Sculpting castles in the sands of Time.

Feb 15 2020

I'm sitting in yet another coffee shop as I write this.  Once again it's my birthday and I'm trying to figure out what I'm doing with my life and where I'm going.  I've just turned 42 which, as Douglas Adams would have it means I now have the answer to life, the universe, and everything.  Or I am the answer.  Or something like that.  I don't even know what I'm having for dinner tonight, let alone know what life is or is for so I'm probably not the best person to ask.

No, I'm not going to post a link to the video for Birthday this time, though it would be appropriate.  I figured I'd give something else a try for once.

Looking back I don't feel noticeably different since last time.  I've got less hair on my head these days because most of it's migrated to my ear canals.  The hair that I still have is steadily turning silver and it's the first thing I see every time I look in the mirror.  I don't particularly think that I need to take better care of my joints but it never hurts, right?  Mostly it's my perception of Time that's changing.  Days seem to go by a little faster regardless of whether I'm actively doing something or just screwing around.  Weeks certainly seem to fly by these days.  I still don't know what happened to the holiday season of 2019.ev, and the last HOPE seems just as close as the one coming up this summer.  Things happen, and then they don't, and then something else happens.  I still don't know how I feel about that.

I've been reading in the car less and looking around more.  I'm not sure why.

Folks I've known for multiple decades aren't just married anymore, their kids are growing up and doing cute things (as children are wont to do).  Somewhere in between the two events, in the blink of an eye, children were born.

Fixtures of my life - favorite coffee shops, conventions, book stores - are steadily going away.  Most of them aren't being replaced with anything new, they're staying closed, silent, slowly decaying.  I've been looking elsewhere for things.

Build your own time server with a GPS receiver.

Nov 24 2018

If you've had your ear to the ground lately, you might have heard that the NIST timekeeping radio station used by devices all over the world as a time reference for Coordinated Universal Time as well as some experiments in signal propagation and geophysical event notices might be on the chopping block in 2019, leaving the HF bands quieter and, let's face it, we can't have nice things.  Clocks that rely on this time source signal won't have any way to stay in sync and the inevitable drift due to the imperfections in everything will cause fractions of second to be lost and a fresh outbreak of kinetic pattern baldness.  The ultimate effects of this latest bit of clueless petulance on the part of Donald Trump remain to be seen, but it seems likely that this isn't a sexy enough problem to catch brainshare like Y2k did.  If you work extensively with computers chances are you're not that worried because your machines use NTP - the Network Time Protocol - to synch their internal clocks with a known time reference server on the Net someplace.  Something to consider, however, is whether or not your upstream tier-one and tier-two time sources are actually using the NIST WWV time singnals as their reference signals.  There is, however, a nifty way around this: Build your own NTP server that uses a reference time source that can't be shut off as a source, the Global Positioning System.

First, I'll show you how to build your own GPS time server, and then I'll explain why it works.

Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.

Nov 25 2016

It seems there is no end to the number of quotes through history that go something like this: "Those who do not remember history are doomed to repeat it." It's been variously attributed to Edmund Burke, Sara Shepard, Santayana... this is not to say that there is no truth to it. Far from it.

I haven't said much about the election of 2016, in part because my personal life has been upside down and inside out for weeks now, in part due to work, and in part due to the fact that there is so much fucked up stuff going on in the United States, in the global media, and in part in many different communities. When you factor in the fact that fake news is not just a propaganda tactic, it's a growth industry, the time requred to research even the simplest article is prohibitive. Pro-trolls and trollbots on pretty much every social media network don't make things any easier.

Maybe that's the point.

I'm certainly not the only person to notice that the media manipulation happening in 2016 isn't using new strategies or tactics even though they're being used on the Net in addition to print media and television. That people are treating this as a wholly novel phenomen, unprecedented in the western world has been driving me nuts. Did nobody pay attention in history class?

Then I got to thinking...