Here's a link to 101 things you probably didn't know Mozilla could do. It's basically a laundry list of stuff that makes things a great deal easier on a day to day basis. Personally I'm most interested in number 75, "favicon.ico can be in any format that Mozilla can display", but I wonder if that wouldn't break on every other browser on the planet.
Speaking of, is it even working for anyone?
It's the little things in life that make it all worth while. As much as I hate to say it, sleeping in once in a while is one of them. I don't have class today until very late so I was able to get away with just not bothering to turn the alarm on last night and sleep in. My exterior's pretty well programmed to get up around 1000 automatically (barring unusual circumstances) but even that extra two hours was enough to catch up on sleep. I've been having the worst time sleeping lately, sometimes not dropping off until 0200 or even later for no good reason. Maybe all the worrying's finally gotten to me and my body's programmed itself to stay awake so I can keep thinking about it, even though I normally don't once the situation's resolved. I'll have to fix that.
The Amiga really isn't dead after all.. the latest incarnation of this venerable computer is not only in full production but is ready to ship by Christmas of 2002. AmigaOS v4.x isn't ready yet but the hardware's sorted out and ready to rock. Hopefully AmigaOS will be ready to rock by the time the hardware ships and LinuxPPC is already known to be functional on the new hardware platform. Based around the PowerPC chip the system architecture is now a bit closer to today's PC and Macintosh hardware - there is a four-slot PCI bus, USB, and even ethernet on board, so you won't have to buy any extra hardware to be up and running. They say that Amiga dealers in the US and abroad are already accepting preorders but.. and this is a serious question, mind you.. are there any Amiga dealers (in the original definition of the word) left in the US?
I must admit I'm now curious about this. I'm amazed that they've resurrected an old-school platform and I'd like to see how it handles. If I only had the disposable income to place an order I'd be up for buying one. A while ago a friend gave me his old A500 (which he'd modified somehow) but I'd never had a chance to experiment with it. I hate having things laying around my lab that will never be used so I passed it on to someone who could get some use out of it but now I kind of regret having never experimented with it - the most I'd done was read through the tech manuals.
An interesting news story regarding Gulf War Syndrome, being given vaccinations under orders and not being told what they were for in the early 1990's.
I did something really stupid tonight. I was at aerobics class working out and my body started throwing warnings left and right - greying out vision, major muscle groups not working as efficiently as they should, and generally slowing down, as if it was moving through deep water. I took a quick inventory of physical signs - getting enough oxygen, no sparkles in my field of vision, no pain anywhere. Then it hit me - blood sugar crash. I'd used up the last of its supply of glycogen working out and it was redlined. I havn't been eating right lately, basically not enough carbohydrates to burn as fuel so once my body ran out of dissolved glycogen that was that. I'll cut to the chase and tell you that I just polished off an ice cream sundae and some of the liquid helium fudge from the freezer upstairs and I'm feeling a lot better now. I made a huge mistake, not getting enough fuel this week. I think it's time to see a doctor: I'm afraid that I might be getting anorexic. I'm going to lock down an appointment tomorrow and I'll write about what happens after that.
Gods... this isn't easy to write about. I can't believe that I did that. I'm ashamed of myself, really. I know that I'm a control freak but this is really gambling with my health, and it could have serious consequences in the long run.
Midterms are over. Thank the gods.
I'm not sure if it was overconfidence or studying my butt off but that exam was actually pretty easy. There wasn't much in the way of actual calculation to be performed, just lots of reasoning and set theory. If you understand the basic principles behind it and thought for a while the problems really weren't that hard. The basics of set theory and relations are actually pretty straightforward; it helps to understand at the very least the vocabulary used (which amounts to the basic precepts I suppose). Anyway it's over and done with and I finished debugging my next assignment for datacomm on top of that last night, so this week's looking pretty happy.
Happy birthday National Security Agency! Celebrating 50 years of clandestine monitoring!
The United Commodore User's Groups Association (UCUGA) has just announced that they've committed to another year (twelve issues) of the Commodore Digest. The Commodore Digest is a magazine dedicated to all aspects of Commodore retrocomputing, including hardware hacks, programming techniques, new products in manufacture, rumours, and other technical topics of interest to Commodore afficionados. They're currently accepting membeships for the next year. Jump over to the Commodore Central Market now to sign up on line.
Here's an article that might interest some people: How to connect to the Net via Sprint's 3G wireless nework using a PCS cellphone. For the spooks out there this is perfectly legal, herr Carlson just figure out how to do it if you're running Linux. Pesonally I'm still trying to find a cable to connect Kabuki to my cellphone...
Music label BMG has decided that all compact discs released in Europe will be protected with Midbar's Cactus Data Shield technique. That's right, all of them. If you've got an older CD player or CD-ROM drive you might want to think about complaining long and hard because the disc might not play back in your unit. Or worse, it might jam it up solidly like the system did to so many Macintosh users a few months ago.
Well, it's election day. I got my biomechanical butt out of bed early this morning to make it to the polls and run a couple of errands before I started my homework. I did a bit of lifestyle maintenance today and stopped to see if I could find face paint for cheap at the Halloween clearance sales - no soap. No big deal, I was just curious. Did a bit of shopping, had lunch, and caught up on today's news thus far. It's shaping up to be a boring day, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.
I tried compiling the latest version of BIND on Crash last night, which went well save that specifying the --with-threads option at ./configure-time on NetBSD didn't work. Apparently the thread libraries NetBSD uses aren't detected by BIND v9.2.1 Oh, well, no big deal. A vanilla compilation ran all night and was successful but there isn't enough space on his drives to actually install it. It looks like I'm going to have to see if I can fit a few of my old ISA IDE interfaces into him and make a few new file systems to hold the /usr/local directory hierarchy as well as the NetBSD ports collection. It isn't like I'm hurting for hard drives down here, I'm not. I'm hurting for drive interfaces. If anyone has a few ISA IDE interface cards that can be rejumpered to use other interrupts please drop me a line, I'm interested in getting a few of them.
That was weird. Leandra's power supply's always been touchy but this was exceedingly odd. If you tap her chassis in just the right way sometimes she'll power herself down without a warning. I've never been able to figure out why that happens even though her connections are tight inside (tight enough that you have to fight with them just to disconnect anything), but I was pulling a panel off this afternoon to blow the dust out of her cooling fans and as I was unscrewing an exhaust unit to clean behind the grille she cut her power and went offline for about ten minutes. I don't know what I did inside or what I might have accidentally jiggled but she didn't come back up for a while. I don't think I'll be doing that again soon, and I think it's time she gets an overhaul to tell the truth.
That, and I think I put the stupid exhaust fan in backwards when I replaced it. Oops.
More food for thought: The Federal Bureau of Investigation has begun actively monitoring libraries for suspicious topics of research. That's right,
every time you go to the library to take out a book there's a better than slim
chance that the FBI knows about it, who you are, and is probably wondering why
you took it out. They're not talking about it; library staff members are also
forbidden to discuss it, even with each other;
Grand Inquisitor Attorney General John Ashcroft isn't talking.
It's said that he dosn't have to answer to Congress; this is what scares me
the most. Who's holding his leash? Who's keeping him under control? What's
keeping him under control? What's he got planned next? I don't know. I just
hope that he doesn't put it into effect anytime soon. I rather like my civil
rights, thank you very much. I exercise them on a daily basis. I don't want
to be arrested because I disagree with someone in a position of power (like
Ashcroft), and every time I find out about another action that compromises
these rights I worry just a little bit more that I'll be arrested in the dead
of night for treason or sedition because I don't agree and I'm saying
so publically. Start speaking out, people. Make your voices heard. The more
noise we make and the more attention we draw to this sort of thing the better
off we are. There's safety in numbers and if we're intelligent about voicing
our objections to the degredation of our rights people in power will hear and
As for the FBI, I'm going to take out every Garfield book I can get my hands on at the library. Guys, spend more time hunting down terrorists and less time compiling lists of books that people like to read.. even people who have no bloody idea that you're doing this.
Here's a site I hadn't expected to find. What the heck *is* emo, anyway?.
An update from the Colour the Grey website - the WTO conference that was supposed to be held in Sydney, Australia has moved location to the Olympic Villiage. In other CTG news there are a few new nodes on the list for the effort.
That aside it's t-two days and counting for the end of midterms. Since the discrete math exam has been pushed back two days it's been a mixed blessing. I just can't wait for the bloody thing to be over and done with. At least studying is getting much easier (I hope) because the material's making more sense the more I work with it. There's another programme due next week but I'm not really worried about it, it's another two functions to add onto the last datacomm project, and I'm confident that I can get them worked out now that I know what the hell I'm doing. The amount of code I had to print out to hand in, however, was big enough that my stapler gagged on it. Some days I wish I had a double-sided printer.
The country of Panama is blocking port 46/UDP because voice over IP is apparantly putting a hurt on their telcos. I wonder if they ever stopped to think about the possibility that being a major nexus for transoceanic fibre might make the clueful want to take advantage of existing technologies. As someone who used VoIP as a poor college student to avoid paying POTS LD charges, I'm rather put off by this development. They're making plans to block all UDP traffic if the twenty-four ports they're looking at aren't enough to stem the tide. Seeing as how good VoIP software can be configured to use an arbitrary set of ports they'll probably wind up doing this on general principles (and breaking DNS resolution to boot - 53/UDP is used for resolving hosts into IP addresses by sane clients (unlike Windows 2000, which uses TCP for both resolution and zone transfers)). And then VoIP software that uses TCP will begin to see use in Panama (even though the error detection and retransmission capabilities of TCP will slow things down a good deal.
Panamanian ISPs are said to be displeased at this, and are planning to demonstrate soon. Also, calls for proxying software for VoIP traffic have gone out - e-mail editor at linuxandmain dot deleteme dot com (address spamblocked; you know how to fix it) with relevant hyperlinks. The Network will, of course, mirror any and all such software for Panamanian residents to download (seeing as how the proxying software does not need to be cryptographic in nature as it only needs to move whole packets around without having to encrypt or decrypt them, it does not fall under the auspices of ITAR). Sorry, Big Brother.
Pictures from the Fall 2002 furbecue are now on line.
Right now I'm listening to the OpenBSD v3.0 release anthem - really good jungle. The v3.1 anthem is surprisingly good new-school goth, too. It isn't what I'd expected at all but I'm not complaining. V3.2's anthem, Goldflipper, doesn't do it for me, though. As much as I like torch songs this one in particular isn't very high on my list of favourites, and James Bond theme parodies never really flipped my bits.
This is cool, it's an evil name generator. If you ever need names for NPCs in a hurry keep this page in your hotlinks.
Another webtoy for you: Which robot are you? I took this one and discovered that I was really Al Gore...
I'm going to nip off and restore from the last backup I know is good, if you'll excuse me...
Hey, neat - I just found an opensource wardialer utility (mirror of it here). It's been a while since I've seen one of those (back in the days of ToneLoc).
Seven people were arrested by the FBI and charged with illegally uncapping their cable modems, citing "unauthorized use of computer, cable, or telecommunications property, a fifth-degree felony that is punishable by up to one year in prison". Just for boosting the bandwidth on their DOCSIS units.. what about spammers illegally flooding the Net with pure crap?
Very cool system modification - steampunk-style computing. Very Max Headroom.
Today didn't see much of anything get done, I'm afraid. I'm rather tired out from the past couple of days so my concentration slips now and then. I had to run a few errands today so that chewed up time. Dataline asked me to get her a USB CD-RW drive on special, which I did. Installing it on her deck was pretty easy per instructions - plug it in, Windows 2k already has the drivers. That went fine. I installed the supoort software off of the CD-ROM that came with it (which amounts to a stripped down CD writing package) and gave it a try, and no dice. The software doesn't even read the drive even though the OS does. I'll screw around with it tomorrow night, I'm not in any mood to fight with it.
I started copying the pictures off of my digital camera from the LARP on Friday and the furbecue. I'm getting the images rotated and cropped right now and they should be ready by next Friday. Time and again I'm amazed by the number of people I know by an assumed name or a handle only, even face-to-face. I'm trying to figure out the right names to attribute to everyone, but there's another problem - new players whose characters' names I don't know yet, either. I'm hoping to get in touch with a few other folks to finish writing the index files at some point this week.
This is one of the most heinous things I've seen in a long time. You probably don't want to follow this link, just take my word for it.
My brain's pretty well fired. I can't wait for my last midterm to be over just so I can get back to a normal schedule for a change. I really can't take much more studying right now. Come to think of it, what's next semester going to be like? I'll probably be ready to go postal around midterms. I've been taking two and three classes a semester for a few years now, what's five or six going to be like all at once? I'm not used to that sort of thing anymore. It's going to be rough getting back into the cycle of things, at least at first.
Ellen, I know you left a voicemail. I'll call you back tomorrow.
I just finished watching the episode of Samurai Jack I taped last night... I havn't laughed this much in months. Samurai Jack takes down a band of evil mind-controlled ravers. Gods, that was funny... just seeing the way the characters were drawn takes me back to my raver days, funky clothing and all. But all I need to say are two words: battlemech turntables
As for last night it was a nice change of pace. I didn't get to play my usual character due to his being abducted by Greys but I did get to play a few NPCs (nonplayer characters) last night. I've never really played secondaries before but it was kind of fun being part of the plot and not reacting to the plot. It was actually rather fun... Patrick Ivins and I took turns photographing everyone last night who came dressed in costume (if they normally didn't) or whose characters dressed in costume that night (set 31 October). When we get them copied off of our respective datacards and put on line I'll post links to them.
This morning I was reading the local paper and I happened across an article about the United States Cybersecurity Initiative and how they're recruiting in my city. They're setting up a programme where you can get a degree in forensic computing, security analysis and design, and a few other different disciplines of virtual security. For a while I actually sat there and considered trying to get into the programme, perhaps after school to earn my masters' degree. On one hand it would be doing something that I love, which is working with computers. Security is still a serious interest of mine and when I actually have time I do play around with things on the Lab's network, but on the other hand I'm morally and ethically opposed to the degree of monitoring that they want to put all net.users under to ensure the country's netspace infrastructure (or try to, at any rate). I despise the fact that this could easily mean monitoring all e-mail traffic entering and exiting an ISP's network to be sure that no one's up to anything shady. Encrypted e-mail would most definitely fall into this catagory, even people like myself to encrypt all personal mail on general principle. I don't discuss or plan anything illegal (not that I really expect anyone to believe me) through encrypted e-mail, it's just nobody's business what I'm telling someone in private. Just like what the other users of the Network say in their private correspondence - it's nobody's business but theirs and whoever they're writing to. I also don't like the possibility of all web traffic being monitored as part of this initiative. Quite frankly it shouldn't be the business of the United States government that I visit Securityfocus and Kuro5hin every day. And it isn't their business what anyone else visits or who anyone else e-mails unless they've got a valid, thought-out reason with a warrant to back it up. Preemptive monitoring is bullshit, pure and simple; it's too 1984. If they've got a good reason for it, then fine, but not until they can prove that they've got a reason for it.
And another thing.. the Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of the Verichip in humans. Apparantly, they're fine with using them for security purposes, just not for storing the implantee's medical records. Anybody else worried about this?
Oh, special thanks to Liu for bringing sushi to the LARP last night. You rock.
After many requests I've brought back the BOFH and Virtual Adept excuses of the day. They're regenerated every day at midnight EST so you might want to bookmark them in case you plan on using them at work.
Greetings readers from the Department Of Defense Network Information Center! Hello to readers from nasa.gov as well.
Another week, another Friday, another block of two days to relax. Whee. Recitation this morning was a breeze; considering how many people aren't going to make it to classes today the TA just wrote the answers to the homework on the board and collected said homework. All in all class broke about a half hour early. I wish I could have caught Gene Spafford's presentation this morning but I've got other things to take care of right now; maybe next time. The CEO of Google will be speaking next week, maybe I'll try to catch him.
So I decided to make brownies today.. what the hell. I'm bringing them to LARP tonight to share with everyone. I really do love cooking, I just can't eat all of it myself. Besides, it's more fun to cook for other people and from them refine your technique. One thing about geeks, we're open to pretty much anything if you ask nicely.
Speaking of LARP tonight's the in-character Halloween party. Operand's going as Sakurazuka Seishirou from Tokyo Babylon (near the end of the series) and X/1999. This is mostly because the wig I had for my Eiri Masami costume is completely trashed; I didn't store it properly to begin with and as a result it's so badly tangled that the knots couldn't even be cut out. Anyway I've been considering CLAMP characters for a while so this is a good excuse to give it a shot. I could never resist the bishonen. *grin*
Cruising around looking for old RPGs I found this page this morning: It's an actual 3D environment for playing out Matrix scenes in Shadowrun. The elements of the VR are meshes rendered in realtime, damage, programs, and operations are kept track of for you, and the player of the decker character basically sits down and plays it like any other video game to keep from boring the other players while the decker character is doing their thing. Even if you don't like Shadowrun this seems like a pretty nifty thing to play around with; you can even define your own objects in this system to customise it to a particular campaign or scenario. What's more, it's even open source.
OpenBSD v3.2 is out. `make world`, anyone?
