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weblog 2003

the killzone

Saturday, December 27, 2003

ph34r teh wall of fire
it's christmas, so my life has been turned upside down. this happens every holiday season. everyone in the world loses their mind for 30 days, rushing around, buying all sorts of things. i have two kids to shop for, so christmas is a trying time, contending with the crowds at toy stores. some strange act of madness caused me to walk in to a toy r us on christmas eve, where i was met by crowd of angry pushy shoppers with a collctive IQ of 30. i couldn't find anything, couldn't ask anyone for help, or even move in the store, every one just stood there, being obnoxious.

in the spare mopments i have between runs to the mall, visits with family, and my children jacked up on candy, i have been tinkering with the firewall on my new BSD machine. it's working now, tho i haven't forwarded any ports yet, and i am able to access the internet... w00t!

i used a default deny policy, which means that the first rule for everything is to reject connections, except under a few circumstances. my current setup is not foolproof, just yet, but it's a good start. once i have all of this figured out, i am going to post a more simplified write up so others can benefit from my hours of reading and humiliating posts to discussion forums.
posted by chris 4:53 AM

Sunday, December 14, 2003

ich bin ein BSDer
that's right, i am one step closer to l33t nirvana. i installed openBSD. and not some wussy CD install either, i installed by FTP. yeah, admit it, you want me.

seriously... i got the base system set up in two tries. it installed the first time, but i did it again cuz it was so fast i was sure i missed something. it was pretty tricky. it's nothing like figuring out your partition layout with a calculator and a pencil to make you feel like a complete wimp. no Xwindows, no mouse, and no clue what i'm doing. actually i do know, for the most part. i go the base set up with no problem, got bash and pico installed cuz i am a lousy typist and vi and emacs make my head hurt. i got my second nic put in and i am writing the nat, firewall, and port forwarding rules now.

i have had lots of help, primarily from hobbiton.org. it's a big help having a working system to cheat off of. i look thru the config files and stuff there when i get stuck. i have also used the bsd forums for some help and so far, the going is tough, but i'm making progress. i have learned some things about linux and bsd along the way, mostly about the way the communities differ.

the linux community is all kinds of people from all walks of life, from young gamers to old programmers. the development model for linux is a kind of managed anarchy, full of redundant distribution. there are docs of all kinds, in all places and people of all knowlege levels with varying levels of patience. in the linux community there are lots of websites, doc sites, help sites, download sites, message boards, and even a hundred or more distro sites. there is only one distribution of openBSD, only two major sources of documentation (the man pages, and the BSD FAQ) a smaller, more dedicated community.

this has some major advantages:
  1. predictibility: there is only one distro, only one stock kernel, only one package management system and only one set of initialization scripts. this means that there are fewer variables in most trouble shooting equations. an error message is more likely to be meaningful to the community since there are fewer facts to keep straight. if you need help with linux you say "i'm running Grab Bag linux 8.7 on my dell laptop with kernel X and a hundred packages, and i can't get my digital camera to work"

  2. documentability:the man pages, once you learn how to speak unix manual, really are helpful. the faq is too, if you can manage to read it from end to end. the people who do the doc writing are really good and writing on the level of your typical OBSD user. from looking at the setup for bsd, the typial BSD user is probably very technical, or at the very least, pretty heavy in to networking.

  3. durability: it's such a pain to change the configuration on an OpenBSD box that it is impossible to break it by accident, and thanks to the paraniod security, it is nearly impossible to break it on purpose.

i wouldn't call it a disadvantage, but you should definitely keep in mind that OpenBSD is secure by default. that means it loads *NOTHING* above the very basics to get a system running. no X in the default install, no emacs, no bash, no automatic setup of apache, ftp, telnet, nothing. if you want remote access you have ssh loaded by default and that's it. no ftping config files (you can pull them down if you can navigate commandline ftp, which i recommend learning) if you think you can read docs on your windows box while configuring in a telnet window, you need to find an ssh client for windows. it will gripe if you log in as root, and you have to explicitly allow users to su to root, you can't just do it from the command line any time you want.

posted by chris 7:07 AM

Sunday, December 07, 2003

blog dude gets canned
woah, guess i better watch what i say to my leigons of readers so i don't end up like this guy.
posted by chris 4:20 PM

a truly modest "modest proposal"
i just read this paper, about one dude's take on ms's business practices. i'm pretty close to some microsoft guys, so i don't really like to get into a lot of "Micro$oft is t3h s|_|X0r" talk, but i believe in open source, and i have a big chip on my shoulder about XP, which this paper takes direct aim at.

so this guy actually goes into some of the things that make XP a pain. there are the ususal suspects: activation, open ports, the registry, etc. there are also some other that i didn't consider, like the license agreements that you have to agree to in order to get security updates, how software death is artificial, and how the funcionality in XP is actually reduced. the paper asks "if XP is an indicator of the future what's to come, what are we all going to do?"

now there are lots of points where the complaints look an awful lot like they can be refuted with the standard "it's your hardware/you just don't get it" argument. see, configuring NT by taking all the defaults and default drivers will get you a working system in less than a half hour, but tuning one to be fast and stable is something like back magic. there is all kinds of undocumented or at least under documented crap that you can do to tune and tweak NT to make it faster and more stable. compound that with all the power toys, rez kit goodies, and other third party things and the finished product is nothing like the base install. in all fairness, linux can be the same way if you want to run a custom kernel with different disk and partitions and that sort of thing. personally, i have never compiled a kernel in my life :-)

even if it is hardware, the true worth of an operating system must be measured by it's tolerance for hardware. i had an NT4 box at work a few years ago that would freeze up on me for no reason. i'd imaged it a couple of times and i figured the memory was flawed. since the box was out of warranty and i didn't have any more PC66 memory to swap it out, i figured the box was toast. on a whim i put redhat on it and it ran like a dream from then on. granted, i didn't get a whole lot of work done on it since it was an all NT campus running office, exchange, and IE dependant web apps. but lucky for me there were metaframe servers :-)

getting back to the paper, the guy talks about linux and BSD, but also about open office and mozilla. he also talks about why someone would want to keep a system without updating it. this is interesting, because there are many problems that come up as a result of changing, updating or up grading a system, like the old, unsupported software that won't work anymore on the new operating system.

i did some work for a hospital installing new xp boxes. between configuring the host emulators and all the outdated DOS era software, it was a nightmare getting things to run. most of the time the companies that make the software these departments run on are either out of business or have declared the product "dead" and are no longer offering support for it. for users in these situations, there is no reason to change or update, infact, newer systems will mean higher costs in retraining and reacquiring new software.

it's intersting to note that the author asserts that data entry is bound by typing speed. this means that once a data entry system (terminal, spreadsheet, whatever) is fast enough to keep pace with a user, there is no need to make it faster. it makes sense to me, and supports my theory that corporate grade PCs are wasted on users that do not serve content creation and/or development roles. users who enter data could easily be served with web based data entry applications on thin clients rather than full fledged PCs running windows and office. more about the over installation of PC applications later.

