon on Kabuki) and it's well worth the money (yes, I pay for software.. I just happened to not have been the one who paid for it this time). The UI is easier to use in many respects than MS Office's (or at least I think it is) but there are some specific things that I still can't figure out, and a few of them are mentioned in the review of the book. I might go out and pick it up for the heck of it, I could really use it right now. Anyway, check out the review, the comments probably won't be of any interest but you never know.
Hello Kitty tarot?!
SCO's still throwing its weight around, I noticed.. they've put a deadline on IBM to resolve the licensing dispute, 0000 (timezone unknown) on Friday, 13 June 2003 as this article states. If they can't come to a resolution IBM will lose its rights to the SYSV code they licensed from SCO and AIX will be dead in the water. No one will have a valid license for it anywhere. Exactly what this will mean, I don't know. I'm not an expert on AIX but I don't think that anyone can broadcast a kiss-of-death packet on the Net and kill every AIX box out there. Installations of SCO Unix, on the other hand, have the nasty tendency to communicate with each other on the same LAN and if any two have the same registration code the last one booted will shut itself down, as I discovered by accident a few years ago while consulting. It'll be interesting, as an ancient curse would have it.
The Burning Man Festival is in trouble, folks. The annual festival, which takes place in the deserts of the western United States is being denied its permit to use the land near the town of Gerlach. A petition is underway to get the local government to let them use the land once more, otherwise the festival's dead in the water.. if you're a fan of TAZes (Temporary Autonomous Zones) or just love festivals in general (or if you've ever attended), please sign the petition to show your support.
An interesting idea just came down the wire on the CBM-hackers mailing list about faking multitasking on a C-64 or C-128 system by taking advantage of the CPUs in the peripherals... Commodore peripherals (like printers and diskette drives) have their own processor cores, usually a 6502 CPU, and a small amount of RAM (less than a kilobyte normally but that can be modified fairly easily). You can send code and an execution order over the serial bus to a peripheral (by referencing a device number) pretty easily. That's how fastloader software works, by programming the disk drive with new serial routines that more efficiently access the serial bus. A lot of copy protection schemes worked along those lines, too. The idea bouncing around is programming a peripheral (say, a diskette drive) to send commands to another device on the serial bus (for example, a printer) instead of having the CPU in the Commodore itself do it. The CPU in the console would upload the code to the drive and follow it with an execution order, and the CPU in the drive would start giving orders to the printer, which frees up the CPU in the console to do other things.
Hmmm.. I wonder if it would be possible to hack together a second, smaller computer that would sit as the first device in the serial chain and take data and executable code from the console and then control the peripherals, which would free up the console, sort of a poor cyb's multitasking. I wish I knew more about hardware design sometimes...
Update: Someone named Spiro Trikaliotis on the CBM-hackers mailing list just dug up some assembly code to do just this from a German book called Die Floppy 1541 (it also appears in at least one issue of the magazine 64'er). If there's enough call for it I'll put a mirror of the code up here.
More on the monkeypox outbreak out west: The reason that the authorities are so worried is that the initial symptoms of monkeypox are the same as those of smallpox, which is a valid reason to worry, I must admit. By mistaking monkeypox for smallpox an incorrect treatment, which could be harmful to the patient under the circumstances may be prescribed. The reverse is also true, with serious consequences. As of Monday (20030609) 18 cases have been reported to the Centers for Disease Control. And apparently prairie dogs are kept as pets by some people, because the going theory is that a pair of prairie dogs were sold at a pet swap meet to someone that were infected with monkeypox, and those two 'dogs infected other animals with the virus.
Dataline's talking about getting stuff together for the neighborhood garage sale this weekend. I'm not interested in the least - I've had enough of moving stuff around in the house for a while, and I really want a break. She has a few things to put out there, fine. But I'm just freaking tired of all of this. If she wants to sell this weekend, fine. But count me out.
Now playing: Nitevision by Sandman of KFM
The number of cases of monkeypox in the mid-west hit 50 today. I'm kind of curious - unusual diseases are starting to pop up more and more lately. First SARS appeared at the beginning of this year, now an outbreak of monkeypox has been detected in the United Statse. It seems like every few months another disease starts making its rounds in the US. This strikes me as very odd.
I have to admit, I'd not considered this possibility: What if IBM didn't steal SCO code to integrate into Linux but SCO stole Linux code to integrate into SCO Unix? An anonymous source at SCO leaked that parts of Linux kernel code were dropped into the codebase for SystemV, upon which SCO Unix is based. This is coming from a nameless source, so take this with a sizable grain of salt, but what if...? If this was indeed the case (if) they'd be pulling something seriously ballsy, copying the code without crediting it and then suing one of the custodians of the code to covers SCO's own ass. I think this is going to be a pretty messy case, and it's going to take quite a while to sort everything out. A lot of people are going to get tired of hearing about it either way, though, so the outcome might not be spread as widely as it could/should be.
Some time early this morning the power was restored to my neighborhood. Last night a thunderstorm blew through and knocked out power to most of western Pennsylvania in the early evening. Lowmagnet and I knew that something was going to hit, it was just a matter of time. I took him out for dinner last night to celebrate his birthday, and we hung around for a while and talked music and the logistics of moving. The thunderstorm left us without power for a good six hours or so, much of which was filled with a battery-powered radio (come on, folks... you can go without noise of some sort for just a few hours), a number of candles, and comic books. What else was there to do?
By the bye, if anyone in the Pittsburgh area knows of an FM station which broadcasts Coast to Coast AM, please drop me a line. Trying to keep an AM station tuned in is starting to get on my nerves.
The RIAA is starting to piss me off.. Jesse Jordan, a freshman at Rensselaer Polytech of Troy, New York basically had his life savings of $12,000us confiscated because he set up a search engine on campus. Jordan created a search engine which indexed systems on the R.P. network called Chew Plastic (not linked because this article made the front page of Slashdot, you probably won't get through anyway), which facilitated the location of academic materials, such as Powerpoint presentations, syllabi, and notes, though it's a given that files like .mp3's and .wmv's were found there as well. The RIAA smacked him with a lawsuit which Jordan was able to settle by giving them his life savings of $12,000us. This is bullshit, people. The RIAA is throwing its weight around and crushing anyone they think will make a good example.
I just got back from the NHPD... how I did so well during the panel at Summercon, only to completely screw up tonight is beyond me. I was scared out of my mind.. I'm not used to talking about what I do, I hate being the center of attention like that. Someone new was there, which sort of threw me off my guard, but I'm not blaming it on her. I had an outline that I probably should have stuck more closely to, but I was afraid of sounding too much the teacher and not enough someone 'just' talking to people. 'lex helped a lot by guiding the discussion in certain directions (he was one of the people who'd critiqued my notes) but by and large I kept forging ahead. I was so nervous I kept locking my hands, which isn't good. My arms are sore all the way up to my elbows as a result because the muscles were basically redlined but not actually doing anything.
And to think I swore that I'd never become a type-A personality.
I started off talking about William Gibson and the concept of cyberspace. As he described it, cyberspace was a way of abstracting data that was too complex for people to work on anymore by generating a metaphor that the mind could easily understand. By extension, religions act as an abstraction upon a universe that is too complex for sentient minds to comprehend. Religions take phenomena and situations (such as the ever popular "Why did this have to happen to me?") and place an abstraction layer over top of them, so that they can be understood. Once you understand the metaphor you can begin to peel it away and understand that which it's laying over top of. A lot of people forget that there is something underneath the metaphors, a sort of meta-system, but that wasn't what I wanted to talk about. I talked a lot about connections between ideas and things, and how similiar ideas connect dissimiliar objects; the closest thing I can translate this concept into are Quabbalistic correspondences - if two different things are expressions of the same idea, then there is a connection between them that you can take advantage of to do things with.
There was a lot of stumbling and nervous pauses in here.
Those connections can be taken advantage of - make a connection to something by making a model that has as much in common with the underlying ideas behind it that you can, then affect the model. Due to the connection, change the model, change the thing. Sympathy, in a nutshell. We went off a bit on my altar, but were sidetracked fairly rapidly. I didn't get to say nearly as much as I would like to have, but sometimes that's what has to happen.
Afterward we headed back down to Borders to hang out and browse the shelves for a while. 'lex had to get ready for work, so he left early, which signalled the departure of everyone else, pretty much. I went out for coffee with Alaric and Lyssa and shot the bull with them for a few hours, getting to know them. I've been spending a good bit of time with them since I started going to the NHPD but never really got to sit and talk. I'd like to do that again.. they're people I'd like to get to know better.
What the hell is monkeypox doing in the United States, in humans, no less? People in the midwest are apparently contracting it from pet prairie dogs (pets??).. the CDC in Atlanta, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana are scrambling to get both people and critters into quarantine before it gets out of hand. So far no one's died yet, thank the gods for small favours.
Okay. I'm back home and mostly conscious, and ready to finish writing. I can finish writing now as I'm at Leandra's console.
As you've no doubt read, I screwed up WaveLAN support on Kabuki again. I might mess around with it tonight but frankly I'm not in the mood. Yesterday at Summercon was a bona fide blast. The morning started off with a presentation by special agent Tom Grasso of the FBI, who gave an outline of the investigation of net.crime, followed by M. Reynolds' discussion of the next generation of web-based security attacks, which I have to admit I was blanking on due to hacking on Kabuki most of the time. After that was a break for lunch, whereupon most of the convention-goers retired to the bar to drink more. That's one thing I do not understand... I drink, I'll admit it. I get hammered sometimes, but that's because my tolerance is very low, not because I drink a lot. But there were folks at Summercon who literally started at 1700 EST on Friday and kept going as long as I was there, probably until the con closed (which I think is some time today (Sunday)). That both amazes and scares me. I also do not envy the hangovers that go with it. But now I'm about to get preachy, which I don't like, so I'm just going to drop that line of thought.
I spent all of the lunchbreak hacking on Kabuki, making little progress. At one point I took a break to wander into the University Club's lobby to talk to the folks at the registration desk. During the opening speech Louis Trumpbour mentioned that there would be a breakout panel that afternoon, and if anyone was interested in being a part of it to come up and say so. So I did. Early in the afternoon Chris Tracy of Telerama presented a discussion of 802.11 networking security (WaveLAN). It was one of the best thought-out and informative discussions of the entire con, I have to admit. He assumed that you knew just enough about WaveLAN to use it and explained everything that you needed to know about it to set up an access point securely. It was pretty basic stuff but if you're new to wireless networking it was very informative.
Following Chris' discussion was the panel.. the public's perception of hackers. I was on the panel with Sam, who later gave another presentation on the topic of computer forensics (analysing cracked systems to see how it was done and finding evidence that may have been altered or deleted somehow) and Alexei, an artist-cum-writer doing an article on Summercon. We passed the mic around and fielded questions from Louis as well as the people in the audience. Questions such as what we were into, why we do what we do, what got us into technology and hacking... slice-of-life stuff, basically. One gentleman, whom I strongly suspect was a sysadmin himself due to his gripes, bitched for a good ten minutes about lazy sysadmins Out There who don't patch their systems and all the havoc this practise (or lack therof) can cause. The Sapphire/Slammer worm comes immediately to mind. I really felt for the guy, having ranted many a time in the past on exactly the same topic. If admins would install patches as they were released, after testing them on a sacrificial (testbed) system first but in a timely manner, the Net in general and Windows in particular wouldn't have nearly the problem it does now with worms overtaking every box in sight.
One guy had a good question: What can the hacker community as a whole do to improve its image in the public eye? I must admit I've wondered that for many a year myself, and I don't have any good answers. I've got a few thoughts that I'll write down later (Alexei, if you ever read this, my mind hasn't been idle), but first I've got a few other things to take care of (like a bit of cleaning that I didn't do before Summercon). Oh, I have pictures to put up, too. That'll happen in a few days, definitely by the end of this week.
Saturday afternoon was the most amusing presentation of all... Redpantz and Max Power (and a third guy whose handle escapes me at the moment) gave a flat out fucking hilarious presentation Saturday afternoon. Earlier that day they'd gotten hold of someone's Powerpoint presentation and were leafing through it. Each slide had between five and fifteen layers, one per click.. I lost track of the number of unique slides. I've read dissertations that were less complex than that. We spent a decent amount of time laughing our butts off about it in the lounge... I honestly don't know whose presentation it originally was or what it was supposed to be about (or how they got hold of it, come to think of it...), but they decided to hack it a bit and present it to the convention. They walked to the podium three sheets to the wind and filled the time between setup and go-ahead with rap .mp3's and general crowd performance. After that they wandered here and there through the presentation in a most amusing manner, skipping over stuff outlined (far too) clearly in the slides, walking into the audience ala Jerry Springer, and generally chewing up time and working the crowd. Informative? Not really. Funny? Damn skippy. The fact that they were calling out RFCs (Requests For Cigarettes) and drinking 40's the whole time kept most of us in stitches. Whomever dragged one of the throne-like easy chairs from the lobby behind the speakers' table needs to be hugged; it was just unusual enough to be funny. While they are no cDc they were still highly entertaining. Guys, I give you crazy props for what you did; you brought a smile to this old Time Lord's face.