Happy Samhain, everyone.
Jam Master Jay / RunDMC - rest in peace.
I'm down to the wire on this programming project so there won't be any updates until tonight. Sorry.
Well, it's after 2000 EST and the trick-or-treaters have all gone home in my neighborhood. Halloween as it's popularly celebrated is over. The candy's all been given out and it's time to buckle back down and get things done if you're the sort who works. If not I guess the parties will be starting soon if they havn't already. I wouldn't know, I've never been to a Halloween party before.
I suppose I'm glad that it's over because people will finally stop talking about it and I'll be able to get back to work. I guess I'm officially a burnout, I can't even rouse the strength to give a damn about Halloween, which used to be my favourite holiday of the year. Now it's just a distraction, and not a welcome one at that. I really don't much care about figuring out what to dress up as, I'll say that flat out. Between assignments that are due in a few days' time, paying for things that would go into a costume, and sitting around the house because even if I did go out I don't really eat candy anyway... it's pointless. It's a negative sum game. I'd much rather worry about stuff that's actually useful, or at the very least practical.
Maybe I've spent too much time holed up in my lab; maybe I grew up too fast; maybe I just don't care about having fun anymore. I havn't quite decided which, but in the end it doesn't really matter. There's still things that have to get done and I'm more worried about those then I am about having a good time.
Greetings and salutations to readers from army.mil!
Two more tasks taken care of in the fight to graduate. I've turned in the last of my credit transfer request forms as well as my graduation application. Goddess willing, next semester is my last semester. Then my biomechanical butt is out of here.That aside not too much has happened today. I'm kind of tired because I have not been sleeping well lately (insomnia all week) so getting up in the morning hasn't been as easy as it should be. I think it's something inside worried about the discrete math midterm coming up but I'm not certain yet. It's probably the boneheaded datacomm assignment schedule at fault.
This doesn't surprise me in the least. The very same telcos who sell you services that make it more difficult for telemarketers to reach you are also selling their anti-anti-telemarketer services to the telemarketers. Guys, make up your minds here. Frankly this pisses me off - if I'm paying for a recurring service from a company I expect them to "stay bought". I'm paying good money for an unlisted number and CID and I really don't care to have my local telephone company help them get around it. This is why I don't answer my phone anymore. I have filters for viruses (not that they can hurt me) and spam but I can't filter out sales calls. If it wasn't for my DSL line I'd actually consider dropping my hardline for wireless only.
Crypto news just in - Linus Torvalds has officially merged the cryptographic API and IPsec into the v2.5 series kernel tree. This means that the next generation Linux kernel won't need patches to implement cryptographic filesystems or IPsec because the encryption engines themselves (all non-patented ones, Linus wrote) will be there.
Russian authorities announced today that the gas they pumped into the building to break the hostage situation was a gas derived from fentanyl, which is an opiate-based narcotic. Perhaps if they had told the doctors working on the gassed hostages what they'd used they might have saved a few more lives... shooting in the dark where medicine is concerned is a good, fast way to leave your current incarnation.
Today walking to my last class I happened to slip and fall entering the building. Why they'd put a tile floor in and no mats or traction pads I'll never know but that's not relevant right now. Anyway I landed on my left hand, the wrist bent, and jammed my palm against the floor. I lost a good deal of feeling in the fingertips of my left hand as a result and the palm's not feeling too hot right now. Damned bloody carpal tunnel... the nerve lit up all the way into the forearm. I get the feeling that the left arm's going to be hurting for a couple of days; I'm already taking Motrin for the pain and swelling and there's a trip to the doctor planned for next week.
If anyone wants to see how long I can keep that hand on top of a lit stove drop me a line. I may as well do something with that condition.
Well, I was called in to work early this morning to help patch a few things up for the remaining staff. This consisted of moving stuff into a storage room and pushing around some heavy tables for a while. Oh, well, it's money, even if I did have to get up early today. I also had to install a new set of drivers on a laptop computer (replacing the ones that were over a year old, ye flipping gods) to make the text un-fuzzy.
What fun. Now I'm on the phone trying to find out why Dataline's printer is hosed. Windows 2000 picks it up and configures for it but the printer itself is frozen, the print head is stuck in the middle of the gateway and doesn't respond to any commands sent to it. After a pleasant conversation with Canon tech support it's been decided that the circuitry in the ink tank caddy is fried because it ran dry one too many times and the heating element that fixes the ink on the paper was running with nothing to wick the heat away - chipdeath. At least it's a commodity part so a replacement can be picked up at any good office supply store around here, so I guess I'll be running around this weekend to get a replacement. Come to think of it, this is how her Canon BJC-4400 died, too... only I was using cartridge refills on that printer, and the ink in the tank rechargers is only slightly less caustic (and messy) than, say, sulfuric acid. At any rate I'll pick up a replacement and see how that works out.
I don't have much time to comment on this article but because it's about Commodores (the SX-64, which was one of the first luggable systems, in fact) I'm going to make the time to do so. Someone hacked the chassis of an SX-64 to hold a Pentium-III CPU and mainboard and is running.. you guessed it, a Commodore emulator off of it. I loved the anecdote about bringing it to a LAN party and blowing some minds by showing Windows XPO running on it. For all anyone knew it was a stock Commodore deck and nothing else.. I wish there were pictures of that on the site (which is a mirror since the original was slashdotted).
Here's something you don't see every day: a USB-to-ISA slot converter.
Sure, you can trust the government... the furor over the use of untested drugs and chemical compounds on people is still going on. The fights are still going on over Gulf War Syndrome and the declassified documents regarding the testing of various compounds on unsuspecting people, civilian and otherwise were authenticated long ago. Isn't it great that they've got our best interests at heart (at least slightly over half the time)?
Swift Fox has put pictures from the furbecue online. Behold the Alien Barney Autopsy...
This is another cool hack - CUTs. If you've got a cellphone that can send and recieve text messages as e-mails this utility will let you access your deck remotely by sending commands to a shell as e-mail and recieving the responses in like manner. If you're paying by the byte this could get pricey in an emergency on the whole it's pretty rad - shell access via SMTP. Very cool.
Oh ye gods...
Another day another step closer to the conclusion of my plan. I've worked the bugs out of my schedule for next semester so I've got 15 credits across seven classes in the spring, which makes for full time student status. Go go gadget financial aid.
My discrete structures professor pushed the midterm back two days so that gives me a bit more time to study this weekend. It really takes the heat off so I can work on the project due next Monday (ugh..) in a leisurely fashion and not be going nuts debugging. I've got a consulting gig tomorrow for at least part of the day so I hope to get another few chunks of discrete math into my head to make room for coding tomorrow night. I really hope it's not going to be an all day sort of gig, I've got other things to do. For whatever reason my datacomm professor decided to give us the rest of the code labs for the semester one week apart. I'm still going to take some time off here and there to rest, though. That's what laptops are for, yes?
No weird dreams last night - I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing. It's unusual to remember my dreams so this weekend has been an interesting change of pace to say the least.
I also picked up my application for graduation next semester. All the paperwork with the necessary information's at home so once it's filled out I'll get it to the registrar and that'll be the the end of that, as they say.
Sun Microsystems says that it will indeed be supporting Solaris 9 for x86 but there'll be a price tag of $99us for the single-CPU version; they havn't decided what they'll charge for the multiple-CPU version yet. It's good that they'll be bringing Solaris 9 to the PC platform, it's a good OS and rock solid for use as a server, but the price tag seems a bit steep to me. If it was $99us for a full media kit for Solaris 9 like they send out periodically with their hardware (which is a box of manuals and a binder of twelve CD-ROMs of Solaris, Sun Microsystems software and systemware, and prepackaged versions of other utilities) then I'd say fine, you're getting a significant bang for your buck. But paying $99 for just the OS seems a bit much for me. I'd rather get some surplus Sun equipment on the open market and spring for the media kit, you get more use out of it. The thing that really gets me is the fact that the support contract (which presumably gives the user access to the Sunsolve website, where they post links to system patches and security advisories) will be $75us per month. Now that's going overboard.
I find this amusing - someone cracked the passcode on the e-mail box said to be that of Iraqi president Saddam Hussein. Apparantly it was a forwarder to an e-mail box on the official ISP of Iraq, and someone guessed the login name and password (identical) and waltzed into the webmail page. Ye gods, people... the baby's crying because the candy bar's been filched. What's more, the webmail system they were running there was vulnerable and hadn't been patched (I'm thinking Squirrelmail, it's had a few holes in it recently) but that doesn't appear to be what was used to gain access.
When I got home from class this evening there was somebody from a certain national telco waiting on the front step to talk to us about switching our POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) to their new digital phone plan. AT&T Broadband's at it again. Nevermind the fact that this was right in the middle of dinner when we're trying to eat and pissing off two hypoglycemics who are trying to tank up is a fast way to find yourself hurled through the front door but I digress. Basically it'll be a massive cost reduction for my folks because they've got digital cable service and a few options on their phone line and it'll add the possibility of adding multiple other phone lines for free (which I don't mind, I've wanted to set up a fax server for a long time but I digress again) and give them a few more options to their digital cable service. Okay, fine by me, just don't break my DSL line or make me switch to a service with a ToS that doesn't let me run an e-mail server and I'll think about it. However, one point that he brought up was that our long distance calls were costing us... oddly enough the phone bill came that day and the last LD call I'd made was on there. Going back through the past few phone bills that had never happened before. Never.
Said representative said that telcos were doing that sort of thing on the sly these days, arbitrarily deciding what calls don't fall under your calling plan and making you pay more for them. I thought the entire idea of calling plans was to lay out in a cut-and-dried fashion what was and wasn't covered by your flat rate every month. This smells worse than a fried capacitor; it's a little too convenient for my tastes. The weird thing is he's trying to get us to drop AT&T for AT&T Broadband. Yes, "drop" (his words). I thought they were owned by the same consortium, right? AT&T is AT&T. Anyway, the timing is too weird for my liking, we just happen to get a phone bill with such an anomaly the day a rep shows up with a deal for better service. It's shady.
The progenitors went for it - $50us saved per month is $50us saved. That adds up fast. I still say that as long as they don't screw with my net.connection they can feel free. My LART is right next to the door in case they do decide to pull a fast one on the DSL line...
The Catweasel v3 is out now. If you're not familiar with the Catweasel it's a universal floppy disk controller - given a standard PC floppy drive it'll read the track and sector layout of pretty much any floppy disk from any computer system you give it, like Apple-II disks, or C-64 disks, or Amiga disks... if you're the sort who likes to back up old disks just in case (or to use them in an emulator) this is a slick piece of hardware. This model also includes jacks for the joysticks that those old systems used to use (yay!) and even a PS/2 jack for Amiga keyboards. What's better, this version is PCI for a change (not ISA), so newer mainboards can have this badboy installed on them now. And there's even a socket on the controller to install a real honest-to-gods SID chip from the C-64.
I'm going to keep my hands in full view as I type this - the SID chip was the finest, most programmable, most expressive sound generation chip ever invented. I used to buy Commodore games just to listen to the soundtracks, nevermind the fact the game sucked (though I seemed to have a knack for buying good games, or at least games I enjoyed). Games like Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders and Street Beat had the best of both worlds - a neat game concept and music that made me groove back in the day. And still does to this day, incidentally. Anyway, SIDchip freaks will probably want to look into picking up one of these controllers simply for the fact that you can pop a SID chip into the 'board and get your fix on a PC.
I havn't really updated this page today because I've been studying pretty much all day. Last night was just a bad night, I think I took a turn for the worse and wound up using up the last of my energy reserves trying to calm down. I just don't handle stress well, be it from without or within. A good night's sleep and breakfast (to say nothing of a nice, hot shower) helped iron things out this morning but I can't take much more of this.
The printer on Dataline's workstation stopped responding again. I did the usual song and dance, deinstalled and reinstalled the drivers, burned incense, sacrificed a chicken.. there are two things I truly despise about Windows 2000: The gotchas that Microsoft puts in the EULAs and the fact that it loses track of printers at the drop of a hat. Funny, last night I did happen to drop my hat on the floor.. anyway I spent a few hours screwing around with it and it's still not happening. The Canon site was unhelpful, as was the Windows Help system - going all the way to the end of the suggested procedures it responded with "We don't know what's wrong." Lovely. The last thing I can try is to connect it via USB (which I really should have done in the first place) and see if the change of interface makes a difference. If that doesn't help I don't know what to do next. Fucking hardcopy...
I had some weird-ass dreams last night, something about buying a pet hamster and cleaning up the house.. then the hamster escaped and ran into the lab and hid in the bathroom, where there was a hole in the wall that lead into a crawlspace that looked like it was sculpted out of mildew, decay, and spider webs. I think all of my pets were there, from my mom's cat to the hamster I'd just bought (in the dream) and I think a few lab rats... I don't know what to make of that dream but I did wake up feeling icky because the images in the dream were wet and sticky and decayed. It was like peeking into a universe made of mold and things being eaten away. Not fun.
I think I've worked out an interpretation of that dream after a bit of research into dream symbology on the Net and playing back the bits and pieces of memories of it that are still available in my memory field. I think it has to do with being afraid of losing something that I treasure in some way, and being afraid to go to the lengths necessary to get it back.
Holy imploding Kibo.
Thanks for the link, B.A.
More images of said posters at Genesplice.
And let's not forget this gem from the Information Awareness Office. (Link taken from a reply to the above blog entry.)
Last night I took a step sideways out of life to catch my breath for a couple of hours. Lowmagnet and I ordered from the pizza place at the bottom of my hill and had dinner with my folks for a while. I've got to admit, that place has the best pizza I've ever had. It beats Pizza Hut hands down, it beats Papa John's, it even beats Captain's. The toppings were as thick as the crust, the sauce was pleasantly spicy and layered on without holding back, and the crust was firm enough to hold everything. It didn't fall apart. It was so un-greasy that blotting it with a paper towel didn't have an effect. And let's not forget the poppers - jalapeno peppers stuffed with cheddar cheese, breaded, and deep fried. They weren't greasy, either, and had just enough seeds left in them to give them a tang. After that we drove out to Border's for a while and reminisced about 80's bands and saw what new books had been released. Not much there, I'm afraid. For the record, the Life with Qmail book is basically a rehash of the installation docs and the Qmail FAQ. Unless you don't feel like printing everything out and binding it don't buy it. About the only useful thing in that book is the documentation for the UCSPI-TCP suite.
Anyway, it was nice to not give a tinker's dam about school, work, losing a job, money, or anything like that for a couple of hours. Life only sucks when you worry about it - worrying didn't happen.
Everyone needs those now and then, I think. They don't happen often enough to make life worthwhile.
Right now I'm catching up on the day's news (junkie that I am), watching Serial Experiments Lain: RESET, working on the Network's external DNS, and hacking on my lab's WAP. Maybe I'll turn in my datacomm assignment tonight and call it a day.
In truth, I really don't care. My mind's fried, my heart hurts, and I'm just tired. Life's ground me to a pulp. My plans right now call for finishing school so I can move on, but that'll only happen in time. I can't rush a semester any more than I can rush making enough money to move. It's got to occur as it will. Even if I had the strength inside right now to push things forward at a faster rate it would be the wrong thing to do - details would not come together as they need to and the wrong connections would be formed between the various aspects of my life; ultimately everything would succumb to internal inconsistency and poor planning and fall apart all over again. And there might not be enough left to pull things back together again if that were to happen. It's like walking upon a tightrope between two office buildings and a cramp starts in one leg. If you stop you'll probably fall and go splat; if you try to hurry you'll no doubt screw up and fall; if you go backward the same thing will happen; the only real option there is to bring your will to bear upon the cramp and force the pain away and take another step forward. And another. And another step. And when you finally reach the other side you'll be in pain and completely exhausted, but you'll be on the other side and safe nonetheless.
What the... Macintosh porn?!
I just got back from class and I'm already bored out of my mind. The homework's handed in, it's a Friday afternoon, and there's sweet frag-all to do right now. I suppose that I should probably do something constructive like hack on my homework or something but I'm tired and really not up to using my brain right now. As odd as that may sound. I don't want to code; I don't want to read; I don't even want to watch television (as if I ever do anyway); I just want to sit and do absolutely nothing. I want to switch my mind off for a couple of hours (or a couple of days) and not do anything.
An absurdity to consider - I'm subscribed to a couple of jobfinger mailing lists for times such as these (even though I'm not looking for a job right now) and recieve job notices periodically from a few services. The one I just got today from dice.com is tagged with a byline from Tiger Direct to price computer parts. If someone reading that advertisement doesn't have a job how are they going to afford buying computer parts? Come on, people..
Heads up - a vulnerability has been detected in Kerberos v5.x. There's a buffer overflow in kadmindv4, which permits Kerberos v4.x clients to interact with v5.x domains that grants root access to the key distribution server it's running on. My first guess would be that newer domains would be affected by this vulnerability more than older ones because new domains are more likely to use the latest revision of the Kerberos codebase. However, this is not the case - domains running code derived from the MIT implementation of Kerberos v4.x are vulnerable as well. Playing the "we're running older and thus not vulnerable code" card isn't going to work here. I think things are going to be pretty hairy on the Net for a couple of weeks.