with that assertion that software death artificial, i don't think the "dying" application problem is entirely microsoft's or the vendor's fault. if a system is that important to a company, then the company should take steps to insulate itself against software death. they need to build/buy applications that run serverside and can be accessed via commodity clients such as web browsers, terminal emulators, remote access sessions, or telnet sessions. they need to make sure that those servers are guarded against opsolecene in some form, even if it's just having source doe on hand in the event of something like Y2K. the author does state that picking applications is like betting against the future, and customers often lose that bet. once your business critical apps are insulated from the obsolessence of your pcs, you are free to change them out as you please. this also has the handy bonus of liberating you from many fat client solutiuons, including windows.

speaking of which, this little gem in the XP licensing agreement just about knocked my socks off:

"Except as otherwise permitted by the NetMeeting, Remote Assistance, and Remote Desktop features described below, you may not use the Product to permit any Device to use, access, display, or run other executable software residing on the Workstation Computer, nor may you permit any Device to use, access, display, or run the Product or Product's user interface, unless the Device has a separate license for the Product."

i know that ms is is touchy in their licensing agreements about proxying and what not. i mean they bill SQL based on the number of connections and there is lots of veribage in the EULA about proxying and pooling to let more than one resource use the same connection, but to explicitly say: "you cannot use any technology but our to do this thing we bult into the operating system" is a little harsh. my questions is waht does this mean for the folks at go2myPC.

it should be noted that XP home edition cannot be added to a domain. it's just not possible. if you want a box on a domain, you need to use xp pro. i thought that was pretty nice.

so with this new take on software deth, which i always figured was a fact of life until this article made me think more about it, and the grim forecast some are painting of the future of computer technology and IT in general, it stands to reason that doing more with less might be the new trend, and keeping things running with out large scale upgrades might be the new way for companies to gain competitive advantages. for so long the addage was that as software agest it gets less useful, less stable, and less effective. is this really the case? the same question could be asked of hardware. it reminds me of the movie AI, when the human son talks about the animated teddy bear robot. he says that he used to be fun but now he's "old and stupid". out boxes seem to slow down as we put more and more on to them, run more and more applications. when i was in the army i had a win3.11 computer that i used to run one applicaiton at a time. it was networked to share printers and files, and that was about it. now at work on my 2k machine i keep 4 browser windows up (both mozilla and IE), my email, instant messenger, command prompts, the helpdesk software we use, and even a word processor. with all that running, i am able to work all day, and only reboot every few days. it's perfect, just the way it is. what happens when i get moved to office XP, or 2003 (which i hear installs on 6 CDs... WTF?) with things they way they are, it's not like the machine will rust or wear out and beign to slow down or the software will somehow decay on the CD and be less effective. with the games MS is playing, maybe we should be so fast to just to the newest thing.
posted by chris 3:44 PM

Monday, November 03, 2003

halloween and clowns

i'd like to think of myself as a tolerant person. lots of things about people don't bother me. i get along with my coworkes, my neighbors, and even difficult people that you run in to at shopping centers. sometimes i can be a little hard on people who don't know how to use a computer, but in general, i am a live and let live kind of guy. i have nothing but compassion for my fellow man, unless that fellow man is a clown.

hate is a strong word that i don't often use, except when talking about stupid people and clown. i *hate* clowns. i hate their faces, their big shoes, their "hey look at me i'm a clown!" personalities. they hide themselves under masks made of white paint and honking noses. clown are devious and evil. they use humor to distract you from that fact.

don't think clowns are evil? look at their protrayal in modern literature: pennywise, the joker, that dude from twisted metal. look at them in reality: insane clown posse, john wayne gacy, ronald mc donald. oh sure ronald looks nice enough with his house for the parents of sick children, but he drives around in his clown shoe car, luring children to him with french fries, the house is probably just to keep the parents busy while he preys on their children.

i hate all clowns, hobo clowns, rodeo clowns, sad clowns, even mimes. mimes are probably the worst, they harass people on the street, and try to disguise their clownness by not talking, as if it's just the clown laugh is what makes thier kind so bad.

when i lived in seattle, my apartment was somewhere near a clown college or a clown world head quarters, or those places you call to have clowns come to birthday parties. for whatever reason, there was an inordinant number of clowns in the area. one would dance on the street with a sign, you'd see them behind the wheels of cars on the road with you. not a little red car with 12 clowns in it, i mean a regular car. they may have been unmarked clown cars, with a clown strike team inside, i don't know. i do know they were up to something, because clowns always are.
posted by chris 8:12 AM

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

slow blog day

rather than bore everyone with another blog about "WTF? SCO!" i thought i'd post more sprawling rants about the morons i deal with on a daily basis. as much as i complain about my job, i actually really like it. the thing i like most about it is the fact that i don't have to think about it when i'm not there. other jobs, with longer term projects and on going troubles leave you with feelings that linger when you aren't at work. when i worked for a startup company, i never really felt like i was not at work. i'd be at work all the time, sometimes (ok most of the time) not actually working, just being there cuz everyone else was. when i was at work i felt like i should be a t home, and when i was at home, i felt guilty about not being at work. this gig is different. i come in when i'm supposed to, battle stupidity, and go home at the end of my shift. there is nothing to take home with me since there will always be fresh stupidity to fight tomorrow.

sometimes the work itself is rewarding. sometimes it's frustrating. the frustration comes from dealing with people who have no business sitting at a keyboard. these organ banks are the bane of my existence. i try to be a nice guy, i really do, but a rational human being can only be expected to explain the concept of right clicking a hundred or so times before he snaps. the same can be said for being expected to fix a problem that cannot be articulated. here is an example:

me: hi how can i help you
caller: i need my password changed
me: ok, password for what application
caller: the password to get in to the system
me: which system? do you mean the password you use to log on to your computer?
caller: no i'm on the computer, i need to get into the system.
me: ok, which system, do you mean SAP? peoplesoft? one of the web applications perhaps?
caller: i don't know.
me: ok... what exactly do you do on this system?
caller: i enter orders

and thus begins the fornesic troubleshooting process, where you ask probing questions to find out just what the hell they're talking about.

another scenario is the person with a simple problem, but is incapable of following instructions:
me: ok, click on the program file and drag it to the desktop.
caller: what is the desktop?
me: the part of your screen wehre your wallpaper and your icons are.
caller: ok what am i doing now?
me: click on the icon with the right mouse button and drag it to the desktop.
caller: ok, nothing happened.
me: are you clicking on the file with the right mouse button?
caller: oh, ok, it says arrange icons...
me: i see, you're not clicking on the file, i need you to click on the file with your right mouse button.
caller: ok now it's asking me if i want to delete.
me: ok, we don't want to delte the file so hit the escape key to cancel that
caller: it just deleted my file
me: ok, not to worry, just open the recycle bin
caller: ok, i have local drive c: and cdrom d:.
me: ok that was my computer, i need you to open the recycle bin.
caller: ok, where's that?