Around 1800 EST Mark Trumpbour rounded up as many people as he could for a group picture at the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial on the Pitt campus. I think about half the con turned out for that, give or take. Much goofing off was done, as if that needs mention. The camera used was, I was told, a webcam positioned on one of the rooftops of the Cathedral of Learning. A few of us had our own cameras and snapped a few shots for posterity just for good measure. When we were told to pose for the webcam, the sea of obscene gestures and gang signs must have been an interesting sight from on high - if I find the shot I'll put it up for everyone's amusement and entertainment. I snapped a few pictures while I was there, when I download them from my d-cam I'll put them up. Of course, a fifteen-foot long deactivated torpedo/monument is a source of much enteretainment, from the obligatory sexual references to a re-enactment of the end of Doctor Strangelove (I think....) were done. When the novelty of this wore off Sl0ppy showed off some trick bicycle riding, including jumping over Redpantz... I wish there was video of that.
Following that entertainment I joined Chris, Louis, Sam, Paul, Damian, and a number of other folks who are friends and family of the Trumpbour brothers for dinner at a local restaurant. The name escapes me at the moment, I'm not as familiar as I could be with Shadyside; I know that said restaurant specialises in pan-Asian cuisine and is across the street from the Elbow Room. More than that I cannot say. The restaurant is one of the most posh I've ever had the opportunity to visit; the interior is mostly black (either flat or shiny and highly reflective), the furniture is comfy, there are waiters roaming around at all times, I ran into a guy I went to IUP with back in the day... the menus have only two pages yet are as thick as a CO's telephone book, about a quarter-inch or so. Wow. The food is a little bit on the pricy side but was amazingly good. I highly recommend the fried tofu with sweet and sour dipping sauce and the red curry tofu (which will be worthwhile advice once I figure out exactly where we were). That night I got to meet Doug Luce of Telerama.
I felt really bad about last night; everyone was trading business cards like water, and I didn't have any to reciprocate. I'm not working right now so I don't have any 'official' cards, neither do I have any cards of my own printed up. I have a few left over from my last job, at Moai Technologies but I don't work there anymore so I can't rightly use them; I don't represent Moai anymore and I don't want to give the impression that I do. Maybe I'll work on a set of cards tonight... at any rate, dinner was fantastic. Telerama picked up the bill for dinner, for which I am grateful. Doug didn't have to do that. Thank you so much.
After dinner I stopped back at the con briefly to say goodbye to the 412 and 724 folks who were still there, then caught the tail-end of "My Greatest Hack Ever". Redpantz and Max Power were up there, of course, as was Sl0ppy, Isildur (with Toughbook - ye gods!) and a bunch of other folks that I hadn't met. Redpantz and Max took the runner-up prize, a graphics card and modem for a Radio Shack TRS-80 (with the price tags still on them); the winner was the guy who cracked a box at a bank and made it onto Attrition as a result.
No, I don't know who it was. I didn't get a chance to meet the guy, I left shortly after he was given his trophy.
I don't know who got the wardriving contest's trophy, though I suspect it was blk-majik and Isildur.
If you're like me you're probably following the SCO-vs-IBM lawsuit, in which SCO is claiming that IBM stole proprietary Unix code (SCO holds a license to at least one version of Unix code, if not outright ownership; I'm still a little fuzzy on that) and is using it without permission. That's not what I'm writing about. This article has something in it that disturbs me... some elements of the Linux community are acting in a hostile (understandably) and untoward manner toward SCO, which makes the rest of us look bad. There are some Linux enthusiasts out there, I know not who, who are bombing SCO's mail servers with flames, threatening drive-by shootings(!), and posting the personal contact information for sundry SCO executives on the Net.
Guys, what in the hell are you doing?
You're acting in a manner which makes all of us look bad. The vast majority of the Linux community does not do stuff like threatening violence. It's one thing to be angry, and you've got a right to be given what's happening. But that's no reason to threaten to drive by someone's house and open fire. That makes you look like a gun nut with a few bad lines in your level-1 cache, not a Linux user and/or developer with something to say about a court case that could impact your life/career. Use your heads before you go shooting your mouths off. All it takes are a few people to give everyone else a bad reputation, and in many ways it's hard enough to be taken seriously for writing code and giving it away. This won't help the acceptance of Open Source in general or Linux in particular.
My diploma finally came in the mail yesterday... I am officially a graduate. I've already framed it and hung it in the living room (per Dataline's request). Now I feel like I'm done... there is closure, there's proof that I can hold.
On Friday night I found out that Lowmagnet is leaving Pittsburgh. The company he works for has transferred him to an office in the south and he's decided to sell his house and move before the end of the summer. This hit me hard; I've known Lowmagnet since high school. He was one of my first friends from my BBS days, an original member of the Triumvirate. Geez, Lowmagnet remembers the last version of me..
University of Pittsburgh. This is my first con local to home so this is something of a treat - not having to pay for a hotel feels good for once. I picked up my badge (actually an id pouch/notepad/pen holder stamped with the Summercon logo and with a pen and pad for writing down e-mail addresses and notes. I can think of a few other uses for it, I plan on keeping mine around for a while.
Of course, Kabuki's wireless support is pissing me off. I can't get on the Net for longer than a few minutes, and I've narrowed it down to rebuilding her a few days ago. Fuck. I'm stupid when it comes to this.
Summercon starts tonight. If my primary plans don't go the way I hope they do I'll probably show up for the opening of the wet bar. If not... that's what Saturday and Sunday are for.
Not too long ago Attorney General John Ashcroft defended his actions in the 9/11 investigation, among them the interrogation and deportation of 515 people (many of whom had nothing to do with 9/11) and imprisonment without being charged. Ashcroft's say that it's an ideological war - what he's not realising is that his reactions to terroristic actions are just as radical. Something I found interesting was that 9/11 investigation committee James Sensenbrenner enforced a five minute time limit for each question, and cut off many people in the middle of their sentences. Ashcroft gave lengthy answers as well, often hitting the end of the time limit himself.. something tells me that the huge preambles kept him from getting to the actual answer to the question, but I wasn't there. Interesting.
Word's just come down the line that Wired Magazine is going to publish the disassembly of the Slammer worm from earlier in 2003 in one of the articles. If you nose around a bit, though, you can find the same code on the Net. I don't agree with the assessment of the article above though - just because you've got the disassembled version of the code doesn't mean that you can tweak it easily. I've got a copy of the disassembly in another terminal and it's pure, though commented x86 assembly code. There are a lot of PUSH ops run on hex constants in there, which are pretty opaque. Calls to library functions are done manually (which compilers and assemblers do naturally) - PUSHes and CALLs.
I guess what I'm trying to get at is that while you could hack the disassembly and run it through an assembler (it appears to be valid code, though I've not coded x86 assembly in a couple of years), disassemblies tend to have glitches in them that would have to be fixed first. Also, a lot of the code is pretty opaque. It would be easier to clone it in a high level language and compile it, using the disassembly as an outline of how the worm is supposed to work. But it wouldn't be as easy as the article makes it out to be.
The record companies are at it again, folks. Sony, EMI, and Universal want to use forensic data analysis software (EnCase, specifically) to search for .mp3 files on students' computer systems at the Universities of Tasmania, Sydney, and Melbourne. Examining file extensions isn't enough for them, they're after file headers. This particular set of techniques is likely to expose sensitive information, such as spreadsheets and the occasional bit of someone's finances, as well as information on people who aren't even involved. Seeing as this article's talking about Australia I have no idea what the procedures are for getting legal permission to analyse such a system.. anybody know what has to go into this to make it possible down there?
The job search continues. I've hit another four or five jobsites today and my trusty copy of Cover Letters for Dummies (don't laugh) is open in my lap. The only thing it needs is a silk bookmark permanantly attached to the binding. Tech jobs around Pittsburgh are pretty hard to find right now but if you dig long enough and hard enough something will eventually pop up. The hardest part is making yourself look good, I've found. This entry as an exception I try to be as invisible as I can. I don't like calling attention to myself but a resume is the antithesis of such a concept. The only way to get anywhere, though, is to keep plugging away at it.
I wound up awakening far earlier than normal this morning, around 0700 EST. For the past few days I've been having trouble sleeping, in particular I've been having nightmares that I just can't seem to get away from. They're not the kind of dreams where fears grab you by the throat and start shaking you like a rag doll, they're the kind where you're in over your head and you know it, in fact you can feel it and if you look up you can see the surface, so to speak, but you know that there's no hope. But your fate never comes.
Maybe it was something I said.
The dreams seem to be serial in their content. It started off months ago with someone that I knew really well (in the dream) asking me to take care of a pair of rats but leaving, never to be seen again, before I could ask for any of the usual support hardware, like cages. Or food. Or bedding. Moreover, the dream takes place in what appears to be a collegiate building of some sort. It could be a research facility, it could be pure office space, I don't know. The memories of the building from the dream aren't clear. So I'm stuck with these rats in the dream and no place to put them. If I can get them put away for a while I can get my head together and try to get my hands on a cage and the usual stuff. So I throw them into a closet. Or pack them into a box. Or something else equally cruel.
Then they get out and start climbing all over me. I'm afraid that they're going to bite but they never do, they just dig into my clothes and skin and won't let go. I'm afraid that I'm going to hurt them (I love animals) but I can't get them off of me, and I can't take care of them.
Dreams like this go on and on.. I can't say how long they appear to take because I don't know; they might be going on for an hour or maybe just a few seconds. That's one of the things about dreams, your sense of time is distorted while you're inside them.
As I said earlier, I've been having dreams in this "series" off and on for a few months now. This morning was particularly bad. In fact, it was the first time that I've been awakened forcibly by them in a long time. I wound up stumbling into the living room while Dataline was getting ready for work and talking less-than-coherently about it. In the end I don't think that I got back to sleep, I tossed and turned until 0800 or so, at which time I decided to get up and get moving.
Maybe I'll put up some possible interpretations of these dreams later.
New discovery in life: Getting something done is good for sweeping the brain of cobwebs from the night before. After far too long I decided to clean my room this afternoon. Two more bags of trash are awaiting disposal, the laundry basket's full, and the sweeper's been run, giving the carpet a much needed once-over. Dust shoggotha and lint from various forms of fabric has at long last been swept up, and to boot I did a little dusting. The room finally feels comfortable again, even though I really should clean out the storage cubes in there. There's a lot of crap, to put not too fine a point on it, from high school, and many pictures that should probably be put in an album to get them out of the way. I'll probably do that a little at a time.
I just got my car back. Of all the stuff that had to be done to it (yearly inspection, fluids, brakes, et al) the bill came out to be only $222us. I'm a regular customer at the garage so they gave me a discount on everything, but still.... there just wasn't much that had to be fixed this time around. I'm not complaining. The car passed inspection with flying colours (per usual) and they replaced my wiper blades, which I'd screwed up months ago.. sheesh. The rear brakes were adjusted slightly and the tires rotated. She rides like a dream now. Per usual, Dataline called to ask me to call the garage and check on my car twenty minutes before the car they'd sent to pick me up pulled into the driveway.. it never fails. Not that I'm complaining too much, mind you: I'd forget all about it if someone didn't remind me. I used to use sticky notes as reminders but one day I realised that I'd lost my wall and most of Leandra's display. But that's neither here nor there. Everything's good to go, and I can't complain overmuch about that.
Kabuki is really starting to shape up. Debian's installed and mostly configured, XFree86 is configured and running, and I've got PCMCIA functional. I'm going to mess around with her /etc/modules.conf file a bit to cut down the number of error messages, test APM to see if I've gotten hibernation (soft-off) working, and then start removing the unnecessary software to close any possible security holes. Once I've got that done I'm going to install the GRsecurity patch and lock everything down once and for all. She should be ready to go by Summercon.
Now Playing: Sean Dockery - The Quickening
An odd post just came down the wire from the Commodore Homestead mailing list. America On-Line has decided to block incoming SMTP traffic from sites that have what they consider to be dynamically-assigned IP addresses. This makes sense: Many spammers are sitting behind PPP links using disposable accounts. However, they're blocking entire ISPs which don't, like videocam.net.au (where Homestead is based out of), and they can't even be notified of their mistake because they don't accept any mail from those ISPs anymore... most of Australia and probably a good deal of the USA Nets themselves are incommunicado now insofar as AOL is concerned. Nice going, folks.
I'm still pondering going to Summercon. It's on a Saturday, so time's not an issue. What else would I do on a Saturday besides sleep in and drink coffee, anyway? It's the cash-factor that's got me. I had to dig into my savings because I need to get my car inspected soon, and I don't want to spend money I'll need on bill. I don't have a job yet. Needless to say this has me a bit skittish.
Spoke to Dataline about Summercon - I'm going. She says that there is a chance that there will be some people who might be after resumes and not the presentations, so that's a chance I'm willing to take. I'm printing up a few resumes on good parchment paper to bring with me. Of course Kabuki will be riding shotgun with me (you had any doubts?) We'll see what Saturday brings, I guess.