I discovered something last night - IPtables won't work on a virtual network interface in the Linux v2.4 kernel series. If you set up a hardware interface (say, eth0) with a virtual interface (called an IP alias in the documentation, which is actually incorrect) on top of it (eth0:1) the IP code in the kernel doesn't mind but IPtables throws an error and refuses to configure the tables. IPchains didn't act like that. I did some looking around and found out that IProute2 will let this work, so I'm doing a bit of nosing around to see if I can make it work, and then I'll give it a try.
Greetings readers from the United States Department of Energy!
I'm still working on that protocol simulator for my datacomm class. Given the set of parameters that the assignment calls for, I'm convinced that the transmission medium the simulated network in question is using is either TCP/IP via methedrine addicted lab mice (because packets keep falling over dead in mid-stream) or morse code via post-swim practice belching (because after swim practise you can never belch when you want to, only when you least should be doing so - don't ask). Either way it's even less reliable than 53,333bps dialup connections on phone lines installed before 1982.
I can see why network engineers take such long vacations, it helps them regain their sanity.
Well, I managed to build a new firewall out of Lain today, only installing the patches for Slackware v8.0 completely trashed the system so I'll have to start all over again. Somebody shoot me. GlibC was hosed so Lain's not only dead in the water, she's just dead.
I think I can get everything together again in less time now that I've isolated all the problems faced once before but it still means a loss of connectivity. It's the e-mail situation that's got me worried, truth be told. That's a lot of e-mail for a lot of people bouncing all day. I think it's recoverable (the default retry time for SMTP is 48 hours, if memory serves) but I really feel sorry for all the list admins out there who have been getting those bounces all day today. Sorry, everyone.
I discovered something neat about the v2.4.19 kernel, though - IP aliasing (one interface, multiple IP addresses) isn't a compile time option anymore, it's standard. Talk about useful right now, I can use both of my IP addresses and not have to worry about getting a workgroup switch for a secondary DNS server outside of the firewall.
Okay, I've got Lain up and running and locked down. What a struggle. Now the flood of delayed e-mail can come in. I just have to find a 3 1/2" drive bay panel somewhere down here so I can muffle the sound her primary hard drive makes - the bloody thing's louder than the RAID array at work if you can believe that. I'll take a few pictures this weekend and put them on the computers page for everyone if I get time.
I'm tired and I don't care to put anything about today's news in here. Maybe tomorrow. Right now I'm letting my brain spin down from some high speed firewall hacking. She's up; she's running; my brain's fried. Now to do my homework.
I noticed something tonight. At the end of aerobics class I hadn't even broken a sweat. It was as if I'd gone for a stroll around the block and not a solid hour of cardiovascular exercise. My exterior's really shaping up, even the internals are running at peak efficiency. I never thought that day would come, but I'm not complaining. Talk about your pleasant surprises..
Okay, maybe not. Here's part two of The World's Most Dangerous Server Rooms at the Register. For the record I don't think the last two images on this page are fakes because I know someone who actually did this because he ran out of cases when putting together a system. The server rooms at the places I've worked have never been that bad... I have to say I'm impressed.
Maybe I'm getting punchy, but coding with a teddy bear in your lap helps immensely.
For some reason today feels as if it's progressing in slow motion. Getting out of bed this morning took an act of will that ordinarily should not be required earlier than 1000 hours. Last night wasn't much better, come to think about it. It's like I've reached the upper limit of my efforts right now and trying to surpass that is just wasting energy. Maybe it's the mid-semester slump, maybe it's something related to getting laid off that I havn't noticed inside yet, maybe it's something else. Maybe I'm just getting depressed, it is that time of year right now. I don't know. In the end it's really not a big deal, I'll still do what I have to do and get things done.
Maybe today's news'll warm up my headware. Here's an article about Microsoft's new OS EULAs putting banks in a position of having to break Federally mandated customer privacy laws. In a nutshell, because XP and 2000 SP3's agreements give Microsoft and any organisations Microsoft sees fit ("any designated agent") to access the system being updated for an unspecified purpose, financial institutions in the United States, which must provide a certain minimum degree of information protection to their customers are smelling a violation of federal law as a result. Between the cost of licensing Microsoft's products and getting on the bad side of the FDIC and Treasury Department, eyebrows are being raised and backup plans are being developed and tested. It'll be interesting to see how this turns out.
I actually got some more coding time in last night on that datacomm project. It's starting to shape up nicely; I think I've got the architecture down, I just want to go over my code again to be sure I hit every point in the spec before I start debugging. If there are two pieces of software that the Free Software Foundation should be canonised for, it's GCC and GDB. Without them all development would be... maybe not easier but definitely more rigid and less prevelent due to the cost of development packages and probably lack of featurefulness of the utilities themselves. When I was learning C++ back at IUP I was using Borland Turbo C++ through DOSemu as my development platform, and while the IDE was nice (because I was used to Turbo Pascal from high school) it was an expensive package to purchase (especially when you don't have a job) and the debugger was missing a few features that I would very much have liked to have access to. I knew about G++ but didn't know C++ well enough to really be able to make use of it. Now I code almost exclusively in C and I got used to using the GNU development tools so I know my way around, and I know now what problems are bugs in my code and what are shortcomings or misconfigurations in the development tools. I guess what I'm trying to say is that it's not just the tools it's how well you know how to apply them that makes a difference.
Today's the day.
The termination order came down for my workstation; the office is dark; there are only three people in today; they gave me my last paycheque.
Today's my last day at Moai.
I'm kind of busy right now so I'll have to write more stuff later.
News of the day: Human genes grafted into swine genome. Believe it or not there have been rumours of this circulating in the underground for years. Gallitz pigs, it's said, were genetically engineered pigs with human blood and internal organs suitable for transplantation. They are (or were) only urban legends. This urban legend in particular might be coming true in a few short years.
From the Guardian: ISPs in the UK refuse to provide user tracking information to the government. Hear, hear!
Notice: anzen.com was cracked and the Fragrouter utility distribution was trojanned! v1.7 of Fragrouter is a fake, v1.6 was the last official release and the utility has been unmaintained for three years now. The trojan is another variation on the theme of an altered ./configure script.
Well, I just trashed my workstation. It's been repartitioned and Windows 2000 is going back onto it so it can be shipped back. That's the end of that. I'm jacked into Kabuki right now so I can write this update. The party's over, cats and kitties. Now I've got to figure out how to live until I graduate. As things stand now I'm looking at full time next semester to get my degree, so I won't have the time to work, which means that paying bills is up in the air. Highly nonoptimal. I've been seriously considering selling things as a means of income on eBay for a few months, at least until I'm out of school and back in the job market. I've got more than enough stuff laying around the lab right now that I'll either never use or can't use anymore, maybe it'll go up for auction, in which case I'll tell everyone on here what I've got to offer. We'll see how that goes.
It's amazing the lengths a porn company will go to to get people to look at their stuff these days. A company called Cytron put together an ActiveX control that hooks IE and monitors the sites you visit and then spawns popups for their own porn sites that are likely to be in theme with the page you're currently viewing. The browser control is being considered a trojan horse by the computer security industry. I'm not sure who is worse - the government, which wants to be able to monitor the Net, or the porn industry, which wants to make the Net usable with one free hand only.
I long for the days when I used to tell newbies about the Net and I could honestly reassure them that it wasn't a hotbed of pornography.
A lot of it's not even interesting porn, either.
Everything's packed up at work now. You can't even hear the exhaust fans anymore.
I'm trying to charge Kabuki's new power cell. I don't know if it'll work yet so this is the acid test. I hope it's not a dead battery, I hate having to give sellers on eBay bad references.
Kabuki's new battery is charging slowly, much more slowly than her other one. I think that's a good sign.
Update: Kabuki's power cell's held up for two hours now and is still going strong. Rock!
Last night was the worst night's sleep I've had in months. I tried going offline around 0100 EST and wound up tossing and turning for a good three hours beyond that. Sleep refused to come, I couldn't shut my brain down for anything. I think I wrote three short stories last night in between pacing, trips to the bathroom, and trying to find a comfortable position in which to sleep. For a while I thought I had another migrane headache coming up - the familiar lines of pain from the shoulder sockets up to the temples was there (and my shoulders are still hurting, though that's probably from how I was propped up on the floor studying for hours on end), my body's hands are still cold to the touch so their circulation is still messed up, and I was getting the familiar gold and blue sparkles in my field of vision even when my eyes were closed, which is always a bad sign. A migrane headache the day before a midterm is pretty much the word of doom.
So far, though, aside from being rather tired (three hours of sleep can do that to you) nothing's happened. I'm hoping that headache got sidetracked last night, which at least gives me time to fill up my candy dish (with two or three bottles of ibuprofin from Sam's Club) if I can't find my medication.
I hate my lives.
I've got a couple of hours to go before I have to schedule classes for the spring semester so here's a few items of note from today's news. First of all, Linus has decreed feature freeze on the code tree that will become either v2.6 or v3.0. The patches are in and hopefully being hammered on by the kernel development team. When Linus gets back from the Linux Lunacy Cruise he'll give the final yay or nay on the code in question.
A company called Search King is suing Google because Google has modified their page ranking algorithms to devalue their customers' sites.
What a load of core dump.
Search King is paid by companies to put hundred upon hundreds, if not more, links to their site on their collection of web servers. Google uses (or at least used) the number of links to a site and key terms to rank pages by probable relevance. Paying someone to make lots of links to your site from their own dummy sites beats that; their lawsuit is like a spammer suing an ISP because their e-mail servers don't accept messages from IP addresses that don't have reverse records attached to them. Search King, you got caught. Shut the hell up and find another way to make money. The rest of us on the Net don't need you diluting our search results with advertisements and false hyperlinks, we actually do research In Here using Google .
Okay, now I'm pissed. A biotech company called Myriad put a patent on the technique for determining if someone has the genes for hereditary breast cancer by laying claim to any and all research that involves the two genes responsible. Hospitals and doctors in British Columbia are no longer permitted to perform the testing that detects these genes due to these patents. I get the feeling that the only people who are supposed to know if they're going to die an early death are those who are willing to pay through the nose for the privilege of finding out. As someone who comes from a bloodline that features various forms of cancer prominently, I find this not only reprehensible but a sign of unabashed profiteering. Bastards.
Karma's going to bite these folks in the ass, count on it. I plan on making a bit bowl of popcorn and sitting on the sidelines to laugh my ass off when it does.
Datacomm midterm update - the exam completely owned me. That was the hardest test I've taken in at least a year. The logical and "here's how this works" stuff was easy, the math a bit trickier. Writing the Java code, on the other hand, steamrollered me. I'm a voodoo Java programmer at best, not even worth the use of the word 'programmer' to be honest. I never got close to finishing the exam, at least three questions were left untouched. I hope he curves this test because there were a lot of people with the same bewildered "Dammit, that wasn't fun" expression I had leaving the room. His public speaking skills might be substandard but I've got to give the professor credit, he knows his stuff.
As for scheduling for classes I managed to walk away with 12 credit-hours on the sheet and another five or six alternate classes that'll fulfill the same requirements in case I can't get the primary ones written down. The hardest damned thing you can imagine is getting anyone in that office to state beyond the shadow of a doubt, "Yes, that course will take care of graduation requirement foo." Nobody's willing to put their name on a statement that says that something counts, nobody! It's like trying to get tech support from Microsoft, it just doesn't happen.
No more! Make it stop! Please! Give me the fucking exam now, my brain's about to explode!
I love the idea of an ironic war protest march. The only problem is, the US government will probably take their advice, completely missing the sarcasm.
Another oddity to contemplate: research shows that clinical autism is on the rise (no registration required) and scientists aren't sure why. Stuff like this has been happening more often in recent years.
Newton afficionados take note! JDR Microdevices has flash cards! Right now they've got 64MB and 128MB cards in stock.
It's getting down to the wire at the Lab. Last evening was spent studying pretty much nonstop for the data communications midterm on Monday. Discretion won out over valor and I rescheduled the consulting gig I had for today for after midterms just to be safe. After breakfast this afternoon I started studying again and just came up for air a few minutes ago. The first trip through the material in question is over and I'm shooting to go through it a second time before the exam on Monday. I figure that if I keep up a clip of two chapters every day (which is about two hundred pages in total plus math) I can pull it off by tomorrow night.
Dataline just sent me this: The logistics of beating a traffic ticket. There's some good information in there, it's worth a read. I'm going to give it a try and let everyone know how it works out.
More studying. I've just wrapped around for the second read and I'll be starting the second chapter shortly. I broke for dinner at 1900 EST to give my brain a rest. There was some kung pao chicken left over in the freezer from last week so I threw it into my wok with some more chicken to fill it out (there was less than a serving left), a few chilis, and a few chopped up carrots and let it heat up until the kung pao chicken was melted and the other stuff was cooked through, about fifteen minutes. It's one of the better study meals I've thrown together in recent years. A dish of ice cream for dessert finished it off. Never underestimate the power of leftovers.
Kabuki's new power cell shipped today. It should be here by next week.
Well, I plead not guilty to the traffic citation and paid the fine. I'll probably find out when my hearing is next year.
I'm making decent headway studying for my datacomm midterm on Monday. Not so much on the programming assignment the Monday after the midterm but I hope that the weekend will give me some time to fix that. I'm passing on LARP and the Witches' Ball this weekend. It isn't as if I've got the time or the energy to come up with a costume right now, anyway.
In truth, I don't really celebrate Halloween. It's just another day for me, only there are more people knocking on the door that night while I'm trying to study. When I was a kid I used to wait all year for it, it was my favourite time of year. Now, in truth, it really doesn't do anything for me. I could take it or leave it, and if I'm too busy to even man the door to give out candy it really doesn't bother me one way or the other. It's just a day.
Anyway, that's my story and I'm stickin' to it.
Some spammers are now using the Winpopup service to advertise across the Net. Hell, I've never even seen this service used at all, let alone for its intended purpose (for admins to alert users). This probably scares the living hell out of people.
My knees are killing me. We've been doing a lot of floor work in aerobics lately and the postures require kneeling either directly upon the kneecaps or in such a way that your kneecaps are shifted from their normal locations for prolonged periods of time, which means that the tendons are stretching so they don't fit as tightly as they really should. My kneecaps generally get pushed downward away from my thigh muscles, so the tendons at the top are sore and much too loose. Laying on the floor, even with pillows, while studying isn't helping much either. As much as I appreciate leg flexibility feeling your knees pulling slightly apart and snapping back together is not only distracting but painful. I think I'm going to have to fix those joints again soon.
Well, I'm the last one in the office today. Everyone else's gone home for the weekend and I'm just hanging out, trying to make sure that everything's taken care of that needs to be taken care of this week. As it stands now, there's nothing that has to be done. I just finished printing out some documentation and now there's nothing left to do. I may as well head home early and get a jump start on studying. In fact, that's what I'm going to do. I might write another update tonight or I might just study and catch up with you folks tomorrow.
Oh, one more thing before I jack out: X/1999 volume 2 comes out on 19 November 2002. Get your pre-orders in.
Well, my traffic ticket (the one I got the day I lost my job) finally came in the mail yesterday. They didn't even give it to me at the time, I had to wait a month for it to come in. "We'll send it to you," the cop said. Great. I didn't even know what I was being charged with for a solid month. Nothing like waiting for the Sword of Damocles to fall; gives you a wonderful outlook on life, no? Anyway I had to drive an hour out of my way this morning to pick up a certified letter from the traffic court which was.. a second copy of the citation they sent me in the normal mail yesterday. Lovely. I drove for a solid hour to get a backup. Needless to say, I'm not pleased at this.
The fine I'll pay; it's the equivelent of extortion (the fine itself is $25.00us; the mandatory donations and court costs add another $81.00us onto the price tag) but it could have been worse. I plan on going to traffic court to request that the points be taken off, though. I'm rather expecting to be complete fucked over in court (I have a few friends who did the same thing and the judge took the fact that they were contesting a ticket personally and added more points onto their records out of spite) but I can't see any other way of not jeopardising my timetable any more. I've got to do something, even if it winds up being ineffectual.
I hate my life. This is the single reason that I never leave my house; every time I do something bad happens. If I could become an utter hermit but still pay my bills I would.
The ACLU is starting an anti-PATRIOT Act media campaign. It's about bloody time someone started speaking out, the US government sure as /dev/null isn't listening to Joe Sixpack or Jane Accountant. The people are just drones to be manipulated (or ignored as necessary) but the ACLU actually has a noticable degree of political clout. I've just regained some respect for the ACLU.
Song that best describes life right now: Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) by the Eurhythmics. Why? I don't know, I havn't listened to it in a while.
Well, I finally got around to installing Staroffice on Kabuki again. After a few weeks of not being able to transfer the installation image over using a waveLAN card I finally remembered that I had a copy at work and FTP'd it from my workstation using the hardwired net. Common sense is not my strong point. It's installing now. I'm going to burn the installation binaries to a CD-ROM or two so I can carry one with me and remove them from her hard drive to save some space. Now I can work on what I have to do while on the road.