if i can remote control a user's computer, then they get one chance to be walked thru something, as soon as they make a mistake, they get the remote control :-)

there's also the the mutant with no fingers:
me: ok sir, i reset your pasword to 'changeme', why don't you give it a try while you have me on the line?
caller: ok.. (sound of typing) that didn't work
me: ok sir do you have your caps lock key on?
caller: no.
me: ok is your user id correct?
caller: yes.
me: ok, i'll reset it again, your new password is 1234. give that one a try.
caller: ok, it's still not working.
me: ok, reboot your computer and give it another try.
(long pause)
caller: it's coming up now, i'm going to try it.
me: take your time.
caller: ok, it's still not working.
me: ok, i reset your password to the letter 'q' let's wait a few minutes and reboot your computer, then give it a try.
(very long pause)
calcaller: it's coming up now, i'm going to try it.
me: take your time.
caller: ok, it's still not working.
me: ok, lets do this: take a pencil and use the eraser to hit the 'q" key on your keyboard, then use it to press the enter key.
caller: wow, that got it.
me: very good sir, in the future might i suggest you use the pencil to enter your password instead of your flipper?

posted by chris 10:25 AM

Thursday, September 25, 2003

ach! mein kernel!

here is another of those "you don't scare me" articles about the sco thing. what sets this one apart is the fervor in it from Robin Bloor, of Bloor Research, who i assume is the author of the piece. once linux moved into the mainstream, most of its advocates had to chill on their "eat flaming death" stance that they have taken when defending linux. i get pretty worked up sometimes over open source, so i can see where those feelings come from... it's just that that kind of thing became uncool once people with money started taking linux seriously. in this article, dude points out something interesting about the "linux kernel personality" which lets unixware run linux apps. all the BSD's do something like this. a lot of the applications available for BSD are ports from linux. so now we want tot he the source for the LKP to see if linux code was taken without giving the changes back, a strict no-no according to the GPL.

that's cool, but it's not the coolest thing in the article... the cool part is the last paragraph where the guy goes totally slashdot for a second and says this:

"Whether or not this is so, we doubt if SCO will make much mileage from its LKP. However we would not be surprised to see other Unix vendors offering something along these lines. As we have already stated, we expect Linux not just to dominate, but to become "the operating system standard". We expect that other Operating Systems will eventually be obliged to run Linux in "virtual mode" if they are to survive."

to quote kyle from southpark: "holy shit dude!"
posted by chris 10:36 AM

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

sp34k l33t?
it's hard to be on the web or play a game online without running across l33tsp34k at some point. in this BBC article it is explained, presumably to the l4m3rz of the world who don't spend 12 hours a day connected to the internet. they reference the "famous" sp33k l33t strip, when clearly the best l33tsp34k strips are the one with english subtitles.

the article says you can't speak l33t outloud. i disagree. my girlfriend does a good job using this weird mexican/japanese/70's disco pimp accent. it's adorable.

i use l33t s34k mostly in a comical sense. usually to satirically toot my own horn or to annoy someone:
  • so what if i for got to plug the mouse in during the server install? i can do it with just the keyboard cuz i a3r l33t

  • it's f1X0r3d! d4m|\| it f33lz g00d 2 b3 a g4|\|gst4!

  • you fixed it? j00 a3r t3h r0x0r!

there are also some point to l33t sp34k that the article overlooks:
  1. the use of z to indicate plural. warez d00dz use the z in indiacte something illegal. so things like warez, passwerdz, and keyz, and romz, are different from files or passwords.

  2. you want to talk like a gansta rapper whenever sp34king l33t. for example: don't j00 h4v3 b33n d3f34t3d. instead, say: j00 g0t b34t d0\/\/|\|

  3. common typos: often when you type really fast, like when you want to drop your smack right after you 0wnzed someone, you make typos. those typos are accepted and even encouraged: like teh, pr0n, and pwned

posted by chris 6:49 AM

Monday, September 22, 2003

The Chronicles of George

this site is hillarius. like the tard blog you have to read it to believe it.

you are havening check out this site.

posted by chris 2:04 PM

Friday, September 19, 2003

it's rehash week

ok, it's not just ZDnet. appearantly it's a slow news week for all the IT pubs, so they are rehashing old material. this rehash is article part #9842 in an million part series on windows versus linux.

come on people, my 3 year old daughter can tell you the differences between windows and linux. do we really need to go thru this again? the dead horse that we are whipping today is "desktop linux vs. windows". in case you are living under a rock, here are the virtues of windows/office:

  1. everyone thinks they know how to use office. they really don't. try working a software helpline sometime, you find out just how little the typical worker knows about office.

  2. everyone feels comfortable with office.

  3. everything in office works with everything else. yeah word sponateusly combusts ad excel will betray you if you turn your back on it for a second. but access has some really cool features that no one wants to learn to use.

  4. there are leigons of support personnel who can fix problems with windows. it takes a platoon of engineers to keep a windows network operating, especially if the user base has any sort of administrative rights over their systems

and the virtues of an open source desktop:

  1. it's cheaper to acquire.

  2. it provides most of the functionality that 80% of users will need.

  3. it's more customizable.

  4. you can lock it down more

open source desktops will only work in situations where the desktop is completely locked down and the configuration does not need to be changed on a regular basis. this is because while it's harder to configure many aspects of linux, it's hard to break the setup once it's working. your basic knowlege worker who runs crazy macros and that sort of thing will be too restricted by a unix desktop, no matter how sophisticated it is. this is because while it may be well documented and/or supported by a community, most business people can't be troubled to relearn the tools that they live by and they need qualified people to support them. your basic helpdesk type isn't going to be able to handle that without a significant amount of learning. there is a lot more to unix than just installing linux.

OSS desktops are great in situations where most applications are run from browsers, users have fixed application needs (such as some customer service/call enter scenarios), or full-fledged windows machines are a waste (like with kiosks, convenience terminals in conference rooms, etc.) then an open source/thin client setup will be ideal. but your basic cubicle farmer isn't going to live well having to relearn applications that they barely know how to use as it is.

personally, i have seen the most use from linux as a cheap way to get repetitive tasks done. the powerful scripting envronments,and the fact that you can throw linux on a low end box, set it up and pretty much forget about it, makes it ideal for not just file and web services, but also for batch jobs and other unattended tasks that you can use something like perl, python, or the unix shell to script. everything from running backups, chewing up news headlines, and even serving as hosts for seti@home or other distributed projects.

everyone is talking about computing grids, distributed comuting, and webservices. if you are going to need a server farm to process all of these tasks, being able to acquire new nodes for less wuld be a very good thing.
posted by chris 11:16 AM

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

the future of linux (this week)

in this, the kerbillionth zdnet article i have read titled "the future of linux", someone is talking about redhat jacking up prices and how this is good and bad and blah blah blah.

the more of this tripe i read, the more i am thinkig that big linux distros like redhat just suck. the last redhat i played with, you need all this gui stuff to set things like the host name. WTF is that?

ok, i know that people are stupid and you have to lead them by the nose to help them do stuff, and i'm cool with that, but do you have to do that with linux too? i mean it's for geeks. were supposed to feel like hard pipe hittin' hacker types when we use it. i guess that's gone and i'm going to have to use BSD to feel l33t.

seriously, this guy says that if independant vendors like redhat don't stay in business, then linux will fragment into the domain of hardware vendors, just like commercial unix did. i think that that's irrelevant since the GPL will keep the most important parts (the networking and the applications) open.