I made the appointment to have my car inspected this morning; it gets dropped off tonight, and if all goes well it shouldn't take more than a day to get everything checked out and up to scratch. I hope it's not going to cost an arm and a leg - I need all of my internal organs, as much as I like eBay.
You know.. the more I work with Kabuki, the more fed up I'm getting with Slackware. One of these days I'm going to rebuild her with Debian v3.0 and a journalling file system. I could theoretically do that this week after I back everything up... which, come to think of it, I could actually do tonight. I think that if I store the PCMCIA and XFree86 configs offsite along with her kernel configuration that might work.... what the hell. It's not like I've got anything else to do right now.
Leandra has been churning out hardcopies of my resume pretty steadily all day today so in between print runs (one copy at a time to give the printer a chance to cool down - I don't want to nuke the new print head) I started to rebuild Kabuki using Debian Linux v3.0. I got tired of Slackware 8, partially because Kabuki didn't have an installed journalling file system, partially because suspend mode kept crashing her, and batter life is something I'm a freak for, and partially because I was tired of not being able to run a usable graphical web browser on her save Phoenix v0.5. I like Galeon a lot, and I'd like to be able to run it.. but the GNOME environment wasn't installed, and dependency management on Slackware (or lack thereof) is both a blessing and a curse. In short I got tired of jumping through hoops so I'm reconstructing her from scratch. Debian's package management is saving me a hell of a lot of time, mostly in hunting down the libraries that everything needs (it's done automatically). I backed up the critical configs so I'm not worried about them. Right now she's compiling a custom v2.4.20 kernel and installing software from the Debian archive sites (PCMCIA started right up - whee). I should be done by midnight tonight.
I can see this causing trouble among parents and paranoid school admins. In Westbrook, Maine a guy named Andrew Robinson is holding classes on cracking systems. His basic idea is to teach kids computer ethics by attaching the information to something that interests them, namely cracking. They're essentially holding miniature versions of Capture the Flag at Defcon, setting up a box and setting one team out to bust it and the other to protect it. One thing that I noticed in the article, all of the kids had to have at least more than passing experience with computers and programming. At least they're reasonably clueful about computers, and are at that point in life where they need to start thinking about what they're going to do in life. It also appears that they're going over some of the less obvious techniques, like checking out the environment a system is sitting in (are there printouts or stickynotes all over the place?). I think this guy's got the right idea. These kids have potential.
Today's turned out much better than I'd expected.. I got up early, did basic maintenance, and headed out to run a few errands. I went to the bank to make sure that I had enough money in my account to cover having my car inspected (dammit... I forgot all about that) later this week, then picked up a package of cookies for my grandfather, a new print head unit for Leandra's printer, and some parchment paper for resumes. While I was out there Dataline had asked me to pick up a new phone for the upstairs. For some reason, and none of us are quite sure why, you can barely hear anything through the earpiece, there's an inordinate amount of static (which doesn't seem to affect CID or the answering machine, which strongly suggests that it's the phone at fault and not, say, the DSL filter). Those errands done I jumped out to the local strip mall, where they were having their yearly used book rummage sale.
Twenty dollars buys a lot of books.
And a Roxette concert video.
Leandra's printer accepted the new print cartridge without any trouble. I havn't tried to print anything yet but I think it's going to work. I also think that I can get ribbons for my Commodore MPS-1200 printer at Officemax, I'll have to pull the one that's in there and take it with me to see if any are compatible. Planning for the future and all that. And, and and and... when I got back to the Lab there was a message on the answering machine for me from a friend of a friend who got my resume' from the friend.. he wants to talk. I'm almost afraid of jinxing it, but I'm excited. This is the first nibble I've gotten, which is always a milestone.
That soda pop incense is great stuff. It tends to go out if you're not keeping an eye on it, but the odor persists for quite a while (the Lab still smells like it) and really does smell as good burning as it does in the package. I have to find out what goes into it.
Reports are starting to leak out regarding the dragnet following the 9/11 attack. Most of these reports are negative in the extreme, and are providing details. Civil rights groups are starting to make noise, and I don't think it's going to die down for a while. The FBI agents of New York City are being accused of grabbing people without having an idea one way or the other of whether or not they had any connections to terrorists at all. Being locked in cells for 23 hours out of the day and being transported in chains at all times sounds pretty SOP to me, I'm afraid; that's not uncommon for solitary confinement. Not being able to contact a lawyer has my attention, though; that's a violation of due process, pure and simple. A 198 page report written by Inspector General Glenn A. Fine declares the conditions of imprisonment "unduly harsh". At least the left hand and right hand can see one another, even if they're not in close communication. The communications blackout on the part of the Bureau of Prisons didn't help any, either. Background checks on prisoners are routinely taking almost three months to complete, which either says something about the lack of experience of hte researchers or the amount of data not yet in digital form, I havn't decided which yet. I'm not sure what to make of this, all things considered. On one hand, I comment the FBI for rolling up its sleeves and wading into the investigation; after what happened they could do no less and not be negligent. On the other hand, common sense and a little bit of planning would have served them far better. Understandably, a lot of what happened after 9/11 was very reactionary, which tends to cause problems. All I'm saying is that I wish they'd thought a little bit more about what they were about to start. The repercussions and legal battles that would inevitbly stem from stuff like this is a distraction that they don't need.
The Bayer corporation is in a bit of trouble right now. Several thousand haemophiliacs in the United States have filed a suit against them for knowingly exposing them to HIV and hepatitis C. A batch of factor VII concentrate, which replaces the natural human blood clotting factor was sold in Asia and Latin America between 1984 and 1985 even though the risk of HIV and hepatitis exposure from this batch was well known. The suit claims that Bayer sold it to rid itself of the bad batch while it continued to sell known clean batches of factor VII in Europe and the US.
Just spoke to the guy about my resume, he wanted to square a few things to make sure he read it right. If the company's willing to finance my relocation, this might be something. This could be the break.
..and the vultures start coming. The services that troll the job hunting sites for new resumes and pitch to their suppliers. Sheesh. I don't do telemarketing, folks.
This is very strange. Two police officers from the Chapel Hill (state as yet unknown) police department interrogated 17 year old Erin Carter under false pretenses. The officers came to her claiming to be agent of an FBI Cyber Crime task force, complete with business cards and polo shirts. They're local cops. The Chapel Hill High School computer network was thought to be compromised. Exactly how they found Erin Carter and her weblog is still unknown, but the officers made it clear that they thought she knew more than she was telling - one of her entries carried a title taken from the movie Hackers, "hacked the Gibson", which apparently caught their attention. The two officers were placed on administrative leave pending an investigation into their actions. Another article can be read here. What is interesting is that Carter asked some very pointed questions of the officers, such as whether or not a sneak-and-peek search had been executed against her home (their answer, naturally, was "We can't say one way or the other") or if they had a warrant for the analysis of her personal computer. Eventually they'd admitted that nothing had as yet been done.
This sort of thing darkly amuses me. Cops throwing their weight around does not surprise me anymore, the fact that they were caught doing so amuses. But misrepresenting themselves as FBI agents... I don't have anything intelligent to say on this point, my reaction is purely emotional, so at this point I think I'll let the articles stand for themselves.
Weird. People keep calling for Dataline but hang up on me when I ask who is calling.
The new print head module for Leandra's primary printer is working like a charm. The apsfilter test page is currently printing out in full colour - time to save the new /etc/printcap file and stop screwing with it. For anyone who happens to stumble across this entry looking for help, I've got a Canon BJC-2100 bubblejet printer, and I'm using the built-in Ghostscript (apsfilter-config or /path/to/apsfilter/SETUP; Printer Driver Selection; option #3) drivers, entry #19. Interface should be 'parallel', give the path to your USB device file (for example, Leandra uses /dev/usb/lp0). There you go.
Now playing: Press Play on Tape - Comic Bakery (Larger than Pop Boyband mix)
Well, there's no backing out now. I'm speaking at the next North Hills Pagan Discussion group, next Monday night. The topic? Technopaganism. I should get to work on that Magicpoint presentation, if only to get my thoughts together for the discussion. I'm a little nervous; I'm not a very strong public speaker to begin with, but I've got most of my basic assumptions worked out. The hard part's going to be laying them out in such a way that I don't sound like a nutcase. There has to be a logical progession to ideas, at least insofar as the discussion will permit (we tend to digress quite a bit during the course of discussions). Most of my ideas are scattered all over the place, true to my strongest training (which was chaos magick ala Peter Carroll), which makes it hard to make associations. What I might wind up doing is going back through my notes and then organising them, which is just good policy anyway. I'm discussing it with Lyssa right now and she's got some good ideas for an outline, which I'm plugging stuff into. I'm as bad at organising ideas as I am at cleaning, for many of the same reasons. At any rate, I've got what I think is a decent outline sketched out, I'll work on it tonight and see where it goes.
This is beautiful: The 80's Tarot.
As calculated by The Geek Test I am at 55.6213% - an Extreme Geek.
In the few hours I've been awake so far I've already gotten a good bit of stuff done. The trash bin in the kitchen's been emptied and rebagged and I just put away all the clothing that I'd taken with me on vacation. I'm doing pretty well so far. Next is putting the luggage away. Somehow I feel pretty good for doing what amounts to so little.. guess it doesn't take much to make me happy.
I've decided that I'm going to Summercon. I spoke to Forge last night and he'll be in town this weekend for it as well so I decided that I'd go as well. I don't go to cons very often and seeing old friends there makes it all worth while. I wonder who else will be there, come to think of it... there's really only one way to find out, and that's to go. Time to empty my slush fund.
Speaking of slush funds... I think I just figured out what's up with Leandra's printer - the print head keeps locking dead center in the carriage. That usually means that the circuitry in the print head is dead. Dammit. Time to shell out $50us for a new one.
Oh, well. I might not have $50us for the print head but I have soda pop incense and little need to print stuff right now. I've also got my resume on a few web boards and some searches running at present, so that's a minor victory today.
Well, I'd be lying if I said that today was a productive day - it wasn't, and I won't make it out to be. And I enjoyed every minute of it. I've got a few applications out there, my resume is floating around the Net, I plan on checking every day or so on a few different sites, rotating between them so I don't overstay my welcome, to see who nibbles. Only time will tell.
I just got back from Alexius' doss a few minutes ago. He's doing quite well, and adapting to only having one-and-a-fraction usable hands. The injury he'd recieved wasn't nearly as deep as it could have been, he was very fortunate. There are thirteen stitches holding the cut closed, and they're scheduled to be removed sometime next week, I'm not quite sure when. He's using the hand as much as he can without straining it to keep the muscles from atrophying; on the bright side he'll probably be ambidexterous by the end of the month. One of the side effects of the spring breaking loose is that now he can't open the garage, so his vehicle is effectively trapped until he can get it repaired. Fern's driving him to work until they can get the door un-broken.
I got to try out a new technique earlier tonight, and it worked beautifully. CLAMP and Austin O. Spare, together at last.
An amusing story just made its way into my inbox.. paratrooper batallion #890 of Israel was ordered to drop its slogan by higher-ups due to sounding a bit too "thuggish" for their tastes. Roughly translated, the slogan reads "patience, perserverence, and sometimes a bullet between the eyes."
I kinda like it. If an army's sending in paratroopers, something's going to be taken out one way or another.. this is just truth in advertising.
Here's an interesting story at Wired. Remember that article about a North Korean cyber-ops school a little over two weeks ago (20030515)? It might be jetwash. First off, the US government says that it hasn't found any evidence that such a school exists. However, North Korea barely has a stable electrical grid, let alone widespread net.access (as yet only a few people are able to use the hard links coming from China and the existing satlinks). Two class C blocks of addresses have been allocated, but none of them appear to be active (anyone know what they are?). This sounds like smoke and mirrors on somebody's part, probably a little on the part of both sides (truth being a three-edged sword and all that). Not surprising, especially given today's world politics.
The Korean People's Army still uses some analog computing hardware, they say. Cool. I'd love to see that.
Well, early this morning I got home from the summer 2003 furbecue at Swift Fox's. People started arriving yesterday afternoon around 1400EST or so and the numbers grew pretty steadily until the early evening. From what I could tell a few folks from out of state drove into Pittsburgh to attend, which is a good sign for any gathering.. as odd as it may sound, a lot of just sitting around and talking went on. I wound up in a pretty involved conversation with two other transhumanists not long after dinner, a discussion which went on for at least a couple of hours. I havn't been in a discussion like that for at least a couple of years; it was quite refreshing. Later in the evening came fursuit bowling. While I was remodelling my Lab I found my bowling ball from way back when - it still fits my hand and served quite well last night. I bowled a 115, if memory serves - not bad for bowling maybe twice a year. It still amazes me that someone can bowl in a fursuit; the two fursuiters last night beat the rest of us by a good thirty points.
Some time after dinner last night I bounced my head off of a shelf in Swift's garage by accident; I was trying to toss my hair out of my eyes (maybe it's time for a haircut) and I smacked one of the supports set into the wall. There's a bit of a cut on the back of my head; thankfully it didn't really bleed much, unlike many scalp cuts. I put some ice on it discreetly and sat things out for a while. I havn't done anything like that in a long time; maybe I am getting more coordinated, or just more careful in life.