Kabuki's new power cell should ship next week. Cross your fingers.
The daughter of Jeb Bush, governor of the state of Florida, was caught with crack cocaine while in drug rehab. Geez.
My nervous breakdown last night went over well, I think. Unable to manage all of the non-hobby projects that were piled on in the past few days I lost it last night. I've already tried to cancel out of two consulting gigs to make enough time to actually study but no word's come back yet from those employers. Not a good sign. They knew that I'm still in school right now; if they won't listen to that up front then there's nothing I can do about it. As for trying to study for the upcoming midterm examinations I don't know what to do. As things stand now I read between sixty and eighty pages for each class every night just to keep up; homework due every class period takes up another hour or so; even a half chapter every night for the datacomm midterm is another two hours (when you count my lousy class notes as well). That's 0100 EST every night if I start at 1800 and don't bother to stop for anything, even refueling. The rock and the hard place are not only there but they're starting to slip ever so slightly toward one another. I'm hoping that I stay glued together long enough tonight to at least finish that chapter of data communications.
I'm starting to worry more and more that I've got ADD; I actually spend more time worrying than actually studying and my thoughts constantly drift toward the problems in life from the stuff we're learning in class. Control over such things is all but lost; so far as I can tell only doses of stimulants are keeping my mind focused at present. I backslid last night and had a cup of coffee and managed to finish my discrete math work with little trouble about ten minutes later. The folks say that it's a coincidence but I don't believe in coincidence (or accidents, for that matter, but that's an InSoc lyric). I'm hoping that I'll be able to talk this over with a doctor once midterms are over. It was three weeks; that's a record. Damned shame to blow it like that.
Welcome back to crunch time. There's a midterm on Monday, a project due the Monday after that, and another midterm the Monday after that. There goes my weekends. I wonder if I can get off work to study for all of them...
I didn't get to write anything more here yesterday after class. After dinner I ran off to co-chair a panel at the discussion group I'm a member of with 'lex and Robin about paganism, sexuality, and gender identification. Ordinarily I don't appreciate being used as a reference example but in this case I made an exception. The argument went something like this: 'lex is a male, that's a given; Robin's a female, this is also a given; what is the Doctor? We bandied about for a while defining sex, gender, gender roles and identities, sexuality, where certain traits come from, whether or not men think in a logical or an emotional manner (and whether or not women do as well; the outcome of that was pretty predictable when you factor in having to generalise to the largest case to make it work), and other things. It was a good discussion, I've got to admit. No one figured out what I am, though, so I told them: While genetically male I do not identify with a gender; I'm an androgyne. I have traits of both males and females (make of that what you will, it'll be a long, long, long discussion) but I don't lean toward one side or the other. I'm more or less right in the middle.
Now that I've told you far too much about my private life, let's move on with the day, shall we?
It's kind of sad. The office is getting to be more and more empty as the weeks wear on. Ream upon ream of stuff is being gathered up for destruction and the kitchen's been stripped of all furniture. Most of the offices are missing the odd piece of furniture as well, and the cubicles are starting to show signs of having counter space and floors once more. Even fewer personnel are present every day. Moai's approaching winter, there's no doubt about it. We don't have much time left now. In some ways I feel like Death walking around at the end of Preludes and Nocturnes as I walk around the office and go to each workstation. A single touch, and the sound of great wings flapping can be heard as the hard drives spin up one last time as they're erased for good. I don't know why I'm so ambivelent about this gig, I'm helping to kill what was once a thriving tech company. I should be sad - I worked here for almost two years and poured untold amounts of effort and energy into this outfit. But neither do I feel the glee of a child torturing a small animal. Instead this is just a job, nothing more. It isn't good. It isn't bad. It's just what I do. I don't know if it's who I am or not, though.
Ye galloping flipping gods - the House voted to attack Iraq 296 to 133. Dubya's gonna get his war yet.
And the rest of the world's probably isn't going to like this much.
Here's an amusing read for you: the secret diaries of Ambassador Kosh.
Just a heads-up for everyone, there might not be any updates for a while. Midterms are starting and I'm up to my neck in studying and trying to keep up with my usual classes, so I'm going to have to renice my mental net.connection to a much lower priority for a while. Unfortunately it's catch-as-catch-can right now and I'm more worried about my grades than I am about this page. Sorry.
Monday morning. Gods, I'm dragging ass something serious. I'm still fried from the furbecue and my attention span is appropriately shot to hell and back. I'm leaking memory like an early beta of Mozilla and holding my psyche together with duct tape and prayers ("Eris, please don't let me fall asleep...") In a way this is an interesting place to be right now, mentally speaking, because large portions of my body's left brain hemisphere are operating at diminished capacity so they're not mucking with the linguistic or creative centers of the right hemisphere. If I had time right now I'd probably try freehand sketching or rhyming poetry but right now I've got to get caught up on stuff to free up tonight for a project.
The weather Outside is finally getting cold enough to be comfortable. Just after I got out of the shower this morning I walked past the weather station in the kitchen to check the time and temperature and was pleasantly surprised to note that it was 38 degrees Farenheit and holding steady. Granted, it's gone up as the day's progressed but it's nicely chilly and dry - good lots-of-shirts weather, which I favour greatly. If it would just stay like this year round it would be paradise, hands down. Right now I'm jacked in at one of the labs writing this and catching up on today's news. Let's see what's noteworthy right now... there's an article on the UK Observer about using cellphone's CIDs as unique indentifiers of people to track them from cell tower to cell tower as they move about in England. I seem to recall reading something about this a couple of years ago about such a technique being used as part of E911 service in the United States to locate individuals using cellphones as part of complying with a dictate of having to be able to locate people who call 911 to withing a certain margin of error. It's been a long time and my long-term storage is a little spotty right now but it seems familiar. If anyone's sure please let me know so I can post it here. You can probably guess where I stand on people wanting to track me without asking nicely and giving a bloody good reason first so I'll just move on.
That reminds me of something. At breakfast yesterday a few of us were sitting in the diner talking about how poor cellphone reception was inside. We eventually concluded that because the building was so old it was very probable that there was a good deal of steel mesh inside the walls behind the plaster making up the interior of the building. Basically it was acting as a Faraday cage and blocking incoming and outgoing radio frequency transmissions. There's something to be said about old-school construction techniques I think.
I just got home a few minutes ago from the furbecue. Let's see what all happened yesterday... the Barney pinata was an unexpected surprise at the gather. Everyone took a shot at whacking the hell out of it. The Samurai Panda's strike was eerily accurate, decapitating the pinata with a single blow. I frankly didn't expect China to go nuts on the poor thing and all but eviscerate it with the wooden pole but it was amusing to watch. As for myself, I couldn't hit the side of a barn if I was leaning up against it with that stupid pole. They got a few good laughs out of that one. Aah, well, 'tis more difficult to make a fur laugh than to make a fur cry. Dinner conversation was light and eclectic, just the way I like it. Concolor and the Panda showed off samples of their artwork, I just sat there and leafed through them. There were some impressive sketches in both of their portfolios, I must admit. Dinner was a bit late in coming, and I'm still hating myself for making a meal out of most of the munchies laying around. I hate it when I do that - something else to start working on tonight. That's got to be brought under control.
Later that evening the Alien Barney Autopsy was performed on top of one of the folding tables in the garage. The entire scenario was absurd and quite amusing to everyone standing around watching. After emptying my pockets and pack of all shiny steel tools China and I proceeded to dissect the pinata corpse and translate bits and pieces of the legible newsprint that made up the structure of the toy from Spanish (my Spanish is a good deal better than I had ever dreamed, considering that I dislike the language (I prefer Japanese) and I have not spoken or read it since 1996 or therabouts), hold them up for the cameras to photograph, and generally put on an alien autopsy-type show for all gathered on[laugh,look]ers. Fox Cub brought his photoprinter and made a few 3x5 inch prints of the images stored in his camera, he'll have the pictures up in a few days (at which time I'll get a link up to them).
I even ran into the sysop of a BBS I used to hang out on back in the day. Big Bad Wolf, if you're searching for your handle drop me a line at the Network!
Later that night was bowling on the outskirts of Pittsburgh. The majority of the Steelfurs turned out that night to bowl a few rounds, dance to 70's and 80's music, and overall have a good time. Furries Too were skunked (pardon the pun) by Furries one in a close battle, 368 to 344. Concolor showed off his new suit (Entei) as well. I'm still amazed at the manual dexterity the paws afford him. After that a handful of us returned to Swift Fox's den to spend the remainder of the evening (and a good deal of the early morning) playing blackjack around the kitchen table. You have to hand it to Swift, when he does something he does it right - he's got a full casino set for casino night, from the felt blackjack pad for the table to a six-deck shuffling machine and transparent lexan dealer's shoe. Around that time my memories of things get a little fuzzy. Sleep deprivation turned us into a pack of giggling cubs and we spent as much time laughing at each other as we did actually playing blackjack.
Due to the weather this morning we decided to pass on the trip to the zoo and after breakfast downtown decided to wander around a bit on the Strip visiting the smaller stores and groceries. We discovered that both crystallised ginger and pocky can be bought in the Steel City this afternoon. After that we returned yet again to Swift Fox's den to watch Pokemon 3. I must admit I'm still puzzled about the entire Pokemon craze. The artwork really doesn't do much for me; it's clearly aimed at kids, which further puts me off on it; it assumes that you are at least familiar with Pokemon in general (yes, I do live under a rock); it assumes that watching cute animated critters duke it out with various firey attacks and chirping happily is your cup of tea. I'm sorry, I really did try, but it's not my thing. After that I called it a weekend and headed back to the lab to catch up on stuff and get ready for class tomorrow. All in all it was a fun weekend. I wish Swift had more gathers like this but planning them and getting them running takes a lot out of you. Besides, I think it's best that they don't happen too often, furbecues are too much fun to burn out on.
Speaking of burn out, I backslid this morning. I had a cup of coffee while waiting for the bathroom to free up so I could take a shower. Getting up at 0900 when you crashed at 0345 EST is rough. That aside I feel fine.
I'm still amazed that my cookies went over so well.
News for the day: PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) v8.0 is now in beta. Being beta code it'll disable itself on 6 December 2002. Personally, I'd much rather stick with a cryptographic system the code of which I can read and verify for myself. Well, I'd probably wind up doing so with a group of friends but you know what I mean, that's a lot of code (and mathematics) to examine). Among other new features are full support for Windows XP, directory integration (vide Windows 2000 Active Directory), and even support for smart cards.
Colour the grey.
Way to go, Reverend Falwell. Feh.
Well, it's 0224 EST and I just finished working on Burn. She's now a fully functional e-mail server. The only things left to implement are IMAP4 and SSL support for SMTP, POP3, and IMAP4. But I'm going to bed.
I've just put a new text file on line, called "You might be in an anime by CLAMP if...".
Well, I'm hacking a little more on Burn before I leave today. I'm upgrading her kernel to v2.4.19 and if it runs properly for another day or so I'll set about turning on the weirder stuff that'll be necessary. I'm getting things done a little bit at a time, and soon everything will be ready.
Why am I writing about that? Because nothing else has really happened so far today. I got up around 0930, got dressed, had brekfast, and cleaned up the basement some. That's really about it. Right now I'm just waiting until the furbecue starts. I'd love to say that my life is interesting and exciting and something to really write about but it isn't. By and large the actual hours of my days are pretty boring. The exciting stuff happens only occasionally. If and when something like that happens believe me it'll wind up in here.
I'm not sure if this is fascinating or horrifying: Warner Brothers gave the go-ahead for a live-action version of Akira. Steve Norrington (director) claims that he'll be keeping as many of the iconic (read: less explained) elements of the manga in place for the fans. Somehow I doubt Hollywood will let them do this; in fact I doubt that it'll go over well with the mundane moviegoing crowd because it'll be too cerebral. The Matrix was an exception because it was as much an action movie as it was a thought provoking movie. Maybe a live-action Akira can pull off such a feat, but I'm not hopeful. If anything it'll be a victory if it turns out the way the live-action Wicked City did, which is to say it was complete camp (if you're into that sort of thing).
Well, another day another bunch of systems to tear apart. The office is starting to look pretty bare now. Most of the people are gone, a great deal of the computing equipment's been torn apart and is stacked in the now-empty cubicles for disposal later, and business in general is slowly winding down. It's looking like everything'll be closed down by the end of the month at this rate. There are a few stragglers who are fighting to wrap up the work that they had left over from before the termination orders came down, and everyone else that's left is dotting the i's, crossing the t's, and duct-taping the boxes shut. It's kind of sad, really. Moai was a thriving company for a couple of years, doing brisk business around the country, and now it's all fading to grey. I hate seeing this happen, especially to a company that had potential. But "I coulda been a contender" doesn't count for much, it's whether or not you make good that matters. We almost did.
This is my third aerobics class in a row that I havn't gotten up the day after completely wrecked. I'm taking this as a good sign, my exterior's starting to shape up nicely. It might not be as coordinated as I would like but it can take a good deal of physical exertion without dropping over from the strain. Endurance is a good thing. I've been sleeping a lot better, too, and because I can burn off my excess energy I havn't been getting snarled up as badly inside as I was before. At some point I'm going to start working on ways to make it move much more smoothly, and maybe work on its balance a bit. Maybe t'ai ch'i, I havn't had the time to do any reading yet.
I hate it when this happens. Just when I start a slush fund for my first tattoo someone goes and beats me to it. So much for being the first on my block to have a Commodore Business Machines insignia tattoo. Someone just posted a link to another one. If I was able to cry I think I'd start right about now.
Well, Lowmagnet helped me move some hardware into my lab for later analysis. I came into a couple of systems earlier tonight and now the question remains, "What the frag am I going to do with them?" Right now the question's still up in the air, pending finding a place to put them that isn't the middle of the floor. After we got back to the Lab I started manufacturing cookies for the furbecue tomorrow. We've been cranking out chocolate chip cookies nonstop since 2030 EST tonight and there's still a quarter of a pot of dough left (it's now 2335 EST). I keep forgetting how many that recipe is supposed to make.
The last batch of cookies are in the oven right now and the house is now eighty degrees Farenheit. I'd say that it's been a fairly productive evening. Good Chinese food, good liquour, and good cookies. Sometimes you just can't argue with a night like this.
Now this is one of the neatest things I've seen in a long, long time. Some folks are trying to implement the Metaverse using a system they call the Virtual Object System. They're trying to layer Gibson-style cyberspace on top of the Net.
Hey... I'm not under an IP ownership agreement anymore.. and I'll have some spare time coming up. Time to port some code!
WAP honeypots made the news today. A company in London is working on software that'll turn a laptop with a prism card into a fake access point ala FakeAP to determine exactly how many wardrivers there might be and what they're doing with the open APs they find. This is nothing new, though. I was amused by the comment to the effect of "all it needs is a beautiful user interface". What won't the suits put a GUI on these days? I bet if you gave them a copy of vi their heads would explode.
But now I'm straying from the topic at hand, which is fake wireless access points. On one hand, I have to root for the wardrivers. They're trying to make it known that you can't just put a wireless station online and not think that it's secure, it's far from it. On the other hand, I don't like the idea of someone using my AP without my permission, because it's too easy for someone to set you up. Imagine someone walking up to a house with an unsecure access point and smurfing an ISP for a few hours. Guess where the attack'll be traced back to... yep, the doss of the guy who didn't turn on WEP. That's not cool. If I can borrow someone's hand for a moment, I also don't like the idea of companies selling things that replace the brains that the IT staff of other companies should already have. Please don't tell me that IT teams don't know about wardriving or WEP and don't keep up with what's going on today. Then again, the Bugbear virus making its rounds is exploiting a bug in Windows that was patched over eighteen months ago, so I'm probably giving said IT staffs far too much credit. It almost makes me ashamed to be an admin, that colleagues of mine could be that dense. Get with the programme, guys, you're embarassing us!
Found an interesting link today for a company that's still manufacturing peripheral hardware for the Amiga, Jens Shoenfeld. Among their products are a 10baseT ethernet card, two different sound synthesis systems, an ISDN modem, and a couple of different IDE interfaces. They also have the token C-64 peripheral, a clone of the Action Replay cartridge called RetroReplay. They're based out of Germany but they've got an English language site set up as well. Even if it's not your thing give these folks a look-see - amazing that they're still making things for a platform that most of the newer generation's probably never seen before.
I think I've just discovered that Microsoft Scandisk is nothing more than a programme that prints pretty blocks to the screen. I'm reinstalling a system at work that has only a blank partition on it, no file system whatsoever, and Scandisk just passed it as a valid file system. This says nothing of the fact that there's only a single hard drive in the system with a single partition on it yet it's reporting drives C: and D: as being functional. I smell a scam.
This just came down the line on a cryptography mailing list I monitor. Kevin Mitnick is staring a computer security company. Somehow, I don't think the government's going to let him pull this one off, they worked hard enough to screw him before his trial even started, and they don't like seeing their handiwork undone.