who cares if there is a compaq linux, a dell linux, and a sun linux? as long as the command line works right, the scripting languages are well documented, and it can all talk, is that such a tragedy? and since the kernel is still GPL, can't we have peoplesoft linux, and oracle linux, and novell linux too? isn't that what open source is all about?

the problem with the unix wars was all the lawsuits and the one-up-manship as each isolated vendor tried to reinvent the features each company implimented. there is already a lot of that in the subtle differences between slackware, redhat, debian, and suse. you had to choose ne vendor and one way of doing things. GPL'ed features like php, mySQL, perl, gimp, open office, mozilla, etc. etc. keep that from happening.

want an example? how about RPM. in debian it's apt-get, and go only knows what it's called now in suse and slackware. they are all packaging systems, but none of them is GPL'ed so there can be different versions with command line interfaces. ick. i personally like either installing from source or installing binaries fron tar balls. that way i have control over where it goes and i know what to delete when i want to get rid of it. call me old fashioned.

the point is that the GPL prevents the fragmenting of important features while preserving the right to fork. you can reinvent the wheel if you want to, but you have to give improvements back to the community. the hardware vendor problem isn't a real problem IMO cuz no one will care about optimizations for a specific platform (like sun linux running great on sun boxes... intel guys could care less.) in the RPM example above, that kind of stuff is already happening and no one seems to mind.

youguys can bicker and argue all day long about distros. as long as i can user pine, pico, php and all the other apps that make life on linux possible, then i'll be just fine on trustix, redhat or even open BSD (which isn't even linux!).
posted by chris 10:14 AM

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

sun's third strike

in this article sun is taking aim at the the winblows desktop with it's newest line of computers and servers aimed at toppling MS's hold on the desktop.

in a nutshell, a bunch of low cost business software, most of it repackaged open source, tied into sun servers, is aimed at the pile of p|-|4t l3\/\/t ms is sitting on: the corporate desktop.

all i can say about this is you gotta give props to sun for tenacity. the first two times they've tried this (with javastations, and with another network computer who's name no one can think of at the moment) it flopped, but maybe the thrid time is the charm. the article goes on to about how mcneily draws his inspiration for all this from the auto industry.

so borrowing that, sun's announcment is like Porsche announcing a low cost competitor to the volkswagen. think about that for a second... yeah WTF?

sun has forever been the "money is no object" class of product. why are they arguing price with MS?

one place i am congratulating sun on is exposing integration for what it is: the biggest lie in the computing industry. buying something (a computer, application, server, peripheral, whatever) costs something, but integrating it costs at least as much on top of that. yeah i can buy a computer for $500, but getting it loaded, configured, on the network and usable for some corporate function is a big undertaking. replacing 1000 desktops at $650 a pop doesn't just cost $650,000. there is getting those things installed and operational, migrating your users, getting the apps to work, setting up stupid things like printers, plus the retraining costs that come with changes in tools. you're looking at a minimum of $650,000 in integration costs. the same with keeping all that crap running. no one likes to talk about that.

so sun and IBM want to deliver end to end solutions. that's a good thing. i just hope they (the companies who make super expensive back end systems that people dumped in favor of lower cost PC's) know what they are claiming they are eliminating.

that's why i like hearing about peoplesoft and oracle getting in bed with linux. if these guys can make their own OS'es, and deploying their apps are just a matter of getting them to stick to a box, and all users have to do is connect to those boxes with browsers, then we are getting somehwere, and low cost desktops are really going to mean something.

posted by chris 2:38 PM

Thursday, September 04, 2003

public forum etiquitte
so i have played some ashron's call lately, and i really enjoy the game. i am an rpg junkie, so it will do until i can play real human powered RPG games again. something interesting that comes with big online games are the communities that pop up with them. AC is old enough that most of the people playing it are hardened vets, so my being a neophyte in AC, plus my newness to MMORPG's in general, make me basically a nobody save for the fact that i have been playing RPGs in one form or another for almost 20 years.

while i am new to MMORPGS, i am not new to online communities. i was a modest player on teachyoulinux.com, and i have been involved in the past with PCgen and some other open source projects, and i did the usenet thing from time to time. i know how to conduct myself in an online forum. most of the game communities aren't nearly as formal as technical ones, nor are the people who populate them, and it really shows.

one key example is this dude who will only post a disagreement with me. disagreement in itself is not wrong, as opinionated as i am people disagree with me all the time. it's the fact that that's the only thing he has to say, and that the things he says are, in a word, gay. i'm the only person he does it to, and he doesn't post anything otherwise. it's not like i have a beef with him or anything, after all i've never met the guy or even chatted with him.

now i am not immature enough to actually reply to these affronts. tho i would love to reply once and say "do you practice being a wanker, or does it come to you naturally?" but how i behave in a public forum can reflect poorly on me and the forum in general. so i won't mention names/nicks, or even the board it happens on. i'll just note that i have never replied to his wankerdom in a public forum (this one being technically public... but not really... my mom doesn't even come here)
posted by chris 12:23 PM

Thursday, August 28, 2003

confessions of a phone jockey
in this article on CNN, a helpdesk d00d explains the problems and the frustrations of working with lusers.

this is a nice start, but i think the real problem is the fundamental dependence of corporations on computers, and their unwillingness to admit that their workforces are woefully undertrained. if data really is as important as it appears to be, why is it entrusted to individuals who cannot maintain it?

it's not that computers are hard to use. they get easier and easier to use every year. i have had very little formal training in hardware, software or networking. i just figure things out. i learn more and more everyday, since technology is constantly changing. granted, i have have an interest in keeping on top of technologies since it's what i do for a living, but just about every occupation can benefit from computers now, so to a certain extent everyone has a responsibility to keep current enough to continue doing their jobs, and if that means learning to use a computer then, maybe you should consider learning to use a computer.

the other problem is one of testing, not only by vendors, but my customers. the only way to fully test a product is to have lots of regular people use it. too often new applications, patches, even whole system images are deployed without proper testing. if these products come from the vendor with bugs, the problem is compounded. this means loads of trouble for support people because there are often no fixes available until it's too late.

even with good designs and riorous testing, users should still take responisbility for thier tools and information. PC gamers do this. most of them are not highly technical, but they are at least aware of how to keep their systems and their data up to date so that they can game. if the average office worker were brought up to the same degree of computer literacy as the average gamer, companies might respond better to virus attacks and infrastructure woes.
posted by chris 1:02 PM

Monday, August 18, 2003

joe cartoon is a whore
so i have a couple of flash sites that i like to visit from time to time. oddtodd is one of them, and joe cartoon used to be. now i was all about joe in the early days. i told all my friends about him and i thought his stuff was genuinely funny. super fly is quality entertainment.

now i don't normally lambaste other sites, after all mine isn't exactly a work of art. but joe's site was the big time. now i went out there tonite for a quick laugh, and none of his stuff loaded. WTF is that? i mean all the banner ads and popups managed to load, but the actaul cartoons didn't. it's a bloody shame that he sold out like he did (at one point he had ads from dell on his site) and now he's has nothing to show for it. there's nothing wrong with selling out, i mean we all gotta pay the bills, you should just keep giving us fans something in exchange for giving you the popularity necessary for you to sell out in the first place.

that's why i dig web comics, they are easy enough (from a web deveopment standpoint, not an artisitc one) to produce on a regular basis, and not so bandwidth intensive that you can't host your site once it becomes popular. so big up to megatokyo, oddtodd, reallife comics, and all the other who are producing, and fsck off joe cartoon, you filthy whore.
posted by chris 5:53 PM

Monday, June 09, 2003

asheron's call

i played AC for the first time this weekend. this was my first time playing any MMORPG, unless you count muds, and in all it was a good time. i guess i spent about 7 hours playing and/or getting set up. this sounds like a lot of time, but not when you break it down:

5-5:30 pm, try to load game on aging desktop computer:
loading game: 5 min.
signing up for accounts: 10 min
downloading patches: left to buy potato chips after 15 minutes.