I just finished updating my resume'. A while back I pulled the latest revision off of Leandra's old hard drives and copied it into my usual document repository. I'll start hunting for jobs tomorrow.
Some days I really love the cbm-hackers mailing list. Daniele Gratteri created a 32kb expansion unit for the Commodore VIC-20. I'm not a VIC fan but that's pretty cool.. that's hardware hacking at its finest.
Update for you regarding the news story I talked about a few days ago, the US military base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba (scroll down a bit to 2003/05/30). The official designation of this base is Camp Delta; the facilities there are quite complex, including a dentist's office. The facilities are said to be very close to those provided for US MPs (military police), which says quite a bit. The female guards on duty there are pissing off the inmates, though, and I guess that's only to be expected. Then again, it is a military prison, they're not designed for the edification of the prisoners there by definition. And yes, an execution chamber has been reported in the installation.
Oh, wow.. HR Giger inspired computer cases. I guess even the xenos need to deck now and then... this is damned cool, pure and simple.
I just realised something about the furbecue.. my camera spent the entire time in my backpack - I didn't take any pictures. Oops.
A link you might want to browse now and then: The new McCarthyism Watch. It's reactionary in places, I have to admit, but the news articles are interesting.
Leandra's printer is still acting screwy. If I print something manually (using lpr) it works fine, otherwise it doesn't. After it's done printing it always goes offline and can't be brought back short of pulling the power and plugging it back in. What gives?
Well, I've been catching up on people's Livejournals lately, so it's time to flood you with quiz results.
Actually, this isn't even close. I was a cutter for many years, not a burner. Haven't cut for two years and counting.
I guess cybs that are vampires are too rare to hang out with. *shrug*
Why am I not surprised?
Huh. I was betting on Cypher.
I'll have to read that one soon.
Caution is a good thing. Paranoia is almost as good. Discretion is a must.
I suddenly feel nauseaous... I just found out that 'lex has thirteen stitches in his hand after a garage door spring tore loose and split his hand open.
And on the up-side of things, I just got off the phone with Forge, an old friend from my BBS days. He just asked me to be his best man in his wedding at the end of August, an honour I heartily accepted. Secondly, he just asked for my resume'. Both of these opportunities I'm taking and running with...
Life is weird sometimes.
Well, it looks like Pittsburgh's going to try it again.. the Trumpbour brothers are holding Summercon 2003 in the heart of good old Pittsburgh. Pre-registration will run through this week, price is $30us, and it's laid out as follows:
The schedule's on the website, check it out. If I can swing the bucks I might go. By the bye, did I mention that it's being held at the University Club at my alma mater?
This is fairly cool - generate a barcode out of your username. I might use this for a tattoo some time in the future. And here's my barcode:
For some reason, Leandra's printer is acting weird. I have to pull the power and plug it back in, then manually reset the printer before it'll start printing anything. I wonder what's wrong. I'll probably screw around with it tomorrow after I get up, I'm heading out to Swift Fox's for the Summer 2003 furbecue.
Hmm.. I just tried printing in Staroffice - once I selected the proper printer - aps1 - it worked fine. Oops. I have been away too long.
I'm back in Pittsburgh. Stuff to write later tonight.
At 0630 this morning Lyssa and I got up to finish packing... I got most of everything folded neatly and put away last night, it was the last-minute stuff that I was using to get ready that had to go last. After a quick shower and breakfast we were in a cab and headed for the bus terminal. Ann Arbor's bus terminal is dingy as all get out, I'm afraid. I didn't see the inside of it at all when I first got there, Lyssa met me outside and we hit the cab; waiting in there wasn't all it could be.. but that's neither here nor there. First stop was Detroit, roughly one hour away in early morning traffic. As an interesting change of pace, once the first bus pulled in I grabbed my suitcase and charged across the terminal to my waiting second bus. Not only was it on time but it was already boarding and waiting. No waiting time at all.
Holy drek. 1,073 messages are waiting for me in my primary e-mail box. I'm betting that 96% of them are spam.
Between Detroit and Cleveland I put my body into warm shutdown mode again to make up for not falling asleep until 0-too-damn-early EST today. I think I caught some solid sleep during that time; at least it feels like it. I'm still wiped out, though. From Detroit to Cleveland was about six hours, give or take. The layover was only supposed to be an hour but it wound up being almost two hours for some unknown reason. They had us queue up for the outgoing bus to pick up the trip to Pittsburgh and then delayed it... and delayed it.. and delayed it.. and didn't tell us why they did so. I don't know what was going on, and on the whole I really don't care right now. I got to sit and read for a while, so it didn't bother me overmuch. I'd just like to know why a perfectly good bus is sitting there waiting for passengers in plain sight.
Anyway, once that little snag was ironed out I curled up and read for the rest of the trip home. We finally got to Pittsburgh proper around 1850 EST and I placed a quick call to Dataline asking for a pickup. Half an hour later my suitcase was in the trunk of her car and I was reclining inside with a cup of coffee. My grandfather made chili for dinner tonight, of which I had a bowl or two. I've unpacked the majority of my stuff, sorted out the things that need to be gotten to people, and I'm fighting the tide of e-mail.
I'm tired as hell, too. I don't think I'm going to do much else tonight.
Before I go to bed, here are links to some news articles for you... I'm not sure if being news-isolated this week was a good thing or not. Word's gotten out that the US military base at Guantanamo Bay will be modified to have execution facilities. Lovely. Everyday fidgeting like scratching or bitching about being stuck in a long line might be a sign of an impending attack. Great. If you sneeze that could be taken as a code word for "DROP THE NUKE ON WASHINGTON". What are they trying to do, make the police even more paranoid than they (professionally) need to be?! Cross-dressing men, the article says, could be hiding explosives under their clothing. As if there wasn't enough to worry about while going out dressed as a woman... "Private rituals" might signify someone about to make an attack. So much for saying your prayers when you wake up, I guess. I think I'm going to listen to Richard C. Hoagland some more - he makes more sense. Senator Rick Santorum, for every remark he's made in the past month that pissed people off hasn't really garnered a negative reaction in PA, a poll says. I'd like to know exactly who they polled.
As for me, I'm hauling my biomechanical butt to bed. 'night, everyone. Rest well, have a good time, be safe, and flag off any spy satellites you might see in the night sky for me.
We'll be seeing you...
A few revisions ago I was having trouble working on Crash, in particular compiling a NetBSD kernel. Thinking that I'd discovered a bug in the v1.5.2 kernel tree I reported it to the bug tracking system, only to later discover that I'd screwed up (I accidentally left out the loopback network device driver). Unfortunately, there was no way to go back into the bugtracking system and say "delete that entry, I screwed up." After six months they've finally closed the bug in the database, marking it as a user error.
It's 0317EST. I'm going to bed.
Well, today's been another interesting one. Lyssa and I, after breakfast, headed out to see what we could find around Ann Arbor. The first thing we did was return the tapes we'd rented on Sunday.. oops. At least they're paid for now. After that we nosed around the bookshops again - she picked up two books, Greg Egan's Quarantine and The Adventuress of Henrietta Street (one of the new generation of Doctor Who novels), I a gift for a friend and one of the new M:tA books, Transmissions from the Rogue Council. We looked around a bit for the Lucifer trade paperbacks from Vertigo but couldn't find them at Borders. After that we took a look around some of the smaller college-type stores... have you ever smelled incense that smells like soda pop? I picked up ten sticks of it... ye gods, it smells exactly like Sprite. Don't ask me how.
After some more wandering, we finally found the cinnamon ice cream that she was telling me about...
Yes, cinnamon ice cream.
Now I know what people mean when they say that something is "orgasmic". It was the most amzing ice cream I've ever had. Perfectly clear flavour.. no doubt at all what it was. It had to be home made.
For those of you with a Freudian bent, I'm talking about ice cream. We stopped in at Stucchi's on the University of Michigan campus.
If I come home and my eyes are blue, don't ask.
I'm back at the flat writing this update while watching Hasselhoff in the Broadway production of Jekyll and Hyde; Lyssa's making dinner; I've got a bottle of Tsing Tao next to me. More later.
One of the things that amazes me is the stuff in Ann Arbor that we don't have in Pittsburgh. You can get beer and decent wine at Kroger's. There are actually Kroger's in the area; the last one in Pittsburgh closed back in 1984 or 1985, if my memories are accurate. The size of the gaming section in the bookstore is very, very large - at least two bookshelves. The streets are clean; you can sit on the curb without fear. Clerks in stores give accurate directions to places. The sales tax is 6%. It's all the little things about this city that are amazing me. And the people.. I'm frankly amazed. I have to wonder what it's going to be like, readjusting to Pittsburgh. Culture shock twice in a week's time might kill me.
Been running around a lot the past two days. I'll write more once I finish dinner (making pasta primavera).
Well, today's been eventful, to say the least. Lyssa and I headed out to prowl around Ann Arbor this afternoon. I think we hit most every store along the strip, and then hoofed (pawed?) it into the suburbs to see what lay in the outlaying regions. I wound up buying a black silk renfaire shirt, a few books (the novelisation of Wargames and Hunters of Gor (which I have to read just so I know what so many people are talking about)), some Vegemite, the Megatokyo manga (volume one), a broken doll Ayanami Rei keychain, some essence of clove (at last!), a few specemin jars, and a few ounces of pure, unadulterated chai tea.
A successful shopping trip, if I do say so myself.
I've been wearing the essence of cinnamon I picked up a few days ago as cologne.. it works very well. Now I've got clove to go with it.
"The spice must flow," as Frank Herbert said.
Uh-oh.. the Quabbalists are going at The Matrix Reloaded now.
Earlier tonight I made fettuccini primavera. Lyssa and I stocked up at Kroger's yesterday and I picked up sundry vegetables on the off chance that I'd have a chance to cook some time this week.. lo and behold, the kitchen was mine tonight. One pot for the fettuccini, one to steam the vegetables, and one to heat up the sauce. Lyssa picked up sourdough bread at Zingerman's Deli earlier today and mixed up an olive oil dip while I was acting domestic.
I love floor picnics. Quote the Bastard, "Shit, life's good sometimes."
And why in the Hell didn't anyone tell me that Anthony Stewart Head aged so gracefully?!
It threatened to rain off and on all day today, until the clouds finally opened up and drenched Ann Arbor in an hour-long deluge.. of course, while Lyssa and I were waiting for the bus to head back to the apartment complex. It never fails. At least it's not snowing or something up here..
Well.. it's been a long trip. Dataline dropped me off at the bus terminal last night around 2000 EST, at which time I had a while to kill while I waited for the bus to arrive; getting there almost two hours early has a way of doing that, but seeing as how I nearly missed the bus last time I didn't mind too much. Bringing five books helps with situations like this. The bus actually wound up departing about fifteen minutes late because, after boarding, they discovered that the bathroom hadn't been cleaned, nor had the holding tank for the toilet. While I didn't notice myself the gentlemen who opened the door at the back of the bus did, and he had a few choice words to say. They pulled us off the bus and drove around the corner, presumably to the maintenance yard to do the dirty work, then pulled us back on. Once that had been taken care of we departed Pittsburgh per usual. Our first layover was in Cleveland, OH around 0015EST.
The first thing I did once I got into the Cleveland terminal was head for the comissary for something to drink. Given the few singles I had on me I decided to go with my customary cup of hot tea while waiting. Amazingly I found a few packets of cinnamon tea, and promptly plunked down the dollar and some. I pocketed two teabags, expecting the tea to be weak and mostly tasteless; I don't mind saying that I was wrong. It's some of the best tea I've had in a long time. Sometimes having to wait while travelling isn't such a bad thing. Over the PA system came the announcement that the US Security Alert had been upgraded (though they didn't say to what level; when last I heard it was still at condition orange - has this changed?) and we'd be searched. Sure enough a bonded security guard came out and gave everyone a thorough scan with a metal detecting wand. We had to empty our pockets and submit to the search. Oddly enough, the foil in the second teabag set off the alarm, as well as the rivets in my jean jacket, my watch, and something in the binding of the book I was reading while standing in line (maybe an RFID (radio-frequency ID) tag, maybe an anti-theft strip). Once we'd gotten that straightened out it was back on the bus for the haul to Detroit, MI. ETA: Four hours.
I discovered something on the trip to Detroit - Psychic TV makes good catnapping music. Once I finished my first book I put myself into low-power consumption mode, which is a trick I learned when I was first getting into biofeedback: The voluntary muscles of the body relax, the mind is quiet but you can still think (sort of; it's very much like daydreaming) and the senses are still very active, almost eerily so. I was on the cusp of dozing off but I still had the sensory processors of my brain monitoring for announcements from the bus drive, which would signify getting to Detroit. Somewhen around 0315EST I actually did drop off... only to be awakened a few minutes later by the monitoring software. We'd gotten to Detroit 40 minutes early, everyone get off the bus, get your baggage, and enter the terminal, please.