I just remembered something. Yesterday, I saw the most goth vehicle in existence behind CMU's Software Engineering Institute. It was a shiny coal black colour and someone had taken the time and effort to either silkscreen literally hundreds, if not thousands of flowers in pale grey - daisies, roses, daffodils, snapdragons.... if they weren't silkscreened or airbrushed then someone had laminated the bodywork with funerary cloth. This wasn't a junky looking job, either, after that was what appeared to be a few layers of transparent lacquer or resin and the entire thing was polished so carefully that you could see yourself in it if you looked into it. I think it was a Cadillac but I don't know for sure because I was frankly too busy gawking at the details of the paintjob to look at the make and model of the vehicle. A few of the stickers on the bumper sticker were very familiar - the Sisters of Mercy and Telerama. It wouldn't surprise me if it was Dee's car; if it wasn't her then I have no idea who it was.
If the owner of said vehicle ever reads this memory dump, I've got to give you much respect for that car. It's got style, class, and workmanship. You've got taste and a hell of a lot of patience. In short, you rock the docs.
This is interesting - fireballs have been reported streaking through the skies over Colorado. Meteorites have been reported impacting soon afterward. The fact that they were so brightly coloured and lasted long enough to actually impact suggests that they were at least massive enough to survive entry into the Earth's atmosphere and burned off a good bit of their mass to pull it off.
I made this mistake of listening to the Josie and the Pussycats soundtrack while I was stuck in traffic on Monday. Bad idea - I've had Backdoor Lover by Du Jour stuck in my head for two days now. I'm running out of walls to slam my head off of to make the mental anguish go away. This is something like the Chinese water torture I've read so much about, of this I am certain.
Another form of torture - trying to install Slackware on a system with a bad floppy drive. Oh, and did I mention that the bootkernel that allows the (SCSI) CD-ROM to be accessed doesn't let the mainboard SCSI RAID controller fire up and vice-versa? I even went so far as to try to hack the Slackware v8.1 .iso image to use my custom kernel instead of the default raid.s kernel but that didn't work out too well, I wasn't able to recreate a bootable image using mkisofs. Granted, the version of mkisofs on my workstation is pretty old and out of date and I really don't feel like hunting down the latest revision right now to update the toolchain, I did enough of that yesterday. Oddly enough after burning through two boxes of floppies (many of which were so badly damaged that they can't be formatted anymore) I actually got the system to boot into the Slackware installer to start the show.
Here's a random page for old-school game lovers - The One Man and his Droid homepage. If you remember this game you'll no doubt remember how bloody difficult it was to make it to the top of the first chamber, and you'll probably remember the game music as well (thanks, Mr. Hubbard). There was a sequel made that was never released, but you can download it from the sister page and play it with an emulator.
Speaking of Rob Hubbard, here's the Unofficial Rob Hubbard shrine.
I've started working on Burn again in the past couple of days. For some reason the secondary hard drive on her primary IDE channel doesn't report any hard drive when one's hooked up to it. I've been playing around for a while, switching drives in and out, exchanging drives on channels, and suchlike and every time she was a single hard drive short. I got tired of it tonight and used my spare laptop hard drive and 2.5-to-3.5 inch hard drive adaptor to bring the system up. However, the CD-RW drive I've got installed right now isn't booting from CD-ROM properly. I'll probably have to switch in the old CD-ROM drive and install Slackware that way. As much as I like experimenting with other operating systems I'd prefer to use one I'm familar with to construct an e-mail server. That way I can troubleshoot problems in a timely manner (as there's something of a deadline on getting this mail exchanger up and running), to say nothing of the fact that sometimes library calls that're needed for a certain utility (like UCSPI-TCP) aren't present, and I really don't have the strength to hunt down the bugs right now, or even the time on a reliable enough basis.. I say, she's as stubborn as her namesake and just as much of a pain in the ass when you treat her nicely.
Switching the CD-RW for a CD-ROM drive worked, I can boot a Slackware v8.1 CD-ROM now. But the hard drive I'm using has a corrupt partition table - primary partition #3 extends beyond the end of the drive according to the geometry the kernel's picking up. *sigh* Time to wipe the drive out and try to re-do it from scratch. I hate hard drive surgery.
Nevermind, cfdisk was able to do it. I've added the technique I used to my random knowledge page in case anyone else ever needs it.
Song that best describes my life right now: The Screen by Think Tank.
It's the perfect weather Outside - early fall and you can see your breath in the air. I love this time of year; in fact I wish it would stay like this year round. Winter's coming and this is just the beginning of it. The skies are clear (but knowing this city that'll change soon) and the air is crisp (though not necessarily clean in the heart of the city). This is my absolute favourite time of year. The seasons really are changing now. It's not supposed to be a particularly snowy winter if I recall the Old Farmer's Almanac correctly, which is fine by me. Driving in snow isn't fun when most of your hometown consists of roadways that are steeper than 8% grades, but you do what you have to do, I suppose. I can't wait for the sky to go overcast, then it'll be a perfect day. Call me weird, I treasure days like that for some reason. Always have.
Here's a story on the subdermal information storing microchips that's a continuation of the fervor of a few months ago. The FDA's stonewalled their widespread use. Good. Apparently, the company that manufactures them (Applied Digital Solutions) has been hyping them a little too much on the talk show circuit, and the FDA's after them because they're making medical claims that they really should not be. The fact that they're already marketing them in South America bothers me slightly - why are they so gung-ho to get one installed in everyone? Also, they're working on a version that can be used as a GPS tracker. Sorry, guys, not in my exterior.
Your one-stop shopping trip for Xbox hacking if you don't know about it yet.
I can see now why so many corporate sites use Redhat Linux as their distribution of choice. It has a separate disk of modules for odd hardware like built-in SCSI RAID controllers and stuff like that, whereas Slackware doesn't. I'm half tempted to hack on Slackware a bit and send the modifications to Patrick Volkerding (vide loading modules during installation from a floppy or directory on the CD-ROM) to fix this. Right now I'm rolling an installation kernel for Slackware by hand at work and while it's an educational process it's also a bit of a pain in the ass.
Well, today's been almost a complete bust. I just tried to boot off of the floppies I'd rolled for that Poweredge 2300 system and it failed after a half hour of trying with more disk read errors than I've ever seen before. The dust in the old facility probably ruined the floppy drive itself; the dunes (literally) of brick dust inside the casing should have been the first clue but ripping the floppy drive out to replace it would have been a waste of time if it wasn't necessary, to say nothing of major surgery. Looks like it's necessary now. Looks like a job for tomorrow, I guess.
Where's my HERF gun?! Here's a link to an interview with Craig Mundie, Chief Technology officer of Microsoft. He's talking about the security of Microsoft software (operating systems in particular) and, get this - and if you scroll to the very bottom of the article it'll say in so many words - Microsoft was not concerned with the security of its products until customers were willing to pay for it. Security isn't a feature, it isn't a design principle, it isn't even a fucking priority unless it'll make more money for them. Arrogant sons of bitches. If there was ever an argument to drop Microsoft's products for those that are actually designed by people who just might give a tinker's dam about their customers and users it was this interview. They're willing to fleece each and every user for every last dime.
Wow. That's more profanity in one paragraph than I usually use in a month.
Oh, boy - Sendmail v8.12.6 was trojaned. Apparantly, the main FTP site for Sendmail was cracked somewhen around 28 September 2002 and the configure script was altered to include code that connects to a system on the Net (6667/TCP, which is typically used for IRC) and allows a user of said system to access a shell on such a system. This particular method of compromise has been popping up more and more in recent months, and I have to wonder if they've all been done by a single person (or a cabal of crackers) or if one person came up with the idea and now some other people are copying the technique and running with it. Either way it's making security that much more messy.
The Unix authentication at Pitt is screwed up again so once more I've downloaded a copy of PuTTY to travel safely through. That said, it's been a pretty good day all things considered today. Discrete structures was well taught for a change (it had to be, we've just started formal proofs), I'm caught up learning Java, and I spent the afternoon wandering around in the Pitt library to see what they had up on the hill. I found a book that I had to take out - From Memex to Hypertext: Vannevar Bush and the Mind's Machine, which is a collection of essays on Bush's Memex designs and the principles behind them. I havn't had a chance to start reading it yet but if it's any good you can rest assured that there'll be a link to Amazon for this book posted in the near future.
Slashdot link for you: A new planetoid beyond the orbit of Pluto has been confirmed. One tenth the size of the Earth it's working name is Quaoar, official designation 2002 LM60. Apparently if you took all 50,000 confirmed and registered asteroids in the solar system you'd only approach it's mass, which suggests a very dense structure. Oddly enough, even though it's too large to be a Kuiper Belt object they're not calling it Planet X. I'd say that it's a difference of nomenclature, personally. It's definitely bigger than Pluto, which makes a strong case to call it a planetary object, or at least a preplanetary object. There's been talk for literally decades about the eccentricities of the orbit of Neptune, but Pluto's mass isn't enough to account for them. This might be the reason for them - might. I'm no astrophysicist.
I wonder what the Nibiru-watchers make of this...
I'm halfway through From Memex to Hypertext: Vannevar Bush's Mind Machine. If you're into hardcore computing history, philosophy of computing, Hermann Hesse, Serial Experiments Lain, or computational esotericism then you'll enjoy the essays in this book. Set aside an afternoon with a cup of hot cocoa and read it cover to cover. I found it at the Pitt library, you might have to hit Amazon or the library of your local college as I don't think many public libraries will have it on the shelves.
Another slow day. I spent pretty much the entire afternoon studying to get everything out of the way. As it stands now I'm caught up in my datacomm class and I've read the next section for discrete structures class. Inductive proofs, I've got to be honest, I don't really understand any more now than I did before. I really hope the professor goes over things sanely in class tomorrow morning because otherwise it's going to be incomprehensible. He's not very good at answering direct questions, you see, he rather likes to plow through information and overload everyone with it. That's not cool. What's more, constructive criticism goes right over his head. Anyway, that's a bridge I'll burn when I come to it.
I'm damned sure not going to retake this course. I want out of Pitt and I'm going to go through every class necessary to do so.
I think I'm getting sick, come to think of it. I've got the sticky feeling in my sinuses and my throat's scratchy. It might have been walking to aerobics class last week in combination with stress supressing my body's immune system that opened me up for it. So far I'm not on the shelf but I am trying to take it easy so it doesn't knock me out. I'm going to pick up a few things at the store tonight that'll hopefully bolster its immune response.
I think I'm going to give that mail server another shot tonight. I've got a few more hard drives laying around that I'm going to bring into service so I can get a clean install going.
Check this out - there's a new video game for the Microsoft Xbox called Tux vs. Clippy. Gentlemen! Leeeeeeet's geeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet reeeeaaaaaaaadyyyyy to ruuummmmmmmmmmmmmmble! Too bad it's closed source, I'd love to give it a try on Leandra.
It happened again. Every time I go to the supermarket to buy marshmallows they're completely sold out of them. This is the second time this has happened!
Went to the computer show with Dreck today. Once we fought our way through traffic to get to the Expomart we spent a good two or three hours wandering around admiring the new hardware (like multiple-CPU Athlon motherboards... yummola) and catching up on lost time. On the whole I have to say it was a good day. If you're into drooling over the latest CPUs or gazing with glazed eyes at rows upon rows upon rows of memory DIMMs, there's no better place to be. One piece of advice, the hard drives you'll find there are much smaller than the ones you'll find at, say, Best Buy (10-20GB in size, as opposed to 60-100GB) and the prices are much higher proportionately ($60.00us for a 20GB IDE-66 hard drive; that doesn't seem worth it to me). Buy them elsewhere. There were some nice laptops there, however, for a much better price than elsewhere. I even found the same model as Kosh (Dell Latitude CPi M233SD) for $300.00us but decided to pass - I'd rather get a new LCD panel for him than buy a new one, to be perfectly honest. We even found, to my amazement, some old Apple Newton software on hardwired cards (street maps and city information for travellers). I've been looking for something like this for a long time as I travel occasionally. The high-res street maps make them more than worth the money paid for them (much, much, much more - I paid $5.00us for each one) and maps of cities that don't really change much over the years are worth their weight in gold if you don't have a sense of direction, like me.
Arashiko, I picked one up for you, by the way.
We didn't find any linear ATA flash cards, though, which is unfortunately par for the computer show course. Dreck is very interested in getting Newton compact flash drivers, however.
After that we drove over to Funcoland to look at all the old video games. Their racks of NES 8-bit games are turned around so you have to read upside down to see what game's what but other than that they have some nifty stuff there. Dreck's looking for a Sega Dreamcast broadband adaptor so if anyone has one or knows where he can get one, please drop me a line and I'll let him know. The interior of Goodwill Computers has been complete redone. They have less than half their stuff left and the remainder of it's been reorganised. I'm willing to bet that they threw out a great deal of stuff to make that happen, which is a damned shame. They didn't have any Atari or Commodore hardware save a single power supply in stock at the time, though I did pick up a book on writing text-based adventure games.
After that we decided to call it a day.
After dinner tonight I spent some time Working on Dataline's deck to see if I could get the printer working again. I'm glad I printed out that BIOS tweaking tutorial a few weeks ago (there's a link to it that should still be good farther down this page) because it came in handy working on her system. I've managed to goose the responsiveness and processing speed up a good deal by setting the BIOS up properly and after downloading the latest drivers for the printer it started working again. Whee. The first thing I did was print out my assignment for Monday before I forgot. The only thing that's still throwing me is the fact that her system doesn't shut down when you tell it to, it only reboots itself so you have to hold the power button down until it gets the hint, but I'll eventually figure that one out.
Anyone remember Gobots back in the early 1980's? I just saw a commercial for Transformers Go-Bots on Cartoon Network. Odd.
Transformers: Armada reminds me a bit too much of Pokemon. Yeesh. And annoyingly environmentally politically correct.
Oh, gods. Someone riced out a pair of Sun Enterprise 15k's. His boss must have had kittens when he saw those systems later that day, those suckers are expensive.
Up to my neck. Stuff later.
Gods, I'm going nuts. Everything has to be done ASAP today, and legitimately so - there's no telling when the systems I'm working on will be reposessed so they've got to be ready to leave as soon as possible. Unfortunately, this means that I've got to work on all of them simultaneously, and all the context switching is starting to drive me batty. What's more, most of them must be replaced with non-leased systems that their users can get by on until the doors close, so that's doubling the workload. Ever patch a newly built Windows 2000 system up to scratch when the installation media's service pack 1? It takes time, time and a hell of a lot of fiddling to get it all in there. Even if you've got a local cache of the required files on your LAN you still have to get the system attached to your domain, and if the domain controller it has to talk to is across the bloody continent that's going to take time... and then there are the little crises (read: user support) that crop up now and then. I wish I were capable of crying right now, the internal pressure's going to blow my fuses soon.
This sounds too amusing to be true, but I'm going to put a link to it anyway. An Iraqi vice president stated that one way of resolving the Iraq situation would be for Dubya and Hussein to have a duel, winner-take-all. I find it hard to believe that anyone in any position of power would say such a thing, especially when it could be recorded and reported the way this was. But can you imagine such a thing happening? It would be one of the funniest things to happen in the history of the United States presidency - two major political powers duking it out in a boxing wring or something. It was suggested that the United Nations' secretary general would be the referee. Somehow, I can see one of the stipulations being "anything goes", ala a street fight. Hussein brings a lead sap or a baseball bat and Bush brings a shotgun. Short match.
It'll never happen but it is a funny thought today.
Dataline just sent me this URL: Microsoft sells ad space in the BSOD. You've got to read this one, I can't do it any justice. I have to admit, though, every time I see a deck bluescreen I do feel the sudden urge for a cold one.
Maybe they're putting subliminals in BSODs right now...
I search through memory page by page A hard program held up by Jolt Once an idea, now it's done --Chimaera, My Nameserver, by David or Kirsty Damerell (to the tune of _Lucretia, My Reflection_)
Yep, my Java project's done and ready to hand in. I've spent the evening shaking the bugs out of the application layer protocol it's using and now it's ready to hand in. Life's good sometimes. Now I can rest and focus on the rest of the week, which consists of letting my blood pressure drop back down to double digits. By the bye, it's been a solid week since I kicked caffeine and I'm still going strong. I feel pretty good right now, if a bit tired, but that's just from staying up late a few nights in a row.
Well, it's been a hectic day. Lots of stuff's been piling up at work and I'm trying to keep it all managable, with some success. Unfortunately managing it requires the equivelent of scorched earth but it's getting the job done (hell, it is the job). You'd be amazed how long it takes to compress several gigabytes of data so it can be archived, even on a reasonably fast system (like a decently tricked out Sun 220R system). At least once every system being worked on at any one time is running their jobs there's a bit of downtime here and there - not much but enough to keep some semblance of sanity. Working is like running batch jobs, I've noticed - processprocessprocessprocessdone... rest... processprocessprocessdone... rest... rest... processprocessprocess... you get the picture.
Speaking of moving fast, that reminds me of something that happened on my way back from class yesterday. I was walking back to my car and crossing the four- lane road that forms the main drag of the Pitt campus (with the light, mind you, which is important) and some idiot ran a red light to pull a hard right (no right turn sign, anyone?) onto the main drag. I wasn't all the way across yet, so said idiot had to stop in the middle of the intersection, screwing up traffic that did have the right of way, and he had the nerve to not only slam on his horn to get me to move faster but lean out the window and teach me to count to four in binary because I was holding him up. Nevermind the fact he'd just run a red light and nearly taken me out to pull that stunt.