6-7:30pm, beat on old desktop to get AC to work:
rearranging PCI cards so scavenged 3DFX card will fit in PC: 10 min
talking dirty to 3DFX card to let PC boot: 10 min
talking dirty to windows 2000 to load video drivers: 10 min
talking dirty to the internet to locate win2k drivers: 10 min
talking dirty to driverguide.com to download only living copy of win2k video driver on planet earth: 10 min
climbing to top of water tower with desktop PC in order to hurl it to it's death after video drivers failed to load: 10 min
stand off with police: 20 min

7:30-8 pm, try to load game on laptop computer:
loading game: 5 min
sgning in with created accounts: 5 min
downloading patches: 25 freaking min

8-9pm, create new character:
build character from stock template: 5 min
run around in circles figuring out controls: 10 min
run around training thing doing stupid missions: 45 min

9pm-12am, play actual AC:
game time before first death: 15 min
total number of deaths: 14
time spent running from monsters: 1 hour
time spent running back to where i died: 1 hour
time spent waiting for girfriend's powerful character to come protect me: 30 minutes
number of deaths while waiting: 2
number of deaths while being actively protected by girlfriend: 4
time spend fighting to keep up with girlfriend's character who runs at mach jesus: 30 minutes
time spent on guided tour of girfriend's home town: 30 minutes
number of deaths on guided tour: 1

posted by chris 3:58 AM

Monday, June 02, 2003

console games vs. PC games

so there was a lot of talk in the gaming world about E3, and the conspicuous absence of big ticket consloe releases. there was a lot of talk about big time PC games tho, which lead me to think a little bit about how PC games and console games compare. now i haven't been very vocal about gaming, but i do play both PC and console games. i will admit to leaning toward console games more than the PC ones and i will list my reasons why here shortly.

why console games r00l

  1. the platform is cheap
    the two major consoles are now under $200, plus the ancilliary $100 you'll spend for memory cards/controllers/whatever. this is pretty cheap compared your typical, tho not extraordinary, gaming PC which will run you well over $500, and close to $1000 if you want a really fly one. PCs are always improving, but consoles stay the same. you can play the latest console games without needing to upgrade your gaming platform, and when the time comes, you can dump your old console for a new one. now, new systems are expensive when they first come out, so you may want to hold off until the initial price drop.

  2. the games are simpler
    if you just want to run around and blow stuff up or play arcade fighters, or you just want to have fun with a friend, then console games can't be beat. PC games can be a little too involved for causal game play.

  3. they are easy to set up
    asside from the cabling mess with your TV, with console games, all you have to do is put the game in the tray and you're ready to rock. no patches, no drivers for sexy video cards, no directx or openGL, and no drive space concerns. sometimes the install routines for some games can be kind of cryptic, especially if you aren't incredibly technical.

  4. SPORTS!
    if you are into sports games, consoles have the best selection, with new titles comming out all the time.

why PC games are t3h r0x0r
  1. networked games
    connecting consol games requires a special game, special cables, and worst of all, two consoles and two TVs in the same place and at the same time. ick. thanks to ethernet and the internet (AKA the etherweb if you happen to be from kentucky) you can join a game server or network a few boxes with standard (ie affordable) gear that will benefit you in other ways besides gaming.

  2. demo games
    you can eval games before you buy them with playable demos and the like. you could also share full versions with your friends so you can test drive the full versions before you buy your own legal copy. if you are a false-idle-worshipping-heathen-devil-pagan, you could do a dastardly thing like pirate the games and never pay for them, but that would be a very not-nice thing to do. i have *never* done such a thing, so those of you in the FBI can stop surveiling me. it's tough to pirate console games without modding your console first, and you run the risk of frying it in the process.

  3. richer gaming experience
    most games have deeper stories, and online servers, and in the case of evercrack, AC, or UO, whole virtual worlds to explore. plus you can chat with, or taunt, other players. that's all good stuff. as with the networking portion of console games, internetworked console games are still in their infancy and require extra gear to make it all work.

i could go into why the two suck, but i think the comparison and contrast outlines the major points. there are some serious console or PC gamers that want nothing to do with the other, in my opinion, if you're like that, you're not a true gamer. even tho i only play PC games on my friends computers right now (my computer is great for lots of things, but for games he's t3h suX0r), i still love to go to lan parties and stuff, and i know the difference between a camper and a sniper (it depends which side of the scope you're on :-).
posted by chris 8:31 AM

the SCO plot thickens

so now there is talk that IBM will just buy SCO in order to fix this problem. i need to do that. i think that will be me my long term career goal: start a problem with a big company and wait for them to just pay me off.

i could go to oracle and pick a fight with larry ellison. i could do something stupid like accuse him of stealing my idea for thin clients way back when... i mean i did think of it, i just had no way in hell to impliment such an idea. then i could raise a big stink with little or no evidence, and wait for him to buy me out.

so if you're out there, you better watch your ass mr. ellison, you think that you can get away with this but you're mistaken. i'll get you my pretty, and your little computer too!
posted by chris 7:01 AM

Thursday, May 22, 2003

opinion pieces about the perens article

i have read a few opinion pieces in response to the article that perens wrote, and this one was pretty interesting. in essence this pro-MS guy is going off about how linux isn't free of charge, which could be true. if you know how to make it do what you want on your own, and you use the versions of the distros that you can download, then yes it is free. if you spend money on support (which you should do, if you need it, and shouldn't do if you don't) or buy the distro, then no, it isn't. if you choose to spend money on it, then it's not exactly free, is it? but that's what you choose to do, so if you chose not to spend money on it, then wouldn't that make it free again? as a matter of fact, if you have the freedom to choose whether or not to spend your money on it, isn't that part of the point of the Free Software movement? that's Free, like Free Speech, not free like free beer.

but that's not the most interesting part. what i think is the most interesting part is the fact that this guy says that linux is not only "essentially outdated 1960s technology" but also that it was "built with stolen intellectual property". i think it's interesting because first of all, if the IP was stolen, the issue is between IBM and SCO, not the linux community, and second of all, what makes a technology that is being currently developed, out dated?

is this more of that user interface nonsense? is a technology inferrior because it doesn't have jolly candy-like buttons?

do you want to see graphical user interface gone wrong? try setting the default options for the novell client for windows 2000 or windows XP. if you want to have it specify a user by default, you have to select more than 5 different properties dialogs. this is not an exaggeration. why can't we just add or uncomment a line in a config file? wading 8 layers deep into tabs and pop up boxes is so much better than opening a text editor? i mean come on, UI has it's place, as does the command line, but to cling to one or the other without question is foolish.