It wasn't as unpleasant as it sounds. If I had to compare it to something I'd say that it's very close to what J.R.R. Tolkein described the Elves' sleep as. The mind doesn't shut down completely, the body gets its downtime to rest and regenerate, and the spirit can shuffle through the last day or so and figure stuff out.
Something inside me keeps pushing me to get into bookbinding. Don't ask me why.
The next couple of hours were spent hanging out in the Detroit, MI Greyhound terminal. First of all, security there wasn't nearly as tight as it was in Cleveland. In fact, I didn't see any at all. This might have been due to the fact that it was around 0400 EST, but somehow I don't think that was quite it. For a city with a reputation like Detroit (gangs, violence, and shadiness) you'd think that they'd have at least a few rentacops hanging around. None that I could see. Second, I didn't expect it to be as clean or as brightly lit, or as empty as it was, for that matter. I expected something a bit dingier, a bit more scuffed, a bit more worn.. like Pittsburgh's. Nope. Nice, neat, and comfy. I found a spot on a bench and did a little reading, then wrote my thank you notes for my grad party. Then I broke out the binder of miscellaneous stuff that I'd been filling up for the past few months and read some articles. This killed a good many hours. Finally the place woke up and people started moving around somewhen around 0600 EST.
I gave a few bucks to a homeless guy with one of the thickest accents I've ever heard and one of the nastiest tumours I've ever seen (on his shin). It was the right thing to do.. interestingly enough station security reared its head not long afterward and that was the last I saw of the gentleman. I went back to my book until it was time to get on the bus. I noticed something under the morning sunlight as we pulled away from the complex: It's built like a fortress. The walls are much, much thicker than I'd expected (at least two cinder blocks thick all around), the doors were heavy steel plate, as evidenced by the difficulty everyone had pushing them open, and the perimeter was very much like that of a prison: Steel fence topped with one-foot scrolls of barbed wire, a four foot corridor, then another steel fence topped with barbed wire. The gates were three times the width of a bus, maybe four, and overlapped: One had to unroll all the way to left (the outer fence) and the other all the way to the right (the inner fence). Once they were fully open and stopped we were allowed to leave the complex.
Once we were underway I curled up and elfnapped for an hour or so, until we hit Ann Arbor. By the time I'd gotten my suitcase from under the bus Lyssa Heartsong was waiting at the end of the ramp with a cab. Gods bless her heart, I threw my stuff in the trunk and off we went. After a quick shower and change of clothes I napped until 1100 or so, when Anna and Susanna arrived for the matinee' showing of The Matrix Reloaded. Still a good movie. It might be sleep deprivation but the Merovingian was actually tolerable.
And here I am now.
Hehehehe.. the official Pagan Standard Time clock has been brought online. Maybe this'll help organise things....
Well, technically it's the next day... last night I went out with Alexius, Taja, Fern, and the younglings for hot dogs. Yes, hot dogs. Yesterday was 5/23 so it was Discordian's night out. I think we broke Fern during dinner - she was reading the Principia Discordia and trying to make sense of it. Bad idea. But she'll catch on.. we're steadily getting her up to speed.
I don't mind saying that those were the best hot dogs I've had in a long, long time. They were moist and light, not cooked hard or gelatinous. The shoestring fries were not overcooked and there were enough of them to require an entire bottle of ketchup to finish... and as for the prices, $5us was enough for an entire dinner. I think we dropped $25us on the entire night and still had change for the gumball machines. Lots of fun, I strongly suggest you try it sometime.
After that 'lex and I stopped out to pick up some stuff for the Promise of Iris picnic (being held in eleven hours and change from the time I write this entry from) and then jumped back to the Lab so I could show off the renovations. He loves the place. I think I did good. I took time out to pack for vacation this evening and hauled the suitcase downstairs, then we headed back to Alexius' house. Fern was woodburning something for the picnic, the kids were drawing, and Taja was baking a cake for tomorrow. I couldn't resist helping out in the kitchen - I've been in domestic mode so much lately I couldn't help myself. At least I wasn't annoying, or I don't think I was. Once that was done we sat around the living room and watched The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension; I'd mentioned it a few times and we finally had a chance to watch it. Everyone seemed to enjoy it, though I can see why it's confusing in parts. The cheesy bits were more fun, anyway...
Okay, it's 0155EST, I need to jack out.
1930EST - headed Outside. Will write again when I get to Ann Arbor.
As promised, here are the pictures taken while I was remodelling the Lab over the past two weeks.
The World Health Organisation is starting to look at more unusual origins of the SARS virus. While the possibility is there, I must admit, I don't see it being particularly likely due to the ionising radiation often encountered in deep space. I don't think many viruses would (or could) survive that.
Nobody's perfect, not even Trend Micro. There's a bug in their latest update pack which flags any incoming e-mail containing the letter 'P' as spam. That's a lot of e-mail, though they say that they've recieved very few complaints. There is a fix out for this bug.
While we're on the topic of bugs, be careful folks. A bunch of buffer overflow vulnerabilities have been reported in quite a few IMAP clients, including mutt and pine. SSL-protected connections to IMAP servers probably will not help because the overflow can be exploited before encryption begins. Read the advisory and then update your client - badger your sysadmin if you have to, we don't mind if it really is serious.
Ye gods... did this guy have a cigarette to celebrate the completion of this casemod?
This could never happen in the United States... at the University of Calgary in Canada a course teching the design of computer viruses and other sorts of electronic pains-in-the-ass will be taught. As well as learningthe techniques they will also be studying the ethical and security issues related to malware. This is one of those courses that winds up being a two-edged sword: On one hand, understanding how malware works makes it easier to do something about them. On the other... there's going to be at least two people in each section who are going to take the code they're working with and modify it to be malicious, if only to test the veracity of what they are learning. I think the fairest thing that you can say is that they'll probably stick to the low-hanging fruit of the virus world, the most simple code and the easiest (if any) methods of obfuscation, which will make the viruses easier to detect and eliminate.
Well, twelve dozen chocolate chip cookies later I'm all set for the Promise of Iris picnic tomorrow. Half the batch is staying at the Lab for the family, the other half is going with me. I've also finished cleaning up the kitchen - no sense in leaving a mess for someone else. In a couple of minutes I'll be leaving the lab to get hotdogs for dinner (it is 5/23, after all). I'd gotten a few odd looks when I announced this, because I don't really eat hot dogs, but it's something that has to be done. When I get home I have to start packing for the trip tomorrow night, I can't forget to do that.
Well, I can't say that it hasn't been an interesting day, interesting in a good way. I got up rather later than normal this morning, around 1030EST or so. I've been having trouble sleeping lately but that's just because I've been thinking about stuff lately, trying to get notes together in my head for a talk I'm giving next month. I havn't been able to spin my brain down as a result; all in all not a problem, I think best in sensory deprivation anyway. At any rate I dropped off the last carload of stuff at Goodwill after breakfast this morning - they guys at the dropoff point are really getting tired of seeing me there every day, and it shows. I made my visit as brief as possible, collected my receipt, and took off before they got too annoyed with me.
I won't be taking stuff there for a while yet, don't worry... sheesh.
After that I did a little shopping around the area, picking up stuff for my upcoming vacation. I'm going to Ann Arbor in a few days to visit Lyssa Heartsong and friends, but I'm travelling by bus. Frankly, I don't trust the airlines nor airline security enough right now to fly, even though I've got enough frequent flyer miles to cover the entire trip, and I can't afford to take the train, as much as I'd love to do so. So I'm relegated to taking a bus and deadheading across the country for a day or so. I actually miss doing that once in a while, I used to take the bus to and from college when I was up at IUP. While I was out I also hit up Giant Eagle for milk, bread, and kitty litter, then turned back and returned to the Lab.
While I was out I also hit the local craft store to see if they had any Sculpey. I've been reading about projects that use it on the Net for a while and I'd like to try my hand with it. If you've never heard of it before, Sculpey is a sort of soft plastic that looks and acts a lot like modelling clay, only it's plastic. You can leave it out and theoretically it won't harden; when you bake it, however, it turns as hard as a rock and can then be sanded, drilled, engraved, what have you. Neat stuff. I'm considering picking up a little bit of it to play around with to see how it works and figure out how to work with it. Once I've got that down I plan on teaching myself how to model specific shapes with it, and use those shapes to make figures. I'm not much of a sculptor though I have my moments. I should probably get back to teaching myself to draw, too, come to think of it. Maybe I'll work up the designs I plan on modelling on paper first..
Hehehehehehe.. from All Your Base to 404 parodies.
Here's an interesting article that came down the wire from the Politech mailing list. CATIC (the California Anti-Terrorism Information Center) does not distinguish between protestors and terrorists. Mike van Winkle, spokesman for CATIC, was quoted as saying (though I'm paraphrasing here, read the article) that because a terroristic act might take place at a peace protest the peace protest itself could be considered a terrorist act. Word recently got out that CATIC has been gathering and analysing information on activists of all sorts sicne the day it went into operation. Needless to say, the ACLU is having kittens over this, and rightly so. If you havn't done anything why should you be investigated?
Food for thought.
Earlier tonight I drove out to Swift Fox's den to pick up the stuff I'm taking with me to Ann Arbor this weekend. Swift wasn't around though Sil was; I knocked at the front door a few times but when no one answered I walked back to my car (in the driveway) and read CD covers for a while; I figured that because Sil's car was there but Swift's truck wasn't, they had to run out for a moment, and if I sat tight they'd be back. As it turns out Sil was downstairs cleaning and couldn't hear me; Swift was at a firehouse meeting. Sil chanced to walk outside and see me waiting there; handoff complete, and I was on my way back to the Lab, one pork roll richer. Since I got home I've been doing little stuff, like hooking the Children up to the KVM. I dug the old VGA display out from behind the bar and hookd it up, so now I've got console access to satisfy von Neumann and Burn, who get cranky when they try to boot up without a keyboard attached. I also copied the image files from the digital camera over to Leandra (by way of Nancy) so I could start putting together the documentary page for remodelling.
I did a little nosing around the house and I've got everything I need to make chocolate chip cookies for the weekend, so I should be good for tomorrow. If I was smart I'd hook my wireless access point tonight so I can get stuff done from Kabuki tomorrow.
Yay! My Jinx Hackwear order shipped!
Well, I've gotten another two or three boxes of stuff out of the garage. I spent most of this afternoon going through them and throwing out stuff I didn't need or want anymore, like old video game magazines and looseleaf paper that dates back to grade school and is so wrinkled and damaged that it can't be used for anything. I've also separated out some books that I don't want anymore that I'll take to Goodwill tomorrow. One more lawnbag of stuff and one trashed packing crate will be added to the junkpile tonight. I also tracked down a bunch of old comic books, like early issue Transformers and put them into polybags to preserve them (well, whatever's left of them). I don't plan on selling them, and even if I wanted to I probably couldn't due to the condition some of them are in. I'm sorry - I like to read comic books, I don't buy them to put them into bags and sit on for twenty or thirty years. I like to enjoy the art and the storylines, after all that's what they are for, right?
ADV Films has announced that they really are working on a live-action version of Shinseki Evangerion. Apparantly they're being taken seriously on this project because they've managed to get Weta Workshop, Ltd. in on this shindig to do the visual effects. To give you an idea of their street cred Weta Workshop is the company that did The Lord of the Rings... this isn't Cabana Boys Productions, folks. The movie is in the earliest stages of production but the timetable is said to be "agressive". It'll be interesting to see what parts the work with and what, exactly they keep. Eva's not a simple series by any means, and if it blew the minds of so many fans, imagine what it could do to people who aren't anime freaks...
'tis an ill wind that blows no minds, as Malaclypse the Younger said.
Hey, if anyone wants a chestadrawrs (Pittsburghese for "dresser") please e-mail me before 1800EST - it's going on the trash pile tonight.
Interestingly enough, DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) has renamed the TIA initiative from "Total Information Awareness" to "Terrorist Information Awareness", as the article above states. The aim of the programme appears to be the same, yet the purpose is slightly different, even abbreviated as the final paragraph in the article shows. A rose by any other name...
I've been listening to SLAY Radio all day today, and every third or fourth song has been a cover of the theme from Delta. It's starting to get to me.
Yesterday the US Department of Justice released information regarding how it's been using its new powers in the War On Terrorism(tm). They say that they have bugged hundreds of mosques and libraries, compiling somewhere around 4,500 separate files pertaining to what might be terrorist activities inside the United States. Hundreds of secret search warrants have been executed and 50 people have been detained without being charged because they are considered material witnesses. Not much else has gotten out yet, citing compromise of ongoing investigations. The contact of libraries around the country is said to be at the request of librarians, which I found interesting. On 248 separate occasions the Justice Department has attempted to legally delay the notification of the parties being investigated, and none of these requests have been denied by the local court relevant to the case. Some of the material witnesses have been released, they say, usually after 30 to 90 days of incarceration.. which is still enough for bills to pile up, jobs to be lost, homes to fall into disrepair (or become targets of burglars), and families to panic because they cannot find someone.