Yet more evidence that some people just shouldn't breed.
I've just started working on the system that Puff was using, and for some reason the on board video adaptor is completely hosed. It flickers and strobes like a special effect in a bad sci-fi movie, the colours appear to be badly messed up (even in text mode), and the text itself is difficult in the extreme to read. I've just flattened it and started a reinstall from the original media, which appears to be helping some, but I still have to wonder what in the hell he did to it to do that. It might have been something as simple as the onboard video chip needing time to warm up (he used it from the docking station with an external display a great deal) or it might just be the onboard video chips and the video adaptor in the docking station fighting it out for a while. I'm not sure which, but it took me by surprise.
I just watched End of Evangelion on DVD tonight. Rockin' stuff, pure and simple. Go out and buy it. From what I've heard it follows the format of its release in Japan, with Death opening and Rebirth at the end (the invasion of NERV and... the end, to not spoil it too much for people). It's nice to be able to watch a clear, clean copy of it for a change - my fansub tape is pretty badly worn even though it was recorded through a signal amp (gotta love Hack Shack) from a first generation copy. A few of the more unusual bits (like actually seeing Adam) don't seem to be in it, though. It's neat to actually be able to make out the details in the images. The voiceovers actually make sense in the English dub, though. I could really have done without the classic 'goop!' sound effects used here and there in the SFX track, though. They could have come up with something better than a sample that's on a bazillion SFX CDs, even the ones you can get at K-Mart.
And a bonus for the night - I just found a replacement power cell for Kabuki. She really needs one right now, so when it comes in it'll extend her runtime past sixty minutes. As much as I dislike spending money right about now I can't work without a deck that'll last, and she's it. I'm interested in seeing how well it works out. Maybe I should look a bit harder before I leap (I asked for more information - the model number of the cell - and compared it to Kabuki's; they match) but having a portable system that you can't take with you on the road is self-defeating.
SANS has jsut released its Top 20 Security Vulnerabilities list. In the Windows camp, the #1 security hole is... IIS. As a whole. And for Unix, RPC (remote procedure calls) lead the way. As a bonus they tell you how to patch the holes (or at least see if a given system you administer is vulnerable).
Here's an article on Fox News about using constructs to hunt for illegal material and why it's been a bad idea thus far. The operators who are supposed to double-check the reports from the bots don't seem to be big on making sure that a file with the name "monsters-inc-review.doc" really is an MPEG file of the movie Monsters, Inc.. A line from a Warner Brothers letter to an ISP really cracked me up - "that we have a good faith belief that use of the material.." Right. They have it in good faith that a book report is really a bootlegged copy of a novel? For gods' sake, use your heads, people. If you can't be bothered to double-check your facts before you start a legal action against someone for piracy and you can't be be bothered to take responsibility for your fuckups, then don't even bother pretending that you're trying to protect your copyright. Do the job right or don't do it at all, guys.
For the record, I'm not pulling a more-evolved-than-thou here, I'm just as fallible as the next guy. I screw up, too. But I try to make an effort to do the job right, and I fix my mistakes to the best of my ability. What this article is talking about is negligance, pure and simple.
The first half of school is over for the day and I'm back in the silicon mines plying my trade. Life's life. I seem to have recovered nicely from aerobics class last night - I thought I was going to fall over, my abdominal muscles were firing off pain messages like nobody's business. It appears that they need the most work of all, but I'm fine now. Life's good when you can work up a sweat now and then.
Speaking of working up a sweat I'm giving more CPU time to stuff at work than other things (like this page) so things might be a little thin until the end of the week. I try to write stuff in the evenings but those are mostly taken up with classwork right now.
Nothing really comment-worthy's appeared in the news yet today, most of it was yesterday. The protests downtown when Netanyahu (I don't feel like hunting down the proper spelling of his name) messed with traffic some, my folks were afraid that they'd have to find another way home because his cars were parked in the low below their building, and security was through the roof. I read in the University of Pittsburgh paper yesterday that No Such Agency was going to be recruiting later this week. What an amusing thought, I'd love to see who turns out for it just for the hell of it. And I just found something interesting on eBay: a network interface unit for an Amiga. Funny, I've been feeling the urge to spend some quality time with SAL this week, though I don't know if or when I'll be able to.
Right now I'm just skimming thoughts from my stream of consciousness, don't mind me. In all of this chum there has to be a few interesting ideas to work with, statistically speaking.
This is interesting.. a group of San Mateo, CA high school students founded a club discussing Satanic philosophy. Predictably, the grayfaces are having kittens over this, but from what the students the reporter interviewed said they've at least done and actually understood the material they've found and they don't appear to be into the Satanism-as-shock value trip. Satanism fundamentally teaches that by following the dominant currents of society one becomes no better than a herd animal, and by rebelling against that as Satan did against God one can free oneself from control of external influences. This need not take the form of dressing outrageously and performing odd or vile acts, only a refusal to join in the reindeer games that society says we should and follow our own plans and goals. While I don't agree with the "go through them if you can't stay away from them" stuff, because that tends to cause more trouble for you in the short term and screws up your plans, I must agree with breaking free of those restrictions which They say we "ought to have" and blazing one's own trail through life. It's not unexpected that a lot of people are flipping out, the stereotypes of Satanists are strong in society and unfortunately primarily (if not wholly) negative. If this club helps straighten things out some, so much the better. Think globally, act locally, and all that.
Why is everyone and their backup searching on the phrase 'cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war' these days?
This is why I keep my e-mail addresses private from my family: I came in to work today to find a flood of nine or ten lame forwards waiting for me in my inbox. What's worse, because they're in HTML they're all 30k or so in size.
Here's a lurid thought for you: traces of the West Nile Virus(tm) are appearing in blood donated to blood banks, in donated organs, and even in breast milk. You might not be sick from the virus, but apparently you can carry it and pass it on not unlike Typhoid Mary. Right now there's a fight going on over whether or not global warming (assuming there is such a thing, they say) is behind the gradual increase in global temperatures which extends the warm weather that mosquitos breed during, which raises the risk of infection. Guys, global temperatures are going up - this is the bloody definition of global warming. I do, however, agree with the people who say that we should be working more strongly to develop a cure for the West Nile virus. Even though coming down with it might not be deadly it still sucks to be sick, and if you are in the segment of the population that could die of it, a cure would be all the more welcome.
There's going to be an anime convention called Tekkoshocon in western Pennsylvania March 29 and 30, 2003. I might actually be able to attend this one... I'm thinking about breaking out the Eiri Masami costume again.
This comes as no surprise - in the 1980's the United States sent samples of vaious bacteria and viruses to Iraq, strains which are used in bioweapons research to be precise. No wonder Dubya's got such a hard-on to take down Iraq, the bioweapons they're working on might have been given to them by the US. As Wild Bill, my old archery instructor used to say, "Nice shooting, Oswald."
Just when you thought the Linux HOW-TO document was a joke, someone finally went and pulled it off. Nick Pells added a coffee pot to his deck.
And speaking of coffee, some stimulants are exactly what I need right now (but I won't be taking). Between analyzing and sanitizing systems at work (aka 'coroner duty') and trying to keep up with classes things are starting to get tight. As much as I like still having a job there (for a little while yet, anyway) I wish they'd leave me time to actually do things like homework. I've got another programme due soon and no time to work on it because I usually do that during the afternoon between classes, and I've been pulling afternoon shift for the past week now. We just started on proofs in predicate calculus, which I'm not very good at, so trying to unravel that particular aspect of discrete math takes a lot of time as well.. things are starting to get messy. It's just one little bug, I swear...
This just came down on a mailing list I monitor - a pack of kids beat 36 year old Charlie Young to death after a 10 year old threw an egg at him and he gave chase. If someone nailed you with an egg, wouldn't you go after him?
Gods. The world's going insane one person at a time. There was no reason to do that to him, not at all. Stopping someone from chasing someone else is one thing, but causing head injuries severe enough to kill them is inexcusable. I can't think of any, ANY reason that someone would do this.
Maybe the room of Guf really is empty.
I'm going offline.
That bloody discrete math test is finally over. I'm pretty confident that I did well, but only time will tell in the end. I'm taking it easy today to let my brain rest. I'm done with cramming for a while and I don't want to be brain-fried while I'm trying to code a project for datacomm. Maybe I'm using it as an excuse to slack, maybe it's because I didn't have much of a chance to rest last weekend (cleaning the house and cooking for a house of cybs takes time), maybe I'm just pontificating so I don't think about it. I don't know.
While I'm on the subject of being irresponsible, I did something that I've been meaning to do for a long time and finally managed to do, and that was catch a bus up past Carnegie-Mellon University to Squill and go roaming around the main drag for a while. In particular I was looking for the Big Eyes Small Mouth core book, but no one seems to have it anymore. Now I'm kicking myself for not buying it while I had the chance. Maybe a new edition's coming out, maybe it's just the end of that particular print run. Maybe I'm trying to forget about my situation in life by buying stuff, which is a very, very bad thing. Anyway, I bought End of Evangelion and X: Zero on DVD today. I've been waiting for them to come out for months and I found them at the same time. That was $60.00us well spent, I think. In truth I've been waiting for the X OVA to come out for a while now, and the fansub I have of episode zero (prelude) was excellent. So I've got my fix for at least a few months now.
Slow news day today - aside from the GNU HURD getting a POSIX compliant threading implementation not much is happening in the big world Outside. This seems to mirror what I noticed driving in to school today: Everything is unusually quiet and empty. The buses I rode today had fewer people than usual on them; driving in the streets had fewer cars than normal driving upon them; the stores don't have as many people as the usually do in them; the mailing lists I monitor are more quiet than usual today. Is there something going on that nobody told me about today? Did something big happen and I just don't know about it? Or is it that everyone's just tired or burned out from last weekend and they're staying closer to home than usual? I don't really know, but I'm curious.
Here's an interesting article: the University of California at Santa Barbara banned the use of systems running Windows 2000 on their residential network. Apparently, they consider it too insecure to run safely on a school network, and they cite Code Red, Nimda, and generally being easy to own and use as DoS attach zombies as their reasons. Unless you can prove that you need it (and probably can secure and administer it properly) they won't let you run it. Interestingly enough, they are selling Windows XP Home edition for firesale prices at their bookstore. It's good to note that people are finally starting to wise up and realise that 2k is a dangerous thing to have running on your network without a decent admin (93, Onivel!) watching over it. The fact that they're pushing XP disturbs me slightly, though.
And check this out, everyone. Steven Wolfram will be speaking at the University of Pittsburgh this Friday. He'll be speaking about cellular automata as a scientific paradigm. He'll be in room 120 of David Lawrence hall at 1600 EST and will hold a book signing afterward. Unfortunately I won't be able to attend because I've got to work that afternoon. It's just as well - I have a copy of A New Kind of Science at home but havn't had the chance to start reading it yet. I'd basically be infiltrating the speech in the hope that I will have time later this month to read it, but it's looking like that won't happen until the end of the semester the way things are going right now. I hate it when that happens.
Check this out: Secret Service agents wardriving?! Apparently they're mapping DC and alerting businesses that their WAPs are insecure. How cute - the only thing that's different from people like us doing the same thing is that they don't get arrested for being helpful.
I watched X when I got home tonight. It rocks all known sheep.
Sorry this is so late, everyone, I've been really busy today. I've an exam tomorrow that I've been cramming for and writing code for a project and it's sucking down a lot of my mental CPU time. I just changed the DNS configs around some in preparation for losing The Network's DNS hosting in a few days hence. So far the Lab's internal net's fine, I changed the configs a few days ago, then double-checked them tonight and rebooted everyone just for the hell of it. Everyone's fine.
I'm kind of tired right now, so I've really only got one interesting link to post right now. It's a collection of memorable quotes from people about 9/11, and they're definitely not the sort of things you'd see on the evening news. It affected some people in strange ways, and I think a few of these folks are just out there somewhere. I don't suggest reading this while you're at work, but if you've got a morbid sense of curiosity by all means take a look. Thanks to Nyarlathotep for the link (posted to a local mailing list).
Well, it's been a long day. I spent the afternoon running around getting stuff for dinner tonight. Aloo parathi (which is curried cauliflower and potatoes) and sweet and sour chicken were on the menu, and miscellaneous munches are all over the place. A bunch of the 412 cybs are in the Lab right now watching End of Evangelion (Black Box Productions fansub, 1997), eating Indian food, and talking about stuff. the.Silicon.Dragon just did a seminar on setting up an encrypted filesystem via a patched loopback file under Linux and we're down here soaking up the radiation.
Piece of advice: If you go to Aldi's (which is a low, low, low cost grocery store in western Pennsylvaia), carefully examine the produce before you put it in the cart. I picked up a carton of tomatoes today only to discover that they were not just wet, they were moldy. So were the rest of the tomatoes in the crate. Needless to say, I finished my grocery shopping elsewhere today. Oh, and if you ever go to an Aldi's (I don't know how many there are, I only know of one), bring your own bags, because you have to buy them there ($0.10us each). I picked up a new windshield washer blade today for the car and lots and lots of vegetables for dinner. I'll post the recipes later if anyone's interested. Thanks to Elwing for the aloo parathi recipe.
Okay.. now we're discussing the mystical aspects of EoE. This is getting good.
The last thing I'd expected to do this morning was have to work on my car. I was driving up the hill to go to class by way of the local bank when the engine coolant light went off. As trivial as this may sound to most people, I am not very mechanically inclined, so this bothered me slightly. After some deduction (no other lights, car's running fine, the symbols on the dashboard are also on the caps under the hood (thank the gods)) I concluded that my car's running low on coolant. After taking care of business I left the car to cool and walked to the local department store (in the same plaza) and picked up a pair of funnels, some windshield washer fluid and some engine coolant. It was the work of a few minutes to get everything topped off and running smoothly again.
This might be a joke to most people but I'm not good at stuff like that, so I'm kind of proud of myself for figuring it out. Now I just have to replace my windshield wiper blades and I'll be all set (especially since it's been raining for the past two days Outside).
Oh, wow. Naqoyquatsi is coming out in theatres on 18 October 2002. You know where I'm going to be. I still have to get a copy of Powaqqatsi soon to see what else has happened. That just made my day.
From Lycos news: Capitol Hill is overrun with protestors protesting the World Bank, Bush trying to pick up the war on Iraq where his father left off, and abuse of the environment, among other things. Of course, there's the inevitable vandalism, arson, and general mayhem in addition to crowds chanting "This is not a police state, we have a right to demonstrate". If the mayhem keeps up it will be, guys. To the saner ones who read this, please try to tone down the guys wrecking stuff, they give all of you a bad name and kill everyone's credibility.
The wiper blades I bought don't fit. It looks like I'm going to have to pick up a new set tomorrow when I go gallivanting. I hate it when I do that.
I went to a lounge tonight with some of the locals to relax for a while. I have been to bars in the past but I don't much like them. They're too loud and full of fratboys who drink too much, both of which get on my nerves something fierce. This place, however, had room to move around, was well lit for a change, and had a good atmosphere. It was a restaurant in addition to a bar and even had a smoking room in the back to accomodate people who partake of their (excellent) selection of cigars. I couldn't resist picking up a mug of hard cider (Hedgehog's) and a Partagas to indulge in some bad habits. I spent the night relaxing and watching 80's music videos until the cows came home. Some nights you have to do that, shift your brain into neutral and let the world flow around you instead of trying to alter a current here and there for a change. I realised something tonight: You can probably do the same thing to Brittney Spears music videos that you can to Spice Girls videos, which is turn off the sound and play a Billy Idol track in its place and it actually becomes watchable. If you don't believe me, find a copy of the video for Spice Up Your Life and play Neuromancer by Billy Idol over top of it. I'm going to see if I can find a recording of Stranger (at least, I think that's what it was when 80's night was over) and see what mixes well with it (maybe Rebel Yell or Dancing With Myself) when I get a chance (and Cinelarra compiled, but that's going to come after I rebuild Leandra).
It never ceases to amaze me how long it takes some people to get a hint. I just realised that I've been getting a steady stream of e-mails infected with the W32/Klex.h@mm virus for the past couple of months with no abatement. It's not unusual for my virus scanner to try to send an alert to the infected party, only to have it bounce because their mailbox is full (presumably of other such alert messages). What's even worse, it's always the same handful of people who remain infected. Are they asleep out there? Or do they really just not know that they're infected? I'm willing to bet that either their AV software is disabled (or just not configured to protect their e-mail accounts) or that they don't have any at all. It's almost scary, in a way. I feel like I'm walking around in a plague ward or something.
I just realised that moving all those systems around on Tuesday was probably a bad idea. I just looked down at the catheter puncture from donating on Sunday and it's starting to bruise, where it wasn't before. I think I broke the scab open and it's starting to leak. Oh, well.