maybe it's not the interface that makes it superior, maybe it's the networking features. thanks to windows 2000, windows uses real tcp/ip... another outdated technology. there is also active directory, directories being a favorite feature of netware, another outdated technology. AD is an update from the NT doamin naming system, which looked shockingly like NIS, yet another outdated unix technology. 2000 server and XP now have terminal services, which let you remotely connect to and run apps or administer another machine. X windows (an outdated technology) has had this ability for years, but it was for unix, citrix brought that capability to windows in the NT 3.51 days, until MS invented it. there was a telnet server built in to 2000, you remember telnet, right? the outdated 1960's technology? it was striclty 3rd party until 2000, but it was built into linux from the very begining. speaking of outdated... telnet is as insecure as a highshcool football player, how about implimenting SSH or some other secure remote login?

or could it be that getting machines to talk to eachother isn't a new idea? neither is getting applications to do it. from UUCP to web services, aren't these just newer, [hopefully] easier ways to do the same crap we've always done?

getting back to free software... if apache doesn't cost anything to download, and you can run it on your windows xp professional machine (the $300 os, not server, the $1200 one) the features for IIS had better be worth the price tag. oh wait, you get iis for free when you buy 2000 server for $1200, and if you want a database, that's SQL server, god only knows how much that is. but it's ok, cuz you get tech support. i could just buy redhat professional, for less than the $300 i'm going to pay for XP, and get a web server, a data base and loads of other stuff, plus tech support. i could choose to do that, or pay for redhat enterprise, get lots of the same stuff with a lot more support, for about the price of 2000 server without SQL. so even if i do pay full price, it's not free, but it's still cheaper.

i wonder how many MS flag wavers have ever bought a retail copy of NT, or office, or even visual studio.

yes there are hidden costs with open source software. you spend time on it learning, talking to the community, and reading. not so many dollars, but you do spend time. maybe i have issues with my self confidence in that i don't think my time is worth the thousands of dollars it will take to buy some of the solutions that are out there, when i could get them going for no or only a little money down. plus to still have to tinker with it to get it to work.
posted by chris 8:31 AM

the star wars kid

i am a sucker for internet culture. only on the internet, where sharing data is fast, affordable, and asynchronous, could something like the starwars kid happen. now, just like the official ninja webpage you have to see it to believe it. so check it out.

not only is it hillarious, but it's the kind of thing that only happens on the internet. just like all your base, it is some random stupid thing that we, the collective internet, think is funny, and have made it part of our culture. the videos of crazy stuff that circulate the net, like the guy pretending to get electricuted and making his friend scream like a girl, are funny to watch, but when they find their way to america's funniest home videos, you feel different from the millions of tv people watching, cuz you've seen it a few hundred times already.

with the all your base thing, i was watching futurama with some friends, and it's the halloween special. these aliens invade earth and as they get off their ship they say "surrender humans, all your base are belong to us!" i nearly died laughing, and everyone looks at me like i've lost my mind. it's like being part of the world's largest inside joke.
posted by chris 7:32 AM

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

MS fudding open source again?

this article about ms's latest fud campaign, by bruce perens, who is a big guy in open source. he has made a connection between the sco thing, where they are warning big corporate users that by using linux, they may be infringing on sco's copyright becuse IBM may have copied some of it into linux. i am not seeing the direct connection, but like all good conspiracy theories, you have to read between the lines a little.

i am not sure what MS has to gain from rallying with sco, nor do i know what sco would have to gain from such an agreement with MS. i mean sco got some money from MS, but it looks like a sale of licenses to me. MS is all about licenses. i guess linux is a big enough pain to both groups it would warrant such an alliance. the enemy of my enemy, as it were.

my point isn't really about evil MS or evil sco, but more about the success that open source has achieved. from the begining of my interest in open source, i have said that OSS, if it does nothing else, will raise the bar for quality commercial software.

i think that if presented with a choice between a free/low cost, open solution and a commercial one, the commercial solution had better be pretty compelling to justify it's expense. if your products are not currently compelling, they had better become so and fast, because OSS is becomming a viable low cost alternative. ask the commercial unix folks, who are losing out to LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySql, Php) on a regular basis.

i think MS is wasiting their time competing with open source. even if they crush the movement in the commercial world, they can't really make it go away. the whole thing is built on volunteer brain power, bandwidth and disk space. these aren't exactly expensive resources, so even if the financial backing of big companies dried up and blew away, the code would still be there, and progress could still be made by diehard believers.

what would MS win in this fight anyway? for a big company like MS, isn't competing with open source a bit like getting in a fist fight with a girl? if you win, all you've done is beaten up a girl, but if you lose, you've gotten your ass kicked by a girl. they have everything to lose and nothing to gain. in boxing, if you're the champ, you don't fight all comers, you make them earn the right, because if a challenger loses to the champ, he hasn't lost as much as the champ would have.

the other cool thing about this article is that it finally gives a name to the the sun/ibm/netscape/oracle/novell camp. he call them ABM (Anything But Microsoft). that's really what it is. i wish aol would jump ship into the ABM group. if they could join up with redhat the way oracle has, desktop linux would get a much needed shot in the arm.

and finally, what's the worst that could happen if open source software does find equal footing in the commercial sector? is MS going to dry up and blow away? not bloody likely. they'll probably become just another big company, like IBM. they used to be the cat's pajamas, until they goofed and gave their PC business away to microsoft and intel. how did that happen? well, the 386 processor and dos were technologies that IBM wanted to use, but didn't buy out right, they licensed them instead. intel and ms both turned around and licensed the technology to others as well and over nite there were "IBM clones" available everywhere.

ibm was so big, had so much money, and so many other businesses, that it really hurt them, but they did OK. IF the same were to happen to microsoft, they wouldn't go away, they'd just be another company. novell was like that at one point, they made word perfect for the longest time, until they sold it off to corel.
posted by chris 12:07 PM

Monday, May 12, 2003


i watched "blackhawk down" for the dozenth time last night. it's one of my favorite films. i am not a fan of all war films. i have trouble relating to WWII films. saving private ryan scared the crap out of me. i saw it in the theater and them landing on the beach was like every foot soldier's worst nightmare, snipers, artillery, no cover, machinegun fire... ug.

i can relate to vietnam films to a certain extent because my father was there, as well as some of the old timers when i was in the army. to my knowlege, BHD is the only film with army guys that takes place while i was in the army. they use the guns that i used, the trucks that i drove, and say the same things that i used to say in the army.

the other thing i really like about that film is all the heroic stuff they do in the film. those guys didn't question why they were there, they just saw what needed to be done to protect themselves and eachother and they did it. no one moved without cover fire, everyone watched out for everyone else.

after the first crash, the pilot is dead, and two guys are badly wounded and one of the delta guys is hurt but able to move. he picks his rifle up and goes to work keeping the badguys at bay. he gets hit like three times, but he held his ground until one of the littlebirds came to pick him up, and the rangers came to secure the site. not like rambo where he yells and sprays everything with lead, but deliberate accurate fire. even just in training, i'd get nervous and shoot erratically.