At long last it's done. Dataline and I went through the few remaining boxes of stuff in the garage and wound up carting most of it to the kerb for trash pickup tomorrow. The only stuff left in the garage is what I'm taking to Goodwill tomorrow - after that Dataline can pull her car in. I've taken the last photographs, I'll copy them off of the camera tomorrow and start working up a page for them which shows the hell that I put the house through pulling this off... someone already drove by and nicked two of the old dining room chairs from the kerb, and they're welcome to them. If anyone wants the dresser they're welcome to it, just drive by and haul it off, we won't stop you. Hell, if it's not too late we'll help you load it into your vehicle.
Right now I plan on finishing up with SAL so I can play a few rounds of Defender on the home entertainment center. Life is good.
Success - SAL's up and running. I swapped out an extension cable for a 75 ohm to 300 ohm converter and all's well. Right now I'm trying to figure out how to play Nonterraqueous - neither the disk Lyssa gave me nor the copy I'd bought all those years ago came with documentation, so aside from the few screens I can reach I've never finished the game. Someone has to have a copy of the docs out there. Mastertronic was never big on instructions. Brute forcing the keyboard didn't help, either. I've just found a map for it but that doesn't help because it doesn't have any instructions with it. Most of the pages I've found so far are for the Sinclair Spectrum version of the game.. but no docs to be found. Sheesh.
Check that - I found docs for the Sinclair version, which don't correspond to the C-64 version at all. 'M' toggles the music off and on, the space bar picks up bombs, 'D' drops them. Try to drop the bombs while the seeker is near the top of the screen and move as far away as you can because you can destroy yourself as well as the barriers.
Shortly before 1700 EST a bomb detonated in the mail room of Yale University. It is said that multiple rooms in the building have been badly damaged - at least one wall came down during the detonation. This happened just a few hours after George Bush left the campus. This actually made it onto the news, both local and national this afternoon.. oddly enough, the news blurb lasted all of twenty-eight seconds on average, even on CNN. I get the feeling that the Secret Service slammed a lid onto this one because I havn't really heard anything about it since. A conflicting report at CNN says that an empty classroom was the focus of the blast.
Well, today started off better than yesterday did. After breakfast I did all my running around for the day - first to the primaries so I could vote on the municipal level, then to the bank so I could get my bills paid. After that I headed back out to Goodwill to drop off four packing crates of miscellaneous clothing, books, and parts. I think the guys at the loading dock are going to start calling me by name because I'm there so much anymore. Unloading the car in the rain wasn't quite as bad as it usually is, we got everything done before the boxes got so wet that they started to fall apart. Oh, well. I havn't been out in the rain in a long time, I should probably go for a walk to get reaquainted with it.
I'm in a very weird mood right now, if you havn't figured that out. Maybe it's cutting back on caffeine, maybe it's the weird scent in the air. I don't mean plants or cut grass or anything like that, I mean that there's a strange odor in the air, and it's everywhere I've been so far today: Around the Lab, on the road, on the highway, at Goodwill, at the mall... it's pervasive. I've been trying to figure out what it is but the closest I've come so far is that it's a floral scent and it's synthetic - there's an undercurrent of alcohol in the odor, rather like a floral perfume of some sort. I can't figure out where it's coming from, and it's starting to give me a headache. If anyone else has noticed this please let me know.
At any rate once I'd finished getting rid of stuff I headed across the highway to the mall to see what was going on. I spent some time browsing around in what I fondly remember as computer software stores but are now basically outlets for console games, nothing more. Some interesting games, some older games that I might consider picking up one of these years. Nothing that I'd drop cash on, especially right now. Media Play had a few interesting things, like Tokyo Babylon on DVD but again, nothing I'm in the mood to pay money for (especially when I already have it on tape). I nearly picked up a Matrix Reloaded poster at Suncoast but I'm not going to do that until I have a frame for it and someplace to hang it up (which means driving nails into the wall). I also spent a little time leafing through the strategy guide for the video game, Enter the Matrix. It looks interesting, I have to admit. I'd buy it just to have, but that's not a good idea, especially right now. Anyway, after playing mall rat for a while I headed home, where I sit now going through my e-mail before I start cleaning up some more in the Lab.
Well, I've just about got the Lab finished. I re-swept not too long ago and after a brief consultation with Dataline hauled the VT100 terminals back into the Lab and set up my altar once more. I'm even planning on hooking SAL up, using the home entertainment system as her display. I need to sweep the rugs but that can wait until tomorrow, I'm not too worried about them at present. I also reinstalled the yellow shelves on the east wall, this time at the back of my workbench, and moved all the little stuff (like blank CDs and ZIPdisks onto it. I plan on getting a miniature VGA display for the Children (on the rack beneath the workbench) and setting it up on top of the rightmost shelf along with the KVM switch. That's for the future, though, after I secure employment. I also consolidated the last two sets of notebinders I'd found into one and archived it, and reorganised the docs for some of my Atari stuff at the same time. On the docket tomorrow is hacking around behind the entertainment center to patch SAL in, sweeping, and most importantly bringing more stuff in from the garage.
I think I'm going to have to start getting rid of videocassettes that I havn't watched in literally years to make room. And I mean it when I say 'years' - I think there are some that were last hauled out and watched back in 1992, sometimes 1993. I do have some odd stuff recorded from cable, like weird computer hacker movies and television shows that didn't last long enough, and those I plan on capturing to Leandra's hard drives in the form of .mpeg files so they can be archived on CD-ROM to preserve them, but once that's done the tapes can be safely gotten rid of (of course, I always make two copies of everything...) Leandra's had a video capture card installed for some time now, and I've got XAWTV to read in audiovisual signals to capture, and there's good video editing software out there, I just have to hunt it down and start messing with it. Shouldn't be a problem, it'll just take some time.
There's an excellent chance that you've already heard about SCO suing IBM over misuse of copyrighted code somewhere in Linux. If you havn't head to Slashdot and look at the news morgue for the past three or four days. In my daily newswire crawl this article caught my attention - Microsoft bought out SCO's Unix division. Word's gotten out that they are licensing Unix technologies, ostensibly to ensure that Microsoft technologies aren't in conflict with IP laws. I thought they weren't allowed to do this due to a lawsuit they were hit with back in 1981 or 1982 over Xenix, in which MS said that they'd never get involved in Unix matters ever again. There will probably be more on this making its way into the media soon.
Everyone remembers senator Rick Santorum's remarks of a few weeks ago, in which he equated homosexuality with paedophilia, incest, and a few other things that I really don't need search engines indexing my page for. Just a few days ago senator Santorum was giving the commencement speak at St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. One out of every eight graduating students turned and walked out on him. Santorum's remarks angered a lot of people and I'm glad to see people making their opinions known by doing this. I plan on expressing my anger a different way - by not voting for him.
Let's remind him that pissing off one's constituents isn't the way to earn and keep their respect. Get him out of office.
Wow.. there's a new version of minicom out. Only took seven years.
I was right - here's some more stuff on Microsoft licensing SCO code. This article at Yahoo states that the financial terms of the deal will not be disclosed at the present time. The Open Source Initiative has made its position known as well.
Getting back to Santorum's remarks briefly, it seems that more odd things are afoot. Two nominees to the United States Court of Appeals are on record as being hostile to rights for gays and lesbians, Bill Pryor of Alabama and Claude Allen of Richmond, VA. This article puts things more clearly than I can.
Well, after paying my bills tonight I have to wonder if I can really go on vacation after all. Health insurance is killing me, pure and simple. $500us every month is cheap these days, but it's still a lot. I've cut my expenses down to next to nothing, but what good it'll do is anyone's guess. I might have to cut vacation short and start looking for a job soon, in the next week if possible. Given the way the job market's going right now that's actually not so bad for my wrists nor my mental health as it might take a while to find employment. I don't want to move so that limits my options a bit but on the whole I'm not all that worried about it.
Earlier tonight Dataline and I tore into the closet in the Lab. Net discard: Three packing crates of clothes and one of old equipment. I really, really, really didn't want to do that.. she feels like she's being squeezed out of the house as things stand now, which is so far down on the list of things I'm trying to do right now it's not even on there. I can't say that I am blameless in this matter, though - frankly put, I have too much stuff and not enough room to store all of it. I'm actually considering getting rid of my classic computer collection just to ease the pressure on everyone in the house. It's extremely large and takes up a lot of room, and from a practical standpoint it isn't very useful. They're my hobby, one of the few links to my past that I've actually been able to dig my claws into and unearth, and they've helped me find some stuff inside that I don't think I would have tracked down otherwise. But I also don't want to put anyone in a bad way, least of all Dataline.
We got in a huge row earlier tonight, how it's always she who has to throw stuff out, which isn't, strictly speaking, true. As I age I find that it's easier to part with things, sometimes to my detriment, sometimes not.. sometimes scarily. Sentiment feels like it's slipping away from me, at least in the early stages. Dataline has gotten rid of a lot of stuff in the past few years, and I can see where she's coming from even though it's a little exaggerated. I think the wreck the house has become is starting to get to all of us.
In the immortal words of Derek Pegritz, "Idaknow, man."
Maybe this really is all my fault. Wouldn't be the first time.
As if that weren't enough while I was going through my bills I found that my tax forms for the local school district were returned earlier this week. Apparently when my taxes had been done a few documents hadn't been included which covered my consulting late last year, and as such they couldn't process everything. Dammit. I re-did everything and it'll be sent back tomorrow.
Well, today started off.. slow. Made breakfast (I got up late so I wound up at the back of the queue in the kitchen, oh well... more coffee for me!) then leafed through the advertisements to see what was on sale today. Nothing. Which isn't a bad thing because it means spending less money. I sat down with Dataline for a bit to put together a grocery list and then headed out to restock the pantry for the next two weeks.. well, so much for saving money.
First stop: Sam's Club. We're definitely set for the next two weeks, let me tell you. When the smallest amount of anything you can buy is a dozen that tends to restock the kitchen quite nicely. Then I headed out to Giant Eagle close to the Lab (there's no sense in driving all the way down just to turn around and swing back to the closest one in Sunday traffic) and Shop and Save to round out the list. That's about it - in fact it's the only thing that's happened so far today. Sorry for the thin update but life isn't always an adventure. Sometimes it's a catnap, and that's not always a bad thing.
Speaking of catnaps, I think the reason my head's so scattered right now is because I've been staying up late for too many days in a row. I've been sleeping as long as my body would let me but I don't think that's enough. My brain feels as if it's stuffed full of cotton. Maybe I'll call it an early night tonight and catch up. I don't have much planned at present, just putting the finishing touches on the Lab, which should wear me out sufficiently to make falling asleep around 0000 EST a viable possibility. That, and maybe I should lay off the coffee some - I'm back up to about two pots a day. That can't be good for my exterior.
I just compiled Xine, version 0.9.21 of the front-end and v1.0b12 of the libraries, and Quicktime is playing back perfectly. I just watched the final The Matrix Reloaded trailer and aside from the audio being a little off it played back fine. Neat.
Well, last night I said goodbye to a pair of good friends who are graduating from Carnegie-Mellon University, Nicole and Patrick. Lu is also graduating but she is staying in Pittsburgh for the forseeable future. It feels weird... I know that people move on in their lives and sometimes that means pulling up roots and going walkabout but on an emotional level it's like a part of me is going with them. Nicole is headed for the west coast, Patrick to the far east coast to get married. I havn't quite figured out how I feel about it, at least not yet. I'm happy that everyone is graduating, I really am... it's a major step toward making a life of your own. I'm also happy to see people spread their wings and make good on the potential in their lives. But it pains me a little to say 'goodbye' for what feels like for ever.
Nicole, Patrick, Lu.. good luck to you. Please keep in touch.
So I got up this morning and decided that I'd be productive. After making breakfast I leafed through the advertisements in the paper and set out to find the last thing I need for the Lab, a set of storage cabinets. Because I hadn't found anything that looked worthwhile at K-Mart I decided to pass on that store and head straight out to Wal-Mart. I found the perfect storage cabinet... 25.5 cubic feet, reconfigurable shelves, a bar to hang cables from.. yes, it was a wardrobe, big deal. I can make it work. But true to form reality threw me a spitball.. they were all out. "Come back tomorrow, maybe we'll get a few in on the truck tonight."
No, thank you. If I have to look at all the stuff piled up in the garage for one more day I'm going to claw my optics out.
I cruised around a little, trying a few more places to see what they had, but didn't find anything worth the time. The more posh furniture places didn't have anything remotely close to what I need, which I can't say I'm surprised about. The pieces in those showrooms are for folks who have a very specific purpose in mind, which isn't my purpose. So after wandering around for a while I eventually gave up and drove to Sam's Club, where I purchased the cabinet I mentioned a few days ago. I knew I was in over my head when I tried to pick up one end of the box for the cabinet and almost crumpled to the ground. Sucker's massive, let me tell you. It wasn't until I got home that I found, in relatively tiny print on the box the words "Weight 142 lbs."