News flash! The RC5-64 challenge has been completed by the distrbuted.net project! The proper key (0x63DE7DC154F4D03) was guessed by a Pentium III-450 in Tokyo, Nihon on 12 August 2002 (the key key was returned to RSA Labs only recently due to a software malfunction on distributed.net's part). In case you're curious, the encrypted message reads "The unknown message is: some things are better left unread".
Now that the site's accessible, I can put up a link to it: If anyone out there was a BBS user back in the day, BBS Mates is a forum site for users to get back in touch with each other. It was posted to Slashdot a couple of days ago and promptly hammered into the ground, but now that the flood's receeded you can get onto it again. I just registered and found three boards I used to be a member of, and I'm thinking of digging out my old BBS lists this weekend to see if any more of them are on there. If anyone remembers me, I'm Doctor Who from the 412 NPA, look me up and drop me a line (especially the old VampNET coterie!)
Check this out.. Microsoft's vision of the office of the future. It's like these guys watched a little too much Tekwar and started building off of there. There's some neat stuff, I'll admit, but there's also some flash that I honestly hope can be turned off (like the Star Wars-like sound effects played back in Dolby 5.1 surround sound whenever data is transmitted or recieved - though it would be amusing to surreptitiously run a packet monitor on someone's workstation that would hook into this as a prank). As for surround sound in general becoming a major part of working in an office, how in the hell is anyone going to get anything done if all you can hear are sound effects? Most places like it nice and quiet so people can concentrate. Tom Gruver says that in five years e-mailed voice mail and video mail will be just as popular as e-mail. As someone who's recieved one or two three hundred megabyte .mpeg files via e-mail, I ask whatever gods there be to please not let this be so. Watching a mail server fall on the floor, its kernel stone dead is not fun. Having to be the admin who has to fix that mess is even less fun.
I like the idea of having super-large screens attached to your deck - they make mental multitasking much easier. Being able to see everything you've got going on helps you keep track of it. That's actually the sole reason I have a huge monitor, so I can have more widows open on the same virtual desktop at one time (not that I don't have enough to do as it is...), and most of the folks I worked with had multiple displays for this reason as well. As for the lines between office and home blurring.. forget it. When I'm at work, I do work-type stuff. I work my ass off. But when I'm in the car or on a plane flying someplace or even standing on the bus to get downtown I sure as hell won't be doing workstuff unless I absolutely bloody have to. Life is far more than being a wageslave - living a life that's all corpstuff and no decompression time works you into an early grave. It burns the mind out, so that no will remains for anything else but work, worrying about work, worrying about the next meeting and the next paycheque... spending 80+ hours a week at work fries your soul. Without a home to go back to to relax and think about other things, you're not even a person anymore, you're a drone. A wage slave.
Mind you, this is coming from a network administrator. I suppose my stock in trade is working long hours to keep the end users happy and making sure that all hell doesn't break loose when I go to class or go home to sleep. But at least I'm aware of these things and I havn't let myself get sucked into the same trap that so many others do. I know when to jack out; I know when to say "Oh, fuck it," and go home; and I know that if I don't let my mind do other things regularly it's going to seize up and wind me in a mental hospital.
Another day, another handful of classes to survive. So far I've managed to make it through discrete math in one piece. I'm fairly confident about the exam next week as long as I keep studying. I always forget how much space notes taken from the textbook take up when compared to those taken in class. I wouldn't mind so much if it wasn't for the fact that the professor frequently gives non-answers to questions and plows through material like nobody's business, regardless of whether or not you understand it. A few of us have been trying to bring this to his attention but so far it hasn't worked. It looks as if we'll have to wait for teacher assessment in a few weeks' time to make this known to him.
The Free Software Foundation released an FAQ about why Linux should be referred to as GNU/Linux. I have to admit, when I first saw the byline of 'Richard Stallman' on the document I began to shake my head but the more I read the page, he's made some valid points. Yes, a very large number of GNU tools are used to make up the various Linux distributions out there; as a result the GNU project should at least get a tip of the pin for almost twenty years of hard work and carpal tunnel syndrome. I really don't see why the whole "GNU/Linux" vs. "Linux" debate is dividing the community, though. Yes, there are some debates out there, but I havn't seen anything at all like a jyhad on the whole subject. For the record, that doesn't mean that there isn't one and I'm just not invited to this shindig, it just means that I havn't seen it. The misconception that the name of an OS refers to just a kernel is another valid point - an OS is a synthesis of the kernel as well as the systemware, so it is proper to call something the Foonix kernel but the OS Bar (for example, Bar running the Foonix kernel).
But that could just be the pedant in me.
I'm very curious as to whether or not Linus Torvalds really "rebukes anyone who suggests that engineers and scientists should consider social consequences of our technical work", though. He seems like a more together guy than that, and social consciousness is actually more widely spread among clued-in people than most think. I'd really like to see proof of this. But once again, I'm just nitpicking; my bogometer twitched significantly there and I'd like a clarification. As for people laughing when the system is called GNU/Linux, once again I'd like to see this happen (not to say that it doesn't, I just want proof). Stallman makes a good point here as well; the GNU project deserves its props for the software it's written.
Okay, enough of that. Version 1.2.0 of GnuPG has been released. Ladies and gentlemen, icons of all varieties, start your downloads. Some significant changes (like the filename of the config file changing from 'options' to 'gpg.conf') have been made, please read th changelogs and act accordingly.
Oh, gods... someone has a sick sense of humour.
Update: Pagan Pride Day article in the Post-Gazette. Way to go 412/724.
Well, time to play coroner once again. I've got a lovely stack of three or four systems in my cube right now waiting to be torn apart and rebuilt so they can be returned... three to one says the company we leased them from will just flatten and reinstall them again and sell them on eBay for next to nothing. Hell, we could do that. Life's not fair sometimes. Anyway, stripping systems is slow going, I've got to preserve Moai IP (intellectual property) before wiping everything out; determining what is IP and what is junk takes the longest.
The latest run of Microsoft Xboxes don't let you chip them so as of right now hacking on them can't be done. "They're always trying to increase security" my ass, they don't want people doing anything with them but playing games. I fail to see how security entails making a system impossible to run Linux on, that's more like lobotomising the system so it won't do anything but what Microsoft tells it to.
And while we're on the subject of Microsoft, there was an article posted to Slashdot about the United States Department of the Interior moving the entirity of their information infrastructure over to Microsoft to 'save money' and 'maximise return on investment'. I really wonder if any of the folks in that particular department actually did any research other than reading marketing brochures. If you do a Google search for "Microsoft open source cost of ownership" or "Microsoft open source return on investment" you'll find a slew of articles about lowering your expenditures and maximising the profit uptime returns by using open source software. I don't want to sound like a Linux zealot, but times are tight. As I've said before, I have no problems with buying software but when it comes to outfitting an entire office or an entire outfit it only makes sense to go with something that's not only stable and effective, but free. Hell, the various open source BSDs would work just as well. Anyway, the DotI is in for a rough couple of years.
The University of Pittsburgh is raising tuition yet again. Bastards. I want a tube of Astroglide in my welcoming kit next semester or I'm transferring.
I havn't been able to find anything local yet in the news morgues about Pagan Pride Day so I decided to give news.google.com a shot. Here's a hyperlink to my search.
On a lark, I did a Google seach on one of my favourite C64 games, Paradroid. I found a shrine to it on a server corresponding to the Roadrunner Cablemodem service out of Hawaii which goes into a fair amount of detail on the game (take a look at it here if you're interested). One of the subpages is a list of the various droids that you'll run into through the course of the game. Down near the bottom are the security droids, including one with the designation 883, which looks likea dalek. I'm amused. Now I want to go home and beat that game just to see them for myself. *grin*
Holy imploding Kibo, someone's ported it to Linux! It uses the SDL libraries and appears to be a perfect clone of the C64 version (my memories of the original are very clear, I last played it on SAL-9000 just a few weeks ago). I'm going to be installing this on Kabuki, I think... we need to be alone....
I just got back from aerobics class, and the Time Lord's butt is not kicked tonight... I must be doing something right for a change, because I didn't really have to stop and catch my breath, though I did lose synch a few times with the rest of the class. That aside, I'm doing pretty well. I'm amazed at the recuperative powers of my exterior sometimes - its heart is stronger than I remember it to be time and again. I should have it back up to speed in a week or two at the rate I'm going. As for kicking coffee it's been thirty hours now and no problems are evidencing themselves, not even a headache. All the extra wiring is handling the change in biochemistry quite nicely. This is going better than I'd expected, and I plan on keeping it going for as long as I possibly can.p>2002/09/23
Well, I'm at better than twenty-four hours since I've last had a cup of coffee. I figured, if I can do a week why not permanantly? So far I'm doing pretty well, aside from the usual slight headache I'm otherwise all right. Had a little trouble staying awake in math class but that aside I'm all right. I'm just now going through the spacy, disconnected feeling. It's a little like being inhebriated but without the alcohol, and is rather enjoyable. What the hell, I need something to do in my free time and messing with my biochemistry (more than I already have) is as good a project as any.
I found out about a few things that went on yesterday from my friend in math class today. There were protestors that set up roadblocks in the park? That explains why the state police were called. People tearing down signs and deliberately giving false directions were also mentioned. That's just childish, I'm sorry. They don't see us picketing churches and interfering in public functions, do they?
Okay... while I'm waiting for the tape backups at work to leave their respective holding patterns and finish I may as well go through today's news. On Cnet today there is an article about the white hat hacker/black hat cracker debate and where various people who have credibility stand on it. You've got your white hats who pick systems apart (usually ones they have control over, like at work) and then report vulnerabilities they find to the manufacturer of the system, and anywhere from a couple of hours to a couple of weeks later to the computer security community in general. In the past year or two there's been a movement to delay the release of such material until after the manufacturer has a patch out but if the underground's been sitting on an exploit then you're still a sitting duck. Then you've got your black hat crackers, who bust systems for fun, profit, or to set up one type or site or another. They're the ones who give admins the shakes late at night and generally give the word 'hacker' the negative connotations it has today. Then there are the grey hats, who generally do white-hat type stuff on other people's systems and for one reason or another use handles to conceal their identities. Thanks to the USA PATRIOT act the grey hats are being considered black hats more and more these days, and thanks to the DMCA the white hats are being considered black hats these days, plus the manufacturer of the system they've picked apart gets to decide if they're going to sue said white hat into a grease spot on the pavement.
Personally, I'm sick of the entire debate. The full-disclosure mailing list erupted in flames a few months go about this very topic. The black hats are calling the white hats traitors and turncoats and doing various nasty things to make their voices known. The white hats are telling the black hats to grow up and do something constructive with their lives. Some grey hats picked a side, others didn't. I really don't care anymore. I've got better things to do with my life than sit on mailing lists flaming people and trying to prove how elite I could be by writing exploits left and right, I'd much rather hack on my current obsession and finish school.
One thing about walking the middle path, while the left and right are duking it out we're up on the catwalk above the conflict moving forward like we were before. Have a nice time, guys.
news.google.com: When you absolutely, positively need your news fix for the day.
Speaking of fixes, I broke down and had a cup of coffee. The last thing I need is to get nailed by the police because they think I'm under the influence while I'm driving back to school today. So I'm a wuss - sue me. I'll finish, though I might not finish strong. But I will finish.
Consider it a challenge... *smirk*
Another Slashdot article set: Passenger profiling part II. The specific news articles linked talk about a project called CAPPS II, which stands for 'Computer Assisted Passenger Pre-Screening, generation II'. Basically it's an information system that has priority access to a multitude of other information systems and uses a neural network to process what it digs up into a profile of airline passengers to determine if they are a threat or not. The discussion after the article isn't worth much but the links to other resources inside the article are well worth the time, check them out. There are already false positives being detected but so far as I can tell there aren't any plans to iron them out anytime soon. Just because you don't spend much money (say you're a poor college student) and you live in the same building as someone with a record does not necessarily mean that you are a criminal; databases are also rife with clerical errors (this is a well-known and legally documented fact). All of these, however, can add up to your being arrested because they suggest that you are a terrorist. Mostly harmless weirdos like myself (and the vast majority of my friends, who wouldn't hurt a fly) are starting to sweat here because we could be penalised for being strange. But what about your grandmother, for example, being accidentally tagged by this system? Makes you wonder if it could happen or not... small wonder that it has but they keep it as quiet as they can.
I got back from Pagan Pride Day less than an hour ago. Finding the site was not half as difficult as leaving it, but I'll come to that later. After getting up this morning I packed a lunch and headed out the door, following the directions I'd worked out last night. Also packed in the car were my drover's coat and fedora (the closest thing to ritual garb I have) and my crossbag, with all manner of stuff to keep busy with in the event that things started to run slow. That turned out to not be the case at all. The park was a snap to find as I used to hang out with someone who lived out that way, so the directions were almost identical to the ones I already knew. 'lex and the others were already there and set up by the time I pulled into the parking lot. Andrea v1.0 and v2.0 were there as well, and a handful of folks that I wasn't really familiar with. I have to admit that I missed most of the presentations through the course of the day due to donating blood ('lex organised a blood drive) and talking to Conon in the course of the afternoon. There were also protracted discussions with a pair of vendors on the finer points of BDSM, anime fan art, clothing design, and the symbology of the septagram (seven pointed star). Definitely a productive day. The public ritual at the end of the day was nothing like I'd expected. It was simple, well thought out, and amazingly compatible with a lot of different paths, even the Thelemic (Andrea v1.0 was one of the leaders of the rite) and the downright strange (like my own). I'd not been in a spiral dance since I was quite small so it was familiar ground (so to speak) but not ground I'd expected to see again anytime soon. The voodoo doll of Osama bin Laden for charity ($0.25us per black pin) seemed to be doing reasonably well by the time the picnic wrapped.
Leaving, on the other hand, wasn't quite as easy. There's one particular turn to enter the park that I nearly missed arriving and messed up badly trying to leave that sent me on an hour long misadventure that left me driving more or less at random around the south hill of Pittsburgh. Somehow I got to see not only the office district but the suburbs and the highways farther south of the area. After nearly an hour I called 'lex on the cellphone and he handed me off to someone who lives in the area, and together they were able to get me pointed more or less at the highway and sent homeward. On the whole it wasn't a bad sidetrip though I did miss a phone call from Graeme (which I was trying to return in time for, incidentally). I'm working on getting back in touch.
Anyway, it was a good time, and very informative. The church group across the street was a minor distraction but if you're listening to an experienced speaker they just fade into the background (for example, Chris Temple's discussion of comparative religion and mysticism). Even Vlad stopped by to say 'hello' to everyone, which I'd not expected at all. Life's looking up for him right about now, he's got a new job and he's sidelining as a theatre tech. Congrats, man.
Okay.. what else has been going on? I'm running on a single cup of coffee all day today to see if I can do it, and so far it seems to be working out. I'm a little fuzzy right now and I've an occasional pulse from something that's trying to be a headache but they're otherwise minor and not a problem. If anything it'll be an excuse to get a bit more REM sleep tonight. I've found an article on the antikythera device that might interest a few people. In a nutshell, the antikythera device is a clockwork mechanism found in 1900 in the cargo of a wrecked ship just off the Greek island of Antikythera. Much speculation has ensued over the years, this is one of the few real news articles that I've found on the topic, however.
Don't you have it when you run out of things to do?
I thought I'd take today to square away everything so I can go walkabout tomorrow and not have to worry about obligations or homework. As I am wont to do, however, I overestimated how long it takes to get things done so now I'm bored out of my mind. At least I was able to catch up on my sleep this afternoon before dinner, but now there's nothing to do. I don't even feel like reading right now.
Song that best describes my life right now: Automatic Jack's Anthem, by Automatic Jack.
Naah, scratch that. I can't even fix myself, let alone stuff people set in front of me. Let's try this again. How about Watercolours In the Rain by Roxette?
Nights like this make me wish I could write music.
Got to sleep in this morning - whee. An entire extra hour of bliss. Life's good sometimes. Recitation wasn't too bad, on the whole, but I've got to work on writing proofs for the theorems of set theory. I've never been any good with them but I need to be to get anything useful done in the class. I have a few books on math theory in my lab, maybe I'll crack into them this weekend (between assignments and baking). Once again that 30 foot tall monster truck known as 'computer autopsy stuff' crashed down upon my head when I got to work. Between disinfecting a computer, rounding up leased equipment, and flatlining decomissioned systems so they can be returned to the manufacturer I don't know which way is north, let alone up. I just hope that I can get everything ready to rock by the end of next week - that's my goal.
From Lycos news: pancreatic cell transplantation human test trials. Doctors at the University of Pennsylvania are working on perfecting transplantation of cells known as the islets of Langerhans, which secrete insulin within the pancreas. Diabetics who have undergone this experimental procedure are reporting that they require much less injected insulin per day than before the procedure. Way to go, guys - I'm proud of you.
I just recieved an e-mail from a friend of mine written in flawless Newspeak. The fact that she can write it so well scares me.
I've been listening to SLAY Radio so much at work lately that I think I've got the theme to One Man And His Droid permanantly stuck in my head. I love this net.station, I really do. If they accepted donations I'd chip in (well, if I could afford it right now I would. I'm now permanantly addicted to retro remixes, that much is certain. I'm thinking of hooking my MIDI rig back up to Leandra after I rebuild her, if that's any indication.