then when the the second blackhawk goes down, the one with mike durant on it, the two delta snipers are watching from another chopper, then volunteer to go down and defend the crashsite. there is an angry mob approaching, they're outnumbered a hundred to one, they know it, and they go in anyway. they basically agree to go to their deaths protecting durant.

bhd isn't about why they were in somalia, or even if it was right or wrong, it's about the bravery of a hundred american soldiers as they dealt with a horrible turn of events. they fought hard, despite the odds. that's what makes you a hero, having to choose between yourself and someone else. a lot of heroes don't live to see the thanks they deserve, which is why you should save the term for someone who deserves it.

i've never been a hero, and part of me hopes i never have to be. part of me wonders if i even could be. to quote the might might bosstones, "i'm not a coward, i've just never been tested." i didn't do anything heroic in the army. all i did was do my part, most of the time i didn't do it very well. but i did it. i can stand up straight when i say that.
posted by chris 11:16 AM

Wednesday, May 07, 2003

stick it to the duke

user friendly has a neat strip about the [too] long awaited duke nukem forever. back in 19 ought 98 we were waiting with baited breath for the followup to the [then] greatest first person shooter in history. i was going to build a new computer then, but i wanted to wait until DNF came out, so i could buy the latest 3d ultraviolence video card to play it on. it's been 5 years now, i've not built that ubergaming computer yet, still waiting for the universe to let DNF arrive. instead i built a cheaper, low end machine, and i have since over clocked it so it will run win2k with a decent amount of speed.

i have given up on DNF. the duke nukem game for the playstation (time to kill i think it was called) cinched my decision to buy a PSone over the dreamcast, but it wasn't the same cuz you couldn't TC it, or play it networked. DNF had once promised to be a great game, now it's just another piece of vaporware.
posted by chris 9:40 AM

naming names

this zdnet article on the renaming woes of the mozilla team is a classic example of why business and technology really don't belong together. after working for a startup company where i worked closely with sales and marketing types, bickering and arguing over what to call something, i have a general disdain for brand preoccupation.

now i know why branding is important. intel and ms have such strong brands that any piece of crap that they make will sell at least nominally just becuase of the brand. the wildest fantasy of your basic marketing type is this:

aunt tillie is watching the food network and sees her favorite cook talk about how he uses a wichbangel to help her with all of her computing needs.

upon hearing this, aunt tillie immediately leaps from her seat and grabs her carkeys and her credit card, headed for compUSA or frys electronics to buy a wichbangel.

once she arrives at the store, she asks the sales rep where the wichbangels are located, and runs, not walks to aisle where she is greeted by a myriad of choices. wichbangles of every variety line the shelves.

now aunt tillie is presented with a quandry. "i need a wichbangel, but which one should i get?" the microsoft wichbangel is the most expensive, but i know it will work with windows, cuz it's made by microsoft.... who knows what the deal is with these other wichbangels?"

so after deliberating for a whole 30 seconds, aunt tillie decides to buy an intel wichbangel since it's a dollar cheaper than the microsoft one, and still carries the brand she has seen on TV.

i am sure marketing types lie awake at night dreaming of a brand with that kind of recognition. what does that have to do with technology, you say? well a lot as it turns out, because the hope of every new technology is innovation (innovation being a polite term for piles of cash.) it's hard to get large innovation without a strong recognizable thing like a brand.

you can't market a technology by saying it's cool, it has to be cool already. part of being cool is having a cool name, especially one that looks fly on a tshirt. once you have that, tshirts i mean, the you have innovation. tshirts are important for technology.

the problem with brand is that it has to be unique, so you can't call something what it is cuz you can't trademark commonly used terms. if something logs activity, you can't call it a logger cuz you can't trademark the word logger. conversely, if you give it a cool name (like statisticalizationer) you can run afoul of academics who jealously guard terms, like the difference between determinism and determinalization. they'll ask you "why do you call your logger a statisticalizationer when all it does is log stuff?"

what's the worst is when you work hard to produce a brand, but you end up with something gay, so not only have you incensed the academics, but you've also alienated the normal people who would buy your stuff if only they could figure out what it did.
posted by chris 9:18 AM

Tuesday, May 06, 2003

the little top button

i added the little floating top button cuz some of these pages are kind of long. i have a nav thingy at the top of the page, and another at the footer, so this floaty thing will help with everything else. i hacked one of the combo box scripts i found on javascriptkit.com. incase you haven't figured it out, i am not much of a programmer. i am more of a hacker (not in the l33t h4x0r sense, more in the literary sense) since i don't really know what i'm doing, i just make little hacks like this one, keeping the floating span stuff operational, but doing away with the combo box code. just like the news pages, i was more concerned with it working in a timely fashion than winning awards for great coding. after looking at how the javascriptkit guys do their combo box nav thingys, i like their way better, easier to maintain than the kludgy ones i have now. i found one a while back that was neat, but you could only have one per page, so i had to add a bunch of functions to it so i could have 3. i'm going to have to do the same with the javascriptkit ones.
posted by chris 5:56 PM

Monday, April 28, 2003

the quest for a TV box.
i love movies of all kinds, and i have friends that have tons of ripped movies and stuff, plus i'd like to get into PVRing (like tivo), so i'd like to hook a computer up to my TV. now this sounds fairly simple, just buy a video card with TV out and the svideo cable, and you're all set. and while that may be tru to some extent, i'd really like it to be more than a beige box sitting next to my entertainment center. here is the dream specification for my TV box:

  1. looks good on top of the TV

    now this might sound kind of frivoulous, but yes, i'd like it to look decent sitting there with my DVD player, my PS2, and my VCR. there are two ways that i can think of to make the thing look good on the TV:
    • make it look like an AV component

      looking like and av component would help the guy blend in with the other doodads on my entertainment center. that sounds simple enough. all i have to do is find a slim black desktop case. these are surprising ly hard to find however, even with all the mini ITX barebones kits out there. plus most mini ITX boxes don't have agp slots, which stinks. but if there is such a creature out there for under $200, i haven't run across him. if anyone sees one let me know.

    • make it look like a bad ass little computer

      if you can't escape the thing looking like a computer, then he should look like such a cool computer that i no longer care that there's a computer sitting on my TV. there are some cube cases out there that look dead sexy, with windows and lights and the whole bit. i think that this is the route that i will take, even tho there are a few draw backs. for example, most of the really sexy looking cube dudes only take intel procs, which are expensive chips compared to amd's. also most of these cube guys are expensive, they cost up to $300 USD for the case and the board (seriously, that's all you get, no proc, no ram, no drives whatso ever) fortunately the board comes with sound, video and lan, and some even have TV out, but as you'll see later, i want him to do more than just put vids on the screen, so i'll be wanting a sexy agp video card too. having the built in s video means i can start using him with the TV right away tho, which mean i can build him and them add the sexy video later.