Getting it into the car was an entirely different can of worms. I tried to boost it up and out of the cart but wasn't able to for the lives of me. A friendly passerby helped me load it in.. thank you, whoever you were. The drive home wasn't anything to write home about, save that I picked up the soundtrack to The Matrix Reloaded. So far it doesn't appear to be a lot of music "inspired by the movie" but "from the movie" unlike some that I could mention (*coughBladecough*). By the time I'd gotten into the driveway and hit the button for the garage door opener Dataline was waiting for me with a cart and a helping hand. With a little wiggling and a lot of kicking stuff around in the garage we managed to work it into the Lab and set it down. A cup of coffee and an Aleve later we decided that I should get it put together first and the old chest-of-drawers switched out second. That's going to wait until after I wade through two days of e-mail, though.
I completely forgot about this.. in The Matrix Reloaded Trinity uses a semi-fictitious SSH exploit and nmap to crack a system. It completely slipped my mind. The name of the sploit is fictitious but the vulnerability in question is very real. If you jump to the insecure.org front page you'll see screenshots of the scene in question. There are a couple of spelling errors in the text, which I think comes from the fact that they were probably just text file catted to the screen by the computer FX team, but that's just me nitpicking.
7r1n17y 5p34><0rz l337. W007 w007.
A petition has been put together to protest the Sci-Fi Channel's upcoming project called Mad House. This upcoming programme has the potential to damage whatever credibility that neopaganism and other less-than-mainstream paths has managed to gather in the past forty years or so. I've just John Hancocked this and I'd like to ask you to do the same... it takes hard work to build credibility but surprisingly little to blow it all.
More Matrix Reloaded screenshots, some better than others.
Ultimate Roleplaying Purity Score
Warrior needs guts... Badly!
|Sensitive Roleplaying||63.29% |
Will talk after everyone important's been killed
|GM Experience||78.26% |
Ran a module once or twice
|Systems Knowledge||96.05% |
Played in a couple of campaigns
|Livin' La Vida Dorka||64.37%|
Goes nuts on the weekends
|You are 79.76% pure|
Average Score: 65.7%
The Matrix: Neo Goes Vulgar
Last night a pack of us went to Loew's Theatre to see The Matrix Reloaded . This has turned out to be the highlight of my year, defying the law of sequels (every even-numbered sequel has to suck) and starting with a bang, both literally and figuratively. Someone has probably said this before but I feel compelled to state, if the original asked the question "What is the matrix?" this movie asks "Why is the matrix the way it is?"
I'm trying to not put any more spoilers than I have to in this writeup, forgive me if I don't touch on many points. I could have done with fewer fight scenes, first and foremost. Yes, they're pretty to look at. Yes, they were very well done; chop-socky fans will not be disappointed. Yes, they fit the general mood of the movie. However, there were enough of them that it felt like they were just gratuitous; they were put in there because they could. The fight immediately before Neo visits the Oracle felt too much like a fighting game (thanks, Detonate). The movie could lose that one and not suffer. The much-hyped scene set on the freeway was okay.. it reminded me a lot of Under Siege 2: Dark Territory. Sorry, guys.... nice, but not everything it was cracked up to be. As for Neo's visit to the Oracle I am reminded of a story told to me by an associate, which involves said associate driving past a young child, leaning out of the window of the car, and shouting at the top of his lungs "Want some candy, little boy?!"
Continuity was kept with the first movie, always good. The Neo's-eye view shots of everything done in Matrix code were also nice, it helps the viewer get a sense of what Neo sees while jacked in.. the scene with the Merovingian and Persephone was just annoying. The Merovingian was just. Fucking. Annoying. I'm sorry. The fight scene following it... pretty to look at. It could have been shorter - I wanted to see more about the Keymaker to be perfectly honest. The dudes with the white dreads (the Ghosts) were interesting and well done... but not nearly as whizbang as everyone said they were. Were they older agent programmes? Newer? What's up?
Zion was definitely not what I'd expected it to be... and I think I like that. It was a place of hope... a fortress for humanity. And it looked it. It reminded me a lot of some of Giger's artwork, both in the scale in which it was done (everything in Zion was huge because it was worked around the natural contours of the cavern in which it was built) and the manner in which the technology which was everywhere looked almost organic.. pipes and hoses ran in smooth curves and adapted to the environment instead of the other way around. A theme touched on during this time but never really explored was the fact that Zion was dependent on technology for its very existence; without it the people living there would die. The point, I think, was that either machines can control people or people can control machines... but there is a third option: Man and machine may coexist peacefully. One thing that got me, though, were the big pits of magma (presumably providing heat for the caverns of Zion) all over the place... FENCES people, FENCES! I kept having flashes of escapees from the matrix falling into them occasionally, which necessitates locating new people to unplug..
The scene in Zion makes me want to start going to raves again. The music for the scene was picture-perfect, so to speak. I could really have done without the sex scene between Neo and Trinity, but those of you with a cyborg or implant fetish or a thing for broken dolls will be muchly gratified. Mmmm... spinal plugs...
As for Agent Smith... still the dry humour, still some memorable samples, and still funny as hell. The character has definitely changed, and for the better I think - if AIs can change and decide new paths for themselves, why can't humans? I don't know if that's a valid line of thought for the movie, but I rather like it. Also, I think that Agent Smith's new abilities are rather ironic in light of his famous line from the original: "Humans are a virus."
I just wrote a bit more about the movie but it gave a lot of it away so I decided to trash it and say that I enjoyed it very much, and I plan on seeing it again. It was money well spent... and you can bet that the soundtrack is going to wind up in my collection very, very soon.
I'm writing an update, so the world didn't end yesterday. Unfortunately, due to overcast skies and the occasional rain squall the eclipse was a bust. Oh, well.
Robert Stack died of a heart attack yesterday at the age of 84. Requisat in pace.
Update your virus scanners, boys and girls. Word has gotten out that North Korea is training cadres of crackers in their development of a net.warfare programme. Given the number of probes and attack attempts coming from North Korea, this isn't as far-fetched as it might sound.. given the level of security of most American networks, we could be in trouble. But the US has its own cadres of crackers. I just hope that they'll pay as much attention to the protection of civillian nets as they will to military nets.
Three things about today: One, there's a full lunar eclipse tonight. It sounds like it's shaping up to be a good one. Two, there's a doomsday cult in Japan which says that Planet X is supposed to smack Gaia into the middle of next week sometime today. Three, The Matrix Reloaded opens today. No matter how you cut it today isn't going to be boring.
NT Bugtraq is lighting up like a Christmas tree today - Windows Update is worth a tinker's dam from a security point of view. In a nutshell Windows Update, which is supposed to check your system to see if it needs any patches installed doesn't do a thorough enough job, so you could easily be vulnerable to any number of security vulnerabilities and not know it until it's too late. Windows Update only looks at the registry to see the revision numbers of various OS modules and compares them against a list of updated modules; if the ones on your system are older than the ones on the list the replacements are downloaded, installed, and notations are made in the registry. At least that's the theory behind it. There used to be a utility for Windows called HFnetcheck, which did a more thorough job of examining the system but Microsoft pulled it. It figures - someone finally comes up with a really useful system utility that can keep a box locked down and MS spikes it.
I suddenly have the urge to really get good with Windows just so I can do my part on the Net security-wise. Someone has to do security and do it well, and it sure as hell isn't Microsoft.
At least one of my readers is about to take a job at Microsoft, you know who you are. Please don't take this as an insult, it isn't an attack directed at you. Please take it as a plea to bring your skills and your determination to Microsoft. Program well. Program securely. Keep this from ever happening again - the future is in your hands now, make it a good one for everyone. Change has to start with you.
deoxy.org is back on line.
For all you Megatokyo fans out there... 7h3 Ph34rb07!!@#$!@
Well, first errand of the day's over. I packed another carload of stuff and drove it out to Goodwill to be rid of it by way of the bank to deposit my graduation gifts. That's another six or seven cubic feet freed up. I need to start ripping into the storage crates now to see what I have and what I can get rid of. I may have to spend two weeks throwing stuff out, I don't know yet. But at least things are shaping up nicely now. The bookcases are full and I've got some more binders of stuff, so I should organise what I have not and worry about pulling out more stuff later. I need a break, anyway - my back's not going to hold up much longer, I don't want to push things too far.
Another three binders of crap have just been taken to their final resting place of the trash pile next to the street along with what used to be a dining room table that is so badly dry rotted that the legs tore loose and hit the floor the instant it was picked up. The trunk next to the east wall is now mostly visible - as much as I'd like to read the Windows 2000 Security Admin's manuals I just don't feel like it right now. Pluswhich, I don't have the room for the binders at present. Between the boatload of Commodore stuff I uncovered and the notebooks from three other classes that I've compacted into two single binders, I've freed up another few cubic feet of space and thrown out another bag. I feel like I've accomplishe something. I think what I'm going to do next is start going through the storage crates and putting stuff away where it'll fit and where it's supposed to go - this is probably going to consist of packing stuff into the storage shelves as it's uncovered (and as long as it belongs in there to begin with).
About a half-hour ago I got home from dinner with Nicole, Lu, and Patrick. They were (all but) done with finals and I'd promised that I'd take them out for sushi when things were all said and done. I planned on arriving late to pick them up due to rush hour traffic though I was a good fifteen minutes early to CMU. I had a rough idea of where the restaurant was though I'd never been there before. We started off by heading toward Station Square, on the southern side of Pittsburgh proper. I'm fairly familiar with the area though my information is pretty dated (as I havn't really spent any time there since 2000 or therabouts). In a nutshell the directions I'd found to get there were completely worthless. After driving around for three quarters of an hour in downtown Pittsburgh (not because we were lost, but because of rush hour traffic) we worked our way back across the river to Station Square, parked in the lot, and headed inside.
As it turns out Kiku's inside the complex, in fact it's were another sushi restaurant used to be, the Red Samurai. Kiku is extremely posh, it's an upscale place with upscale prices to match, and it's worth every penny, let me tell you. If any of you, my readers, come to Pittsburgh and you like sushi, open your slush funds and pay them a visit, you won't be sorry. I was quite surprised to be greeted with steamed hand towels, something that I'd only encountered in one other place (Monster Sushi in New York City) and the tea was both strong and hot, two things which I love. I think we spent another forty-five minutes or so just trying to figure out what we wanted to get, but I could be wrong. Anyway, we spent the next three hours and change eating, talking, and enjoying each other's company. It's a rare time anymore when you can just sit and yak about everything and anything.. there's no stress, no pressure, you can just speak your mind. I don't mind saying that it's not often that I feel so welcome with a group of people. I felt completely normal, just like everyone else.. that's rare.
Thank you, everyone. Thank you so much. I hope you enjoyed dinner.
After that we headed back in the direction of Carnegie-Mellon to cap off the night. Lu still has a project to work on, Nicole and Patrick are waiting to head home at the end of the week. Right now everyone seems to be winding down after an incredible amount of stress, and I can't say that I blame them. I'm doing the same thing (or trying to) right now. I dropped Patrick off at his dorm and then headed out to see if the local pagan meet-and-greet was still going on, but when I poked my head in I didn't see anyone that I recognised so I turned around and headed back to the Lab. It's still a mess. It's also late and I don't feel like shuffling stuff around right now.
Well, this is news... earlier today a message came down the wire from the FCoS mailing list. John Allee, known as Lord Egan by many is very much alive, though he's left the organisation for personal reasons. The persona of Lord Egan is no more. The FCoS is now under the leadership of a council, a group of magistrates.
Well.. I guess he has his reasons. I can't really say anything on this matter - I've done something similiar once or twice in the past. Mr. Allee.... I've no idea what you're doing, but do it as you will. Good luck.
Researchers at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles are poised to begin testing of a device which mimics the functionality of the hippocampus. The hippocampus is a structure within the mammalian brain which is involved in the formation of long term memories. The silicon implant attempts to duplicate this ability, and is being developed for the treatment of head injuries, brain damage, epilepsy, and dementia. So far the device is ready for testing in rats and perhaps primates.. human test subjects are beyond the horizon at present but will no doubt be searched for as the data accumulates.
Well, in a vain attempt to make room I've just thrown out over a thousand 3.5 inch floppy disks that I havn't looked at since my BBS days. It's time to clean stuff out. I don't have to room as it is, and I'm going to be throwing out a hell of a lot more stuff in the very near future. If anyone wants anything please e-mail me and we'll set up something. Otherwise, what doesn't get pitched is going to Goodwill.
Bah.. I just found a crate with the complete hardcopy documentation to AT&T UNIX v3.2. Is it cool? Maybe - it was printed back in 1986. Does it give geekpoints? Yes. Can I use the damned thing? No. It's going to Goodwill.
I'm taking the time to do a garbage collection (pardon the pun) of the garage, where everything is winding up right now. I've just freed up fully half of it by taking the trash out. After rebagging the magazines I'm throwing out (damned cheapass trashbags... grr!) and hauling those to the side of the house I found a concrete floor. Yay! Right now I'm collecting stuff to haul out to the Goodwill collection point this afternoon to free up more space. I could sell a lot of it on eBay.. but that takes time I don't have. I need to clean the house up now. Maybe I should start picking through video tapes now....