I always fancied the games that Mastertronic used to put into their six-game disk packs...
Last night was painful. A bunch of us get together once every two weeks or so to play Shadowrun back at school. For a change I was actually there on the right day. However, I never expected it to run until 0230 this morning. I'm a bit out of sorts about that, but what are you going to do? At least I got to read up on a few of the newer sourcebooks in the interim, as I don't really buy the Shadowrun books anymore. Right now I'm nursing a Dante-sized mug of coffee in my cube and trying to catch up on everything that has to be taken care of this morning at work. As long as I can keep from going for the throat of the next person who asks me a question I think I can survive the day in good shape.
At least I finish my first datacomm project the night before last. I'm still amazed at how well it works. Note: Because it isn't handed in yet and because there is a remote possibility that someone from another section of the class is reading this, I'm not going to post any details because the due date of the project hasn't hit yet.
This is kind of cool: It's an article from the Lycos News about neat things to do with your exterior after you're dead. Being turned into a synthetic diamond.. being incorporated into part of an artificial reef.. being launched into space... There are some pretty classy ways of spending part of eternity in here.
And as if that weren't enough, I just got my first set of moderator points on Slashdot this morning. It almost didn't click inside my mind what the drop down lists beside each post were. Talk about your early-morning surprises.
Well, I just shut down our CVS server at work. It was running Redhat Linux v6.2, and had an uptime of 398 days continuously. It'd been running longer than I'd been there, which is no small feat for a server. Unfortunately, it, like everything else around here, is slowly being decomissioned for liquidation. This is kind of sad when you think about it - a thriving company is now in its death throes. There's a team of coroners on the site packing the bodies (so to speak) away in bags and the cleanup crew is waiting in the wings with mops, buckets, sponges, and industrial disinfectant to erase the last traces of the scene of the crime.
I think you folks can appreciate this: I'm still hacking on that Dell Poweredge 4300 system to replace our (leased) fileserver at work and it's taken a fairly nasty, nay, downright vulgar hack to get it up and running. There is no usable on-board IDE interface on the mainboard (the chipset's there but there aren't any plugs in the system anywhere) so I've had to plug an ISA IDE interface card (thanks, Tartan!) into the mainboard, boot off of the SCSI CD-ROM drive that's hooked to the SCSI interface that Slackware v8.1's raid.s bootkernel isn't able to access after boottime (figure that one out), and then format the SCSI arrays which the kernel does recognise, and then transfer the CD to the IDE CD-ROM drive (which was ripped from a Cadaver^H^H^H^H^H^Hompaq) and install off of that. I'm waiting for the right moment to place an emergency order for punchards this afternoon. While it might not come to that, the IDE interface is causing an extremely large number of 'lost interrupt' errors to appear in the kernel message buffer, so something somewhere's throwing a fit. This could be an all night job.
Sun Microsystems donated code to implement elliptic curve cryptography algorithms to the OpenSSL project. Elliptic curve crypto, if you're not familiar with it, is based upon encryption keys that are smaller than those usually used for public key crypto but provide the same level of security. By and large, the bigger your key the better the protection the system provides, unless someone knows some number of bits of your private key or has tampered with the implementation of the algorithm used to generate the key or actually scramble the data, but also the bigger the key the more intensive the computations necessary will be. After a certain point it becomes prohibitive to use keys past a certain size (not that this fact stops some of us, but I digress).
The keys used by elliptic curve cryptosystems are based upon sets of coordinates found on elliptically-curved lines (not ellipses). If you take a sheet of graph paper and draw a set of X/Y axes on it, and then you come up with some mathematical function that generates a curve and graph a large part of it (this assumes a sheet of paper of infinite size, mind you) you will find that as you plot points on the graph paper, some of them will be floating point values (for example, X=3.215846545, Y=154.153354354) and some of them will be integral values (X=3.000000..., Y=5.0000000...). You can then design an addition operation that takes two sets of coordinates (properly called ordered pairs) and generates a third set of coordinates. The addition operation is a bit more involved than ((x1 + x2), (y1 + y2)), but if you didn't know that you can add coordinates then you do now. Anyway, the numerical values such an addition comes up with can be used to generate keys for a cryptosystem. It's late and I'm running on less than five hours of sleep from last night so I'll just give you a link to a primer and let you do some more research on your own. I'll pick it up tomorrow if there's any demand (or if I remember).
Anyway, where was I going with this. Oh, right, this could be a major boon for OpenSSL.
Sometimes coincidence becomes a bigger force in day-to-day life than we normally expect. The guy I sit next to in discrete structures class that I've been systems geeking with since the semester started turned out to be the husband of somebody I know around here. He mentioned a name that sounded familiar, I dropped another, and boom - it turns out that we've probably hung out in the past at a local pagan function or two. Spookular. John C. Lilly, thou art avenged.
Anyway it's afternoon break once again and time to go gigging for carp in my stream of consciousness. Life's all right for the time being, I guess. Work tomorrow, which means a paycheque eventually. I find it difficult to argue to any great extent with that. First thing of the day is to set up a new file server and transfer the RAID arrays over - at least it's a chance to fire up one of the Dell Poweredge servers we recieved just a couple of days ago, though it probably won't be for very long. I finished my first project for datacomm class last night, and frankly I'm amazed it's working. It's a cheesy webserver written in Java (which is far from my language of choice) but it serves pages and parses requests like any other. After a bit of fumbling with reference passing from methods I got it to not only compile but work the way it's supposed to.
As Istvaan would say, "Have another drink!" *grin*
There's a story on Slashdot about Pioneer DVD-RW drives not recognising the latest generation of blank disks and literally frying them because they don't stop testburning the new disks. They're offering a flash firmware upgrade for anyone who has such a drive (but probably won't much longer since the drive will probably be ruined by the melting plastic) but because they OEM their DVD-RW drives to so many manufacturers, the only way to really know if you're affected by this is to crack your deck and take a look at the label (and how many people actually do that these days?). I don't feel like posting links to both stories but you can read the usual ruckus on Slashdot here.
And for some reason cut-and-paste isn't working the way it usually does. Some days I really hate Solaris Openwindows.
And now we come to trying to figure out what to do next today.. there's still.. *checks watch* two hours left until my next class, so I suppose I'll find a shady spot someplace and go back to reading. I'm working on Magister Ludi by Hermann Hesse right now (a.k.a. The Glass Bead Game). At the rate I'm going I should finish it in a month or so, mostly because I never try to read it in a quiet place, I'm always in a location where I have to keep at least one process monitoring the environment and another watching the current time just in case. Weird. This might explain why I was able to suck down The Ultimate Cyberpunk and The Cyber Spellbook in two hours each.
By the way, don't worry about buying the latter, you can safely skip this one. My initial impression was incorrect - it's more like Jon Katz and Silver Ravenwolf went to DefCon together and went drinking with Peter Carroll, which makes it fun to read when you think about it. There's nothing at all that says that you can't use a chainsaw or a blender (yes, I'm serious, these really were in the book) in a ritual. Chaotes have been saying that for decades now. As for the creation of new godforms ("Squat"?!), once again, nothing new for a chaote. The best thing I can say about this book, in all seriousness, is that if you're a practitioner of the Old Craft or one of the newer Neopagan paths then you'll find this book interesting, especially if you're staying hard and fast to the traditional tools but wonder about whether or not you can use something new in your practise. Otherwise, don't worry too much about it, just go to Radio Shack and do something silly. I think it was Robert A. Wilson who said that insanity was a viable course of action, all other things considered. I don't recall the exact quote but I'll dig it up and put it into my .plan file when I get home tonight (or maybe on break tomorrow).
First day of cleanup. Today we're just trying to organise what's left of the office so we know where to start the cleanup effort. A gameplan has been drawn up and now we're getting the buckles tightened and the straps cinched down. Late yesterday someone thought it would be cute to use the foozball table to block the main artery through cubeland for us to find today. Exactly how they managed to pick up a four foot wide foozball table and maneuver it into the opposing entryways of two cubicles to block the hall is anyone's guess. It took us about a half-hour to get it un-stuck and moved back. An educated guess has already been made as to who did it; we briefly considered dismantling it and using it to fill up the his office but we've no proof, and that's the sort of act that can escalate swiftly into an all out practical joke war. Next thing you know, our cars would wind up on the roof of the building or something.
Today's going to be a short day, I'm headed to the unemployment office after I leave. It'll take two or three weeks for the paperwork to be processed, by then I'll be done at the office and can start collecting. I need the time to learn Java for my datacomm class, anyway. If I make money during a week I just won't get a cheque, it's no big deal. Obviously I'd rather be working, but what are you going to do? A change of pace is often what's needed now and then.
Right now there's nothing going on but the verification of the tape backups of our servers for the last couple of days. It's not a hard job by any means it just takes time when you're looking at twenty-plus gigabytes of stuff from a single system. That much data takes time to retrieve, decompress, compare, and deallocate across a network (even though it's a single hop, 100 megabits in bandwidth). Once that's done that's my day, I guess. I've got a few errands to take care of afterward. I feel really out of sorts right now. I think I should be doing something more but I know full well that by the time I get that something up to speed it'll be time to leave. This is one of those conundrums that I really hate - fish or cut bait. And Ron, our CEO, is in a bad way. He was in a car crash a few days ago and is walking around with a couple of broken ribs; in addition to everything going on right now it's sapping his energy at a high rate. I'm really worried about him; he works his ass off even when he doesn't have to, I really don't want to see him burn himself to a crisp trying to keep up that pace.
I'm thinking of joining SAGE, the System Administrators' Guild, but the membership cost (joining USENIX as well as the SAGE membership fee) is more than I can really afford right now - even as a college student (which grants a discounted membership fee) $55.00us is parking and petrol for two weeks. I'm not sure if it's a good idea or not even though it might make finding another job easier in the long run. I'll think about it some more today and see what I come up with (maybe after class).
Well, this Time Lord's butt is kicked. I got back a couple of minutes ago from my first aerobics class of the fall semester (don't laugh) and my exterior feels like it's been run through a meat grinder. It's got internal organs that it didn't even remember it still had sending pain messages the way a Gnutella node sends response packets and blood pressure that's broken three decimal digits for the first time since 1996. I'm going to have many bad words to say when I get up tomorrow morning, that's for sure. I forgot what it was like to move it around faster than a walk (or the occasional sprint to the server chamber in an emergency), and I don't think I'll be forgetting it any time soon. I wonder how it (and I) will fare on Thursday...
Well, guess what just happened.
I didn't want to write about this earlier, when it was brand new, but now I guess I can. The handwriting was on the wall, and today they turned on the neon signs - my employers laid me off. The Pittsburgh office is closing down and everyone was let go this morning. I'm sitting in my cube eating my lunch and packing right now. There are some people playing foozball not far away, and there's a few scattered conversations here and there in cubeland. Most of the offices are dark because their inhabitants are in meetings right now. This is the end... people aren't sure if they should be laughing or crying right now. It's a bad sign when you walk into the office and no one can log into the domain or the Exchange server (may it burn in whatever hell there may be) to pick up your e-mail. When you get a sign like that it's hard to ignore. I'm going to go back to eating and packing, and I'll write some more later.
Well, my cubicle's been stripped of all personal effects (there weren't many; I try to keep as little personal stuff as I can at work, because enough accumulates in my cubes as it is) and I just got back from the bank. I'm in good shape for at least a month. I'm going to apply for unemployment the day after tomorrow (because I have to go in and square away some stuff at the office) between classes. As life stands now things are all right. In truth I've felt the need for a change of some sort in life for a while now, maybe a month or two, and I think this is it. Maybe subconsciously I knew that something was going to happen, maybe I'm just taking this in stride because it's the right thing to do. Maybe it comes with growing up... anyway, that's life in a nutshell right now. I think it's time to kick back for a while and reevaluate where I'm supposed to go right now. The persuit of True Will has taken me in some unexpected places in the past couple of years, this could be another detour...
Let's see what else is happening on the Net today.. Microsoft's going to start beta testing on a digital rights management server soon, thus sayeth eWeek. Personally I hope they get crushed on this front. I bought a CD to listen to and basically do what I please with (this includes burning a backup to carry with me so I can keep the original at home) and people telling me that the laws of fair use (which this falls under) are a Bad Thing are quite frankly full of it. If they were honest about it they'd try to repeal the federal laws on the books concerning fair use but they're making piracy out to be the reason for this. I think they're just sick of consumers doing things like that. As if their gouging the artists wasn't enough to fill their coffers. And I sure as /dev/null don't trust Microsoft to tell me what I can and cannot read, listen to, watch, or do something else with.
Someone may have cracked AES (Advanced Encryption Standard), also known as the Rijndael algorithm. Word's just hit Bruch Schneier's Cryptogram newsletter. Personally, I'm still wondering how widely AES is actually being used. A lot of the sites I visit and the places I've worked have been using 3DES with fairly large keys or the Blowfish algorithm. Lots of stuff has support for AES but I've seen it disabled more often than enabled for compatibility with software that doesn't support it.
Food for thought: The artists vs. the RIAA.
For the record, a lot of articles like this I find while trawling news sites like Slashdot. I just throw in my two cents' worth here instead of there. Everything else comes from my day-to-day life. That being said, back to wading in the stream of consciousness.
For whatever reason I've decided to watch Serial Experiments Lain again. I feel the need for a sense of perspective. Or for inspiration.
If you've ever worked tech support you can probably relate to a few of these stories, both humourous and otherwise.
It never fails... about a month ago I put out a feeler on Amazon for a copy of a CD-ROM called The Incunabula Papers: Ong's Hat and Other Gateways to New Dimensions, which is a collection of electronic texts that speculates on the possibility of travel to parallel planes of existence, ala quantum mechanics' polyuniverse theory. I figured that the feeler would time out in a few months and I'd have to settle for my own research in the library but I just recieved a confirmation from Amazon stating that they'd found me a copy, had charged my account, and had shipped the CD-ROM out. On the day I wind up in a financial glacier they charge me... well, at least it'll keep me busy for a few days while I get stuff straightened out. It's not like I had to auction off an internal organ or two to get it. John C. Lilly, thou art avenged. Again.
Reality hacking at its finest: Gyfts.
Gods.. somebody shoot me...
I've pulled two all-nighters in as many days, and I've got a migrane headache dogging me for the privilege. It feels like someone's placed my temples in the jaws of a hydraulic press and is slowly cranking up the pressure on the cylinders. About an hour ago my stomach got into the act. Here's hoping the chicken and dumplings stay down.
Folks, if you start getting headaches bad enough to make your stomach queasy, and alcohol had nothing to do with it, get to the doctor and get yourself checked out. It's for your own good. It also might save you a lot of time cleaning up a mess in the long run.
Somehow I managed to finish my homework today. I still don't know how it happened and I plan on checking it over tomorrow but right now I'm content to delude myself into thinking that it's done and out of the way, and hence nothing to worry about right now.
Okay. I'm off to enjoy some painkillers.
Got a pleasantly late start to the day. Woke up around 1000 (which is still early for me on a Saturday), made breakfast, and generally got into a leisurely grind. I was out until 0430 last night with Alexius and some of the others, first at Friday Night Improv and then 'lex and I drove out to an all night diner and talked for a couple of hours. I don't go out much anymore so it was a night to reconnect with people. Ordinarily I don't much enjoy FNI because it's really not a style of comedy I'm into (I don't much like comedy at all for entertainment, to be honest) but it was good to see Sparc, Blackcat, and the rest for a couple of hours. There's a lot going on right now and sorting through what's happening and what has to be done isn't easy. It's amazing what a hot fudge sundae and a quiet diner can do for the spirit.
I've so far spent the afternoon doing some homework so there'll be less to worry about tomorrow. I try to take it easy on the weekends so I don't go nuts during the week - anything to stave off another nervous breakdown. I don't handle stress very well at all. I'm still working on learning Java for my datacomm class and I should probably start working on the first assignment soon but I don't understand enough of how it's supposed to work just yet. We'll see how things go after Monday's resolved and I find out what time it is, so to speak. I also picked up a few books at Borders last night (oh, gods, not more!), one called The Cyber Spellbook: Magick in the Virtual World and a short story compendium edited by Pat Cadigan called The Ultimate Cyberpunk. The former I've just started reading, and so far I've got to tell everyone to stay away from it. The first few chapters are what Jon Katz might sound like if he read a few Silver Ravenwolf books while attending DefCon. Some of the ideas are all right in it but... it's just not clicking. I think it's because I work in a different way than the path in there and I've moved at least a bit past the basics, so it's very much like (for example) a Cisco Certified Technician taking an Introduction to the Internet class. As for the latter I have to suggest that everyone out there buy this book for one reason and one reason alone: Included in full colour is the unpublished second chapter of the Neuromancer graphic novel (the first chapter you can download right here which I've mirrored from the William Gibson Aleph, which used to have this very .zip file available). Go out and be good consumers and buy this book.
Okay, enough yammering about my spending too much money last night (even though that sundae was damned tasty).