  2. does cool stuff besides television

    also, this guy should do other stuff besides TV, such as surf and play games. surfing is a no brainer, if he's got a nic and a wireless keyboard, he's good. the wireless mouse howver, is an issue. most wireless mice are not very big, and could easily get lost in the couch like the TV remote often does. my solution for that is to find a wireless keyboard with an integrated mouse, like the ones you get with a web TV. these are kind of hard to find, and like most set top things, they are expensive.

    games will probably be cool too provided you have a sexy video card. as long as the box has an AGP slot, we should be fine. i'm not sure what games look like on the TV screen, but even if they son't look good, if he's small enough to be portable, you could take him to lan parties and stuff. if there's going to be games on there, and movies, and music, he'll need a huge harddrive. i'm thinking of one of those giant 120 gig suckers should do the trick.

  3. doesn't cost an arm and a leg
    sadly, this one is an impossibility. i think that between the box, the big drive, the keyboard, and all the sexiness, he's probably going cost a grand just for the hardware. if i choose my components wisely, i could probably put him online for less then upgrade him. i'd like a smaller fast drive, like a 40 gig for the system drive in another computer that has a raid system, and a celeron processor would do well in a low end linux or BSD box, so i could build him cheap, and then beef him up as my funds permit, but that's not as fun as watching the lights in the room dim as i power on the ultimate TV box for the first time, complete with the music from 2001 a space odyssey.

truth be told, with my career going the way that it has, i'll probably never have more than a hundred dollars together in one place, so i may have to build him one small piece at a time :-)
posted by chris 4:46 PM

Friday, April 25, 2003

gotta love the register
in my college days, i took way too many ecconomics courses and as part of the class i would read articles and stuff from the economist, which is a british publication. i like articles from british publications because they are dripping with sarcasm. sarcasm is so deeply rooted in the british psyche (like at the genetic level i think) that even in supposedly objective journalism it cannot be suppressed.

so in this article the register dude takes a few jabs at steve ballmer, and microsoft in general. for the record, i'm just not very impressed with new stuff from MS. i am always relictant to embrace new things from them until i find that way cool feature that i can't live without. terminal services was that feature in 2000, so i'll have to tinker with 2003 before i find that great thing. XP drives me crazy with all of it's warm fuzziness, tho again, terminal server, however neutered it may be, is the must have feature for me.

here is another article with ballmer from ZDnet. not nearly as sarcastic. what's interesting to point out here is not what ballmer says about open source or windows or anything like that, cuz all that has been said by him and his ilk a thousand times before. what is interesting to note is the way he deal with some of the points raised by the interviewer.

if you have ever talked with a living microsoft person, it's a little intimidating cuz their technical people really are extremely intelligent. they really do have the best people that money can buy. a common tactic when debating these folks is to simply say "you don't get it." and most of the time they are right. with all of the things in windows that aren't well known about the windows platform you may not know about some obscure piece. did you know that you can edit users, groups, and permissions from the command line? just learned that a month ago. it's one of the kerbillion options available with the net command. try writing shell scripts in NT some time, all kinds of stuff you could do, if you knew how to do it.

in my opinion this is the biggest flaw in the windows platform. this isn't a flaw with the people what build it or are in that camp. in the open source community, documentation and all that stuff may or may not be there, but there is a community that can help you find whatever it is you are looking for. so while it may not be well documented in a single place, that knowlege is available by accessing the distributed collective resource that is the open source community. it'll take a while to access it, yes, but it's there. that may not be the case, even with msdn.

it's an example of how accessible open source software really is. yes you have to monkey with it to make it work, and it will probably involve gluing seven or more little utilities together to produce the effect, but the point is that you could do it with open source software, probably with out much cash outlay.
posted by chris 7:38 AM

Wednesday, April 23, 2003

i f1x0r3d t3h b|_0g!
that's right, i finally caught blogger on a good day and the blog now fits with the site treatment again. i had one too many table tags in the template, talk about a headache. it took me .4 seconds to fix, but i had to wait a few days for the save changes function to be operational. i've gotta hand it to the folks at blogger. their service is great when it works, and there are millions of people using it, and they've not let any break go for very long. when i had a message board up, it was broken for like months cuz i never bothered to check it.

so what have i been doing lately? not much, i work on a helldesk now. my career is definitely in reverse. not two years ago i was a low rent manager at a small software company, pushing around guys with masters degrees, now i'm a phone jockey doing the contract thing. oh how the mighty have fallen!

on the slow days at work i get to surf alot. i have really gotten in to web comics. i read several of them now. i will have to update the stuff! boxes and include all my favorite comics now. two that deserve mention are megatokyo and real life comics. megatokyo is beautifly drawn and the stories are often hillarious, plus there is that lost in the world feeling that so many japanese stories have. my favorite quote from megatokyo is "ph34r m4 l33t n3kk1d sk33lz!" real life comics is great for gaming fans, i especially like when they talk about dungeons and dragons or magic the gathering, since they don't get a lot of humor outside of WOTC. my favorite quote from real life comics is "you are the king of all bastards!"

i have run across a lot of great web humor lately. one interesting thing is the real ultimate power ninja site. it's so stupid that it's funny, especially the part about committing sepuku with a frisbee. what's really interesting about the page is that it's been stolen wholesale by many other people and used to talk about all sorts of other things besides ninjas, like korean guys, sloths, geeks, and even wombats. once you have checked out the site, do a google search for real ultimate power, it's a trip.

the other funny thing i have been reading lately is the fansite for the iraqi information minister. this guy is also a trip. there are all the crazy quotes from him as he denied the progress of the US military as it invaded iraq. what's really interestng is how much the guy talks about shoes. appearantly it's a cultural thing in iraq to insult someone with your shoe. if you hit someone with it, or throw it at them, it's like a very scathing affront. so open the main page and do a search for the word shoe, i guarantee you that you will find it no less than a dozen times :-)
posted by chris 7:48 AM

Monday, March 31, 2003

is a
Fruit-Eating Laboratory Monkey

...with a Battle Rating of 6.7

To see if your Food-Eating Battle Monkey can
defeat chris, enter your name:

posted by chris 6:39 PM

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

what the hell happened to me?
i know, it's been while since i've written anything. but it's not like you folks read this so it's all good. i have actually written a bunch of stuff, but my website wasn't displaying it. if you are reading this now, then i have fixed the problem and all it right with the world ;-) i have been working as a contractor for a couple of IT firms here in the greater cincinnati area. the work is all right, but the pay isn't what it was on the west coast. my latest assignment is that of a helpdesk operator. i used to say that i hated these guys cuz they made my life miserable. i now know why these kinds of guys do what they do and i would like to apologize to every ticket taker that i ever badgered, harrassed, threatened, molested, folded, spindled or mutillated during the execution of my second tier support duties.

i also work with some interesting people, including a woman who calls everyone "chicken". i am not sure if she's constantly questioning our bravery, or if she's just really hungry.

in my absence i discovered a new online comic (it's not "new" so much as it is new to me) called megatokyo. i like them cuz they understand m3. they know what it's like to have l33t n3kk3d sk1llz.

i have also spent some quality time with oddtodd. i like oddtodd cuz i too was laid off from a great company, and had trouble finding work. plus his site is really great, including the pet pictures, which is a great way to waste lots of time.

so maybe i'll update this site more, and maybe i won't. you'll just have to be good little children and find out.
posted by chris 8:29 AM
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