In a vain attempt to find usable space I've begun digging everything and anything out of my remaining storage cabinet to send to Goodwill. On the up side I'm taking two boxes of miscellaneous components out today, including several dozen miscellaneous ISA cards. I'm keeping only two of everything (which isn't much when you consider the fact that I've got five to seven of just about everything.. I could run a 15-line dialup pool if I had enough phone lines) and ditching the rest. The pickup crew's going to love me after today.
Just got home a few minutes ago from Goodwill. I dropped off a trunkfull and a back seat full of stuff. Their techies now have four systems to play with, as well as a few crates of peripherals. Fie and good riddance. Now I just have to figure out what to do with the rest of the stuff on the floor.
Another one or two hundred floppy disks just met their maker. After a few iterations of trial-and-error I managed to compress every PC floppy disk left into two big disk holders and one 10-disk holder, down from three big disk holders, I-don't-know-how-many smaller disk holders, and twice as many miniature disk holders. On top of that I've just finished compressing the contents of the storage drawers so I could put my Atari software into them (which I really should look into burning onto CD-ROM one of these days). I still need to make room for my Commodore disks... I'm torn on this one. On one hand I love the old-school 8-bit computers with all my hearts, but on the other hand I don't have much room anymore, and I should free some up.. what should I do. I don't want to part with them, but I don't have room. Maybe the Commodore One will solve this problem: I could burn the contents of all of those floppies to CD-ROM so I could get rid of everything (hopefully to good (and larger) home), and then usethe different boot images of the unit to run the software (turning the C=1 into a Commodore or an Atari at will). Reconfigurable hardware is a neat thing.
One thing about a lot of the software I have for the 8-bits is that I havn't found it on any of the abandonware or old-school sites. I seem to have a lot of games, for example, that no one's ever heard of (like Agent X-II, Alf, and Head Over Heels), and thus don't have available anyplace to load into an emulator. I don't know if they're rare or if I just had strange taste in games back then (as if I don't know...), but as far as I know they are irreplacable. I've also got some applications and utilities that I havn't seen available for download anywhere (like Bank Street Writer, in which I've got literally hundreds of documents and Bob's Term Pro, which is a terminal emulator that kicks the ass of anything I've seen in the modern day). Again, I don't know if they can be replaced, and I'd like to preserve them somehow. CD-ROM is my best bet right now; I can't see it going away anytime soon, and CDs last a very long time unless you do something dumb with them. I've got the time, or I will shortly, I just need to get my head together and start doing it. But the C=1 isn't evolved enough yet to emulate anything more than a C-64 at present.
Maybe one day I'll write a clone of Bob's Term Pro. It's too cool a telecom package to be forgotten.
I'm done for the night. Dataline and I spent the evening picking over stuff in the Lab. We pushed the dresser farther over and moved the last bookcase into position next to the stairs after a great deal of deliberation and time spent with a measuring tape. It's been packed with the remainder of the books and I took the opportunity to decide what to keep and what to pitch. Net result: One more bag of garbage to take out tomorrow night. A ream or two of ancient hardcopy has been consigned to the trash pile, along with three or four ratty old binders of various sizes that I really don't need anymore because the contents have either been discarded or transplanted into smaller, more suitable binders. There are also about a dozen looseleaf binders that I'm taking to Goodwill just because I don't have a use for them and they're just wasting space. Better they're gotten into the hands of someone who has a use for them than keeping them on the off chance I'll put them to use later. An armload of miscellaneous knickknacks and the old TV stand will be joining it tomorrow afternoon. Fie and good riddance.
I've also been gathering up the loose hardcopy that really does need to be kept, such as the Apple Newton manuals I've downloaded and printed out, including the programmer's reference. I spent long enough printing them out, they may as well be kept neat and orderly. I also found a stack of notes from various classes that I'm going to move into their own three-inch binder for posterity - stuff like OS, ethics, and biomechanics (so I've got some odd hobbies...) That can wait, though.
What is the Port Authority trying to do, kill public transportation in Pittsburgh completely??
Well, I got the home entertainment center put together last night. After returning from shopping and packing away all the groceries I had Leandra pull up Coast to Coast AM for me to go through the archives while I set about assembling the cabinets. All told it took about five hours to get everything put together. The entertainment unit is about six feet on a side by two feet and change deep. Now the hard part remains.. figuring out where to put the bloody thing. My current plans are to measure the unit more precisely in terms of its width, and then deciding where to put it (either where the old bookcases are or where the entertainment center now sits). Once I have a location for it I'll start clearing said location out, sweep and mop the floor a bit, and then wiggle it into position. I've no idea how long that's going to take but I've got all day.
Magervalp reported on the Commodore One mailing list that he has finished adding ATAPI support to the C=1 boot ROM - it will now boot from an ATAPI CD-ROM drive. Highly nifty.
Power here was spotty all day yesterday, we had at least three power surges that knocked everything out. While I don't think it really affected anyone upstairs I had a lot of trouble rebooting the Children since they're running headless right now (note: If anyone knows where I can find a miniature VGA monitor (like the ones used on tellers' terminals in banks and a miniature keyboard (damned cheap-ass keyboard tray...) please e-mail me privately), so some of them complain about not having attached keyboards... I'd like to hook my KVM unit up (to multiplex one keyboard and monitor across four systems) to them beneath the workbench but I need something to hook up to the KVM itself that won't take up a lot of room. The last power surge was around 0149EST today, which momentarily left the Lab in darkness. Not fun. I was waiting for a storm to hit but it never got around to it. I hate the waiting game, sometimes.
Mental note: Return library books today.
Today begins the largest bioterror drill yet all across the country. The drill will begin in the sity of Seattle, WA and will involve an fictitious dirty bomb (a conventional high explosive bomb in which radioactive substances are mixed to contaminate the area) explosion. The drill is supposed to run until Friday of this week and is supposed to test the preparedness and cluefulness of federal, state, and local authorities all across the country. This afternoon the city of Seattle, WA will respond to a simulated explosion with over one hundred casualties. Radiation will be detected in proximity to the crater and federal officials will be called in. Responses tested this week will include the distribution and administration of antibiotics, handling a rapidly growing number of casualties in the hospital system, and the determination of sources of whatever components are detected in the area. The scenario is said to be so detailed that there are actors standing in for Bush, Chaney, even press secretary Ari Fleischer. Unlike The War of the Worlds this drill has been extensively advertised in media outlets local to the cities involved to minimise panic on the part of the public, so adverse effects should be at a minimum on the local (and hopefully state) level. I don't think this'll impact on a national scale, at least not unless it goes hideously wrong and makes it into the national news.
It seems that the 75th Exploitation Task Force, sent to Iraq by the United States to search for weapons of mass destruction has given up in frustration. They havn't found a single thing, they say. As far as they know, Saddam Hussein doesn't have any such weapons. They went into the operation expecting to find hundreds of tonnes of chemo-biological weapons, delivery and deployment systems, and at least the rudiments of a nuclear weapons programme.. but have found nothing. The task force will be closed down by the US Army some time next month. The targets they were sent to investigate were consistently incorrect, looted and burned to the ground by someone, or even both.
I think Armageddon is neigh - Richard C. Hoagland is making sense.
I've got the home entertainment center set up. What I wound up doing was emptying the two original bookcases into the stairwell, because there's no other place to put their contents, really. The stairs up to the fifth from the bottom are packed with books and knickknacks... I spent the afternoon boxed in. Once they were empty I pulled them from their mounts, gave them a once-over with a dustrag, and then pulled them into the center of the room so I could slide the entertainment console into position. After that was the systematic disconnection of the entertainment center itself and transplantation into the console. I've got everything back together now and tested it with a DVD, it works perfectly.. next test is to see if I can record something but I think that can wait until later this evening.
The transplantation of the videocassettes and DVDs was not a particularly difficult chore. I now need to figure out where I'm going to put all the NES and Sega Genesis game cartridges. I'm out of cubbies in the console. I'll think about it this evening and see what I can come up with. Then I tore out the old TV stand and moved a bookcase into its place. While I've got everything spread out I'm taking the time to pick out the stuff I do and don't want anymore. Reams of ancient Infocom transcripts and scrawled reminders (like a list of Bob's Term Pro macros) are history, as well as my video game magazines. I don't really play video games anymore, and you can always get better information from GameFAQs or the like these days, anyway. No great loss. I still need to figure out where I'm going to put Dataline's bookshelf, which is why I havn't put the second one back into place yet. I've pulled the rest of the books out of the stairwell, which frees up the stairs, but there are still books and boxes everywhere. I've got no idea what I'm going to do with everything, no idea at all.
Maybe I'll just throw a few cartloads of junk into the boot of my car and drive it to Goodwill, let them sort it out. Iv'e got stuff that I havn't used in years down here, like a Casio keyboard the size of my forearm. Once again, I'm going to think on it tonight.
You know... if any of you are interested in anything, drop me a line. I'm going to hold a garage sale soon and all of you (my regular readers) are invited. Feel free to contact me from the link on the front page. Just remember that my address is spamblocked, you know what to do.
Hmmmm.. the five civilians on the Columbia Accident Investigation Board are on the NASA payroll now. Interestingly, this means that they no longer have to release their findings, they can be classified by NASA. I wonder what they found that they did this so fast...
Update from Jeri Ellsworth - the Commodore One boards for the USA arrived intact today.
Recaptioned warning signs courtesy of The Box Set.
I didn't see this one coming:
Today has, so far, been an exercise in frustration.
First off, upon request I headed out today to pick up a home entertainment center for the Lab because they're on sale. I found the one I wanted at a fairly decent price for once... but it weighs more than I do. I had to call a stock handler to help manhandle it into the cart, which bucked under the weight of the package. That, in and of itself, should have been a bad sign. Wheeling it to the checkout counter was a bit of a chore but I managed to traverse the length of the store without damaging anything permanantly or knocking anything off the shelves, no mean feat when you consider that the package was resting in the cart in such a way that fully half of its length was sticking out over the side of the cart, blocking part of the aisle, in fact. As for getting it into the back of my car... once I put the back seats down we discovered that the box had, in fact, gotten stuck inside the cart due to its strange position.
The stock handler climbed into the cart and managed to worry the box loose. I'm still rather surprised that he didn't fall out the way it was overbalancing. To his credit he jumped out before it fell on him. Unfortunately, my left wrist (the one that was broken years ago) was pinned between the side of the box and the edge of the cart. Many bad words were said.
The box made it into the car, though. That's what matters. After that I headed back out to another Giant Eagle in the area because I'm getting fed up with the one at the bottom of my hill. First of all, it's at least twice the size of the one I'm used to. Second, it's not laid out the same, which is only to be expected. Third.. I'm mostly vegetarian - why they sent me out to get packaged meat is beyond me. I barely know the difference between a pork chop and Angus cut round steak. Third... the meat case runs the length of the entire store... that's a lot of meat. Finding anything when you're not even sure of what you're looking for isn't easy... even a phone call home to ask for clarification on some things didn't help all that much. Somehow I managed to muddle through it and get everything on the list... here's hoping the produce doesn't suck the way it does at the usual one.
So now I'm back at the lab drinking my coffee, listening to the wind, and getting ready to assemble the entertainment system. I'm going to get off my butt and do stuff.
This should make you wonder. Jayson Blair, former reporter for the New York Times, has resigned for reasons of journalistic fraud. Blair has admitted to repeatedly making up quotations, lying about his location (presumably, he wasn't "on the spot" as often as he said he was, ergo, no first hand experience), and even copying material from news articles written by other people. It is alleged that he was skilled enough to cover his tracks that he had been at it for years... He resigned 1 May 2003. This makes you wonder about some of the other stuff you read, no?
A mental hospital in Oregon is looking for people fluent in Klingon to act as interpreters. Okayyyy.... all kidding aside, they mention that they occasionally encounter patients who will speak only Klingon, so I can see how this could be helpful from time to time.
Denizens of Pittsburgh, PA may find this of interest: The Federal Bureau of Investigation has taken six doctors in the Pittsburgh area and three in West Virginia as informants. These doctors are on the lookout for unusual injuries, such as burns or repiratory illnesses which are reasonably uncommon. These doctors also hold security clearances, which entail extensive background checks, so they've got a decent amount of pull with the FBI. They are also briefed by the FBI from time to tiem. The idea behind this is to hear about possible bioterroristic situations early so action can be taken, due to the fact that such cases can easily be misdiagnosed as something benign (consider, if you will, the anthrax attacks of 2002). If a pattern is seen to develop, there is a possibility that something is amiss in that area. Dr. Michael Allswede of UPMC was quoted as saying that the leading bioterrorism experts of UPMC, Carnegie-Mellon University, the West Penn-Allegheny Hospital System, Hahnemann University Hospital of Philadelphia, PA, West Virginia University, and Marshall University of West Virginia, as well as the representatives fo Allegheny County and health departments of Pennsylvania and West Virginia are in on this.
On one hand, I'm interested in finding out what hospitals are probably in on this, but on the other he also just told the folks who really are up to no good what hospitals to avoid if at all possible. Bad idea.
Song that best describes life right now: Makke - Ode To My C-64 - Hammerfist Mix